As the lyrics to Rise and Shine say, today I set my alarm for 6am, got my sports clothes on and went to go and run. But something tried to stop me before I even started. The door was locked and I couldn’t get out. There wasn’t even anybody at the desk or hanging around who I could go get to open it for me.
I decided to run at this (clearly) unsociable hour as it’s really hot in the south of China right now, it’s much cooler in the morning and there are less people about. It’s also cool in the evening, but after sundown, running becomes more dangerous as the campus isn’t well lit and there are all sorts of potholes and obstacles on the floor – broken glass, rubbish, empty pipes, you never know what you could trip over.
I didn’t know what to do. In Chinese dormitories, curfews are normal and in Qingdao, the doors were locked between 11pm and 5am, I guessed here would be the same but it was already 6.10am by this point and there were no signs of anyone opening the door. So I decided to do some stair running in the meantime. We used to do it in land training at swimming, but on a larger scale with maybe over 300 stairs and 10 floors to climb. There are 7 floors in my building and 148 steps from the bottom to the top. I ran this three times, doing 10 press-ups when I reached the top and after 8 minutes of this, the door was open and I was set free. It felt so good to be out running on campus. It was a lot cooler than it has been and I ran towards the running track, which is where most Chinese students go running. I was definitely the only one running through campus, despite the three lakes and wide avenues to run on. On my way, lots of people were already on campus (unlike UK campuses where nobody would be around before 7am), looking at me as I ran past. I’m not sure if I should ignore, acknowledge or greet them.
I got to the running track and realised that I hadn’t activated my GPS, so the 11 minutes I just spent running there weren’t tracked, I think it was about 2km though. I ran 3km on the running track, overtaking a topless middle aged man, who’s mouth dropped wide open when he saw me, a basketball team who had been staring at me from the bunkers each time I ran past, an old lady in patchwork shorts with amazing calves and a couple of other Chinese students. It was a bit boring running in circles, so after that I went around the campus for a quick loop of the lake, but as mentioned above, there were lots of obstacles so I had to concentrate. There were stepping stones, broken steps, piles of rubbish and pedestrians to be aware of. It wasn’t as good at this time (closer to 7am) as the people practicing Tai Chi and strange Chinese exercises had all finished.
When I finished, I wanted to have breakfast from the canteen. But I haven’t got my canteen card yet, so I semi-forcefully told a Chinese student I’d be using his card to buy my tea-eggs and thrust a 1 kuai coin in his hand. He was a bit taken aback, a sweaty foreigner in a bright green BUCS triathlon t-shirt telling him to buy two eggs, but he didn’t say no. I also bought a carton of coconut water, which was nice and refreshing as it was starting to get warmer.
After breakfast, I synced my run to Strava and it didn’t work! It said it had uploaded, but I couldn’t see my route or splits. I stressed out and thought that the whole world was against me running this morning, what with the locked door, no GPS and now Strava not uploading my run, but an hour or so later, my run appeared and all was good. I’m going to ask what time our dorm opens, as if it is 6.30am, maybe I’ll spend an extra 10 minutes in bed, rather than running up and down the stairs!