Running a marathon for the first time

After discovering I had very high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL Cholesterol), in addition to me being overweight. I decided it was really important to re-focus on my health for the sake of myself, my family, and the mankind :). Since then, I started changing my eating and cooking habits, in addition to a little bit of cardio exercises, basically walking and jogging.

Fast forward to one and half years after that, I started practicing for the yearly half-marathon race “Jeddah Marathon” with a very enthusiastic team lead by Ali Sheneamer.

During Jeddah Marathon trainings You can see me in the bottom right photo being in the middle between @lmnassem and @SaudKoshari.

We trained for less than a month with a schedule of 3 days a week in the beginning then intensive trainings on the last week and a half. I personally was progressing well, according to my athletic status, as you can see in the below image.

Jeddah Marathon training progress

Jeddah Marathon snags

First, media coverage and publicity were terrible. I didn’t know about it unless and until Ali1 asked me to join the team about a month before the race! Since this is becoming an annual race in Jeddah, I believe it should be marketed in a much better manner. Awareness campaigns here and there. Involve school kids to let them know the importance of running or sports in general and so many other ways.

Take Boston’s Athletic Association for example, they open registration for races almost three months in advance for their annual Boston’s half marathon. This gives enough time for participants to prepare themselves and for marketing campaigns to gain publicity and have a much wider reach so you get more people know about the race, which leads us to my third point. Meanwhile, I appreciate the fact that it is a free registration race but I honestly don’t mind paying 100 S.R. ($26) or 200 S.R. ($53) but I would expect something very similar to what BAA are doing.

Next, the number badges distribution channels. One of these channels was in Red Sea Mall, Jeddah’s biggest mall, at a little booth. Unfortunately the representatives were not there during the day, they only come at evenings! Which made me search for another location until I finally got my badge after several days. I had to figure out how to have it attached to my t-shirt.

Then, and just as referenced earlier, during the start of the race, there were few hundreds of alien participants that organizers has brought, just for the show and media, in order to show the public that there were thousands of participants. In fact, this happened even last year according to Ali’s feedback. I saw them myself, as soon as the race started, then ran like crazy for cameras and photographers. 20 or 30 meters later then took a left turn and hopped into their busses! That is pathetic and very non-ethical, IMHO2.

Finally, and that was their biggest fail. After an hour had passed in the race, police and organizers stopped protecting and guarding the roads! That lead to all waiting cars were free to go and so they did. They had to pass between running participants, which was really stupid and dangerous. Imagine an outrageous driver passing by you while you were running in the middle of the road! That is just insane. Initially we didn’t understand why and some participants didn’t want to continue the race. I told myself that I had to finish it no matter what and kept moving forward. We figured out later that they had to do that as the race, according to their understanding, was finished since the first place winner had already passed the finish line. In other words, they don’t give a **** about the rest.

Nevertheless, I kept on running and running. Yes, I did remember the scene when Forrest Gump’s girlfriend was yelling at him: “Run Forrest, Run!”. All my energy was drone and I was worn out. I had to slow down every while. The good thing was our smart trainer, Ali1, took us to the last 5K of the race on our last training 5 days before the race. This gave us some insights on the area and made us more familiar with it. During the race, this was very accommodating because we were familiar with the area and we know we have less than 5K to the finish line. Personally, this was a very good motive for me and it kept me pushing myself until I saw the finish line.

At the start line. I'm on the front row third one from left

The finish line

Yes! I made it to the finish line and just completed my first half marathon ever in my life. What an unforgettable experience this is. It was challenging, inspiring, exhausting, and I got to know and meet a lot of great, exciting, and energetic gentlemen.

My time for the half marathon was 2:50:xx. Very very exhausting especially for a first timer like myself. Yet, it was fabulous. I didn’t really feel any major pain in my muscles, however, the minute I sat, it was so difficult to get up and the pain was building up. I had to replenish and fill my body with water and essential minerals. Luckily I brought a Gatorade bottle and kept it in the car.

What’s next?

I will definitely do it again some day and maybe try and push myself to a complete marathon (42Km).

  1. @Sheneamer  2

  2. IMHO: In my humble opinion 

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