In my job, I travel. I travel lot and I don't like it. Not from the global warming point of view......well if you have been following my blog articles, you will understand that I do not believe Global Warming is an issue, it is something we will need to adapt to.......destroying rain forests IS an issue as that is tampering with our world's ecosystem, weather monitors, as well as destroying the habitats of animals and plants, pushing them into extinction!  Worst still, it is most likely that in some round about way, I will also be indirectly responsible for that destruction by purchasing products that have been tainted by companies who have deliberately irrresponsibly directly polluted the Amazon in their quest for oil (see here and here). Sad to say, petroleum products are everywhere - such as plastics and cosmetics - and their source will be unknown to us the regular consumer. But then our world is full of spider webs to hide deeds done by some greedy irresponsible corporations. Last reflection, Brazil wants to allow the flooding of hundreds of hectares of rainforests for a hydroelectric dam. Yes it is about to happen (see here). If only we could somehow make rain forests a world heritage and make greedy governments and corporations see the light!

So travel. Here I am travelling from one time zone to another. 8 hours ahead or 8 hours behind. Wearing on the body, mind and soul. However as I have already proven on completing marathons with very little sleep beforehand, the body may think it is tired, but the mind is the one that wins to perservere through anything.

My preparation the week before Kilimanjaro saw me jumping time zones. Work  and jet lag screwed with my body mechanics, telling it that it should be awake when really the darkness outside meant it should be asleep. Jetlag and marathons, now have taught me the body and mind are not always congruous. However, at some point they will catch up with each other. The week before leaving to Tanzania, I averaged 3 hours sleep each night as my system tried to catch up with flying from LA to UK.

One week later: Packing was done the night before leaving. Thankfully Pete and Tess tell me they managed to get their tyre "Amani" (means Peace in Swahili) through into Tanzania, so I would not have to bring his sister "Upendo" (means Love).
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11th September: The Flight
10:15am: "This is your captain speaking, our flight out of Heathrow will be delayed by 1 and a half hours"

Hmm that would mean we would miss our connecting flight to Kilimanjaro Airport. Well am too tired to be worried about it.

My travel buddy (Jess) and I dozed throughout an Air Kenya flight trying to catch up with forgotten sleep. Well after yakking, there was not much to do as our TV screens did not work. Our entertainment would later arrive with the antics of a bunch of "lads" getting drunk on the flight, and as they passed around a bar of chocolate, Jess could not help but drool and "want" the chocolate. Of course a little conversation emerged and we found out these lads were intending to climb Kilimanjaro within in a couple of days. Thankfully not at the same time as us. I could only imagine their dehydration and then AMS (acute mountain sickness) chasing them up the mountain.

Arriving about 1.5 hours late into Nairobi, we found that our next connecting flight, Air Precission, had been delayed for just the two of us!

12th September: Welcome to Tanzania
Midnight: we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport. Coming from Nairobi, we were requested to show our yellow fever vaccination certificates. Jess' certificate was some years out of date, but explaining to the official that we only transited through Nairobi, he let us through. (Note to all: Kenya has a high risk of Yellow Fever and it is a requirement to have a Yellow Fever vaccination plus certificate if you visit the country before Tanzania, otherwise you risk not being allowed into the country. In the UK, prices vary at different clinics from £50 to £80).

00:30am: We paid immigration for our visas (50 USD for British Nationals/100 USD for US Nationals) and picked up our luggage. Outside the baggage area we expected a meet and greet service from TeamKilimanjaro to take us to our final resting place for the night. There were some faces and pieces of paper displayed to us, but none related to us.

So here we were in a little airport, in the dead of night, tired from a 12 hour journey. A couple of "taxi drivers" approached us about using their service. Besides them, there was no-one else around. 1am was looming and with no sign of our meet and greet service, decide to go with a taxi who would charge a set rate of $50USD to the Outpost (our hotel). Jess was unsure, but I figured that if anything happened my aggressive side would put up a good fight!  The car was not marked as a "taxi" but my gut feeling assured me all would be good.

01:15am: After a little chat with the taxi driver, Augustine, and finding out he lived 5 minutes from the airport, he became a little distracted but tried to look cool and calm. He turned his car into a petrol station and honked his horn. The roads were quiet, it was a Sunday and it was the early morning. It certainly did not look like there would be a soul around! I looked at the petrol gauge and saw that Augustine's tank was running close to empty. "Hakkana Matata" he responded to allay my concerns. We left the petrol station, and visited 2 more. Third time lucky, his beeping horn at the third petrol station awoke someone who supplied our taxi with a quarter of a tank of petro;, enough petrol for Augustine to drop us off and get back home. (I would later find out it is common practice for vehicles not to fill up with petrol. Perhaps this is precautionary due to petrol being siphoned from vehicles or to reduce the likelihood of vehicles being stolen!).

02:15am: We arrived at our final destination and a receptionist woke up to provide us a room. We were given a pokey little twin bed room. We found there was no running water for a shower or to fill the kettle for a cup of tea - later reading about water rationing in the area! Still our spirits were high and both Jess and I agreed not to wake up early and to sleep into the afternoon. And as I tried to snuggle into bed, I found that the bed was too short for me!! A kid's sized bed......best to laugh about it and do something about it in the later morning. To top it off, the mattress had a "ditch" in it. Great.....great.....great!!!

Next installement will be written up by 9th October.

 
 
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TG, having run and cycled up and down the marshes for the last 7-8 hours marshalling the marathon, decided it was time to do a 1K run with the Olympic tyres. The last time they were taken out was in 2010 and were organised in a length wise rotation. This year to make it harder, they were organised as seen in the picture.

TG struggled with the quintuplets.

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In the mean time, TyreKid came out to play to show TG how to pull tyres. He glided easily with his entourage.

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Seeing TG's plight, TyreKid came bouncing over to give TG a pulling hand to guide her Olympic Tyres to the finish point.

A 1K run took nearly 30 minutes! Thank goodness for the rescue from the TyreKid :-)

 
 
One2Go volunteers
Last year, I participated in the Two2Go event, which although some milage was added on due to some village idiot changing the signs around, still did a reasonable time. However there were a number of problems with that event and having met and respected the organizers, decided to help this year to establish an easier route and to improve the watering points.

The 2Go
theme has been the countdown to the Olympics, so a simple route to include as many of the Olympic sites was designed. That is: straight up to the white water rafting centre and back to the Olympic stadium along the canal. It was so simple that it would reduce instances of getting lost or confused. Can't ever say NO-ONE would get confused due to lack of concentration!!! It happens in marathons, even in 5K runs, as demonstrated by a friend who managed to get lost on 3 separate occasions on the same 5K run!!!

On the day, my focus was to be a roving marshal to ensure the last watering points were adequate to see the marathon runners until the end. One of the watering points was also the 10K and 5K turn around point. So 2 sets of volunteers were established to focus on either the 5K/10K event or the marathon event.

Having cycled up to the Olympic Stadium, decided to establish one more watering point at the turn around point, as well as find further help for the marshalling at blind spots along the canal, so that no cyclist would kill a runner! The marshals at the bridge blind spot and the turn around point were excellent.

Now the last improvement that needs to be made is the finish and perhaps Eddie (main organizer) will be able to get that to the Olympic Stadium. Fingers crossed, let's hope the authorities can allow that one last vision to happen. After all the Olympics is supposed to be a legacy for East London!

Congratulations to Eddie and the team :-)
 
 
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23rd Marathon
Hotels! TG tossed and turned in bed and finally got to sleep at about 4am, after she threw herself onto the floor to stay cool. She normally finds beds too hot to sleep in. She managed to wake up at 6am and forced the food down that she had bought last night. Unfortunately perhaps Mexican with chili was not the best thing to eat before a race and soon her stomach began to churn. To circumvent any problems, TG drank a litre of water to flush out her system. Fortunately she was able to empty her stomach before leaving the room to feel more settled.

From the Marriott Hotel, the start point is a short 10 minute walk however not having checked out the walking route yesterday, TG got directions from a couple with Mickey Mouse ears (really!). It was a lovely walk to the start along the riverside in the cool morning mist.

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Runners at the start
7am the hooter went, and we waited behind until everyone had gone over the start line. Both full marathoners and half marathoners start together. The full marathoners would do a second lap when the half marathoners finish.

After the heat of yersterday, it was thankfully a wonderful cool morning. But we were warned temperatures would rise and reach into the 30s by the afternoon.

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Back of the pack
At the back of the pack, I slid quite easily on damp tarmac, enabling TG a better drag. As we headed towards the river, we soon caught up with the straggly back line of 1/2 marathoners pacing themselves. For the next 5 miles we would be overtaking participants.......and then we hit the hard packed trail. Yes we could finally get moving and I glided with joy. Between miles 5 and 6 we overtook our first full marathoners. Between miles 6 and 7 we overtook another couple of full marathoners, who we would meet again at mile 14. I would later find out they were called Endorphin Dude and Ultra Wolf!

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Lone musician
Ssingers and musicians playing a variety of instruments to entertain the runners were peppered along the route. And as we ran along, I wondered if we were the moving entertainment. ;-)

Bystanders and supporters were encouraging, and some would try to stop TG to ask her what she was doing! And when she slowed down to respond, I told her to keep going. There wasn't time to waste otherwise we'd suffer the same heat exhaustion as in West Virginia in the Hatfield McCoy marathon. TG does not like it in the 30s and my rubber feels hot with the blazing sun shining on me.

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As always the volunteers were supportive....errr high five to the dudes!

Between miles 9 to 10, the lead bike warned me the lead runner was about to pass. To my surprise a "gazelle" of a woman passed us. Yes a woman (who I would later find out was a home grown runner called Julia Mallon) was the lead runner. She was looking really strong at mile 21. I could not see any man behind. Soon, a second lead runner passed us and she too was another woman! She also was looking strong and determined to catch the lead runner. But the lead runner looked much stronger. The third lead runner to catch us was then a man. He looked like he would have no hope of catching the first 2 women. TG laughed and held her thought about a man letting 2 women slip by!

After a glorious run on hard packed gravel, we hit back onto the tarmac. By mile 10 TG began to walk a little and run a little. We got to 13.1 miles by 10:28. The temperatures were rising and TG was slowing down. By mile 14 Endorphin Dude and Ultra Wolf had caught back up with us. Between mile 14 and 15 TG carried me, and Endorphin Dude turned back several times as he could no longer hear me scrapping on the tarmac......and am glad Endorphin Dude (ED) called out "I couldn't hear you any more!".

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Ultra Wolf and Endorphin Dude
TG responded, "Yeah Rec is pressing on my bladder and want to go but there is no cover around"
ED: "Hey we'll cover you"
Ultra Wolf (UW): "There's a good spot, we'll keep look out"

So we went down along a short trail off the main trail .......
ED: "Hold up there's a bike coming"
TG: "Urgh"
ED: "Okay you're good to go"
TG called out: "Thank you!!!"


Rec: "Just don't eat Mexican next time"
TG: "It wasn't the Mexican!"

Anyway so ED and UW were about 200m ahead until we got onto the hard packed gravel. Then away we flew passing ED and UW. TG: "Don't worry, I'll see you on the next stretch of tarmac...."

They kept TG in view all the time......waiting. The temperatures were still rising and TG was back on a walk on another stretch of tarmac. I felt a little hot and the ground was holding on to me a little more than the early morning. Between miles 18-19, ED and UW overtook TG back again. TG could not move any faster until the next hard packed gravel trail and soon ED and UW were no longer in sight.

The sun was beating down and TG was unsure of what nutrition to take. Her head was a little light. I admit I was dragging my treads. I too don't like hot sun.....which means sucky tarmac. Between miles 19-22, TG became distracted with a road runner, an egret and some big bird flying above. However, fortunately she only looked and did not try to take a photo as she normally does. We completed the the event in 7:33. A new PB for us :-)

And as Orhan offered TG a large wine bottle, TG offered me in return! And so I am now in a sunny new home. No more snowy winters!......hope to send some photos :-) and hope TG will come back again so we can race this event again in the future!

Notes from TG:
Rec was loving Santa Rosa. It would have been selfish of me to have packed him back to the UK when he could be enjoying better weather. Sad to part with him, happy he was happy and hope he inspires more people.

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Organisers Arthur and Orhan
Santa Rosa Marathon Overview
Organisation: Excellent
Type of race: Chip timed
Course: Flat and fast along a pathway that is on the side of a river. About 1/3 on hard packed gravel and 2/3 on tarmac.
Volunteers: Excellent
Drink points: Water/gatorade @ every 2 miles; gel/fruit stops
Goodie Bag at start point: Technical t-shirt, energy drinks and food
Goodies at finish point: Very cool changeable medal; food and drink
Weather: 7am @ early 20s C and by 10am got to the late 20s C/ 70s F
Mid-day about 35 C/ 95 F

 
 
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Rec and the animals
Rec's Diary
Monday: We touched down in LA. TG went for a short run and found 90F hot. She forgot about releasing me from the hot stuffy suitcase.

Tuesday: Was finally out of the stuffy bag. TG took me out at 6pm as she did not want to stress out in the 90s. She said 80s was cooler. Was good to see the blue skies and skid along sidewalks! Sidewalks! Must be a little more posh here as West Virginia had a lack of sidewalks.

Friday: TG did a weigh-in and after 5 days in LA, had managed to gain 7 lbs on an American diet of meat and carbs and sleeping lots!

Saturday 27th August: Santa Rosa Health Expo
At 11am, we arrived in Santa Rosa, Marriott Hotel and were quickly sorted out by a couple of the organisers; Orhan and his wife Kenya. TG was given a very cool clothe bag with an awesome technical t-shirt and some goodies. Soon we were directed to a table next door to an energy drink and a massage table that was just outside of the hotel. Opposite was a stall selling shoes and another advertising another local marathon in March.

*****Flashback to a day in July, TG had agreed with Orhan to talk about her cause and why she was dragging tyres.*****

So here we were now with our own table out in the sun. TG kind of laid out some flyers that the Earthwatch charity had created for her to give away. I, Rec, sat in front of the table with Chamey (the Chameleon who was first introduced in the London marathon) on top of me to keep the glaring sun off me. Just so that you understand that TG is rather slack in this area, the energy drinks gals would later politely tell TG that next time they would be happy to make her stall look better! TG had a dirty t-shirt on top of the table and all kinds of other rubbish that should have been hidden away.

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TG's running footwear
With very few people initially around, TG began to talk to Marcella and Lindsey, 2 sisters who were looking after the energy drinks stall. Of course the obvious question would soon surface: "What's the story with the tire?" (am in the US so have to spell tyre the US way!)

TG didn't really want to talk about herself: "Ahhh, this is Rec. He teaches running form would you like to try him out? He's a great teacher and everyone loves him!"

Marcella boldly came forward and volunteered herself. She was rough with me! She bounced along and so I bounced along with dissatisfaction.

TG translated: "Rec ain't happy with what you are doing to him. He says you're wasting energy moving up and down instead of putting it in your forward motion."

And so TG went thru some basic Pose drills with Marcella and soon Marcella was running with less bounce. Lindsey soon became the next customer and begun to understand why she has a hamstring injury. The massage guys were next, with the Modesto marathon guys checking it all out. The shoes guys probably wanted to put their thumbs in their ears as TG told various people how the chunky thick soles on running shoes were screwing with their running form.

TG and I were soon training runners who completed marathons from anywhere between 3 hrs - 4 hrs and had niggles on their legs. Within a short time, most people understood about the significance of their running form in relation to their injury. The key drills to understand were "the pull" and "staying in the box". Some got it sooner than others. Some folks still did not quite get the perception and it's a good thing I'm made out of rubber. So TG gave them some drills to do.

For those runners who want to know more about the concepts on running form go to http://www.posetech.com/pose_method/pose-method.html 

It is the technique TG uses to ensure she no longer has niggles when running, or injury after a marathon. Am sure that next time we come back, running with one of my tyre buddies will be a normal everyday occurrence! So many people said so many nice things about me. I loooove Santa Rosa!

Late to Bed
17:00 everyone packed and TG and the energy gals promised to meet up the next day. After running with various people and getting my rubber hot on the tarmac, TG gave me a rest and volunteered herself to help the organisers break down in the hotel and set up in their new location in a church in Julliard Park that was next to the start point. Foolishly TG decided to have Mexican at 10pm for dinner.....saving a vegetarian burrito for breakfast as the hotel said that no food would be available until 7am, the time when the marathon would start. After watching a little American TV, TG went to bed at 1am.

Summary of the Santa Rosa Health Expo
Fun and friendly little expo that was organised by the Santa Rosa marathon organisers. It involved a number of local companies based in Santa Rosa and San Francisco who were giving away things free or for an excellent discount. There were protein shake samples, a little wine tasting (after all this is the Sonoma county), free energy drinks that cost $2.49 a bottle. People were taking stashes of these little bottles! Free massages and of course Rec was offering free running form classes! :-)

Part 2 will be written up on Friday 9th Sept