Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dust!

Well, in fact it rained last night (which I was clueless about until one of my roommates told me, must have slept well), which greatly lessened the dust this morning, but still, it has been DUSTY. When I get into the shower every morning, I have to rinse myself thoroughly even before soaping up.

I have a few established routes the tour of our peninsula is 5k; if I add on the road that goes around the bay, that makes it about 4.5mi. Then I have ventured to the other side of the main road into neighborhoods where they are quite surprised to see a mzungu running on the morning. Yesterday I wanted to do my longer-ish run which I wasn’t able to do Saturday since we headed to the field at 6am, so I decided to explore a bit. Roger told me that the road to the right at the intersection at the end of my road led past the Governors mansion, so I took that and the Governors mansion was definitely worth seeing. Quite nice grounds. Then, I went up hill and came out by Nyawera market. I thought Id go by the market back toward my part of town, but somewhere I stayed right when I should have veered left. It wasnt until I returned home and could look at my route in SportTracks, on a satellite map, that I saw where I went wrong. In the meantime, I was running along, mounted a hill (where I realized I wasnt where I thought I should be, but was still curious about where I was), and ended up deep inside a neighborhood packed with people (since it was only a holiday for IRC and it was around 8:30am by this time). I reached the end of the road, turned around, and got back to an intersection, where I saw a nice wide deserted road going around a hill. That seemed nice, so I took that road. It wound around the hill on the top of which was the military camp. I had seen this from a distance and as I rounded the bend I realized why it was there. Across and below me was the border with Rwanda. There was the bridge over the river, across the way was a Rwandan military camp. I followed the road down, hoping it would actually circle this hill. But it went down to the dam where our electricity comes from and ended there. So I had to climb yet another hill and backtrack. This was a nice part of the run, however, except for the fact that for the whole 2 miles or so I saw only one other woman on a very deserted stretch.

Back at the intersection, I tried one road briefly until I realized that it only went up to the camp. I returned to the intersection again and went back down the original road I had come up on. When I got to the bottom, I found a well-traveled alley which climbed up one hill, then another, where I found myself on the road I had originally meant to be on. Surprise, surprise! Winding my way back home, my run was exactly the  7 miles it was supposed to be, according to my training plan, even though a thousand times along the route, I decided I was too tired and wanted to cut it short. Ah well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Exploring Bukavu

Part of me likes exploring a new town and part of me gets annoyed that I dont already know where to go to cover a certain distance. So, we are in that beginning phase now where Im getting to know Bukavu as a runner. I have heard that Sunday early mornings are when all the weekend warriors are out running from the border (w/Rwanda) to the Governors office about 14km round trip that includes no less than 3 killer hills each direction. This habit of going out for a hard run once a week seems to be an African pastime (at least in Bukavu and Bamenda). Interesting. Id be afraid of getting injured or sure that I wouldnt have the stamina, but that doesnt seem to faze them. Anyway, I didnt get up this morning to partake in the festivities, but maybe next weekend. The problem is that there is a sort of standing date every Saturday night among the ex-pats that work with me at IRC and their friends which rarely ends early and the English-language church service on Sundays is at 7:30am. So that leaves little time to get a run in.

But my explorations have uncovered some good routes. There is the route within my neighborhood which can be configured several ways to make about 5k or a  bit more. If I extend that and run up to our office, I can get a 5-miler in and Ive found a nice path that curves around the bay that sits between the peninsula on which I live and the peninsula on which the office is situated. Yesterday morning, I ran down to the border and decided to take the paved road up past the office, which led to the discovery that the hill from the border up to the office is long and steep! I was feeling all good about getting back into shape and getting my times down under 10 min/mi and then I couldnt even make it up the hill without walking. Hmmph. We still have a ways to go.

Since I get regular R&R breaks as well as vacation days, I was thinking about the possibility of training for a marathon. There are now quite a few marathons around Africa, some of which actually sound fun and interesting (though some just sound grueling and lonely). Thinking, thinking, thinking.

At any rate, Bukavu is a nice place to run. It is cool enough now that I usually wear a long-sleeve shirt to run, though I dont need gloves or anything that severe, thank goodness (at least at the moment). Theres really only one paved road, so most of my running is off road which is good for my joints Im sure. And Im not the only person who runs, though Ive definitely discovered neighborhoods that, judging from the responses of those I pass, are not frequented by expats.

More adventures to come!

Kinshasa, not an expat runner's paradise

I spent a week in Kinshasa before finally moving to Bukavu and was able to run four times there, which was nice. However, the ex-patriate community there is currently living under fairly restrictive rules certainly restrictive if you are a runner. We are not allowed to walk on the streets. We must be driven (or drive, if you have a car) everywhere. The one saving grace is that someone has decided that it is safe to run this one loop along the river around the Embassies. So, in order to get a run in and get back before the drivers changed shifts, I awoke at 5am, and was sitting in the car by 5:30am. It was barely dawn when I started running 15 minutes later, but that also meant it was cool and quite pleasant. White mans loop is a bit more than 2.5km and by 6am, there was quite an international crowd of us walking and running around. One thing I appreciated was that it was relatively flat, so I began to feel like a runner again for the first time in months.

The nice thing about the run was the river the Congo river and looking over at Brazzaville on the far shore. It reminded me a lot of running on the banks of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Off to DR Congo

Well, I havent written in awhile because I havent been running much. And mostly Ive been cold and miserable and whiny about it and I know you dont wanna hear all that.

The good news is that I got some much needed medical attention during my sojourn in the US several high quality massages, great core training advice and diagnosis and treatment of adrenal fatigue. So I feel like I am in good shape moving forward and looking forward to getting back into shape and a good solid running routine.

Today I board a flight to start the long trek to my new life in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I am taking up the position of Partnership Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee and will be there for at least a couple of years, if not many more. I fly to New York, then Brussels, then Kinshasa where Ill be for a couple of weeks of orientation. So, stay tuned for dispatches from a country rebuilding after a long, hard civil war.