Slave Route Challenge 2018 – Cape Town

Rizq is when the city you travel to has a race that co-indices with travel dates. The Slave Route Challenge was held on 13th May, Mother’s Day in Cape Town, and I thought it was a good way to check out the city and get to know the community, so I registered for the 21km run. Cape Town is the oldest town in South Africa, also known as the Mother City

Climbing the Pentz Road, Bo Kaap Area with the city center at the backdrop. Picture courtesy of ABPHOTOZA

The registration was done online and the experience was smooth. I collected the bib and race license at the Castle of Good Hope a day before the run. It was autumn coming to winter in Cape Town and the weather was lovely with blue skies throughout my trip.

The run started sharp at 7am in front of the City Hall with three thousand participants in the half marathon category, followed by 10km and 5km every 15 minutes after. The runners were diverse and many runners in hijab ran along with me. What I like about running in hijab is getting the salams and greetings from other fellow muslims along the way. I look like many of them – the Cape Malays.

The 21km route took me along the beautiful neighborhood in the city of Cape Town with the sunrise shining upon gorgeous Table Mountain on the backdrop, Company Garden with a bit of a incline the first 5km. It was followed by a steep climb on Pentz Road 8km onward up to the top of Bo Kaap neighborhood. The runners were cheered by the residents, volunteers and locals along the way, serving local delicacies till the top of the climb. The run continued on flat roads towards the Stadium, Green Point area along the waterfront and back to the City Hall.

  • Castle of Good Hope
    Castle of Good Hope
    Castle of Good Hope
  • Volunteers at Castle of Good Hope
    Volunteers at Castle of Good Hope
  • Race Kit Collection at Castle of Good Hope
    Race Kit Collection at Castle of Good Hope
  • The start and finish point - The City Hall
    The start and finish point - The City Hall
  • The first mosque I spotted. First 2 km of the run
    The first mosque I spotted. First 2 km of the run
  • Entertainment along the way - this at Company Garden
    Entertainment along the way - this at Company Garden
  • Lovely buildnings at Company Garden
    Lovely buildnings at Company Garden
  • Mini water bags at water stations - Cute!
    Mini water bags at water stations - Cute!
  • Climbing the Bo Kaap area
    Climbing the Bo Kaap area
    Climbing the Bo Kaap area
  • At the top of BoKaap area
    At the top of BoKaap area
  • Table Mountain at the backdrop
    Table Mountain at the backdrop
  • At the top of Pentz Street, Bo Kaap
    At the top of Pentz Street, Bo Kaap
  • Colorful houses at Bo Kaap
    Colorful houses at Bo Kaap
    Colorful houses at Bo Kaap
  • Ran Around the Stadium
    Ran Around the Stadium

What I enjoyed most about the race :

  • Supportive community
    There were volunteers every 100 meters, cheering and managing the traffic throughout the run!  They dressed up in tutus, skirts and other fancy attires. Not only that, the residents at Bo Kaap area came out from their homes and cheer! The runners were close knit and friendly. Alhamdulillah, I felt at home and made new friends at the run.
  • Coke at water stations
    A coke lover like me would just find the drinks super refreshing. They even had coke zero at water stations. There was a water shortage in Cape Town and they provided drinking water packed in small green and blue plastic bags. Only coke was served in cups.

    Coke Lover was happy

  • Opportunity to check out the city on foot
    The route took me along historical and tourist sites on foot.It was a lovely and relaxing morning run. The cut off time was 3 hours 30 minutes and I took my time to finish the race. I stopped many times to capture beautiful moments. I spotted four mosques and suraus along the run. Even the race kit area was held at a historical site – Castle of Good Hope. All runners received free entrance ticket to District Six, also a historical site.

Here are more pictures!

Mosque at Bo Kaap

Mosque at Bo Kaap

Mosque at Bo Kaap

Mosque at Bo Kaap

 

Many pleas to protect Bo Kaap as Heritage Site

The Medal

I would love to run again at Cape Town! It was simply an amazing experience!

 

This Ramadan, Keep Moving

Just about a week to go until Ramadan, in sha Allah!

Every year, the period leading up to Ramadan is flooded with a lot of nervicitement (yes it’s a new word coined for moments of nervous excitement alright!) with discussions ranging from resolution and goal setting to menu planning.

During this time we make a conscious effort in realigning our spiritual well being, spending time in prayer, supplication learning and reciting the Holy Qur’an. While this remains the main focus of the month, we still have  to carry on with our daily chores and activities – and this whether we like it or not – includes maintaining our fitness levels.

In the past, I, like many others, absolved myself of any fitness related activities during Ramadan, simply because of the fears of dehydration, fatigue and hanger, which ultimately would take away from the spirit of the month. However, while making up for some missed fasts this past month, I trained and it dispelled all the notions I had built up in my head. In fact, I felt energized, Alhamdulillah!

I am a moderately active person with average fitness levels. Between work and school runs, I manage to train 3-4 days a week during which I do a mix of weight training and running.  So here I am sharing learnings from my own experience – a beginner’s perspective if you like – to encourage you all to keep moving this Ramadan!

When do I train?

I choose to train 60-90 mins before Iftar for about 30-45 minutes. While many suggest it is better to train after iftar or before suhoor, I go with what works best for my schedule. Since school and work schedules operate on shorter timings here in the Middle East, there should be enough time to prep Iftar and dinner well in advance.

The other recommended times are generally post-iftar or pre-suhoor, times at which our bodies are better hydrated and nourished.

What kind of training?

The training intensity would vary based on when you choose to train. Since this will be the first Ramadan I will be training, I plan to stick to a light schedule, which ensures that I keep my body moving.

Model: Nura Arabi Wearing Nashata Modest Sports Wear

  • Yoga routines: There are many free apps and videos which take you through simple routines that range from 10 minute warm up exercises to 40 minute deep restorative routine which are fantastic in relaxing your muscles and breaking a sweat without tiring you out.
  • Functional Training: This involves compound movements that mimic patterns from daily life. Here again, there are several apps which have routines of varying effort and duration to guide you through a simple routine. If this is the first time you would be training while fasting, I suggest relying purely on your body weight and gradually introducing light weights based on how your body takes to the stress of fasting. Start with 3 sets of approximately 10 reps of each exercise. Some great exercises are:
    • Step Ups
    • Squats
    • Walking lunges
    • Push Ups
  • Brisk Walking / Jogging: Considering the weather in the UAE during this time of the year, I stick to the treadmill. Each day of fasting can feel different, so choose a speed and incline based on how you feel on that particular day. As tempting it is to push yourself to try harder, this is not the time to set new challenges. Start with a 15 minute walk, which you can then increase gradually in duration, speed and effort as you progress.

For the sake of avoiding repetition, I will not delve into the What to Eat during Ramadan spiel. But I will emphasize  this – HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! And start preparing your body from today. With the time being between iftar and suhoor being so short in the summer months, it may not be possible to maintain fluid intake as you would on regular days. The solution? EAT water! Hydration is aided by the intake of foods rich in water content and potassium rich foods which help maintain the electrolyte balance in our bodies.

As we all know, the key to having a productive and less stressful Ramadan is being organised.  So plan ahead and schedule in your time to train!

Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan. May it be source of nourishment for our minds and bodies!

Tips and Tools: Run Safely at Any Time of Day

Trying to squeeze a run into today’s modern and often busy schedule can be difficult, especially if you are limiting yourself to only daylight hours due to safety concerns. At times I’ve started a run before the sun came up and finished only as it began to rise or started my run after after the kids are tucked in and feel the need for a little “me time”. Both instances require me to be aware of my surroundings and use certain safety precautions to ensure that I come home safe and sound.

pexels-photo-796545.jpeg

Know your route. Running when others are likely still in bed is not the time to be adventurous and try out a new route. Use a well established running route that is both well-lit and well-traveled. Stay to the outside of parks and other locations that can obscure the view of passersby and that could provide cover for those up to no good. When planning a route, try driving it at night or early morning and take note of street lights or the lack of lighting and anything that can obstruct the available lighting.

Let someone know where you are. While most people won’t appreciate you waking them up in the wee hours of the morning to notify them you are going out for a run, there are other ways you can notify loved ones where you are and where your are going. Using the RoadID app (available on iPhone and Android), you can send a customized message to any cellphone you decide (i.e. “going for a quick 4 mile run, should take 45 minutes”) and then the app sends location updates if you should stop moving longer than 10 seconds. 10 seconds of no forward progression will sound a warning alert to you to either click that you are fine within the app or if you do nothing, everyone you’ve determined will receive a message that you have not moved and your last known location. Also, if you go over your predetermined finish time, a warning will sound that you can disable. If you do not let the app know you are okay, your contact/s will be notified and your last known location will be sent as well.

Protect yourself. There are many items on the market that are discrete, easy to carry ways to protect yourself. One of my absolute favorites is a Stun Ring. This small device is a ring that goes around your finger, with a high voltage stunner at the top and the trigger fits nicely in the palm of your hand. In case you are picturing yourself inadvertently stunning yourself and laying seizing on the ground, there is a safety switch that you have to enable before you can even activate the trigger. I keep it switched off most times but when I encounter an uncomfortable situation, an large off-leash dog or even an environment that suddenly makes me on-guard I switch that safety off so that I can act without hesitation. Please note: I consider this a last resort defense tool. It can be used against animals, however many report that the sound of the device without contact is disturbing to most animals and they will likely retreat without harm.

See and be seen. Being visible to others that may be also on foot, on bike or car is so very important. I nearly hit a pedestrian at 10 o’clock at night who was dressed in all black, socks and shoes included. This individual thought it was a great idea to illegally cross the road when I had the right-of-way. What saved him was the small reflected decal on his shoes! I saw these moving decals and at the last moment realized they were attached to a person. Reflective gear is a staple in my wardrobe. Nike makes a highly visible reflective running vest, Aeroloft Flash which has all reflective detailing and there are other reflective wear in the Nike Aeroloft Flash line. Movement also catches driver’s attention, so I use a lithium battery-operated, LED flashing slap-style bracelets on my upper arm and ankle. Seeing is just as important and being seen. I love this awesome headlamp that actually does both. The front of the lamp is adjustable in light positioning as well as brightness. The strap is adjustable to fit many head shapes and sizes or fit over hijabs and hats. As an added safety feature, there is a highly visible red light on the back of the head strap. The best thing about this headlamp is that it is rechargeable so no worries about purchasing batteries.

Keep some form of identification with you. Thankfully, the Nashata brand sportswear that I use has lots of thoughtfully designed, small pockets that can hold identification cards or emergency contact information. However, consider if you are involved in an accident or faint due to exhaustion; you don’t want someone searching all through your small pockets to find an identification card, which in most cases won’t have contact or medical information. Identification bracelets such as RoadID contain identifying information, emergency contact information and important medical information. I don’t use the bracelet (yet) but I do use their phone app which has a wonderful feature. The app displays this very important information on your cellphone lock screen. You can display the contact information for up to three contacts and put certain information such as allergies or medical conditions or instructions. Most emergency personnel look for a phone or wallet when they find a person incapacitated . Providing contact information and medical conditions could actually save your life.

The best way to stay safe is to do as many as these safety tips as possible. Layer your reflective wear, stay alert, travel on visible paths and let your loved ones know where your going and when you are expected back. As wiith every run, the goal is to come home safe and if you feel something is not quite right, err on the side of caution and follow your safety protocols. No run is worth risking your safety.

How to be an eco-friendly runner

I was inspired by my recent event called National Geographic Earth Day Run to become a more environment-conscious runner. True to its theme, the run has taken efforts to minimize waste, keeping the environment clean, and ensuring the event is as environmentally-friendly as possible.

As a runner, sustainable living is very easy to start. You don’t have to buy expensive organic food, or turn into a vegetarian (although this is highly encouraged!), or give up your current lifestyle that is accustomed to modern amenities.

These 3 simple tips can help you make the Earth a better place while still enjoying your passion for running:

 

  • Bring Your Own Bottle

This is commonly implemented at trail runs, however it is not yet common for road races. This is a great idea because water stations will be clean without cups littering the road. The only trash collected at the water stations will be mostly bananas or energy gel, and this will minimize the volunteers needed to clean up the roads after an event.

During your long run LSD, bringing your own bottle ensures that you remain focused. You can save time by not needing to stop at convenient stores along your training route. You are also free to plan your own routes without worrying if you have enough water to sustain the long run training.

Water station at this event was one of the cleanest that I have ever seen.  There is almost no trash!

Any water bottle will do, however it is advisable to invest in a bottle that has a handle or belt attached. Keeping your hands free will make your runs significantly more comfortable.

  • Buy your supply in bulk

Instead of buying single servings for your energy gels, energy drink, and recovery drink, buy a tub or a bin that will last for several servings. This is a great idea because it will eliminate single-use packaging, such as plastic wrappings. It might be a big amount to spend initially, but the cost per serving will be significantly cheaper.

It is a bit of a hassle since you have to take time to mix your own energy drink/gel. However you will save money in the long run.

Not affiliated with Hammer Gel, but this is an example of how your cost per serving will be cheaper when purchasing in bulk:

  • Carpool to events or training venues

This is a great idea because it cuts down the number of vehicles on the road. Lesser vehicles means decreased harmful gasses emission such as carbon dioxide, which is a significant contributor to global warming. Parking at event venues will be easier too as there were reduced number of cars. Or better yet, take the public transport and you don’t have to worry about parking at all.

Not only is carpooling beneficial to the environment, it is also good for your too. You will save money because you can share the cost of gas and toll. Not to mention, they will have company to ensure that you get to the race venue in time

  • Plus point: Organizers set up recycling bins

Based on my observation, one of the biggest trash sources from an event are the freebies and the refreshment. To tackle that problem, they did not give any bags at the finishing line – just a medal and a fruit. Should participants be interested to collect freebies from the sponsor tents, they can throw the packaging or plastic away inside these recycling bins.

On top of that, this event has carefully selected banana to give away at the finishing line, so they have set up a compost bin (not in this photo) for organic waste.

Sir Bani Yas Challenge (29-30 March 2018)

Marwa Al Wadhahi, a young Omani lady who is enthusiastic about sports and adventure shares her experience at the Sir Bani Yas Challenge 2018. She loves challenges, pushing her limits and experiencing new things. She works in the Oil & Gas industry during the day and passionately practices sports in the evening and holidays. 

Marwa Al Wadhahi

I was very excited when I saw the announcement of Sir Bani Yas Challenge which was originally consisting of 3 km of kayaking, 10 km of trail running and 37 km of cycling. I was excited because I never cycled and kayaked these distances, I’ve never been to Sir Bani Yas and I’ve never done a 50 km challenge in single day. Basically the challenge had a variety of activities and in a unique and exciting venue.

Wildlife at Sir Bani Yas

Sir Bani Yas Island in the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was the venue of the challenge. The island was one of the first “Greening of the Desert” projects established by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1971. Over the years it became one of the UAE largest animal reserves and is home to over 15,000 free roaming animals and birds.

Due to circumstances out of control, the cycling was cancelled and the challenge was modified to become a total of +33 km of an amazing hike on & between mountains, fun kayaking and a long trail run.

The challenge was tough, we started at 6.30 am where the weather was foggy and nice then it got hotter as time passed approaching noon. I personally absolutely loved the hike and the kayaking, I found the trail run (which was the majority of the race) fun at the beginning but then it was really torturous due to the heat, strong pulsing cramps and trail that felt like infinity as the long distance was new to me.

I pushed myself hard, I felt like crying, I felt like giving up, I thought to myself “What made me do this? What was I thinking” I literally felt physically and mentally exhausted. However, because I signed up for the challenge with a mindset and goal to finish as a minimum and despite all the pain and torture I felt, I was absolutely determined to finish, I limped, I walked, I jogged with pain until the finish line.

Husaak Support Stations

On the other hand, the organisers, Husaak Adventures, and fellow participants along the way were very supportive which injected me with positive energy amid the suffering, I smiled to them, felt positive and said to myself that I can do it and I should not give up even though I felt like it! Giving up was just not an option for me. I had fun chatting with some participants along the way and cheering others to continue as well which really makes a difference and pushes people further. Organizers were at the water/food stations and also driving back and forth with cars cheering, checking on us and supplying water

Hiking Trail Views

With a few hundred people participating, Alhamdulillah I’m proud to finish 4th out of more than a 100 female participants, and 33th Overall out of almost 300 male & female participants 🏁 I really pushed myself that day. I haven’t had specific training for this event, just my regular gym training. So I was basically fit but not really trained for this kind of long distance running.

Trail Run

I believe if I hydrated more in the weeks leading to the event and practiced long runs, it would have went even better. Maybe I wasn’t trained enough or ready to go at the pace I was going at but the experience was definitely enriching. The feeling of true struggle that I haven’t felt in a long time, but pushing hard and fighting pain & fatigue to reach the finish line was priceless.

6 Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Miss The Next SCKLM

  1. SCKLM is the Premier Running Event in Malaysia 
    More than 38,000 runners descended on Dataran Merdeka to take part in and celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) 2018 and its popularity continues to grow, as evidenced by its race slots selling out in a day when public registrations opened.
  2. Lovely routes of Kuala Lumpur
    At the SCKLM’s 10th Anniversary, the organiser incorporated new routes for the Full and Half Marathons which took in more of KL’s iconic landmarks but remained as challenging as usual with its route undulations. The hilly stretch beginning from Km32 was especially grueling for a lot of runners. But worry not, there were supporters along the tough route. For example, there was a group of supporters cheering runners and offering Malaysian popsicles at the first hilly route at Bukit Tunku.
  3. Supportive and Committed Pacers
    Pacers not only brought runners back on time, but they also cheered and supported the runners. They were cheerful and went over and beyond. I saw a few pacers running back to motivate and support runners a few hundred meters before finish line and repeated the process. They were incredible!

    Pacers at SCKLM

    Fazu supporting runners. Whatever it takes to motivate &  cheer runners up!

  4. Various Categories to Suit all Ages and Type of Runners
    SCKLM is for both serious and social runners. Out of 38,000 runners, more than 10,000 took part in the Full Marathon and 11,000 in the Half Marathon categories. The rest were 10km, 5km, friendship run for social runners, as well as 1km and 3km Kids Dash for the first time. There were also several categories like the Corporate Challenge, Media Challenge, Universities Challenge and Ministries Challenge to either raise money for charity or provide friendly competition and confer bragging rights to the eventual winners.

    Runners who raced at all 10 editions of SCKLM get Special honour

    Runners who raced at all 10 editions of SCKLM get special honour

  5. Well Organised & Safe for Runners
    Over 1,600 volunteers, paramedics, supporters and staffs of the organiser making sure the  routes were secured, runners were safe and hydrated throughout the run. You do not have to worry about a moving vehicle coming from your back or heading towards you.

    the full marathon started and ended with confetti blasts

    Essential information about the run was provided and communicated well in the runner’s guide.There were many spots where you can rest and relax and catch up with running friends before & after your run. You could use the SCKLM mobile App to check running buddy updates and cheer for them as they approach the finish line. The app was pretty cool with a feature that adds your pictures  taken by strategic cameras along the routes.

  6. Prayer-Friendly for Muslim Runners
    This year the organiser included location for suraus along the Full and Half Marathon on the runner’s guide. Not only that, signboards of suraus were placed at these areas so that runners know the location while running.

    Signage for Suraus

So, don’t miss the next SCKLM in 2019! You get to meet new runners, make friends and enjoy a good run!

Lastly, here are some happy faces of running ladies at the Standard Charted KL Marathon 2018.

Nashsuhah finished her 14th Full Marathon under 5 hours

#NOEXCUSE because 'Anda Hebat! '

#NOEXCUSE because ‘Anda Hebat! ‘

Intan Siza and the Full Marathon Finisher Tee  #omaksukarunning

Running shoes: Minimalist VS Normal

Do you feel overwhelmed by choices when choosing running shoes? Should you go for cushioned shoes? Or light-weight shoes? How do you choose what type of shoes are right for you? Do you have various types of shoes in your closet, yet unsure about which shoes should you wear for this weekend’s big race?

Based on my general observation, there are 2 types of running shoes in the market: Minimalist shoes or regular, cushioned shoes. Regular shoes are equipped with the padding and support required to cushion the impact of running. Their soles are thick. While minimalist running shoes are the exact opposite – they are very light, thin, and flexible. Minimalist shoes mimic the feeling of running barefoot with almost no cushioning.

Traditionally, people have been running barefoot for years. From that ideology, running professionals and designers came up with the idea for minimalist shoes. For every research and data that supports minimalist shoes, there are equal papers and numbers that shows otherwise. Some say that cushioned shoes prevent injury, allows you to run longer, and it is ‘safer’. However, I have also observed fellow runners that still complain from ITB, knee pains, and twisted ankles from wearing highly cushioned shoes. Therefore, I conclude that there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on various factors, such as the condition of your feet, experiences in running, running condition, distance, etc.

I have both types of shoes in my collection. So, how do I decide which shoes should I wear for this weekend’s big race? Personally, this how I decide what type of shoes should I wear for Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 (SCKLM), or any other run. Please feel free to follow this guideline when purchasing new shoes too:

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The role requires you to:

  • Manage online orders, social sites and email
  • Manage and update online stocks and related systems
  • Receive and respond to inquiry products through various social media channels, lines, notes and partner companies
  • Check the quality of Nashata products prior to shipment
  • Packing and managing delivery of sales to customers
  • Manage purchase and delivery of sales to a business partner
  • Dealing with delivery of company for posting.
  • Helps work on stocks, stock handling and stock deliveries
  • Improve customer purchasing experience at all times

 

To perform the above, the role requires you to possess:

  1. Knowledge and hands on experience packing products for shipment
  2. SPM or Diploma holders
  3. Good communication skills in English
  4. Advanced user of computers, online applications and printers
  5. Honest and trustworthy
  6. Passionate communicating with customers
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  • Medical benefits
  • Work life balance
  • Opportunities to grow
  • At Nashata, you are empowered
  • Monthly salary RM1400 – RM2500 (depending on qualifications & experience

 

Standard Charted KL Marathon 2018 : Road Closure Info

Are you ready for the biggest running event in Malaysia? Make sure you have the information you need to get to the race village in time. Take note of the road closures on the 6-8th April 2018

Standard Charted KL Marathon 2018 Road Closure

Standard  Charted KL Marathon 2018 Road Closure

Standard Charted KL Marathon 2018 Road Closure

Have a great race this weekend!

5 reasons why Ultra top is a must have (specially for SCKLM!)

Ladies, Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM 2018) is fast approaching. It’s time to get your gear ready! Personally, I only run long distances in Ultra tops, and it has never failed me. If you have not tried my favorite top from Nashata, here are 4 awesome reasons why you should get one for yourself just in time for SCKLM 2018:

Remember: You don’t want to be wearing something brand new on race day. Test your outfit and shoes during your training sessions to avoid wardrobe mishaps that will affect your focus and performance such as chaffing.

So ladies, what’s your favorite top to wear while running?