On Sunday, I ran the Hangzhou International Marathon. I decided to run this race kind of last minute. I knew about it for awhile but when I found out about the 10k I decided to give that a go instead. Then, not wanting to miss out on any of the China race excitement, I decided I could use this half as an opportunity for a longer run because confession: except for the trail race I have not run longer than 14km at one time since August.
My only strategy for this race was that I wanted the first half to be feel comfortable and ‘in the zone’ like a long run. Then for the second half I’d see how I felt.
The race was very organized but there were SO many people. 15 000!!! I think 7 different race distances? Marathon, Half, “Mini” Marathon (13km), 10km, 6km, couple’s run (wtf?), family run and kid’s run. I can’t count, there were 8. The starts were supposed to be staggered but there wasn’t anyone enforcing the rule so it was a free for all.
The slow start was fine but by the time I had actually gotten a little space, the race switched from the road to the scooter lane. Not only were there thousands of people running but there were scooters and CARS in the lane. Umm, hello cars you have like 8 lanes over there you can use, stay outta mine.
Anyway, I managed to dodge people and find a steady pace. I used the lap button on my Garmz for the first time in this race. I tried it once for hill repeats back in the day and messed everything up and had given up since then. Scarred for life. I’m a stop, re-set, and start kinda girl.
First 10k was in 44 and it felt good, very comfortable. Second 10k was in 47… it felt ok, there were way too many hills on this course for my liking and not enough downhill. Now if you do the math (which I had to do on a calculator because I am slow) this equals approximately 1 hour and 31 minutes. I was on pace for a 1:35 half and it felt surprisingly good.
My final time… 1:40:17.
It took me 9 minutes to run the last kilometre.
Is that a world record for slowest finish ever?
Since all the different distances ended at the same spot, I was
running walking with the slowest of the 10kers, kids, 6kers, families, couples (get a room) to the finish. Can’t forget the cars either, I actually slammed my hand on someone’s trunk as I was trying to pass. Captain Road Rage. The man laughed and waved… I returned with my own hand gesture.
This is where it gets good. I ended up placing third in the women’s category. Since it was called the Hangzhou International Marathon they made a really big deal about the half and full marathon finishers. As soon as I finished, a volunteer was by my side. She held all my stuff and led me to a VIP tent. (I thought I might be getting drug tested… I was scared… kidding Mom!)
The other two finishers and I sat there and were given track suits to wear. I refused to zipper mine up because I wanted my babe patrol shirt to be documented on an international stage. 😉 Then we were led to the stage where we lined up beside women in traditional Chinese clothing. The MCs were English and Chinese and brought us on stage.There were a lot of people watching. I had stage fright. No idea what to do. Luckily, they didn’t call us in the correct order so I could copy what the other two did. Stand on the podium and wave. Smile. Collect trophy and flowers. Try and shake hands…. oh wait you were supposed to bow. Awkward giggle. Leave the stage.
Pose for 23094893 pictures. SIGN AUTOGRAPHS. It was insane. And hilarious. I actually felt kind of guilty because even though it wasn’t a bad time, I know it wasn’t my best and there are so many better runners out there that deserve this treatment. I felt like I was tricking the Chinese into thinking I was an elite runner.
I wanted to stick around and watch the marathon finishers but I couldn’t! I don’t know how famous people do it. It’s exhausting. Never a moments peace. Constantly trying to please your fans. My face and hand hurt more than my legs.
So I left. I went to the train station with my flowers and trophy in hand feeling pretty good about myself.
And then I stood in line for 1 hour to get a ticket. And the next train wasn’t for 3 hours.
Don’t worry folks, China will never let the ‘fame’ go to my head.
Oh yah, when I told my students about it they asked if the winner was from Botswana… umm, who do you think I am?!
Lessons Learned and Observations:
– I am going to need to get to the start of the Shanghai marathon at least an hour early to get a good spot. Apparently there are 3-4 times more people at that race! Elbows Up! Maybe I will take up speed- walking?
– You need to wear a lot of bibs when you run a race in Hangzhou.
– Sorry ladies, but I prefer to get pumped up by listening to Pitbull or Beyonce.
– I still haven’t received my iterm.