Friday, April 16, 2010

Well we've certainly got some catching up to do, don't we? Where to begin? . . .

Let's talk school first. Last week, our main focus in 2nd grade was finalizing our preparations for our presentation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our school. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly each time we practiced so I had pretty high hopes that it was going to be an easy, low-key experience for all of us. But I should know by now that nothing is ever as simple as it seems in the education world. There is always a curve ball. In this case, that curve ball came in the form of 3 of my students not showing up to school that day. Now, I tried planning for this by giving the most important parts (of course, EVERY part is equally important . . .) to my boys that have great attendance so there would be a smaller chance of them not being there on our performance day. As it turned out, all 3 of these boys had a sort of leadership role in the play. Therefore, we had to do some last minute switching of parts so that, during our actual performance, I had 3 boys playing 2 roles, one of which was a part had never practiced before. All things considered, however, I thought the boys handled the last-minute changes very well and the play still went fairly smoothly. Most importantly, the boys all seemed really excited about what they had just done when we were finished, so in the end we still accomplished our primary goal which was to have fun.

The very next day, last Thursday, I was on a plane to Jordan for my ultra marathon. I had felt really good all week with my limited amount of running (I only ran about 10 miles all week to keep my legs fresh), so I was very excited to see how that would translate to my race. Part of me was a little nervous that my greatly-reduced mileage the previous 3 weeks would leave me feeling a little out of shape for the 31-mile race, but I figured the worst that would happen is that I would get really tired and have to run really slow or walk to finish the race.

On the morning of the race, they had a bus going from my hotel (our hotel was a race sponsor so a lot of people staying there were doing the race) to the meeting point. First of all, the bus was 30 minutes late. Then, when we got to the meeting point (a city park), there were literally thousands of people shouting and pushing each other around, trying to figure out which bus they were supposed to get on to take them to their starting point. You see, there were actually 4 distances being run that day--a 50 km, 42 km (marathon distance), 21 km (half marathon), and 10 km--and each one had a different starting point so that they all ended at the same place. Unfortunately, and not to my surprise, none of the buses at the park were marked with which starting point they were taking runners to. As a result, everybody was pushing each other to get on the buses, many times only to find out that that was not the bus they needed to be on. While I was a little nervous that I might miss the bus to take us to the 50 km starting point, I just sat back (a little amused I must admit) and kept my cool, waiting for someone to say in English that such-and-such bus was the one I needed to be on. After about 20 minutes of chaos, I finally heard word that somebody figured out which bus the 50 km runners needed to be on, so I followed a couple people and got on the bus without any sort of confrontation.

The race was supposed to start at 7:00 am, and our bus got us to the starting point at 6:45. It wasn't an ideal amount of time for a quick warm-up jog and a last-minute trip to the bathroom before the race, but in comparison to what I had just experienced, I figured the situation could have been much worse. With about 2 minutes to spare, I was all ready for the race to begin when an official announced that the race start would be postponed for about 10 minutes (it was actually closer to 25) due to technical difficulties with the computer system. So at 7:25 in the morning, my race began. I ran with some guys that had a good pace going for the first 10 or 12 miles, but feeling nice and relaxed up to that point, I decided to make a but of a push. Nobody really answered my challenge and so for the next 10 or 12 miles, it was just my iPod and the natural beauty of the Jordanian countryside (and the occasional marathon runner that I was passing up) that kept me company. With about 5 miles to go, I came upon hordes of people who were finishing the marathon and 1/2 marathon, and hundreds of teenagers walking the 10 km. In a way, I was kind of annoyed by all these people I was having to run through, but at a point in the race when my body was really starting to break down and cramp up, I also kind of felt like I had an audience that I didn't want to give up in front of. I struggled through the last 5 miles or so, and finished in a time of 3 hours, 47 minutes, which was 13 minutes faster than my goal time. I was really happy about that and decided to go celebrate at the beach party they had set up for all the participants. I finagled my way to the Amstel Lite tent and gulped down a few free beers, which was probably the only time all day that I felt good. Then I went and got some food, which included a Snickers bar, a banana, a bag of popcorn, and an ice cream cone. And then another Snickers bar. For the rest of the day, I just lazed about in the city of Amman.

This past week all kind of seemed like a hangover from the previous one. I didn't do any running (not that I didn't feel like going for a run on a couple of occasions) because I promised myself I wouldn't until my body felt 100% recovered from my race. I felt a bit sick all week with a sore throat and some coughing, but I feel like I'm on the mend now.

Well, I think that's all for now. Until next time,



  1. I have been waiting to hear all about your production of the "The Very Hungry Catepillar". It seems like you, as well as your boys, handled the needed last minute changes quite nicely. It shows that all of you have a great deal of confidence in each other and that is great! And it is also wise that you made having fun your ultimate goal.
    I am still in total awe each time I hear/read about your race accomplishments in Jordan. It is, of course, quite amazing to me that you can run over 30 miles at one time, but your determination to attempt the race, prepare for it, and persevere through your pain is very inspiring! You should be very proud of yourself.
    It does not seem like just one year ago that you made the decision to go to Abu Dhabi. And, while I miss you terribly every day, it has been fun to watch you really grow from this experience. I want you to know that I am very proud of you! I just hope July comes quickly!

    I love you!

  2. Snickers are gross!!!! Yuck.

    Isn't beer bad for you after you run? Either way, good job!