Kenya 2014 – That’s a wrap
My training over the last seven days in Kenya was productive and I had a good track session the day before John and I left for Belgium.
Once again I did a track session with the group of marathoners which I have been doing most of my tough sessions with. This time the group was so big (roughly 40 guys) that we split into two groups before we even started the first interval. A dude just walked down the middle of the group of us and split us up into two even groups. I was happy to see that two of the most consistent guys were in my group.
The pyramid session totalled 12 kilometres:
1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m,
400m, 600m, 800m, 1000m, 1200m,
1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m
I never asked what the rest between the intervals was going to be. I figured out pretty quickly that it was only one minute, except we rarely took a full minute.
The session started off well. The guys had me lead the first 800m interval and I still felt good. I was secretly praying they would take more rest between ‘sets’ but of course there wouldn’t be. By the time we got back up to the second 1200m repetition the short rest was taking it’s toll and I cut a few of the intervals down to 800m in order to stay on pace with the group. After the last 800m interval the group only took 51 seconds rest, which would be short enough at sea-level, and I suffered right until the end.
All told I did 11 out of the 12 kilometres. It was a tough session and a good way to sign-off on the hard training in Kenya.
Early Wednesday morning I ran 26km and put my feet up for the rest of the day before John and I flew from Eldoret to Nairobi.
At our hotel in Nairobi there was a Pakistani “rock-star” Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (RFAK) who had a massive entourage, all wearing t-shirts adorning his face. These guys were quite demanding of the waiters and at one point the RFAK started berating the nice young waiter. Another patron calmly told RFAK to treat the waiter with respect. RFAK lost his temper and had to be restrained while the gentleman told Ali Khan to “think about what you’re doing.” Other members in his entourage were also yelling for the guy to mind his own business. When you treat someone like garbage for no good reason in front of someone else you’ve made it their business. We gave the patron our support, whatever that was worth. After that excitement we went to sleep before a big travel day.
The next morning we were up shortly after 5am to catch a cab to Nairobi Airport. We flew Nairobi to Amsterdam and then on to Brussels. We took a train to Leuven to meet up with my friend Pieter who we were staying with for a couple of days outside of Liege.
Sunday was a great day for a cross-country race, sunny and 11 Celcius. Warming up for the race my hip was really tight and so was John’s back. Mine seemed to get better whereas John’s got worse and he, wisely, decided not to race.
This was a real cross-country course. Six times around a 1500m loop with plenty of turns, mud, small steeple barriers and two very steep little hills. After 400m I was way back in the field but moving through pretty quickly. After two laps I got up to 5th place where I stayed until the finish. There were a couple of straightaways of about 120m each where I would make ground on the guys in front of me but then we’d get to the turns and hills and I’d lose it all back. I’m not great at cross-country to begin with and not having raced xc for a couple of years showed. It was still a lot of fun and good to push myself.
In these pics you can see the nature of the course. Small steep hills, soft ground and lots of turns.
About an hour after the race I suddenly got really cold and jumped in a hot shower before making our way to the train station. On the train I started to get very hot and felt horrible. An hour later I didn’t think I was going to be able to fly home the next day if this fever didn’t subside. After many trips to the bathroom (I’ll leave out the details) and drinking plenty of fluids I started to come around and later that night I was feeling ok. I’ve never felt so crappy in such a short period and gotten better that quickly. It was a peculiar four-hour flu that I’m going to blame on dehydration.
The last seven weeks were a lot of fun, I got in some good training and I missed out on a very cold and snowy Southern Ontario winter. I’m really curious to see how my fitness will translate to sea-level and how I will feel running marathon pace. Running hilly routes at 8000 feet and taking very short rests during track sessions is hard to evaluate but surely must be good for fitness. There is slightly less than seven weeks to go before the London Marathon which will give me ample time to nail down race pace (barring injury and/or sickness).
Someone asked in the comments last week about the pace Kenyans run for recovery. After most sessions Kenyans often run about 6:00/km, sometimes slower. In fact I’ve seen nothing but walking on a few occasions after fartlek sessions. After track sessions I would do my own cool-down. After fartleks when we would end away from our end-point and wouldn’t be changing shoes I’d get stuck running a couple km at 6:15/km. I never minded the slow jog because it was the best time to pick their brains about training and racing.