Spring is a good time to start

My last marathon, a full one, was in December 2017 in Seoul. I had signed up for another one the following Sunday, which had to be postponed to Christmas Eve due to heavy snow. I ultimately passed on that final marathon of 2017 as the air pollution reached a level I considered foolish to run in.

Particularly poor air quality on Christmas Eve 2017 –an all-too-common occurrence in Korea
SOURCE: AirVisual

I searched for other marathons to enter in 2018 but passed on one after another as we seemed to average about two days a week of air quality that was only “Moderate”ly polluted or better. It was with some heartache that I would see other runners in Korea triumphantly share the results of their runs on Instagram.

My winter became busy, rolling into a hectic new semester. I put signing up for marathons out of my mind as I contented myself with workouts at the gym and the very occasional run on mornings when the air pollution wasn’t hazardous.

At the end of March, one of my students told me she would be volunteering in the Yongin Marathon April 21 and asked if I was running in it. I hadn’t even known there was one! I looked for it online to learn I had missed the application deadline by several days. I texted the organizer to ask if it was still possible to sign up. That person must have been inundated with similar such messages as I got no response.

The one that got away

Stupid, stupid, stupid! All the times I had gotten up at 5 am to quickly take a bus to Seoul and be at the starting line by 8:00 or 9:00! When there’s a marathon practically down the street from where I live, I miss the deadline to sign up! But rather than spend that Saturday morning pathetically standing on the sideline cheering on the runners I should be running alongside, I decided to simply sign up for a different marathon that weekend. What’s another pre-dawn bus ride?

I just made the deadline to sign up for the Cherry Blossom Marathon in Yeouido. I can do 10K without a problem; I’m not sure how ready I am to run a half marathon. But I know if I didn’t sign up for this marathon, I’d never get around to it. I think it’s time to restock the pantry with oatmeal.

Screenshot from the Cherry Blossom Marathon website. It looks like I’ll be running in a more appropriate age group.
Course for the Cherry Blossom Marathon


Koreans start at the top. Or do they?

I woke up at 5:50. The air was clear for a change. Instead of being filled with the usual excitement that accompanies the excitement of a much needed run, I transferred my body from my bed to an armchair and snoozed for another hour or so. That preventative dose of TheraFlu last night really did a number on me!

Still, I managed my drag myself out of the embrace of my chair and into some running clothes. The run itself was a modest one (3.76 km, 23:02, 6’07″/km), but at least I gave myself the boost I needed to start my day with a clear head. Though saying I deserve congratulations may be going a bit far, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t proud of myself.

Poster for a clearing out sale at Orange Factory, Suji-Gu, Yongin.

I took a photo of this poster during my run as proof of a tendency Koreans have. When English speakers express a numerical range, they tend to do so from the lowest to highest number (ex. I’ll be there in 10-15 minutes.). Shortly after coming to Korea, I noticed Koreans expressed such numerical ranges in reverse (ex. There are 50-40 students.).

When I pointed this out to a class of elementary school teachers many years ago, they said I was wrong and claimed to express ranges just like we do. No one seemed to know what I was talking about and even giggled at my erroneous recollection. But again and again, year after year, Koreans proved me right.

I offer Exhibit A above. I point out this tendency not as something to correct (unless, perhaps, when they’re speaking English) but as a mere observation.