Friday, January 13, 2012

The Tethering Effects of Podcasts, Mexican Food and Widmer Beer

I'm here in China on one of my quarterly trips. It's Saturday afternoon and I managed to get in an easy 6 miler this morning. It was supposed to be a tempo run, but I just ran it at a moderately easy pace with some fartlek running near the end. The travel and time change always takes a little wind out of my sails - even if I don't feel tired.

Saturday's are quiet on the streets - which makes crossing them a bit easier than during the weekday. I only really have two major streets to cross anyway and then I'm at the river. I found a new route down there the other day. Actually, they had put a pedestrian path through in the past few months so it wasn't to be 'found' previously :-)

I like running here, even though I really just have a couple out and back routes to choose from. Depending which direction I turn when I hit the river path. That might seem limiting, but if you do the math based on how many trips I take per year times the number of typical running days - I maybe run each route less than 30 times a year. I'm sure there are routes near my house and in Denver that I repeat many more times than that.

The temperature on this morning's run was about 40 degrees, and a light rain fell on me for most of it. The stones I run on are a bit slick, and my hamstring is still bugging me a bit - so I didn't mind keeping things at an easy pace. I listened to a couple of podcasts from the "Stuff You Should Know" series courtesy of the How Stuff Works crew. They were both well done and I'll listen to future ones on the run.

I switch up between music and podcasts when I run. And probably 1/2 the time when I'm running in the US I go iPod 'naked' (i.e. don't listen to anything by my footfalls and the sounds around me). But when I'm here in China - I like having something familiar in my ears more often. It makes me feel 'tethered' to home. There are a few songs that remind me of specific things - mostly family and friends. When I'm feeling lonely I put them on and usually come back from my run feeling a little less so.

Some of the podcasts I'm listening to are:

- WTF with Marc Maron
- Running Times
- The Runners Roundtable
- The Nerdist
- The Adam Corolla Show - the one with Norm McDonald was hilarious
- The FredCast (cycling)
- Running from the Reaper (the host - Nigel - is delightful to listen to)
- and of course; Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (which every runner should listen to at least once :-)

It's amazing to me how much 'free' stuff you can download and listen to. Some of it is quite good. I'm looking forward to catching up on the Adam Corolla Show on my long run tomorrow. Mostly because for some reason - his podcast and show just ooze American pop culture - which is kind of what I need a dose of when I'm in the middle of a two week trip here and missing that completely twisted and strange country I call home. I could live anywhere in the world and be happy I think. I've got a good chameleon personality and mindset that blends into the background of where I'm at (although China is one of those places I can't completely blend in for obvious reasons). But for all it's wackiness - I like being an American and deep down my soul is steeped in our culture. You could say that it's because I grew up there - but I don't care. It's home. And everyone I love dearly is there.

So while I'm here in Hangzhou, I'll enjoy the rest of my week. I'll enjoy the familiar running routes here, my friends from work, the quiet weekend, the food. In a few days my stomach will take it's usual defiant stance and I'll start jonesing for Mexican food, Whole Foods Rosemary Sourdough bread, Widmer hefweizen and a decent glass of red wine.

I'll long to be home to the wide open feeling of Colorado, with it's high ceiling and views that stretch forever - and it's culture of athletes and being outdoors. Just wandering through an REI makes me happy.

To help me drift off to sleep in my hotel room, I'll start playing over the moments of what it's like to walk through the door of my home. The familiar smell of home, the warm embraces of my loved ones, and waking up in my own bed.

And when I land at my port of entry, and the US immigration officer decides that I'm legit - I'm always warmed by the sincerity in their voice when they say, "Welcome home". It's clear they understand what it's like to come home.

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