Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tigoni Trails

Though it's about the hardest running I've ever done, I'm enjoying running in Tigoni, Kenya -- about 30 minutes NW of and 2000' higher than Nairobi. There's just something special about running in that cold, thin air in the dawn fog. The altitude is not bothering me nearly as much as I thought -- I guess 3 years of steady running have put me in shape.

This morning, I was later going out. We didn't have to leave for church until 10:30, so I hit the road at about 6:30. Kenya roads are dirty and there's a permanent film of dirt and stuff on the roads around Tigoni. When it's wet, it's not really slick but I'm aware that I don't have perfect traction. Of course, my shoes also have 300+ miles on them so they are beginning to wear.

After about 3.5 km (2.1 miles), I've just come through a small valley where the air is always a bit cooler and am heading up a short, but steep, hill. At the top is a dog! Looked like a Collie/Alsatian mix. It wasn't barking at anything and didn't seem particularly stirred up and looked like it had a collar on, still ... after getting bit while running about 6 years ago, I'm pretty dog-shy. But, turning around would have been just as hard (physically) as going on, so, I headed to the far side of the 1.5 lane road and kept going. My heartrate increased significantly. But, the dog just watched me go by -- turned as I passed him but never barked or made a move toward me. Whew!

I added a bit of extra mileage this morning. At one point, took a left up a hill rather than right down. When I turned around for the final 2-3 km, I heard someone running behind me at a faster pace than I. I had seen a friend when I first started out -- he was about 75 yards ahead of me and took a different route, so I figured he was ending his run in the same general vicinity as I and was just catching up to me. In a minute, though, a young Kenyan man passed me -- I greeted him, with no response. Fine -- he's one of the famed Kenyan runners getting in his mileage and he's just focused. Well, after a few dozen yards, he slowed and let me catch up to him. Turned out that "he" was a "she". I almost ran off the road because in all my years of living in Kenya (since 1987), I have NEVER seen a Kenyan female running on the roads -- obviously, with their stars rising in the world of distance racing, they're running somewhere but I've not seen them in that area at all. I tried to ask her where she had started and where she was headed, but I couldn't get a response out of her. Language was not the issue -- maybe the hoovering (anybody reading this old enough to remember Hoover vacuum cleaners?) of my 52-year old lungs was the problem; maybe she just wanted some company for a few hundred metres; maybe she wanted to be sure this old man didn't die on the road; who knows. After a few minutes, though, she asked me where I was heading. So, I told her. She said she was going on. Kwa heri and off she went.

Anyway, 2 kinda' neat experiences this morning. Never a dull moment when living in Kenya.

Got to attend the worship service of a church that we had helped start 8-9 years ago. That was fun. We saw lots of long-time friends and came into Nairobi with some of them for the best Indian (Asian) food I have ever had. There may be excellent Indian food in Richmond, VA, but we haven't found anything to rival the Open House in Nairobi. Good food; good friends.

We're going to hate having to leave and head back to the US on Thursday, but we go where God calls and Richmond is that place for now.

Run well,
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