Someone’s Birthday, Our Occasion

On Sunday November 22, I was at Itheko club house for an SGM. Because there wasn’t a quorum, we started chatting. Many of us haven’t seen each other for months. For me, Fatima Van Der Rheede was one of them. And she had something to whisper to me.
Fatima: “Listen, next Saturday is Mr. Parker’s 70th Birthday, and we’re planning a surprise birthday run for him next Sunday. Will you join us?”
Me: “Of course!! In fact I will wear our club color.”
Fatima: “That’s a great idea, I’ll suggest to everyone”.
Both due to the Pandemic and the fact that it had to be a surprise, less than 30 participants were expected.

A birthday run was his daughter Shara’s idea. It would mean a lot to Mr. Parker. He started running because he needed to be fit enough to donate his kidney to his beloved doughtier Amina, Shara’s younger sister. That inspirational story earned him the 2017 “President’s Award” of our club.

Mr. Abdullah Parker, President’s Award Winner 2017
Amina Parker.

It’s been more than 3 years since the successful operation and both he and his doughtier went for a check-up recently to come back with all good news!! Mr. Parker is a regular athlete now. The race announcers know him and he is famous for being the the man who enjoys his run all the way and finishes sprinting at the finish line. His two daughters too are our members.

On the beautiful early morning of Sunday November 29, we arrived at the meeting place: Bel Ombre. It was so great to see that mini-race vibe, with runners in club colours ready to hit the road. Mr. Parker’s arrived with Shara. Guess what, shara gave us “race bibs”. Now it looks a properly organized race.

Proud members of Itheko SAC ready to celebrate the life of a living legend

There were the seconding cars with water, and an official race photographer. The goal is to cover an 8k route because he had 100k set for the month and he already ran 92. It was perfectly chosen panoramic route, and it is when we have no pressure that even Southern Cross hill can be enjoyed.

But the best is yet to come – the finish line. As we entered the beautiful residential premises that hosted our breakfast, we could see a properly set-up “Finish” banner. As usual, Mr. Parker sprinted. It was so much fun.

The Finishing Sprint!!

Between breakfast, the short and sweet speeches, coffee and chats, there was one thing that was contagious – happiness. It was such a joyful moment to see the birthday boy and his family happy.

This simple event is one of the most symbolic moments for me as a member of the club because it expresses who we are. The main objective of the club is promoting a healthier lifestyle in our communities. For a number of years, we have been having consistently over 800 active members. We have diverse athletic capabilities in the membership base, but we all share one thing in common – that we are here to enjoy athletics. And, we do it in fun and memorable ways. “Itheko” is a Xhosa word for “the big occasion”, and this is one of them.

Happy birthday once again Mr. Parker. As an ordinary member, I am quite confident that I can speak on behalf of our fellow members that Amina’s and yours epic story is our pride and a great inspiration for so many out there. Thank you for blessing us with your contagious joys!!

Berlin Marathon: My Training in Simple Diagrams

On the 29th of September, I run the Berlin Marathon at a time of 2:58:01 in a special costume allowing me to break the Guinness World Record (GWR): “The Fastest Marathon Dressed as a Leprechaun“. It successfully, allowed me and my comrades, especially those in South Africa and Germany, to use it to raise awareness about the plight of the Palestinians.

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This is my second attempt. At London Marathon last year, I finished in 2:59:45 narrowly missing the previous record time (2:59:30) by 15 seconds.

There were so many challenges on race week. On the race morning,  it took roughly 40 minutes of walking to find the GWR adjudicators as well as get to the race start, which is undesirable. Despite all the challenges, I was able to compose myself to go for the ambitious time I set out to do. That’s because I trained for 17 weeks between June 3 and September 29. Of course, every time we try something new, the confidence in the plan can only be an educated guess, not a perfect maths. But I was able to trust the amount and quality enough that it mentally put me in a comfortable space.

The following is a stack diagram of my weekly mileage. I tried to increase my weekly mileage as well as my LSD very gradually (less than 15% increment per fortnight, except initially when mileage is too low).  The dates indicate the Monday of the week. For example, in the first week, which started on June 3, I ran a total of 40km in the whole week, 18km of which being a long run, a 6km fast session, and a total of 16km of easy runs.

graphMileage

Most of my sessions are easy because I believe in “time on legs” as contributing a lot to our muscle strength which allows us to sustain our pace for long distance. As it’s clear from the proportion of the colors, in most weeks, I do very little speed work.  In most weeks I go for only one fast session.  In few of the weeks, there were double fast sessions. My fast sessions can be tempo,  a track work,  fartlek or hill repeats. In the tapering weeks, I run shorter mileage per week, with more proportion of fast sessions.

Something different I tried in this season is a longer LSD in the peak week (35k as opposed to 32k). The peak week mileage was also higher than the usual. (120 instead of 110km). Therefore, I decided to taper for 4 weeks, instead of 3 weeks to ensure recovery.

For those curious how fast I train, I plotted the average weekly pace that you find below. It is not as smooth as the other graphs simply because my pace generally depends on my feeling at the time of my training. It shows that most of my runs are about 6 minutes pace (the fast runs being a lot faster), which means about 2 minutes slower than my race pace (4:12). Understandably, in the tapering weeks, the average pace becomes a lot faster.

berlinPacegraph

In most weeks, I incorporated a strength training session of about 40 minutes. Only twice, there were double sessions per week. The strength training was specifically planned for me by my strength coach Zaheed (Kinetic Rehab). The following diagram shows the total amount of training, both running and strength training, in terms of the amount of time committed per week.

DurationGraph

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

 

Participating in Berlin Marathon

Dear Friends,
I’ve been dreaming about participating at the Berlin Marathon since 2016. It seems it’s becoming a reality. Planning in advance, saving, etc made it cheaper and possible. I’ve been in a serious 17 weeks training program to do my best there. So far everything has been ideal. The race day is on Sunday next week (the 29th of September.)

Running for More Than Myself

Of course, I want do it for the cause that is close to my heart. The Palestinian people have been neglected by the world. If what happens to them happened to a person from the west, we all know how much outrage would have been expressed from east to west. Yes, in the planet we live in, humans don’t equally care about the human rights of every type of human being. Some humans count more than others. Therefore, I see this as my chance once again to be the voice of the voiceless.

Guinness World Record

People attempt one of the #GWR category times in order to promote different causes. You find people dressed as monk, superman etc. As some of you remember, I attempted the record for the “Fastest Marathon Dressed as a Leprechaun” in London. When I was choosing what to target for Berlin, my friends and I unanimously agreed that I should attempt the same record. One of the reasons is the fact that it’s time consuming and expensive to prepare the costume. It’s also the type of “reachable yet very difficult” targets. Finally, it’s a type of costume that’s not associated with any negative messages. In fact, the Irish people are one of the strongest nations in terms of their support of the Palestinian cause. It makes me proud to associate with them.
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Here is a list of 16 individuals attempting a record at Berlin:

I must admit that it makes me kind of awkward to attempt the same thing because of some expectations in terms of finishing time. But don’t forget that my biggest prize is to achieve what’s priceless to me: promoting the freedom of innocent people who deserve dignified lives.


#Berlin4Palestine #BerlinMarathon #GWR #OfficiallyAmazing

قضاء بعض الوقت مع الضيوف من غزة – تجربة غنية بالتواضع

عندما جاء نادي خدمة خان يونس إلى كيب تاون

يمكنك العثور على النسخة الإنجليزية هنا
You can find the English version here

لا أستطيع أن أحمد الله بما فيه الكفاية لحسن توقيت الأحداث في الحياة او ما يسمى”صدفة”. لم أكن من بين الجهات المستضيفة، وفي الحقيقة لم أعرف عن موضوع الضيوف من غزة سوى قبل ساعات قليلة من وصولهم والذي كان مثاليا بالنسبة لي من حيث التوقيت والمكان. فقد وصلوا بعد يوم واحد من مشاركتي في سباق الماراثون البالغ طوله 56 كم ، لذلك كان لدي الكثير من الوقت. ونزل الضيوف على بعد كيلومترين من مكان سكني، مما جعلها فرصة مثالية بالنسبة لي. كشخص يدعم بفخر القضية الفلسطينية، لم يكن ذلك مجرد تضحية بوقتي وجهدي. كانت فرصة حيث سُمح لي بالمشاركة في تقديم الدعم المباشر للأشخاص الذين أهتم بهم كثيرًا دون السفر بعيدًا.

 

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الجروح العميقة

من خلال رؤية اللاعبين يمرحون بشدة، لا يمكنك تصديق أن لديهم ندبات وجروح عميقة. فقط عندما تتفاعل معهم عن كثب تتعرف على الوحشية الشديدة ضدهم. في هذا العالم الذي نعيش فيه ، تحمل الأفلام والأفلام الوثائقية “ارشادات الوالدين” لحماية الأطفال من رؤية المشاهد العنيفة. لقد رأى هؤلاء الأطفال هذا في الحياة الحقيقية – في حياتهم الخاصة. فقد بعضهم أفراد الأسرة المقربين. فقدوا أفضل أصدقائهم وأبناء العمومة. يتم بتر أعضاء بعض أصدقائهم. يعيش البعض مع أقاربهم بسبب هدم منازلهم. حتى أثناء الألعاب والجولات المذهلة هنا مثل زيارة “جبل الطاولة”، فإنهم يظلوا يتفقدون أخبار عائلاتهم في غزة لأن المنازل في أحيائهم، تهتز بسبب القصف من قبل الطائرات الإسرائيلية. النفاق كبير من العالم النائم عندما يتعلق الأمر بالعدوان الصهيوني.

 

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المأساة لا تنتهي بالعنف المباشر من قبل الجنود الإسرائيليين. بسبب الحصار الإسرائيلي من الجو والبحر والأرض ، تعد غزة أكبر سجن في الهواء الطلق. إضافة إلى ذلك ، فإن الاستيلاء المستمر على الأراضي من قبل الغزاة الصهاينة يعني أنهم حوصروا في قطاع صغير من الأرض لخلق كثافة سكانية تبلغ 5064 شخص / كم 2. للمقارنة ، تبلغ الكثافة السكانية في جنوب إفريقيا 42 / كم 2. يمكن للمرء أن يتخيل كيف جعلتها إسرائيل غير مواتية وغير آمنة من أجل حياة الناس. معاناتهم اليومية لا يمكن تصورها.

إذا كنت تتفاعل بما يكفي مع أعضاء الفريق ، فإن أحد المآسي التي تبرز في حياتهم هو وفاة أحمد بدوي. لقد توفي في يونيو الماضي في حادث لأن برميل الماء بسعة 2000 لتر سقط من الطابق الخامس إلى الغرفة التي كان ينام فيها. كان صديقًا لمعظم اللاعبين ، وقريبًا جدًا من بعضهم.

 

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الصورة تقول كل شيء: أحمد بدوي – نجم كرة قدم يعشقه الكثيرون.

 

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اليسار: أحمد يلعب ضد وسام وسام خانيونس قائد وسام. كانوا أصدقاء مقربين جدا. إلى اليمين: صورة فوتوغرافية مع زملائه في الفريق (أمام الوسط). 4 منهم في هذه الصورة هم جزء من الفريق الزائر – حارس المرمى العروقي ، غازي ، محمد ، عبدالكريم (الأول والثاني والثالث من اليسار والظهر الأيمن ، على التوالي).

 

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اليسار: صورة مع أحد أفضل أصدقائه غازي.
إلى اليمين: منشور في نفس اليوم من غازي الحزين يقول ““صديقي …!!أخبرني عن ليلتكك الأولى في القبر..الله يرحمكك

 

النجوم المشرقة تلامس قلوب جنوب إفريقيا

خان يونس هي ثاني أكبر مدينة في قطاع غزة. قد تعتقد خطأ أن فريق كرة القدم الذي يمثلها لديه كل ما يحتاجه. كان العكس تماما. لديهم قلوب كبيرة فقط ، وهذا ما يملكه كل فلسطيني: قلوب جميلة ، وطنية وشجاعة ، لا يخافون من التحديات. هذا سمح لهم بالفوز في كل لعبة باستثناء لعبة واحدة، ولكن أيضا كسب قلوب الجميع. لم أتمكن من حصر عدد الأشخاص الذين قالوا: “أتمنى لو سمح لي بتبنيهم”. لقد عملوا كسفراء لفلسطين. مبروك للاعبين وممثلي خان يونس على كل الانجازات !!

 

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بصرف النظر عن الفرص الكبيرة التي توفرها الزيارة للضيوف ، فإن بعض الأمور الصغيرة تحدث فرقًا كبيرًا عندما يكون الضيوف مريحين. في بعض الأحيان ، لا تحتاج إلى إشراك المال والكثير من الجهد. ما نحتاجه من جانبنا هو الإيماءات الصغيرة التي تُظهر اهتمامنا واحترامنا وحبنا غير المشروط. أنا فخور جدًا بالقول إن سكان كيب تاون لم يفشلوا في ذلك. سمح لي المنظمون بالتعامل مع بعض الأمورالأقل تعقيدًا وساعدني عدد من الأصدقاء. شكرا لكم جميعا ، وأنت تعرف من تكون.

 

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بالإضافة إلى مشاركتي كمتطوع ، كانت تجربة تعليمية بالنسبة لي.

 

شكرا جزيلا للجميع : المضيف مؤسسة القدس ومؤسسة sss، والأيادي المرئية وغير المرئية التي ساعدت في إنجاح الزيارة ولكل من حضر. شكراً لخان يونس على حضوركم. نحن ندعوا الله من أجل أن تكون رحلتكم آمنة ونتمنى السلامة والرفاهية الى أهلكم وشعبكم في الوطن..

Spending Time with the Visitors from Gaza – the Humbling Experience

You can find the arabic version here
يمكنك العثور على النسخة العربية هنا

The Arrival

I cannot thank God enough for the perfect timeliness of events in life that are considered “coincidence”. I am not part of the hosts and in fact I only knew about the visiting soccer players from #Gaza only a few hours before their arrival. But it was perfectly timed and placed for me. They arrived a day after my ultra marathon, so I had so much time on my hand. They stayed 2kms away from me which made it even ideal. As someone who proudly supports the Palestinian cause, this wasn’t just a sacrifice of my time and effort, it was an opportunity as I was allowed me to get involved in directly supporting the people I care so much about without travelling far.

 

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The Khanyounis Service Club

The Deep Wounds

By seeing the players have so much fun, you can’t tell that they all have deep scars. Only when you get closer that you realize the extreme brutality perpetrated against them. We are in a world in which movies and documentaries are marked with “Parental Guide” to protect children from viewing violent scenes. These kids have seen all of it in real life – in their own lives. Some of the players have lost close family members – they have lost their best friends and cousins. They have amputated friends. Some live with relatives because their homes have been demolished. Even during their matches and their sightseeing such as being on top of the Table Mountain, they check updates from their families in #Gaza because the houses in their neighbourhoods are shaking due to Israeli plane bombings. The hypocritical world is fast asleep when it comes to Zionist aggression.

 

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The tragedy doesn’t end with the direct violence by Israeli soldiers.  Due to the Israeli blockade from air, sea and land, Gaza is the largest open air prison. Besides, the continuous land grab by Zionist invaders means they have been cornered in a tiny strip of land to create a population density 5064 person/km2 . For comparison, South African population density is 42. One can imagine how unfavourable and unsafe it is made for the life of the people. Their daily sufferings are unimaginable.

If you interact enough with the team members, one of the tragedies that’s prominent in their lives is the death of Ahmad Bedawi. He died last June in an accident because a 2000 litre barrel of water fell from the fifth floor onto the room he was sleeping in.  He was a friend of most of the players, and very close to some of them.

 

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The picture says it all: Ahmed Badawi – a soccer star adored by so many.

 

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Left: Ahmed playing against Wisam Khanyounis captain Wisam. They were very close friends. Right: A photo shot with his team mates(Center front). 4 of them in this picture are part of the visiting team – Goal keeper Arooqi, Ghazi, Mohammed, Abdulkareem (1st, 2nd, 3rd back left and back right, respectively).

 

 

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Left: a picture with one of his best friends Ghazi.
Right: a post on the same day from heartbroken Ghazi says “My friend!! Tell me about your first night in the grave . May God forgive you.

The Shining Stars Touching Hearts

Knowing that #Khanyounis is the second largest city in Gaza, one would be misled to think that the team representing it would have everything they need. It was the complete opposite. They were only equipped with rich hearts which is what every Palestinian has: Extremely selfless, patriotic and brave who never get intimidated by challenges. That has allowed them to win all the games except one but also to win everyone’s hearts. I lost count of how the people who said “I wish I was allowed to adopt them”. They served as ambassadors of Palestine. Congratulations to the players and to the delegates of #Khanyounis for all the achievements!!

 

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Apart from whatever great opportunities this creates for the guests, little actions make a huge difference when the guests are easygoing. Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be involving money and so much effort. What is needed from our side is the little gestures that show our care, respect and unconditional love. I am very proud to say that Capetonians didn’t fail in that. The organisers allowed me to handle a few less complicated items and a number of friends assisted me. Thank you all, you know who you are.

 

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Apart from the volunteer role, it was very educational for me.

 

Thank you so much everyone from the hosts #AlqudsFoundation #SSS to the visible and invisible hands who made it a great success and everyone who showed up. Thank you the guests for blessing us with your presence, we pray for your safe journey and the safety and welfare of your people at home.

#FreePalestine #PalestinianLivesMatter #Gaza #Khanyounis

Two Oceans 56km Ultra Marathon – Tough Is What Really Makes It Great

The illusive silver medal didn’t happen. After training for 16 weeks focusing on one race, hearing 24 hours earlier that the route change was a bad news. I knew the route from 2015 and it’s a monster hill out there. Besides, it changes all your racing strategy. So what I was left with was either to change the goal to something realistic or insist on the sub 4 target. As much silly as it sounds I insisted on trying the sub 4 and started to plan for it. Reason: If the worst comes, I would realize I pushed too hard somewhere into the race, and it would definitely cost me on my finishing time but it’s worth taking the chance than simply going for something like 4:05.

I tried to roughly remember the elevation profile and create my own rough split targets. Reading this advices from prof Tucker (https\://tinyurl.com/yy4akgeg), one will have to arrive at the half way mark roughly about 8 minutes earlier than half the target finishing time time of 6 hours because an even comfort split means, a positive split (Because the first half is easier). To make it just sub 4 hours, that ratio would give you 5 minutes. It means 1:55!! No, it’s a bit scary. I told myself that I wouln’t mind about 1:57 and that’s what it took me roughly: 1:57:52. That’s roughly a kilometre into the long, 7km uphill. I was pacing myself nicely on the hill and I din’t fight it too hard. But still my calves didn’t take it nicely.

Going down and on the flat around Tokai, it was supposed to be where you make up time. Eish, I wish that was the case. After around 45km, I realized that the pressure was not helping hence I continued as hard as I could without checking my time. This is the one time I remember I had to take a walking break in the last km. I was dead exhausted when I finished, but I had to look alive when I was in the finishing sprint. Of course, getting a Palestinian flag, the one thing that’s close to my heart was revitalizing. Yes, once again I finished carrying the flag of the people who should enjoy life as we do, the people who deserve freedom, and most of all the Palestinian children who deserve a bright future like any other children in the world.

 

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I was clearly disappointed at not meeting my target, but the how and why give me satisfaction. After a little recovery, seeing the detail of my result made me very proud because after all, it showed it was a harsh route for most people who raced it.

 

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Some interesting race stats

Finishing time: 4:11:14
Overall position 14km mark 473
Overall position 42km mark 334
Overall position 50km mark 278
Overall position Finish: 262 out of 12081
Western Cape Provincial position: 38

 

What’s my point? Practice what you preach. I believe in taking my nutrition and walking breaks before I need them. I planned a walking break at least every 5kms for the flat route, hence I started exactly at 5km mark while I was still fresh.
#TrainDontStrain #RunForMoreThanYourself
#FreePalestine #ProtectChildren #BoycottApartheidIsrael

 

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Two Oceans 56km Ultra Marathon – My Training in Simple Diagrams

In 2017, I ran my fastest 56km ultra marathon in a time of 4:04:19 which translates to an average pace of 4:21 over the distance. (If you are interested, you can find my race report here)
This year, I started training with the ambitious goal to beat my personal best. In the meantime,  I’ve been creating and fine tuning my training program for the months leading to the race day.  The program also retrospectively includes the easy training that I have been doing so far for the last 3 weeks, starting from Monday December 31st 2018.
Below is the weekly mileage in a stack diagram. It is broken down into 3 sections according to intensity. For example, if you see week 4, the grey, orange and blue bars indicate that I plan to run 28km easy plus 5km fast (speed training on track) during the week,  and 25KM LSD in the weekend, respectively, which means in total I will get 58kms for the week.
kamil-omtom 2019 training - mileage
For those interrested in the numbers here they are in a tabular format.
kamil-omtom 2019 training - mileage-table
I Plan to commit to 2 sessions of strength training, 45 minutes each, in most of the weeks. I expect to run about 6 minutes pace in most of the weeks and close to the race week, as the body adapts it becomes easier to run faster. But it’s all estimates, I’m not worried about my pace except in the fast training sessions. As always, in the easy training sessions, I’m more interested in the time on legs.
The diagram and table below are all about the the amount of time I spend on training per week, including running and strength training.
kamil-omtom 2019 training - time commitment
kamil-omtom 2019 training - time commitment-table
I’d like to thank my running coach Farouk Meyer (Itheko AC) strength coach Zaahid Omar (Kinetic Rehab) and my friend Yaseen Cariem for their inputs in fine tuning my program. Good luck everyone – remember to train but don’t strain!!

London Marathon: My Training in Simple Diagrams

On April 22, I finished 2:59:45 at the London Marathon, narrowly missing the Gunness World Record for “the fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun”, which currently stands at 2:59:30. Because this post is dedicated to the the training, if you are interested in reading why I participated at the event and how I did on the day, the appropriate posts can be found by going to this and this links, respectively.

I get the joy out of the process of improvement, not just the outcome. In fact, more than the “what” and the “how”, I get so much satisfaction out of understanding as to “why” certain strategies work. That’s why I love learning about running through discussions the coaches and runners, reading, logging my training runs and analyzing them.

Let me start with the mileage graph which is a stack diagram of the LSD and the daily runs that result in the cumulative mileage for the weeks.

Kamil-LondonMarathon training-mileage

As you can see, starting on the week that started on January 8, I had 15 weeks for training. I dedicated the first 12 weeks for mileage, slowly building up my weekly mileage to eventually reach 110km in the peak week. In the first 4 weeks, because I was running very short mileage, every week I was increasing the weekly mileage by 10km. Starting from the fifth, I was increasing by 10km per 2 weeks (less than 15% per 2 weeks recommended for injury avoidance, according to coach Farouk Meyer). The same is true about the LSD. As you can see the green part, it was gradually increasing, with only one exception in the second week when I volunteered as a group leader for the Two Oceans club training run and we ran a 25km LSD.

Because this actual training diagram is almost identical to what I planned before I started, I can confidently say that this training season has been by far the most successful in terms of accomplishing what I set out to do.

The stack diagram below shows the total amount of time I spent per week on training, which means all running plus strength training. Because, when it comes to pace,  I mostly train how I feel, there isn’t a plan behind time spent, except that it’s more or less proportional to the mileage. I was mostly spending roughly an hour per week for strength training.

Kamil-LondonMarathon-duration training

The most interesting graph I guess is the pace graph shown below. Each dot is the average pace for that week. In the first couple of weeks, I was mostly volunteering as a beginners’ group leader once a week, hence it shows slightly average pace. Again, the one week that is exceptional slow is due to 2 factors. The Two Oceans LSD was roughly 7 minutes pace. Then, in the same week, I’ve run 9kms at a 9minutes pace with beginners. But in most of the mileage weeks, you notice that I run roughly 6 minutes pace. That is despite the fact that I was planning a sub 3 marathon which averages at about 4:15. In other words, I was mostly training at a pace of almost 2 minutes slower than my planned race pace. That is what I mean by “train don’t strain”. There is no need to rush it. The aim is not aerobic fitness here, it is muscle strength, hence, time on legs is the important part, not the pace.

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In the last three weeks, it’s easy to see the pace going sharply faster. That’s because I dedicate those weeks for tapering and I focused on short and fast sessions, which is aimed at the aerobic fitness.

Lastly, a training strategy does not have to be the best in the world, it’s important to find one that works for you. But it is meaningless without execution. In the midst of so many runners participating in a lot more intense training, it is easy to lose focus especially in tapering weeks. It is crucial to to stick to the plan till the end.

London Marathon: My Race Day in Numbers

Was it a hot day?

According to the race organizers, the days maximum temperature was 24.1 degree Celsius. For many of my friends, it’s not obvious as to why it is considered hot. We run in South Africa on a day of a much higher temperature. But remember, we start very early here. The one race that starts a bit late at 7:30, is the Cape Town Marathon. So, if the day’s maximum temperature is 30 degree Celsius, that’s not what you would experience when you finish your race before 11:00AM. The London Marathon started at 10:00 and if you are going for a sub 3 marathon, when you are close to the finish it becomes close to 1:00PM.

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Dressed as a leprechaun means, on top of my normal shorts and vest, I was wearing a waistcoat, a jacket and a hat. Because I had to pour water over my head to keep myself cooler, the felt in the hat absorbed so much water that the shape got so distorted and started collapsing, which makes it feel like you are carrying a dead eagle whose wings are kind of slapping your face. Quiet annoying.

The coolest supporters.

The general statistics

Total number of starters: 41003

Total who did not finish: 730

Total number of finishers: 40273

I’m surprised by the strength of the crowd. The numbers show that over 98 percent of the starters finished. Remember, the 730 who did not finish includes elite runners such as Tirunesh Dibaba who bailed out for strategic reasons. If they feel they don’t have a big chance of finishing in top positions, they do not choose to finish as they would rather recover quickly for their next competitions.

My performance in numbers

Finishing time: 2:59: 45

(Missed the current Guinness World Time for the “fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun”: 2:59:30 by 15 seconds.)

First half: 1:28:19

Second half 1:31:26 (Negative split not achieved, second half was slower than first half by 3 minutes,5 seconds)

Average pace: 4:16

Overall Position: 1079

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So, what do I feel?

I must admit that those 15 seconds work on my nerves. There has been some mornings I got up being haunted by these words …”just 15 seconds, as in less than a handed meters”… Who knows, I might even soon get a chance to pay my revenge.

But when I’m really awake and reasonable, that’s not what I think. I went to London to promote the Palestinian cause. And that was done perfectly in style. Not only that many channels broadcast live until 3 hours, the timing right before the 3:00 mark is so dramatic that everyone wants to see those runners who just make it sub 3:00. Then the costume is something you can’t avoid noticing. No wonder so many people from different countries send me and my friends, including my hosts Elsa and Nat that they’ve seen a runner dressed as a leprechaun on TV carrying a big Palestinian flag. Time will tell if I could ever beat this sense of accomplishment. For now, we the RFP and all the supporters who contributed to the success have a reason to celebrate because we did this together and were able to be the voice of the voiceless.

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Solidarity with the oppressed!! Parliament Square, London.

Participating in London Marathon

Dear Friends,

This is the exciting news that I’m sharing only today, after months of putting the bits and pieces together.

I am planning to run the London Marathon. This was a dream, not just for me, but for the entire group I belong to – the Runners for the Freedom of Palestine (RFP). It was always a dream for our members to participate in major international events.

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ATTEMPTING A GUINNESS WOLRD RECORD

You might be familiar with different fun marathon records on major events such as the London Marathon. See below for last years records.

So, I will be on an official attempt to break the record: “the Fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun”. We chose this Irish fairy costume collectively as RFP. Here is the link if you’re interested in the details of the current record time and the costume.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/…/fastest-marathon-dres…

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Since the founding of RFP in 2012 by comrades Safoudien Bester and Dr. Anis Daraghma, although we were mostly active in Cape Town, we participated in big events nationally such as the Comrades marathon and the Soweto marathon. We also had our comrades participate internationally a few times such as the Istanbul marathon.Our awareness campaign had such a big impact that other similar groups have recently started in different places worldwide such as in Australia and France. We believe, the London Marathon will be a major platform to get a huge audience as it attracts more than 50,000 participants and broadcast live in so many countries. Attempting the Guinness World Record is a very effective way of raising awareness about the Palestinian Cause.

BEING THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS

Participating in the London marathon and attempting a Guinness World Record are of course both major strides. I cannot deny the fact that it is extremely exciting for me, for my family and friends who always appreciate me excelling to new heights. But the most important part is, why I’m doing it.

It makes me so proud happy to do it for the people who deserve the attention – people who have been deliberately ignored by the mainstream media. It is not right keep silent when victims are being blamed. It is not just when freedom fighters are portrayed as terrorists. It is unacceptable that innocent children and mothers are defined as “national security threats” by the occupier. It is cruel that basic facilities are denied to the rightful owners of the land. It is barbaric that electricity supply is deliberately cut from hospitals. The world keeps silent when three generations of a family are being killed by a missile striking a residential building. Ethnic cleansing is being committed right in front of our eyes. The heinous crime that should never have existed in the 21st century is being supported by the influential Zionist allies. We know that apartheid is wrong for Palestinians as it was wrong for South Africans. Therefore, raising awareness about the plight of the Palestinians who must be allowed to live in their own homes is a moral obligation.

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This is about what the Runners for the Freedom of Palestine stands for. This is a a loud and clear way of expressing our solidarity with the oppressed.

Finally, I entered the London Marathon through the non-profit organization – the Roy Castle Foundation. As I’ve been preparing for the fundraising, I’ve been also educating myself about Lung Cancer. I’m happy to get involved in assisting the foundation through running. I encourag my friends to visit my fundraising link below .

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https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund…/showROFundraiserPage…

#London4Palestine #RunForMoreThanYourself#FreePalestine #GuinnessWorldRecord #LondonMarathon