Last week (or was it two weeks ago?) we travelled to Yilan on the north-west coast to participate in the 2009 Yilan marathon. I ran the 10km race while Andrea and our friend John ran the 21km half-marathon. The weather was perfect: overcast, cool, and just the lightest spray of rain towards the end of the run. John and Andrea's run started at 7:00am while mine started half-an-hour later at 7:30.
At about 7:28 I was in the thick of it, standing amidst the throng of sweat-shirt-clad humanity waiting behind the starting line. In the last few minutes before the race when there is nothing to do but wait for the starting pistol to go off, some people jog on the spot while others just stand, some talk to their friends while others keep staring in the direction of the starting banner, some give off the impression that they are taking this very seriously while others might be here just because they had nothing better to do at seven-o'clock on a Sunday morning. Suddenly there was some kind of commotion at the very front of the pack as several people moved from somewhere off-track and took up a position in front of everyone else. At least two of these people were rather large and wore some kind of ear-phones. I also saw the bald, old-looking head of someone who seemed to be very famous from the way that the crowd focused on him. I found out much later that the celebrity was current president Ma Ying-jeou who is, apparently, very keen on running.
Random runners, at least two hours after starting.
Medallion in hand, Andrea looks happy; happy with her effort, or perhaps just happy to be finished. I was happy to get the free cup of hot Milo and the free fruit soy bar.
It's nice to see your name in the lists of finishers. It is somebody's job to stick up the results of the marathon as they are generated. You can see John and Andrea's finishing times in this extract from the list.
John and Andrea bask in the hormonal glow that accompanies each massive 21km assault on the body.
For once I manage to look genuinely happy while being fully aware that someone is taking my photo.
The journey home. The realities of life slowly creep back into the consciousness. Work. Home. Obligations and responsibilities. But Andrea knows that at least she will sleep well tonight. Actually she will sleep before she gets home, in whatever way she can make herself comfortable on the train and bus seats.