Friday, November 2, 2012

On the Road Again

Adam, me, and Ryan after the run
I was in Casablanca on the 21st to run the 5th Annual Casablanca Half-Marathon, joined by my friends Adam Richie Halford, who ran the Marrakech Half-Marathon with me last January, and Ryan Scheidt. The weather was great – sunny and about 70 degrees – the course was pretty flat and beautiful – most of it along the corniche, the road that runs along the ocean, and past some sights – and each of us exceeded our pre-race expectations, so it was a big success overall. We had a celebratory meal at Rick's Cafe, a tourist spot that plays on the fame of the movie Casablanca, but which still delivers a good meal and good service. I had a T-bone steak, a cut of meat almost impossible to find in Morocco, along with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of green beans, carrots and cauliflower that was not overcooked, also a rarity in Morocco.

My time for the 13.1 miles? 2:03:50, or 9:24 per mile. That was five minutes and 15 seconds, or 24 seconds a mile, faster than my time in Marrakech. So what now? I told myself that if Casa went well I would run the full marathon at Marrakech this year. But I'm still undecided about that. The last 3 miles were pretty hard. Could I really do another 13? Not sure about that.

Odds and ends:

I'd intended the title to refer to the marathon, but it could just as easily apply to my life these last months. I've made a trip to Rabat every month since May, each of them 4 days or more. The two weeks straddling July and August, I took a vacation in Europe, with a one-day stop in Milan, 5 days in Berlin, 3 days in Dresden, and 4 days in Prague. It was great. In September I was away from home 11 days. So far in October, I've been home only half the time. Most of my travel has involved my big project, Spelling Bee Morocco, which is going national this year.

One of my pomegranates, good to look at, but not so tasty.
It's pomegranate season, and it turns out I have a pomegranate tree in my courtyard (the other tree is an almond tree). Last year, the pomegranate did not bloom or bear fruit, but this year, under my TLC, it did blossom and has produced 6 pomegranates! Unfortunately, they look good, but they're not very tasty. They should have a tart sweetness, and the little kernels should be juicy. Mine are quite sour with big seeds in the kernels – not much pulp or juice at all. All show!

Me, helping strip the sheepskin from the carcass
Leid Axatar (Eid Adhar) began a week ago. Given the timing and the upcoming Independence Day on the 6th of November, it effectively means that most people are taking a two-week holiday. People return to their parents' homes and spend time with their families. Transportation is hard to find, and when you do, it's likely to cost 50-100% more than usual. Little work gets done. I'm staying at home during most of it, which is nice for a change, but I'll be glad when it's over. You can only eat so much meat. As last year, I helped my family slaughter a cow and two rams. By tradition, you eat mainly meat for the next week. I soon began to exist in a stupor of protein and fat.

The weather has changed. We've had quite a bit of rain the last month (much needed – Morocco has been suffering from a drought for the last couple of years and for the last year especially) and turned cold. In the space of only a few weeks I went from covering myself with only a sheet at night to one blanket and now two for last week.

That's it for now. I won't make any rash promises, but I will try to get back on track with regular blog posts. Incha'allah.

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