Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hey Foreigner! Katie and Dave run the Seoul International Marathon

This time, Katie decided to do the whole thing-all 26.2 miles. And guess what? Her buddy Dave trained with her and he ran it too. Since we had 2 friends in this race, we had to get back out there with the bullhorn again. I was out there for Katie's half marathon in the fall and, after the trial and error of that cheering experience, we knew how to do it right this time.

I took the bus from Goodmorning Hill. I was very nervous about this at first. The busses are very fast and from Suji to this part of Seoul is a straight shot, but there are no announcements in English. It's all in Korean, so one needs to know where one is going in order to get off at the right stop. The night before the race, the kids and I had dinner at the Trotters, and they walked me through how to do it. One of the nice things about the bus is the bus app on my phone. I click on the bus stop near our apartment and it tells me what time the busses are going to be at the stop. I woke up at 6am and according to my phone, I had 20 minutes to catch the 5500 to Seoul. That gave me enough time to walk to a convenience store to get a snack and make it to the bus without having to wait in the cold. Once the bus crossed the river near Itaewon I paid close attention to where I was. It was pretty easy though. The closer we got to the palace the more police were out on the street setting up for the race. The bus driver seemed unaware that there was a race going on that day. That surprised me, the race was blocking off a main road that the bus needed to turn down. But that was great for me because that road was where the starting line was! When I got off the bus, I realised that all the other people on the bus were wearing running gear, ready to run the race. 

The race started across the street from the palace.
7:10am at the palace

Mr. Incredible was the first runner I saw. 

This is one of the cool statues near the start line.

Katie's husband, Adam is a professional camera guy. In fact, he works for a tv show called Semipermanent that airs on tv in Korea. It doesn't surprise me that he took a video of this guy-this is quality video work.

Here's the globe promoting the Beautiful Store (this guy did not run the race)
From the start, we cut over a few blocks to the 7km mark. For the first 12ish miles, the race course was perfect for spectators-of which there were very few. The race zigzaged through the streets. From the 7km point, we could see runners at the 5km point as well as the 10km point.
On the left runners are running toward us (toward the 7km point).
On the right, runners are running away from us (near the 10km point)
 Very quickly after cutting across to the 7k mark, the elite men came flying by.
Katie's competition
We settled down at the 7km point to ensure that we would not miss Katie. I'll tell you something that we didn't tell many people last time. You know how we went out to cheer Katie on for her half marathon? Well, we missed her at every point. We never actually got to cheer her on. This time we were determined not to let that happen (spoiler alert: she's VERY fast, and got faster as the race went on. faster.).

L-R: Ricki, Adam and Hannah
Here's Ricki, Adam and me

This wasn't exactly part of the Rock and Roll marathon series, but we did catch these drummers along the way. (There were also drummers around 20 miles, but my video refused to upload.)

Adam cheering with the bullhorn
We saw Dave and Katie at the 7km marker and again at the 12km-ish mark, then again a few km's later. We were definitely hitting our stride. We went from cheering people on to playing them some music by pulling up Eye of the Tiger on my phone and playing it through the megaphone. That was a big hit. Runners had seen us a few times, they thought it was funny and they really liked the music. Several high fived us as they ran by and more than a couple stopped to take our pictures-yes, people running a marathon stopped to take our picture. And one runner stopped and danced with us. Every time we saw someone who looked non-Korean we would yell "Hey foreigner!" Most would smile. One yelled "I'm from Colorado!" And I yelled back "I'm from Denver!" He yelled back "me too!" and then kept running. I'm sure if I don't see him again, I'll at least hear about him from someone. Denver is a pretty small town. Another runner stopped to give me this adorable Koala. This man and the toy are from Australia. He flew here just for the race.

We were having tons of fun, but once we saw Katie and Dave, we knew we had to book it to our next spot-especially when we went from the part of the race that snaked closely together to the part that went from one side of the river to the other.

We took the subway. In the subway station, we stopped for a photo op! Ricki and Adam look like they're having a great time hiking in the subway station.

We crossed the river via subway.

Then, we weren't sure where we were in relation to where the race course was. We definitely wanted to see Katie around mile 20 or 22. This is one of the most difficult parts of a marathon and Adam had prepared gatorade for Katie. It was a tough call-should we try to catch her at 20, or just go straight to the finish. We decided the encouragement and gatorade were more important.

We walked out of the subway station, but there were no obvious signs of the race.

Finally, Hannah (who speaks Korean!) asked a taxi driver. We got i the cab for a very quick ride-we rode about 5 blocks, saw the race and yelled "Yogi-oh!" which means stop here. We paid our 2,400 won ($2.40) and ran to the sidelines. We had some points of reference in the race. There was a man dressed as a king, a woman in all pink and a man wearing an octopus hat, all were running ahead of Katie. We also knew that Katie was in font of the 4:10 pace group. As we waited for her at the 20ish mile we saw the king, the woman in pink and the octopus guy and we knew we were getting close.
Pretty soon, we saw Dave...then we saw the 4:10 pace group. It was then that we realized Katie is a machine. She had passed all those people near the end of the race. She was getting faster.

As soon as we knew we had missed her we ran to the subway to try to catch her at the finish. But while we were on the subway, we got a text from Bonny and Ken that she finished. So we missed her finish again, but we got to see Dave finish. Overall, the spectators at the finish line did NOT like the megaphone.

 I have to say, watching Katie and Dave inspired me to at least check out races in the states, thinking that maybe I have another marathon in me, but I'm not ready to run one this summer and there aren't any that I want to run in Korea. So maybe I'll think about it for 2014. Does Hal Higdon have a 65 week marathon training schedule?

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