Nov. 1, 2008 - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Day 1
And so it begins, my training camp in the land where some of the best distance runners train: Ethiopia.
We arrived early this morning at 4am, I come in on the same flight as Lydia Chojeca (Polish 1500m) one of the many athletes joining our camp for the next month. We were able to pick up our visas pretty quickly and were picked up at the airport by her boyfriend who had arrived a few days earlier.
The first thing I noticed when existing the airport is how nice the locals are...okay, I don't want to sound too naive because I do know they weren't carrying my 25kg bag for nothing! Nevertheless, the Ethiopian people are very nice and gentle in nature...until they step into competition.
Since it was dark when we drove from the airport, I didn't get a good feel for the city, but I will say that the driving is not like at home. People cross the street when and where they feel like, cars go where they want and there really aren't any directional markers so it's a bit of a free-for-all.
|Our apartment in Addis.
We arrived at our apartment and I was pleasantly suprised - it was really nice, clean and modern. We have wireless internet, a really good cook, a driver to take us to training and comfortable accomodations. But, once you step outside the gates, it's a different story. You definitely feel like you're walking into a different age or time. You've got cars, goats, donkeys, and people sharing the streets, which are mostly dirt roads.
But you can definitely see that Addis is growing and becoming modernized. It's in a bit of strange stage because you have palaces being build buy the wealthy athletes and business people, and right around the corner you have people selling everything under the sun from a shack.
As for the running, we did our first run this afternoon at 2700m and I definitely felt a little out of sorts. We were sure to take it really easy, but I'm totally serious when I say that I was breathing heavy at 5:30km pace. It got better as the run went on and, according to the other guys that have been here a week, it gets better after 6 or 7 days.
|View from my room
We've got a great group here, representing lots of different countries: 2 France, 2 UK, 2 Bahrain,1 Sweden, 1 Poland, 1 Canadian. And everyone is keen to gain as much experience and training benefits as possible while here. The guys have already been hammering each other on 10 x 1km on 90" rest at 2800m and paid for that one - I think they were all hurting the next day.
|Scott and Bob hanging out.
I have to mention that the running culture is amazing here as well. We were running down the street today and people where cheering, some even joining in, anywhere from 50 yr old men to 3 yr old kids. They love to run and they love runners. As we were running we saw lots of different Ethiopia athletes and even ran into Bekele who was getting ready for his afternoon session. He also warned us that we should take it easy for the first couple of days until we get used to the altitude. I suppose he knows what he's talking about so I think I'll take his advice.
Tomorrow we are up at 6:30am and ready to do just an easy longer run up at about 2900m - should be good!