I’ve loved running since I came to Asia. Hated it before then, mind. Could never think of anything more stupid. Now though I love it. It’s a time to reflect, get your thoughts in order, have strong creative ideas, get fit and enjoy the endorphin rush at the end – a free high! Anyway, of late I’ve been seriously getting back into it as part of a healthy month involving no booze, plenty of fruits, the odd juice fast and a quarter marathon a day – and, for my sins, I am signing up for the London Marathon. The daily quarter marathon, though repetitive, I now find pretty easy. So yesterday I did something other than my normal flat urban route, heading to the stunning countryside around Binhai Lu in southeastern Dalian. I Google Mapped the route ahead of time.
That run taught me I am not invincible yet -- the proverbial wheels really came off. It was my first big hill run for ages and ages and left me knackered. The rugged park area was incredibly steep and most people get ferried in little electric buggies or at most they walk small down hill stretches. Gumbo here is running for Britain and it’s a scorcher so I take my top off. Things do jiggle on my body, for sure, but it’s a definite improvement over a month ago, the previous day's juice fast and that morning's subsequent ass like a Japanese flag certainly keeping things more trim.
Having risen from sea level to 900 metres -- which is a darn steep old climb -- the road then starts to weave down and down super steep and I'm thinking, “Oh ok, I've seen Google Maps, this will get to the coast then I'll be able to whizz left along the coast and back home.” Anyway, I'm running and running, down and down, even overtaking these electric buggies. Now running downhill for a lengthy period always makes me uneasy. Running suffers a reverse Newtonism -- what goes down, must go up. Anyway I get to the bottom where there's a couple of hundred people queuing up to take them back up the hill. They all applaud as I go past them … then disaster strikes. Google Maps in China is, of course, out of date the minute the satellite passes by. There's a huge great construction site where my road back home should have been. It's blocked off which means I have to go back the way I came. Gingerly I turn around, knowing there's 200 pair of eyes on me. It's now a face thing, I know I've got to pony up, look nonchalant and get cracking. I set off, muscles already screaming, and get up half way back up this incredible hill, out of sight of the crowd at the bottom who have cheered me on, taking pictures and videos of this giant, hairy beast, before I walk – or more rather hobble - the remaining 6 clicks or so. The London Marathon mercifully is still seven months away.