UmYazan's Blog

Stardate April 21, 2017

These are the voyages of the Betty KABS Try-Athlete…

750m swim. 20km bike. 5km run. A sprint distance at the lowest point on Earth. 

Let’s just say I am NOT a sprint distance athlete. All my respect to the sprinters but I have no idea how you can go all out, full burst speed and finish by barely breaking a sweat! Give me the long distances please! 

Exactly 7 days after the Dead Sea Half Marathon I was back at the Dead Sea for this sprint distance. I definitely was not recovered from the week before. And I had a very tough week at work. If last week I was at 75% this Friday I was running on fumes… 

The location was perfect. The Lagoon Resort is a conservative resort located just before the shores of the Dead Sea. It’s tucked away into the hills of the Dead Sea surrounding area. And by conservative I mean they serve the Islamic community… I.e. Islamic principles define the clothing inside the resort. The Lagoon is gorgeous. Equipped with a swimming pool with a perimeter of at least 2km and with a women’s kingdom closed off with probably the same size area! 

Transition was located on the Lagoon and it served as an idyllic backdrop to a short but intense event. The organisers did a fantastic job of making sure the set up looked top notch. 


Got my race chip and number 111. Lucky 1s! Last week I was 333. In retrospect I was exactly 1/3 the effort too 😂. 

I had driven down with my girl Laura who was attempting her first triathlon after a 25 year hiatus. Although Laura is an accomplished swimmer and great runner, she was somewhat hesitant about the bike leg. But I knew she’d be awesome (and she WAS)…


After setting ourselves up we were heading to the Athlete Lounge to wait for the swim start. That’s where I bumped into number 1 and 11. The ultimate opportunity for a photo! Couldn’t resist! We found each other. 

In the Athlete Lounge we watched the Duathletes start their race and then got ourselves mentally prepared for the swim. Water temperature was perfect. Although nervous about the swim I knew that if I considered the event a training session I’d be ok. I was very apprehensive about it though. 

Horn went off and so were we. At first I felt I was pushing to hard and reminded myself that I always performed better when I was relaxed in the water. I’ve noticed that my warm up sessions are always faster than my interval sessions and that was because I wasn’t trying to go fast. So I attempted to relax and focused on the gold buoy waiting for me some 350 meters away… 


All was coming along well until I noticed the guy to my right… he kept swimming sideways and into me and then finally, being the expert sighter he was, he swam across me in the completely wrong direction. I stopped dead in the water… let him pass and I continued. Seriously folks, look up to see where you’re going! 

Swim done. 877 meters. I overcame about 125 but whatever. That was a much better performance than Bahrain in which I overswam an entire kilometre thanks to the currents 😂😂😂!

Into transition we go. Got my bike. Helmet on. Shoes on. Sunnies on. And onto the bike leg. And speaking of legs… CEMENT LEGS! I have never felt my legs so heavy? I didn’t understand what was wrong… I was on a gradual descent, wind to my back, but my legs just wouldn’t give me any power. Nothing! I had planned to finish the 20km route in 40 min. That would not be the case today. My legs just refused to give me any support. So rather than be frustrated I just decided to cheer everyone else and suffer through it. There were the elites that were flying and the new Triathletes that didn’t have bikes but rented mountain bikes! And they were awesome! The route wasn’t that difficult but it was one way descent tail wind and the other way a horrible ascent with a headwind. And my legs were cement. I cheered extra hard for the athletes on Mountain Bikes. They were moving faster than me, and I was on a super sleek bike… sigh… it was going to be one of those days! 


Bike leg complete (in my head THANK YOU GOD) and I was back in transition and onto the run. My run legs were fine. They were actually moving. I was still trying to figure out in my head why the bike leg was so awful. Two days later and I’m still it a loss. I think it might have been that I wasn’t fully recovered from the half marathon the week before. Anyway, on my run and was pleasantly surprised when my friends hubby also showed up and cheered us on! Great boost to have crowds cheering you on. Even managed to get a few run pics as well!


I was on my way back towards the finish line, last loop of the 5km when the newbie next to me (just behind me) didn’t see where he was running as he was looking at his feet, ran right into me. I did an awesome somersault, flipped, landed on knees, rolled over and back up on my feet in a split second. He tried to help me up and I didn’t want him near me. I said… Thanks I’m good I’m good. Yallah Go! We’re on the clock! 😂. I wasn’t angry just shocked. 

Limped my way to the final. Discovered that during the fall I sort of twisted by neck so it was a bit painful but all pain was gone when I reached the finish line. A mediocre performance but I didn’t really care. It was done and dusted and was a good day overall! 


Don’t really know what I could have done differently on the bike. I knew I was tired and I knew it was going to be tough. But mind over matter and for me the important thing was to finish and get my training in for the next big one. 

Big shout out to KABS FIT FACTORY, RNR TRICAMPS and BETTY DESIGNS for the support. 

Big shout out to Laura who attempted her first triathlon in 25 years and she managed to finish in the top 10! Not bad for someone who was worried about the bike! 


Big shout out to the ladies on the mountain bikes for finishing their second Triathlon ever and who joined just for fun! My kind of ladies!

Thank you once again to the organisers for a great event. Chapeau 🙌🏻

Finally big love to my family who support from afar ❤❤❤. 

And so it was… the LG Dead Sea Ultra Marathon, held yesterday April 14, 2017 at the lowest point on Earth!

This would mark my 4th half marathon distance and my first 21km in Jordan. Was pretty excited, had trained for the last few weeks for this and I felt I was ready.

It’s kind of interesting in retrospect. I was ready but I was having one of those days where you feel ready but you look in the mirror and you feel 75%… I was worried as I started to unpack my bags and lay everything out for the following morning. I wanted to rest as much as I could and wake up and be ready to take on the day!

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Getting Ready for the Race

After re-reading all the race material several times I decided I would wake up at 4:05am which meant that according to sleepyti.me website (that I swear by) I should be falling asleep by 8:35pm. Fine by me! I wanted to sleep early. I had slept well the night before, had a long day at work, so I just felt ready for bed anyway.

I like to wake up with enough time to go through my morning routine… drink my coffee without having to gulp it all down, have my breakfast shake, get dressed, make sure I have everything I need and get to the race gathering point on time – 6:15am.

After a somewhat chaotic organization… the other 21km runners and I finally made it to the starting point with 7 minutes to spare before the race (which was meant to start at 7am). Mind you I was at the gathering point by 5:35am, but as mentioned before, a bit of chaotic organization and last minute changes, we had to deal with the ‘adjustments’. As if we needed the extra stress.

Riding on the bus I realized that the race profile was not going to be easy. The lowest point on Earth seemed to have some decent gradients and the finish was going to be on a lovely downhill… but uh, you had to go up to go down! So I prepared mentally… told myself, I was training in Amman, which had some decent elevations and so this would be easy… well… easy is relative!

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Start Gun went off on the updated time of 7:10am and we were off. Constant uphill gradient, God bless the organizers souls, for the first 10km of the race. Well… at list there was some ups and downs. I glanced at my watch to make sure I was pacing myself. My goal was to finish! I didn’t want to push too hard yet at the same time I wanted to beat my other times… and I wanted to beat Susan!

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Finally at the 21km Start Point!

Ahhhhh… Susan! Who is Susan, well my good friend Haya told me about her mental run nemesis Susan, who soon became mine. Susan is an 86 year old 21km marathon runner who beat Haya significantly… 2:16. When Haya told me her story, Susan became my goal too… I wanted to beat Susan! I’m turning 45 in November so with a 40 year gap, I thought I had it in me. Please note I’ve been trying to beat Susan for the last 3 years! HAHAHAHA…

Glancing at my watch I calculated that if I kept up with this pace I could beat Susan! I was scheduled for a 2:15 finish and I was so proud of myself… thus far 🙂

Then we turned into the Sky Dive Jordan location to run the loop around and back towards Amman Beach where the finish line would be. There, we started to see the Ultra runners who were competing over a distance of 50km. I couldn’t help it…. I had to cheer them on… whenever someone passed me I’d yell out GO ULTRAS!!! And clapped… those guys had 36km to go still! There were true athletes running the course, their pace was unbelievable (p.s. anyone faster than me is unbelievable) but truly amazing efforts! There were the truly inspiring Ultra runners on wheelchairs and the blind! I believe the blind gentleman that was running the Ultra finished in 3.30 hours or even less!

And then the 21km elites were already on their way back… they deserved cheers too cause they were HAULING… the guy that won first place in the 21km finished in 1 hour 7 minutes… yes JAW DROP!

So back to mental me… there I was, happy with my pace knowing that soon I would be finished with this constant uphill and reach a nice downhill and can up my pace… My timing was still good and I still felt fine, but again, I felt I was at 75% anyway…

We finally got to the 10km to go (so 11km under my belt) and we were met with the cheers of the 10km athletes who were gathering at the start point. It really feels good to have anyone cheer you on, so I felt a great burst of energy and continued a good run. N.B. the good run was on a downhill gradient… hehehe so of course it felt good… until I hit 16km. With only 5km to go I was heading into trouble. That was no gradient up ahead. That was a decent ascent. Add to it a head wind that suddenly picked up out of no where and for the first time on my run I was starting to feel defeated.

I changed to walk run strategy… 9minute runs, 1 minute walks, to help me get through and give myself a bit of a breather. But DAMN YOU ascents! It was just getting harder. With only 3km to go, my walks were taking longer than 1 minute. And I said to myself, that’s ok Wajeeha, you are here to finish. The last climb before the finished line and there it was, ahead of me… about 500 meters. I picked up my pace, naturally of course, thanks to the ascent and sprinted the finish line. Big smile on my face. I always finish wit a big smile. A big smile of RELIEF! Boy was I ecstatic that was over.

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The volunteers were awesome. Greeted me with water, an apple and then I saw the coffee. I grabbed it all… sat down for a good stretch and then went up to the finish line spectator area to wait for my team from Umniah to finish their 10km race.

I finished in 2:26:08. At first I was quite disappointed with myself until my Garmin Fenix told me that it was my fastest 21km to date! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t beat Susan, but I did beat my previous PB! Later when I was back home and stalked my own data I discovered that not only did I PB, but my pace had improved significantly by about 30 seconds per minute! That’s a massive improvement for me and gave me the boost of confidence I needed to think that a 42km attempt may actually be something achievable for me.

There are so many people I want to thank for their support and their constant cheers. You know who you are even if I don’t name you but my parents first and foremost, my family, my sons, my cousins, my sponsors,my Betty Squad, my KabsTeam, my Dietician, my workmates, my FB friends, my Friday Triathletes, my Friday Pacers, My Cleanse and Beyond twins, my Besties on the Bike, my Qatar Sandstormers, My Carbon Wheels family, my Horror Squad, my tri Coach, my personal trainer and everyone in between… THANK YOU!

So, I’ve been meaning to start blogging again I think for the last three years… and I don’t know what sidetracks me… until I read an article recently and I realized why I keep putting it off… Force of Habit!

Motivation starts with consistency… planning… sticking to the plan… and with consistency comes the habit! In summary, plan to do whatever you want to do on a regular basis, don’t skip it… it could be good, or bad, or both but eventually it will become a habit… and eventually you will get better at it and eventually, it’s not about motivation, it’s more about the habit you have formed!

It’s the same for everything we do… starting a clean eating lifestyle… starts with developing the habit. And you will go through all the stages of wanting to give up before it becomes a habit and it no longer needs motivation to get you where you need to go!

For example… we start something new, like a workout. The first day you wake up all excited and ready to hit the gym! At the gym, you are awesome, you are invincible and no one can beat you… you go throughout your day, feeling great! And then… the next day… you wake up… SORE, muscles aching… your body be like… WHAT DID YOU JUST DO TO ME??? Well the simple answer is, dear body, is that I just used muscles that were laying dormant for the last few months! And this is where motivation either makes you or breaks you… Do we get up and do it all over again? Or do we give up… If you give up… you haven’t forced yourself to build a new habit… it has to start from within you… you have to WANT it, to force it to become a reality, to force it to become a habit, where, when you wake up… you are ready for it and ready to start all over again…

So here is my commitment to keep blogging… I pledge to blog every Friday… won’t be easy…. but the tip is to make it a habit… so every Friday this will be my habit… to return to my blog. I do have a lot to say… and I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you…

Waj Um Yazan, signing out

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Healthy! Vegan! Paleo! Low Carb! Nutritious! Organic! So many labels and titles, yet no one really tells you what all that means combined with your daily meal plans… and that has been a hard lesson I’ve learned with my constant Yo-Yo battle with my weight…

Fruits and veggies are healthy!! Yes they are… in moderation! Fruits and some veggies are high in carbs… your body really doesn’t need that much carbs!

Vegan is healthy! Yes it could be… in moderation! Dear God, have you seen how many carbs are in one thin slice of an all vegan ‘healthy’ labeled cheesecake slice???

Go Paleo or go away! Yes it could be… in moderation! Probably closest to healthiest BUT don’t let that quinoa burger patty fool you… it’s still loaded with carbs!

Too much of a good thing has never been so right in so many ways… I’ve always struggled with my weight… I’ve always tried to go on this awesome diet or this new fad plan… I’ve done many of the fad diets… the TJ Soup Diet, the Mayo Clinic Soup Diet, the Atkins Diet, a diet planned from my 4-5 dietitians I’ve seen over the years… set meal plans delivered to my work, my home… all have worked… TEMPORARILY… because what happens is that once you are off the plan… no one really tells you what to do AFTER you’ve lost all that weight and how NOT to put it back on again by reverting to your normal daily habits.

Whoever tells you or whatever you read about people who EAT WHAT THEY WANT and DON’T EXERCISE are really NOT telling you the truth… I’ve had the privilege, since starting the sport of cycling and triathlon, to meet some of the most fascinating group of individuals I have ever come across. ALL of them with their tips and tricks on how they manage to drop the weight, exercise and be fit as a fiddle! Slim, toned, defined and muscular…

What’s the secret…? Writing down and monitoring WHAT THEY EAT…

Yes that’s the first secret folks. Your dietitian has told you before, write down what you eat for a week and then we meet for another appointment… Most of us are usually in denial… I don’t eat that much! I really do try to eat healthy! And then you start to write down what you eat… and those little nibbles and snacks and a bite here and there start to add up.

Not only that, but it’s the mix of what you are eating which is really the fascinating part! Cause there’s another little secret that no one tells you about… it’s called your MACROS… or MACRONUTRIENTS… the bane of my existence until I discovered them and started to understand how they work against you, or with you, when you eat!

So I would write down that I ate healthy! I had a fruit salad for breakfast! An apple, a melon slice, strawberries and a banana! Topped it with 10 raisins and a handful of almonds! Yum! Gurrrrrrl… if you’re trying to lose weight… guess what… you just managed to consume ALL the carbs you needed for the day, possibly the week! In just breakfast!

Wrote down my health alternative to rice.. Quinoa! Yes it’s great, lower in carbs, higher in protein, but GURRRRRRL you already consumed your carbs for breakfast!!! Well I didn’t know that!

I could go on and on about the rest of my healthy day… dinner was a smoothie! An apple, half an avocado, teaspoon of honey, coconut milk, cocoa powder… WAIT, did you just say apple AND honey? Yeah I did… GURRRRRRRRRL CARBS your CARBS are all off! But but my calories were low…

And there it is! Your calorie intake REALLY isn’t as important as your CARB:FAT:PROTEIN ratios!

Wanna lost weight? Carbs below 90 grams… for the whole day… believe me that is NOT easy… you would be surprised at how quickly you can over-Carb yourself…

But that’s not all… your ratio is even more important… your FAT (healthy fat) percentage should be higher than your overall carb intake… cause the healthy fats are what will help you keep you ‘full’ and stave off any CRAVINGS… those damn sugar cravings! I want to eat chocolate… I need something sweet… You really SHOULDN’T have any cravings if you are body is being supplied with the right balance of macros and your ratios are correct!

I’m not an expert, I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not a dietitian… but I have learned from my amazing friends who ARE experts, nutritionists and life style coaches that what you consume and how much of WHAT you consume, will make you a healthier and fitter person.

My first recommendation to you all is to get #MyFitnessPal app. Download it. This is your most important diary that you will ever fill! Have a look at how much and what you are eating! At first you will find it frustrating to having to keep writing it all down. But then after the first couple of days it becomes a habit… and you actually start to become more aware of how you are messing up your system and yourself, by thinking you ARE doing it right, but you’re really not.

There is SO MUCH MORE to say about this topic, but I will leave it for another day… There really is only ONE fad diet that you should follow… and that is to write down EVERYTHING you eat and start taking a deeper look at how your food is affecting your mood, your cravings, and how much of a ‘good’ thing you may be eating, really isn’t that good at all!

 

Ok I keep doing this… on again, off again relationship with my blog… but hopefully this time I will TRY to keep it a regular thing… like regularly saying I am on again off again :-p

So now I feel a bit more inspired to blog about simply nothing at all. I’ve been trying to decide where my blog should go, what I should blog about and how to take it forward. What I’ve learned is that this is pretty much a mash up of my life, my work, my kids, my hobbies, my passions and pretty much anything that crosses my mind.

I don’t really rant, I’m not good at that, although I do have a few words to say to people when they irk me… But I don’t think it’s beneficial or therapeutic for me… I would rather focus on the inspirational aspects of life, positive, moving forward, managing day to day life and just being all around generally a good person. I think most of us strive to do this. I’m not going to say NORMAL person, because what is normal to me is NOT necessarily normal to you… and what I’ve seen and learned is that we ALL have a wacky dimension to our families, our life, our own little bubble of a world.

I have been snapchatting recently… Love Snapchat, because I don’t use it for talking about or promoting anything. I just use it to be wacky, fun, maybe a bit of positive shout out to the world, sometimes giving advice, sometimes being silly. Life should be fun, not to be taken too seriously and maybe perhaps adding a bit of devotion to your beliefs in a spiritual sense. Whatever floats your boat. I’m devout in my own way. I’m happily Muslim, I’m a proud Arab and as stated by a recent interview on Slow Twitch, I am a cultural mutt! LOVE IT! Speaking of which, here is the link to the interview!

http://www.slowtwitch.com/Interview/She_Rides_in_the_Middle_East_5519.html

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Thursday June 4 2015. Just arrived to Venice and my thoughts are about my boys that I’ve left behind at home. Make sure they came home from school. Ate lunch. Resting. Then the kits. Total drama right there. Had to ship them straight to Venice. The tour operator we booked through our hotels has been amazing in helping me to get them cleared from customs. Thirty one of us this year from Qatar. With 24 Qataris! Amazing. Blessed to finally be able to cycle for charity and build a school in Gaza. 

As I leave the airport I’m spellbound by the greenery. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such gorgeous scenery and the town I am in is absolutely stunning. I’m exhausted though. Been up since 4am and I’m dying to go out and even bike! But I’m just tired. Will rest a while in the hotel but definitely will go out to discover the town on foot. Also need to find the local bike shop so I can put my bike together. Thinking of greeting the team tomorrow on my bike. Hehehehe

  

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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