Saturday, 4 April 2009

Half way and all is well

Well here I am at the half way point of my trip. As said previously, it was slow to start but now I am into the swing of things I am really loving it!

However, I think I’m taking to trying to be an Ethiopian a little too literally as I now have “Ethiopian hair” – Yishi braided it for me – very cooling when running but hurts like hell when the sun burns your scalp!! I also now have an Ethiopian name! From the start some of the guys refused to call me aly as it is a “Muslim name”, so they have taken to calling me Baby China! China because I’m white and pretty (apparently!) just like a China cup and Baby because there is already one China in the group. Why the other girl is called China I have yet to figure out as being Ethiopian she is far from white!!

I’m also trying to look the part whilst I’m here and I have been doing some wheeling and dealing, proper Del Boy style!! Yishi has discovered my Nintendo DS and is now addicted to “germ buster”!! I was quite happy to let her play on it, even though she slept in for training one morning because she had stayed up too long playing on it!! Anyway after she had had it for about a week she brought it back along with an Ethiopia t-shirt for me for allowing her to play on it! I jokingly said that she could keep it in exchange for 3 tracksuits and another t-shirt! With that she off to round up the said items from the lads!! She hasn’t yet came back with it all so I think the deal is off, but there is still time!!

On Saturday we all sat down to watch the World Cross Country Championships. I have never seen people so happy for their fellow countrymen winning races! Bearing in mind that they don’t even know these guys, well apart from the winner of the “junior” men’s race who is the brother of one of the girls. Anyway, they celebrated like they were best friends with each of them. They were really disappointed with the result of the senior women’s race as their best athlete was “only” 3rd! Good job they are not British or you would have had to hide the razorblades!! But for the rest of the races there was singing, dancing, hugs and high fives all round! The singing and dancing in the streets carried on late into the night but with an early track session the next morning we could not join in!

The coverage of the race was good, apart from frequent ad breaks for the Ethiopian Army!! The commentary was in English so I could understand what was being said for once! In the female races the British girls got some good coverage, especially new member to our Saturday training group Kate Avery, who had a good 10 seconds of her coming down the finishing straight – great run by the way!!

Training has been going really well and I was very pleased with Friday’s tempo run. We all did 15k, again on a long straight road with at least 3 hefty hills along the way. The idea was to start off steady and then pick up the pace every 5k so that the last 5k was ran at 67 half marathon pace! I knew that there was no way on earth that I would be able to do that pace so I started off with the group but as they picked up the pace I just kept to my own pace – picking it up as I went but not by as much as they did. My splits were 20.30, 19.26, 18.00 with a 5.40 last mile!! Bearing in mind that this was only a tempo run (average HR 160BPM) and not flat out and was at 9500ft I thought that it was a very good training run!!

After my now routine afternoon nap – I’m going to miss these naps when I return to work! I went to the gym to do my weights and core. Whilst there I did 40mins on the elliptical trainer rather than going for my afternoon 5 mile run. This allows the legs and lungs to work the same as going for a run but there is no impact on the legs so much kinder to them.

Saturday was up to Sulultaa for 80minutes easy. I have been running with Gete’s group lately and have noticed that the pace has been picking up from the very easy pace of my first few runs. Today’s run averaged out at about 7.20 mileing which is pretty brisk for an easy run at 8500ft the day before a track session!! My legs were starting to feel a little tired towards the end, no wonder! I wasn’t looking forward to the track session the next day, especially the 5am start of it!!

I felt awful on the 3mile warm up and it took me at least 2.5miles for my legs to feel anywhere near alive! I didn’t have a clue what the others were doing , turns out either 15 x 1k or 10 x 800,400, but I very much doubted that I could stay with their pace anyway so I set myself a session of 10 x 600 with 200 jog recovery. I slotted in behind people as and where possible and managed to hit them all in around 1.54/1.55 so I was really pleased with that as the way my legs were feeling I thought I’d be lucky to hit 80 pace.

When I got back I totted up my miles for the week and discovered I’d covered a massive 95! Not bad considering not one was ran at an altitude of less than 8500ft and most were over 9000ft!! No wonder my legs were tired!!

There was some excitement on Sunday too! We had something different for breakfast…egg sandwiches!! It wasn’t a fried egg with copious amounts of tomato ketchup but it still went down well!! We also had a cup of tea. It was a welcome break from water or OJ, even if it did take me half an hour to convince them that in England we put milk in our tea and that I didn’t want half a pound of sugar in mine – I’m sweet enough!! One of the first things I will do when I get home is go to my nanas and drink a bottomless cup of tea, made only the way my nana can!! Get the biscuits in nans!!




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