Staying upright is overrated

Staying upright is overrated
West Shewa, Ethiopia

West Shewa, Ethiopia


A guide to my day. We’re three hours ahead of the UK and though I’ve fixed my watch – turns out Moscow is on the same time – I’m still reminded how early it is in the UK if I pick up my phone or Ipod first.

07:00 Wake up, this is when the athletes go out. Roll over and go back to sleep.

08:00 Wake up again. Stretch limbs exploratorily. They ache, but surely not just from yesterday’s session. My recovery is slow. My powers are weak, old man.

09:00 Think more seriously about getting up for a run. I could put it off till the evening. But then I will have to sit in the sun for most of the day with a book, but without a virtuous tiredness. I owe myself and The Hunger Games that.

09:30 I am finally up and off for a run. I’ve taken to walking through the camp so no one can see me jogging, though a fellow runner’s blog refers to the “African shuffle” they use to get to where they’ll train, so moving slowly may act as a precursor to the main event. I just won’t tell anyone there is no main event.

10:00 I’m running, exploring the path I spotted yesterday. Probably – it seems a lot less distinct than it did then. There’s certainly some up and down today, and I find a stream bed early on, dry, of course. I also spot a tree root but not so well that I lift my leg enough to clear it. I sprawl in the dirt, grazed on both knees and the outside of one hand. Possibly because of some kind of face-saving roll, more likely because I was holding a water bottle. To no avail, however, as it has sprung a leak. I hear a voice, “She cannae hold it, captain” and drain it.

10:15 I am in fairly thick scrub. Plenty of room to run through, but only by changing direction so I tend to lose my bearings. After just a couple of miles I find the view in the first picture – it’s a lot steeper than it might seem, so now I’m backtracking, and the thought of running 4 miles and then letting the GPS take me back to the start is redundant. Trying it now will mean later backtracking to the point where I am currently backtracking, and that’s confusing enough to type, let alone do.

10:30 I find my way out of the scrub, with the GPS pointing out that the hotel is only a mile off to my left. The rest of the run is partly on the tracks parallel to the road, partly on the road, and passes pleasantly enough. But very gently paced. The other two pictures were taken early on, with that landscape framed in the morning sun. Sunshine seems to be pretty reliable here between 8 and 12, then again 3-6.

11:30 I am showered, changed and head for lunch. The boss, Joseph, I think, is in the bar doing some work. After I’ve ordered, I hear a British female voice behind me and know that I’ve found my first British Olympian. Dr Chris mentioned that Julia Bleasdale would be coming back here this week, and that has to be her. Rejean (I did have his name wrong, but it’s easily found by checking the list of top Canadian marathoners) comes in for lunch and she joins him. Both are very friendly; ah runners, wildly different standards but we have that in common and I immediately feel accepted.

12:00 After some chat, I’m still wondering exactly why I’ve said “that would be good” to the idea of training with these two tomorrow. It will be good for me, but also slightly embarrassing, I’m sure. Still, I didn’t come all this way to only run on my own. Though after tomorrow I may want to. Apparently there’s a 1.2k loop, so it won’t be a case of being left somewhere en route, so much as get left behind, then passed, then left behind again. 13:00 I’m in a swing seat with the kindle.

15:00 I’m still there, though I have got up to get a bottle of water. 16:00 I’m asleep in my room. Just like a pro.

17:00 I’m awake, and the wifi is back. Just enough time to check my email and it’s back off – perfect. Wifi is paid for here; where drinks and food are cheap, wifi is moderately expensive, at about gbp4 for 100mb, but it is a luxury. Yesterday the receptionist offered me a dongle, which is a first. Sadly we were incompatible. I only have a tablet.

19:30 Dinner, always a highlight. It’s the same waiter as last night, and I don’t want to spoil the good thing we have, where I get two drinks and one of them the draft beer that only exists on some menus, so I allow him to suggest the drinks. I can always be more creative with the others.

21:00 Back to the room. Found the Dubai 1 channel last night, which has slightly more up to date films than Fox Movies and MBC. There may be other delights tucked away somewhere, though what is going on on channel 8, I have no idea. Aim to have some sleep, and be ready for an athlete’s start tomorrow. And then probably Friday off.

Summary: 1:19:54, 12.93km. Sore knees. Finishing the Hunger Games soon.

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