Monday, July 9, 2012

Mission: Accomplished

21 KM or 13 miles for those not in tune with the metric system ;)
A daunting number for most people.
A conquered challenge for me.

Back in February, when I first joined the running club, I would never have thought that I could run 21 CONSECUTIVE KM with minimal/no stops. This past Sunday, this "inevitability" became a reality and I couldn't be prouder.

The day started bright and early with the sounding (and snoozing) of three alarms between 0515 and 0533. Once I finally rolled myself out of bed (grudgingly), had showered, and eaten a small pre-race snack, the adrenaline and excitement really started flowing. I got on the subway and two transfers later arrived at the meeting point to join up with the rest of the members running this race.

Once we had all assembled, we walked to the course, got registered, checked in our bags, and warmed up. We couldn't have asked for a better day - the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and the humidity levels were bearable. The course that we were set to run was along part of the walking path that encompasses the large mountain in the middle of Seoul, Namsan. I was aware that this course was going to be somewhat hilly and felt prepared because as a club, we run this route every Sunday night. However, we do not run this same part 3 times, back and forth.

The course
Those running the full marathon (next bucket list goal - maybe) took off around 8:00 AM and as they crossed the start line, the halfers filed into place. I wasn't really all that nervous going in and felt pretty relaxed. Earlier that week, I had run a little over 18K in about 1:35:00 (granted on a very flat, even course) and felt confident that I could finish this race in around 1:50:00. With this in mind, I took my place with my fellow runners and competitors.

The gun sounded and we were off! The course itself turned out to be just under 3K one way, so we ended having to do 3 full laps and then half of a lap to complete the required 21K. The first go around of the course was more of an opportunity to feel out what we would be running and try to establish some natural markers that would prove helpful in the later laps.

Around the 8K mark, I started to get a little sore, but told myself that I had to fight through it. That pain went away over the next couple of kilometers and I just kept on trucking along. By the third time around, I was finding myself having quite a bit of trouble with the hills. So as to not wear myself out and possibly cause an injury, I decided to run halfway up the bigger hills, briskly walk the top half, and then resume running on the downhill and flat parts of the course. This helped me preserve some energy and allowed me brief times to recover.

I remember getting back to the starting line for the third time, seeing one of the other members who was not running this race (Larry) and knowing that the end was close. Larry kindly reminded me that I still had another half lap to go before the glorious bliss of sitting in the shade could be realized. That was all of the motivation that I needed. I zipped down to the halfway point (the turn around here was in the middle of a hill, which was a bit of a momentum kill) and headed back to the roars of the finish line.

Sprinting into the finish line was one of the greatest feelings of my life. When I looked at my time, I knew that it had all been worth it! 1:56:02! I broke 2 hours and was just over my initial goal of 1:50:00. Exhausted, dripping with sweat, and aching, I found a place in the shade and started the recovery process. Water was drank, watermelon and cucumbers were eaten (delic by the way!), and a massage was received (granted, this was focused on my feet and I almost kicked the guy in the face a couple of time due to my sensitiveness of people touching my feet).

We headed to Itaewon for a well deserved brunch as a group and then headed our separate ways to recover, rest, and relax. all of the hard work, sweat, sore muscles, and countless hours were absolutely worth it and I've been beaming with pride for the past day. It's finally sinking in that I accomplished one of the many things on my bucket list.

Can't wait to tick a few more items off in the upcoming months and year!

Exhausted, but satisfied with the results!

I DID IT!!!!