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.

 

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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.

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”.

 

 

A Better Recovery

This is what happened after the 16K trail run. In comparison to the week before 14.5k, I finished this run stronger. I relate this to better eating the night before. Many athletes talked about Carb Loading, which is basically eating a lot of carbs the week or at least the night before your long run, mainly pasta. Other athletes revoked such an idea and talked about just having their regular healthy dinner and avoiding and spices or extra fibers.

I chose to eat a lot of pasta the night before the long runs, and to hydrate good while running and to be mentally prepared for the run, and the latter from my point of view is more important than sleeping well, as one night restless sleep will not ruin your run.

After finishing the run and driving back home I immersed my legs into cold water for 5 minutes, again there are different opinions regarding this technique of recovery, some say drinking and eating right and wearing compression stockings is just enough. I did all of this.

The next day, I felt pain in the upper back, maybe due to bad running form or weak muscles or maybe I am not yet accustomed to such long runs, anyways it just felt better than the week before. Which means your body can get accustomed to anything with training and following the proper techniques.

The following day I did a nice 5k recovery run, which also went better than the previous recovery runs of the past weeks, and it felt good.

Today I took a rest, ate good and preparing for my next challenge tomorrow isa, 21k as advised by my friend Salah. Pray for me.

 

 

A Week of Recovery

Last Friday I ran 14.5k, well as I said before it was tough, espeially if you are doing it for the first time.

After running I felt sleepy and tired, the next two days I sometimes felt a strange feeling in my head “lightness” some sort of headache can’t explain, wasn’t bad but strange, at night I felt that my head was cold so I wore my beanie at home.

After 72h I felt normal again, I guess it was the asphalt pounding through the spine into the head that made me feel this way the days before.

The 4th day I ran 6k which consisted of 2k warm up and 4 x 800 short tempo and 200 walking.

On the 5th day I ran and walked with my kids for 4-5 k, and it was a very nice experience, I wish they start to love running like I do.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to hit a new mark in Wadi Degla, pray for me.

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.