Friday, September 21, 2007

Taper update from Chengdu, China

Greetings from Chengdu. It is Saturday mid-morning and I have been in China for six days now. It has been an extremely interesting experience to this point. I am pleased to say that I am pretty much on track with my taper plan, despite being in a totally foreign environment and working with a compressed schedule.

One thing we experienced marathoners all know is that you must retain some degree of control of your schedule; we need to meticulously plan and hit the runs. Business travel to China has provided me a good challenge in this area. My work is going reasonably well and I have been running as planned.

I arrived in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon (middle of the night Sat Chicago time). I was determined to complete my week after a killer 20-miler on Friday. I had 59 miles before I left Chicago and was hoping to get to 64. The flight from Chicago was 14+ hours.

Upon arrival, I hit the hotel treadmill after a 20-hour trip with virtually no sleep and severe jet lag. The gym was very hot and humid and I could only muster 4 miles. This would total 63 miles for the week. I grabbed a light dinner in the hotel and crashed at 8PM.

Monday was a planned rest day from running. I was scheduled to meet my boss for this assignment who runs our Asia Pacific Procurement team and head to our local office. I woke up around 4:00 AM. Around 5:45 AM, I took a walk around the hotel in Shanghai. That night, we had an interesting dinner in downtown Shanghai and looked out over the Yangtze River. Very colorful and bright signs illuminate the sky in what is a very Western-friendly, cosmopolitan global city.

Tuesday, I was up and at ‘em again early in Shanghai. During Monday morning’s walk, I decided my immediate surroundings in Shanghai were not runner friendly. I headed back to the gym, which didn’t open until 6AM. I was waiting at the door at 5:50AM. I was hoping to simulate 6x600m repeats at 5k pace on the tread like I would the track. I was pressed for time – I needed to be in the lobby at 7:15 AM with my luggage to meet my team to head to the airport. I lost about 12 minutes due to a power failure, which the staff needed to fix. I finished with 5 miles, which incl. the repeats as well as 8-minutes on the elliptical.

Wednesday, I woke up in Chengdu. This is “home base” for my assignment. My hotel, the Shangri-La, is located right along the Main river in Chengdu. There is a path that is popular for joggers and walkers. Chengdu is much more conducive to running than the large, cramped city of Shanghai. I had a very solid 7-miler along the river and observed .

Our Chinese business partners invited us a very authentic banquet on Wednesday lunchtime. Some of you know I work in the alcoholic beverage business. Our partners own a prominent, high-end brand of Chinese white spirit. At a banquet, Chinese tradition is to toast your guest and do what I can best described as mini-shots of 52% grain alcohol beverage together. So, I was toasted about 9 times at lunch and fired the shots back – then went to our scheduled business meeting at 2:30 PM. Quite interesting….

Thursday, I did a 5-mile recovery on the river path. On Friday, I had my best run since leaving Chicago. I completed 8 strong miles – the final two of which were on par with marathon pace.

The stares I get from the locals during my runs are interesting. They see this tall, extremely white dude with iPod and Garmin chugging through their Chinese city. I’ve noticed the occasional random dog and dead rat during my runs. Although the early morn temps are reasonably comfortable (i.e. high 60’s w/ a delicate breeze), the humidity level is fairly high. I am soaked after these runs.

I slept into today and headed to brunch. I will do an easy 5-mile recovery around noontime.

I moved my final two long runs to Sundays to sync up with marathon day. Tomorrow, I will rise early to knock out a 17-miler throughout the city of Chengdu. I will take some cash and a printed Chinese hotel card in case I get lost and need to taxi home. My only concern about tomorrow is hydration. It was inevitable I would forget something, and I didn’t think to bring my water belt. I will need to find some c-stores out in Chengdu as I run through the city for Gatorade.

Plan for this week is to complete a total of 47 miles after tomorrow’s long run. 15 days til the Chicago Marathon.


Darrell said...

Congrats for having the fortitude to keep with your training and the courage to venture out into unfamiliar territory. I'll keep you in mind on my trip to Panama next month.

Firefly's Running said...

Wow! Interesting post, Ryan. I am gld that you found a runner-friendly path to complete your runs in. Good luck on your 17 miler.

yumke said...

Glad to see it's going well! Running in china!

Fran said...

Good to see the taper is going well. Is there any pollution where you're running?

Running Jayhawk said...

You've got quite the drive, Ryan. Way to keep up with your plan. Did you bring a camera with you? That's so awesome that you get to see all sorts of fun far off places.

...and I know we've had this discussion before...but I want your job. :)

jen said...

Cool Ryan! Thanks for sharing some details of your trip. Sound like Chengdu is pretty decent for running! Great job getting the miles in and staying stress-free about the running. That's hilarious about the drinking and meeting... haha. My meetings are never that fun.

Keep it up and keep us posted! Have fun! :)