Friday, July 23, 5pm
Ndemban. Nyakassi Jarju’s compound
25km today and 356km run so far!
We are really close! 25km to Brikama on the outskirts of urban Banjul and then about 30km to the finish line. 30km is a guess as we don’t have a reliable map.
I wasn’t really into running this morning but of course knew that I would do it. All I have to do is put my sneakers on and get out of the truck. My feet, team and spirit take care of the rest. So that’s what I did.
As I wrote yesterday, most of our time is now spent listening to Spider and Pa Modou playfully quarrel and tease about each other’s tribes. Along with a lot of trash talk about who will run the most. Pa was a man on a mission today and ran 25 full km (yea, Pa!!! CONGRATS!). Much of the trash talk last night involved each party trying to petition the coach (me) to allow one to somehow harm or dismember the other (methods requested include tripping, poisoning and Fula magic). Coach rarely gives orders but when she does, everyone listens (i.e. I don’t care how much Gambians dislike Gatorade, if they want to run more than 10km straight, they drink it). Last night, I forbade one team member from harming another in the name of a foolish testosterone competition.
Alas, it was Serer magic that got Spider today. At km 17 of our first run, he pulled up. A toe blister. Nurse ordered him into the truck for the last 3km. Pa wins. For today, anyway.
As for the tribe quarreling, that’s ongoing… Pa, Spider and I ran the first 10km together before Ashley agreed to drive and allow Kebba to join us. Ten minutes into our run, I started to run between Pa and Spider, hoping it would shut them up!
Everyone on the team has now watched “Running the Sahara” (some more than once) and the guys have a new dream floating in their heads at night. Banjul to Cape Town, South Africa, anyone? Pa, Spider and Kebba are all in. Ashley and I will require at least one more female to even the balance if we lace up and pack up the truck for another conquest.
Single black toenail unchanged. Other toes are quiet.
I am so hungry. Nyakassi’s daughter Awa is a wonderful cook.
My quads and hip flexors are tired. We did a full set of track workout warm up drills this morning and I felt smoother after that. Although was thinking that if I felt the way that I felt during drills today while at the track, Cliff would send me home.
Around km 15, I was thinking about my stride and running slow. Most of our running is at 6min/km pace. My runners know me, Miss Consistency, so unless kids are running with us and we slow for them, we are almost always 2 hours for 20k and 30 minutes for 5km. As a runner trained by Cliff, I can tell you my precise paces for long run, recovery run, tempo, threshold, vo2max. None of these are slower than 5:40/km. Because I am running slower than usual, I’m not getting the power from toe off and swing-through that I usually do. I considered today that my hip flexors are working extra hard to pull my leg through each stride. I picked up the pace for the last 10km of our running today and it felt SO good.
Feeling good is short lasting. I’m sore at rest now but it’s a happy sore. Banjul is calling from very near.
Our team’s most sincere thanks for your support from Canada. When we have internet, we read our messages together.