Fitness

Muscat Marathon 2017

February 6, 2017

You may have been lured in here by an attractive title and the possibility that I may have ran an actual marathon. Sorry to disappoint, hee hee. My little white legs only ran a quarter of that and participated in the 10km event but still an achievement none the less.

Running isn’t something that comes naturally to me so when I signed up 5 months prior to the event it felt like a big challenge and a motivation to push myself to keep training. Inspired by Hitesh, a very cool dude from Run Every City, I knew I had to improve quickly.

Lacing up my running shoes and heading out for my first practice run I was full of enthusiasm with the plan to simply just run and see how far I got before I had to stop. Preparing for a 10km event couldn’t be that hard could it? Well, yes it can.. On that very first run I managed only 3.2km (2 miles) and felt like a melting snowman with lungs bursting at the seams.

Gradually I was improving my distance and feeling less unfit with every week that passed, that alone is a great motivator. Spurred on by my running buddy, Sarah, and my choice of some very dodgy Hip Hop songs we ran on the beach at 6am before the sun was too high in the sky.

One month before the event I ran my first full 10km route, albeit not very fast but managing to reach that milestone was a great feeling and mentally set me up for the challenge ahead.

On the day we ran on behalf of ub-cool to raise money for the very deserving cause of epilepsy awareness.

Running my first 10km event was a great feeling, especially as I managed to complete it in 57 minutes which is a new personal best for me.

With a new found respect for running I don’t want to let that slip so I plan to continue to keep pushing forward. Now the decision is on for next year – do I do the 10km again but attempt a faster time or should I try for the half marathon?!

Have a great day!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Let’s fly away – Sky School Oman

February 2, 2017

This week I swapped the mountains and mud for a different kind of adventure. Getting together with Sky School Oman for my first ever experience on a tandem ParaTrike.

Flying high over the coastline of Sawadi this was a lot of fun and something I would highly recommend you to try.

Check out the fun video;

You can find them Online, Facebook and Instagram – just click your choice and book yourself in.

Have a great day.

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

Wadi Adventure Race 12

January 19, 2017

What do I do for fun? I throw myself over walls and roll round in the mud, that’s what all girls do, right?? No? Ohh… Well, they should try – it is a lot fun!!

Exactly one year ago (Jan 2016) my crazy passion for obstacle course racing was ignited as I challenged myself in the Wadi Adventure Race, marking the anniversary I returned to same event to race all over again.

What is new this year I hear you ask, Returning a mere 12 months later with hugely improved fitness and being able to increase from the 5km to the 10km race category increased my confidence beyond what I could have hoped for in the previous year and this time bringing a troop of friends to join the fun.

Catch up on the original post, click here.

Running the same course that you have done previously could be boring but for me it was a good benchmark to notice improvement. Especially conquering obstacles that really challenged me last year feels like great motivation to keep going and keep improving on myself. These changes don’t happen overnight and it can become discouraging but this is the kick up the butt I need to keep me determined and working hard.

I’ll get sweaty and muddy so you don’t have to, Sit back and enjoy the video;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time

Wakan Village Day Trip

January 11, 2017

Imagine collecting a handful little of houses, rolling them into a ball and throwing them at a mountain side and hoping that they will stick – this is exactly what Wakan Village reminds me of.

The little cluster of rustic abodes 2,000 meters above sea level has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time.
January brings amazing winter weather here in Oman and it has motivated me to get outdoors to explore new areas and show you all what the country has to offer. This week my travels allowed me to finally visit Wakan Village and tick it off my list.

The drive to reach the village was dicey to say the least. Uneven terrain, single dusty track road and steep drops down the mountain side left me screeching like an injured animal – this definitely seems to be my kryptonite.
The drive from the main road to the village only takes 10-15mins but due to the road condition I would suggest that you travel in a 4×4 complete with a competent driver.

Climbing uphill from the carpark the path leading you through the narrow village streets, passing right by peoples doorsteps and their kids playing outside, on more than one occasion I wondered if we were on the right track or if we would end up in someones living room. We carried on and as the houses were soon behind us we found ourselves amungst the crop plantations dazzled by the colors and basic agricultural life that provides the mountain people with food and produce to sell.

After more than 4 years of living in Muscat city I am incredibly excited to see a different variety of different trees and plants that are not date palm trees. The green crops and pomegranate trees were a treat for my weary, dust filled eyes – mostly because I had the car window open to film along the dusty, bumpy road.

Leading up the mountainside the path is well maintained and accessible for the many tourists that march along here every week. With 700 steps up the walk itself is not too difficult but be prepared for the steep climb. There are plenty of rest points and benches along the way to get your breath back and enjoy the scenery.

Upon reaching the vantage point where many visitors turn around, it has been an easy hike for us so far, we decide to travel a little further along the path as we are told by the locals it is another 7km hard hike to reach the village at Jebel Akhdar – this is definitely a hike I would like to return for another day when I have the chance…. and more food.

Chilling out on the snout of a lion, would you dare to try?

One of the major tourist attractions of the area is the flowers in bloom where the whole mountain side is alive with beautiful blossoms, Although the flowers were not in bloom when we visited (January 2017) it was still an amazing place to visit and one that I look forward to returning to.

Sit back and enjoy the video from the trip, including my hilarious fear of mountain roads;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

Jebel Shams W6 hike

December 26, 2016

Jebel Shams, otherwise known as the ‘Mountain of Sun’, at 3,009m (9,872 feet) is the highest mountain in the Sultanate of Oman. That is not the only reason why it is a popular tourist spot, the views across the vast valley floor have earnt it the local nickname of the “Grand Canyon of Arabia”. As long as you don’t suffer with vertigo, the views from the summit are spectacular as you peer over the edge down the sheer rock face 6,40m (2,100 feet) to the valley floor.

The W6 hiking trail is a popular choice as it is reasonably easy to access and not too technical allowing most of the family can join in, just be aware of the huge heights and steep drops when dishing out the invites to the elderly and those who are likely to walk off a cliff edge – definitely not a trip for my active toddler!

As always, my favourite part of exploring sights in Oman is the ever friendly – and ever hungry – mountain goats. When they can’t stick their head in a trash for morsels can you can find them up trees (how is that even possible?!) munching on leaves. I even gave it a try for myself without much dexterity or grace, I’ll leave that one to the goats.

Along the W6 track you reach the old abandoned village of As Seb nestled into the rock face. It is amazing to think that people survived all the way out here!

The W6 trail was a great hike and one that I’m sure I will visit again soon with my next batch of visitors. With the drive only 2.5 hours from Muscat city it makes an achieveable and memorable day out.

Want to see more? Get comfy and watch the adventure video right here;

How to reach the W6 hike;
Travelling to Jebel Shams from Nizwa follow the road towards the summit sign posted for the Jebel Shams resort. When you reach the road outside the resort itself the main road ends and the dirt track splits in two – take the left fork.
The road to the summit is achieveable without the need for a 4×4, the next 10 mins of dirt track gets bumpy but still possible.
Reaching the tiny village of Khateem (I’m told that it is pronounced “Hootm”) we followed the road to the left and parked in a small car park, I didn’t notice any Ministry of Tourism signs as mentioned on other websites so we just went with the flow and found our own way. Passing the local vendors selling homemade wares we strolled towards the cliff side and made a left turn down hill where then we noticed the flags painted on the rocks.
Drive time from Muscat city was just over 2.5 hours.

Happy exploring!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Al Amerat hill hike

December 17, 2016

The formidable wall of rock standing tall against the city, it has a road snaking it’s way higher and higher. With hairpin bends and elevation that makes your ears ‘pop’, The Al Amerat hill is a well known landmark in Muscat. The relatively new road winds its way high up the rough hillside and provides access from the City to the town of Al Amerat nestled on the other side.

If you have never experienced the the Amerat Hill, let me tell you it’s a daunting task to even drive in a car. With the steep heights and sharp winding corners you gain elevation quickly, and when you head back down hill again you gain momentum quickly leaving you praying that your brakes are in full working order.

This is maybe one of my crazier ideas to date – this adventure had no route, no path and no safety measures – the mission was to leave the car, go off the map and climb to the highest point possible.

Loose rock underfoot and sheer drops made this a treacherous climb, definitely not for the faint hearted, but the views of Muscat city from high above were definitely worth the sweaty climb.

The full video of the hike is available in the link below;

Thanks for watching!

Heather x

*This definitely isn’t an excursion suitable for everyone due to loose rock, high winds, sheer drops, no path etc. Please be extremely cautious when trying to recreate anything from this page*

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Secret Waterfall – Wadi Al Arbeieen/Arbaeen

November 26, 2016

Wadi Al Arbeieen or even Arbaeen – however you want to spell it, this is an amazing location that you need to add to your ‘must visit’ list.

I’ve often heard of people going there to swim, BBQ, hang out and picnic but I heard whispers of a waterfall deep inside the wadi. Not many people were aware of this when I asked them so I forgot about it until recently.

Excited for the winter weather and the opportunity to get outdoors on long National Day weekend I ventured out to Wadi Arbeein for an adventure with a couple of good friends. Thankfully, M had been here before so he knew how to get us to the illusive ‘Al Hail waterfall’ deep in the heart of the Wadi.

Venturing into the heart of the valley the fresh water pools are an amazing place to cool down after a strenuous hike and have some fun, at some points there was no way to continue the journey unless you took the plunge and swam. The visibility in the pools was amazingly clear allowing beautiful views of the fish swimming by. With very little garbage and pollution, this is by far the best Wadi I have visited in Oman.

To reach the waterfall itself the trek was hard going and dangerous at points, this is not a day out for the faint hearted – clambering over huge boulders, leaping across rocks with sheer drops and pulling yourself up into a narrow crack in the rock with only a rope for support as your feet slip and slide on the smooth surface. One wrong step in here and you would be in trouble. Believe me, Clumsy as ever I took a tumble down a sharp rock outcrop. I left that out of the video to spare my own blushes..

    Reaching the waterfall took 2.5 exhausting hours but it was worth it to experience such an amazingly pure, untouched beauty. Swimming in the pool below the waterfall was an experience I’ll never forget.

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    It’s not every day you take a shower under a waterfall! This is one of the amazing things that I truly love about Oman, these awesome life experiences are out there and for free – you just have to be proactive about it!

    Click on the video link for the full trip, please leave a comment and let me know if you enjoyed it!

    Oman, you really are a very beautiful creature.

    Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Spartan Beast Race

November 22, 2016

Remember that I promised you that my next adventure was going to be a BIG one? Even describing it as “physical suicide”?
True to my word, My poor body has been put through the wringer yet again and pushed into the latest intensely savage Spartan Beast race held in Sharjah, UAE.

My previous Spartan race was the ‘Sprint’ level which was approx 6km – this time I went a little crazy and supersized to the challenge of the ‘Beast’, more than triple the distance of the Sprint. In all honesty my fitness level was questionable whether I would be able to complete such a momentous physical challenge without exhaustion or injury. Signing up was maybe ambitious or possibly just plain stupid, either way I’ll blame peer pressure for this one.

After some bullying I found myself signed up for a 20+ km race involving 30+ obstacles in the unforgiving rolling sand dunes and craggy mountain heights deep in the Sharjah desert. Ahh jeez.

‘What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ – This is my moto in life and quite fitting for an event such as this. Both myself and Sarah agreed our moto for this would be ‘Complete, not compete’, although it’s a race we aren’t there for perfect times or to beat anyone – we were taking part for our own personal achievement to complete the course and survive it.

Together with 4 other slightly insane team members we kept each other motivated through the build up of training and preparations, even going so far as to have team t-shirts printed. Who doesn’t love a naughty novelty t-shirt?

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Through the course there are some intense moments that really test every ounce of your physical strength and mental determination. Weighed down with sand bags whilst climbing almost vertical sand dunes drains every ounce of energy and sends your quads into cramps. At times you want to just say “F*ck it” and give up. But you don’t because you are a Spartan, you have come too far to give up now. You shake it off, regain your focus and keep on going.

Through the 5 hours on the course I swore like a trooper, sweated a bucket load, drank 4-5 litres of water, 4 energy pouches, dislodged a toenail, flared up a knee injury, got sand everywhere and experienced every kind of muscle pain possible. But you know what, it was worth every single second. Through every moment I thought I was almost defeated my tired legs just kept on moving and my brain stayed on course for the end goal and I kept powering through.

Previous to the event I doubted my own fitness and mental strength whether I could complete it or not so crossing that finishing line and collecting the medal made it all sooooooo worth every bit of effort. It might have taken 5 hours and 16 minutes but the high of knowing that I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for is an amazing, powerful feeling. Not bad for a Mum huh 😉

The all important fire jump picture! Could I be anymore girly?!

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What I can’t put into words, you can watch on this video and get a feel for the race without my rambling. So get yourself a cuppa, settle down and experience a Beast race without even having to break a sweat.

Hopefully you enjoy the video, let me know what you think!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Al Khoudh Adventure

November 17, 2016

It has been two years since I last visited Wadi Al Khoudh, doesn’t time fly?! And two years since I blogged about it, click here, This week I returned for a late afternoon visit bringing both my dogs along for the ride.

We arrived a little later than planned, mostly because I misread my own directions and ended up somewhere completely different resulting in an extra 30 mins detour. As we pulled into the Wadi it was a beautiful afternoon with the heat of the day subsiding and the sun making its final journey across the sky heading behind the craggy hillside.

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The dogs did what they do best – Run, sniff, run, jump and then sniff a bit more. At the first sign of a pool of water Penny, the German Shepherd, was straight in there attempting the dogs equivalent of a belly flop closely followed by Luna the nutcase Husky. They both loved having a change of scenery from their usual neighbourhood walks.

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As the golden sun disappeared out of sight it was time to head back to the car, neither dog protested and were happy to jump into the car and rest their weary legs.

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Now that the amazing winter weather is upon us I hope to venture outdoors for many more adventures this season and get this tired old blog page back up and kicking.

Until next time,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Spartan Sprint, Muscat Oman

November 3, 2016

Fatigued, messy hair and sweat running in to your eyes… and that’s before you even reach the event. Recently Muscat was the host of the world famous Spartan obstacle race. It has been the talk of the town for weeks as people gear themselves up for the event in Oman for the first time. The fit, the determined and the insane were there and ready to channel their inner Spartan warrior and push their bodies to breaking point.

This has been an event in my calendar that I have been looking forward to! It has been the focus and training goal to be “race ready” on time. With 1,500 competitors trained, primed and conditioned for most people this isn’t exactly a weekend fun run – this was serious business.

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How does a Spartan Sprint race work? Basically, you begin at the starting point and if you are tough enough you will finish at the end. In between those two points is the unknown, anything could happen throughout the course as you tackle the terrain and the obstacles.

As race morning arrived I awoke feeling slightly nervous but healthy and ready for the challenge ahead. Through breakfast and on the way to the event the nervous butterflies in my stomach were building and by the time we reached the holding pen to start the race I was downright terrified.
Quietly eyeing up the competition around us everyone appeared to be pumped up athletes ready to tackle the course ahead. I began to psyche myself out and doubt my ability but as the starting noise was sounded the nerves were forgotten and auto pilot switched on, one foot on front of the other and start running.

With 6.5km of Sprint course ahead the initial 1.5km portion was running on soft sand and across the dunes and really testing cardio endurance and leg strength. From there the first four obstacles came in quick succession and soon we were up and off again.

As we ran from the dunes down onto the beach and into the water, just to get your shoes wet to slow you down, the course looped onto the craggy beach rocks as you loaded up with sandbags to weigh you down even further. Funnily enough I was totally ok with this bit, A sandbag is a lot easier to handle than a 16kg toddler mid tantrum.

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Snaking away from the beach the uphill sprint took us on to dusty and rocky terrain where the cooling beach side breeze disappeared and the cardio impact was intensified by the heat and humidity. (The temperature was around 33 degrees C with humidity of 47%) The sweat poured from my head as I shake it off in an oh-so glamorous wet dog kind of way. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for them some runners are less glamorous and stop to vomit at the side of the trail as others disappear behind rocks to release the “runners trots”.

Making my way through obstacles like tyre flips, muddy water pits, barbed wire crawls and up over 6 foot walls. This is no easy task as my heart pounds in my chest but the legs on auto pilot just keep going.

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As your brain starts giving up before your body it tells you “I can’t do anymore, I just need to rest”, everytime I started to slow I could hear people shouting words of encouragement and it gave me that boost to keep going…and not look like a total, well, girl.

Despite practicing monkey bars before race day these were my main weakness on the day. As I jumped to start the first rung I slipped off the wet bar. Composing myself and attempting it again I just couldn’t get the momentum to swing to the next bar as they are placed far apart. And so it was to the burpee station for me.. Already fatigued the energy draining 30 burped penalty was a tough punishment.

The last push to the finishing point was via huge A-frame structures, not ideal for those with a fear of heights, through an ICE COLD water bath leaving me with crippling cramp in my quads and then up a slippery mud wall to the very last obstacle and the finale….

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The fire jump looks like a great photo opportunity but believe me, fresh out of that ice bath I was struggling to get my legs to cooperate never mind jump a fire pit. As I sprinted towards it I could feel the heat radiating. I’m pretty sure there were a sea of expletives leaving my mouth as I used the last bit of energy my legs had to stop me from tripping into the fire itself.

And that was that. My first ever Spartan Sprint completed. Phew!

My finishing time was 1 hour and 12 minutes, not too far from my initial aim of around 1 hour. From the Sprint race stats I placed 100th overall, bringing me to 12th place in my age group. On the day I was delighted with those results and felt happy, now that I am rested and semi recovered I know that I can do better than this.

From the amazing beach front location to the party atmosphere and community spirit I loved everything about this event. This is a pretty huge deal for Oman to host such an event and I hope that every year it will grow bigger and stronger as it brings so many new people together with the aim to be healthier and stronger.

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I know that you, my dear readers, like to live vicariously through me, and that’s totally ok.. I’ll do all the hard, sweaty stuff and expensive part and you can be entertained and amused from the comfort of your house or office. Sounds good, right? So then comes the question “What is next?”… And ohhhh boy it’s a big one. You will probably be glad to not have to actually take part in this. It is a little crazy and could be classed as physical suicide… Watch this space.

See you soon,

Heather x