After a long journey I arrived in Iten late Tuesday morning. HATC is the four star resort of Iten. The rooms, food and training facilities are very high quality. The staff at HATC are the most friendly people you could hope to meet.
The local children often greet me (and all “mzungus”) with an energetic: “how are you?”. High fives are not an unusual request while on a run. Today I even got tackled by four kids and had to drag them along for about 100 meters. I really don’t need to add any more resistance running uphill at 8,000 feet elevation. I am told by another guest at HATC that the attention gets irritating after a while. So far, it is a lot of fun. The kids are so cute.
Everyday is a hill session in Iten, so if you want to do a recovery run you really have to go slow. Even 2:10 marathoners run 6 minute k’s out here. On Tuesday I went for an easy 11k and I felt good. On Wednesday I joined two others for their “easy” afternoon run which was a mistake. It was 15k, hilly, and a bit too fast for me. I could feel the strain in my left achilles tendon.
On Thursday morning I joined another HATC guest, Alex, for his warm-up run to the famous Thursday morning fartlek session. About 200 or so runners assembled at the meeting area just outside of town at 9 am. While Alex received instructions about the morning’s workout (13 x 3 minutes, 1 minute rest), I jogged another kilometre down the road to get pictures. I am told the first 3 minutes were done in a blistering 2:50/km pace! Apparently few people finish the entire session as they simply work too hard trying to stay with the leader.
The jog back from the fartlek is about 3k straight up hill, followed by another 2k of varied terrain. Despite running slowly, I felt stabbing pains in my left achilles. Shit. I decided not to run Friday, and instead used the stationary bike, followed by a short swim. I ran slowly Saturday morning and there was mild discomfort at one point, but no pain. One of coaches here prescribed some exercises and assured me everything would be fine as long as I keep it slow for the next while. I ended up running 21k on Sunday with no discomfort.
I watched two Diamond League meets this week (Oslo, New York) at Lornah’s club. It was pretty cool watching the meets with people who know the athletes and even train with them.
One thing I really wanted to do while in Iten was volunteer at St. Patrick’s High School for boys, the famous home of Brother Colm O’Connell, coach of superstars such as David Rudisha. As luck would have it, Alex was teaching math on his rest days for the last four months and he is leaving State side tomorrow. Alex introduced me to the Principal, and then the Principal introduced me to the class as Alex’s replacement for the next 6 weeks! Obviously a bit nervous, I am really looking forward to the experience. Wish me luck.
Running for the week ending June 14 (total = 69k):
- Monday: None, travel
- Tuesday: 11k easy
- Wednesday: 15k (way too hard for what was to be an easy run)
- Thursday:11k easy
- Friday: None, 30 minute bike, swim, core session
- Saturday: 11k easy, bike 30 minutes
- Sunday: 21k, typical long run effort