Oct 26, 2007

Beijing marathon 2007

The Beijing marathon this year was on October 21, 2007. The course was moved to a less congested route north of the Olympic stadium. They've really improved their organizational skills during the past few years. This year's race had considerably better crowd control for participants and spectators alike. The race course used up both lanes of the road, so unlike past years where one side of the road was filled with idling, polluting cars, the air was relatively ideal for running.

Participants were staggered at the starting line based on which race they were running, full marathon, half, 10K, or 4K. The organizers still got this part backwards, and as a 10K runner I had to start behind the half and full marathoners, and I was constantly passing them by up until about the 7K or 8K mark. I think the organizers will have their act together for the Beijing Olympics next year.

Note: Pictures above taken by other people, click on image for respective flickr pages.

Oct 17, 2007

PRC national day vacation

October 1-7 is the Chinese national day holiday, which means every place worth visiting in China is packed with pushy tour groups. There's no better time to escape the country and go someplace else for a while. Fortunately for me, I was able to spend my vacation week in Colorado. I was able to do a bunch of great things while I was there.

Hiked my first fourteener.

Went shopping at King Soopers. This is a type of a Kroger that they have out in Colorado. I made sure to intentionally call it "Sooper Doopers" when I talked to the locals so I could sound like an out-of-towner. I also made sure to use the term "Coloridians" rather than the proper "Coloradans" to refer to Colorado residents. No one called me on that one, surprisingly.

Saw the Smashing Pumpkins at Red Rocks Amphitheater , which is the most spectacular venue I've ever seen a rock concert at. [setlist]

I went back to Red Rocks during the day and hiked around a bit. It's worth seeing both ways. Plus when I was there during the day, I think I got to walk in the spot where Billy Corgan spat his water onto the stage! Added bonus.

Ate dinner at a Village Inn. This is a restaurant that I lovingly refer to as "Geriatric Joe's". One night when discussing where to go for dinner, I mentioned that I wanted to find some type of place I couldn't easily find in Beijing. I said, "Let's find a place where the geriatric dinner-before-five-o'clock crowd would be happy. I want to see old people gumming their food and sucking their meals through straws." Village Inn met the requirements one hundred percent. It was like Bill Knapps or other value chains. I want say it's similar to Denny's, but I just couldn't picture it with the post-clubbing crowd eating greasy food to get over the booze woozys. Noodles & Company was a chain that I would definitely pick over Village Inn. This place had excellent macaroni and cheese, and the price was just right.

Watched the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Poked around in rock formations and dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Ridge.

Hunted around on the Colorado state capital steps to find the little plaque that shows you're one mile above sea level. The politicians preparing for a news conference, whom I had to walk behind, acted a little annoyed.

Hiked around some mountains in Vail, and saw how the upper crust lives. Vail in autumn reminds me of Beijing in that everything seems to be under construction. There's jack hammering, noisy trucks, and construction equipment everywhere in the ski village. Most of the people I saw mulling about were construction workers covered in some type of dust, grit, or paint splatter. I'm sure the environment is a bit different during ski season.

Almost ate at a Waffle House. I was really in the mood for some authentic waffles one night, but from the outside of the Waffle House you could tell it was really a run-down dump of a truck stop -type diner, so we gave it a pass.

Gorged on mass quantities of creamy lobster ravioli at an all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant chain. It gave me mass quantities of lobster-flavored flatulence for a day afterwards.

Visited the Denver Mint. I enjoy touring factories and mass production lines. Seeing the mint makes you wonder, when are we going to be done with coins and paper money completely and move to all electronic money? It's happened for stocks and most bonds for the most part. Sooner or later all currency will be electronic and this place will be obsolete.

Did a Coors brewery tour. It's much like the Tsingtao brewery tour I did before in China. Except for the fact this time beer was more watery, as only Coors can be. You could get wasted on all the samples they'll give you at the end of the tour if you wanted to. As well as the assortment of regular Coors beers, I tried out one of their low alcohol beers just for kicks. It tastes like latrine water. No wonder no one drinks that stuff.

Saw the sights at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ate at Winchell's Donuts and Lamar's Donuts.

Both of these chains are pretty similar in taste. Winchell's has more innovative flavors and varieties, like the peanut butter and jelly donut, but Lamar's has the advantage of providing you with jelly donuts that weigh one pound each. Literally.

I don't know how Coloradan's can stay so skinny and in shape eating all of this all-you-can-eat Italian food, fatty donuts, Del Taco, and macaroni and cheese, but I know I would gain twenty pounds in the first month living there.

It's nice to be back in Beijing where the greasy, oily Chinese food slips and slides nicely through your gut. It seems like within a half hour it's able to massage it's way out towards the other end, and you go to the bathroom like a goose.