The day began with a long 2½ hour bus ride outside of Beijing. Everyone was excited to be leaving the city and I must say the scenery drastically changes, as one would expect. The countryside is greener with tiny villages spread throughout. Vegetable fields, some factories and storefronts dot the landscape. People seem to be busy moving about on bicycle, flatbed tiny trucks and cars. It appears that everyone is on a mission of some sort whether it is going off to work, school or to tend their garden. In one of the villages we passed a large centrally located park where everyone was practicing Tai Chi, walking or performing the various exercises on the equipment along the side of the park. Going through the villages you would notice a very communal feeling as it appeared that breakfast or their morning meal was cooked outside with many people milling around eating. It did not look as though it were a restaurant atmosphere as the cooking took place outside of the home.
The closer the bus got to the Wall the higher up we went and the road became more narrow. Buses were passing one another with barely an inch to spare, not a good thing for me the consummate backseat driver! Bicycles, motorscooters and pedestrians shared the road not bothering to move over for the other. Honking was the only means of communication and a little squeak coming from the seat behind the driver….ME!!
Once we arrived at the Wall all the participants met in the Ying, Yang Plaza for a briefing on what to expect on race day. We were then bused the three miles up hill (something we will have to run on race day) to the starting point on the Great Wall. Words almost fail me on how to explain how treacherous tomorrow’s race will be. The steps, all sizes and depths go up, down and slant in every direction. Going up will be hard however, it is the coming down that poses the most danger. The steps go straight down, the pathway is narrow with almost nowhere to hang on to. If you have short legs, as I do, it is like stepping off a cliff with each step. I was asked what kind of strategy I plan on using for the race and my only response is that you cannot really plan out a strategy except to walk the Wall, keep your concentration at all times and only run once you go through the villages. I am sure that on the day of the race all bets are off and my strategy will change with every kilometer. The goal for me is to complete the marathon in good shape, have fun, enjoy the people and take in the sights after I’m finished. On the wall my head will be looking down all the time so that I don’t accidentally miss step!
Rich, Sara and I hope that you will keep us in your thoughts and prayers on race day so that we are safe and finish comfortably. This challenge will be no different than the challenge everyone who faces addiction deals with. How we choose to meet it is all that matters. We all will be facing it head on, staying true to ourselves and working through the ups and downs (no pun intended.) One thing I know for sure is that how one faces their challenges determines the course of their direction. I choose to work hard, meet the challenge head on and come out the other side better off than before.
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I’ll be thinking of everyone that day and will report back with my thoughts tomorrow evening.
I’m still Dreaming Big and living the adventure.