Friday, November 2, 2007

15 k and Ucukum var, ama still no pictures!

The first half of this post's title means "I have a coldsore." It's true. I do. And it sucks. I started catching a cold when I was in Istanbul this last weekend with about 15 of the SSIs (Speaking Skills Instructors). Most of us went to run in 1 of 3 different races that were hosted there; officially known as the Intercontinental Eurasia (or Avrasya in Turkish) Marathon (Maratonu), there was a "Fun Run" of 8km, a 15 km run, and a full-blown, 42 km marathon on offer.

I ran the 15 km, which, considering the fact that I'm not a runner and have only ever run a maximum of 5 or 6 km at once before, was quite a feat! My only vaguely suitable shoes were in a terrible state of disrepair (i.e. the stitching was coming completely apart), so on Saturday, while walking around the historic Sultanahmet area of Istanbul (located on the famous Golden Horn), we stopped at a shoe-lined alley right outside the Grand Bazaar (Carsi Pazar- literally, Covered Market) and I got a pair of cheap trainers for 40 YTL (about 35 USD).

Nighttime view of Istanbul

It wasn't until we had made our way (eventually, after getting lost and taking a 3-hour detour!) back to the Big Apple Hostel where we were staying that it was pointed out to me that the shoes were in fact lacking insoles. Thankfully the person who pointed it out was a new Turkish acquaintance who just happened to have a friend in the insole business (fancy that), so he promised to procure me a pair of insoles by that evening, and true to to his word, he did!

Nonetheless, I did break in a new pair of shoes by running 15 k, which I would not advise anyone to do. Even the beginning of the race was not without mishap, though! I'd taken my backpack with me on the bus to the starting point, having been informed by the Marathon office (erroneously!) that I'd be able to leave it on the bus. This was not the case, however, so for the 15 minutes before the race, I was frantically running up and down the hill where the racers were congregating, trying to find an official who could tell me where to leave my bag. I eventually ran into a helpful group of Korean runners in the same predicament; thankfully, though, one of them not only spoke impeccable English, but impeccable Turkish (I assume her Korean wasn't too bad, either), so she was able to persuade a police guard to drive us back up to near the starting point, and when she couldn't convince them to take our bags, she valiantly volunteered to take them to Dolmabahce (the finish point) herself, effectively forgoing the race. Before she did so, though, we exchanged contact information on the inside of our bibs, otherwise I never would've been able to find her to get my bag back!

Then it was a mad rush to the start point, which turned out to be about 1 or 2 kilometres down the road, and I was already late! On the way I fell into step with a young Turkish boy who introduced himself to me as Hakan, before proceeding to jabber away unintelligibly (for me, anyway), as we jogged to the start point. Finally made it there at 9:10 or 9:15, 10 or 15 minutes after the race had started. No matter--I was off, jogging across the bridge towards the finish line and my destiny! Turns out my destiny felt a bit queasy and dehydrated 4 or 5 km later, so I walked for a while. The beginning of the race was undoubtedly the most rewarding visually, as we immediately crossed the bridge that spans from Europe to Asia, lending its name to the race, the world's only Marathon to span two continents. This was the one day of the year that the bridge was open to the pedestrianized public, and what a view it offers!

View from the Bosporus Bridge (original site here)

Anyway, the race proved quite a challenge, but not an insurmountable one, and it was 1:42 later (actually 1:30 or so, but the clock did not take into account my late start, alas!) that I crossed the finish line, my legs all a-wobble and my heart bursting with joy (not really). Definitely an experience worth repeating, although my legs have only just recovered 5 days later!

As to the delayed effects of the run, well, that brings us back to my ucuk (cold sore), brought about by my exposure to the sun during the run and the cold winds sweeping in off the Bosporus that weekend...as the Turks and Yabanciler (foreigners) alike have been telling me here, "gecmis olsun!" Get well soon!

1 comment:

Sara V said...

Sounds like you had a great time! Hope you're feeling better!