Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Does fifteen equal twenty?

Does twenty equal twenty-five? These are the questions that I am currently asking…. why? The runners from the new club that I have joined keep making these statements that they believe running a distance in Dubai heat is the same as running that distance plus an added five anywhere else.

A lot of the runners here in Dubai have said that it is difficult to complete training runs at the longer distances. That as long as you are out for three hours, then that would be same as running twenty-two or twenty-four miles. They say not to stress too much about it all – as it is physically impossible to keep up an active marathon training program in the desert…. but also that when you head back to the US or Europe and go for a run that it is a truly wonderful experience and you can run like the wind!

Running in heat and humidity is hard. I have found that you run slower and the longer you are out in the elements the harder it is on the body. So what do you think? Do you think that not hitting my mileage targets due to the environment here will hugely adversely affect my New York goals?

I don’t really know.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tidbits from Grammie …

running star My in-laws are very supportive of my running and racing. Yesterday I received an email from my mother-in-law providing some passed on advice for the New York City Marathon. A friends’ daughter has run it a few times … anyway, here is the excerpt from the email I got from Grammie -

I volunteer with a lady whose daughter, a lawyer, has run in the NYC marathon twice. She’s not running in it this year. She passed on some tidbits of info that you may already know. Anyway for what it’s worth I am sharing the info with you.

1. Bring an old blanket and two large garbage bags. Put the garbage bags on the ground with the blanket on top. A garbage bag can be worn if it is raining while you are waiting.

2. Bring an old pair of sweats to wear while you are waiting.

3. Bring toilet paper or pocketsize Kleenex. The portable toilets often run out of toilet paper.

4. There is plenty of food, water, and Gatorade to consume. There’s plenty of time to eat because you sit there for several hours.

pee 03

5. Now for the gross info---try to run on the top level of a two level bridge. If you have to run on the lower part stay in the middle area. Mainly men tend to urinate from the top level and those on the outside of the lower level get sprayed. Ugh!

6. It is suggested that if you tend to be nervous take an Imodium tablet the morning of and after the first morning bowel movement. This prevents having a bowel movement during the course of the race as well as cramping.

7. Take Advil or any other anti-inflammatory medication halfway through the race to help with muscle pain.

8. Try consuming “GU” (I have no idea what that is) or gummy bears to chew or dissolve during the race. The gummy bears could be put in a Ziploc/sandwich bag.

9. Whoever may be meeting you at the end of race should have a backpack with pair of sweats or a change of clothes for you to put on.

10. Anyone watching the race on your behalf should have a designated spot to meet you----such as the water/Gatorade stand on the left. Lines of people tend to be 10 people deep. There are alphabet letter signs at the end of the race to help locate and meet your supporters at the end of the race. It may take over an hour to find one another.

11. You have the option of checking in your stuff at the beginning of the race; however, Tara noted that it was utter chaos with runners trying to get their belongings.

Thanks Grammie :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tunnels, boats, and gold souks…. a 12 mile run

eid mubarak

My second long run in Dubai coincided with Eid – the end of Ramadan and the fasting period. Traffic at 5am was busy as people flocked to the various mosques for prayer and then off to to family celebrations.

The heat and humidity was through the roof! Starting temp was 89F with 85% humidity. It rose pretty quickly to 96F during the run... with the daily high being around 106F!

This was also my second run with the Dubai Creek Striders. As usual everyone pays 10 dirham (around $2.70) for the lead runners to purchase water and disposable cups as a gas station every two miles or so. I decided to take advantage of the post-Ramadan time - during Ramadan drinking and eating in public during the day was illegal - and run with my fuel belt. This was something that I was very thankful for as the heat was intense and the extra water between the stops was much needed.

There was probably around 35 or 40 of us running through t he Dubai City streets. The run we did the Striders dubbed the “Creek Classic” – basically run to the creek, under the creek, over the creek and then back!  We had to double back a few times when we were trying to follow the creek prayerpaths due to the the mass turnout at local mosques on the water for prayer. Probably a good idea as I don't think it would have been politically correct to for a group of sweaty and scantily clad westerners to run through a throng of white dress (dishdashas) wearing men in the middle of prayers!

So, we got to the creek and negotiated a safe path to the Al Shindagha Tunnel. Thankfully it was the pedestrian underpass and not the actual  road that we used – I was getting a bit worried about the fume inhalation from running through the four lane road. Once safely on the other side of the Dubai Creek the fast runners took the path hugging the creek line while us slower runners to a half mile short cut through the Gold Souk. Cobblestone roadways smelling like incense filled with men going about their morning duties. Some of them taking time to laugh at us and take photos with their cell phones. Once through the tight walkways we met up with the other group at an abras – local passenger boats - station. After a quick water stop we piled onto four abras and headed back across the creek! It was nice to take a bit of a break!

abras 02

abras 01

12 miles is what I ran all up – I switched my garmin off about two miles out from where I had parked the car. I had to walk the final mile or two - it was just too hot, and I was spent. I am so glad I had my own water and I refilled ever few miles at our designated water stops! Towards the end I was wishing I had a camel - not a camelback - I thought a camel would do nicely to get me those miles back to my car, and would be a smart choice of animal based on location, don't you think?

dubai creek striders

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dubai Running

Well, I have completed my first outdoor run in Dubai and all I can say is "OMG!!"

We have been in Dubai for just over a week now. I have been fortunate enough to track down one of the local running clubs – the Dubai Creek Striders – and met with them for their Friday morning long run. Now, a long run on a Friday may sound pretty funny but what you need to remember is that Dubai is an Arab city and Friday is the holy day so is comparable to a Sunday. The weekends here are Friday and Saturday with the first day of the working week being Sunday. Also it is presently Ramadan – the Islamic holy month which means that the Muslims are fasting between sun-up and sun-down. It is illegal to eat or drink in public during Ramadan ... pretty much all of the cafe's, restaurants and food courts are closed during this time as well.

Anyway, I headed out with the group for a run which was meant to be somewhere between 15-18km (9-11mi). Should've been a walk in the park, right? We kicked off around 6 am and the sun was already up and the temperature was rising from 90F up and up. Coming from Texas I would've strapped on my fuel belt and just gone with the flow.... but in Dubai things are done a bit differently. For starters, no one wears a fuel belt. They stop as gas stations every 2-3km and the person who is in charge of the group goes and buys some plastic cups and large bottles of cold water along with some sports drinks if people want them.

The groups sort of broke up into a fast group, a fast slow group (9-10min/mi pace) and a slower slow group.... by pure accident I found myself with the fast slow group who for the first water stop (at 2.2mi) were with the fast group. Ooops!! Those first two miles were run at 9.30 pace for me – which for a slow long run in the heat is too fast. When I asked where the others were, I was told that someone got a bit excited and we bypassed the first water stop and had subsequently split beyond the point of no return. So, I was stuck running the next 3.4 mi with this group to the next water stop.

Around the 3.5mi mark I was regretting not bringing my fuel belt, despite the legal ramifications of drinking in public. I was parched. By the time myself and two other fellows reached it, the other 25 or so runners were taking off on the next leg. Someone stayed behind to buy us some water and one gent offered to walk back to the starting point with me. I was tempted to keep running, but being separated from the group and not knowing if the slower group was going to come past or not I did not want to tempt fate and try to navigate the roads on my own. I am not familiar with the land marks to identify the route.

So three of us ran / walked back to the car park. It worked out OK. All up I ran 6 mi with an average of 10.15 pace. The two other fellows filled me in on the local races and international races that most of the group trains for. Also information about some of the other running groups with details for where and when they meet. This group has definitely an international flavor with most being super super fast. I know I am not fast, but that doesn't bother me at all - I have my goals and training plan so I know what I should be doing. Most of these runners are seasoned marathoner and ultra runners - it was awesome chatting to them about their next race ... you know, South Africa, Europe, UK, US... I even met some fast fast runners who will be running New York!

So all I need to do now is to start building my mileage (AGAIN). It will definitely be a challenge in these conditions. Fingers crossed!!