My September month was full of aspirations. One year to be exact when I’ve gotten hook to running. As for the moment, I am preparing and trying to involve myself in more upcoming running adventures, races, marathons and ultra. As I tried to recall my path heading to this journey, I couldn’t help it but be proud to share this piece of mine and inspire others about the cliché that things are possible to those who believe. So when things get tough, make the choice to encourage yourself because it really makes a difference.
It all started from heartbreak and soul searching, from baby steps jogger to a hundred mile ultra-runner. Never in my wildest dream that I would enter the world of runners. I simply run for the sake of running, to be health conscious, to unwind, to breathe and to get away from bustle of daily life. I was tamed by the hearsay that running releases endorphins (a happy hormones) which I later on realized that indeed was true. Not minding technical terms like trainings, PR’s, PB’s, mileage and so on, I just run because it makes me feel strong and carefree.
Inspired by the club I joined with, the Doha Bay Running Club (DBRC), I registered my first ever race the Doha College Race held November 16, 2017 which surprisingly put me to 13th position from 94 participants under 10K Open Women’s Category. From then on, my bucket lists for running adventures continued.
So to begin the year with, I registered for a half marathon category in the Ooredoo Marathon January 2018, an annual run for a cause held in Qatar. I did self-trainings and joined group runs for one and a half month. As badge to running addiction, I suffered several injuries prior to the race date. My right ankle got sprained on the first week of December that halted me from 3 days running. Then, flu week came after my misty morning run the following week. And due to carelessness and excitement for recovery run, I stumbled down the road and got serious bruise on my left knee. Several times I asked myself why am I doing this? Why torture myself like this? But crazy it may sound, I fell in love with running eventually.
After the debates of mind over body, I finally reached my time-frame. Last week before the actual race, I did some tapering, shortened my distance runs and simultaneous to my office works deadline of reports, it helped me relaxed my feet from running. I watched videos of inspiring runners, listened to podcasts and read some tips on how to make marathons to finish line. But the night before the race, I just couldn’t control butterflies in my stomach!
The race day arrived! After 10 miles, I started to feel heavy. I could no longer feel my feet touching the ground. Cramps were all over my body especially calves. I looked around and could see other runners which I bet feeling the same. Oh no! Negative energies were pulling me back! To push it through, I let my mind and heart did the run that moment. I played some mantras like it is always ok to go slowly but surely, don’t stop and just keep moving! I had trained for this so I should finish this! Consistency and body posture! This happens only once so keep moving! There are cameras around so keep moving! And there we go! For about a mile to finish line, I took a deep breathe, checked my posture, gathered remaining energy that I had, did the sprint and voila!
That was my very first half marathon for the record. I’ve realized that anything is possible if you put your hundred percent heart and mind effort to it. I was not born as runner but I am proud that I’ve discovered another version of me. The power of mind setting, willpower and strong determination will always bring out the best in you.
The following months were unstoppable. Clueless of what was it like to go beyond 42kilometer full marathon distance, I registered for the 50 KM Ultra Run by Qatar Foundation as part of Qatar Sports Day 2018 celebration. Without any hesitation, I then trusted myself that I knew I can do it. So, as to no more backing out mode, I started doing my self-training. Since I was preparing too for the Trans Qatar Ultra the following week, so I took the chance to hit two birds in one stone. I was so nervous the night before the event that I could hardly sleep. I tried to be in bed around 9:00pm and woke up at 4am. The race started at 8:20am and took me about 5:23:27 hours to finish my first ever 50KM. Super thanks to the organizer that provided the refreshments and patiently waited up to the end. Nobody from women’s category took the said distance. So by default, I was able to get the trophy! I never won such big trophy as that in my entire life.
The first of its kind Trans Qatar Ultra went on the following week, which marked my first ever 100 Miler Ultra. The goal was to traverse the 190KM desert and road trails from South to North of Qatar with 19 expatriate runners from UK, India, Philippines, Syria, France, Canada, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Spain and Brazil. It was a fantasy to reality and a nightmare to awakening experience. I have no idea what lies ahead but the camaraderie and energy of runners calmed my panicking mind. It took us 28 hours of journey with two hour sleep in 100KM refreshment point. It was not an easy adventure. Massive blisters, chafing, feet on fire, stumbling on sharp rocks, muscle cramps, deserted feeling, tummy trouble, hallucinations, lose of few toe nails and sunburns. I even literally cried in some point miles, not to mention of how many fucks, bulls and shits I uttered. The support of volunteers, social media followers and well-wishers motivated us to keep going. Thankful it seemed but due to some circumstances, our lead organizer then expat Mr. Loic Bourdon marked our 160KM(100 Miles) as an end point. There is this best feeling of fulfillment when you accomplished something that you once have thought would be impossible to do.
I could say that in my 4 years of residency in Qatar, it is one of the most promising and safest place to run. I normally run alone and I can guarantee a safe and sound environment. From dramatic view of Corniche Promenade, Greenish Public Parks, Stunning dunes in Sealine, Landscapes of limestone rocks in Zekreet and the friendly access to indoor/outdoor tracks, these are just some of the many things that Qatar can offer.
As a woman who’ve fought a thousand battles, still standing. Has cried a thousand tears, yet still smiling. Has been broken, betrayed, abandoned, rejected but still walks proud, laugh out loud, lives without fear, loves without doubt. This woman is strong and beautiful. This woman is humble. I am woman and I’m-possible!