February 8, 2015

Open-ended pursuit.

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” –Bertrand Russell

Call it uncertainty. Call it an open-ended pursuit. Call it a test of human spirit. At moments over the past week I’ve wondered what exactly it is that I am doing here in Iten, Kenya.

A clear explanation escapes me and my endless romance with exploring the unknown continues.

What I’ve realized while pushing my body to new limits (both in mileage and workouts)...is that it's the people I’ve met and the quiet moments that have truly defined my experience here.

Starting from the top, a few people worth noting.

The athletes I’ve been fortunate to meet at HATC.

  • Karl Robertson (1500m runner from Canada) and Jan Petrac (1500m runner from Slovenia) who are staying across the hall from me, two driven and upbeat young guys who I admire for their dedication and passion for the sport of running.
  • Mizael Carrera (5km runner from Puerto Rico by way of Chicago) who battles it out up here in Iten with gruelling mileage and a calm demeanour week after week.
  • Primoz Kobe (marathoner from Slovenia) who left last weekend after being the life of the party at every meal/outing, this guy taught me a lot about perseverance and what it takes to achieve a goal.
  • Diane Nukuri (marathoner from Burundi by way of Flagstaff) the friendliest runner here and overall rad girl, can’t wait to see her fly at the London Marathon in April. She also wins for the most inspiring story award!
  • Des Linden (marathoner from the United States) who sets the bar high for every single athlete here yet remains one the most grounded elite athletes I’ve ever met, Boston Marathon beware…this lady is coming atcha’!
  • Lanni Marchant and Reid Coolsaet (marathoners from Canada) who have provided me with so much valuable advice and guidance on this Kenyan adventure, I’ve also learned a great deal about focus and running from these two, it’s looking to be an exciting couple years for long distance running in Canada thanks to these two talented athletes.
  • AND the many other athletes I ate meals with, and learned from, over the past few weeks.

“If your goals aren’t synced with the substance of your heart, then achieving them won’t matter much.” –Danielle LaPorte

The local people of Iten. My trip to Kenya was never just about running, but also exploring and learning about a new country and culture. Everyday is stacked with experiences that money can’t buy – a group of girls playing soccer in a field, being chased by dozens of kids on a daily basis, watching the full moon on a clear African starry night, completing a track workout with hundreds of world class athletes flying around doing the same, chasing the sunrise while navigating the rocky dirt roads each morning, and taking a long slow walk around the Saturday market in Iten.

Travel is best when you slow down and live in the moment.

As I take stock of the experiences I have had so far in Kenya, I feel very lucky. With ten days of hard training remaining at altitude before I travel to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, I plan to keep my heart in the experience. Learn. Work hard.

What is it all for? Maybe to learn what it is that I am made of, embrace the loneliness (I’ve had my fair share of these moments on this trip), and perhaps inspire others to challenge themselves in some new way this year.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

Additional reading…for those who are interested in reading more about training in Kenya.
-Diet of Kenyan Runners

Sitting in the sunshine of Iten, Kenya
Soccer match in Iten, Kenya.
Saturday market in Iten, Kenya
Selfie with Schola post-run.
Laundry at HATC…a bucket, some soap, tough hands, clothesline, and sunshine.
Scene at the market. Saturday entertainment in Iten, Kenya.