Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On a working day I might have felt justified in resting today, but with the whole day to use, fitting in a short run didn’t seem such a big deal as all that. Nonetheless, I was very tired this morning. One side of my left calf has been strained for a couple of days, either from the camber by the side of the road or, more likely, from running round the dirt track in the dark and hitting something that pushed it into a weird angle. My legs are tired from yesterday, and sleep took me after breakfast, carrying me through to a slightly groggy lunch. The luxury of time!
I’d sat in the sun reading for a couple of hours after breakfast, which counts as productive time at the mo. This afternoon it clouded over, but that was the limit of it – to look at the worldwide weather forecast, you’d think it had been raining non-stop in Addis Ababa, but in fact the only rain I’ve seen I had to peer at last night. I could hear it, lashing against the flat roof in the corridor outside, but it all looked very undramatic outside. Good timing, though. I saved the run till 5, and this time turned left out of the camp, intending to follow the road that leads back to the capital. Half a mile in, though, I spotted a track off to the left that didn’t look as though it belonged to any of the buildings and took that instead. There were a couple of people in the field to my right, but they didn’t look to be pointing and saying “intruder!” so I carried on, running further into the field. Finally, a non urban run, and my first mile was fairly comfortable and yet reasonably quick. But the altitude gets in there quickly, and the second one was hard work and pretty slow. I did spot another runner in the field, and was going to follow her in case she had a decent route in mind, but got distracted by following a tree line. Before long she was off into the distance and it was me and the goats again. The middle of the field carried a stream, which was barely damp but had opened up a crack in the field so presumably at some time was rather more dramatic. I thought about jumping across, but it became fairly wide quickly, and at its widest was several feet across. It reminded me of the crack that was installed at Tate Modern a few years ago. Seeing as that was closed for safety reasons, this would presumably have to be walled off from anyone wanting to jump or scramble across it were it subject to a safety review.
I ploughed on, finding a horse mingling with goats in a separate part of the field. Trying to make sure I’d covered a couple of miles before turning I spotted a gap in the hedge and ran through, trying to brush a hanging branch out of my way. It was just a little wider, and much pricklier, than I’d imagined, though, and stabbed me in the face, briefly and cleverly managing to trap me in place by my hair. I slowed down, disentangled, and promised to treat the fauna with a little more respect. Just round the corner I slipped-a particularly flat piece of earth, I’d thought, but perhaps some of it was loose-so I have my first souvenir graze of the trip.
Run complete, I cooled off with a stroll, wondering when, if ever, this will start to feel easy. I suspect it won’t, but I will get a little more reward for my effort. Maybe, just maybe, the whole-body tiredness will kick in later. I’ve heard running at altitude described as like running through treacle, but that description doesn’t feel quite right. My legs are okay, but the rest of my body just doesn’t want to give any more. It’s not such an obvious feeling as when you can’t breathe properly, though that is obviously why the body can’t give more; I suppose it is the whole circulatory system being unable to keep up. But the feeling of suddenly speeding up when going from a hill to flatter ground is interesting-normally I have to make sure I push off a hill to accelerate, here it is as if you hit a greater level of effort from your body very early on into a run as it tries to cope with the lack of oxygen, but the body is actually capable of more than it feels it is. And thus I am already working hard from the hill, and the legs speed up as soon as it is crested.
Though everything is relative, and speed is more just “not so slow”. Tomorrow I’ll attempt an interval session. I don’t expect it to be cosmic.
To add to any training benefit I might get, though, I have the dietary one. The food is good, fresh cooked and with a great variety of styles. But in addition is the factor that can only be described as “no biscuit tin”. I have not had a piece of chocolate since being here, and have had three square meals a day and no snacks. There have certainly been a few ‘biscuit time’ calls from my body, but I have deliberately allowed shyness to prevent me from exploring what the shacks outside the front gate might provide. I suspect biscuits are in shortish supply in any case, but if I find the twix man, then break time might be reinstated a little too easily. I expect to eat those words in a later blog entry, but ought perhaps to open a book on how long it will take.
Stats: 35:46, 6.69km, one fall, no submission. Today’s book finished, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.