This past week was out of the ordinary and a lot of fun…
On Wednesday I flew to Banff to speak at the SportChek conference on behalf of New Balance. I got to Banff at 2:30pm and ran 95 minutes and hit some serious hills. My talk was at night and afterwards there was a social at the bar in the hotel. At the bar a couple approached me and informed me I was subject to an out-of-competition doping test.
Testing me in Banff shows that CCES is paying attention. You see, I was only in Banff for 17 hours before I headed to Hangzhou, China where I was entered in a marathon. On paper that looks a little suspicious. Why would anyone go somewhere for such a short period of time in the days leading up to a race. Of course I wasn’t really racing this marathon (I’ll get to that later). It makes me feel good that they’re testing in this capacity.
View from my hotel room.
Thursday morning I started my trip to Hangzhou, China via Calgary, Vancouver and Shanghai. John Mason arrived in Shanghai (from Toronto) Friday evening 15 minutes ahead of me. We met up at the baggage carrousel and then met our hosts outside, jumped in a van with other athletes then drove the 200km to Hangzhou.
I had never heard of Hangzhou before a few months ago when they asked if I wanted to race. At the time I told them I hadn’t run for three months and wasn’t in shape to run a marathon. They told me it was OK if I came and just made an appearance and ran 10km. Why not.
6.2 million people live in the greater Hangzhou area, it’s bigger than Toronto. However, it’s not a tourist destination, such as Shanghai or Beijing, so it has a pretty different feel. On Saturday John and I went on an 11km run and saw thousands and thousands of people and not a single person who looked like a foreigner. The buildings there are big, impressive and a lot of them!
A river in Hangzhou.
There’s a few things I don’t care for in China. The first is the cigarette smoke everywhere, even in places with no-smoking signs, restaurants, bathrooms etc. Apparently a “non-smoking floor” in a hotel is just a suggestion. Also, when eating lunch and dinner there is a lazy susan on the table with all the different dishes, which is a convenient way to serve except there are NO serving utensils. Everyone just uses their own fork or chop sticks to serve the food. Most of the time there were 10 of us at a table and some people would just eat straight from the serving dishes. The other thing is the amount of oil they use in the cooking, way too much.
This guy must be picking up some cooking oil for the day.
On race day my plan was to run 10km at a decent pace and then keep running to 24km at a normal run pace. I passed through 10km somewhere around 33:30 and then proceeded to run around 4:00/km. John Mason was pacing the women and caught me around 22km. I ran and chatted with him for a bit. I mislead him to believe that he was close to 8th place (in the money). I seriously thought there weren’t many guys up ahead.
At 24km I stopped running and stretched. It didn’t seem as though I was going to get picked up by a vehicle anytime soon so I started to jog 5:00/km. I would stop at aid stations, eat bananas and drink the sports drink and water. During these pauses I would assess how my body was feeling. If anything was getting too tight I would be able feel it after a little rest. My tibialis muscles were tight, probably from the all the downhill running in Banff, but other than that I was ok. When I would stop people would try and cheer me on to keep running. When I would finally resume running they would get really loud as though they spurred me to keep pushing. I just kept on jogging and taking breaks until I reached the line in 3:07.
Much of the last part of the course was through West Lake, a popular tourist spot for Chinese. At many of the bridges I would stop and take in the scenery. The air seemed really clean in the park and even the other parts of the marathon weren’t bad at all. Nothing like what they experienced at the Beijing Marathon a few weeks ago.
After the finish I saw John being interviewed by Runner’s World China. He led the women’s race (got a lot of camera time) until the final few hundred metres (was only supposed to go 35km) and finished in 2:32 (right behind the first woman, the men’s race was won in 2:12). He finished in 10th place and I had to apologize for leading him to believe he was in the top 8 (ie. $). However, the amount of autographs, pictures and general Mason-mania that ensued may have been worth finishing after all. The people couldn’t get enough of this guy with a massive beard!
After the race John and I headed to Shanghai for one extra day. The place is absolutely massive and has some of the tallest buildings in the world. The Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world (and the one that looks like a bottle opener is the seventh). The Shanghai Tower is higher than the CN Tower and twice as high as the tallest skyscraper in Canada (CN Tower is considered a structure).
(They don’t curve like the bottom picture depicts. The Shanghai Tower does have a twist though.)
Walking around Shanghai was good because I wasn’t going to run for a couple of days after that long of a run and my muscles were quite stiff. (I went running today and felt fine).
We also checked out Old Shanghai and the fake markets so we could bargain hard with the vendors.
I think you guys put the N on…. never mind.
Not to code.
Guys climbing Shanghai Tower