Monday, June 30, 2014

This Week on the Net (6/23-6/29)

I know I skipped a week, just wasn't up to it.  Summer is here, and the blogosphere is filled with tips on running safely in the heat.  Marathon training season is also here, so there are a lot of posts on how to train for a marathon or half-marathon as well.

  • Der Scott: How to Run While Injured.  Sad but true.
  • Running in the heat; why you are more likely to get a heat stroke during shorter races.  Very interesting reads on how the sweat glands work and how the body takes care of over heating.  
  • Training for you first half-marathon. Super appropriate~
  • Mount Washington Road Race 2014.  I've heard of this race because some members of our local running club have run it in the past and were featured in their past newsletters.  But apparently it's a much bigger deal since the most recent race was featured on the Runner's World website.  It's a scary ass race of 7.3 miles going all the way up Mount Washington.  It's one big hill.  You climb for an hour or two up on one, one, 12-20% grade hill.  I need time to let that sink in.
  • No difference between men and women on weight loss?  Runner's World called our attention to a recently published study that monitored the caloric intake and output of a group of overweight men and women and found that given equivalent caloric intake and exercise output the men and women lose the same percentage of body fat.  Essentially the conclusion of the article is that men and women are capable to lose the same amount of body fat given the same eating and exercise regiment.  It was an interesting study, but it was more interesting to read the comments below the article.  Many people still don't believe it given their anecdotal experiences, and others use it to prove that women have a harder time to lose "weight" than men.  I think I agree with all those who comment this way, since it does sort of prove that given the same regiment, women would lose less than men, poundage-wise.  So when they step on the scale there is still a difference.  But in terms of percent body fat it's the same, which in my opinion is more important.  I'm very frustrated by those who are obsessed by the number that appears on their scales.  I often ask people if they want to be healthy and weight more or sickly and getting to their goal weight as an example, hoping they would realize their ridiculous obsession.  Yet at the same time I step on my own scale several times a day, taking joy when the number becomes lower.  I think that's because I've not reached my goal body shape that I'm happy with.  I think once I reach a healthy weight I would no longer be obsessed.  
  • Oatmeal's comic on marathon running.  Everyone seems to be sharing this excerpt of the upcoming marathon-themed book by Oatmeal comics.  Since I saw it first on the most recent Runner's World issue I was unimpressed when everyone was raving about it on the internet.  But it's still pretty funny the second time I read it.  Do go on to his website and read the multipart comic strips on how he started running.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Exercise Diary: Best Yoga Class Ever~

Recently I've been on this bad procrastinatory cycle, where I put off going to yoga class for two weeks and then go again with great trepidation for being so out of shape yoga-wise.  Today was no different.  I went back to the yoga studio for the first time in two weeks, my thighs still hurting from Sunday's run, and I was worried about how out of shape I was going to be, how hot and sweaty I was going to be after I was done, and how miserable the windowless, humid basement studio felt in my mind.

I was very pleasantly surprised.

Because of the beautiful summer weather that finally greeted the Upper Valley, and because of the summer term in this college town, today's class was only half filled.  We were able to spread out nicely.  In addition, although the studio is still heated for its class it actually feels cool and breezy at times so it's not humid and yucky.  In the two week when I was absent they managed to paint a nice pale blue and white tree on the orange wall across one side of the room so it looked less ugly, and the tree was very tastefully done.

The class was awesome as well.  We started slow, in the child's pose, did a bunch of breathing exercises to get us into the rhythm, and gradually went into downward facing dog.  I don't know what it was, but by staying in push up high plank for a bit longer than usual I was able to take better control of my pose and my downward dog was better, my arms straighter, my back more arched, and my head dropped straight down so that for the first time in my life I was able to breathe deeply and easily in this pose.  And it was a revelation.  It was so awesome that my breathing was improved overall throughout today's class.

There were some parts of the class that really reminded me of how sore my legs still are from the running two days ago, specifically the chair post, the chair twist, and the crescent lunges.  Not only were they painful, they heated up my legs so much that my sweat glands were working over time.  My legs felt like squeezed sponges after we got out of those poses and it felt like water was pouring out of every pore into my capris.  But luckily we didn't do endless crescent lunges today so while I felt accomplished that I got through the poses they didn't seem to drag on.  Instead we took it easy in between with runner's lunges, which is just the crescent lunge with the back knee dropped down, and warrior II, which holds an infinite numbers of variation on its own.  We didn't do a lot of balance related poses like the tree, the airplane, or the eagle poses, but I suspect my balance is still my weakest part that seem to regress with my infrequent class attendance.

I also felt that my running has somewhat strengthened my control of the different poses.  I now have a much easier time with all the different lunges than before, and I feel that my base is much stronger.  I really like this instructor  because she always took time to work on our core.  She is the only instructor who made us do crunches, and I'm really glad of the opportunity.  We also did a short planks when we were in between the dolphin pose, which was easy for me since I always try to do minute long planks on my own.

And most thankfully, my foot pain only acted up once during one of the crescent lunges we did and afterwards it never bothered me again.  My ankles and Archilles tendons were behaving, and my hips were more flexible than I had anticipated.  Still sucked at all forms of inversions but that's no surprise.  I felt so cleansed afterwards.  And I wasn't the only one.  My friend who went with me thought it was an excellent class as well.

When I run my body feels lighter, happier, and more effortless after about 2.5 miles.  Although my speed never goes up I always enjoy the later part of my run much more.  And for the first time, I experienced the same thing in yoga.  As we got to the end of out class the instructor was talking about the homestretch and finishing strong, but I found that I didn't need that to motivate me because I felt I could go on forever.  It was such a strange but familiar feeling, I was quite proud of myself.

I don't know what happened today that culminated into such a wonderful class, but there were a few things I think I could try again to achieve the same result.

1. Keep running.  Aerobic exercise or not, running has definitely strengthened my leg muscles.
2. Keep doing those sporadic core exercises, especially planks.  I don't know if it real but I feel my arms are getting stronger judging by the downward dog and its preceding poses.
3. Eat a light lunch on the day.  I didn't cook a lot for today so all I brought was some rice and uncooked cucumber mixed with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and sesame oil.  I had a small bag of Cheeze-its as snake about an hour before class since I was starving by then.  But the light and carb/veggie rich lunch really helped to make me feel light, maybe strong as well?
4. While I get the merit of heated yoga I also really appreciated the light breeze in the middle of the class. I sweated a lot but didn't feel too dehydrated afterwards.
5. Speaking of hydration, I drank a lot of water before going to class and maybe that also helped,  given the ample seasonal articles now coming out about running in the heat.

These things aren't hard to replicate.  Besides the light breeze in the classroom I have control over everything else I think contributed to today's awesome class.  So next time I must repeat the same things, hoping I can replicate the same result.  Doesn't always happen in lab, but I really hope it will happen for yoga. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Exercise Diary: No More Trail Runs, or Runs with Friends

I've been slacking off with my running (and exercising in general) last week.  I only did one short run on Monday, and didn't go to any yoga classes, despite the nice weather.  I've been using my foot as an excuse.  It still hurts even with just normal walking, and regardless of what shoes I wear (from the heavily cushioned running shoes to flat sneakers) I don't feel any significant relief with any one pair.  I don't know if it's still plantar fasciitis, or if it's my heel spur (I didn't know that there's this calcified little hook at the bottom of your foot until I saw an ad for heel wraps that are supposed to help with it), or if it's anything worse, like a stress fracture.  But it's been weeks since I first wrecked my foot and if anything my recent trail runs have made it worse.

After being cooped up for most of the week I decided it was time to go for a run on the weekend.  And on Sunday I went, with a bunch of people.  Ever since my friends heard that I started running they've been talking about doing runs together, and I've been resisting (subtly and sometimes unintentionally) for as long.  I'm still an extremely slow runner, and I like my slow pace.  My heart and lungs can't take a quicker pace, and I usually burn out if I try to follow someone else's pace.  But this time I agreed to go because there was a huge group of us, and it was a good motivation to get me off my butt.

Long story short, it was a disaster.  For me.  The others did splendidly.  Right after we started I could feel that I was going way faster than I'd liked, and I couldn't possibly hold a conversation at that pace.  After crossing two intersections I slowed down, and gave up on ever catching up with the pact.  Even then I was feeling the toll, and after climbing up a hill I was beat.  It was a bad start and I wasn't feeling good that day.  My stomach was full, my body was heavy, and I've been out of it for too long.  It was embarrassing.

And I think we got lost for a bit.  We sort of agreed on a route, and after losing sight of everyone I just went at my own pace around the route we had sort of agreed on.  I ended up walking the last quarter mile with a friend who was new to running and was overheating, and we took a detour to stop by our labs.  I particularly wanted to go to lab since I left my iPod there, which meant that I was running without any ways to track my run.  I know the route and I know approximately how far I ran, and honestly I don't want to know how I did since I did horribly and it's probably a good thing that it wasn't recorded.  But I like to feel "right" when I run, and I don't want to be constantly thinking about how I'm uncomfortable when I'm running.

After getting rehydrated and having my iPod back in lab, I decided to go for another run by myself, just a short run around the pond to make me feel better about myself.  I ended up going to the Pine Park trail  again since it's a nice 1.5 mile loop with shades and interesting terrains.  The run was nice and slow, and when I finished the loop it felt too short.  But I did seriously screw up my foot again.  It was inevitable to step on uneven ground with all the rocks and tree roots sticking out from the ground and at times there were some very alarming sharp pains emanating from my right foot.  I had to limp at times afterwards and today, and I iced my foot for a very long time last night.  I'm seriously debating whether I should go see someone and maybe get an X-ray on it.

So the take home message of yesterday is, I'm going to keep away from the trails for a long while.  Running on paved roads does upset my foot, but not nearly as badly as the uneven trails.  And also, no more running with other people.  To be honest I don't even know why I do it.  I like to listen to my iPod on the run (mostly recently StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson's cosmic podcast), and I like to run at a crawling pace (or more precisely, I like to not follow someone else's pace), and I don't like to talk to people when I run.  I think I only do it because others are kind enough to try to appeal to my interest.  I've never actively sought out companies to run with.  And I guess I just don't want to disappoint my friends.  But I doubt that any of them will want to run with me again after yesterday.  Which is perfectly fine with me and all I hope is that they don't think too horribly of me.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This Week on the Net (6/9-6/15)

Another short week.  I hurt my foot during running on Tuesday and had been resting for the rest of the week, and my surfing the web also diminished because of it.  Still working on getting through the RW magazine.  I'm on the most recent issue now.
  • Running on soft surfaces not good for your knees?  This NYTimes article from 2011 seems to think so.  Apparently running on hard surface vs. soft affect the way people run, so it's like a completely different activity, instead of a less forceful one.  Running on soft surface seems to increase overall injury rate, which is different from knee injuries specifically, because of the irregularity of soft surfaces that make the runners injure their legs more easily.  I found this interesting because like so many other things runners believe in, it turns out to hold no scientific proof.  I've only paid attention to it because I've been running trails a lot recently with my friend who absolutely refuses to run on concrete roads because of her knee surgery a few years ago.  I could sort of feel what she says, because I do find it more enjoyable and easier to run on the softer trails.   And I do think that in terms of the impact on your knees it feels like less impact on soft trail than on hard roads.  So this article is not good enough to arm and persuade my friend to run one the road with me.  I'm still curious about the hardness of the surface on your knees without the distraction of other might-have-been injuries.  
  • Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival.  Happened last weekend (6/6-8).  I was there briefly but didn't run, but plenty of bloggers did.  Katie from Runs for Cookies wrote a nice multi-part series on her experience there.  Many other bloggers did as well, but I've been following Katie's blog for a while so it was especially more fun.
  • Back of the pact woe?  One of the more popular, or well-responded, post relating to the RW Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival is Heather's account on running at the back of the pact.  She was sick on running day and was going to DNF before two other runners convinced her to walk the whole thing and walked with her.  A fast runner, she found for the first time what it was like to run at the pact, where people were slow but hardworking, where the volunteers were scattering, bored, or disappeared altogether, where the photographer just wanted to be done, where the traffic officers don't really care by the time you arrive, where the band pacts up, and where the cheering crowd is done for the day.  Running out of water, medals, and traffic control was apparently common from the responses of other back-of-the-pact runners, and this sad reality is just so disheartening.  On the most superficial level, all runner paid the same entry fee and therefore should get the same amount of service and respect, and on a deeper level, all runners should receive the same level encouragement and respect for completing their race.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Running Thoughts: slow and steady conquer hills

I've recently been running a lot with a friend from the lab, and whenever I run with her we hit the nearby trail.  There are a few reasons: 1) it's very shady in there so we would be avoiding the blazing sun or light rain, 2) it's beautiful in there with the trees, streams, and the Connecticut River, 3) it's soft, which my friend, who underwent knee surgery a few years ago, really liked, and 4) it's got some very nice hills for variety/ practice.  There are two big hills flanking either side of our 1.4-mile trail route, one  has an 80-foot climb over 0.2 miles, and the other has a ~60-foot climb over 0.1 mile.  I consider the former a longer, steadier incline, whereas the other I dubbed "the Big Ass Hill" (BAH).

From my first time running this trail (which was before I came to like running), to the workout we did today, I've climbed the BAH 4 times, and to my pleasant surprise each time I made progress.  The first time I broke my promise that I would run all the way up the hill and walked half the way, the second I went up with full speed ahead and nearly dropped on the ground afterwards, but did not stop to walk.  The last two times I instead adopted a "shut up and run" and "don't think too much about it" method and went up at a granny speed, slow and steady.  I still panted like a horse afterwards but at least I don't fear the hill anymore, and my serious panting started later and later on the hill run.

I've only gone up the steady, gradual hill twice, but there was also progress made between the first and the second time.  The first time I again went up too fast and had to stop and walk.  It didn't help that I ran into a professor in my department walking his dog with his wife right before we were about to go up the hill.  The second (and third, we went up there twice today) time was much better.  I again used the granny method, and just took my time.  And although I would not run out and start my own hill training class, and would still be too embarrassed to run up these hills with anyone else besides this friend, at least I'm going up there, and killing it.

I'm still working on running downhill.  One of the recent RW issue had a little thing on downhill running.  It emphasized the importance of practicing running downhills correctly, placing it right next to uphill training, and provided some tips on running correctly and proper training.  Granted I don't get to choose the hills I run, but I try to follow the directions the article gives on running it properly.  Head up, looking ~15-20 feet ahead, body tilting forward slightly, and all that jazz.  Still can't control the occasional pounding that goes straight to my hips, or my tendency to lean back when the hill is particularly steep (which apparently is bad for your knees).  As usual I can't control my speed.  Not that I don't enjoy flying down the hill like a running champ, I think I ultimately fear the speed more.

And I have to say, I really like going up the hills.  We did the trail loop 3 times today, which meant we had to choose which end we would start, and thus which hill we would run up twice.  We ended up running the steady, gradual one twice, and the BAH once, but I had a hard time making the decision, which means ultimately I really don't give a toss.  I fear the steady, gradual one more because I hadn't practice that one enough and the one experience was kind of miserable, but I see that as more reason I should practice it more.

I often thought that I like BAHs more than the steady and graduals because I like to get over the hills quickly rather than dragging it out, draining my breath.  But I think the truth is that I'm making one of my "Too" mistakes again: too fast.  We can all get up on a hill if we are not required a method.  In the worst case scenario we can just walk up there, though I think it actually takes more effort than slowly shuffle you way up.  But either way, the hills are not unconquerable, and even if you do run out of breath by the end you are likely not going to die, most likely, though I suppose there will always be exceptions.  But if you love your body more than going up a hill, chances are you will survive, and become better because of it.  Here's how I do it, at this stage of my inexperienced, out-of-shape running life.

1)  Mentally, you just can't think of it too much.  Of course you have to know that it's coming, either by running the route before or just by seeing that there is a hill coming up.  I don't think stumble onto a hill and having to adjust last minute helps at all.  But after you realized the fact that you have to go up a hill now, you have to forget, or at least, ignore the fact that you have a hill coming up.  Keep eyeing the top of the hill and worry about how steep it's going to be or how long it drags out is going to make you more nervous; your heart would beat even faster, and sometimes I get a wave of coldness over me that really doesn't help.  I do mentras in my head when I get distracted by the dauntingness of the hill.  The usual ones are either "don't think about it, just go" or "just shut up and run".  Sometime "it's not going to kill you" pops up and that's a good one too.  But the bottom-line is, just don't be too scared of it, it's just a frigging hill.

2)  Of course, I have neither the physical ability nor any competitive pressure to go up any hills really quickly, so I can afford to be fearless.  In terms of physically going up a hill without stopping to walk, it really all comes down to slow and steady.  Back straight, elbows back, head up, eyes straight (of course I stare just a few feet in front of me so I don't see how far I still have to go), and hop up like you are running up a long flight of stairs.  And go as slow as you can without stopping to walk, and just make your way up until you are down.  When going up the BAH my pantings still get louder and louder about halfway up, and sometimes my legs buckle when I make it all the way up, and today, when going down the same hill again just after about a minute of walking around catching up my breath, I had a momentary fear that my legs would lose control and that I would trip and tumble down the hill.  At some point I'll have to go back and work on my speed, but right now this is good enough.

I don't think I will enjoy running up a mountain.  I think running uphills uses a slightly different set of muscles than running on relatively flat ground and the change is refreshing.  So is going down hills, yet another set of muscles. I don't think anyone like to climb 30 flights of stairs, but there are some crazy runners out there who would race up Mt. Washington.  I'm definitely not physically there yet, nor would I like the constant, really long ass steady, gradual climb.  Variety is good.

Monday, June 9, 2014

This Week on the Net (6/2-6/8)

Sorry about this one lonely link.  Many things happened this past week that I wanted to mark down, but I kept debating whether it would be a thought-related link or a straight-share one, and in the end of course I gave up on posting them altogether.  It has also been a print heavy week for me, as I got two issues of Runner's World back to back, a back-logged May issue, as well as the newest July issue.  I also bought the RW's The Big Book on training for a marathon or half-marathon (title is botched, of course, but you get the idea) and have been reading that all weekend.  
  • 91-year-old set age record at San Diego marathon.  She did it in 7:07:42.  I don't know what to say after this...  There's this older guy who jogs around our football track almost everyday when I'm walking to work.  All I can say is, again, I wish I could do the same when I'm 91.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Exercise Diary: So much for the streak

I feel a bit embarrassed to say this, but as soon as I finished my last exercise post I stopped my run streak.  It was a conscious decision I made solidified by serendipitous events.  So now I'm back to normal with my running and yoga-ing, and I have to say that as cool as streaking is, run/rest really works for me better.

After Friday's run, my right foot and heel became unbearable, I could barely walk around in my apartment, and even when I was sitting I could feel the dull ache.  I don't know if it was plantar fasciitis or something else, but it was definitely from running in my minimal shoes on concrete, which was alarming since that was days ago, and because I was subjecting running pressures on my feet constantly afterwards, it never got a chance to recover.  I remember I was sitting in front of my desk that night, massaging my foot with an ice-filled water bottle, and thought about maybe I would take a day off the next day.  I had to seriously ask myself if that's what I wanted to do, whether the pain was worth giving up the streak.  I think at the end of the night I made peace with myself breaking the streak, deciding that I wouldn't make the extra effort to squeeze my run between my experiments, but still hoped that I would go at some point later, perhaps a quick mile in the gym.


Quick trip to the lab in the morning to finish some experiments, then volunteered at the local homeless shelter in the afternoon.  I made a really nice strawberry pretzel salad, which ended up being a big hit which was nice since it was the first time I tried it recipe, which in my past experience never worked well.  Will make it again later this week so hopefully there will be pictures.  I ended up buying my own mixer so now I can whip up all kinds of different things~

After the volunteering thing we drove past the movie theater and spontaneously decided to catch a show of the newest X-man movie.  The movie was fine, but I've never watching movies with friends, or anyone else ever.  My nutty friends bolted out of the theater as soon as the credits rolled.  Have they never watched an X-man movie in the theater before?  I was literally dragged out by them and later found out on the internet that I miss the Apocalypse tele-constructing the pyramid.  Seriously...  some people.

Anyhoo, it was the spontaneous movie going that completely destroyed my plan to run that day.  By the time the movie was over it was dark out and the gym was closed.  I took it as a sign and didn't bother agonizing over breaking the streak.


Sunday was lazy.  I had to go grocery shopping again to get stuff for the following Wednesday's cooking since I had to cook for a gathering that day.  It was so beautiful, and I got a lot of sleep the night before, but I could still feel my foot ache so I consciously took another day off.  I was ok with the decision, but at the same time I was a bit sad at how easily I can just let myself rest, and that I no longer get the urge to just go out and run when the weather is nice out.  It used to be the case all the time when I first started, but no more.  I still run, and I still like running, but a lot of the initial enthusiasm was gone.  I'm slipping and I think I know partly why, but it will take more work than just pure enthusiasm to get back to that initial passion.


My lab mates were surprised when I told them that I broke my streak so soon.  But I ended up running the pine trail again with my friend later that day.  Only when running with her I don't get lost.  I realized  where I veered off wrong last time during our run that day.  The run was short but kind of brutal, since she still runs much faster than me, and although I don't feel I was running much faster than I normally would, I was still running harder, and I had to fight off urges to stop and walk.  I guess if I was by myself I would've gone even slower or stopped at some point.  But I was glad that I ran the whole way.

It was kind of a special run for me.  It wasn't long, only 1.5 mile, and I chickened out of running another loop, but I couldn't help that I had made some real progress since the last time I ran the same loop.  It was before I became obsessed with running, it was when I still thought running was a torturous sport.  I ran with the same friend for absolutely no reason; she just asked me one day.  Before that run she made me promise to push her to run the whole way, and of course I was the one who collapsed and walked most of the way, while she ran ahead and made me eat her dust.  I don't know why she asked me to run with her, or why she never thought the run was a disaster.  But we ran the same loop again, and this time it was so different.  She still ran way faster, and picked up her speed while I slowed down toward the end, but I made the entire way.  And see her running faster and faster ahead of me pushed me to keep up as well.  My heavier-than-usual breathing was a testament to that.  It was good.  Since she's training for a mini-triathelon, we agreed to do two loops the next time, and 3 loops the time after that, to help her train for the running part.

But the most important thing I learned from this short run is that I felt good during the run.  While during normal everyday walking I still feel the heels of my feet hurting, I felt fine while running.  I was afraid that I had seriously injured myself, but it was fine, and although I wouldn't continue with the streak, I feel less afraid about continuing my running routine.


Went to yoga.  I was again fearful since I hadn't gone to yoga in two weeks.  It was a fine class.  There was a lot of sweating, I don't know what it was that we did, but there was way too much sweat for any hard core poses.  My balance is still off, especially my right foot, but the strength in my legs has definitely increased and I could perform most poses more powerfully.  Still need to be more flexible of course, and I'm still too big to twist myself in any skillful way.  I was going to run after my yoga class, but was way to tired after it.


Today's lunch was disappointing.  It was nothing but white rice and picked vege from a package.  But since my mixer and casserole arrived today, I'm anxious to start cooking again.  Hopefully there will be many new recipes and pictures to come!

Monday, June 2, 2014

This Week on the Net (5/26-6/1)

Short week of blogging and web surfing.
  • First week of RWRunStreak!  Right after the first day of the challenge there was a problem: the #1 person on the list somehow did 25 miles in just over an hour (a car had entered the challenge?).  So the next day the RWRunStreak Facebook page posted the following announcement:
    • "Many of you have asked why manually entered runs aren't accepted in the the #RWRunStreak streakerboard powered by MapMyRun. When similar challenges in the past have been opened up to manual entry, some people misused the feature and populated the board with unrealistic data. So, for that portion of the streak, we are going to stick with only verified runs.

      But please keep in mind that recording your runs there is not required to be considered part of the #RWRunStreak. All you need to do is run at least a mile day. This challenge is intended to be a fun way to promote healthy running habits. It's not a competition.

      Please visit our #RWRunStreak info page"
         People weren't happy.  Not everyone uses Nike+ like I do so when they run on the treadmill their workouts aren't recorded.  And apparently map my fitness program has many problems that prevent people from logging their runs accurately.  It's sad that a fun, motivating challenge has induced so much grief.  Good thing is that many people still vow to do the challenge regardless.  I don't know if they actually know that the ranking is absolute meaningless, and it's the number of streaks you do that qualifies for the sweepstakes in the end.  But whatever gets you running right?

  • There was a half/10K event in Kunming, China on May 25th.  More than 10 people got sick during the race and one person died after being rushed to the hospital.  Some friends relayed the news to me on an online chatroom, knowing that I'm obsessed with running at the moment.  I went and looked for a few articles myself.  Many people were blaming the organizers of the race, since apparently the promised water aid stations along the course were not there.  The insufficient water combined with the summer heat and the high altitude of the area caused many people to become sick.  I feel sorry for the person who died, apparently he's only an undergraduate student.  Many people were blaming heavily on the organizers, and there may be a lawsuit that will follow even with the waiver forms that every runner was required to sign prior to the race.  And this is not the first time people have become sick and died during a race.  Running has become a very popular sport in China, and with that many cities have organized races to satisfy the runners.  But China is still young in this area, and the organizers still have much to learn to efficiently pull off a successful race.  I was particularly excited when I heard about the Shanghai Marathon, since I'm originally from Shanghai.  The marathon happens in late October/ early November every year, but registration doesn't open until a month before the actual race, which to me is a huge surprise.  The New York Marathon happens around the same time each year, and entrant lottery draw happens as early as March.  This is just an example that shows how organized and well planned each race is, and with all the runners, their little teams of family and friends, as well as the residents of Shanghai, these are big events with amplified problems to consider.  Mistakes like the disappearance of aid stations when they were promised to runners, lack of information on the race location, and the over emphasis on the waiver form that is then used as a weapon for the organizers to shed responsibility are just a few things that Chinese marathon organizer have to learn to do better.  After all, running and racing is supposed to be healthy and fun, not a shortcut to death.
  • After reading about the death at Kunming 10K/half marathon, I was surprised to learn from a race recap of a Memorial Day 8K race that they ran out of water at the finish line water station.  Katie's brother had to save her sister some water, and it was a hot day.  I was surprised because it didn't sound like a big race and it's typically held on a warm day of the year.  I had been blaming on China's immaturity in race organization to make the fundamental and silly mistake of not preparing enough water at aid stations, but it seems that I am being myopic and ignorant in what's actually going on.  I've only been to one race (5K/10K) so far, which had about 300 participants, and although there was only one aid station on the course, there was more than enough water along the way and snacks and more water at the finish line.  And from all the other race recaps I've read it never seems to be a problem.  I was impressed that some races even posts the flavors of GUs they provide at the aid stations to better inform the runners as they prepare for the race.  At the same time I also realize that while every runners are required to sign a waiver form, the organizers never clearly stated their promised responsibility, even if it's some basic like the medical and water aid stations they say they will have.  We assume they will provide all of these necessities because of the registration fees we pay to enter the races, but they are not required to disclose a legal binding statement of any sort like we have to do.