Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upcoming challenge: Yangzhou half marathon

About time for another challenge. This pic is from Shanghai's half marathon back in 2006.

I have a hate/love relationship with running. Some days I almost feel like crying when I am putting on my sneakers and heading out for a run, while other days I cannot wait to get out there. It's kind of strange. I have been running for some years now (except for a 9 month break due to a broken and slowly healed left foot, A black spot on my otherwise quite clean record). There was a time when I wanted to push myself and be a really fast runner. Yeah, for a while I was even considering going on a diet to get lighter and run faster... (gosh!) But the thought of restricting what I eat (read: what I love! I am a total food junkie, especially here in China) was just so appalling that I gave up those thoughts about 1 hour after I starting thinking about it. Nah, screw being lighter! Screw being faster. I run because I enjoy it, and especially if I can keep a relatively comfortable pace (at least so comfortable that I am not out of breath when I am done), somewhere around 10/10.5/11km/hour. Obviously, the longer the run, the slower the pace.

Yesterday was one of those I-love-running-days and I did a good 9 mile on the treadmill (the sky was too sad looking for me to run outside. Big downside with running in China: running outside is not that fun; I hate running when the air is bad, and all that traffic that you have to run next do doesn't make matters any better) and it felt really good. So when I came home I started thinking that maybe it's about time I sign up for a half marathon this year (and no pathetic mini marathon like last year). Not to break any speed record or anything (my fastest half marathon is 1:50, my slowest is... 2:05), but more just to.. do it! I'd like to run something else than the most obvious races this year (Beijing marathon, Shanghai marathon) so I was thinking... maybe Yangzhou half marathon could be something? According to this Suzhou blogger it's on April 26 (although how hot will it be by then? I have a goldfish memory so I don't really remember how hot it was at the end of April last year. I cannot stand running when it is all humid and stuff), and the location seems to be quite good.. not too hard to get to from Suzhou (I have to look up what train I could catch there).

Has anyone run this race? How's the course? Flat/hilly? Is it a popular race? What about scenery -anything nice to look at while running? The Yangzhou Half Marathon homepage is kind of confusing (and their online sign up link doesn't seem to work), at least the English version, so I am going to give the Chinese version a throughout look later on today. But yeah, I have to say that the thought of getting another half marathon under my belt is kind of appealing. (Also, running races in China is kind of interesting. Fellow runners turn up wearing everything from plastic bags on their heads to jeans, skirts and sandals. It's kind of wacky! And then there are all the 'senior runners' that have their last smoke on the starting line...) Not to mention what a great excuse a race is for going on a little wknd trip and seeing something new!


Colleen said...

I'm so excited that you're doing a half marathon! I just did a marathon in October that I wasn't ready for and ended up stress fracturing my heel. Not fun, I had to walk the last 6 miles. I was really wishing I had signed up for a half marathon about then! Now I'm training for an Ironman, and I'm going to be ready this time! You can't beat sense into me. Even with a broken foot.

How did you break your foot by the way?

9 miles on a treadmill, that's impressive. Of course, it sounds like you run a lot faster than me so you probably weren't on there for an hour and a half.

flyingfish said...

Do the people who turn up in sandals actually make it any distance? I mean, is it possible to run a half marathon in sandals?

Anyway, good luck! I'll do some extra time on the treadmill as a way of supporting you in spirit!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Colleen -Ironman?!?! Wow, that's amazing, you must be like.. uber-fit!! I have been talking about running a full marathon forever now, but when it all comes down to doing it, rather than just talking about it, I never make it.. the distance just seems so long, and I don't know if I could find enough passion to train for one.. I really admire those who run marathons though, but so far, half marathons are enough for me. Your experience sounds quite stressful... I am impressed that u still finished the race. Walking for 6 with a stress fracture must have been hell!

Yesterday's 9 mile treadmill run wasn't actually planned. U know those days when u just decide to run and it feels as if you are flying and u can go on forever? (yeah I know, they are rare....) Yesterday was one of those days so I just kept running and running... I did it in 1:20, but that is much faster than I normally do...(I'd say I am a 1:30 runner) but yeah, yesterday was a good day for running :)

As for the broken foot, ehum, it is actually a bit embarrassing... I'm not the graceful kind, so when the first snow fell in Finland (back in 2005 when I was living there) I slipped on a snow-covered ice-spot. Fell and managed to break the foot! Quite insane. The ambulance guys that picked me up rubbed it all in by saying 'u know, normally young people can tackle these sort of falls without breaking their bones'... I wanted to hit them! Back then I WAS actually training to do a full marathon (like I said, Ive been talking about that forever), I was going to run Madrid Marathon during the spring of 2006, so breaking the foot was a minor disaster... it took more than 3 months before I could walk again and another 6 months before I could run... big mess. And massive loss in terms of fitness! For a long time afterwards I didn't enjoy long-distance running. When is your ironman competition?

Flyingfish -I am not sure. U see all kind of funny looking people at the starting line but then they all seem to disappear. So my guess is that they don't all make it in the end. I know I wouldn't if I was wearing something else but a good pair of running shoes!

Anna Davidson said...

I've seen people running on the treadmill in Crocs, so sandals to a marathon doesn't surprise me!! Jonna, you're inspiring me to get out there and run a half marathon. Am actually thinking of the Great Wall 10km run first. Any thoughts or advice on that? (apart from run up lots of stairs in training?!)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anna -wow, running in crocs?! Now that is really something scary... I would have personally been blinded by that sights! ;)

Wow, great wall 10km run?!?! U r a true adventurer, aren't u?! I don't think I would b able to do that one, just climbing that wall made me exhausted!

I would do a lot of interval training, hills and stairs to train for like a race like that. Mainly running uphills..u can do it at a treadmill too, by adding a lot of incline... but gosh, that is hard work!! (and make sure u have good knees to do it!). Maybe u should also squeeze in some long runs so that u get your legs used to going for a long time.. why don't u too do the Yangzhou race?! Not too far from Wuxi... :)

Brad Farless said...

Jonna, you remind me of my wife. She actually "ran" her way through college on De La Salle's track team. She was a pretty good runner and she was running regularly until we both started living together here in Singapore. Now, somehow, there seems like there's less time. I used to run regularly too, but that was because I was in the Army, and it wasn't a choice. I do know what you mean about those days when you get that feeling though. Those were like gems in a pile of rubbish.

There's one other story I wanted to relate. When I was in Qatar last year I was running at a really fast past across a field. Well, I missed seeing a rock the size of a pear and had a blow-out. I wound up on my back, facing the direction I had come after sliding about 6 feet across the ground. I had torn open both knees and damaged my left ankle. I've now lost partial range of movement in that ankle, because I wasn't able to get physical therapy for it. Hm.

Good luck on your training!

Colleen said...

I used to say that I would never be interested in running a marathon. That just seemed crazy! And now here I am, who knew? That las 6 miles was pretty hellish, I must say. I wouldn't recommend it. Make sure your bones are used to running long distances if you decide to to a marathon. I'd only gotten one or two 15 milers in beforehand.

I'm sorry to hear about your broken foot. That must have been terrible! I was lucky enough to be back running after 3 months.

Here's my post about my love hate relationship with running. The Ironman I'm doing is June 21.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -yeah, running is somehow addictive.. once u start u cannot top... Although your injury sounds awful, and makes breaking a foot sound like a Sunday walk in the park. Can't believe u never got medical for it.

Colleen -Yeah I reckon in order to run a marathon u must have almost already done the distance while training... or at least done s 35-37km run... well, let's see. It's not too late yet, although I think I'd rather train for a marathon while living in Scandinavia than in China. It's so... dull to run over here. No nice scenery.

Anna -I just came to think of another great exercise method... skipping rope!! It's GREAT! I used to skip 2-3 times/week (a 25-30 min) last year and it did wonder for my fitness. In the beginning it was quite tough to even go for 5 min, but then slowly I improved. And it's great fun too! Just make sure u have a rope that is long enough.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jonna,

I'm a university student in the States and found your site through Shopgirl a couple months ago and have been following it since. It's so interesting reading about your life in China! I haven't commented until I read your entry today, but Yangzhou is my hometown! So I think you should totally do it and reward yourself later with some excellent Yangzhou cuisine afterward! =]

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anonymous -I'm so glad u left a comment. What's some local delicacies? I don't want to miss out when ordering my reward dinner! :) Also, how hot is it normally in Yangzhou by the end of April? Too hot to run a half marathon? Have u ever seen the race take place? Any idea about the course? (sorry, 100 of questions for you!)

Jason said...

Wow although I'm a chinese but I have never joined a marathon in China before. It's seems very funny!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jason -I am not sure if 'fun' is the correct way to describe a marathon... it's more like... painful while u run but great once it is over! :)

Anonymous said...

Did you work out how to sign up for the marathon? I also want to sign up and emailed the address on the website but got no reply. Thanks for letting me know!

Brad Farless said...

@Jonna: Well, I did get packed off to a small medical facility. I was on a military camp in Qatar that wasn't very large. You could literally see from one fence to the other. The doctors weren't very good either. They cleaned my wounds, wrapped my ankle, gave me some crutches and some tylenol and told me to have a nice day. A week later I was transferred to a camp in Kuwait, where I was the only one manning my office. The facilities were there, but not the time. It's a shame. I have to find time to get to a US Embassy that has an office for Veteran's Affairs so I can see if anything can be done now. I finished 8 years of military service last year in June and said it was enough.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anonymous: sorry, but the webpage (still) makes no sense to me. I am also going to shoot off an email.. let me know if you hear back from them.

Anna Davidson said...

Hey Jonna,
Can you send me the website for the Yangzhou run, Google couldn't find it for me?! Thought I might do the 10km (if they have it) as a lead up for the half marathon in Beijing. Thanks for your fitness tips - boredom will be the big challenge for me! I like to run short and fast! Ta!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anna -the link to the marathon page is in this post. Just click on the 'Yangzhou marathon'. I think they have a 10km race too!

asunsun said...

Hi Jonna,

I have been running the Yangzhou Half Marathon this past two years, the course is really flat, in fact last year the course is simply going straight from a sports stadium near city center all the way to the west part of the city and then make a U turn back to the same stadium.

asunsun said...

You can view the 2007 and 2008 Yangzhou Half Marathon pictures here http://www.asunsun.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5