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You were springing like a young gazelle

January 27, 2012

Kenya Update 6

Haraka Haraka:  Faster!

Once again I met up for one of the famous Iten fartlek sessions which goes down each Thursday morning at 9am. I leave the camp at 8:30 and follow the masses heading over to the start 5km away. As usual there are over 200 runners conglomerating at the meeting point getting ready for the session. A guy gets up on top of rock to give the day’s instructions. When he begins to talk there are hisses from the crowd to tell other people to be quiet, it’s their way of  “shushing.” The instructions are in Swahili which goes right over my head excpet for “two and one, twenty times” which is all I need to know. That means we go hard for two minutes, easy for one minute and repeat twenty times.

The leader then counts down from 10 so everyone can sync their watches. At zero everyone starts their watch and begins to jog very slow, we start with one minutes slow to get everyone in order. This is the most competitive slow jog you’ll ever see as everyone wants good position which is hard to get on a road that can barely accomodate two cars side-by-side.

At the end of that first minute I hit ‘start’ on my watch and let it run for the remainder of the workout. There are enough watches around me beeping to alert me when to slow-down and speed-up.

After three intervals we’re heading slightly downhill and I can see about 150 runners in front of me. After the 6th or 7th interval about a quarter of the runners peel off as there is a side road that leads back into town. On that rest the runners around me don’t slow down too much because we’re filling in the gaps to bunch up as a group before the next interval begins. On each interval after that there are guys peeling off left and right, dropping out of the workout.

It’s so dusty in the pack that every so often I have to wipe my watch clean just to read the numbers. I can’t wipe my face on my sleeve after a while because it’s just as dirty. I start spitting brown and hope that my lungs aren’t getting dusty. I tell myself that all the dust (very dry) sticks to mucus in my mouth and throat and it doesdn’t get too far down my windpipe.

On each rest interval guys are passing me to get ahead of me but I keep passing them on the hard part. I can tell these guys don’t want to be behind the mzungu.

After 15 intervals we have a decent sized group, around 45-50 guys, and it’s much easier to run in the pack. Once the 20th interval is done the whole group starts to walk and it feels good to take it easy, we just covered 16.75km in 59 minutes (40 hard, 19 easy). Everyone is clearing their throats and spitting out dirt. The guys around me say something about “mzungu” and
everyone looks at me and then the one guy says that they can’t believe I finished the workout.  It’s not like there aren’t fast white dudes here, heck I see Victor Rothlin (2:07, 3rd at worlds in 2007) around, and there are a bunch of other guys doing some very impressive training.  However, I don’t think many throw themselves into such a big group.

I did a 2km cool-down loop and as I was finishing it up I caught up to a big pack of guys who had fallen off the lead-group. I figured they were going to think that I also peeled off (maybe hid in the bushes somewhere) and was just catching up to them now. But I guess the one pale guy sticks out in the group and they knew I was with the leaders because as I passed them they gave me an applause and said I was ready for a 2:05.  I’ll take 2:05 as a 41km split, haha.

Fundraising for is coming along–athletes-past-and-present-rush-in-to-help-guelph-track-cause

Check out this video from an Iten fartlek session last June.

  1. January 27, 2012 11:45 am

    Nice going Reid..

    I filmed that fartlek from the bike… i remember how crazy it was..

    The fact that you finished it is pretty huge.. Congrats.

    I can imagine the respect happening there.. You training with Wesley Korir at all??


    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      January 30, 2012 6:56 am

      So far just one run with Wesley, a 16km afternoon run. He does his quality stuff alone and lives 15km down the road towards Eldoret from Iten.

  2. Shane Lavell permalink
    January 27, 2012 3:14 pm

    I lived with the guy in the Iten video (white jacket talking in first few seconds) on Arkell Street in Westdale Village (Hamilton) back in 2001 Gilbert Koech.. at least that is who he looks & sounds exactly like.

    Lock’n Load…. Keep On Keeping On Reid!

  3. Europe-runner permalink
    January 30, 2012 11:06 am

    Keep it coming Reid. The blog and tweets are loads of inspiration when i have a hard day at training. All the best in the upcoming trainingsessions and races !

  4. Dawn permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:31 am

    As with the gazelles, your fitness may be providing a practical competitive advantage as well. You should “stot” around town more:

    “There’s a saying: “I don’t have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than you.” That’s not bad in theory, but in an environment with finite resources, conducting races to the death is inefficient for both the predator and all of the would-be prey that are faster than the slowest in the group. Wouldn’t it be easier if I could just communicate to the bear, in a legitimate way that the bear could understand, that I was faster than you so he might as well save us all a bunch of trouble and just chase you down? Gazelles have such a method of communication with predator cats.

    The behavior, called stotting, is when a gazelle spots a predator and starts jumping vertically (more or less in one place). While commonly misunderstood as a warning signal to the other gazelles, it is really a way to say to the predator, “Hey, you can try and chase me, but I’m in top shape and you’ll probably end up wasting a lot of energy and fail anyway. So why don’t you move along to somebody else?” An injured, unhealthy, or otherwise ‘inferior’ gazelle may be either unable to stot, or do it less convincingly than other individuals. Data have shown that cheetahs more often abandon hunts when the gazelle stots, and if they do give chase, they are far less likely to succeed in a kill. “


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