The plane landed, we somehow survived moving NINE bags through the airport, met a co-worker who drove us into Beijing. We arrived!
Two days later, moved into the apartment. This isn’t just “talk” anymore, we moved to Beijing. How will this impact our running and trying to earn another BQ that actually gets me into the race…
I think it took a few days before my first jog. Luckily, the air quality was good enough that no mask was needed. But, how messed up to even have to consider, “do I need to wear my mask today?” That is now our new reality and we made the decision to learn to manage it. I am not Mark Zuckerburg, when needed, I will wear a mask or jog inside a gym.
Our apartment is located between the 3rd and 4th ring road, in the Embassy area. One of the largest parks in the city, Chaoyang Park, is just a few blocks away. When the air allows, there is a nice jogging path (see top photo) that meanders about 3 miles inside the park.
For me, the larger concern isn’t where to jog but dealing with the running surface. If outside a park, you should jog on the sidewalk or bike path, for safety reasons. Cars here really play by their own rules. They do not yield to anyone (bikes, walkers, parent pushing stroller, red lights) but larger cars or trucks. Unfortunately, the bike paths often are too crowded with scooters, bikes and yes, cars. So, that leaves the sidewalks. Sadly, most sidewalks are cement blocks. And my feet and legs really feel it. Not ideal, but I’ll deal with it.
Back to Chaoyang park. I have luckily found a dirt trail. On the east side of the park, just outside the gate is about 2 km long and 40 meters wide strip of earth. The park fence borders one side and a major road boarders the other side. It is kinda no man’s land, not many people likely use this space, although there is a sidewalk. Although its loud, (so close to highway) this soft dirt, when the ground isn’t frozen, is a blessing. Running on dirt is so much easier on these approaching 50 knees.
The loop around the perimeter of the park is about 5 miles. So, for the few LR I’ve already completed, I ran a few of these loops. Also, ran a few loops and also ran inside the park. Inside the park has the benefit of public toilets and vending machines with bottled water.
Besides the challenge of the running surface, the other major issue for me jogging in Beijing (so far) has been the weather. Cold temperatures aren’t really the problem. I can run in 20’s-30’s (F) no big problem. Use a few layers, hat and gloves. Temps in the teens, treadmill time. The problem for me is the cold plus the COLD wind from the north. OH MY GOD! Growing up in the south and last 25 years in Seattle, I have zero tolerance for that kind of cold. For the first time ever, few weeks ago I stopped a LR, due to frozen fingers from this wind.
Luckily, now late March, and temps in the 50s-60s (F), I’m pretty certain I will not see those conditions again til November.
Lastly, I didn’t expect to see too many other joggers. At least not in the winter times. But, I’ve seen more than a few. There is a large ex-pat community near the park, so at 10am, it’s not uncommon to see a few ‘trailing spouses’ (ex-pats who moved for spouse’s job and they don’t work), like myself, in and around the park jogging. At lunch time or the weekends, the jogger sightings jump. I need to tap into a running group to be social and help me train for my next marathon. Yup, I am signed up for the Great Wall marathon.
More on that next time.