Once a week I drive to a trail for a 4-mile run. It is a relatively flat surface, so it is a nice change from the hilly, rough gravel road that I train on most days. I start at the old train bridge that is part of the NB Trail network in Renous. Then, I look down the Renous River to the Quarryville Bridge crossing the Southwest Miramichi River from Quarryville to White Rapids. I wonder if I will be able to make it down to the bridge and back without collapsing. The actual distance between the two bridges, according to my Garmin, is a little more than a mile.
The first mile is always the most difficult for me and if I can make it to the bridge without stopping I am motivated to run under the bridge and eventually make my way to the next section of the trail. From there I keep waddling on until my Garmin alarm rings to let me know that I have hit the halfway point and I eagerly turn around and head back to Renous. The second half is tougher than the first, but I have to continue in order to get back to my vehicle. I walk for a few seconds, take a few photos, and force myself to restart. This scenario repeats itself two or three more times. I trudge on listening patiently for my Garmin to single the end of my run. (Some days the annoying bell-sound is the most wonderful sound in the world.)Finally, I walk for roughly five minutes to cool down and do some stretching before slowly climbing the steps to the church parking lot. My legs ache and I silently imagine, that somewhere in the near future, I will have the energy and strength to run up these steps.
For many people September means back to school and getting back into a routine after summer vacation with children, family and friends. This month has often marked the beginning of a new job or academic year for me, but after leaving my job in July to take a break from teaching overseas, I finally found enough motivation to get back to a regular running schedule in Canada.
During the summer I did two or three easy run-walk sessions a week without tracking time or distance, but in September I gradually added a few more days and committed to 3.1 miles (5K) or more on each outing. However, I needed two or three walking breaks of about thirty seconds for every run.
In October I would like to do 3.1 miles (5K) two or three times a week and a long run of 4-5 miles once a week. At this point, I am going to focus on completing my runs without walking breaks and try to improve my endurance without focusing on pace. My eventual goal is to be able to cover 5 miles (8K) without walking. I have to remember to slow down in the beginning so, that I don’t run out of steam by the half way point and need a walking break.
Running seems to be work without progress at the moment. Almost every day in May, including the weekends, I wanted to skip my morning run. Yet, most days I stumbled out of bed at 5 in the morning, got dressed and made my way through the construction site that surrounds my home. Road construction projects have been part of the landscape in Nizwa since I arrived here in October 2013.
Sometimes I have the impression that roads are built, dismantled and built again. Incidentally, Oman appears to have an endless supply of money in the budget for road construction.
Every workout in May was 5K (3.1 miles) on the same route. Here is a brief description, along with some photos. I walked ten minutes to warm up and then I had to deal with a mini-obstacle course, jumping over rocks, garbage, shovels and various other objects for about a half mile before eventually finding myself on a service road that is no longer busy in the morning because all the traffic is speeding down the completed part of the new highway.
I didn’t knock these signs over.
I could use this shovel in my garden.
Why are these blocking my route this morning?
This is the quiet part of my morning run.
Did the workers forget to lay these pipes?
It never ceases to amaze me how the locals always spot me running, or more accurately waddling down the service road, in spite of their speed. Many of them even take the time to greet me with a long obnoxious toot of the vehicle horn. I ignored this and continued on my way wondering if I would collapse from heat exhaustion or die trying not to inhale the filthy dust that constantly lingers in the air from construction and summer sand storms.
Construction is almost finished….
Most of my run takes place on this service road.
I am not the only one out exercising at 5 in the morning.
Some days I slowed to a walk and on others I would walk thirty seconds after a few minutes and as a result my time ranged from 33 to 36 minutes on most outings.
Overall, May was not exactly a great month for running due to the construction, dust and unbearable heat. Several days in May the midday temperature approached 50 C and to make life really miserable water and electricity services were also interrupted.
I am glad May is finished, but I know that June will be a challenge to force myself out the door for some exercise. According to the Times of Oman the country will experience a long and hot summer. The good news is I have five weeks left before heading home. If the weather and my body cooperate then I will aim for 3 or 4 comfortable 5K runs per week.
My running days in the desert are drawing to a close and I am looking forward to running along the rural roads of my homeland, away from all the distractions and inconveniences of the Middle East.