My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 1 – My Race

Until 7 am – 16th of December 2016, my longest run in more than 20 years was my participation in the Pyramiden Lauf 7k race (March 2016).

On that day I decided to participate with Cairo Runners weekly gathering to run for a new challenge for me 8.5K.

On that day a magic moment happened, it’s like breaking a wall or shattering a mental block, I ran very comfortably the whole stretch and making a negative split in each lap.

I went back home thinking, why shouldn’t I sign for the upcoming El Gouna half Marathon ? And I did.

In less than 2 months as you read in my blog I was ready to run my first official Half Marathon. Yes I was running for months and trying to be a regular runner for around 2 years, but I never thought I would cross the 10k so rapidly.

Race night, I woke up 3 hours before the start time and ate 2 bananas and slept again, I was super excited and couldn’t sleep well. It was the big day I have been dreaming about.

6:45 am I was standing in the Abu el Tig El Gouna Piazza, warming up and waiting for the instructions to line up for the start line.

Boom, and the race started, wasn’t feeling in my best shape and I still felt some muscle tightness from my previous exercises.

I tried to keep my pace slow at the start, but I couldn’t as I saw every one passing by, and it ended I ran around 30 to 45 seconds per kilometer faster than my usual pace. I knew it, I read it, but couldn’t apply, never run faster than your pace at the start.

As time passed by, I felt more or less comfortable in my pace, at the 16k, when there was only 5 left, I said to myself it’s time to push more and gain a more faster pace. For an extra 1 k, it felt good passing through runner having this extra energy, then came the expected.

Wind started to blow and a couple of uphill stretches and an extra nagging pain started to hit my usual weak point, the right foot and the pace dropped south.

I tried to apply what I read somewhere before, try to accept the pain as it is part of the journey, and if you succeed to love it, nothing will stop you then. I shouted from pain, I searched for cheering claps and uproar noises to soothe it.

2 kilometers to go, some nice gentlemen from the cheering crowds jogged beside me for encouragement, so I picked some pace.

Last kilometer was running through the marina alone, and it felt like the party was over, no crowds, just a couple of kids and the organizing committee showing you the way to the final stretch for the finish line.

Suddenly you find yourself crossing the finish line and getting the medal for finishing.

It felt Amazing. Thank You CairoRunners

 

 

 

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Hope for the Wind

Friday’s training was to run 10k, my final long run before the half marathon next week. Hesham my friend called in the morning and apologized for not running with me.

Of course I had second thoughts, should I go or just rest today ? Especially that we were supposed to run in Wadi Degla and I only ran their once and I might get lost.

I said to myself, it’s these circumstances that build perseverance and champs, I will go.

Arrived 8:15 am, It’s a sunny beautiful Friday. Let’s start.

After 500m the phone rang and it’s made an error in my Bluetooth connected fitness band, so I needed to start again.

The first 3k was almost always uphill and the wind was blowing against me. Last May I experienced a similar wind blow and it really messes up with your pace and it needs much extra effort to overcome it.

A wind is a bless or curse, it prepares you to be able to run in any weather condition however it drains your power unless you keep a lower pace in order to balance the extra resistance.

I did not know the trail map nor had any idea where to run, I just ran following any signs that showed that someone passed from here before.

I kept running until the trail took a turn and the wind started to blow in my back and here where the fun begins. It’s just like in real life, when you feel that the circumstances around you works in your favor, because god made it easier to you (someone would call it luck). You feel like a hand pushing your back and you are going downhill too, it was much much fun than my way up. It pays when you work hard.

At 5k I felt let like, “Let us make today 7k only” but after taking the downhill part and reaching the 6k I felt very strong and just getting warmed up, so I took a left turn and tried a different trail.

On reaching the 8k I decided to go back and I needed to open the google maps while running just to know my direction in the desert and I managed to finish 9.5 down to the gates so I made an extra 250 meters back and forth to finish 10k easily.

When I think about how I finish strong and my thoughts in the morning of skipping the run or my thoughts of how it’s hard to run against the wind or just to accept second goals like 7k, I realize day after day that running is life you choose how to finish it.

 

A Better Recovery

This is what happened after the 16K trail run. In comparison to the week before 14.5k, I finished this run stronger. I relate this to better eating the night before. Many athletes talked about Carb Loading, which is basically eating a lot of carbs the week or at least the night before your long run, mainly pasta. Other athletes revoked such an idea and talked about just having their regular healthy dinner and avoiding and spices or extra fibers.

I chose to eat a lot of pasta the night before the long runs, and to hydrate good while running and to be mentally prepared for the run, and the latter from my point of view is more important than sleeping well, as one night restless sleep will not ruin your run.

After finishing the run and driving back home I immersed my legs into cold water for 5 minutes, again there are different opinions regarding this technique of recovery, some say drinking and eating right and wearing compression stockings is just enough. I did all of this.

The next day, I felt pain in the upper back, maybe due to bad running form or weak muscles or maybe I am not yet accustomed to such long runs, anyways it just felt better than the week before. Which means your body can get accustomed to anything with training and following the proper techniques.

The following day I did a nice 5k recovery run, which also went better than the previous recovery runs of the past weeks, and it felt good.

Today I took a rest, ate good and preparing for my next challenge tomorrow isa, 21k as advised by my friend Salah. Pray for me.

 

 

Trail Running

One great thing about being and newbie runner is that many experiences are a first timer. Yesterday was my first trail running.

The plan was to meet my friend Hesham and run 16k in Wadi Degla, I woke up 6:30 am on Friday, which is by it self a great achievement. There was a light rain while driving and I discovered that I got 25% only of my phone battery left. No problem, I’ll put it into airplane mode to save battery and be able to listen to music while running.

Hesham invited his freind Salah an ultramarathoner to join the run. We started around 8am.

I ran beside Salah who kept nicely giving me instructions on running form,tip and tricks and I kept asking and listening like a sponge.

The trail had many uphills and downhills and I even fell while going down one but thank god I did not hit a stone of which the ground is full off.

Hesham gave me a nutrition gel to try while running, I think it gave me a nice placebo energy boost.

There is a nice scenery while running, it’s basically a desert for people who like to mediate while running or even walking. I met one of my relatives on a bike in the middle of the trail.

Last 4k I started to gain pace and thank god I finished strong better that the 14.5k of the last week.

We made some stretches, took a selfie and that’s it, another day on my way to El Gouna half marathon.

 

A Week of Recovery

Last Friday I ran 14.5k, well as I said before it was tough, espeially if you are doing it for the first time.

After running I felt sleepy and tired, the next two days I sometimes felt a strange feeling in my head “lightness” some sort of headache can’t explain, wasn’t bad but strange, at night I felt that my head was cold so I wore my beanie at home.

After 72h I felt normal again, I guess it was the asphalt pounding through the spine into the head that made me feel this way the days before.

The 4th day I ran 6k which consisted of 2k warm up and 4 x 800 short tempo and 200 walking.

On the 5th day I ran and walked with my kids for 4-5 k, and it was a very nice experience, I wish they start to love running like I do.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to hit a new mark in Wadi Degla, pray for me.

It’s Tough

Although I woke up a little bit late I had to do what I had to do and run 14-15k. Wore my compression stocks, took for the first time a bottle of water in my hand and a small pack of nuts in my pocket.

After 3 k entered downtown Cairo and as usual was ecstatic gazing at the buildings while listening to music.

I needed to finish at least 8k inside downtown to head back home for another 3k, I followed more or less a random route guided by the random pedestrians  green traffic lights and it went fine.

Every one kilometer I took a small sip of water and at 5 and 10 k I ate my nuts bar. Eating and drinking during running went just fine and I guess its better in recovery.

The last 4 k were really difficult, heart rate kept in oscillating to zone 5 although I took notice and kept my pace much slower.

Finally, I finished my first 14.5k at my home.

Classically you shouldn’t add more than 10% of mileage per week, I have to admit I really did over do it in the last couple of weeks to enter the half marathon held in El Gouna next February, well don’t do this to yourself. This run was tough and afterwards I felt “I don’t recommend J”.

Honey Should I bring a Lubricant?

Yes, dear you should. You will read about it in running magazines and wonder, what are they talking about? Why should I buy a “Vaseline” box for lubrication ?

If you have a high BMI or when you start to increase your mileage you will definitely need one. You will start to feel burning sensation in areas where frictions is at most and you might get some foot blisters as well. It’s different from person to person and from foot to foot, I usually get in my right foot, probably because its larger than the left so its fits the shoe in a more or less tight way.

So, when you feel the burn, next time know the areas that hurt most and lubricate before you go for the run, it’s going to hit you in the perineum, feet and the nipples, yes you read it right, its nipples, and god know where else. Enjoy the ride.