So the countdown as begun! We are officially less than two weeks away from Abu Dhabi International Triathlon! And it’s been crazy the last couple of weeks, taking a couple of hits to my training… first suffering from an odd cold that has YET to leave me and dislocating my thumb a couple of days ago playing volleyball!
But that won’t stop me… since getting back to training about 10 days ago, I’ve managed to run my PB 10km and 5km ever. I’m now regularly running under 6min/km for long runs (45 minutes plus), I’ve finally been able to get regular OWS in which has been a struggle since December and as you all know I can now swim non-stop for at least 1.5km with my breath in check. Yeah I’d say I’m ready.
It has been mentally taxing. It’s not the training that is exhausting. Sure the physical part is strenuous, it’s the mental game. I never realized how much effort it takes to concentrate and focus whilst training. And the importance of nutrition, fueling and drinking during training for any activity over 1 hour. Brain cells need the carbs!
What I haven’t managed to do, and I will happily admit this, is lay off the chocolates. I constantly crave my Snickers and M&Ms. I just can’t give that up! I have managed to be on the healthy side in terms of food selection and what I eat, even when going out. The occasional cheeseburger does manage to make it onto the selection, but it’s only occasional and the fries have taken a back seat. What’s awesome is I no longer gauge my weight on the scale to feeling healthy or ‘slimmer’. I really don’t care about that anymore. What I love seeing are the toned muscles that are slowly emerging from behind the skin! Love that! And what’s equally satisfying is after training I don’t feel tired. I just feel great.
I’m looking forward to the Short Distance course I’ve signed up for. Just found out that Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan for those of you who know her from Bold & the Beautiful) is also participating in the short distance course! I was really excited and surprised that she’s a triathlete and will be there. She’s 52 and still hot AND workin’ the tri-course! Cool part? We’re both staying at the same hotel, the 5 Star Khalidya Palace Rayhaan, the official hotel for ADIT. While I personally hate what she’s done to Taylor in B&B, I’m looking forward to bumping into her and maybe getting a photo op in with my Team Betty 2014 kit! I should remember to pass on my Friends and Family Discount for Betty Designs too!
There are just some nights when you can’t sleep… and this is one of them… been up since 1am… I don’t know… lots on my mind? Work… Home… Kids… Hobbies… and top it all off with a cold and sore throat… And I have the urge to blog… about being sleepless!
So I browsed the internet, Facebook, looked at a few emails… two hours have flown by… why don’t two hours fly by like that during the day? I have to be “up” in a couple of hours for my morning routine… Looks like today I will have to drink lots of coffee to stay awake…
Obviously this post is completely about nothing and I just needed something to do to try and fall asleep… like bore myself and you, the occasional reader with this really blah blog which may actually help you get to sleep but will do absolutely nothing for me except question my sanity at 3am as I tap away on my laptop…
I guess this is more of a note than a blog… Note to self… try to sleep!
So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog and so much has happened! It’s been an active two weeks for Qatar in general!
1. Dukhan Road Race 100km organized by our local cycling club, the Qatar Chain Reaction. I participated in the Open Elite Category landing third place in my category! Not too shabby and my second long distance race. It was pretty awesome! It wasn’t easy riding the in headwinds and avoiding the draft. My charity cycling team, the Qatar Sandstormers were there in full force racing. It was great having them cheer me on at the finish line. Proud to be part of such a great bunch of people. This race was a great preparation for Abu Dhabi International Triathlon which is coming up soon in just under a month!
2. Riding with the Pro Ladies Tour. Ladies Tour of Qatar was held here last week and in a great tradition, we rode the leg of the tour. The last leg goes from Sealine to Doha… so in true cycling fanaticism, we rode from Doha to Sealine (60km) and back (60km) a round trip of 120km… Loved this ride. We were in a big group and it felt really awesome to ride on the Corniche, through Mesaeed, Wakra to Sealine and back… Meeting Eddy Merckx was the topper to this ride! He’s a living legend and made the trip worth every minute!
3. National Sports Day. You have to love Qatar. This is the only country I know where EVERYONE gets active on this nationally declared day of health and fitness. Vodafone Qatar, my employer, sponsors Doha Dash, a fun marathon for serious runners and amateurs alike. With 3km and 5km runs as well as a 1km walk that children can participate in, it really was something to see such a huge turnout for a workout! I ran the 5km. I was on recovery from training for ADIT so I didn’t push myself too hard… until the inner competitive spirit in me came to the surface and I sprinted the last 1km! Finished in 28:59 as per the official chip timing! Happy with my result there too… I was on recovery!
4. Tour of Qatar Men’s Individual Time Trials. So right after Doha Dash, the Men’s pro cycling teams were here for Stage 3 of the tour and the Time Trials. Quite exciting to see the likes of Fabian Cancellara “Spartacus” and Tom Boonen show up to strut their stuff! Even more exciting when I got my bike AUTOGRAPHED by Boone and I got to ride in Omega-Pharma Quick Step support vehicle to ride behind Stijn Vandenbergh on his TT. I also met the CEO of OPQS Cycling Team Patrick Lefevere, their lovely PR Manager… what a great bunch of guys… seriously.
5. Betty Designs Swag! My team kit FINALLY arrived and that was EPIC happiness for me! Best designs for the ladies that make a statement and ROCK! I wish more women in the Middle East would get on board and buy that gear… I love representing this awesome brand… come on ladies… get your swag on! Be a Betty!
So as many of you know I’ve been training for Abu Dhabi International Triathlon The ADIT is celebrating its 5th anniversary with winners from the past 5 years participating. It’s the iconic event in the triathlon calendar making it a ‘just-do once’ in any triathlete’s calendar, an accessible event, the short-course competition is the ideal entry point into the sport for those who have never competed in a triathlon before. The short distance I’ve been training for is a 1.5km swim, 100km bike, 10km run.
And in my training I would say the toughest part, hands down, is the swim.
So I’ve been reading about swimming, had a few private lessons from swim instructors. Have been listening to my coach, Sylvie from NRG Performance Training and had one very productive swim session by NRG Performance Training Head Coach Nigel Gray. And while my swim has improved significantly, I was still struggling with trying to complete 50 meters without losing my breath, struggling and resorting to breast strokes for 50% of the distance.
So on Friday (day before yesterday) just after an 86km bike ride and short run off the bike, I was getting ready for a 1.9km swim. I was feeling just a bit tired but I thought to myself, you can do this Wajeeha. You KNOW you can. So I consciously decided that I would go slow. Usually I just jump in like superman and try to finish my drills while at the same time trying to focus on technique. This time was different. So I went slow.
Nigel told me to try and take a breath at every stroke. I was trying before but I never could figure it out. But when I went slow, it finally worked. A breath at every stroke. And a full exhale under water. I swam one length breathing on one side and return length breathing on the other side. And I went slow. And something just clicked! My roll improved, my catch finally caught on and it felt almost robotic! And I swam 1.9km continuous. No breast stroke. Wasn’t out of breath. Didn’t suffer an asthma attack and I finished in good time! I couldn’t believe it! To quote my friend when I told him what I did.. He said ‘Congratulations. You broke the first barrier’. And I did!
Great sense of achievement and excitement. The following day, I was participating in the GMC Tri-Series in Doha. Three quarter Olympic distance of 1km sime, 30km bike and 8km run. And I did the same thing. I went slow in the swim. I swam it all freestyle, without stopping and in a time I was very happy with… Finished fourth overall! I’m really excited and looking forward to Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. With a bit of focus, advice from your coaches (that you should TAKE), you can accomplish anything you set out to do…
So I’m super excited! So much has happened in the past week it’s unbelievable… but I guess the biggest achievement for me this week is placing FIRST in the women’s b category long distance ride! 80km ride at Lusail Circuit, organized by the local Qatar Chain Reaction cycling club. My charity cycling team, the Qatar Sandstormers were out riding as a team. My teammate, Caroline also placed first in her category, Women’s Masters. It felt great to ride as a team and benefit from taking turns leading… drafting really helps in group races as the riders in the peloton benefit from less wind resistance and can conserve energy.
I wanted to ride the 80km as I prepare for Abu Dhabi International Triathlon (ADIT) coming up on March 15. I have never competed in a triathlon, and if you have been following my blogs, you know I got into it by coincidence. Actually, it was my charity cycling team captain, Marouf T. Mahmoud, that encouraged me to try… and so the challenge began!
The beauty about the GCC is that events like ADIT are easily accessible. And training for these events is also easy as facilities are readily available as well as access to loads of information from friends, coaches and other athletes you meet on your way. But you have to be dedicated to your training program and take your nutrition really seriously. I train with NRG Performance Training out of Canada. In just two months, I’ve seen my cycling improve, my running really pick up and my swim dramatically improve. If you can’t get someone to coach you, just make sure your exercise regimen consists of recovery periods, i.e. time off from your training so that your body recovers… flushing your legs on the bike after the bike, running shorter times and at an easing pace to flush your legs, and time off to just REST and SLEEP.
Hamidallah I have been lucky. I’ve been sponsored by Betty Designs, had my training supported and now on my way to competing in Abu Dhabi…
So it’s 2014 already and part of my new year resolution as well as my commitment to Betty Designs for sponsoring me this year, was to blog more often… So as the first week of January 2014 comes to a close, it’s time I blogged and started living up to my commitments!
So much has happened since January 1st it’s crazy… first of all, I can’t believe my improvement in training… My running has improved in the last 2 months thanks to NRG Performance Training and my coach Sylvie My swim technique is much better, but I still have a lot to improve and my cycling has really come a long way since I started riding in May. Top it all off, got to meet Nigel Gray Head Coach at NRG here in Doha and he’s giving me a special coaching session to improve my swim (technique and open water)! So I’m looking forward to that session…
2013 was an epic year… I have to admit… none of this would have been possible without my charity cycling team, the Qatar Sandstormers Inspired by their work, I joined the team in May and by October was sponsored by Betty Designs, registered for my first triathlon in Abu Dhabi AND got sponsored for my training with NRG… I’d say that’s a pretty epic year… wouldn’t you?
I really have to say that training and wanting to compete is equal parts determination, motivation and will power. I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of my team and the inspiring Betty’s I’ve met since becoming a Butterfly and Brand Betty Ambassador… Having a group of people surrounding you, inspiring you and WANTING to see you achieve your dreams keeps me going. I also have to give kudos to my best friend and gal Dana Dinnawi, a lifestyle coach who has been my confidant and energy booster throughout a very challenging 2013.
So within 24 hours of my I am a Betty announcement I was assigned a triathlete trainer and I’ve been training ever since! Been quite intense and exciting and so many supporters including friends and family, other Betty’s and my charity cycling team the Qatar Sandstormers.
Feeling blessed and equally excited! My training has been daily with only one day off. Running 4x per week, cycling twice and swimming once. Will be adding another swim session as it’s my weakest so far. But I’m looking forward to the experience and to inspiring other women out there it get out and start. It’s never too late. Coming up on 41. I’m doing this for me. I wish I’d discovered it earlier. But I’m happy that I’ve been supported and sponsored and I represent!
Participated in my first time trial last week and will be racing next Friday. Should be exciting! Looking forward to just getting the feel for the races.
Check out the time trial pix below!