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Training Log Archive: blairtrewin

In the 7 days ending Nov 4:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Run3 1:53:00 11.5(9:50) 18.5(6:06)25 /27c92%
  Total3 1:53:00 11.5(9:50) 18.5(6:06)25 /27c92%

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Monday Nov 4 #

(rest day)

Second half of the Tiger Leaping Gorge walk, a bit shorter than the first (11km compared with 16) and with no major climbs. The mountains are still stunning but they weren't as photogenic today - wrong side for the morning sun, and a bit more cloud around. I'd been led to believe that today's track was easy, and it was in as much as there were no major climbs, but in fact it was quite a bit more challenging than I expected - much more exposed than yesterday (including a couple of parts of the track on ledges a metre or two wide with 100+m cliffs below), and rough underfoot in places (although generally not on the exposed bits). Was worrying too much about my footing to enjoy this as much as yesterday.

The end of this part of the track is perhaps 300m above the river, at the only feasible crossing point of a side gorge (you can keep going further if you want). It's also possible to descend to the river on a series of ladders, but I know my limitations. (As you might expect, compressing a river the size of the Yangtze into a narrow gorge makes for some intense flow - you can hear the river even 800m above it).

I hadn't finished with my heights issues for the day - the first few kilometres of the road out were as scary as any road I've been on, cut into the side of the cliffs and regularly reduced to one lane by either fallen rocks from above or landslides to below. I was slightly reassured by the fact that the driver of the ancient minibus we were on (which appeared to be missing its first gear) has probably done this hundreds of times before, but was still glad to get to the other end (and similarly glad that I wasn't here for the 1996 earthquake).

Back in Lijiang tonight, in preparation for heading south again.

Sunday Nov 3 #

(rest day)

Original plan for this morning was to go for a short run in the old town using the tourist map. I had quite a tight time window to do this in - first light isn't until about 7.15 (China doesn't have time zones and Lijiang is far enough west that it should be an hour behind the east coast), and I needed to be back before 8 to give myself enough time to get to the bus station for a 9.30 bus. The plan was scuttled when I headed downstairs to find no-one around and the front door locked (I could have got out, but wouldn't necessarily have been able to get back in). Well, it wasn't as if I was going to be lacking in exercise today anyway, and I'll have another chance for this run (under less time pressure) on Tuesday.

The main activity today was the first part of the Tiger Leaping Gorge walk - this is where the upper Yangtze has pushed through the range between two 5000m+ mountains. There's a road sort of along the bottom (of which more later), but the walking track climbs well above the valley floor and then goes through three villages on the slopes - I think historically this would have been the donkey/mule track to access these villages, although all are now connected to the valley road by road. Spectacular views of the river and mountains as you might expect, on a brilliantly fine day. Two big climbs (about 400-500m apiece) which were hard work - particularly the top end of the second one, where I also suspect I was starting to feel the altitude (2650m) a bit - but generally a good walk, and not too many exposed bits (regular readers will know of my discomfort with heights). Pulled up in the second village, a bit earlier than my original plan, but I'd realised that if I'd pressed on to the Halfway Inn, it was actually well beyond halfway and I'd be sitting around at the end for half of tomorrow waiting for a bus. Probably didn't drink enough and felt a bit dehydrated at the end of the day.

Had a potentially embarrassing gear failure at dinner - the button on my pants came off. I'd packed a pair of O pants in my bag in case the others were too hot to walk in, so it looks like that's what I'll be wearing until I get back to the hotel in Lijiang. Hopefully the locals aren't too perturbed. (Part of my travel kit is a couple of old-style nappy pins for emergency gear repairs of this nature, but they were in the bag I'd left back in Lijiang).

Saturday Nov 2 #

8 AM

Run 40:00 [3] 7.0 km (5:43 / km)

This one was a pleasant surprise on a number of fronts. I was staying in downtown Kunming and thought I'd be dicing with the concrete jungle, but a trip to the shops late last evening showed me that the street around the corner was pedestrianised for a way, and after that I was able to get northwest to Green Lake (a worthwhile target) with only one major road crossing (although one slightly hairy bit around some construction hoardings). Back was fine, and I was also fine with the altitude (1900m), although the extra 500m of Lijiang will be more of a test - maybe my Canberra upbringing hasn't completely left me? (I noticed at 1994 World University Championships in Switzerland that the decline in performance that others were feeling at around 2000m was hitting me around 2600). All in all a nice one.

Getting to the station was a bit fiddly - its south entrance has been closed, presumably for security reasons (there was a terrorist attack here in 2014), so getting to the north entrance from the metro station involves a circuitous 15-minute walk. Fine once under way, though, and Lijiang was definitely a worthwhile destination - a very well-preserved old town, with a 5500-metre peak towering to the north (I'll be on the other side of this tomorrow). It's something of a tourist mecca - although this is low season so it was busy but not unpleasantly crowded - but it's definitely a Chinese tourist mecca; haven't seen another Westerner since I arrived in town.

The old town would be an excellent sprint venue. There is a map of here but I forgot to get a copy before leaving Guangzhou, so the plan in the morning is to head out on the tourist map.

And the taxi driver from the station actually used his meter. (He didn't have seat belts, but you can't have everything).

Friday Nov 1 #

(injured) (rest day)

So much for taking advantage of the good running conditions in Yangshuo - my back definitely didn't want to play ball today (and didn't enjoy the day's travelling that much, either).

Quite a long day travelling - Yangshuo to Kunming, which is only scheduled as 5 hours on the train (1100km), but ended up about 12 door-to-door through a wait between two connections, long trips to the stations at each end, and at the Kunming end dropping in to the bus station to organise my ticket south to Laos in a few days' time (one of the major remaining pieces of the logistical puzzle). Shouldn't have been too surprised, given Yangshuo's touristy reputation, that in 10 minutes' waiting at the bus stop I had eight motorbike taxis or pedicabs offering their services (I'm sure the locals could balance on the back of a motorbike with a big pack on, but I wouldn't fancy myself to do it). I've read that this doesn't happen much elsewhere in China, which would fit in with my experience.

The train trip didn't go quite as smoothly as my other ones in China; the Guiyang-Kunming one was about 20 minutes late to start with (not sure where it began but I think it might have been as far away as Beijing) and ended up about 30 late after a couple of slow sections (i.e. it had to slow down to a relative crawling pace which is only marginally faster than the average speed of the Melbourne-Sydney run). Got to see more spectacular Chinese civil engineering than I did spectacular Chinese scenery (probably at least half the distance is in tunnels), but still got enough glimpses to feel as if I'd seen something worthwhile. Eventually made it to the hotel around 9.

Thursday Oct 31 #

7 AM

Run 40:00 [3] 7.0 km (5:43 / km)

In Yangshuo. Headed north along the river and immediately discovered I'd fallen on my feet; was out of town within 400 metres and onto a quiet road above the river, with almost no cars/trucks, although a steady procession of scooters, and one or two contraptions with small truck bodies and two-stroke engines which weren't going much faster than I was. Ended up in a couple of villages at the far end. Quite cool (although warmed noticeably when the sun rose higher towards the end), and mist in the river valley which shielded some of the views but added to the atmospherics. Good to take advantage of running opportunities while here; the conditions won't be as good again, either (probably) in terms of places to run or in terms of the environment (everything else from here will either be at high altitude or in tropical heat). Felt reasonable.

The morning and early afternoon was spent exploring the countryside. It's a thing to hire bikes (or scooters) here, but having seen some of the driving on the way here (not least the driving of some of the vehicles I was a passenger in), I thought that might be taking my chances, so I booked a tour. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this "tour" consisted of a car which provided transport to a couple of scenic spots (for myself and the Chinese family I was sharing the car with) and that we were left to our own devices once there. The viewpoints were spectacular, particularly the first one, over the Li River with jagged karst peaks all around (and a small flotilla of motorised rafts below, which is the other main way to see the place).

Was pondering whether I'd take probably the last opportunity for a while for Western food, but didn't, and was rewarded with the unpromising-sounding-but-wonderful-tasting "noodles in miscellaneous sauce".

Wednesday Oct 30 #

(injured) (rest day)

Started to head out but back a bit iffy today (woke up stiff so this wasn't a massive surprise). Was rather taken aback on walking back to the hotel to see the square in front of the shopping mall occupied by police with riot shields and someone wearing a balaclava throwing plastic bottles at them. Given the lack of commotion (to say nothing of any obvious reason for riotousness at this time and location) I assume it was riot police training.

With the World Cup now out of the way, it's time for the next stage - the overland journey ending up in Singapore. The first step was today, heading to Yangshuo (famous for its jagged karst mountain peaks). Managed to negotiate my first few bits of independent travel in China without too much trouble (including working out the local public transport to town - high-speed rail stations in China, like airports elsewhere, are often a fair way out of town - and thus being able to brush off the taxi touts), although Yangshuo is pretty touristy so the degree of difficulty is relatively low (plenty of English menus, for example). Handed over a picture of the district to get to town - said picture is on the 20-yuan note.

And I look forward to the day when a climate change sceptic on the internet, when he (it's almost always a he) is presented with convincing evidence that he is wrong, concedes that he's wrong and backs down from the original comments.

Orienteers taking over the world department: an e-mail came in today saying that the agricultural climate guides project (the one which was responsible for my SA road trip with Simon Allen in July) has brought in someone to do, among other things, the data visualisation work - one Jonathan McComb.

Tuesday Oct 29 #

12 PM

Run 33:00 [3] *** 4.5 km (7:20 / km)

Run around the sprint controls, a bit closer to the first start than I would have liked (the controls were put out quite late because a lot of taping needed to be done). Spotted a couple of bits of additional taping which needed to be done, a control which I moved slightly because it would have been knocked over in the first five minutes of the race had it stayed in its original position, and a control official who I moved slightly because she would have been knocked over in the first five minutes of the race had she stayed in her original position. Felt reasonably good running; Achilles fine once warmed up. Significantly less humid than it has been (dewpoint almost got down to single figures).

I thought this area and event would be pretty special and it was - seemed to be very well received, with the only disappointments I heard relating to competitors' own navigation. The organisation also went more smoothly than on earlier days; it's clearer now who is responsible for what. Still felt quite relieved when 4.35 ticked past and the time limit for complaints had expired (without receiving any).

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