Archive for March, 2011

Fun Run Sunday

Tuesday, 29th of March, 2011

Two days ago, on Sunday the 27th, I joined in an official running event held in Gwangju World Cup Football Stadium. I did not feel very fit. I expected to run very slowly, compared to my personal best time.

Runners could choose whether to participate in a 5 kilometer, a 10 km, or a half-marathon event. (A half marathon is about 21 kms.)

I have run in 10 km events before, and I have been training a little bit recently, but not at all regularly. I have only been going outside for running when I feel I actually have time, and a need for exercise, and when it is actually warm enough, but, this March has been really cold! As a result, I have only gone outside to run very occasionally (or, not often at all).

In the past my best time on an official 10 km event was about 53 minutes, and I thought I was not very fit compared to that time a few years ago, so, I was expecting to run the 10 kilometers in about 60 minutes. If I felt good and did well I had expected to finish the course in about 55 minutes.

Sunday morning dawned a bit foggy, with low cloud hanging over the hills. As I ate some breakfast and threw on my clothes and got on my bicycle though, I noticed the cloud was thinning and lifting. I knew there would be some blue sky and sunshine before too long. Even so, it was still really cold, and so I wore a shirt, a thick woolen sweater, two jackets, and my warmest gloves to cycle to the stadium.

As I had expected, I met the other members of the Gwangju Running Club just before 9am, in front of the supermarket next to the stadium, and we were given our running numbers, and the computer chips to thread inside our shoe laces, so the computer could track when we stepped over the mark to start running, and when we reached the half-way point, and then again when we returned to the finish line. It was nice to meet some other people living in Gwangju who enjoy running, too. We chatted and started to get to know each other a bit more, and talked about whether we were going to wear any clothes to keep warm at the start of the run or not. Despite cycling quite fast, I was still quite cold, and so even though I expected to warm up by half-way through the race, I decided upon wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a hat and gloves to keep warm.

As the clock ticked closer to 9.30 we all walked into the stadium. As we walked around the track to the starting line I felt more excited, and started really looking forward to the racing. I was not racing against anyone in particular, except myself, and my personal best time.

The half-marathon runners lined up first, and set off quickly in their large group. A co-worker was running the 5 kilometer route, so I said goodbye and good luck to her, and joined the others in the 10 kilometer group just before the starting siren went off. I started running just before I crossed the line, and the computer buzzer beeped to tell me that my timing had started. I ran up the left-hand side of the course in the stadium to get away from the big crowd of people as quickly as possible. On the way out, I saw ‘Captain’ Whit, the club captain, and waved at him and his camera. It felt good to be running again, and joining in with the crowd of other people in the event.

Just after the starting line Mr. Blue was right behind me. We chatted before the half-way turning point, but, who would finish first?Just after crossing the starting line, Mr. Blue was right behind me. – – – – – Just before the half-way point he caught up to me and we shared a nice chat, but who would finish first?

The crowd thinned out quite quickly, and so I was able to find my own pace and set a rhythm easily. The route was familiar to me as it was the same as the one I joined last year on the ‘Pink Ribbon’ marathon event. (The Pink Ribbon event is an international effort at raising money for breast cancer awareness and research. These fund-raiser runs are held in many cities around the world every year, and, they are a lot of fun.) I knew the road would descend gradually for most of the first half of the course, and then simply turn around at half way and retrace the route between the main road on one side and the park and lake on the other.

I started to warm up after about two kilometers and so took off my long-sleeved shirt, and tied it around my waist. I put my gloves and hat back on though as the air was still quite cold. After about another kilometer I was quite thirsty so when I came up to the water table where helpers were offering small cups of water, I asked for a bottle.

Suddenly a man ran up alongside me and said hello. He was aged about forty, and was half a head taller than me, and was very solid around the shoulders. He was wearing a bright blue shirt, long dark blue running pants, and white running shoes. He could see my name printed on the back of my Gwangju Running Club singlet, so, he asked me if my name was ‘쥴리인’. I said yes, and he asked me where I was from. I said ‘지산동, 요’ meaning my reply to be both serious and a bit of a joke, but because of the running, I was breathing too hard to laugh very obviously. He took me seriously, and answered that he was from Daejon. I said, ‘Oh, welcome to Gwangju!’ and he said thank you, and then he told me about how he had once run in the Boston Marathon, which is a very famous running race. I said, ‘Wah!’ and asked him what it was like, and he said that he had become dehydrated, he had lost maybe three or four kilograms in weight, and had ended up in hospital for three months! I said, ‘Oh no! That is terrible! I am glad to see you looking strong and healthy again now!’ and he said thank you.

I slowed down to quickly put down my empty bottle of water and take off my hat and gloves. I did not stop, but even just slowing down a little bit meant that my new friend ran ahead. I tried to catch him up again but he was running much faster. He was keeping a rapid pace!

About twenty or thirty meters before I reached the half-way turning point, he passed me coming back the other way. As I passed the turning point I tried to run even faster to catch up, and my speed did increase, but, he must have been increasing his speed too. He kept the same distance ahead of me!

Heading ‘home’ on the return half of the course, I felt more confident because it had a slight incline (like on a hill), and my practise course is on a hill. I was also feeling more awake and alive, and the sun was warming the air, making it easier to breath freely. My body warmed up and I started to relax more. I put my hat and gloves in my pockets. I kept getting faster. I passed more people. It was really nice seeing other people out running, and enjoying the morning. It was fun waving to them and hearing their encouraging words.

As we came up to the lake-side park in Pungam Jigu I knew that the run was nearly over. I still felt good so I ran even faster, pushing myself to catch up with Mr. Blue. The course became a little steeper but I liked that, and pushed myself up the road with springy steps. When it levelled off again near the lake I looked up ahead for him and realised he was closer now, but, there was less than two kilometers left; if I wanted to catch up with him I would have to hurry! I had really only been jogging, but suddenly I had the energy to actually run down the track beside the beautiful lake all the way to the corner of the road leading back to the stadium. It wasn’t easy; I was huffing, and puffing, and breathing was hard.

As I turned that last corner I saw him. He was across the road and only about thirty meters away! I felt good to see the distance was closer again, but my breath was heavier, although I was still in a good rhythm and felt happy about keeping up the pace.

As some other runners and I ran to the top of the road the police were stopping the cars to let us cross. Amongst the traffic and other runners I lost sight of him as we entered the stadium, until we were on the track again. Then, there he was: Mr. Blue was only about twenty meters away. I had been running as fast as I could but seeing him even nearer again gave me a fresh goal and renewed enthusiasm. I suddenly wanted to catch up with him and beat him if I could! I followed him around the stadium track, gradually gaining on him, passing other people, making the distance shorter… but he kept up his pace too!

In the end, Mr. Blue crossed the finish line only about 10 meters ahead of me, but, there were so many people milling around there that I lost sight of him immediately. I really wanted to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Well run’ and ‘See you next time!’ to him, but other friends were waiting at the finish line so I chatted with them while looking around for him. After some time I realised: he had disappeared already!

Finally, after saying hello to my friends and scanning the crowd for Mr. Blue, I looked at my watch, and the timing clock. …

My watch said 48 minutes!

Wow! I had run much faster than I had expected. I was very surprised and happy.

I met up with some of my new running friends and we ate some of the nice Korean lunch outside with the other runners in the midday sunshine. On the way out of the stadium the computer sent a message to my cellphone with my official time: 48 minutes and 31 seconds. I have a new personal best time and some new friends, and maybe, one day, I will get to catch up with Mr. Blue again too.

It was a really fun Sunday to spend time running.

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‘Earth Hour’ is Tonight!

I am looking forward to Earth Hour tonight!

‘Earth Hour’ is an hour when we could join many millions of people all around the world and in at least 131 countries.

They will all turn off electrical power, and most particularly, they will switch off their lights for just one hour.

It is a small but powerful symbol to remind us of the huge and powerful problem of global warming [지구 온난화].

This year it is tonight from 8.30 to 9.30 pm.

You can read more about it here, or in 우리말, here.

Will you turn off your lights, and join in this new popular trend to raise awareness of our shared global problem of global warming?

Even the Prime Minister of Australia is joining in, and ‘switching off’!

… and the main website is here.

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Looking Forward to the Weekend

This weekend I am looking forward to studying, eating, planning, and running.

I have pretty much finished moving all my files and books from my old office into my small ‘bed-sit’ or ‘studio apartment’ (or in Konglish, a ‘one-room’). All my books on my book shelves do need to be sorted into alphabetical order, but that should not take too long to do this afternoon.  Then, I will feel much happier about sitting down to read at least one book a day (but only the important parts!) and making notes on those books, and then writing those notes into my three big essays. Each essay needs to be about 10,000 words long, so, I will need to ‘refer’ to many good books and academic journal articles.

This evening I am going to share dinner with an old colleague and friend. We will eat at one of the good western food restaurants down town. Then tomorrow I will share dinner with a new friend, but we will go to one of the more traditional Korean food restaurants for grilled fish, or maybe for grilled shell-fish. Eating at Korean restaurants is one of the things I enjoy most about living in Korea. It is a fantastic and wonderfully sociable aspect of culture, and something about which I think all Koreans can be very proud and happy.

This weekend I am also looking forward to planning more for a course I have to teach soon. I have already created a list of the basic topics and subjects and materials to be covered, and a website to bring them all together. I need to make a power point presentation though to present them all at the same time, and also a fun pre-test quiz including the language and vocabulary which I will use and which is probably new to most of the students, and also, I am looking forward to practising some songs with my guitar which we will sing in class.

Finally, I am looking forward to going running on Sunday. I really hope the weather is good and the sky is clear of yellow dust. Whatever the case with the weather though, it will be nice to meet up with some other runners and share the fun event from the Gwangju World Cup Stadium.

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Study Context – On the Road

I have started learning Korean language again. I’m just trying to memorize a few words every day. It doesn’t take too long, and it’s good for my memory and my brain (which need all the help they can get).

I cycled across a bit of town this afternoon. I needed to contact a man who works in a good bicycle shop in Yeomju Dong, so it was not very far, but, today was really very cold. Fortunately, it was nice and sunny when I left to go there, but when I left to come back the sun was starting to go down, and the traffic was starting to get thicker and busier.

"Why can't we all just get along?!" Even a bike and a bus could be friends!

At one point in the road just past Baegeun Sahgorli, the road narrows to two lanes each way. I was cycling along the right-hand side of the right-hand most lane when a bus came up behind me and started blasting the horn loudly and aggressively. It was not very nice, and it was also not very helpful.

After it passed me going a bit too quickly for safety, I thought about what I would like to learn to say in nice, fluent Korean to the driver. As I cycled the rest of the way home, feeling a bit unnecessarily scared, I made a list of the sentences I would like to learn.

This is that list:

“Excuse me, but is it really necessary to blast your horn and make a big noise at me like that?

You and I and everyone on this bus knows that the road is already dangerous.

The road is probably the most dangerous for cyclists, and probably the least dangerous for bus drivers.

I was going as fast as I could, and I was keeping to the side of the lane as much as I could.

Making a big, surprising noise does not help anyone, and it makes the road more dangerous for me.

If you would like to make a big noise about road cycles being on the road, please direct that noise to the local and national politicians, and encourage them to make real cycle tracks, physically separate from pedestrian pavement walkways and also physically separate from automobile roads.

That will be the safest and quickest and happiest way for everyone.

I hope everyone else here can excuse me for taking the time to explain and express myself here, but I was a bit scared back there, so I felt I needed to say something.

Please have a good day, go well, and keep up the good work.”

I know how to say some of these sentences already, but only about one third of them.

As it is, such a speech is probably two times too long anyway.

Oh well. It makes for a great study context!

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Sociable Saturday, Solitude Sunday

My weekend was a time of opposites. Saturday night was a very sociable time for me, but Sunday was very quiet, and was a peaceful time of solitude.

On Saturday during the day I wanted to go jogging or cycling. When I opened the curtains and window and looked outside into the fresh morning air I was quite disappointed; the sky was hanging low and dull grey on the hills around the city, and the air did not smell fresh at all. I checked online [here and here] and sure enough it was the first major day of ‘hwang sah’ or yellow dust. It is not healthy, and so definitely not good for exercising. I stayed inside and did some reading, washing and cleaning until it was time to go and meet some friends down town.

My friend and ex-colleague’s ‘event’ was fun! We met at a coffee shop/bar down town on ‘Art Street’ and sat around chatting and mingling. At 9pm some people left, and some of us went on in a group to another restaurant/cafe. On the way to the restaurant we passed by the bar and I picked up a specially made old-style felt Irish ‘leprechaun‘ hat. Another colleague’s wife had made a lot of them for a fundraiser effort for the local orphanage.

Outside 'Speakeasy,' down town Gwangju. Thanks for the photo to Debra M. Josephson.

My hat was very wide and extremely tall and brilliantly green. Many of the young teenagers walking around town looked surprised when they saw it, and when we arrived at the restaurant the younger waiter wanted to borrow it and try it on. I gave it to him, and he took it to show off to the waitress and insist she try it on too. They laughed at each other and themselves in the absurdly tall hat, and then he brought it back to me. In the group I was with, some people ordered food, others a drink, and we all sat around chatting. It was a really nice sociable event.

At 'Bottle Bistro'. Photo thanks to Debra M Josephson. (That's her, on the right!)

After we split up I went to the Irish bar and shared some time with some other coworkers and friends, but the air was very smokey and the music was really loud. I do actually enjoy loud music, but I do not enjoy shouting above it and the cigarette smoke is a big turn off, so after some time I left and went home.

Sunday was another fairly drab day in the morning when it actually rained for a while. Some blue sky and sunshine appeared in the afternoon, but by then I was busy cleaning my bicycle and doing more laundry, and cooking while listening to music or the news on Al Jazeera live internet stream. It was a good day for being quiet and catching up on time alone again.

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Preparing for the Weekend

Thursday, 17th of March

It’s another Thursday, which means that tomorrow is Friday. Usually I would feel very happy because I only have one class on Fridays, and I even learned that the class has to go on ‘M.T.’ (“Membership Training”) tomorrow so the session is cancelled. I was really looking forward to starting the weekend early, but then a friend and new colleague asked me to teach a couple of classes because they can’t make it, so I will have to come to school anyway, and it will be for two sessions instead of just one! Oh well; I am sure they will be good students, and it will be no trouble at all.

The weekend is further away, but that just means that I will enjoy it all the more when it arrives. In particular I am looking forward to meeting an old friend and ex-colleague at an event she is organizing for writers and artists in town on Saturday night, and then dropping by the main foreigner’s bar in town. It is owned by a colleague who is from Ireland, and as it is Saint Patrick’s Day today I think I should stop by and buy an Irish hat for a charity fundraiser for the local orphanage, and a pint of either Guiness or Kilkenny, just to join in a bit of fun for a brief time.

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Homework – Updating Your Blog Posts

This is a special post just for all the amazing and astounding writing students in my morning classes.

Your homework today is NOT to write another blog post.

Rather, instead, your homework for today is to go back to your blog, and check all  three pieces of your own writing.

(You should, by now, have finished typing and posting two diary entries from last week, and one from Monday of this week.)

* * * * * * *

When you have all three of your diary blog entries posted to your blog, you will need to follow this process:

1.) Log in to your blog, and enter your ‘Dashboard’ (or ‘home’) page.

2.) Click on the third icon down, named ‘Posts’.

When the pop-up menu appears, do NOT click on the second option, but rather, DO click on the first option, simply named ‘Posts’.

3.) Click on the title of one of your previous posts. Wait a couple of seconds.

It should then appear just as you left it after you first finished typing or pasting it the first time.

4.) Read your text again, check for the following, and change as necessary:

– capital letters and lower case letters

– punctuation (periods/ full-stops, commas, question marks, exclamation marks, etc.)

– full sentences, and fragments [Just like we studied in class: Does every sentence have a subject?]

– verbs [are they the correct tense/ form? eg. “Yesterday I went … “]

– nouns and articles [eg. an apple, a banana, some apples, many bananas…]

5.) When you have finished checking and changing your post, please click on the blue tab with the white lettered writing on the right-hand side of your page, which now says ‘Update’.

6.) Go back to your Dashboard (the first icon on the top left-hand side) and click on another post.

Update it in exactly the same way.

7.) Repeat this process for all of your blog posts.

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