Great Wall Marathon: Pre-Race

It’s  ovaaaaaaaah!! I don’t know how to sum up the whole experience except that it was really, really cool.

Getting out to the wall was a little like the Amazing Race. We were in a mad dash to find the Great Wall office to pick up our kits and catch the bus on time.

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After a 2 hour bus ride, we arrived at the wall. The race itself was really organized but pre-race was chaotic. Leading up to the race I constantly had to transfer money and half the time it wouldn’t go through. China does not believe in credit cards.  Arriving at the Great Wall we weren’t sure where we were staying or where to go.

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More importantly, I wasn’t sure what we were going to eat. At the hostel check-in, I saw a girl with 5 pizza boxes. I was all, “Sa-weet, we can order pizza to the Great Wall of China!!! Hellooo 21st Century!” Ya. No, you can’t. Those girls were smart and brought food in advance. There are slim pickings on the wall peeps. We found our hostel and they told us they didn’t have any food either. Being prepared is not my motto.

At least where we stayed was beautiful.

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We eventually found Chinese food and laid around watching The Notebook all night. You know, a typical pre-race, pump-up movie.

The morning of the race was FREEZING.  Being the horrible ex-Brownie I am, I was not prepared at all.

We had to be at the start 1 hour and 1/2 early and everyone was standing around freezing their buns off.

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It was awesome to see hundreds of people from all over the world gathered together in costumes and country colors.

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I don’t know if people felt more united over traveling so far to run on the Great Wall or the fact that we had to use side by side squatters. Wide-open.

90% of the female runners saw my bootay pre-race. No shame.

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The 5km runners were taken to the wall and started 30 minutes before us.  Then it was time for the first corral half and full marathons to line up. Just as we were about to start the sun came out…

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Characters on the Wall

I really wish I had thought to dress in a costume or at least wear some Canadian gear, there were so many people dressed up in awesome costumes and supporting their country. (I did get interviewed by ESPN and gave a shout out to the babe patrol!)

These were a few of my fav’s:

Great Wall Marathon 052 Marathon Maniac’s: This was a couple from the states who had run 163 marathons. They were flying home Monday and going to compete in 2 more marathons next weekend! In order to be a maniac you have to run 3 marathons a week at some point. They are awesome. 

Great Wall Marathon 053 Team South Africa: These guys actually became my friends at about 35km as we struggled to climb up the wall  the second time. 

Great Wall Marathon 057 Brazilian Brothers.

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Slipper man: I thought he was just going to run barefoot until I saw the chip fastened to his shoe. HC.

Great Wall Marathon 043 And of course, my Vancouver girl representing the Canucks!

Great Wall Marathon 184  Proof that the Wilderman and I actually completed the race.

GWM: Ready or Not, Here I Come

I wrote this before I left and it didn’t post. Now I am about to fly home. 5 hours and 19 minutes later the marathon is over! It was really hard but I think that was because I wasn’t prepared.  It was also really, really awesome.  I would recommend this race to anyone.

I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight to Beijing for the Great Wall Marathon. EeeeeAhhhhhOuuuuuu.

To be honest, I’m feeling a little nervous. I think because I’m  under-trained. I’ve done a lot of stair work-outs but not enough long runs. I have also been tapering for almost 3 weeks now. Oops.  I just like going fast so much better than I like going long. I’m already looking forward to training for a 10km at home in July with my dad.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am running this for the experience and I should take it all in but my competitive side wants to do well. I feel like every race I have run lately I have wimped out because it has been a “training” race for this one.

Example: A little half marathon in Yangzhou a couple of weeks ago that I never blogged about…. because it was really bad.

It began with a ROAD TRIP with my Chinese running team.  CRAZY. PARTY.  HUBBA HUBBA. What happens on the bus… stays on the bus. (You all want it to stay that way, I had to listen to 40 people introduce themselves in Chinese while I tried to sleep). Chinese people gone wild!

Anyway, it was great traveling with a team because I didn’t have to worry about anything. My Chinese friends were happy too because I didn’t have to call them every 5 minutes to translate.

My only critique was the food selection. Chinese food is very, very oily. I can handle one or two meals a week but eating Chinese food all weekend left my stomach feeling pretty upset. It’s partly my fault because I love trying the traditional foods of different places so I couldn’t turn down this dumpling.

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Ya, sucking up pork fat with a straw is probably not the best pre-race meal.

Yangzhou was a really beautiful city and  we spent the day before the race walking around a really expensive park.

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The morning of the race itself was a little stressful because I did not have a BANANA!! The horror. I need my banana to succeed. Frazzling.

The race was the most organized Chinese race I have run yet. It was a great course and there were school children all along the route cheering us on. Probably just like the Boston Marathon. 

For me, I started off feeling great but large crowds stress me out and I went out way too fast. I thought I could hold off for the 21km but around 14km I became really dizzy. I started walking and then people yelled at me to “keep figh-ting” and I got annoyed so I left the course.  I wanted to drop out but about 10 minutes later I realized the only way back to the start was too run  so I had to re-join the route. Meh. 1:45 later I was finished.

medying Please note all the Chinese people having the time of their lives stretching and me in the corner with a towel over my head being depressed.

 

Blew that one. At least the team photographer was there.

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Here’s hoping GWM goes a little better.

Wednesday at GCA

With the school year coming to an end, us teachers are really trying to buckle down and focus on the important subject matter.

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Like getting rubber duckies across the pond…

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With a Newfie Duck Catcher…

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Or a fishing wheel…

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Without falling into the water and catching 32174 diseases…

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It’s all about being resourceful…

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And teamwork…

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The students have never been more engaged…

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If only this was on the provincial exam.

Girl Power

We came.

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We stretched.

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We love our teacher so much that we decided to get her name on the back of our jersey sold our jersey online and had to wear our teachers.

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We cheered.

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We  “coached.”

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We supported our team and the China umbrella business. IMG_2862

We played.

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We won!

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Soccer tournament champions!

Trail Racing > Road Racing?

This title of this post was going to be “Trail Racing > Road Racing” but things changed. Let me explain. Throughout the 27km mountain race I ran a couple of weeks ago I was in love with trail racing. The whole time I kept thinking:

“omg trail racing is so sweet”

“never road racing again”

“this is BADASS”

“ I am so good at blowing snot rockets out of my nose” (OK not really the last one, I was spraying in 6 different directions  but you get the drift.)

I had to cut the race short in order to catch my ride home but I actually wanted to keep running! That never happens to me, usually I think about dropping out every 5 meters.

A slight dramatization of running conditions.

BUT the title of this post has a question mark in it and that means it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies… mostly just rain. I had an unfortunate incident where I ended up at the bottom of a mountain village: cold, wet, lost, dirty and bloody.  The high I had felt while running in the pouring rain through traditional rice fields in China was long gone.  I forgot every word I knew in Chinese (I know 6 now!! Pretty much bilingual, holla!) I was literally holding up my cut hand (blood+rain+dirt= looks way worse then it is) and crying, trying to get someone to stop and pick me up and take me back to the hotel so I could get home. Thank you 3 drunk men in a taxi for letting me in. Sorry about the snot on your coat.

Anyway, the morale of this story is that most of the time, trail racing is pretty sweet.

This is why I think so:

#1. Running through nature is way better than running on a road. Cars vs. trees= no contest.

#2. How HC do you feel when you fall or slide down mud! BAMF

#3. It’s easier on the body. Technically this race should have been really difficult. 27km up and down mountains is pretty gruesome but there were so many start/stops and technical parts where you couldn’t run that it didn’t  feel as tiring as racing.

#4. Trail racing is new to me and I never know what to expect so I go into the race without any time goals and therefore less disappointment if they aren’t met.

#5. I like beating other people more then myself. (I know! It’s wrong. The only competition is yourself, aim for your best,  beat your time, etc, etc. I’m working on it…)I know I’m not a good trail runner so the competive side of me doesn’t appear. I have learned to take it slow and steady. Turns out slow and steady is a lot more enjoyable than fast and furious.

#6. It’s an excuse to wear a camelback!  This was my first time wearing a camelback during a run and those things are actually pretty awesome. I didn’t even feel it, my hands were free and I did not get thirsty or stressed about the next water station the whole race! I wouldn’t wear one on the road but trails= acceptable (in my opinion).

#7. Getting lost in a road race would not be cool, getting lost on a trail… kind of fun. You can make up all kinds of crazy scenarios in your head…

I might be here for at least 3 days…ok I have 1 clif bar left…i will eat one bite every 5 hours…that spot over there will be my bed…there is the bathroom…I think I can build a shelter out of these branches… i will probably become best friends with a squirrel…i’ll need to devise some sort of sling for my arm…I hope I don’t bleed to death

It’s like being 10 all over again!

#8. Nothing fakes a tan better than dirt!

I'm ready for summer!