Celebration Run

As I went to bed late, I didn’t have any clue of how am I supposed to wake up the next day to run early. I did set the alarm to 6 am and thought if I had as strong will to run I would wake up.

5:59 am I woke up without the alarm, didn’t feel strong but the will that woke me up without the alarm need nourishment.

I planned a route two nights before, taking Al-Azhar Street to Salah Salem and back passing by Magra Al Eioun. My friend warned me that it would not be a beautiful run as it seems, as there will be a lot of garbage beside Magra Al Eioun.

I went to the streets without making my mind of which route should I take on coming back. All I had in mind was to run for a long distance in celebration for my 40th birthday. I listened to  Rocky motion picture soundtrack as I passed through downtown, had a pit stop to drink water and continued to Al-Azhar Street.

I took a random left and asked for Al Moez Street, the guy told me right around the corner. Next right I was running between the old mosques and houses watching young couples whispering and old men and women wandering with their eyes listening to the sounds of history. In the middle of the street, I stopped and asked a refreshment shop for a mix of orange and banana juice because of its potassium. Later I walked for a couple of minutes so not to provoke stray dogs then continued my run back to home.

It was a quiet a celebration for me and a challenge, after all, one year ago I was running with a friend four k and was tired. So this year was different, doing 14.6 k on your birthday as a routine was a real achievement for me. Thank you, God, I cannot ask for more.

Embrace Contrast & Break the Barrier

Since the Aswan Half Marathon, held last February, I didn’t exceed the 10k per run.

Last two weeks I had a bad seasonal allergy, and I felt like I never ran before and got a sense of doubt whenever the thought of running came to my mind. It was a strange feeling as I only stopped running for two weeks.

Monday morning, Labor Day vacation, I wasn’t completely cured but I needed to break the status quo, so I took my shoes off for a quick run. I ran an easy six k, didn’t feel strong but I managed to finish comfortably.

The following Friday I had a plan, I wanted to run to Al Moez Street, drink sugar cane juice and come back. I didn’t know exactly the distance, but I knew its more than 10k.

I started around 8 am, a little bit late for a summer run as the sunrise is 5 am, besides the increasing traffic. Crossed Qasr El Nile bridge through Tahrir and Opera and Ataba Square then through Al Azhar street.

It’s remarkable seeing the Egyptians daily life on the streets while running. People were going to their work on Friday, some having breakfast on the foul street cars, sellers in their shops waiting for customers, families going to Al Hussein Mosque while tourists were going to Khan Al-Khalili marketplace.

Imagine this scenery with me running in my phosphoric green shirt and listening to Drake and The Weeknd while cruising through the cars and walking crowds. You have to embrace the contrast and lose yourself to the rich experience.

I stopped for a pit stop at a juice shop, asked for a sugar cane juice and took another small size one after finishing the first large glass. I walked for five minutes in Al Azhar street in order not to be nauseated and later on took some selfies.

After running 7k for a one-way leg it seems obvious that my run would easily pass the 10k barrier I had in my mind post the half marathon race.

Then I thought again, it has never been a physical barrier it was always a mental one. Anything is life will be most of the times only limited by your mental state and your lack of creativity and imagination.

If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve with hard work and planning. Sometimes you will not reach your destination or goal, but at least you will realize a big part of it and in worse case scenarios you or on the way of reaching it. Dying trying is better than sitting and crying.

A Runner at Dawn A doctor by day

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9:15 am: Wake up
10:00 am: Taking the elevator with my wife on my way to work
Five hours earlier…
5:30 am: Warming up in 26th of July street in Zamalek
6:00 am: Taking a selfie with the group in front of Ibrahim Pasha statue
6:15 am: Heading back on Kasr el Nile bridge watching the sun rise and the full moon in a beautiful scenery
6:40 am: Taking breakfast in Copenhagen Patisserie in Zamalek
8:30 am: Taking a nap
2 hours later on…
10:20 am: Seeing patients in the outpatient clinic
I felt like a Batman, having a double life, a runner at dawn and a doctor by day, and it felt good.
Being able to wake up so early in the morning doing the thing you love and keeping your body healthy is such a great start for the day. By moving and pushing your body to run, you are not only doing maintenance, you are making it what it’s built to do, remembering it’s built in genetic instinct of running, hunting, and exploring.
I saw a different Egypt by dawn, 2 young ladies running on the other side of Kasr El Nile bridge, I really wanted to salute their will and power, but in my own running group I had 2 first timers to run 10k who also deserve recognition for their high spirit.
Running in a group is such an add on, I highly recommend adding a group run at least once a week for every casual runner.

It’s Tough

Although I woke up a little bit late I had to do what I had to do and run 14-15k. Wore my compression stocks, took for the first time a bottle of water in my hand and a small pack of nuts in my pocket.

After 3 k entered downtown Cairo and as usual was ecstatic gazing at the buildings while listening to music.

I needed to finish at least 8k inside downtown to head back home for another 3k, I followed more or less a random route guided by the random pedestrians  green traffic lights and it went fine.

Every one kilometer I took a small sip of water and at 5 and 10 k I ate my nuts bar. Eating and drinking during running went just fine and I guess its better in recovery.

The last 4 k were really difficult, heart rate kept in oscillating to zone 5 although I took notice and kept my pace much slower.

Finally, I finished my first 14.5k at my home.

Classically you shouldn’t add more than 10% of mileage per week, I have to admit I really did over do it in the last couple of weeks to enter the half marathon held in El Gouna next February, well don’t do this to yourself. This run was tough and afterwards I felt “I don’t recommend J”.

Downtown Here I Come Again

A couple of weeks ago I ran my first 10k and accomplished one of my dreams by running downtown Cairo, I went through Tahrir Sqaure passing through Talaat Harb Street than the 26 of July Street turning right into Mohamed Farid and out through Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

Last week I made my first 12k and instead of getting back through Mohamed Farid, I extended to Opera Square and back through El Sheikh Rihan Street. Actually I was planing 11k but while I am preparing to go down and run my wife told me didn’t you say you should do 12k today ? I said, well I didn’t say this but will see and I did finish the 12k.

Downtown Cairo early morning is one of the most beautiful places to run in Egypt, as it’s one of the fewest neighborhoods in Cairo that actually has pavements for pedestrians. Listening to Bob Marley, Nirvana and all your nostalgic songs gives the run a great mood and a very different perspective on the old streets names background, which are full of historic events and stories.

Tomorrow is another big day for me inshallah, I need to make  14 or 15k, as I am training for my first half marathon in El Gouna on the 10th of February.

I will need to make a 9k spin in downtown and 3k back and forth in and out of tahrir.