Season…over?

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…which basically summarizes the month I have been away. Over the past few months the sports events here have been plentiful, so we had little training but every weekend something to race – run, bike aquathlon, triathlon… it was very weird to start the year like this! Normally, at this time of the year in Denmark me and my hubby would go spinning, swim or run indoor, or do some climbing… Now it is quite the opposite. The racing season is kind of … coming close to the end, with major races here in the UAE already over. The temperatures are bursting toward high 20s at times, and while volatile, the heat will come back in full force by April-May just in time for Ramadan.

There is no single word to summarize all races. Running has been tough for me in all of them, mostly in the Ironman 70.3 Dubai, which was a hot one. Swimming overall – has improved, off 15-20 secs/100m, but I still feel relatively slow compared to most people here. Frankly, being in this region you have to compete with someone who is swimming outdoors all year round… from age 2-3!  Cycling…has improved quite a bit, now 30km/h pace is a lower limit not the target for the race.  Room for improvement, still.

Ironman 70.3 Dubai was so far the highlight of this year in sports life. It takes some nerve and patience to prepare for the 1.9k swim, 90k bike, and 21k run. And the worst part is actually waiting for it. The anxiety the day before was enormous. We arrived to Dubai  on a Thursday, which I took as a day off, and we spent half of the day preparing, registering, eating pasta (pad thai)…and getting more and more nervous (time goes too slow).

On a Friday, the race day, we did what I later thought was a good idea – slept to well past 5am, and with a few sandwiches swallowed, off to transition area close to Burj al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel, where the start line was placed. Unfortunately the parking area was packed, so we were driving around just to find something, and by the time we were done we had to run toward transition area to fix our last things – water, energy gels, put a wetsuit on… and of course run to the bathroom for the very last time (hopefully). We managed to hear “the transition is closing in 1 minute” just before we abandoned it. Ouch! We had to run toward the start line almost, which was almost a kilometer away. That was a good warmup, at least! And the good part, we did not have to wait almost anything, as the race started 7am and with the rolling start we jumped into water soon after.

And then the fun began… The sea was rough. So rough that you couldn’t see the next buoy, the marker of the route. I had to rely on people around me and follow the crowd. One part of the crowd missed one buoy by chance and had to come back. And then, toward the shore, the morning sun was so strong that it was impossible to see the exit right until the very last meters.  Later someone joked that the elevation in water was higher than on the bike course, which was true 😉 Anyway, done the 1.9km (more likely 2.2km in 38mins.

And though the bike course was flat indeed, the wind riding toward desert, i.e. first half 45km, was a bit of a struggle. Coming back was easier, flying 35-45km/hr. So that overall 90k was finished with the average speed of 32km/hour. Pat pat.

Coming off the bike however toward the noon in the heat on the Jumeirah beach… that was not fun at all. Used every station to through water on, which while helped to cool off, also made shoes soaking wet, which eventually resulted in blisters… That was a true test of willpower. And the struggle was even worse, seeing all those tourists around eating ice cream and shouting “go, go”. “You try to go yourself!!” – I was whispering in my head annoyed.

Anyway, all pain and suffering is gone the very moment you reach the red carpet. I managed to dance toward the finish line, and the huge relief and sense of achievement overwhelmed with my hubby greeting me at the finish line. I did it – in 5hrs 38mins, his result was 5hrs 12mins.  Couple goals!

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After doing Dubai 70.3, other races where kind of walk in the park… the Olympic distance TriYas on the F1 race track last weekend was one to remember for sure (38km, 7 loops on the F1 track with a tri bike). I managed to nail that one with 2hrs 42mins, dragged a bit by the unfairly long swimming part (1.5km) – my weakness; yet managed to overtake many on the rather comfortable 5min/km 10k run.  The hubby was some 15mins faster and waited for me at the finish line with a Lithuanian flag 🙂 The only issue for me was that he started 14:50 as one of the male aged 31-40 wave, while I had to wait for the 15:40 slot for female start! And swim with the pink cap…(so wrong).

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I know it looks like we are only doing sport here, but the good part about getting tired is how much you actually appreciate just sitting down, watching a movie, having good food and…even going to opera 🙂 Yes, we have been already twice to Dubai opera over the past month: once to hear and see Ludovico Einaudi (second time for me – amazing as ever), and second time for opera, AIDA – I have never had nearly 4 hours go so fast. And since you can’t take any pictures during the play itself, I can only show a bit of the Dubai opera house interior with us as a highlight 😛

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There is other things we now do, involving water, but to keep the post short, I will just put only this here for now 😉 (yes, I am alive)

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