Larissa is not from around here. She is Lebanese, though, and has two beautiful boys, and her own medical practice in Barbir. She’s done a lot for her family, as a loving mom; for her patients, as a good physician; and for her country of adoption, as a productive member of Lebanese society. And yet, her special time of day is before hours, when most are still asleep, when it’s not yet dawn; that time of day when she comes to Horsh Beirut to run. Most runners usually wake up and run a bit later in the morning, but Larissa’s practice, and her family life impose a different regimen. Running alone wasn’t really choice for her, yet she still enjoys every second of it.
Larissa runs at 5:30AM in the Pine Forest, five times a week. She doesn’t put headphones or listens to music; she’d rather hear all the sounds around her, to listen to her breathing, and “hear the grass popping” as she says. Now, that’s definitely poetry. I suppose we can find beauty in everything we do, but I do believe that when we run, we’re faced with the most basic act of our survival as a living, breathing being; the things we feel then, can give out something beyond just beauty and poetry that others cannot simply grasp from the comfort of their own sedentary existence.
Larissa finally met other runners in Lebanon, and ran in a team. She admits the feeling was great. After her first half marathon she was «at an all time high for three consecutive days», she shared. Larissa took part in four Beirut marathon editions since then, and the feeling was just amazing: «Finishing a full marathon is an achievement all by itself, and that’s a personal achievement, to be sure, since you’re ultimately competing with yourself…» she said, «…but, I have to admit; overtaking younger runners is a small kind of accomplishment that I also look for, and enjoy» she added with a mischievous smile, after which she laughed. Beirut is not really Home for Larissa, and I don’t suppose it will ever be. Running however, be it alone or with others, makes us feel we have a second Home anywhere we go. Home is where the heart is, they say. That said, Runners can feel at home, pretty much everywhere, so long they run.