On 26 April I ran the 23rd International Dalian Marathon. Although my time (3:54:00) wasn’t my best, it wasn’t my worst either. My goal wasn’t to get a PR, just run a strong and consistent race; the race that I felt I had in me.
This was a race to help motivate my butt out of bed on cold mornings, but 20 mile training runs in 20 degree temps were still hard (as ice) and that was about my limit – 20 miles or 3 hours – whichever came first (usually the former). Without any cross-training options I was running 6 days a week and so suffered from overtraining and tendonitis and had to cut back . Even so, I had a feeling that I could do a STRONG 4-hour marathon. Mentally, now and for future races, I needed to have a positive marathon.
The days leading up to the race were cold and rainy but Sunday morning, the sun rose brightly in a cloudless sky. The wind, however, was a killer – it was constantly between 15-25mph, but I’m sure those gusts were much stronger. Barricades were tumbling, and shade umbrellas were flying. The race started at 7:30 inside the Dalian National Stadium. The course consisted of two laps on an out-and-back loop through the center of town, past several parks and landmarks but not along the shore or the cliffs.
Even as the course was boring, the crowds lining the course were not! There were groups dressed up in Peking Opera garb, others in traditional dress playing traditional Chinese instruments, and troupes of drummers on Chinese kettledrums. A group of older women were dressed in silky sparkly pink Chinese outfits – I have no idea what that was about. Not exactly your American style Rock-n-Roll marathon. Most of the crowd waved flags and shouted “jiao yo! jiao yo!”. Being the only white girl on the marathon course, I like to think I got more cheers. 🙂 There were other foreign women there but all Asian – I was the only blond! Red propaganda banners lined the course and police were everywhere guarding the course and the runners. In case some of you are wondering, no one mooned me.
The wind was an issue throughout. The final four miles were headed directly into the wind, which had been picking up intensity throughout the morning. It was requiring all my energy and concentration to make my body like a blade through the wind, keep my form as efficient as possible, and maintain a 9 min pace (or less). I was so focused I even tuned out the music pumped from my mp3 player into my ears. I was still strong. I was going to finish strong.
The race ended with a lap around the stadium. When I finished I was wrapped in a beach towel with the race logo and handed a bottle of water. No bananas, no Gatorade, not even a broken cookie! After that, I was very glad I could speak Chinese because I was by myself (my friend left after the half) and it was a bit chaotic to find the place to turn in the timing chip (and get my deposit back), get my bag of clothes I dropped off before the race and pick up my medal.
You see, I had another motivation to finish in under 4 hours. If I finished in 4 hours, it would be about 11:30 and I would have less than 90 minutes to be on the 1pm train back to Shenyang! After the marathon, my running wasn’t over as I rushed around to get all my stuff! I finally convinced someone to give me my medal without waiting for the certificate printout (some had been waiting 30 minutes) because of my timing issue. I wasn’t leaving without my medal!
I was back at the hotel by noon and as I was in the shower my friend who ran the half marathon came back with my lunch and Java Chip Frappaccino (my recommended recovery drink)! We checked out and were on the train by 1pm! I could finally eat and stretch! WHEW!
***PHOTOS PENDING (from my friend)***