Sunday, March 20, 2011

My First Half-Marathon.

Yesterday, I ran my first official half-marathon race. Today, I can't walk.

As my wife massages my sore muscles with Iodex, I have to ask myself. What is the difference between running 21K every Saturday morning on a treadmill without any pain, and running the same distance on the road and having my body in complete ruins?.

I think I know the answer: Heat.

It was a nice and sunny day, as I headed out with the family to the Marina Mall - where the race was scheduled to begin. I had not run for the last 6 days to ensure that my legs were well rested, and I had plenty of sleep the night before. I was feeling good.

I collected my timing chip, and mingled around as runners started turning up. It was a very good turnout. Nearly 200 runners for the half-marathon and a similar number for the 10K run. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00 AM.

Everything was really well organized, and the race started at the scheduled time.

The start of the half-marathon. Photo by bloggermathai.
I started off really well. My Nike+ GPS app alerted me that I had completed my first KM in 5 minutes. If I could maintain that pace, I was pretty sure I would get a nice place. However, it soon became apparent to me that I would not be able to maintain the same pace because I started feeling the heat. Heat is something that I am not accustomed to when working out on the treadmill. I had earlier participated in a 10K race in November - but during that time, the weather was very nice and I never felt the heat. But this time it was different. The heat was hard and direct - and even my patented silly hat was no match for the heat.

As I continued running, I started noticing a second problem. The drinks. We had been briefed that there would be drink stations along the route serving water, Pepsi, and Gatorade. The problem was picking up the right drink. I would have preferred to sip Gatorade throughout the run - in order to maintain salts in the body and avoid cramps, but it was not apparent which glass contained what (unless you stopped by to inspect). Most of the time, I ended up with a glass of water. This was not a good sign.

By the time we reached the half-way point, I was really tired, and my pace dropped considerably. It was now 6 minutes for every kilometer. On my return trip, I tried to be more choosy on the drinks - even stopping by twice to make sure that I got Gatorade.

The heat was really intense and maintaining pace was now a struggle. I felt I should stop, but I carried on. At the 17km mark, I suddenly got a cramp in the calf and stopped in sudden pain. After drinking some more water, I started again - this time being very mindful of the cramps developing.

I was determined to finish the race under the 2 hour mark and I am proud to say that I did it. I completed the race in 1 hour and 55 minutes, and my official position was 60th out of 150 runners who completed the event.

The only strange thing I found was that my GPS shows that I completed only 19.7Kms, while the distance markers showed that I ran 21K. I don't know which is correct.

All in all, it was a well-organized event. I hope the organizers make this an annual event for Kuwait.


  1. And my Nike+GPS said i ran 23Kms, Lol ... so i guess we both really ran 21Kms, sound good?

  2. lol.
    Thanks for that reassurance. I feel much better thinking that I ran a proper half-marathon in under 2 hours (which was my original target).

  3. Congrats. Gatorate or our own Limbo pani with sea salts would have helped. But a good effort from you and I guess real race situations have their own challenges. My wife plays table tennis on the PS3 move and thinks she is a decent player. She has never played TT in her life. LOL.

  4. Very true flobo. The important thing is to learn from each experience. As for the PS3, who knows? Your wife may figure out it is time to try some real TT and get good at that too.
    I may yet take you up on your invite for the Toronto Marathon.

  5. Sure. If I am not mistaken, they do the half one too. I have a few current/former runners in the office. I could find out the details if needed.

  6. All was well organisaed..for me the challenging bit was the fact that it wasnt a straight racecourse..and the heat just added to the challenge..also somehow i felt as tho after the 15 k mark most of the water stations were out of drinks :s newho made it to the end without stopping and im a proud half marathoner now :D

    Great job on ur timing btw. did u take the chip btw? coz they have the results up on their site.

  7. My Nike+ GPS reading said about the same distance as your, Cajie (a little short). It makes me feel a little more confident that someone reports theirs registered far, though. I'm hoping it's the Nike+ that was off.

  8. @Anonymous..Good to hear that. Yes. I took my position from the website. It is recorded on the website as:
    #60 AGOSTINHO BARRETIO 1:55:53.
    @Derek. I am with you. But based on my pace, I am willing to bet that the Nike+ was more precise. The day before, I wanted to check the approximate distance, so I drove my car from the start point to Kuwait Towers, and my car odometer showed me around 9.5 Kms. This corroborates with what the GPS computed.

  9. true..but dont u think running and going passed around those restaurents would have added up all to 21 k since we didnt exactly do a straight run

  10. The first turn (at Corniche club) added about 200 meters, and the one at Kuwait Towers added around 400 meters. There was another small turn but that was insignificant.
    As I said, I hope that I ran the full and proper 21K, but my gut tells me that I did not. Here's why.
    I normally run at a pace of 5 minutes per kilometer on a treadmill and I can maintain that pace for the full 21K because there is no heat and I sip on Gatorade constantly. At that pace, I finish my workout in around 1 hour 50 minutes.
    You can see my workouts here.

    In the KCR race, I started at that pace but dropped it significantly on the return trip, even stopping few times because of the cramps - yet I finished in 1 hour 55 minutes???
    The numbers don't add up.

  11. Hey WELL DONE mate on your first half marathon,

    Running on a treadmill is very different to the body than running on the ground, I remember when i switched from Treadmills to ground running ( it took my body 3 weeks to ADJUST ),, maybe thats why you ended up feeling more tired. And of course the FEELING OF COMPETITION is different ;) it makes u push harder.

    About rehydration, it is one complex issue, and every school of Fitness has their OWN views and proofs. But from my experience from running in the heat for the past year, even on August at 11 AM. to prepare me for the Des Sables Race. (Drink gatorade at night, and 2 hours before u run) electrolytes are usually stored in the body and from my own personal experience; they helped me stay hydrated through out my runs even though i dont drink them during a run.

    If u need anything bro, Contact me ( for any questions and stuff.

    Im leaving to the Des Sables in 8 days, and may God help me. Pray for me.


    Yousef Al Qanai
    Fitness Expert

  12. Thanks Yousef for your comment and suggestions. I always look up to you first - when it comes running.
    All the best for your MDS. You will be in our prayers, and I will be monitoring your progress online.