BambiRunsBey42K: Balloons and Central Park

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This is the 6th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Balloon Run and the 36K Peak
The week before taking off to the Big Apple was a bad one. I only made it to one run (the balloon run) and then went off the grid for the days following. Between preparing for my trip and falling into a pit of solitude due to burnout, I just wanted to get the week over with and get on the plane.

While my team was running the 36K max distance before marathon day, I was sitting at Cafematik pissed off for paying $20 for two coffees and a bite of banana bread. They were done by the time I got to Heathrow. Check out their triumphant faces:

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Running Central Park
I ran two 6Ks in Central Park during my week away, and although that is not on par with my training schedule, I’m still glad I bothered at all. Running while being abroad, even if for business, can make your mind switch into lazy mode with excuses like, “you don’t need to run because you’re walking a lot so it’s not like you’re doing NOTHING.”  Mbala.


On my last morning in NY, I was sharing the Central Park track with the NY Road Runners who were participating in the annual Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Fred’s Team Presents Grete’s Great Gallop. Let me break down that name for you:

Fred: Fred Lebow was the former NYRR president and co-founder of the New York City Marathon, he died of brain cancer in 1994.
Fred’s Team: An organization who raises funds for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where Fred Lebow received treatment. Fred’s Team runners have raised +$65 million for this cause.
Grete’s Great Gallop: a half-marathon race in honor of Grete Waitz, friend of Fred and 9-time winner of the NYC Marathon who also lost her life to cancer in 2011.

I didn’t bother to look into races in the city that were taking place during my stay. However, given that I needed to be back at the hotel before check-out, joining was not meant to be. I also didn’t run with NRC NYC for fear that their paces would be too quick for my slow self. Adding these two runs to next year’s growing runs-to-do list.

Nike x Kith
I was heading to Crate & Barrel to get my Scandal wine glasses when I came across this Nike concept store. Designed by Snarkitecture, the store has multiple nods to Nike history with casted Nike shoe boxes, AF1 outsole encrusted seats, and memorabilia encased in glass. Before you enter the rest of Kith, there’s Kith Treats, a snack bar with Nike themed cereal or ice cream served in shoe boxes, and a customization station where you can get Nike x Kith products customized. If you don’t get a chance to go to NYC’s 5-story NikeTown, head here. 


Just for Kicks
The easiest way for you to see a shoe’s true colors is to test them out in a pedestrian city. I got a pair of Nike Air Huarache Ultras (pronounced waa-rah-cheez) and I was clocking a minimum of 20K steps/day in them while wandering around the 5 boroughs. The verdict? I could live in these things. They are the new AirMax. They’re also travel-friendly because they’re like slip-ons because of the elastic body – perfect for security checks and long flights. I got mine from the men’s section at Nike DT purely for the color combo. NikeTown had BEAUTIFUL ones but I need to stop feeding this addiction.

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From nike.com


Reading this month’s edition of Wired US will give you the behind-the-scenes scoop on how the HyperAdapt power-lacing sneakers came to life. The inventor, appropriately named Tinker, gives a tour of the Nike grounds including the Innovation Kitchen.

Read more about Tinker and the Nike Labs here.

Back in BEY
I’m back (that’s why this post is a day late) and there’s six weeks left until we all run the marathon, or half in my case. Fellow NRCer Anthony shared this link for those of us who feel the half gets looked down up0n because it’s HALF a marathon. Sure, it’s not 42K but it’s still over 68,000 feet in distance. In Manhattan, that’s like running past 51.6 Starbucks branches. Sip on that, haters. Six Sundays until we break the wall, Jon Snow!

 

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BambiRunsBey42K: Shifting to 21K

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This is the 5th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Weak Sauce Weeks
Pre-diagnosis of puffy femur, I was already stressing about trying to get my pace down. Post-injury break, getting back into my stride and finding my old pace has been making me feel like Taco Bell weak sauce: you got the heat but it’s sub-optimal and you barely feel a burn. Allowing yourself time to gradually heal is necessary but SUPER annoying.

After being sidelined for 2 weeks, not being able to do the full distances upon return, and falling behind in the climb up the long-distance ladder on Sundays, I’m feeling frustrated that I am forced to take it slower than I already naturally am. However, I’ve got to remember: I can’t throw in the towel with 8 weeks to go until race day.

One Week at a Time
I did 3/5 runs the first week back, skipping the hills and long distance sessions. I made it to a max of 6K before feeling a little wobbly. The stiff leg combined with mental fear had been holding me back from pushing too hard too soon. My teammates were reassuring me that there is time to recover and improve before November but I couldn’t help feeling weighed down by my dumb, sensitive femur. And then I thought, “cancel the pity party, be grateful, and get out there.”

By week 2 of being back, I upped by mileage run by run reaching a max of 14K while pack42 was conquering 33K as a long distance. I had faced the hard truth and shifted to pack21; it is better give the half-marathon a real shot instead of cracking a hip going for the full. Poo. I’ll admit that removing the looming pressure of a full marathon has been a relief (until next year) and now I can focus on getting better for/at a distance I’ve already covered.

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Sunday NRC crew joined by the Defeet runners

Despite my downgrade, I’m going to keep the name of the series just for the sake of continuity and archiving but it’s official: Bambi is now running Bey21K.

Bambi Stats & Mini Victories
By the end of the last two weeks, I have managed to get back to my average 5K time so recovery is underway but the longer distances (10K and beyond) still need fine-tuning. I’ll be slowly increasing distances so that I can then tapper (go back down in distances pre-race) safely. This is the unsettling part about sitting out for a couple weeks: working your way back to where you were at pre-break. For me, it’s the main reason I avoid skipping runs; you immediately feel your body getting lazy again and sacrifice hard-earned progress.


Just for Kicks

In an effort to find motivation, I put Shantaram aside and started reading Run the World by Becky Wade, a 5’0″ 27-year-old marathoner from Texas. Becky’s talks about her year of country-hopping that opened her eyes to running cultures across the globe. For example, Becky (and Georgie, a temporary NRC Beirut runner visiting from the UK) talks about ParkRuns in London, weekly 5Ks done in the public parks open to all and tracked via chips so there’s friendly neighborhood competitin. She discusses about ugali in Kenya as running fuel. It’s an overall easy read that I recommend if you’re a runner.

Next up:  Shoe Dog, the memoir by Nike creator Phil Knight.

For Visual Motivation 

And in case reading and inspirational videos weren’t enough, leave it to Yeezus to release a video that makes you feel like a human jigglypuff who needs to flashdance the pounds away instead of crying into a pizza pie. “Imma let you finish but did you say you weren’t going to the gym??” Ah hell nah.

Bambi is Going to NYC…Again
Of course, in the middle of this comeback, I have a flight to catch. I’ll be gone as of next week and will need to get in at least 3 runs around the Big Apple. If not for the training, then at least for the ribs that I’m most definitely ingesting, diet be damned.

Hillstone, we have a date.

BambiRunsBey42K: Benched for Two Weeks

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Photo Credit: Jean Awad


This is the 4th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Down Days with Runner’s Blues
I’ve been in a rut for the past few weeks. I chalked it up to usual life frustration but then I came across an article about runner’s blues. As a sport, we all know that you need to account for physical rest but, it turns out, you need to let your brain take a break periodically too. You can’t let setbacks, black toenails, or off-days get you down. Run with it. Yoga has helped for me because it teaches you how to separate external stresses and thoughts from your present state of mind. And I end up getting a good nap at the end because my brain just shuts down if it’s not incessantly ticking. But then…

Injury & Mixed Emotions
Remember my thigh acting up? So apparently, bone, like most of our body tissues, gets stronger and adapts when it’s subjected to stress. BUT, unlike muscles and tendons, which which do so in a matter of days or weeks, bones take months to get stronger after increased stress. They first become weaker as they undergo remodeling, tearing down old osteoclasts’ walls and forming new ones. This is usually why stress fractures occur with runners who are upping their training regimen over several weeks to several months. Bio lesson over. Luckily, my recovering-from-stress-fracture teammates (Leila and NRC Pacer Nour G!) convinced me to go get my thigh checked out early. I went to a sports medicine doc who looks like a calmer, scruffier version of Cesar from OITNB because I figured a regular white-coat would just tell me to stop running.

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Dr. Cesar ordered an MRI and while trying my hardest not to fidget in that pod, I kept thinking that if I was injured, I’d be off the hook and I wouldn’t have to do the marathon; it wouldn’t be that I quit or wasn’t made for this rigorous training. But the moment the technician said that my scans weren’t 100%, my heart sunk. You’re going to take away running? But I’m trying so hard. Running is what I do. If I lose myself, I lose it all…Farrah? Is that you? 

Running had become a huge part of my daily routine that, once taken away temporarily, left me with a void. In that moment, it was clear that I didn’t want a way out but I did need a physical and emotional pause to recharge. Two weeks and I’ve missed moving, I’ve missed my team, and I’ve missed the sense of accomplishment. I feel stronger now but I’ve also been reminded of why I’m doing this: not for anyone else. I want to prove to myself that I can. I’m just doing it.

The MRI indicated slight edema in my femur. In English: Before a fracture occurs, athletes can suffer from stress reaction, the swelling phase just before bones crack from prolonged pressure on the already inflamed area of the bone. I was benched for two weeks meaning low-impact cardio (swimming or biking) until I can slowly return to running. Normal people would be happy to sleep in on a couple Sundays but I was experiencing major FOMO when the team shared photos of their high-20s long distance runs. Today is my first day back with this adorable team:

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Sidenote: DJs should get MRIs for inspiration. I felt like I was in a Daft Punk jam session. It was difficult not bobbing my head in there. 

Diets & Recovery
Everyone wants to swim like Michael Phelps but I just want to eat like Michael Phelps. Not because I’ve been craving grilled cheese sandwiches at 1 in the morning or anything. Anyway, Shalane Flanagan’s cook book has recipes that help athletes stay fueled and healthy. They’re also split according to injuries or deficiencies.

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Oregon Summer Salad…with pecans instead of blueberries

Shalane is an American long distance runner, holds the American record times in the 3000 m, 5000 m, 10K and 15K road race, and ranked 6th in this year’s Olympic marathon. Mostly, she’s also the author of the below tweet so I feel like I can trust her.

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Your diet can keep bones strong: eat lots of kale (high in vit K), sweet potatoes (high in potassium), and other foods high in magnesium, silicon, omega-3s, and vit A, C, D. More tips here and here.

There Will Be Others
Based on how the recovery goes, I may pull back to a half-marathon to avoid further injury and stay safe which is what Dr. Cesar suggests. It absolutely sucks but I’d rather not push to the extreme and end up on crutches for 3 months. There’s always next year and there will be other marathons. There is no need to risk injuries that will leave you with no choice but to stay on the sidelines.

I’ve been looking into destination races too. For example, the DisneyWorld marathon has a generous 13-min mile cut off time. Our Beirut full marathon has a max of 6 hours to complete, otherwise you don’t get a certificate. That’s Disney for you, always letting you live your dreams. I’m still waiting on my own genie and real-life Prince Eric but I digress. This all begs the question: if you run a 42K but your name doesn’t come up on the timesheet because you slow AF, did you really run a marathon? Existentialism at its best. Regardless, I can’t wait to be back with my running peeps. I mean, planning a trip around a running event? Whatever happened to obscure diners and Broadway shows? I don’t know who I am anymore. Oh wait, yes I do. I’m a runner.

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BambiRunsBey42K: Hitting the Half

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. 

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Photo Cred: Rick Egan, Salt Lake Tribune

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.

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Photo Cred: Lucas Oleniuk, Getty Images

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

10 Essentials for New Runners

Since I started running late last year, I slowly ended up putting together a drawstring sports bag filled with my running essentials. You can find a lot of these items at any store or pharmacy but I got most of my stuff from Wesley’s Wholesale because I work there. I’ve recommended the products I’ve tested and liked. I’ll admit being the product guinea pig is the funnest part about working in FMCG retail. Bring on the goodies!

…and then run off the calories.

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Photo Cred: NRC Pacer, Nour Ghaddar


PRE-RUN

SUNSCREEN
Living in Lebanon means we are blessed with sunshine 7-8 months out of the year, if not more. This means you have to protect that face (and those shoulders, arms, neck, and lips) when out on the road after 6am. The key is to get a sunscreen that is waterproof or made for activity so that it doesn’t irritate your eyes when you sweat. Factor of at least 30.

Bambi Recommends: Kiss My Face Cool Sport Face and Neck SPF 30 + SPF lip balm

LUBRICATION
Stop giggling. There’s a lot of friction that comes with running as a sport and it’s not just between the ground and your shoe soles. You need to apply a thin layer between your skin and your gear to avoid discomfort, chafing, and blisters. Hotspots: top of your toes, sides of your feet, under the sports bra lining, under your phone armband, edges of your shirt, and in between them thighs if you lack a thigh gap. Ain’t no shame, ladies do yo thang. And dudes, you need it (or pasties) on your nipples.

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Bambi Recommends: Vaseline, any generic petroleum jelly

DEODORANT
You don’t need to suffocate your friends just because you’re breaking a sweat. We all get funky after a 9K but let’s try to keep it to a minimum. No one wants to smell like wet laundry that was left in the machine for 2 days. Consider it a favor to humanity. You will also feel less self-conscious about your stench when you run into that hot bartender as you charge down the corniche.

Bambi Recommends: Secret Outlast Clear Gel. It leaves no residue, has no frilly flowery scent, and lasts all day.

GEAR
Just get everything absorbent. Absorbent socks, headbands, and clothing that will soak it all up and keep you dry. Shorts with compression lining help avoid chafing, a well-fitted sports bra keep the girls perky, and comfortable running shoes enhance your form.

Bambi Recommends: Nike dri-fit anything and everything. But seriously, don’t even think about wearing regular socks.

SNACKS
Depending on when you’re running, you’ll need to properly fuel beforehand. Morning runs require some carbs like a few tablespoons of nut butter on toast/crackers, dates, or half a banana. Afternoon runs mean you should have a snack a few hours before: dates, applesauce, dark chocolate, or some trail mix.

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Bambi Recommends: Artisana Organics raw pecan butter, Taza Chocolate Coco Bezos Coconut 70% Dark, Cote D’Or 70% Dark, or one stick of the classic dark Unica

SPARE HAIR TIES
These stupid things always snap in the middle of a run and you’re stuck tying a knot in a string that rips out your hair when removed. Keep a spare on your wrist for these moments or you’ll be forced to ask for one from an Olympian with a man bun. Please don’t run with your hair down, life’s not a Pantene commercial.

Bambi Recommends: Goody Ouchless pack of 10. None of that rubber band nonsense.

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POST-RUN

DISINFECTANT
You may still suffer from cuts, blisters, or rashes after a run so it’s always good to have alcohol pads & band-aids on hand.

Bambi Recommends: Western Family has a tube of rubbing alcohol wipes and a pack of individually wrapped pads which are portable and do the trick.

SKIN CARE
Sweating, running in the sunshine, blisters. Moisturize with coconut oil. Slather that ooze everywhere. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and sunscreen that has a light consistency. It’s not sticky and you can use it on your hair too. Vitamin E skin oil speeds up healing of blisters or rough spots because it prevents water loss in the skin.

Bambi Recommends: Any coconut oil would do but choose one you like based on smell. Some brands make you smell like macarons which is fine if you dig it. I prefer not smelling like La Duree. And JASON Vitamin E 32,000 I.U. Skin Oil.

SNACKS
A small snack after a tough run helps to restore muscles and your low glycogen levels. No need to inhale a bucket of chicken though. You can out-eat any workout with the wrong diet so stick to string cheese, dates, yogurt, a protein bar, or coconut water. These will replenish energy and hydration levels until you have a proper meal.

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Bambi Recommends:
 Dark Chocolate Nut & Sea Salt Kind Bar

EXTRA CLOTHES
If you’re not hopping into a shower nearby, bring an extra shirt and socks or a pair of flip flops to change into. Air conditioners are a bad mix when you’re walking around in smelly wet clothes. And have a spare bag to put your gross gear in because that stuff is going to be drenched so it’s best to keep it separated from your other belongings. Makes laundry easier too.

See you on the streets!

Nike: Unlimited You

There is a reason that most admen/women want to work for Wieden + Kennedy. Like the Harvard of the Adworld, it is the rejection email that you would pin on your cork board before returning to a brief for a dull local client with little or no budget. For me, I dreamed of working there because of the Nike work they did.

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Even pre-NRC, I was fan of the brand, collecting too many sneakers and swoosh emblazoned tanks to count; however, Wieden were able to capture why I loved them, bottling adrenaline into an edit via a consistent empowering message that made you want to go for the gold – whatever that gold was.

The duality in the above’s copy, narrated by the this-is-why-he’s-sexy Oscar Isaac, couldn’t be more on point when it comes to my brain’s dialogue while training. You yoyo between thinking, “A marathon? Who, me?” to Move, I’m running here, don’t kill my vibe.” The Unlimited You campaign stays true to Nike’s timeless Just do it slogan. It’s about breaking out of the cage you put yourself in, the box that you were assigned to fit into, getting out from under that ceiling that keeps you from rising up to the stars. It’s not about erasing your own limits and lightly brushing away the rubber ashes. It’s about obliterating those limits like they were never there. Every. Single. Time.

The Official Unlimited Manifesto
Everyone has limits right?
A point where you just say
That’s it. Enough. Finito. The End.
But here’s the thing
Limits are only suggestions
And “the end” is just something they put on movies.
Life isn’t about finding your limits
It’s about realizing you have none.
So get up. Get out.
Try something utterly ridiculous.
Practice ’til you’re reported missing.
Challenge the street court king.
Run the length of a river.
Then swim it back.
The only person who can tell you your limits is you
And even then you don’t have to listen.
Just do it.

Goooooooooosebumps.

The campaign also showcases the world’s biggest athletes telling stories about their beginnings and the dedication that goes into the sport they’ve adopted as their calling. There are more shorts like the one above featuring Serena Williams, Mo Farah, Alex MorganAshton Eaton, Allyson Felix, Simone Biles, and others. They’re like confessionals that make these badasses look human.

But it’s not just for the pros. It has spread within the NRC group here too. Our members have shared their own stories about why they joined and what taking up running with the group has done for them. Take a look:

It’s rare to see a brand’s projected image shine through to the people who aren’t sitting in on the conference call when the campaign is being born. Clearly, this idea matches what Nike is selling and doing for its customers since they’re willing to share their own experience & growth via a brand-sponsored club in their city.

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Photo Credit: Special Magazine

Our own Chirine Njeim will be competing in the women’s marathon at this Sunday’s Olympic games, being the first woman to represent Lebanon in the marathon distance. Be it in Rio or on the streets of Bey, athletes are discovering their own unlimited source of power, they’re putting it to the test, and they’re just doing it.

 

BambiRunsBey42K: One Month Down

This is the 2nd installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Unlimited Future
Like those Olympians competing in Rio, the team and I are discovering our unlimited potential after 4 weeks – that potential that will take us to November but continue on into 2017. This program has become about more than the marathon, it’s rewiring my mindset. It won’t stop in November because there is no end when there are no limits. 

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The Warm-Up Threshold
The more I tried to stick to nonstop kilometers of running, the more I realized that it got easier to keep going after the first 3-4K. When you first kick off, your body is still warming up and it isn’t used to extended bouts of exercise. However, if you keep pushing through those horrible 20ish minutes, it regulates itself and suddenly you don’t have that urge to stop anymore because your body’s gone into RUN mode. Mohamad Marhamo, NRC Pacer extraodinaire, says that he feels it around 2K and that this steady feeling will come sooner the more you train. Inshallah.

“Who decided a marathon is 42.2K anyway?”
That was a question a fellow NRCer asked while we were dripping our way through Mar Mikhael. I realized I didn’t know why. OBVIOUSLY, unable to leave a question unanswered, I did some googling. The story is that a Greek messenger named Philippides had to trek 40K to Athens to report the victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Legend has it, he busted into the assembly, made the announcement (“Nike!”), and dropped dead. How inspiring. Can’t wait to finish & die.

The long distance race was incorporated into the first modern day Olympics in 1896 in Athens. The extra 2K was sprinkled on top in 1908 to accommodate the British royals because Queen Alexandra had the race start at the Windsor Castle lawn and end in front of King Edward VII’s royal box at the Olympic stadium. According to Wiki, “the modern 42.195 km standard distance for the marathon was set by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in May 1921 directly from the length used at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.” So there you have it, blame the Brits.

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Fun Facts: The world’s oldest annual marathon is the Boston Marathon which started in 1897, one year after the first Olympics. Women didn’t get to participate until 1972 and they didn’t have their own Olympics marathon until 1984 in Los Angeles.

Long Distance Sundays…and Listening to Your Body
Like any physical activity, an important part of training is knowing when your body in trying to tell you something versus your mind. There are days when you need to be okay with not making the mark. I missed a run (because of blisters) and couldn’t finish the long distance because of running shoes that were too small (long distances combined with higher temperatures cause your feet to swell so your shoes need to be 1-1.5 size larger than your usual size) plus cramps in my left shin.

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After getting the right sized shoes and letting my blisters heal, I went back out there and finished week 4, including yesterday’s 17K. The runs are important but your body is more so. Now, “3am Vaslin” has become my verb of the year since I slather Vaseline pretty much everywhere pre-run. At this rate, I’m going through one little tub/week.

A Missed Session Doesn’t Equal a Day Off
This program takes up a lot of your evenings but there will be nights when you’re going to have to miss a session for a wedding, a trip to the north, or a Mashrou Leila concert.

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That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for the night. We’ve reached a point where you can’t afford to skip a run so you get homework: doing the run solo when you do have the time.

My last solo run was in Rome but doing 11K under Beirut’s sweltering August sunshine isn’t the same as centro histórico at dawn. We’ve gotten into the habit of sending screenshots of our solo runs to our marathon Whatsapp group so we all know we’re getting it done. Not only does it help to see each one of us is sticking to the program, it also motivates you to drown out the excuses. Your team is running, why aren’t you?

An e-friend of mine shared this short about runners, take a look:


Bambi Stats & Mini Victories
I would have to say that running a 11K tempo run solo and then a 17K two days later would have to qualify as a mini victory for me. With every run, we’ve been learning things about our bodies and how we can improve the marathon experience; not just in terms of distance or pace but also what to eat the morning of, what time to eat it, what sunscreen to use, which socks work best, and so on. Knowing this key info will get us closer to doing it right.

 

Just for Kicks
Water dictates everything. When figuring out the route you’re going to do, make sure to note where you can buy a bottle of water…and where you can empty your bladder. In long distances especially, nature will call wondering why you don’t talk anymore. Another thing that shouldn’t be underestimated: stretching. Before and after runs. Take care of those muscles.

Becoming Obsessed or Committed?
And no, not committed-to-the-insane-asylum committed. I mean committed to this transformation. Subscribing to the Runner’s World newsletter, having a sports bra tan, and ordering only Perrier on nights out because I have a training session the next day. I’ve been reading about all things running, right down to a blessed experience known as runner’s trots. It’s the shit. This is my life now. I’m all in and I don’t recognize this person who’s suddenly…an athlete? I train? Yes. Yes, I am and I do.