Koşmak (v.: to run); Lessons learned by the first time race-runner

First, I want to say thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who supported me and put up with my craziness and/or rambling on and on about my running and the race during the lead up to it.  Also, I’ll add a quick “I’m sorry…” for my post-race raving and ranting and my general fixation on the subject.  I’ll do my best to keep it in check, but if I blather for too long you should feel free to tell me to shut up.

Sleepy pup

I did miss the best running buddy ever…

A lot of friends and experienced runners told me some of the things to look out for: the zig zagging around slower runners, the extra adrenaline that might cause me to start too quick and burn out early, the need to eat right and be hydrated.  They were all right though the two glasses of wine the night before were worth it.  Despite the advice and pre-planning I didn’t really know what to expect for my first race.  The running itself I knew and was prepared for; however, the should-have-been-expected pre-race chaos was not.

My first time in Turkey years and years ago I quickly learned a phrase all my Turkish friends used with frightening frequency, “burası Türkiye“.  Literally it means “this is Turkey”, but it implies so much more.

“Don’t expect things to be what you’re used to — this is Turkey.”

“Of course we can drive the wrong way up a one way street — this is Turkey.”

“Why would you even try to apply logic to this problem set? — this is Turkey.”

“Sit. Enjoy the tea and the view.  You can only get it here — this is Turkey.”

Essentially, it means things in Turkey are done differently sometimes better, sometimes worse but that you, yabancı (foreigner), must learn to just accept the way things are because you can’t change them.  After all, burası Türkiye.

This tangent is to explain how I was able to maintain my calm and still mentally prepare for the feat ahead of me while most of the non-Turks* lost their minds at the quasi-craziness.  (It should be noted that the Italians and Spaniards I saw seemed right at home… maybe it really is a whole Mediterranean thing.)  There was some chaos in Taksim to get on the buses to get to the Asian side where the race was to begin, but in all fairness to the organizers there is always an element of chaos in Taksim Square.  Probably less so on a normal Sunday morning at 7am, but still.  After loading on the buses (eventually) and getting to Asia (in record time thanks to closed roads) we did have to kill about an hour before the race began in the impressively chilly morning weather.  Not to be blamed on the organizers of course.

No I am no record setter, but I do know that slow people who plan to walk off the start line shouldn’t be the first ones to line up at the line… there were definitely people who didn’t realize that of course.  When added to the impressive number of people who decided to stop dead in their tracks in the middle of the road to take photos (move to the side, people!!!) I did a lot more darting around than I expected and definitely felt the odd lateral moves by the end of the race.  Who thought I’d dart more during a race when we were all (theoretically) running in the same direction than while weaving around people on the sidewalks in Ankara?!

running gear

Laid out and ready for the post race run. Good news: I can justify the money I spent on my gear. Bad news: I can keep justifying it. Darn you, Lululemon!

All and all, I’m super proud of myself.  Not only did I finish the race (goal #1), I managed to run 8.4km (by the way, race officials, it’d be nice to mention this extra .4km to people before we run it) in 1:00:22.  Obviously not a world record, but an awesome starting point for me.  Yep, you read that right.  A starting point.  As in I might consider doing this craziness again.  Who’d’a thought that six months ago?  Definitely not me.


Run an 8km? Check. From Asia to Europe? Check.

So I did it.  I can scratch it off the old 30 in 30 list.  On Sunday I ran in the Istanbul Eurasian marathon (the 8 km portion).  I’ll write all about this awesome accomplishment later, but I’m exhausted (from hiking all over Istanbul for two days more than from running) so for now you get photos.


This blurry photo was meant to show the utter mess that was made of Taksim square while the marathon buses were lining up to shuttle us to the Asian side. Time from Taksim to Asia: 19:06. AKA the fastest ever commute across the bridge.

Shuttle bus

Shuttle buses to bring us to the start line.

running shoes

My awesomely bright running shoes (and proof of chip/number).

Pre-Race smile

Pre-Race was all smiles and excitement. And cold. Oh so very cold!

Start line

Right after the start line leaving Asia.


The local entrepreneurs came out in full force. There were water sales kids all along the route and these two simitcis ran onto the bridge with us!


Mid-Bridge or halfway between Asia and Europe (though only about a 10th of the way into the race).

Entering Europe

At the other end of the bridge, as I entered Europe. The police along the route were funny — some were the usual bored to be there but some were great and clapping and cheering us on. These were the former.

Into Beşiktaş

Running down the hill into Beşiktaş. The Bosphorus is directly ahead. The banners hanging into the streets (the non-Ataturk ones) were to wish the Beşiktaş runners good luck. I figure since I’m a fan of the Beşiktaş soccer team I count.


Running past Dolmabahçe which was at about the 6.5km mark.

I know.  No finish line pictures… at that point I was so tired that I didn’t even think about it.  Also, after waiting in “line” (I use quotes to denote that it was less of a line and more of a crowd smooshing into a tent) for my certificate, I was ready to shower and get some serious caffeine.  More later to include my lessons learned.











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