An other successful week! I’ve been here for 5 weeks now, and I can’t use the excuse that I’m just getting used to the altitude anymore. I can’t say that it feels any better, my workouts are faster, but seems like running fast at altitude hurts no matter how long you’re here for.
Coach Jama and Abdi’s group have been training here in Sululta, a few runner’s staying at Yaya Village, and a few more living in the area. This group is possibly the most successful middle distance team at the moment, including the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 1500m, and the Dibaba sisters, I lost count of all the sub 1.45 800m, and 3.35 1500m runners. It’s been great having them here to ask any question I have and being so open to talk about what kind of training they do.
On Wednesday night they mentioned to me that they’ll be doing 10x 2mins on/90secs off in the satellite field, a very popular place to do workouts about 4km from Yaya. One side of me wants to join them, but the other side questioned if I was going to make a joke out of myself running with such fast runners. But, that’s why I’m here right!?!?
I met a few of them for coffee the next morning, and then were off! We started our warm up from Yaya at the usual slow African shuffle pace, this pace is growing on me! Once at the field, there was a few more runners getting ready including the Dibaba sisters, for a total of 12-15 of us.
During the last instruction, coach Jama let us know that the workout is now 1km repeats instead of 2 minutes. I’m kind of happy about this, the longer the better for me against this group of mostly 800m runners. Also, during the huddle, I noticed a few guys looking at me while saying “ferenji”, which means foreigner, or white man. I don’t know what they were saying exactly, but I know that no one wants to be slower than the white boy with tattoos!
We line up on the start line, and take off at the sounds of the whistle. Right away I’m at the end of the pack, including 3 women that also don’t want to be behind the “ferengi” I guess. The first stretch of the loop is on pretty soft grass, so I’m already working fairly hard, but I’m relieved once it gets firmer and I start feeling better. I ran 2.57-58 at the end of the pack! Nothing special usually, but the fastest I’ve run on longer interval since here, especially on a grass loop.
On the second interval, I’m starting to make my way trough the group and can already tell that some got a bit too exited on the first km and are slowly paying for it already. And is that a kid on a horse running with the front guys, yes it is!
By interval #4 Jama divides us in 3 groups, 4 guys in the front, about 5secs back the Dibaba sisters with an other guy and myself, and the remainder of the group a few secs back. Not long into this interval I start detaching myself from my group and catching 2 of the guys that are falling back from the front group.
On the 6th interval, the same 2 guys are in the from looking like they’re out for a jog, one being an olympian in the 5000m and 10000m, so I don’t feel too bad, and I’m running with the 2 guys who fell back from that front group. Before the start of the workout I told myself that I’d be happy getting to 6 reps since I don’t usually do 3 workouts a week and don’t want to over do it, but at this point to my surprise I’m still feeling very relax, so I keep on going.
On the 8th and last repeat for everyone except the 2 front guys that are doing 10. I could tell that the 2 guys I’m running with are just hanging on behind me. I don’t want to do nothing stupid on this last one that I’ll regret on my tempo workout in 2 days, but I still pick it up the last 200m just to show off a bit, and make sure those 2 guys know it’s 1-0 for me!
A lot of the top guys weren’t at this workout, so I’m not saying I ran faster than any world beater, other than the Dibaba sisters I guess! But it was a big confidence booster to be able to run with a group and not make a fool out of myself. I’m hoping to join them every Thursday if possible as long as they’re not doing anything too short and fast.
I’m definitely starting to be curious to how running at sea level is going to feel. I know training is going well, but with the altitude, terrain, and footing, it’s hard to know what my times here even mean.
Credit to Ryan Grant for pimpin these 2 pictures.