I like how people here like signing me up for things without truly asking for my opinion. (If you didn’t catch it, as it’s hard to through mere text, there’s a sarcastic tone present.) Sure, they may ask, but I think they just do it to be polite if they do. One such instance was for Hermes Camp. Now that I think about it, they didn’t even ask – my Co had volunteered me for it. I’m not exaggerating; she was at the meeting and she raised up her hand for me. Thanks for that. I don’t particularly hold it against her, but still!
Well, this habit appears to be a characteristic of Koreans, or so it seems. My taekwondo instructor mentioned this marathon to me a month before. Next thing I know, he goes, “Iris, you go, yes?” Uh… how about “no, I’d rather not”? It’s just that I’m not really into running; I have a sense of self-preservation left in me. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because what I say doesn’t really hold, because three days before (the same day he tells me about the belt test two days later), my instructor excitedly calls me into the office to show me my running number.
I guess it’s a good thing he told me then because earlier that day, a friend of mine had booked a ticket with her to Seoul for the weekend. Right after taekwondo, I texted her, telling her to cancel my ticket because I was apparently going to be running at 8 on Sunday morning. Leading up to it, my instructor seemed so chipper about it. I personally thought he liked hearing me groan at the thought of running for more than 10 yards at a time. As a matter of fact, our conversations regarding the marathon consisted of:
Instructor: Marathon! You run! /grins insanely/
Me: /shakes head morosely/ No… walk. /mimes walking/
Instructor: No no no… run!
Instructor: haha… no no. Run!
Me: /groan/ I can’t run! ..walk.
After class on Friday, he gathered all the taekwondo students that would be doing the run to give us a talk. It was in Korean, of course. He’s occasionally stare at me to see if I understood. lol, the only time he attempted to translate was when he told me what to wear and bring: You… running wear! And.. /mimes carrying a bag whilst walking like a runway model/ Understand? haha, yes, I do understand. Please walk like that again! We were to meet at the do jang at 8 in the morning.
I was not happy at 6:30 that morning when I woke up. Only the cold, crisp air made me feel vaguely awake. I made it into the do jang with three minutes to spare. Shortly thereafter, we all boarded the taekwondo van and headed to the Hanbat Track and Field Gymnasium area or whatever it’s translated as into English. However, it wasn’t bad. I don’t dislike outdoor activities and I was going to make the most of it…. or at least try to. There were a ton of people already there dressed in official running wear stretching and doing warm up exercises. There were the professional runners and then there were people like me and even families. It turns out there were to be several marathons; my group would be undertaking the 5 kilometer one. There was also a ten kilometer marathon and two others that were much more suicidal. We all got ready, entered our bags and jackets in to be stowed away, ate a Ferrero Rocher each (courtesy of my Instructor), did some warm up drills and stretches, and waited for out turn. The instructor also took the time to take some pictures of us.
We didn’t really start until around 9:25-ish, as we were the last group to take on the marathon. When it was finally time for us to start, we were all on the track and my Instructor had told the boys to go up ahead and they had better make it first for our marathon… then… it began. We walked. It wasn’t until we were out of the stadium and onto the street that they had partially closed for the marathon that all members of my taekwondo group broke out into a brisk jog. It was the beginning so I was springing between people but I soon started to feel it in my lungs. I blame it on childhood asthma. Either way, for the rest of the 5 kilometer marathon, I’m proud to say I kept with with a light jog and small stretches of running. There were moments I just power walked as well because I didn’t want to just collapse or anything. Next thing you know, we were back! It was roughly 30 minutes later and we made the round back into the stadium, got our refreshments and goodies (bags prepped with a can of Pocari Sweat (the Asian version of Gatorade), a bottle of water, a nice loaf of bread, a banana, an advertisement for a Japanese brand of professional running shoes, and our medal). Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the group who had already started on theirs.
We only stayed there chatting, eating and recuperating for around 10 minutes and then our Instructor insisted that we leave before the rush came and we get stuck in the resulting traffic jam out of the area. We all quickly packed up and left… only to stop for around 15 minutes because one of our party realised he didn’t have his cell phone with him so there was a mini search-and-rescue mission under way consisting of three members while the rest of us stayed in the van parked in a cramped alley. I would like to take this time to note how out of all the people who came, only three people didn’t have a smart phone, myself included. This boy had a smart phone, so I didn’t mind too much that we stalled.
Then, all us starving marathon participants went to a Chinese restaurant and was treated by the Instructor to meals of jjajangmyeon, tangsuyook (sweet and sour pork), and fried mandu (dumplings). ^^ It was amazing. Not that I ate any of the meat which pretty much accounted for most of everything other than my noodles, haha. Not that my instructor didn’t try to get me to eat some of the pork and the mandu. I overheard the girls talking about how when they looked ahead, they saw me, and when they looked behind, they saw me too. haha, I had a thing where I’d run fast and then take it easy; repeat until marathon is finished. Then, he drove us back to the taekwondo place and we all parted. Well, the kids did, at least. I then got into his new car (a cute, little Chevy) and he drove me home.
The first thing I did was put up my marathon medal and number on the wall. (I also got the medal that says I ran the 10km one, haha.) I felt accomplished after this feat, what with his constant urgings of “Run!” to us. Now, my legs ache. A lot.
I suppose it’s worth it. ^^
I’m just worried about how he kept on talking about next year, we’d be doing the 10 kilometer marathon because we can apparently do the 5 kilometer one, no sweat. I wonder if there will be a next year.
** No offense intended for Koreans. 🙂 It’s just the tone of the post. ^^ You had to give out your Korean identification number (or, in my case, my alien registration number) in order to enter the marathon; it makes sense when you think of all the free food and drinks they provide along with a nice, heavy medal. The thing was that I didn’t think he’d actually enter me in.