Thursday, 31 March 2011

An Early Return.

I'm currently back in civalisation sitting in a Nairobi hotel connected to wifi, my first Kenyan training adventure has pretty much come to an end and it soon will be time to find out the results.

After my race in the Hague I decided to change my original plan which was to fly to London two days before the marathon, now I arrive in London tomorrow (1st April) so have just over two weeks to do my final preperations. I am having another little experiment on Sunday by racing a 10mile road race (at marathon pace) this will give me another good indicator of how I fair racing after two days down from altitude.

My flight from Eldoret to Nairobi
My last two weeks in Kenya have been brilliant, I am really sad to leave but know I will be back sooner or later (hopefully sooner). The Kenyan people or so friendly and welcoming that I have made a lot of friends. Edwins sister Pamela tells me that I am now part of the family which I guess means I am now a Kenyan, all I need to do now is start racing like one.....

Tom Kiprop

Monday, 28 March 2011

Reality TV Stars?!...

One thing I didn't think would happen during my time in Kenya was to become a reality TV star, but through a strange serious of events it just so happens I have!! I finished my last long run in Kenya this morning just about in one piece and after a massage from Majani I made my way out of Iten to Willy Korirs house where I had been invited for lunch. During lunch I got a phone call from my good friend Gavin who was with a Spanish TV crew and had a couple who needed a place to stay with some dinner but had no money, I managed to arrange a room in the camp and some dinner for them. After my first motorbike ride in Kenya to visit Gav and Lauren's house and another walk back to Iten we met the Spanish couple and brought them to camp, it all snowballed from here and they were filming us for the rest of the night! The show is called “Pekin Express”, supposedly it is huge in Spain and basically there are a number of couples that have to travel through Africa finishing in South Africa with the winning couple receiving 1 million dollars!! The couple staying with us are called David and Carmen, hopefully if they win they will remember the people that helped them along the way! I think most of the guys on camp didn't really know what was going on but they all seemed to enjoy it, even more so when they found out one of the production crew was an actor from one of their favourite TV shows called “Tahidi High”. It was a bit like an actor from Hollyoaks showing up, I think it was their highlight of the year so far!

David and Carmen - Picture courtesy of Edwin Kipyego

The next morning we gave David and Carmen a lift to Eldoret, which was the destination of their next check point, as they were the first to reach the checkpoint they won a prize and it set them up well for the rest of the journey. After a lot of high fives, hugs and kisses we came back to Iten and started our own journey to visit Lake Baringo and lake Bogoria. It was about a two hour drive to Bogoria and once we arrived we were treated to some good wildlife viewing and a visit to the natural hot springs that we used to cook some boiled eggs for our lunch! Next we went to Baringo about 40km away from Bogoria, here we went for a boat ride getting a close up look of some crocodiles and hippos. None of the Kenyans I was with knew how to swim so they were all a bit nervous on the boat which was rather amusing!

Enjoying the boat ride

On the way back we stopped at a “hotel” for lunch. In Kenya traditionally the hotels are not somewhere you sleep but are restaurants. We had to go down a Little lane up some stairs and into a sort of butchers with tables and chairs, complete with some dead animal hanging in the window. They brought out a big dish full of meat (what sort of meat I don't know) in a light stock/sauce. With this we had a few plates of ugali and had to tuck in. They all say I'm a proper Kenyan now as I don't need knives and forks to eat, hands all the way!

After a good day on safari it was back to camp and straight to bed as I was very tired and wanted to be fresh for my last weeks training in Kenya.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Kamogich - The Place To Be...

With only the long run to go I think I will survive this weeks training, then it's time to freshen up with the London Marathon only three weeks away. Pretty much all the hard work has been done now and by pushing too hard in training there is the chance of injury or doing too much and not being fresh enough when it's race day.

This time next week I will be on the plane back to the UK, I can't believe my time in Kenya is nearly up, it has been a better experience than I ever imagined and already I am looking forward to coming back later in the year.

One of my favourite places in Iten is the Kamogich Plaza, this is one of the few multi-storey buildings in Iten and houses the Hill Side Hotel which serves the best tea and chapati in town. You can pretty much guarantee you will bump into some top athlete when you visit and it's definitely the place to be seen in Iten. I have got to know all the waitresses now and have had a number of marriage proposals from them which I have politely declined even though some of them are very persistent! I don't think I will ever be able to buy a Starbucks again when you can get a nice tea and chapati to less than 20 pence!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Return of the Jedi....

Three of the five hard sessions complete and I would like to say I'm feeling good, but at the moment walking is a struggle!! Our hills session on Monday was extra tough due to the mud, it was a 45 minute session but I kept strong to the finish. Nice easy 45 minute run in the afternoon where the group joined us. Tuesday morning was as usual our track session and due to the rains we started a lot later than usual getting to the track for around 9.a.m. The track was rammed as everyone had the same idea of starting a little later. Our session was 12 x 600m, 12 x 400m off about 1 minute jog recovery. My best track session yet averaging about 3 seconds faster on the 600m and 2 seconds faster on the 400m than the last time we did the session, I even did the last 400m in 60 seconds, a 400m pb at altitude!

This morning was a 2 hour 15minute “easy” run. Quite a contradiction it terms there I think, as it is impossible to run for that long out here in Iten and it be easy.

Last night we picked Edwin and Ken's wife Helen up in Eldoret. Edwin is back for two and a half weeks to sharpen up before going for a fast half marathon in France on the 17th April. It is good to have my room mate back. I have been promised a sight seeing trip on Sunday to Lake Borringo, this will be a nice little treat after my weeks training.

Having breakfast on camp with Edwin, photo courtesy of Adharanand Finn

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Week From Hell Has Arrived...

Less than one month to go until the London marathon and although I had a shocker of a result at the Hague I'm still very confident I can get a good personal best. Today is the start of “The Week from Hell”, my toughest week of training ever, I've just finished the Monday morning hills session, so 1 out of 14 training sessions done.

My journey back from the UK to Iten was quite uneventful, Ken and Kiptum were waiting for me at Eldoret airport and drove me back to camp. The rainy season seems to have well and truly started here in Iten as we have had a lot of rain every day since I've been back. The rains have quite an effect on training out here, first of all it makes it a lot harder to run as the mud is very “sticky” which adds a huge weight to your shoes, but I guess it all helps to make you stronger? The Kenyans hate the rain so won't train if it's raining, they will wait until it stops and has dried out a bit, if it doesn't stop they don't train! One benefit is that we have been getting quite a few extra long sleeps as the majority of the rain comes at night so instead of running as usual at 6a.m. we seem to train at 7a.m or 8a.m.

It is great to be back in Kenya, I definitely feel it is home from home now. All my friends on camp are pleased to have me back, even more so after I gave them all multivitamins that I brought back from the UK. Training has been good since my return and I had my best fartlek session yet last Thursday keeping up with the second group for the entire session. This week if all goes to plan I should do about 140miles, with hard sessions Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. I get tired just thinking about it!

Thanks for all the messages about altitude training etc, it was really helpful to know that lots of other people have had the same effect as I had when coming down from altitude.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Experiment Number 1 - Fail

Ok, so this is the first time I've trained at altitude, a new lifestyle, a new diet etc. I always knew it was a bit "trial and error" to start with and there was always a risk I wouldn't run well in my first race coming down from altitude.

My result in the CPC half marathon in the Hague was 69.23, my slowest half marathon for a number of years, rather than give up thinking it's all been a waste of time I have to look at the reasons behind the result. During the race pretty much from the start my legs felt very, very flat and the further into the race the heavier they felt, after about 10km I couldn't run at a pace that got me out of breath. I think a number of factors played a part. Firstly, this was my first race since November so I can put it down to being a little "race rusty". Second, I had a long journey from Iten back to the UK, then a long trip over to the Hague. The third possible explanation and the one I now think is the most likely is that some people when coming down from altitude get this "jet lag" type effect which usually happens after a few days of being at sea level and can last up to 2 weeks. The general rule of thumb that I have seen is to race either within the first 48 hours or after two weeks. When I raced I had been back at sea level for four days.

Has anyone else who has trained at altitude had this or a similar effect? If so I would like to hear any theories or solutions you may have, you can either leave a comment or email me at

So a big learning curve which has made me change my original plans about when I come back from London.

I went out to Kenya in 65 minute shape and there is no way I am now in 69 minute shape. Anyway I am back in Kenya now to put the finishing touches on my marathon training, I'm glad to be back but is was nice to see my parents (Hi mum, good walk yesterday!!) and I had a good trip to the Hague with John Hutchins, who ran a pb but needs to control the shakes if he is to beat me at pick-up sticks!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Coming Home

So tomorrow I return to the UK (briefly) and will find out if all this hard work, the altitude, being a full time athlete etc has made me a faster athlete as on Sunday I race the CPC half marathon in the Hague.

Today I had my last track session of 10 x 400m, I felt fast and relaxed and as ready as I will ever be for the race on the weekend. I don't think my training could have gone any better and apart from a few niggles my body has held together well.

Any predictions on my time on Sunday?? Closest time wins....... a pat on the back :-O

On another subject, Team Run-Fast member No.1 Edwin Kipyego had his first go at pacemaking in the Barcelona Marathon on Sunday and very successfully led them through 33km at 2.06 pace!

Edwin modeling the new Run-Fast kit
p.s. As I'm home for a few days I will be able to upload a lot of new photos and videos so check back soon.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Don't read this one if your squeamish!

The other day Kiptum (our cook) was in a car when they “accidentally” hit a kuku (chicken), instead of letting the poor thing rot on the side of the dirt path he brought it home chopped off its head, plucked it then cooked it, so for the first time since I have been in Kenya we had chicken for dinner on camp, free range, organic and free!

The Victim

Training is still going well and I'm looking forward to seeing people back in the UK next week.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Ticking Along

Can't believe I will be back in the UK in less than a week, time sure does fly when your having fun! Today I did my last full session before the half marathon, a "fartlek" of 25 x 1min hard, 1min easy over an undulating course here in Iten. My legs were a little tired from my session on Tuesday but apart from that I felt quite relaxed and for once had my breathing under control even up some of the steeper hills.

On Saturday I will do a 25km run with the ladies in order to keep myself from pushing too hard and then next week is all about getting as fresh as I can for the race.

My friend Gav Smith and his wife Lauren arrived in Iten the other day, it was nice to see them both, they seem like they were itching to get back out here and I can't blame them. They are running some camps out here so if you fancy seeing what it is like to train in Kenya you might want to get in touch with them:

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Getting Excited

There are times as an athlete when you know your in shape, running starts to seem effortless and you know something special could happen. After todays track session I'm starting to get that feeling and it has come at just the right time with the CPC Hague Half Marathon less than two weeks away. I just have to make sure I get to the race rested and in one piece.

The track session today was a tough one and being a windy morning didn't help. The session was 5000m, 1000m, 5000m, 1000m. Ken gave me target time and I managed (with the help of Langat my pacemaker) to hit those target times, even outsprinting Langat on the final 1000m!

Training at the track - Picture courtesy of Adharanand Finn