This is Why You Need a Girl on Your Side

Post by Ashley:

July 24, 2011 Run Day 15

1:23PM- I’m here in the truck while Erin is running solo and stretching out her run to reach Brikama today. According to the kilometer markers, we should have been there in one extra kilometer from where we planned to end- so like at 26km for the day. However, it seems as though it is further than that. Maybe because those kilometer markers are about as accurate as time is in many places outside the Western World. The kilometer markers just ended in the middle of nowhere, not in Brikama. Not helpful to runners.

Erin has taught me a lot about running. She told me on our way here that running is much more mental than physical. I know that so far she has been very strong mentally. She has not let the heat or the numerous complications of travelling across the country bother her. Our mantra has been “Eat, Sleep, Run” We drug her to sleep, we feed her and she runs. Now today, the support team has not done the best job of feeding our running superstar. Now, I don’t know how many of you reading this have ever worked a twelve hour shift with me, but if you know me, you know that I personally do not function while hungry. Not nicely anyway. Can you say Dragon Lady? So I would imagine that when you burn a bijillion calories per day like Erin, you get crazy hungry. Like I’ll kill you if you get in my way kind of hungry.  Erin is starting off hungry in this second 5km (or maybe 10km?) run.  Since we were not in a place where food was easily accessible, and we had not prepared for this so Erin had no choice but to run hungry.

We decided I would start running with her, no boys. Sometimes you just need your girls, or in this case, girl. To top off her hungry mindset, we start running and a boy yells, “Toubab, give me a biscuit!” Oh if Erin only HAD a biscuit…  She to my surprise yells back, “You give ME a biscuit!” LOL- even Erin loses her patience when hungry!

Not too far into our run, Erin was grasping her chest. Now usually in my ER nurse mind I think- CARDIAC! In Erin’s case, I knew it was boobs. Yup, sorry Erin, I think the people need to know about your boob situation. There is heat rash on them. There is chafing on them. At this point in our run, the pain was just unbearable for Erin. So we stopped for Old Faithful- VASELINE. We continued running. The Vaseline was not cutting it. So we placed Erin in a dirty running shirt that might hold her chest better and cause less agony. This was all before Erin knew that 5km would not take her into Brikama.

Erin ordered me to the truck at 2.9km into the second run. I agreed because 1) I knew that she knew I was strong enough to run with her further if she needed me to and 2) You never argue with Coach Erin and 3) I knew that mentally she needed to have this time to herself to think. Since her birthday, she has not had that time running alone to collect her thoughts, daydream, or let herself be in silence to ponder what she has achieved and what it means to every smiling face she has met along this crazy journey. Today she mentally needs this time to run in solitude. Today she mentally needs to make it to Brikama. And she will, no matter how much further than the kilometer markers said it was. And if she hurts like hell she knows I will rub her legs later.

When Erin first asked me to accompany her on this adventure, I was a bit surprised. Prior to our first trip to The Gambia, we had been complete strangers. We did not spend the a huge amount of time with each other while there, but certainly by the end of our trip to Dakar at the end we knew each other well. When you travel with someone in quarters as close as these, there is always a risk that you will be severely annoyed with each other by the time it is over. This risk is amplified when it is a full month of travelling in non-luxury settings. We have slept together, eaten off the same plate, have used the same towel, have giggled until we cried (or sprained a laughing muscle), and squatted to pee side by side. If that doesn’t make you close, I don’t know what will. That is how today I knew she needed that space to be alone. So I kept the boys off the road and stopped them when they tried to make her stop running at 5km because that’s what she needed. When she finished her recovery (ahem) 10km run we were in Brikama.

7:00PM – We are now waiting for our dinner at Leybato Hotel and all is now right in the world. Erin is back to her smiling self after having an extra large omelet sandwich, a shower and discovering that our room at Leybato is even nicer than our first room here and has MULTIPLE outlets (and electricity) for our numerous devices that require charging.

Banjul is calling very loudly now. The total kilometers will be 424km, which is pretty close to our estimate of 430km. Erin ran 30km today bringing us to 386km. Tomorrow she will run 24km nonstop (no place to rest in busy Serekunda!). On our final day, she will complete 13.5km to July 22nd Square, and to the OCEAN in Banjul. Yay!

Here’s a nice cold Julbrew to good friends and big accomplishments! Cheers!

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7 Responses to This is Why You Need a Girl on Your Side

  1. kate keast says:

    Wow! Your two days away from making a HUGE difference in The Gambia and the world! I am wearing the love4gambia shirt right now, as I am writing this! After reading your blogs I appreciate everything I have! I thought today was hot! 24 degrees! But I’m guessing that its two times hotter where you are! Can’t wait to see you, Kate

  2. Mel Connors says:

    Great post Ashley!!! You guys are SO CLOSE now!!! Erin, you are incredible.. doubling your 5km recovery run with sore boobs (and I’m sure there’s a lot more sore than that)!!! Enjoy your time at Leybato! You guys rock! Namaste!

  3. Liam Keast says:

    I cannot believe it is nearly finished. Wow! You are an inspiration Erin! As are all of you!

  4. Megan Aston says:

    Girl power!! Love it! Rest and celebrations are just around the corner. You must be able to almost see the finish line!

  5. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    Excellent Girls! Think about the Cool Ocean breezes, relaxing on the beach and an ice cold Julbrew waiting
    for you in Banjul. That should get you to the finish line with a Great Goal Accompolished. Enjoy and be safe

    Love Cheryl(Mom)

  6. Dawn Hughes says:

    Thanks Ashley for the blog and keeping our girl healthy and helping to give her space when needed. We here on PEI appreciate everything you have done for her. Sometimes you just need another girl..

    And guys we appreciate your efforts as well. Great job by all.

  7. Jacklynn says:

    That’s a sensible answer to a cahlelngnig question

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