UmYazan's Blog

LG Dead Sea Ultra Marathon Race Report

Posted on: April 15, 2017

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!

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