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Run, run, run and never stop…

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Running is so far the only thing in my life that was able to align my heart, soul and body. The three of them have the same willingness, persistence and determination. None of them are rebelling, to my surprise for once they are all obeying! Isn’t this what we call internal peace? What we call self love?

Run run run and never stop whisper the three of them in my ear. You are beautiful when you run, you are peaceful, fun, humble and wise.

Run run run and never stop because you have a reason, you have a purpose, you have a cause.

Run run run and never stop because with each step you are fighting against bullying, fear, insecurity, judgement, injustice and hate.

Run run run and never stop because with each step u are supporting freedom, unity, peace, joy, equality and unconditional love.

Run for you, for her, for him, for us. Run to become who you used to be, who you are and who you want to be!

Just run and never stop

Gangsta Squad | By Caroline Zakka
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Squad Style..

“You’re tough you know? You are now part of 3% of the population. The 3% Squad. Only so few have done what you’re doing and you’re not gona stop until you finish.”

As I limped on my left leg trying to forget the pain, Coach Walid spoke with his usual smile and good humor but this time his tone was more determined and categorical than ever. He continued: “If anyone says the opposite just tell them to Talk to the hand” Then he dropped the mic and got into his Purple Lamborghini.

Hearts Growing Bigger | By Samira Kaissi
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Shoutouts on the RUN

In the first few kms we head north on the coastal road of Jounieh, which is a gorgeous bay outside Beirut, and then we head back. For those of us who are slower, we get to see our team mates who finished the course and are returning. There are many teams, and the returnees start yelling out the names of their team mates as they pass by them. So for about a km or more, you are running in one direction and you hear your name as your team mates pass you in the other: bravo Samira, yalla Samira, some clap as they pass you, some raise their arms for you, and you yell their names back, tens of names you’ve learned in the last two months as you greet them at 6am almost every day: Fares, Myriam, Elias, Carlos, Mirna, Hussein…woohoo! And at the same time, dozens of runners around you are doing the same thing. You hear names: champ Rana, go Ahmad go, Georgeees yalla. Cheers, claps, pumping fists all around you.

 

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Better World

I can’t even describe the experience in words. The energy expands, it’s beautiful, it’s palpable, it’s undeniable. And you literally feel your chest expanding with it, your smile grows bigger. “Your heart grows bigger”. It’s an expression we have in Arabic without an English equivalent. I don’t know why, because truly, physically, you feel your heart growing bigger. Surrounded by hundreds of individuals with absolutely nothing in common, not age, not shape, not gender, not education, not religion, nothing in common. But they support each other with the utmost sincerity when they run. They yell your name and you know a little bit more that you can do it. You yell theirs because you love seeing them at this moment, and you really want to cheer them on. Every runner’s name released with precious breath, reaches that runner, it’s effect magnified by the dozens of other names in the air at that second. One heart grows bigger, hundreds of hearts grow bigger. In that moment, the world is slightly better. #Teamhoury_Charbel, #Beirut542

The Search For Happiness | by Caroline Zakka
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My toes hurt. They’re tightly jammed into the front of my running shoes and every step makes my teeth cringe. I keep imagining Tom when his paws get caught in a mousetrap he set for Jerry. On top of that my phone feels heavy in my pocket and I regret not buying a fanny pack for my keys.

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At this rate I know I can’t catch up with the runners ahead of me but it’s only a few kilometers until we reach Zaytuna, so I try to think happy thoughts:

a cool swimming pool…3 more kilometers and I’ll be happy;

coconut ice cream…2K left just finish this;

walking barefoot in the hot sand…almost there.

I pick up speed on the final downhill when Coach Ali appears and raises a high five to salute me and my running buddy Mariam: he flashes us a wide smile and says “Nice pink tops ladies! Did you coordinate on purpose?” As random as that moment was it immediately changed our mood and we genuinely laughed. Then it hit me: I was happy before I reached the 18k finish line. As surprised as I was, I realized that I had also been smiling for pictures and shouting every time I saw Safa our Beirut542 angel. I didn’t forget that my goal was to catch up with the faster runners but in the end it didn’t matter because I was happy.

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 The turning point

“Be yourself.

Everyone else is taken”

Oscar Wilde

We always set conditions for our happiness: I can only be happy if I have a prefect relationship, I’ll be happy when I get a promotion, I won’t be happy until I lose 5kg… What do you think would happen if we just decided to be happy with ourselves no matter what?

What a weird concept: to love yourself, to be kind and content with who you are. Who ever thought of that? Well only all of the world’s life coaches/ advisors/ philosophers/ gurus/ writers…BUT WE FORGET. We forget because we’re so busy worrying about things that don’t matter. Simplify, clarify your mind, and remember yourself.

 

Appreciate every moment

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.

Most people exist, that is all”

Oscar Wilde

 Instead of always wishing for things we don’t have, or waiting for something to happen; why not hope for an amazing life filled with happy moments? Why not enjoy everything about the NOW?

During our weekly training we do sprints of 200m where the main principle is that you have to start as fast as you finish. Sometimes coach Walid instructs to “run at 80% of your maximum speed”, other times it’s “90%”. Don’t we do the same in our daily life: depending on our emotions and our expectations, sometimes we give 80% or maybe just 60%. But what if we gave it our best everyday and lived 100%?

In our fragile world that needs so much love and understanding I want to live 100% and be happy today. What about you?

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#Beirut542 #TeamWalid #Wildlings

Warriors of Light | By Caroline Zakka
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That morning we all left our houses under a moonless summer sky. Some of us had not personally chosen to go but had been signed up for it by a higher power.

Most of us drove, others walked, and a few were dropped at the meeting point where the numbers increased as the sun came up. In the dim streetlights you could barely see our faces but we recognized each other because we have been together on the road for some time. The ways that each of us move, stand and speak is familiar even from a mile away.

I’m sleepy, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m excited! Every person was in their own state of mind but we knew we had to do this: we are bound together by a symbol around our wrist.

And so our journey began as we sat side by side on our way to the summit where a quest would have us compete with other clans equally present to defend their flags. Shoulder to shoulder, eye to eye we shared our hopes and fears with no judgment and no trepidation. In this space we became our true selves, unbiased and uncategorized by the rules of society. We laughed and we witnessed the scenery turn from deep blue to light blue as the altitude increased and trees got taller. The freshness of our surroundings awoke new purpose in our limbs and we stepped up ready to spread our wings and fly.

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We stood along our leader behind the battle line and unleashed our battle cry to the world, tapping our colored armors and shields with our hands and feet, wearing the dust on our faces, ready to set our lungs on fire. One heartbeat, two heartbeats…

Different paces, different movements, different purposes, but one goal to cross this uncharted wilderness where man and beast have coexisted for centuries. Some ran in groups, some ran in couples, some ran by themselves but no one was alone. The mountain was there cradling us with it sweetness, the dips and the hills were enticing us with their curves, the trees were calling us to discover their mysteries. And as we succumbed to the experience something magical happened: our humanity awoke in all its glory. We did not belong to ourselves anymore; we were part of something much bigger than our own material existence. We were alive within the stardust that drifts through the universe.

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And that’s how it was on Sunday August 21st 2016 while running 10k in the Chouf mountain, we were all the same person: the runner who won the race, the one who stopped after 5k and laid down on the ground, the one who was walking by the side too tired to go on, the one who shouted “You can do it, Good job”, and the volunteers who patiently waited and smiled as they handed out water. Thank you…I ran and I didn’t want to stop. Thank you. I ran happily and gregariously and as I looked around in wonder all I could think of was :Thank you.

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Rebels, champions, losers, thinkers, queens, hipsters, we might have been different before this day. But as of now we are one and the same. We are one body that moves with one mind, and our hearts have been joined forever.

#Beirut542 #TeamWalid