Kenya Trip 2014 – Week #7!

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Robert Brouillette

         

Jambo (Hello)! Thanks for checking out the 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 in Kenya. I have met lots of new friends, connected with some old ones once again, ran two races which were a 10K cross-country and road half-marathon to be apart of the Discovery Kenya series, seen a bunch of cool things, eaten lots of healthy delicious new foods, and of course experienced running with many strong Kenyans, international athletes, World Champions, Olympians, and world record holders. Hakuna matata (No worries) 🙂

Week #7: February 17th – February 25th, 2014

February 17
I woke up super early due to my chapati stomach keeping me uncomfortable all night but I just went and sat in a chair in the tiki hut and enjoyed the morning air. Then Milka made a big delicious pot of chai tea that I couldn’t wait to drink, before Laban assisted me with a ride into Eldoret for my journey back to Iten. On the drive I asked him if he knew a place I could find an official Kenya running vest, and right away he offered me his Olympics singlet, which was tempting but there was no way I could take such an important possession. So I searched around and went to every sports store in Eldoret and not one single place had a Kenya racing shirt, which absolutely shocks me in the country of the best runners in the world. For my matatu ride back home I put a seat belt on and the person next to me giggled a little because no one ever wears a seat belt, but at least I know I feel a little safer now with these crazy van drivers who only car about going from A to B in record-breaking time regardless of the road conditions. When I finally got back to Iten I found Faustin in the house and we decided to go for an easy 50 minute run but he quickly turned that into a 50 minute, 11.4K, 4:29/K pace run. It’s hard writing my running times to my friends back home because that would sound slow to everyone I train with in Canada but here in Kenya that could pass for a moderate run or so in the heat and altitude. Back at the house I taught the hyper kids what a Frisbee is and how to play by tossing it to one another with a lid off some container. Inside the house Faustin surprised me (or I begged him) to cut me up some juicy slices of this giant mango with found because I now have a really big addiction to mangos since they are always fresh, refreshing, and of course tasty. For both lunch and supper I had githeri (corn and bean mix) and found it very simple but nutritious enough and gives me lots of energy to fuel my runs.

February 18
At 8:30AM I was at the dirt track with Faustin and the Run Fast group ready to do 1K + 400M x7 and I managed to hold an average of 3:30 + 1:15 minutes. As I was leaving the track Zane Robertson who is the New Zealand Olympian that I have hung out with a bit during my trip was just arriving so I finally remember to get a picture with him. He leaves for Puerto Rico tonight for the “world’s best 10K” on the weekend so I hope he does amazing and gets that new PB. When I got home and looked in the mirror I saw that I was brown from head to toe including all my clothes of course from all the track dust. I quickly cleaned up before meeting Mo Farah once again for a picture but this time I had a picture of us printed out for him to give his autograph which is pretty sweet and I’ll be sure to fame it in Canada. The evening moderate run with Faustin was sub 50 minutes that I lead this time on the 7-mile Mo Farah loop. I gave one of the kids in my complex change for a candy so he went and bought some gum and then brought it to me which was sweet of him but the treat was a gift from me.

February 19
Faustin and I accidentally slept through our alarm so there was no morning run but we agreed to do up to 20K moderate pace at 4PM. We were feeling good right off the start and were chugging along at fastest 3:47/K but as the workout progressed we started hitting hills and then this monster one that killed me. I noticed the pace was dropping so I decided to head back home for a 15.8K run in 1:04. Since this workout was late there was no easy evening jog so just one run for the day for a change.

February 20
The 9AM fartlek workout was 2:1 x18 = 54 minutes with it spitting rain a little which is the first time rain has occurred during a workout and maybe the 5th time in 2 months that it has rained at all. The evening easy run was with Faustin and Johana who is now back from Nairobi and is confirmed to go to Belgium for some races starting at end of March. I hope he will be able to make the trip to Canada after Belgium in May/June again just like he did last year. At 5PM I met Solomon outside the fruit stand waiting for Mo Farah and the other Olympic gold medalists because all my other friends were scared of the rain and getting a little wet. But after some time we thought that Mo’s group were skipping the run too because of the rain storm so we began eating a corn on the cob. But it turned out that they were just coming late and now I had to run with these Olympians with corn in my stomach. However, they ended up joining in and ate corn maize themselves before we were off for our 7-mile run in the pouring rain on muddy trails. Halfway into the run my nose started to randomly bleed and I was thinking why now, with a rain storm, 3 gold medalist Olympians, and half the run still to go, so I kept running and tried to play it cool and just run behind the group so no one sees. But Mo Farah eventually noticed my dilemma and then called for a school boy to rip out a paper from his textbook to stick up my nose to stop the bleeding for the rest of the run. I was so embarrassed that they had to see me like that with blood dripping down my face but Mo made the situation quick and painless and everyone forgot about it by the end. By the way the three gold medalist Olympians were of course Mo Farah for the 5,000M and 10,000M, and then the guys for the 1,500M and 3,000M steeplechase. The run turned out to be 11.2K in 49 minutes moderate. There is no winning for the trails here because they are normally dry and dusty but like today the other option is wet and muddy. When I finally got home I made myself my favorite post-workout sandwich of peanut butter, honey, and banana and then just sat in the dark as the power was out and my flashlight was nowhere to be seen. Anyways, my New Balance shoes are not a complete mess from the run and it is not going to be fun to wash so maybe ill just save that job for Canada where I can just put them under the lawn hose, but wait I forgot I’m going back to a nasty Canadian winter.

February 21
The mid-morning 12.5K run at 4:08/K alone was my fastest time on Mo Farah’s 7-mile loop and I know I could still go faster if I really wanted to which is always good to know for next year. Next I headed into town to get a nice cheap $1.50 buzz cut like I always do before I head back home for a race. I know it will feel good during my half-marathon but with it still being winter I think I’m going to be a little cold, oh well. The hairdresser also wanted to shave my 3-month long beard which I was at first afraid of but I let him go along and try to cut it like Mo Farah with it coming to a point in the middle. When I saw Mo later he noticed right away and thought it was cool. The evening easy run was with Johana, Faustin, and a Denmark guy, which I lead the was because it was a nice beautiful day so I felt like cruising the way at a faster pace then the others. Now for one of the greatest moments of my trip: It was after 7PM, dark and raining outside, and I saw a leg crippled man coming down the hill by the house with his poles, not being able to see anything and soaking wet. I quickly ran home grabbed my new Balance hat and Energizer headlight and ran back to the man to give him these things to keep his head dry and to help light his way without him having to hold a flashlight in his hand which he couldn’t do anyways because of his two canes. Everyone, day and after, just passes this man, seeing him struggle, and for me to do this one little act I know I have helped him hugely. He shook my hand like crazy and told me a million times “God bless you!” I felt so happy with myself and can now leave Kenya a little more satisfied with what I have done here whether it be helping others in their lives or just being content with how my training went.

February 22
At 6AM Johana, Faustin, and I met at the petro station for the early morning long run of 25K. Right off the bat the lead men’s group was off in a flash but I didn’t panic and just snuck in with the women’s group which were moving along at 4:00/K. They were moving at a great pace and I was happy to be with them but after some time they gapped me and that was enough for me to make one wrong turn. I have said this a billion times but yes I got lost, ran the rest of the run alone, and then found my way back home which encountering some deadly hills along the way. I finished 25.01K to make sure I hit my target distance in 1:49. After I headed to Olympics Corner to buy some gifts for myself and friends back home like animal mask decorations, jewellery, animal statues, and other little crafts. Everyone was tired from a fast morning long run but I still felt ok so I headed out on an easy 30 minute run alone but when I run alone I never can place myself slowly so went a little faster than I should have. I have worn my short shorts as much as I can this week because my running tights have given me a tan line and I don’t want that to look silly for my Canada race in just a week. I had one last massage from my neighbor Dan and I told him to not go easy on me because this may be my last massage for a little while as Canadian massage therapy can really eat your wallet until I find a clinic to sponsor me one day. For my last supper at my favourite hotel, I spoiled myself with snacks like chapati (pancake), ndazi and hamri (donuts) with lots of chai tea.

February 23
This is my last day in Kenya and it has been probably the most boring day of my life because all there was to do on a Sunday was to sit around, talk with others, go for walks, or go to the hotel and be fat which I ended up doing by spoiling myself with my last couple chapatis of the trip. In the evening I got a ride into Mosoriot to stay the night before I get a ride in the morning by retired Olympian Laban Rotich to the Eldoret airport to start my journey back home to Canada and end my Kenya 2014 trip. I had to roll my 2 big suitcases, carry-on small suitcase, and laptop bag over my shoulder for 1K just to get to the meeting spot for my ride which felt like a workout. Supper in the tiki hut was delicious thanks to John Carson of Canada who is here building a camp and preparing for him running event in 2 weeks called “Rift Valley Marathon.” In Kenya they have this soda called “Stoney” and I’ve only had it twice but every time it is a struggle just to drink because the ginger in it is super strong and I cough every time I try to swallow so it is just a really interesting but weird drink. Before I went to bed, I quickly went over to Laban’s to receive a gift and which was an official old school Kenya racing singlet and vest. I told Laban to make sure he didn’t give me his Olympics shirt as that should be kept as a souvenir for memories so instead he gave me one from his 1500M win at World Championships back in the day. I was very grateful and told him I will wear them for my first race back in Canada to represent where I have trained for the last 2 months.

February 24/25
The day where I flew from Kenya to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to be back home in the Canadian winter with the experience from my almost 2 month trip. The time from when I left Kenya and landed in Canada took 31 long hours but I’m just happy to be back home with my friends and family again. I had an amazing time in Kenya and loved everything that I experienced and can’t wait till my next trip. I will now always remember the things I accomplished, the people I met, and the lessons I learned where training in Iten, Kenya with the worlds best. Until I return again, I will focus on my spring and summer road races from 5K to half-marathon and see what fall will bring me. Run cross-country for College, upgrade to University athletics, work at the Running Room store full-time, or move to The Home Of Champions to live the dream at high altitude in beautiful weather 99% of the time. Only time will tell, but until then I have the Burlington Chilly 1/2 marathon on Sunday March 2nd and the Around The Bay 5K at the end of March on the 29th. Being back in Cambridge with snow up to my waist, strong winds freezing my face, and ice making me slip uncontrollably, will all make my running training a challenge and I’ll always wish I was in Kenya but I’ve been taught to fight for what I want no matter the obstacles, do what I know best, because in the end it is what it is. Thanks for reading, until next time, Runner Rob out!

Me with New Zealand Olympian, Zane Robertson!

Me with New Zealand Olympian, Zane Robertson!

A picture with world famous runner, Mo Farah, once again!

A picture with world-famous runner, Mo Farah of Britain, once again!

My Kenyan neighbor and good friend Benard on our last day together.

My Kenyan neighbor and good friend Benard on our last day together.

This little guy sure is going to miss me a bunch!

This little guy sure is going to miss me a bunch!

– Robert Brouillette

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