“Country Strong”

Jakhaly, 5:30pm

Day 7 of running. 31km today. 181km total “YES WE CAN!”

I’ve been listening to the song “Country Strong” because the lyrics sound like my Love4Gambia run and help me stay strong.

Today is my birthday and I ran 31km to celebrate my age. Day 5 was a hard day for my body.  Today was the hardest day for my head.

We’ve arrived at sporadic kilometer markers along the side of the road, announcing how many kilometers until Banjul.  Today’s markers started around 280km.  I was looking at these markers today and they were filling me with waves of anxiety about how far it is. I’ve been trying to focus on 20 minutes at a time. It’s hard to do that with these signs in my face.

Ashley ran the first 5km with me and then I ran solo until km 10 when Kebba joined me for km 10 through 25 of run #1. I was telling Kebba about a birthday message that I received from my mother that morning. Kebba, aka Dalai Lama, started talking about my parents and family and husband and how they would be thinking of me all day long on this special day.  At that moment, I felt so acutely far away from my family. No one wants to feel lonely on their birthday. Running 31km started feeling like a lot of work and a bad idea.

I was pretty quiet at the next rest stop at the truck.  I was trying to hide my mood- unsuccessfully. At the next stop 20 minutes later, I said that I wasn’t happy or sad, I was just running.  Ashley told Kebba to stop talking and to start singing while running.  I felt a little better.

We were running long hills and I started to tell Kebba about doing hill training or hills in long runs and how you pretend to tie a rope around the guy in front of you and imagine that he is pulling you up the hill.    We stopped a moment later so I could take a photo of a road sign.  I looked over at Kebba and saw that a spider had been busy at work between the 2 of us running side to side.  A web stretched from my head to Kebba’s head.  This seemed pretty fitting given my rope conversation.  I was back on my mental game from that point on.

I thought a lot of all the people home who are running 25 minutes a day in solidarity with me.  I could feel them behind me today, almost as if I could turn around and see them all trailing behind me.  Thank you to all of you.  And special thanks to Gina who has recruited strangers, people I don’t even know, to run/walk in support of Love4Gambia.

Out here on the road the Banjul, emotions seem more acute. Happy feels happier.  Sad feels sadder.

As we encountered more people today wondering what the heck we are doing, I was thinking about “how” we are doing it.  How: I believe we can.  I coach young runners and tell them “the only person who can tell you that you can’t is yourself.”  I want my young runners to believe in themselves like I believe in.  Love4Gambia run- I just believe YES WE CAN.


Left toe blister looks bad. Has been beaten into submission in my asics speedstars and doesn’t hurt while running. When I bump it on furniture, I let an f-bomb out.

Right foot is behaving

Adductors are running comfortably

My quads and the top of my right tibia, under kneecap, were tired today at the end of 31km.  What else can you expect rounding out 181km in the last 7 days?

Gut is being a champ.

We saw baboons on the road today- very cool

The same bush taxi drivers are now driving passed us over and over again and they now approach me with a happy honk and wave

A guy came running after us today, saying he saw us in Bansang (Day 4)

I love to salute the soldiers at military checkpoints

Ashley and I just had a conversation that sums up our accommodations nicely.  We are staying in a 5 room residence at Jakhaly Health Centre right now- in 20 year old Fatou’s room.  We are moving to the guesthouse.  Ashley just returned from looking at it.  My series of questions:

Is there a toilet seat? Yes

Are there 2 rooms? Yes, there are 4 but our team can only use 2

Shower? Yes

What kind? Overhead, not handheld!

2 beds or 1? 2

Mosquito nets? Yes

Electrical outlet? Yes

Mirror? Don’t know

Fan? Yes!

Overhead or stand? Stand.

We’ll take it!

This entry was posted in African Safari, Running in Africa and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to “Country Strong”

  1. Debby Hughes says:

    Every step I run, I run for you. I am right behind you , as long as you don’t look behind you, I very well could be there for real.

  2. Becky says:

    Remember you are not alone!!! Everyone at home is behind you!!! You are doing a great thing!!! You are my motivation behind every step I take on my daily runs…. rain or shine!!!

  3. Mel Connors says:

    I love the spider web story! Too cool! Do you get a well deserved rest day tomorrow??? Enjoy it!!!

  4. Dawn Hughes says:

    Knowing that you were running extra, i doubled my 25 min to 50 in your honor. We your Hughes/Dunsford aunts and uncles made a donation in your honor as well. Sending positive vibes and well wishes.

  5. Brenda MacIsaac says:

    You made me cry again. With you all the way Erin. Big Hugs, Bren

  6. Cathy says:

    Jakob and I will run a 31min run in your honour tonight. And it is raining and 15 degrees here!!!
    We are with you all the way………………..
    Happy Birthday, Erin!!!

  7. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    Glad you have a good place to stay. Love the updates. Have a good day tomorrow and be safe

  8. Megan Aston says:

    Happy Birthday Erin!! What a memorable day. Spider webs are so beautiful. What a wonderful image between the two of you.

  9. Matt says:

    Beautiful post, Erin – we wish you all the luck and grace you need.

Comments are closed.