Thursday, September 23, 2010

Running for a Purpose

12 September 2010- DMZ Half Marathon- South Korea

It had been almost 2 years since I had ran my first half marathon, well stand alone half marathon. I have run 13.1 miles many of times but never all out and just running. I have done a few half Ironmans over the past 2 years and had some decent run times. I was really looking forward to this race to lay it all out on the line and see how far I had come over the past 2 years. I lined this race up while I was still out in Korea through the Seoul Flyers. They are a running group out of Seoul about 1 1/2 hours from here by train/bus. They are a group of foreigners that like to run, and well party, which I will talk more about in my next post.

The weather had been pretty crappy leading up to the race day and it was possibly going to be raining so I was not too thrilled about that. I packed up and headed up to Seoul the afternoon before race day. I got up to a "love motel", this is where single people/married men take girls after a late night out as they are cheap places to stay $35US for the night. It includes a flat screen TV, Internet hook up, and computer. Of course it has all the other regular amenities as well, nice big bed and decent bathroom. I got settled in and did some HW, didn't really get much of a dinner but I had a late lunch so I snacked on a gatorade, snickers bar and 2 bananas. I attempted to go to bed around 11 but it started storming out which caused a very annoying drip outside that kept me up all night. I think I may have got an hour of sleep and that was it.

Woke up and felt like crap. I had 2 Cliff Bars and a banana, wasn't able to get the usual pre-race coffee, but settled for SB's chilled cappuccino and a chilled mocha. My stomach was upset most of the ride to the race and I wasn't feeling that great at all. I luckily was able to use the bathroom before the race. It was a first time experience for me as I have never had to use the "korean" toilets before. Most places have the regular style toilets by now and I have never had to squat, EVER. Took me a few seconds of pondering how to accomplish this daunting task but luckily I figured it out and took care of it. Once again morning business taken care of and no worrying on the course.

The race started on time and I got off to a good pace. I was told to be careful and not go out to fast, which I was worried I had and just kept going with it. There were two foreign guys that went out strong and stayed about 200M's ahead of me the first couple miles then built into 400M's then one guy got about 1200M's ahead. I just focused on my race and was hoping they went out too fast. Well come mile 10 I started pulling them back in and was determined to catch the last guy. I caught up to him with about 1/2 mile to go and made sure that when I went I went hard too make sure he didn't want to stay. I came around the corner and saw the time and it read 1:18:50 and I crossed the line right after 1:19, luckily I started a few seconds after the clock and my chip time came out to 1:18:55.

This was one of the biggest breakthroughs I had and didn't think I had it any me to run that fast. I had a interesting conversation with a friend leading up to this race and she had told me it is a lot funner and means a lot more to run for a purpose. I took that to heart and set out to run this race with a purpose, and it did just that, it meant a lot more and I found inner strength to run harder knowing it just wasn't for me. This person knows who she is and she has inspired me to run every race with a purpose and for something other than myself, THANKS!

Chip Time- 1:18:55
Age Group Place- 3rd/53
Overall- 13/1,362 (missed the money by 1:25 secs :(, it was only $50, but still would of been cool to get paid)


I didn't get any race pictures, but here is the map of the race. That gray line above the course is North Korea, it was only 5 miles away. Pretty cool if I don't say so myself.....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hitting the Ground Running..........

5 September 2010- Sokcho, South Korea-

I arrived back in Korea on the 1st of September. Korea missed me so much it decided to welcome me back with a Typhoon my first day. I was lucky enough to get into town early enough to go off base enjoy a quick dinner and a beer down at the VFW. Jeremy who was stationed with me at Seymour Johnson picked me up at the bus station and then grabbed dinner and a beer with me. He was quite surprised when we went down to the VFW and it was like a small homecoming, everyone was happy to see me and some didn't know I was coming back so they were a little shocked. It felt good to be back to somewhere so familiar and too still have great friends around.

I couldn't think of a better way to get to Korea then to have a line up of races my first two months here. It started off this weekend with Sokcho Olympic Distance Triathlon. Jeremy is new to the Triathlon scene and I convinced him to come along to race. I couldn't do all the racing in Korea without Des. Des has been here in Korea for a total of something crazy like 15 years (I am not sure how long but his experience with traveling is what I rely on). I now call Des my "Logistical Manager" and rely on him heavily for all of my travel needs and logistics to race here in Korea. I think I ask so much of him he might start asking for a salary, but until then I will just thank him in my blog, because it is much appreciated with everything he does for me.

Jeremy and myself got to a bus station about 30 minutes away thanks to Des giving us a ride there. We then got on a bus for about 4 hours and made it to the city of Sokcho for the race. We biked around the city to find the transition area and race registration area. We got there about an hour too early to register so we went and found a hotel to stay at. We ended up getting a huge room with a flat screen TV, King Bed, Twin Bed, Couch, Computer and A/C for $80. It was about 5 minutes from race start and transition area. The only problem was there was no bridge to get us across a river to the start area, luckily the Koreans are quite smart and there was this boat/barge pull thing with a cable to get us across. It cost about 15cents each way and took about 3 minutes.

Alright enough about all the pre-race stuff and onto the race report.

Swim- I haven't been in the pool much at all due to training for Chuncheon Marathon. We did have a swim meet on base back in Turkey before I left but I just swam the 100M Breast Stroke; which I suck at and got my @ss handed to me! Then I swam the 200M Flippers/Kickboard, they had this event instead of freestyle so that everyone could compete. I swam well in that and my legs felt good. So other than that I hadn't been in the pool much but was hoping I would just be able to survive the swim. It was a 2 lap swim and I felt great on the first lap, the second lap was another story. I could feel myself slowing down and tried to find some feet when someone passed me. Luckily I was able to hang onto some feet for the last 300M and came out of the water feeling good.

Bike- If you are not familiar with Korea, it is a NON drafting country. Well that is what everyone is told, but you should just be prepared to get blown by with a peloton screaming by you. I have hard feelings about "cheating/drafting", but they do not enforce it here. They will come by and blow a whistle and not take down numbers or anything. I have came to the conclusion of join them or get your butt handed to you on the bike. The first lap I couldn't get with a group, I was passing a few of the pro girls who started 20mins ahead of us, they were starting their 2nd lap. They would hang on for a little bit and then fall off. I was riding good and felt strong for not being on the bike much other than the weekly TT's which were every other week for me. I finally caught a group of about 5 riders after a lap and a half and latched on with them. The other problem with these drafters in Korea, only 2 of the guys wanted to do work. I can't stand pulling along 5 guys and having only 2 of them pull their weight. I actually biked a slower 2nd half of the 3 lap course with them, but I was able to save my legs for the run. I came in with a group of 3 to T2 and they got out about 100M in front of me onto the run.

Run- It took me about a mile to get that 100M back and we were running in a group of 4. I was feeling really good on the run and stuck with the group up until mile 4 and then I started pushing hard. I didn't know where I stood overall but thought I was having a decent race and a really good run. I wanted to run my last mile hard and I dug deep and did just that. I caught another foreigner with about 1/4 mile to go and that is when it got fun. When I ran by I said "Well here we go", meaning this is going to be fun. He said "You got to be kidding me", he was disappointed because he had out swam me by about 4 minutes, but I put a minute into him on the bike and then put 2 minutes into him on the run. I made sure when I passed him I went by quick to make him think he couldn't stick with me. He didn't try and stick with me which was good because I am not sure how much of a kick I would of had left. I crossed the line feeling good and was happy with my overall time. Someone came up to me after I finished and told me I was the 2nd Overall individual, which I was in shock about. I knew I had a good race but didn't think it was that good. I was really happy about that and it is one of my best finished in a big race to date. When the official race results came out I thought I was in 1st Overall but overlooked somebody's time and thought they were in the Pro division. So I was really in 2nd Overall.

Swim-27:18 12th/198
Bike-1:05:31 4th/198
Run- 39:19 2nd/198 (1st Place Overall did not have splits for bike/run so I am assuming he was faster)
Overall: 2:12:07 2nd/198 Overall 1st/3 Age Group

Overall I was extremely happy to PR and have a great race returning to Korea. I wish I could of spent more time on the bike and in the pool to have an even better performance, but I am focused on the marathon right now and this was just a good long workout. It was nice to prove to myself that the running is paying off and seeing a good run split after coming off the bike was good.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and been there through the good and bad times. The last couple months in Turkey were great, we had a very dedicated group of athletes that were there and held me accountable to showing up, without them I could of just slept in or went out and not showed up on time.

Below are some pics from the trip and race:
The Triathlon statue down from the registration building and it was also along the run course.

It had all the past results for Age Group and Pro's on the back. I hope to go back for a running race or the Tri next year to get a picture with my name on it :)
Pizza Hut salad bar "dessert", it was my own concoction :)

The swim course, it was a 2 loop course in a protected harbor.

I couldn't find any race pictures of me, but here is one on the race course of a Korean Pro. It was an awesome 2 loop run course with a harbor and mountains in the background!
Up on the podium for my Age Group Award and Medal
Bal Jeong, Jeremy, myself, Staci, Doug
Jeremy getting the fish out of our post race soup. It was something different and we had to give it a try. It wasn't that bad and actually quite feeling!