I had a 20 hour stopover in Beijing, China on my way back to Australia, and instead of staying in the airport I decided to go outside and explore a bit, check the sights and hopefully find something interesting to do to make worthy the nearly 5 hours that I waited in lines and filling paperwork just to be able to receive the visitor visa for less than 24 hrs and go through passport control (ridiculous!!).
At this point I had absolutely no idea what was nearby, I have absolutely no knowledge of Chinese, but had a bit of time… Got some nice energetic breakfast containing fruit, yogurt, fried eggs on toast and salad (not very Chinese I think but I wasn’t willing to risk it and get something weird to upset my stomach), exchanged money to get some Yuan and asked around at the tourist information desk what was nearby… Surprisingly the information desk’s attendant’s ability to communicate in English was not good at all, but she managed to show me some pictures with some text presumably of the activities available, and among them there was one of the Chinese great wall, so I thought it would be nice to go there and enjoy the day.
The day was quite cold with a -3 C outside of the airport, and the site wasn’t really that nearby, it required an hour and a half to get there by cab, but now I was determined to get there and managed to organize a taxi to get me there, wait for me for a couple of hours and then take me back, so it was all sorted! Even though it was a silent trip, because the driver’s knowledge of English was almost non-existent. On the way there I noticed that some of the water outside was frozen, so it will be an interesting day out there.
We arrived to the place and managed to purchase an access ticket (I’m quite sure that it would have been cheaper if I have understood what was going on, but no time to learn Chinese at that point, so I just took the shuttle bus to the base of the hill and walked until I got to the base of a quite big staircase… “That will take forever” I thought, so decided to jog a bit to make it faster, and also to warm up a bit, since it was still pretty cold, and I could still feel it even with my 4 layers, a beanie, a scarf and gloves, so kept on climbing step by step, and sometimes two by two, until I got to the actual base of the wall and stopped to take a look around wondering about all the history and years that those bricks had withstood, and enjoy the view.
The wall kept going forever, and I had limited time, so I decided to try to reach the highest point visible that was within a reasonable distance, so I just went for it! It was quite undulating so climbed up quite fast and let gravity do most of the job on the way down, but gaining enough momentum to help on the next climb (as you do, right?), occasionally stopping on the watchtowers to enjoy the view, climb up and down and keep on going, being careful enough not to get injured, since the step lengths were different and also the heights, but it was good fun bouncing up and down, even in the steep ones!
So long story short, I ended up with 45 mins in, got a pic of the view from the top, enjoyed the feeling for a while (by then I have already warmed up!) and then ran/bounced back, being mostly downhill and with already some fatigue in my legs I had to be careful at the end, specially when they started feeling a bit shaky in the last set of stairs. It was an amazing experience! And I know there is a marathon in there, I reckon it would be quite tough to do so, because of the difficulty of the course, but the views and experience would make it worth it!! This was a completely unplanned adventure, so my Garmin stayed at home and it’s not recorded and my SBTC gear was with my checked baggage at the airport.
By the time I got down, the 4 layers of clothes were dripping with sweat, the scarf and gloves were wet as well, so once I got on the taxi I had to strip down most of it (don’t really want to know what the driver may have been thinking) it was good to have the heater on but wasn’t enough to dry everything, so at least I had a dry fit layer that was dry and water proof one, along with a sweater that I had in my carry on luggage, which made me bear the temperature until I got in the plane.
Had enough time to stretch and to have a nap and some dinner before that happened though, and I could feel my legs with a little lactate… Which wasn’t too bad then, but felt terrible after the next 10 hours flight when I landed and went to the pool for the squad set, but I reckon it helped with the recovery! I really considered it very lucky that I didn’t got sick! And now back into normal training!