| Today was our first full day at the high altitude training camp. its a very nice facility with nice two bed rooms, a nice shower, a nice dining hall, beautiful pool, has a basketball court, a lounge facility with a bunch of couches and a tv, a conference room, and a really nice weightlifting gym.
Today we played basketball for about 90 minutes, then walked two miles to st thomas high school. st thomas is an all boys boarding school here in iten, kenya, housing 700+ high school aged boys who are committed to excelling academically and athletically. on the grand scale, it has produced the most world championship/olympic level athletes in the world. when we arrived, we took a tour of the school, spoke with the headmaster, and eventually, all of us (coach thompson, coach robert, gene, andy, will, myself, mya, uncle d, grandpa/mr ellis, and coach robert's fiance) gave a brief encouragement to all the guys as they came to meet us in the center of their campus.
it was an amazing experience, watching 700 or so boys listen so attentively, so focused, so eager to hear what we had to say. mya really had their attention as shes young, black, and graduated from harvard, and as soon as she said harvard, you just heard this huge "whooooaaaaaaaa" in the crowd lol. As has been the case with mostly everything here, i just cant describe what it was like, all i know is ive never seen anything like it in my life.
afterwards, i spoke with some of the teachers expressing my gratitude for being privileged enough for the opportunity to even be here to mesh and interact with the guys. gene described it best saying it was like we were all obama, back in 08, campaigning for president where flocks of people crowded around him wanting to shake his hand, or dap him up, or pound him, etc. thats what it was like. literally almost all the guys came after us to shake our hands and talk more. so much appreciation, it was unbelievable. while we were meshing with the guys i ended up meeting a senior running 1:58 in the 800 looking for help to the united states. our conversation lasted 20 minutes or so with about 25 other guys listening to my every word asking a million questions. it was again, unbelievable. i loved it. also met a sophomore running 1:52 in the 800! then a freshmen, named jonah, going 1:47 in the 800! that would have almost won the ncaa division I championship this yr and hes just a freshmen in high school! we had to get a picture cause he will be an olympian soon enough!
on our way out, the guys challenged us to a game of basketball! (gene, will, andy, and me) so we told them we would come back at 4pm when they got out of school. so we walked two miles back to our facility, ate lunch, then walked the two miles back to their school (this is why they are so good, they walk and do stuff like that their whole lives. also, every morning, 100m to the 10k guys start their training with a 60min run in the morning, and 60 min run in the evening. then as the season continues, they progress into long track workouts either in morning or evening, with the 60 min run still being a staple part of either the morning or evening) the game was great! we spanked them of course lol, but it was just a load of fun. the entire school surrounded the basketball court and were a very energetic crowd. the guys are great athletes, they just need someone to teach them fundamentals like shooting. they all can jump out the roof (a couple where dunking during warmups) and obviously play for days (with all their running abilities), but we only played two games. afterwards, it was like after a basketball game, guys asking questions, surrounding you, asking for your email address and facebook, etc, asking questions about the united states, colleges, etc. so many of them want to come to america, but the process, due to 9/11, and no fault of their own, is so difficult. afterwards, a horrible storm came so we stayed on campus and talked some more. just before pitch black dark (6:30pm), we took the two mile journey back. andy, will, and i ran with everyone else walking in the rain.
then we all just spent the evening reflecting on the experience. had a great dinner, then went to the lounge and watched tv, then called it a night around 10pm. back in my bed, i finished reading the book called "the other wes moore" (monika better have finished it), then drifted off to sleep. day 8 of the trip is in the books. 5 more days in kenya before heading to amsterdam, spending 24 hrs there, and then flying back home. After today, I wonder what tomorrow will hold (6/27/11, 8:30am here, 1.30am est)