Running in Honiara

I had to spend a few days in Honiara to look at the potential for the World Bank assisting the government to improve aviation safety and security. It was my first time to the country and I found it to be quite fascinating. Very different to Kiribati and the Polynesian countries that I have been working in. And of course, very steeped in military history as it was here on Guadalcanal that the Americans managed to turn the tide of the war in the Pacific against the Japanese.

It was very very hot and so I decided to focus my training on swimming, even though the hotel’s pool was only 15 m long which made it tedious to say the least. To add insult to injury my Swim MP3 underwater MP3 player decided it was time to give up the ghost so I did not have the pleasure of music to distract me. Oh, and the water was not the cleanest either … one could not see more than 2-3 m away.  So after three days of swimming I was itching at the feet to go for a run. It was quite a memorable one, as I switched off my brain and blew myself up big time …

Although I was out the door by 05:45, it was already in the low 30’s and very humid. I decided to do an ‘out and back’ along the coast where I’d run about 12-13 km. About an hour or so. Since I hadn’t been running for a while I decided to make it a challenging run and, after an easy 1 km warm up, to do it at about a 4:15-4:30 pace. In hindsight that was a bit fast for someone not acclimatized to the tropical conditions, but as I said, for some reason my brain was swtiched off.

I headed NW along the coastal road which was very flat. Surprisingly soon I was out of Honiara and there was bush on the one side, with a lovely ocean on the other. Very few people were out and definitely no other runners. Everyone was very friendly waving and saying hello. Except the group of drunk young men having a minor scuffle, but I just gave them a wide berth and they focused on each other.

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Even the dogs were friendly and not a single one was aggressive towards me. Quite a nice change from my recent experience in Tonga when I was distracted and one got me from behind on the back of my leg. I worked out with that one that Purell hand sanitizer makes an OK wound cleaner, but very painful!

After my turnaround I was having a bit of a melt down my pace was dropping. I ended up doing 10 km at 4:37 pace which was slower than I had wanted but I was really feeling it. Just did a jog in for the last two km and immediately hopped into the pool—fully clothed—for some recovery.  I’m definitely out of shape when it comes to tropical running and for the next few days my legs felt like I had knocked off a marathon rather than only 13 km. Fortunately, when I got back to NZ I did a 10km run in around the same time and felt fine so I’ve not only recovered but proved that it was totally self inflicted and not a sign of a deeper issue.

As I was leaving Honiara I visited a memorial garden at the airport. There I saw some ‘chad’ on the ground, a tell-tale sign that here is a ‘Honiara Hash House Harrier’. Sure enough there is, running on Monday’s after work. Will have to join them when I’m next in town. And the good thing about the Hash is that they aren’t stupidly competitive as I can be.

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