Yesterday’s run was both interesting and very challenging. Last week was no action in terms of jogging because I had given myself a week to recover from the hiking adventure on Mulanje Mountain from 13 to 15 January. By Thursday, I could feel that my body was ready to hit the road, but I thought there was no need to be too eager to resume the workouts.
So yesterday came with a feeling of rest and complete recovery. I was feeling invigorated and motivated to hit the rubber (the sole of my shoes) on the asphalt. I searched for the theme of the run. Was it just a casual trot, a speed session or a range session? I thought I could settle for the speed session. I wanted to cover the same distance I had covered during my second run over a week ago in less time.
My first run covered a distance of 5.41 km in 39:54 minutes at an average pace of 7′ 23”/km. My second run covered a distance of 6.91 km in 57:22 minutes at an average pace of 8′ 18”/km. So could I push it to say 5′ 30”/km? I could see myself bathed in the glory of great performance. This was reinforced by the images I saw over the weekend when I was watching the Paris Marathon. Those athletes were running with grace at a pace that looked like a gazelle in motion. They were flying over the trail and covered 42 km in just 2 hours and a few minutes.
Soon after knocking off from the office, I changed into my sports kit and hit the road. I was alone as Andrew Khoko, my running partner, was away on a short break. My legs felt heavy and my chest refused to rise and fall in the expected rhythmic pattern. My mind screamed against me and advised me to stop. How could I stop when I had just started the run? This did not make sense. This is not what I was expecting. I was fresh, eager, motivated and focused. I had my game plan ready and had considered my approach. Yet, my body refused to kick in.
What to do? I went into brute force mode. I pushed the body and told myself things will improve once the body warms up. I covered the first kilometre very miserably. I heard from my running app that I had covered the kilometre at an average speed within 6 minutes. Oh? Really? So I was going marginally faster than the last run. It did not feel like it. Well, if only I could maintain the momentum. By the second kilometre my body was warmed up but I was still feeling heavy on my feet.
Then I was hit with a nasty smell. I thought to myself, “Am I turning into a sniffing dog?” My senses seemed to be heightened with the jog. I then traced the offending smell from an informal, and perhaps illegal refuse damp, just few metres away from the road but hidden out of sight. This did not improve my situation.
I kept running but I needed help. My condition was worsening by the minute. I raised my voice to God and cried for help. I prayed while my legs were pumping. “Dear Lord, please, help me. I want to get lighter on my feet and find the motivation to complete this run.” I prayed along those lines but I kept running.
Just after completing 3 kilometres I was engulfed in another foul smell. I recognised it immediately. It was coming from a roadkill. Someone had run over a dog, which probably had hobbled into the bush and miserably died from its wounds. The city council garbage collectors had missed its presence and failed to remove the decaying carcass.
After four kilometres, I chased out of my mind any lingering thoughts about quitting this run. This was going to be done. My pace had somewhat slowed down, but kept on pushing. “Hey! Am I getting lighter on my feet?” Wow! This was exciting. My prayer had been answered. I was not super light, yet most definitely I was not heavy anymore. I felt energy infusing my body. A kilometre later, I started my countdown.
When I reached Bwandilo, a trading turf at the entrance of Area 47, a low-density residential area in Lilongwe, I was greeted by a welcome aroma of roasted beef. Hmmm… I think that beef came from cattle that was feeding on alfalfa. “Ha! That must be chicken. Organic, local, hybrid?” My mind was having a nice time, and when I woke up from my fantasies, the run was nearly over.
I clocked 6.88 km on my running app, which was covered in 49:14 minutes at an average pace of 7′ 09”. Not bad. It was not the envisioned speed of a cheetah, but I noticed an improvement of 1′ 09”. I reached home relieved and happy that it was all over. Well, at least for now.