Friday, July 22, 2011

Why are the Kenyans so fast?

I haven’t posted anything new in a while mainly because I have been trying to tie up loose ends before I leave on Tuesday the 26th.  It’s hard to believe that my time in Eldoret is almost up.  I have had an amazing experience and met some incredible people.  

If Kenya is known for its runners, Eldoret is a runner’s Mecca.  In fact, both the men’s and women’s champion from the Boston Marathon this year were from Eldoret.  It is at 7500’ elevation and home to the High Altitude Training Center about 25 minutes outside the city.  I have been running about 3 times a week since I came here (usually the days I don’t have to walk the 45 minutes to and from work).  Along my runs I get the usual stares and on occasion I get a few kids who want to run along with me.  Picture Rocky running through Philly, except me instead of Sly and dirt roads instead of the Philly streets. This last week I met a runner named Wesley, 18 years old.  He caught up to me as I was on the tail end of a long run.  I asked him what events he ran and he said “Usually 10k, sometimes 5k, 20k.”

“O well that’s cool.  What’s your usual time?”

“Last time was slow.  Only a low 27”

For a 10k???!?  Holy crap.  That’s a 4:30ish mile for 6.25 miles. I come to find out he didn’t even win that race.  Someone ran a 26:50 to beat him and his brother who came in second.  We continued the run and talked about his trips to the US for different races and a race we both had in common, the Chicago Half Marathon this past summer.  Small world huh?

Earlier this week I experienced firsthand how Kenyans have gotten so fast.  We got back from our usual Wednesday night dinner out downtown and I wasn’t feeling too well.   I went to sleep around 8pm and woke up a few hours later knowing that if I didn’t make a B-line for the bathroom next door my roommate Ryan would be having a few words with me.  Non-stop all night I was doing wind sprints and made more than my fair share of photo finishes to the porcelain throne.  I had a bad experience with food poisoning in the US, once again in Hong Kong and now this.  I still think the worst was the one while on the road trip with my brother Chris on our way from Vegas to Notre Dame to start grad school.  I still feel bad about that one, sorry Chris. And Aunt Kate and Todd.  This was still a bad case. 

Either way, this came at a pretty shitty time.  Get it? Ha. For my last weekend, I was supposed to be going to a camel race – still not exactly sure what it means but a bunch of people were pretty excited about going and I am always up for a weird adventure.  But since I skipped my last two official days of work on Thursday and Friday due to the ‘Kenyan Flu’, I figured I should stay home and rest, get some work done and try to feel better before my 28 hours of travel back to the US starting Tuesday night.

The nice thing about the IU House is that there are always plenty of doctors around.  Really, really good doctors who know what they are talking about.  I got some meds and Gatorade packets to rehydrate and as of Friday evening, I am starting to feel a bit better.  In the meantime, I have been catching up on sleep and reading.  I just finished “What is the What” by David Eggers.  Highly recommend it.  It’s an autobiographical novel about one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  Timely, giving the recent separation and independence of South Sudan.  Also, “Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong With Humanitarian Aid” was a pretty insightful read into the darker side of seemingly good deeds. 

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