It’s now been a little over a week since I Ran 10k On Purpose Without Anyone Chasing Me (better known as the Yeongju City Marathon 10k). (Also, by the end, I was definitely chasing everyone else.)
And! I finished (with a WAY better time than I had reason to anticipate). Not only that: I also did not 1. die 2. soil myself 3. cry 4. spit on/ get spat on by anyone 5. finish dead last. In fact, I was, I think, a little bit high. Running that 10K was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
I attribute this to the combination of adrenaline, an extremely easy course (maybe 1 hill, and the rest of the inclines were so gradual as to go unnoticed), and the overly-arduous practice runs my running buddy/fellow teacher Jo and I did.
Here are some anecdotes from race day:
1. All the running I have been doing? It must be doing something because my underpants spent most of the 10k trying to come off. Thankfully my pants did not follow suit. I guess that means I am seeing results? or maybe feeling them? and it’s not like I imagined results would feel?
2. I spit when I run; I know, I am a gross old man, but I HAVE to. Otherwise I would die, no question. But for the first twenty minutes or so of this run I was horrified because I wasn’t noticing anyone else’s spit, and there was no way I was going to be the disgusting spitting Westerner. NO WAY. Then, in my peripheral vision, I saw a middle-aged man let fly a a spitwad that was honestly one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. Though the floods of relief that overcame me at the sight may have biased me just a smidge.
3. You know how on road trips you sometimes end up passing and being passed by the same cars over and over again? happens with running too. There was a group of six older Koreans (three fells, three ladies), all in matching orange running gear, whom I had the pleasure of repeatedly encountering. The first time they ran past me they offered encouraging grins and the ubiquitous ‘fighting!’ that is the Konglish equivalent to ‘atta boy!’ after the fourth time swapping places it was less novel. I have decided, though, that I want to be like them when I’m old and married, running races with all my buds.
4. In News that Should Surprise No One, Korean marathons offer a ridiculous array of amenities post-race. After I finished I was directed to a tent where I was handed a finisher’s medal and a sack of food. There were water bottles available just about everywhere, and groups of people sitting around swigging rice wine and consuming pork. Add to that the free massages (that I didn’t know about! until it was too late) and you have a recipe for people who will most certainly run again next year, please.
5. In Further News that Should Surprise No One: as the group of us Western teachers stretched in preparation for the race (we’d had a two-hour bus ride just to get there), we were directed to assemble, not with the other 10K runners, but rather near the fence, so that we could be led through the gate to stand DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ALL THE 10K RUNNERS. Look how diverse we are! Westerners are basically photo props in Korea. As soon as the starter sounded I scrounged out of the way of the Runners, the serious ones who tape their legs and wear proper gear and don’t spit all the time, probably. Luckily I did not get trampled, though I heard more than one distinct hiss.
And there it is, friends. I felt really good during the run; I’d prepared well and I managed to pace myself and I did it. I did it. I spent the next two days in absolute giddiness, a feeling I anticipate repeating after the 10k I’m already planning on for June in Pohang.
(Q: did I, upon getting my medal, insist that one of the other teachers place it around my neck whilst humming the National Anthem?)