‘I will walk for most of the 12 kilometers and just run a little bit here and there. That’s because I have not run for the last one week since I was suffering from malaria. I finished my medication - Dihydroartemisinin+Piperaquine (P-Alaxin) two days ago and I feel fine now.’
These thoughts were running through my mind as I fist-bumped Kim the security guard and stepped out of the main gate of our court. The cold was biting so hard that I wondered if it had been sent.
I walked at an average speed along the dirt road, turned right to another dirt road and then onto the tarmac. ‘I think I should run a bit.’ So I started running at a slow jog. My Nike running shoes began making a staccato sound as they hit the tarmac. My 88 kilos were unhappy about this transition from walking to running but I shut down their protest.
‘I will run for a couple of minutes until the first junction on rhino road.’ But when I reached the said junction, I decided to continue running. My legs felt strong, and my heart wasn’t thumping, thanks to the slow speed. ‘I should probably run until Kifaru Primary School, then start walking from there.’
But when I reached Kifaru Primary school, my legs were still feeling good. In fact, I was now seeing Eliud Kipchoge in my mind. I could see him swinging his arm above his chest as he ran along Vienna's Prater Park. I saw his sleeveless white top and the Nike Pro Arm Sleeves and swung my own sleeves-less arms happily.
There was a time not too long ago when I used to detest the arm swing of my running style - I swing my arm in the upper body, not the lower body and for some reason, I thought that wasn’t cool. Then one morning, again not too long ago, I was browsing through YouTube when I came across Kipchoge’s Berlin marathon, the one he broke the world record. I noticed that his arm swing was also in the upper part of his torso, just like me. Great! So now I have embraced my running style fully.
‘I will run until Mama Lucy Hospital, then I can walk from there.’ But after running past the matatu stage in Umoja 2 where colorful matatus were queuing as if in a wedding reception, my feet were still feeling strong, my heart rate still manageable. When I hit the Usain stretch and continued running comfortably, another thought flowed into my mind. ‘I can actually run all the way to Komarock and back home, without slowing down to walk!’ And so I decided to act on this thought. I decided that for the first time in more than a year, I would run at least 10k without stopping or slowing down to walk. 10k is one quarter of a marathon, and I had last run such a distance without stopping back in 2017, when my running was at its peak.
It’s funny how a victory won in the mind can materialize into an actual victory outside the mind. Ordinarily, running the entire Kangundo Road stretch from the Mama Lucy junction is a big breakthrough. But this morning, because my mind had already hooked itself to running the entire 12k from Tena to Komarock and back, I felt like I was just gliding along. I made it. I ran the entire 12k without stopping. Yet this was after a one-week absence from running and two days after recovering from malaria. Of course my speed of 7.39 mins/km was quite slow, but hey, it’s one step at a time.
As Bwak the Bantu poet wrote, ‘one small step forward gets you closer to your destination.’