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.

Egyptian Women Thank You

Back home after a long work day, opened the door and found my lovely wife waiting for me and suddenly I found out that I did not buy her birthday present yet. In a quick move I put my laptop on the table and told her I forgot something downstairs.
Twenty minutes later I came back with the present and teased her that she will get it only on her birthday, tomorrow morning when the kids wake up.
That night I slept a little bit late and I couldn’t imagine how will I be able to wake up for tomorrow’s run at 5:30 in the morning. However as usual I had a light sleep, anxious so not to miss the run.
At 5:15 am I was standing in Zamalek waiting for the run to start. We took a different route this time, passed 15th of May bridge, through Maspero corniche to downtown and back to Zamalek through the famous Kasr El Nile bridge.
The streets were a little bit filled with people compared to our usual morning runs, especially the Maspero area. I noticed how sometime men gaze or take a lough when they see a running woman.
I admit, it’s unusual to see women running in the streets of Cairo 5 am in the morning and it is this unfamiliarity that make these women brave and courageous.
We finished 6:30 am and I was in hurry to see the kids before going to school and witness the moment of giving their mom her birthday present, which I left in my daughter’s room.
Sadly, I came back a couple of minutes late, they were already left and the ceremony ended, however my wife was very happy.
At this moment, I had great admiration for my wife and all the moms out their looking for their kids, fighting to keep everybody around them satisfied. My wife who’s pregnant, had to wake up early as usual, even on her birthday, to wake up the kids and make sure everything is running smooth and in order and that all their needs are fulfilled despite her neediness to rest and celebrate. And just as my wife was so beautifully doing her mom’s role beside her work, in my mind I saluted the early morning running moms, who are trying desperately to fit their running schedule in their usual work-mom routine.
Women in Egypt are doing an extra work load, fighting the cultural norms, avoiding gazing and harassing men in the streets and work environment, raising their demanding children and taking care for their sometimes-selfish husbands in addition to their work.
If I can say a word to them, Thank you.

Group Run at 5:30 AM

If anyone told me a couple of months ago, we will meet 5:30 in the morning to run and take some pictures I will definitely say : No thank you, are you crazy ?

Well, I ran today at 5:30 am, took some pictures and I am not crazy, indeed I am an associate university professor who loves to run.

Two weeks ago, I met a Passant, a colleague from work, in Aswan who told me about a running group in Zamalek and that she will invite me to a group run when we go back to Cairo.

Last week, Ibrahim an old friend messaged me and invited me to the Zamalek group and it turns out to be the same group that Shefaa (my old downtown runner friend) told me about.

5:15 I was standing in 26th July street waiting for the group to gather, few minutes later, more than 20 people, women and men, different ages were cruising the streets running and enjoying the sunrise.

We stopped at the beautiful Kasr El Nile street took a celebration picture, acknowledging our humble achievements in Aswan race, new personal records, new first timers and above all celebrating the spirit and perseverance in reaching this far.

Amany the ironwoman and the positive spirit behind this group was distributing magic cookies that were delicious healthy and filled us with power to go back running where we started.

Another amazing woman Cherry, who had a recent injury, joined us by car and woke so early just not to miss this amazing gathering and kept taking pictures and videos of every single one of us.

Another great run and a new start for me, group running.

الوحدة و التوحيد

حين تقرر أن تدخل اختبارا وتحديا صعبا باختيارك وليس فرضا عليك فعادة ما يكون تحديا للنفس قبل أن يكون منافسة لأحد، وحين يصبح ذلك الاختبار تحديا للجسد و النفس و العقل فذلك ما يكون الأصعب.

وحينما تكون في ذروة الاختبار تدرك معاني كثيرة قد تنساها في خضم الاحداث اليومية.

يوما بعد يوم تفكر ما هي أولوياتك وما هي الحياة وكيف نعيشها ويوما بعد يوم أشعر بأهمية إدراك أننا حين سنموت سندفن فرادا وسنلقى الله فرادا وسنحاسب فرادا.

أدرك يوما بعد يوم ان قاعدة “لا تنتظر المقابل” هي قاعدة إن أدركتها قد تريح بالك و قلبك، اعطي ولا تنتظر، تحرك في حياتك وفق ضميرك ولا تنتظر.

نلتقى بآلاف الأشخاص في حياتنا و لا يبقى منهم في قلوبنا إلا القليل، بل أن من يبقى منهم قد يختار احيانا أن يرحل عنا باختياره، و من يبقى بجوارنا قد يختار أن لا يشاركك نفس المشاعر، و قد لا يلقى المرء طوال حياته من يبادله نفس الشعور.

يوما بعد يوم ادرك ان رياضة العدو للمسافات الطويلة هي كما الحياة، فأنت الذي عليك ببذل المجهود و ليس شخص آخر، أنت من ستفور في النهاية و ليس شخص آخر, أنت من عليك بمنافسة نفسك لأنك لو فعلت غير ذلك, ستسقط لأنك لم تخلق مثل من تنظر إليه, و كل ميسر لما خلق له, عليك بتحديد هدفك أنت, و خطتك أنت, و طريقك أنت و سرعتك أنت.

حين تجري لساعات وحيدا لا تسمع سوى صوت أنفاسك وآلام جسدك وضربات ارجلك على الأرض تدرك التشابه الذي يقترب إلي التماثل بين الحياة و الجري.

أجري وحيدا وأدرك أهمية تعلم الشعور بالوحدة على الأرض و عدم التعلق و ادراك معنى التوحيد و التعلق بالخالق, فهل نتعلم أم سننسى عند انتهاء الاختبار؟

Aswan42 The Event Review

A big thank you to TheTriFactory for their organization and congratulations for the successful event.

Registration for the race was an easy step through EventtUs.

The race start was organized and different zones were prepared for different paces, however there were no pacers.

Race route was so beautiful, you can easily forget yourself while running wandering through the beautiful Nile scenery.

Several refreshment stops were arranged every 2.5 kilometers providing water, bananas, and sport drinks. Medical help was available throughout the race route.

I didn’t like the random people standing at the finish line, medals weren’t distributed at the end and there were no drinks or food when you really need it.

However you can grab your medal from TheTriFactory booth in the middle of the venue where you left your bag before the race.

Again, thank you TheTriFactory, looking forward to participate each year.

 

 

13 things Running & Life Share Together

  1. You choose your route, you like the track, streets parks or the desert.
  2. You choose you distance, long distance, short but it doesn’t mean you will reach your destination.
  3. You choose your running partner, sometimes he chooses you or you might meet by chance or you might choose to just run by yourself.
  4. You choose your pace; some people like to go slow and steady other like to run hard and get more tired but they take a risk of having an injury but at the same time you reach your goal faster and triumph as leader.
  5. You never know what’s going to happen as some things may come up during the run or life and hinder you from reaching your goal
  6. Sometimes you are tired and sometimes you feel you can fly
  7. Do not judge people by their look as ability, speed and endurance are unrelated to your body size or shape.
  8. You set a goal, you break it into small goal and ultimately you will reach and you might even surprise yourself.
  9. No train no gain, this is not rocket science, no pain no gain.
  10. You can rest if you are tired and at some point, you need to stand up and run again.
  11. People may help you, give you food, drinks etc. but it’s only you who is going to make it
  12. You need to be prepared and planned, cloths, training, food and drink, map and pace.
  13. Yes you can cheat, but everybody know you are a cheater.

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.