Sunday, April 26, 2009

Honam Marathon

1:39:31 - my final time for the Honam Half Marathon. The race last Sunday was everything I had hoped for. My original goal was to hit 1:45:00,so it was exciting to come in more than 5 minutes faster than what I had planned. The race was fulfilling for many was great to bring two months training into fruition, I met some wonderful people, and racing competitively again brought back some good memories of running high school XC.

I thought I would be running alone the day of the race but it wasn't far into the first kilometer before finding a friend. A fellow foreigner pulled up beside me early in the race, introduced himself to me and we stuck a healthy pace together for the first 10 kilometers. Chris (pictured below) is a brewer from South Africa and, along with his wife Daniela, a longtime avid runner.

I shared a brief hello with the couple before the race, thinking to myself that I would see them again later in the day. I was right when he pulled up beside me in the first leg and we enjoyed a short chat. It was good to have Chris' encouragement during the run, it really does help to have a fellow runner push you was good teamwork all the way to the half mark. Chris managed the strength to push ahead, finishing two minutes ahead of my own time. He was nice enough to send me our shared splits the week after the race:

1st km = 4:15
2nd km = 4:30
3rd km = 4:41
4th km = 4:38
5th km = 4:17
6th km = 4:37
7th km = 4:34
8th km = 4:48
9th km = 4:42
10th km = 4:42


I had a bit of worry halfway into the race when I began to cramp up and the pain became crippling. It was one of those awful stitch cramps that gets you in the gut and paralyzes the rest of your body. I had a moment where I thought I had screwed my chances for a good time. After pushing through it and gaining control of my breathing, I managed to catch back up to my original pace. It was helpful to have some of the other racers push me on. Even though there were only 2-3 foreigners in my race, the comradery with the Korean runners was encouraging the entire way.

I thought I was well into two hours when I hit the stadium because the cramp had slowed me down. Quite surprisingly I was well ahead of my mark as I approached the finish line. I ended up hitting halfway at 53 minutes and managed the second leg of the race even faster than the first at 47 minutes...much quicker than I had imagined at the time.

Altogether it was a fulfilling day. The girls - Leah, Caitlin, and Cassandra - had a great run together and we all finished the event on a happy note. This race has inspired me to go for longer distances, adventure out into the countryside more, and set more challenging goals for myself. Perhaps a full marathon, a distance bike journey, or even a transnational walk will be in the books, who knows?....maybe Greg Allen.

I have to give full credit to my lanky British friend, Stuart Beesley, for the beautiful photographs of the day. He really is a nice guy once you get to know him...don't let his dead-person eyes fool you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Three upcoming documentaries about the food we eat:

FRESH trailer from ana joanes on Vimeo.

Food Inc. from Jason Cairns on Vimeo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Specs

Check the new rec specs...eye care is wicked cheap in Korea. At home I could buy a new pair of frames, lenses and an eye exam all for about the happy price of 200-250 bucks. Plus, I'd have to wait a week or two for my glasses to be ready...I love complaining...but if/when all of you come to Korea this is the place to upgrade your specs.

I enjoyed an eye exam, prescription lenses, and new frames for 50,000 won (current equivalent of $37USD). Also, since Caitlin and I were such nice customers the optometry staff also decided to offer my frames to me as "service," or as we know it better, "free." This was all put together for us in a matter of fifteen minutes while we enjoyed a cup of juice on the couch and caught up on Christina Aguilera's latest weight gain in Glamour Magazine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In A Dream

IN A DREAM: Theatrical Trailer from Herzliya Films on Vimeo.

For anyone familiar with all of the mosaic murals in Philly, here comes a documentary about the man behind them all - Isaiah Zagar

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Long Now

This is one of my favorite TED Talks and an ideal multidisciplinary design project. Forward-thinking, listening to the natural environment, and working with a cooperative team of highly specialized professionals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Green Update

Remember this short little guy? Well, look at him now. Not only has he grown twice in height but he is now morphing into a whole new animal. There are entirely new limbs replicating out of the main stem of the plant. Not only that but the stem is beginning to form a protective bark at the base of the plant. He seems to want to branch out and explore a new axis of may be time for a re-potting soon. How metaphorical?

Caitlin's Granola Bars

Here are some snaps of Caitlin's latest creation. These homemade granola bars are perfect for a grab out of the ol' pack on your way up the trail...

Wolchulsan II

Caitlin and I went back to Wolchulsan National Park over the weekend and decided to camp the night instead of heading back to Gwangju. Our original plan was to hike from Dogapsa Temple in the West to Cheonhwangsa in the East (8km, about 5-6 hours) with all of our gear. That plan was quickly fumbled as our jackass taxi driver sped off towards the wrong end of the park. He tried charging us 5,000 won for a 1 minute taxi drive that had us buckled up and hanging on for our lives...when we got out I flashed him the stink-eye and stiffed him with a measely 4,000 won. Prick.

It turns out that he got the best of us, as I later found out that the mouthpiece of my camelback had come loose in his trunk and we would be without a water carrier for the day. We hadn't planned to be on this side of the park and our water was gone so we decided to setup camp on the Cheonhwangsa side of the park, hike the peak, then return the way we came. It worked out much better this way because the course was much steeper than we expected and would have been an unwanted pain with our packs.

Hiking up to Cheonwangbong at 809m is not the highest of peaks but it is certainly one of the most beautiful in Korea. Wolchulsan has some of the craggiest landscape I've seen in any park here and a cool sky bridge to boot. Just before crossing this bridge, we were invited by a troupe of adjumas to share in their Korean feast. It would be rude not to indulge so Caitlin and I were glad to accept some of their mysterious Korean wraps. After being reassured there was no meat inside, Caitlin ate hers only to find that it was oddly crunchy and tasted like putrid fish. She was polite and swallowed even though the taste could have ensued vomit. Caitlin hurried away before losing it to the pavement and tried washing the taste out of her mouth with a granola bar and pumpkin bread snack. The strong taste, however, remained in her mouth for the rest of the day and made for some bouts of queasiness. Gross.

Reaching Cheonwangbong, we snapped some pictures of adjumas at the top then rested with the perky-eared squirrels to have some lunch. We had a pbj and a veggie sandwich, homemade granola bars and bread, and a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes. From up here you could see Yeongam to the north (where we arrived by bus), spreads of rice fields, and the descending western trail to Dogapsa. After a brief lunch we gathered our things and headed down the valley path before Caitlin would lose full circulation in her fingers. The peaks and valleys here and very windy and can make your extremedies rather numb.

Tempted..hell, you couldn't stop me from calling it a "bread-shaped" rock.

During the descent we came across a disappointing, dried-up waterfall, a rock that looked like a "book," and caught a pack of climbers ascending the main ridge up from the valley floor. Upon returning to our campsite, I found that a family of Koreans had taken over my fire pit and were using all of the wood I had collected that day. Naturally unphased by the situation, I gathered more wood and had a blaze aset in our new pit within two shakes of a kitten's whiskers. We spent the night enjoying my favorite Korean beverage, Makgeolli, eating cream-filled cookies, and throwing wood on our amazing fire.

Koreans camp much different than we do. They do not have open-flame fires or pitch their tents right on the ground. Rather, the campsite was contained and manicured, allowing for tents only to be setup on designated platforms and lacked any fire pits. All of the other campers had with them portable stoves and cookware for making elaborate Korean feasts and early-morning noodle dishes. We even one spotted one group of campers had their kids glued to a television set inside of their family tent. Caitlin and I opted to setup camp away from the buzz, constructed amazingly complex bench structures, and enjoyed an unweilding American fire.

If you are coming from Gwangju, you can catch a direct bus from U-Terminal to Yeongam for 6,000 won that takes about an hour. From Yeongam, you can ride a shuttle or a taxi to either end of the park. There are many labeled trails to the peak from either side, tea fields, temples..there is also a hot spring just north of the city and a rock climbing gym in the area.

Here is a park map for those of you planning to go hiking here.

More pictures from our weekend in Wolchulsan are here.