Saturday, 4 April 2009

Ethiopia part two - Saturday 21st - Monday 23rd

My mission to train, live and eat like an Ethiopian is going well. I am more relaxed with my surrounds now but as im still acclimatizing to the environment I have adjusted a few things slightly. I feel that I am acclimatizing well to the training and starting to fit in with the routine but its not just the altitude which my body needs to adapt to, but the whole of my physical surrounds – especially the crazy roads!!
One of the biggest things is not being able to communicate well with the others, I’m a woman of few words to start with without having language barriers in the way also!! A lot of the athletes speak little bits of English, they need to as they travel the world – especially Europe – for races. But as I said before my Mackem accent is puzzling them!! They are more used to the Queens English rather than Mackem English!! I’m getting by though, they have taught me a few words of Amharic and I’m teaching them a bit of English. I am confident that when Sergie wins London next month his post race BBC interview will start “why aye, it was class man!!”
The part which I have adjusted slightly is the getting used to doing nothing between the hours of 10.30 and 4.30. This is proving hard as I am usually hard at work during these hours at home but here there is nothing to do except sit in your room!! By the weekend I was starting to get cabin fever so nipped into Bole for a few hours. I used the excuse that I needed to see Richard and use the gym so that I didn’t get told off, again, by the others!!
I keep on getting told off for all sorts of things. Mainly because I’m doing western things like trying to run in shorts and t-shirt at night. “it is cold” I try telling them to me it is hot but to no avail, so its trackie b’s and long sleeves for 40 mins in 25+ degrees heat!! Another thing is trying to sit outside in the sun to read for 10mins. “sun no good” and I get herded back inside. Also drinking the wrong water. “Highland no good, Abyssina good” to me water is water and as long as it’s bottled over here I’m not bothered what it is called!!
By Saturday I needed more money. You can not buy Ethiopian Birr at home so I was recommended to bring US Dollars and change them here. There are only two places which will do this at a decent rate, the Hilton Hotel or the Sheraton Hotel. So to the Hilton I went!!
Talk about luxury! This place is a complete contrast to the ‘real’ Addis. You don’t get the sights, smells or sounds like you do on Bole road or in Maganga. It is full of white faces and European or American accents. There are 3 pools, a mini golf course, tennis courts, gym sauna, the lot! It is very nice and it must be nice to be able to afford to stay there but to me I don’t see the point in paying all of that money and traveling all of the distance to sit in a hotel which could be anywhere in the world! The residents probably don’t even set foot outside of the grounds!!
Anyway I enjoyed my hour of luxury and then headed back to camp via Kaldi Coffee, Ethiopian’s answer to Starbucks but at a quarter of the price!.
Training, that’s what I’m here for after all, is going well. Everything so far has just been easy running with some strides thrown in. on Friday the main groups did a 35km tempo run, I joined in the last 10k but ran at my own pace which by the time I did my 10k (42mins dead) I was quite a way behind the rest of the group. The group was clicking off a pace of 4min/km, which is not too bad for a 21mile run at 8500ft altitude. Oh and it was hilly!!
Saturday was just an easy hour. Usual 5.30am start, as it is for all morning runs. Bus ride to Sulutraa, 15mins of stretches, 1 hour easy and the 1hour of circuits on the field with cows and goats – you gotta love Ethiopia!!
Sunday was a track session for the rest of them but just another easy run for me. To use the track we had to get up at 4.30 as it is reserved for national squads during the day so its either early in the morning or late at night! As the group warmed up and started the session the track was in complete darkness. I did 6miles round and round the track with 4 laps of strides thrown in. The others did various sessions from 20x400 to 5x2k. There was about 5 groups all going at once, I don’t know how Getanah kept a track of everyone!!
After training we all got back on the bus, only for everyone to get back off again! This has happened the last few times on the way home from training but whereas previously I have been left sitting on the bus wondering where everyone had gone, this time Martha tapped me on the shoulder to “come come” so off I went. About 10minutes walk later we all filed into a restaurant – we were going for a post session breakfast – take note LD!!
As the menus were all in Amharic I allowed the others to order for me! I was dreading the thought of what I was going to get but I was pleasantly surprised when a plate of bread and honey was put in front of me! Ethiopian honey really is nectar; it is the nicest honey I have ever tasted – think a few jars of it will be coming back to Sunderland with me!! The tea or chai latte as it is known over here, left a lot to be desired. More steamed milk with tea than tea with milk!!
In the evening I went out for another 30mins, or what was meant to be 30mins but turned into 40mins as I got a bit disorientated, not lost, just disorientated!! I had my 1st, and hopefully last, bad experience on this run. As I was heading up to the forest some small boys threw a stone at me. Thankfully it didn’t hit me and they ended up worst off as a passer by who saw what happened gave them a clip around the ear for their troubles!! I suppose it beat the milk bottles which get thrown at you in Sunderland!!
Monday was another easy hour up in Sulutraa. I really love running up there already. The terrain is great although a tad rocky in parts and it is a mixture of nice flat grass and hilly soily paths.
I finish off Monday with another easy 40mins in the forest. This time I knew my bearings but still plotted my start point in my Garmin just in case!! Thankfully I haven’t yet come across any of the Hyenas which live in the forest and apparently come out in the early evening, although I have heard them on a night!!
Well, I hope everyone is fit and well at home and not missing me too much – I know its hard! Good luck to Maxine on her Scottish debut on Saturday – knock ‘em dead girl! And well done to the girls for winning the Signals and to Emma and James on their 10K PB’s.
One last thing, my mobile can make and receive calls and receive texts but I can’t send them, probably a good thing! So if anyone has any breaking gossip please text it through (it is only the price of a normal text!) or even just a friendly hello to brighten my day!

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