Race report Ironman 2016 ( The gritty details )

First off I thought I finished in around 5:40- 5:45 because I calculated all of the legs separately and averaged it in my head right after the race where I obviously wasn’t in the best state of mind, but I finished in 6:05.





Just let me go back a little.I got to sleep the night before at 10:00 pm but slept at around 11ish. I woke up at 4:30am. Had an 8 banana smoothie with  a lot of water and put all of my things in order for the race. At around 5:50am I decided to put my number sticker on the wetsuit. It took a while. I had to pick up my friend Ameer who was also participating with me. He lives right next to me and I live right next to where the race is going to start.

I leave the house at 6:05 ( the race starts at 6:55 ) and reach Ameer’s house at 6:11. I then realised that I forgot my water bottle at home after picking him up. So Ameer tells me to go back we have plenty of time, so I race back home and collect my water bottle and rush back out. It’s now 6:25 and they have started closing down the roads. We stay stuck in traffic for a while till it starts to move. We reach the four seasons ( The swim start ) at 6:40 and they don’t let us in telling us they have already closed this part because the race will begin in 15 minutes. So we struggle to find a parking spot and we end up parking at a building close by. We get out of the car and start running towards the four seasons ( Ameer was in his sandals ) img_0941

So we make it just 10 minutes before the race and I put on a brand new wetsuit that I’ve never used before. It was really windy and I really didn’t feel like getting cramps while or after the swim. I came wearing my sunglasses and they are prescribed but I couldn’t swim with them so I gave them to a friend ( Hala, thank you for being a champ and staying till I was out) to give me after the swim.

So that happened.

As we were waiting in line to jump in to the sea I was trying to stretch out my wetsuit as much as I can before the swim in the hope that you know..it would not be too tight. Anywho I end up jumping in and boy was it a disaster.  I was really having to pull to get that stroke and because of that I got a little anxious and started to lose my breathing rhythm. Then I told myself just push! push! push! . Halfway through the swim I began thinking to myself ‘What if I just die now, would anyone notice?’ ‘ If I let go, would I fall into the sea or will I float ?’ Then I was finished. In 41 minutes I did a 1.9k ( Now on the website it shows 44 mins. So I’m not sure when exactly do they start counting but as soon as I jumped in I hit the start button ).

As I run out of the water I can barely see anything, and I don’t see Hala ( The girl with my prescribed sunglasses) . So I just run into transition and I thought she’d left. I didn’t blame here. It was windy. I now decided that I was going to race race blind. Ok, not blind but let’s just say it’s very dangerous for me to drive without my glasses.

I struggle to find my way to transition and I finally find my bag where my helmet and race belt is. So I get into gear and I find my bike and run to the bike start part and right before I get onto my bike I see a bunch of people taking pictures and one of those people were Hala!!!!! With my glasses!!!! Looking for me!!!! So I put on my glasses and I can now see again.

I get on my bike and start battling the wind. I was very very careful to not go above 30km/hr. Just because I didn’t have the training miles and I didn’t want to over do it. I stayed in between 28-30km/hr. Now my gels were all taped on my bike and they were giving me crazy paper cuts .

My leg was beginning to look like some character out of Zorro. Now I haven’t eaten GU gels since 2014. But at the time they worked for me and I remember the Hi5 gels and those were something that definitely didn’t work for me.  I had 6oo calories worth of gels and I realised right there and then, that wasn’t enough. I though the large banana smoothie would be enough but I was wrong. The swim had burnt  right through the smoothie. And I was stuck with only 6o0 calories worth of GU.

I ate the ones that were giving a paper cut first. Which were 3. The one I enjoyed the most was salted caramel and the one I despised the most was vanilla orange. What the heck is that all about? That was such an off flavour, and it was hard to wash off. I ended up taking one of the Hi5 gels and then fed on bananas the remaining 30k of the bike leg. I finished 6 gels in 2 hours and still wanted more food.

The ride inside the circuit was beautiful, it really pushed me and made me look forward to the run. I finished the bike  90k later. Took off my cycling shoes, put on my running shoes and got straight to it. I started fairly fast and that was a mistake. I was running a 4:45km/hr pace. At 4k I knew I was going to get hurt if I continued on this pace. So naturally I continued until the pain turned into agony. My IT band was on fire and my ankles were really feeling it.

I then really had to slow down. I started at some point running in a 6:30 pace. I then stopped at every food station and put food into me. I instantly felt better. I’d take an orange, a banana, 3 salty crackers and some energy drink. Did that till the 15k mark. Then all I took in was energy drink . The pain was agonising and I now knew that it was too late to quit. So I meditated . I started running much much faster. I went to a 5:30 pace and kept it there. In the last 2k I was in a surreal experience. My mind was not in my body. My body was running but my mind was up in the air with the clouds. I felt nothing. I went faster and faster. It was just my body that was running after all and not me. I wasn’t present at the time. I did the half marathon in 2:00 hours.

Finished the whole race in 6:05.  A personal best 😀

After checking my watch it added up to 6:00 but who cares! I don’t.

The volunteers were phenomenal. They were part of what kept me going. So upbeat and encouraging. The event was so well organised and there are so many people that I want to thank but want to thank God first for allowing me to complete this adventure with no real training. Everyone who helped me in this journey ( you know who you are ), thank you.

And for those of you pestering me about me not finishing it cause of least year and what not. Well, I won’t say in your face!!. But thanks for putting so much thought into me in general. I’m genuinely flattered.

Next post will be about post ironman as this post is pretty long already. Post. How many times did I say post in this last paragraph?


The alarm went off and it was 4:15 am. I slept at 12 cause who sleeps on race night right? The dude on stage said even pros don’t so I figured I won’t even try and just stay up and stay relaxed. I had slept well 2 nights before so all was good I guess. The alarm goes off. I wake up, drink water and figure it’s still early anyways, so I lie down a little more. It’s funny how I’d fall fast asleep an hour before transition opens but no sleep would come to me 5-7 hours before. Weird.

I wake up again, have some more water and make a 7 banana smoothie not because I want to but because I have to. So I force some down. Gotta get a cleanse going. I then mix 2 electrolyte drinks with powders I got online and are suppose the best stuff out there. I have never tried them before. I always try new stuff on race day. A friend of mine recommended I take his pre work out powder supplement because it helps so much in the gym and it would keep me going long and hard. Now this is some funky stuff. Basically it’s a shit ton of caffeine with some anti-oxidants thrown in. Now, I NEVER drink caffeine anymore and haven’t in over 2 years. Which is great cause that will make me caffeine sensitive and it will work even better, right?. The container said take one scope but my friend recommended a scope and a half since its a long race. I was heading there not knowing that  the swim has been cancelled, we were suppose to start at 7. So I took it at 6:30 so that the caffeine kicks in. The swim got cancelled due to strong currents ( which I was disappointed about but applaud Ironman Bahrain for putting out safety first ). Race started at 8:15. I was jumping around the start line waiting for my batch’s turn. ( Every 5 athletes were sent out to the bike transition within a period of 15 seconds or so) . I had one gel on me only for emergency just in case I needed it. It was caffeine based, it was GU caramel macchiato caramel machiato

MY turn came up! I sped to T1 and passed my bike, had to run back and look for it carefully. The adrenaline was really kicking in. As I took my bike and took off, I saw the GU gel on the floor, had no idea how it fell off, I picked it up and got on the bike and away I went. ( Later saw another Gel on my race belt. Turns out someone dropped the one I picked)

All I had for nutrition were in my bottles and I wasn’t going to eat anything. That was the plan. We had one lane to ourselves and  the other 2 were for drivers. This year the race was way more organized, less people were complaining. The wind was brutal, at first all we had was head wind and I was just pushing through. After passing the Bahrain Bay bridge and heading towards city center mall was super windy that a few bikes in front of me were going side ways due to the head wind.

At the 22km mark exactly, my stomach began to hurt a little, then the more I pedaled the more it hurt. At 26km the pain was unreal. I don’t ever remember having this much stomach pain. I was riding with one hand on the handle and the other rubbing my stomach. I was barely pedaling. All I could think of at the time was is this what woman have to go through every single month? MY God. The pain was getting worse and then at 36k I stopped on the side and got off my bike. I was butt sore from not spending nearly enough time on the bike and my stomach ache nearly put me in tears. Lots of athletes passing by asked if I was okay, everyone’s trying to be nice while fighting their own battles. You can always appreciate a good gesture knowing what everyones going through. That’s it I wanted out, but the only way out was to get back on my bike. It was a tough time and not a porta potty in sight. I wasn’t sure if it was the pre work out supplement or my mixes or the combination of it all. It was then just me and the highway and everyone else passed me by then. All eyes were on  me.Some looked at me with pity, some with sympathy, some with curiosity.I felt like Simba when he was deserted and left for dead   ( for some reason Simba always pops into my head )help simba

10-15 minutes later I got back on my bike and slowly pedaled, just wanting to get somewhere I can get off. At 50k the pain was completely gone and I began to push real hard to make up for lost time.I must have passed around 20 cyclists and then I decided to finish the bike leg. I was getting hungry and took the GU gel and stared at it for a second, feeling very afraid. This gel was either going to make me or break me. I took it. Thank God I didn’t get anymore stomach ache but got a burst of energy. And from there I went head to head with the wind.

Now when it got really windy I would tell my legs,” easy girl, easy”. Don’t know why i’d call them that but it worked and I’d spin on a low gear with high cadence and just embrace the head wind. I reached  T2 in 3 hours and 32 minutes ( not counting the 10 mins stop). I got off the bike put on my running shoes and visor cap and surprisingly didn’t quit yet. I continued running. I decided to use the bathroom to urinate because I didn’t want to half way of the run. Legs were mush but guess I was going to run anyway. Entering the bathroom, luckily saw a cleaner there who was kind enough in helping me unzip my suit from the back ( also the 1st time wearing this suit to a race) . After the bathroom, I started jogging again and maaaaan was it hard to get running again. My legs were so stiff, mainly my thighs felt locked up. I asked myself whether I really wanted to do this. “Are you really going to run a half marathon Hady? really? Your longest run being the 10k a month ago and before that…? ” So I felt an injury coming. I could have run it but I don’t have that racing mentality anymore. That do it no matter what mentality, even if you finish crawling. I have nothing to gain by doing it and a lot to lose. I could have done it and injured myself and spend time recovering. I’m all about health over fitness. I used to race no matter what before and I did finish races and ended up injured a lot. Not doing that ever again. I don’t have anything against that mentality IF you’re well trained. I know my body very well and it was trying to tell me something and I listened. Sure this is a mind game but we need to get out of this physically well or as well as we can.But me knowing what I knew, training for a month, that was enough reason to get out of it. So after 2.2k I headed to the finish line smiling and everyone cheering me thinking I actually finished the race. Awkward moment there.

After the finish line we had chiropractors and physiotherapists to work on us and boy was that that the highlight of my race. I had a sore upper back and burning thighs. The physiotherapist did some voodoo on me and I was up and cracking. Fantastic work, I felt rejuvenated. They’re an awesome clinic called In touch, and they definitely In touched me very well. You can check them out here

One of the main reasons I wrote this post is tell people that “it’s okay “. It’s okay to forfeit a race if you feel you’re going to get injured. It’s okay to listen to your body when everything else is telling you to push. It’s okay to tell people you DNF ( did not finish) . This doesn’t mean you’re a quitter, this means that you have raised above opinions and criticisms and you listened to the one most important and sacred thing to you. Your body. But if you want to go all out, knock yourself out, i’ve done it a lot in the past and it’s an experience. It’s worth it for some and they love it!! It all depends on what it means to you. I choose health over fitness and I urge you to do it at least the majority of the time.

And here’s how I celebrated my DNF . Best vegan pizza I’ve had so far.

I want to personally thank Sh. Sager and the Ironman Bahrain team ( Suzy, if you read this, awesome job) tri life for being there for the athletes and for taking customer service a notch up, and for always looking out for me. Endura, the amazing volunteers, and everyone who cheered me on, and last but definitely not least Intouch.

5 days to ironman 70.3 Bahrain

I’m sore  and haven’t tapered yet. Ordered top of the line nutrition and a wrong order arrived. I have been swamped with work and cannot say no to it, because as a freelancer you just can’t refuse work, not at this stage of my life at least.

I’ve trained for this race for under a month. My longest run was the 10k I wrote about around 3 weeks ago. And it wasn’t even fast. I’m trying to sleep more, but it can be challenging.

I have a few ticks up my sleeve and will see how it goes. Humble goal: 6:30, non realistic goal: beating last years time of 6:10 ( which I was kind of in shape for ) and the  unattainable goal under 6 hours.

For now, eat super well, try and get as much sleep as I can and easy workouts. Work load is increasing by the day. That’s good if it was any other time. But that’s life. Throwing curve balls at me. Just have to me focus and deal with it the right way.

To all you tapering. I salute you. See you at the start line.

Your most effective weight loss tool

I’ve seen a lot of people obsess about how many calories they burn while exercising. I never really understood that but anyways. I’ve seen ads of exercise classes mentioning burn up to 700 calories and that class would be filled with people and bare in mind that is a lot of calories for one class.

People would leave this class feeling burnt out, and sore for a couple of days to come. All that for maybe hopefully reaching a calorie burn of 700!! It’s up to 700, meaning if you give it your absolute all with a little vomit heading out of your system, you may be one of the lucky ones to make it to 700 calories.

Today morning I went for a bike ride which was a training ride for the upcoming ironman in Bahrain which is in 2 weeks. We rode just under 3 hours with police escort ;). We got to go on highways we don’t have access to as cyclists on ordinary days so today was the exception and I wasn’t going to miss it. Today was one of the very rare days that I was all wired up to my phone. I usually just ride for without anything on me but today I had GPS, maps, calories etc. After the ride I took a look at my phone and I burnt a total of 1,583 calories! Let me write it down in words. One thousand five hundred and eighty three calories! I was shocked at how much I’ve burnt having fun ( and the occasional pain and lactic acid build up ) IMG_2410

What other sport do you know of that can burn that amount of calories with very low impact? Nothing I know of. At least not in Bahrain. The bicycle is your biggest weight loss and fitness tool that you will keep you trim, fit and awesome.

The bicycle is a great way to get outside, get a good dose of vitamin D and stay trim without destroying your body. Since its a low impact sport, your joints will not suffer the way it does with running, weight lifting etc.

And if you’re in Bahrain visit Trilife or Endura and get a Bicycle. Winter is coming.

Challenge: 70.3

So tomorrow I officially start training for the Ironman 70.3 which is one month. Yes, one month. So I looked up everywhere on line for a one month training plan and the craziest one was 6 weeks. Yes, 6 weeks and that’s one plan that I had to dig up. I have 4 weeks left. There was nothing out there that even recommended a one most training plan. Here goes.

Can I do it? I mean, truth be told, yes! I could, but it’s not just about finishing, it’s about finishing strong and going through each discipline with confidence and grace. At last year’s Challenge ( half iron distance) I also didn’t have a training plan but I was always swimming, biking and running. I finished in 6 hours and 10 minutes. Not bad for my first ever half iron distance and no training plan.

But this year is different. I haven’t been biking at all and that scares me, Have been barely running and have been mostly swimming ( the smallest fraction of all three disciplines). So am I worried? I’m just confused, excited and a little scared. I’d like to finish in under 6 hours 30 minutes really just because I get bored out there and because I don’t want to be out there for so long. I just don’t.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Train super hard for a month, listen to my body, eat even better and hope I don’t crack. So wish me all luck and I may just keep you posted ( not that anyone should care)


At last year’s challenge Bahrain