Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Run to the hills, run for your lives...

(3 of 3 posts)

The Hajar Mountains during the Wadi Bih Relay Race

This race was truly an endurance challenge. Yet it was fun, too. I was continuously amazed by the athleticism of my teammates. Far, far up, at checkpoint 13, half of the 75 km, Kathy turned it over to Graham, and he set off back along the route we had worked to hard to complete. Fast, no less. Now it was all retracing our steps, literally.

Sara ran down the leg I'd killed myself to get up, and claimed to have loved every step of it. "It was like being a kid," she said, laughing.

It was getting hotter, the dust from the passing vehicles in our nostrils. My teammates were extremely solicitous of me, making sure I was ready to run again. I was, whether I was ready or not. It grieves me that I flat out don't look the part, but, as I said, these were all "real" athletes. Someday I'll give myself that title...for now, I still have to insist to the folks in the shoe stores that no, I'm a runner, not a walker. Yes, yes, that really is my weekly mileage...

Perhaps that's why I've vowed to come back and take on that mountain leg again next year...

Pausing for a quick photo at the bottom of THAT jebel (mountain) leg on our way back.

We continued taking our turns at the portions of the run, now enjoying running past folks still on their way out. Our photograph taking ebbed with our energies, though everyone was still grinning, still having a good time. Back out of the mountains, past the tiny settlements, finally back onto the pavement.

The five of us ran the very last 0.9 km together, leaving behind the car, back to the beach as we chased after Graham, who was still running hard. My lungs ached with the effort, but at a respectable 6 hours,27 minutes, and 47 seconds, we ran across the finish line.

Later, out of curiosity, I worked out that this was an 8:19 minute mile pace. This is similar to how fast I run on the flat around Safa Park.

Mike and the kids met us at the finish line, and my family spent a what can best be described as a miserable night as the four of us all tried to fit in to a too-small hotel bed. There's nothing like running that far and then not getting a good night's sleep. Graham can tell you. He was in the next room over and had to listen to us.

I thought I had a bug for the marathon, but now I know what being bitten by the bug really means. I will be thinking of Wadi Bih over the next year, and I'll be back.


Jean said...

It's a wonder you're still alive. Good for you! And out of curiosity, is it pronounced Wadi Bee or Wadi Bye?

Natalie said...

Great question! It's "Wah-dee Bee" I really should start posting pronunciations with these names. I need to improve my Arabic reading so I can see "for sure" how to say something; I'm not 100% certain myself, sometimes.

On the other hand, I can definitely say Iss-ah-quah Wash-ing-ton.