Tokyo Marathon – A real struggle, but the Six Star Finisher medal is in the bag

OK, first a spoler alert; I MADE IT!!

After a terrible night with hardly any sleep, I woke up at race day at 5 AM, not exactly in top shape for 42.2 km. One look at the rain ouside, and I was tempted to crawl back into bed and forget about the whole thing. But, we are after all doing this volunteerly, we have worked for it for several years an we have actually paid a small fortune to come here, so I managed to give myself a kick in the rear and get ready for breakfast.

When it came to transportation to the starting area, it was already timed perfectly by our group’s Tokyo-Transportation-system-whisperer, so we others really only had to meet up in the hotel lobby, walk to the next building (Tokyo Station), walk for a few more minutes without concerning ourselves with which direction to take and volià, there was our train and after a 15 min train ride we reached our destination.

Yhe bib-number control and baggage checked were done real quickly (have I mentioned how efficient the Japanese are?), so we had over an hour to kill before the run started. I choose to spend that time in a stair case, after a trip to one of the many outdoor toilets, which was quite an experience indeed. The most organized line ever, with a guy standing in the end of the line holding a sign saying the line starts here. There were also multiple persons actually telling which toilet to go to when it was our turn. Perfect system and no cutting in line..

Check out the line in the background.

Even if the lines seemed endless, I didn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn. On drawbavk, however, was the fact that these were squatting toilets and small, which made this. 1.78m, 40+ year old with bad knees struggle so much that I almost fell over at one point. I did make it though, but a repeat visit was out of the question, so I made myself hold it in until the race was over and more comfortable facilities could be located.

One our before my starting tine, I went to my starting block to get in an as good as possible position. Tokyo Marathon practices gun-shot timing when i comes to cutoff times, and they are strict on enforcing those times. My starting block not crossing the starting line before 30 minutes after the gun-shot, made it a real threat that I might struggle with some of the earliest cutoff times, which I incidentely also ended up doing. It did not help either that I wad, due to the heavy rain, both cold and soaking wet, so it wasn’t the most amusing hours of my life that marathon.

I must admit that the race itself was a struggle from Start to Finish and I wad really hurting from all the longruns I never took prior to it. But, I did manage to crawl over the finishing line in the end and was handed both the regular Tokyo Marathon medal and the big Six Star Finisher’s medal, the proof that I have made it through all the major marathons in the world (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo), something approx. 4000 have done before us, but only 36 Norwegians.

Something very uplifting during the race and which really made my day, was of course our anazing cheerleader, running through town to cheer for us at three different locations. ❤️

So to sum up: rain and windy, soaking wet, painful race, but two more medals in the bag. Now it’s time for celebrations.

The gang (but missing our cheerleaders).

Dubai – Madinat Jumeirah in July

Madinat Jumeirah is a luxurious resort located at the beach with the iconic Bur Al Arab as its nearest neighbor and consists of 3 hotels (Al Qasr, Mina A’Salam og Jumeirah Al Naseem) and several holiday villas og flere (Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf).

The place is inspired by «1001 nights» with its arabic-style buildings and at the same time you’ll get a Venice vibe from the canal meandering through the resort. As mentioned in an earlier post, Al Qasr is also the venue for our all time favourite Friday brunch in Dubai and after repeat visits we promised ourselves that we definetely should stay at the resort.

With an average room rate of minimum USD 650 per night it looked like it would take a while for our dreams to come true, but then we found a loophole…

In Dubai during summer, all expats and a lot of the residents flee the country due to the heat, which can reach temperatures in the high 40s C. Most hotel therefore lower their rates during summer and last July we were able to get a room for about USD 180 per night, which is more within our comfort zone (however close to the limit).m

So, what to do at a luxury resort in 40 degrees C. Well, we actually didn’t leave the resort until our final day. There are plenty of exiting indoor activities in Dubai during the hot summer months. But since we had been there several times before, we didn’t stress to get out. Instead we chose just to ‘lax in the luxurious environment.

The Beach

The beach at Madinat Jumeirah consists of fine-grained sand and shallow water and we spent our first day mostly lying oon comfy sun beds, under an umbrella with fantastic service provided by the hotel staff who brought us buckets of ice and cold drinks to prevent us from getting a heat stroke.

At one poit we figured we should go for a swim in the inviting water, and that was quite a surreal experience. It was like jumping into a gigantic hot tub the size of, well… an ocean. With other words, not very refreshing. But, no need for worrying, since all the pools were nice and cool.

Pools

Both Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam have their own, big, cool pools right in front of them. Jumeirah Al Naseem Has three, wereas one is an adults-only pool, which made it our favourite since we in fact were travelling without children. Guests at all the hotels are free to use all the pools in the resort. Mostly our days were spent (after my morning training session) unde an umbrella with a book and lots of pepsi max, although sometimes replaces by a frozen strawberry daiquery, or in the pool.

Must admit that the sanitary facilities by the pools were top notch.

Restaurants

One thing that is a bit of a bummer when visiting Dubai in the summer (=major low season) is that (beach restaurants excluded) all the restaurants are only servicing indoors due to the heat. We usually went for an outdoor lunch at one af the beach restaurants and did our best to work through the list of resort restaurants (50 and counting) for dinner. We were bot able to resist the Friday Brunch at Al Qasr either, which was spectacular, even if the whole arrangement took place indoors.

If you are looking for a romantic venue, look no further. Pierchic is the place. Pierchic restaurant (seafood) is located in the end of a pier out in the ocean with a fantastic view of both a spectacular sunset as well as of Burj Al Arab.

Training facilities

If you would like to keep the extra holiday weight in check there are plenty of training options to assist you. At Mina A’Salam you will find a well equipped training studio with lots of treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights. The center also offers lots of group sessions and even a climbibg wall.

The area also include an additional 4 km track for running, which I tested a couple of mornings.

Souk

Madinat Jumeirah also has its very own souk with a lot of small shops and restaurants and luckily (at least for me) a small kiosk selling diet pepsis to an affordable price.

The room

Since we had no intentions of spending any time in the room than for sleeping, we went for the cheapest one. Still, we got a great room (about 40 m2) with a large bathroom with both a tub and a shower. I was also very impressed by the minibar glass assortment…

Summary

If you suck at handling heated temperatures, maybe Dubai is not the perfect summer destinatij dor yoy. If you without problems are able to tackle a heaty Dubai in July, then you will be just fine. I for one, cannot wait to get back to Al Qasr and Dubai.


Dubai – Jumeirah Beach Residence

20 years ago the area we now call Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) consisted mostly of a beach with a few low rise hotels like Hilton Jumeirah Beach and Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort scattered around. Then, in 2002, Jumeirah Beach Residence opended it’s doors and ever since high rise hotels and residential buildings have popped up, surrounding the old, dignified hotels.

“The Walk” and “The Beach”

My first trip to Dubai was in 2010 and then the area was very much developed and “The Walk”, a 1,7km strip with outdoors restaurants and shops, was in place. I remember thinking the area was quite nice, that the shops where not all that and that they could do better than a big, ugly parking lot in prime beach location, right in the middle of JBR. A few years later the parking lot is gone, or at least it has gone underground, in the form of a parking garage and above ground we have “The Beach”, an urban shopping and dining destination which also includes all sorts of entertainment, activities for all ages, a jogging track, sun bed rentals ++. The area is buzzling with life from morning to night, even though I am able to run more or less in peace in the jogging track at 7-8 in the morning.

“The Beach” has food for every palate and wallate. It offers everything from upscale restaurants to food trucks. A common denominator of all, though, is that they are not license, meaning they are not allowed to serve alcohol. If you are craving a beer or a glass of wine, however, there are plenty of hotel beach bars and restaurants in the neighborhood that can oblige and where most of them have happy hour from around 4-5 in the afternoon. A bit of advise, however, is not to go wandering around if you feel a bit tipsy. Then I would recommend you to stay within your hotel or walk towards it with out drawing too much attention to yourself. Not that I have ever seen anyone getting in trouble after drinking in a licensed place, but why risk it?

Like mentioned earlier, there is no lack of activities in”The Beach” area. Here you can find both free and charged outdoor fitness equipment, playgrounds, a small waterpark for toddlers, football-snooker, miniature bowling, shops, market stalls, outdoor big screen that shows football matches and lots of other stuff.

As mentioned before “The Walk” consist of a 1,7 km strip and includes “The Beach”. Here you can amuse yourself with pop-up entertainment every night while eating at one of the many cozy restaurants or you can simply sit and gaze over all the luxurious cars passing by (which there are pleeeenty of in the emirate where even the police cars can be Buggatties, Mclarens, Aston Martins, Ferraries and where the police is currently (according to CNN) flying motorbikes. 

The Beach

The beach at JBR consists of fine-grained sand and has a public area and several private areas, driven by the beach located hotels. On the private sections you have the right to pass through, but if you try to settle yourself down in the sand, you will most likely be told by the guards to relocate to the public portion of the beach. The public beach has shrunken quite a bit since my first visit, which is a pity, but luckily you are still able to spend a day at the beach without it feeling too crowded.

If you would like to avoid sand in all nooks and crannies, it is possible to rent sun-beds at a considerable charge at the beach, or you can simply (for free) settle yourself down on the lawn just above the beach. The public beach also have sanitary facilities which I must admit are the cleanest ones I have ever seen at a beach.

If you want to upgrade the beach experience, several of the beach hotels sell day-passes to their beach and pool facilities. There is also a beach club located at the end of the beach, Zero Gravity, which I am sure will catch the attention of young adults (meaning a great party factor, a fair celebrity factor, sky-high selfie factor and a substantial sound factor).

JBR Plaza

Right next to Hilton the Walk hotel you can take the escalator up to the Plaza Level of JBR for even more entertainment lik 3 D blacklight mini-golf or escape room. If you would like a free training session, bring a basket ball and play a match in the full size municipal basket ball court or let the youngest ones play on the playground which also include a mini trampoline. In the area is also a well assorted supermarket where you can buy cold sodas for about 1/10 of the hotel price, so we usually have several trips here to fill up our minibar of fridge. You can also buy fresh bread, sandwiches, sliced fruit, ice cream and lots of other stuff to make your holiday a little bit cheaper.

Anyone still wondering why I always return to JBR? It simply has everything I need for a perfect vacation!

Happy New Year

A new year has come to an end, with trips to Gran Canary, Ras Al-Khaimah, Dubai, Chicago and Barcelona as travel highlights and definetely the marathon medal in Chicago as a running highlight.

Wish you all a happy new year and let us hope 2019 will bring even more travel and running histories to remember. ❤️🍾

Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach/Hilton Dubai The Walk – 7 reasons why we always return

This is the seventh time we celebrate Christmas in Dubai, and I have also been here for Easter, spring, autum. and even summer several times. I have stayed at multiple hotels at Juneirah Beach Residence (JBR), but there is one hotel i special (or really two sister hotels sharing the same facilities) I keep coming back to and which I consider my favorite(s): Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach / Hilton Dubai The Walk.

Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach (5 star rating) is located right by the sea, and is surrounded by skyscrapers. It only has 10 floors, which makes it one of the lowest buildings in the area. Right across the street is Hilton Dubai The Walk (four star rating), a much taller building with about 45 floors and the two sister hotels are connected through walking bridge. Guests at either hotel are free to use all the facilities of the two hotels. The rooms at Jumeirah Beach are a bit small and the elevator at The Walk is icredible slow. But other than that, and the fact that the two swimming pools are engulfed in shade parts of the day, I simply love the place, and here are some of the reasons why:

THE BEACH

The hotels have a private beach with lots of sunbeds/umbrellas and a staff that is most service minded and help you drag the sunbed to your requested position. The towles are huge and soft and the sunbeds are very comfortable.


THE POOL AREA2

The area have two pools, one outside The Walk and one down by the beach. As mentioned earlier these are in the shade parts of the day, but are wonderful for morning swim or if it gets too hot in the sun and have a comfortable temperature of about 27-28 degrees C.mrådet har to bassenger, et utenfor The Walk og et nede ved stranden.

3

THE GARDEN

The «garden» is really levels of artificial grass with sunbeds and unbrellas and are conveniently located between the pool and the beach. Here it is very quiet and you gave the option of staying both in the sun or or in the shades. It is also a short way to the rest rooms and showers that quite exceeds the regular charter destination standards.

BEACH BUTLER

OK, it sounds laxy, but you get use to the table service really fast. A new feature this year, was the option of ordering through an app and just enter which sunbed you would like the order to be delivered to. LOVED IT!


PRICE LEVEL

The price level for the hotels varies from year to year, dependent on availbility and time of booking, This year we managed to get a price of around USD 130 / night, breakfast included, which is a fairly decent price compared with some of their neighbours. The price level for food and drinks are steep all over Dubai, especially in hotels with an alcohol license, but if you take advantage of the promotions and the happy hour offerings, it is not so bad, at least compared to Norway.

CHILD FRIENDLINESS

I have travelled alone with my son to Dubai since he was a toddler and this is by far the country I have felt the most safe in. I even feel more safe here than back in Norway. Dubai is also incredible family friendly with tons pf activities for families with children, cozy parks and lots of play grounds. On Hilton DUbai Jumeirah Beach / The Walk, they have safety wests for non-swimmers, lifeguards in both the pools and at the beach ans a really professional security team. One year, when my son was about, he ran ahead of me, but ran into the wrong elevator, which I did not notice. Suddenly I couldn’t find him and I soon started to panic. I stopped one of the staff members and asked if she had seen him and she immediately engaged Security, which started to go through surveillance tapes and just 5 minutes later they had located and less than 10 minutes a crying little boy was returned to his also crying mother. Later that night, the head of security stopped by our room to give my son balloons and candy to make him feel better (and it worked..)

THE WALK, JUMEIRAH BEACH RESIDENCE (JBR)

The hotels are located in the 2 km long beach promenade called The Walk at JBR. Here you can find plenty of small stores, restaurants, beach facilities, entertainment and lots of other activities. It also has a 550m long jogging track with a soft surface, which has been my friend several mornings during this holiday.

As you might have gathered, we have had a blast here in Dubai yet again and I cannot wait to return in 8 weeks. This time with my son and nephew.


The Early-Bird Treat

Finally departure day is here! Since our flight was at 6 AM I had big plans for an early evening yesterday, bit that didn’t quite happen so I did not fall asleep until close to midnight. So, at 3 AM, 1 whole hour befor my alarmbell was to go off, KLM thought it wise to send a text, weaking me up, with the message that the airport was crowded. Yea right, it took us like 15 minutes from we were dropped off by the taxi until we had checked our luggage and been through security (#LoveTorpAirport).

So, still a bit grumpy from the inscheduled early morning, we boarded the plane where the temperature felt sub-zero an the seats were cold as ice. We had to de-ice before we could take off, and that took about 40 minutes, but finally we were in the air. So, to re-cap: still grumpy and now also freezing… But then I took a look out the window and saw the most beautiful of sunrises and my dark mood vaporized immediately. It was really calming to see the rays of sun slowly break through the thick layer of clouds.

When we landed in Amsterdam, my mood was much better. We have some hours to kill here before our last leg to Dubai, but at least we are fortunate enough to have access to the lounge. All in all, a good start on our Christmas trip.

9 things I HATE about flying (#SoManyIdiotsSoLittleTime)

It is not exactly a well hidden secret that travelling is one of my greatest obsessions and I can honestly admit (without a shred of shame) that I use all the money I can spare on travels around the globe, preferably to the more warmer destinations. The biggest disadvantage of travelling is however, in my opinion, getting there, so in this post I will share my top 9 things that irritates me when flying. 

OK, many will maybe include crying babies in their list, but here I am a bit ambivalent. Even though I of course hope to avoid being seated next to families with a baby, it is impossible to blame that little bundle of joy for anything. I have myself been very lucky with my own son, given he has behaved like an angel from his first flight when he was about 6 months old. From that trip I remember one stressed out mom (namely me) trying to change his diaper on the tiny toilet, while I myself had to use the toilet. How anyone can be physically able to join the mile high club in these conditions is to me a … Anyway, back to the toilet changing my son’s diaper. Afterwards I tried to place him up against the wall, so that I could use the toilet, but he just kept falling over on the dirty floor. In the end I had to open the door and pass him to the next person in a very long line, asking him to pass my son down the line and hope that his father would recognize him when he passed by. Worked like a charm (this was not a very big plane, so the risk of handing over my baby to a stranger was slim to none). The flight attendants later fell in love with my son and carried him around for the remainder of the trip. 

OK, that was a bit off topic, but the point was that I have excluded innocent, little babies from my hate list, even the crying ones. The list is therefore as follows: 

9. Slow (as in so-incredible-slow-it-shouldn’t-be possible) people in the security check line. You know the type, right? The ones that are wearing like 10 metal necklaces, shoes with metal tip, watch, rings, multiple computers, Ipads and what nots, scarfs, jacket, glasses, sun lotion, aloe very juice etc and who doesn’t prepare a thing before they are in front of the line and hence occupy it for a looooong time. For some reason I always end up in that line..

8. People who bring all their belongings as carry-on and take up all the room in the cabin (and under my seat as well…). They also often manage to fill up the compartments behind their own seat as well, so when the passengers are to exit the plane, they are struggling their way in the opposite direction to retrieve their belongings. 

7. People who ignore the yellow line in front of the conveyor belt and places themselves almost on the belt itself to retrieve their luggage. Don’t mind the rest of the passengers who cannot get to their suitcase when it passes by. 

6. Flights involving a shuttle bus. To me is like winning the lottery if I get to board the plane directly without having to be transferred to it in I shuttle bus. 

5. Flights from Oslo (Norway’s main airport). Gardermoen is all lines, slow service, delayed flights and crowds. Also, it is a 2 hour train ride with a train service that is often late and almost as often replaced with pedestrian-for-bus-for-train service. Since I am also pathologically inclined to always being early at the airport, it means that several hours have to be added as buffer to the total travel trip. To make things worse, I have a just-in-time boyfriend, but he indulges me by not asking when our flight is but only when we are to leave. In return I buy him a beer at the bar when he discovers that we yet again are 3+ hours early at the airport. I much prefer travelling from our local airport in Sandefjord, a 10 minutes drive away. Even I do not have to add so much buffer time then.

4. When the not-so-baby-anymore kids are kicking the back of my seat and the parents ignore them while sipping their wine and watching movies and pretend not to notice my after a while not so subtle hints that this is frowned upon. My strategy then is to directly confront the little prince/princess and tell them to stop pronto! Even when doing this it seems like there is only a 50% chance of the parents  noticing. 

3. People hovering in the aisle when passengers are boarding. How hard can it be to move aside and let other people pass by? This is by the way closely connected with earlier point of bringing all of their belongings into the plane. The less carry-on the faster they can be seated and the less risk of delayed departure (and, most important, the less frustration for yours truly.)

2. People taking up parts of my seat or my personal space. Once I had treated myself to a place by the emergency exit for better legroom and I anticipated a smooth ride. Then, this huge bodybuilder’ish guy drops down in the seat next to me and need I say that his upper body needed some of my space as well? In addition he was seriously man spreading, which left me no choice than to lean up against the window. Then the guy fell asleep and leaned towards me even more, which resulted in me being pinned to the wall, and not being able to move at all

1. People who pushes back the chair while I am in the middle of my meal. Plenty of times I have had to grab on to my drink or tray to avoid it ending in may lap due to the moron in front of me pushing back his seat without any considerations, leaving me to finish my meal while having to watch his dandruff head threatening to sprinkle my food. 

Wow, despite these hick-ups (I know I sound awful, but most of the time the people that annoys me are blessfully ignorant about it), I do really love travelling. Or, more specific, I really love getting there. My next trip will be to Dubai in just a few days and I am so looking forward to getting away from the snow and the cold. Bon Voyage…