Friday, April 19, 2013

Seoul International Marathon

       What a fantastic and crazy race the Seoul International Marathon was!

Marathon Maniacs group photo, I know we missed at least 2

       The day started early, as usual, and my friends Diane and Rhonda drove up to the finish area, parked the van, and then hopped a cab to the start. The timing went perfectly and we weren’t rushed to get drop bags in, group pictures taken, or hit the porta-potties.

       I wish I had gone with throw away clothes instead of the plastic bag I was wearing over my running clothes because I was shivering violently by the time our wave started. It was about 20 minutes after the initial start so we had been standing around for an hour in too little clothes at that point. I kept thinking about how much glycogen I was burning with all the shivering!

       Once we were on our way I started immediately into the Jeff Galloway run/walk with a 4:1 ratio. It was slow at the start with all the people so tightly packed and dodging runners and walkers was a constant battle that got a little better, but not much. It didn’t take long to be warmed up and in the end I was dressed perfectly for the weather. A few times I started feeling a bit warm, but then we would pass into the shadow of another sky scraper and I was glad for all I had on.
She had too be on the warm side!
This is really typical here, it is all about protection from the sun to stay young looking

       I was so focused on running and following my intervals that I didn’t even see a distance marker until the 14 km sign! I was surprised and happy to be well on the way. The next one I saw was 24! I had my Garmin set so I could glance at it and see how much time I had on my interval, but I purposely didn’t want to look at my pace, time, or distance covered. Once I happened to look down as it flashed 8:23 for my run interval and thought I’d better take it down a notch, but that was the only split I saw. It really helped with the mental struggle I usually fight during the teen miles.
This guy was close to me the whole race, no idea how he ran in that costume!

       Somewhere around 25 km I had to make a restroom stop. I had been looking for porta potties, but quickly realized there were not going to be any on the route. Instead, people were ducking into coffee shops and gas stations. I followed suit into a gas station and stretched while I waited for my turn. I lost over 2 minutes at that stop that I would regret later, but I really had no choice. I’m not sure where I went wrong since I don’t usually have to stop, but I was definitely over hydrated. I was also queasy and my tummy was threatening to revolt one way or another. I really worried that my great start would be ruined by G.I. distress, but I kept plugging on.
I love seeing older runners, it gives me hope that my days as a runner
are not as limited and people would have me think

       Around the 32km point I spotted another Maniac singlet. The poor kid, who I later learned is from Singapore, had totally hit the wall and really fought for the last 10K. I saw a ton of other people I knew on the course from our base, the Seoul Flyers club, Marathon Maniacs, and other runners that have been in many of the same races. It was so much fun to see so many familiar faces! They are all credited with spotting me though. I could run past my own mother and not recognize her because of how focused I am when I run.

       I thought that we would cross the Han River at about 32km, but I was wrong, it wasn’t until 35km, but that 3 km wait messed with my head. Every turn I kept thinking I should see the bridge. I did know once we crossed the river I was in the home stretch, but it seemed like I was never going to get there. Crossing the bridge I spotted a clock. I had seen a couple of other clocks at that point, but since I never knew where I was distance wise, they didn’t mean a thing to me. Not to mention I couldn’t remember how long it took us to get to the start mats.
The octopus hat guy has been in almost every race I have run in Korea!
In classic Korean "not quite right" fashion,
this young woman doesn't quite get that fake boobs and butts are funnier on men

       FINALLY I was crossing the river! As I crested the bridge, I glanced down at my Garmin to see where I was in my run interval and was horrified to see a blank screen! I have never been let down by my Garmin so I was really shocked. I turned it on again and it seemed to work fine and had plenty of battery. Unfortunately, it has lost all the data on my run to that point so I have no clue what any of my splits where as far as my intervals go. I was really peeved about that since that was my first race using Galloway where I really pushed for a time. If I had bumped the off button, it would at least have saved all my data.
Usually when people bandit a race, it isn't so obvious, LOL

       At least past the bridge I knew I was down to my last couple of miles. At 40Km I spotted another clock that said 4:41:xx. I knew I only had less than a mile and a half (brains are not good at math at this point in a marathon,) and that I had a shot at a PR, but probably not a sub-4:30. More importantly, I didn’t want to finish feeling like I could have done better, I wanted to leave it all on the course! At that point I let go of the run/walk plan and just ran. It hurt more to walk by then anyway since I haven’t trained properly for walking (note to self: start power walking a couple of times a week!)
Not sure what the point to this group was,
but they stuck together and had a nice finish time

       As I reached the finish arch, the clock said 4:55:xx. I kept wracking my brain for some shred of memory about what time we crossed the start mats but I just couldn’t remember, was it 18 minutes or 22 or something else. With my Garmin record lost I would have to wait for my text. (One of the coolest things about races in Korea is that every race, no matter how big or small, texts your official finish time to your phone, usually within an hour.) I went through the motions of turning in my chip, getting my snacks and medal and then stretched out on the ground with my feet propped up on a wall to let the blood return to my brain.
Attitude at the finish line :-)

       Eventually I dragged myself up and found Rhonda. She had passed Diane a mile or two back where she found her down to a walk with bad cramps in her quads. I headed on to pick up my drop bag with another Maniac who was in from Hong Kong, he had graciously brought me two Runner’s World magazines from the UK with info on the best races of the year so I can plan my first year in England! Thanks Mike Cartwright!!

       In review, it was over all a very good race. I liked the mental aspect of taking it one interval at a time and not worrying about where I was in the race. I would really have liked to see the breakdown of my splits, but I guess I can get that next time. I confirmed that chattering teeth at the beginning means a comfortable race temp wise and also confirmed that I need less and less GU as I get farther off carbs, but I still need caffeine.

   My official splits weren’t too shabby:

5K 33:19

10K 30:44

20K 30:55

Half 2:12:13

25K 31:42

30K 34:55 (potty break)

35K 33:45

40K 33:12

Finish: 4:32:37

       All and all I was over the moon happy with how the race went. Yes, skipping the potty stop would have but me at or under 4:30, but it was still a PR and leaves the elusive 4:30 for another day. Usually everything falls apart for me if it is a major race so I couldn't have asked for more!

       This finished blog has been sitting in my files for weeks and now, we are several days past the bombings at The Boston Marathon. I can’t imagine the horror of such an event. I know that if my family were hurt because they were waiting at the finish line for me, I would be beyond devastated and wracked with guilt. My heart and prayers go out to everyone touched by this event.