The 10K Race of Doom (Part 1. Hopefully.)

May 16, 2012

You know how I’m pretty much always saying I’m going to die?

And you’re pretty much always like, “Um, really, Sally? It’s just a cold. Get over it.”?

Well, this time I totally mean it, you guys.

I’m going to die.

This weekend, to be exact.

(In an effort to be unreasonably hopeful, I’ve decided to label this post “Part 1” — you know, in the off-chance that after this weekend I still might be able to use my limbs. But, most likely, this is my last blog post ever. I hope you like it. And if you don’t, you’re just going to have to pretend you do because it’s not nice to think ill thoughts of dead people’s blog posts.)

You see, I signed up to run a 10K race.

And that race just so happens to be this weekend.

Yeah, yeah, I know.

I’m sure you’re all, “What? A 10K? Really? Isn’t that like six miles or something? My grandmother runs six miles every morning. And she’s in a wheelchair. And attached to an oxygen tank. Because she happens to be in a coma.”

Okay, I’ll admit that running a 10K may not sound that scary to most people. Heck, it doesn’t even sound that scary to me. And pretty much everything sounds scary to me. Even stuff that other people find enjoyable. Like puppies and babies and beaches.

Day at the beach? I DON'T THINK SO.

Besides, it’s not like this is my first race.

You may not believe this, but I used to run races pretty regularly back when I lived in Japan. Heck, I hardly believe it.

You see, I’ve never exactly been the runner type, but I had all these pushy, runner-type friends. They’d sign up for races and then get me sign up with them by telling me I’d get a free t-shirt. And while I’m not exactly  the runner type, I am totally the free-t-shirt type.

Instead, I got fish.

I ran a 5K and all I got was this box of freeze-dried fish.

During my last year in Japan, I ran a full marathon. I almost lost a kneecap, and I had to deal with the humiliation of running slower than a man dressed in a full body monkey costume.

Six months of training & I end up behind this.

But, still, I finished the thing.

And it was totally worth it because I got a free t-shirt and a free towel. Oh yeah, and because of the wonderful sense of accomplishment I got. But mostly because of the free towel.

So why am I freaking out about a little, old 10K?

The thing about this particular 10K is that it’s on top of a wall.

The Great Wall to be exact.

I should probably mention here that I’ve never even walked on the Great Wall. The closest I’ve gotten to the Great Wall was when I was in Beijing last year, and I took photos of myself in front of a mural of the Great Wall at a KFC.

Even that didn’t end well.

Back in February when I signed up for the race, it seemed like a manageable goal. I had been running pretty regularly. I had re-joined the gym. I was ready to kick a little 2012 butt.

I could do this thing.

I remained hopeful. Even if everyone else thought I was crazy.

When I told my mom about the race, her response was to tell me I was going to die. Granted, this is my mom’s usual response to most of my plans. It’s possible my mom thinks I’m going to die even more often than I think I’m going to die. And I bet you didn’t even think that was possible.

“Well,” she said, “Make sure they don’t move your body very far. When I come to pick it up, I want to see all the good stuff. I don’t want to have to go to some place I’ve never even heard of. ”

Then she paused.

I thought maybe she was regretting what she had just said, like the whole part about HOW I WAS GOING TO DIE AND THAT SHE’D HAVE TO COME PICK UP MY DEAD BODY.

Maybe she’d even offer up some words of encouragement. Although, frankly, my mom is not exactly the “words of encouragement” type. (Maybe you noticed?)


Instead, she just kept going, “Actually, your father would probably go instead of me. He always gets to do the fun stuff like that.”


At least they’ve got that sorted.

The full impact of what I’d signed up for didn’t hit me until about a month ago, when my race packet was delivered.

Ahhh! What have I done?

Inside the race packet was a big glossy pamphlet with information about the race. The pamphlet is full of maps and timetables and a page of tips “from the medical team.” These tips included stuff like, “Always listen to your body” and “Consume salty foods in the days leading up to the race.” (I guess that means I better start shoving more potato chips into my face. Doctor’s orders and all! I can honestly say this is the first time both my body and doctors have agreed on something.)

The pamphlet is also full of photos like this one:

And this one:

And this one:

Pretty much all of the photos feature people who look a lot fitter than me. And all of them look like they’re on the brink of death.

Or on the brink of falling off the Wall.

I have started referring to this pamphlet as “The Handbook for My Imminent Demise.” And I try not to look at it too much as it kind of makes me hyperventilate.

So, yeah, you guys.

I’m totally going to die.

So, lest this be my last blog post, I have a few requests.

I’d like to be buried in my bathrobe. Because I’m all about dying the way I lived.

I’d also like my couch donated to charity as it’s pretty much my most prized possession. (Okay, so, technically, it’s not my possession at all. But, still, this is my dying wish, so it has to be granted, right?)

And I’d like my Macbook set on fire as this thing is full of emo journal entries, incriminating drunken photos and Ke$ha songs. And that’s not really how I want to be remembered.

I’d rather be remembered like this:

Is this photo etched in your memory, yet? Yes? My job here is done.

And, yeah, make sure they don’t move my body very far. Because my mom wants to see all the good stuff.

Have you ever signed up for something that you totally thought was going to kill you? Did it kill you? (Okay, I realize that if you’re dead right now it’s probably going to be pretty hard for you to leave a comment, but try anyway, okay?)

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On May 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm Waegook Tom said:

    Sea urchins always ruin everything.

    I’ll burn your Mac, but not before transferring all the Ke$ha songs on to a USB to be played at your funeral. Cremation?

    The time is TikTok-ing until race day. Hopefully your limbs will survive. At least your arms, so we can read more blog posts. China in a wheelchair. Now I bet that’s a riot!

    On a more positive note, good luck! I wonder what you’ll get for finishing?
    Waegook Tom recently posted..Children’s Day in Korea

  2. On May 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm Selly said:

    Should I tell you all about how you’re not going to die or should I talk you out of going to Beijing? :-p

  3. On May 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm Carmel said:

    I signed up for this fun sounding half marathon last year to do with some girlfriends ( Wine! Yay! Oh yeah, and running. I had to make up for my awful first half marathon in which I ended up crying, hyperventilating, being consoled by a woman 30 years my elder and about 30 lbs heavier than I, and barely crossing the finish line. After which I was sidelined by an ankle injury for 6 weeks. So of course I’d do it again! There’s wine this time! There were hills so difficult to run I watched fit people stop, stand, and stare at them. At least I wasn’t alone. 2 1/2 hours later, I actually made it and didn’t die, somewhat to my surprise.

    So why I’m doing it again this year…I don’t really know.

    Good luck! It’s been fun reading your blog!
    Carmel recently posted..Healthy White Bean, Avocado & Tuna Wraps

  4. On May 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm Roy Marvelous said:

    Hey, maybe if you dressed up in a full body monkey costume, your performance will improve!
    Roy Marvelous recently posted..How I’ve Traveled 8 Years Around The World For $6186

  5. On May 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly said:

    Ahem. Sally, did you notice that even in the pamphlet, people fitter than you are actually on their hands and knees crawling up the steps? I went to the Great Wall a few years ago and there was a LOT of going UP and DOWN. You’d think those slave laborers would’ve made a bit more effort to make the whole thing level, but noooooo. And there are no taxis up there to cheat your way to the finish line. You ARE going to die. (When you do, can you transfer your feedburner subscribers to me? My blog needs some help…)
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Photo of the Week — Repurposed Art

  6. On May 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm Uncle Ed said:

    All those encouraging pictures tell me to A.stay out of crowds, the lemming thing. B. Walk the path beforehand. C. if that knee (or any other part) gets tricky/woozy, run like hell, just not in the marathon way.

  7. On May 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm Ceri said:

    My reaction to 10K aka 6 miles was ‘WHAT? I can’t even run 1 mile!’ :S So good on ya, girl! I’ll be mentally supporting you from across the Pacific and cheering you on!
    Ceri recently posted..Water wanted to live, It went to the sun it came weeping back

  8. On May 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm Feng Shui By Fishgirl said:

    Now we know where your sense of humor comes from! 🙂
    Feng Shui By Fishgirl recently posted..A KALIEDOSCOPE OF FUN CHAIRS FROM MOROSO

  9. On May 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm Charlie said:

    I thought I was going to die two days ago because I decided to go up Pen-y-Ghent instead of around. I was scrambling up a rock face with a fifteen kilo rucksack on my back and a sheer drop below. I had to keep stopping to make my heart stop melting because it was beating so fast. And then, just for fun, when I got to the top a snow storm landed on me. So much for an English summer. I do not envy you your run. The only thing I can say is that there are probably worse views to die in front of. Good luck!
    Charlie recently posted..140.8 kms: Cowling-Lothersdale-Thornton-in-Craven-(Earby).

  10. On May 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) said:

    I feel like the only way I would sign up to run a marathon would be so that I could say I had done it and never needed to do it again. Instead, I am totally fine with never having run one at all, never mind more than once.

    That said, I think running on the Great Wall would be pretty cool. I mean, don’t Asian ladies do that all the time in high heels? 😉 I read a blog post once about someone who decided to run a marathon in Hawaii, because they figured if they were ever going to do something like that, it might as well be in paradise. I know the Great Wall is a far stretch from paradise, but surely it’s good enough that if you do die, your mom will feel her trip to China was not in vain!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Sometimes “quit” is a four-letter word

    • On May 20, 2012 at 1:40 am Sally said:

      That’s pretty much why I did the marathon in Japan. I wanted to do one once and then never again. Although, I keep on getting this temptation to do another one. That’s the problem with marathons — after they’re done you kind of forget how horrible it was… and then a few years later you’re like, “Yeah, I should do another marathon. After all, I already did one. I’m sure I could do another one.” Self delusion is a powerful thing.

  11. On May 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm Alouise said:

    I tend to think of anyone who runs for “fun” as being suicidal or just crazy. Of course I haven’t done any running (except when trying to catch the bus) since High School. I did think I might die going paragliding (and the thought always creeps into my head every time there’s turbulence on a flight) but so far so good. I’m sure you won’t die, at least not from this.
    Alouise recently posted..Around Edmonton – Rutherford House

  12. On May 16, 2012 at 10:13 pm Daisy said:

    You won’t believe this, but I think I know that Japanese Monkey Man!

    I am not joking. I was in London last summer and there was a Japanese guy dressed up in a monkey suit who looked exactly like that from behind. After talking (because how can you not talk to a Monkey Man), it turned out he lived only a few blocks away from me in New York! Eve though he lives in NYC, he flies around the world and does the monkey man thing for a few weeks to a few months at a time.

    Is it the same Monkey Man? Well, I kind of have a hard time believing that there is more than one!

    Btw, I think you are going to have an amazing marathon!

    • On May 20, 2012 at 1:37 am Sally said:

      I don’t know how to break this to you, but that monkey costume is pretty popular in Japan for some reason so almost anytime I showed up at an event that called for costumes (Halloween parties, marathon races, etc) there would be someone dressed up in a monkey costume. In fact, I’m pretty sure the Monkey Man from the marathon was not the only Monkey Man I saw during the marathon.

      • On May 20, 2012 at 3:28 am Daisy said:

        Aw, man!

        I have to say that I had two reactions when I read your reply. The first was a sense of sadness at the thought that the universe isn’t ordered somehow and not everything is connected.

        The second was: “There are more?!?!?!?!?”

        It’s crazy enough for one person to dress up like a monkey. It’s really crazy to think of LOTS of people dressed up like monkeys. Is there a reason why?
        Daisy recently posted..Kale Paneer

  13. On May 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm Kyle said:

    you can do it!!!!!!!! I’m proud of you already!
    Kyle recently posted..El Altiplano de Bolivia | Day 1

  14. On May 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm Ava Apollo said:

    Don’t even worry, if you die, they’ll just make you part of the wall like the olden days when they were building it. If you ask me, that’s a pretty badass way to go out.
    Ava Apollo recently posted..Wednesday Getaway – Santa Barbara, California

  15. On May 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm Jeremy said:

    don’t let anyone tell you different, 10 K is still hard! I have a degree in exercise science, am a personal trainer and in pretty good shape but running kills me! anyways….YOU CAN DOOO EEEETTTT!!!!
    Jeremy recently posted..Top 3 Ways to Meet Girls While Traveling

  16. On May 17, 2012 at 3:59 am Rachel said:

    Wow that will be quite the experience though! I have only done 5k races and I’ll have to admit that I was dead at the end of them… and they were mostly flat.

    Best of luck!

    • On May 20, 2012 at 1:33 am Sally said:

      I’ve only done one 5K & I think 5Ks are actually harder than 10Ks. Mostly because of the peer pressure. Most people who do 5Ks do them really fast since the distance is so short. I am NOT a fast runner at all, but I still ran the 5K much faster than I would usually run it mostly because I felt all this pressure. I like the 10Ks because people tend to go a bit slower & pace themselves.

  17. On May 17, 2012 at 6:19 am Sid said:

    At first I was all, “If you can run a marathon then you sure as hell can run 10K.” That was before the pictures. It was nice knowing you!
    Sid recently posted..Black stars and revelations

  18. On May 17, 2012 at 9:22 am janet said:

    did your mom REALLY say that??

    now i can see where you got your humor and wit. lol.

    I can’t believe the line about your dad always getting to do the FUN stuff.. whaaat?

    and i’ve probably said it before but you make the best photo caption lines.

    you’ll do greAT though. i’m crazy enough to want to do the FULL marathon and i look nothing like those buff athletic people in the pictures.
    janet recently posted..29 in 29 sale!

    • On May 20, 2012 at 1:31 am Sally said:

      Yes, my mom is not exactly one to mince her words.
      Good luck with your plans to do the Full. You realize that the Full marathoners have to go through the wall TWICE. Once was hard enough. I was very glad I just did the 10K.

  19. On May 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm kosovarian said:

    i love that pinku outfit!

  20. On May 18, 2012 at 1:14 am Leah Travels said:

    Ahhhhhh hahahahaha….I feel you! I got wrangled into running a half marathon in November. Luckily I won this writing contest that’s sending me to Europe for a month. You think it’s coincidence that I chose November for the trip? I think not. I dodged a bullet on that one. But in all seriousness, I have two friends that did this. They’re still a live, too. Good luck. Take lots of Advil after the race. Your calves are going to burn like hell.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Flower Power

  21. On May 18, 2012 at 2:09 am Izzy said:

    I certainly hope you don’t die…

    But, I must admit, I am concerned for your safety. Though, I would like to argue otherwise you put forth a very strong case. Looking at this from a purely logical standpoint (which you clearly have), it would be fair to say you have likely predicted your imminent demise.

    This is a major concern for me. You see, I really like 10k races. I like them so much that about once a month I think about signing up for one. If you die, I don’t know if I will continue to like 10ks.

    You see, Sally, one of my life strategies is that “I don’t do things that kill people”. This can be a little tricky at times because a lot of things kill people… You can argue with the method, but it works – 29 years old and I have yet to die.

    If you die, during a 10k I am a reader of your blog and consequentially will be aware of your unfortunate death… Since I really strongly follow my “don’t do things that kill people” philosophy I will no longer be able to think about doing a 10k.

    So, for completely selfish reasons, I really hope you do not die. Though, if you do I will make sure to post something in your honor on my facebook status: “10k killed girl. Please do not run 10ks”

    This post was hilarious Sally. I have now officially given up trying to not laugh while reading your content in the teachers room… It is just too darn funny.
    Izzy recently posted..Becoming A Ninja Isn’t So Easy…

    • On May 20, 2012 at 1:30 am Sally said:

      You realize that trying not to laugh when you really want to laugh could kill you. I mean, I haven’t heard of it actually killing someone… but I’m sure it could rupture a few internal organs. So it’s a good thing you stopped doing it.
      P.S. I didn’t die. So you can continue doing 10Ks. We both win here. I think.

  22. On May 18, 2012 at 9:31 am Ruth said:

    Sally, I think you’re right in predicting your doom. I’m sure regular runners look at the hills and think no problem, but the stairs, that’s another matter…

    I foolishly signed up for the ‘vertical race’ in HCMC last autumn. I’ve never been one to run but for some reason running up 49 flights of stairs seemed appealing because it was unusual and for some reason not really the same as running in my mind. I survived but I did have a handrail to clutch onto. I did get two free t-shirts though. And a hat. And maybe I’m still thinking of doing it again this year. So I’m sure you can survive your run after all. Good luck!
    Ruth recently posted..Can Tho

  23. On May 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    Holy shit! That is a hardcore 10K! But it will be so cool to say your ran a race on the Great Wall (you know, if you don’t die). So be sure to post next week, so we know you didn’t die.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Foto of the Week from … Buenos Aires: Confiteria El Molino

  24. On May 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm Anna said:

    I hope you don’t die!
    Though 10k…on the Great Wall…does sounds sort of scary…
    Still, I rely on this blog to brighten my day/provide me with a good laugh so you better not die 😉
    Anna recently posted..Mon Jardin

  25. On May 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm choi kum fook said:

    I know you are a good runner. You would not die! Goddess bless you!! Isn’t it any difference between marathon and cross country? I have only taken part once in cross country in school days, 10 miles(16km), on my lifetime. It finished with 6 place,considered been very good because 500 students were taken part! No more chance for me to take part in marathon or cross country now.Only do walking until the end of life! Ha! Ha!

  26. On May 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm Kristine said:

    I always have that I’m-going-to-die feeling before every major climb. I like to climb mountains but I’m embarrassed about calling myself a mountaineer because I’m a total wimp. So yeah, I feel like every climb is going to kill me. Best of luck on your 10k run! And your mom is hilarious. I can now see where you got your humor from. 🙂

    • On May 25, 2012 at 11:31 am Sally said:

      Omigosh, I don’t know if I could ever climb a mountain — at least not anything serious. If I had to strap a harness on or wield a pick or anything I’d pretty much consider myself dead. Good for you for doing it!

  27. On May 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm Nomadic Chick said:

    First I’ve seen of the pamphlet, and that crazy woman clutching the step could eek out a smile? You’ve accomplished something and lived to tell the tale. Boo-ya!
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..The Day I Invaded House Hunters International

  28. On May 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm avikingtravels said:

    You are such a great inspiration! I’ll definitely come back to this blog!

  29. On May 23, 2012 at 5:19 am Eugene said:

    You totally rock! Your choice in weekend activity leaves something to be desired, but other than that you rock… Did you find out if its true – I heard the Great Wall was built with corpses of the enemy, held together with rice glue? That’s why you can see it from space, ‘cos the bones are like x-rays… Congrats on not dying, you’re such an inspiration. If I ran 10kms I would most certainly die, perhaps from exhaustion, but most probably from surprise that I am running 10kms and not using the Harley…

    • On May 25, 2012 at 11:26 am Sally said:

      I think if I went 10kms on a Harley all by myself I’d probably die. Running seems a lot saner to me. And doesn’t require my wearing a helmet. At least, not most of the time.

  30. On May 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm Ayngelina said:

    I love how you keep posting that pink photo, hilarious.
    Ayngelina recently posted..I’m so over hostels

  31. On May 24, 2012 at 6:23 am Harvina said:

    Great, I am not surprise about you have complete the race because you still looking fit and fine in your pics. Your traveling time will helps you to keep well healthy mind and body too, so keep enjoying travel.

  32. On May 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm Sonia said:

    Hahaha I think you were talking about my grandma, she is blind, has one leg and a parrot on her shoulder and does 10k every morning. 😀 Did you survive the run? 🙂
    Sonia recently posted..Why GetLunched is an awesome idea

  33. On May 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm Sonia said:

    Haha yeah with a sparkling unicorn carved on its side! Nana Zosia ftw!
    Sonia recently posted..Why GetLunched is an awesome idea

  34. On June 2, 2012 at 11:28 am Grace Sevilly said:

    I really thought it was the great wall of china back there! Nice run and even better pictures


  1. The 10K Race of Doom (Part 2! Yay! I Didn't Die! I think.)
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