Before you think I’m off my rocker (well, more than normal) – I just said “Hello” and then asked “How are You”? in Tongan. Why? Because I have this bit of conversation every day with the Tongan Marines, who are here in Iraq doing their part. And just like the multitude of other languages I know, that’s the extent of my knowledge.
Quite a multi-national crowd here – Australians, Tongans, Brits, Japanese, Poles, South Koreans, Ugandans, Kenyans, etc. Notably absent are the French.
The Tongans are great. Always very cordial, very cheerful and quite the characters. Even if I’m in a bit of a foul mood, they manage to break it before I get to work or get back to my bed.
Well, work is work here. I’ve done a bit of traveling, although that’s stopped over the past week. Thanks to the summertime Shamal, flying has become a bit of a chore. And the roads really aren’t an option.
The Shamal is the seasonal (summertime) wind. AKA the 120-day wind, since it starts at the end of May and lasts until September, the Shamal can be a bitch. When all of the parameters line up just right, the Shamal tries to move all of Syria and Iraq into the Indian Ocean, dust grain by dust grain, sand grain by sand grain.
It’s not the wall of dirt that you see in the movie “The Mummy“, but a gradual decrease in visibility and darkening of the sky. The wall of dirt (like in the movies) is a wintertime phenomena.
When the Shamal really kicks in, like last Sunday and today, it gets downright nasty outside. At 2 pm it’s pretty dark and you can’t see but a hundred yards or so. It really wreaks havoc with the eyes and nose. Not to mention the run.
As it happens, my training plan right now has my long runs on Sunday. Last Sunday I woke up at 2:30 am and stumbled to the bathroom, realizing that the dirt was flying. So much for that run.
But the fools took off that morning on the scheduled 10K! From what I hear, they even announced at the beginning that they probably shouldn’t be holding it, but they fired the gun. And the fools ran in it. Gonna
make for some interesting respiratory issues later on, I suspect.
So my option that day was to head to the gym after work to face my nemesis, the dreadmill. I don’t care if it’s -10F or +110F, pissing down rain or hailing, I’ll run outside. But it doesn’t work in the dust so well. So it was time for the hamster wheel.
It was definitely a breakthrough for me. Eleven miles on a dreadmill! I could have kept going, but I stopped at 1:45 since that’s what my training plan called for. And not a minute longer.
Although I discovered a “feature” on the dreadmill – it automagically kicks into cool-down mode at 1:36. I thought that was an odd time. Tonight I discovered that you can only program it up to 99 minutes. Bastages!
So here it is a week later and I had to do the same thing tonight. This week was a recovery week, so I only did 9 miles in 1:20. But it’s not so bad. I’ve even thought of doing a few of my tempo/interval runs on
the dreadmill. It makes sense since there’s no cheating, but the downside is that I don’t keep my legs used to the pounding of the road.
One interesting thing tonight was at about 35 minutes into my run, a Kenyan (no joke) stepped onto a treadmill in front and to the right of me. Gave me full view of his display. As he started slowly at 8:00/pace, then ramped it up to 6:00/pace by his 10:00 point, then down to 5:30 pace for several minutes. But I was on his tail – he just couldn’t pull away from me. The faster he ran, I was stuck on his shoulder like my sweaty shirt stuck to my back.
And that’s the only time that’ll ever happen.
So the training is going good. Today marks 100 days until I attempt my 40 for 40.
On another note, thanks to you folks that send well-wishes. I can tell you that it’s pretty quiet here right now, regardless of what the media is telling you. The Iraqi’s are taking care of their own business. Matter of fact, the biggest threat we’ve faced since I’ve been here was this past Saturday, when the Iraqi soccer team defeated China 2-1. Since they won, many Iraqi’s take to the streets and fire their weapons into the air to celebrate. So we just stayed inside for an hour or so after the end of the game.
Take care, each and every one of you. And I look forward to watching all of you that are competing in CdA next weekend – best of luck!