Part of my job involves counting backwards from 10 (sadly no, I do not work in mission control at NASA or ESA or any of the other Space agencies), but I do, STILL, have to count backwards on a regular basis. So I enjoy a dramatic countdown.
So, much to my joy and horror.
Much to my horror and horror and joy, I find myself staring down the barrel of a big fat “5 weeks to go” and naturally the opening theme to Thunderbird’s springs to mind.
This is all oddly appropriate too. The GF was visiting this week and one of our trips involved watching the International Space Station (which with a massive stretch of the imagination could look a little bit like Thunderbird 5) fly overhead.
Even with all the tourism and other activities (paddle-boarding and the like) and without being able to double up my runs, the weather here in Doha has begun to change and the humidity is drying up, which means I still managed to get over 30 miles on this week’s clock.
There are 2 ways of doing things. There is the usual way and the Doha way. In fact I think someone should do a weird sort of mix-up between that Harlem Shake meme and that K-Pop classic Gangnam Style. Why you ask? Well, Doha is an odd mix of in-your-face Arab culture and imported western familiarities, making it a hipster paradise in the Middle East; its proximity to some very scary places in the world right now (Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc) give it that edgy indie feel, yet it is a mere 6 hours from the UK, only has a 3 hour time difference and with its only land border being Saudi Arabia, makes it quite safe really. Plus, any decently educated hipster seeking pastiche (imported western brands and services), irony (the impressive skyscraper skyline populated by empty buildings), counter-culture (the HUGE expat community in a Sharia law country), and a CV that stands out can probably find some work out here.
All of this, plus daily life here sometimes feels like you are wearing a helmet while dancing in a room full of people, being ignored.
So how do the sociocultural ramblings of a runner/media whore, with hipster tendencies, translate into a good run? Well, attempts to improve infrastructure for future sporting events means that access between the airport and the city have been improved, access that includes a cycle/pedestrian path that runs from the airport, to the city center – parallel but separated from the expressway.
a) I was seeing the GF off at the airport
b) the weather was greatly improved
c) I needed to do a long run
I ran the cycle track and Corniche back to my hotel.
Getting From The Airport, Doha Style
Let me start by saying that getting from the terminal to the access road with the cycle path was a little tricky and did involve some wandering around car parks in short shorts – always scary when public displays of affection and knees are usually frowned upon. But I got to my starting point unscathed.
When I lived in the UK, one of my cycle commutes involved navigating the perimeter road around Heathrow airport, I always enjoyed that section and running here, meters away from the runway, pounding out my desert K’s in the warm night bought me similar joy. It must have looked odd though, I did NOT once get pestered by a cab driver (un-heard of out here when you are walking and running) and I am convinced I was stalked by an airport truck which did a slow round on the ‘prohibited’ side of the fence as I run along the stretch of path that runs perpendicular to the end of the runway. But I made it away from the airport without incident and soon found myself heading north-ish towards Doha proper.
The problem with the Doha bay, however, is that it is such a deep curve that you find yourself looking straight ahead, at your destination with full knowledge that you will, somehow, end up fading west to pick up the Corniche road. I tried not to let this get to me and adopted a run 5 1/2 K then walk for 500 meter strategy, kept the pace easy, and simply enjoyed the ability to run outside without looking like I had been swimming in my running gear.
The last few K’s were tough but, as I said, I didn’t look like the hot wet mess I have done recently and it was nice to make it past 2 hours of running feeling like I was achieving some sensible distance.
Run It Again?
I am trying to get some of the running club people to try the course with me, starting from the Corniche end and doing a 22K out and back. The paths are in great condition, there is minimal traffic interference and the cyclists aren’t using them, especially at night – who cycles to and from an airport on the edge of a desert?? – So it has some good potential for unbroken long runs in the Doha night-time.
The Coming Week
It is ‘Ron Hill Run Every Day’ month and I thought I would give it a go. I have already worked out when I am going to taper, and it is not until after my half marathon in 3 weeks so I am going to run every day, if I can.
A fellow blogger posted a blog recently how she is NOT going to do this month’s challenge as it is makes you prone to injury and is not necessarily a good motivator to keep running. This is something I totally agree with, but I feel I need to run every day this month. My base is good for Marysville but my legs need as many miles as possible if they are going to survive November.
Do you have any unusual running routes or routines for this month?