I’m in Ethiopia!!!
I’ve been here for a week now and things have been going very well. To be honest, the first day I was asking myself what the f*** I was doing here. It’s a beautiful place, but so different from anything I know, and hard to relate to, but it’s definitely growing on me. The local people are usually very happy to see foreigners and use the little english they know. They seem to wonder about the ink on my arms.
The first person I saw pulling in the resort was Haile, that was kind of cool. But I can’t say I was brave enough to go say hi. He was with his family, so I didn’t want to bother him.
I’m slowly getting use to the altitude(9000ft), and been seeing improvements every day. The first 6 days I just ran easy twice a day with some strides here and there. Like I was told, going up hill is where you feel the lack of O2 the most, which there is a lot of here. But everyday I can feel my breathing being more and more controlled once I’m up those hills. The length of my runs are already where they need to be, 1h20-1h50 in the morning, and about 1h in the afternoon.
I’ve been running a fair bit with Julia, a British Olympian in the 5 and 10k. She’s back after being here for 7 weeks before Christmas, so she’s been good to show me around.
We did a workout yesterday (Saturday), on Bekele’s track. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this and how much the altitude would effect me. I started the workout with Julia to help her out, and make sure I didn’t go out too hard and die early on. I ended up doing 5x 800m, 4x 400m, and 2x 200m all with 55-65secs recovery. The 8’s were in 2:35-27, 4’s in 70-71, and 29-30 for the 2’s. Nothing special, but I’m happy for my first session at 9000ft, and it’s a good baseline to compare my progression in the next few week. Intervals of 4oom and less don’t feel much different from sea level, but I could really feel it on the last 400m of those 800’s.
I haven’t done much running with the locals so far. I first was planning on doing whatever they do, but they don’t seem very structured about what day and time they do their workouts. So, I’m going to do my own thing, and hopefully I can jump in a group when possible. Yaya have their own pacers that can help me out, so I won’t be completely on my own. There’s a big group of 800m and 1500m guys staying here, including the 1500m 2012 Olympic champ, can’t say were a good match in term of where we are in our training right now! Too fast in their workouts, and their easy runs are painfully slow. A Japanese group will be here soon, should be interesting seeing what they do, and maybe jump in their workouts since they’ll probably be long distance guys.
One of the biggest adjustments here is the terrain we run on, a good adjustment. Pretty much every run is the hardest cross country course you can imagine. It make the runs very interesting, but also very hard, either because of big hills, or some very technical parts with small single tracks zigzagging between trees, jumping over rocks, roots, and streams. I’m hoping that it’s going to make any hill in road races this spring feel like a small speed bump.
Once in a while I have to stop in the middle of my runs to enjoy the view. You can see the fields and mountains so far away. Huts, small houses, farmers, and packs of cows, horses, goats, and donkeys, roaming freely reminds me of my Acadien roots and the old farming lifestyle. I also caught a glimpse of some monkeys during one of my runs.
Living at the Yaya Village definitely makes life easy. They take care of everything so I can concentrate 100% on running. The food is good, beer cold, and people nice.
But as soon as you cross the gates of our resort it feels like you go back 100 years. I’m still not sure what to think about it. One side of me loves the simplicity of it, and would trade, some, of it for the lifestyle in Toronto. But on the other side, I’m having a hard time dealing with the level of poverty some of the kids live in. I’m hoping that since thats all they know, that they’re happy, and don’t feel like there missing anything, maybe it’s us that are missing something buried under all of our stuff? But it’s pretty sad when I run through a village, and every kid that sees me starts running and saying “money money money”, knowing that what I’m wearing is worth more than everything their family owns, whatever “worth” means I guess.
Ryan Grant, a friend from Ottawa, will be joining the party this week. It’s going to be nice having a familiar face here for the next 3 weeks.
I love this time of year. It’s close enough to the spring racing season to dream about that big breakthrough. But far enough, and still so much to do,that if you’re not ready to do the work, your dream don’t mean shit.
I haven’t taken many pictures yet, but here’s a few from one of my runs. Hopefully I can get a few new ones every week. Internet connection’s been an issue so far, but I should be able to post most weekend by going at a downtown hotel in Addis. Let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like to read about life or training here.