Kenya 2014 – Dispatch #4
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.