We live in a political world
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