Sunday was a fun day. Matt and I ran in the 10K of the Cheorwon DMZ Peace Marathon. The race was near our town and so many of our students volunteered at the event.
We had been running three or four days a week, but we had no idea of the distances we were running, and I felt unprepared for the race. However, I’m happy to report that it went great and I shouldn’t have worried. I finished in 57:33, and Matt came in at 55:30.
Our day:Our neighbor Ssu drove us to the race at 7:30 a.m. After finding the foreigner check-in area, we received our bibs and our participant gifts of 3-kilogram bags of Cheorwon rice, the best rice in Korea.
There were plenty of runners milling around and we got to see the “Korean group stretching” I had heard about, where people on stage lead stretching. After the stretching, a group of pretty women performed on stage, which quickly grabbed the attention of all the soldiers who were competing in the race. It was funny to see them move quickly toward the stage and get out their camera phones.
The actual race went pretty well. Some of the thoughts I entertained along the way:
“Wow, there are a lot of soldiers running this race. That’s great. I wonder if they are all from this area or if they traveled for the race. … Oh, are those soldiers WALKING already? We aren’t even 2K into the course! That’s crazy…”
“Oh there’s the 3K sign! That means I’m almost one-third done. Yay! That means I’ve gone how many miles? Well … If 5K is 3.1 miles then that means … 3K would be … Oh look. It’s my students! ‘Hi!’ Wow, they looked confused. Why did it take them so long to recognize me? I don’t get why they are so shocked to see me outside of school…”
“I should practice Korean right now. Yes, I will read the Hangul on the backs of everyone’s shirts. Lee Min Suk. Jeong Ho Jung. Look at that, I’m exercising my body and my mind.”
“Hey, I see Matt! He isn’t too far ahead. Should I try to catch up to him? Yes, I will try to catch up to him. Speed up. Speed up. Water! I see water! Nevermind. I don’t need to see Matt. I want water. Oh, it’s my students handing out the water! ‘Hi MinJe.’ Haha. He looked surprised. But he was probably happy I knew his name. I don’t know too many names. I should try to learn more names. … Ok just keep running.”
“Here’s the bridge. That means I’ve gone 6.5K. So 3.5K to go. That’s … Um. What did I say before? 1K is how much? Well. … Not too far left anyways. I can do this. Hey, who are those people waving at? Oh! It’s my students! They are cheering for me! Wow. They recognized me from really far away. They said good job to me. Well I can’t disappoint them. I’d better push on. Yes, that’s an energy boost!”
“Oh, why did I just have that last water stop. I felt good and now I feel worse. Next time, no water Alli! Just keep running. Just keep running. You are almost finished! Yes! The 1K to go sign. I can do this. That’s less than 1 mile. Why are so many people walking? There’s only 1K to go people! Keep going. Oh, walking actually sounds kind of nice right now. I’d like to join them. … Maybe just for a second. … No! You cannot walk. The faster you run, the sooner you can stop. Now go!”
Since Matt was waiting for me at the finish, I’ll let my rambling thoughts stop there. Matt later told me that the students cheering him on gave him a boost, as well. The rest of the day’s story can be told through pictures.