Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Necktie Marathon 5K

My sister and I did not get along AT ALL for a significant portion of my childhood. With a three year age gap and horribly clashing personalities, it seemed like one of us was constantly pulling the others hair or arguing over who our parents liked better.

Fortunately those years are far behind us and I now love spending time with my sister, but it doesn't happen often enough since we've lived a minimum of 800 miles apart for the last 7 years.

When I found out that there would be a FREE 5K during the time my sister was in town, I immediately signed us up. The only requirement was that all participants run in a necktie and dress shirt. Emily has run a full marathon, and several halves and 10Ks, but never a 5K, so no matter what, she would PR in this race!

The race had a group competition as well, so there were giant teams of people...some with really great costumes that put our coordinated pink ties to shame.

The race started REALLY about 10:30 AM, which meant it was pretty warm and humid. While I was at work on Friday, Emily went hiking with my parents, so her calves were really tight). With those two things counting against her, she still ran a good race and we finished in 24:22 (about 7:50/mile)!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Running with my sister!

My family arrived in Korea last night and it's SO awesome to have people to run with! They also brought me some brand new Mizuno Wave Inspires (my favorite shoe EVER) because I haven't seen them here. I was long overdue for new running shoes!

We headed out for a nice little 5 mile run along the river, which my dad so kindly documented with my camera!

It's a lot more hot and humid here than they were used to, so we stopped for a nice little stretch break in the shade.

After the run, we got Coffee Jelly Frappuccinos at Starbucks. Maybe not the healthiest post-run snack, but they are SO good.

I can't wait to take my dad and sister up Namsan mountain, and do some more runs along the river. They're here for the next 10 days, so we'll be running together a lot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I like to think that I'm a pretty quick learner...present me with some information and I can grasp it and regurgitate it with impressive accuracy (thank you, college). For some reason, though, that skill does not translate into my running life. At. All.

I know the "don't increase weekly mileage by more than 10% rule" and have been injured on multiple occasions (stress fractures, IT band crap, etc.) because I just didn't feel like following it. Learn from mistakes? Not really.

The same thing applies with stretching. During high school track and cross country, we stretched before and after every workout, and I loved it. I thought stretching was so ingrained in my routine that I would never stop doing it. But I didn't, and today I realized that I can't even come close to touching my toes. How did that happen?!?

I did the same 5 mile run as yesterday, which is just a hilly out-and-back down to a bridge along the river. My legs were incredibly tight and I was just not having any fun at all, so I stopped under the bridge (with about 239 of my closest Korean cycling friends) to stretch. This may come as no surprise to those of you that stretch on a regular basis, but after I stretched my calves, quads, and hamstrings, the run got a whole lot more fun. I think this stretching thing may stick after all!

Do you do anything to work on flexibility? What and how often?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Treat yourself right

The last two Sundays. I've gotten incredibly spoiled. There are spas in Korea (called jjimjibangs), and Mike and I finally summoned the courage to visit one last weekend. For $10 you can spend as much time as you want in rooms of various temperatures (as hot as 190 F and as cold as 50 F) and all sorts of different pools and hot tubs.

Yesterday we spent about 3 hours going back and forth between the hottest room (which we could only stand for about 5 minutes) and the 120 degree Himalayan salt room (with some breaks laying out by the pool), then 2 hours on our respective single-gender floors, dipping into all the various pools and baths (the sea water healing spa and ginseng bubble bath were both pretty awesome!)

It felt SO nice to just sweat (we drank the appropriately named electolyte replacement beverage "Pocari Sweat" while we did so - I was REALLY paranoid about getting too dehydrated or low on salt) and relax. As someone who constantly fills my days with to-do lists and plans, it was a really nice change from the normal. I just need to figure out a way to channel that kind of relaxation mid-week when I'm starting to go absolutely crazy at work!

I slept incredibly well last night, for a full 9 hours, and woke up for a relaxing 5 mile run along the river. It was a little bit foggy, and the sun was barely peeking through which gave the light a surreal golden shimmer. It was such a perfect Monday morning run! Now I feel like I'm fully re-charged and ready for the week ahead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Push-Up Challenged

I am a push-up failure. I've started the 100 pushup program at least 3 different times, and I always lose steam and give up after the third week.

Since I let my gym membership slide (it was a pretty crappy gym, whatever), I realized I have to do something to prevent complete atrophy in my arms and pushups seem like a good option. So yesterday I did 3 sets of 15, but apparently I did them wrong.

Every other time I've jumped on the puhsup bandwagon, I wake up the next day with sore arms and chest, but this time, my sides are sore. I didn't realize there were muscles there (above my obliques...kind of up under my arms), but they are sore, while my chest and arms are not. Really strange.

I've sort of fallen into a run of running every other day, but I figure as long as I'm still doing at least 25 miles a week, I'm okay. Not having anything to train for is kind of throwing off my whole life, but I'll deal with it.

I had a fabulous 8 mile run along the river this morning. Stress has been building like crazy at work and it was a good way to just get out there and focus on something else. Running is such great free therapy!

Off to enlighten some young Korean minds... Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Junk In, Junk Out

My 6 mile run this morning felt a little crappy, and I can pinpoint exactly why.

Cookie dough.

Yesterday was our 2nd anniversary, and because we're trying not to accumulate a bunch of stuff here, I made my husband some cookies. Chewy peanut butter-filled chocolate cookies, actually. I hadn't made cookies for over 3 months before yesterday, and completely forgot how powerless I am around cookie dough. It's pretty pathetic. But a whole lot of it ended up in my mouth, and then of course I had to sample the baked cookies to make sure they were okay, and then after we went out to dinner we came home and had...cookies.

I have found numerous times that once I break the dessert-every-night habit, I don't really miss it, and my runs usually start to feel a whole lot better. But once I start eating dessert, I start craving it, and it becomes a nightly ritual that I just start to be accustomed to rather than actually enjoy.

So this morning was a beautifully clear reminder that when you eat a lot of junk, you kind of feel like junk. It's not fun. So tonight for dessert? Watermelon. I think tomorrow's run will be much more pleasant!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I recently found out that registration for the half marathon I was planning on at the end of September had already closed, before I had a chance to sign up. It's really frustrating, but it seems like for most of the races here, you have to register a few weeks in advance. Add that to the fact that the websites are entirely in Korean (which I don't know), and you can see how it can be a little bit of a challenge to put together a race calendar.

With no races to train for, I started feeling a little directionless at the end of last week. I don't really need to build up my long runs on the weekends, and I don't really need to be doing speedwork, either. It's kind of nice having nothing to worry about training for, but being a Type-A person who needs plans and structure, it gets old pretty quickly.

Sorry to completely hippie-out for a moment, but I think that this is a really accurate metaphor for what's going on in my life right now. We're living in Korea, but beyond that, the future is really uncertain. But rather than stressing out and feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing with myself, I want to enjoy this experience day-by-day, rather than getting all worked up and stressed out over my lack of plans.

That's just what I'm doing with my running, too. Sunday morning, I woke up and headed down to the river with no watch and no expectations. I ended up running 7.5 miles at a pretty hard pace, and I felt freer than I have in awhile. This morning, I ran 3 miles in the rain, and it felt just right.

Are you the kind of person that always needs a plan? Or do you like to just let sit back and see where life takes you?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where I Run

I've been meaning to take my camera along on more of my runs, but today was the first day I actually made it happen. Here's a little tour of the run up Namsan Mountain!

At the top of the hill, next to they Hyatt, there's a boutique that always has weird window displays. And there's my reflection, taking a picture!

The National Theater of Korea is at the entrance to the park.

A little glimpse of the city on the way up (the air wasn't as hazy as it looks)

Time for a quick stop at the photo island!

I think my house is somewhere down there...

The tower is my final's closer than it looks!

The final ascent is REALLY steep (but only about 200 meters). A lot of the old ladies walk up this part backwards!

And at the get to see the other side of Seoul.

It's was a beautiful 5.75 mile out-and-back, all-uphill then all-downhill run!