Sunday, April 18, 2010

My best run ever at the Seoul International Marathon

Wow, what a great experience the Seoul International Marathon was.  This was my third full marathon and I have to say it was the most enjoyable.  For my first marathon I traveled 8 hours by car and ran by myself.  For my second, my wife was able to be there to cheer me on  at the end.  For this race I only had to travel for a few minutes by cab and had the support of many runners that I know and sharing that experience with others made all the difference.

The race had over 20 thousand people all running a full marathon.  That's just crazy!  The races in Korea are well organized.They give you a bag to put all your belonging in and you can pick it up after the race.  It's so nice to have some dry clothes to change into. It's also customary for everyone to line up and do some stretching. This is followed by giving a little back rub to the person in front of you, then you turn around and  they return  the favor.

My goal for this race was to run my first marathon in under 4 hours. A goal that I was pretty confident I could attain based on the amount of training I had put in.  Secretly I also had another goal brewing in the back of  my brain.  Boston.  The Seoul International Marathon is one of only two Boston qualifiers and the other one is not until October and I'll be out of the country by then.  I started plugging my training into some online pace calculators and I found  that I should actually be in the ballpark for qualifying for Boston. So I printed the pace chart for 3 hours and 30 minutes and that's how I started my race.

The race start was broken down into 5 sections to space out the start of the race. Unfortunately my friends and I got placed in the last section.  This meant we spent most of the race dodging in and out of people.  It was still a wonderful experience. Hundreds of people lined the streets as we took off from the city center of Seoul in the shadow of General Lee's Statue.

I was using my Garmin GPS to help me keep pace and at the halfway point of the marathon things were looking good.  I was almost a full minute ahead of my Boston qualifying time.  I was feeling great!

About 18 miles in  I realized I had lost that extra minute and was actually a few seconds behind.  From that point on I kept slipping and I never really regained the momentum I needed.  About 23 miles in I realized I wasn't going to make the Boston time.  That was a little disheartening and the last 3 miles were grueling.  At the end I was spent. I can truly say I gave it all I had.  I felt miserable right after the race.  Every nerve in my leg muscles were firing.  I never have an enjoyable time right after a race.  I just  want to get my medal and get out of  there.  In the perfect race I would have a limo with a jacuzzi waiting for me but this is never the case. There is always that zombie walk back to the car/taxi/bus.  I hate it.

After getting home, taking a shower or soak I usually feel much better and this was the case for the Seoul international Marathon.  My official time was 3 hours 40 minutes 43 Seconds. 10 minutes and 43 seconds slower than I needed for Boston.  The real news is that I beat my previous marathon time by 42 minutes with just 6 months of training.  THAT'S A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT!  It's empowered me. I know I can make up those 10+ minutes.  Just you wait and see!


  1. Do you mean your official time was THREE:40:43?

    I'm glad you appreciate your accomplishment, despite the fact you didn't quite reach your goal. It's HUGE! I have NO DOUBT you'll be in Boston shortly, and not just to watch a baseball game.

  2. oops, I'll fix that. Thanks! And thanks for taking the awesome picture.