Wow, what a day and it is only lunchtime here. A few weeks ago, I agreed to run a 5k – at 8,000 feet elevation and with hills – two things we don’t have in South Georgia. Now, I don’t know what possessed me to agree to this silly idea and I regretted it from the moment I signed up (although it only cost $2.50 and I got a t-shirt). I haven’t ran a race in almost 10 years now – ever since I finished running Cross Country in high school. I hated every race that I ran in high school and dreaded them every week. I guess the only reason I stayed on the team was because I liked running. Since high school, I have continued running, but have never wanted to run a race again. I always said that running a race took all the fun out of running. Well, the no-racing streak ended today.
This morning was the morning of the race and can I admit….it was fun! I was so glad I did it. Aside from the opportunity to run, it was also a major cultural experience. The race was for women only and I guess a couple thousand women were there. Before the race they were all doing traditional dances and trilling (some tribal-sounding noise they make with their tongues). We were all crammed together with barely enough room to turn around right before it started and they had some singer get up on a stage and lead us in stretches. I was thinking there is no way we can do jumping jacks and toe touches in this crowd – oh, but we (they) did – I just tried not to get elbowed in the face! Throughout the race they had a couple of bands set up playing local music and they even had a couple of dancers too. It was hard for me to run because I kept wanting to look around me at all that was going on. All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience.
Now for the good part. After the race, we went to eat lunch at a restaurant that was supposed to be good. As we were sitting there, Haile Gebre Selassie walks by a few feet in front of us and goes to enter a building. For those of you who don’t know, he is universally regarded as the greatest long distance runner of all times! One of the women with us ran cross country in high school and college and had already mentioned that he came to all the races and that she really wanted a picture with him. One of the women in our group chased him down for a picture. Apparently, the restaurant we were eating at was in his building. Despite his worldwide fame, he continues to make his home here and give back to his community and country. He is actually a pretty small man and very low key, but he was gracious enough to take pictures with all of us. They are on someone else’s camera, so I will have to post them later. Needless to say, we were all quite excited about the events of the morning.
Now, I am back home and we are beginning to pack to move to a different house. We move on Thursday, so it should be a busy week, but I will be sure to post pictures of the new place once we get settled.