You were springing like a young gazelle
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.
Check out this video from an Iten fartlek session last June. http://youtu.be/shsKtA9yMuk