Monthly Archives: August 2010

What A Croc!

Pair of Crocs I won in a random drawing at the Dino Race.

Actually, a pair of Crocs! Yesterday I ran the Dino Series 15k at SouthWestway Park. The race was scheduled to be at Town Run Park, but at least part or maybe all of Town Run is inaccessible because of road construction. Since a series race is already scheduled for SouthWestway in October they created an entirely different course for this race. A large part of this race was on narrow single track MTB trails. It was a challenging course. Passing on the single track was very difficult. It was a relatively flat course, except for one hill at mile 8 that seemed to go up forever.  Overall I think I ran about as well as I could have, a little better than I thought I would but not quite as fast as I would have liked. I managed to run fast enough to finish 2nd in my age group. I also won a pair of crocs in the random drawing after the race. They are a smidge too small for me so I think I’ll give them to my co-worker’s daughter who is going to Haiti in October. I had hoped to go to Haiti this fall myself, but can’t since I’ll be in China all fall. Maybe next spring?

Tom and Mike, somewhere in Hendricks County. Mike said I got their good side.

Today I went for a long bike ride with Tom and Mike. It was a gorgeous morning for a ride. Sunny, but not too hot with a slight breeze from the south. We didn’t have a very solid plan for how long we would ride. As it turns out Mike had only planned to do 45 miles which probably explains why we were setting a pretty fast pace. At the turn to finish the 45 mile route Tom and I continued on to do the last part of the 62 mile route.  Earlier in the ride we had cut off about 8 miles of the 62 mile route by staying on the 45 mile route. Anyway, when we returned to Williams Park we had done 54 miles. I ran almost completely out of gas for the last mile or so. About a quarter mile from the park there is a tiny incline which I was barely able to climb. I’m talking like 5 or 10 foot gradual incline. Pathetic.  Good thing we cut off that 8 miles.

Well, nothing to do now but sit back, relax, and recover for the Heart of America Marathon next Monday in Columbia, Missouri. Wish me luck and/or pray for me, I’m going to need it. Actually, I do need to go to the store to get some Hammer Gels. It would be a very ugly marathon indeed without them.

2010 Lighthouse Run

Looking fresh at the start.

My marathon training hasn’t been going very well lately, but yesterday was a great day. I started at my dad’s house at 7am. The weather was good, low 60’s, light cloud cover. I ran north to Bicentennial Park which is a tiny park on the Lake Ontario shore. I then turned east and followed Lakeview Drive and Lower Lake Road to Golden Hill State Park. Along the way I encountered a lion. Lucky for me the lion was in a cage.

I had heard there were bears in the area, but lions?

I later saw a young deer standing in a clearing about 20 yards off the road. I stopped and slowly reached for my camera. The deer stood motionless, but unlike the lion it was live and breathing. As I backed away I started to whistle and make a clicking noise with my mouth. The deer became curious and started to come out of the woods and walk toward me. He looked back toward the trees and then I noticed his sibling also coming out of the woods. As I slowly continued on my run they followed me for about a minute before they decided they would rather stay where they were.

Just call me the deer whisperer.

A short time later I reached my destination; Thirty-Mile Point Lighthouse at Golden Hill State Park. The park was nearly full with campers. As a running destination Golden Hill is awesome for a several reasons. It doesn’t cost anything to enter the park, the lighthouse is pretty cool, and they have a very nice bathroom. I probably could have refilled my camelbak too, but I liked that it was getting lighter.

Thirty-Mile Point Lighthouse.

I snapped a few pictures of the lighthouse, used the clean bathroom (twice actually, before and after pictures) and turned around for the return trip. The return was pretty uneventful. I stopped to take a picture of the street sign at the corner of Quaker and Haight roads. The first Haight’s to settle in Somerset in 1817 were Quakers. I stopped at the convenience store to buy a bottle of water. I also took a detour through the village to take a picture of the house where I lived until I was 10 years old. It looks nothing like it did when I lived there.

Lived here until I was 10. Looks much different now.

Overall it was an awesome run! I’ll have to make this an annual event. Of course just up the road a few miles is another awesome running venue, the Erie Barge Canal Towpath. It is over 300 miles long. I think I would keep it local though, round trip from widewater marina in Lockport to Middleport is about 25 miles. That would be a spectacular weekend, 20 mile lighthouse run on Saturday and Erie Canal on Sunday. Sweet!

Leaving China

Plane on the tarmac at Weifang

I arrived at the Weifang airport at 6:30 for my 8pm flight to Beijing only to find a hand written note on the wall (note to self take pictures of stuff like this, dummy) saying the flight would be delayed until 9:30. Finally at a little past 10pm they announced the flight had been canceled and would be rescheduled for 7:30am the following morning. The airline would bus us to a hotel for the evening. After arriving at the hotel a young man approached me and asked if I spoke English. I said yes and he asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing a room with him. What, share a room? What kind of scam is this? Apparently no scam at all. He said they normally put three to a room in these

Chinese military helicopter, also on the Tarmac at Weifang

situations and since he was traveling alone he needed to find two others. He said I could call him Charles. We entered the hotel lobby and there was plenty of shouting going on. To me it always sounds like the Chinese are yelling at each other in conversation. This time it was noticeably louder. Charles said they were arguing about having to share a room with strangers. Eventually the crowd in the lobby dissipated and Charles, myself and two young ladies were the only ones left. One of the ladies was extremely attractive. Sorry, Charlie, you are on your own, I’ll be rooming with the ladies, LOL. The airline employee handed the attractive lady a room key, she shouted something and stormed off with her friend. Charles said she had said she was going to sue the airline. Good luck with that. Charles and I got a key and made our way up to our room. Turns out Charles was from Weifang and is studying mechanical engineering at Iowa State University. He was flying to Beijing to see a specialist regarding some pain he has been having in his knee. Seems like a long way to go to see a doctor.

Boarding the plane in Weifang

This hotel, The JinBao, was a little more rustic than the MonteRich. The A/C barely worked. Actually, I think Charles turned the A/C off during the night. I guess he is more acclimated to the heat and humidity than I am. The bathroom was one of those where there is no separate shower. There is a shower head up on one wall next to the toilet and the bathroom floor is angled toward a drain. There were no full size towels either, just three hand towels. Nice. They did have packets of shampoo, tiny bars of soap, and flip-flops. I had been on the go since 5am and felt like a giant grease ball so despite the situation the shower was nice. Sleeping on a bed in a Chinese hotel is a little like sleeping on a concrete floor, extra firm. Charles said it is good for you. I woke up early, as usual. Washed up, got dressed, and checked my email.

Security guard at the Jin Bao Hotel

For all this hotel lacked it did have free internet. We boarded the bus at 6am for the short ride back to the airport. After checking in and going through security the airline finally provided breakfast. Chinese noodles (essentially ramen noodles only better) in a cup and a packet of “salted vegetables” whatever that is. I haven’t opened it yet. They had four flavors of noodles. I had the chicken and mushroom. It hit the spot.

The flight to Beijing was uneventful, except for the girl across the aisle from me filling up three airsickness bags. I guess she doesn’t like flying. Before and after the flight she looked fine. I picked up my bag at the baggage claim and found the shuttle bus to terminal 3. My flight arrived in terminal 1. Terminal 3 was about a 10 minute bus ride away. No problem, I had plenty of time. My flight didn’t depart until 6:30pm, which by my watch was 9.5 hours away. I would not be able to check my suitcase until three hours before departure, ugh. Fortunately there is a Starbucks in terminal 3 before you go through the security check point. Food on the other hand would be a little harder to come by. There is a McDonald’s, but they only take cash, Chinese cash, and I didn’t have enough to buy a meal. Hey look, an ATM. I withdrew 200RMB, which is almost $30. Much to my surprise, the receipt says the fee was 0.00. I’m pretty sure there will be some fees back at my Credit union. ***UPDATE*** The total fee was only $2.30, not bad for an airport ATM. Oh well, maybe I’ll figure out a way to get that onto my expense form at work.

Waiting for the shuttle bus from terminal 1 to terminal 3

As I’m typing this I’m still waiting to check in for my flight. I have 2.5 hours remaining before I can do that. I’m killing a little of that time by writing this account. In a few minutes I’ll head back to Starbucks for an after lunch coffee and snack. I had the spicy chicken sandwich, four spicy chicken wings, fries, coke, and ice cream for lunch. From one end of this terminal to the other is perhaps a half mile or so. I’ve already gone from one end to the other twice and I’ll probably make a couple more round trips before this ordeal is over. The ends of the terminal are almost deserted, but there are bathrooms at either end. Since most travelers don’t venture that far these bathrooms tend to be a little cleaner and less chaotic. The best part is my reward for patiently waiting here in the terminal, a 14 hour flight to Washington, DC. Yippeeeee!

Earlier while enjoying my morning Starbucks, I passed some of the time by reading the “China Daily”. It’s an English language newspaper. There were several interesting articles and op eds. According to one article the Local Health authorities in Shanghai are beginning to crack down on illegal abortions. The article said they were doing this to protect the mental and physical health of underage girls. Teenage girls seeking an abortion are advised to visit only licensed clinics when terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Hmm. There was an interesting op-ed piece about the

777 at Beijing airport, note the clear blue sky, not a common sight in Beijing

problem of people begging for money who aren’t really needy, who are perfectly capable of getting an education and a job, but are just using empathy as a way of getting money. And you thought this only a problem in America. There was a somewhat related article on income distribution, headline: “Experts urge fairer income distribution”. Each province in China sets the minimum wage for that province. Almost all provinces recently increased their minimum wage in order to prevent social unrest. Apparently State Owned Enterprises (SOE) pay much higher wages than the minimum and the natives were getting restless. Minimum wage at our factory in Shandong province recently increased by more than 20%.

Ok, fast forward to Friday morning August 6th. I’m at home now. After checking in for the flight to DC I was walking toward the security check and a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was going to Dulles. I thought she said Dallas so I said no I was going to Washington. She said yes Dulles in Washington, DC. She asked if I would make sure her nephew made it to the gate ok. He was young and traveling alone for the first time. I said sure. I never did ask him how old he was, but his name was Kevin. He’s a US citizen, parents originally from China and he was in Beijing all summer visiting relatives. He speaks and understands Chinese, but can’t read the symbols. Very nice kid. I helped him get through immigration and made sure he made it to the gate. I even bought him a bottle of water. I lost track of him for a while, but just before boarding he came over and sat by me so we boarded at the same time. I didn’t see him again in DC.

On the way to DC my TV wasn’t working. I could see any channel I wanted, but the sound I heard was whatever channel the guy in the seat next to me was watching. The airline gave me some kind of apology card good for a free gift to make up for the inconvenience. I chose the $150 e-certificate good toward the purchase of any flight on United in the US. The airport in DC was thrown into chaos because of thunder storms that passed through my flight in would up doing a circle over Ohio to delay our arrival. We still arrived a half hour early. We had massive tail winds all the way from China. My 10pm flight to Indy changed gates twice and eventually departed a little after 11pm. It was a full flight with all the standby passengers from a flight that was canceled earlier due to the storm. I arrived home at 2am. I think I was in bed by 3am and woke up at 5am when for some reason my alarm clock went off. Ahhhhh, the joys of world travel. It’s good to be home. My dogs missed me and I missed them. They were very happy to see me.

Rest in China

Kevin and Jeff picking up some supplies at the Weifang Wal-Mart

This post is a few days late, not that there is any kind of schedule or deadline to meet or that anyone really cares. I would have posted sooner, but on Monday I was busy getting packed for my trip to China. Tuesday morning I was up by 4am and out the door by 5 to drive myself to the airport for the 6:42 flight to Chicago. From Chicago we would fly to Shanghai and then catch a regional flight to Weifang. I was traveling with one other guy from work also named Jeff. The flight to Weifang was delayed by just over an hour. We were both dozing off and fortunately Jeff woke up just in time to see the board indicating our flight was boarding. Just a few more minutes and we would have been spending the night at the Shanghai airport. That would have been very bad. Finally about 30 hours after first waking up on Tuesday I was checking into the Montriche Hotel in Weifang. It was around 9pm Wednesday local time. I’ll be here until August 5th. There won’t be much marathon training going on while I’m here. I’ll be lucky if I get in one short run. I’ll look at it as a recovery week from the past couple weeks of good training.

Last Saturday I ran in withering heat and humidity. I ran 5 miles from home to Broad Ripple where I ran 7 miles with the Indy Runner’s group. I then ran the 5 miles back home. The first 5 miles was just over a 9 minute pace. The seven miles averaged around 8:45 per mile. I slowed down for the final 5 miles. Actually the first 3 of the final 5 was back around 9 minute pace but the final two miles included a good amount of walking so that pace was closer to 10 minutes. By the time I got back to my house I was a little dehydrated. After several pints of water and a few cups of coffee I was feeling pretty good.

For Sunday the plan was to do close to 70 miles on the bike. I was riding with my friend Tom who had run trails for over 2 hours on Saturday so neither of us was at 100% Sunday morning. The ride was going pretty well until the point where the planned route turned out to be a gravel road. We turned around and got back onto the usual route. At this point some ominous looking clouds started to roll in. We didn’t feel like getting caught in a thunder storm so we decided to take a short cut back east toward our starting point. When we got back to our cars we had only done 56 miles. The severe weather never did materialize, but once at our cars neither of us was in the mood to go back out for more miles.

Now back to the present. Today, Monday, I did not run as planned on Sunday but I did walk all over the city. Not likely to have time to run during the remainder of my stay here.

China blocks access to facebook, youtube, and google blogs. So if you are on blogspot I can’t read your blog while I’m here. For some reason they do allow access to wordpress so I can post this.