Maria Holland

Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2009 at 10:04 pm

China hates Thanksgiving.  There’s just no other explanation for a sports meet beginning the following day at 8 a.m.  I like my sleep; even Black Friday deals can’t get me out of bed early on the day after Thanksgiving.  For some reason, though, I felt obligated to fulfill this commitment I may or may not have made to represent the Overseas Education College in the 100-meter dash. 

I woke up around 6:30, with enough time to enjoy the Breakfast of Champions – Snickers and a pomelo, of course.  Donning my shorts, Converse (best running shoes I have with me), and a TU shirt (to represent), I headed over to the sports field.  I brought my iPod along and listened to a very appropriate song as I walked – The Distance, by Cake:

He’s going the distance
He’s going for speed . . .
He’s racing and pacing and plotting the course
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse
He’s going the distance

It’s an intense song, perhaps a little too much so for a race of 100 meters, but when I got to the sports field, parts of the song started to feel appropriate.  Namely:

Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
assail him, impale him with monster-truck force

I had already figured out that this competition was a little more serious than I had originally thought, when I had a Friday afternoon practice for my sack-hop relay.  But still, how serious can any competition be with events like sack-hop relay and a jump-rope run?  Apparently, very very serious.  XiaDa’s various colleges were competing against each other and the stakes – face? – were high.  Each college had drums and symbols for their cheering students’ use.  Very Chinese, and very silly.


I also committed a serious error in judgment when I assumed that Chinese college students are like American college students in any way.  They take classes on Friday nights and weekends, and when classes are cancelled for a sports competition, they actually go.  What on earth?!?  So here it is, 8 a.m. on a Friday with no classes, and the stadium is filling up faster than KFC at breakfast time.  There is something seriously wrong with these kids. 

The intensity of the crowd was so high that I, a conspicuous foreigner, managed to wander around looking lost for a good half hour without attracting any attention.  Finally, I met up with a Japanese friend who was also representing the Overseas Education College in the 100-meter dash.  We eventually figured out where we were supposed to go and all that, but instead of feeling better I was feeling worse and worse.  In another tragic misjudgment, I had not thought about my selection of events beyond choosing the shortest distance.  I totally didn’t even consider that we would start like real runners – you know, one knee and both hands on the ground, butt in the air.  Since I had just learned I was competing in this race yesterday afternoon, I hadn’t had time to practice.  Luckily, I was in the third heat so I got to watch those who ran before me, and figured out the basics: 1) crouch down; 2) raise your butt in the air at 准备; 3) run when they fire the gun. 

Cutting to the end of the race – I’m pretty sure I came in last place.  This placement is easily attributable to several factors – my lack of preparation, a poor start, the fact that I started laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of the whole situation around the 20-meter mark, and the plain truth that I don’t ever run.  But you know?  I got the t-shirt, and that makes me a winner in my book.  


By the way, I was hoping to get pictures and video of the race, but unsurprisingly this failed to happen for various reasons.  I do, however, have a great picture of Lulu running – just imagine that it’s me instead. 


After my race, I went to class for a little while.  As an athlete, though (hahaha), I was technically excused from classes, so I took advantage of this to leave class early to watch my Thai friend Pun compete in the jump-rope relay.  We (me, Carlos, and half of Thailand) were there early, so we wasted time by taking WOW MOM that’s COOL pictures.  Such great fun.


After the relay (in which we didn’t place last), we went to lunch.  I ended up at the Thai table, which wasn’t that much fun because they all spoke Thai.  The most interesting part of the meal was when I had to help our Chinese friend write two characters that he had forgotten – pretty much a highlight of my life.  (The two characters were the 茄 from eggplant and the 煎 of fried jiaozi, so they’re characters I use quite often.) 

I spent this afternoon cleaning and napping until my date tonight.  Yes, I had a 约会, with a guy named Hery from Madagascar.  I met him because he fixes Leinira’s computer, and apparently he took a liking to me and got my number from her.  He invited me to a Western restaurant near campus, so I met him tonight for dinner.  The date was 马马虎虎 (so-so), but the food was good – pasta! eaten with a fork!  He’s nice enough, but I didn’t know almost anything about him and still don’t really.  He didn’t really have anything to say, which made it a struggle to keep the conversation going. 

Anyway, it’s better that I have an early night tonight – I have a sack-hop race tomorrow at 11:15 . . .

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