What goes through the mind of a marathon runner?  I’m not exactly sure because I don’t perceive myself as a legitimate ‘runner.’  I think of a legitimate ‘runner’ as someone with a plan.  A legitimate ‘runner’ trains or runs with a distance or time in mind for each run; a legitimate ‘runner’ has goals.

I am more of a ‘Forrest Gump.’  I wake up each day, and I run.  I go until my body tells me to stop or I run out of time.  Some days I run 11-miles at 8-minutes per mile, and some days I run 3-miles at 13-minutes per mile.  I just do what I can and enjoy the fresh air, scenery, snaps, and most importantly, time to think to myself.

The timeline of this marathon was rather idiotic, but shockingly, it all worked out, and I think it ended up being a pretty good story.  I think the best way to tell it, as unusual as it is, is by giving you a timeline of my thoughts.  Welcome to my ‘Forrest Gump’ mind.

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Wednesday, March 8th:
“Hey, want to sign up for a race?” Ricky, another EPIK teacher in town asked me at our weekly Wednesday night dinner.

A full marathon in Korea in a few weeks seems really exciting, even though I haven’t trained or kept in shape since I arrived in Korea a few weeks ago. Actually, I haven’t really done more than a 10- or 11-mile run in a few years. Can’t wait for this adventure!

Friday, March 31st:
I really appreciate Jon offering to come cheer me on. I’ll hop on the bus out an hour to Gwangju, and we can figure out the weekend plans from there.

5:30pm:
Perfect timing to arrive in Gwangju. I’ll buy the bus tickets to Gyeongju and wait for Jon.

5:45pm:
Fuck, no more buses to Gyeongju today? OK, no problem, we’ll bus to a city close to Gyeongju and go from there.

5:55pm:
I’m invincible if I can figure out how to make it to this marathon.

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6:15pm:
Too bad all the sooner buses were sold out, but at least it will be an easy 3-hour bus ride to Daegu once we get on at 9:00pm, and then an even easier 1-hour ride to Gyeongju afterward.

6:20pm:
Hmm, what if the buses don’t run after midnight in Daegu? I’ll ask the information desk.

6:25pm:
F*ck, I guess we’re staying in Daegu tonight and taking the first bus to Gyeongju at 6:30am.

7:00pm:
“Brooke, are you sure this is the right city? This one starts with a ‘K’…,” Jon points out.

F*ck.

7:03pm:
#BuddhaBlessed I spent the whole time mapping out the right city and #BuddhaBlessed for helpful Koreans.

Wait, where are we sleeping in Daegu tonight? I also don’t recall ever hearing about a city named Daegu before.

7:30pm:
#BuddhaBlessed Jon already had an Airbnb account set-up so he could book a room because I forgot all of my IDs at home and also don’t know how to read maps. Our place tonight looks great! Glad there was still one available a few hours before arrival!

Wait, are we staying in Gyeongju on Saturday night or coming home after the marathon?

Whatever. One step at a time. We can figure that out tomorrow.

8:00pm:
This server seems a little judgmental. I’M RUNNING A MARATHON TOMORROW, SIR. SO YES, I WILL HAVE THE WHOLE PIZZA, DOUBLE-SALAD, AND TWO BEERS, PLEASE.

9:00pm:
There’s nothing more soothing than the vibration of the bus while sitting in warm, plush, spacious, leather reclining seats.

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10:50pm:
Why is the bus stopping? I thought this was the Express Bus. Oh, OK, most people are staying on the bus. Back to sleep.

11:20pm:
Why is the bus stopping? Are we in the right city? They said the ride would take 3-hours. OK. Everyone’s getting off.

I’ll hop on Snap to see if there’s a geofilter to let me know what city I’m in.

11:45pm:
Thank God Jon knows how to read maps.

12:00pm:
I wish this taxi driver knew how to read maps. I hope we’re going to the right place.

12:30pm:
We definitely aren’t in the right place and have no idea where we are.

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1:00pm:
Thank God I’m #BuddhaBlessed at being able to find Wifi hotspots, and thank God Jon knows how to read maps. Most importantly, thank God we found our Airbnb a few blocks down from where the taxi driver dropped us off. The host seems super nice, and so does the room!

I should probably learn how to read maps.

I should also probably learn Korean.

One step at a time.

Saturday, April 1st; 5:30am:
Fuck. This. Marathon. I’m so tired.

5:55am:
This Airbnb host is getting 5+ stars for making us homemade egg breakfast sandwiches and dropping us off at the bus terminal.

7:15am:
Nice! We made it Gyeongju, and we have some time to get some raingear and get comfortable situation before the marathon.

7:30am:
Wait, where exactly is the start line?

7:35am:
Why doesn’t anyone speak English?!?!

7:40am:
Thank God for another helpful Korean that noticed our distress. Oh my god. It would be an hour bus ride to the start line?!?! A taxi better be faster!!

7:57am:
Oh my God. We’re still 7km away.

8:00:am:
Finally! We’re here! Oh my God. There’s the fireworks show to signal the start of the race! I still have all of my bags and am about 1/4th kilometers away from the actual start line!

8:01am:
Wow, a lot of racers are just standing around. Maybe it hasn’t actually started yet. Do racers just meet to stretch and stuff at 8:00am and then the whole thing actually starts shortly after? I don’t know how Korea does these things.

8:05am:
Thank God for another helpful Korean that noticed I wasn’t a half-marathoner and should’ve started 5 minutes ago. Let’s go! Time to catch up!

8:30am:
The scenery of this race is absolutely amazing. The atmosphere of the race is pretty great, too; everyone’s cheering each other on. I’m so glad I did this. I’m in better shape than I thought! I’ll probably beat my 4-hour time of my last marathon.

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8:45am:
Why are they handing out cold sponges? Haha, that’s odd. Wow, it feels good, though!

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9:00am:
I didn’t have time to go to the bathroom before the race. Oh my God, I’m going to pee my pants.

9:30am:
I’ve never been so grateful to see a squatter in a bus stop bathroom.

10:45am:
16-mile mark. Why the f*ck did I sign up for this? This was an awful idea. I’m never doing this again. This is never going to end. Will I even be able to finish this? I should have trained for this.

11:00am:
I should have trained for this.

11:15am:
I should have trained for this.

11:30am:
20-mile mark. Oh my God, I’m actually going to do this! I’m so proud of myself!

11:35am:
Why the F*CK would they put a hill here? I don’t know if I can do this.

12:00pm:
23-mile mark. Why the F*CK would they put a hill here?! I give up on timing. I’m walking. At least I know I’ll be able to finish at this point.

12:45pm:
FINISH LINE!!!! OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST FEELING EVER!!!! I DID IT!!!!

12:46pm:
I’M GOING TO EAT EVERYTHING IN THIS CITY RIGHT MEOW.

A 7,000 Won ($7) massage with the best chiropractor in Sunchang is definitely on my to-do list this week.

1:00pm:
Jon is an angel for taking all of my stuff after I just threw my backpack and large Victoria’s Secret tote at him so I could start my belated race. I’m excited to sit down and tell him about the race because my 20 Snaps probably didn’t do a good enough job of explanation!

1:10pm:
International food festival across the street and a craft beer show down the street?! Did I run to Heaven?!

Nice, they have American food. I don’t care. I just ran a marathon and can do whatever I want. Screw the whole cultural experience thing for now… I want cheesy potatoes on a stick.

Do they even have this in America? Lol.

6:30pm:
People in Korea are so nice. I can’t believe this couple saw us standing in the rain, waiting for a nonexistent taxi, and offered us a ride. This is one of the few countries where I actually feel safe taking them up on the offer, too.

I love meeting people when you travel because you always have the most interesting conversations… none of that stupid small-talk crap.

6:35pm:
This is such a cool city. I should have done more research on it before we came. I didn’t even know it was the first capital of Korea. I wish we had more time to spend here so that we could explore all of the ancient burial grounds.

I wish I had more time for everything, wow.

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6:50pm:
OK, after driving us through town for 20-minutes, this couple is going to stay waiting in their car until we figure out how to get into our Airbnb.

6:52pm:
OK, she’s getting out of her car again.

6:55pm:
We really should have learned by now that we need to look up and book bus times/tickets in advance. This couple really went above and beyond by driving us and then looking up bus times for tomorrow for us!

7:00pm:
I have yet to be unimpressed by an Airbnb in Korea. I can’t believe we got lucky with a last-minute booking again.

I wonder what the weed situation is like in Korea.

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I think there’s a lot to learn through experiences like these.  As you can see, though, sometimes my thoughts aren’t very eloquent, despite my well-meaning.  So, I’ll share my last thoughts about this story through someone else’s words.

There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

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