Saturday, November 1, 2008

Race aftermath

Bit of a cliffhanger, huh? Sorry for not blogging until now. Reasons will be explained accordingly...

So yesterday's race -how did it go?! Well, above expectations when it came to some things. And beyond expectations when it came to other stuff...

Since my race had been set to start around 3.15pm I was at the uni at 2pm in order to give myself plenty of time to warm up, register, and leave room for 'misunderstandings' something I have learned to do since I came to China (and thank lord for that!).

First thing I noticed when I came to Su Da... the crowd!!! I had been been expecting a rather lame turn up, mainly because the weather was quite bad, so when I saw a full spectator's area and people crowding around the stadium I couldn't help but feeling a bit nervous... I was going to race in front of all those people? Where were all the other international students??!

Turns out, there weren't any other international students racing except for me. An Australian student who'd signed up for the men's 5000m race had been denied to run because of his heart rate... (making me think that there are different guidelines for what is considered a healthy/unhealthy heart rate in China and the West? Especially since I had also first been denied, despite having a heart rate of 110/70 -something I consider to be quite good!). Being 2 heads taller and 5 shades blonder than most other people, I felt like an UFO, and it was a little bit intimidating to enter the registration room, which was full of sporty Chinese students, adjusting their badges, warming up, stretching and getting massages. It felt MUCH more serious than the 'laid-back sport's day' that I had signed up for.

Although the amount of Chinese competing students (hundreds -not kidding, then add at least 2 coaches, 3 friends and one water-bottle-carrier per competing students, and you'll get an idea what I am talking about) sure provided an excellent opportunity for me to rely on my Chinese skills, seeing that I was the only lao wai on the ground.

I introduced myself, explained what race I was going to compete in, and was told to come back at 2.45pm, 30 min prior to race time. So I did. Only to be met with a bunch of grown up men asking for my health certificate... something I didn't have, seeing that I hadn't been approved by the uni doctor. I explained that I had been given special permission from the foreign student's office, but no one wanted to listen to me, turning me into a veeeeeery angry person. Thinking back at it now, I am quite impressed with myself! I created a total scene. I yelled, nagged and complained, all in Chinese. The people in charge who had refused to listen to me at first, started to melt and a man told me that I if I could find one of my teachers from the spectator's area and bring him/her with me to the sign up area, I could compete.

I had expected the usual misunderstandings, but I hadn't expected to be told I can't compete unless I found my teachers 25 min prior to race time. My legs instantly became victims of lactic/milk acid (I don't know if that's the right way to say it in English.. In Swedish we call it 'mjölksyra', and it means that your legs get all weak and wobbly and don't wanna cooperate) and I ran over to the spectator's area (located on the other side of the stadium) to find a teacher. I didn't have my phone since I had already given that to a class mate who'd come to watch. The spectator's area was a mess and I failed to find a teacher that I knew. So, when it was 3pm I had no other choice but to sprint to the international student's building (a bit off) and basically throw myself over the first teacher I saw and yell for her to come with me. She looked bit shocked but obliged to follow, running next to me in her high heals. The stress resulted in me getting a side sticth and I felt kind of awful when we finally came to the sign up office.

Once there, all the teacher needed to do was to put her signature on a piece of paper and I was fine to go. It was then 3.10pm, and I was completely stressed, not warmed up, and still in my long pants. The other participants were all sweet and helpful though, and helped me attach my number badges (two, one that was attached with safety pins and one that was a sticker, leaving me helpless as I might have the shortest nails on this planet and couldn't peal the paper off its sticker) and packed my clothes into my bag. The teacher that I had dragged along decided to stay on, and told me that there were at least 2 professional runners participating in this race and that I should pull out immediately if I didn't feel comfortable. I just felt more and more freaked out, seeing that I still hadn't warmed up, had a minor cramp in my stomach, a side stitch and wobbly legs. But there wasn't time to worry about these things at this point, and off we went to the track.

At the track the men's 5000m race was just finishing up, and due to some really slow runners I had time to do some jumps and stretches before we were told to get on the starting line.

-Oh both of the girls next to you are professionals, so don't take any pressure! the teacher yelled before the starting signal yelled and we were off.

The start went as expected: all the girls (we were a total of 12) rushed off in an insane speed, leaving me not only last, but also about half a lap behind everyone else... and I still kept a tempo faster than planned! It was sort of mad, I did my first lap at 1:30, and I don't even want to guess how fast it went for the other ones, but I felt I couldn't just blow all my strengths on the first few laps. So, I slowed down, and tried to settle into a comfortable 1:45-1:50/lap pace.

It didn't take long before I caught up with the back of the bunch. Like expected, they all completely died after that first lap. I passed one girl and was running together with 2 other girls for a while, as they sped up every time I tried to pass them. During the fourth lap, however, they gave in and I continued my chase of the other runners. One by one I passed them, despite not running with light legs. The cramp in my stomach was also quite bad, but the support from the spectators was fantastic:

女生加油 Nu Shen Jia You! (come on girl student!)
老外加油 Lao Wai Jia You! (come on foreigner!)
高女加油 Gao Nu Jia You! (come on tall girl!)

...were some of the supportive chanting coming from the spectators and the people scattered around the track. I am actually a bit scared when I think of how many people that took photos of me while I was running (I happen to know I am not really a beauty queen while running and I could see the cameras flashing all the time..) but at the same time, it was sort of cute that they were all being so supportive.

Catching up with the first small group.

Korean classmate making fun of my running finger style.. (hehe, like I said, I have a rather unflattering running style!)

The cramp in my stomach made me feel as if it would be impossible to speed up, and then I lost track of how many laps I had done, but when the 'last lap' bell rang I decided it was time to give my all. So, I sped past all the other runners, except for the girl in the lead, who I simply couldn't catch up with, and ended up finishing second! The other runners didn't even put up any sprint fight, and I think the girl who came third was something like 10 seconds behind me.

Finishing time: 14 min. On the dot!

Feeling: not too exhausted actually, I think I could have speeded up sooner/more, but I obviously don't know my speeding-abilities well enough... I have to train speed more in order to learn how fast I can go. The cramp in my stomach was quite vicious, however.

Compared to the other runners, I was like 'the last man standing' though. They all fell on the ground as soon as they had crossed the finishing line, and I saw at least 2 of them being carried away to the university hospital! A lot of people came up and wanted to talk and take photos of me at the end, and some grown up spectators told me that they had definitely thought I was going to come 'last' seeing that I had been 'so slooooow' in the beginning. (I tried to explain that none of us had been too slow in the start, but rather too fast, but I am not sure if they got it).

I thought I was going to get a medal when I was told that the second group was just about to start. Two groups?! Oh yes. Although the second group seemed to be slower in average, there were two runners who finished under 14 minutes and beat me to the medal. So all in all I came fourth, something I am still quite happy with! Next time I sign up for this kind of race I am definitely going to prepare better, as well as I make sure all my health certificates are in order on the day of the race.

Finish line (see the happy teacher to the right?)

Tired but happy

What happened later that day is still a mystery... I came home, tired but happy, we went out to eat and I felt a bit too full after the Korean bibimbap, which I didn't even finish, and the stomach cramp didn't really leave. During the night the cramp got stronger and stronger, and this morning I woke up with a fever, feeling everything but flash. I haven't been able to eat all day, and my stomach is still so soar/uncomfortable. Weird!! Anyways, this is why it took me a while to get to the computer today.. I am starting to get really fed up with my health... I have never been that person who 'always gets sick' but lately I am starting to wonder: 2 flues, sleeping problems and now, stomach cramp/fever after a simple 3000m race?! I am not quite sure what I am doing wrong but it has to something seeing that I seem to be unable to stay well. Anyways, now I am feeling a little bit better so I hope that all of this is gone by tomorrow!


AikPeng said...

well done on your race. i can't even complete the 3km. haha

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on what sounded like an exciting event-and that was just getting to the starting line.

Well done, and I hope you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

he Jonna

be careful with you stomach. You really can damage you stomach while running while it still hurts.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the awesome finish! Sucks you didn't know about the two heats, otherwise you probably could/would have pushed just a little more at the end. Still, better than everyone's expectations including your own, I hope your boyfriend is proud.

Oh, and I think the word you are looking for is "jello" rather than lactic/milk acid.

Hope you get over this unhealthy kick soon!

Rambler said...

Congrats on doing so well. It's funny to look back on how much you were stressing in your earlier posts.

Anonymous said...

yay! well done, congratulations on both getting in the race and getting a pretty sweet score! :D

Anonymous said...

Watch out Jonna, because now you might be qualified for a regional university competition, and that my friend is not that fun :D

Plumflower said...

Grattis! Jag har inte sprungit sträckan sedan maj -94 (men då på 13 min blankt).

Jonna Wibelius said...

aikpeng -I think u could.. it is not that hard!

Dylan -thanks! Feeling a little bit better today.

Anonymous 1- damage your stomach by running with a cramp?!?! Gah?! How? My stomach hurt all day yesterday and a little bit during the night as well. Today it seems a bit better but it might be coz I haven't eaten anything for 24 hours.. I thought I would make myself some brekkie soon, however, seeing that I feel a bit dizzy. Maybe I should skip the coffee...? I didn't know a stomach cramp could be so serious?

Sarah -thanks!!! :) Yeah well next semester I will def compete again and then I'll run under 13 min... already decided. :)

Tripfriend -I know, it's kind of ridiculous, isn't it?! I don't have nerves for competitions... I make it such a huge deal for myself, mainly because I am so scared of messing up.. although I don't like to admit it, I am really competative.

ana -thanks! Next semester I am going for 13 min, or under 13! :)

Emil -what?! No... what are u saying?! Don't scare me now... I have just started to relax. Regional competitions are just for Chinese students -no?!

Plumflower -ja, 13 blankt eller under 13 är nästa mål! När jag var yngre sprang jag 2,600 m på 12 min, men somsagt, det var några (ehum, många) år sedan. Ska börja intervallträna nu på allvar för att få upp farten igen!

Anonymous said...

Haha, the fact that you are a foreign student would more likely make it even more sure that you qualify for some regional race. I did it once, and there was all these guys from different sports school who also took part, and they were so fast :(

Anonymous said...

Youre a walkon for a university running event and place in the heats. Im surprised some coach isnt beating your door down. The health certificate would include a blood test. Its a sad state of affairs even at amateur sporting events. Lactosis acidosis signs are weakness in the muscles and stomach cramps. Its common in bicycling. You can check on the Internet what to eat before the race to reduce the symptoms or let that coach find you. All I can say, impressive.