Reflections on the Haining International Tide-Chasing Marathon 2021.

I did it. Just before lunchtime on 9 May, after four months and 1,190 km of training, I dragged myself, exhausted, beneath a large yellow gate, spanning the main road through Yanguan, Haining, 4 hours, 12 minutes, and 41 seconds after crossing under it the other way.

My snazzy looking medal; the first of what I hope will be many.

Finishing my first ever marathon, despite the time, felt like a fantastic achievement. It still does. In the immediate aftermath, the word I used to describe the experience was “humbling”, and I think that reflects perfectly how the heat, the distance, and the cumulative drain on both my legs and mind brought my…

Love Is a New Pair of Shoes

Another year, another Valentine’s day. This time, we ended up with matching presents (kind of); Nhung got me a pair of Asics Novablasts, which I have been coveting for a while now, and I got her a pair of Skechers Ride 8s, her first ever pair of proper running shoes.

I think, chronologically speaking, Valentine’s Day slotted in-between the final run of week five and the first run of week six. That makes this post about two weeks overdue (instead of the usual one), but better late than never, hey.

Less Work, More Running

Monday 8th, the first day of my week five schedule, was the final day of work before the Spring Festival holiday. The holiday didn’t officially start until two days later, but my company forced everyone to take two days off beforehand using their annual leave. (Force is a bit of a strong word; most people would probably choose to do so if given the option themselves.)

That means two weeks with no work where I can really get down to accumulating some of those long slow miles that my training thus far has been missing. …

A List of Some of the Stages You Might Go Through.

Learning a language is a long and daunting task, no matter which language you choose to learn. They all have their own unique quirks, and their own unique stumbling blocks, that make the learning experience that little bit different for each.

Chinese is, at the end of the day, just another language, and I thought it might be fun to look at some of the stages that you might go through should you try to learn it. …

Watch Me Go…

That’s right, dad puns. Sure, I’m not a dad yet, but it’s on the list of things to do, so I might as well start getting in the groove.

It might not immediately seem clear why that’s a terrible pun, so here: I bought a new watch. A running watch, specifically. I’ve never been a huge fan of wearing watches for style purposes and we all have phones these days, which tell the time, so if I was to get another watch it was only ever going to be for run tracking.

I learnt from my negative experience of getting…

Minimal Pairs in Vietnamese

Anyone who’s taught or learnt a language should be familiar with the concept of minimal pairs. They’re words that are identical in all aspects of pronunciation bar one, and are commonly used for learning to differentiate, first in terms of listening and then speaking, the nuances of pronunciation that exist in a target language which may not be present in the native language of the learner.

An illustrative example for English might be the words beat and bit. While the difference between the long e and short i phonemes seems clear enough to a native English speaker, the two sounds…

Finding My Rhythm.

I spent the first two weeks trying to up my cadence, thereby shortening my stride length, with the goal of making my gait more fluid, my running less laboured, and ensuring that I wasn’t over-striding and smashing my knees into early oblivion.

I had no system for doing this, I simply told myself mentally to up my cadence and then concentrated on spinning my legs round faster on each run.

What I found, on my tempo runs and speed work where I was wearing the UA Velociti 2s and so had feedback to check, was that I…

How Did People Run before Portable Music Players?

Seriously. It sometimes feels like music is the only thing that gets me through my runs, especially the harder ones. It helps me to zone out and certain songs just seem to breathe life into my legs and lungs the second they start playing.

I have a very limited supply of music on my phone and longer runs tend to loop through my whole collection at least once. As a result, at some point during my weekly long runs, slow runs, and longer tempo runs, Dear Sergio is guaranteed to come on…

Is China Finally Facing a Second Wave?

I’ve mentioned before how fortunate we’ve been, at least in Shanghai, when it comes to the pandemic; we had a strict lock-down for a while at the beginning of last year, but by the time summer rolled around, life was pretty much back to normal. The only deviation from business as usual was face mask requirements on the metro and a very small number of other places.

Seeing how quickly COVID-19 spread around the world at the beginning and middle of last year, combined with the lack of visible precautions taken, it seemed…

Blood, Sweat, and… Wait, Blood?

That was my reaction, but we’ll get to that at the end. First things first, I made it through the week! Some parts were a little harder than I was expecting, while some parts were a little easier. I’ll go through each run below and add my thoughts where I have them.

Tempo Run (Monday)— 5km at 13km/h:

This is my 10km pace. At least, it’s my 10km pace according to the 10km I ran to serve as my base for working out my target paces back on New Year’s Day. I figured this one…


A blog about life, love, language, literature and lüyou in Shanghai, China and beyond. I’m a student, a translator, a husband, a human, or at least I try to be.

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