Korea 50k (13k, actually)

And in fact, the 50k was really a 59k. Let’s hope that anyone signed up for the 50k realized going in that they would do almost 6 miles more than expected. This seems to be common in Korea–calling a race one distance and making it either much shorter or much longer. Though my race was definitely an accurate-ish 13k.

IMG_3420_result(4:30 am start of the 59k)

From the get-go, it was pretty obvious that the 59k was the BFD while the 13k was an afterthought. Or maybe it’s just that there are so few trail runners in Korea. But the finish/start line was all about the 50k, my finisher medal says Korea 50k, etc. etc. It was also obvious in the participants. Only 141 men and 46 women were officially registered for the 13k–or at least that’s how many people posted a finish, but the American military bases also bused in groups of soldiers–some of whom were officially registered and some not. It was the first time I’ve ever run a race surrounded by so many non-runners. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I mean, these people were there because they were forced to be there which is so anti-trail running spirit. They also weren’t too sure of what they were doing. It seemed a general trend to not understand trail etiquette or how to navigate a steep downhill. Unfortunately for these reasons, it was a bit of an annoying experience. Next year, I will run the long race–assuming I can continue training to that point and will be in such shape a year from now that I am able. I assume that the longer distance will ensure that people signed up want to be there, have trained, and are a part of the running community.

korea 13k start

It was otherwise a beautiful day out on the trails. Pretty warm but not too hot during a season where any given day could be frigid or rainy or blistering hot. The organizers did a wonderful job with the route. Korean trails are characterized by stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. There is not an ethic of trail-building using switchbacks or mitigation of erosion. But there were few stairs on this course (and no stair cases) because they utilized a lot of mountain bike trail single track. So much single track also made it super difficult to pass people who don’t understand trail etiquette, but I’d rather deal with that than be on the Stairmaster. So it was actually a good honest TRAIL run which was a happy surprise. There were two serious climbs on the route (one had a hand line) and tons of steep downhill. My quads were destroyed and I had to use the elevator at work for two days. It took five to get back to normal. But it was so fun to blast down single track. I just don’t get to do that so much where we live. I ended up 8th woman with a time of 1:53. 1:22 was the winning time.

Korea 13k fin

The 59k drew a handful of foreigners, mostly of the Chinese and Japanese variety as it was a part of a series of races in Asia, the Asia Trail Master. In a race series, one earns points by attending/placing in the associated races and there are prizes for individual wins as well as most wins, etc. This is similar to the TrailRunner Magazine’s “Trophy Series” or the International Sky Running series. One could also use the Korea 50k to obtain finishing points as a stepping stone to qualifying to run the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. So the main race certainly seemed to have more of a serious or authentic air about it and I’m going to keep it specifically in mind as an A goal next year. And you also just can’t beat being able to register online with a credit card and in English. I can’t stress this enough. Almost everything here has to happen through bank transfer and helpful students. And usually registration is a very short window and I often don’t hear about it in time to get in. So I guess this becomes my focus race by default, but I am happy that this option exists. The same week I registered for the 13k, I also registered for the Nike Women’s half marathon in Seoul, happening this Sunday. That one I did all in Korean with a student, then made a bank transfer, and STILL can’t get confirmation that I’m actually registered and the fee was accepted. I guess if my packet shows up in the next few days, I’ll know….



Greg beach

There’s this thing about living internationally–I like to think of it as the-shit-hitting-the-fan risk. What will happen or what will it be like if something out of your control happens? Perhaps there’s a massive uprising in your city and a government is overthrown. Maybe your city descends into lawlessness and you need to hide or flee? Maybe you live in an area that could be at risk of a tsunami. What if there’s a chain of terrorist attacks? What if you are the victim of a crime (and this is especially on my mind as a woman) in a country where there are few protections and often even prosecution for libel of female victims who speak out (looking at you, Korea)? What if there’s a massive earthquake and there is no help? Maybe the boat you’re on with a group of students for a field trip is sinking and the captain tells you to stay seated. Perhaps the country you live in goes to war with the unhinged neighbor to the North.

Yes, the shit can also hit the fan where you are from. In my case, the US. But if something happens there, I’m equipped with knowledge of how the system works, the language skills to communicate my needs or offer assistance, and a larger network of people from whom to draw support. When we go overseas, we exhilaratingly step into the unknown and a large piece of this is the risk. I am not the type to worry incessantly about events out of my control that may or may not happen. We can live in fear or we can try to live happy, fulfilled lives and I do not choose fear. But these ruminations do come up for me every time something horrible happens in places close to my heart. My list above is not made up. These are things that have happened either where we’ve lived, near where we live or want to live, or where we have friends–with the exception of the neighbor to the North, but it’s within the realm of possibility.

Of course, this most recent shake-up is the earthquake in Ecuador. By now we realize that this is an epic tragedy for people living on the coast. There are many small beach communities that are without power and clean water, sifting through the wreckage of demolished homes and businesses, and are essentially isolated because of destroyed roads and landslides. Much of the aid focus is on the larger, more accessible towns. From what I can piece together, help is arriving now, but I still worry that not all of these towns are getting the aid quickly enough. You think the real nightmare is the shaking, the falling of your house, the death and destruction all around and the reliving during the some 200 aftershocks. But then it took days for help to arrive. Where does it really end?

During our years in Ecuador, we lived in Quito, but we often went to the coast, to the town of Canoa. We made wonderful friends there, took all of our visitors there, and it felt like home away from home. Better than vacation. In Quito, we were clenched–always on guard, always moving, often cold, constantly wary. But in Canoa we could relax. We could let the guard down and some of the best memories of our years in Ecuador were forged there and so it hurts to feel so helpless-to know that people you care about are struggling in unimaginable conditions. Through the ex-pat grapevine, I have learned that our friend Patricia White of Betty Surf and Yoga and Greg Gilliam and his family are okay. Their homes and livelihoods are likely destroyed, but they are thankfully alive and well and helping the community the best they can.

And as I agonize about people caught there, of course I can’t help but imagine–what if I was there? We live overseas. The shit could hit the fan and the shit does hit the fan. Am I prepared? Can I handle it? Is this worth the risk? For now, yes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


New Things

Here we are nearing–the end of a fifth school year in Korea. And we’ve signed on to return in August for a 6th. I suppose I thought we wouldn’t make it past 4. Itchy feet, the nature of the business, and all. It’s strange to be in this place for so long. Because we did so much exploring in the first couple of years, this past year has shrunk in scope in that things are not new, our patterns do not change, and our friend clique grows tighter and more exclusive–and I don’t love these evolutions. So in the next year and a couple of months, I will be trying new things. Stepping out of the normal. One of those things is a renewed commitment to write–to document. With that will be a site redesign. Wow, just saying it feels refreshing. So the redesign is project number one–there shall be changes!

Many new things will also be happening in my running life. For the first time ever, I have signed up for trail race in Korea. The sport grows and trail racing is catching on here. Next weekend, April 24th, I’ll run the 13k version of the Korea 50k–Korea’s premiere international trail race. This is the second annual running and the 50k is a point qualifier for races like the UTMB. So I expect something a bit different than the complete Korean experience, but I am excited to see how the culture takes an event that is growing in popularity worldwide and makes this its own. Much like the recent craft beer explosion (and more ruminationings to come on that!), I’m interested to see the Korean embrace of this sport. Will it look like the climbing scene and culture? Or will it more closely resemble a Western version of attitudes and procedures? We shall see.

I have also signed up for my first half marathon since we lived in Turkey and ran around the Golden Horn in Istanbul. I’ve signed up for the Nike Women’s 1/2 on May 22nd. And I continue to say “signed up” because I did and sent them money but I still can’t get a confirmation out of them. But this is how we roll in other lands and I’m pretty easy-going. Both of these races are to help me get back into racing and goal-setting. I was side-lined for the entire past year dealing with tendonitis in my hip in two different places and dealing with a lot of physical imbalances. I’m healthy now, but not 100% so am taking the slow road to building a solid foundation before I sup up this racing machine and take it to the Indy 500. I don’t know what my Indy is yet, but I know I’m not done yet. I have not yet seen my potential and I want to know what it is. So, stay tuned.

A Little Light Reading

….as you anxiously await the multi-part “Living in Songdo” series:

This article from the NYT about the Korean (and Japanesse) bathing and beauty culture is SPOT ON.  Fortunately, as a foreigner, I get to reap the benefits and watch/participate with amusement and wonder, without being subjected to the standards Korean women face.

I also just learned about Mok Bang.  This is an extremely popular Korean trend where people live-broadcast themselves eating.  Just eating.  And viewers watch along and donate money to that person.  I learned about this from a post on Facebook before school one morning and was completely incredulous.  I asked the students about it and they were totally blase and all, “yeah.  Of course.  Mok bang.”  They could not understand my incredulity.  At all.

I have lived here for three years and I had not heard of this before.  What else is there?  I have to wonder.

And that concludes your Korean cultural lesson for the day.

Kendall Mtn Run

Holy hell, I just signed up to run a 12 mile race, beginning in Silverton Colorado at 9,318 feet, and heading straight up into the clouds to a halfway point at 13,066 (top of Kendall Mountain), turning around and retracing the path back down to Silverton.  It’s an old race with an awesome, small mining town history, but has been added to the new USA Skyrunner Series.  If I still lived in Colorado, this would not be such a big deal to me but I live at sea level.  However, I think that since I will have a month living at 10,200 and training out my back door up Mosquito Pass and down the road up the two biggest mountains in Colorado (Elbert and Massive), I might sort of be ready?  I foresee much weight training in the coming months.  And lots and lots of trail hills on my Old Songdo mountain loop (post and pics coming soon).  Must not freak out.  Must train smart.  And keep “cranky butt” at bay.

I’m looking for other small, off-the-radar trail races in the Colorado mountains for the summer.  Let me know if you’ve heard of something good.  I am not interested in being lower than 8,000 feet as it’s hotter than hell in July and August, and I’m not interested in pavement.  All qualifying forms of foot race, please apply.

Here’s the link for Kendall if you’re interested and want to consider running it too?  If it’s any consolation, all the people in the race photos are smiling:  Kendall Mountain Run.

Top Searches

Upon examination of the top searches that lead readers to my blog, queries about Songdo and life in Songdo (bars, running, Lotte, development) take the cake.  Of course, many people are still landing here based on searches for Chadwick International, and I think WordPress must push my blog to other runners because they are the ones who read and “like” certain posts.  But the queries for CI mostly only happen during hiring fairs and there is not one currently in session–the bumps in hits are pretty funny.

So, we head out tomorrow to Japan for a short ski trip over Lunar New Year (the Koreans don’t call it Chinese New Year) and when we return, I promise to post pictures and updated information about life in Songdo including all the best restaurants, bars, parks, and shopping.  I might even drag Tim out with me to take the photos.  So please stay tuned, and I will be back with what you’re looking for.

How Many Ways Might I Procrastinate?

Many.  Many ways.

It’s final exam grading/narrative report writing/all the other grading you had to do time here at Chadwick International.  Also known as hell week.  Also known as the most wonderful time of the year.  Total sarcasm, people.  Maybe I do it to myself–my exam, by principle, is not multiple guess.  I maybe could have begun narratives sooner.  But here we are.  So in between bouts of productive work, how am I putting off the pain?

Face-Timing with my Dad who recently retired:  Steve’s Auto Service Changes Hands   Woohoo, Dad!  Living the dream!

Reading about strange Korean wonkiness:  Jawbones as Office Decor.   By the way, this is not a joke.  This happened/happens and only begins to scratch the surface of the bizarre Korean plastic surgery epidemic.  Yeah, I called it an epidemic.

Learning about the wonders of Bloglovin, a newish, not so new blog reader tool.  Follow me there!:  www.bloglovin.com

Looking at live cam pictures of Niseko, Japan, where we will be skiing in a mere few days:  Niseko Live Cam

Reading and watching the latest from North Korea:  Frontline/North Korea   This is a really incredible documentary that you should watch.  It always amazes me that we are so close.

Reading my daily trail and ultra-running info source.

Laughing out loud:  The Bloggess   Jenny Lawson is pure genius.

I am additionally wasting time on home decor and design blogs, beauty blogs, pictures of cats, and learning all about Esther the Wonder Pig.

Can you really blame me?  There is so much awesome stuff out there on the interwebs!  Not so much awesome stuff here in the home office, where this stack of grading glares maliciously in my general direction.  Maybe I’ll go for a run….

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Previous Older Entries