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October « 2009 « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog


Archive for October, 2009

Joyettes first marathon!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

This past weekend, my little age grouper of a girl friend tackled her first marathon! The event was somewhat un-orthodox style with a 4 pm start and point to point race on the SCTEX highway going to Subic Bay.

I write her programs, so I believed she could go just get under 4 hours. Some critics begged the differ, claiming that first timers should have lower expectation…But this is endurance sport, where things are not always logical…

Her target was clear, realistic and challenging as we sharpened her arrows and tightened her bow over the past few weeks.  Also with the compromise of her job and living and training in Manila.

I myself am very cognitive of what advantages and disadvantages that indoor training can bring. So we optimized and compromized…

Not wanting to interup my curent training block, I did not race and chose to be in a support vehicle so I got to see the race start/progress/unfold/and finalized.

At the 5km mark, as expected the Kenyans where leading and Joyette was in about 200th position, a little slower that her goal pace. “I’m just warming up” she yelled at me! But some of those runners where not warming up, but blowing up, since I could clearly see who had started to fast, just by looking at their running form…


Some were over striding, breathing much too hard, doing way to much arm movement or just rushing through the aid stations…All the while she was smiling, keeping a quick/short/efficient stride and making sure she got fuel inside her!

10km she started to build and still smilling I shouted “hit the numbers” and “23% done” as she was running around human land mines.


15km the sun started to go down and she was running in a smaller group of men. And passing walkers or  guys that pulled to the side of the road to “stretch”


21km done, its dark and not many lights at this point on the highway. She’s a little above goal pace but still looking solid and turning the legs over very well.  She’s in no mans land…


25km done and some aid stations are missing, supposed to be every 2.5km, but not at this point, there some panic on the course but we are prepared with coke/gatorade and cold water.

30km done and she confronts the hardest uphill of the race going to the toll gate. Its dark, but I can spot her legs turning over very well and passing many men. Many of whom try to run with her and/or start to walk after she passes them.  “treat this as the end of the race” I scream at her!

35km done and shes going down a long downhill. She’s at a slight disadvantage at this point, her short legs and low body weight don’t add up very well with gravity.

40km done and she turns right onto the Rizal highway towards the Remy field track. Her legs are turning over very well after the downhill, there’s a few men in front of here and now theres many lights so she can see up the road. She refuses any drinks and charges! She’s still gaining a few positions.

42km done, half a lap around the track and 3h57 finish time! Target ACCOMPLISHED  J and I think 47th over all, 9th female and less than 1 hour after the first place female, you guessed it a Kenyan!


She made me very proud but at the end of the day, one thing is for sure, I would not want to race her over a 200km run race…

3rd Brent Invitational Swim Meet.

Monday, October 19th, 2009


A few weeks ago I was asked by lifeguard Raffy to voluntear at their swim meet comming up! Kuya Raffy has always been very good to me, letting swim early, swim a bit later, swim when the pool is very busy, lend me a free locker and even feeding me sometimes when I’m looking a little skinny ;)

Accualy, Raffy was a key person lasy year when I broke my collar bone, he had some hook ups at the hospital and was able to get a great price, a great surgergon and more importantly, a room to myself with aircon that was clean enuff!

So I quickly agreed! My job would be a crutial one, to be a judge! So basically I was the guy that disqualified the little kids :( for swimming infractions.

The caos of the swim meet warm ups!

The caos of the swim meet warm ups!

I would only DQ the little kids for a few things, single hand touch on their turns on fly and breastroke. False starts, freestyle kick on the fly/breast and finishing on their fronts at the end of the backstroke. I accualy had to DQ one kid because he did a rediculusly long streamline!!

To be honest, I was very lax, only what was a sure breaking of a rule. I let a few slide because I kinda felt sorry for some of the kids how where struggling on their fly or the one who would knock their heads at the wall during back stroke! And then to one that zig zag into the lane lines, I had to keep my poker face more than a few time ;)

Kids age range was from 5 years old to 18 years old!

Kids age range was from 5 years old to 18 years old!

Me @ work...

Me @ work...


One thing that I saw for the first time, was the t-shirt relay, where it as 6x25m and each take over had to be done by giving the t-shirt to the next swimmer!


The best technique that I saw, was simply the bend over and let your relay mates rip the t-shirt off your body. But to put it on, well the fastest where the one who just did it themself, because the ones I saw where the WHOLE team would try to put it on the next swimmer, well that was just funny and complicated!



So at the end of the day, I might have DQ about 30 little kids, but I wont have any problems sleeping because I dont make th rules, I just enforce them….

One upon a mizungu

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Ever since I could remember, I dreamed about going to Kenya and running with the best runners in the world. In 2007 I got to realize that dreamed after working on a drilling rig for many months.

Before leaving Canada, I got about half a dozen shots at the travel clinic before leaving and then 2 days before my 21st b-day my mt bike and I landed safely in Nairobi for the experience of a lifetime

Once in the taxi heading to the bus depot, I could already see giraffes out of the airport, I felt like a kid again! But I knew that this experience will be very eye opening and character molding…

After passing the equator line, I arrived in Eldoret and from there made my way to the small village of Iten on the cusp of the Great Rift Valley, where the majority of the top Kenyan runners are from or migrated too to or have been at one point in their careers.

My new home for the next 5 months would be at the HATC about 8000feet high, which is operated by world champion Lornah Kiplagat and her Husband Pieter! The HATC is great, there about 25 different rooms, a restaurant, a 25m swim pool, a library, a fully equipped gym ,a tea house for chilling, a sauna and 2massage rooms! The best are the hundreds of kilometers of compacted dirt roads that are used and abused each day!        www.lornah.com


It’s very rare to see a runner running alone; most common are big groups of runners. Most of the town is on the same schedule. Renato Canovas schedule. First run is @ 6 am, the “open the body” run, then the second is at 10 am for some speed work and then again at 4 pm for some ez running or aerobic or diagonals.

Track is most of the time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes on Saturday mornings. The long runs where Wednesday and Saturday morning, and Sunday is off for church, unless there is a race.

The track sessions were the most memorizing, at one time; there could be over a hundred runners on the 440 yard dirt track running in perfect symphony. Groups of 30 speeding around a slow group with ease and grace. I found it intimidating!

I didn’t really run with the Kenyans at first, because I was busy acclimatizing and being a tourist! And of course I had not been training for many months, so I just rode my mountain bike around!

Me at the top of the Rift Valley!

Me at the top of the Rift Valley!

 On one Sunday morning (im not very religious) I crossed paths with a group of riders, they waived their skinny arms and gave me a big bright smile! I turned around to joined them because I was intrigued. Most of them where ridding old school single Chinese bikes, with old cycling clothing, basically looking like they popped out of the 1960’s ;)


I had so many questions for them. Turns out of them was training to try and break the alpe d’huez record and maybe even start a pro team. They definitely have the heart and lungs for it.


What made me think, is that probably, everywhere in the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, cyclist meet everywhere, on Sunday mornings to ride the roads!


One of the neatest things about being a mizungu, is that there always some little kids wanting to run with you out on the roads. Heres is Melanie Kraus of Germany with 4 kids with her, this pic is taken by me while on my bike during her long run, those kids have been running with her for some time when this pic was taken.


The famous flouspar hill is just under 21km of gradual climbing at 4-5%. Theres kilometer markers all over and if I remember right, theres about 15 switchbacks. This route starts at about 1400m and finishes at 2800m! Its been tackled but some of the top Kenya runners!


I always wonder when is the next time I will get to go back to this special and serene part of the world…