Monday, October 19, 2009

Taichung Marathon 2009

On October 3rd we headed north on the fast train (not the High Speed Rail train, just the fast train) to the city of Taichung for the Taichung Boulevard International Marathon (TBIM). Taichung is the third-largest city in Taiwan, followed by our own Tainan in fourth place. As usual, I ran the ten-kilometre course while Andrea and John ran the twenty-one-kilometre course. All the marathons we attend in Taiwan are organized and coordinated by the Chinese Taipei Road Running Association (CTRRA).

We found a decent cheap hotel a block or two away from the train station and made ourselves comfortable. Luckily the starting area for the marathon was only a few blocks away from the hotel and train station which saved us a lot of trouble. Marathons usually kick off very early in the day; you often wake up to the sound of your alarm clock in your hotel room while it is still dark outside. Being able to walk from your accommodation to the marathon starting-area on the morning of the race saves you a lot of trouble and time: you don't want to be relying on buses or trains; you just want to know that you can get there on time and without much effort.

After securing a hotel room we had to go to the temporary TBIM race station to pick up our 'package'. This package almost always includes a shirt printed for the event, a bib with your race number on it (you pin it to your shirt), an electronic ID chip (for marking your time as you pass through checkpoints along the race course), and an assortment of information relating to the marathon.

After a teppanyaki dinner not far from the TBIM race station we headed back to our hotel to try to get a good night's sleep before the big race.

What should have been a restful slumber consolidating our energies for the marathon was marred by at least two earth tremors, a series of attempts to control the temperature in the room (AC on, AC off, AC on, AC off ...), and several bathroom breaks. We awoke very early in the dark to the sound of my alarm clock, well aware that we hadn't slept very well. But after making the necessary preparations and getting out of the hotel room we were walking towards the marathon start area and feeling just a little excited about the whole thing. It was a beautiful morning to be in.

This is what you see waiting for you as you are about to cross the finish line.

Here are Andrea and John at the end of their 21km run. Andrea is keen to point out that the time given on the electronic clock attached to the finishing gate in the photo is the length of time since the race started. Our own race times depend on when our electronic chips (attached to our shoes) passed over the starting line. So although the clock in the photo displays a time of 2hrs 11m John and Andrea ran a time several minutes faster than that.

Upon crossing the finishing line John and Andrea made a beeline (whatever that is) straight for the water. I only ran 10km so I finished much earlier than both of them. It also meant that I didn't get a Super Supau towel like the one draped over Andrea's shoulder and the shoulders of dozens of other runners in the park.

John and Andrea do their stretching after rehydrating themselves. This web site says that, "If you do choose to stretch after you run, you should wait 30-45 minutes after you stop running to do so" while this web site says that, "Waiting 30 to 40 minutes later after your fatigued and tight muscles have cooled down (especially after long or fast-paced workouts) increases your chances of causing injury". I think John and Andrea do theirs ten or 15 minutes after they stop running so that's probably a good compromise.

After taking a taxi back to the hotel we discovered one of the cable channels playing the original Terminator and so we relaxed on our beds while Arnold Schwarzenegger chased Linda Hamilton all over the place. She ran quite a bit faster than we did.

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