From May 30-June 19, GenEq Benin is holding Le Tour Du Benin, a grueling 21-day relay-run across the entire western African nation of Benin. I’ve been asked to chronicle the training for my 25 km run on June 12. Visit indigogo.com to donate to the fundraiser.
Distance: 5.9 km
Tonight was the first time I have ran in 39 days. How do I know that? I’m the kind of person that writes that kind of stuff down. How long, how much time, sometimes even my average speed (thanks to my friend’s GPS that I borrowed about seven months ago). And I know that I’m that kind of person. So when my calendar says that it’s been 39 days since I last ran, it’s been 39 days since I last ran.Which is not the kind of information that a runner likes to realize when she’s 41 days from running her third half-marathon.
In 2013, I ran my first half-marathon here mainly after I was talked into it. At that point, I had never run more than 5 miles consecutively in my entire life. That February, my friend who had done the talking would finish what I believe was her fifth whole marathon in her entire life. I couldn’t walk for about a week after finishing those 21 km (At one point we were a French colony. We use the metric system here.) let alone imagine wanting to run a distance like that again. (I also believe I spent of that week making my students, my main job here is as an English teacher in a public middle school, write on the board while I perched on the edge of my desk willing my thighs to stop hurting.)
But then I did.
Last February, I ran the same half-marathon in Parakou, Benin, with another great group of volunteers running with me and cheering us on along the way. If you would like an indication of how unprepared I was for the half-marathon the previous year, I finished this year with a time that was 45 minutes faster than my first.
And so, when I was approached about participating in the first Tour de Benin, running the 23 km from my village to the city south of me seemed pretty doable considering I already had 42 km in timed half-marathons under my shoes.
Then three things happened, in no particular order:
1. It got hot. Hot enough where the only semi-decent time to run became in the early morning before the sun rose. And, I’m not going to lie, there are days when I like to sleep in.
2. I went on a bike trip. During our Easter break, I spent a couple days biking around Togo with a friend who was used to covering over a hundred kilometers a day, so I was a little focused, you know, on wrapping my head around that for a while.
3. I rediscovered how nice it is to do P90x in my house in front of my fan. No people watching me. No risk of sunburn. And the ability to also watch episodes of Girls at the same time.
And then 39 days passed.
So, now my calendar tells me that I’ve got 41 days to cram in 16 weeks of training. As they say here, du courage.