Tag Archives: personal

Marathon in Training: Week 2 Summary (+ Rant)

This past week has not been very kind to me. My car overheated and broke down in the middle of the highway, I had two teeth extracted in preparation for dental implants, and my phone’s battery is fried. It would have been a better timing if the phone battery decided to go out after I got stranded. It went from somewhere in the 60-something% to 20% as the car overheated. I had to not only figure out where I was and let someone know, but I also had to call/search for a towing truck. Oh and I took out my car charger the day before because I wanted to use at Starbucks. Go figure. Also, who knew Giant Eagle did not sell car chargers? Completely irrelevant, but to add insult to injury, I finished reading my favorite book and watching my favorite show this week too. So yeah, life couldn’t you wait until next week?

Rant is over. Off to the positive side….

I need to learn how to meditate.

I’m so very grateful that I got home that night; I’m grateful for my co-worker Sarah for driving me to work the next day (oh and driving me to the gym and back home :).) I’m grateful for both parents and brother for being very supportive and helpful as I know next to nothing in cars. Sometimes I take people for granted. It’s those kinds of incidents that serve as reminders of family loving and friends support. I don’t like negative Zen, I will work harder to harness positive energy and harvest my Zen better.

Moreover, I’m taking on more responsibilities at work en route for a promotion. I have my one-year review on Monday; fingers crossed it will be a good one!!

Due to oral surgery I was advised not to workout for at least couple days. I was bumped that I had to miss Saturday’s group run L! Although the day of surgery sucked, it overall went great. I was off pain meds the next day. I bled for one day. Day 2 was basically swelling and soreness which I could live with – so I went to the gym :D! It might not have been the smartest idea but I was bored. At any rate, knowing that lifting was alright – my clot did not disintegrate – I decided to go running Sunday morning to compensate for Saturday. It was refreshing, energizing, and fun to run in the morning. I actually had more energy when I was done running than before. After some stretching and quality Turkish coffee, I hit the gym for some lifting!

So training-wise, I probably will not get stars for this past week. I missed two runs – Wednesday and Saturday – for a total of 11 miles. But I did finish Monday’s run one second shy from 10-minute pace, 9:59 to be exact!!!! Wooo for me. Baby steps.

I'm actually very proud of this collage work.

I’m actually very proud of this collage work.

Last Week’s To-Do List Results:

  • Running with calf compression proved to be counterproductive for me. It works better for me wearing it after
  • I did allow two hours before running for food to be digested. I put in a blender three raw eggs, one banana, and a cup of spinach. It was great! I could barely taste the eggs. Thinking about how slimy they were made my stomach crinch, so if you opt for this recipe make sure not to picture raw eggs.
  • Judging the two runs I had one last Monday and this morning (Sunday), I have an average pace of 10-minute/mile. So yay!
  • As far as walking pauses while running, I’m still walking to rest. I need to do a better job at minimizing time walked.

This Week’s To-Do List:

  • Have an average pace somewhere between 10:00 and 10:20;
  • Minimize walking to rest;
  • Be mindful of nutrition.

Week 2 Running Stats:

Monday 1/19 3 miles= 29:57 minutes, pace= 09.59min/mile (woohoo!)
Wednesday 1/21 4 miles= missed run due to car problems *sad face*
Saturday 1/24 7 miles= missed run due to oral surgery *sad face^2*
Sunday (add run) 1/25 5.6 miles= 58:03 minutes, pace= 10:42min/mile (slow pace due to lots of walking, traffic light stops, and a Starbucks stop to hydrate. So many excuses. I need to set-up the run better next time.)

Week 2 average pace= 10.00min/mile

Tomorrow is a new day, new week, new pace 🙂 … Happy running troopers!

Iraq; some thoughts..

Deborah Amos,

Deborah Amos, “Eclipse of the Sunnis”

So, first off, I haven’t blogged in eons now. It’s a rather hard task balancing between work and academics, let alone blogging. Regardless, I’ve been trying to put together something talking about my life in Baghdad and how I ended up being an “exile.” So until then…

Recently, two weeks ago specifically, I started reading Deborah Amos’s “Eclipse of the Sunnis.”  This book has been one of the best books I’ve read this year. I recall shedding a tear reading the first 10 pages. It talks about post-war Iraq, the large refugee crisis that followed, and the spill of Iraq’s war into the region. It focuses more on the geopolitical transformations and security vacuum followed the US-backed invasion, than talking about the refugee crisis itself. She definitely uses personal anecdotes from Iraqi exiles in Damascus, Jordan, Sweden, and London, raising questions about the future and quality of life of these exiles, as well as,  implications in shaping Iraqi’s nationstate.

Here, I will be quoting Amos because her book portrays Iraq almost vividly. The following quotes explain not only things I lived through and managed to survive, but also they detail daily lives of millions of Iraqis at home today…

So let’s start with what is Iraq? When exiles reminisce about good ole days of Iraq, we usually compare today to pre-war Iraq. But was pre-war Iraq a good Iraq to start with? Were we actually unified as a nation under Saddam Hussain? Paying loyalties to Iraq, serving the country, and its people for the common good? Or were we simply scared to say no to authority. Were we secretly hating each other, and loyal to our own sect and/or religious cult? Did Iraqis live a lie that they all loved each other and shared the belief that Saddam sucked, but they had to submit to the one and only secular, nationalist, pan-Arab Saddam?

“Syria and Iraq..long the rival [cities] in Islamic history, and geopolitical rivals in modern times, are consumed with the questions of identity. In one, a Baathist state had tightened its grip on power; in the other, it had been blown away, opening a vacuum into which the politics of rival identities had flowed with catastrophic results. For Iraq, the forces that divided the country after 2003 were far stronger than the history that had unified the people. Banditry and breakdown in Iraq had led to mass exodus and internal displacement. In 2009, the unanswered question ‘What is Iraq?’ discomforted Arab neighbors and kept the exiles from returning. They were still unwilling to bet their lives and the future on their homeland until they were sure of the answer.”

When I was in Syria, I was planning on studying abroad – as in outside the Middle East. 1) I couldn’t go back to Iraq, not only because it was risky, but also because I didn’t have a house to go back to; 2) There was no country in the Arab world that would grant me visa simply because I was Iraqi; 3) The Syrian government – so as other Arab countries – treated Iraqis as tourists (ineligible to work) and as international students when they decided to enroll in college. This meant that I had to pay somewhere between 200-250% more than a domestic Syrian student had to pay- something unrealistic at the time.

“We have learned over time that Iraqis have lost hope. They don’t believe in a future any longer. They have become survivors.”

Finally, this quote describes what I lived through. From constant fear of getting kidnapped (myself of members of the family), being unlucky enough to have a bomb go off in my vicinity, have my car/house stolen, or simply get attacked by armed men, at a fake security checkpoint because my name suggest I belong to a specific sect of Islam. As the above quote suggested, I was surviving in Iraq.

“By 2009, [Iraq] was ranked as the most corrupt country in the Arab world, and the fourth most corrupt among all nations… Baghdad had developed into a kleptocracy that rivaled Nigeria… Iraq [is] still a place of militias and unemployment, with intermittent bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations. [The] medical care remained far below pre-war standards. Electricity and water supplies were undependable at best. The capital was a cantonized city controlled by armed guards at checkpoints. The sectarian police force was deeply corrupt. There was no longer such a thing as a Baghdadi – just Sunni or Shiites. An Iraqi could still be the wrong kind of Muslim for a particular neighborhood.”

I still remember that one time when I was on the bus returning to Baghdad when an Iraqi border officer got on the bus and asked me to get off the bus… My life flashed back before my eyes!

One final note, please do not pity me. I’m a strongly motivated, determined man who has acquired survival skills to let him turn negative feelings into positive ones. I appreciate everything I’ve been through!