Archive for June, 2011

I heard the first wail of “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas and I was off.  The hardest part was managing the bursts of adrenaline my body was shooting uncontrollably into my bloodstream.  This issue of adrenaline might be one of the biggest challenges I face during such events.  Don’t get me wrong, I need the adrenaline; I just wish my body would learn to pump it into my blood near the 75% finished mark instead of the 2% finished mark.

After a few minutes my body began to regulate itself and found a pace it could maintain throughout the race.  I carefully tuned into the playlist I put together the night before; each song was designed to pump me up and energize me to finish the race.  The songs ran the gamut from Bambaleo by the Gipsy Kings to Ring the Alarm by Beyonce to Canibal by Ivente Sangalo, a Brazilian artist.

I ventured out in this playlist to include Ivete’s Samba hit, Canibal, but going forward, I don’t think I’ll create a running playlist without it – and surely it will be strategically placed towards the end of the list.  The super double-time rhythm transported me into the middle of Carnival with the heavily decked out women in tall feather headdresses moving their hips and feet at an ungodly pace.  In the end it inspired me to move my bunda to finish the race.

Though I ran a 1/2 marathon last year, I basically stopped running since my arrival here in Lebanon.  It wasn’t until about 2 or 3 weeks ago I committed to myself that I would workout at least 20 minutes per day for 6 days a week, if for nothing else than my health.  From there I found the Inter-Lebanon Road Running & Athletics Club and they informed me of the Bickfaya Flowers 7k Race and the rest is history!

One explanation in the slowdown of my running schedule is my location.  Sidewalks are a novelty in Lebanon, and our school is currently working to construct in indoor gymnasium.  To combat this, I’ve taken to waking up early to run before the daring traffic and oogling gawkers come out.

In running outside, I’ve had to face one of my biggest running fears: hills.  Bickfaya loomed like a giant in my mind because I heard it would be a hilly course.  Given that I’m from Chicago, a place notorious for being slope-impaired, I felt as though I wasn’t trained properly to run a course with hills.  So this past week, and a bit before, I began to run hills, almost every day.  At first I ran them 6 times, with walks in between.  Then I took on a bigger hill.  Each day I added a set to the hill or I added slope to the hills I was running.  By the time I got to Bickfaya today, I was thinking, these hills ain’t got nothing on my Sabtieh (a place where the hills are quite steep and the incline to reach the school rises for almost a kilometer or more.

In the end, I’m more than happy that I participated and have begun to carve a semblance of a life out for myself.  I’m happy for the new running friends I’m making (especially my new friend Farah) and I hope to run more races in Lebanon.

To all the runners out there, no matter where you are, Happy Running!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


So, suddenly Adel has blown in like a whirlwind onto Beirut, I Love You.  He’s taken every girl’s heart by storm, except for those hopeless romantics, who are blinded by Yasmine’s relationship already in progress with Tarek.

But if viewers were to be honest, especially those of the female persuasion, they’d admit that their bias goes beyond the prospect of rekindling an old flame, rather it has something to do with Adel himself.  I say this because when I searched my blog statistics today, I saw that many of the searches that led people to my blog were “Real name of Adel from Beirut, I Love you” and “Adel, Beirut, I Love you.”  As further evidence, on “Beirut, I Love You”‘s Facebook page, the top post is about…..drumroll please…..Adel.  There’s just something about Adel.

I believe it’s safe to say that if Adel were a warm knafeh, served up early in the morning, women throughout Beirut would eat him right up.  I surmise that if there were a Mr. Beirut contest, we’d throw Adel in the mix.

While I like to leave my TV crushes in the fantasy world, some like to project possibilities into the future.  I suppose this is why they want to know Adel’s real name.  I am here to satisfy your curiosities.  According to the credits at the end of Episode 20, his real name is Ghady Haidar.  What you will do with this information, I don’t know, but use it wisely.  And if you meet Adel, tell him Beirut loves him and so do I.

Since I’ve recently settled on staying in Lebanon for another year, I’ve decided to get in where I fit in. In other words, I gotta figure out how I fit in here. While I’m often reminded that this is the Paris of the Middle East with an incomparable nightlife, I’m not much of a club head. If I’m honest with myself, it’s not really my scene. So, I gotta get in where I fit in.

Last year, around this time, I was training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago. I was so amped after the race that I decided I would try to train for the Beirut Marathon. Upon my arrival, I was a little disappointed to discover that there’s not much of a running scene – at least not an apparent one. Whereas in Chicago, I could easily find my way to Lake Shore Drive and find a bevy of runners, bikers and roller bladers, here, I struggle just to safely walk up and down the hill in my neighborhood to run necessary errands, let alone jog as a leisure activity. It’s kindof like running in the hood. You don’t ever see anyone doing it, unless it’s out of necessity.

Lately I’ve been on a hunt to find the running scene, and now I think I’m happening upon it. I’ve recently found the Inter-Lebanon Road Running and Athletic Club. So far, the organizers have been quite helpful in showing me the ropes. They’ve even told me about Bickfaya Flowers Race, a 7k on a hilly course, that’s coming up in about 10 days or so. While the hills sound a bit intimidating, considering I’m from a flat state, I might just whip up the courage to participate if I can manage my schedule.

For now, I’m excited to see where I fit in

Somehow the song “Lean on Me” helps me reminisce about my childhood – summer camp performance of it during a talent show, church song used to do a mini-step (not dance) routine, just singing with friends to show allegiance and friendship.

It’s the first song that comes to mind today.

The hardest part about being so far away from home, in a country where internet service is iffy, is being so far away from my support system.  Don’t get me wrong, I love new friends, but for a commitaphobe, who takes a while to trust people, there’s something about having your tried-and-trues just a short drive or a phone call away.  Sometimes a sistah just needs someone who gets it.

So in honor of all of those ex-pats, who find them selves on the other side of the ocean, divide, equator, continent or world, this one’s for you!

As far as I know, McDonald’s prides itself in the quick turnaround of its customers’ orders – hence the term fast food.  I mean they’re not cooking slow roasted baby back ribs.  We’re talking hamburgers and fries, dipped in boiling hot grease to ensure quick turnaround (and clogged arteries).  This is why I am assured that I have officially found the SLOWEST McDonald’s in the World.

Fix your eyes on this:

According to the receipt, the order was taken at 8:55 and the customer (in this case Ryan) did not receive his burger and nuggets until 9:21.  I’ve seen Mickey D’s that have little stop watches for their employees to push them to get their orders out more quickly.  The stop watch equivalent here is being pushy.  Pushing your way to the front of the line. Pushing past the other customers and pushing the person making the order.  The flipside of not pushing is waiting indefinitely for your order.

Unfortunately, it took less time to eat this than it did to make.

City Mall McDonald’s – I officially confer upon you the title “The Slowest McDonald’s in the World.”

2,500 Lebanese Pounds

Yesterday, I ate a Potato Sandwich – a sandwich made with a thin flat bread filled with coleslaw, ketchup, mayonnaise and french fries that is rolled up and eaten.  For all intents and purpose, it’s kindof like a burrito.  I paid for it with the money shown above.  Is that a US Dollar, you ask.  Why yes it is!

As in many countries around the world, US Dollars can be used along with the local currency – in this case Lebanese Pounds or Liras – in everyday transactions.  1500 Lebanese Pounds is roughly equal to a Dollar.  And this number remains fairly stable, because since 1999 (according to Wikipedia) the Lebanese Pound has been pegged to the US Dollar.  Thanks to undergrad International Finance classes, I can tell you that that means when the Lebanese Pound rises and falls with the Dollar.

I’m more fascinated with the ease that people deal with this mixture of currency than I am with their monetary policy.  In everyday transactions, you can easily see a US 20 Dollar bill right next to several Lebanese Lira.  And with ease the store attendant or cashier will give you precise change.

At least someone will take our money.

I remember during the lowest valley of the US economic crisis when one of my colleagues went to Canada for vacation.  She told us that she went to the store to pay for something and they refused to accept her US Dollars.  I thought to myself, what has this world come to when even Canada won’t take our money…