As you can probably tell from the above photo, the air quality yesterday in Beijing was terrible! I didn't realise just how bad it was at the time, but come to think of it, there were a lot of people wearing masks. Hmmm.... Luckily I was only doing the half so had a total of one hour and forty-four minutes of sucking down some filthy air. So, yes, that's right: 1:44 was my time (I think - it took me a little while after crossing the finishing line to remember to press stop on the Garmin, so who knows - it could even be 1:43?? Haha...).
After all my talk re: I won't even wear a watch this time, and will go entirely by feel and for fun (which I still did), I ended up wearing the Garmin, mainly for practical reasons, as we were pushed for time and I had a second race looming which consisted of getting back across town to our hotel, and getting showered and checked out in time before rushing off on the third leg of the race-day to make it to the airport in time. I'm glad I wore it in the end, as I didn't even cross the starting line until a good 9 minutes after the race had officially started, such was the massive queue of runners.
Yes, the race was huge! A huge sea of runners, stumbling and weaving around each other, pretty tightly packed for the first 10kms or so, and with a tiny bit more room to breather for the last few kms, but not much. At first, I was a little frustrated with the human traffic jam and constant weaving and speeding up then slowly down to avoid crashes and tumbles. However, it soon struck me: this is fricken awesome! Look at us: thousands of people all coming together for the sole purpose of running and because we love to run. Plus, I was running solely for fun, and for no set time or pb, so what did it matter if I got held up or trodden on slightly??
Some other things about this race:
One thing I have finally mastered, after years of these races, is managing to drink from the little paper cups and not choke - not even one splutter this time, and I was drinking while running. Result.
A highlight of the race was seeing my friend, who was running the full marathon, about 9kms in. I was amazed we managed to find each other amongst the thousands upon thousands of runners, and we chatted for about a kilometre, which was great. Oh yeah, actually, he took a photo of me while running, an action shot of sorts, so stay tuned, I may have one photo from the race coming your way soon.
There were a few costumes on display too. My favourite was a guy in a tight leopard costume complete with a fixed loop for a tail which his girlfriend/running partner was firmly holding onto. What a great idea for not losing each other in the crowd.
Gutted I didn't catch your last name or details at the end of the race, but thanks to the friendly American man for keeping me company in the last few kilometres of this race. Just when I was starting to struggle and feel like I was about done (the bad air methinks) this dude shows up and tells me encouraging things and we chat for a bit and then power on to the finish line together. Thanks Scott if you somehow are managing to read this - it was loads of fun striding to the finish line with you!
All in all, it was a good race, with terrible air pollution (which can't be helped I suppose) but I was thrilled to be running around this amazing country's Capital with so many other people. 1:44 was my 2012 time for the Shanghai half marathon, so perhaps this is my 'natural' half marathon time? Pretty happy with this anyway, even though this race was definitely not about time or getting a pb (not sure how anyone would anyway, due to the congestion, unless they were right at the front with the elites). Now it's on to training for some longer runs again, prior to the upcoming 100km event. More on this training in the next post.
Have a wonderful week everyone!!!