Planned Workouts and scheduled races

Every Wednesday: Bigfoot Cycle Workout (Dali) 5:15 am
Every Saturday: Bigfoot Swim Workout (Dali) 6:00 am

8/28 Vision Bigfoot Duathlon (Qingshui) 8:00 am
9/4 Taiwan P.E. University Cup 5000m 4:00 pm
10/1 Beauty of Taidong Triathlon (Olympic Distance) 8:00 am
10/30 Gaomei Wetland Marathon (Qingshui) - (Marathon distance) 6:00 am
11/5 NeverStop West Coast Bike Race (200km) 5:00 am *
11/13 Taoyuan National Marathon (Marathon distance) - TBA 11/20 Mizono Marathon Relay
12/18 Fubon Taipei Marathon (Marathon distance) 7:00 am (Boston Marathon qualifying attempt)

* reconsidering the NeverStop race due to the date change to November, which would result in four race weekends (perhaps five if the Supau Cup is on 11/27) in a row.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ride up to Wuling

Geographic Center of Taiwan - the starting point of today's ride

My first ride up to Wuling on Hehuan Mountain today went rather well. Went with the Bigfoot boys. After driving in the support van from Taichung to Puli, we unloaded, made sure our bikes were prepared and we had enough water and fuel to make it up. It was a beautiful morning and I was ready to get going. We set off at about 6:40.

A shot from early in the ride along Taiwan Route 14

To be honest, I was expecting the first 40 kilometers of the ride to be more difficult than it was. To be sure, it was a climb and there were some moderately steep areas of it, but it was a lot like the ride from Dongshi to Guguan - though a bit longer. With endurance, it was actually not all that difficult.

I took up the rear from the beginning, but by the half-way point, I passed a couple of the guys who started up pretty early on. I was feeling pretty good and really was not feeling fatigued.

Beautiful scenery from along Taiwan Route 14-A (甲)

It started getting more difficult about 40 kilometers into the ride. I am not sure if it was that it was getting steeper or that fatigue was starting to set in (probably a little bit of both), but the work was getting harder. I was still going pretty well. I was passing a lot of riders from other groups (there were a lot of riders out today), including two more of our guys. Still, the quads were starting to feel a little strained, but as I saw my cycle computer clicking off the kilometers, I knew I was getting closer to the destination.

At about 50 kilometers, it really got hard. I saw some switchbacks that led to the entrance to the Taroko Gorge National Park (which I thought was the end point). I pushed up, along with a guy from Taipei I met along the later part of the ride. However, once I got there, though there were lots of people hanging out, taking pictures, and otherwise enjoying the beautiful day, I found out that there were still two kilometers of tough climbing to do.

After a quick refuel and conversation with Andrew (the guy from Taipei), we set back off. Just took it one pedal stroke at a time as the top of the ridge grew ever nearer.

Got to the top and was surprised to break four hours (if just barely) on my first attempt to make the ascent up Wuling.

Me with Andrew at the top

Looking down the Hualian side of the ridge

Group shot with the guys who made it to the top (and our support van driver)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dadu Ridge morning ride

Like many riders, the recent spate of afternoon thundershowers has put a damper on many a riding plan. I decided to get out early this morning and start the week with a little hills work. I went on a short course I had never done before to see how it would go. I started on Xiangshang 向上 Road and once it got past the expressway, it opened up pretty nicely and the climb up Dadu Ridge began in earnest.

Looking up the hill along Xiangshang Road

A little further on up the climb

It isn't a very steep climb, but it is fairly steady, lasting for a good five-six kilometers. Looking back, the view toward downtown and the Central Mountain Range beyond was quite nice.

Looking back from near the top of the morning climb on Zhonglong (Taichung-Longjing) Road

A small temple along Zhonglong Road

Lookout out over Taichung Harbor and the Taiwan Strait from the top of Dadu Ridge

I descended some after reaching the top of the ridge, but looking at the maps last night, I decided to turn on Zhongxing Road. I am not familiar with this side of the ridge, so although it wasn't as far down as I wanted to go today, I really didn't want to go into unfamiliar territory on a Monday morning. I will map scout further down and try it again another day.

Came back down on Zhonggang Road then Huanzhong to Shizheng. Usual morning traffic, but it moved nicely except for a couple of buses I had to navigate around. A great way to start the week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Round Taichung Photo Narrative

This past Wednesday, I hit the road on my bicycle with the goal of riding through all of Taichung's 29 districts, in addition to a ride to Guguan, in one day. It was a beautiful morning when I set out, as you can see from the photo below. Seasonably warm, but not too bad with enough clouds to keep it from getting too hot, at least in the early going.

5:06 am - First district crossing as I crossed into South District on Zhongming South Road.

The first hour was spent primarily in the urban core districts, so the going was rather slow. Some of the areas were in areas I don't normally go in, so I got to see things I haven't seen in a while and some new things that are being built in the urban districts.

Looking down the Liu River in downtown Taichung

Looking out toward the mountains from Ziyou Road. The tall building is the old Jinsha Building, the sight of a tragic restaurant fire several years ago. It is still closed.

The old city-hall built during the Japanese era.

The ram from the National Latern Festival a few years ago at Taichung Park

Construction of an elevated railray section near Taiyuan station in Beitun District

Han River in Beitun District

After about fifty minutes in urban districts, I was finally getting onto some relatively open road after the Han River. I rode through to Tanzi District, then through Fengyuan, Shigang, and Dongshi districts. It was turning out to be an absolutely beautiful morning for a ride and I was able to get going pretty well once not having to deal with red lights every two minutes.
The construction of a new elevated highway in Tanzi District.

Taichung branch of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Hospital. Too bad the elevated highway is going BETWEEN the two buildings of the hospital! That's Taichung's city government for you.

Temple in the distance seen from Route 3 in Shigang District

Mountains from the Dongshi Bridge over the Dajia River along the border of Shigang and Dongshi districts

Arriving in Dongshi (one of my favorite places in the city) marked the beginning of 34 kilometers on Taiwan Route 8 up to Heping District and Guguan, known for its scenic beauty and hot spring resorts. The ride is almost entirely uphill, but not really very difficult. It is just a long ride and if you are not fit, that is more of a challenge than the actual elevation gain.

There was some light rain going up in both Dongshi and Heping. While the light rain was actually rather refreshing, I was rather concerned about the possible effect coming back down. Speed and wet on a bicycle are not a good mix.

Beware of falling rocks

Clouds floating around the mountains

Clouds in the mountains over the Dajia River

More beautiful scenery along Taiwan Route 8

I reached Guguan just after 8 in the morning after riding nearly 70 kilometers. I actually felt really good when I got up there. None the worse for wear, which was a good thing as I had the most imposing climb of the day just one hour ahead. I stopped for a short while to get some photos and stopped at a local vendor (which seemed to double as a betel nut stand and a small local restaurant) to restock on liquids (Supau and water). After taking in the scenery, off I was back down the mountain. Fortunately, the sun had come out and pretty much dried off the road so I could descend at a reasonably brisk pace.

My turnaround point after the first tunnel in Guguan. Next time I come up here, I will climb much further.

The valley from Guguan

Looking toward Xinshi from Long'an Bridge

I descended to the Long'an Bridge in Dongshi which crosses the Dajia River. This was used by Stage Five of the Tour de Taiwan earlier this spring and the mountain climb to the "down"town part of Xinshi District was the main climb of the stage. I have to say, the climb went much easier for me this time than the last time I did this climb in April. I am becoming a better climber, which is good given that it looks like I am going to do the race in Nantou next month. It did rain during the ascent and when I got to the 'KOM' marker (still painted in the road), it was a feeling of elation. The climb isn't as long as the climb to Guguan, but it is much steeper with numerous switchbacks. Fortunately, the traffic was light and the few motor vehicles I did encounter gave me plenty of space to make my attack on the mountain.

Looking up at the hill to climb and the switchbacks in the road

1 kilometer to the top of the mountain


Overlooking downtown Taichung from Xinshe District

I got into downtown Xinshe at about 9:30. After four and a half hours of riding, I was ready to eat a second breakfast, so I stopped at a local breakfast shop for a Taiwanese-style breakfast sandwich. After eating, I made my descent down into Dakeng. Again, fortune shined on me as it was not raining on this side of the mountain so I was able to descend in the dry. There was a car in front of me, so I just paced off it, keeping enough distance for safety. Fortunately, the car behind me realized what I was doing and made no effort to pass me. The descent (also used in the Tour de Taiwan) is quite technical, but if you focus on the turns ahead and not the space immediately in front of you, it is actually quite a fun descent back into Beitun District.

Taiwanese-style pork breakfast sandwich

Overlooking the river on the boundary between Beitun and Taiping districts

Coming down into Dakeng, I stayed on route 129 through Beitun and over into Taiping and Dali districts. The traffic in these part of these two districts is much less than in the more urban parts of the districts. The ride went pretty smoothly, though I had a hard time finding my road from Dali to Wufeng districts. Just by luck and asking a local, I was able to stay on the road to Jifeng Elementary school in Wufeng and make the turn toward Wuri district and what I would come to call the "Southern Cross" from the mountainous eastern part of the city to the western side nearer the coast.

In Wufeng, I stopped at a betel nut stand to get some water and Supau. These places are great for cyclists as we don't have to worry about our bicycles. I was at a small locally-run grocery a minute earlier but he wouldn't let me take my bicycle in with me like most convenience stores do (and I had decided that I would avoid the convenience stores as much as possible on this ride to support local businesses) so I stopped at the roadside stand a minute later to refill on liquids.

A narrow road in Dali District which, while the correct road, almost caused me to get lost.

The same elevated highway under construction from earlier, this stretch in Wufeng District

World War II-vintage tanks under the Taichung-Changhua expressway in Wuri District. Pointed the wrong way though -- they should be pointed toward the west.

After the "Southern Cross" I made my way over to Taiwan Route 1 (I know, Michael Turton would kill me for this decision) and made my way through Dadu and Longjing districts, in both cases veering off route one to go through the downtown sections of the districts. By the time I got into Dadu, it was getting pretty hot. I had put on some sunscreen in Wuri and it was getting a bit uncomfortable. Then, some light rain in Dadu which cooled things off just enough to help out. Slow going due to lights, but was feeling pretty good. I proceeded to through through Shalu and Qingshui (the sight of a duathlon I will run next month) to go to Dajia district in the northwest part of the city.

I was looking for a local shop to buy some more water and Supau, but seeing none, I had to break down and stop at a 7-11 for re-supply in Qingshui District.

Welcoming sign to Longjing District - the first character in the district name means 'Dragon', hence the dragon motif

Leafy greens in Shalu District (ignore the pink clouds - color on my camera was messing up)

Bridge to Dajia District over the Dajia River

Fieldside temple guarding the crops in Da'an District

From Dajia District, I took a side road over to the northwestern-most district in the city, the rural Da'an District. I saw several small fieldside temples which are common in rural areas of Taiwan to protect the fields. Along with Mazu and other spirits that help sea-farers, such spirits are very important to the traditions of Taiwan and its rural populace.

Bowl of noodles in Dajia district

I then rode back into Dajia. It was about 1:30 and I was ready to eat. I wanted fried noodles, but I was having a hard time finding it. I found a little local shop next to the train station and while the bowl above is not exactly what I was looking for, it was actually quite good. Anyway, I love fresh noodles. Just keep those instant noodles from 7-11 away from me thank you very much.

By the time I finished lunch, it had started raining lightly outside. This was not unexpected, but at 2:00, it was a bit earlier than it had started the past few days. I was hoping it was stay light for a while, at least until I got down the ridge in Houli after climbing it in Waipu. Looking toward the east, I say that wasn't likely and then as I entered Waipu, I heard thunder and saw lightning. I put my camera in the plastic bag I brought and prepared for the worst. About half way up the hill in Waipu, the heavens simply opened up. It wasn't raining 'cats and dogs', it was more like 'blue whales and large dinosaurs'. We have had some intense storms the past few days, but I think this was the most intense storm of the year so far. It didn't affect the climb at all but once I finished the climb and crossed into Houli, I had to be careful on the descent. No problems and made it to Taiwan Route 13 to begin the final push for home.

Sign for Waipu District

Rain on Houjia (Houli-Dajia) Road just after passing into Houli District

In reality, rain doesn't bother me all that much, especially at this time of year. I was more worried about the slippery white lines and the effect of the rain on my brakes more than on me, personally. I did limit my picture taking, though, as I really did not want to take my digital camera out of the bag.

I proceeded southward back to Taichung on Taiwan Route 13, but I had to take a short detour once I got to Fengyuan. I took Fengyuan Avenue over to Taiwan Route 10 to get in two more districts - Shen'gang District and Daya District - before getting onto Taiwan Route 1-C back into the old urban part of the city to finish my ride. By the time I got into Daya, the rain had stopped again. Even though I had ridden more than 200km at this point, I was feeling pretty good. The only thing that kept me from picking up the pace at this point was the wet roads.

The new city hall in Xitun District

I got into Xitun District and road past the new City Hall. It opened up last December with the merger of the city and county into a "provincial (sic)-level municipality" (not going into the political implications of that here). I haven't been inside it yet, but from the outside, it looks pretty impressive.

I then got onto Wenxin Road to get in my last district, and while it was a little out of the way, you have to get the Wanhe Temple into any historical itinary of the city, so I took the short ride down there. Just as I crossed Shizheng Road into Nantun, it started pouring again. Didn't bother me at all. I was already soaked anyway and it wasn't like I was going to push the pace in this part of the city.

Wanhe Temple in one of the oldest parts of the city. Great for history buffs like myself.

As I was approaching the Wanhe Temple, I heard an explosion behind me as I was waiting for the light at Nantun Road. I knew an IED wasn't exactly likely, but was able to identify what it was immediately on looking back. Some local eatery's stove had just exploded. Smoke was billowing out from it. While it scared the crap out of me, I am sure it was more startling to the proprietor of the business. Fortunately, based on how he was frantically putting out the smoke, he seemed perfectly all right.

After getting a shot of the temple, I rode home. I made my obligatory stop at Mr. Wish to get some delicious, fresh, Taiwanese green tea.

230.5 kilometers; 29 districts; total time: 11 hours 40 minutes

On this trip, I got so see some areas I had not been to before. The two districts I had never been to before (Waipu and Da'an) saw their first visit by yours truly. For all of my complaints of the local government, I love Taichung and its people. As always, I met wonderful people on the entire trip. The scenery, especially in the mountains, was first class. Really a wonderful day which I punctuated with a 2 1/2-hour nap after getting home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Round Taichung Ride - Timeline

Mountains from route 8 riding from Dongshi to Guguan

This is the timeline for today's bike ride - total of 230.5 kilometers

photo narrative will be posted tomorrow and friday

4:00 Wake-up and eat breakfast

5:00 set off - start in West District (1)

5:05 enter South District (2)

5:11 re-enter West District

5:20 enter Central District (3)

5:25 enter North District (4)

5:28 enter East District (5)

5:35 enter Beitun District (6)

5:52 enter Tanzi District (7)

6:00 17.9 kilometers

6:02 enter Fengyuan District (8)

6:25 enter Shigang District (9)

6:42 enter Dongshi District (10)

7:00 41.6 kilometers

7:19 enter Heping District (11)

8:00 65.9 kilometers

8:05 enter Guguan

8:09 turn around

8:16 get Supau at local shop

8:56 re-enter Dongshi District

9:00 92.2 kilometers

9:08 enter Xinshe District (12)

9:21 reached King of the Mountain marker (from Tour de Taiwan)

9:39 stopped for second breakfast in Xinshe

9:48 set off again toward Dakeng

9:49 re-enter Beitun

10:05 112.9 kilometers

10:12 enter Taiping District (13)

10:38 enter Dali District (14)

10:47 enter Wufeng District (15)

10:58 get water and Supau at local bing-lang stand

11:00 131.1 kilometers

11:12 enter Wuri District (16)

11:57 enter Dadu District (17)

12:00 149.9 kilometers

12:17 enter Longjing District (18)

12:30 enter Shalu District (19)

12:43 enter Wuqi District (20)

12:48 enter Qingshui District (21)

12:52 stop at 7-11 for water and Supau

12:58 resume after filling up bottles

13:00 168.4 kilometers

13:23 enter Dajia District (22)

13:29 enter Da-an District (23)

~13:40 re-enter Dajia District

13:50 stop at local noodle shop for lunch

14:04 resume trip

14:18 enter Waipu District (24)

14:40 enter Houli District (25)

14:52 cycle computer died in the rain at 198.5 kilometers

15:04 re-enter Fengyuan District

15:08 enter Shen-gang District (26)

15:15 enter Daya District (27)

15:32 enter Xitun District (28)

16:00 enter Nantun District (29)

16:30 re-enter West District

16:39 stop at Mr. Wish for tea

16:40 HOME!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Round Taichung Ride - Preview

Map of Wednesday's planned ride

Wednesday - I have a rather ambitious challenge planned. Make a bike ride through each of Taichung's twenty-nine districts. I plan to set off at about 5:00 am and with an optional ride up to Dakeng (a decision that will be made once I reach Heping depending largely on the weather as if it is raining, I will have to lengthen my trip to get down from Xinshe) will total about 242 kilometers.

Here is the planned route with kilometer estimates. The route is subject to change.

0.0 HOME – 精誠路 西區(1) West District
0.2 Right onto 忠明南路
1.8 Cross 南屯路 南區 (2) South District
2.2 Left onto 三民西路
2.7 Cross 美村路 西區
3.4 Right onto 自由路 (136)
4.9 Left onto 民權路 中區 (3) Central District
5.2 Right onto 三民路
5.9 Cross 公園路 北區 (4) North District
6.0 Veer right onto 精武路
6.4 Right onto 雙十路
6.8 Left onto自由路 東區 (5) East District
7.9 Left onto 南京東路
8.8 Cross 自強街24巷 北屯區 (6) Beitun District
10.8 Right onto 東光路892巷
11.1 Left onto 東山路50巷
11.2 Right onto東山路
13.1 Left onto 軍功路
14.8 Veer right onto 豐興路 潭子區 (7) Tanzi District
18.4 Becomes 鎌村路 豐原區 (8) Fengyuan District
19.8 Becomes 田心路
20.2 Right onto 豐原大道
23.9 Right onto 台3線
27.0 Crosses into 石岡區 (9) Shigang District
33.6 Cross 大甲溪 東勢區 (10) Dongshi District
33.8 Right onto 台8線
48.6 Crosses into 和平區 (11) Heping District
67.6 Optional ride to 谷關
67.6 Turn around
84.7 Back into東勢區
91.0 Left onto 龍安橋
91.1 Cross大甲溪 新社區 (12) Xinshe District
91.7 Right onto 豐埔產業道路
93.4 Veer right onto 興和產業道路
109.4 Left onto 協中街
114.2 Merge into 東山街 (129)
114.4 Becomes 東山路 (129) 北屯區
122.5 Veer left onto 中興巷 (129)
122.9 Becomes 部子路 (129)
123.8 Veer left onto 部子巷
124.4 Veer left onto 北坑巷
125.2 Merge onto 太原路 (129)
125.3 Becomes 廓子巷 (129)
125.9 Becomes 大興路 (129) 太平區 (13) Taiping District
127.7 Turn left onto 中山路 (129)
129.7 Left on 東平路 (136/129)
130.2 Cross 一江橋
130.4 Right onto 光興路 (129)
135.0 Becomes 健民路 大里區 (14) Dali District
135.4 Veer right onto 健東路
137.1 Becomes 民生路(小溪後) 霧峰區(15) Wufeng District
137.4 Right onto民生路 (國小後)
140.0 Right onto 萊圓路
140.3 Becomes 四德路 (127)
144.2 Becomes 太明路 烏日區 (16) Wuri District
145.4 Veer right onto太明北路
146.2 Merge into 溪南路 (127)
149.6 Veer left onto 溪南橋 (127)
150.2 Left onto 環河路
156.5 Right onto台1線(沙田路)大肚區 (17) Dadu District
162.2 Veer left off 台1線 to stay on沙田路
164.5 Merges back onto台1線
165.3 Cross river into 龍井區 (18) Longjing District
165.6 Veer right off 台1線 to stay on沙田路
170.4 Turn left onto 中興路(136)沙鹿區 (19) Shalu District
170.5 Cross river into 龍井區 (136)
170.7 Cross river into沙鹿區 (136)
171.1 Cross river into 龍井區 (136)
171.6 Turn right onto台1線 (中華路)
171.6 Cross river into 悟妻區 (20) Wuqi District
175.1 Cross 大勇路 清水區 (21) Qingshui District
179.9 Merge onto 中山路 -台1線
182.4 Veer right off台1線to stay on中山路
183.9 Merge back onto台1線 –大甲溪大橋
185.0 Cross 大甲溪 大甲區 (22) Dajia District
185.3 Becomes 中山路
185.7 Left on 東安路
Becomes 中山南路 – 大安區 (23) Da'an District
188.9 Right onto 中松路
191.4 Left on 大安港路 (132)
192.5 Right on 南北七路
192.6 Right on 東西八路
193.8 Cross 南北五路 – 大甲區
196.6 Cross on台1線 – 新大安溪橋
196.6 Turn right on中山路
198.9 Left onto 民生路
199.0 Becomes 甲后路 (132)
199.9 Crosses into 外埔區 (24) Waipu District
205.1 Cross 高鐵 – 后里區 (25) Houli District
211.2 To 后里火車站
211.2 Right onto 圳寮路
211.4 Left onto 梅里路
211.6 Becomes 大山路
212.6 Left onto 台13線 (三豐路)
215.4 Cross 大甲溪 豐原區
217.8 Right onto 圓環西路 -台13線
219.4 Right onto台10線 – 中正路
220.7 Becomes 中山路 – 申岡區 (26) Shengang District
222.1 Veer left onto 民生路 - 台10線
223.1 Becomes民生路四段 - 大雅區 (27) Daya District
226.7 Left onto 中清南路
227.6 Becomes 中清路 – 西屯區 (28) Xitun District
229.7 Right onto 環中路
233.3 Left onto 青海路
233.7 Right onto 黎明路
234.3 Left onto 中港路
235.9 Right onto 文心路
236.7 Cross 市政路 南屯區 (29) Nantun District
238.2 Right onto 向心路
238.5 Right onto 五權西路
239.0 Left on 萬和路
239.3 Left on 南屯路 (136)
240.9 Left on 精誠路
241.5 Cross五權西路 – 西區

242.4 HOME

USA fights off Brazil, refs to make semis

Soccer is a great sport played by great athletes - male and female. However, the sport has long been marred by controversial officiating and decisions. The U.S. men's national team has been the victim of horrible calls in recent years - the uncalled German handball on the goal-line in 2002, the uncalled foul on Ghana which led to elimination in 2006 and the two disallowed goals in 2010 on awful offsides calls. However, what happened in yesterday's Women's World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil just well may take the cake.

Red Card and Penalty Retake

In the 65th minute, with the USA leading 1-0, Brazilian striker Marta is pushing into the penalty area with Rachel Buehler apparently having position shielding the ball. Both make contact and there seems to be jersey pulling by both. Should have clearly been a no-call. Yet, not only is a penalty called against Buehler (resulting in a Brazil penalty kick), Buehler was shown a red card, forcing the United States to play short-handed for the remainder of the match.

Then, Hope Solo made an amazing save on the subsequent penalty kick. However, she was called for coming off her line before the kick. It should be noted that some have claimed that an American was called for encroachment. It is true that one American player entered the box a fraction of a second before the kick, but have you ever seen that called? It happens all the time. (Without the referees report, we don't really know what was called) There was slight movement on her part before the kick, but was actually very modest, something that in decades I have never seen called. Solo was given a yellow card, the kick was retaken and made, tying the match at 1-1. Both plays can be seen on this YouTube link.

Thrilling Game-Tying goal

Abby Wombach scored a thrilling goal in the second minute of extra time added time to tie the match at 2-2 and send the match into a penalty kick tiebreaker. This despite the stalling and delaying tactics that have become such a hallmark of Brazilian football over the past twenty years. We have become used to cynical football from the men - fake injuries and diving - but this is the first time it has been seen from the women who were desparate to keep a short-handed American team off the board. To the delight of most outside of Brazil, it failed.

Spot kicks

Hope Solo is the superior goaltender and Brazil's chances of winning this was never good. However, there was one controversial moment which really reveals the farce of Solo's yellow card on the first spot kick. You can see how little she moved before the kick on that penalty.

On the final kick, the U.S. needed to score to win the match and advance to the semi-finals. Watch this video. Look at all of the movement off the line by the Brazilian keeper. The ref made no move to call her for anything, though the movement was blatant and with how early it was made and how far forward she jumped, clearly illegal. No call. Not biased? You be the judge.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jieren Cup Marathon Relay

2011 Jieren Cup National Marathon Relay

July 10, 2011 - my first relay with Bigfoot, though running with a team that was a composite set up by one of our leaders.
Warming up before the race

I really didn't know what to expect as I had not run in six weeks due to a tender ankle. The ankle was still tender and I had it wrapped up in an ankle brace. I was mostly concerned about how it would hold up on the back part of the course, which is downhill - quite steep at times.

Receiving the baton at the start of the second leg

I ran the second leg of the right leg race. Right after getting the baton, I passed a runner who was in front of me. While I got out of the gates quickly, it was a bit of a struggle as, though my fitness was pretty good, I had gotten in no running in six weeks.

Off onto the roads of the Donghai University campus

I shot off. I was already pulling away from the first guy I passed on the leg and it would only be another hundred meters before I reeled in two others. Though I had to force myself on legs that really were sluggish, I was able to get a good pace going.

About 500 meters into the leg is where the long 1300 meter climb hits. Fortunately, my running legs had made an appearance by then, but I was slightly winded. I really had to work hard up the hill to both maintain my pace and keep the breathing going. I was able to do this, and pass a handful of runners in the process.

After the crossover on the top of campus came the downhill part. My ankle was holding up nicely and while I did take it a little easier than normal, I was still making good progress. I was still shadowing the kid from the university division that I had been behind since about 300 meters into the leg (the only person who passed me and stayed ahead of me the entire leg) and ran down with a high schooler who came up on me from behind. Together, we passed a handful of runners and ran nearly stride for stride on most of the downhill.

A little more than 4 km into the leg, it got relatively flat again and I was able to keep my pace going. Legs were feeling good and my breathing was fine. I also was able to pull away from the high schooler (good runner, though) and get past a couple of guys in the company division.

Coming near the 5km mark - about 300m to go

I then came in near the finish. I was feeling good, but with the humidity and the fact that short distances are really not my favorite, I was ready to get the baton on to the next runner. I have become a much better finisher over the past twelve months and was able to get into a good kick by this point.

My cheerleading section

Of course, seeing my two beautiful little angels (and my better half taking photos) also helped me to drive toward the finish line.
150 meters to go with the university student (in blue) who passed me early in the leg and who I was shadowing for most of it.

I put into my final kick to try to give my teammates every second possible. While I have never been a great sprinter (that is why I am a distance runner), I have picked up some speed lately. Still, not a lot today due to lack of speed training. I was still able to hold my position. I was really please to get that baton off to the third runner on the team.

I felt great about today's run. It is a tough course for such a short distance and the lack of training really did not help. Still, great to know that I can still generate a good pace and hang in there at the end. Shows that I don't have that much do to to get back race-ready for the fall season.

Hui-Wen Elementary School team bringing in their last runner

The group that impressed me most today was the 5th graders from Hui Wen Elementary School. There is no elementary school division, so they had to run with the middle schoolers. They were definately getting the support of everyone out there and while they finished last in their division, they did not finish last overall and they were on the top of the standings for the respect they gained today. Congrats kids. Well done.
"I am not afraid, I am very brave"

This is my favorite team name of today's race. I have no idea how they finished and it really doesn't matter. Their team name deserves first place in my book.