Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Running in Africa...what a trip!

Well, Africa certainly threw some surprises at me as far as my training there. I met a girl who is a cross country runner at Alma College, and she was running twice a day, so she convinced me to keep her company on this training style I haven't used since 1972. Of course, back then, I ran a 2:30 marathon, too, so maybe this will be good for me.

Of course, I am staying in the bush outside of Accra, Ghana, and it is humid, and the infrastructure of the area is very challenging. There are no paved roads, and the only roads are dirt, with huge ruts and bumps, so running here is like running trails, or cross country! Then, there is a little matter of the large goats that stand in the road looking at us, not to mention the chickens and the roosters that dart out from the side of the road at us as we trudge along in the 95% humidity, which saps me from the beginning.

But, it has been a challenge, one that I rose to the occasion on...and there are the locals who yell "obruni," (white people) as we run by. Sometimes children will come along and jump into our arms as we approach them. The children are such a joy, and they run along beside us for awhile, laughing at us, and giving us big hugs.

The orphans are not into running as I hoped they would be...they are more into soccer (go figure), but I donated the shoes and the shirts, and they were grateful, not to the running part, but to having shoes! To having clothes! Now, all they need is food.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Last Post before Africa

Well, here it is only a few days away from my African adventure. My running has been off and on. I was in Dallas and Fort Worth for the past several days, watching the Texas Rangers play the Phillies...spending some time with family before leaving. It was great. On the way back, I got to stop in Weatherford and run the "Mineral Wells Trailway," a twenty-mile trail in the woods that terminates in Mineral Wells. There are mileage markers every mile, and there are no cars allowed, and they can't even get on the trail, thankfully. Bikers like to ride the trail, though, but they are nice and just sailed right around me. I did a nice, smooth 6-mile run, and drove home to Abilene. It was humid, but cloudy, which made the run so much better.

I am convinced that the weather is just too hot to do any serious running. My hat goes off to all those people who can run in this heat and get any good training in. When I was younger, I preferred the heat, but these days, it is rough on my old body.

I did run today out in the heat, and it was kind of fun, but I slowed way down, and just took it easy.

I am looking forward to going to Africa...it will be humid there, and hot, so I just hope I can keep up my mileage while there, and I will return and begin to prepare for a brand new running season.

I have a 2:30 flight to Dallas (DFW), then I will spend the night at a hotel near the airport. Thankfully, they have a shuttle that will take me to the airport the next morning, as my plane leaves DFW at 7:50 a.m., and I will land in New York at 12:00. I will have another five hours at JFK, then my plane leaves for Accra, Ghana at 5:00, arriving at 8:00 the next morning. I have a bunch of books, so I will get a lot of reading done while waiting in airports and hotel rooms...not to mention that long flight across the Atlantic.

I am taking malaria prevention medication, which made me have some really weird dreams last night, so I hope it is worth it. I have a mosquito net, and will take my own can of mosquito repellant. I have been vaccinated untill I feel like a pin cushion, including a yellow fever shot, which is required for a visa. I actually already have a visa, so going through customs shouldn't be too bad.

I am excited, but I will miss everybody, and will look forward to getting back and starting a new year.

I will try and post while I am in Africa, and will take lots of pictures.

Jerry Hollingsworth