Monday, February 24, 2014

Oman trip – 4th to last day – 11-15 February

I tried to write and publish daily reports of my trip to Oman, but starting with the 4th day, I didn't find enough time to focus on writing. So, here I am sitting in my hotel room in Oman after Lawrence Fanous ha left to the airport, trying to remember everything that happened in the last 4 days. My plane to Germany is scheduled to depart after midnight so, I might continue writing at the airport and in the plane and only publish on Sunday.
As far as the training camp is concerned, the 4th day included swim training in the 25m pool of the intercontinental. We arrived there at noon, while the session was only to start at 4pm. So, Lawrence started his personal training which was about 5km in total I believe. I was able to swim for 40 minutes before I had to leave to a TV interview that Mohammad Al Obaidani had organized. We left to the TV station at 2 pm.
I had never done a TV interview before and felt a bit nervous. After we entered the station we were led to the make-up room where an English lady applied some powder on my face. Ahmad Al Falahi, the Omani triathlete, was my partner in the interview while Mohammad preferred to stay behind the scene. We entered the studio. The ‘Al Hadath’ program started live. We waited until we a break when we were asked to join the host at the table and got microphones attached to us. A live interview like this is not an easy thing. You don’t have a lot of time to think after a question has been asked. So, either you know your topic or you’ll fail to convey the message you intended to convey. That wasn't an issue for me. My difficulty was rather expressing my thoughts in Arabic as I have been living outside for the last 34 years, and I feel much more comfortable with German and English which I use daily. If it hadn't been for my Arabic blog, through which I remind myself of Arabic expressions and learn new terminology,  I might not have dared to do an interview in Arabic. Anyway, it went pretty well. I was satisfied with my part, and Ahmad did a very good job answering his questions too.
We returned to the pool in time for the start of the training session, but I preferred not join. Instead, I took a few pictures of the session and went to the gym to ride the stationary bike for 45 minutes of intervals and followed that with a 15 minute treadmill run. Then I went to enjoy the sauna while Lawrence went out for a run.
It seems that Mohammad had found out that one of his Kuwaiti acquaintances was visiting Oman, so he took us to the hotel at which this person was staying. WE met him at the lobby. Two Omanis joined us after a short while but had to leave due to other commitments. We left with the Kuwaiti to have a nice chat over a delicious dinner of mixed grills. I learnt that the Kuwaiti was Ahmad Al Huzami, founder of Pro-Vision, a sports and event management company in Kuwait. Among other things, Pro-Vision organizes triathlon events in Kuwait, runs a triathlon club, and owns a store for all triathlon needs.
On Wednesday, I went out for a ride with Lawrence and returned after about 3 hours while Lawrence continued a bit longer. No one made it to the afternoon session of the training camp which was supposed to be an open water practice session. So, we returned to the hotel and I went swimming for 30 minutes on my own, while Lawrence went for a run. I felt very comfortable with my swim just 2 days before the race. In the evening, Lawrence went with Ali as he was supposed to have a second radio interview with Lakshmi Kothaneth, but somehow there was some confusion about whether it was still on or not. Meanwhile, I left with Mohammad and Ahmad Al Huzami to have a radio interview at Arabic Al Wisal radio. We had just arrived by car to the radio station when Mohammad received a phone call by Lakshmi asking where Lawrence was. Mohammad reacted quickly and offered to interview Ahmad instead. I don’t want to know what Ahmad was thinking, but he was brave enough to stay in the car and do a phone interview, totally unprepared. In the meantime, I went into the station with the host a jotted a few key words on a piece of paper to let him know who we are and what the topic is about to start with. Ahmad finished his phone interview and joined me just a couple of minutes before the program started.
I felt very comfortable during the interview, not as nervous as I was in the TV interview. For one part, this is due to the fact that I was invisible in a radio interview, but even more it was because the host was taking it easy and joking here and there and I didn’t feel everything was going to be taken very seriously. When Ahmad and I took our seats in front of the microphones, there was another phone interview going on. It was about a football match or tournament that the Omani team was part of. The host asked jokingly if they were going to play against Kuwait and lose as usual. Later when we were being interviewed, I had to come back to the topic, mention that I was born in Kuwait and start singing with Ahmad the song of the Kuwaiti national team ‘Oh Yalazrag, il’ab bissaha’. We finished a very good interview and I hope I was able through both interview to share some information about the sport of triathlon and about Lawrence Fanous, encourage a few to try to join a race in the future,  and inform about the importance of support to Lawrence and other triathletes to achieve their best.
I was very happy to get to know Ahmad Al Huzami and I felt we were on the same wave length.
Thursday was a rest day. Mohammad took us around and we got new impressions of Muscat. It rained heavily then, such that part of the run course was under water. We left Mohammad alone to complete the race preparations as the organizer.
Finally, race day was there. We went to “Al Mouj” where the race started from. The short distance race started a few minutes before us with more than 20 participants. One of them, a Dutch, was a former Olympian and World Champion, who was now 56 years old and had at one point in time trained the Omani national team. The long distance race started a few minutes later. I have to say that wetsuits make me very tired too quickly. It requires strength endurance in my arms that I don’t seem to have. There is no point in being a bit faster at the beginning with a wetsuit, only to lose all the advantage by getting extremely tired arms very soon. I decided I will avoid wearing a wetsuit in the future if I can, unless I improve the strength endurance of my arms. Alternatively, I might try an sleeveless wetsuit. The bike leg went as expected. It consisted of 4 x 20K rounds, back and forth between a roundabout at one end and a traffic light at the other end. The wind was blowing hard so that I was fast going out and slow coming back in. I finished with an average of 28.5 km/h. At the start of the run, I felt exhausted. The sun was burning and I believe I hadn’t prepared well and eaten enough the day before, so my glycogen storage was depleted by now. I finished the 14k run in 1.5 hours and was shivering when I arrived at the finish line, despite the sun burn on my arms and legs. I must have had a heat stroke of some sort. I didn’t want to go anywhere but back to the hotel room to lay down and rest for a couple of hours. Let me not forget to mention that Lawrence won the long distance easily, with a gap of 35 minutes, and I won the 50+ age group (ok, I admit I was the only one over 50).
My regards to all great people I got to know in Oman. I will hopefully come back in the future. Don’t forget to let me know when you come to Germany for one reason or another. I’d like to return the hospitality, knowing that I won’t be able to match yours.

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