Pyramiden Lauf 2017

March 2016 was my comeback to the Pyramiden Lauf after my last appearance in the early nineties. I wished to participate a couple of years before that but missed it because of my ankle problems. In 2016 I finished in 48 minutes, walked part of the route and felt like I had run a marathon afterwards.
Within the last year I focused on running of at least 1 to 3 times per week and I ran two official half marathons beside higher mileage training.
3 weeks before the race I made a 7k trial and finished in 43 minutes. Although I made a new personal record, I was a little bit disappointed, as I wished after last year race to finish the 2017 race under 40 minutes.
This year, I managed the race very efficiently running the first 4k near my maximum and pushing harder the last 3k reaching 5:23 min/k the last 900 meters. I clocked 41:19 on my wrist watch positioning myself in the 297 place, improving around 7 minutes and more than 150 places, not as wished last year but not bad at all. The more important thing was finishing powerful and feeling like I finished a daily routine.
This year my daughter managed to run the race and improved 13 minutes from last year finishing in 57 minutes, both of us were very proud of her achievement.
The feeling you get when you finish the race makes you want to repeat this over and over again, may god give us the strength to run and never stop.

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.

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.

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.

My First 21k Half Marathon

At night I had the same feelings that I had when I did my first 10k one month before, restless and woke up at 4am drank water and slept again and woke up at 6am.

It is quiet amazing how a passion or strong will makes you change your lifestyle without having a second thought.

When I called the elevator to go downstairs, I wished it did not come so fast, because I knew what’s waiting for me, a couple of hours of work.

I started a good start, was well prepared mentally and took 8 dates in small pack inside my pocket as advised by Salah. He also told me to make pit stops for water at any drinking fountains found in front of many buildings, so not to carry any water bottles.

At the 3k I was already warmed up and needed to take of one of the extra layers I was wearing and tied it around my waste.

I met Salah at 4 mark he ran with me for a couple of minutes and said he will meet me again on the way back.

At the 5k mark I stopped for 5 seconds to take a sip of water and continued, I made another 2 stops at the 13 and 18k. I tried to distribute the dates evenly every 5k.

Again I met Salah at the 16k and for the next 3k I made an extra effort and raised my pace which was very useful. It improved my total time and gave me more trust in my body and not to be afraid later on to raise the heart rate a little bit, as I noticed after a few minutes of the “high heart rate” alarm, it drops again in more comfortable zone.

We did saparate at the 19k mark and I continued the next 2 alone, arrived home at the 20k and needed to do extra 0.5 back and forth to complete the 21k. Need to mention that it was Salah who told me to try the 21k before El Gouna to be more comfortable on the race day, thank you Salah.

Well, here it is “I finished my first 21k, I am a half marathon finisher”, yes it needs dedication,work and perseverance, but it all lies in the head. Anything is possible, I feel “unstoppable today” like Sia says and unbeatable. Thank God “الحمد لله”.