Kenya Trip 2014 – Week #3!

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Robert Brouillette


Jambo! Thanks for checking out another weekly blog of my 2014 trip to Iten, Kenya for 7 weeks of high altitude running. This is the 3rd year in a row of me coming here to train with a total of 5 months by the end of this adventure. I have met lots of new friends, connected with some old ones once again, and have experienced running with many strong Kenyans, international athletes, World Champions, Olympians, and world record holders. Hakuna matata 🙂

Week #3: January 20th – January 26th, 2014

January 20
The workout was a 18.5K progressive run with Johana, he tells me I’m getting stronger and my form looks better, and this time I lost Johana by falling off pace in only the last few kilometers. I then had hiccups after run which everyone was jokingly laughing at me, but lucky for me a personal trainer did a quick trick on me by pushing on my back and stomach to get rid of them, and then he then showed me some short easy stretches that helped me big time. After all my workouts, I really appreciate a hot showers and some clean water to drink which is something I always take for granted in Canada. I still can’t believe when some people here receive a gift and look at me or even straight out ask me for more things like I didn’t just give them an amazing gift. Training in Kenya is making my body a mess from toe blisters, black toe nails, lost toe nail, skin falling off from sun burn, head drying out, dirty feet, and bloody noses sometimes. I do have an awesome tan though and this is the most dark I’ve ever been. It drives me crazy when they try to overcharge me because my skin is simply the color white, they don’t know I’m a Canadian, don’t know my life, don’t know my financial situation, and assume I’m rich. I accidentally had no money on me but was able to pay back restaurant another time because I have become a friend to their hotel. For my evening run I did an “easy” 7-mile (11.2K) run with Mo Farah and a few others at 4:00/K or faster but I was dropped at 7.5K at a hill, and then had corn maize afterwards with him. I did a crazy thing by putting peanut butter on ugali for a snack, Johana thought I was nuts because no one does that, but it was delicious. It is pretty freaking scary outside at night with no flashlight since there is people walking around that you can’t see because there are no street lamp posts.

January 21
The 8AM morning workout at the dirt track with Johana and the Run Fast group by coach Ken was 100M strides x4 to start, and then (600M in sub 2:10 + 400M in sub 1:20) x5 at high altitude remember. I happened to bump into Asbel Kiprop from the Olympics in 1500M and got a picture with him. Mo Farah arrived to the track just as I was leaving at 10AM so I missed out on seeing his first track workout in Kenya. That reminds me that this was actually my first track workout of 2014 since I couldn’t get on the track in Canada with the snow and ice covering it. The easy evening 40 minute run that I lead for the first time was with Johana and my new Kenyan friends Paul and Louie. After the run I quickly got dressed with my “There Is No Finish Line” Nike t-shirt and took a picture with Mo Farah, the double-double Olympic and then World Championship gold medalist for 5,000M and 10,000M. Believe it or not by the evening it does actually get freezing in t-shirt, shorts, and sandals so Africa is not always hot I swear. It rained a lot at night but it’s still not affecting my training at all. I read the book on famous Kenyan runner “Paul Tergat” in one night and learned how he went from a simple school kid all the way up to world record holder and one of the best runners of all time.

January 22
The 6AM morning 18K in 1:15 group run was Johana and about 50 other runners. I took one wrong turn which is easy to do out here; I didn’t get lost and found my way home but missed out on about 4K of the workout, finishing with 14.5K in 1:07 instead. Back at Johana’s house was my favorite pancakes with lots of coffee for breakfast. In the evening, I did an 11 mile run with Mo Farah and was only 1 minute behind him by the end with him going 47 minutes and 48 for me, with me being the fastest white guy in the group. We had some corn maize after the run before I headed home for supper of so much coffee and ugali with a spinach/cabbage mix.

January 23
The early morning workout today so I woke up at 7AM for coffee before fartlek at 8AM, it took a 30 minute jog just to get to the starting spot, and then the group leader chose 1:1 x25 = 50 minutes. However, with my 10K cross-country race on Sunday in Eldoret, I did just 40 minutes of the workout with Johana and then easy run back home in 30 minutes for total of 21K. So far in Kenya the training has been two runs a day, with the first being a workout in the morning and then easy 40-50 minute run in the evening at 5PM. I have run about 20-30K/day or 150K/week. The evening easy 40 minute run was with Johana so we decided to put our earphones in with music and just enjoy the time seeing all the beautiful sights around Iten. I had a frustrating night, with some of my friends still calling me an “mzungu” (white person) even though I have been here for 2 weeks and they are well aware my name is simply “Robert.” Then on top of that they continue to talk in Swahili while I’m in the room and I can’t join in the conversation and am left feeling like a decoration on the couch.

January 24
The early morning run of almost an hour easy with it picking up near the end was with Johana and then we did uphill 250M strides x8. For lunch at Hillside Hotel I had some fortified milk called “mala” and it didn’t taste good like regular milk so I put brown sugar in it to make it taste a little nicer and sweeter. On my way home I bought 14 bananas and people thought I was crazy because most people only get one or two to last them the day but I stock up for almost a week. Just a random thought that I think the 40 cent coin is a little weird here in Kenya, because it would be like Canada having a 50 cent coin. The evening 40 minute easy run alone I did for the first time in my life in track pants for a run because my shorts and tights were being washed. My weekly massage from Dan was for 45 minutes just 2 days out from my race. Supper at the near hotel called Emosto was ugali with a vegetable/meat mix, chai tea, and chapati with Johana. It’s now 2.5 weeks into my trip and I’m only now getting a blue bug net to prevent malaria from mosquitoes.

January 25
With just 24 hours until my first race of 2014, in Kenya, Johana and I went for a morning 35 minute easy run to the inside of the track on the grass, then a big stretch, 100M strides on the dirt track x8-10, then the cool down back home. Johana and I both had lunch together at my new favorite Emosto Hotel for a total of $2 between us two guys. With the race tomorrow, the rest of the day was pretty boring, lazy, and just basically time for me to relax.

January 26
It is the big day where I’ll be racing Kenya’s biggest cross-country race called Discovery Kenya and I will do the senior men 10K at the Sport’s Club in Eldoret. We woke up at 6AM and by 7:30AM Johana and I piled into a matatu (van) for a ride with 16 others in this 9 seat vehicles. When we arrived the place was so dusty from hundreds and hundreds of people walking down the same dirt road to the park entrance. I met with my friends from Mosoriot who I lived and trained with from my earlier Kenya trips, as well as some of the international runners who came to watch and cheer us mzungu’s (white guys) on. It was just me and Zane Robertson of New Zealand who went to the 2012 Olympics for track and ended up running 30:30 coming about 27th overall. I ran 38:05 and don’t know my place out of a couple hundred Kenyan men (maybe 400-500). But according to my Nike GPS SportWatch the course was at least 10.2K but Zane even thinks it could be more so not an exact distance race. Johana decided to race the junior 8K instead and came top 100 or so in maybe 25 minutes or less. I did a quick warm up and stretch before getting a front row spot on the start line, but with the common Kenyan unexpected false start, I almost tripped and would have been run over by the stampede but thankfully I survived the beginning sprint. I know I didn’t run last place, it sucked when the race ran out of water by the time I finished, but I got a race shirt after as a souvenir and way to always remember this experience. It was cool to see people from about 10-80 year old runners, racing in shoes versus no shoes, and some even in a church outfit because that’s all they had. You can find the full story of the race in my “Discovery Kenya XC 10K!” blog which also has a link to all the awesome pictures Johana and I took. After all the fun was over, I got a ride with the Robertson’s and other international athletes to an Indian restaurant for a fancy lunch, then got chocolate mocha milkshakes, and finally to a super market for vitamin filled lemon water and chocolate drink powder, so I’m spoiled today.

At the track with my friends Paul and Louie!

At track with friends Paul and Louie!

Fat Kenyan banana!

Fat Kenyan banana!

Some animal masks for Olympics Corner shop!

Some animal masks for Olympics Corner shop!

Johana's delicious pancakes!

Johana’s delicious pancakes!

– Robert Brouillette


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