I took my camera with me, again, for my 14-miler on Saturday morning. Last week, I was never particularly inspired to take photos, and I thought the same would be true this time, but as soon as I was up on the bridge crossing the Zambezi, it was so beautiful. So here's a treat for you all, some scenes from my run!
My route was pretty boring – straight out the B8 highway from Cheshire Home, where I live, to the border. I run past one area with most of the local Ministry offices and past the Zambezi Waterfront Development project (oh, that’ll be another post – a project which has been under development for many, many years) and past the Total petrol station. But there are some vast stretches of not-much-ness. The last photo is the final 1.5mi/2.5km stretch near Cheshire Home, which can feel pretty desolate at the end of a long run.
I had this idea I my head that I would try to cross over and run in Zambia. I thought this would require some border negotiations. (I had heard that a Peace Corps used to cross over and run over there.) But when I got to the border, I ran into the border post, through to the other side, looked at the guards, said, “Hello, how are you?” and they didn’t wave me over or give me any signal or anything. They looked bemused/amused both at my running and at my taking the time to say hello. A few feet later, there was a small sign, “Welcome to Zambia”. Hmm. Could it be that easy? Shortly after, I came upon all the trucks waiting in the Immigration/Customs area on the Zambia side and the approach to the bridge. But no officials anywhere to be seen. So I just kept going.
The breeze on the bridge was beautiful. It wasn’t very hot out, maybe 65-70F/18-21C? But the sun is very strong and gently moving air is always appreciated.
When you look across a wide river, it’s pretty impressive, but being up on the bridge and being able to look up and down the river really shows its strength and magnitude. The Zambezi is in the same class as the Mississippi, I would say. They definitely feel similar to me. And the Connecticut. When I was standing on the bridge taking this photo – seeing the river with the tree-lined banks – I had a moment of space/time shifting and felt for a moment that I was standing on a bridge somewhere looking at the Connecticut River. I almost expected the trees to start changing colors!
The Zambian side is a bit hillier than the Namibian side. The land rises away from the river (though we’re talking an elevation of what 50 feet, 100 feet?) which means that all the water that rains onto the Zambian side flows into Namibia. We get flooded, they don’t. Katima hasn’t been too badly affected by the flooding, yet, though there is a camp not too far from Cheshire Home with about 50 or so tents for flood refugees. Also, I was speaking to a woman at the taxi stop the other day who said that near her home a bit further east, there has been a lot of flooding and now the town population has ballooned with flood victims.
Because the road for the bridge was built up, as I approached the river on my return, I could see this lovely swampy area down below filled with snowy egrets. You can see a few in the photo, but there were probably 20 of them there, but just walking around getting some food, so in a photo, they just look like little white slivers! You can really tell that the river has greatly overflowed its banks. On the Namibian side, the water is now about 200m from the B8 in a lot of places. But the rains have now ended, so perhaps we will be okay.
My return through the border post was equally as uneventful as my departure. It sure is nice to be in a peaceful country, bordered by peaceful countries with whom it has good relations.
As I was getting near home, I saw this rather bright green spot on the road. Approaching it, I realized it was this totally cool lizard! I approached him carefully, thinking he would run off as soon as I got close, but he didn’t move an inch. He seemed to be rather frozen in place, though he’s clearly alive. Maybe he was just really grooving on the heat. I got a bit worried though, because he was sitting literally in the middle of the road. It was amazing that he had not yet been run over. After taking his photo, a small truck came by and then turned around and stopped. A stocky Afrikaaner guy got out and picked up Mr. Lizard and moved him off to the side of the road. I thanked him, then he asked why I hadn’t done that. “I’m new here. I didn’t know. They don’t bite?” He responded, “aw they bite, but only softly.” So now I know. In all my experience in Africa, my general stance has been to not touch wild things, but maybe now it’s time to learn to be with the wildlife more closely. . .
My long run was quite slow for me, but that’s probably good. It’s hard for my head to believe, but logically I know that the point of a long run is not to go fast. Unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure of my running time because I stopped a lot and when I got back to the house, I realized that I couldn’t find my connection cable (for a Garmin Forerunner 110). So I know the total time, but I can’t connect the watch so SportTracks can calculate the actual run time vs. stop time. I don’t know what happened to cable, but I’m afraid that it fell out of my bag into the rental car that Otilie had last week. I thought maybe it fell on the ground, but I asked around and no one seems to have seen it. Fortunately, I have another Garmin, ‘cause it looks like the Forerunner 110 will be useless in about a day when the battery runs out. I’m really sorry about that because I find this one most comfortable on my small wrist, even if it doesn’t have all the functionality of the 405/410. Of course, I just saw that there is a new watch coming out – the Forerunner 610 – which looks beautiful and perfect for me – all the functionality of the 405 (maybe even of the 205/305!) and smaller with a more flexible band. Ah well, there’s something to look forward to in a year or so when I’m back someplace where such things are for sale.
Unfortunately, I got a splitting headache after the run, and this “cotton in the head” stuffed up feeling that I associate with allergies. This actually happens quite often after a long run (not so much during the week). I’ve always attributed this to something like hayfever – that I must be allergic to something in the air, but it’s odd to me that it only happens on long runs. And I wonder – this day, after the run, I drank fruit juice which is something I haven’t done in a couple of months on the “don’t drink your calories” principle of Paleo eating. But I’ve been reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes, by Joe Friel and Loren Cordain and Friel basically recommends some straight fruit sugar right after a workout for recovery (with protein -- I ate 3 scrambled eggs, too). But I wonder if I’m having a reaction to the fruit juice. Anyway, as I write this, it is Sunday morning and I still have the headache, even after drinking a cup of Traditional Medicinals Breathe Easy tea which usually makes a difference in sinus pain for me. I may have to pop some paracetamol.
One more thing to share. When I left the US, I weighed about 133lbs/60kg, which was down from a high of 141lbs/64kg in December-February. This was the beginning of results from starting to eat Paleo. Now I am down to 125lbs/56.5kg which has always been what I consider my “ideal” weight, though I have been down to 120-122lbs/55kg from time to time. This was not only totally effortless, but while eating food that has been so much more satiating than what I have been eating for 35 years. Many folks who move to eating Paleo are primarily interested in lowering their bodyfat, but I’m a bit addicted to the scale, so that was my first focus. However, last year I bought a skin caliper fat measurement device (FatTrack II by AccuFitness, www.accufitness.com) mostly because one time a few years ago, I got a body fat test at a race which indicated that my body fat was much lower than my fancy Tanita scale was telling me. At any rate, I just used the calipers, after reading and rereading the instructions to try to be as accurate as possible. My body fat came in at 15.7%. That was actually the highest of 4 measurements (3 out of the 4 were 15-something). Holy cow. I do have to say that the only place I see any fat on my body is my triceps (eegads, I hate that. The worst inheritance I have from my mother and my least favorite thing about getting older. . .) and my “love handles” which actually are not nearly as visible as they have always been in my adult life. 15.7% for a 49 year old woman. Pretty awesome. Ha! Just wanted to do some BSP there (blatant self-promotion).
Finally, I have a question, in case anyone actually reads this blog (I have my doubts). I am a big fan of many podcasts. There are several running podcasts I listen to regularly plus a bunch of health/fitness ones and then a bunch of NPR shows. Now I am sort of kicking around the idea of starting up a podcast myself and so I was wondering what might people be interested in hearing about? If I were to do a podcast, what would you like to hear me talk about? Give me your feedback in the comments. Thanks.