(originally written Feb ? 2017)
As I mentioned in the last post, late summer and fall 2016, my running was temporarily interrupted by a medical issue. I missed the Beijing marathon in September but I wasn’t too upset. It will be there in 2017.
By November first, I was able to crank the running back up to my regular routine. Although I was starting from scratch (no fitness base), I was thrilled just to be back in the game and thinking about what my next marathon would be.
As the brief fall ended and winter announced its arrival in mid November with its cold northern wind barreling down the blocks of Beijing, I select Seoul, Korea for the next marathon. I liked:
- easy travel with 1.5 hr direct flight
- several reviews gave the race organization a thumbs up
- relatively flat
- a nice place for the family to visit over a long weekend
- good food.
Through December and January, my monthly total miles climbed to 131 and 144. Missed some training runs due to travel and minor injuries or strains (ankle, shin, hip). This time of year the air pollution is the WORST. For days in a row, this poison in the air stunk, and looks like off color smog. Thank god for the cleaner air of the gym. Ran 12, 14, 16 even 18 mile LR on the treadmill. Ugh, not easy. Even with a TV and podcasts to mix up the endless, mindless stride after stride.
Much more so this year vs last, the air pollution mentally was really tough on me. Likely because I don’t work 9-5 in an office, on bad air days I’d go to the gym for an hour or so but besides that, I hunker down inside the apartment all day. We have 7 air filtration machines in the apartment and on the days when AQI is above 250, we have to run the machines on Max for hours. The whirl of these boxes, hour after hour, also can kinda drive you nuts. They are loud.
The flip side of shitty air days is when the air is good, or back to ‘normal’, it’s exciting, a really big deal. I must to go outside and run. Typical winter gear is, the wool running socks, two pairs of (light) gloves, hat, 2-3 shirts, neck gator, hat, and bright orange (capt n safety) running vest and out I go.
Another huge plus for me and my running is that I’ve started to run with a local running group. Heyrunning is a sub group of HeyRobics, that organizes three runs a week in the Sanlitun and Chaoyang Park neighborhoods of Beijing. I had read about this group last year but never made it out to meet them. Then, few months ago, I discovered one my son’s classmates’ father was involved, so I showed up, in late 2016.
I’m not too consistent meeting and running with the group, maybe 2x per month, usually a Wednesday night. Those nights they gather at a coffee shop (Mocha Bros) about a 3 minute jog from our apartment. The group head into Chaoyang Park for about an hour. Normally, the routine is some stretching, easy jogs then longish speed work. For ex. 8x30sec temp runs, with 30 sec rest in between. Usually, between 5-10 people show up depending on the air temperature and the air quality. They cancel at AQI > 200. Those who show up is a good mix of really fast, fast and not so fast folks. Mostly Ex-pats from England, France, Germany, USA, Switzerland and Holland.
Although I don’t run with the group so often, I have tried to do most of my long runs with a ‘bloke’ from England. His daughter was in Will’s class Sept-December 2016, before she moved to Australia. Very long story, but her dad couldn’t move with them. Martin is a few years younger than me and insanely fast. 3:06 marathoner.
It’s really nice to have someone to chat with while we run those long 2-3 hr jogs. We are by far the oldest in the running group so its nice to chat about things the others wouldn’t understand; Margaret Thatcher, disco, the 1980s, etc.
When the air quality is above 160, I’ll head to the gym to run on the treadmill. I really should get to the gym once a week so it is insanely expensive and pretty nice facility. This winter/spring, I averaged 5 runs a week, sometime six. I’m pleased with the amount of running i’ve completed so far this year, with only minor injuries. My monthly running totals:
- January – 144 (miles)
- February – 140
- March – 129
- April – 158
Next up, long lost Seoul marathon race report….