Archive for November, 2007


A Gorge-ous Marathon

November 7, 2007

This weekend, along with my friend Gretchen and about four thousand other individuals, I ran the half marathon of the Taroko International Marathon. As you may recall, Taroko Gorge is the beautiful National Park where Dad, Quinn, and I spent last Christmas. It made for a wonderfully scenic, albeit hilly, marathon.

We spent three days in Hualien, so we spent plenty of time speculating about what it would be like to live there rather than Taipei. Quieter, cleaner, prettier. Soberer, or whatever word one uses to describe a sorely lacking bar scene.

I was pretty nervous for the actual half marathon, since it was my first distance racing experience and I didn’t feel adequately prepared at all. The marathon and the half marathon started together, so the crowd at the beginning was huge. I was actually still on my way to the starting line when the gun fired, but five minutes later when I passed through the gate I was far from the last person to start.

The first 5 km (2.5 km out from the gate and 2.5 back) was flat and easy but boring. We got to run by a cement factory, woohoo! Then we started the long uphill climb into Taroko. We were actually running over many of the same places we hiked over Christmas. I was glad I had been there before or I would have wished I could skip the running to just sit around and enjoy the view. But I kept plugging along.

The 10 km marker came up surprisingly soon. I looked at my watch and realized to my shock that I wasn’t inching along at the pace of a geriatric snail. More like a young athletic snail on caffeine. After that I took several walk breaks. The uphill kept getting steeper and I tried to conserve some energy for running back down.

I was still a few kilometers from the finish line when the Kenyan winner of the full marathon flew by me. He ran 42 km 12 minutes faster than I ran my 21 km race. The elite runners really are quite a sight to see.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with my time, given that it was my first race and I hadn’t been preparing for it long. I was inspired to run more, and although I will be leaving Taiwan before next year’s Taroko Marathon, I’d like to come back and run it again some year.

After the race (and after some lost wandering around Hualien trying to find our hotel) Gretchen and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to get massages. These two blind ladies came to our hotel room to massage us for 40 minutes. Sounds nice and relaxing, right? Wrong! I had no idea a massage could be so painful! I just kept telling myself “I got though a half marathon, somehow I can get through this massage…” I must admit I did feel much better afterwards. Except for the sore spots on my head which lasted a few days after she “massaged” my temples.

Anyway, here’s a picture (from someone else) of the starting line, and one of me after the marathon: