First-year MALD student Han Kim is one of those great Fletcher guys. Very involved in the community (Student Council, Admissions interviewer, etc.) and always eager to help. This week, he offered to contact all of the incoming students from his home country of Korea, despite the fact that (1)He had just finished hosting two newly-admitted students here for the Open House, and (2)He has told me that he’s swamped with course work, and (3)He’s preparing to run in the Boston Marathon on Monday!
I asked him to describe his preparation for the Marathon, and his participation in the President’s Marathon Challenge. The PMC fields a team of 200 Tufts students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and friends from around the country, who train for the Marathon while raising funds to support nutrition, medical, and fitness programs. Here’s Han’s story:
Just a few days till the Boston Marathon. April 20, 2009 is the day I test my physical and mental endurance. I am looking forward to it.
I started running marathons because I wanted to keep fit and, also, to bond with my father, who was also a runner. Running a marathon gives you a feeling of freedom and, oddly, flight. I can still remember my first bite at a half marathon. It was a snowy day and my result was not fabulous, but it felt good. My muscles were aching, but I could not get rid of my smile — I had completed it.
My first full marathon was even more fulfilling. At the start, I was not in a good condition, because I had been drinking with my buddies and I overslept. As I started to run, it was painful, but I soon felt better. With all the cheering and my body recovering, my energy started to build, so much so that I had to work just to control my pace. I struggled after the half line, getting cramps in my legs and my neck. The other runners helped me — they gave me a Korean version of Bengay, and told me not to raise my legs so high. With their help, I completed the challenge. I finished with a time of 4:18 — O.K. for a first try. Considering that I still had a slight hangover and had slept only four hours, I was happy with my result.
This experience really changed my view of the marathon and of people. Many think of marathon running as a lonely sport. I found out it was not. Pacing with other runners, helping and encouraging others, even physically supporting them, it is a sport of cooperation. I saw runners stop to help others apply medicine, share their nutrition snacks, and push people from the back to get up a steep hill. Yes, they were keeping their own running time in mind, but they still chose to offer help. It was an inspiring sight for me.
Another reason why I like running marathons is that you get to RUN through a city with no traffic. How awesome is that!!
At Fletcher, I have been practicing with the Tufts PMC team and also on my own. I heard about the President’s Marathon Challenge during Orientation from President Bacow. I thought, “Hmmm. I am in Boston. I should do it! When will I ever get another chance?” I signed up, practiced with the team, raised my required donation, practiced some more, and befriended many other teammates. I’m finally going to run with them in a few days. The team members are great and Coach Don Megerle is awesome! This year we have 10 Fletcher students running, including me. I am sure they are all well prepared, and we are enthusiastic to run for Tufts and, of course, our beloved Fletcher.
I am personally pretty confident at this time, but still the burden of the Boston Marathon (known to be one of the most challenging of all international marathons) is still with me. My time on my last long run of 20 miles was 3:20, so I am targeting 4 hours for Monday, but we will have to see. I am a bit sad that Fletcher is having classes that day, because I will be missing classes and because my friends will not be able to come and cheer. Nonetheless, I have waited for this day anxiously and I hope to do my best.
I hope you will decide to come to Fletcher and run with the team and me. It will be an amazing experience — I promise you that.
Take care, and wherever you go to graduate school, be active and experience life! You only have one chance (unless, depending on your religion, you may have more). Make it worth it!!!