Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unwanted speed check

Where running is meant to take place...( It's my own fault. I should keep away from running in traffic).

So there I am, out on my Sunday Suzhou run... enjoying the fact that the sky is quite blue (only quite) and that my legs are feeling light. Listening to music like usual, completely in my own world... until I realize that a car is driving next to me, or actually, it is not driving next to me... it is CREEPING forward in my jogging pace, with a mom, a dad and 2 Chinese kids curiously observing me. When I first notice them I sort of flinch, as I wasn't expecting to see a black car next to me, but then I realize that I am running on the bike lane, where the car must have been parked as it is now on its way back out to the big street. Maybe I am in their way, I think to myself, even though I can clearly see that there is enough space for them to pass me and drive off. In fact, there is no other vehicle or people in this bike lane. But still, just to make sure I do a little jump step to get up on the pavement (pavements are very high in Suzhou) but still, the car doesn't leave. It is still creeping forward in my pace, with waving children from the back window, and a highly interested/amused husband looking at me from the front window. Actually, he keeps looking at me, then back at his wife who is driving, saying something, then back at me, and then back at his wife... The driving wife also looks quite focused. What on earth are they doing?!

We go on like that for a while, looking at each other, until it hits me... hang on a minute.. are they... no, they couldn't be, could they? Are they checking my running speed?

Ah, how could I be so stupid! I mean, here I am, just going for a run, relaxing my mind, trying to keep fit.
And there they are, out on a Sunday drive, spotting a laowai who's out running (yeah, how crazy is that) and decide to drive next to her to see how fast she is really going.

Nobody asked me if I wanted to be part of this speed check, I think and stop on the spot, watching the car's passenger's faces go all disappointed as they continued their slow ride forward without me next to them. As expected, once they don't have me jogging next to their car, they increase their speed and disappear.

And I can go back to "enjoying" my jog. Gosh, I miss running in the forest.

29 comments:

child said...

Haha, that's a funny story. It must be annoying on your end, though. My dad did that to me once, actually. He wanted to see how fast I could run. Maybe it's an old Chinese technique, haha.

undertree said...

yes, it really interesting, but somethime it will happen in China, especially when you looks beautiful, and run very fast, haha.

kanmuri said...

OMG, this is sooo weird and creepy o.O Well at least with the kids and the wife in chances were little that it was a stalker. But still, wow o.O

Jason said...

I think they have never seen such a beautiful laowai before! especially she was running alone!haha

Jonna Wibelius said...

ehum.. I think I have to set one thing straight here.. I definitely don't qualify for the 'beautiful runner's group' that some of you are implying... I look like complete sh** when I go for a run. Hair pulled back, geeky, unflattering running clothes, no make-up, mouth half open, and probably a rather strained face expression...

Hippo said...

This is just WEIRD.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

Hee, hee, hee! I love it! I am sorry you were so uncomfortable, but think of what fun for those kids in the back seat. They will probably have fond memories for years of small little moments spent with their parents doing crazy things like pacing a laowai! You accidentally created a family memory. :)

The Casual Observer said...

Well, how fast were you running? You should have asked :)

Aside from the general strangeness, I'm not sure how valuable their research would be. Mostly likely you were going somewhere between 3 and 8 mph (4.8 and 12.4 kph) and the high end of that estimate would be pretty zippy for a jog. There's a good chance the the speedometer was off by 1-2 mph, throwing a huge margin of error into the equation.

Dear Beijing said...

Your ability to make everydaystuff fun is admirable! Thank you for this this blog!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Kate -yeah I guess so. I'm normally quite happy to entertain.. :)

Observer -I wasn't going that fast.. I think my HR monitor showed an average speed of 10km/hour when I checked it afterwards. I'm not a fast runner. For me it is all about distance.

Dear Beijing -thank you dear! :) I checked your blog yesterday, sounds like there's a lot of partying goin on in BJ? ;)

Colleen said...

That's awesome! I think I had someone do that to me while I was going downhill on my bike once (and I was going fast man!), but maybe they were just being nice and trying not to hit me. I'm always thankful when cars don't hit me. :)

I also remember running past one of those signs that show your speed, and it said: "SPEED SLOW". I was like, "Gee, thanks!"

I'm a slow and steady distance runner too. At least for now.

Lover of Life said...

LOL! I love hearing about your life in China. The mores are certainly different, aren't they?

kasey said...

If I were driving with my kids in a car I may have done the same thing. You may have thought they were rude, but it was you who was rude to them, and you continue to be rude to them by complaining about the innocently sweet and funny thing they were doing with their family. You couldn't just give them a smile? They wouldn't have followed you all day. 5 seconds of inconvience for you, big deal.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Kasey -I was being rude because I didn't enjoyed being followed by a car while out jogging?? Hm... interesting. Very interesting way of looking at it.

Actually, it wasn't as much inconvenient as it was weird. I don't like running next to cars. Makes me all jittery. But it's not like you have a choice when running where I am living now, not that many forests around in Suzhou.

kasey said...

By a stange creepy man, or a family. There are terrible attrocities happening in the world and you are upset by something that hasn't affected anything but your sense of entitlement.

Dear Beijing said...

Hahaha, yes - we do try to have our cake and eat it too...

Ride China said...

This actually happens quite frequent when we go road bike riding here in China. It gives us a laugh and a good reason to pick-up the speed. Especially when you hit 40-45 km/h. It really leaves them suprised and gives us a chance to get in a tempo ride.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Kasey -I'm not sure where u getting the whole 'me being so very upset' bit from...I have written many rants in this blog, and this def wasn't one! Rather, I was sharing something I experienced in China that I found rather weird and a bit funny, and something that I cannot imagine happening back where I am from. That's what this blog is all about.

Brad Farless said...

Jonna, I think Kasey is missing your point. You're not Chinese, so you can't be expected to think or respond the same way a Chinese person would. You're western, and you're telling your experiences from your own point of view, and that's what makes this blog so interesting.

The idea of being followed by a car while jogging is unnerving, and I totally relate. I would have been making gestures to the driver to go away, and if there hadn't been kids I would have given the "universal hello" gesture with my middle finger.

For a woman the experience has to be even more unnerving, considering some of what you read in the news about joggers disappearing off the road, being snatched into vehicles, etc.

One thing I love about the internet is that we get to experience each others point of views. The internet crosses international boundaries and allows us to learn from people we'd never have met otherwise. It's not a place for close-mindedness.

Jonna, your blog is excellent! I love reading it, and I even relate your stories to my wife and friends over dinner.

said...

寒…….暴寒………..this story is so hilarious!

I gotta agree with Kate. You have definitely given this family an impressive memory. I think I can imagine their dinner dialogue after this funny and creepy experience.
Mom: “kids, do you want to be a good racer like that tall laowai or not? eat two more bowls of rice, the more you eat, the faster you grow up”
The kids just think about the image of your running for one second, they nod resolutely, saying:” yes, I do!” and then they eat up two bowls of rice rapidly. Haha, here comes two new Liu Xiang. Maybe then the mom were secretly saying:” thank you, laowai”

Thanks for the entertaining story. You make me have been laughing since I read it.

Tripfriend said...

Ha ha ha! Oh ho. HA HA HA HA! I'm sorry. I just can't stop laughing about this. Ha ha ha!

Jewels said...

Wow Jonna, looks like you lit a fire here today. Great post! I love hearing about the bits and pieces of Chinese culture that your experience is teaching you.

I would be a little un-nerved also, if a car was following me. I think in North America we would associate that with "creepy" behaviour and assume the driver was up to something sinister. I suppose we are much more suspicious and paranoid than the Chinese. After all.. not EVERYONE can be out to get us!

SUNJUNE said...

what a funny story! sometimes, I would be interested in laowai. Because you are different from us. Most of chinese people think laowai ia a beautiful guy. So, they want to look carefully and make sure how beautiful you are. haha. don't care about these things. all the people are friendly. But some times they are just too curious. haha

Jonna Wibelius said...

斌 -hahahahah... I am laughing after reading your comment!! '2 new little liu xiang'... hihi. Yeah, that would b something.

U know, someone once left a comment on my blog saying I should start selling 'vitamins' saying 'this is what I ate as I kid and look how tall I am now!'.. he said I could make a fortune... hihi. :)

Jewels -No, they are not all out to 'get us' haha, thank lord for that!! :) I guess now I am ready for what can happen when going for a run in Suzhou so next time I realize a car is following me I'll just wave, smile, and try to impress them by stretching out my legs a little bit extra... ;)

Rie said...

Your writing is so evocative, I've enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time to share! This blog totally reminded me of my time living in Japan. I have long curly hair. Random strangers kept walking up to me to pet my hair. I guess people are facinated with difference (be it blonde hair or height).

Dunkelziffer said...

what a nice story, what a nice blog. From now on I will follow your stories and looking forward for more funny-and-strange-for-Europeans-tales. The world you live in right now, sounds for me very sympathic.

Jason said...

Don't say that,You must be confident.You know because you are laowai so maybe they just wanna find some difference.

paladin said...

Haha, I think that the children in the car like you , they saw a beautiful foreigner and very curious about you.