Well this is my final 24hrs in Ethiopia. I am looking forward to coming home but I am also going to miss the place! I have made some nice friends whilst here and I will miss our conversations in pigeon English, especially the looks I get when they don’t have a clue what I am saying!!
One of the things I am going to miss the most is the training in a large group. Ok we have a fair sized group at home, but we only really meet on a Tuesday and Saturday for sessions, whereas here everyone runs together everyday, easy, steady, hard, everything together as a large group.
I’ll also miss the extra time which I have had to do the little things like stretching before and after every run. At home I do very little stretching, mainly due to time constraints, but here you have all day so I have been doing a minimum of 15minutes prior to running and about 45 minutes after running (both dynamic and static) I feel like that has really made a difference as a) I have had no niggles whilst here despite the heavy training load and b) I feel a lot more flexible for it.
I’ll also miss my afternoon nap. I will miss that BIG time! Getting up at 5.30/6am won’t be as easy back at home as I won’t be going to bed at 8pm like I have been here, so my afternoon naps are going to be even more missed!!
Something which I won’t miss is the repetitiveness of the food! I think I may suffer withdrawal symptoms from injera but I doubt very much that I will miss not having it every single day!! I am looking forward to a nice pizza, some maltloaf and a Wispa! Although I’ve managed to go four week without chocolate and without craving it so I am going to try and cut down on the amount I eat once back at home – just 3 bars a day instead of the usual 4!!
Well apart from counting down the days until I go home, nothing else interesting has happened around here, it’s all been training, resting and eating! Training has continued to improve with some very pleasing sessions.
On Tuesday it was a long run day. For the others this meant 2.5 hours as a lot are starting to ease back on training with marathons approaching. I wanted to do 90minutes so found a group who said that they were doing this. After 75minutes we were still in the middle of nowhere! It turns out that the group was doing 2 hours! Thankfully they got back to the field where the bus was parked in 1hour 45minutes so I stopped then as they went on to lap the field for another 15 minutes. The run wasn’t too bad actually despite being longer than I wished. It started off at a really easy pace and gradually picked up until we were doing 7minute miles for the last 3 miles. The whole run was on the country and because of the rain we have had lately there was lots of mud which clogged to your shoes making them feel like ton weights and making it much harder to lift your feet. When the mud randomly dropped off, as it did every now and then, you had to check that it was just the mud and that you hadn’t lost your shoes also!!
Wednesday was probably my best session since I’ve been up here. We did a pyramid session of 1minute, 3minute, 5minute, 3minute, 1minute with 1minute recovery between reps and 5 minutes between sets. I did 3 sets the rest did 4. I started out with the slower end of the group but ended up running away from them. When I say slow these girls have ran around 2.30 for the marathon! Anyway for the 2nd and 3rd sets I joined in with Gete’s group and although I had to work hard I managed to stay with them without being eyeballs out! Even matching Gete stride for stride on some of the efforts! It was a long session for me and doing it on the grass gave an extra strength element so I was really pleased with how I handled it and even more pleased with how my legs felt on my evening easy 5!!
Thursday morning was a bit of a change. I set out thinking, because I was told, I was doing 80minutes. However after only 63minutes we arrived back at the field and stopped! I did think about lapping the field for another 20minutes to make up the extra but then decided that the extra 2.5 miles which I would cover wasn’t going to make a huge difference in the bit picture so settled with the 63minutes instead! A nice easy 5 in the afternoon set me up nicely for my final 15km tempo run!
Well the 15km tempo had a bit of a change to it! Today it was 20km! Although not all tempo. The idea was to do the first 10k easy (6.45 pace) and then pick up to do the second 10k fast (6minute pace). I was feeling really comfortable at the easy pace until about 2.5miles when I started to develop a stitch under my left ribcage! I managed to control it a bit and carried on with the pace but the pain was getting worse. By the time I got to 10km (41.40) It was taking me every ounce of strength which I had just to put one foot in front of the other!! I managed to jam my fingers deep enough under the ribcage to squeeze it out and gain some relief but this only lasted a short while and then I was in severe pain again. Still I managed to up the pace slightly so that I was clicking over at 6.30 pace until the 17km mark when it all became too much and I had to reduce to a slow jog for the last 3km!
I’m not being downcast by it as at least there was a reason why I ran so slowly compared to previous weeks. Plus even though I was in terrible pain most of the way I still ran my 1st 10k 20seconds faster than the 1st week I was here!! Also it was my first “bad” run since I’d been here!
I am mystified as to what caused the stitch. I’d eaten my usual banana and bread like every morning here and I’d drunk plenty of water, both yesterday and this morning. It was boiling hot today – so hot that I burnt the back of my legs whilst I was running! – so maybe that has something to do with it? Whatever it was I hope I don’t get it again, especially not in a race!
During dinner on Wednesday night Sergi and Tadala were trying to get me to eat a hot green chili pepper! These guys eat loads of the things but I was all too aware of what it would do to my mouth and guts so politely declined!! Sergi insisted that it is green chili’s which make Ethiopian athletes run so fast and that if I ate just one I would run really fast and no-one would be able to keep with me!! I don’t doubt for a minute that it will make me run fast…to the toilet! But I wasn’t willing to test the theory so they left it at that and allowed me to finish my injera – which will apparently also make me run fast!! What happened to good old fashioned hard training??
Well, I’m off to the gym now for my final weights and core session here. Only one more sleep and two easy runs and I’ll be back home!!!