The aftermath of Dubai marathon 25 Jan 2016
It’s only day 3 after the marathon and it already seems like such a long time since. Three bloody days and I’m already forgetting how much my body was pummelled. The day after the marathon it’s pretty easy to rest: my legs were fit for nothing. As we struggled to shuffle around, sit down or stand up, the words of Brian Potter, Phoenix Nights, seemed apt “I am disabled Jerry!” So, we headed to the beach. In true Brits Abroad style, we sizzled and fried. What a combo – severe post-marathon DOMS combined with sunburn. Ace.
Day 2 and we tried at the very least to move again. From our resort, we worked out it was an easy 5k walk to mega-resort Atlantis on the palm. Still creaking like two tin men in desperate need of oiling, we headed off slowly (so slowly) along the beachfront – one of the man-made ‘palm branches’ – towards the world’s holy grail of water parks. As we got into our painful Brian Potter stride, we almost passed for a happy couple out on a gentle stroll who didn’t have a walking impediment – almost. Approaching the Atlantis, we were relieved to be mobile once more, yet equally desperate for a sit down. My feet hurt more than my legs. In sweaty pumps, the still red-raw blisters rubbed angrily as the heat made my feet swell, feeling spongy and inflamed. Thank God for Ibuprofen.
Day 3 and it was time to shake things up a bit – for my own head more than my body. A bit of steady cycling in the (empty) resort gym. It felt good to get my heart rate up even a little bit. Plus, I think it helped my legs to crank them into action in a non-impact way, and get some blood pumping to the still broken muscles. Later in the day we went swimming in the sea. It was fab. I don’t generally ‘do’ swimming – it’s really not my bag, but over here in the warm, luxurious waters of the Persian gulf, it would be rude not to. No crappy Halifax baths with its cold, beige changing rooms and overly-chlorinated, tepid pool. The warm, sun-drenched, beautifully calm sapphire sea lured me – a devout non-swimmer – in. I could be converted if this were my usual playground.
Such is the nature of this place, and the luxury of the resort, with its endless parade of fine-dining, pre-prepared sun-loungers, and overly obliging staff – it’s easy to feel like the laziest, greediest sloth in the world. It’s something I struggle to get my head around. “Would you like your grapes peeling for you, Madam?” “A cool towel for your face, perhaps?” I’m an active person – I struggle to sit still for too long. I’ve experienced hell ticking away hours of my life working in stagnant legal offices. I opted out for a number of reasons, but the pained lack of movement and accompanying sedentary lifestyle were big factors. The flight over to Dubai felt like semi-incarceration to me (7 hours pretty much seated.) Gav told me that many of the other passengers were flying to Dubai as a stop-off to further afield destinations like Australia. Jesus, I thought to myself – how on earth would I step off a 7 hour flight and straight on to an even longer stint of armchair aerobics? I struggle to watch a film in its entirety, often asking Gav to pause it because my bum has gone numb. So, having established that I need to move – and often – I headed back to the (again seriously under-attended) gym for another steady 10k bike before contemplating yet another exuberant evening meal.
The evening meal was funny. We went to the resort’s immaculate Chinese restaurant. It was exquisite. If food could ever be described as a truly beautiful thing, more closely resembling intricate pieces of art than fuel, then this was that place. We’d struck lucky too – it was the buffet which (unlike the vast majority of Chinese buffets I’ve experienced with their greasy silver troughs of pile-em-high, deep fried gunk) was extraordinary. An array of fresh, vibrant colours; tiny morsels of pure, heavenly perfection. It was there for the taking. How lucky are we! Encounter problem number 1: I wasn’t bloody hungry! How thoroughly unfair is that. On the back of my second mini-gym bike 10k, I’d come back to the room and inhaled a Snickers bar, banana and half a bag of crisps. Shit. What an idiot. The waitresses looked on as I embarrassingly battled with a small bowl of the tastiest broth I’ve ever had the pleasure to slurp. “You no want a main course madam? Please, you have all courses, no?” Erm, I felt so ridiculous trying to say I wasn’t hungry, and had just filled up on crap an hour before entering the restaurant. Overly conscious of other diners looking on, watching Gav tuck in happily to his Dim Sun Duck whilst I sat and poked food around my plate took the edge off for me, but I vowed to return WHEN I’M HUNGRY!
Day 4: Getting back on the horse…only just. 26 Jan 2016
I did it! I woke up this morning, and I knew I would. It’s so much more difficult for me NOT to run than it is to run, even when it’s difficult, or possibly even not the best idea. It’s my default position; the ‘business as normal’ sign swinging from my shop door: it’s my sanity. I’d done pretty well having 3 days of no running post-marathon. I needed them, and I didn’t even want to put my trainers on. It wasn’t a temptation. Legs cranking back into action though, I couldn’t resist today. We are staying by the sea. It’s beautiful. It’s warm. The running options are easy from our resort. Flat seafront, with a comforting sea breeze, and (most importantly for me) impossible to get lost. So I headed off. Headphones were a pain in the arse as they kept leaping out of my ears and battling for headspace with my sunglasses. Once the two had reconciled their differences (the headphones won) I was off. Steady, whoa! Jeepers. Only just able to tolerate the prospect, my blistered feet acquiesced and reluctantly agreed to partake in my planned steady 5 mile trot. I can’t pretend it felt overly good, the legs still very tired and feet swollen like two sofas stuffed inside unforgiving trainers. Plus it was hot (no shit) and the air felt dry. My throat felt like the Desert itself. I sweated more than I would running double the distance back home.
Thankful to eventually arrive back at the comfort of our resort, I headed straight for our room where I found Gav, relaxing like Lord of the manor – still in bed.