Thursday, September 6, 2007


my fav flower, i wish i could rub the smell all over me:
i ran the marathon path all by my lonesome this weekend!  john is extremely busy trying to finish a new grant application before the 11th and unfortunately needed to skip the long run this weekend.  i drug myself out of bed, tossed on some clothes, had some litchi juice, and had at it.  though i was a bit slower during the first half, i am impressed that i actually kept running without anyone waiting for me.

in general, one should not run alone here, especially on the rural paths john and i usually take. one of my office drivers-an african-was running alone and 3 men jumped from the bushes and held him up with a knife.  also, unfortunately, rape is quite common though completely unreported. and, i have learned from my friends that live here, having sex with white girls is a huge prize, so to speak. ew.

i know i am a bit foolish. i used to laugh in undergrad when my friends would talk about the "dangers" of durham and-completely stupidly-would go running around east campus in the coolness of dark. but i do try to keep my head here.  i only run a couple of very public places alone and never through the cornfields where people can jump out or to the river alone-an area where women are attacked all the top. and mostly i run with someone else and even that only in daylight. 

so, i was a bit hesitant to run the marathon path.  it is very long, beginning through the urban area with too many cars and people and goats, then going way out into the coffee plantations, finally all the way to the Kilimanjaro gate we finished our climb at.  though much of that is rather desolate, it is a paved road with occasional cars and women carrying their bananas into town. 

in those long runs, the hardest part for me is actually the return.  though the way out is almost all uphill and the way back downhill-the run is so long that going "down" makes little difference.  i have never been much of a runner and certainly never long distance, so to run 8 or so miles only to have to run 8 more to get home is awful.  (especially on this route- as you get closer to the kili gate the rains usually start, soaking you through so all your chaffing clothes are a joy) so i wasn't particularly looking forward to it.

just after i turned, a man appeared from no where and started running after me. hearing the feet gave me a bit of a heart attack as i doubted  i'd be able to outrun someone intent on catching me at this point.  i didn't have much time to consider it though, two heartbeats and he was right next to me. hamna shida (it is nothing) this beautiful, tall man was at my side. he was decked out in actual running shoes and light running pants and jacket. through my toddler proficient kiswahili and his broken english, he told me he is "a runner. that is my job." he wanted to know why i ran if it is not my job.  i tried to explain that i am an actress and so it is sort of my job.  ah, he said, "you run to maintain your shape."  that's right.  :)  he trains at least 6 days a week doing this incredibly huge circle through moshi, to the rural district, past the mountain gate and back to him home.  it takes him and his friends 45 minutes, but "we are not ashamed." i was somewhat confused, thinking 45 minutes is nothing, but he assured me it should only take them 39 minutes. 

he ran with me, inadvertently encouraging me to pick up my speed, the entire way back.  it was great. not only was he very nice, but returning through the urban area can be very hazardous at that time of day.  i felt like i was in the middle of that olympics visa commercial, where the random african man misses his bus then runs all the way to town as the people in the bus laugh at wave.

yelp. i look like a runner.

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