Running My First Half Marathon

This time last year I set myself a goal: I was going to run a half marathon before 2018 was over. No doubt it was an ambitious goal, but I achieved that goal on December 7th 2018, when I ran the Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon!

Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early (well actually not so bright, because the sun hadn’t even risen yet) at 3:50am ready to go run. I run competitively for high school cross country, but I never race any distance greater than 5K, so this was something I was not used to.

The whole week I had been holding in my nerves and telling myself that it would be okay. I was more excited than nervous to be doing something that was so out of my comfort zone, and I would be doing it alongside some of my teammates, but I still had some pre-race jitters. When I arrived at the athlete’s village at 5am, I’m not going to lie, I kind of felt like I was about to throw up, but I was also super hyped to run! There were so many runners, and I’ve never been at a race that big in my whole life. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time.

When I crossed the starting line I hadn’t even really computed what I was about to do. I was about to run 21km. What. There were so many people around me and hardly any space to run in, I was kind of panicking, what was I getting myself into?

However I didn’t let this deter me, I just thought to myself that 3 years ago I wouldn’t have even thought myself capable of running a 1km race, let alone a 21km race. I was proud of how far I’ve come, and I knew I had the strength to finish this race, however hard it would be.

And I’m glad I adopted that mindset because it was one of the most beautiful races I’ve ever run. I’ll never forget the view as I ran into my second kilometer: I turned a corner to see a hill, and above the hill was a huge bridge with thousands of runners moving gracefully above me, I had never seen so many people so dedicated to achieving the same goal, and it was really inspirational.

If someone were to ask me what I thought about while I ran, or how I kept myself occupied for such a long time, I wouldn’t know. I think I was just enjoying the run so much myself, that I didn’t think of it in a negative way. We ran across the Dubai Creek which I’ve never been to before, we ran across bridges and saw the sunrise, and we ran through the souks of old Dubai.  I was truly inside my own head, having a good time.

When I crossed that finish line with my family, friends, and teammates cheering me on, I felt like I was about to cry for a second and started tearing up. I know, weird right? It’s something a lot of runners experience when you cross your finish line, you’re so emotional in many ways that you just feel like crying. I was so proud of myself for achieving something like this at age 16, I was so happy with my time, and I was also surprised and relieved that I had finished the race.

It was honestly the most draining, tiring, exciting, fun, and memorable day ever, and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this. It reminded me of who I am, and what I can achieve. I ran this race for myself. When I ran this race it showed me what I am capable of. Thank you to my family, my coaches, and the race organizers, for allowing me to achieve my goal and enjoy (almost) every moment of it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my race experience. I know it’s a little different from what I usually post, but this was an experience that I  really wanted to share on here, and I hope it inspired some of you guys!

Tune in next week for some Christmas content,

Little Miss Expat


Running – The Breakdown

Hi guys,

Welcome back to my blog! It has been a stressful past few weeks, but I have finally got down to writing this post, which I hope you enjoy and find useful.

Running. For some, it brings them joy (me!) and for others, they start shaking at the knees when they hear the words ‘run’ and ‘mile’ in the same sentence. My goal? To explain to you a few reasons why I love running, but more importantly to break it down for you and to encourage you to grab a pair of running shoes and get out to the track!

But, you may be thinking, she’s an expat blogger what is she doing writing about running? Well… you’re right, my goal in starting this blog was to share my experience with other expats and teens all across the world, but I also want to share a few of my passions with you. And running, as well as being one of my passions, is also one of my coping mechanisms and helped (and still helps) me de-stress throughout my whole ‘expat journey.’

Personally, I’d never really had a strong opinion about running until recent years. When I was in 6th grade my family and I used to go out for runs every Sunday morning, but by no means were these very fast runs, just a way to get out and get moving. Thinking about it all these years later I think this is where my love for running started, I didn’t know a thing about running, form, or technique but I wasn’t half-bad. When I moved to Dubai and we started running long distance in PE class I found that I could actually run a mile without stopping, and at an average time. (which trust me, was a huge surprise to me) A year later I joined my first cross country team, and have been running long distance races ever since. In a whirlwind of early morning practices, shin splints, and KT tape, (runners, you will get that reference) I have found something I love doing, that has taught me so many lessons and has introduced me to some of my closest friends. I am no means an exceptional runner, but I think I’m good enough to be able to pass on a little of my ‘running wisdom’ onto you guys today and give you an idea of how to get started.

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First of all, the breakdown. Now, I’m no fitness guru but from my vast training experience, I can tell you that you don’t need to have some amazing talent to be able to run. No, in fact, I am actually severely flat-footed and have double jointed ankles that cause a LOT of problems with my running, but I still do it. So, in my opinion, the most important factor of becoming a good runner is self-determination.

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What do I mean by self-determination?

This category covers your mental determination, as well as your training. You see, running long distance is mostly in your head. If you tell yourself that you’re going to go out and crush a 5K run you will! But if you tell yourself that you’re feeling tired and not up for it, you’ll hardly be able to finish a mile. Determination is such a key factor in being a successful runner because once you’re out there on the track, it’s just you, your body, and your mind, and only YOU can determine how well you’re going to do. With that being said, you do have to put in a lot of work to get to this stage. Running itself isn’t actually hard, everyone can do it, maybe not very well, but everyone knows how to run. But it’s the skill of improving and building upon that skill that takes training and determination. Without practice, you aren’t going to improve at all or build your endurance at all. It takes determination to get out there, even at 6AM and run to improve, and that’s one of the biggest lessons running teaches you, how to control and discipline yourself.

How can you start?

One of my coaches once told me that no matter how fast you’re running, you always get there the same way. One step at a time. I’ve been thinking about this ever since because running is essentially a refinement of the same skill. It’s not like tennis or basketball, where there are many different skills you have to perfect in order to win the game (although don’t quote me on that, I hardly know anything about basketball) But with running if you start and keep on going, you will be able to run that mile or 5K and carry on improving. So start it that way, keep putting one foot in front of the other and use your mental strength to push you even further. My math teacher always talks about us building up our ‘brain muscles’ and how by the end of her course we’re all going to have ‘6-packs’ in our brains. Think of this the same way, while running may be a physical sport, you will end up with a 6-pack in your brain before you get one on your abs.

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Where Next?

Running is consistent. You can’t just run a 5K one day, then say you’re done for the rest of the week, you have to keep it consistent and attainable. So even if that means running shorter distances, but doing it 3-4 times a week that’s much better, and will help you grow even more. You also need to take time to enjoy your running, because if you don’t enjoy it then why would you be motivated to do it? For me, running is a de-stresses me, makes me happy, and puts me in a good mood, it should have some sort of positive impact on you as well!

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So remember, while I’m no scientist or coach, I just wanted to share some of my experience with running with you and break it down for you in order to encourage you to get out there and run! This will be an ongoing series, as there are so many aspects I could talk about within running, so be sure to let me know what you would like to read about next and if you have any questions!

Little Miss Expat

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