Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baby we were born to run

Three crazy runners, flinging their sweaty headgear up into the air

I posted a "FLY HOME" countdown in the kitchen which dwindled down from double to single digits all too rapidly. Suddenly we were driving a rental car, packing our bags, and everything that used to be everyday was becoming "last-time".

This was hard with places, harder with people. Dubai expats are depressingly good at good-byes. Lots of practice, you see.

I have mentioned before that we have two groups of friends in Dubai, which overlap slightly. One group is Mike's co-workers. The other group consists of my running buddies. To celebrate and say our farewells to the first group, we went out for a typically Dubai-esque and therefore lavish Friday Brunch with some 30 folks from Mike's work. While there I discovered a particularly fabulous cocktail. Martini glasses filled with snow-white cotton candy, over which was poured fresh lime juice and gin.

Twas tasty, and quite beautiful. I made sure to appreciate several of them.

The other group. the runners, was, for me, harder to say good-bye to. For one thing, once you've run with someone else mad enough to attempt it in the Middle East, there's a certain indescribable camaraderie that runs deep.

So I ran one last nighttime run with Graham along our route on Umm Sequim Beach, the light show of the Burj Al Arab above us, the adhān (Islamic call to prayer) ringing out from the mosques and through the dark around us as we pounded the sidewalks and jumped over fishing lines strung out to dry. It was 106 degrees when we finished.

And a last run with Vicki and Linda, so humid that the camera lens fogged and fogged again from the heat and we couldn't get a great photo. Probably best, we were soaked and not looking our feminine best.

Then a last early morning distance run with the Dubai Creek Striders, having somehow convinced John and Nigel to join me (fools), including a brief, refreshing respite on an abra (water ferry) across Dubai Creek at the middle of the 17 kilometers (a lifesaver, we really were dying and desperate for a break), and posing with the iconic Emirates Towers after we completed the darn thing.

We might have been a little punchy.

The most touching good-bye of all, in many ways, was the last Predictor race Bethy and I ran at Safa Park.

Nigel, Bethy, the spire of the Burj Khalifa, John, and me. Yes, I generally wear a dorky headscarf, and yes, Bethy is in a ballet outfit.
That's how we roll.

Here she is, flying to the finish line. Even though I was accused, half in jest, of child abuse for allowing her to run in the hideous heat, all the Dubai Road Runners cheered her in.

She is running with John and that huffing and puffing is probably me trying to recover from my two lap craziness.

Some things are just wonderful. No matter where she goes, I know Bethy will get the same strength and pride from knowing that she ran in Dubai, with the love and encouragement of her friends and family.


*Paula* said...

you are nuts, you know that right? running in that heat? :)

Natalie said...

Oh, I miss it so...! I just bought a bumper sticker. It says "Running is a mental sport and we're ALL INSANE." Love that.

Cathy O. said...

I feel sad thinking that we didn't know which run was our last Predictor together... :-( I need a Seattle race! Miss you-

Natalie said...

Cathy, want a Seattle race, eh? I'm on the prowl. I'm thinking, I'll tape up my foot, go for a practice run, and if I can pull it off I'll be signing up for this one : and this one too: (against HIV/AIDS)

If only you were here too, missing you right back. Such a bittersweet post this turned out to be.

Nathalie said...

I am a little late catching up here and just figured out that you must be along the same Coast as I am by now... Hoping that you and your family are doing ok during this transition time and glad to see you stopping by my blog :D Thanks for the wonderful travels you've allowed us to have with you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie,

I have to admit I am very sad that you are leaving Dubai all so soon and a slightly bit jealous. Your detailed blogging of your time here has been a real pleasure to read and I am sure will be a lovely keepsake in years to come.

I wish you all the best and hope to follow your adventures to come.

All the best

Aaron aka EnglishmaninDubai