Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

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!

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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

Today, I was presented with the task of explaining the word “swag” to a couple of my new Lebanese friends and to my Brazilian co-worker.  I started off by saying, “you know, a cool guy.”  (Read: the cool guy, who gets all the chicks)  I accompanied my explanation with a little back and forth wave of my body, which in my mind represented cool.  I was met with blank stares, so I suggested we consult Urbandictionary.com.  Usually, this site, which is the urban version of Wikipedia meeting an Oxford dictionary, doesn’t let me down, but today…..well let’s just say if this were my first day on the job as an English teacher, I failed at getting my lesson across.

Later in the day, I decided to make my foray into running in Lebanon.  Our school, like many other Adventist universities, sits on top of a large hill overlooking the city.  And I planned to run it.  About 3 steps into the run, the cocky American runner, who recently completed her first half marathon, shriveled into a humble American runner, who hailed from the plains of Illinois and hadn’t run any hills in over 8 years.

My legs fought for every inch of ground as I struggled up the hill.  It was in that moment, after my first 3 steps, that I decided, before I boldly signed up for the Beirut marathon, as I initially planned to do, I should get to know the lay of the land and familiarize myself with the terrain.  I should avoid rushing in boldly using all of the methods that worked for me in the past.  I should toss aside my preconceived notions about what this run would be like.

My challenge of explaining swag, along with my mountainside run, helped me acknowledge the uphill climb that lies ahead of me.  The challenge of learning a language, learning about a new group of people and learning about myself, all while avoiding stereotypes, comes with a steep learning curve.  While it’s easy to identify other people’s stereotypes, I’ve had to also acknowledge my own and challenge them.  I have had to challenge what I’ve always been told.  Stereotypes and prejudices are a lazy man’s excuse for not constructing his own opinion.

It wasn’t easy to explain swag, but in the end, I think they got it, when I said, “think Muhammad Ali, before a big fight., or a basketball player on the court.”

This entire experience will surely be an uphill climb, especially as I’m teaching those essential phrases.

On the 3rd of May, just three months ago, despite my fear of commitment, I jotted down a few summertime goals, hoping to chip away at my life to do list.  The funny thing is, the goal I was the least sure about completing, is the one I finished first.

½ Marathon, CHECK.

What else you got?

This past Sunday, (after running 11 1/2 miles) I ran the last ½ mile of my last long run for my ½ marathon training.  Some people say you shouldn’t do a long run the weekend before your big race, but I saw that Hal Higdon okayed it, so I went for it.  Plus I needed it to silence the voices in my head.

Two Sundays ago, I ran 11 miles, which was a huge jump for me, since I had run 9 miles the Sunday before that.  The 11-mile run felt horrible.  Well, there were a few bright spots in there, like from mile 4-7, but miles 1-4 and 7-11 taunted me, every time my foot connected with the ground.  Every centimeter of every mile dared me to quit.  It was the best of times and the worst of times, just like Dickens said.  The best because I finished and the worst because I felt every, single, solitary step along the way.

To make sure I didn’t take that bad taste in my mouth to Race Day, I had to run this past weekend, just to prove it to myself.  Just to silence the voices.

This isn’t my first ½ marathon, you know.  Ironically, I ran one before, when I studied abroad in Spain, but I didn’t train for that one.  I set out with a wish and prayer and a really great Muhammad Ali quote, “When a man says I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself.  He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise would have been accomplished.”  Though I knew nothing about running at the time, I had it half right.  Life is all about silencing the voices, especially the voices of your haters.

There’s always gonna be someone telling you you can’t.  Worst case scenario is when that someone is you.  Learn to silence the voices.  Running, like life, is a mental game.  The winners learn how to play it best.

I’m not just running for fun, if you’d like to help educate kids in India through my run, donate here.

This year I am running the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in Chicago on August 1, 2010.  When I decided to run I wanted to make sure that I was doing this for someone other than myself.  I wanted to be a part of something greater than the race I am going to complete.  I decided that I wanted to fundraise for a charity organization which supports educating young people.

Asha for Education exists to catalyze socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children. Since 1991 Asha for Education has supported over 385 individual projects across India and disbursed more than six million dollars in educational funding.  According to Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, Asha for Education ranks among the top in the field of International Relief and Development.

I would like to ask you to support my fundraising efforts by donating to Asha for Education.  My fundraising goal is $900.  I will be paying for all of my training costs, including race registration and group training fees so every penny raised goes directly to support ASHA projects.  I understand that we are living in challenging and uncertain economic times therefore ANY amount you are willing to donate would be greatly appreciated.  Click here to donate:

I run so they can read,

Helpful Websites

Donate Here:

Team Asha Chicago: http://www.ashanet.org/chicago/marathon/

Team Asha Chicago Blog: http://ashanet.org/chicago/blogs/teamashachicago/

Asha for Education: http://www.ashanet.org/

Asha for Education Chicago Projects: http://ashanet.org/chicago/projects.php

Learning How to Run a Strong Race

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Running
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Runners love community just as much as they love competition.  Actually let me rephrase that.  Runners love competition as much as they love community.

When you’re running in track and field day at school, it’s cool to jolt ahead of the other runners in the race – it’s an 800 m dash.  But when you’re on a long run of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 miles you gotta run YOUR race.  You can’t make reactive running decisions; you have to strategize and run your race. Sometimes a byproduct of that is that you beat others to the finish line.  When I’m on my long runs, I’m like a horse with blinders on.  Focusing on my rhythm.  Focusing on my energy.  Focusing on my strength.  I’m making sure I’m running my race.  I’m not focused on the other players in the game.

In life and in your career.  Run YOUR race.  Focus on your rhythm.  Focus on your energy.   Focus on your strength.  Don’t worry about what the other players in the game are doing, just focus on your game.