invisible mosquitoes and stone lions

Today, I ran, for the first time since… oh my. Since Madrid in June? Unless you count running down a mountain trail in the Pyrenees with James last week (which was very naughty of me as I had been whinging about how I was too exhausted and my legs hurt too much to walk up any further, and when he gave in and we turned around, I promptly ran the couple of kilometres back to the car. I digress.).

To be honest I have found the last few days exhausting and haven’t even pretended to think about exercising. But late last night I read this incredibly inspiring blog post [Disclaimer: I promise it’s a fun blog despite the torrent of identical self-portraits and the weight watchers thing], and suddenly felt the motivation all over again. So I gathered up my running gear and dumped it where I would have to stumble over it in the morning: running was going to happen.

My building’s gym is not terribly spectacular, and contrary to my expectations was the ONLY place not blasting arctic A/C. After a few false starts on the dreadmill, I managed to pull out 3km (I only had a limited amount of time) and turn my favourite shade of puce. Not a spectacular time either, but it felt ok, other than the mosquitoes that attacked first my front thighs, then my back thighs, then my knees, my lower back and finally my shins. I kept trying to slap and scratch my legs (a treadmill thrill) but then when I stopped, there wasn’t a single bite to be seen. Soooo I guess I’m really out of shape or something and my legs freaked out? Other bizarre treadmill effect: staring head-on at my legs in the mirror whilst running, they began to look like the back of my legs, as if the top of me was facing forwards and the bottom facing backwards… trippy.

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Work involved taking a Chinese delegation to a Ministry of Something-or-Other and being put on the spot with my interpreting skills. Chinese words now in my vocabulary: nanotechnology and titanium dioxide. After the meeting we went on a quick tour of “buildings Colombo is proud of showing Chinese delegates” — Independence Square (celebrating throwing off those dirty British colonialists), where these lions made me happy:

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And then a Exhibition Hall, a theatre, and the new houses of Parliament, which were all built and donated to Sri Lanka by the Chinese in the last 20-30 years. Who knew the Chinese were so generous? Apparently the first President of Sri Lanka was super chummy with Deng Xiao Ping. Every day’s a school day eh.

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i ran and it was amazing and i died and went to heaven

Well not the last bit, obviously. Sorry, please bear with me whilst I go through the honeymoon phase all over again with running. I’m being reunited with a long-lost lover (not that I would know how that feels… right). I sat more or less patiently through the last five months — was it really five months ago that I cried at a Friday night bash and was comforted/scolded by various other runners who told me three months’ rest was nothing (hah! had I known it would be five months…)? So I foresee that there are going to be a few really boring posts detailing my slow and sweaty runs, blow by blow.

This is where I ran tonight:
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And this is what I ran to, on repeat, perfect match:

I ran up to Songshan Station and along the river, because I knew I needed absolutely flat terrain. Even jogging down a couple of ramps over the course of the run made my injuries uncomfortable — I need to build up the muscles above my knees. I ran 5km in 28 minutes (yuh-huh, that is respectable for me right now) and then physically melted from the heat and dehydration, despite taking off my t-shirt to run in my bra. I paused at the Rainbow Bridge 7-11 for an icy-cold bottle of water, and sat in the window where every single passer-by gaped in unadulterated horror at my purple face (I’d put my top back on specially, so I’m guessing it was definitely my face they were staring at).

I understand why people stare. No, I don’t know why I go so red when I run either.
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I built back up slowly after my water-break, but was back in the flow soon enough and had some awesome sprinty moments — both my last 2 kilometres were at a 5:30min/km pace (5:23min and 5:34min respectively. YES YOU CARE ABOUT MY SPLITS). I cannot express how tremendous that is for me, after 5 months off, when I was never a spectacular runner before. I felt absolutely incredible as I ran them — like I was going to explode. Oh runner’s high, how I’ve missed you… Seems appropriate to have had such a great experience, given that today is National Running Day!

Ok. Bets are on. How long till I injure myself again?

This is how I like myself the most, complete with rubbish bin in the background, because I know how amazing I feel. Totally-unattractive-to-anyone-but-myself vanity picture. I’m not ashamed!
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and the running girl runs

Oh how I have missed running! Up to about a year ago this blog used to be 90% documenting my runs. I guess it’s been good that I took a break and made more of an effort to write about other things… Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve been pretty active, hiking and river-trekking and for the most part doing ok. This Sunday I’m doing my last China Hash run — it’s being aggressively promoted on Facebook and to be honest sounds amazing (although isn’t that the whole point of promotion…) — and I want to run it, not walk it. I know that I can’t expect to run terribly well, especially as it always involves LOTS of hills and steps, but I thought I’d check in with my running this morning and see where I stood.

As you can see, I stood a little shocked and very red in the face, even 20 minutes after I got home…
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My housemate Dan advised me to try Nangang Park for a mostly flat route. It’s bordered by the tempting hills of Houshanpi, but whilst I stopped to examine them, the trails were pretty much just stairs x1,000,000 (or 100,0000 if you’re Chinese). I walked there (well actually I couldn’t resist and ran most of it) and then ran around the park a couple of times. I’d just returned to my starting point at the park when I hit 3km on the run, and was thinking of walking home, when Die Antwoord came on and Ninja said something incredibly deep like “Jou ma se poes in en fishpaste jar” which shamed me into at least TRYING to run home. So I unpaused Runkeeper and ran all the way home, with a detour in the park to bump the running part of my route up to 5km.

So yah, I ran about 6km this morning. I’m at a hilariously barely-faster-than-walking pace of 7min/km… but you know I’m just so glad to be running again. I stretched and iced when I got home, and I will make sure I do the same on Sunday after the Hash. I know from experience that the first run after a long break is always fairly decent, and that it’s the second, third, fourth…. all the other runs after that in fact, for about a month, or maybe 6 weeks, that really suck. I also know from experience that it’s the first 5km of a run that suck the hardest. So my expectations for Sunday are pretty low… just finish without aggravating my knees. My tibia/shin-bone seems (touch wood) to be healed.