GoChengdoo contributor Marco Lanz is training for the 2011 Chengdu Half-Marathon. Follow his preparations each week as we count down the days to the event.
By Marco Lanz
The last time I participated in a footrace on PRC soil was in 2008. I won the Southwest Normal University 800m Teachers Race. After a three-year hiatus I've found myself preparing for the 2011 Chengdu Fun Run Half Marathon. Having never run a race longer than 10k I hopped on Google and mapped out a training route*. The concrete channels of Chengdu don't offer the same pleasantries as the lake of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but I believe I've found a route worth my time and energy.
I live off the First Ring Road, near the Sichuan Gymnasium, so I start my runs from within the city—I don't have the luxury of running along the "county" roads.
I start my run bolting out of my apartment gate as the guards give me the awkward eye. I head out down the First Ring Road, over the walking bridge in front of the Trust Mart underneath Computer City, down through several back alleys and finally pop out along Renmin Nan Lu, heading north toward the entrance of Sichuan University Huaxi Campus.
I pass by the guard as he sweeps the dust from the asphalt entrance of Huaxi and run down the main road alongside the basketball courts. I turn left as the road comes to a 'T' and follow it as it weaves toward Linyin Zhong Jie. I chug down Linyin Zhong Jie until I meet up with Kehua Bei Lu. Here, I opt for running on the road with careless drivers – the sidewalk is chock full of people wandering aimlessly through the throngs of other people wandering aimlessly. As the cars come to jerky stops while the plebes working at Computer City cross the street, I play chicken under the Xinnan Lu bridge, often jogging in place as cars pass. I come to a complete stop at the intersection of the First Ring Road and Kehua Bei Lu and wait patiently as flag wavers and pedestrians stare at my exposed arms and bare legs.
That's the warm-up. Once I cross the First Ring Road, I head left toward the Hongwasi Jie entrance of Sichuan U. As I run past the throngs of rickshaws, my legs start to loosen up, strides lengthen, and my cadence begins to pick up. I run through the main road that loops around the university. If pass by tennis and basketball courts and then soccer and makeshift cricket pitches. I round out my run through the university's Wenhua Jie as I bustle past co-eds sipping coffee. I exit the university grounds from its southern gate and head down Guojiaqiao Lu, a narrow street with cars parked on both sides. I pick up my pace as I make my way to the Second Ring Road and enter into my last leg of the run.
As my pace continues to increase I swerve around pedestrians and rickshaws hogging the bike path. The road is hard; my feet feel every kilometer. Occasionally I break while crossing Kehua Bei Lu to stretch my legs and rotate my ankles. But once the light turns green I'm off. At Renmin, I turn right, heading north until the Consulate Road/Nijiaqiao Lu, where I turn left and following along Safety Demonstration Street. The sidewalks are usually packed with patrons going to and from boutiques, so I run alongside taxis and buses. I turn right onto Yulin Bei Jie.
Before I get to the last 100-meter stretch, I always flip through my Nano playlist to find the Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping up to Boston," and then it's an all-out sprint past bikers, motorcycles, and cars to the front of my apartment as the guards continue to give me an awkward eye. I hang my head down as I pass through the gate – back to the apartment for some water after 10 hard Ks.
*If Google Maps is proving too slow, you can try Baidu Maps.
Inspired to hit the streets? Register for your spot at the (21K) half-marathon, 10K, or 5K fun run/walk today!