Monday, 31 January 2011

Crazy Racing

As I mentioned in my post the other day I went to watch the Discovery Kenya Half Marathon Championships in Eldoret yesterday and what a race it was! Over 500 starters with probably 90% of them capable of running under 65 minutes. The start was insane, after about 400m there was a sharp left hand turn and how no-one fell over I will never know. I heard rumours that the first kilometre was done in 2.30 and I can believe it. They had to do seven laps of a route around Eldoret town centre, not an easy course either as it was basically on a hill with half the lap going down the hill, the other half up the hill. A group of three broke away from the main pack on the second lap including one of the guys from my camp but unfortunately he dropped out after about 40 minutes with a stitch. The eventual winner was a guy that some of you may remember from a fair few years back named Abraham Chebii (sorry for the spelling), he had a big lead until the last lap where he started to struggle a bit but still ended up a comfortable winner in 62.59. Considering the race was held at 1.5miles above sea level, was on a hilly course, it was quite windy, very hot and they didn't have any water that is a pretty amazing time!! Another one of our guys finished in a very credible 8th position but unfortunately due to some error he was disqualified as the officials believed he had another lap to go and was cheating! How they could keep track of who was finishing and who had more laps to do is beyond me. Below is a short video of the finish.

I bumped into a few people from the UK at the half marathon, Jonathan Blackledge who I have raced many a time back home and Becky Lynne the 800m runner, both who are out here training. It sure is a small world!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Hair Cuts & Hard Running

No cross country today as we found out it wasn't to be raced in Iten, so instead back to the long run, 30km this morning and I managed to knock over 2mins off my time from last week, I'm sure there will come a time when I stop improving but while it continues it keeps me a happy boy.

Ken dropped off my training program for up to the London Marathon yesterday. He based the training on when his wife ran her best time (2.25) but because I'm a man he made it harder!! If I can manage to stick to the schedule and still be fresh enough to race at the end of it I think a pb should be in order, but we will see.

I thought it was about time to have my hair cut this week so Edwin took me to the local kinyozi (barber), It took about 30mins and included a head massage and lots of lotions and potions all for about 40pence!! I will definitely go there again!! All the guys on the camp say that I look very neat now, maybe this is there way of saying I was scruffy beforehand!!

Taking Tea with a nice new hair cut

We are off to watch the Discovery Kenya Half Marathon Championships in Eldoret tomorrow, it will be good to see a Kenyan road race, I have heard they are quite a spectacle and last year one of the guys on the camp came 53rd in 64mins so I think it will be quick!! Should be able to get some good photos and videos.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Hand Signals

Something that the Kenyan runners do that I haven't come across before is hand signals. When I first started running out here and was running behind some of the guys I noticed that every now and again they would drop a hand to their side, didn't think much of it to start with but then noticed it always happened before there was a rock in the road, a car was coming or some other obstruction.

Since then I asked them about these "hand signals" and they work as follows:

  • hand dropped to the right = obstruction coming up on the right
  • hand dropped to the left = obstruction coming up on the left
  • both hands dropped = obstruction across the whole road
  • hands raised above the head = obstruction from above, i.e. hanging branches
I find these quite useful and it saves shouting, especially when I'm out of breath! I guess these came about due to the state of the roads out here as there are rocks and pot holes all the time and it would get annoying having to shout "watch out for that rock" every minute or so.

Looking forward to the cross country on Saturday, will be a good test to see how I have improved in the last three weeks (since the last cross country).

Monday, 24 January 2011

Road Traffic Accidents, Martin Lel and Bloomin Wind..

This probably isn't how I should start a running blog post but I was coming out the pub on Saturday night after watching Arsenal (yes I am still in Iten, they love football out here) and I heard a massive “crash” come from the road. A car going pretty quick down the main road through Iten had smashed into a motorcycle that was pulling into the road, a big crowd quickly crowded around the motorcycle and due to the lack of street lights out here it was very hard to see what had happened, a few minutes later and another “smash”, not sure what it was this time but thought I had better leave before anything else happened. Turned out no one was too badly hurt but it just shows how careful you have to be on the roads in Kenya as they have a ridiculously high accident rate.

Before the eventful evenings entertainments Saturday was my first attempt at 30km out in Kenya, the route we have used for the 25km had some nasty hills over the last 10km but I was reliably informed that this 30km route only had two hills over the last 15km. What I wasn't told was that one of these hills lasted for 4km! And to make matters worse we had a strong wind going against us in the second half of the run, apart from that it went pretty well and I went through 25km in the same time as last week and kept the pace going for the final 5km. I'm definitely feeling stronger and getter faster every week :-)

On Sunday we took a trip to Eldoret to watch the Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championships. This is an event that has been going for 20 years now and is organised by the famous coach Dr Rosa, who uses it to find the next Kenyan Distance running champions. It was an amazing event to watch with over 500 people running in the Junior Mens 8km event (although I was reliably informed that about 50% of these were too old!!). In the senior Mens 12km race the 1500m Olympic Champion Asbel Kiprop was leading for the first half before dropping out and also Martin Lel, the former London Marathon winner competed finishing in 38th position. The venue was abundant with World and Olympic Champions, it was a pleasure to be there.

A lighter weeks training this week as I will be racing the District Cross Country Championships next Saturday in Iten.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

University and Beyond

As well as the letter from Bud the other reason I started running again was due to a next door neighbour of mine at University, a female marathon runner by the name of Alex. The first time I met her I found out she was a runner and told her I used to run and that if it was ok with her, could I run with her? She agreed and we ran together most days of the week building up to 2 hour runs on the weekend. As I had been running (all be it at a slow pace) I decided to enter in to the University of Birmingham Road Relays, as I hadn't been at the club for quite a while they put me in the “D” or “E” team but I ended up running one of the quickest times of the day that would have got me in the “A” team. From that day on running has always been part of my life.

When I started back down the club and started getting coached by Bud we both decided that I would try the 3000m Steeple Chase. I really enjoyed this event and had some decent success getting the silver in BUSA two years in a row, coming 4th in the AAA's and being ranked in the top ten in the country for 4 or 5 years. After another tour of the Ivy league my time at Birmingham was at an end and I moved to Portsmouth to start my career with Pall Corporation.

On first moving to Portsmouth I kept my running ticking along while I got used to a working life and living in a new city. I was still being coached by Bud and managed to obtain my first England vest where I won the Barcelona 10km, I also just missed out on getting selected for the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa Kenya. Things started going a bit stale with my running after this and Bud suggested I speak to Nick Anderson (who was based in Winchester) and see if I could join his group, which I did and have been coached by Nick ever since.

After being coached by Nick for a while, and after a serious illness (leptospirosis) that made me really think about what I wanted from my running Nick persuaded me that my future would lie in longer distances and eventually the marathon. I think I surprised Nick a little when I told him I wanted to move to marathons immediately but he was definitely pleased! After making this decision my athletics definitely moved up a gear when I won the Bristol Half Marathon in 2008. Since then I have competed for England on another two occasions, had success in the Florence Marathon and also had the opportunity to fly out to Japan and compete in the Fukuoka marathon where I ran my pb of 2.17.29.

Start of 2009 Fukuoka Marathon (I'm number 56)

2010 promised to be a really good year for me but it ended being one of the most disappointing years of my athletics career. Because of this and with not long left until the 2012 Olympics I decided something needed to change. Through a little bit of luck I was kindly offered the chance to move to Iten, Kenya and train with a group of high class Kenyan runners. I accepted the offer, quit my job and here I am today.......

Saturday, 22 January 2011

My younger years

I guess most people that read my blog will know a little about me and my history but I thought it may be interesting to those who don't if I give a little recap of my athletics life.

I've loved to run from a young age, I remember running around my street with a towel tied around my neck (as a cloak) pretending I was superman. I joined my local athletics club (Colchester & Tendering AC) at the age of 10. During my first few years at the club it was always about enjoyment and trying new events so I had no particular event that I specialised in although I was always better at the longer distances than sprinting or field events (I've always been pretty skinny). My first real memory of competition was when I came second in the 1500m at the Essex Championships as an U13. Not long after this I got my first proper coach, a guy named Dave Needham who guided my through the age groups until I left Colchester to go to University.

From the age of 14 my main event was always the 800m in which I had decent success coming 4th in the English Schools as a Junior Boy and 5th as Senior Boy. I still liked competing in every event and would do at least one mutli-event every year. In fact I competed in 17 English Schools, track & field, cross-country and multi-events, I believe this is a record in the UK as you don't get many multi-eventers competing in cross country and vice a versa.

After School I went to the University of Birmingham where initially I still ran. In my first year I ran some decent times over 800m and 1500m and had the brilliant experience of touring the Ivy League Universities in the USA which was a real highlight for me and something I would get to experience again 4 years later when I was the club captain of the University Athletics Club. After the BUSA championship in my first year where I didn't compete to my expectations I stopped enjoying running and quit, hardly running a step for a year and a half until a letter from my next coach Bud Baldaro made me decide to start running again. I won't tell you what I got up to in that time I didn't run but lets just say it wasn't conducive to becoming a good runner!!

Competing in the BUSA 3000m S/C

The rest of my athletics history tomorrow....

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Time for a time trial

Still recovering from my session on Tuesday but today we had a 10km tempo run. We drove about 15km out of Iten towards Eldoret then turned of the main road and measured (Using Kens Garmin GPS) a 10km route down a straight road. Luckily for me the route Ken chose wasn't too hilly (by Kenyan standards).

The ladies went off first then we were set off after them a few minutes later, I am still struggling a little with pace judgement out here due to the altitude but wasn't far off today and ran 34 minutes at an even pace of 17 minutes per 5km, I think if I can get this down below 32 minutes by March I will be flying. Edwin absolutely stormed the course getting timed at 30 minutes exactly, taking minutes out of guys that have run 28 minutes for the 10km! I am really excited to see him race and I know he is chomping at the bit to get out there, I think he will get close to 60 minutes flat for the half marathon if he gets a good course and some competition. What out for him in the UK between March and June.

Sarsh, Myself and Edwin

I am now getting used to having a short (perhaps 1 hour) nap in the afternoon, if I sleep too long then I struggle to get to sleep at night but I really feel it aids in recovery. I hope when I move back to the UK and get another job I can get “nap time” written in to my contract, but maybe not!

I've just about done all the sessions they do out here now (hills, track sessions, fartleks, tempo runs, long runs and easy runs) and although they train very hard I feel I will be able to cope with whatever they throw at me. I was chatting to Edwin yesterday about the session we did on Tuesday and he told me about one session they did last year on the track that worked out at 20km (that's 50 laps!), he said only 2 guys actually finished it and both were marathon runners and one of them went on to win the Rotterdam marathon.

Easy Run this afternoon followed by an easy day tomorrow and a 30km run on Saturday.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Day of Pain...

After last Tuesday where the track session was supposedly “easy” today was the time for the hard track session. Back in the UK a long track session would work out at about 10km, i.e. 10 x 1km. My session today was 4 x (2km, 1km, 800m) a total of 15,200m of hard running with the added difficulty of being at an altitude of 2400m. This was not going to be enjoyable!

We started with a group of about 12 athletes and although I was off the back for the whole session I persevered and was one of only 4 to finish the session, managing to keep at a speed of 5min per mile. Totally exhausted after this but more pain was to come from my masochistic masseur who finds any knots and pummels them until they are no more. I'm not sure what was worse the session or the massage.

After the session I had the pleasure of watching Eliud Kipchoge train, pretty awesome! I took a short video which I will upload at a later date.

For the rest of the day while we rested and recovered we watched repeats of various marathons including the world record from Haile.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Invited for dinner

Yesterday I was invited for dinner at the home of Ken Kibet and his family. Ken is the coach of the Run-Fast team and also owns the land on which the camp is built. He lives on a ten acre farm with his with (a 2.25 marathon runner!) and his four children, two boys and two girls.

Kens two boys

When I arrived at the farm I was given a guided tour by Ken, he grows a wide variety of crops that he uses for his family, the camp and also sells. He has a number of livestock included cattle, sheep, chicken and ducks. After the tour I was invited into his house which was very homely, a very large living room decorated mainly with trophies and medals from various marathons that his wife has had success in, including two world marathon championship team gold medals!

We sat down a delightful dinner of beef stew, rice and chapatis, which was all served and cleared away by his children who all did this without a word from their parents. It seems in Kenya that the whole family work together as a team to get things done. I was chatting with Ken about families and he was telling me that traditionally Kenyans have always had very large families as they needed the labourers to work the farm but now technology is improving etc, he thinks that in a few generations it will be more like western Europe where 2 or 3 children is the norm.

I was absolutely stuffed from dinner as I couldn't resist an extra chapatis as they were delicious. Ken told me that his two young boys had been excited all day about meeting the muzungu and they spent most of the evening either sitting with me or starring at me giggling! I think tomorrow at their school I will be the topic of conversation! After dinner Ken got me to sign his house visitors book then he took me back to the camp.

Monday morning and we either do a hill session or a 70min hardish run, as we did hills last week today was the 70min run which we do through a local forest. In this forest is a ridiculously steep hill that killed me although I managed to keep up with the second group today so I'm still improving. After the run (and after I had got my breath back) I bumped into Lee Merrion and John Beatie, good to see them and I will pop up to see them one day soon. Ken gave us a load of marathon videos to watch at camp so we will spend lots of time getting inspired by Haile, Paula and various ridiculously quick Kenyans!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

6 mins quicker = happy Thomas

Friday is an easy day here at camp, we just do one easy run. Today we did 71mins, after this I rested for the rest of the morning then after lunch went on a little adventure down “in the valley”. It was an adventure mainly due to our means of transport which was the camp truck (by “camp” I mean the running camp not any other type of camp!), it's pretty old, quite rusty, has a dodgy radiator and only goes into first gear once out of about 20 attempts.

The Truck

Going down the hill was fine, I sat in the back and the views were spectacular, the further we travelled down the hotter it got and by the time we arrived at our destination we were all sweating a lot. Our first stop was to get some fruit from a small market at the side of the road, we got two bunches of bananas and two bag of paw paws. Nest stop was an off the beaten track “shamba” (farm), this is were the adventure really began as Edwin accidentally got the truck semi stuck in a small ditch on quite a steep hill. Whilst trying to get it out the radiator hose popped off draining the radiator of all its water, luckily there was a stream near by so we could refill it. Once the truck was back on track and parked up we hiked up a hill to pick some sugar cane, more bananas and some mangos. We must have got over 100 bananas about 40 mangos and a load of sugar cane all for 200Ksh (less than £2), bargain!

Kids in the valley

We picked up a few hitch-hikers and started back up to camp. A few more stops to fill up the radiator, then we filled the back of the truck with two big bags of charcoal and a huge pile of firewood. Now the truck was fully laden, Edwin couldn't get it into first gear and due to the weight of the truck and steepness of the hill he couldn't start it in second. This happened a lot and the journey back to camp took over two hours when it's normally a twenty minute journey! On a number of occasions we drew quite a crowd of kids who thought it amusing that a muzungu and his truck was stuck!

Saturday and it's long run day again, this morning it was 25km, I started with the guys this morning (rather than the girls who have a 4 minute head start) and stuck with them for about 5km, really tough run but managed to knock off 6 minutes from two weeks ago, chuffed :-)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

That is not what I call a fartlek

Today was my first experience of the Kenyan “fartlek”, we had tea and a banana before we started so I knew it was going to be tough. 30 min easy run down to the start where a group of about 30 or so guys had gathered ready for the session. Although they call it a fartlek it is more like an interval session, 17 x 2min hard, 1min easy. As the session started a bit later than we usually run in the mornings it was already hot. I soon got dropped from the main group but along the punishing uphill route I picked off some of the stragglers. An absolute killer of a session and I was a happy man when it was over, I honestly thought I was going to faint on one hill! Ken handed me a much needed bottle of water when I finished and this helped me to jog/shuffle the three miles back to camp.

I think most of the guys out here are quite impressed by my work ethic and commitment and determination in sessions. They all assure me that I will run massive pbs when I race back in Europe. I hope they are correct! Just an easy 40 – 50 mins this afternoon and an early night as we are all tired from our exertions this morning.

On a side note Edwin has promised to take me sightseeing to Lake Boggoria and Lake Baringo during my stay which should be good. They are about 2.5 hours drive away but as anyone that has been to Kenya will know the landscape is awesome so I will look forward to the journey.

Here is a random picture of the camp kitchen:

Camp Kitchen

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Easy Session??

Off to the track in Eldoret this morning, didn't know what session we were doing but Edwin advised me it would be lighter than usual as we did the hills session yesterday, long jog warm up followed by three laps of the track striding the straights and jogging the bends. Ken then advised the session would be 10 x (600m, 200jog, 400m, 200jog). I am now dreading what a “hard” track session will be! I was aching from the hills yesterday and hadn't had any breakfast (the Kenyans never eat before morning training) so wasn't expecting miracles! Was a really tough session and was happy to get through it in one peace, I averaged 1.48 on the 600m reps and 68 on the 400m reps. Definitely feel like I've acclimatised now, so I can really start to push myself from now on.

The rest of my day will now consist of eat, massage, eat, sleep, run, eat and sleep.

Until Next Time

One of my training partners, Isaac

Monday, 10 January 2011

Hills, Hills, Hills!!

So this morning we had been running for about 20minutes at a nice pace, I was feeling ok and enjoying the run, then suddenly we stopped in the middle of a long hill, I thought maybe we were waiting for someone to meet us, but it dawned on me as they started drawing a line in the dirt that we were about to start a hill session! 47 Minutes of “Kenyan Hills” later and I lay exhausted on the floor but this was my best session yet, I'm getting closer to the Kenyans session by session and enjoying every minute of it. Long slow jog back to the camp for a well deserved breakfast and rest.

In the middle of the hills session some of the ladies from the UK Athletics group jogged past, I guess they must have arrived yesterday, I'm sure I will bump into them sooner or later as Iten isn't a big place.

Here is a picture of the start of the cross country on Saturday:

Picture kindly taken by Markus Roessel

Recovery run this afternoon and then back to the track in Eldoret tomorrow morning for a track session.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Now That's What I Call a Race!!

It's race day and we get a bit of a lie in, up at 7a.m. Feeling slightly nervous about the race, probably because it's a bit of an unknown. From what I understand the Senior Mens 12km race should start at 10a.m. We leave camp at 8.45a.m. And jog down to the course (only about 800m away). When we arrive the junior women’s race has already started, this will be followed by the junior men, the senior women and finally the senior men. 9a.m. and it's already pretty hot in Iten, so I try and stay hydrated. Off for a warm-up with Edwin, about 15mins nice and easy, although you always hit at least one big hill when you run out here!

My Race Number for the Iten Cross Coutnry Champs

Crowds are pretty awesome for a district cross country race, somewhere between 500 and 1000 people, not bad for a town with a population of maybe 4000 people! By 10a.m. There are still two races before mine so I guess we won't be starting on time, not too worried as it's so hot I will be warmed-up whenever we start! Just before 11a.m. a whistle indicates we should assemble at the start, my guess is that perhaps 500 men are starting, I chose a position close to the back after seeing the speed of the junior mens start and the bottle neck after about 200m. A couple more “muzungus” join me on the start line, so it looks like I will have a race to be the first white guy. Lots of shouting from the officials and then we are off........

Or so I thought.... After 100m we are called back, looks like we false started!! I wasn't too surprised by the chaotic start as Edwin warned me about the start of Kenyan races (once he ran 3km of a half marathon before being called back!). So on the second attempt we are off, one of the white guys stormed off maybe in the top 20 but he dropped out after about 400m! I was a little more conservative, starting near the back, the stampede in front of me created a huge red dust cloud for me to run through, but this was the least of my problems! I did keep it steady for the first lap but was still breathing very heavy and struggling in the heat but persevered and no-one over took me the whole race :-) Kenyans were dropping out left, right and centre, not sure if I can claim I “beat” these drop-outs but I'm going to anyway! Probably about 50-100 people dropped out, so I didn't do too bad!

As I mentioned earlier the crowds were great and nearing the end of each lap (we did 6 x 2km laps) where the majority of the crowd were, they started chanting “Mazungu”, “Mazungu”, I couldn't help but give a cheeky wave which only made them cheer louder!! Managed a sprint finish and achieved my aim of not coming last!

See I'm not last!!

Putting things into perspective the guy that won, Geoffrey Mutai, is a 2.04 marathon, 59min half marathon runner, he won by nearly 2 mins and beat me by 8mins (he actually lapped me, but was the only one that did) I was only 3 mins behind a few of the Run-Fast team so was quite happy with the result, considering I'm still acclimatising.

Probably the highest quality race I have ever done, it was mega tough but I absolutely loved it!!

Met a nice German guy at the race called Marcus who was taking photos, he is going to email me some he got of me, which I will put on the blog at a later date.

A few last things to note:
1: I was the top European/White guy.
2: Probably the first time a Winchester & District AC vest has competed in the Iten District Cross Country Championships!

Bring on the next race!!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Rest is serious business....

I was chatting to Edwin about his girlfriend Marcy and asked him how often he saw her, he said normally just once a week as he was too busy training the rest of the time, as we train only two to three hours a day I thought this was a strange thing to say, but it made me realise that training is not just the running, its the whole lifestyle, the Kenyans take their rest very seriously, probably sleeping at least ten hours a day and not doing much else when they are not running, eating or sleeping.

Having now done a full weeks of training out here, my impressions of why the Kenyans are so good is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Live at high altitude
  • Train hard
  • Most run includes lots of hills
  • Eat very well and lots of it
  • Get lots and lots of rest
  • Run a lot
  • No distractions
  • Easy Runs very easy, hard runs very hard
  • Enjoy running

No secret formula, just hard work, eat well and get lots of rest.

So Tuesday afternoon after the morning session I had a massage and OMG it was painful, the masseur asked if I would like it light or deep, I said deep, bad mistake!! Think it sorted my legs out though and as the saying goes: no pain, no gain! 40Mins easy in the afternoon where I learnt the swahili for left (kushoto) and right (kulia) so at least I know which way to go when someone shouts directions.

Bad nights sleep last night due to a fly persistently buzzing around my ear, Edwin is going to by some stuff to get rid of the flies as I think some were annoying him as well. Easy 50mins at 6.30 then after breakfast I decided on a little nap which I was rudely awakened from at about 10.15 and told we were going for a run, I thought they were joking but apparently not, so out for another easy 50mins at 10.30. Luckily this was training finished for the day, so I could enjoy some more napping and a walk into Iten with Edwin where we met some of his Church friends and his family. I am being introduced as Tom Kiprop now which amuses all the Kenyans although they say I don't pronounce it correctly, I guess not many Kenyans have an Essex twang to their accent! They also think it's highly amusing that I wear shorts as they all think its freezing if it goes under 20 DegC!!

We all squashed in mine and Edwins “house” in the evening for our daily dose of “In the name of love” the UK are missing out big time on this one, it is a classic!!

Two easy days to follow with the big race on Saturday, I will update my blog after the race.

p.s. I've got a few videos and pics that I will update next time I'm on a proper connection.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Myself and Edwin

Here is a photo I took the other day of myself and Edwin:

I'm the one on the left!
I must say this is definitely the best place I have ever trained at, there are endless dirt trails (a lot kinder than tarmac), a few local tracks, obviously the altitude and a perfect climate. If anyone of any level would like to come over here to Iten to train the try I would definitely recommend it, just take it easy the first week!!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Jambo Tom Kiprop

So I've now been given a Kalenjin name, Tom Kiprop, I was given this name as it was raining when I arrived and Kiprop means (I think) “born when it raining”, lets just hope I can start running like a Kiprop!! Start of my first week full training and first up early Monday morning was a good pace run, I never know how far we are going but this one ended up taking 71mins, I finished 5 mins behind the front guys which was better than the 14mins I was behind on Saturday! In the middle of the run we hit some crazy steep hills, my quads were absolutely bursting with lactic, I could just about recover before we hit the next hill.

Bit of a sore heel on the run, I've popped some ibuprofen so hopefully it will clear up quick. 40 Mins very easy in the afternoon which was fine although it was very hot, can't believe most of the Kenyan guys still do this run in full tracksuits!! My heal has now come out in a big bruise, so I must have hit it or twisted it somehow?

Tuesday morning and we are up early for my first track session in Kenya, luckily due to most of us racing on Saturday we had a fairly easy session of 10 x 400m off 200jog. Ken set the target time for the guys at 65seconds per 400m and advised me just to take it easy and see how it goes, I ended up doing 66 to 67seconds per 400m so pretty pleased with that, should be able to keep up with the group in a week or two.

Monday, 3 January 2011

After our long run on Saturday we had a nice lazy day, I sat in the sun for about 30mins and got burnt, doh!! After that I sat inside and read my book and tried to learn a little Swahili (ku-kimbia = to run) and watched some more random soap operas. Edwin introduced me to his girlfriend, Marcy, who like everyone else around here was very nice, she seemed a little shy around me, but that was probably due to my poor conversational skills!

Just a though, it being January 1st and all, maybe I should make a new years resolution? I normally make a few and are pretty good at keeping them, last year one was to do 52 new things in the year, i.e. one new thing each week. I just about managed to do it even though some of them were a bit random! So this year I'm going to keep it nice and simple and just have one: “To enjoy life and be happy”.

After dinner we watched our favourite soup “In the name of love” it finished on a bit of a cliff hanger so I'm looking forward to the next episode!

On Sunday here in Iten most people go to Church in the morning and take the day as a rest day, I thought I would make the most of it this week and rest myself but in future will probably do an easy hour. Edwin invited me to Church with him but I declined not being religious and all, but maybe I will go next week as I think it will be quite an experience. Edwin told me about 500 people cram into the Church!

I was sitting in my “house” (they call the rooms we stay in houses, but they are basically one room split into three by hanging material, first “room” is the hallway to store shoes, second “room” is the living room with sofa and TV, third “room” is where the bunk bed is, I will attach a picture soon) and kept hearing a “baa baa” thought it must be coming from the farm next door but on venturing outside found we have gained three noisy sheep!

Got burnt again in the sun as I forgot to put cream on my legs, the sun is so fierce up here in Iten, if you don't put cream on you will get burnt in less than 30mins. I don't think the Kenyans have ever seen a white guy getting sun burn before and were all quite amazed when I took my watch off to show them the before and after, they say I will be as dark as them soon! I set up a little cinema in the afternoon and about 7 youngsters crammed into the house to watch “The Day After Tomorrow” on my laptop, I then showed the a video I took the other week of the snow we had back home, they couldn't believe anyone could survive in those conditions, let alone train!! I think they are trying to make me fat, as I had the biggest portion of Ugali at dinner, it was quite ridiculous! I couldn't even finish it and for anyone who knows who much I can eat, they will know that must have been a lot of food!!

I am actually surprised how much food they eat out here, no snacking just three good healthy meals a day, I guess when you train hard you need to replace all that energy! And my metabolism seems to have gone crazy up here at altitude as I'm always hungry by the time the next meal comes along.

Until Next Time

Saturday, 1 January 2011

What a way to start the New Year

New years eve and we are up at 6.30a.m. For our morning run. What I had heard about Kenyan running so far seems to basically correct. They start out at a jog and get progressively quicker. We did 62min this morning and I felt much better than yesterday a;though I still struggled the last ten minutes when the pace picked up a bit.

Had a nap after lunch for an hour or so the met Edwin's sister and cousin who were both really nice (like every Kenyan I've met so far). Edwin then took me up to the viewing point in Iten which has the most amazing views over the Great Rift Valley, it was a brilliant way to end 2010. Whilst we were at the viewing point I had a really good chat to Edwin about his childhood and how when he was in primary school he would get up extra early to go out running so that his family didn't catch him. He is a really genuine guy and hopefully I can return his hospitality one day. Only one run today so it was a big plate of Ugali for dinner followed by some random Spanish soap on TV then bed.

New years day and up at 5.30a.m. For the “long run”. To be honest for me, I couldn't think of a better way to start 2011 than a run along the great rift valley watching the sun rise, awe inspiring. We did 25km this morning and it was most definitely the hardest 25km I have ever run. The last 10km had some really punishing hills, I was very happy to see the end of it. Bread, jam and Chai for breakfast followed by lots of rest........