Greetings from Taipei! Maybe some of you remember the post I wrote about running in Taipei last year, maybe you don’t. Either way, I’m not going to rehash anything from that post, except for the photo below, since I have yet to run with my phone. Also: it looks *exactly* the same.
One big change that I’ve observed this year is more women running compared to last year, which is awesome. On Sunday’s run, I saw 3 women running and this morning, I saw 7(!). I saw about 50 runners altogether, men and women. The women runners have been mostly ~ 45+ years old and also almost exclusively clad in red or pink. A majority of them have been friendly and said hi or waved, compared with less than 50% of the men.
I was curious about the gender breakdown of Taiwanese racers, so I looked up the results from last year’s Fubon Taipei Marathon, the largest running festival on the island. There were only 340 women among the 4897 marathon finishers, or 7%. The half marathon distance had 2891 women racing out of 15340 finishers (19%). The 9k was the most popular amongst women, with 5098 participating out of 11613 runners (40%). Comparing these stats with other marathons, the 2014 Tokyo Marathon had 20.3% female participants, whereas this year’s NYC Marathon saw 20,414 women crossing the finish line out of 50,511 runners (40%). Clearly, there’s a lot of room for growth, but I’m optimistic that running will become more popular among Taiwanese women.
As for this Taiwanese-American woman, I’ve run twice and both of those times, I’ve been surprised at how humid it is. Why, I don’t know – I should know better by now. As a result of the humidity, I’ve been running pretty slowly, especially because I’ve been abiding by MAF training. My average pace for these runs (11:37 and 11:42/mile) are 45 seconds slower per mile than my Bay Area runs from the last couple of weeks. I’ve heard that humidity is “poor man’s altitude training” (not sure where the “poor” part comes from). Today, I noticed how difficult it was to take a deep breath, which I think is also true in areas of high altitude? Anyway, I’m hoping that struggling through these conditions will translate to improved fitness when I go home next week, but I’m not sure I’ll be here long enough to obtain any actual benefit. Either way, it will be good for my mental strength to deal with less than ideal conditions. We really are spoiled in the Bay Area in terms of running weather!
Regardless of whether I actually improve my fitness, there’s definitely one immediate benefit to running while in Taiwan: preventing me from having to buy a brand new wardrobe due to relentless consumption of lots and lots of my favorite foods. I’ve been unable to say no to pastries, dim sum, soup dumplings, at least 7 different kinds of fruit, ramen, cake, etc. Even though I’ve only been here for 4 days, my pants are considerably tighter than even a week ago. Running allows me to have my cake and eat it too. 🙂
Speaking of food, here are some photos from my meals so far…