Happy New Year 2017! I’ve stepped away from this blog, semi forgetting about it, but I haven’t stepped away from writing entirely. In 2016 I organized my stories about Hong Kong into a manuscript of sorts. Hong Kong is still the bad part. I feel like I’ve only been stable for a year on my medications. Prior to that, I felt awful. There were a lot of ups and downs, trying to create balance in my life of work and play while getting healthier. I still wonder if the rejection of medication at the beginning of my journey with my diagnosis was sole reason things went awry. It can’t be. There have to be other factors that contributed to the mental mess I was in for the past decade. I am slowly walking out of the haze, the shadow or the storm, whatever you would like to call it. I try to run, and I slip on the ice because it is black and camouflaged to the pavement beneath me. I remind myself to grow up slowly, just as a friend once told me in college.
This weekend we celebrated the mid Autumn festival and I ran a ten kilometer race. Needless to say it was a big weekend. Mid Autumn festival is the second biggest holiday in Hong Kong, just like Thanksgiving and Christmas in America, we have the Lunar New Year and mid Autumn festival. Mid Autumn festival is a celebration for the harvest that comes in the autumn around the autumnal equinox, which is marked by the appearance of the full moon between September and October. This year the festival fell on September 27, the same day as the Jamieson 10k race.
I got up at 5:15 to get ready for the race and take the 6am ferry out of Lamma Island. Choi and I met Leung in Causeway Bay and went to the Shatin Sportsground via taxi. For those of you who are wondering, the sunrise happens just after 6 and it is a glorious view from the ferry. (I enjoyed this everyday during my yoga training). Check out the sky in the photo below!
I was very full from a breakfast of two eggs, wheat bread and marmalade. I chose eggs for breakfast in keeping with my veggie diet and to pack some protein before the long run. I sipped warm water to help with digestion. The book Yoga Yajñavalkya recommends filling one third of the stomach with food, one third with warm water, and leaving the other third empty. Not too too much room in there as the size of your stomach is only about the size of the fist. Don’t worry though, it expands, and it is possible to get an idea of how much to eat and drink during a meal by following this ratio.
Pre-race there wasn’t much time to warm up. We took a quick photo then put our belongings in the stands. I love the good running buddy juju that got us the numbers 1693 and 1639!!! True running buddies for life!
The race went really well. There were less than two thousand people, but it was still pretty crowded on the race course which followed a bike path over the Shing Mun river and started and finished at the stadium. During the race we steadily worked our way forwards, passing one person after another until about the seventh kilometer when we evened out with our competitors. For the first five kilometers or so, I did not think about anything! I was completely absorbed in running (and passing other people) and it felt really carefree. After the fifth kilometer, I focused more on breathing, making sure every inhale and exhale was accompanied by 3-4 strides. I asked myself “Are you enjoying running in this race?” and I confidently answered “YES!” in my head. Everything was going smoothly, my muscles were working and not cramping which was a relief. I was on adrenaline since the start of the race and it felt like it was being steadily supplied to me throughout the whole race from start to finish.
Towards the second half of the race, I met my main competitor: another female in my age group (20-24). Funny thing is I did not even know there were prizes being given out at this race. She had a steady gait and quick rhythm. I was definitely working hard on keeping my breath together while she was not breathing hard at all. I chased her down at the last two hundred meters of the race, and I finished about 10 strides behind her.
We took some time to rest, drink water, eat Asian pears (Why I love HK: because they give out pears at the end of races instead of granola bars, etc.), and stretch. It is so essential to stretch after every run so that your muscles can relax and grow bigger. I cannot stress that point enough. It will also reduce the lactic acid in your muscles so that you don’t feel as much pain the next day or in the hours after the run.
I met a team of “veggie runners” with the most adorable jerseys, with pictures of animals on the front and the words “love and respect” and “go veggie”. Definitely I must join this organization’s running team if I venture to stay in HK longer. What a great message to share about diet while running.
As we were heading out of the stadium, we saw a results board. Neither of us were expecting anything, but we wanted to see the official times which had been kept by an electronic attachment to our bibs. Lo and behold, my name was listed at #3 in females ages 20-24! With a time of 55.45, I had won a prize in this competition which came as such a surprise, and I am still wondering why this race was not more popular for woman in my age group. Here I am receiving my medal and gift certificate to Jamieson, already changed out of my running clothes.
On to the second part of the mid Autumn festival celebration! The family reunion may be the most essential part as the round moon represents unity and wholeness, such a the family unit. Of course I celebrated with my almost-foster family here, the Chan family.
Having a big dinner and then going out to the streets of Causeway Bay to watch the dragon dance made the evening super special. The dragon dance was not the typical big and brightly colored dragon costume. For this celebration, they create the body of the dragon out of hay, then stick incense all over the body, so a fragrant aroma is carried throughout the city streets. Drums are being played to announce it’s arrival and keep the atmosphere lively. Children carry lanterns of paper or plastic (electric), and there’s confetti everywhere. I don’t have a picture or video of this because I was rushing to catch a bus back to Aberdeen where I take the ferry home to Lamma. From the pier at Aberdeen I watched the moon, its pale silver light reflected down from the sky and I felt peaceful. I truly am a moongirl. To me that means I go with the ebb and flow of nature, I always turn to the moon to feel nourished and comforted because her light is so gentle. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!