Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hanoi Vietnam

This weekend we decided to get away from Singapore and see another place on our list of places to see before we leave Southeast Asia. On Friday Andrea, Anna and I boarded a plane in Singapore bound for Hanoi Vietnam. While we were there we walked around town, ate a lot of pho, shopped and took a trip to Ha Long Bay. All of it was really good.

Ha Long Bay was impressive but we have been spoiled by having been to Milford Sound so it didn't wow us like it would have had we been there first.

Now that I have been to Hanoi I am not sure I would go back a second time but I am glad we got to go on this trip. It is always good to spend uninterrupted time with Andrea and Anna no matter where we are. We played a lot of digital hangman and I dominated of course...

Before we left Singapore I got my long run in on Thursday so I would not have to run long in a strange place. I am glad I did. Hanoi is dusty and pollution is pretty bad and I would not want to run a couple of hours and breathe that stuff in big gasping breaths more than necessary. I have a Hanoi sore throat as it is. I did get to run twice.

Saturday morning I got up stretched and walked out on the streets at about 6:45am. Our hotel was on a very local street and right outside of the door a lady was cleaning and selling fish. There are women everywhere with a pot of steaming soup for sale on the sidewalk while their patrons sit on small stools about a foot off of the ground sipping from a plastic bowls full of hot liquid with various forms of vegetables, noodles and meat mixed in and drinking from clear cups of black or creamy coffee.

I weaved through the crowded sidewalks and jumped over sleeping dogs until I made it to the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake about half a mile from the hotel. The sidewalk around the lake was crowded with people walking and running and exercising. It was a little over a mile around the lake so I ran it four times to get five miles in. The second time around the lake there was a guy carrying a dog. The dog was trying to get out of his arms and was trashing wildly all over the place. To avoid a collision I side stepped into a hole and rolled my ankle. I was ticked off. I limped around for a little while and it started to feel better. I ran tentatively on it for a while and within a half a mile was able to run normally. Close call. I would hate to have marathon training ruined by a crazy dog and a poorly maintained sidewalk.

There was a man that showed up on my second lap around the lake. He had a black singlet with red trim and super short shorts that were black with a wide red lace waistband. He tiptoed in his walking shoes in the street off of the sidewalk where everyone would notice him and swung his hand in a very effeminate way by his side. All of the locals seemed to know him. He may have looked manly in normal street clothes but not so much in his exercise gear.

There were many people doing Tai Chi on the sidewalks. Some of it was very regimented like Tai Chi normally is but some of it was really free form with mostly older people swinging their hips with their arms in the air while others were doing something completely different to the twangy Asian music. I had to laugh.

I ran the same route on Monday morning before we flew home. The same people were at the lake doing the same exercises.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I was going to run Perth

I know I said I was running The Perth Marathon. I was definitely training for The Perth Marathon…

Then I got an email. It said:
Christchurch Airport Marathon
Sunday 03 June
Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, Kids 3k Mara'Fun

Temptation got the best of me. I called Andrea and asked “Can we skip Perth and go to New Zealand?”

She said it didn’t matter. Then she said the point was for us to go see a new place so maybe we should go the Perth. We looked at pictures of Perth online.

And then I pulled up pictures of Queenstown and she wavered. She said, “wintertime in New Zealand. No kids. Good food and mulled wine in the evening – possibly by a fire. Familiar and comfortable… Okay we can go.”

So today I booked flights and signed me up for the marathon and Andrea for the 10k walk. Anna will be in Texas hanging out with our family and friends there so it will be just Andrea and me. We will run the race the second day we are there and then we will travel around the south island again for a little more than a week and a half.

This will be my third Christchurch Marathon in three years. I will have to step up my training a bit. It will be the third different course I will have run on in the three years I’ve done it so it will be like another new marathon with the same solid organization. It will also be the first time I have run it without Jakeb.

I think our kids are going to be mad when they find out.

I am excited now!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

When in Rome

Andrea, Anna and I went to Italy last week. A couple of months back I got a sweet deal on airline tickets from Singapore so we nabbed them to go when it was Anna’s birthday. We saw Italy, ate really good food, drank good coffee and red wine, met new friends and celebrated Anna’s birthday.

I like to run when we travel so I can say that I ran in whatever country we happen to be in. I took my running shoes to Italy but almost didn’t get to use them. Every day was filled with things we wanted to do so in the morning I would wake up and get ready to go to the next thing on the itinerary rather than stretch and get ready to run.

The last day in Rome was an exception where we really didn’t have any plans. Anna wanted to sleep in a bit and Andrea and I were planning to go get some coffee and wander the streets so it gave me a chance to wake up early and put on running clothes and stretch and run the Roman streets.

We stayed in a very central location in Rome and were able to walk and see most of the sights. When I got out of the apartment I knew where I wanted to run. I stepped out of the door and ran west on Via Tomacelli. The weather was overcast and a bit chilly. I ran past coffee bars where people were standing and drinking their espressos and cappuccinos. I have never been to a place with such consistently good coffee.

I took a turn south on Via di Porta Angelica and could see the columns in the distance that line Saint Peter’s square. I ran between the columns and stepped into the square that is in the shadow of Saint Peter’s Basilica. I slowed to a walk and started in a long circle around one of the most holy places on the earth.

There are statues of Jesus and the disciples and various figures of importance to the history of the Catholic Church. Scores of priests and nuns filed across the square towards the basilica for morning mass. It was quiet and still and a moment I cannot capture in words.

After a while I turned my back on the square and started running towards the Tiber River. I ran past Castel Saint Angelo which is an imposing structure and crossed the river to head back towards our apartment. As I ran along the river I passed the only other runner I saw on the whole run heading in the opposite direction from me. Instead of stopping at the apartment I ran past towards the Spanish Steps. When I got there I ran to the top and stopped to look at Rome from the hill above. After a short pause I ran down the steps and back to the apartment.

It was a short run but totally worth it. When in Rome run … whether the Romans do or not.