UmYazan's Blog

So it all started with an inspiration from the team captain of a charity cycling team… I didn’t start cycling until May of 2013 when I joined my charity cycling team the Qatar Sandstormers. I was inspired. Here was a group of people, raising money for charity by cycling. The big event, the Global Biking Initiative (GBI) ride across Europe. I thought this is great! You can do a sport and raise money for charity at the same time! And Qatar’s relatively flat terrain made it ideal for cycling. N.B. I didn’t know about the headwinds!

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Post Finish Glory at ADIT!

Training with the team was great and I slowly became a better cyclist. Actually, by September I was hooked! I was really getting into the sport, looking at all the gadgets and clothing and accessories that you needed to be a serious cyclist when I stumbled across a really badass cycling kit from Betty Designs. I went to the website when I came across a posting from the designer, Kristin Mayer. Are You A Betty? it said… So I read along and discovered that Kristin was looking for women who could represent her brand. I thought, why not… let’s try this and that’s when I pledged to do my first triathlon if I succeeded in being selected as a Betty ambassador. By the end of September the announcement came in… I was officially selected a Betty Butterfly! I was ecstatic! I officially had a sponsor…

I registered for Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and started training… I was lucky to also get my endurance training sponsored and began training with my coach Sylvie Densereau from NRG Performance Training in Canada. I wasn’t a good swimmer. I was a horrible runner, and my cycling was mediocre. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t swim freestyle for more than a few meters before I would suffer from an asthma attack which forced me to resort to breast strokes the rest of the training distances. But slowly with persistence and training, I was swimming for up to an hour without any problems (see my blog on Breaking the First Barrier), I was running under 6 min per kilometer and my cycling had improved tremendously. Sylvie taught me about nutrition, going slow and understanding how I should be training… train smart she would repeatedly tell me and FUEL properly. That was a really important piece of advice. That along with training smart. It’s not how fast you go… it’s a combination of the effort you put in along with the right balance of fueling. The speed comes along for the ride!

All this led to T-Day! Abu Dhabi International. I was nervous and jittery. I read and re-read the course map and Sylvie’s competition plan for me… How I should approach the swim, what I should do on the bike, how I should prepare for the run. What I should eat, when I should eat, how often I should eat! It was a lot of information and I wanted to make sure I would be ready for  this. Physically I knew I could handle it. But endurance sport is a mental game and you have to focus on it in order to succeed.

I woke up the day of the race at 3am. My swim start was scheduled for 7:25am so I had to have my breakfast at least 4 hours before the race. I was excited but felt calmer than the previous 2 days. I had my breakfast of eggs, toast and fruits. And of course my cup of coffee! I got into the bus at 5:30am to go to transition. I was lucky to be on the bus with three elite women triathletes including Melissa Hauschildt and Jodie Swallow who were participating in the Long Distance course. Melissa won the ADIT Long Distance Course! They were calm and collected, chattering away happily on the bus. It felt calming.

I got to transition and prepped my bike, adding my water and making sure my nutrition was all in check. It was 7am before I knew it! Announcement came that wetsuits were optional for everyone except the Elite athletes. Water was 22.9 degrees Celsius. I decided to wear my wetsuit as I didn’t want to be at a disadvantage and the wetsuit will help a lot with the buoyancy. I had dislocated my thumb about 10 days before and was wearing a thumb brace. A friend of mine from Doha, Lindis, who was also participating in the short course I was competing in, helped me with my wetsuit. Wetsuits are NOT easy to put on, especially with a thumb injury!

I made my way to the swim assembly area and did a warm up in the water and watched as the waves before me took off in the swim. It was crazy! Lots of athletes, in the water, splashing away. But I knew to follow my race plan. Sylvie has mentioned that I should wait until most of the swimmers had already gone in the water so as not to get kicked and splashed and so I could swim in calmer waters, keeping the buoys to my left. As my wave was called to the start line, I started to get a bit more nervous. Wave 5 was required to wear the green swim caps. And there we were… about 50 or more of us… waiting for the start bell to go off… I was surprised when it did! It happened so quickly! I waited for most of the swimmers to go in, then I went in. And in my head I kept talking to myself… swim slow, breathe easy… you can do this. Site the yellow and red buoy and you will be fine… So I started slow (at least I thought I was slow until I saw my timing when I finished the race! More on that later!). I got into my rhythm, siting regularly and swimming straight. I was really proud of myself  for swimming straight and siting regularly. One guy swam across me in the wrong direction… I watched him while I was breathing and he saw that he was going in the wrong direction and adjusted his swim. So I was proud of myself that I was swimming straight.

As I got closer to the first buoy, I noticed that my asthma was starting to act up.  I kept telling myself to breathe calmly and swim slow and straight and robotic, like I had been training for. As I turned the first buoy I was surprised as I was overtaken by the wave that started a few minutes after my wave in the blue swim caps. I found myself amongst a sea of swimmers who didn’t care if you were slower than them… they weren’t even looking, they would swim over you, past you, bumping into your feet, hands, head… it was crazy… that shocked me and I felt my asthma coming on again… so I lay down on my back (that was in the race plan as well… thank you Sylvie!) and did the backstroke for a bit to relax and get my breathing in check. I also watched the swimmers that were overtaking me move away so I could once again swim in calmer waters. I swam to the second buoy and did another backstroke for a while to get my breathing in check. I was heading for the finish line trying to site the white buoy which marked the end but I didn’t see it… so I aimed for the beach and followed the majority of the swimmers before I finally sited the white buoy maybe 300 meters away… that’s when I sprinted. I just wanted to get out of the water and finish the swim! My breathing was heavy but I was robotic about every stroke. I got out of the water and ran for the timing mats… running in sand was NOT easy! After crossing the timing mat one of the race marshals helped me pull off my wetsuit… He saw me struggling with my thumb brace and helped out… pretty cool of these guys.. it’s what they are there for! What was also really amazing were the crowds who were clapping and yelling well done to each person as they got out of the water… it encouraged me to keep going…

The transition area was quite a distance from the swim timing mat. In total the transition areas were about 1.5km distance (for both the swim and bike transitions)… so you can imagine in my head I was like… when will I get to the changing tent??!!) I got to the changing tent and pulled off the rest of my wetsuit. Got my bike equipment from the blue bike bag. Sunglasses first. Helmet second. Shoes third. Fuel in pockets. Inner tube and levers in back pocket just in case of a flat tire (my worst nightmare, I don’t know how to change  a flat yet!) and I had a gel and water before running to my bike…

I pulled my bike off the transition racks, ran down the red carpet area to the bike mount area… this was going to be 100km in what I thought was going to be a relatively flat terrain… ummmm not really, there were some climbs! I got on the bike and remembered my race plan… Find your legs for the first 10 minutes… So I found my legs. The first 10km were hard. I wanted to throw up several times… I knew it was from the swim and my asthma… but as I continued to warm up and ride, I started to feel better… until this horrible burning sensation started in my stomach. For the entire 100km there was this terrible burn in my stomach. I don’t know why. In retrospect I think it was the electrolytes. I was training with Gu gels and Mule bars. So my body was used to it. But I normally use Gatorade G for electrolytes. I used the Gu electrolyte tablets. That might have been the problem as I wasn’t used to them… lesson number 1… never race with a product you have never used. It was in my race plan… I know Sylvie, you are probably shaking your head as you read this, but I didn’t find my Gatorade…

The first 35 kilometers were great! I was going 31km per hour. There was little wind resistance and I had found my legs so I was quite happy… The bike race course would take us to Yas Island where we would race on the F1 track for two laps before heading back to the transition area. It was really amazing on the bike course. I would pass some cyclists, some would pass me and many would encourage you along the way… well done! Keep going! Go 812! What was even more amazing as I was racing in my Team Betty Kit were the women cyclists… three ladies shouted out to me… I LOVE YOUR KIT! So of course I yelled back thanks and told them to check out Betty Designs! One lady on the course was actually wearing the Kick Butt kit that inspired me to become a Betty. She yelled out “Alright Betty!!” I was ecstatic.. I never dreamed that one, I would be recognized as a Betty and two that women competing on the course would compliment me on the kit… You KNOW that made my day and when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, just remembering their words made me keep going. I fueled regularly, having my gels every 20 minutes and a Mule bar 1hr30m into the race. In my head to keep me going I kept telling myself, this is what you are training for… this is what Sylvie got you ready for… this is why you are here today. I told you, it’s a mental effort. As I made it into the Yas circuit I felt good. I knew that as soon as Yas was over, it would be a quick ride back to transition. Yas circuit is mostly flat and the tarmac was smooth. In some areas I was reaching up to 40km on the course… at one point I was going 36kph when I came to a very sharp left turn… I wasn’t prepared for it despite the signs that said SLOW DOWN, I didn’t realize it was such a sharp turn… I started to break and yell to the marshals to get out of my way and of course expletives were coming out of my mouth to warn the riders behind me that I was watching my life flash before my eyes! Luckily and thank God I don’t know how I managed to narrowly escape kissing that wall at 30kph and continued on… I looked back at the cyclist behind me and said to him… well that was close! He laughed and said, yup!

There were spectators watching at Yas circuit, clapping and cheering everyone on… it was great… as the second lap started in Yas, I don’t know why I just wanted it to be over… I was hating the circuit despite the fact that I knew it was just another 15km to go and would be heading back for the last 35km. As I approached the wall of death (the sharp left turn) and slowed to almost 18kph. Didn’t want any opportunity to kiss any wall! The aid station was right after and I filled my bottles with plain water. It was amazing but I didn’t think my body would crave plain water WITHOUT the electrolytes. I just wanted plain water. I filled up two bottles with plain water (I had four bottles with 2.5 liters total with me) and was off to finish the Yas circuit and ride back to the corniche transition area. At 75km into the race I needed the bathroom, I stopped at one of the aid stations as there were also toilets there… saw how dusty it was and didn’t see any toilet paper and water, and decided, yup, this ain’t happening… I don’t need the bathroom! And I was off again… the mental words in my head… you can do this Waj! It’s what you’ve been training for Waj! You’re crazy for doing this Waj! My stomach hurts Waj! Ignore it Waj!

The last 10km was the best, I picked up speed and tried to make up for lost time. I did my best 100km. Although I may have done a better average speed before, this was after a swim and in competition and without drafting! So yeah I was proud of myself. Mentally the last 5km I was reminding myself to spin more on the bike so my legs would get ready for the run. Sylvie warned me it would be painful so I started to prep my head to be ready for the pain. It was going to be 10km but it was what I was training for!

I got into transition… I have to say, it’s the spectators that keep you going… clapping and cheering along. It was even more amazing when they saw a woman racing and the women spectators would amp up their cheers! Gotta love the fans! They weren’t mine but they made me feel special!

I changed quickly into my racing gear from the red bag and was off on the run. I had a gel and water before so that I would be ready… I started it out at my regular warm up pace of 6:45km/min and then, 1 minute into the run, I had the nastiest stitch in my right side… it was PAINFUL and I wanted to cry from the pain… this couldn’t be happening! Why do I have a stitch now??? I slowed down to a walk. I did see that other runners were walking but I was really upset. I was mentally ready for the run! A competitor next to me told me to drink more water at the next aid station… It was about 2km into the race when I got to the first aid station, I had another gel and drank more water and the stitch was gone. I was really upset as I had walked the first 2km. I started my run but couldn’t get back to my normal speed. Not even my warm up speed of 6:45. So I started running intervals. Run 4 min, walk 1 min. I did this regularly for the entire 10km of the race. It was hard. It was hot. The sun was beating down on us and my stomach still had that pain. There was horrible stinging sensation in my right shoulder. It was a struggle. As I neared the last 1km of the run, I picked up my speed. My goal was to run under 6 hours. If I hadn’t gotten the stitch and the stomach pain I knew I would have finished 15 minutes earlier. I saw that if I picked up my pace I would make it in under 6 hours. So I sprinted the last leg of the race. I saw that finish line up ahead of me and knew that I was home free!

I crossed the finish line ELATED! My first triathlon! 5hrs.59min.34s. Under 6! Just barely. But I didn’t care! I did it… at the end of the finish line race officials were standing with the medals in hand… I felt like a winner… the spectators cheering everyone on! It was great!!! I was given a sweet juice to drink and was dazed with happiness just to have finished. First person at the finish line I saw was Ryan Bowd from IMG, the organizers. He congratulated me on finishing the race. Then Salah from Fast Track PR Agency grabbed me. As one of their local heroes for ADIT, I was interviewed and had a photo taken at the finish line. Boy when I saw the picture I cringed. I looked HORRIBLE! I guess anyone would after completing a 111.5km race plus an additional 1.5km in transition! After the photo op, I was walking around dazed and confused with that horrible shoulder pain when fellow teammate Pierre Daniel found me! Was happy to see him! He had completed the sprint distance in an amazing time, coming in 4th in his age group! He took me to the medical tent so that the masseuse could help with the pain. Pierre then brought Marouf Mahmoud, our charity cycling team captain, who also completed the sprint distance in an awesome time, to the tent to congratulate me on the finish… really felt awesome to have your team with you, knowing they were cheering you on. I want to mention that my girl and charity team cyclist finished SECOND in her age group! Love you Caroline Van Aartrijk!

The masseuse was shocked at how much my shoulder was stiff… she massaged my shoulder for a good 10 minutes before it finally became loose and the pain was gone. We left the medical tent and made our way over to the VIP area. There Greg Sproule, the MD of IMG made his way over to congratulate me on the finish.

I had just missed the Brownlee brothers who broke a record on the 10km run… they ran it at 20km/hour… that, my friends, is FAST!

I remembered my race plan and Sylvie’s advice to eat as much as I could after the race. I made my way over to the buffet and started to eat. I really wasn’t very hungry but I took her advice. I had so much energy and was really happy that I had finished. I wanted to go again! That’s how great I felt… little did I know that exactly 2 hours later that adrenaline rush would leave my body making me feel light headed and sick! I had finished the race by 1:30pm. We headed back to the hotel at 4pm and I just felt terrible. I drank a lot of water and had some sweets but I didn’t feel well.

I rested until 5:30pm before getting up to go to dinner. I felt much better after lying down and actually felt like I had more energy. I was tired but happy.

I’m proud of myself for doing this. It was really a test of endurance and more of a personal challenge to achieve something different. It’s a true testament to doing what you set your mind to do. You can achieve anything if you really put in the mental and physical effort.

Couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, my boys and friends who kept encouraging me along the way. My charity cycling team who kept cheering us on. Sylvie my coach and Nigel Gray from NRG Performance Training who were pivotal in getting my performance up to speed, Kristin Mayer and my fellow Betty’s who believed in me and made me proud to be a Betty. Marouf, Caroline and Pierre for being so passionate and supportive about competing in the short distance. Ryan and Greg from IMG and so many people to name who watched and cheered me on. Thank you all…

Would I do this again? HELL YA! Do I need a couple of days recovery… ABSOLUTELY! Looking forward to more adventures in sports and training as I get ready for two more Olympic Distance Triathlons in April and the GBI charity ride in June.

You can check out my race results and splits here. Search for Wajeeha (I’m the only one with that name… hahahahaha) or bib 812. I had mentioned the swim previously. I thought I was going slow… ummm… turned out I did my fastest swim EVER! That was a PB! In 38 minutes. I normally do 1.5km in like 56-58 minutes! Swim glory! YEAH! My run was disappointing for me… but still, it won’t let me down as overall I did well and most importantly I finished! That’s what’s important. Proud. Accomplished. Yeah it feels good!

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Abu Dhabi International Triathlon Local Heroes, Marouf T. Mahmoud & Wajeeha Al-Husseini

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!

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Katherine Kelly Lang in training on her TT Bike

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!

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Qatar Sandstormers at the Dukhan Road Race January 31, 2014

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!

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Qatar Sandstormers with the legendary Eddy Merckx

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Qatar Sandstormers at Sealine with the Qatar Chain Reaction.

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!

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Doha Dash, Sponsored by Vodafone Qatar. National Sports Day 5km run was sick!

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.

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CEO of OPQS Cycling Team Patrick Lefevere

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Boonen anyone? Feb. 11 2014 Stage 3 of Tour of Qatar. I gets me a bit of Boonen custom pimpin’ on my Specialized Allez!

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!

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Check out http://www.bettydesigns.com for some sick gear for women!

 

Transition after a 1km swim, 30km bike.

In my Betty Designs kit after the 1km swim and 30km bike ride.

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…

First Place, Women's Long Distance, Category B

First Place, Women’s Long Distance, Category B

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.

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My second sprint triathlon in my Betty Designs tri-kit, pictured with my charity cycling team, the Qatar Sandstormers from L to R: Mike Molyneux, Caroline van Aartrijk, me, Marouf T. Mahmoud (team captain), Ibrahim El-Senousy

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