Thursday, September 30, 2010


My longest training runs hadn't been going to plan; I could only do 17 miles when I was supposed to do 20 and 20 when I was supposed to do 23. So it was with some trepidation that I set out on a planned 26-mile run/walk (three minutes running, one walking) on at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. But immediately I felt as if this time I was going to make it; the heat and humidity were way down and I felt strong.

I made my way back and forth and forth and back again along the Yangjae Cheon path between home and Gwacheon City, four miles to the southwest. I spent some time navigating the track at the Gwacheon soccer stadium, watching the local club teams play; I saw the Blue forward and the Yellow goalie crunch together in a (possibly rib-cracking, definitely game-ending) collision.

I was about 16 miles into the challenge when my good friend Chris called; he'd promised to come out on his bike and keep me company. He'd actually told me he'd ride with me the whole way, but as nearly six hours of biking at 13 minutes per mile isn't exactly a fun way to spend Sunday, I'd told him I only needed a boost near the end of the run.

And so Chris came out, bless him, on his bike and rode along, encouraging me from Gwacheon almost to the Han River in central Seoul and back again to our neighborhood...

And. I. Did. It. I made it the whole marathon distance, 26 miles on my GPS watch in 5 hours, 50 minutes 51 seconds, plus an extra quarter-to-half mile through tunnels and under bridges, where the GPS freezes up.

It was the greatest athletic triumph of my life, at least since I made a home run in kickball (all the way to Mrs. Bell's classroom, you guys!) in :: koff :: 1959. I guess I'm allowed one athletic triumph every fifty years or so. I guess I should have been ecstatic when I finished, but I was so exhausted that a quiet glow of satisfaction was all I could muster. And I still feel it; it's outlasted the soreness.

...and the real marathon approaches, step by step, inch by inch... still moving faster than I do, however.

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