Just wanted to say that I miss being able to run in races. Not that I was every competitive or anything (although I placed 3rd in my age group in last year's Palo Alto Weekly 10k -- woo hoo! -- it's great being a Masters runner in a small town!). But I miss the cameraderie; I miss having a goal to work toward; I miss having a "test" to gauge myself.
There are at least a few races here in Cameroon, but so far none I've ever seen in Bamenda. The problem is that, if there is any advanced notice about them, I am totally out of the loop. I only hear about them when they are on the news after the fact. There was a half-marathon (my favorite distance) in Yaoundé in the fall that I saw on the news. And this weekend is the Mt. Cameroon race -- something which I knew about, but the only information you can ever get is that it is run at the end of January/beginning of February (of course, it's now solidly the *middle* of February, but we'll just take that as "African time"). I actually tried, several times, to find out about how to register for this, but was unsuccessful. Maybe next year. Although I'm pretty sure I want to be on a relay team -- the race is 32km -- 16km up the mountain and 16km down the mountain. I know I could do 32km if I trained for it, but the hills, altitude and snow would be a bit rough.
I've always thought that I was a solitary runner, and definitely for training I'd always much rather run by myself. But you take the opportunity to race with others for granted when you live in California and there are multiple races to choose from almost every single weekend of the year. Just another one of the ways I miss having a social life.
I feel like, in a way, this period of being in Africa is a sort of monastic experience. I have plenty of time to reflect and much less opportunity to distract myself and avoid it. So far, I am mostly just observing and learning about myself -- learning about what is important to me and observing my feelings.