Monday, July 25, 2011

Good morning, Vietnam.

Sunday evening, six girls ventured out on a "trail run". Anne, the Vietnamese head director showed us a path and told us to weave around for a few kilometers and then to come back because it wasn't a long loop. I led the pack at a comfortable pace and told them we'd go for fifteen minutes out and then just turn around and head back to camp. The first part of the run was thin...we could only run single-file. But about ninety seconds into the run, we were basically doing a high knee drill because the grasses were so tall around the path that we couldn't run normally.

And then there was the tree branch. I yelled out to the other girls to hurdle over the obstacle but soon heard their shock when they found themselves face-to-face with the branch. We lost two girls to the jungle run. Yes, it was a jungle run.

Continuing down the path, Sophia and I saw a man in the distance. Realizing we were still five on one, we decided to keep up the pace and pass him by with a friendly "Sin jow!". He replied and off we went, unknown brush still sweeping over our legs.

But suddenly the path opened up and we were able to run about three people side-by-side...for a hundred meters. And then the brush took over the path completely. We were lucky to have steered away from snakes, but when the path was completely hidden we opted for running alongside a large field on a matted down area.

And this is the conversation that followed:

Lauren: I feel like we're on someone's property.
Sophia: I feel like this might have been some kind of war battlefield.

Needless to say, we turned the hell around after only running for nine minutes and booked it back to camp. I'm sure they wouldn't have sent us out on a path that potentially had landmines still, but we weren't risking anything...especially since we were on a new piece of the trail.

The pace picked up on the way back and I could feel the earth crumble under me. The run felt like a rescue mission. I was covered in some kind of mud and had a bead of sweat running from the corner of my forehead, down alongside my temple. My breath was steady, focused. Yet I wore a smile. I finally realized I was in Vietnam...not when I ate fish on a stick or showered in river water, but when I went on a jungle run with my new friends and month-long family.


For some reason, we were dumb enough to wake up this morning, Monday, and workout at 5 am. (Hence the title.) Sophia, Ania, Amy, Keara, Lindsay, and myself all rolled out of bed to the rooster cackling, threw on our still-sweaty shorts and stepped out on the porch to go through a circuit. Thank goodness we're all athletes, otherwise we'd just sit around eating Vietnamese peanut butter all morning.

Lunges, squats, burpies, pushups, and leg extensions flew by. We joked around during our sets of twenty, even talked about how gruesome our track circuits are during the year and winter breaks. Swapping stories worked perfectly until the final move...the plank hold. Dripping in sweat, bug spray, and day-old sunscreen, we attempted to hold ourselves up on the tile flooring while mosquitoes picked us off three at a time. With my head down, the only communication I could understand was the rapid blowing sound coming out of the girls' mouths when they noticed a mosquito closing in on their skin.

The sun rose as we started our second set, and we heard the village start its day. Trucks and mo-peds roared by as we lifted our knees for fifteen seconds and slipped all over the tile for twelve tricep pushups. A lovely way to start the ten hour work-day, in Vietnam.

And I think tomorrow we're going to try for another run...hopefully one that involves an actual road...or maybe we'll just bring along a flashlight for the woods.

I promise to write about school soon. Day one was fantastic and I already called dibs on two Vietnamese boys that I plan on taking home with me. They are quite possibly the most adorable eleven year olds I have ever seen. And yes, I am having a BLAST teaching English to them. Not only are they energetic but they are respectful and really try to pronounce each word correctly. Amazing effort, even better results.

Peace, love, and early workouts!

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