SCDM (Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon) 2017 was not in my very short bucket list of international marathons, but opportunity banged my door which led me to the Land of Dreams.
Originally planned with two of my high school best friends/kumare, Ging and Malu, when we had our staycation on June 25 last year, my Dubai adventure had the slimmest chance of being realized among us three.
Why? I had to take into consideration my husband’s permission, my budget and of course our house sitter once I would be away. For Ging and Malu, I guess these elements were non-existent. 🙂 So, I did not set my heart on it though I informed my husband about what we talked about. He expressed neither his agreement nor his opposition to it. I took it as a “No” then. Surprisingly, after three months, everything changed during a phone conversation with Larry. His affirmative response to this trip and marathon made me literally jumping up and down with joy. Within the first two weeks of September, I had my plane ticket and the confirmation letter of my registration from Dubai Marathon and of course, the willingness of my sister Nano to file a leave of absence just to be the surrogate mother of my three sons for four days. These three were enough to make me plot my serious training with the goal of earning my PB (Personal Best) in my second international run.
January 18, 2017 saw me alone at NAIA Terminal 3 after a late check-in due to a very hectic afternoon before my flight at 4:05 P.M..
But big thanks to my Dubai-based niece, Sheena Barcelon-Geliang, she made my first trip to UAE snafu-free (Please see related story at https://wanderingjouster.com/2013/08/13/sos-spotlight-on-shane/). I was a willing “guinea pig” for her dreamed travel agency. Hahahaha… I could have surprised her of my trip, but when my two travel buddies backed out for different reasons, I had to spill the beans to her (yet, well-hidden from my eldest sister Olen, her mother, to serve as a big surprise later on).
Communication with Shane became daily as she oriented me about her home for a decade now up to the time when she had processed and sent my visa through a co-employee. A week before my arrival, she was ready with my four-day itinerary. Efficiency and professionalism at their best! Wow. It gave me all the confidence and courage to fly solo via Cebu Pacific Airlines. With this choice of air carrier, it was no longer new to me when my flight was delayed for an hour. Another hour was added to the delay of finally seeing and hugging my niece after eight years and meeting her soulmate for the first time! Arriving in the huge (!) and busiest Dubai International Airport would mean joining the long queue in the immigration before being transported by a train to the baggage reclaim area. Thus, at past 11:00 P.M. my heartbeat was a sharp staccato against my ribs as I followed the exit and searched for three familiar faces.
“Tita!” It was all I had to hear to be assured that I had safely landed in Dubai. Waiting with her and her husband, Jofel, was my very good friend/kumpare/classmate Edwin Manjares, who had an earlier flight from Doha, Qatar. He decided to join me in Dubai to run the 10-k distance and then to hold a mini-reunion-cum-meeting/initial planning for our 2019 high school event with our UAE-based BUHS 86 batchmates.
Greetings and updates exchanged especially with my husband via a phone call to KSA, we all headed to the food court where Edwin and I had our first decent meal.
Hunger addressed, we proceeded to Grandeur Hotel at Al Barsha. This was highly recommended by Shane, so both of us were convinced to be booked here. But Edwin had his early check-in. In my case, I’d first stay overnight with the couple in their place at Rashidiya for the scheduled race pack claiming the next day, January 19. Then, it would be my turn to check in for a three-day and a two-night accommodation.