Flying on the Wind

Running is always a challenge. Especially long-distance running. Before each race you get worried whether you will make it through or maybe at some point you would bend over and have to walk the remaining kilometers. This is why I used to run cautiously, saving energy for the last stretch. But this half-marathon was the first time I was running at full speed from the beginning to the end. I even cannot call it running. I was flying.

But first things first. Since Taipei Fubon marathon is a rather big event, many people from ITRI decided to go there, so we went there on the bus. We left from ITRI East Gate at 5AM. The weather was perfect, and this is indeed another component of a great run. During the previous few days it was pretty cold, so I took two sets of cloths with me: shorts and T-shirt for the warm weather, and sports suite for the cold weather. Which set I would use remained to be seen after we arrived to Taipei.

We arrived there at around 6:30 AM. There were so many people! Indeed, more than 40,000 people participate in this race. The area near Taipei City Hall was absolutely crowded. I went to toilet immediately. Can you imagine what is the queue like when 40,000 people want to go to toilet? It was not that long, actually, as there were many many toilets. From this point of view, the organizers did a great job. However, then I started to look for the place where I could store my bag (all the other people which we came with disappeared or maybe I could not find them because there were so many people nearby!). So, I kept looking for the storage area but I could not find it! I was running out of time, then I recalled that there are storage boxes at the subway station. But I had to run there really fast. So, I almost set off for this race to metro station when somebody called me. I looked around and noticed one of our people, our secretary Sandy! It was unbelievable that I stumbled upon the right person in a crowd of more than 40,000 people! What is the probability of this event?

Sandy told me she could get me to the storage area. But when we started moving into that direction we got caught in the crowd that was moving toward the start line. The time was 10 minutes to 7, so people started to line up. I guess it was very good that I did not run to the subway station, as I would simply not have enough time to complete this trip. And I probably would not have found the storage box anyway. So, I went to this race with my bag on my shoulders! What a miserable start it was!

But somehow I felt a spike of energy. The sunny warm weather and thousands of people around me made me very cheerful. I started really fast – at around 3:30 min/km pace in order to get out of the crowd. This idea worked out nicely – after 20 minutes of running I suddenly noticed that there were very few people around me, and all of them were running really fast! As during my previous run, I was surrounded by professional runners. Surprisingly, there were no water stations until 10km. It was kind of OK with me, but I guess there were many people who ran their first race, and for them water is needed after first few kilometers. And maybe toilets are also needed. On the other hand, there were way too many stations during the last few kms, probably one at every kilometer. I skipped them in the end, I simply did not feel thirsty.

Going at an ever increasing pace, I approached the finish line. The clock was showing 1:44. Why was that? I was frustrated. I ran much faster, I thought. After finishing the half-marathon, I kept walking around trying to get my certificate with official time (as usual, the time was measured by chip). I could not find the place where they printed the certificate. The organizers told me that theyʼd mail it to me later. Then I realized that I have iPhone with the tracking application in my pocket. I forgot to turn it off! When I hit the Stop button in that application, it was showing 1:55 time. But the map of the course was correct, as after finishing the race I kept walking in circles on the City Hall Plaza. Then I checked the time splits inside the phone. It was showing that I completed the half-marathon in 1:38. I was so happy as I thought I ran faster than 1:40.

After several weeks the long-awaited diploma arrived - and it contained some great news! Indeed, I broke 1:40:00 bounday with the official finishing time 1:39:30.

Date December 18, 2011
Distance Half-marathon
Time (hh:mm) 01:39