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.

My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 2 – Emotional Breakdown

When you love someone or something, sometimes you don’t have explanations for your behaviors towards your love, but here are some enlightenments of what happened before, during and after the race.

Just before the race started, I had a one very short moment of tears in my eyes, maybe it’s the happiness for finally standing to start what you have been preparing for the last couple of months, maybe I had a short glimpse of the finish line, I don’t know.

While running I had a sense of euphoria that poured tears in my eyes and made my breath shallow and difficult to take but I didn’t mind at all, it’s like meeting the love you waited for so long.

I had another attack when I fought pain at the end, people were trying to boost me up and I was trying to hide my pains and trying to love my journey.

My complete breakdown came at the end, while I am approaching the finish line, you should have seen my face, trying like a kid to hide his cry for losing his love while passing by his friends.

I took a moment by myself and tried to understand what happened and trying to pour what started, but it wasn’t crying, it was some sort of euphoria that breaks into tears and continued as I hugged my wife.

I felt on that day as a man who got his PHD, as man who survived a crashing plane, a real life changing experience.

The next night I signed up for my next race, but I couldn’t sleep afterwards, had a couple of hours of emotional distress, but now I am OK.

I told you, it’s like love, so get ready for some emotional bumps during your journey.

Hope for the Wind

Friday’s training was to run 10k, my final long run before the half marathon next week. Hesham my friend called in the morning and apologized for not running with me.

Of course I had second thoughts, should I go or just rest today ? Especially that we were supposed to run in Wadi Degla and I only ran their once and I might get lost.

I said to myself, it’s these circumstances that build perseverance and champs, I will go.

Arrived 8:15 am, It’s a sunny beautiful Friday. Let’s start.

After 500m the phone rang and it’s made an error in my Bluetooth connected fitness band, so I needed to start again.

The first 3k was almost always uphill and the wind was blowing against me. Last May I experienced a similar wind blow and it really messes up with your pace and it needs much extra effort to overcome it.

A wind is a bless or curse, it prepares you to be able to run in any weather condition however it drains your power unless you keep a lower pace in order to balance the extra resistance.

I did not know the trail map nor had any idea where to run, I just ran following any signs that showed that someone passed from here before.

I kept running until the trail took a turn and the wind started to blow in my back and here where the fun begins. It’s just like in real life, when you feel that the circumstances around you works in your favor, because god made it easier to you (someone would call it luck). You feel like a hand pushing your back and you are going downhill too, it was much much fun than my way up. It pays when you work hard.

At 5k I felt let like, “Let us make today 7k only” but after taking the downhill part and reaching the 6k I felt very strong and just getting warmed up, so I took a left turn and tried a different trail.

On reaching the 8k I decided to go back and I needed to open the google maps while running just to know my direction in the desert and I managed to finish 9.5 down to the gates so I made an extra 250 meters back and forth to finish 10k easily.

When I think about how I finish strong and my thoughts in the morning of skipping the run or my thoughts of how it’s hard to run against the wind or just to accept second goals like 7k, I realize day after day that running is life you choose how to finish it.

 

A Full Circle of Guilt & Pleasure

Thank god, I feel much better than expected after finishing the 21k, I followed the same routine of recovery: Immediate stretching, good hydration, cold water immersion, adequate healthy food, compression stock, adequate sleeping.

I did not get the back pain this time, but I did get some quadriceps pain specially at the insertion, but it’s bearable. I can’t run, but can walk comfortably.

When I woke up in the morning and thought about running, I said to myself: “Not Again”, it’s like the body feels the pain and saying “Why did you do this to me ?”, it felt like the guilt in the morning that follows sometime a forbidden pleasure.

Although the guilt is only a message from the body to the brain, but at the same time it still feels the pleasure, and you know it’s only hours and you will feel the need to get the dose before the pleasure fades.

I guess I will need to get used to these “Guilt & Pleasure” cycles.

Oh, Dear God Give Me that Drug IV

2 weeks ago, I took a life course changing decision, I attended one of those last meetings where you want to finish it and just go. Wasn’t quite an easy decision, wasn’t the end I expected, I guess it happens many times that you take unexpected turn into a path that your never thought you have taken. To be honest to yourself too, most of the times it is those unexplained decisions that turns out to be right at the end. When you follow your gut, it is usually based on days or even months of brain calculations that happens without you even noticing.

At this moment of my life critical path I felt I just wanted to run and celebrate, run and feel sorrow, run and think ahead and run from the past to the future. There is nothing on earth that stays still, everything is moving, people, money, emotions etc. and you shouldn’t also stand still for too long, move forward.

I sought therapy in running, running as a drug for hope and despair, drug for stress and weeping a drug that gives joy, pleasure, and hope.

Runner’s High – Give it to Me

I am not sure if I read about it somewhere, but when I felt it I searched for it. It’s a state of euphoric mind, a state of happiness that cannot be explained, a state of euphoric relaxed body. It is called “Runner’s High”.

It is different from the sense of accomplishment you get when you stick to schedule or overachieve.

When does it kick in ? Not sure, in my case I usually feel it at the end of the run and afterwards. One day it lasted for hours.

Remember not all runs will give you this state of euphoria, but you need to push in your run routine in order to someday it’s gonna hit you and blow your mind.

 

Yes it’s Official, I am a 10k Finisher !

Yes it’s official now, I am a 10k Finisher !

Yesterday I couldn’t sleep well, I kept waking up in the middle of the night having mixed feeling of excitement and fear of the 10k. Finally at 7:15 woke up got my coffee checked the news wore my shorts and long sleeve t-shirt  and went down for my challenge.

I was well prepared with my music playlist and started my watch and went down for a slow tempo pace.

After one song I heard the voice in my earphones “Battery Low”, OOOPS.

It means that my blue-tooth earphones will switch off in a couple of minutes, what will I do ? 10k without any music ?! It’s gonna be hard!

Anyways let us continue the run maybe its a sign to listen to your body while running, maybe its better to hear the car sounds for safety, its gonna be better “inshaallah”.

3rd song and the voice came this time “recharge your battery” and silence..

No problem I will remove the earphone put the music on the phone’s speaker as I carry the phone in my running belt.

While crossing Kasr el Nile bridge I heard someone’s steps behind me, I looked back I found a veiled women running.

I kept running very comfortable not really listening to the music as it came from around my waste but gave me the feeling that everything is still okay.

Passing through the famous “Tahrir Square” then into “Talaat Harb” street, I am now seeing a dream coming true, me running in downtown Cairo.

The women behind me approached me asking me where is my destination as she needs to finish her last couple of miles, I told her my route she asked if she can join, I said of course no problem.

We went through downtown together exchanging some running experience and she said good bye once she finished her 10 mile mark.

After looping back again to “kasr el Nile” bridge I still had 3k to finish my 10k challenge, I still felt strong and and started to aim for some negative splits.

A pain started in my right foot arch “always giving me problems”, I said “oh this might be the end ?” However I had this idea of changing my foot strike from midfoot to heel, done the pain went off!

Again I gained power and momentum and finished my last 2k extra strong!

Wow, this is it ! I am now a 10k finisher, I accomplished one of my 2016 goals and 2 long time dreams, running through downtown and finishing a 10k.

Reflections:

Yes you can run without music and it’s nice

Having a company while running makes running easier

Anything is possible !