Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powering to the Finish

Last night I had trouble sleeping before the run this morning.

And Friday night because of all the stress I went through, and the temperatures fluctuating back and forth, I caught a cold that night and was fighting to keep it together for today.

I woke up just before dawn and got ready -- my running bib on my T-shirt, bottle of water, energy bar, lip balm, and kleenex, and took the subway to Qianmen, as runners were asked to enter at the southeast side of Tiananmen Square.

However, conveniently, the subway exit to enter that area was blocked and we had to go the long way -- a series of underground passes -- to finally get through, and only if you had a running bib.

I got there with a few minutes to spare before the deadline to put your running bag on a bus that would transport our things to the 10K finish line.

It was a bit nippy, but there was going to be a blue sky with a bit of haze mixed in.

Then it was time for the bathroom and the line was horrendous, but finally getting into the portable potties was a stinking mess. I won't go there.

The marathon started at 8am, and not without some speeches by some municipal leaders. The revolutionary like songs began and then the rest of us, half marathon, 10K and mini marathon (4.2K) were off.

We started on Tiananmen Square and ran onto Chang'an Avenue, past Mao's portrait and went westward past the Xidan shopping area, then zig-zagged our way northwards.

Most people wore the requisite T-shirt, but some wore funny clown wigs or masks. One guy wore a stuffed turtle on his back and carried a stick with a giant bee on it. He was advertising for Swatch, one of the sponsors.

Many people passed me in the beginning and though it was daunting, I was determined to keep my pace.

At the 3K mark, some people already started walking, having sprinted so early in the run.

Soon afterwards the mini-marathon people were done at 4.2km, and our first water break was at the 5km mark. What was silly was that some people like me were given bottles of water, but many took one sip and threw the rest of the bottle away. I kept mine for the rest of the run.

Along the way there were bystanders either there by chance or were there to cheer people on. Little kids would shout "Jia You!" "Go! Go!" at the top of their lungs, at which their parents would tell them to tone it down or they'd lose their voice.

Soldiers stood on guard every few metres along with the odd policeman. It was good to see the periodic volunteer too, some cheering. Buses were stuck on the roads waiting for them to be reopened so staff had nothing to do but to watch us go by.

A small German contingent was by the side of the road, ringing bells.

Parts of the run were shady which was great, but for the most part it was sunny but hardly oppressive heat. Just a good day for a run.

Pretty soon we hit the next water station at 7.5km and the 8km. People would stop at each signage to take pictures.

And then before I realized it, I could see the finish line for the 10K run. Already?

I made a last sprint to the end (along with many other people) and my time was 1:09, completely blasting away my time last year.

And then it was time to collect my bag with my belongings in it. But where was the bus?

There were buses ahead of us, but they were for university students. I asked the police, but they had no clue. Where were the volunteers? No where to be found.

I finally asked a guy who told me it was actually at the finish line, but across the street. Who would have known?

Again no signage and no one to help me. I was so worried about my bag that I sprinted back to the finish and got my bag back in tact.

In the afternoon I had an accupressure massage from the blind massage place across the street from my apartment.

Tomorrow will be the test to see how well I really did. But for now, my training really paid off and it has encouraged me to keep running. Marathon? No way, but a better time, yes.

1 comment:

ks said...

good to know your long term training has paid off.