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iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

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iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

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Training, Travel

Krista DuChene: The Kenyan Diaries, Volume VII: What I’ve Learned

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.

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!

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.

 
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.

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 hours) 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 residencem 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.

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.”

The further removed I am becoming from the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya, the more I will be able to appreciate, savour and be incredibly shameful 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 here’s a taste of what I loved about the whole experience, 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. 

 

 
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April 5th, 2017

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One Response to “Krista DuChene: The Kenyan Diaries, Volume VII: What I’ve Learned”
  1. Rob Gudzak Says:

    I came across your journal by accident but enjoy reading it tremendously. Thanks for give us a bit of an insight to the daily life of an accomplished athlete runner. P

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