It’s getting late here in The Hague and I have a full day of travel back to Canada tomorrow so I’m going to make this entry short and to the point.
On Wednesday night I flew from Nairobi and landed in Amsterdam Thursday morning. A 35 minute train ride and I was in The Hague.
Last night I found out that the leaders were going out in 14:05 and I decided that was too quick for me. My plan was to go out around 14:40 and hope that others would too. I was wrong. Before the 1km mark it was apparent that this was going to a be a lonely race as I was trailing the lead pack and was well clear of any other runners. At 5km I was 14:45, 40 seconds down from the leaders and 15 seconds in front of the next competitor.
Once I turned into the wind after 5km my splits got slower, my stomach started getting upset and my motivation dwindled. After 10km (29:52) I caught 3 Kenyans and settled in as Derek Hawkins (roommate for the weekend who also had been training in Iten) caught up to me. I led into the wind for a while before Derek took over. Just as I felt it was my turn to take a pull into the wind I realized I was going to have to pull over for a bathroom break. I left the pack, found a little building amongst some bushes and did my business. This is the second time it’s ever happened to me in a race and… well, it’s not conducive to running fast.
When I got back onto the course I was well behind the pack I had been running with, plus a group of Europeans were on my tail. I put my head down over the next 5km into the wind to catch back up to the group (splitting 15km in 45:39). I settled-in for 20 seconds and the Euros caught up, apparently I kind of pulled them along. At this point I was kind of pissed at this race so I took to the front, pushed the pace and broke the pack except for a few guys. I ended up running my last 1.1km in 3:10 (2:54/km pace) and felt pretty good getting the pace going again.
My result was 1:04:24 for 18th place. Coming into the race I wanted to run under 62:30 but on the morning of the race, with the heavy wind, I thought 63:20 would be a realistic goal. I missed that time, by a lot. I still believe my fitness is on track for a PB at the Rotterdam marathon. Ya, I was supposed to wait to announce my intentions to run Rotterdam until they made their press release. oh well.
It’s time to get back to Guelph and put the finishing touches on this marathon build-up. I’m excited to get to sea-level and nail down some marathon pace.
I went to Rotterdam on Friday and previewed some of the course, including the biggest hill, which is this bridge.
The Tuesday fartlek session did not disappoint in terms of, both, a good workout and a good story.
At 6:20am I met Kibet Rutto (he races in Canada a lot) outside the HATC and we took a matatu down to Eldoret. We went to Kibet’s buddies apartment, who is a Kenyan running for Qatar, and got into our running gear and jogged to the fartlek meeting point. The meeting point was only 2km away so I decided to run a couple more km while other runners trickled in. By 8am there were at least 100 runners ready for the workout. Stephen Chelimo (my pacer from STWM ’11) announced the session to the entire group as 15 x 2 minutes with 1 minute rest, a little less volume than I was hoping for.
This group has a lot of good marathoners, right away I spotted Duncan Kibet, aka Jamaica, (2:04:27 marathoner) and knew that Sammy Kitwara (2:05:#) and Wilson Chebet (2:05:#) would be absent because they raced two days earlier in Puerto Rico. Also absent was 2:05 marathoner Wilson Erupe Loyanae who just got served a drug ban for EPO. Working out with a group that includes a drug cheat irks me and left me wondering if there were more.
The workout began with one minute easy before we started the first two minuter. I placed myself in the top half of the pack and continuously moved up through the runners during the first few intervals until I was in the top 30. I ran intervals #7 and #8 beside Duncan Kibet. The one minute easy between intervals was very easy, unlike the fartleks I’ve done in Iten where the ‘rest’ isn’t super slow.
Before the 14th 2 minuter a runner told me to go up to the front and I declined. He then guided me by the arm to the front and announced “mzungu mbele” (white guy in front). I was at the front when everyone’s watches beeped and I went a little harder off the start than I had been but was still overtaken after a few seconds by a handful of guys. I finished the interval in the first 15 guys and then the same guy announced “mzungu mbele” once again and a few more guys chimed in excitedly. When the watches went off I, again, got going quick off the start. Twenty seconds in I realized no one was passing me and they weren’t going to pass me, although a handful of guys could easily have done so. I then dug hard knowing it was my last one and not wanting to slow the pack down, too much. I was starting to really hurt and I looked at my watch hoping to see that 80 or 90 seconds had passed, nope, not even a minute! At that point I didn’t think I was going to make it the whole two minutes at that pace so I started thinking how to get out of this situation. I couldn’t simply slow down…. I would have to pull off to the side of the road, stop and wave them by so they could finish the interval without me. After thinking over my options I looked at my watch and there were only 20 seconds left in the interval. I told myself “I’ve got this!” and was able to muster up a bit of a kick. At the end I hunched over immediately, put my hands on my knees and tried to suck in as much oxygen as possible. At least I was able to stretch out the pack so I probably didn’t run too much slower than the leaders did the previous interval. I’m still not sure why they wanted me up front, except I think they thought it was funny.
By the end of the workout I had run 3:26/km for 44 minutes, which includes the one 14 minutes of slow jogging. Many of the guys congratulated me after the session. Kibet later told me that during my extended warm-up many of them were wondering if I was even going to be able to finish the session. Kibet and I then went to Stephen Chelimo’s house to visit his family (he and his wife have a three month old boy named Ivan) and get some lunch. When we were there we watched a show called NASWA for almost two hours, it’s basically like Just for Laughs Gags but some of the skits cross a line that would not be allowed in Canada.
Tomorrow is the big election here in Kenya and everyone is getting excited, and a little cautious too considering what happened after the 2007 election. Yesterday I travelled into Eldoret for Indian food for Zane Robertson’s last meal before he headed off to Addis Ababa. The roads were jammed with political caravans of cars, trucks and transport trucks loaded with election signs and people. It seems there is a lot more emotion that goes on with an election here compared to North America. There is loud music and political messages being blared from trucks and even flatbed trucks with music and dancing. I guess with less than one television for every 100 people this is the way to get your message and name out there.
Internet is too slow to post pics right now but I’m still posting photos on instagram
Writer’s block. But here are two relevant videos.
Tomorrow I’m heading down to Eldoret for a fartlek workout with a very good marathon group. That should provide me with some writing material for my next blog. Until then, happy trails.
One question I often get is “what is the food like in Kenya?” Check it…
Breakfast is served from 7:15-9:15. I usually eat breakfast at 7:30 but a sometimes I will run early and eat at 8:45.
Oatmeal, bread, bananas and eggs (hard boiled, fried or omelette) are the staples with either crepes, pancakes or french toast. The crepes, pancakes and french toast are pretty damn good and have been known to ruin people’s morning sessions who indulge too much. Some sort of pineapple drink and tea latte are also served.
I put peanut butter and cinnamon in my oatmeal and honey on my pancakes (one eaten already).
From right to left on the buffet table: Oatmeal, fried eggs, pancakes, bananas and bread.
Lunch starts at 12:30 and usually has soup and bread, as well as pasta or rice with some type of sauce which includes beans, lentils, veggies and/or meat. There is also salad served. There is a beetroot and pineapple salad which doesn’t sound like a great combo but it’s actually one of the favourites.
On this day we had pasta with chicken carbonara sauce, squash soup, rolls and the beetroot pineapple salad mentioned above.
At dinner we see some traditional Kenyan food as Ugali (cornmeal cooked to a doughy consistency) and sukuma wiki (sauteed kale) are always served. Along with those two staples there is always meat (chicken, beef ,fish and/or lamb), pasta, rice or potatoes. Sometimes chapati is served which is a Kenyan version of roti, and very delicious. On Thursday we have Pizza which goes over quite well. Desert is usually watermelon, orange slices or fruit salad. Every 10 days or so we get cake, it goes fast!
Here we see Ugali, green beans and carrots, sukuma wiki, chicken and potatoes. Dig in!
Look what I saw on the Rotterdam Marathon website: The international field of elite athletes taking part in the ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam will also be announced shortly…
Tuesday Feb 5th Track Workout
On Tuesday I went to the track to jump into a session with a big group of locals. I was told the group was going to be about 35 guys who range from 2:06 to 2:15 in the marathon. That sounded perfect for me, I would find some guys to run with. The session was 7 x 2km with 2.5 minutes rest. Gilbert Kirwa (2:06:14) told the group the workout and the intended pace, 5:55. I knew 5:55 was too rich for me, but the group, surely, must stretch out.
On the first couple of intervals I ran on the back of the pack and passed guys who fell off the pace. My splits were a little quicker (6:03, 6:02) than I thought I’d run but it felt fine. On the third one the leaders went a little faster (hitting the intended 5:55 pace) and I lost contact. The guys who I was running the first two intervals with had also picked up their pace except very few of them actually ran the full 5 laps. These dudes would just go with the leaders and drop out after a few laps instead of doing 2000m at their own pace. I pretty much ran intervals 3-6 by myself, off the back, going around the same stragglers at the same points each interval. On the sixth 2km I had to push hard to hit 6:12 and decided to call it. I hit the average pace I wanted to except for instead of working down I regressed.
I know I’ve written about this phenomenon before but it still blows my mind that Kenyans stay with the leaders as long as they can only to drop out. I witnessed it during the Discovery XC race, tons of DNF’s and tons of guys coming back to me at a very slow pace. On Thursday I took Eric, Dan and Lee to watch the famous Iten Fartlek workout and we stood at a corner where many guys call it quits. We watched as 200+ runners came through and I bet at least 1/3 of them quit the workout after 5-6 intervals of 3 minutes instead of completing the prescribed 15 x 3 minutes.
The mentality is to stay with the lead group as long as possible and hope that next week they can stay up there longer. As opposed to completing the full workout and hopefully later on they can complete it faster.
Here’s a pic from a session I did with Scott Overall. Check out his latest blog
Here are some runners dropping out 6km into the fartlek workout
The front of the fartlek workout. The runners streamed past us for about 10 minutes!
Pictures from the trip at: https://instagram.com/reidcoolsaet
Happy to continue to be a part of Team CEP Canada. 2013 CEP roster.
We’ve had some rain this week in Iten, which is unusual this time of year. Last year I didn’t see a drop of rain for 6 weeks. It’s been cloudy the past few days which is fine other than our solar power water heaters slightly missing the comfortable shower mark, not really a big deal. When it did rain hard the trails were too mucky and we had to run on the main roads. That forced me to run on the asphalt which I’m trying to do anyways now and then to get my legs prepared for a marathon. I got confirmed for a marathon this past week but I’m supposed to wait until the official press release to say anything…
On Friday I went down to Eldoret-Kitale Road (starting at Chepkoilel University) to do my session on a, relatively, flat asphalt road. Three Dutch runners rented a matatu to drive them down to Eldoret-Kitale Rd, follow them during their run and hand out bottles every 5km. Our sessions were similar in distance and it worked out well for me to get a few bottles during my marathon effort run. I call it a marathon ‘effort’ run because at 7000+ feet I’m not going to be running the same pace as sea level. The session went well, I covered 31km and ran almost 22km at marathon effort.
Here’s a picture of the start of the Eldoret Discovery XC Senior men’s race from last weekend.
And here is Eric’s video of the race
Was Discovery Eldoret Cross-Country really so hard that I couldn’t crack the top 100? Not really, but it is a very deep race. The main reason why I know I could have finished higher up is the effort I put forth. I pushed slightly harder than I would in a session but not as hard as a typical race effort. One of the reasons I didn’t push harder was because I was afraid to get into oxygen debt trouble at 7000 feet altitude. Only 10 days into altitude training I’m still getting used to the thin air. Excuses, excuses.
The race was pretty nuts right from the start. They corralled the runners about 25-30 meters before the start line a few minutes before the race. And then a guy told everyone to get on the line. I think some guys took off to make sure they were going to get a spot on the front of the line and others then took off after them. I was content to be second, or third, row so I trailed the runners. Since everyone was in a panic to get going people just started racing and the starter simply fired the gun knowing he wasn’t going to be able to control the racers. I had to run really hard just to make sure I wasn’t trailing 400 racers. Even with my burst of speed I still came to a slow jog around the first corner.
There were five laps of two kilometres (plus the start) over grass and some farm field. I wore flats because I didn’t want to be sore from spikes and push my training back. In the first lap I was passing scores of runners. After two laps I wasn’t passing that many guys a lap but when I did pass a guy they would sprint back in front of me and then settle back into their pace. This was really annoying. It happened because these guys didn’t want to get passed by a mzungo so they put up a fight, for a bit. Throughout the race I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard but at the same time if I were to push a little harder it would have hurt a lot more due to the altitude. The 30C+ degree weather just made it that much more uncomfortable.
After the race I had no idea what place I finished in so I went over to where they were writing down the places from the bottom portion of the bib number they tore off at the finish line. I started looking over the result recorder’s shoulder around 50th place. Surely I would be in the top 80… nope. When they got to 97th place the result recorder got a phone call and stopped recording names so I asked the other lady going through the bib tickets if I could see the next few names, hoping I cracked the top 100. She showed me a few more names and I saw mine which would eventually be slotted in 101st place (I may be off by one place either direction).
What an amazing and humbling experience. I had a great time, even though my time, 33:14, wasn’t great. I got what I wanted out of the race, which was a solid effort to make marathon pace feel a little easier up here. I was the first mzungo in the race out of the handful that started. Even if I was to race Discovery after being here a month and in cooler temperatures I think cracking the top 40 would be very, very difficult. To put a little perspective to the level of competition, Bedan Karoki finished 3rd, around 30 flat, he also finished 5th at the 2012 Olympics in the 10 000m. Hopefully I can find some results online soon…
Stay tuned for Eric’s video footage of the race on his blog. Link to the right >>>
These guys passed us on the drive from Iten to Eldoret heading to the race. They claimed they had the eventual winner in the truck.
Tennis courts at Eldoret Sports Club. Back in 1920′s and 30′s this place was booming with Brits playing Rugby, Cricket, snooker and tennis.