Monday, 28 November 2011

What am I doing???

I just made it back to my house before the start of another torrential downpour, opened the door and found no electricity, no running water and all that awaited me was a small bed in the corner of a bare room with concrete floors, I thought to myself what am I doing here??? When the water does work I have to either make the most of it and have a quick freezing cold shower or fill a bucket so that I can wash with freezing cold water at a later date! The "en suite" to my room where I have to wash isn't the most enticing place to wash either:

The "En Suite" complete with "bath" (the bucket) and "toilet" (the whole in the ground)
To be honest for some strange reason I actually love my little "house" and even with no power and water I feel quite at home here.

Yesterday I was reading my book on the bed and looked down to find a little friend staring up at me:

My new pet cat!

I had left the door opened and she had wandered in for a little exploration!

On the training front I have completed a week of acclimatising and did a light track session yesterday which was ok, it was good to get my legs moving at a decent pace. Hopefully running will keep getting easier (because it is still a real struggle at the moment) and I can start getting some decent sessions in. One of the annoying things about the rain we are having here in Iten is that it seriously restricts the options you have for running routes as most are too muddy to run on, but as long as I can get out running I'm not going to complain too much.

I think some of the people that follow my blog may remember me talking about my best Kenyan buddy Edwin Kipyego, well unfortunately about ten days ago on a fartlek training run Edwin pulled up with an injury and hasn't been able to run since, hopefully it isn't too serious and he can get back training soon. For an injured athlete Iten has got to be the worst place in the world to be, seeing all these runners every day when you can't do anything, I would hate it and I know Edwin is already getting frustrated.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Mud (not so) Glorious Mud

This is not how I remembered Iten, the last time I was here we had endless red dirt trails to run on, these have now turned to deep, cling to your shoes and make them weigh a tonne type mud, turning the run from a reasonably pleasurable experience to a complete slog!

It pretty much rained all of last night so I put off my morning run until 8.30a.m. which didn't help much but at least I got it done. A short stint of sunshine at about 2p.m. raised my spirits but this was short lived and by about 3.30p.m. more rain. We are coming to the end of the rainy season here in Iten so hopefully it won't carry on for too long but I guess running with ten tonne shoes will make me strong if nothing else.

The road to my house

To add to the woes of the weather, yesterday I got attacked by a cow! I'm sure this will amuse my mother as she is always telling me how cows are killer beasts, but to be fair this one was pregnant and I think I startled it a little as I walked by and it decided to head-but me, no harm done but I will be a little more cautious around the pregnant ones in future!

One last thing to mention, more of a note to myself than anything. Don't ever order the chicken from Kamogich, I'm not sure what it was but it didn't look like chicken to me!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Luxury Apartment

On arrival at my new pad (that costs me the pricely sum of £23 a month) I was pleasantly surprised that I had a bed complete with mattress, and more room than I remembered. I have electricity but unfortunately at the moment I don't have running water! There is a bore hole so I can get some water to use for flushing the toilet (or the hole in the floor as I like to call it) but that is about it. Hopefully the water will come on in the next few days or I might start to smell rather bad!!
My new house (the one nearest the gate)
I have met the neighbours who all seem pleasant enough, two young kids next door seem slightly weary of me but interested at the same time. We also have a guard dog in the enclosure but as the dog has never seen me before this might cause a bit of a problem, lets hope his bark is worse than his bite!!

My neighbours (the one on the right is called Kemboi)

All I need now is for the water to start running and to get myself a little gas stove and I will be all set :-)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Back in Iten

After a long wait in Nairobi I finally got the plane to Eldoret, on arrival I was pleased to see three friendly faces waiting for me, Ken, Kiptum and Edwin. It was great to see them after so long and on the trip back to Iten we stopped off in Eldoret for a nice dinner of beef stew and ugali. By the time we got to Iten I was shattered from all the travelling so I pretty much went straight to bed.

The next morning I was up at 6.30a.m. And out for an hour “pole pole” run. I puffed a bit up the hills but apart from that I felt ok. On the run I bumped into a few familiar faces which was nice and finished it off at the Run-Fast camp for a hot shower (bonus!) and the good old Kenyan breakfast of slices of white bread and sweet chai.

As the Run-Fast guys were doing a track session I decided to go and watch. It's always an inspiring sight to see hundreds of runners burning up the track first thing in the morning and today the Kenyans were joined by the UKA group including Paula Radcliffe.

After the track I went back to camp for some lunch and then moved into my new luxury apartment....... more on this soon........

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Return of Kiprop

It's been four months but I am finally back in Kenya, fit, injury free and looking forward to living and training in Iten for the next few month. Hopefully I've learnt the lessons from my previous stints at altitude and I can take the steps forward I need to progress as an athlete.

I had quite a busy last day in the UK, starting with the Gosport Half Marathon. Unfortunately the race didn't go quite as planned and for some reason I got a killer stitch after about 2 miles and pretty much jogged the rest of the way. At least I got to see some friends I haven't seen for a while (thanks to Rich and Kat for putting me up the night before the race) plus I got to see my cat whom I haven't seen for nearly a year (it was an emotional reunion!)

After the race I had to shoot straight off to get back to Essex, pick up my bags, check in online, shower, quick lunch then drive to Heathrow with my mum for the flight to Nairobi. The M25 was it's usual joyous self, moving at about 10 miles an hour for most of the last 30miles. Luckily we had left in plenty of time so it wasn't a problem, although my mum does like to panic!

A good flight where I managed to get about 5 hours sleep, arriving in Nairobi at just after 9a.m. Kenyan time. My flight to Eldoret wasn't until 5p.m. So I had plenty of time to kill. About 10 minutes after I found myself somewhere to sit to female “athletes” asked if I could help them get a race, I must look like a sports manager! As their pbs weren't the best I reluctantly informed them that I couldn't help and that was the end of that.

Anyway Kiprop is back in Kenya, next stop Iten!!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Essential, Non-Essential Running Gadget

Living in a village and with the days getting shorter running can become a bit boring when you only have 3.5miles of roads with street lights to run along. I was recently given a Silva Trail Runner Head Torch which has re-opened all of my summer runs any time of the day or night. I had never thought about getting a head torch before but since getting one, I don't know what I would do without it! The model I have is relatively light weight with a super strong light beam and once you have it on you pretty much forget it is there.

Silva Trail Runner Head Torch
I'm not really one to recommend or review products but I do think a head torch is something that not many people would think about getting, but as it has stopped a winter of boredom I thought I would mention it. If you fancy getting yourself one I know Alton Sports sell them.

I think it is going to be really useful when I get back to Iten, especially for the early morning runs over some of the ridiculously rutted dirt tracks they have out there.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Plymouth 10km

After last week working at the Great South I was looking forward to racing myself at the Plymouth 10km. The evening before in true Kenyan fashion I cooked myself and my dad ndengu and ugali (with maize flour from Eldoret) to "make me strong" for the forthcoming race. It was my dads first experience of ugali and I think he was pleasantly surprised!

Unga wa Ugali
Up bright and early Sunday morning as the start of the race was at the rather unsocial time of 8.15a.m.! When I arrived in Plymouth I went to pick up my race number and was told I was running for the England team, bonus!! I knew there was an England team competing but didn't know I was going to be part of that team, it always gives you that little bit of extra motivation when your running for your country so this was definitely a good start to the day. The elites were well looked after by the race organisers which is always nice. When we lined up for the start of the race it was obvious it was going to be a hard battle between the English and the Welsh team and it turned out to be!

After a relatively modest 1st km, Dewi Griffiths of the Welsh team pushed hard getting himself a lead of about 20m quite quickly, a group of 4 including myself stayed together but the gap to Dewi grew to nearly 80m by about the 5km mark. The course was on an out and back route and after about 6km we turned to come back, the gap to Dewi was starting to fall but unfortunately for me two of the guys I was running with started to drop me :-( Luckily I dug deep and started to pull back the gap on any uphills I encountered (all those hills in Torquay and Iten have obviously done some good!) and with about 1km to go we caught and overtook Dewi and it looked as though the win would come from one of Jonny Gilby (England), Phil Matthews (Wales) or myself. With 200m to go I took the lead and sprinted all out to the finish winning by 2 seconds from Phil in 30.35. Happy Days!

Myself with the womens race winner Kate Roberts
After a warm down, an interview with radio Devon and the prize giving we headed back to Torquay to fill up on some more ugali. Maybe this is the secret to why the Kenyans are so fast!!

On a separate note, a huge congratulations to Adharanand Finn who not only smashed his marathon pb in the New York City marathon running 2.55 but also broke his half marathon pb on route as well!! Well done mate.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Wilson Kipsang

Sunday saw another Kenyan run ridiculously fast in the Marathon as Wilson Kipsang ran the second quickest legal time ever, only 4 seconds short of Partick Makaus recent world record. Wilson is based out in Iten and is friends with a lot of the guys I train with when I'm in Iten. I regularly see Kipsang (the Kenyans generally use surnames when talking to each other) at the popular Kamogitch cafe in the heart of Iten. In fact he owes me about three cups of tea that I have bought for him, and as he is a lot richer than I am I will make sure he pays next time!

Kipsang is one of the Kenyans who uses the typical Kenyan training routine, the tuesday track session, the thursday fartlek and the Saturday hard progressive long run, which obviously works for him. He has a big following of athletes that he trains with all hoping that they will be the next big thing.

Wilson Kipsang training on the track in Eldoret (the one in second place on the inside, blue vest). Photo courtesy of Adharanand Finn
My training has gone well apart from a total washout of a session last week. I have a grass track down here in Torquay which normally is great for running on, unfortunately due to a lot of heavy rain I had to do my session around a very water logged track which is not very good when you are trying to run fast! Sometimes you just have to get a session done and this was definitely one of those times!

For the second year in a row I worked for Toby Lambert at the Great South Run as his shop Alton Sports had a stand. Sunday was crazy busy and a very long day but good fun and I got to see some old friends that I haven't seen for a while.

This Sunday (6th November) I will be racing the Plymouth 10km and with a bit of luck with the weather hopefully I will have a good race and come away with a decent time.