Socially-Distanced Exercise

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO200
“Bike and Bluebonnets” Cedar Park, 2020

Our local guidelines for living under the COVID-19 lockdown state that we are permitted to go outside for exercise, such as jogging or bicycling, and I’ve actually been doing both. Since we are supposed to stay at least 6 feet away from others, I only run on the neighborhood streets where I can easily avoid the sidewalk or go to the other side of the street. And when I go bicycling, I stick to the roads so there’s plenty of distance from pedestrians out for their walks. (I pulled my bike off the street so I could take the photo of the bluebonnets!)

For the most part, everyone has been very friendly – plenty of waves and “hello”s. Which is nice, because the reports of increased incidents of racism towards Asian-Americans have kind of kept me on-edge when I see others out in the neighborhood. Our city is pretty diverse and tolerant, but it only takes one person, right? Anyways, let’s keep it nice and cool, shall we?

Sunday Run and Avengers: Endgame

"Wildflowers" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.95mm, f/1.8, 1/1150 sec, ISO100
“Wildflowers” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today the sun was shining brightly so I decided to head on out for a short run. I haven’t gone out running for a few weeks now, but it’s time to get back to it. Especially with summer coming up and vacations planned, I need to get my touring legs back in shape. 😄 On the run, I stopped and took a few photos of the wildflowers because there were so many of them. I always enjoy the running route, but that extra splash of color makes it even more special.

In the evening, we went and watched Avengers: Endgame. Maybe it was because of the excessive hype, but I didn’t think it lived up to my expectations. Yes, it was epic and the action scenes were really cool, but the supposedly emotional parts of the story had no effect on me. On the other hand, the teaser for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that they showed before the Avengers movie had my heart pumping! Rey’s slow-motion jump over the tie-fighter that cuts to the epic music really struck a chord with me. Now that was moving! I guess it’s because I’ve been a huge fan of Star Wars ever since I was a kid that I have a lot of feelings tied to the franchise. Conversely, I’ve never been a huge fan of any superheroes or Marvel comics so I tend to view those stories from a distance. That’s just my theory.

"Avengers" Round Rock, 2019
Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.95mm, f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO1228
“Avengers” Round Rock, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Running in China

It’s been a couple months since I returned from my trip to China, but I wanted to write a post about running while I was over there. I’ve written about running while on vacation before, but I’d like to expand a little more on the subject about why I love to bring my running shoes with me when I travel.

First of all, I heard that exercise helps get over jet lag, and since China is 13 hours ahead of Texas (during daylight savings) any opportunity to beat the tiredness is one worth trying. And speaking of tiredness, whenever I run in the morning, I find that I have a ton of energy throughout the day, all the way up until bedtime. This proved to be the case on the China trip as well – I had so much energy that I didn’t need to nap at all, and was even up at the lounge dancing until 11 pm. Which is kind of crazy for an introvert like myself. 😌

Another fun thing about running while on vacation, and running first thing in the morning in particular, is that there’s the anticipation and excitement of exploring new neighborhoods. I’d kind of check out what’s nearby in Google Maps, then just head out. On the other hand, on my run in Beijing, I just started running towards a park, not knowing what was there, and stumbled upon the Temple of the Sun, which apparently is a popular spot for runners. It was so fun to see this park, and stop to take photos, then run a bit more, then stop for photos again. It’s discoveries like these that just fuel the excitement for the next run in a new city.

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And a little bonus discovery – I found the nearby shopping center which had two of my favorite stores, Muji and Uniqlo, and made a note to return later when we had free time. Score!

When I was in Stockholm, I went for runs after work, around 5 pm, but for the China trip, I’d head out at around 6 am, with plans on being back at the hotel for breakfast at around 7 am or so. Running early in the morning has a couple bonuses. Firstly, there was pretty much no traffic on the streets. And I mean this literally. Even in the Beijing business district, I could run down the center of the boulevard if I wanted to! It was surreal. But by 6:45, the traffic had picked up and it was a completely different city.

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Secondly, the early morning running gave me a chance to see the sunrise. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an is pretty spectacular, but seeing the sun rise over it was epic. Something I’ll never forget!

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And speaking of epicness, my morning run along The Bund in Shanghai was amazing. The sunrise over the skyscrapers, the kites taking off, and the taichi was so perfect, it was like living in a dream.

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I think that even an early morning walk would be good, but elevating that walk into a run (or even a jog) will allow you to cover a lot more distance. It’s kind of surprising how far you’ll be able to get in a short amount of time and how much you’ll be able to see, especially in the city. Another thing I that I thought was really cool and convenient is that as a runner, you have an excuse to be pretty much anywhere, and no one will question your presence. If you are just walking along down some back alley at 6 am, it could look a little weird. But as a runner, you become kind of invisible. Plus, you stop standing out as a tourist, even if it’s only for an hour.

Another huge bonus, at least to me, is that the morning run means you’ll be hungry a lot. I actually enjoy feeling hungry… it makes me feel alive.* But what is nice is that you’ll have a good appetite for tasting all the new and interesting foods that come with vacation. On the China trip, I tried to avoid food that I could easily eat at home. So, instead of eating a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, and toast, I’d have rice porridge, pickled vegetables, kimchee, and dumplings. And my mindset shifted from eating to get full, to eating to taste everything. (Spicy frog, anyone?) That meant not needing to go back for seconds of the same item, but try to eat new things with each plate. Of course, if I found something that was particularly delicious, I’d have extra! But that was the exception, not the rule. And eating less has the benefit of being less tired since your body doesn’t have to expend as much energy digesting enormous amounts of food.

I truly believe running on vacation is something everyone should do. But before you think that running on vacation is only for hardcore exercise nuts, I can tell you that I am far from being super-fit. I am carrying a few extra pounds and my pace is more of a jog than a run. But for vacation, this is enough. Being able to jog for an hour is sufficient to reap the benefits of seeing new cities in a completely new way, and separate yourself from the tourist crowds. So, if you have a vacation coming up, it’s time to start running! Just get your cardio in shape, muscles in condition, and have your shoes/running kit ready to go. I know that you’ll take your vacation to the next level just by getting off the beaten path with your running shoes.

And the final bonus to running is that you’ll generally be in good enough shape to be able to participate in the more strenuous excursions and activities without feeling exhausted later. Climbing the 99 steps of the pagoda in Shibaozhai was cake, and I was able to recover from the steep portions of the Great Wall quickly. It felt so good! 😄

I hope you give running a try on your next vacation!

またね~

******************

Beijing Run at Strava:

Xi’an Run 1 at Strava:

Xi’an Run 2 at Strava:

Shanghai Run at Strava:

*I think the mindset of thinking that hunger should be avoided at all costs is terrible and something pushed by the food industry. And the fact that hunger is different than starvation is an important point.

Oceanside Run

I LOVE to go running while on vacation, even a short weekender like this one. This morning it was a beautiful beachside jog up the Pacific coast. 🌞🌴🏖

If you are also on Strava, why don’t we connect?

"Oceanside Run" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/1200 sec, ISO50
“Oceanside Run” Oceanside, 2018
"Cool Down" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/530 sec, ISO50
“Cool Down” Oceanside, 2018

Farmers Market Sunday

"Fresh Veggies" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/640 sec, ISO200
“Fresh Veggies” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today was a day, which started off with a trip to two different Farmers Markets. The first one was one we hadn’t been to, but it was very small – just a few different vendors selling crafts and honey. So, we decided to head to our normal Farmers Market over by Lakeline Mall. Not only do they have fresh veggies and meats, but also a wide variety of homemade pastries, coffee, and other prepared foods.

"Pasta Flavors" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/1600 sec, ISO200
“Pasta Flavors” Cedar Park, 2018

We tried some gyoza and soup dumplings. They were yummy but not exceptional. I guess the wrappers were a little too thick than what we are used to.

"Soup Dumplings" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/180 sec, ISO200
“Soup Dumplings” Cedar Park, 2018

After the market, we had some free time in the middle of the day, so we spent it doing household stuff like laundry, watched a little tv, and I went for a nice afternoon run around the neighborhood. Gotta keep in a little bit of shape!

For dinner, Mariko made a delicious stir-fry with chicken, jalapeños, and greens. おいしかった!

"Spicy Stir Fry" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/45 sec, ISO3200
“Spicy Stir Fry” Cedar Park, 2018

In the evening I volunteered at the high school band fundraiser event at the stadium. The Marching Festival is a huge event, and I spent three hours working at the concession stand as a cashier, which was a challenge for me because my math skills are sub-optimal. 🤣 Since there was no register, all calculations had to be done mentally and it wore me out. Haha. But I enjoyed it and helping out the kids was fun.

"Amazing Cloud" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/15 sec, ISO1000
“Amazing Cloud” Cedar Park, 2018

My shift ended at 11 pm, and then it was shower-time, relax-time, and reading-time. A long but fun day! And you know what? The afternoon run gave me energy to carry me through the evening. Yay for exercise! 💪

I hope you had a nice Saturday!

おやすみなさい