Wednesday, 8 February 2012

You Can’t Win A Marathon Without Putting Some Band-Aids on Your Nipples

Having the Right Accouterments are Essential to Marathon Running

“Life’s a marathon – you can’t win a marathon without putting some Band-Aids on your nipples" is the most memorable line from Horrible Bosses, the funniest movie I have seen since The Hangover 2.  If you are male and have trained for a marathon you will understand why.  Unless you have man-boobs which wiggle around as you run, or you have proclivities for wearing bras, you basically have two choices in avoiding painful nipple chafing and even bleeding– applying globs of Vaseline petroleum jelly or Band-Aids to your man-tits.  I find the Band-Aids uncomfortable so I stick to the petroleum jelly.  There are other places on your body that you also need to apply Vaseline to prevent abrasion and chafing, but I will leave that to your imagination.  I must admit, I have the utmost amount of respect for chafing and have no qualms about going up to the cash register in the pharmacy with just a large tub of Vaseline or travelling with my supply.  As titillating and slightly greasy as this subject may seem, minimizing friction when running is serious stuff.  I have been known to scream like a girl in the shower after a long run because I forgot to apply my Vaseline, and was even once seen in Garry Moore’s Wide Awake Bar in Montserrat with a blood spots on my white T-shirt.  Good thing Gary is always asleep or else he might have thrown me out of the bar – well probably not because then he would not have a DJ.  Well enough talk about nipple burn and Vaseline – people reading this for the first time might get the wrong idea about this blog. This blog entry is supposed to be about my build up to running the Kilimanjaro Marathon in Tanzanian for charity in a few weeks.

The Best Airline I Have Ever Flown
Well as some of you know or have guessed by now, I am no longer in Zanzibar.  After 6 amazing months in the spice capital of Africa, I decided to leave my placement in early January and move to Dar es Salaam, the mainland capital of Tanzania.  I know some of you are thinking it is mainly because a Serengeti or Kilimanjaro beer on the mainland can be had for Tsh 1500 (less than US$1) or half the price of what it is in Zanzibar.  Well that’s not the main reason - although it does factor in significantly in terms of my lifestyle and also the limited VSO living allowance.  Let’s just say I had some personal and professional differences with the partner I was working with, and felt that is was best for both parties that that I left, which my employer (VSO) fully supported.  A few good friends that I have made in Dar helped me with the transition and with settling into what is one of the liveliest capital cities in Africa.  Well I use the phrase “settling into” loosely, since I spent only a week there before I was on an Emirates (best airline I have flown) flight bound for Dubai, where I have been for the past few weeks.  Before you think I am such a bad volunteer (and I have heard that from a few people recently) let me elucidate on my reasons for temporarily abandoning Dar es Salaam.

Phil & Karyn Making Sure I am Well Fed - Dishing Out the Delicious BBQ
As you all know I am the team leader for the VSO group running the Kilimanjaro Marathon on February 26th for charity.  I therefore have to be in tip-top shape, which requires being in a place with good running conditions.  While the Peninsula area of Dar is not bad for running, it is really hot and dusty, and can be dodgy with the crazy traffic and early onset of darkness – not to mention the killer potholes.  Secondly, since I didn’t have a permanent place of abode (I had been living in the VSO office accommodations), I need to be somewhere where I could have warm Epsom salts infused baths and a comfortable enough bed to sleep off those achy muscle pains after my long runs.  Finally, I have to nourish my body properly in the weeks leading up to the marathon.  My almost daily diet of friend kuku and chipsy (tough chicken and greasy chips), anorexic fried fish with white rice and cassava leaves, or peas-less pilau with a couple pieces of some sort of meat which reminded me of calf leather, was not going to cut it.  So to make sure I don’t embarrass myself on marathon race day, and at the invitation of two of my bestest friends in the world, I decided to temporarily relocate to Dubai (with VSOs permission) for a month.  I also figured that I would be able to use my time in Dubai to do some networking and get some more sponsorship funds for Team VSO.

In Front  the World's Tallest Building After Running the Dubai Marathon 10K
So here I am in the pearl of the Middle East, trying keeping up with a regular training regime, which is not too difficult since the sunny cool conditions are perfect for running, the roads are wide, and have parking shoulders on both sides. Dodging the crazy drivers is not so much fun, especially the female ones.  I must say I can really appreciate why Saudi Arabia bans women from driving and I mean this in the most non-sexist way.  The niqab (face covering) that the women wear is a driving hazard people and seriously restricts your peripheral vision.   I also do have to actively try and not be too distracted by all the spectacular sights and social activities that Dubai has to offer. It helps that I was here a of couple years ago, so the amazing architecture, the tallest building in the world, the amazing Dubai Mall, the world’s only 7-star hotel, the indoor ski slope and penguins in Emirates Mall, the modern Metro system that is so clean you can eat of the floor, the amazing weekend brunches, incredible sushi, and the good vino, has not disrupted my training too much.  I have been committed to my training and in fact even ran the Dubai Marathon 10K about on January 26th, which started and finished at the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.  I finished in 50 minutes, placing 149th in my age group.  It helps that I am now classed in the 40 to 49 bordering-on-geriatric age group, or else my placing would have been in the in the 1200s.  I have also been able to make a couple new friends, including a Trinidadian couple (we are everywhere) who have been helping me with my fundraising, for which I am very grateful.  I am actually proud to say that since being here I have now raised close to US$4,000,  not far from my fundraising goal of US$5,000.  So if you haven’t donated already and want to help me reach my goal, you can still donate at:  

The Burj Al Arab-The World's Only 7-Star Hotel
I have to tell you that while the United Arab Emirates (of which Dubai is one of 7 Emirates) is stunning and an incredibly prosperous place to live and work, it is a sort of strange place to be.  Native Emiratis (which comprise about 20% of the total population) flaunt their wealth so blatantly that it makes the behavior of the latest batch of nouveau riche Russians seem way too staid.  There was a story this week of how vehicle number plate AB11 DBH is poised to be bought at an auction for close to US$500,000 because it spells out Abu Dhabi.  Mind you this is not the record – an Abu Dhabi businessman bought the number plate “1” for over US$13 million in 2010.  What are these people smoking? The President of the UAE also recently agreed to write of about US$600 million worth of debts accumulated by Emiratis to help them get a fresh start.  Man I was born in the wrong country.  Emiratis tend to keep to themselves and treat the majority expat and guest worker population, who have actually ensured their high level of prosperity, as expendable commodities and with quite a bit of disdain. Overworking and underpaying household workers, and also skimping on safety measures at construction sites are normal and almost seem acceptable.  You read daily about construction workers falling from scaffolding and dying, or of rocks falling and fatally injuring workers in quarries.  I guess I was born in the right country.

One of My 4 Plates of Food During Brunch at Jumeriah Beach Resort
What I find most interesting is their attempts to reconcile their enormous wealth, decadent lifestyle and fervent drive for modernity with their traditional Islamic beliefs.  This is all too apparent when I read the daily free paper called 7 Days (it is not an Adventist paper as I like to call it).  You see front page stories such as an Emirati teenage boy was being sent to juvenile detention for one month for kissing two sisters, even though they invited him into their house to do it.  Or, of an Indonesian housekeeper being sent to jail for one year along with her baby for becoming pregnant out of wedlock.  After serving her time she will be deported back to her home country.  Getting pregnant out of wedlock is a big no-no here and some female guest workers are so scared of going to jail and losing their jobs that they hide their pregnancies, deliver the baby and then abandon it.  One of the headlines in this week’s paper was actually about an Asian baby being left in a plastic bag outside someone’s house in the Mirdif area, where I am actually staying.  So not only I have to look out for crazy drivers and battle some blowing desert sand, but now I have to be on the lookout for abandoned babies on my running route.

Will Miss the Food but Mostly Karyn, Phil & their Little Genius J'ouvert 
Mind you with all of this, the men do not seem to be penalised for their infractions and in fact, Emirati men are allowed have up to 4 wives.   Well maybe the more than one wife is penance enough.  Recently the paper reported that one Emirati had to divorce 3 of his 4 wives because he claimed they were constantly arguing about who should move into the spare bedroom that had become available in their house.  See what I mean about the penance thing – he had not one nagging wife but three.  God bless him - maybe he should invest in some Band-Aids or globs of Vaseline for his ears.   This is not the sort of content I am accustomed to seeing in the newspapers that I am used to.  Nor was the huge advertisement for a Male Circumcision Project Manager I saw in the Guardian newspaper in Tanzania just before coming to Dubai – but that’s another story. Dubai is what it is though, and don’t get me wrong it is a great place to visit.  It is super safe, has excellent infrastructure and superstructure, mind blowing attractions, and for someone who has been around, you experience a level of service here that still  makes one go “wow”.  I have a couple more weeks here and will definitely miss Dubai, especially my two dear friends and their daughter, and most importantly their live-in housekeeper. Soon I will have to go back to eating chipsy and kuku, making up my own bed, fetching my own newspaper and doing my own laundry (I am such a bad volunteer). They did spoil me, but then again this is the place to be spoilt.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. "really hot and dusty, and can be dodgy with the crazy traffic and early onset of darkness – not to mention the killer potholes" --- doesn't sound too far off montserrat then, ish?

  3. Come to think about it are absolutely right....take out the crazy hills and running in dar es salaam was like running in Montserrat....throw in the ashing and the roadworks in Montserrat and it was actually worse

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. You don't have to leave, you can get a REAL job and stay! We have a KFC Fun Run next week and the RAK Half Marathon on Friday....get paid and run at the same time.
    I'm just saying...

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