In Less Than Six Minutes

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I don’t think I will run a sub-6 12 kilometers today, I thought to myself. Or maybe I will. We shall see. Unlike the anniversary of Bob Marley when I was determined to run a sub-6 12 kilometer morning run, this time I wasn’t brimming with confidence. On three occasions, I have been one minute away from running a sub-6 12k. And on two of those occasions, I ran so hard that I thought I had actually made it. But nope. My best time until now has been the two 6.05 minutes per kilometer that I ran in mid June. So we shall see how today goes.

As I approached our residential court’s main gate, I could hear Rayvanny crooning his song, ‘Te Amo.’

Shepu sinia, kiuno kijiko. Chumbani wanipa madiko diko.Ukifungua Coke, yaani ni mafuriko. Umeniweza.”

When I reached the gate, I saw Kemboi my favorite security guard holding a tiny radio as he listened to the Tanzanian crooner.

“Jonte!” he greeted me in his usual cheerful way.

“Kemboi!” I replied.

Funny how sometimes our greetings in Eastlands sometimes comprise of simply calling out each other’s name. You just have to add oomph into the name and the greeting is complete.

A few meters before Kamuti’s Butchery, I fished out my phone from my pocket and turned on mapmywalk, my running app. It was time for the run to begin. With the first few steps, I had a feeling that this would be a good run. My legs were well rested over the weekend and were springing along. My arms were swinging at my chest level, the way Eliud Kipchoge’s usually do.

I ended up covering the entire one-kilometer Rhino stretch in only five minutes and 28 seconds. This was a record, and a very good sign of what lay ahead.

Two hours earlier, I had sat on mi cama (my bed in Spanish) and analyzed my previous run. I had purposed to run the first five kilometers in below six minutes. That would give me powerful momentum to finish the 12k in decent, competitive time. This resolution was ringing in my mind as I turned left into Moi Drive, eager to run my second kilometer in great time. I managed to run it in 5:57 minutes. Not great, but good.

Wawili twende! Wawili twende!” Umoja-2’s one-time newspaper vendor was shouting in his massive voice when I ran past the matatu terminus. This place had been home for so many years that a part of me still views it as home.

I smiled alone in the darkness as I raced on towards Usain Stretch. I love this stretch. By the time I reach it, my body is usually all warmed up and is raring to go.

As I race down Usain Stretch, I can tell from my shadow that am moving fast. Not as fast as I have done in the past but fast enough. Ever since I learned about pacing, I no longer run as fast as I can, for as long as I can. That burns you out.

I slow down just opposite the Administration Police camp and walk for fifteen seconds before bursting out into a sprint. A short while later, that female voice in my phone informs me that I have just completed the third kilometer.  I did it in 5:45 seconds per kilometer. Nice! This means that I have run the first three kilometers in under six minutes.

At Kangundo Road, my feet are alternating between flying and striding. Once I pass mama stop, I am mostly flying for about two hundred meters. I know that am running really fast when a fellow jogger running in the opposite direction hastily makes way for me when I barrel towards him. I manage to run this fourth kilometer in 5:46 seconds per kilometer.

The fast pace lingered on for the rest of the run. By the time I was arriving back at Whitehouse, my running app informed me that for the first time ever, outside Jaffery Sports Club, I had run a sub-6 minute 12k. 5:56 second per kilometer, to be precise. I almost kissed my phone in glee. Yes! It felt really good to cross this barrier.

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