Sunday, May 15, 2011

My weekend: UAE Healthy Kidney 10K race + Cupcakes at Sprinkles

It never ceases to amaze me how far the UAE has come. When I was growing up on the tiny island, in its capital city of Abu Dhabi, the population of the entire country totaled less than 1 million, and we lived in relative anonymity from the rest of the world. When visiting foreign countries, the phrase, "I am from Abu Dhabi" evoked quizzical looks and shrugs each time I was asked where I was from . "...In the UAE...., " I would further venture. More shrugs. "It's a country in the Middle East," I would finally concede. Nods would follow but I hated having to constantly explain it that way. "The Middle East" always conjured up images of Scheherezade, women in veils, political unrest, and that was so not what my life was like. "I am just like you!" I wanted to scream. I loved Punky Brewster. I listened to Madonna. Judy Blume's books lined my bookshelf. LA Gear sneakers were strewn across my bedroom floor. Note: I was 9 at that time. My tastes have since become a touch more sophisticated. Although Madonna is still awesome.

Abu Dhabi
Nowadays, the UAE is not as obscure as it once was, its signs everywhere. From the "Jumeirah Essex House" sign seen on Central Park South (Jumeirah is a neighbourhood in Dubai, and also the name of a Dubai-based company dealing with luxury hotels and residences), to Emirates (the official airline of Dubai) being an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, having its logo emblazoned on the stadium sidelines, to yesterday's race, the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K run in Central Park, sponsored by The Embassy of the UAE. This popular race (I was one of 8000 runners participating) benefitted the National Kidney Foundation, to honor American excellence in the field of kidney transplantation. Sheikh Zayed, the country's founder and late ruler dealt with American physicians first-hand when he underwent his kidney transplant. The first place prize this year was $25,000, the highest of any 10K race in the world, with an additional $20,000 being awarded if the winner broke the record held by the previous record-holder. This happened yesterday and Leonard Patrick Komon of Kenya left $45,000 richer after speedily completing the race in 27:35!!

It's always fun poring over the goodies that runners get prior to the races and this race was no exception. Dri-FIT t-shirts are always a plus and this one had the colors of the UAE's flag (red, white and green), which was also printed in the middle of our bibs.

I like running 10Ks, as they are a great test of endurance. This one started out well but a few minutes into the race I noted a sharp pain in the outside of my left knee. This pain has occurred in each of the three races I have run this year, and usually happens after about two miles. In this race, unfortunately, it started sooner than that, in the early part of my first mile. My heart sank. I had hoped to try and complete the race in under an hour, like I did in my first 10K, the Mini 10K race two years ago.  Not wanting to suffer an irreversible injury, I slowed down my pace and ran steadily for three miles. The Harlem Hills were no match for my debilitated knee at that point and from then onwards till the end of the race I stopped to walk (read limp) every few minutes. I sped up when I saw the "800 feet left" sign and bounded once the finish line was in sight. I completed the race in 1:06:57, my longest 10K, slightly disappointed but I immediately lit up on seeing the chocolate chip bagels being distributed to the runners! For some reason I always end up getting the plain (read boring) bagel at the end of these races so this was a nice surprise!

Anyhow, I have decided to hold off the running for a while and have my knee checked out. I have been procrastinating this because I know I will be asked to cut back on working out but the fact that the pain occurred earlier in a race really jolted me. And writing about it on the blog will make me more accountable about taking care of myself!

After the race, I came home and negated the effect of the race by inhaling the cupcakes my darling husband waited in line for 20 minutes for. Yes, people, only in New York do we wait in line for cupcakes! Sprinkles Cupcakes opened a block from my house this past Friday and the lines have been snaking around Lexington Avenue since with people who cannot wait to get their sugar fix!

The scene from the line outside Sprinkles
He got a whole box but unfortunately only two cakes survived long enough to be photographed by me! Here's the strawberry cupcake and the coconut cupcake...

And then...

So what's my verdict? While the cupcakes are smaller in size than their counterparts at Magnolia Bakery or Buttercup Bakeshop, the selection is large with interesting flavors such as strawberry, banana and lemon coconut,and as the picture above is testament, they are unbelievably yummy!

The remainder of the weekend has been spent icing my knee- hope you all had a good one!


Jess said...

Uh oh...sounds like what I had two summers back...the pain sounds very similar. It took about six weeks of physical therapy but after that was good as new. I REALLY missed running during this time but it was obviously worth it - my knees are stronger now because of it, I swear. Good luck - call that doctor!

Mom at the Barre said...

Jess: I am going to try and see someone this week. Thanks for sharing your experience! Six weeks does sound like a long time but the long-term benefit is so worth it.

Jess @ Fit Chick in the City said...

OMG, I've been dying to get to sprinkles. However, until I just read your post I had completely forgotten about it. How could I forget? =)

Mom at the Barre said...

Jess: Maybe give it a week or so for the novelty factor to subside. Unless you don't mind the insane line!

Ameena said...

Sprinkles has a crazy line even here in LA, despite the fact it's been around for years. Their frosting is pretty tasty!

Funny that you talk about the UAE...I finally watched SATC2 last night and it was all about Abu Dhabi! And I stayed at the Jumeirah during my visit to NYC in November.

I feel you on the knee pain! And the John Hughes movies! Great to find your blog!

Mom at the Barre said...

Ameena: I guess we have more than a few things in common! :-)

And yes, you are right, the SATC2/Abu Dhabi reference is probably the most relatable UAE reference- definitely should have included that in the blogpost!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dori said...

DYING to try Sprinkles! So glad it finally opened, that took forever didn't it. I like that they have vegan options. I will have to get myself there soon, maybe this weekend.

Mom at the Barre said...

Dori: Tell me about it-it had been 'in the works' for months! I like that their flavors change according to the day of the week.

Jill said...

What an interesting perspective you have on the UAE. I had no idea where you were from.

I always loved that race. It sold out this year before I had a chance to register.

Those cupcakes look SO good!

Mom at the Barre said...

Jill: It was fun growing up there-I do miss it.

Ive realized its very dangerous living so near to a place selling such irresistible cupcakes.

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