'The last kilometre was a breeze'

Zahraa al Khalisi of The National tells her experience of the 10km run.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai - Jan. 16, 2009:
Zahraa Al Khalisi (cq-al), 22, of Abu Dhabi, stretches out before competing in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2009 10km Road Race in Dubai on Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Amy Leang/The National  

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Zahraa al Khalisi of The National tells her experience of the 10km run I had told everyone my goal was to finish the 10km event of the Dubai Marathon in under an hour. But to be honest, I had not run in about a month and I do not even remember the last time I ran a 10km so my real target was to finish in under an hour and 10 minutes. Making sure I woke up at 5am in my Dubai hotel room and didn't sleep through the alarm clock was my first challenge. Getting ready in the pitch-black, I realised I had forgotten my digital watch. If there is one thing a runner should not forget it is a digital watch. It was not a good start.

I left with my brother in a taxi for the start of the race which was on the blocked roads across from Dubai Media City. It was still dark as we warmed up - the sun was not going to rise for another hour. As we watched the marathon runners set off, I began to wonder whether I would manage the full distance. Fifteen minutes later we were at the start line, standing behind the crowd of participants. Then we were off.

As we began I took it slow, worried that I might not have any energy left to complete the race. My brother, who started by my side, was already ahead of me. After two kilometres the gap widened and I could no longer could see him in the distance. I thought I could possibly catch up to him in the final stretch, but I was wrong. The course was exciting. I was surrounded by so many runners cheering each other on. The highlight was seeing the sun rise above Dubai's skyline. As I turned back and took a drink of water at the five-km point, I felt energised.

Then something happened that I had never known in all the many races I have run in the UAE over the past 10 years - it started raining. It did not last long, but it did add a refreshing perspective. By the seventh kilometre I started picking up my pace. I was hoping to catch my brother, but he was nowhere to be seen. I ran faster as I passed each kilometre mark and the excitement grew as the finish line approached. The last kilometre was a breeze.

I sprinted in the last 300 metres wondering what my time was. Just a leap away from the finish line, I looked at the official watch above me - 1:04:45. Not bad. I was content. I saw my brother, who finished the run in just under an hour, waiting for me. We received our finishers' medals and headed off towards the stands to cheer home Haile Gebrselassie at the marathon finish line. * The National