Higher Calling

Not quite a novice but by no means an expert, I clock in at around “mid-level” when it comes to many things in life.

Spanish skills? Mid-level. Cooking skills? Mid-level. Spooning skills? Mid-level, unlike my niece, who is apparently a big-spoon connoisseur.

photo 2 (1)
Uh, have you heard of knocking?

The label “mid-level” is particularly apt when describing my running abilities. While I’ve only once placed in a timed running event, I consistently finish in the front half of the pack, earning me a rightful spot as a self-deemed intermediate athlete.

So when my colleagues and friends in Hong Kong kept suggesting I run on idyllic Bowen Road in an area of town called the mid-levels, it only seemed too perfect a fit to be true.

Ace of Base knows what's up.
Ace of Base knows what’s up.

Turns out, mid-levels didn’t mean what I thought it meant. Turns out, mid-levels in this context means midway up … a mountain. And we’re not talking Harlem Hill-grade incline. We’re talking Victoria Peak, this 1,811 foot-tall precipice you can see from the 27th floor of my temporary office building.

The view in the other direction: snacks.
The view in the other direction: snacks.

Fortunately, I didn’t fully realize how long or steep a climb it was until I was already part way up, so I stubbornly plowed through slope after slope until finally — when I was huffing and puffing and about to turn back — I came upon the most glorious sight imaginable: the miraculously flat Bowen Road etched into the side of the incline. I caught my breath, thanked Buddha, and went for one of the most beautiful runs I’ve ever done in my entire life.

Photo courtesy of http://www.joggingroutes.org/, since running with my iPhone sounds worse to me than watching Monuments Men again.
Photo courtesy of http://www.joggingroutes.org/, since running with my iPhone is the only thing that sounds worse to me than watching Monuments Men again.

After I ran the paved trail beginning to end, I made my way back down the mountain even slower than I went up in fear of plunging to my imminent death, and when I hit sea level, I kissed the earth and deemed myself excused from all hill work for the rest of the month. Of course, I’m no mid-level glutton for punishment, so I changed my stripes come Sunday and opted to climb 3,064-foot Lantau Peak in the New Territories instead.

photo 4
I swear I’m on top of a cloudy mountain here, not posing in front of a white backdrop.

Was it tough? You bet. Given the choice to do it again, would I opt to sleep in and rest my weary legs instead of taking a three-hour uphill hike?

Not for all the rice in China — only half of which I’ve consumed in my first nine days on ground.

Have you ever accidentally done a much harder workout than you intended?


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