Tis the Season of Marathons

I ran my first ever half marathon today in Almaty, Kazakhstan and set a new personal record of 02:06:28  in 21 kilometers. To me, this record is less of an indication of the time and effort I have put into training, but instead it represents the numerous voices of encouragement and motivation from strangers I have met in a strange land, all of whom I am now proud to call friends. Without them, I’m not sure I would have ever participated in a marathon in the first place! 

Origin Story
When I first arrived in Kazakhstan, several of my colleagues had already participated in the Almaty marathon the previous year; some ran the 10K, some did the 21K, and a select few opted for the full 42K. As they each recounted their stories of training and triumph, I got a sense of the camaraderie and unity that was borne  out of the journey they all shared as they strove to push mind and body to new heights. I wanted in. Over the next few months, I found myself training harder and running longer distances than I have ever done in my life. 

I shared many eventful runs with my training and running partner, Orville, who is, to put it simply – a black man in Kazakhstan. The local people tend to gawk at him with mixtures of fascination and awe. He is always being honked at by passing cars, interviewed by local television stations, and requested to have his photo taken (with or without permission). Orville regards his famed status with  much grace, which I greatly admire. It makes me uneasy to see the way people behave around him just because of the color of his skin – but I diverge. 

Today, records fell. Legs sore, body fatigued, and yet my head is above the clouds. I am extremely happy I was able to meet such a great group people and be able share this moment with them. 

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Pre-race photo op with Team Angelina, Dave, April, and Orville.

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Racing to the finish. Photo courtesy of Forest Dweller, from Adelaide.

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Doin’ the Bolt with my brother, who sometimes refers to himself as Will Smith.

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