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Here is a tip: eating vast quantities of sweet red bean the night before a 10k race is an excellent idea, if you want to be thinking about your colon A LOT before and during the run. (ha, run. get it?)

If you do not want that, then I’d steer clear.

What is she talking about? the cry goes forth from bewildered and slightly grossed-out readers. The Pohang Beach Marathon 10k, of course, which I ran this Sunday with three of my friends from work. The Yeongju City Marathon run was so much fun that we decided to repeat the experience–on our own this time, not through our office at work. So (with a lot of help from the people in our office at work) we got registered, got a hotel booked, got in contact with friends in the city, and took the hour-ish bus ride out to Pohang on Saturday.

Here’s the thing about going to new places in a foreign country: every place you visit has a specialty. Something uniquely (or not so uniquely) theirs they use to brand themselves to tourists. On my first visit to Pohang (a work trip with a few other teachers at an elementary school. I lost my iPod and stood in the sea. It was primarily glorious) the Item Of The Day was seafood. A coastal city, Pohang is known for its sweet and delicious crab and other ocean-invertebrate harvests. For lunch we ate hwedupbap, and for dinner–mountains of crab that we hammered and scissored and tore to pieces and sucked dry. It was savage and excellent.

This time, I was the only one of the four of us running who’d been to Pohang before, and since on my first trip I’d spent the day at a school a little ways out of the city, I contacted a Korean friend in Pohang to show us around. She was an amazing hostess–picked us up, took us to the beach, to dinner, to dessert, and back home–and we all got along swimmingly (get it? get it?).

And here’s the thing. About me. And running.

I’m a little stitious. (Not super stitious.)

Or maybe I should say, I am particular. I like to have some things done a certain way. And I’m still getting used to being a person who can do 10k races, and there’s still a suspicion in my head that says if I do something wrong–or just differently–from the way I did it last time, when it worked–then I will probably cause everyone to die in a fiery crash and people will hate my hair. forever. Something like that.

So that, before my first 10k, I was perfect. I mean, perfect. I ran an 11k practice run three days before, a short run/walk 2 days before, and a walk the day before, just to keep loose. I went to bed early. I drank enough water to enable a camel to do seven trans-saharic crossings. I ate a dinner of carbs and lean protein and had nothing remotely acidic for five days beforehand. I would have punched anyone who tried to tell me that the race would still be fine if I did not do any of those things exactly as I did them. Because that 10k was the Biggest Deal, and to mess with my system would mean Certain Doom.

(I am only slightly exaggerating all of that.)

Anyway. This time was a little different. I still did my long run three days ahead of time. But Friday, instead of eating sensibly and doing a short run, we had a barbecue at work. A barbeque that I spent two days baking cookies for. A barbeque at which I sang (‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’) and hosted a service auction and DANCED.

The thought alone has probably caused a number of readers to have minor convulsions. I apologize.

I danced to a Kpop song.

Convulsions.

THIS Kpop song.

That’s the music video. Convulse convulse convulse.

As you can imagine, immediately after that experience I ate a hundred brownies. To recover. Don’t worry, I covered them in whipped cream first. LIGHT whipped cream.

I have to mention that my dancing went pretty much entirely unnoticed since we managed to talk one of our male coworkers into wearing a sundress and crashing the dance halfway through. It was brilliant, and possibly scarring.

So that was two days before the run, and on the day OF the run, we bussed to Pohang and met up with my friend. Who took us to a restaurant on the beach. Where we ate more local Pohang cuisine. Grilled seashells (we did not eat the shells, and also I can’t find the name of the dish in Korean) followed by a clam and flour-noodle soup with green onion in a clam broth. I think it was clam. It was so, so good.

Of course, it was also spicy. and full of fiber-y goodness. And then–there was dessert.

The three other teachers also running (Jo, Marifel, and Carrie) have been the ones who push me to run on days when I really do not want to. More often than not that ‘push’ looks like one of two things: Salted Caramello ice cream from Baskin Robbins (yep, BR is all up in Korea) or THIS:

YUM. /WEIRD.

Patbingsu comes in many forms, but the absolutely necessary ingredients are as follows: shaved ice, condensed milk, ice cream, sweet red bean/red bean paste, mochi or ttoek (mochi is Japanese, ttoek is Korean: it means rice cake). Add to that whatever you want: I’ve had it with almonds, fruit cocktail, cornflakes, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, caramel sauce, and, incredibly, tomatoes. Which are technically fruits.

But here’s the thing. Beans? they are powerful.

And we didn’t just eat a little patbingsu. There were six of us, and we ordered three giant bowls, and we demolished them all: classic patbingsu, mixed berry, and green tea. And then, we went back to our motel to sleep before the race.

I think this is just a side effect of my tendency to BLOW EVERYTHING OUT OF PROPORTION but I can never sleep well before big events, especially ones I know are going to be physically taxing. This was no exception. I must have woken seven or eight times between turning off the lights and finally deciding that 6.57 was as good a time as any to stop pretending to be asleep. We started preparing for the race, and…

um…

I had a realization. The same one with which I began this post.

The run went fine: the red beans exacted their due before the start–but there was lingering mental discomfort. Also, the run was entirely in direct sunlight, so despite my best sunscreening efforts, I am a bit scorched on the shoulder blades. Thanks to a hat and shades, my face escaped unscathed. And my time, despite the ravages of red bean, remained right about where I was for the Yeongju run.

Two of us (Carrie and I) ran the 10k route, while Jo and Marifel did the half-marathon. We all finished in times that made us individually and collectively happy.  See?

Post-run the four of us, collectively exhausted, wandered about Pohang before finding a place to eat lunch and catching the bus back to Daegu, where the other girls went home and I, in my salt-sweat-encrusted glory, went to a three-hour rehearsal for next weekends’ musical revue.  By the time I got home I smelled awesome.

In other words: I think I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

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