Saturday, September 12, 2009

Running in Nairobi 2009

Running here is going to be very different than running in Richmond, VA. I was really spoiled by how easy that was. Several differences:
Altitude is certainly one: going from 150' to 5700' above sea level is a huge difference. I'll reap the benefits later and this will actually become a Nairobi advantage but starting out is tough.

Road conditions: Short Pump/Richmond has nice wide, smooth roads; Nairobi -- well, let's just say they leave something to be desired. They're not runner-friendly -- narrow, mostly in very poor condition for either running or driving, little or no verge, very dusty (even when tarmaced). Friday, one one stretch of road, I was running faster than drivers were able to navigate their cars over, around, through the potholes.

Running time: Because the road surfaces are so irregular, I don't think I'll be able to run in the dark. That means waiting to head out until almost 6AM -- it's light at 6AM almost year-round. My normal Richmond starting time was 5:15-5:30AM. Factoring in cool-down, showering, breakfast, etc., an 8AM meeting is much more likely to interfere with running here.

Runner-aware drivers: Richmond is a runner-friendly city. In 4 1/2 years of running there, I think I was run off the road only a couple of times. Here, because of the amount of traffic and the generally poor driving, drivers are not watching out for me. In a country that produces the greatest long-distance runners in the world, you would think that would generate some respect for runners. NOT! by drivers. When you're fighting the traffic in a 4+ million person city where good infrastructure is either non-existent or deteriorating, you're not paying attention to runners.

Route variety: in Richmond I had a couple of hundred different routes mapped out. Some were only minor variations of others but I almost never ran the anywhere near the same route twice in a week. Here, I'm limited -- there are lots of dead end roads and I'm somewhat hemmed in by a major thoroughfare. So, without driving somewhere else to run (which I hate to do except infrequently), I suspect my routes will be much more repetitive.

Climate: While I enjoyed the change in seasons in the US, I didn't enjoy running whenever the temperature was above 70° and the humidity was 90%+ -- that was most mornings between mid-May and mid-September. Here, early morning temperatures will rarely be above 62° and the humidity is closer to 50-60%. I'll miss the crispness of running in sub-freezing temperatures but overall the climate will be more conducive to running.

Friday, my first run here since getting back, the temperature was something like 55°. I was able to do just under 4 miles at a pace of approximately 8:30 mpm (if you want the exact figures, see my Running Log on the right (scroll down a bit). It's good to be home!

Run well, y'all,
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