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Kenya 2014 – Dispatch #4

February 16, 2014

It’s been two weeks since my last blog and I’ve had two contrasting weeks.  One week was perfect training and then the next was riddled with an injury and sinus infection.

Two weeks ago (Feb 3rd-9th) everything was clicking. I ran 215km, had a good track session of 10 x 1km and a solid 40km run.

I knew a week prior that we were going to tackle 10 x 1km on the track.  The surprise: a few minutes before we started I was informed we were only taking one minute between intervals.  Up here one minute isn’t much and I suffered, however the session was a success.  The group asked me to lead the 8th interval and I pretended not to hear them and with only one minute rest we were off again. They asked me to lead the 9th rep and I did, well at least 800m of it.  On the 10th I was tired and the pack got away from me and I started to feel sorry for myself.  When I saw that my splits were right on pace (the guys picked it up)  it lifted my spirits and I finished off the rep well.

A few days later I did a hard 35km run with the group. I jogged 1km to meet them and then we set off for 35km.  The first 5km wasn’t too fast and then it was pretty solid. Around 29km I thought we were heading back towards Iten until we veered off the main road. At this point I knew we were heeded for ‘big dipper.’ At the bottom of ‘big dipper’ we were a pack of 15. By the top (about 31km into the run) the pack was spread thin. It stayed that way until the end of the run. I sucked down the rest of my drinks then I added 4km to make it 40km.  I finished the week off with some strides and felt surprisingly snappy considering I was finishing up a 215km week.

And then things started to unravel, which probably sounds as though I went too hard the previous week.  My tibialis flared-up on Monday, it’s an injury which I get a couple times a year. I believe I got it running down hills on tired legs (the two days after the 40km run) and being lazy by heel striking too hard which puts pressure on the tendons in the front of my shin. I was running quite a bit more here last year but I reduced it this time around because I think I was compromising the speed of my sessions even though I seemed to handle it fine.

Because of the flare-up in my tendon I took tuesday completely off and reduced my running volume by 50% over the first four days this week.  That seemed to do the trick because by Friday everything was cleared up.  Except for my sinuses! One thing after another this week!

John Mason, Dane (Australian) and I decided to take up Wesley Korir’s offer to race a 15km road race he was putting on in his hometown of Cherangany on Saturday (15th).  When I said yes to the race two days prior I wasn’t sure how hard I would run it because of my shin, and later because of my cold.

Cherangany is only 67km away from Iten on dirt roads but the way we drove, on paved roads, it was 133km.  The dirt roads are rough, I’m not sure which way would have been better in normal circumstances.  Unfortunately there was a toppled fuel truck which caused a massive traffic jam, maybe the dirt roads would have been better.  I couldn’t believe how much traffic was leaving Eldoret.

Here’s something I recently learned after four years here: There is a pipeline from Mombassa (on the Kenyan coast) to Eldoret. Eldoret is where the trucks pick up the fuel and transport the fuel all over Western Kenya and beyond.  A lot of the fuel goes to Uganda, which is a landlocked country. We easily saw hundreds and hundreds of fuel trucks.

I’ve only ever driven through Eldoret in the North-East to South-West direction.  Leaving Eldoret heading North-West is where you see all the fuelling stations, fuel trucks and sprawling city.  It was quite incredible to see, and at the same time frustrating to be stuck in heavy traffic.

We made it to Wesley Korir’s house in Cheragany safe and sound and slept hard Friday night.  The next morning I woke up and still felt crappy and decided that I shouldn’t go too hard and use the 15km race as a marathon pace session.

The race was slated to start at 9am, which we knew would never happen in Kenya.  We arrived at the start line at 8:50 and no one was there.  After a 5km warm-up there were a few athletes around and by 9:40 there were about 100 runners ready to go.

The course started on an older road but after 2.2km it turned onto a brand new paved road which we had driven to get to the start line.  It was nice to run on such smooth pavement.

Surprise, surprise, the race went out fast. I ran 3:00 for the first km and was already way back of the pack of sixty or so runners. Throughout the race I slowly picked off runners and held a decent pace through 10km (31:30). The final 3.5km climbed a brutal hill. I slowed down to 3:4x/km yet still passed a slew of runners.  As usual most Kenyans I caught put up a good fight, sometimes surging hard, to not get passed by the mzungu. I only passed guys throughout the whole race, except in the last 100m where I guy I just past burst into a big kick and went back ahead of me.

I ran 48:28 for 15km and placed 35th. John ran 52:10, kicked down a Kenyan in the final sprint and was pumped with the result.  Sammy Kosgei won the race, apparently a little under 45 minutes. With prize money 20 deep and the winners (there was a 10km for women) getting a trip to the US to race a half marathon the race up front was competitive.

Wesley organized the race only days before and yet the crowds were great along the side of the road. Always supportive to the mzungu.

When we got back to Iten on Saturday we decided to jog 6km to shake out the 2.5 hour car ride. In the last 5 minutes we ran with a random Kenyan. I asked him what his training was that day: 38km in the morning (2:13) and 12km in the afternoon!

Today I already feel better than yesterday. My sinuses aren’t pounding, I’m less congested and have more energy. It’s always a gamble training through a head cold but because I already took time off this week I was stubborn to take more time off. Hopefully I’ve dodged this bullet.

John and I only have a few more days left in Iten before we head to Belgium to run a 10km XC race in Dour on Sunday (23rd). Then we’re back in Canada the following day.

When I get home I’ll post a bunch of pics from the trip.

  1. February 16, 2014 3:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing all of this. Exciting story and awesome 215k week! Very instightfull hearing you get an injury a couple times a year and manage it almost easily.

  2. February 16, 2014 4:14 pm

    Hope you are feeling better and will remain in tiptop condition from now on! Good luck in Belgium – we’ll we anxious to see you when you get back home!

  3. February 16, 2014 5:06 pm

    Hey Reid,
    Hoping you’re 100% by the time you read this.
    Interesting you should have a sinus infection as Kaleigh does as well, actually she is fighting the H1N1 virus but seems to be on the mend.
    Best of luck in Belgium and safe travels.

  4. February 17, 2014 3:50 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for
    your further post thanks once again.

  5. February 17, 2014 5:57 am

    reid, i hope your tibialis falirs up no more, but i need to ask….why are you coming back here with the winter we have had?? you are taking the risk of losing the fitness you have gained over here,not to mention injury by slipping on these roads.

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      February 17, 2014 6:08 am

      Fair question. I booked my trip in November and didn’t expect too much bad winter come March. I can make it work in Guelph, even if that means hitting up the treadmill if need be. I also want to be at sea level for my last 7 weeks to run at marathon pace for extended periods.


  6. February 17, 2014 8:38 am

    Hey reid I’m training for a spring marathon and I’m also fighting a bad cold/ sinus infection and have missed a few days training ….how do you treat your sinus infection and should I be running through this or bagging my training for a couple days? Thanks hope your training in Kenya go’s well!

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      February 17, 2014 8:45 am

      I filled a waterbottle up with distilled water and table salt and flushed out my sinuses through each nostril over a sink. I did this Friday morning and Saturday evening. Seemed to work for me. There are kits you can buy at a pharmacy.


  7. Fred permalink
    February 17, 2014 12:37 pm

    -26 in Guelph this morning, but it’s suppose to warm up later this week. The trails have a
    foot of compressed snow. Concession 11 will probably be clear after the warmup. Best

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      February 17, 2014 12:38 pm

      Thanks for the update!


  8. February 17, 2014 1:28 pm

    just what reid wants to hear, minus 26!!!! i hope the weather breaks for ya,cuz you deserve another shot at sub 2:10..pulling for you here in barbados! cheers and good luck

  9. February 18, 2014 12:45 pm

    Hey Reid, can you comment on Kenyan recovery pace? Is talked about a lot; mainly the rumor that they take their recovery runs very slowly. Cheers.

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