Kenya Trip 2013 – Week #1!

Posted: July 3, 2013 in Robert Brouillette

JUNE 25th – JUNE 30th, 2013

June 25 & June 26

Today is the day. After a year of waiting I am on my way back to Kenya for high altitude training with the local Kenyans on their trails and track. I will also get the opportunity to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle for two months. The journey began with my dad driving me to the Toronto Pearson Airport for my 10:00AM flight. I wore my Nike GPS SportWatch, Running Room Canada t-shirt, Canada edition CEP compression socks, and New Balance Canada edition shoes. I had 2 big 50 pound suitcases with one being full of gifts such as a laptop, shoes, school supplies, clothes, volleyball net, and a gas-powered chainsaw, with the other full of all my clothes and personal things. I also had a little suitcase, laptop bag, and backpack so I had my hands full. My dad and I had a Starbucks drink before I went to board my first plane of a few with the destination being Kenya. My flight was with Ethiopian Airlines from Toronto, Ontario to Rome, Italy to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya to Eldoret, Kenya and at last a short drive to the place where I’ll be staying. For my flight from Toronto to Rome, I had a window seat with a touch screen TV in front of me that could do movies, shows, games, and had an iPhone charger. After sitting there for an hour the plane finally took off and I was off Canadian ground for up to 2 months. The 9 hour flight to Rome, Italy consisted of me watching the movies, Warm Bodies, Oz: The Great and Powerful, and Jack the Giant Slayer. They ran out of economy class meals so I was the only one in my part of the plane to get a nice first class supper. The snacks were plane shaped crackers and water which was silly. When the plane landed we were in Rome, Italy but it was very early in the morning not allowing me to see anything out my window and we would stay on the plane to wait an hour before we took off. For the ride to Ethiopia which was a 6 hour flight I started reading a running book called Sub 4:00: The Quest For The Fastest Mile and then watched an episode from the shows, Bones, Malcolm in the Middle, and Wild Rides. I had a few meals and snacks before going to sleep till I landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In total I sat on that airplane for 17 straight hours (9:00AM to 2:00AM). I was pretty sore as it is never comfy to sit that long, especially on a tight seated plane. It then took a shuttle bus about 15 minutes to get everyone on so that we could take an honest 15 second ride to the airport which was very pointless. I then waited for a bit before getting on my plane to Nairobi with a window seat once again. It was only 2 hours so I had a meal and chatted with the man beside me and listened to my music. Finally after what seemed like forever, the plane landed in Nairobi, Kenya. I paid for my plane ride to Eldoret, Kenya and then headed to check-in where they tried charging me almost 4000 Kenyan shillings ($50 Canadian) due to my suitcase weight even though my last few flights had no problem with it. I explained that it was gifts for the Kenyans and eventually they let me go with a warning. For the 1 hour flight to Eldoret, Kenya I slept because I was so exhausted by this point. On all my flights I had only had water to drink so I was feeling pretty hydrated. As soon as the plane landed and the doors opened up, I ran out of the plane, grabbed my suitcases, and met with Laban Rotich, who is the retired Olympian I stayed with last year. He was excited to see me and we chatted a lot on the short drive to the place where I’ll be staying this year which is near Laban’s house and next to Sokkin Academy School which is where I helped out last year. My lower body was pretty sore with all the sitting and I couldn’t wait to just walk around, stretch, and relax. I visited Laban’s house and met with his family once again and got to see baby Glennys who was born the day when I flew down to Kenya last year. It is crazy how fast some of the younger ones have grown in just a year. I headed back to my place and ate supper with Simon who was my training partner last year and will be living and training with me for my trip this year, as well as Milka who will be cooking and helping me out around the place. There was no electricity at the place yet so we all cooked the food and ate it in the darkness with just a gas lantern in the tiki hut. As soon as supper was done, I headed straight to bed very early at about 8:00PM and will be doing a 6:00AM easy run in the morning which is also what I’ll be doing almost every single morning while training in Kenya.

June 27

I went for a 40 minute morning easy run with Simon and some of the boys. I came back to the tiki hut for a few cups of tea and then Simon and I headed over to our neighbor house, to drink some more tea and have sweet potatoes with Shadrack. For my mid-morning run, we headed over to the Mosoriot Teacher’s College track where Simon and the boys did a pyramid of (2000M, 1600M, 1200M, 1000M, 800M, 600M) x2, while I just watched because it was too soon for me to start hard training yet. I will begin my real Kenyan training on Monday. On the walk home from the track, we stopped at a local shop for a cup of chai tea. At home for lunch I had rice, potatoes, chapati, and every meal always has water or tea. I headed to my room to rest because I heard a rain storm coming and ended up falling asleep for a bit. Once Simon and I were ready, we caught a ride with a man on a motorcycle into the market to get a few things. It then started to rain before we could get back home so we hid out in a shop for shelter until it wasn’t so bad. Thankfully I happened to be wearing my Canada running jacket which was waterproof so all the rain was just falling off me. We got a ride back home on a motorcycle again and it seems that motor bikes are like Kenya’s version of a taxi or cab. Laban and I cut some fire wood and made a fire to sit by. For supper I had rice, potatoes, and chapati. I have eaten until I am full so the food is good and filling for sure. I cleaned up and headed to bed for tomorrows morning long run.

June 28

I woke up and went for a 1:20 minute / 16.8 kilometer long run with Simon and the other boys through many trails, villages, and up two big hills. There were children running behind me and many people waving and yelling “mzungu” (white man). Breakfast was some tea and a few chapatis. I then did some dishes, swept the floors, and rested for a while. In my room on the roof they’re is a few dangerous African wasps and their nests that I will need to kill with chemicals. They freak me right out and I don’t need any problems this early into my trip. I started using the bug net above my bed for now on where I can always feel safe from bugs at night. For lunch I had rice and potatoes that Simon cooked for me. My tongue is getting really sore from being burnt from all the tea I’ve been drinking. I got some more rest before heading out on an afternoon run which was 40 minutes easy. Simon and I headed over to his house and all along the walk over; Kenyan kids were smiling, waving, and shaking my hand which was nice. Then we headed over to Laban’s house to visit and his children were happy to see me so I played in the yard with them. I headed back to my place before the rain got bad and this is when I got the chance to meet Abraham Chegem once again, who has been a great friend to me since my trip last year and constantly keeping in contact through Facebook. The power went out so we lit the gas lantern and made a fire before starting to prepare supper which was ugali (made from corn flour), mixed greens, potatoes, and rice. Then Simon and I headed to our room, got ready, and headed to our beds to rest for tomorrows early morning track run.

June 29

It was tough but Simon and I woke up and got to the track for 6:30AM for the workout which was 3K x3 and then 2K, but I just ran on the track the entire time straight going easy. I bet if I told my running buddies back home that I went to a track workout in Kenya at that early in the morning they wouldn’t believe it. To be honest, I’m surprised my body is even functioning at these times for the morning runs. Most people know I don’t leave my bed till noon some days and a run usually starts at 3PM or 4PM in Canada. Anyways, after the track workout I headed back to my place for some bread and tea for breakfast. Laban took Simon and me into town to go to the bank and grocery store and along the way I met two World Champion runners who were Benjamin Lemo that raced 5K and William Chirchir that raced 1500M in the past. Unfortunately since I didn’t have power back at my place, I wasn’t able to charge my phone, so my iPhone was dead, and I wasn’t able to get a picture with them. So after we got some food and supplies from the grocery store, we headed into the market for some fresh vegetables, before finally getting back to my place in time for lunch. I helped Milka make lunch which was peas and rice before heading to my room to get some rest from the busy day so far. When I got up, the power was working again so I could finally charge my laptop, Nike SportWatch, and iPhone. We sat around the fire listening to music and then had supper which was ugali, cabbage, and some meat. It started to rain so I quickly got cleaned up and headed to bed.

June 30

It rained heavy last night causing the roads to be wet and muddy so Simon and I decided to cancel our 1 hour easy run at 6:00AM. It was Sunday anyways so normally the Kenyans here don’t run at all and just go to church. So we just slept in for a little long before getting up for breakfast which was bread with peanut butter and tea of course. Simon then went to his Massai church while I went for a mid-morning 1 hour easy run by myself. It was just a simple straight out and back so I didn’t get lost. Going out for a run alone, I didn’t have someone to pace me so I ended up going a little too fast and I could really feel it in the lungs with the high altitude, thick air, and humid weather. When I got back, I met with another famous Kenyan runner who I could not remember the name of but sat down and had some tea with him. Some of the local kids showed up so I put on some of my music and just relaxed. They don’t understand a lot of my music and I don’t with theirs, but they still do hear some Top 40 hits on their radio and enjoy it. They know all the big names like Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Shakira, T-Pain, Michael Jackson, Drake, and surprisingly Macklemore. Laban and I went to Sokkin Academy School to visit and I received a big welcoming from all the students. I practiced running around the school yard in my bare feet and really felt like I was becoming a Kenyan until I stepped on a rock and decided maybe to take things slowly. I headed back to my place, chopped some fire wood, and then had lunch which was rice and peas but the peas we bought were of low quality so they were pretty bad and I ended up eating a bunch of rice. I then headed back over to the Sokkin school field to watch some guys catch cows with their bare hands and then begin to train pairs of cows how to plough. It was scary watching the cows run at you and then having to grab them by the horns to stop them. I went to town with Simon to do some tasks he had but what was cool was that I got to drive Laban’s car which has the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car. But what was not so fun about it was trying to remember to stay on the left hand side of the road while their was pouring rain, fogged up windows, the roads were a mess, dodging motorcycles, and people walking around me. If you think driving in Toronto is hard, you haven’t seen how crazy the Kenyan streets can get some times with cars, animals, and people. I drove Laban’s car back to his house and then walked to Sokkin Academy School where I found Laban and Mika Kogo so I joined them in drinking tea and we all got a picture together. Laban was in the Atlanta Olympics where he placed 4th in the 1500M and qualified for the Sydney Olympics but decided not to race. Mika Kogo was in the Beijing Olympics where he got silver by placing 2nd in the 10K and ran the Boston Marathon this year coming 2nd place overall. Mika drove us all back to my place to relax by the fire. I am drinking so much chai tea that I can’t even keep track and my mouth is really feeling it because my tongue is now burnt. Once Mika left, I had roasted corn maze over the fire with Simon and Laban. For supper I had lots of potatoes, fresh peas, and chapati. There’s so much food that we get full and there is always left over’s for later. Since my days start so early, this causes my nights to come early as well so I checked out the cool looking stars in the sky and got ready for bed. You wouldn’t believe how cold the mornings and nights are with the afternoon so hot. I gave Simon a new toothbrush with toothpaste, taught him how to properly brush your teeth, and then he taught me a Kenyan prayer he says before bed. This is the end of week #1 of my 2 month Kenyan training adventure and so far I have met a lot of new people, friends from last year, and a few famous runners. Living in Kenya has been quiet the change from how things happen in Canada but it is going to be exciting to see how my training pays off in the fall with College cross-country and how the Kenyan culture will positively affect me for when I live back home in Canada again.

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Two Kenyan Olympians and me!

Two Kenyan Olympians and me!

My silly friend and training partner, Simon!

My with my silly friend and training partner, Simon!

Enjoying the nice warm fire I built at night!

Enjoying the nice warm fire that I built at night!

– Robert Brouillette

  1. Yvon says:

    Very cool Robert! I’m glad you are enjoying another African experience :). Have fun and be safe.

  2. Angie L says:

    Keep up the blog, loving it all so far !!! Thank you for bringing all the goodies over to everyone ❤

  3. Joyce says:

    Maybe you could let your tea cool a bit before drinking it so you could have feeling left on your tongue…just a thought…lol 🙂 I’m glad your first week has went so well.

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