Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Better air

The air seemed a bit better today so I went for a short run. Short slow runs seem to be the only thing I'm capable of here in Shanghai. I learned that if I breath only through my nose, the air is quite bearable, even if it means slowing down quite a bit. The crisp cold air of Canada seems like a luxury now after about 2 weeks in the Shanghai air.

I came upon a golf range today.
I didn't know the Chinese played golf. Apparently they fly their balls pretty high too judging by the nets surrounding the range.
I also came across this industrial looking kerosene storage facility. No wonder the air feels dirty with things like this in the area.
And this big campus of a well known Ottawa company
I like the building for this bank
I'll try to fit in another run before we leave Shanghai on Saturday. Hopefully the air in Xian and Beijing will be more conducive to outdoor exercising.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back into the groove

After a few off days because of a digestive problem, I tried to reboot the whole system and get back into the groove today by going out for a short run. I am still surprised at how much green space there is in Pudong. It seems that whichever direction I go there are green spaces at least every kilometre. If it wasn't for the air quality, this city would be a perfect spot for outdoor activities and just lounging about lazily.
I was surprised at how considerate the Chinese were to what is sometimes referred to here as malformed persons (disabled) when I saw this huge on ramp to a pedestrian overpass until I realised that it was meant primarily for bikes!
On the way back I also spotted this garden by the side of the path, I'm wondering what they are growing...
Today's run was about 5km and it took over 30 minutes. The day was beautifully sunny, if a bit warm. I was forced to slow down because the air quality was really bad. At some point I just couldn't breath the stench of chemicals was so pungent. Maybe the treadmill doesn't look so bad after all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The other side of Pudong

I wanted to go for a short run today. My plan to do only 5km was thwarted by the fact that this place is so interesting, I could have kept going all day! I purposely went to see another part of Pudong that doesn't attract so many tourists. I think I only saw locals throughout my run and the English signs were few and far between.

While I was stretching in the street before I started, I saw this sign informing me that the air pollution index was 51, I'm not sure if that is good or bad.
The air seems pretty clear to me so I started out anyways. I saw this cute little park after I crossed the river (water is everywhere in Pudong!)
I also noticed that downtown Pudong didn't have a monopoly on SkyScrapers.
Some ?lucky? residents have a river view :)
High-rise accommodations are also available.
I don't know why but whenever I'm travelling I love to spend time in these small alleys and look at the "stores".
Then I found this really neat park with a lake in the middle. Parks are central to Chinese life. I guess that when so many people are living close together, not everyone has the opportunity to have their own personal greenspaces, so parks act as a substitute. I won't get in the philosophy of which option is best but let me show you a few of the intersting park uses I noticed today.

Concert on the pagoda
Dancing in the park
Check out this guy's giant fishing rod!
Chilling out in the shade
And of course some people like the EndorphinBuzzer like to run :)
Not pictured is also the general walking and playing with kids. There was also a choir rehearsal going on and some kind of street party with music and food (I didn't want to intrude so I didn't take pictures).

The park features the beautiful lake
As well as some neat Bonzai trees
Once I got back on the road, I saw that downtown Pudong is not the only place under construction. Check out this new residential complex being built all at once as opposed to the one tower every few years technique we use back home.
I then proceed to visit one of these residential complex.
The first thing I noticed is the generous amount of shared space that residents can enjoy outside. I am really curious to see how the average Chinese lives and I would like to visit inside one of these but am not quite sure how that could be arranged.

I didn't realize the guard's alarmed stares until I came out of the complex where he asked me what in the world would a white guy be doing in such a place. Needless to say we didn't communicate except for my humble bowing and pointing at my eyes meaning look around. He indulged me in a smile and shooed me away :)

I ended my run at this church that is undergoing renovations (or construction?) near our hotel.
All in all, I did about 7km in a little under 45 minutes. I wasn't gunning for time anyways and am glad I took the time to take in the sights and smells. Chinese streets smell of a mix of frying, fruits, spices and paint thinner or other industrial solvents I guess are used in the construction that is going on everywhere.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Discovering Pudong

This morning I went shopping to see what around the hotel and found a sports store. I knew I shouldn't have gone in since I usually lack self control when shopping without a specific goal in mind. I was curious to see if prices would be any different. The really high-end/brand name stuff was actually more expensive with the Asics Nimbus for example about 50% more than what I paid for them in Canada. The shopping trip still resulted in a new cold weather running outfit (the entire thing for under $50! unbelievable). It's not a brand name I know but the material feels like quality and it will allow me to remember China on those long cold runs and hopefully make them go by faster :)
Once I came back to the hotel, I thought that running a bit around would be a perfect way to quickly discover and explore the neighbourhood. The weather wasn't great being mostly muggy and wet but it wasn't hell either. I wanted to make it to an area that the map describes as Century Park. My biggest failure was probably to try to memorise the map and Chinese street names and not bring the map with me (I felt it would encumber me). This failure wasn't so bad, since while I may have not seen Century Park today, there is always tomorrow and the weather may be better for pictures!
I also got to run in "Regency Park" which is as far as I can figure out a gated community for the fortunate Chinese families that can afford McMansions. More on my thoughts about this and pictures of the mansions in my other blog: BuzzingInShanghai. Here are some pictures from the more park-like features:
After getting out of the Regency Park, I figured I could still try to find Century Park. I didn't end up finding it, however I found the construction site for the World 2010 expo!
I started running back and while I wasn't focussing on speed specifically, I did pretty well overall. Shanghai has water absolutely everywhere so it makes for a really runner friendly city so far (at least the part I am in). The sidewalks are also wide and fairly quiet.
Once I got back, I turned to the snack I had gotten earlier while shopping. I was hoping that one of these two would turn out to be Coconut buns since they are my favorites.
Turns out that, while both pretty delicious, neither of them were Coconut. The long one was some kind of cream stuffing and the rounder one was stuffed with red beans. I have to figure out what the chinese symbol for Coconut is if I want to be able to identify them easily :)

Not bad for a unplanned run. 14.3km in 1h17.

Friday, October 9, 2009

No time!!

Despite my pledge to make this week a more active training week than last, I didn't really find the time for it. I ran 10k on Saturday and then went for a swim (2x1000m + 250m) on Sunday. Then the rest of the week happened.

I'm taking solace in the fact that I am embarking on a 5 week vacation. I hope to be at a level to start a marathon training plan by the time I get back... Any suggestions for Feb/March races? So far the LA Marathon looks like my best bet...

The next update will be from half a world away as the EndorphinBuzzer visits Shanghai/China.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back on track

After a somewhat lazy training week last week (all I did was a 5k run!), I decided to create some time in my busy schedule and force myself to get out there and train for a bit. Just with today's 10k, I am already at twice the mileage of last week :)

The weather report said scattered showers and the road was wet under an overcast sky when I left. However, I didn't get wet and even got some sunshine. In fact, by the time I was done, the sun was out in full force!
The run itself was pretty uninspiring. I wanted to log a few miles and hoped I could do a tempo run, however the legs didn't have it in them this morning. I still managed a respectable 48m for a 10k run. Not wanting to deal with mud and puddles, I went to the Palladium Auto Park, which is an almost perfect 1k loop with a generous sidewalk. Nobody's ever walking there either so I usually get the whole thing to myself. There were a few car shoppers out today, so the economy must be doing better.
The laps were a bit uneven but it felt good to get out there and move a bit. My second split is faster by 37 seconds. I think that's a good thing :)
  • 00:04:35
  • 00:04:41
  • 00:05:04
  • 00:05:00
  • 00:04:47
  • 00:04:39
  • 00:04:33
  • 00:04:35
  • 00:04:58
  • 00:04:45
In the mix today were the awesome Lost Fingers with their Rendez-Vous Rose.

Friday, October 2, 2009

We Won!

Actually, since it was a charity event, everybody wins!! That being said my department came in strong for our first year participating in the health challenge with first male finisher, first female finisher and 5 spots in the top 10!! I came in at #18 (of ~150) with a time of 22:31.5.

When I got to the site, the first thing I noticed, beside the frigid temperature, was that there were some pretty fast people. I'm talking running up and down, doing all kinds of weird stretching/jumping exercises fast people. I knew I wouldn't win for sure. Then the announcer got on the mike to let us know that it was partially a trail run and that some obstacles (trees amongst other things) were blocking parts of the path. He gave everyone a free pass for not PB'ing under these conditions: "We are not even sure the course is exactly 5km!".

Then the start siren came out of nowhere and we all started along. It was quite a fast start with everybody angling for their respective places. The course followed the street for a while and then we headed for the trails where things got twisty and slippery.

I hadn't run a trail at all this season so this was refreshing. I was really glad to follow someone going roughly the same speed as me. It would have been hard to pass someone in the forest and he was able to scout the trail for me. My only worry was keeping up.

Once I got out of the woods, I was able to increase my pace a bit and run side by side with my friendly leader from the wood for a while. Then I saw people ahead and decided to go fishing and reel them in. I think I was able to overtake one or two runners before heading over to the finish line. With about 250m to go, I realized someone was challenging me so I turned the afterburners on and had a really strong finish (first time I get yellow in the speed heatmap afaik).

I'm really happy about my run. I had a bit of soreness in the ankle in the morning before the run but after warming up I didn't feel it anymore. It's not really a PB, although being my first chipped 5k so it may count as that. My Garmin agreed with my colleague's that the course was 5.15k. The reception under the trees in the forest may have introduced a bit of error...

Lap times:
  • 4:01
  • 4:35
  • 4:41
  • 4:16
  • 4:24
We'll definitively be back next year for another crack at the trophy that we didn't get since it is based on amount of participants (being a charity) rather than speed.