Sun Kissed and Running with the Wild Ajummas


Published: October 11th 2010

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After a week or so of the kind of weather that made me want to curl up in bed or in front of a fireplace, the sun decided he wanted some time in the limelight and came out to strut his stuff over Guemsan. Thank god because I crave vitamin D like a crackhead craves coke. I went outside for a run and the sun was beating down on my head, making me sweat, and feel like it was the tail end of summer. I jogged along the street until I reached my new rival. The stairs of epicness that go up to the top of a hill where a large stone structure(someone inform me exactly what that is) gazes over the city. Perhaps I should count the stairs so I can point out how tiring it is running up them, but I’ll just say I have to take a break (or two) everytime. My goal is to make it up without having to stop but so far the wheezing in the middle does not bode well. At the top, my now rubber legs and I jogged on.

The running trail in Guemsan is fantastic because it goes through the woods, has a fair amount of up and down, and has a little outdoor work-out area. But the main selling point is the people I come across on my runs. When I first went on a run around the time I arrived, I saw hardly anyone and no one acknowledged me. That first run was also rather awkward when I realized I was running behind the science teacher from my school and our pace was practically the same and neither of us could pass the other. I finally stopped to “tie my shoe”.

These days, it has become my own little friendly neighborhood. I ran down the hill and came across a pack of ajummas (older married woman easily recognized by their odd pants, short curly hair, visors, and sometimes a stoop or a scowl) who were on a walk in pants, long sleeve shirts, visors, and face masks. As I ran by they all squealed and cheered, giving me the thumbs up. I felt like Lance Armstrong..minus the bike. and plus know. Further down the path, I came across another ajumma who gave me a thumbs up and went for a high five. Without the ajummas I might never finish a run, those crazy ladies keep me motivated!

This has become typical behavior. It’s rare that I go on a run and I don’t get a wave, high five, thumbs up, or a general cheer. If I went on a run and saw no ajummas giving me support, well I might just never run again.

But my FAVORITE ajumma moment of all was the one who was brash enough to try and race me (I mean, please woman) and suprisingly kept her own! I had come up behind her walking and when she turned around and saw me she yelped and started running. I said “oh it’s on, you wanna race!!??” and I started pushing it. We were both laughing and giggling like little girls. When she started to slow down, I taunted her a bit by waiting for her to catch up and then I would run away saying “Faster!!”. She finally motioned for me to go on, but I had a smile on my face the whole day after that.

It’s been impossible so far for me to not love Korea after going on a run here and today was no exception. After my run, I went a laid out on one of the rocks that overlooks the town and soaked up the sun like a lizard. I had my tunes and there were masses of dragonflies and butterflies flying lazily about my head. Truly lovely. I walked down to my apartments where I found the weekly market that sells stall food, clothes, and produce. I bought some sweet Korean socks, some school shoes (I’m a real Korean now!) and the only pair of underwear I could find that didn’t go up to my boobs. I was also happy because I understood them when they told me how much everything cost. Beyond that I was still real confused…Then a woman touched my bare shoulder and said something to the effect of “are you cold?” or “stop being such a slut”. One of the two.

Now I am back at home with the sunshine still streaming in my balcony and I can hear the kids playing soccer and the people buying whatever tickles thier fancy and yet again, I am happy.


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#Sun #Kissed #Running #Wild #Ajummas

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