It's the Wadi Bih Run, a 72k trail run with 1000m ascent/descent through the Omani mountains. It's a classic on the Dubai running schedule. I had never done before. Everyone who did, said it was a great day out. The distance can be covered by teams of five, with legs between 1.5k and 4k long. One person would be running, the other four would be transporting themselves to the next changeover point in their support car. Around 200 teams participated in this year's run, and more than a 100 solo runners did the distance on their own.
I was especially looking forward to the trail running. I figured I would like it, running over loose gravel. And I did.
What I didn't look forward to was the hills. I have been running for 10 years and have always avoided hills like the pest. Fortunately, Dubai is flat as a pancake. All races in the UAE are as flat as can be. I kept on saying that I will only start running hills when I am 40. That would give me another 14 months from now.
The hills were tough. There is no other word for it. Paces slow down to ridiculous numbers, something that was hard to swallow on the first hill. For me as a road racer it has always been a cardinal sin to walk. No matter what, you keep on running. Now I found myself on a hilly 72k ultra marathon course. While I was running it in a team and my bits only added up to 17k, I realized that walking steep uphill bits is totally legitimate. In fact, I overtook a guy from another team on an uphill leg when I was walking and he was running.
I apologize to all ultra marathoners for my ignorance. I had to experience it myself that walking during an ultra marathon preserves more energy for the flat and downhill bits and keeps you faster over the whole distance. Many ultra marathoners say that time is not so much of an issue. It's the finishing that counts. Coming from a race background where time is everything, it's probably something that I will only understand once I have run an ultra marathon myself.
So here is my new goal: next year in February I will run Wadi Bih solo: 72k on my own. 30k further than the furthest distance I have run so far. Plus the hills. A new challenge.
I will be running the Berlin marathon again in September. And instead of training for the Dubai marathon straight afterwards I'll be going long and slow and prepare for an ultra marathon. I am all excited. I wish I could start training for it now. But I am aware that my body needs rest. Since September last year I have run two full marathons, one half marathon, two 10k races, two 5k races and Wadi Bih.
Tomorrow morning, another half marathon is to follow. I think I have recovered enough from the Dubai marathon three weeks ago, and the hills of Wadi Bih last week were good training. Tomorrow's half marathon is flat as a pancake again. Weather looks good too. I will try and break 90 minutes. That would be 3 minutes off my current PB. I'll keep you posted!
ORANGE ALMOND COOKIES
1 1/3 cups almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
100g/4oz jaggery or coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 teaspoons orange juice
1/4 cup powdered raw sugar
Yields ca. 25
In a bowl, combine almond meal, coconut flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat egg and sugar until creamy. Stir in coconut oil and orange zest. Mix wet and dry ingredients until well combined. Wrap dough tightly in cling wrap and keep refrigerated for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 165C/350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form balls of the size of a walnut and place them two inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Let cool completely on wire rack.
Mix icing sugar and lemon juice together until it becomes a creamy paste. Drizzle over the cooled cookies. Let the frosting become solid before serving.