Monday, October 31, 2011

I've been really slacking on the post's here lately...  I guess its a combination of a post Haiti let down and not much going on.  I'm getting in plenty of running, even getting in some speedwork.  It's just the start of the fall/winter season and I'm not finding much motivation right now.  I have a few races I'll be running before the end of the year, but it's all moot.  I would like to put in a decent race at the Galloping Gobbler on the 24th. If Brandon has ideas of beating me, he's going to have to work for it!

Found this interesting article on altitude training.  Of course it makes the altitude tent another wasted experiment on my part.

Friday, October 21, 2011

After only getting in one run while I was in Haiti, I felt a bit lethargic and out of shape this week. Only until today did I feel somewhat able to hold a good pace and feel good about it.  Hopefully by next week, I can get back at it hard again.  I need to start being more consistent in speed work leading up to my next race on Nov. 24 and a potential smackdown with BF.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

      I must admit that sitting in my house writing about Haiti is, on my best days, very difficult. Attempting to paint a picture with words that can hardly describe the heartache of a nation and the devastation of community after community is not something of which I am capable. I could show you pictures…and a few of them might pull at your heart.
 But it is bigger than that.  For decades Haiti has languished in poverty, oppressed by leaders who have not had the best interest of their people at heart. But the earthquake of 2010 was a game changer.  Haiti is a beautiful country, with equally beautiful people. Though the eyes of her children are huge and striking, they are also often empty and searching. Beauty contrasted with chaos. There is daily activity that serves only to get through the day. Children forfeited by parents because they cannot afford to feed them. Prostitution is high. Human trafficking of children and young women is a forgone conclusion.
Haiti was a great experience for me in the sense that it opened my eyes to another world.  The pictures and television reports don’t convey the life that the Haitians are forced to deal with day in and day out.  You really have to experience it first hand in order to get a sense of what living is in a third world country is all about. 
       The flights down to Haiti were uneventful, no delays, smooth plane rides, no crying children, etc…  We left at 6:00 am Fort Wayne time and landed in Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-Au-Prince Haiti approximately 8 hours later after changing planes twice, (Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami).  After landing in Port-Au-Prince (PAP), you could immediately see the remnants on the Earthquake still evident 21 months after it devastated several facets of the country.  
 Our group of 19 from Fort Wayne consisted of several medical personnel and the rest of us were there for construction and/or wherever the Mission of Hope (MOH) needed us most.  As I left the airport, I was very apprehensive. I was out of my comfort zone and it probably showed.  The first thing that hit me as we left the airport terminal/warehouse was the smell.  A mixture of burning tires, garbage and something bordering on urine filled your nostrils.  And this smell was almost everywhere you went on the island.  Military personnel and Haitians were everywhere outside the airport and as an outsider, I was very happy to follow our group leader and make our way to the MOH bus where I felt a little more “protected”.  As we made our way through PAP, there were tens of thousands; maybe hundreds of thousands of tents, tarps, sheds basically anything that a Haitian could use as shelter from the elements constructed around the city. 
  The earthquake displaced all these people from there homes and this is where they’ve been living since. The drive from PAP to the MOH is about an hour long ride.  The roads leaving the city are ok in a sense that they are mostly paved. Once out of PAP the roads become a mixture of rocks and potholes with a little blacktop thrown in there for good measure.  Lining the road are little stands set up selling anything from sugar cane and plantains to gasoline and ice and almost everything in between.
 Once out of the city, you make a left hand turn and head north/north west toward the MOH. After about 2-3 miles the roads get much better as some time ago, the Dominican Republic came in and paved some of the roads leading out of the city.  There is only one road leading out of PAP and you pass through all the villages on your way out. It’s a jumble of markets, broken down makeshift houses (some still in ruins from the quake), and a lot of construction trying to rebuild what was once a house for some.  They don’t have cement mixers or scaffolding or other amenities that builders use to construct housing.  They use hammers to crush the rock they use for the cement, they mix the cement on the ground in a hole with a stick or if they’re luck they have a shovel.  On the way out to the MOH we passed St. Christophe, a mass burial site for over 100,000 victims of the earthquake. This was a very solemn moment for me as we drove by. The rest of the drive toward the mission was a blur as we passed village after village of makeshift huts and houses with Haitians doing everything from walking along the road from village to village, they use the rivers for all washing and sanitary needs, so that people downstream are washing in the upstream sewage.

 Almost every hut or house had a pile of something burning of who knows what… Another thing about Haiti is that it’s impossible to walk one foot without stepping on or close to some type of garbage. It is literally everywhere. They have no garbage trucks so everything is dumped, burned or left as it’s used.  We soon arrived at the mission and picked up some interns that are working at the mission and some Haitian interpreters and made our way out to a couple of tracts of land that the mission owns and are building on.  First stop was a place called Bercy (pronounced, Bear-see).  It’s a plot of land approximately 55 acres that the mission has big plans for.  Already there are two school buildings constructed (buildings E2 and E3) and have active students attending.

We then took a short walk down to the “beach” to look at where some more of the buildings are planned to be constructed.

 Then back on the bus for another trip down the road to Leveque.  Here the MOH has an undermined amount of land that the government has given them.  Currently they have approximately 155 acres and when they run out of room, the government is just letting them continue to use up the surrounding land. Leveque is a community of people that had there homes destroyed by the earthquake and had no where else to live.

There are certain restrictions and guidelines that one must meet in order to be awarded a house. The families will receive their homes free of charge; however, each family will be required to pay a marginal monthly community fee ($50 Haitian/$6.25 U.S.) for a period of five years. These fees are designed to create a vested interest by the families throughout the process. After the five year period, each family will receive a deed for their home and land, and will have 100% ownership. The houses are 16’ x 19’ three room block homes.  I know that sounds pretty small to us, but they mean everything to them. There are around 100 homes that are currently built and have families living in them, with more being built everyday the mission can get people out there. After a tour of the property it was back on the bus and out to the Wahoo Bay Beach Club & Resort where we would be staying for the duration. I hesitate to call it a resort, but to a Haitian, it’s a 5 star hotel; maybe a star and a half in the US. For Sunday through Wednesday I worked out at Leveque painting the inside and outside of the houses.  The Haitians are very grateful and really show it.  But sometimes it’s sad to see some of them and the meager possessions they have.  Some children run around with no clothes, some only have a t-shirt.  On Thursday I installed what we called hurricane clips.  They are metal brackets that hold the roof to the frame of the house more securely. On Friday I worked in the clinic on the MOH campus for the first part of the day helping the doctors immunize some of the students for typhoid, and then went mobile to a small village to do the same for some more school children.  Then back to the MOH to immunize more. 

In total we gave almost 700 shots that day. Saturday was travel day and we were up early to catch our flight out of PAP at 9:05am.  Another uneventful flight home other than we almost missed our connecting flight in DFW.
       I know it sounds like Haiti is this awful dirty place, but in the midst of all this decay and devastation, there is beauty and hope.  The Haitian landscape is some of the most country I’ve ever seen. 
 Lush green mountains, sugar cane, bananas, plantains, mangoes and corn are planted everywhere.  Even though they are stricken with poverty, they have hope and live everyday as if it was there last.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit, whether on vacation or another reason, DO IT! It will certainly make you appreciate all the possessions you have and maybe make you realize that there are more things to life than money and “things”.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Well, I promised a race report. So here it is.  Sunday's marathon actually went very well for me for twenty miles.  The race was put on by Planet Adventure and was top notch in my book. Great water stops, and post race snacks were awesome. Where else can you get a chunk of log for your finishers medal?


The race started off without a hitch.  The first 1/4 mile was a bit harrowing as there were walnuts on the ground everywhere. So I started off a bit hesitant so I didn't ruin my race in the first 200 yards...  Once I made it to the trail, I was in around 10th, I slowly picked off most of the fast starters within the next 2-3 miles.  The trail was a mix of some sandy spots and hard packed dirt.  LOTS of turns and technical portions on this trail.  I can't tell you how many logs I had to jump/climb over and fallen trees I had to duck under. There were 3 river crossings, they all had stepping stones fortunately. The course had a last minute change the night before as the back half of the course was unrunnable because of water so instead they made the marathon a double loop course.  After the first loop I was in 5th place with 4th place not to far in front of me.  I caught him shortly after the turn and held that spot until mile 21ish (my split at mile 20 was 2:31).  Around this time I stepped in a depression and slightly turned my left ankle (the good one, not the one I hurt at Pikes).  It was minimal and I didn't even stop, within 2-3 minutes after that I stepped on something in a dry creek bed and turned it again, this time it hurt bad.  I stopped and started massaging the area in hopes of starting up again.  The pain was intense and I tried to start walking to keep it from swelling and tightening up.  I kept walking for what felt like forever, but in reality was around 5 minutes. During this time I had 2 people pass me.  The pain was tolerable so I tried jogging again, within the next 1/2 mile after that my right calf started cramping up bad, so bad I thought I pulled the muscle again.  I stopped and massaged the knot I had it in.  Again I tried to start running and again the calf cramped up within a minute.  I think it was because I was compensating with my right leg from turning my left ankle.  Suffice it to say, my race was pretty much over. I started walking again, with a little bit of jogging thrown in just to make me feel good.  When I felt the calf starting to cramp up I slowed to a walk.  By mile 25 I was able to keep a steady pace of a slow jog without cramping. But during this time, I had another 9 people pass me before I was able to get to the finish.  All in all, I had a good time and learned a bunch.  The only thing that's sore today are my calves, mostly the right one obviously. I'm just glad the calf held together and I didn't pull anything.  If that happened, history tells me that I would have had to take at least 2-3 days off or more. As it stands now, I'll probably get back out tomorrow for a short one to see how everything feels.  Yes, I am contemplating another marathon in 4 weeks (on the road this time), I'll have to see how things go and maybe a 50k in December.

Getting ready to start.. #165

Sunday, October 2, 2011

3:54 and change...yuck!  Race report coming soon.  Very tired right now, need a break.