One of the first things I ask when someone returns from travel is, “How was the food?” I enjoy hearing about their experiences and embracing the local cuisine when I travel. I usually research the must-have dishes, which I enjoy after racing, such as waffles with ice cream and chocolate in Belgium after the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon, seafood chowder after the 2005 Boston Marathon, and chocolate in Switzerland after the 2013 World Champs in Moscow.
In my preparation for the High Altitude Training Camp, Reid Coolsaet was a great help in assisting me about the food that would be provided. He explained that many of the lunches only included lentils as a protein, and only hot milk (not cold) would be provided at meals and tea times (10:30 am and 4:00 pm), so any drinks would need to be made with water. Other than that, the food would be delicious and meet my nutritional needs. John said I should bring my own coarsely ground coffee beans and I could use the hot water to make coffee in a French press. And obviously for training, I would need to pack my own Eload electrolyte and recovery drinks, and gels. I packed some canned fish and protein bars and powder so that I would be prepared.
Since day one I have been very pleased with each and every meal. One of the things I teach people when counselling them for nutrition is that it is important to come to the table ready to eat but not overly hungry, and leave satisfied but not stuffed. It allows you to know that your body is getting what it needs. I have never counted calories nor taught my patients to do so. It is critical to know your own body in order to maintain a healthy weight. Often we can complicate the simple things. Because I am in a four-week cycle of high training at altitude, it is important that I consume a high quality and quantity of food in order to avoid injury and illness, have appropriate energy for training and recovery, and achieve my weight goals. I find that one full plate of food seems to be exactly what I need in order to do this while training in Iten. The food is fresh and truly organic, from nearby farmer’s fields and gardens. As for what is served and other details about the food, I’ll let the pictures tell the rest.
Day 7, Monday, March 13
This morning Julia took me on a 22 km run, I ate breakfast, rested, then walked a short distance with Kristina for coffee at the Kerio View, which looks out over the beautiful Rift Valley. At 5:00 pm I joined the core class for 30 minutes, which was quite enjoyable because it was all of the exercises I normally do alone at home, but this time with company. I did a bit of strength work, rode the bike for 10 minutes, had an easy 9 km run, then spent some time in the sauna and pool. Dinner was at 7:00 pm and I was in bed sometime after 9:00 pm.
Day 8, Tuesday, March 14
Today was the big “track day” and my first altitude workout. In communication with Dave and Trent we decided it would work well if I did every other run with Tarah’s Kenyan women’s group that was doing 12 x 1km. It was important to ease into quality work. I had plenty of recovery between sets and quite enjoyed the experience with countless Kenyans speeding past me in very large groups. More on this topic later.
Once I returned back to the camp I had some breakfast that Julia saved for me, said goodbye to Kristina who had a fresh order of 10 chapatis (both John and Neasa did this when leaving, thanks to Oliver), showered, rested, read and had lunch. My body appreciated the rest after the workout. In the late afternoon I did Taylor’s routine, and a short run to total 25 km for the day. Again, I spent some time on the bike, in the sauna and pool before dinner.
Day 9, Wednesday, March 15
Julia and I started our run together at 6:30 am. This one didn’t go so well for me with multiple pit stops along the way. I needed to slow my pace and take it easy, knowing tomorrow was to be my first tempo workout. It was likely a combination of poor timing and a fibrous dinner the night before. She was so good to me, coming back to me to make sure I was making the correct turns in our return to camp. I have really enjoyed being her roommate. Not knowing who you are going to live with for a month can be concerning, but I am more than pleased with how things are going with her. It’s been nice to get to know her and we have a good balance and routine, particularly going to bed and waking up at the same time.
The run took a bit out of me, leaving me fatigued. So I filled my bottles with Eload, ate my normal breakfast, and rested in bed. Other than my massage with Dan at 2:00 pm and picking up another 10 L bottle of water, I spent most of the day writing this post. It takes quite a bit of time to go through all of my many pictures and writing the details experienced here in Kenya. At 5:00 pm I joined the core class for the full 45 minutes then read by the pool before 7:00 dinner. I was back at the room by 8:30 pm to read a bit more before bed.
|Always good food that leaves you completely satisfied upon finishing, and ready to go to bed to prepare for another training day.
|Dinner is 7:00 – 8:00 pm. It often includes ugali (flour cooked in boiling water), sakuma wiki *(cooked collard greens), rice/pasta/potato, a salad or cooked vegetables, and commonly beef or chicken. Sometimes fish or goat is served. Fruit such as pineapple is a frequent dessert. A popular side of chapati is served Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
* I remember one of the first times I saw sakuma wiki. It was on Dylan Wykes’ plate the night before he made his 2012 Olympic qualifying time in Rotterdam. At the after-race party, I told him it was the “green guck” that made him run so well.
|Walking up the road to buy some fresh avocado or mango adds a bit more to the meal. Often a few people will bring it to the table and share with those around, just like family.
|Grocery store in Eldoret where I stopped with Tarah and the kids after church.
|Couldn’t resist her hand reaching toward me. Not only will children run alongside you, they have walked up to me to hug my legs. It tugs at my heart.
|This just might be one of my favourite pictures of the trip. Thanks, Neasa.
I asked this young girl what she was carrying – milk.
She asked me how far she had run with me – 500 m.