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Month Down: Taking stock in the Sinai
By Greg Loomis
Well 30 days has now
passed since I arrived in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt to serve out
my one year tour as the Multinational Force and Observers physical
therapist. On a day-to-day basis things seem to be taking forever
and the thought of being away from my wife, the U.S., trail running,
and all things green is overwhelming. But, here I am 30 days into my
deployment already. Like any good scientist, I enjoy stepping back
from the experiment occasionally to analyze what exactly is going on.
So with out further delay let’s take a look.
- Learning to deal
without restaurants, a grocery store, a kitchen, and eat from a
multinational flare dining facility…Not to mention the 18days
for intestine adjustment!
- Acclimating to the
flat, sandy, desert with intense sun and temps in the 120’s by
running at dusk and dawn when it is in the 80’s. I seemingly
have accomplished this now as my sweat does not taste salty and flows
much quicker into my run.
- Emotional health -- I spend a great deal of time online e-mailing having reached out to
many friends going back to my high school and college years. I have
fallen out of touch with many due to life’s busy pace in the
states getting in the way of relationships. I also spend
45-90 minutes in the dinning hall talking to my fellow soldiers each
meal. It is nice not to feel rushed for once!
- Seeing Egyptian men in dresses, and FIJI men in skirts, and the French in shorts that
make 1980’s NBA shorts seem long.
- Learning more and
more about 3,000 years of fighting in the region and religious
- Getting used to the sound of bombs rumbling my windows, and used to wearing a flack
vest, Kevlar helmet, and carrying a loaded weapon when I leave the
- Appreciating that
even though I am locked down on a 1 x 1 mile base, at least it is not a
50ft by 150ft tiny observation post at a remote border fence-line
like the FIJI and Columbian soldiers man….and don’t get
to leave for three months!!!!
- A new
appreciation for water: Man, the look of land with no rain is awful
to my eyes, and I miss the green so much.
- Animals: Getting
used to rabbits who look like and run like deer (no hopping), false
horned viper snakes, sand colored owls and crows, and ants marching
on “ant highways” like they are in a very big hurry, and
most amazingly Hedge hogs!
- Not having TV or radio … but access to the internet and a great library.
- Interacting with
people from many nations…and treating patients with a
different language (and pulling out my high school Spanish)
- But, most amazing thing seen … the way in which the nomadic Bedouin people live
here in the desert, herding goats, sleeping on the ground, no
electric, no water, and in homes made out of sticks and shrubs
wrapped together to keep down the blowing sand, with most having no
The Continued AGENDA:
I promised myself,
and my wife, I would get my body back after a few years of poor diet,
decreased activity, and aging influenced metabolic slowing:
- Weight lost to
date- 6 lbs … via dietary changes and aims- one piece (at
least) of fruit with every meal, soda intake limited to one diet per
day, increased bread, decreased cheese, veggie intake with every
lunch and dinner meal, increased fluid intake with meals (to decrease
portion size eaten per sitting), absolute zero dessert intake.
increase- walk everywhere on base- at least 1-2 miles daily, also
jump started my metabolism by doing double workouts every other day
and running every single day, staying fresh and injury free by doing
short, but frequent runs (ave- 4 miles), and finally putting back in
all those little extras that make one very fit: Stretching everyday,
Pilates & abdominal work, push ups, pull ups, and trying to do
Yoga 3+ days per week.
- Running specific: I covered 186 miles around the 1 x 1 mile square base in the last 30
days with 38 runs, 5 up tempo walks with 25 lbs weighted vest, 14
double workout days and 30 for 30 days thus far in my effort to
run/walk everyday I am deployed.
- It is my intent to
regain the speed I had 5 years ago … hopefully accomplished by
doing all of the above lifestyle modifications, and:
- Re-training my
ultrarunner mind to do steady runs with out stopping to walk, at a
pace that is more taxing than I can do with a HR of 110 b/min like I
used to do and more like the 145-160b/min I average now.
- Getting used to the frequency of running again as I have averaged 4-5 days per week
of running the last four years.
- Get some leg turnover again by doing striders and 80% short sprints two days a week
along with one steady tempo run.
- Started and will continue to gradually get back into doing a steady paced long run
with my first and only one this month being 17 miles at 8:00 pace.
- Gradually building my mileage with the first weeks being pretty low (35, 41, 41, 51) but
hoping to continue to inch up
Thirty days down! Many yet to come!