venerdì 3 novembre 2017

My first solo camping - Dibba, UAE

I have a first row seat in front of Snoopy Island. The weather is perfect, no need to set up a fire. There are enough flames around me. My supper is bread, salame and mortadella. Why spend time and energy wasting the wood and accelerator liquid, I went through so much trouble to retrieve (that needs a blog by itself).

As I am diving with some friends in Dibba at 9 am on a Saturday morning, a good 3.5h from my flat in Abu Dhabi, I decided to drive up on Friday. Camping was a no brainer. I jumped at the idea of camping solo. A very welcome first. I was just a little bit apprehensive about safety but I decided to check the beach out and if needed, sleep in my car.

After a lazy Friday morning, still recovering from 17km endurance run on Thursday evening, I make my way to my partner's in crime place for a catch up and a bite.

At almost 3 pm, after we eat, catch up, have an argument with IKEA delivery (seriously...), and set up her wireless earphones (hurray!! She is hopeless when it comes to IT) I take off to Dibba.

LESSON N.1: Make sure you check when it gets dark and plan your trip accordingly. Even if I have considerable experience with tents. Even if I have my head lamp with. Setting up the tent was a nightmare. Result: the most hideous standing tent I have ever seen. I actually feel embarrassed.

LESSON N.2: When you are not bbq'ing you do not need to carry useless coal....ehmmm yes true.... I was just sooooo excited.....camping means fire, and coal....oh well.

To be honest I had romanticized the idea of camping solo a little... I pictured myself sitting on a semi deserted beach, gazing at the horizon, the sound of the waves playing background music, with a glass of Malbec disguised in a vulgar paper cup.... Instead I am surrounded by loud white people, playing a cacophony of sounds on their music devices.....while the Arabs are on the road nearby, racing. Not the background music I was expecting....

Oh well....I am here. My tummy is full. My flask of Malbec is empty. The tent is calling.

giovedì 30 marzo 2017

Diary of a wanna-be marathoner (Episode 2): Rome 2017, leaving for Rome

Tomorrow my comrades and I are leaving for Rome to attempt the 2017 marathon. This is not how I pictured my very first marathon to be.

Running a marathon has always been in the back of my mind.  However, it has always been a “one day" kinda project. Then life happens and you think that the best remedy for a heartbreak is to jump straight into a marathon. Training, and planning for the training will keep you busy, you won’t delve into the “what ifs” or “maybes”. The cherry on the cake is that you are nursing a breakup by doing something healthy (old me would have jumped straight into food, alcohol and cigarettes…to numb the sadness).

Add to that you take advantage of a period when you feel physically good: you are fresh from a good year jumping from WOD to WOD, running 5 k here and there… completed a half marathon strong….. and you believe that any potential leg or general pain will be a 100 times better than the pains of the heart… You make an impromptu decision and convince your friend that 12 weeks of training are enough. After all we just want to finish it, no PB.

6 weeks into the training I get a reality call: no crossfit or WOD prepares your body for the strains of a marathon. Running is a different ball game! My body collapses.  Even if I had adhered to a well-grounded programme, which gradually increased the distances, I get exposed to all the injuries in the book of runners: ITB, shin splints, micro fractures and compartmental syndrome. Doctors, some friends and family become all of a sudden running experts: “you did too much, too quickly, marathons are wrong, your mobility sucks, your flexibility is not existent, you didn’t foam roll enough…. YOU ARE STUPID”… As if I was not sad and angry enough.

Over the next few weeks however, I keep on going only thanks to the help of the precious friends, and specialists that I am privileged to be surrounded by and have access to: chiropractors, kinesiologists, orthopaedics, sport therapists, physiotherapists, trigger massage therapists, Cryo … Most important of all, what kept me from losing hope and getting depressed was the constant motivation by many (take my fellow marathoner Ahmed whose will power is scaringly strong and who said we won’t leave Rome without three medals, and he ain’t kidding) as well as those who kept incessantly reminding me  that:
  • it is ok if I have to walk-run it.
  • it is ok if it takes me 7 hours to complete it.
  • it is ok if I decide not to do it all.
  • it is all ok!!

I honestly do not know how Sunday will unveil itself. Which scenario will prevail. What I know however, is that just like everything else in my life, the marathon has been all about the journey. A journey where:
  • I learned so much about my body. What it can do, what it can’t do (now).
  • I became kinder to myself and more accepting of my current limitations. Limitations that come with age… I was reminded how I shouldn’t compare my progress to anybody. Even if I think I am on the same page as others (because we train together, or our bodies are somewhat similar). I might be comparing my chapter 10 to their chapter 15.
  • I was reminded of the power of will. Sunday will be a big test for me but over the past months I have seen the manifestation of will on others. I have witnessed the epic achievements of some of my friends who really truly believed in themselves. I feel it would be a disrespect to them and their will if I didn’t give it my all on Sunday.
  • I was reminded of the power of friendship and how important it is to just let go of those people who do not make you happy. Keep close those people who believe in your even when you could not believe in  you.

Rome, I am coming for you. No matter what Sunday is holding for me, I will enjoy this trip. I will hug my family and my friends who are coming from all corners to see and support me (I love you so much!). I will inhale every bit of the greatness that the eternal city has to offer. I cannot wait to show my friends from the UAE and the UK a city, Rome, though my eyes….  Roma, stiamo arrivando!

martedì 14 febbraio 2017

Diary of a wanna-be marathoner (Episode 1): Rome 2017, how it all started

Typical me….

… to throw myself into new crazy adventures. Sometimes without thinking. Too often without hesitating. 

At the very end of 2016, filled with sadness, angst, and anxiety over too many things going wrong in my personal (family, friends, and sentimental) life, I decided that what better way “not think about things” than making myself so busy and so tired that I have no time or energy to worry and think about sad things?* That is when I reached out to my equally crazy friends in Abu Dhabi and told them we are signing up for the 2017 Rome marathon to be held in the eternal city on April 2nd. A little over 14 weeks away. They heard the badly disguised cry for help in my tone. They did not hesitate (they are my Tribe). They said yes.

The thought of running a marathon had titillated the minds of my immediate circle of fit-friends for quite some time before such resolution. We contemplated China’s wall marathon, Paris, Lisbon, even Medoc (check this one out!). However, very well aware of the level of commitment and sacrifices needed for such epic endeavor (Dr. Reem one of these crazy friend had done one, so she KNOWS) we had wisely decided to relegate such a quest to 2018. However, when a tribe member throws a cry for help, her people come to rescue. So, two of my special people said no problem. We are in! I did lose one on the way due to injury but gained another one (probably the craziest of us all as I am still waiting to hear about his runs….of which there are no signs….).

So here we go! We register for the event and get plane tickets (to make sure there is no going back!). We draft a plan, make life and diet adjustments. Organise, work, social life, and EVERYTHING around mileage, cross training, recovery…etc. Dr. Reem also happens to have a husband and two jewels to nurture (not sure what she is on to manage this all, but I want some). Then I realise, the plan works! I am so busy with and tired from running, packing, unpacking, washing gym gear, training, planning (for the running, the packing, the unpacking, the washing, the training) that when I have some rare free or alone time, I am either dreaming about Rome or I am so tired that I collapse and sleep. No time to be sad! Whoop Whoop goal achieved. 
Except…now I have another matter that keeps me busy….my injuries. Little had I factored in my “new life as a runner” that I might get injured. No. How could that happen? I am following a well-studied plan. No overtraining, no over or under eating. All is meticulously thought of. How could I possibly forget that things not always (if ever) go as planned. My life is a testament to that!

Right now, things do not look good. Not only does my injured lheg hurt, but as I am compensating with the other leg I now have two silly legs rather than only one. To say that I am frustrated and sad (another type of sadness if I may add than the one which led me to jump into this suicidal marathon mission) is an understatement. Not only I have been training for weeks, made sacrifices, spent money….etc but other people are now involved. Dr. Reem my awesome crazy friend made the same sacrifices (if not more given she has her own little family). My friends are flying from London to cheer and support me. One of whom is even bringing her wonderful mamma along! My own family, led by the one and only nonna, are all pumped up for the Marathon (and most importantly for this rare family trip to the capital). I feel the pressure because I am not only disappointing myself (and trust me…. I am as harsh as harsh can be) but I might be soon disappointing a whole lot more of people.

In addition to unavoidable consultation with Dr. Google to find answers to questions like “how to train for a marathon with ITB issues and shin splints”; I have seen two orthopedic doctors, a chiropractor, several physiotherapists and sport massage experts, and even a specialist in neuro kinetic therapy (!!). I even have a moral and physical support network that gives me access to some of the top notch non-medicine based therapies available. I am really trying to pull through this. I would have given up long ago if it wasn’t for my tribe which believes in me more than I believe in myself. Reem keeps telling me that this is a mental game. The mind gives up way before the body does. I believe I have a strong mind. When I make up my mind, I rarely (read I cannot remember) I give up. 

So dear tribe, what I promise you is that I will give it my all. I will rest, train when accessible to me. I will medicate and listen to those who know more than me. I promise to continue this journey with all the optimism that you entrusted in me. I will come to Rome having done everything I can to cross that finish line. If worse comes to worse I will be in Rome with my friends and family cheering for you “Reem the invincible”, waiting at the finish line, holding a massive heart shaped Pizza. Because I love you and I am a hopeless romantic.

*Congratulations Kamilah for the longest – ever- sentence. You would have failed your students on such syntax back in uni days!

venerdì 6 gennaio 2017

What a week

My first week in 2017 was an intense one. Let alone that I woke up with a message from my bank informing me that I bought house insurance in the USA for over 1500 dollars... WTF! but it has been intense because I had to go back to a place I left behind almost 16 years ago. A place where time seems to have stopped. At least for my family.

This trip reminded me how lucky I am. But also reminded me that I have to be kind to myself because if I am where I am today I owe it to the great woman I call mamma (and she would need books to give her the credit she deserves) but also some credit goes to me. To the choices I made. To the sacrifices. To the sleepless nights, to the 4 jobs at once when my friends all cared about was to have a boyfriend and a Vespa. To starting a BA degree at 16, an MA at 19 a PhD at 21 after a sabbatical year. I owe it to working as a waitress, a translator, a cook, a travel agent.

One of the things I am most proud today is that I am free. SURPRISINGLY it seems like a privilege when I am with my Palestinian/Jordanian family. In the sense that my family now forgives me things they do not forgive others.. As if I earned such right.

I have to run. My flight to Abu Dhabi, the place I call home today is boarding
Peace and love
Happy 2017

sabato 31 dicembre 2016

Thank you 2016

I am sitting on my EY Flight destination Amman (thank you. Technology!!). It is the last day of 2016. A year that was characterized by so many traumatic events around the globe. Wars, terrorism, famine, forced migration, ..., Brexit. No wonder many are waiting for this year to be over. With a little over two hours to go before I land in Jordan - a trip I am dreading for the significant emotional toll that it will bear on me - I am left to ponder about what 2016 meant for me.

Selfishly, 2016 was a good year. A very good year. For the first time in almost three years, Abu Dhabi finally felt like home. This was only possible thanks to the human connections that I established. I have to partially credit myself, in the sense that my craving for genuine human interactions, for friendships, for meaningful relationships pushes me to speak with strangers. Smiling and chatting up people does not always reap the desired results. Some grump. Some send back a synthetic smile. But thanks to the law of large numbers (check wikipedia!) eventually, a smile or a chat sparks a genuine smile back. It triggers a "hello". A "how are you?"

To make a long story short, I am thankful for 2016 as it brought me:
Some new amazing friends and strengthened some newly born friendships. Some relationships were tested, some broke, some lasted. Some are painfully uncertain... To my strong wonder and super duper women out there, near and far, please know that you are in my daily bed time prayer. You ALL are my rock
A fitter, healthier, smoke-free, stronger (not skinnier ....eeeek) version of me! More and more athletic and eager to challenge myself. I conquered fears and completed a desert warrior challenge, a spartan a half marathon (still cannot believe it!)
Adventures on land, mountains, sea and under water! I travelled Asia, America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East! I made memories that will last...
Reunions with loved ones. I managed to share so many great moments with people I love. People from my previous life. People that no matter how far you are, no matter how infrequent our interactions are, our bond stays strong.  Afterall, we are only a whatsapp and skype away...
Quality time with family. Mine, like many, is a complex one. Multicultural and hence multi-problem and multi-headache. But it is family.  I am blessed that I managed to spend my 36th Christmas with my super duper 87 yo gran. This is perhaps the greatest blessing.
Butterflies in the stomach. This year I loved again. Ohhh and it was beautiful. Not long enough. Is it ever? But it was so beautiful. Like spring. It gave me joy and a side kick I thought I would never feel again. It gave me hope, that I could love, and be loved again. It made me think. It made me happy and a little sad. It reminded me that we need to live every moment because you never know when that moment will fade. Sometimes quicker than you wish....
My Bonnie!! My partner in crime. My beautiful bike.

2016 had it share of sad news for me too. It took away someone I loved. A person that I grew up with. A person that life tested him so much. I am not sure if he disappointed life or life disappointed him. Omar, I will miss you dearly. I wish I could have told you how much I loved you my dear cousin. I hope you rest in peace.

Most importantly 2016 was good to me because I was free. I was free to make my choices. To live the life I want to live. To spend time with people I want to spend with. Leave those I wanted to leave. Free to stay. Free to go. Free to let go. I wish for 2017 to everyone to enjoy a life of freedom. Of health. Of peace. Of forgiveness...

venerdì 25 novembre 2016

Let's do this

Jeez! Another year passed....and my blog had no life.... last year I blamed Instagram, this year I "blame" my busy busy (but happy) life. However, I have been meaning to get back to it. As much as I am enjoying using pictures to captures memories, there are days that I need to write down how I feel. It is priceless to go back to old diaries and read what the Kamilah of many years ago was feeling or thinking.

So, watch this space as I will come back to it really soon. In the meantime I find it funny to see how many things haven't changed from last year. Last post read:

  • I travelled a lot to new and familiar places such as Bali, Ireland, Scotland, the UK, Italy, Jordan and Oman
          In 2016 story repeats itself: Argentina, Brazil, Italy, UK, Philippines, Jordan, California (USA), and Oman!

  • New exciting people have entered my life, while some (thankfully) exited 
         Couldn't be more true!

  • I have reunited with many of my favourite people on several occasions (did I mention my Super Duper best amazing rocking amazeballs girlfriends sent me a ticket to visit  them in London on Valentine’s Day? YES! I have those kind of girlfriends…)
         Not only I saw my super dupers butI also traveled with some of them

  • I have embraced some new healthy obsessions (you know me!), latest being Crossfit
        Going strong as ever!
  • I laughed a lot, cried a little (but mostly out of laughter)
  • Work took some (positive) turns I never imagined
        Having a job is in itself a blessing

  • Uh oh AND  I quit smoking!! On the 5th of May 2015….. Life if good. Namaste
         Still clean! Could not be more proud

2016 you have been good and you are not over yet!

martedì 10 novembre 2015

Almost a year since my last post!! I blame Instagram :)

So much has happened over the past 11 and something months. Things off the top of my head are:

  • I travelled a lot to new and familiar places such as Bali, Ireland, Scotland, the UK, Italy, Jordan and Oman
  • New exciting people have entered my life, while some (thankfully) exited
  • I have reunited with many of my favourite people on several occasions (did I mention my Super Duper best amazing rocking amazeballs girlfriends sent me a ticket to visit  them in London on Valentine’s Day? YES! I have those kind of girlfriends…)
  • I have embraced some new healthy obsessions (you know me!), latest being Crossfit
  • I laughed a lot, cried a little (but mostly out of laughter)
  • Work took some (positive) turns I never imagined
  • Uh oh AND  I quit smoking!! On the 5th of May 2015….. Life if good. Namaste
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