In September of 2011 I finished the Pyeongtaek half marathon in South Korea. I had worked hard to get in shape for this marathon and I had high expectations going in to the race. I really wanted to break 2 hours and perhaps knock 10 minutes off of that if I could. I had been doing interval training and my apartment was located near some hills that I trained on as well. I knew I was in good shape and getting faster and learning. One thing that I hadn't really done up to this point is taken serious consideration for what nutrition I should be taking during the race. I bought a bunch of energy gels and used them occasionally on longer runs leading up to the race. I decided that I was going to take 3 gels during the race - about every 30 minutes.
With this race I decided to take the bus from the base. But there was no one on the bus that I knew and not really being in the social mood I didn't really talk to anyone. I hadn't been to the part of South Korea that the race was in before so I looked out the window. We got to the start and there were no shortage of people there, it was a very big event with a stage set up for performances and everything.
I started the race with a bottle of water in my hand. I felt more comfortable that I had some water close by if I needed it. But the race had aid stations that were well placed and I eventually I ditched it. They had closed off a divided highway for the race and it was nice to have the wide open road to run down next to the ocean. The race continued on in a relatively straight line for a good while. I was feeling good and was keeping a pace that while faster than I had intended didn't feel like it was too fast to maintain. Eventually the course reached an out and back portion that went out on some kind of dike. After that we turned down a narrower road that was more of a tourist type sea front than anything. The race was going great as we reached the half-way point. I turned around and headed back on the opposite side of the road.
This was one of the points in the race that I really knew I was in Korea. In Korea it's not uncommon for them to hand out water soaked sponges. I didn't really know what these were for at first because I had never seen them. It soon became obvious to me that they were to be used to cool off. I grabbed one from one of the volunteers and squeezed it over my head. It was very cold and refreshing. By this time I was certainly ready for the race to be over but knew that I had a few miles left. I eventually went in to step counting mode where I would try to speed up slightly and check my pace ever hundred steps or so.
By the end I knew I was done but I also knew that I had run a great race. I had finished faster than I had intended (around 1:50). In fact, once I got to the end my GPS watch was short of 13.1 so I kept running past the finish line until my watch had shown that I had run 13.1, which ended up being about a half a mile. There was a cool medal and all the finishers got a big bag of rice - talk about being in Asia. Part of the group I was with had also provided hamburgers at the finish. And while I was waiting for the rest of the group to finish there was lots of stuff happening on the stage. Including some Korean pop music all girl band. They danced and lip-synced a few songs and I laughed pretty hard. I was certainly not expecting it. It was great.
|At the finish|
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