Friday, June 2, 2017

Catching up and enjoying the moments.

It has been just over a month since my disappointing London Marathon and once again I am back up on two feet. The weekend following my return was scheduled with three out-of-town speaking engagements so once I got to my computer, I added another slide to my message of blessings and trials. The kids had a P.A. day so they travelled with me for part of the weekend, which included a relaxing overnight trip to grandma and grandpa's. It was nice to finally put my luggage away after spending nearly five of the last seven weeks using it. 

I took a full week off of any sort of physical activity. My foot was pretty sore so I rested and spent time doing the things I didn't get to before, such as overdue coffee dates with friends. Eventually I felt I needed to start moving my body again so I resumed pool running at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre then went for a short run on day 11. Usually I take 10-14 days off of running after a marathon, and because my foot was feeling better, I felt I was ready. I can't find the word to describe how I think myself and many feel when in their down time, between recovery and full time training. When logging weeks of 180-190 km and keeping a strict routine with preventative maintenance, rest/sleep, and diet, I often think I will enjoy my off-season with extra energy and free time with sweet and savoury treats. But then when I get there, I want to be back where I was before, tired but smiling after a full day's work, preparing to do it again the next day. Over the years I have learned to fully appreciate the change in the various stages and cycles of life and training. You must enjoy the moment you are in. And I had to properly conclude my season before commencing another.

After a week or so of easy running and cross training, I told Canada Running Series Race Director Alan Brookes that I'd like to return to run the June 17 Toronto Waterfront 10 km, as I previously discussed with coach Dave Scott-Thomas regarding my summer/fall plans. Read it here. The May 26-28 weekend would include national championships in the Ottawa 10 km and Calgary Half Marathon but I knew that was much too much, too soon. I think I might be the only one not racing this coming weekend but after my three marathons of Rio in August, Toronto in October, and London in April we felt waiting two months to race would provide a solid break.

I've started a fresh and enjoyable yet not-too-serious training routine with less mileage, more strength work, and some shorter intervals to get some speed back into the legs. Because I spent my university years on the ice and off the track, I don't mind running around on the rubber in circles. My first attempt at strides was fairly entertaining but I've been able to get quicker in even just one week; I could hardly break 37 seconds in a few 200 m attempts but this week I was consistently repeating ~35 seconds. It's a start. I joined the Speed River group in Guelph for a set of 3 x 10 minutes with Katrina, which was also refreshing. And Rachel Hannah and I hope to get our plans aligned so that we can do some regular training together. I've contemplated the idea of pacing some of the Canadian 10, 000 m Championships at the Inferno meet in Guelph but haven't yet decided. It would be new and fun but would not give me much time to recover before racing the 10 km in Toronto, 2.5 days later. In the meantime, I am enjoying giving more to my family and community. I assisted as a timer and parent volunteer at my kids' local and regional track and field meets, and even oversaw some high jump practices for a week. Thank goodness for Derek Drouin's youtube videos! I continue to write for iRun and complete various speaking engagements and interview requests.
Before I know it, the kids will be out of school again and we will be enjoying a new routine. With the likelihood that I will do a fall marathon, I will be enjoying the early mornings to log my mileage in order to beat the heat and be back for the kids.  
And on I go. 


Fortunately due to the ugliness of my race, there are very few pictures of me from the London Marathon. Photo: MarathonFoto .
I think it was therapeutic for both me and my audience when I shared my journey at various speaking engagements, the weekend following my disappointing race. Photo: Tae Photography.


Something I shall celebrate each and every April 27, recovery from my 2014 femur fracture.



When you witness Derek Drouin's gold medal performance at the Olympics...

...it's sure to inspire your own. Photo: B. Flores.



This moment is so special. My 11 yr old son and I are watching my 9 yr old son and other athletes compete. Photo: B. Flores

His 6th and final event of the day was the 4 x 100 m relay. Photo: B. Flores.
Dialing in during one of his many track races that day. Photo: B. Flores.
Relaxing before an action-packed day. Photo: mom. 

Preparing for the kids' regional track & field meet while riding the bus. 

Back to the basics with pilates and strength work with Jason at Essential Physio. 

Proud and thankful to continue representing Saucony.
#FindYourStrong #2017 

Coffee with friends.

I'll be writing more about nutrition in the upcoming iRun magazines.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Onward Again. Reflections after the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon.


Proverbs 16:9
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

I've been up since 4:15 am and am finally nearing the end of a long day. Once again, I sit at my computer writing about another marathon. I've been here before, sharing the downs instead of the ups, after a disappointing day. I think the last time I wrote about a big marathon disappointment was when I had my first (and only) DNF at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow due to heat exhaustion. The weather certainly wasn't an issue today. In fact, the conditions were really good as was the pace group, course, training, and my overall health. Usually I can fairly quickly put my thoughts together after a poor performance but today it took quite a while. I will debrief with Dave and Trent upon my return but for now I can summarize with a few points:
I likely paid the consequence for the slightly quick start (~2:27:00 pace at 10 km). I'm more of a metronome runner.
I disconnected from the pace group at the 10 km fluid station and was solo for the remainder of the race. With the women's only start, you don't have men to settle in with.
My bottle/gel was not on the 30 km table. Every bottle and gel is important.
My heel became more than just a niggle. It started in September, between my Rio and Toronto marathons.
Lastly, I succumbed to every marathoner's nightmare; GI troubles. Never in my 14 marathons in nearly 15 years have I ever had to stop (and multiple times). I hope this was my first and last experience! Not fun.
BUT I won't allow these to be excuses. The bottom line is that I physically disconnected early in the race. My goal was to get a personal best and now that I've had some time to think more about it, I may have also mentally disconnected at that 10 km point due to an all or nothing mentality. This race wasn't about making a national team or breaking records, it was about what Krista DuChene could do on April 23, 2017. And it didn't happen. I had no pressure, no home crowd, no national title or team selection criteria to fight for that was fierce among the Brits. THEN it got ugly and really just became a matter of finishing. I really just wanted it to end. It was one of these races where one could easily DNF but that was not an option. Sometimes you just have to finish what you started even if it's terribly humbling and race results become part of your permanent record.
After the race and throughout the rest of the day I limped around and continued to make frequent trips to the washroom but that didn't stop me from moving on with my day. I met my friend Paul, who I met in Iten while training in March, and his girlfriend, Emily for a lunch of fish n' chips with mushy peas. It was so nice to see a familiar face and have a good cry. They are lovely people. Shortly after that I made my way to the tube to visit Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross. My kids are big Harry Potter fans and thought it would be neat to see where the characters disappear on route to Hogwarts school. I wasn't sure I would be able to but because it was so close to the Tower Bridge where I was staying, I decided to go. Once I got back I got ready to go to the London Marathon after party and awards celebration. I enjoyed the awards ceremony and a lovely meal while sitting with several from the Netherlands.
I will meet Alan Brookes again for breakfast in the morning then make my way home from Paddington Station to Heathrow airport to Pearson airport. What's next? Well, since London was my third marathon in eight months, definitely some rest and relaxation. I have several speaking engagements and life with the kids will continue to keep me busy. Jonathan has been dad-extrodanaire since March so I'm sure our Team DuChene will appreciate just the normal day to day routine.
Thank you for your love, prayers and support both before and after the race. There have been some really special messages sent to me that I hold dear to my heart.
Down but not out.
Onward again!

Pre-race interview: here.
Post-race interview (at bottom): here.

Virgin Money London Marathon Media Guide with everything you would need to know, and more!

Spectacular finish. Something I chose to embrace despite the outcome.

Fuel station.
Abel Kirui sat next to me on the bus to the start. Very friendly, humble and personable man. You'd never know he has one Olympic (silver) and two World Championship (gold) medals. He won 2016 Chicago, 2008 Vienna, and was second at 2007 Berlin. We chatted and shared pictures of our families from our phones over the course of nearly 1.5 hrs.  He went on to place 4th.
Finally fish n' chips with mushy peas.
Thanks for helping me through my post-race tears, Paul and Emily.
On route to Hogwarts from Platform 9 3/4!
Always a post-race favourite.
Wonderful dinner with the Netherlands people (athletes, agents, coaches), including male winner Daniel Wanjiru (in background).  
And another classic - Sunday roast (well, close enough). The mashed potatoes had horseradish, which paired well with the beef. 



It was such an honour to meet GB's marathon mom and 5-time Olympian, Jo Pavey. What a lovely woman.
Thanks for the breakfasts together, Alan. And sorry for all the photo bombing! See you back at home.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kenyan Diaries, The Finale.


Volume VII. Kenyan Diaries - The Finale
HATC (High Altitude Training Centre), Iten, Kenya.
Days 22-30. March 28-April 5, 2017.



I have quite enjoyed journalling for iRun.ca while at the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya. Here's a list (with links) of my seven "diaries", including this final one:

Volume I  "My Worthwhile Struggle of Daring to Dream"
Arrival to the HATC. Days 1-3. March 7-9.

Volume II  "Landing on Solid Ground".
The HATC Facility. Days 4-6. March 10-12.

Volume III  "Eating on the Run".
The HATC Food. Days 7-9. March 13-15.

Volume IV "The People, Places and Faces".
The Kenyan People. Days 10-13. March 16-19.

Volume V "Running Down a Dream".
Friendships with the HATC People. Days 14-17. March 20-23.

Volume VI "The Big One".
The Training. Days 18-21. March 24-27.

Volume VII "The Finale"
Departure from the HATC. Days 22-30. March 28-Apr 5.

(lengthier, unedited versions appear on www.kristaduchenerunning.blogspot.com)

Highlights of my final 9 days:

Day 22. Took a matatu with Bekele to do a tempo with Tarah on the tarmac road. Had some chai tea at her home afterwards. Pizza was served for dinner!

Tea time with Tarah and Wesley after completing our runs.

Thanks for "breakfast on bed" after my return from the tempo, Ken and Jayson. And thanks to Julia for saving me breakfast on the morning I got lost!

The pizza was definitely a food highlight of my entire 4 week stay. Loaded with vegetables, pineapple and meat...it was so delicious. You can tell that everyone was excited!


Day 23 FaceTimed with my son on his 9th birthday. Easy afternoon run with Lynn and Tarah then had mango-carrot juice with them at the club afterward.



Day 24 Did 25 x 1'/1' fartlek on Lornah's track with Bekele. Julia and George also did workouts. Picked up the kids' bracelets from Johanna's, "Olympics Corner".




Day 25 Had my first fall due to some heavy legs. Fortunately just a few scrapes to my hands.



Day 26 Last long run with the group. Did 10 km easy then 26 km to Eldoret. Didn't have a set pace plan and was pleased with how my body naturally progressed along the way for the 36 km total. Breakfast at the club, massage, trip to the Kerio View and incredible fish for dinner!






Day 27 Rest day. Went to the club for masala teas and mango juices as a send-off for Manuela and Frank.

What a wonderful couple. They are fun, outgoing, supportive and welcoming to everyone! 
Looking forward to running with you again, Manuela. Hopefully we can line up some marathons together. #2016Olympians #KenyanBFFs

Day 28 Met Emmet and George at 6:20 for a run along the fartlek loop. I added on a few at the end to make 23 km then met them and Jayson and Ken for breakfast at 8:30. Later in the afternoon I did 13 km, my last core class and some stretching.



Day 29 This morning Jayson, Ken, George, Emmet, Bekele and I did a workout at the new track. George joined me with Bekele pacing us through 4 x 1 mile repeats with 2 easy laps between sets. I had my last massage at 2:00 pm with Dan then met Tarah. I gave her my shoes and clothing and we had a nice chat and drink at the club before saying goodbye. Finished packing my belongings.

Tarah had the shoes and clothing clean and drying later that day.

I survived by washing my clothes in the shower or in the buckets with detergent but suggested she give them a proper wash, in her washing machine, before distributing them to the athletes at the Transcend Running Academy. 


Day 30 My final day. I decided I was going to run whenever I was up and ready, which happened to be at 5:50 am. I could have joined the group a bit later but thought it would be nice to take in my last run, solo. I took my headlamp and phone, taking pictures along the way and enjoying the beautiful sunrise. Many other runners were also out, rising with the sun. I had breakfast with the group, said goodbye then started my long journey home.


Running as the sun rises - definitely a highlight of my trip.

Room #5 checking out of the HATC.

Many fall in love with the chapati in Kenya and plan to make it upon their return home. For me, it was the chai tea at Wesley's parents' in Charangany, and the tea masala. Perhaps Steve, my brother-in-law with The Black Peppercorn could create a recipe for me. This picture was taken at the "Java House" where many people kill time while waiting to enter the airport. 


________________________________________________


My last of four weeks at the HATC seemed to be slow, particularly because I ran out of topics to write about! My husband suggested I go through the 500+ pictures from our 2016 Rio Olympic experience and/or write more about the HATC people I met, including where they were from, how they got there, and why. So at breakfast I passed around a pen and piece of paper and got some more writing material. I figured I could save the picture-sorting for my long (door to door ~ 36 hrs) travel home.


While at the HATC I wrote down the countries represented by the people who were here during my stay. I decided to go with residence but if that country was already on my list, I included citizenship. As of April 3,  the total was 28.


Algeria
Australia
Belgium
Canada
Chile
China
Denmark
Dubai
England
France
Germany
Iceland
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Kenya
Luxemburg
Netherlands
New Zealand
Poland
Scotland
Slovakia
South Africa
Switzerland
Thailand
Turkey
USA


We believe there were seven from the 2016 Rio Olympics:
Poland - female 1500 m finalist, male steeplechase
Turkey - female steeplechase, male steeplechase, male 5000 m
Belgium - female marathon
Canada - female marathon


Many people arrived alone whereas others were together in groups of 3 or more: Israel, Turkey, Poland, England.


There was a group of nearly 20 people from several different countries with the "Kenya Experience". From their website, "The Kenya Experience are the original running holiday in Iten and the first company to offer coached running camps in Iten to non elite runners. We are proud that we continue to this day to offer this service to runners from across the global running community."


In my final week, the Purosangue Athletics Club arrived. From their website, "Purosangue is an international project of Supportive Running, active in Italy and Africa since 2011, spreading the culture of clean and social sports. It collaborates with associations, companies, institutions, sports events and athletes by promoting a new vision of running. Purosangue is also a sports club and has several training camps in Italy and Africa."


As for the people I spent most of my time with, running or eating, here's a snapshot of who they are, their goals, where they're from, and/or why they chose the HATC:


Ken Lam - born in Hong Kong and moved to the USA at age 10, now residing in Seattle, WA. Has been running for 2 years. PB Half 1:33 and Full 3:36. He is not coached, aiming to run Boston and chose the HATC for a vacation and training. "It's been great meeting wonderful friends and Olympians."


Jayson Peterson - born in Sudbury, ON and now residing in Seattle, WA. Has been running for 9 years. PB Half 1:28 and Full 3:14. Was coached for 2 years and is at HATC for a second time. He likes chocolate sauce, yoga and plans to run all of the major marathons.


Emmet Jennings - from Ireland, now residing in Oman as a teacher. Ran at 2010 world juniors in 3,000m. PB steeplechase 9:07, 5,000 m 14:47 and 10,000 m 31:42.


George Curwin - from Brighton, UK. Has been running for nearly 3 years. PB Half 1:14 and Full 2:44. He is uncoached so at the HATC for inspiration and to learn from more experienced runners. "An amazing experience."


Julia Nikonorova - born in Petrozavodsk, Russia, and lives in Ottawa, ON. Has been running for 4.5 years. PB 5 km 16:28 and 10 k 34:12. Is looking for a new place to pursue running/job. Speaks 4 languages: russian, french, english, spanish. Is a huge cycling fan and "I'll be in Tokyo in 2020 in the marathon".


Frank Bollen -  from Belgium. Paced at the FBK Games in 2012, Haile Gebrselassie  at the 10,000 m trials, and for the lead women at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. PB 3,000 m 7:57.


Manuela Soccol - from Belgium. PB 10 km 34:11 and Marathon 2:37:09. Competed in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Has a collection of over 500 socks! Described as "Krista's Kenyan BFF"!


Emma, Scott, James, Axel, Ralph and Paul (England) and Laurent (Paris) were here during my first three weeks. Ethan was another Canadian (Nova Scotia) I got to know.


Some others who stayed at the HATC for a few days:
A couple from Chile.  He was training for a 70.3 IronMan.
Matt from England who was in Africa for his work in public health.
Jess from Australia who was in Africa for her work with the Red Cross.
John, Neasa and Kristina from Canada were here for a few days when I first arrived (mentioned earlier).

Easy afternoon run with Manuela, Ken and Jayson. Photo: Frank.
One last group trip to the Kerio View. I quite like the tea masala , a stronger chai, at the club and the Kerio View.  But by far, my favourite tea was at Wesley's parents' home in Cherangany. You can't beat the milk (boiled) fresh from the cow!


Kenyan toilets. Yes, I used all of them.



A few random pics: Kenyan shillings, a boy outside of Dan's massage, the striking red dirt roads, and Kristina's message that was perfect after my few first runs at altitude, "Breathe, this too shall pass".  
Very common to see piki pikis with a large load on the back. This particular bundle was much smaller than some.


As the rainy season approaches, these farmers are getting ready for corn planting. I remember my dad with similar equipment on our farm in the spring.

This school group was waiting outside of the airport in Eldoret. Later, as we walked across to board the plane, I saw them again. Must have been some sort of school trip. Sharply dressed in their uniforms, don't you think? During my stay I saw countless other children in various coloured school uniforms that were always well-cared for and clean, including their bright white socks. 




My Final Thoughts

The further removed I become from the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya, the more I will be able to appreciate, savour, and be incredibly thankful for this amazing month. Similar to my return from the Olympics, I won't be able to answer the simple question, "So, how was it?" so I thought I'd include a list of: by the numbers, what may have seemed impossible (that became possible), and what I loved.

By the numbers:
29 days in Kenya.
26 running days.
10 quality (workout/long) runs.
714 km logged.
0 rainy runs.
An average of ~ 5:20/km pace for easy runs.
7 excellent massages.
Countless mealtime conversations about running and food, children asking, "How are You?", and servings of delicious sakuma wiki, cooked cabbage, ugali, oatmeal, banana, and eggs.

What may have seemed impossible (that became possible):
Comfortably using squat toilets.
Riding as solo mzungu in a matatu with 15 other people.
Getting lost and enjoying a pole pole (slow, slow) piki-piki ride back to camp.
Pushing my body to yet another level, completing the toughest training week ever in 15 years of marathoning, at 40 years of age.

What I loved:
The smell of freshly baked buns, the massage oil, and a sparkly clean room.
The sound of birds, chickens and cows in the morning, Kenyan music, and the staff singing quietly to themselves while working.
The taste of chai and masala teas, cold mango juice, three fish dishes, one pizza dinner, and three club breakfasts after returning from our long progressive runs to Eldoret.
The sight of the Rift Valley, morning sunrise, people walking everywhere, and children walking to school or running alongside us in flip flops or winter coats while carrying backpacks.
The feel of the soft red dirt roads, and a hot shower and clean sheets after a hard training day.
Sharing mangos and avocados at mealtimes.
The friendships made, particularly with my "Kenyan BFF" and fellow 2016 Olympian, Manuela Soccol from Belgium.
Seeing in person and better understanding Tarah's life and the work of the Kenyan Kids Foundation. 
Visiting Wesley's home village of Cherangany in rural Kenya.
Texting my husband at the beginning of my day and end of his, always feeling in touch with home.
FaceTiming with the kids while out and about, showing them the people and scenes along the way.
Learning from SpeedRiver and Coach Dave Scott-Thomas, particularly succeeding in: easing into training while at altitude, maintaining an easy pace on recovery days, and running more by feel in hard efforts.
Lastly, living a month to train for a personal best at altitude in an amazing country with wonderful people while being completely supported by my #TeamDuChene at home. #blessed
Perfect picture taken at the track in Iten, Kenya while preparing for the London Marathon. Likely a lifetime opportunity that I will cherish forever. Asante (thank you).





Monday, March 27, 2017

Training at the HATC, Kenya. Days 18-21. March 24-27, 2017.

Training at the HATC in Iten, Kenya. Days 18-21. March 24-27, 2017.

I purposely saved the topic of training for one of my last Kenyan Diary posts so that I could share some numbers and have more to write about.
I have two major benefits to my four week stay at the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya: 1) training at 2400 m (7900 ft) allows my body to produce new red blood cells to carry more oxygen, hopefully making me speedier for my upcoming Virgin Money London Marathon, April 23.
2) completely devoting myself to full-time training within what I call a, "Runner's Fantasy World". Never before have I been able to focus entirely on training with nothing else to do or be concerned about for this long. When meals are made, the room is cleaned, rest and recovery is easily completed, and your entire day is built around your running with no stress or busyness, it becomes a fantasy of sorts. It's an investment and an incredible opportunity that I am so very much enjoying but it is not something I would want to do for that much longer. My life is complete with my husband and kids #TeamDuChene.


The First Run
When preparing for my trip, many told me to be diligent in taking it easy. Ramping up the kilometres and going too hard, too early would not be wise as your body must slowly adjust. On the first day I arrived, I had my first easy shake-out run of 8km. Like many had described, I could definitely feel the lack of oxygen. Some said it would be like breathing through of a straw. To me, it was similar to the feeling you get when you reach the top of a long flight of stairs. Unpleasant but do-able. Neasa took me on my first run and was taking it easy as she had completed a workout earlier that day.

Pace and Heart Rate
Thanks to Trent's incredible support with Speed River, I knew that my pace would be approximately 15-20 seconds/km slower than sea level. Prior to coming, I was running really easy on my easy days; likely averaging about 5:30/km. Sure enough, for the first five days at altitude, I averaged about 5:45/km with a heart rate consistent to that of easy sea level runs, ~120 BPM. For days 6-20 I then averaged about 5:10-5:15/km on easy runs, again with a similar heart rate.  I followed the recommendation to get used to the initial change for the first few days, then steadily ease into a more routine full-time training schedule for the next 10 days. Adapting to altitude is different for everyone so I was emailing Dave, Trent and Margo every few days. They were pleased with how I was adapting.

Workouts
After a few easy runs I did some strides on the track to get the legs moving. On day seven I got to see the large "Tuesday Track" groups when I joined Tarah and her group for half of their 1 km repeats workout. I certainly couldn't keep their pace but was happy to chase them, consistently finishing each rep at the same pace with a lengthy recovery period between sets. When easing into training, I knew that recovery would be very important; both in workouts between intervals and after each run. It's certainly possible to complete a normal workout but you will pay for it in the recovery. In the first 10 days I likely napped each day out of necessity then found that I just needed to be resting and off my feet, otherwise I might not sleep as well at night. On day nine I did 9 km of tempo with Bekele. Days 14 and 16 included a bit more volume in my tempo and fartlek workouts, both with Bekele. Day 21 will be my biggest workout in this build with a 75' tempo and day 23 will be a 25x1'/1' fartlek for some quicker leg turnover. I will then begin my taper and head home to Ontario.

Long Runs
Shortly before coming to Iten, I completed a 40 km long run so I knew mentally, that I could check that off my list for this build. I figured that my long runs wouldn't be much more than 35-36 km at altitude; it just wouldn't be necessary. In the first week, my longest run was 23 km as I was easing my way into training at altitude. In my second and third long runs, I joined the group for a progressive pace for total distances of 30 and 34 km. Each time we did a warm up before we started the 26 km progression on the tarmac road from Iten to Eldoret. For each progressive part, I felt comfortable to lead. In the first progression I had a faster finish with the last 5 km at goal race pace. In the second progression I pushed the pace a bit earlier but didn't have a quick finish. I averaged the same pace for the last 24 km in both runs. My final long run will be about 35 km with no specific set pace.

Running Surfaces
One of the first things I became clearly aware of was the difficult footing. The dirt roads are easy on the body and good for recovery runs but are often rocky and uneven. I found myself constantly looking at the ground so as to avoid tripping while getting used to the change. Prior to coming, and because of our mild winter, I was able to do a decent amount of mileage on our trails that somewhat helped prepare me for what to expect in Iten. After a few days of running on the dirt paths, I ran for the first time on the tarmac road. It was easier to pick up the pace but I really noticed it in my quads. I then decided that I would continue to include some tarmac road running on most of my runs. Doing my weekly strides would be a good way to keep the firm surface in my routine in addition to my long run and tempos that I would do on the tarmac road. So far my 1 km repeats were on the dirt track and my 16 x 2'/1' fartlek was on the tartan track. Tomorrow's tempo will be with Tarah near her house because it's flatter and she can provide a driver for fluid support. Likely our warm up and cool down will be on the dirt road and our quality work will be on the tarmac road. I think these four weeks might make a record for the longest time without any treadmill running!

Routes
I struggle with my sense of direction at home so in my first few runs when faced with the challenges of altitude, hills, uneven surfaces, and mouthfuls of dust, I knew there was no way I would be able to learn any routes. Eventually the challenges became normal (well, the hills that are unavoidable can still be tough) and I was able to learn some routes. The roads are not marked and turns are learned by remembering landmarks and kilometres e.g. "for the 8 km loop, go 2.3 km down the 'all weather road' and turn right at the shed with the shiny roof that will take you to your final right turn onto the tarmac road and back home". It's always a good idea to put some shillings in your pocket before venturing out, just in case you get lost and need a piki piki or matatu ride back. As long as you can get to the tarmac road, you just need to know the direction to Iten. Also, running uphill and into the wind usually means you are close to home.

Mileage 
Similar to easing into workouts, we took a steady approach to returning to the mileage I was doing before coming. My weeks have been 130, 160, and 180 km. My final week will likely being closer to 190 km before my taper begins.

Schedule
Prior to coming, I was running two double days (Tues, Thurs) and four single days (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat) with one complete rest day (Sun). It was important to keep this consistency so I was happy to fall into a nice routine of three double days (Mon, Tues, Thurs) and three single days (Wed, Fri, Sat) and one complete rest day (Sun). By doing this I am allowing myself to recover before and after workout and long run days, and evenly balance the mileage throughout the six running days.

Cross Training, Core, Strength, Sauna and Preventative Maintenance
Time spent on the bike, in the sauna and pool was a good supplement while initially building my training load. It wasn't anything extraordinary but something I felt I could decrease when I started my final two peak training weeks. There is a 5:00 pm core class on Mon, Wed and Fri that I have completed most of the time but opt out of if I need more recovery time or want to hold back for the next day's workout. I've been doing "Taylor's dance" routine and some light strength training, about twice per week. Preventative maintenance is daily and includes the usual rolling, stretching and other floor exercises after my morning run.

G.I. (Gastrointestinal)
With travel, altitude, time zone changes and a new diet, you are more than likely to experience some sort of gastrointestinal issue. I had a few issues in the first few days but made some changes to what I would eat the night before workouts, which helped (i.e. avoid the sakuma wiki). The other reason was timing with a later dinner and earlier morning run than I am used to at home.

Weather
The weather is absolutely wonderful for running. I run more km in the morning around 6:30 am and less in the afternoon around 4:00 pm on double days. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are single runs in the morning. Can't say I've seen many people run in the middle of the day around here when it's warm. And so far, it's only rained in the evenings and in one afternoon when I was off (Sunday).

Fluids and Carbohydrates
I'm drinking about 5 L of water each day; 2 L in the morning, 2 L in the afternoon, and 2 glasses with each meal. Other than coffee in the morning, my eload recovery and endurance drinks, and the occasional mango juice, I don't drink anything else. 
I've been consistent in my carbohydrate consumption during long runs via the usual intake of gels, Eload endurance and fly. Frank has been a great support on the bike with my bottles. And so far I've just stored my gels in my running bra. 

Treatment
I've been getting massage treatment from Dan, twice per week; Saturdays after my long runs, and Wednesdays, the day after and before my Tuesday and Thursday workouts. I had one appointment with Tarah's physiotherapist in Eldoret, which also went well.

Body Compostion
Since my peak weight in December with minimal training and an abundant intake of sweets, my weight and fat mass has steadily decreased toward my goal. Kyle has done my anthro measurements and Trent, Erik, and I determined my ideal race weight. We agreed that it was important to maintain my weight, going into and training at altitude. Normally I weigh myself first thing in the morning, which I haven't been able to do here. I have used the scale at the gym and likely only lost 1 kg (2.2 lb) in the past three weeks, which puts me in a good position to achieve my goal race weight upon my return home. 


Friday, March 24
This morning I did an easy single run of 16 km with the group, and other than a trip to the Kerioview with the group and core at 5:00 pm, took it easy for the rest of the day. At dinner we put our tables together to enjoy our last meal with the Brits before their departure.


Red dirt takes some scrubbing to wash away.



Inside a little shop where I purchase my 10 L water for 250 shillings (~$3 CDN).

Saturday, March 25

This morning we did another progression run from Iten to Eldoret, 34 km. In the afternoon I had a massage with Dan and went to the market with Matt, Ken and Jason.
Saturday market day in Iten.

All smiles after finishing another long progression run, and about to get in a matatu to go back to the camp to shower and have breakfast at the club.



Sunday, March 26

Rest day. I knew I would be up at the usual 5:3-6:00 am so I planned to walk to see the sunrise over the Rift Valley. It was striking. I sat there for a while and simply enjoyed the peacefulness, the sounds of chickens and church music, and the beauty of this earth.
For the rest of the day, I had meals with the group and worked on my computer, preparing for a few speaking engagements scheduled at the end of April. Most from the camp spent the afternoon in the lounge, relaxing while watching the IAAF World X-Country championships in neighbouring Uganda. We got a quite a bit of rain in the late afternoon so some of us just stayed there until the 7:00 pm dinner of chicken, lamb, ugali, sakuma wiki and chapatis. Again, I was in bed around 9:00 pm.

A quiet and peaceful Sunday morning walk to the Rift Valley. It was cloudy but I did see the beautiful sunrise.

The lounge was full of HATC runners and staff, watching the IAAF World X Country Championships on a restful Sunday afternoon. A few from the camp drove to neighbouring Uganda to watch. Apparently the drive could take anywhere from 4-11 hours?! The Kenyan Sr. Women had a clean sweep (top 6 places) so there was some clapping and cheering.


Monday, March 27

This morning a group of us met at 6:20 am to start the 14 km fartlek loop together. Some added on whereas others headed to breakfast, planning to run again in the afternoon. I showered, did some laundry and rested. At 4:00, Manuela, Julia and I did an easy 10 km then I called it a day in preparation for the next day's peak tempo workout.


Pictures
After a 3 km walk, post rain.


Rationing the last of my canned fish, protein, and eload endurance, recovery, and gels.


Various Saucony shoes for various purposes: yellow A5's light-weight flats for track, pink and white/blue Cortanas mid-weight for tempo or progression runs on tarmac road, grey/mint Zealots heavier-weight support for easy runs on dirt roads, and black mid-weight Freedoms for anything. I'll need to wear a pair home but will leave the others for the runners at the Running Academy in Cherangany https://www.transcendrunningacademy.com. 
As my training load has increased in quality and quality, I have decreased my x training (pool and bike) but it sure feels nice to dip in the pool after the sauna, to end my day.
Timo leading us in a core class that ...
... appears to be working.

The temps look high but it is actually fairly cool in the morning, and by the time I run in the late afternoon, it is cooling down again.
Fluids are key. Post long progression run breakfast with coffee, mango juice and water. 

Not long after breakfast and I am ready for lunch again. Beans provide protein but not quite enough so I added some sardines to this meal.





Drying line. 

Ladies in the lead, early in the long progression run from Iten to Eldoret. Frank (Manuela's boyfriend) is a great support, carrying our fluids for us while riding the bike, taking pictures, and getting splits! Picture credit: Frank. 

The easy runs are never free of hills, so never really easy!  I seem to always feel my best at the end of my second run. Picture credit: Neasa.

When Neasa was here, I could measure my O2 saturation. Within 2-3 days I was at 95-96, which is a good sign of adaptation. I monitored by heart rate during easy runs so that it was consistent with my easy runs at sea level before coming.

Dan, the massage man.

Before going with Tarah to Cherangany, I had treatment from her physiotherapist, Gasha, in Eldoret who focused on fascial treatment. 

So glad I brought my computer and purchased a SIM card; makes communicating with the Speed River team and family much easier from the comfort of my own bed.




It is quite fitting that this picture is hanging inside the club.. #LondonMarathon #April23