Kenya Trip 2014 – Week #6!

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Robert Brouillette

Jambo! Thanks for checking out the second last 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 next week. 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 #6: February 10th – February 16th, 2014

February 10
The early morning workout was about 20K in 1:15 or so but the pace was quick right off the start especially for 6:30AM and I slowly fell back and lost them by halfway/10K. I ended up running solo and getting myself lost but found my way back home at moderate pace for a 22K run in 1:40. This workout made me super hungry so I almost ate a full loaf of bread and thermos of coffee. I have noticed with my improved diet here that my teeth look healthier then they ever have and are pearly white unlike some Kenyan’s I bump into. I find it funny that 99% of my friends haven’t been to Kenya or Africa for that matter and assume that I’m running every day in the desert, inside dangerous towns, or through fields of wild animals like lions, rhinos, and elephants. Basically some people have asked me if it is like the “Lion King” because what they see on TV or in movies is all they know. Well running for me in Kenya is like none of those things at all because I run in the friendly town of Iten, through nice dirt trails, forests, and farm land. Also, I always feel safe during my training, never worry about anything (hakuna matata), and the worst thing that could happen is a cow or goat stampede coming your way. Anyways, my evening run was with two guys from Netherlands who have PB marathon times of 2:12 and 2:16 which is pretty impressive.

February 11
Its Tuesday, track day, so Faustin and I headed to the dirt track and met the Run Fast group for some 800 meter repeats. I ended up doing 800M x10 = 8K on my own in 2:35-2:50 in the morning suns heat at high altitude. No matter how hard you push, it seems some of us “mzungu’s” cant hit our sea level track times but we know it’s just a minor set back that will all change for the better once we return home. On the way back to the house I picked up some candies to surprise some of the hyper kids in my complex. Well one little guy was so excited that he threw the candy with the wrapper still on in his mouth which made me laugh. But like most of my good moments, there comes a negative thing such as a mom taking the last candy to eat for herself and left a little girl with nothing, sitting there crying, and not feeling ashamed at all. These are the same moms that took extra gifts that I brought from Canada leaving some families with nothing and the ones that won’t give me any privacy when I’m trying to sit alone with my laptop doing personal things like trying to chat with my parents and such. I have gotten the impression from some people that they live like its survival of the fittest and take take take, even if they don’t necessarily need it and others could have benefited from that thing more. I’m sorry I had to get that out of my system but I’m in shock how some people act towards a friendly white man or even among each other in their own community. Now moving forward, my evening run was with Faustin, his Rwandan friend, and a Kenyan named Robert too. We heard about a free 3000M race at the dirt track on Friday morning and are now considering it but whether I do it or not, I can’t lose focus on my real race, the half-marathon back in Canada in 2.5 weeks. I might just carry out it into my training program as a 3K progressive, tempo, or fast workout to see how long I can hold on before dying to get some kick in my legs. It could be a learning experience but bottom line is that 3000M at altitude won’t affect me all that much.

February 12
I woke up after 5AM but couldn’t get myself to make it to the early morning workout as I was so tired and knew it wouldn’t be a good run if I showed up. So I slept in till almost noon which is a rare thing in Kenya and something I haven’t done in a long time now. Instead I relaxed for the afternoon before heading out for the 4PM workout and not doing an evening easy run. The workout was supposed to be 18-19K progressive moderate but Faustin and I guessed our way through the route and finished with 20.3K in 1:24 at 4:10/K pace with fastest average kilometer at 3:58 which is good for this particular workout. There were a few hills along the course but the last 500M was a long killer one that made me grunt till the top, soaking in sweat, feeling disabled as I lost all running form/structure, and trying to catch my breath before my lungs popped out of my chest. I felt really good with this workout as usually a wrong turn or me getting lost causes the workout to be affected for the worse but this time it made me stronger and I feel more confident with my running strength now. However, it seems that hills will forever be my enemy but one day I will make myself love them and I will treat them as a good challenge like the Kenyans do. After my workout I treated myself to a banana, mango, and some vitamin filled biscuits outside the house on the bench. Everyone in sight then swarmed me like I had the last fruit and cookie in the world and begged or literally tried taking these snacks away, leave me with nothing like I didn’t deserve to eat or something. Well I stood my ground and didn’t give them anything but commanded them to just go away. Oh man, these are honestly good people but in my eyes they are being rude but make me feel like I’m the bad person but really when will it all just stop. I’m a simple student from Canada over here training for my running and that’s all. I’m not the food bank, an actually bank, or their parents for that matter. If you can’t walk yourself over to a shop and buy 1 freaking fruit or a couple small cookies, then you better get yourself a job and stop lying around on the grass all day. I don’t think I will be staying in this neighborhood next year and will find another place to live in Iten if this keeps up. Just grow up, mind your own business, and stop bothering me I want to say to them but that wouldn’t end well with 2 weeks to go.

February 13
I went back to the 100+ 9AM fartlek group and this time it was 1:1 (1 min easy 1 min hard) x25 = 50 minutes for me. Once I let the stampede of the lead groups go by, I got in a comfortable spot with a group of Kenyan women which also included Canadian marathon record holder (2:28), Lanni Marchant. I did my best to hold to their pace but slowly dropped back as I could still feel my legs tired from yesterdays hard run. A lot of athletes dropped out of the fartlek workout earlier than 50 minutes and a big group at only 25 minutes probably just because they couldn’t keep with the top group or went out too hard and blew up. Well that didn’t stop me and I finished the workout no matter how bad I felt and my mind telling me to quit. I give a big thank you to all the Kenyans out there that are struggling late in a workout with me and help keep me motivated and push me along till the end. In the evening it seemed that none of the mzungu’s were coming out for their easy run so it was just me and a British marathoner  going for a Kenyan slow-paced 35 minutes.

February 14
At 6:30AM I met at the meeting spot with about 50 others waiting for the sun to shed some light on the trail ahead of us for our moderate 18K workout. I followed in the tracks of the lead group for 12K until I suddenly didn’t feel so good so headed back home to complete the run in 15K. This gave me time to get ready for the day and head over to the dirt track to watch the 3000M men’s and women’s races. I have already done a 10K cross-country and road half-marathon this trip so I decided to keep it at that and not overdue my races here before my serious half-marathon race back in Canada in just over 2 weeks. The men’s winner won the 7.5 lap 3000M track race in 8:15 out of 3 heats and the women’s time was 8:48. Cash prizes went to top 5 of each gender and I was happy to see a man born with the birth defect of missing a hand came in that top 5 for a well deserved award from his dedication regardless of his disability. There was no easy evening run as I wanted to rest for tomorrow. Instead I took Leah, my Valentines Day date, to Keellu Resort for a party/dance/concert night event. To be truthful, the event was boring, overpriced, the DJ/singers were not very likable, and the only people dancing for the first hour was a bunch of overly drunk men.

February 15
I went to the long run meeting spot for 6AM but none of my friends or training partners showed up because they slept in, were too tired from training, or were simply lazy. I ended up deciding not to go run 30K alone and instead went home to sleep a little longer. It turns out that I everyone bailed on the long run for the day so I followed the same path and took the day off from running to rest instead of going all by myself. In the evening I tried to do the chapati challenge which has a record of 21 chapati eaten in one sitting. Therefore, I ordered 25 fresh ones to try my best to beat this challenge featuring my favorite Kenyan snack. I ended up eating 13 chapati in 1 hour with the first one finished in 2 minutes and the last 2 I tried to eat rolled up together in 26 minutes. Right at the 1 hour mark I called it quits and felt like a fat man for the first time in my life. Since tomorrow is Sunday, the day Kenyans don’t run at all, I figured this was the best time to do it. Now I have 12 chapati left over for breakfast and snacks tomorrow, oh yeah, as if I really want to eat those again so soon.

February 16
With tomorrow marking the start of my last week of training, I took the entire day off from running to really rest up my body to push myself and make the end of my Kenya training really hard and finish strong. The following week in Canada will be my taper period before my half-marathon so it works out good this way anyways. John Carson, a Canadian friend who is building a training centre in Mosoriot, Kenya invited me for supper so I accepted and took a 2 hour+ matatu/van ride there, squished in this tiny vehicle with no seat belt, way too many passengers, and a door that almost fell off at one point and then wouldn’t open up again for a while. Once I finally arrived pretty late due to the longer then expected travel time, John had prepared a delicious supper of rice, potatoes, green vegetables, and a bunch of chapati slices that I surprisingly couldn’t resist. I was pretty tired from the day so I ended up staying the night and hitting the bed early. I was happy to see familiar faces from my earlier Kenya visits the past 2 years.

Me with my new friend and training partner, Faustin from Rwanda!

Me with my new friend and training partner, Faustin from Rwanda!

This little guy likes to see me when I visit his dad's hotel for lunch!

This little guy likes to see me when I visit his dad’s hotel for lunch!

The chapo challenge/ chapati party. 13 in 1 hour!

The chapo challenge/ chapati party. 13 in 1 hour!

– Robert Brouillette


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