Thursday, November 29, 2007

On a run

Near by where we live, I feel like the only woman who runs in China. I get a lot of "Are you crazy?" looks as I pass on by for a variety of reasons. The Chinese turn to other philosophies to maintain their health like tai chi. So I gather the disapproving looks might even be, "Why is this Chinese looking women running?!"

A typical run usually consists of a loop along side the cleanest canalway in the city. Cleanest isn't saying much here! The water - opaque, murky with a greenish brown hue - isn't the most inviting. I extend runs by crossing over a bridge to get to the largest city park (347 acres). We have the -ests here since Pu Dong is less populated and more recently developed than Pu Xi.

Swimming in the canal is a common thing, but shocking to us Americans and the locals when we tell them about it ("What! They swim in there?"). Some mornings, there's a steady stream of swimming caps that go back and forth. Running along last Sunday, a man shot me a double take as he stepped into canal in his speedos, flippers and cap. What a moment. We were both confused about the other's activity.

After this, I took a detour to the large plaza area around the Science and Technology Museum. This afforded me the opportunity to get a glimpse into how some Chinese spend a sunny, lazy Sunday afternoon. People watched as rollerbladers of all ages practiced maneuvers around small cones, a group of teenagers had a game of street hockey going, and kite flyers showed off their skills. Dozens of large kites in vibrant colors - some designed to look like butterflys and birds - flew hundreds of feet effortlessly in the sky. Vendors sold their roasted sweet potatoes and corn. One puffed furiously on a cigarette as he placed corn in a small oven on his cart. Running through the crowds, I was already looking forward to walking out there with Josh on another weekend to do some people watching.

How did I finish my run on this pleasant Sunday afternoon? A quick stop at the Hofbrauhaus to enjoy a (very small) tasty wheat beer with some friends. I don't plan on polishing off a beer after every run, but this was the perfect day to indulge. I raise my mug to more interesting and fun runs!


eM said...

Fantastic!! If it makes you feel any better, people yelled things at me when I used to run around the U, where it is really NOT uncommon to see a woman running. I thought it was because people were just stupid, but after talking to a few guys who never had things yelled at them, they always just said it was because I was a girl and they weren't surprised that the hecklers were all guys. I don't know if it was a bad attempt at a pick up or what, but it was pretty odd.

There is something empowering about running though. I never felt that bad or even angry when hecklers were around. I just kept going and felt good about it. I hope you feel the same way when you encounter the odd ones :) It sounds like you at least did with the speedo-clad swimmer!

A beer after a run? You're making me jealous :)

Shruti said...

You know, I think this happens in a lot of cultures! Ravi said he once went for a run in India, and people kept looking behind him, to see who he was being chased by! My Egyptian friend said the exact same thing too.
I think running may be an American/European/African thing to do. Everyone else thinks we are nuts.