Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Suzhou at its best

Our visitors might have gone home but I am still far behind with work/school and feel stressed 24-7. Normally when I have a lot of things to do I cut down on all the things that I like, but don’t need as much as catching up with my duties, such as social obligations and exercise. Then I had a conversation with a friend who asked how my running was going, and heard myself say: “Well, right now I don’t really have time to exercise” and as soon as those words had left my mouth I realized how stupid it sounded.

Excuses, excuses, of course I have time! It’s just about priorities. So, guess who’s been setting her alarm at 5.30am these last 2 morning and been out running at 5.40-6.15am?! Yeah, moi!

Being out that early in the morning in Suzhou has been wonderful! There are just a few cars. No honking! A limited amount of electric bikes/bikes, and you can even hear birds singing. I absolutely love it!

The best part, however, is the people. You would think that there would only be a few of them too, that early in the morning, but nope… instead, I bump into fellow morning joggers (we greet each other with a smile as from today), as well as seniors out walking/doing their tai qi. But the atmosphere amongst these early birds is the best: there is no starring, no pointing, no laughing, no cars following me around and no…. ‘monkey feeling.’ Nobody gives a s*** about me running about. I am just as ordinary as them, and oh lord, is that a nice change or what?!

Also, I discover things I had little clue about up until yesterday. Such as a HUGE breakfast market for construction workers next to Suzhou’s JinJi Hu (the big lake that I live next to). They are all sitting on the ground eating and chatting, while the market is in its full spin. Gosh, and I thought I was an early riser?! I am wondering at what time in the morning they actually get there?!

This morning I also met what I assume must be Suzhou’s roller skating association: a bunch of seniors on roller skates (wearing helmets –thumbs up!) that were having the time of their lives by going back and forth on the flat ground next to the lake. Except for one woman who almost crashed into me it was all smiles and happy faces.

As for the run itself –unfortunately it is not quite as wonderful as all the rest. My unfit body is not liking getting up so early, and it definitely doesn’t like being forced to run for 30-35 minutes on an empty stomach (I’ve never been able to do this, although I have tried many times. This is yet another attempt). The legs are heavy and slow-started. The movements are a bit odd, and the last 10 minutes of each run has been awful! But, I refuse to give up straight awau. I am going to give it 2 weeks. Two weeks of early morning runs and if I cannot get used to it by then I will give up. Because the best thing about this whole thing is the fact that by getting your run done early in the morning is that you don’t have to feel so guilty if you don’t make it to the gym later that day. And it is quite nice to be able to run outdoors without stumbling over people. Maybe some day I will bring my camera (just the small one) and shoot a beautiful, quiet Suzhou, that’s only available at that time of the day.


The Taipan said...

I wish I could get up that early. I tried it a while, but my problem is I always go to late to bed.

When do you usually go to sleep?

Andi said...

Somehow I did not realize you were in Suzhou - I spent 9 weeksthere plus other shorter trips and loved it! Very beautiful - love the crab season, but winter can be so cold! Ahh, not I am missing it again!

Anonymous said...

Don't run on an empty stomach, it's really bad for your body!!! Have a power bar, or a smoothie, but don't go with nothing in your belly!

mtl said...

They stare, point, and laugh at you? LOL, why do I have a sort of 幸灾乐祸的 feeling LOL.

I remember when I was a kid, going on field trips with classmates. The white kids get all the attention, and I became the interpreter locals talk to in Chinese to ask about my classmates. I remember being annoyed at the (correct) assumption that I'd understand Chinese and jealous of the special treatment my classmates get. Guess I wanted to feel the 'monkey feeling' lol.

Now I really enjoy being able to blend in. They automatically give me the best prices at stores because they think I'm a poor college student from the south because of my Taiwanese accent :P

Honestly tho, does even a small part of you, at some point in time, enjoy feeling 'special' (aka the monkey feeling)? If you really hate it, living in Shanghai is prbly better.

Chong Hum said...

Waking up is the hardest part ... then running, it's always the first 15 minutes; afterwards, you're in the stride groove. From June 10th till July 22nd, I'll be running during the Shanghai mornings also. I want to avoid the mid-day heat & humidity. Jonna, I assume that you're not one to give up. I'll be staying at the Minhang Stadium's Home Inn. Have you ever been to Minhang District ??? I read that there are lots of parks as oppose to the comgested downtown.

Josie said...

I understand exactly how you feel about the stress from school... I'm sitting 14 exams this month for GCSEs (British schooling qualifications) it is killing me. I am so behind :S
But I cannot express how refreshing it is to read that you've been getting up early and doing what needs to be done! I am going to stop stressing over school and fit in things I like as of now. Thankyou!

Incognito said...

Fun fact, did you know that there was a research conducted to see the productivity of early riser and late riser?

obviously, it concluded that the early risers are 60% more productive than the late risers.


Emil said...

Drink a glass of orange juice, that usually does the trick.

If not then eat some banana or other light fruit/vegetables

CJ said...

I read somewhere that for anything to become a habit,or for your body to get adjusted you need to do the activity for 21 days without a break and then Voila! its done.

May be you could give yourself 3 weeks instead of 2 and see some diff?


The Casual Observer said...

Yep, it is quiet in the early morning. I am on the road to work around 6:15 every morning (up at 5:30 to get ready and get the little one ready). The morning commute is MUCH smoother than the evening commuter.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Taipan -around 11pm... I don't sleep as much as I should do but what the heck... that's what wknds are for :)

Andi -yeah Suzhou's OK. Not as much fun as Shanghai but better when it comes to running etc. Although... winter -suzhou -cold?!? ehhhh.... I feel the winters here are like spring in Sweden! :)

Kanmuri -no no.. cannot eat before a run.. then get a nasty stitch. A 30 min run on an empty stomach won't harm the body... rather, it'll help burn extra fat! :)

dfvxc -Used to live in SH, and would still do if I could choose but my bf's work is in SZ... so it is easier this way. Yeah the monkey attention is OK at times it is just some days when it gets to me...

Chong Hum -waking up is the easiest part for me... Actually getting out there is a challenge.. once u r out it is not so bad. Although it obviously takes some getting used to. I am not in love with my morning runs yet...

As for minghang, the SH marathon finishes at Minghang stadium so when I ran that in 2006 I ran a bit in Minghang.. except for that I have not spent much time in that district. When I lived in Shanghai I used to run around Century Park in pudong. Running during the mornings in July is a must though... it is already getting humid over here... uhhhh.

froovy-josie -I hear you girl!! :/ Being behind sucks.. it leads to extra stress... :/ But yeah, cutting out all the fun in your every day life is obviously not a solution... it only leads to extra stress. Hard to find the balance though. Good luck w your studies!!

Incognito -I didn't know but that doesn't surprise me... Seeing how much more u get done when everyone else is sleeping and no one is bothering/distracting u... When I lived in FI I used to get to work 1 hour before my work mates and during that one hour I got as much work done as I got during 3 hours in the afternoon... I cannot speak for late risers though because I have never been one myself.. I have tried and tried but I don't seem to be able to learn the whole 'sleeping in' thing... mornings are my fave time of the day, and breakfast is my fave meal of the day :)

Emil -I avoid juice as it just makes me thirsty, but maybe I'll try tomo to see if there is any difference.

Chaitra -21 days?! well if that's what it takes... I'm willing to give it a try. However... 21 days straight?! What if u miss one day? Does that then mean u have to start all over again?!

casual observer -wow, that's early indeed. But yeah, empty roads are heaven :)

Colleen said...

Ah, that sounds really nice. It's always hard to wake up early, but I'm always (well, almost) glad when I do it. I think I'll do it tomorrow... or maybe not, since it's already 11:30!

Allvira said...

Drink a glass of water in an empty stomach. It means a lot..
Wedding Venues

mantse said...

Early Bird has worm~~~

i feel jealous to your life but i really too lazy to wake up so early....

Brad Farless said...

Actually, for 7 of the 8 years I was in the Army I did my runs from around 6am to 7am. It would always be on an empty stomach. I would roll out of bed at 5:40am and then be at it by 6am. I would work out for an hour, including stretches, warm up calisthenics, and then walking for a while after the run and finally finishing with more stretching.

During the last year I was in the military I was in Kuwait, and it was just too hot to run outside much, but when I did it would be in the evenings, before dinner.

The few times I've tried run 30ish minutes after eating, I always felt like I was going to throw up shortly after starting.

I wish I could convince myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I could get up early and run here in Singapore. I bet it's a lot nicer at 5:30 to 6am than it is at 8pm, for running.

flyingfish said...

I was going to suggest a bit of yogurt before the run -- not enough to give you a stitch, just enough to avoid that "running on empty" feeling -- but I guess there are lots of other suggestions from much more experienced people.

It's great that you are seeing such a pleasant side of Suzhou, but what really knocks me out is the newness of the world you've discovered -- and just by getting up a bit earlier! I'm amazed at the difference in the staring/pointing factor. It just goes to show, one never does know everything about a situation, does one? I mean, I think most of us would have said that the staring and pointing come with the territory, that they cannot be avoided as long as we wish to remain in China -- and most of us seem to think remaining China is worth a few (or a few hundred) stares! But you have just demonstrated that there is a whole culture out there in which the staring thing doesn't apply. All you had to do was change your running time. Who knew?!


Kathy G said...

I came over from Life In The Second Half, and have enjoyed reading here.

DH and I took a trip to China for our 25th wedding anniversary three years ago--we spent one day in Suzhou. I enjoyed seeing the canals and gardens.

CJ said...

Ha ha may be you could try skipping a day and see what happens!No but seriously,One day off is ok.What you need to do is keep the momentum on.Its not as easy as it sounds isn't it?

Bing said...

Waw, great view of morning Jinji Lake!
It is also great of you to get up so early!
I sleep until noon these days (easter break), haha.
But I think SUzhou people prefer evening exercise better. If you go to a public park after dinner, there are many mid-aged A Yi, haha~

Pete In Syracuse said...

Try to it more than 2 weeks> I have heard it takes 21 days before something is ingrained in one's routine, so getting up and running for just 2 weeks is short of that time. Seems like a formula for failure, if that theory is right! I admire you doing it though. I'm one that enjoys getting up early to see things like you've experenced, but would be eatting something and people watching instead of running.

Nanciful said...

It's really hard for me to get my morning runs in too. I set my alarm clock every night but probably only make it out 15% of the time. I always have the most excuses in the morning. But I always feel like a million bucks after the runs though.

Keep it up and 加油!