Friday, September 16, 2011

Running in Ha Noi

At 5am, I start getting ready to run. I am really curious to see if I can tolerate the heat and humidity...and for how many miles.

I am out the door by 5:30am, but it takes time for my Garmin watch to acquire the GPS signal. The sun may or may not be is overcast and a tad foggy. As expected, it is very sticky and warm.

I run thru the parks that neighbor the Metropole en route to the lake. Many people are already out and about working out in one form or another. Certain individuals appear to be doing nothing more than simply moving their limbs. At least they ARE moving. A larger group has gathered by the statue of King Ly. Someone on the steps appears to be leading this group and music accompanies their actions, though I would hardly describe it as synchronized. Amusing to watch as I run by.

I decide to circle Hoan Kiem Lake clockwise...the direction Valerie and I walked yesterday afternoon. The surrounding streets are one way (though scooters view this as merely a suggestion) in the opposite direction, so I can see the traffic coming should I need to avoid people on the sidewalk. Most of the people here are either trying to follow along with the group in the park or do similarly stationary activities. There are a number of walkers...with only a few exceptions they are flowing opposite of my direction. I am constantly avoiding people near the lake, so I decide to stay closer to the street on subsequent laps. A lap is barely more than a mile long (and it would be far too dangerous to run anywhere else), so I plan to do at least four.

After my second lap, I decide to reverse my direction and go with the flow. I notice that I am taller and quite a bit faster than anyone around me...even though I am only averaging between 8:00 and 8:30 per mile. I am not entirely sure this is the better way to go. I soon notice quite a few runners going in my original direction.

On my fourth lap, I decide to stop take photos at various locations I have noted along the way. I am pouring sweat and really feel the heat on my back when I stop moving. The sun momentarily breaks through the fog as I am on the far side of the lake. This will be my last lap for sure.

As I run back through the parks, I am a bit surprised to find the large group by the statue still working out. Not only that, their leader seems to be orchestrating some kind of synchronized laughing as part of the routine. So surreal. A lot of people are playing badminton within the park and on courts that are located upon the sidewalks. A miss hit birdie could easily end up in the street.

I return to the Metropole having logged fewer than 4.5 miles, so I do one complete orbit of the hotel before calling it quits. I would run longer, but Valerie and I have to be ready to meet our tour guide for breakfast.

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