Thursday, 23 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
I've been training pretty hard and on most days, I feel fit and ready to take on the challenge. I think that half the challenge of the run will be not physical but mental - the idea of running about 9km on the Wall, followed by another12 km on the flat is a little daunting. The weather will be a huge factor, it is likely to be very hot in Beijing and particularly on the Wall because it is so exposed and it will be difficult to find relief from the shade. I had a little scare on Monday when I ran at the gym. I stupidly had a Starbucks fruit slushie and a chocolate muffin before I ran - not good when you have a sore tummy and your body doesn't really tolerate wheat products anyway. But, I still ran and managed to complete 12km, despite feeling queasy. When I got home, I soon discovered that I was dehydrated - I was dizzy, didn't want to eat anything, felt extremely fatigued and generally felt very ill. This continued all of the day and I even had to have a sleep at school just to get through the afternoon. So, I have learnt my lesson for keeping myself hydrated when running, particularly in the heat.
Am I prepared? I hope so! Despite the fact that I haven't done any really long distances (longest is about 12km), I think I will be okay. I have spent a lot of time running up and down the stairs in my apartment building and have recently starting including more hills on my indoor runs (there are no hills outside in Wuxi). In my mind, I've broken the run into several sections and I will try to talk to someone who has completed the run before to get clarification - There is the run uphill to the Wall, the run along the Wall and then through the local villages, which is on the flat. So, I'm hoping that I can get through the distance with some mental fitness as well as the physical side of it.
The training experience has been amazingly motivating so far and I've learnt lots of lessons about my body, my willpower and my determination to achieve a goal. After this run, I'm going to aim towards completing the Shanghai half marathon in November, and apply the things I've learnt. What have I learnt? I've learnt that I need to listen to my body and what it's telling me to do - I've discovered the importance of rest. I've learnt that I need to be more disciplined with my diet - I need to say 'No!' to dinner and drinks out more often. I've learnt that I can find 'the zone' when running for longer periods of time and that 'the zone' is a good place to be after a long day at work! I've learnt that long distances are not really for me (other than to achieve my goals) - my body has been quite sore and I just get so bored! I've learnt that keeping a training diary is extremely motivating and enjoyable. So, now I have three weeks to go - a week of running in the sand in the Phillippines, a week of training hard here in Wuxi and a week of tapering leading up the race. Bring it on!
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Yesterday was a sad day for me here, as it marked the 1st anniversary of my beautiful Dookie's death. It only feels like yesterday that I went to go for a ride and discovered Dookie with his entire hock (back 'knee') split open, barely able to walk. The next few days were awful, as I visited daily to assess the situation until finally, on 21 April, I had to make the horrible decision to put Dookie to sleep. I was lucky that I was able to have such an amazing 13 years with Dookie, he was an amazing horse, full of character and spirit (read - very naughty!). I am also very lucky that Anita and Ben were so kind as to let us bury both my special horses - Fantasy, who passed away in February, 2005 at the ripe old age of 37, and Dookie, another 'oldie' at 24 - at their farm under the gorgeous trees, Fantasy by the Yarra River, and Dookie in his paddock. The whole Davidson family will always have so many memories of both Dookie and Fantasy.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
..... and to be honest, I'm getting a bit bored of weekends in Wuxi. Most weekends are the same - go out to the same places, see the same people, inevitably drink too much (not too over the top though!), feel tired and lazy the next day. I'm a little bit over it. So, I was very happy when I did some research this week and found a hockey club in Shanghai. As soon as Mum sends over my mouthguard and shinpads, I will be there! It sounds like a lot of fun - training and friendly matches on Saturday afternoons, followed by drinks at a nearby pub. Every now and again, there are trips organised to various parts of China and other expat cities in Asia for hockey tournaments. I'm sure it will be a great way to get out of Wuxi on weekends, do something different and meet some new people.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
There are, of course, my GAP year friends, a huge group of people from Australia, NZ, South Africa and the UK, who were my 'family' for the 6 months I worked at PGL and many who I am still in contact with, albeit infrequent contact. I can't mention this group, without mentioning my dear friend, Chloe, who I was lucky enough to see in February during her stay in China.
Then there are the other random people you meet along the way. In New Zealand in 2000, I shared a backpackers dorm with 5 guys (looking back, probably not the wisest move for a 20 year old single girl). One of them, Jody, was heading to Australian and I said, 'Hey, come and stay', not really thinking it would happen. But, sure enough a month later, Jody was camping out on my living room floor. Ben, my Aussie friend from Japan, also fits into this category - we met travelling then were able to meet up again down the track. I'm hoping to make a trip down to Hong Kong in September to see him (and Amy of course!) again.
There is a point to this story and it all comes back to an experience I had today (and yesterday). Yesterday, the receptionist here at school told me that 'Mick from Chengdu' had called. I immediately thought, 'Oh, Mick must be the PYP co-ordinator at EtonHouse Chengdu. How nice of him to make contact.' Then Lishan said, 'No! He said that he travelled with your little brother!'. 'Hmmmm,' was my response. I thought that Rob may have met someone, passed on my details and said they could stay at my place. So, I called Rob, who informed me that he hadn't done that, but after some more talking, we thought it might have been a guy (whose name we couldn't remember) who we had met who had been on his way to a Tibetan Buddhist convention in Lhasa. I didn't think anything more of it and left it there. But, today, as I finished teaching in the morning, I walked back to my office, where I was accousted by two Chinese men. 'Hi, I'm Nick. I met you and your brother in Chengdu!'. So, it was the guy Rob and I thought. I was a little freaked out that they had both turned up at my workplace and were casually sitting in the staff room waiting for me! It turns out that Nick wants me to teach a group of his friends English every day for one hour! I said that I would consider it and get back to him. I will definitely consider this but definitely not every day. Nick is involved with a Tibetan Buddhist group here in Wuxi, so if I take up his offer, I could become involved in this, something that I had wanted to do during my time in China.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Yesterday, during a discussion about the challenges of living in China, a friend pointed out that 'we are normal people living in an abnormal situation'. Everyday things that are not normally a big deal are magnified immensely here in China. Sometimes they feel totally normal but other days, they get to you and it's those moments that I have to remind myself that I am living in a developing country, with a huge language barrier and that it's normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes.
Mum returned to Melbourne on Monday night, after several weeks in Italy with my baby brother, Rob. They went to a village in northern Italy for a family friend's 60th birthday party and by the sounds of it had a brilliant time. So, I thought that I would indulge in another 'I love my family' moment and share some pictures of their trip! Enjoy!
Cooking at home has been another comfort, particularly now that the weather is warming up. The last few nights I've enjoyed smoked salmon (very cheap here) and salad - yum! I think that more frequent trips to Shanghai are required in order to pick up all the yummy vegetables from City Shop (oh, and maybe more Tim Tams!).
Lastly, although it doesn't seem like a creature comfort to most, I treated myself last night by pulling out my new Kayano runners that I had bought before I left Australia. Is it sad to admit that I've looked forward to a run all day, knowing that I can run in my new shoes? Speaking of running, I've had a new burst of motivation after my run in Shanghai on Sunday. Being the competitive person I am, I was thrilled to see that I'd come in at 39th out of 376 other female runners. Hopefully this motivation will keep me going - 4 more weeks till the big event.
Monday, 13 April 2009
After a busy start to the week, I found time to relax last night by having some dinner, wine and Wii at Amy's house. Amy bought her new Wii at the fake markets in Shanghai, but as all products from here are, this is 'genuine'! No really, it is. Genuine from Korea but translated into English. In order to play a game, first we had to set the Wii up - which we thought would be a challenge for two non-technical girls drinking wine. But, we surprised ourselves and were very quickly playing tennis.
After moving everything out of the way (wine glasses included!), we went on to play a few games of tennis, some boxing and finally some 'Dancing with the Stars', muddling our way through as we tried to learn how it all worked.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Time, calories, average heart rate. This sequence is what is providing motivation for my training in the lead up to the GW half marathon. I would be lost if I misplaced my heart rate monitor now. These particular numbers are what I can record on my training schedule for the Jinqiao 8km race in Shanghai today. I set myself a goal of 50 minutes which I thought would be a reasonable goal considering I haven't run outside for ages and there were so many people there. So, I was thrilled to have run nearly 11 minutes faster!
I had several reasons for wanting to run this race. Firstly, it was a good chance to practise running in a group under 'race' conditions. I have been slightly worried about my panic attack issues limiting me with the GW run, but was happy to find that I was perfectly okay this morning (with a little help from my bottle of Rescue Remedy, lots of water and my ipod!). The start line was a little stressful but nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Secondly, it was good to practise running outside - the sun was shining (albeit through the smog) and it was hot (32 degrees today), good training for the GW run which will be stifling hot on an exposed wall in summer. Lastly, it was great to get out of Wuxi for the weekend and do something 'normal' - I didn't realise how many local and expat runners there were in Shanghai!
I headed up to Shanghai last night and had a quiet night after a late-ish night on Friday night. I enjoyed some dinner at a local cafe and then went for a foot massage - good race preparation, I figured! The massage was totally normal until the girl pulled out this set of what looked like a cross between drum sticks and croquet mallets - wooden sticks with little rubber ends. She then proceeded to hit these across my feet and up and down my calves - very sore, considering I'd run the stairs yesterday!
After the race today, I headed back to the hostel for a shower before braving the subway to have a western fix. I enjoyed a beautiful, fresh lunch at Element Fresh before spending some time browsing the bookstore, where I bought a cool pack of Shanghai cards that have a heap of different locations on taxi cards - very handy! Then, I met Ash in the City Shop, where we gossiped in the milk aisle before heading back to Element Fresh for another smoothie and more chit chat. We have rarely seen each other since we both moved to China, so definitely need to make more of an effort to visit one another. Whilst at City Shop, I bought some treats since it's all a bit stressful here - Tim Tams and Monte Carlo biscuits. Yum! They will be treated like gold as they cost about $10 each! Naughty. There were no Easter eggs to be found unfortunately, so it's lucky I had some left from earlier purchases. Planning on an early night tonight, ready for another week of work - only 2 weeks till the Phillippines! Bring it on.