A Little Light Reading

….as you anxiously await the multi-part “Living in Songdo” series:

This article from the NYT about the Korean (and Japanesse) bathing and beauty culture is SPOT ON.  Fortunately, as a foreigner, I get to reap the benefits and watch/participate with amusement and wonder, without being subjected to the standards Korean women face.

I also just learned about Mok Bang.  This is an extremely popular Korean trend where people live-broadcast themselves eating.  Just eating.  And viewers watch along and donate money to that person.  I learned about this from a post on Facebook before school one morning and was completely incredulous.  I asked the students about it and they were totally blase and all, “yeah.  Of course.  Mok bang.”  They could not understand my incredulity.  At all.

I have lived here for three years and I had not heard of this before.  What else is there?  I have to wonder.

And that concludes your Korean cultural lesson for the day.

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Kendall Mtn Run

Holy hell, I just signed up to run a 12 mile race, beginning in Silverton Colorado at 9,318 feet, and heading straight up into the clouds to a halfway point at 13,066 (top of Kendall Mountain), turning around and retracing the path back down to Silverton.  It’s an old race with an awesome, small mining town history, but has been added to the new USA Skyrunner Series.  If I still lived in Colorado, this would not be such a big deal to me but I live at sea level.  However, I think that since I will have a month living at 10,200 and training out my back door up Mosquito Pass and down the road up the two biggest mountains in Colorado (Elbert and Massive), I might sort of be ready?  I foresee much weight training in the coming months.  And lots and lots of trail hills on my Old Songdo mountain loop (post and pics coming soon).  Must not freak out.  Must train smart.  And keep “cranky butt” at bay.

I’m looking for other small, off-the-radar trail races in the Colorado mountains for the summer.  Let me know if you’ve heard of something good.  I am not interested in being lower than 8,000 feet as it’s hotter than hell in July and August, and I’m not interested in pavement.  All qualifying forms of foot race, please apply.

Here’s the link for Kendall if you’re interested and want to consider running it too?  If it’s any consolation, all the people in the race photos are smiling:  Kendall Mountain Run.

Top Searches

Upon examination of the top searches that lead readers to my blog, queries about Songdo and life in Songdo (bars, running, Lotte, development) take the cake.  Of course, many people are still landing here based on searches for Chadwick International, and I think WordPress must push my blog to other runners because they are the ones who read and “like” certain posts.  But the queries for CI mostly only happen during hiring fairs and there is not one currently in session–the bumps in hits are pretty funny.

So, we head out tomorrow to Japan for a short ski trip over Lunar New Year (the Koreans don’t call it Chinese New Year) and when we return, I promise to post pictures and updated information about life in Songdo including all the best restaurants, bars, parks, and shopping.  I might even drag Tim out with me to take the photos.  So please stay tuned, and I will be back with what you’re looking for.

How Many Ways Might I Procrastinate?

Many.  Many ways.

It’s final exam grading/narrative report writing/all the other grading you had to do time here at Chadwick International.  Also known as hell week.  Also known as the most wonderful time of the year.  Total sarcasm, people.  Maybe I do it to myself–my exam, by principle, is not multiple guess.  I maybe could have begun narratives sooner.  But here we are.  So in between bouts of productive work, how am I putting off the pain?

Face-Timing with my Dad who recently retired:  Steve’s Auto Service Changes Hands   Woohoo, Dad!  Living the dream!

Reading about strange Korean wonkiness:  Jawbones as Office Decor.   By the way, this is not a joke.  This happened/happens and only begins to scratch the surface of the bizarre Korean plastic surgery epidemic.  Yeah, I called it an epidemic.

Learning about the wonders of Bloglovin, a newish, not so new blog reader tool.  Follow me there!:  www.bloglovin.com

Looking at live cam pictures of Niseko, Japan, where we will be skiing in a mere few days:  Niseko Live Cam

Reading and watching the latest from North Korea:  Frontline/North Korea   This is a really incredible documentary that you should watch.  It always amazes me that we are so close.

Reading my daily trail and ultra-running info source.

Laughing out loud:  The Bloggess   Jenny Lawson is pure genius.

I am additionally wasting time on home decor and design blogs, beauty blogs, pictures of cats, and learning all about Esther the Wonder Pig.

Can you really blame me?  There is so much awesome stuff out there on the interwebs!  Not so much awesome stuff here in the home office, where this stack of grading glares maliciously in my general direction.  Maybe I’ll go for a run….

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This Happened

Yesterday, our city hosted a marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k.  Many people from school participated and it seemed like a good-sized event that maybe grows each year.  I ran the 10k after careful consideration of the boring-factor.  We run in this tiny city everyday.  It’s flat.  It’s all on road.  I chose the shorter distance and still used my ipod to combate the boredom–something I’ve never done for a race this short.  Race organization was fine–not much to complain about there.  The course was straightforward and well-marked and each race wave began 5 minutes later than the one preceding it.  This meant that there was always someone to catch up ahead until the 8km mark where the 10k race veered off to head to the finish.  There were 3 water stations, so that seemed plenty.  The only bad thing about the race was that the 10k was long.   Multiple people recorded it to be 10.7km.  Because I am so very familiar with the city and distances, I knew something was screwy when we still weren’t turning towards the finish when I thought we should be.  But, I took their markings on faith that maybe I was somehow wrong, and let me tell you people:  that last kilometer was the most painful of my life.  Because it was more like 1.7 and I gave my all at the 1.  My time was 50:30.  Having not broken 50 in a 10k in my previous adult life, this was frustrating, but at the same time, I’m pretty easy-going and really happy to know that at the real 10k, I was under 50.  I also came in 7th woman.  1st-5th place got money.  I got:

7th place

6 kilos of rice.  Yep, 6 KILOS of rice.  And a fancy certificate.  I may have been 7th, but on this day, I was a winner!

Still There?

Yes!!  I still live in Songdo and still work for Chadwick International.  What’s with the year hiatus, you ask?  Actually, I’m not sure.  We were just so busy.  I won’t lie–working for CI is incredibly demanding.  At times it was not always rewarding, and so I didn’t feel like writing much.  But it’s a new school year, I’ve moved to high school, and so I’m feeling a bit more like writing these days.  So there you have it.

What happens in a year in a rapidly-filling brand new city raised from the mud?

–They began and are close to finishing building the Lotte Mart half of the Lotte Mall complex 2 blocks from our house.

–The new Green Climate Fund (GCF) secretariat to the UN chose Songdo as it’s homebase, promising an influx of 500 families of multinational background.  But in the wake of all that silly media circus about North Korea last spring, their arrival is delayed.  Songdo is still as Korean as the next city and remains “International” in name only.

–A bar owned and run by expats finally opened.  Cinder Bar is great.  They open at 5:30, officially making them the only bar anywhere nearby that opens when Westerners actually want to drink.

–As the city fills, but people still drive erratically, the number of bike wrecks is on the rise.  We constantly beg the kids to wear their helmets.  But they still won’t.  This is a constant source of anxiety for me.

–I’m coaching cross country and we actually have a real season this year, complete with multiple scored meets.  This has been awesome, yet exhausting.  Totally worth it, though.  The kids are incredible.

–Many more restaurants and bars are opening–we even got a second Starbucks.  There are also many new stores, but none of these things have me particularly excited.  Except of course for the addition of many Korean cosmetic stores.  I love that stuff.  Guilty secret, but I’m putting it out there now.  So there.  Now you know.  I love makeup shaped like cats and bunnies.  Truth.

–Tim and I bought a summer home in the mountains of Colorado.  I have a picture of it by my desk.  I look at it often.

Just a snippet of things to come.

I’m feeling much more at-home in Korea this year.  The food has really grown on me and I feel like I finally really understand the culture, which helps me let go of a lot of things that upset me about people here before.  I’m feeling quite satisfied with where I am in life at the moment.  Maybe that’s why I feel like writing again.

Running Songdo

Every time we move, I am anxiously concerned with where and when and how much I’ll be able to run in my immediate vicinity. In Quito we had Parque Metropolitano, complete with a five mile loop trail and various interconnected single-track on the top of one of the upper ridges of Quito. That was a beautiful park, chock full of eucalyptus trees and sufficiently high enough above the city that in many parts of the park, you could believe you were in wilderness. And while I could run all year, as Quito is the land of eternal springtime, being on the equator means that you only have until 6pm to be done with your run because you can bet your arse I won’t be caught out alone in the park after dark. Yikes. So that was a serious limitation.

In Turkey we lived right beside beautiful rolling, empty hills, where you could literally run trails all day long because there were fresh water springs throughout. This was a wonderful sanity-preserver with two serious downfalls. While in Turkey you are safe from people, on the Anatolian plains, you are not safe from wild dogs and our precious hills had a large, aggressive pack of them. Many a run was cut short by those damn dogs. We also had a serious mud season out there from about mid-November to mid-March. So a large part of the year, I couldn’t even run outside. That will bum one out real fast!

Behold, Songdo, where I can run all year (when it’s not TOO cold) and all night if I need to.  The city developers have taken great care to make walking (running!) paths of rubberized track surface, dirt, and pavement all over the city and around the city parks.  I can even link up to actual trails in Incheon on longer runs, but this is about running in Songdo proper.  The Pros:  it’s safe, clear, and right out my door.  Almost all the paths are lit at night so I don’t even need a head lamp on night runs!  There are no wild dog and no serious mud.  I can run all year, all hours of the day or night.  Cons:  No wilderness.  It’s city running.  It’s totally flat (which might be on your pro list) so I have to find some other way to incorporate hill training.  The parks have piped in classical music which is totally annoying.  So, you give a little, you gain a little.  In the space between I find my sanity.  Win!

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