Nov 8, 2011

Hangzhou International Marathon in a nutshell

While in China for only 3 months I have already been itching to find some races. To be truthful, in my spare time I perouse through international race sites dreaming up plans of racing here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes, back in reality world I inquire into races that might actually be possible to enter rather than just dream of every possible race I would like to do on earth...
About 3 weeks ago during one of my 'perousing the internet for races in my spare time' moments I stumbled upon the Hangzhou International Marathon. With a thrifty entrance fee of $15  and a possibility of prize money I just couldn't not sign up for it. I somehow managed to convince Andrew to run a marathon in three weeks  with no training or preparation?!? I quickly found some flights and figured out how to pay the entrance fee on time (Thank you Elaine, a friend with an online chinese bank account) and we were set. The only problem was... we had not been training for a marathon at all and were about to WING IT BIG TIME.

In the back of my mind I thought I was still a young 24 year old who could just pull off any type of sporting accomplished I wanted with grand success... well, last weekend I found out that I am no longer 24,  I am 31 and I guess some things become a little more difficult with age.

What happened out there on the race course was not exactly what I had dreamed up in my head a few weeks back when I signed up for the race. The first half of the race was nice. We ran around the famous West Lake and then up through some mountains, farmlands, small villages, temples and pagodas. After about 21km we hit the river. We had an awfully long there and back on straight road and then it was a horrid 19km or so of straight flat unscenic(because you couldn't even see the river) run along the river. It was awful. I was bored and really had to push hard in my head to just keep running. My legs started to get sore from the constant pounding of similar terrain and I was pondering the reasons I wanted to sign up for this race so badly. I worked hard through the mountain stage to pass three girls and then lost the positions on the flats. FRUSTRATIONS... They clearly were better road runners than I. I tried all of my mental techniques to get me through to the end. I tried to disassociation by thinking about past memories and future plans. I tried to focus on my breathing and stride and associate myself with the present by focusing on what my body was doing and what was happening. I tried a lot of self talk, telling myself I have run longer and that this was easy. I broke down the run into segments and visualized how easy 5km of running is. I tried all of these methods many times throughout the marathon race. I didn't walk, I didn't give up, I smiled (and grunted), and I pushed myself through pain and I also crossed the line with the slowest marathon time to date for me... BOO..While I didn't get my goal of 8th place female(prize money cut off) I did managed to get in as the 13th female. Not too shabby for my first marathon since 2006 and without any training for it either... maybe there is still hope for my running career?

Two days following the race.. I still can't walk properly and I cringe every time I need to get off my butt and move but mentally I am ready and pumped to get my train on...and as always I seem to only remember the exciting and nice parts of the race. Funny how the brain seems to block out the bad and embrace the good!

Bring on the Great Wall Marathon in May...

Hangzhou is a pretty city with tons of temples, pagodas, buddhist caves and of course a big lake on which you can explore. We spent Saturday hiking through the hills by the lake (not relaxing like maybe we should have done?!?). It was a maze of stone stairs, caves, and temples. Pretty cool little place in which it is very easy to get yourself turned around and lost. Lucky for us we brought our handy dandy GPS. Got to love technology (sometimes). We also ate some food, cruised around some local shops, and found a fun little coffee shop where we did manage to sit and relax with some mighty fine americanos!
All in all a fun little weekend away!


live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

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