Sunday, March 18, 2012

Only in Korea while running 20 miles...

So this morning was my last 20 mile run.  It went pretty well.  It definitely went better than my previous 20 miler.  Praise the Lord for that.

There were quite a few exciting parts to my 20 miler today: I got to run in shorts (!!!!!!!!!! - we have not had the early spring that the Midwest has been experiencing), I realized that I still have my "NO, GO HOME" voice to yell at dogs with (I never get chased by dogs in Korea, until today), and I found an impromptu running buddy!

Here is some background knowledge to help set the stage for my story:

  1. Korea is safer than America (in my opinion).  This means that sometimes when I am running, other people who are running (the average runner in Korea is a 60 year old man) will start following me.  I have paced other people for several miles.  They never talk or even act like they are pacing off of me, but I can hear their feet shuffling behind me and every so often I glance back and they are still there. 
  2. Some Koreans really (emphasis on really) like to practice their English.  I have been approached in the grocery store, the subway, and on my walk to school to practice English.
  3. Koreans think highly of Waygooks...we are kinda celebrities or something.  It is cool to have a waygooken friend.
So there I was running.  I had about 12.5 miles in and trying not to think that I still had another hour to run.  I noticed that there was a high school or college boy running in front of me.  (I was running near a park that had a lot of people out and about).  So I passed the boy and realized that poor kid was going to try to keep up with me.  I felt bad for him because he was decked out.  I had on shorts and a long sleeve.  He had pants, a sweater, a baseball hat, and a winter coat.  After a few moments, I was brought out of my reverie by someone trying to get my attention.  Yeah, it was winter coat kid.  I have never had one of the people following me actually talk to me.

And so I met PJ.  I think his Korean name is Pak Jae Hyeon, but my Korean is not the best when I am 13 miles into a run.  Just in case you are wondering, PJ is an university student who is 20 (Korean age, so maybe 18 or 19 US).  He is studying electronics and he enjoys boxing (he can box and run at the same time).  He does not have a girlfriend.  He thinks my name is Lisa and that I have a beautiful name.  He also learned that I am a teacher, 26 (Korean, at least), I like to run, I am training for a marathon, and that I am married.   And my husband is my friend.  We covered this information quite quickly.  It is always funny to me how many questions Koreans can fire at you.  Oh yeah - he also learned that I go to church.  He said a lot of other stuff in Korean, but he was panting, and I was focused on not getting hit by traffic, so I did not get a lot of that part of the conversation, except he complimented me on my Korean speaking abilities (which are about zero).

He likes to clap and say, "Bravo! Bravo!"  Anywho, eventually (after about 10 minutes) PJ said that he was going to turn right (we were on a bridge, so I assumed he meant turn around).  After being reassured that I do, in fact, like Korea, we went our separate ways.

I think I need to find a running buddy in America, because I actually enjoyed running with a random person, chatting about nothing.  It was really fun.  After I turned around (at 13.85 miles, no I don't 10 miles out and 10 miles back, it gets too boring and I don't know 10 miles of "out"...all my routes are like 6 - 7 miles out and then they end), I ran back towards the park.  I noticed someone in front of me walking...with a winter coat on.

My first thought was, "That is PJ, I hope he does not try to run all the way home with me".  Of course he saw me and starting yelling, "Lisa, Lee-sssuuhhh!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Picture!  Picture!"  So we took a picture on his cell phone.  I even said, "kimchi"  as he snapped  the photo.  (Koreans say, "kimchi" instead of "cheese" when taking pictures).

Then I thought, "I should blog about this"  so I said, "PJ, do you want me to take a picture on my phone?"  {This is my favorite part of the whole thing.}  He put his head back, looked towards the sky, and said, "THANK YOU GOD!"  (really loud, in case you could not tell from the capital letters).  I took that to mean, 'yes'.
My neck is super weird in the picture, let's blame it on the 14 miles run previous to taking the picture.

Then I said, "See you later PJ" and took off (a little bit faster than necessary).

And that is my story.  Seriously, only in Korea do random people just start running with you so that they can practice their English and because they are genuinely friendly and not creepers.


  1. This story is awesome... totally loved reading it. Sooooo funny!

  2. This is AWESOME! I laughed so hard at the "thank you God" part that my teachers all looked at me! I was going to txt you yesterday and tell you "FIGHTING!!!" for your run, but I forgot : ( I"m sorry : ( Instead i'll say "BRAVO" for doing the 20 miles!

  3. Yes, I also chuckled to myself when he did the whole, "Thank you God" Part. I did not include that he almost took the picture three times, but each time he was like, "wait..." and then he would do something to his hair. Oh Korea :)