I am in awe of the community of runners in this country.
|The Last Supper|
I was invited for a pre-marathon dinner with the Inter Lebanon Runners. Actually, I was there to accompany the runner in my house (Aragu Sisay Abate, watch out for that name in the papers). And I met an interesting group of people that are all going to run the 42 K in the Beirut Marathon tomorrow.
I assumed they’d be all young, die-hard runners, professionals to a T, runners since they were 21 or so. But most of the stories I heard were from people of 38 and over, who only recently discovered running, and who – in matter of a year or two, three – made it to the level of a marathon runner. They all have jobs, so the training needs to take place early mornings. Later in the day it gets too hot, and too busy, to be able to run in town.
Some are running their first 42 K, but many are on their third or fourth. Some of them are branching out, and run marathons now in Boston and New York. Just for the pleasure of it.
If they can get to that level of running, in a matter of a year or two, that kind of opens up horizons for me, I am thinking. It was a pleasure to see so many Lebanese for whom it really doesn’t matter what your color or beliefs are; all that matters to them is that you are a fellow athlete (so I was a bit out of my league there); the rest is inconsequential.
|This group will all run 42 kilometers tomorrow|
They sat together for their last supper before the race, rather symbolic, in the house of the man who trains them, advises them and encourages them, as he gave them a final pep-talk, and some advice.
There was talk on how to pace the race, how to stick to your training schedule, and how to work with the water stations. He closed the talk with “And whatever happens, don’t look back. Don’t look back to see if the competition is closing in on you. “If you look back, the guy behind you will know you’re beat. It’s a psychological game. So whatever happens, do not look back!”
There will be about 320 Lebanese marathon runners at that start line of the Beirut Marathon tomorrow at 7 o’clock. If you are in town, go cheer them. As I understood, the first 20 K is easy; it’s after the 21st kilometer when the going gets tough, and they need your encouragement.