Kebba said that to me on Run Day 3. Ashley yelled “You can do it” out the truck window and Kebba, running next to me, said “Yes, together, we can do it.”
July 10, Day 4 of running. 100km run !!!
Baobablong Camp, Janjanbureh, 9pm
What a day. A very happy one. We began at 7am. Today was moving day as we were travelling ahead after the run to make Janjanbureh our new home base.
We had a special beginning to our day in Bakadajie as we began our run at 8am at Bakadajie Upper Basic School with the Peer Health Educator team. We started the run together with the very youth that we are running and raising money for. When we got to the school, students and teachers were still arriving and I was really slow to get out of the truck. I was feeling tired. I had slept through my alarm and Ashley woke me up 20 minutes later than I had planned to get up. So I looked at the teens under the tree and pulled myself out and went over to chat with them. They were telling Kebba in Mandinka that they couldn’t run and he was saying “yes you can! Look at her and how far she has run.” While he did this, some of the girls were making lovey eyes at Pa Modou, who they knew from their Peer Health Educator training.
Then it was time to run. Our group of about 25 went out onto the road and began running together. It was incredible. Kebab led the students in singing, “1, 2, 3 Love4Gambia.” And then “Thank you Erin, Thank you Ashley” and then “We love you, Erin.” How can a girl’s spirits be low when surrounded by this. I could have floated.
I was worrying yesterday (rest day) about how my legs would feel at the start of today’s run. With the Peer Health Team with me, I forgot to even think about my legs. You can’t feel pain when you aren’t thinking about pain. It was the best start of the day. The youth ran about 200m with us and then Ashley and I continued on. Ashley set a new PB today of8.25km in 2 runs, go Ashley!
Today was a nice mix of farm, forest and village with just the right amount of each. Love love love the villages were I get to greet people- women farming, men under trees, kids who can spot a toubab from a km away, people at the shop stalls. Today 3 men were leaning against a lorrie (big truck) and one of them said “That is very unusual” as I ran by.
I had my coach Cliff’s voice in my head today at several points and he was telling me “run smooth, nice and relaxed, let the wheels turn.” I was trying to run as relaxed as possible to keep my aching shoulders down. They felt better today so mission accomplished. I was actually running a bit too fast today and kept trying really hard to slow down. Fresh from rest. I’ve decided that I need to run slower than 6min/km to survive, this is a 4 day running stretch, I kept catching myself at 5:48-ish/km.
We had a perfect rest under a tree. Pa and Kebba built me a bed of leaves against the tree, I’m so Paris Hilton. I led Kebba through some yoga poses because sun salutations and the plank position were relieving the ache in my shoulders. Confession, I learned this yesterday during a push-up contest! Kebba quite enjoyed the yoga and he and Pa enjoyed the word “Namaste” even more. Then it was “Namaste” everything…
Our last 5km was around lunchtime meaning kids at school were on lunch break. Kebba and Ashley began the last 5km with me and Kebba completed it with me. Today I ran about 11km solo, that’s it! So we are running through the village and elementary school kids are playing in the school yard and they come chasing after us. I ask them if they want to run and they say “YES!” so the kids at the school join us. All the kids! About 50 of them! I would turn around and see the most amazing train of tiny Gambian kids in blue uniforms running along. Kebba led them in singing. Their sweet “We love you Erin” in unison brought tears to my eyes.
We told the kids to stop at the outskirt of the village and when we turned around, they had surround Pa in the truck and I could still hear them chanting “Erin, Erin!” I knew this run would be touching, emotional, moving etc… but in last weeks, when I was so focused on how I would feel physically, I had no idea it would feel this sweet.
During our last 5km, we were running along and Pa and Kebba both starting shouting “That’s the road! That’s the road!” Ashley and I were mildly confused: yea, we were running on the road. Then I looked up ahead and saw a beautiful sight to behold. After 98 km on dirt road, the paved road sparkled like a mirage up ahead. We got to it and I did my happy dance. I kissed the road. And then we ran 2 smooth miles, appreciated so much by each hard working muscle group that had run 98km on a road sometimes like running on ladder rungs; sometimes like running on a frozen eggo waffle; somethings like running through a maze of potholes. Rejoice.
Insert from Ashley here!
Evidence of the pain of the very uneven dirt road: my right leg and ankle… During the first five km of the day running with Erin, I had a slight accident. Kebba and Pa were behind us in the truck, cheering and honking and lots of videotaping as usual, then Kebba yells, “Banjul calling!” At which point I hit a rock or bump or hole? And bam! Left ankle and leg underneath me, dragging on the road.
Luckily since I was running my right leg naturally was swinging forward and I just seemed to get right back into stride with Erin… or maybe I bounced off of the road? This may not sound quite as hilarious as it was, but while breaking under the tree, Pa admits he captured my fall on video. We watched of course and you hear Kebba yell “Banjul calling!” See me fall with a very loud “ugh!” and then Pa yelling “Careful Ashley!” after I’m already up and in pace with Erin again. We listened to this and laughed until we cried for at least 20 minutes. So yes, real road that is smooth is a good thing. Someone had to fall on the dirt road, glad it was me and not Erin…and we had such a good chuckle! Back to Erin now.
Legs: Get a passing grade. Right groin is taped and is running comfortably. Aching some at night but less each night. Right groin tight after today, hopefully just from stress of miles and will be fine. One toe is being disagreeable and I’ve popped a blister on it twice. Everything else is a-okay.
Animals: Not much to report. Donkeys run away from me when I get close. Cattle don’t give a shit about white girl running passed them. Today I ran nervously by 2 vultures feeding on a pile of garbage. God, they are ugly creatures. They were looking at me like I was quite tasty but didn’t budge when I ran by.
Thanks to Cindi Allen who sent a bag of toys with Ashley. We gave them to the kids at SOS Children’s Village (Orphanage) where we were staying in Basse.
Supporters at home, we love you all.