Archive for the ‘running’ Category

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The New Year and Luzhou’s Great Outdoors

February 7, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I hope the Year of the Rat is good to you all.

On this special holiday when everyone else in the country is spending quality time at home with their families, I celebrated by running 4 miles in the cold rain. It was not as miserable as it sounds, I promise.

Actually, it was quite lovely. Growing up in the thriving jungle-like ecosystem of the Minneapolis suburbs, I took many things for granted, like seeing the occasional small animal. Or… tree. And being alone on a hiking trail or bike path. That is why this is my favorite little corner of Luzhou, and why I am grateful that the rain kept the sane people inside so I could enjoy the solitude today. It’s not Taroko Gorge and it’s not the North Shore, but Luzhou has its charms now and then.

Yeah… don’t ask me about the last one.

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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:

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Running and Complaining, Complaining and Running

August 28, 2007

Sometimes I think back fondly on the days when I could make a quick drive to Costco and back without getting blistering sunburns on my shoulders. Not that I ever went to Costco in the U.S., but never mind that. The point is, it’s HOT.

Fortunately, I won’t have to worry much about sunburn over the next month or so, since I will have absolutely no opportunity to go outside in the sun. I will be at work. All the time. Two of my coworkers are quitting without much notice, so there won’t be any time to find replacements for them. This means that those of us who are left will have to take on quite a few extra classes. Although, given their individual circumstances, I can’t blame either of my coworkers for leaving, it puts me in a very frustrating situation. My free time will largely disappear. There is no word yet on how soon we can get new teachers to fill those positions.

Now that I’ve whined and complained for a couple paragraphs, let’s see if I can come up with something positive to discuss….

Remember Taroko Gorge, where I spent last Christmas with Dad and Quinn? (Follow the link and scroll down for Taroko pictures.) Every November there is a Marathon in Taroko. It is, apparently, the “only Marathon run in a gorge”. Whoopty-do. Anyway, I’m planning to go down there and do the half marathon. I’ve never been much of a long distance runner, but I guess this is the year (year and a half?) for trying new things. It should be beautiful. And very hot, and very uphill. Or maybe very rainy and very uphill, depending. Uh oh, I’m coming dangerously close to whining and complaining again so I better stop.

This could be me!