I ran 20k in one hour and fifty-five minutes. Booyah!
Effortlessly I graced around the bends of Chuncheon’s mountains, waving at the crowd who’d turned out with their Union Flags and banners saying “RUN RILEY RUN.”
I *did* run in the above time, but it was anything but effortless. It was full of effort, in fact.
For a start: it was raining. Heavily.
Being a Brit, I don’t mind the rain that much. It can’t be as bad as the rain in Chester, where the Wirral peninsular adds a special meteorlogical twist to Winter days (making it rain almost horizontally.)
The difference is, I could be in a nice warm pub when the weather is rubbish, not outside on a road wearing little shorts and a tech-tee designed to wick away sweat (meaning, it absorbs rain like buggery.)
Before the race I’d elected to take my diet fairly seriously, by that I meant I had one beer and some pasta the night before. For breakfast I had bananas, cereal and a big cup of coffee (the latter being instrumental to, ahem, clearing your system and making you race-light.)
Upon arriving at the race-site, however, I realised that I was getting nervous-weeing-syndrome, so I made my way to the porta-loo toilets…
It appeared that most of my fellow race-buddys had followed a rather similar pattern of breakfast, but they forgot to finish the *clearing out* part before arriving at said porta-loos. These were traditional toilets, or “squat-n-drop” as I prefer. To say that the previous occupant had missed the hole is to do his inaccuracy a great injustice: he (and I say “he” because I dread to think of a woman who can poo so explosively) had left his payload on the edge of the squat platform. It sat there, cheekily while I tried not to hurl and relieved myself at a record-distance.
The race started, I wished the more serious runners luck and settled into a moderate pace for the first 5k. I let people go past me, shimmied around one or two older runners and found my rhythm.
Now, once I was going at a comfortable pace, I got chatting to an older gent who was running maybe two yards behind me. He told me he was a Geography teacher and he seemed to be fascinated with England, not letting me dissuade him that Park Ji Sung was the best player in the world.
I ran with him for ten minutes before he asked me how old I was, he gawped at the answer and then informed me that he had a pacemaker.
Dan, my running-guru and pal told me that you should look around you when running a race and see people that look like you. Everyone around me was at least sixty…and myocardially unsound, it would seem
I picked up the pace and said bye to the Geo-guy. Then I hit the biggest, steepest hill known to man.
Most people walked, I tried to run normally but my legs began burning. I slowed to a feeble jog and powered through until the crest.
Now it was long trails that went round and round, giving me a sense of being in a Scooby-Doo episode, and the vague sense that I was going to die.
The hardest part was being alone. Noone to exchange pleasantries with, or spur you on. I had my i-Pod on full-blast and used the magic of Jamiroquai and co to keep me going.
Then, much sooner than I expected it, the 10k boundary approached. Knocking back the drink and a banana quarter, I raced around the next 4k faster than before, overtaking other runners who I’d seen haring off in the first quarter.
Then, the hills. Going down is always faster, but not always safer. I ran down gradients that made me flail my arms like some huge, uncoordinated chicken. But the speedy downhill made for a good last 2k, I highfived a load of Korean kids on my way to the last 1k and beat a club runner (who I could tell was thinking “Wanker”) to the finish.
After a sweaty hug with Ashley (she’d done the 10k, with little preperation, in 1 hour) and a large chug of Maccoli, we went to dinner and ate the biggest pasta-bake known to man.
Could barely walk the next day…oh well.