UmYazan's Blog

So every time I try to explain triathlon and what I’m training for, I get the same reaction every time… Woah! You’re doing what??? What was that distance again? Over how many days? WHAT? One day? All in one day???

I can’t tell you how much these reactions make me think… wow… really, what am I doing and at the same time push me to WANT to do this even more…

I will admit, I am VERY anxious at the thought… I mean really… a 3.8 kilometer swim, followed by a 180 kilometer bike, followed by a 42 kilometer run… who wouldn’t be anxious… especially coming into their first long-distance endurance event!

Yes this is my first full IronMan. I’ve done two other 70.3 IronMan distances, multitudes of sprint distances, an Olympic distance and one short distance at Abu Dhabi International Triathlon which was a 1.5 kilometer swim, a 100 kilometer bike, followed by a 10 kilometer run.

I’ve also participated in a couple of half marathons a couple of 5km runs and 10km runs. I’ve never completed a full marathon (perhaps that should be my next goal after the IronMan, although it DOES include a full marathon distance post the bike).

So here we are, I am 44 days away from IronMan Austria. It’s crunch time and these next six weeks are essential for my training. The training load will be high as I build my endurance. Of course, I have been training regularly but it hasn’t been easy with work and family commitments a priority. But somehow I’ve managed and I’m sure I’ve sacrificed on the personal front to dedicate my training time to this baby!

Today I have a rest day as tomorrow my coach has me on a 2/3’s day. This means that I will train exactly 2/3’s the distance I will do in Austria. Which means a 3km swim, a 120km bike ride following by a 28km run.

That’s a full day! A few weeks ago I did a 70.3 distance but I didn’t do the full bike I was meant to… a 1.9km swim, biked for 90 minutes and ran a 21km. That was tough. It’s not easy to train here in Jordan. We have hilly courses and I’m still petrified of riding my bike on the roads here simply because cycling culture is still in its infancy and people still don’t understand that a car against a bike, well the car will ALWAYS win! So I’ve been training mostly indoors on my turbo trainer. And let me tell you… training indoors is a lot more difficult than competing in a full IronMan. You can’t imagine HOW BORING IT IS to sit there, stationary for 4 hours, staring at your computer screen, hoping it will all go away soon. Takes a lot of mental strength let me tell you!

But I must say the support of friends, family, sponsors and those following on social media has been overwhelming… not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the support and motivation to keep going.

Thank you my Betty Designs sqaud, KABS Fit Factory and KABS Athletes, RNR Sports… so grateful for all your support!

Tidbits…

Posted on: May 5, 2017

So I was asked to present to a group of 11th and 12th graders at Mashrek School for Career Day… I always get apprehensive when asked to present as it’s the most nerve racking thing for me to have a room full of eyes staring at me while I talk!

Flattered that I was asked to present, I decided that my presentation wouldn’t be about my job but rather what I’ve learned through my years at work, at home and at play…

So I thought I’d share it here on my blog… since I didn’t write any blog last week, I did spend time working on my presentation.

Enjoy by clicking on the link below!!!

Career day

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 πŸ˜‚. 

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 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚!

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! πŸ˜‚. 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 πŸ™ŒπŸ»

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 πŸ™‚

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 toΒ 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 isΒ 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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