This is the 3rd installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
Let’s start this one off with the Olympic Creed by Pierre de Coubertin: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
This creed can be applied to our rigorous training since, just this Thursday, the coach said, “for those of you training for the 42, we’re just getting started.” The struggle is making it to and participating in the Beirut Marathon, not crossing the actual finish line. I missed two training sessions because my thigh muscles have been a little stressed and I’m hoping this will subside so I don’t need to take a full-on break now that I’m used to this momentum. But guys, I RAN MORE THAN A HALF-MARATHON YESTERDAY.
Even if Michael Phelps has 23 Olympic medals, the number 23 will forever be Michael Jordan’s. As of week 6, NRC owned 23 for a day, meaning we’ve overcome the half-marathon distance. I only made it to 22 before Coach Mark told me to turn back because I was going to drop but the Bulls legend would be impressed for sure. Then again, he’s a six-time NBA champ so he might just be like, “you alright.” Whatevs Mike.
Arab Ladies Running the Olympics
The first Lebanese woman to participate in the marathon, Chirine Njeim ranked 109 out of 133 with a time of 2:51:08 – less time than it takes me to do a half – AND she became the 28th woman to rep a country in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
Sarah Attar was the first woman to complete the Olympic marathon for Saudi Arabia in 3:16:11. There were 3 other female athletes from Saudi competing this year.
According to Quartz, “All four women representing the kingdom this year could reach peak athletic level because they were either born in the States or have spent a large portion of their training time abroad. They had to leave the kingdom, where it is difficult for women to access athletic facilities, to earn their wildcard entries.” There is a group called Jeddah Running Collective (JRC) trying to change what it means to be active (and female) in Saudi. Read more about them here.
Two Weeks of Hills
We did a lot of hills these last 14 days. Two days of climbing hills in Gemmayzeh with a bunch of hills by the ski lifts, let’s just say ’twas the season for inclines. All part of conditioning your body.
Besides hills, we’ve been sticking to tempo & long distance runs in order to improve our stamina and endurance respectively. The wildcard run was our non-NRC fun beer run on cross training day. Our coach organized an easy route through BCD only to end up tracing the map of Lebanon, followed by beer and chips at Coop d’etat rooftop. It was a reminder that we’re doing this for fun, not for a podium.
20K in Kfardebian vs 23K in Beirut
On a bright and shiny Sunday, we went up to do a 20K at high altitude in the mountains of Kfardebian. The 2000m elevation, dry heat, and uphill track were a different combination than what we’ve come accustomed to during our humid Beirut trainings. Add on the complete lack of toilets or tree foliage to hide behind and, as a female, you’re a little scared to down 6 bottles of water. Please note that I have never experienced penis envy before but men, in such moments, you are lucky that the world can be your bathroom.
Oddly enough, Kfardebian was easier than the Beirut run for me. Yesterday’s was tough mainly due to lack of hydration and not having the right fuel in my pockets (I brought chocolate instead of nuts, bad move). I did what I could and next week, I’ll get it.
Bambi Stats & Mini Victories
Making it to the 23-1K is still huge for me. Let me flat-out admit that in the midst of every run, I’m not floating on clouds with joy but it is the feeling of accomplishment after completing every session that makes me come back. There were bad-run days in the last two weeks but I’ve never pushed myself beyond the limits that I’ve been overcoming during this process and it’s that question of “how much farther can you go?” that makes me want to keep trying.
Just for Kicks
In all the Rio madness, there was an article on Adweek that talked about how Nike changed Olympics marketing via their ambush marketing at the ’96 Atlanta Olympics. Their effective way of plastering Nike everywhere without being an official sponsor was genius and has changed the way brands can talk about the Olympics ever since. Read all about it here.
Running Will Run Your Life
A lot of fellow runners have been telling me that it’s normal for this commitment to take over your life since so much of what you do (eating, going out for drinks, sleeping patterns) affects your performance. As of now, even Amazon knows I’m a runner after ordering ShoeDog, a Garmin Forerunner, Shalane Flanagan‘s Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook, and a bunch of protein bars. I’m testing products for import but also stocking my pantry with the essentials. Looks like I’m just a sucker for pain. Kidding, but I’ve never felt more badass with this squad behind (or in front of, in my case) me.