Running a Marathon in China | 在中国跑马拉松

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I consider myself a runner.  I’ve completed dozens of 5k and 10k events, stretching back to a time when I still hadn’t shed all of my baby teeth. The last few years, as my life became busier and my stresses multiplied, I used running as my crutch – embarking on long, slow tears to clear my head and enter a sort of meditation.

In this way, inadvertently, my conditioning improved, and I began not just finishing in the races I entered, but competing. I won some, placed in others, and slowly but steadily improved my times. After finishing a half marathon in New Orleans, and thinking “that wasn’t so bad,” there was only one frontier left: a full marathon.

The difficulty ahead of me was forbidding, however: I was moving to Beijing.

That meant a near deathblow for my training. If I wanted variety and hoped to escape Tsinghua’s campus, I would have to putter along car-choked highways, dodge throngs of people, and endure throat singing smog. Running inside on a treadmill was OK for the first hour or so, before it became intolerably boring.

Still, I pushed ahead, and formed the habit of waking up with the sun to beat the morning crowds and run a few laps around my corner of Beijing. I joined the marathon group on campus, all Chinese graduate students who capitalized on a sliver of free time to embark on long, slow runs every Sunday around Tsinghua’s campus.

In early October, I was ready and excited to run the Beijing Marathon. Because of the 18th Party Congress, however, the event was delayed, and my registration was voided. I watched with disappointment as the event came and went, without even the chance to tie my running shoes.

So, my friends and colleagues in China recommended I register for the Xiamen Marathon, a well-respected run in China’s beautiful southern port city. The climate is perfect, they assured me, and the race well organized. So, without giving it much thought, I registered online, and booked a plane ticket from Beijing to Xiamen.

When my plane lifted off from Beijing, I looked down on a landscape frozen in ice and dusted with snow. Dropping down in Xiamen, the ocean sparkled brilliantly, and the hills surrounding the city were lush green. The temperature difference, I noticed as I grabbed my luggage and stood in queue for a taxi, was dramatic – I took off my jacket and wished I was wearing shorts instead of jeans.

My hostel was owned and operated by a family who spoke next-to-no English, rarely entertained foreign guests, and was fascinated by all things Western. Using my hesitant, choppy Chinese, I explained to the owner, his wife, his brother, and his college-aged niece, that I was in Xiamen to run a marathon in a few days, and just wanted to rest before the race. Over tea and sunflower seeds in their garden patio, they questioned me about my hometown, my siblings, my studies at Tsinghua.

“You know,” the owner said, pointing to his young niece, “She still doesn’t have a boyfriend. Maybe you could help.”

I politely ducked away from that suggestion, reminding them that I had a girlfriend, and few of my friends were single.

On the day of the marathon, I popped out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and gathered my things in order to catch a cab in time for the race’s early morning start.  As I stepped out of the door and entered the lobby, I was floored by the owners’ thoughtfulness. On the front desk was a large, folded cardboard sign that said ‘Nick, You Are the Best.’ It was obviously written in the niece’s careful hand, and immediately motivated me – knowing that I had support in such an unfamiliar place was hugely important.

The marathon was as promised. It was well organized, the route was gorgeous, with the pale blue ocean in sight most of the time, and the weather was ideal. What struck me most, though, was the support I received from thousands of locals who stood near the path and shouted words of encouragement, “jia you, jia you, kuai pao!” Some brought bananas or water to pass out to the runners. Others dressed up in costumes to cheer even louder.

As I passed the 35 kilometer mark, my legs already rubber and my will power beginning to fade, I saw a familiar sign – ‘Nick, You Are the Best.’ The owner and his niece were standing along the path, yelling my name, yelling for me to suck it up and run faster. Seeing them, knowing that they went out of their way to come root for me, sent a surge of new energy coursing through my body, and I pushed through the last 7 kilometers, finishing in just more than three hours.

Meeting with the owner after the race, I thanked him and told him how much his support meant to me. He laughed and once again pointed to his niece.

“She still doesn’t have a boyfriend,” he said, hoping, one last time, that I might reconsider.

 


 

我认为我自己是一个很能跑的人。在我乳臭未干的时候我就已经参加过5公里与10公里的长跑项目。在最近这几年里,繁忙的生活给我了很多的压力,跑步成为了我生活里的拐杖-它能够让我拥有一种很平静的感觉。

 

不知不觉的,我发挥的越来越好,不但可以跑完我参加的比赛;甚至可以与其他的选手竞争。在一些比赛里,我还获得了优越的成绩。曾经我在新奥尔良跑完了一次半程马拉松赛,个人觉得很轻松,自从那次以后,我打算挑战自己;跑一次全程马拉松。

 

不过我遇到了一个难题:我就要去北京了。

 

这是对于我训练跑步的一个致命之打击。如果我还想像原来,在多种环境中训练并且“逃脱”清华的校园,这就意味着我得在堵塞的马路上,人山人海中而训练。刚开始在室内的跑步机上跑几下感觉还可以,不过时间一久就变得枯燥无味。

 

尽管如此,我还是努力的训练着自己,并且养成了日出就起床的习惯,因为这样人群就会少很多,而且给我提供了一个不错的跑步环境。除此之外,我还加入了校园的马拉松队,每周日我们都会在校园内跑上很久。

 

在十月初,我为我将要参加北京的马拉松而感到无比的兴奋。不过生活不可能一切都按计划而进行。因召开第十八届人民代表大会,马拉松被延迟了,所以我的注册无效。我眼睁睁的看着这次活动到来而又离我而去,连鞋带都没有机会系的我感到无比的失望。

 

不久以后,我朋友建议我去报名参加厦门马拉松,一个有知名度的项目在中国美丽的南方。他们告诉我那里的气候很好,马拉松赛也举办的非常专业。我听了后,二话不说,在网上注了册,定了从北京到厦门的机票。

 

当飞机从北京起飞的时候,我看到窗外都是冰与积雪。到达厦门时,我看到的却是闪闪发光的大海与碧绿的山坡。当我一出机场准备打车时,突然感觉到那里与北京的温差很大,于是我脱下了身上的夹克,我是多么希望当时穿的是短裤啊。

 

我所住的宿舍主人完全不会英文,而且很少能够见到外国人,所以他们会西方文化都很好奇。我引用磕磕巴巴的中文,告诉了他们我来厦门是为了跑马拉松,所以在赛前必须好好休息。边喝茶边嗑着瓜子,我回答了他们很多关于我在西方的问题。

 

“你知道吗,”其中一个接待人指着他的侄女说,”她目前还没有男朋友呢。或许你能帮帮她。”

 

还好我反应的快,很有礼貌的躲避了这个建议,并且告诉了他们我已经有女朋友了,不过我倒是有几个朋友是单身。

 

在比赛那天,为了早些到并能够打到车,我早上5点半就起床开始准备了。当我出门进入前厅时,我被我的接待人而感动了。在前台办公桌上,摆着一块折叠好的纸板,上面写的是‘尼克,你是最棒的。’这一看就是他侄女写的,看到后,它给与了我很大动力-因为在一个陌生的地方能够得到支持对我来说是非常重要的。

 

马拉松就想当初描述的一样。搞的非常专业,路线无比的华丽,浅绿色的海洋无时不在眼前,再加上晴朗的天气,这简直是跑马拉松的理想条件。最打动我的是在路边;上千的当地人各种为我们打气加油,喊着口号“加油,加油,快跑!”很多还带了水和香蕉递给参跑的人。有些人为了欢呼甚至穿了特殊的制服。

 

当我跑到35公里的时候,我可以感觉到我的双腿已不听使唤;而且我的意志也在开始退缩,在那一刻,我看到了一个很眼熟的牌子,上面写着‘尼克,你是最棒的。’那是我接待人的侄女与她一家人,站在路边喊着我的名字,让我快点跑别婆婆妈妈的。想到他们各种为我打起,我突然有了股新的力量,硬着头皮跑完了剩下的7公里,最后在3个小时内跑完了全程。

 

比赛结束后我又见了我的接待人,并且对他们的支持于鼓励表达了真诚的谢意。他又再一次笑着指着他的侄女。

 

“她目前还是没有男朋友,”他说,但愿我能够重新考虑。

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The first time I know I was going to do a long run instead of a short lap run I was in middle school in China. The guys were required to run 1000 meters and girls 800. Some of my friend had leg cramp after the run. Most of them did not finish it. I was never a fast runner, but I managed to finish the run without stopping.

However, Singapore requires their students to run 2400 meter a few times each semester, and a 5k cross-country each year. I felt I almost died the first time I ran, but I slowly adapted to it. That was when I started to like doing long runs.

I had a minor knee injury when I was younger, so few years ago doctor told me running was really bad for my knee as it puts a lot of pressure on it. I slowly stopped running after that and have not been running since I got to the United States.

Many of my American friends run on a regular basis whereas I do not see or hear any of my friends back in China who runs. I think the running culture is very different and it's a more common practice in America than in China. The environment can be an important factor but also most sidewalks are not runner-friendly. Not many trails were in place for people to use and not many people use them anyways. To me this has  become a vicious cycle because nobody would care to push the city planning department to build more trails for people to run or walk.

I wish cities in China can become more suitable for citizens to exercise, have fun and live.

 


 

我第一次听说自己要长跑是我在中国上初中的时候,那时男生要跑一千米而女生要跑八百米。跑完后我又好几个朋友都说自己腿抽筋了,不少人也没跑完。我从来都跑不快,但是我坚持没有停下的跑完了全程。

 

去了新加坡以后,那里的学校要求学生们每学期跑几次2.4公里,每年还有一次5公里越野长跑。我第一次跑完时觉得自己快死了,但渐渐的也习惯了,并开始喜欢上了长跑。

 

小时候我膝盖的韧带受过伤,几年前医生告诉我跑步对我膝盖很不好,因为会造成很大的压力,从那之后我就渐渐的不怎么跑步了,而来了美国以后更是一次都没跑过。

 

我有不少喜欢跑步的美国朋友,但我几乎没听说我有哪个在中国的朋友平时跑步的。我觉得中国和美国的跑步文化很不一样,在美国跑步是很常见的日常运动,但是在中国环境是一个很大的让许多人对跑步望而却步的因素,而且中国的街道也非常的不适合跑步。城市里可以供市民跑步的小道也不多,用这些小道的人更少,我觉得这是一个恶性循环,没人会在城市规划部门里推广并希望城市建设更多的跑步或散步小道。

 

希望以后的中国城市能变得更加适合人们运动,休闲和居住。

language: 
Chinese