The running continues. I run with the Striders on Friday mornings now, delighting in the sun rising, coloring the dust hanging in the air orange. I love seeing all the areas of Dubai from on foot; the construction laborers with their hard hats perched atop bright cotton scarves, sweat running tracks down through the dust on their faces, the people waiting for buses at temporary stops surrounded by the construction, the experience of running through aromas as varied as garbage heated to nauseating by the constant temperatures and the sharp queasy smell of the fish market, to the delectable early morning cooking at cafeterias, Indian spices wafting mouthwateringly through the air, and always, always the smell of sand.
I love the looks we get from the people we pass, from confusion to encouragement and even glee. I love running with the group, a herd, thumping along, though with the humidity there is a high "squelch" factor and there are plenty of sweaty wet footprints. As I don't want to get left behind and lost, I am well motivated to stay up with everybody else and do OK. It also helps that we stop every 3-4 kilometers for a water break. When the weather is like this the concrete is liberally splattered with sweat dropping off the runners, so hydration is very important. There is almost always a taxi lurking nearby at these stops, and I consider it a real achievement to ignore the sucker.
Our pathway can be a varied as through the souks, through tunnels, across Dubai Creek on a welcome Abra ride break, on dirt roads and past palaces, peacocks calling from the trees, running beneath the skyscrapers, or along the beach, date palms and mosques...
I wear a safety orange running shirt that personally I think gives me a strong resemblance to a traffic cone. I do so in the hopes that it will make me more visible to drivers, cyclists too. True, we are running as a group which should be easier to see than a lone runner, and the traffic is light on a weekend morning, and I am hyper about double-checking before I step out to cross a road, but I figure it doesn't hurt.
This last run I made a bit of an error. There are two training groups; the "slow" group and the "fast" group. The fast group runs a course longer than the slow group so that the two groups meet up at the fuel stations at about the same time. The fastest person, who has collected funds from everyone at the start, gets to each fuel station before everyone else and purchases cups and water and electrolyte drinks (and Coca-Cola for when you really need a boost!) and everyone else staggers in and gets some refreshment. Literally. It's all good fun.
Now, I am in the "slow" group and not the least bit unhappy about that. The fast group are a beautiful bunch of greyhounds and unless something changes radically in my life I shall not be joining them. Or so I intended. On the last leg of the run the runners, now tired, were spread out as we neared home and I followed the wrong group. I realised my mistake at the water stop out away from the city...not only were the folks all the "wrong" folks, but there wasn't supposed to be another water stop...there was supposed to be the parking lot and my car! I kept thinking we were going to angle over...
Anyway, one of the elite runners was joined by his daughter on her bicycle for the duration of the run. They both decided to go back to the cars instead of continuing on for the longer loop. It may have had something to do with me there, looking like I had about the IQ of a traffic cone. She runs the Predictor occasionally and in a very generous moment took pity on me, letting me ride her bicycle while she ran for about a mile to give me a breather. It made all the difference. I felt a bit bad about handing back a thoroughly sweated-upon bicycle; not the nicest way to express gratitude, but unavoidable.
The next night, running again at the Predictor, I was the last in again for that race, and the only girl to do two laps, again. All the other runners applauded and cheered me in across the finish line. That was kind of nice.
Good stuff all around.