BambiRunsBey42K: There is No Finish Line

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#wou7oush

This is the 10th and final installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

When you’re undergoing a training season that culminates on one day, you forget about one minute detail: the marathon is a race. This was of no importance to me personally since I had no intention of even trying to win such a title but, in the end, you are still racing yourself. You may not shoot for the gold but you are attempting to beat the clock, be it to make a new PR or to make it under the maximum allocated time-window. My goal for this run was the latter and I did it. And so did my team.

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How Far We’ve Come
The last Beirut Marathon I was in, I walked/ran a 10K and, upon seeing the pillars marking the kilometers for the marathoners I thought, those people must be batshit. Nothing has changed on that; I still think you have to be a certain level of insane to willingly endure it. Then, deciding to dive into anything beyond a 10K was inconceivable. Five years later, I can say that this has been the hardest physical commitment and challenge that I’ve undertaken which makes it all the more satisfying.

When I started with NRC, Pacer Moe used to run next to me at the very back of the pack. He’d ask me how I’m doing and try to have a conversation while I could hardly spit out a few words as I gasped to breathe. Now, mid-run, I have chats with teammates about travels to other cities to run races. Now, Dima pushed through 42K on her 26th birthday with an injured foot. Now, Hussein, who used to run at pace 9, ran his first marathon in under 6 hours. Now, Dina, one of our youngest runners, placed 1st in her age group. Now, Nour recovered from her stress fracture and ran a kilo alongside each NRC marathoner on the track. Each runner has transformed in this process, each runner has a in the beginning story, and each runner feels the others’ victory.


The Lessons After
* Congratulate every win: Pat yourself on the back for every PR, every extra mile, every 500m sprint, every run you didn’t skip for happy hour.
* I might like running…a little bit: As much as I ran, running ran my life. I read articles, subscribed to newsletters, bought memoirs. You can’t despise a sport and be that invested in the topic itself. Look, it’s not love yet, we’re infatuated. Ya3ni fi shi haik haik.
* Your body is a fascinating, communicative vessel: Surviving rigorous training puts you so in tune with your machinery because you’re carefully monitoring what you eat, how you sleep, and what factors contribute to its optimum performance. If marathon training teaches you anything at all, it’s how to listen to your body’s signals.
* Don’t take healthy toenails for granted: oh, how I miss them so.

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Life After the 2016 Marathon
I kept thinking that I wanted this to be over with so I could have my life back but then I realized that this was only the beginning of an addiction that had begun months ago. You see, exercise is read by the brain as stress so it releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) to deal and protect your brain from this stress. It’s a reset switch and, along with endorphins, blocks the feeling of pain and gives you a high. This is the healthiest addiction there is and it is exactly that because more exercise is needed to achieve the same high over time. I guess I’m just going to have to keep running.

So…I’m incorporating Sunday 10Ks into my weekly regimen. I’ll improve my 10K time and work my way up to a better long distance pace. Do I want to run the 42? Yes, one day but let’s talk about it later this week when my jelly legs stop bending the wrong way. Although I haven’t booked my flight to California yet, I’ve signed up for a Champagne Runch and the LA BIG 5K in March. I considered the LA Marathon but I’m not ready to dive into another training season on the heels of finishing my first.

And, with the conclusion of the marathon, I’m happy to say that this blog will return to posts that don’t only revolve around running, kilos, and bodily fluids/lubricants. Not those, you 12 year old.

And now, the thank yous…

To Marianne & the Nike team,
Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to learn who we are. To have this outlet for stress. To have an activity that isn’t just about consumption of burgers & booze. To create another family that won’t hug you when you say you’ve tried your best but will say,“eh ma3leh, PUUUUSH” so you will swallow that lie and find the last drop of fuel that’s escaping your carburetor.

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To Coach Mark,
You lead us to the finish by proving that running doesn’t need to be torture. That being a serious sport doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves seriously all the time. You made running fun, which I never thought was possible. You taught us how to know our bodies, know our limits, and know that we can ignore them because we were more than any of us ever thought. You pushed us beyond our accepted states. You are the magnet, we are the iron filings that, drawn to your positive charge, encapsulate you like a force-field.

To Pacers Moe, Nour, Georges, and Wafik,
Our guardian angels on the road, you guys in neon protect us while simultaneously guiding us to our own wins. Your experience, advice, and support were the stilts that made us stand tall. You called us out when you knew we could give more, even when we didn’t know we could. You are the glue, we are the macaroni pieces, whom together create the awkward art that our mothers cry over.

To my wou7oush,
The high that I feel is not the BDNF endorphin cocktail coursing through my veins; it’s the result of seeing my inspirational beasts get their medals only to, like a wolf entering their pack’s cave, walk into a circle of teammates where they can collapse into palpable safety. You are truly champions. I wouldn’t have done this without your cheers, your smiles, and your contagious willpower.


There is no finish line for we are runners and the streets are waiting for us to return.
Much love to you all.

(Photos collected from team)

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BambiRunsBey42K: One Month Left


This is the 7th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

The temperature has begun to drop as we make our way through October. One second we’re three months away from Marathon Day and the next, it’s Thanksgiving and all we’re worried about is how to expertly wear elastic waistbanded pants to hide the holiday weight gain.

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Breaks in Training
With each injury, flight, or skipped run, a runner can feel themselves take steps backward. Some would see these interruptions as needed breaks but, in the training world, they are breaks in momentum. In a matter of a few weeks, my athlete habits had begun to evaporate. I was forgetting to drink all my liters of water, slacking off on meal prep, and missing cross-training days at the gym.

After talking with my NRCers, it is a common peeve that we all have. As soon as we start to improve, something gets in the way and once you’re back, you feel like you’re starting from the bottom again…

But now we here: 4 weeks (3 Sundays) away.

I have to admit, I can’t wait to get my life back but I don’t want all this investment to start to go downhill when we’re so close to the peak. On Tuesday’s 8K, Coach Mark said, “Open your stride, stop being afraid of your injury,” and in trusting him, I was able to get back to and maintain my (slow) average pace. The trick now is to keep doing that.

Sunday Tapering 
Prior to Marathon Day, runners need to start cutting back on the kilos when running weekly long distance runs so their bodies can stay ready but avoid fatigue. Yesterday was my first Sunday back with the group post-NYC and I finished 16K but not with a desired pace. I’ve got less than 30 days to get it down just enough to make it across the finish line in under 3 hours comfortably. I don’t have a goal time in mind, I just want to get it done so I can have a benchmark for the future.

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Trying out NTC
I had to skip a Friday run to go to an extra Spanish class and I also won’t be attending Monday runs for a while for the same reason. I DID go to a NTC session though. Read more about that here.


Just for Kicks
During +5K runs, you have a lot of time to think. My mind wanders to blogpost content, to-do lists, and the occasional why am I doing this again?! During one evening run, I realized runners have 3 important PBs when it comes to training season: Personal Best, Peanut Butter, and Practice Buddy.

Personal best refers to when you reach a new record pace, distance, or time. The more often you run, the less often this happens. You’re not going to beat your PB on every run but it’s the only parameter you should use when evaluating your progress. Peanut butter is the snack of choice when needing a quick dose of food that’ll keep you functioning during a long afternoon. Some runners have a spoonful before a long run. My NRC crew would qualify as my practice buddies: the people who will train along side you so you’re not climbing a mountain alone. Can’t wait to see them all charge down the red carpet soon!

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.