The Inspiring Running Niqabi From Durban

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Zaheda finished strong in her Half Marathon in Durban few weeks ago ?

Zaheda is one of the running sisters from Durban, South Africa who joined Nashata Virtual Run For Charity in March edition to support Baitul Aman Children Center in South Africa. Zaheda is 43 years old and a mother of 3. She runs in veil and in March and she collects the highest mileage among all which is 170km. Here are a few sharing about her passion in running in Q&A:

1. Q: When did Zaheda start running?

A : Fitness has always been a big part of my life from a young age but I only started running in my final year at school. I went to a school where athletics played a major role, but I never participated. In my final year, I felt like I wanted to finish knowing that I at least tried. I finished second last but I was bitten. Starting off was very difficult for me, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I almost gave up but I didn’t. Everyday, I’d go back to it until slowly I started getting better and better at it and I was doing longer distances each time. I became hooked as I was happiest when I was out there. In terms of speed and pace I’m pretty slow but I’m working on it.

2. Q: How frequent does Zaheda run?

A: I aim for 25KM a week but this year, I’m quite busy so sometimes I was only running on my treadmill, 3 to 5km, 4 or 5 times per week. On a week day, I limit my running time to an hour.

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These are some of the recorded mileage collection for Nashata Virtual Run for Charity South Africa,..she manage to collect 170km in March 😉

3.Q : When and where does Zaheda run?

A: I run early in the mornings. I live in the area which is very near to the beach, so I always run along the beach on the promenade. I am a mum of 3, my kids are independent and grown up but I  try to run at time that doesn’t affect my family life. When I get back from my run, they are getting up and I’m there to prepare their breakfasts and school lunches and see them off to school.

Zaheda runs very early in the morning

4.Q : What motivates Zaheda to run?

A : My sister, Zainab run much faster, very disciplined and she is incredibly amazing and I draw my inspiration from her. We run together every Sunday and we always encourage each other to keep improve ourselves. Other than that. I have always found that running helps me get back in shape and I feel good when I’m running consistently. Unfortunately, life sometimes doesn’t allow you to do as you please always. That been said, I am also finding my time for it with proper time management and discipline you can always make it work; this is what my sister, Zainab taught me.

Note : Zainab runs at Nashata Virtual Run for Charity too and she runs FAST!

5. Q : How is Zaheda’s diet like?

A : As far as my diet, I’m not the most disciplined but I’m training myself to control my indulgences as well as my portions. What you eat really affects the way you run. Don’t take fizzy drinks, even the sugar free variety. I don’t really take supplements except my calcium supplement, so I try to eat healthy food and keep well hydrated. I also can only run on a empty stomach, if I eat before run I will feel lethargic. But, yes everyone is different, this works for me.

6. Q : How running change Zaheda’s life?

A : Running has had huge impact on my life. It helps me deal with the stress in life. I am healthier, fitter and I find that I don’t get sick often, Alhamdulillah. It is good for your body and mental well being. I often joke with my friends that I’m addicted to the endorphins and need to get my fix daily.

7. Q : What does Zaheda wear when she runs?

A: Initially I ran in an abaya but after a few near falls, I started customizing my gear and now I’ve discovered Nashata whose range I’m totally in love with. I now have the freedom of doing what I love, looking good and modest all at the same time.

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8. Q : How did Zaheda discover Nashata? 

A : I discovered Nashata by chance really, I searched Islamic Sportswear and it came up. Then, I followed them on Facebook. Eliza is very professional and it was absolute pleasure purchasing from her.

9. Q : What is Zaheda’s advice to other novice runners?

A :  My advice is please don’t give up. It is difficult at first but it gets easier and enjoyable. Listen to your body, rest when you feel like it and don’t feel guilty. I adorn the niqaab or face veil, I’m wearing it for 5 years now, Alhamdulillah. Initially I thought I’d never run again as I had never seen a niqaabi run. I used to do strength training with a personal trainer and we found that I was getting really strong but not really loosing weight and she suggested I start running again and for a while I found excuses, silly ones, what would people say, what would I wear until finally she pushed me so hard that I was out of excuses. Things that I learnt are don’t give up on your dreams, the only thing holding you back is YOURSELF. There is certain kind of magic in misery, ask any runners out there.

InsyaAllah, may all women out there will be inspired by Zaheda, the running Niqaabi 😉

Running the Tokyo Marathon

Well, my Tokyo Marathon journey has come to an end. It’s been almost a week since I, along with 36,000 other runners from all over the world, braved the cold weather and harsh winds and ran the streets of Tokyo. And I’m still on a runner’s high!

I had traveled to Tokyo with my new runner friend, Iman, who was introduced to me by another runner friend, Melisa. In fact, the first time we met face-to-face was at the airport, LOL! But, this is what I love about the running community. With our love for running as our common denominator, we immediately clicked and had a great time exploring Tokyo together.

Once we had landed in Tokyo, our first area of business was to pick up our bibs and running packs at the Expo. After buying our Subway tickets and getting directions from the super friendly people at the Tourist Information Center, we were on our way to the Expo at Tokyo Big Sight. There were hundreds of runners there but the system set up was so efficient, we had our bibs, timing chips, race t-shirts and goodie bags in record time.

IMG-20170224-WA0011 (1)The day of the race was nerve wrecking to say the least. The race didn’t start until 9:10am but we were advised to arrive early as the security clearance and baggage drop-off process would take a while. In the end, we headed out from our Airbnb around 7am, with sufficient time to make it to the starting area, drop off our baggage, hydrate and make the ever important bathroom stop. The gates to the different starting pens opened at about 8:15am so it was here that I separated with the other Malaysian runners (they were in the quicker pace group).

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What I wore for the race: Riada Active Pants, Zip Up Azeeza Lite top, Hooda Racerback hijab with two Raazgloves (One underneath my hijab for added coverage and another as a neck warmer/face cover). All available from Nashata. I also wore and inner top ad inner pants for added warmth, compression socks and gloves.

IMG_20170226_085945  The 5:30 pacers in front of us, calmly waiting for the go ahead signal.

At 9:10am sharp, we heard the gun go off for the elite runners category. About 10 minutes later, we were released into the wave of runners heading towards the starting mat. We passed it 10 minutes later, which made it the longest delay to the starting mat after flagoff I’ve ever had. However, once we all started running, it was all good.

We started from the Shinjuku area, near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Sidenote: Instead of paying to get a birds-eye view of Tokyo at the Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree, go here instead. There are two observatory towers and both are accessible for free! The first 6km of the race took us past the Shinjuku-Gyoen national park and also the Science Musuem. It was also mostly downhill so unintentionally, I ran it at a much faster pace than intended. It wasn’t until I reached that first checkpoint did I look down at my pace and decided to slow down a bit.

The next 6km had us running parts of the Kanda and Ningyocho area. It was here that several performances were being performed to give the runners a boost if needed and also entertain the many spectators of the race.

IMG_20170226_101820Cultural dance performances made the race special and were a treat for international and local runners alike.

The first loop of the race came about km15, near the Asakusa area. It was here we got glimpses of the elite runners as they had already made the turn way ahead of us. Asakusa’s most recognizable landmark is the Kaminarimon Gate, where one can see the huge red lantern, protected by the Gods, Fujin and Raijin.

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Funfact: That huge red lantern weighs about 700 kilograms!

Heading towards the 25km mark, the race heated up as more and more supporters lined up to cheer the runners along. This Ryogoku – Fukagawa area showcased many landmarks such as the Tomika Hachimangu Shrine, the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the Ekoin Temple and the Sumida Hokusai Museum.

IMG_20170226_115356The cheerleaders were a welcome sight after reaching the halfway point.

After the 25km mark, we started to see a lot of runners stop beside the road to stretch and walk around a bit. I have to admit, I was one of them. The cold really got to me, despite my many layers of clothing. However, the cheers of the crowd yelling “Gambatte” and “Fighto” pushed us to carry on.

Heading towards the finishing line, we were treated to sights of the Tokyo Tower and parts of Hibiya Park.

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Modeled after the Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower stands at 333 meters and is the world’s tallest, self-supported steel tower.

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The last stretch before the turn towards the finishing line was, in my opinion, the most emotional I’ve ever ran. Hundreds of supporters were cheering the runners on, many of whom I took time to give and receive high-fives and shouts of congratulations. Turning the last corner, I almost cried seeing the finishing line. The pain I felt throughout the race, fighting the cold, the leg cramps…it all disappeared once I crossed that mat. Volunteers rushed ahead to make sure I was OK then directed me towards my baggage pickup area.

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All finishers were given a medal and a finisher’s towel. Awesome!!

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Proud Malaysians with the Jalur Gemilang after the race.

Eventhough this is not my first Full Marathon, it is certainly the most memorable yet. I don’t know if it’s just a Japanese culture but the crowds and volunteers were top-notch. From start to finish, spectators were lined up along the roads, cheering and providing provisions for the runners. Some had drinks, some had candies, some had chocolate, some even had cooling sprays! I saw parents hold up signboards with pictures of their children, crying with joy when they spotted him/her along the course. Drones of families, some with small children (so cute!!), some even in wheelchairs came out to give their support. I can’t tell you how many times my spirit got lifted by the crowd. Even the volunteers were amazing; always serving with a smile, a high-five and words of encouragement. Eventhough I didn’t achieve my target time of 5:30, this Tokyo Marathon experience will certainly be one to remember fondly for all time.

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Arigato and Sayonara, Tokyo!

The Strong Brunei Runners @ the Nashata Charity Run

Assalamualaikum my dear friends,

February has passed with 711 km collective mileage by four wonderful runners from Brunei (Moniri, NurAin, Nana and Feeda) and two Nashata runners (Nahsuhah & I). Our target was 500 km and we clearly overshot by 42%.  Brunei was the first country that embarked into NashataRun4Charity and we were truly blessed to have found committed runners who selflessly volunteered to run for an Autism Center called SMARTER Brunei.

Nurain pulled together her friends to run virtually with us, and alhamdullillah, she collected the most mileage – 205km by climbing up and down the stairs and running. That was simply remarkable – running on average 7.3km/day throughout the month! But she did it anyways, raising her bar, one week after another, from 50km to 100km  to 150km to 200km. She lost 3 kg in a healthy way and raised funds for a cause of her choice. I am so happy for her.

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Highest Mileage for Nashata Charity Run Brunei by Nurain

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Moniri enjoys her weekend runs & challenges

Nana in Support of Autism

Nana in Support of Autism

As for me, I was happy to have run 112km in February. Never have I thought I would run so much in a month. Somehow, throughout Feb, running in the morning became something I had to do, and alhamdulillah I managed to improve my pace. I tried to run fast, as I couldn’t afford to spend too much time running. Towards the end of the month, I was reminded by a friend to slow down to prevent injury. I took it easy the last few days and decided to smell the grass and roses as I ran. I lost only a bit of weight as my appetite increased. The good thing about running is that you tend to take care of your food intake and drink a lot of water.

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A picture after each run. My Garmin watch kept me on my toes and my Hubby kept me company 🙂

Other than running to my fullest potential, these are some of my other key learning I get from the running girls.

1. Ain’s Achievable Goal Setting Motto : “Desire + Determination + Action = Achievement. We need to set our target, locked it and do it. even if we fall or fail, don’t give up, just get back up and continue.”

2. Running tips to improve timing and prevent injury by Nahsuhah

  • Listen to your body
  • If you plan to run everyday, 5km – 7 km would be enough
  • Eat accordingly,..don’t starve
  • Plan your pace wisely
    For example if you run everyday, pace 6.30 – 7 min/km would be nice
    If you plan to run twice a week, 5.30 – 6 min/km is ok

We raised decently for SMARTER Brunei and we hope to come back to Brunei for the same or other cause soon. I truly hope the funds, although small will help the center to progress. My heartiest gratitude and thanks to the runners and contributors who funded us to run.

Meanwhile, the Nashata runners are running with 4 other runners from South Africa in March. I won’t be running for the March run, but will be supporting the team for sure. There will be more updates by Nahsuhah soon, InsyaAllah.