Monday, August 16, 2010
On Saturday we had our annual Fun Halfmarathon of the running club.
I wasnt really ready since I had not been doing really long runs. The longest I had run this year was 16km. But in July I did a lot of 11km runs and some longer walks.
So I decided to go for the 21km (there were options of 12km and 21km, but we were told it might be a bit longer) and just try if I have to walk, crawl or hobble part of it then so be it. At least I will know how much training I will need for the Mwea Half marathon in September (in the rise fields of Mwea) and the Standard & Chartered Marathon (I will do Half again) in October.
We started at 4pm and went first a bit on the road but soon we were off into the Bundu's via the bypass track (they will build it soon, now it is a dirt road) up onto the Escarpment of the Rift Valley. A beautiful area with some forest. There we meandered between the bypass track and the pipeline service road almost to the edge of the Rift, then turned towards the Ngong Hills and back through a forest. Apart from herdsmen with their cattle, goats & sheep we only met a few kids on their dirt bikes and the local villager's who were out to laugh at these crazy town people who actually come out here to run.....
I was surprised that my legs only started getting tired when we had done about 16km. When I felt we had done 21km fatigue set in. The chap I was running with also said we should have done 21km by now. Both of us did not know the area we were running in, so we had no clue how far it was. When we got back onto the pipeline road I knew we were far from home. Now my legs were hurting and the head was going numb. But we plotted on, Luckily my running mate adjusted his speed to mine and I was not alone. Being only about 40 runners and half having taken the shorter route, we were very spread out.
The last 2km my calves started cramping, but I kept moving walking the last 500m. But I did reach and on arrival they admitted that it was 25km!
I did it, so I am fit enough for the Halfmarathons, only need to work on the distance a bit more.
Yesterday I was not too sore, so I am very proud of myself!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Last Saturday it was time again for our annual Ngongathon, a run straight across the Ngong Hills. A test for your endurance but beautiful country side.....It is a timed race, but not that serious. No price money, just a glass of beer for the winner. The aim is to enjoy yourself, ‘ujienjoy’ as the Kenyan President would say.
We do it one year in one direction and the next year in the other direction. This year we were running from Ngong town to Kona Baridi (the cold corner).
As the run goes straight across the 7 Hills it is mostly either straight up or steep down hill. Also it is at an altitude of between 2000 – 2400m. What looks fro far as some lovely meandering hills is a real challenge when you run there. This is where Paul Tergat, Catherine Ndereba and many others train for their big races. Some times we actually meet them.
This year we had 140 participants! Mainly from the 3 Hash House Harrier groups in Nairobi and from AAR Health Services the sponsor. But some other people also joined for the fun. This gave me the chance to meet with Tetich – a fellow sparker, she had actually been invited by a colleague by the time I send her a message to invite her.
This was the first time for me to meet a fellow sparker in person! As much as there are others in Nairobi it is usually rare to meet up with them. We are so busy with our lives that it is difficult at times.
I knew I had not been training hills and I knew I would suffer the next 3 days, but i enjoyed it anyways. We started at 2pm. I actually missed the start since I was on the phone sorting some problem in the office. So I ended up running with my mobile for the first time. But since I was carrying my camera I had tied a jacket around my waist and was able to stuff phone and camera in the pockets.
The weather was cool, yet sunny, ideal running weather. I tool it easy. After the first sprint to overtake the walkers I started walking whenever I felt the strain of uphill too much. But I also took the time to stop once in a while to take pictures and sort the office out on phone whenever I found network. But still I must have made some good time, because I soon found myself relatively in front of the pack. I even started suspecting I might be the first Lady. Well this time the crack runners had started in Ngong Town, so I knew they were behind me, having to do an extra 3km uphill. I thought those who had been training for Ultra marathons would catch up with me on the 3rd and steepest hill. But by the time I was there they were no where to be seen. I was surprised how little I felt winded on the 2nd and 3rd hill. I never attempt to run them because they are STEEP! But I had enough air to even help another Lady up the hill, who was slipping in her shoes and had been left behind by her children. By the time we got to the top (now we were at 2400m) I advised her to rest at least 15minutes and then I left her in the care of her children and continued running. Now I knew there were 2 more steep hills, that were lower, but the foot path now on stony ground overgrown by bushes. That is the area I love, since there are less people and it is so beautiful. When I got on the second of these bushy hills the first of the Ultra-marathoners overtook me. Then came the big surprise, when I topped that hill I realised I had forgotten about the hill behind..... Somehow you always forget that one! One of my fellow runners had the same surprise. Well there was nothing else to do, but to run down that hill and up the next, then the 2 remaining hills were relatively flat going through buffalo country in dense bush and a bit of African Dshungle. That’s where you stick together and keep your ears open. The walkers always have Wild Life Guards with them. I stopped once in a while for a quick photograph, but now I wanted to finish and kept running.
Another 3 or 4 of those crack runners overtook me, but I started realizing i was really doing good time, when I saw how few people were at the finish. The last 5km is more or less down hill with a beautiful view into the Great Rift Valley on one side and the Maasai Plains on the other, while you can see the finish point for the last 3km. By that time your legs are killing you and you are looking forward to a good stretch and a cold drink. My goal had been to be under 2 hours, since last year (when I was unfit) I had taken 2 hrs 5 minutes. My best time in 2003 had been 1 hr 22 minutes. Our best runner did it in 52 minutes once. This can give you an idea of how steep theses hills are, since it is only about 14km.
I did finish in 1 hr 38minutes and was also told I was the first Lady on the shorter stretch..... Wow I couldn’t believe it. I had won the race twice before in 2002 & 2003 but those days I was fit. Right now I know I am no where near my old fitness. So this was a nice surprise. So I am not as unfit as I thought. My goal of taking part in the Nairobi Standard & Chartered Marathon in the Half marathon and finish in around 2 hrs seems possible after all. I had missed out the last 2 years because of health problems
But the best part came in the evening at the after party. Now Tetich and I could get to know each other better and I was glad she enjoyed it as well.
It is so nice to finally know a fellow Sparker!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
When I first realized that i would have to travel to Europe in winter since Mum needed me, I couldnt believe myself. I was actually in a daze: Me, going to Europe in winter, no way.... Hey remember this is me having RA, and feeling the cold in every joint.
then with online booking and frequent flyer miles all went so fast, that I was booked in within hours of having made the decision to travle and it tolle me days for it to sink in. I kept mumbling, that I cant believe I am doing this.
Also Mum is not the easiest person to be with, guess thats why my brothers and sisters are taking a rain-check.... But when I saw in Mums emails that she could not get things organized and she was scared of the time after hospital, I offered her that I coudl come, I have enough miles and can take leave, but dont have money for the rest payment. She called me immediately. It was like the answer to her prayers. She was so glad, and my stepdad was the same, so he said immediately he will pay for the taxes and fees. So within a few hours I was booked to travel to Switzerland. In the 3 weeks that remained to the holiday I got used to the idea and started looking for my warmer cloth. Living in Africa you do not need them that often....
When I landed in Zurich, my stepdad and his daughters husband (would that be step-brother-inlaw?) were waiting for me. On the way back we stopped in the shoeshop where my step-sister works and we bought winter boots and I foudn some I liked almost immediately and suddenly all didnt look so bad any more. I was actually looking forward to Mum and just knew she was there cooking a nice meal and I started wondering what it would be and really looking forward.
Then seeing her, smelling the homey smell of food and seeing her looking actually better, then she had in July, I suddenly was sure all was going to be alright.
so far it has been fine. I feel warm enough most of the time. Mum is so thankful - for the first time in my life I hear heartfelt "thank-you"s from her all the time - that she is not being difficult and not correcting me all the time. We are actually having a good time chatting and doing the house work together, she is even okay with it when I tell her to leave some of the work to me.
Only trouble now: Staying away from the chocolate and the "guezzle" (christmas cookies)..... Okay I still have 3 weeks in front of me, but I am off to a good start and my joints have behaved so far.
Also have a elliptical trainer in my room and hope to use it most days. So all should be okay.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I went for a jog yesterday morning on the running track at school. After about 2 miles I tripped and fell. I fell so badly that I actually broke my hand! One of the bones in my middle hand is broken. And off course it had to be my right hand.
So with all the other cuts adn bruises I got I am in a bit of pain. They gave me no sick-off and not even a splint. Apparently they dont any more with this kind of fracture.
Now I had to stop my trainng for the halfmarathon in October and next week school is opening. I have no idea how i will cope with all teh hadnwritten notes I have to do as school nurse.
Am really confused right now how things will be.
When you do not have the use of your main hand life is difficult!!!!! Will have to ask one of my girlfriends to even help me wash my hair. And that with power and water rationing going on in Kenya.
I will need something soon to cheer me up!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Having been a long-distance runner most of my adult life, not being able to do long runs has been a real problem for me.
2004 I was out from runnning for many months when I first developed RA and it took me more then 6 motnhs to even have a painfree day. Then I recovered slowly and was back to doing Halfmarathons. A bit slower, then before but at least running.
2007 I developed knee problems and could not run as I wanted, but somehow managed to continue.
Then last year I was getting fit again and I developed a back injury. It took me all of last year wiht many ups and downs to learn to manage my back and still run. Turned out even the knee problem had been casued by the back problem, which is a postural problem. Now I can maintain my back if I do my back exercise religiously 3 times a week.
Early this year I did a 16km run and was so happy thinking I am back to "real" running, but 10 days later I got another RA flare-up which has been slow to recover and new joints affected. This had also affected me badly psychologically.
But now it looks like I am back to "real" running.
I still skipped the inaugural Sotokoto Halfmarathon here in nairobi, knowing I would be pushing it.
But when we had the annual Ngongathon I took part. This is one of the toughest fun races that exist. It is high altitude and goes right across the Ngong Hills (famous from the movie "Out of Africa"). about 16km either steep uphill or steep down hill.
My official goal was to prooof to myself that i can still do it which ever was, even if crawling. The secret, but seemingly unatainable goal was to do it in 2 hrs. My personal best some years ago had been 1hr 24minutes.
And I did it! I felt like I am just crawling up the hills, didn`t do much running uphill....Lol I had not been training uphill, to minimise the strain on my back.
But I managed to run in the flatter areas and downhill. I finished in 2hrs 3 minutes! Almost didn`t believe it when I was told my time.
The next 3 days I was not as sore as I thought I would be.
And the normal Hashruns I have done sine I have been doing good times. Last Monday I felt like I am not really running, but dragging my feet. And after the run a couple of people came up to me and commented that i am back to running fast! Wow this is sounding like music in my ears!
Now I need to slowly increase distance again. Because my next goals are the Halfmarathon of the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon and next years Sotokoto Halfmarathon.
I know I have to take it very slowly and listen to my body, but I am sure now that it is do-able.
I want to try the Galloway method for training, where you run 5 minutes and walk 1.
Wish my success!
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