Sunday I ran a 10k here in Daegu. You might recall that when I signed up to run, my Korean teachers thought I was being ridiculous for calling it a “fun run.”
Now. I understand.
But first let me set the scene. Per the “runner instructions” – I was supposed to be at the running site by 7am. LIES! We got up SUPER early (5:15am) and got to the venue on time – and then…waited. We waited over an hour trying to stay warm.
I’m freezing and not very pumped for the run. Can we just go home?
First Aid Team getting ready to rollerblade to anyone’s aid.
Although I rarely see Koreans running around the city or at my gym – on this day, it was like half the country was signed up to run. I was shocked. Where have they been hiding?
And since Daegu is host to the 2011 World Track & Field Championships, the 10k and full marathon race was kind of like a big kickoff (i.e. it was a BIG deal). They even had opening ceremonies – complete with band, partially clothed (and freezing) girls, fireworks, and lots of ticker tape.
Thousands of colorful balloons released into the air – to support the city’s theme “Colorful Daegu.” At least they don’t call themselves “Green Daegu.”
Finally – race time. They let the marathon runners go first. And then a bit more pomp and circumstance – and then it was our turn. But no…we had to do some group stretching first.
The countdown begins and then we are off. Well, sort of. There was absolutely no attempt at staging the runners (i.e. fast runners up front, followed by average runners, joggers, and then walkers). With that said, the start of the race was
The moment I crossed the start line (and my timing chip starts), I am met with a human maze. Okay Lisa…time to be strategic. I look to my right. Korean couple jogging and holding hands at the same time. To my left – wall of Korean women linked arm to arm. In front, a small gap is opening – I must sprint and take advantage. It was real life Frogger. Zig, zag, slip in here, jump through flaming hoops there. It was ridiculous.
Note: I’ve run TONS of races in my life. I understand the beginning is always a bit chaotic. But this was unlike any I have ever witnessed.
Oh, and seriously, I encountered several Korean couples who were running and holding hands. (Not sure if they lasted the whole race that way, but I wouldn’t put it past them).
The first 2 kilometers (a little over 1 mile), I had wasted a ton of my energy just trying to find space to run. And then it started to finally thin out a little bit. I still had to dodge runners left and right, but at least I actually had space to run around the slower runners.
I hadn’t even run half the distance, and I was tired. I spent the whole race trying to make up for the minutes lost in the beginning and with only 10 kilometers, it’s really not that much distance to make up for such a slow start.
I don’t know my official time, but it’s somewhere around 54:20 (about 9 min miles). I was hoping for faster, but not in these conditions. It was still a good race and I was surprisingly tired and sore from it.
Thank god that’s over.
Plus, I got a medal. Cue the Star Spangled Banner!
The last 3k of the race, this Korean guy was pacing off of me. If I sped up and passed someone, he would follow. And the last 1k, he started to slow, so I turned around and waved him on and encouraged him to keep up with me. I think he even beat me in the sprint to the finish…that bastard! Kidding. He found me later to thank me for helping him (and I met his brother too).
Although I don’t plan on running another race while I’m in Korea, I can at least cross “Run race in foreign country” off my bucket list. Wait…it was never on there. Dammit!