I only had one goal: a "4" in the hours column; 4:59:59 would do just fine.
This year's training was a lot more pleasant than that of the last two years, as Valerie, the wife of one of our social studies teachers, agreed to be be my training and racing partner. As Val has Ken and their five-year-old son, Maddox, and a life, she wasn't always able to do the Sunday long runs with me. But we did the long runs together more often than not, including the 20-miler three weeks before the race.
We ran along the Yangjae Cheon (stream) from Gwacheon City in the southwest to the Han River in central Seoul, and the phrase "slowly but surely" was never more apt. One week, we were supposed to do 16 miles and both gave out in 12. The 20-miler was smooth and pleasant. When you go out to run, you never know what kind of day you're going to have.
The hours surely go by more pleasantly with a running partner, but more than that, I really value the conversations I've had with Val. She's down-to-earth and frank and funny and we share a lot of political and social views. Best of all, she sometimes made me realize that maybe I shouldn't believe everything I think. For example, I'd say that Koreans have no sense of personal space, and she'd say, it's a big city... have you been to New York? (After much consideration, I've come to the conclusion, yeah but...)
Anyway, one of the great takeaways from this marathon season is having Val as a friend. She (like Ken) is good people, as they say down south. I introduced her to the hash, which she took to like a duck to Perrier, and she fast became one of the pack's favorites. (She's one of the people who pushed the sheet cake in my face at my EM run, as seen in my previous post.)
Another thing that really helped me be in the moment was the death of my GPS watch. It just stopped holding a charge, six weeks before the big day. I found a German GPS watch at the running store not far from my place. (From Garmin to German...) My new watch measures distance traveled in feet (feet!), which is utterly useless, but once I gave in and switched to metric, it was a dream. I can set the display to show any arrangement of data I like, and there's a setting for average pace, so I could just make sure to keep at 6:52, or 7:11, or whatever per kilometer and otherwise forget it.
Anyway, the summer miles were brutal, even starting at 6 a.m. The fall brought some relief just as the runs were getting longer and longer. And then, finally, it was M-Day.