Last week we decided to go to the Thursday night Total Fat Loss class with the fantastic-sub-five-foot-no-bullshit-allowed-no-excuses-trainer named George. He is a like a muscle bound pit bull . . . from Romania. He was wearing a tank top instead of a t-shirt last week and M and I couldn't believe how stacked he was! M heard he was a former Olympic gymnast (Doha the Branson, Missouri, of the Gulf - where former Olympians go to retire . . . ) George also commands the room with his voice. We had already started at various stations around the room when an Arab guy poked his head in and asked to join the class. George shot a quick look at the Arab and barked "Yes, go, check in, and when you come back 20 push ups!" Like I mentioned before, George doesn't mess around. So why in the heck we thought it was a good idea to take his class the night before our long run is beyond me.
I have to stop this story here to add some personal background. In 2008 I ran 7 half marathons and 2 marathons. That was while I was living in Seoul, South Korea, with one race being in Hong Kong. In Seoul there is the most amazing support system of fellow crazy runners and plenty of races in Seoul and all over Korea to enjoy. I was in heaven to say the least. I was single, working, traveling, running, and racing a lot. In fact, there was one month when I ran two half marathons. A friend jokingly asked, "Why didn't you just run one marathon and get it over with?" I went to races out of town by bus or train. I went with some great friends and also alone. I went to the Cherwon DMZ Half Marathon alone and spent the whole day speaking Korean. I will never forget that experience of running past South Korea DMZ guard towers with soldiers standing up on top and of running through villages and having Korean ajummas waving at me and cheering me on while smiling. I loved traveling throughout Korea and running. However, simply put, I was addicted and wanted to spend all my free time either preparing or actually competing. I wasn't great at it, but I had some amazing life changing races. Training and racing became me. I was a bona fide finisher's medal hording, race t-shirt collecting, early weekend morning training, monthly racing "marathoner" while in Korea.
Now that we live in Qatar things have changed. I honestly thought the only obstacle to maintaining my previous running and racing lifestyle would be the weather, but I was wrong. There is a small group of people who meet each weekend to run along The Corniche, but M and I stopped going last fall because we hated getting up early to meet strangers for a run along a brick (ouch!) path. Perhaps equally upsetting is the fact that there are practically no races in Qatar. I hear about some sort of "Women's Mini-marathon" or something like that. What the heck is a "mini-marathon"? Call it what it is - a 5k fun run/walk! I didn't run that race. It made me angry just thinking about it. However, M and I found a proper half marathon in the UAE for a nice weekend in February. We had a great time, but with less intense training I felt like it was just a training run rather than a race.
I miss racing like I used to do in Seoul. I miss feeling like I am good at running. I miss being known as "a runner" or better yet, "a marathoner" to others, but mostly to myself. I miss training hard and feeling good even though it kind of kills my social life. And I've let my husband (a marathoner and triathlete as well) know this in more than a few conversations since we moved here. I just hope we can visit Seoul and run a race there so he can experience it all.
So we recommitted ourselves to training. We've run a little more in the heat than was probably wise, and decided that we just can't change the weather. However, we can get up earlier when it isn't so darn hot. We decided this before George's Total Fat Loss class last week. We had been getting up at 5:00AM to run, but by the time we got out the door it was 5:20AM and the sun was glaring down on us.
Therefore, last Thursday night I set the alarm for 4:00AM. We would run 7 miles - the most we'd run since our February half marathon. For a half marathon we should run at least one 12 mile run about two weeks before the race. We've got time, but not much considering we've only ran 5-6 miles each time we've ran since our last half marathon and we skipped two weekends in a row. As soon as the alarm went off at 4:00AM I jumped up excited and ready to run. The cats were confused and looked a little perturbed. I know Frankie said to Sophia, "Hey, isn't it our job to wake them up?!" M wasn't trilled but I found a way to get him out of bed. I have to bluff and pretend like I'm going to run on the mean streets of Doha alone and then he's up!
Just for the record it was a nice cool 93F at 4:00AM on that Friday, June 25th. I was immediately in love with the idea of getting up every weekend in Doha at 4:00AM. I cannot tell you how incredibly refreshing it was to run at that time in that cool of weather. Right now it is a hot 95F but the "realfeel" temperature is 100F. In the past few weeks the "realfeel" temperature got up near 120F. What does that feel like? Basically, imagine putting your body into an oven, or turning a thousand hot hair dryers onto your body.
Until Next Time,
Photo credit: Seoul Flyer's Running Club President, Jae Kim and me.