Friday, December 14, 2012

1st Banana2U Marathon

This last weekend I was able to participate in an interesting running event organized by a local running club. It was called the Banana2U Marathon and involved running between Thailand's two top universities and rivals; Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University.
The start and finish points weren't the interesting part of the marathon, but the way in which it was run. It was not a race, but a run. There were no trophies for top finishers. There was no competition (not really). The run was to be run as a group! The same event had an option for 21km and 12km as well.
In order to register, you had to be able to hold a 7:00 minute per kilometer pace over the course of a full marathon, a requirement that was not met by many who ran as some lagged behind for large portions of the run and others confessed that it was their first marathon.
As it was a point to point marathon and there were half marathoners and 12km runners also, each of the shorter distances would merge with the marathoners along the run route. So, when the marathoners got to 23km (21 km away from Thammasat University) the half marathoners joined in with us...same with the 12km runners. The funny thing was that the pace requirement for the 12km runners was a slow 8:00 minutes per kilometer. I guess this was because they assumed the marathoners would be spent by that time and slowed considerably, and because a slower pace would allow more people to participate from all levels of fitness and running experience.

This run was not highly advertised or promoted, but there were invitations sent out through Facebook. I got an invitation from a fellow Bangkok Runners member and even though all of the information on registration and all of the followup was in Thai, with Pae's help, I registered and kept up with the banter and passing of information online before, up to and after race day. And check out the really cool, personalized BIBs that they made for us! I, of course, am PIGGY!
The race itself began at 2:15am Sunday morning, so I had to try to get some rest Saturday evening. Luckily there weren't any good football matches on Saturday, so I was able to shut things down after dark and get a couple hours of sleep. I got up at midnight to prepare, get a quick snack and to try to get to Chula by 1:30am. Subways and even motorcycle taxis were shut down by that time of night, so I walked the kilometer or so to the main road.

I arrived at Chula right on time to use the bathroom, stretch and put on the blinky armband that the race gave to marathon runners, who would be negotiating the most traffic in the dark. It was a great idea and made us very visible during the 2-5am darkness of night time period. The thing I didn't think about when I put my blinky armband on was that I'm in a country that drives on the left side of the road, as opposed to the right side like back home. I placed my armband on my my left arm...I noticed, about 5km into the run, that nearly all of the other runners almost all Thai runners, wore theirs on their right arm. We ran with traffic, on the left side of the road, with our right arms nearest to I should have been wearing mine on my right arm like everyone else! Oooops!
The entire route we had a dozen or so bicyclists leading us, following us and providing a little protection on our flanks from passing traffic, oncoming traffic and vehicles entering the main road at intersections. The race also organized several off duty police officers to stop traffic at major intersections. I knew that they were off duty because a motorcycle cop would normally ride a Tiger motorcycle, whereas these guys, although in their police uniforms, were zooming back and forth past our running formation on mopeds ;) The bicyclists and police officers did a great job with only the random motorcycle or bicycle getting close to hitting any of our runners.
The organizers also got a volunteer ambulance and volunteer driver and nurses to attend to runners along the route, throughout the morning. You have to realize how much work goes into organizing a race in the middle of a giant city on a (basically) Saturday night, Sunday morning. And this was just a running club doing the organization. They did a great job.
We also had a water truck, pickup with big canisters of ice water in the back and 4 people helping to distribute the water to the runners. One interesting thing about hydration during what would end up being a nearly 6 hour run, was that each runner received a plastic cup at the beginning of their distance. Each runner would have to carry their cup and use it for drinking for the entire race, reducing the use of plastic cups, litter, etc. Environmentally conscious organizers! This was a great idea but I may have gotten some carpal tunnel type pain from holding my cup up to my chest for several hours! Although it was a great idea, it was the source of my only real complaint about the event.
In a normal running event, you would run and there would be hydration points set up at certain intervals during the race. Volunteers would have a bunch of cups and a bunch of water and would keep their little tables filled with half cups of water (and ice here in Thailand). As a runner, you just run past and grab a cup and keep going. Some choose to use water stops as a chance to walk a little or stretch. The runner usually has no interaction with the actual water or water container. The first few water stops during the marathon were a learning experience for the water volunteers I believe. Right before we started the run, they opened up the top of the giant stainless steel water cooler and the 30 marathoners just walked by and dipped their cup in the water and drank up. As we started the run, everyone was getting loose, trying to get into the pace, adjusting their clothes, adjusting their blinky lights, and basically just trying to get into some kind of groove that would feel comfortable for the next 6 hours.
One "groove-affector" was figuring out just how to carry the plastic cup. I also carried a bottle of Gatorade, so I just stuck my cup upside down on the top of my electrolyte drink. I saw people take a pin from their bib and pin their cup to their shirt. One guy had a piece of plastic twine that he tied to his wrist and to the cup. The dude in front of me, however, took the cake with his method of toting his cup...he stuck it down his spandex, down his butt crack! NOT EVEN JOKING! Sweaty Crack (the nickname given to him by yours truly), running at the head of the formation and carrying the King of Thailand's portrait directly in front of me, proceeded to pull his tainted plastic cup out of his crack at the first water stop and dip it directly into the water. All of us dipped our cups into the water and took off again. After Sweaty Crack finished drinking and wetting himself with his cup of water, the cup went straight back down his crack, held snugly there by his highly absorbent CW-X spandex running shorts.

That wasn't the bad part! The water volunteers had not yet started using anything to pour water for the runners. In cartoon informational posts in Facebook leading up to the run, they had showed people (banana people actually) pouring water from pitchers into runners' cups. It wasn't until like after the third water stop that I saw them actually start using plastic pitchers and larger clear plastic cups to distribute water and pour it into the runners' cups. The really bad one came when we passed a 7-11 that had a public toilet in the parking lot. The water truck stopped here and many of us ran back to the toilets to relieve ourselves. Okay, boys bathroom...we have the standing wall, where we pee in the urinals. Normally there is a ledge for you to place your belongings or shopping bags on while you use your hands to zip up and down, aim and to control drippage (TMI?) and this toilet was no different. SO THERE I WAS, hangin' out with the boys, six or seven of us, no shopping bags, no mobile phones to set on the ledge...but we did have PLASTIC CUPS! I saw no less than five cups sitting on the ledge of the rest stop toilet...and these places don't ever win any awards for cleanliness. I then walked back to the water truck, where everyone was still dipping their cups in the water. I told the guy from Bangkok Runners that I ran with for a few kilometers that I was going straight to the pharmacy after the run to purchase a weeks worth of antibiotics (Amoxy)! I believe that it was the next water stop where they finally started ladling out water to us!

Well, I drank the water...cuz basically it was either fall ill on Sunday because of severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance or get sick sometime weeks later of Hepatitis hahahaha! Below is what it looked like for passers by when our water truck would stop alongside the road and we would gather around for some sweaty water ;) Hey! What better way to replenish electrolytes that an ice water/butt sweat concoction! Yummy!
Water, check. Pace. The first few kilometers were a little rough because I was up front with the guys carrying the Thai flag and King's flag, all experienced runners. behind us we could hear "slow down, you're running too fast" on occasion and would have to shuffle along or stop and walk to wait for the few stragglers. They weren't stringing the formation out because they were slow runners, but because they had not yet gotten warmed up and weren't in their groove yet.
Eventually, as we reached the halfway point of the run, we seemed to be running smoothly and faster than at the beginning with no cries for a slower pace. I think it just took some people a couple kilometers to get things under control with their bodies.
I personally never feel good the first 3km of a long run, but between 15km and 27km I'm on total autopilot and feel like I'm floating. I think that will be a little different for each individual, which makes it a little difficult when trying to stay together as a group. Eventually we were cruising between 6:30-6:40 minutes per kilometer. Quite slow, but that's still faster than advertised. For many of us who were using the run as training for 50-100 kilometer races, the time on our feet was the important part of the run, rather than pace or time.
After the 21km water stop, we knew that the hotel where we would join with the 21km runners was only 2km away. The guys with the flags took off at a high rate of speed and I knew that they were just gonna run hard until the hotel then wait for the rest of the group. I took off with them and we did those two kilometers in roughly 9 minutes, which was pretty fast compared to most other two kilometer stretches being run in 13-14 minutes. It was nice to stretch the legs out and to get to the hotel toilet before too many runners filled them up! My long distance run posts often have a good bit of poo humor in them, so this time I'll resist and just say that I spent a very welcomed two minutes taking care of business in the well appointed Amari Hotel toilet. There I also noticed, while washing hands, that the two other native English speakers from the marathon group were changing clothes and talking about catching a taxi and going back to Chula. I guess they were just in it for a half marathon distance but did it the first half instead of running Amari to Thammasat. They wished me luck and I did likewise. As I left the toilet I noticed that the larger group of marathoners was just arriving at the hotel.
The half marathoners, who had yet to begin running, were cheering and clapping and we all grabbed some watermelon slices, bananas, sports drink and water. We were taking some group photos, marathoners first (below), halfs, then full marathoners and halfs together, when I tried to open my sports drink, only my hand couldn't grip the cap and twist without pain. I had to use my teeth to open it, but my first thought was "arthritis" but then I hoped that it was something like carpal tunnel for the index finger from holding my plastic cup the whole 3 hours up to that point.
Our stop to pick up the half marathoners was a good ten minute stop, welcomed, and ended with us forming our little formation and taking off for the final 21 km of the run, but now instead of 30 runners, we had doubled our numbers! I ran the first half with Jeng, Bangkok Runners. I ran with several people, chatting, small talk, etc. for the next few kilometers.
After one of the stops, I ran with the race organizer who was running Sketchers Go Run minimal shoes and we talked about his shoes. We found out that we have similar personal bests for the marathon...right around 3:45. I also found out that the U.S. marathon champion (last year?) ran his championship race in Sketchers, which I always thought were skater shoes!
I also talked to several other "bananas" (race organizing committee members had nicknames) who I had contact with prerace on Facebook. It was good to see that "Big Banana" was indeed quite a large man who runs triathlons. There was "Fragrant Banana" and "Banana Smoothie" who were also nice to chat with. Chatting helped to pass the time and helped to forget about the hungry feeling in my stomach, an enlarged bladder and Mr. Sweaty Crack!
Eventually we picked up the 12km runners and had to squeeze into two columns to allow the morning traffic to pass on the narrower local roads. The short 9km stretch from picking up the half marathoners to the waiting 12km runners was very short and quick. The sun started to warm the air and killed the darkness that we had been running in for so long. Many of the fun run runners (12km) were not runners and stretched our group so much that they had to form up in their own formation and just run at their pace. There were jokes yelled from the back to the front wondering just how the marathoners, having run over 20 miles already, were able to outpace most of the still fresh 12km runners, leaving them in the dust in fact ;)
After we noticed that they had their own formation going further back, we stopped walking at water points. We would pour and go, form back up quickly and be well on our way. Before this, there was this super accordion action going when the front would stop and drink, then the slower runners would arrive in large groups, bottleneck things at the water truck, and we would have to walk for several minutes to wait for everyone to get water and catch up.
I mean, we didn't want to break from the concept of the run, running as a giant group, but there were a lot of people out just to socialize and really didn't have the necessary pace to keep up. So the organizers, I think, adjusted the concept and just let the front group go on our own.
And that's what we did once we hit the overpass that led to the Thammasat campus. The final water point and a left turn onto campus started what seemed like an all out 2-3 kilometer sprint. There were about 6 or 7 of us marathoners and a couple 12km runners who picked up the pace for the final bit of the run and we hit it pretty much as hard as we could.
Even sprinting after 43-44 kilometers, we were able to stay in a small group and only broke ranks when we saw the two race photographers in the middle of the road near the finish ;) People want to have their photo taken to record the moment!
The fun part after every marathon so far has been the sudden stopping, after several hours of moving forward (relentless forward progress) suddenly you find yourself past the finish line...where do I go now? The muscle fibers in the legs don't know exactly what to do and start to wobble like jelly...It's a great time to sit down, but really that's probably not the best idea as far as recovery goes!
So I headed straight to the food table, traded my plastic water cup for a souvenir Banana Mug, grabbed an iced green tea and a banana muffin and headed for the nearest toilet! Priorities man!
Most others finished within 30 minutes or so of the front group with stragglers eventually making their way to campus. There was a lucky drawing for prizes, some singing of the King's songs, photos and breakfast. The sun was really starting to beat down at this point.
After a big breakfast, I headed back home via taxi rather than taking the bus that the organizers had chartered. I just wanted to get home. The front guys finished in 5:42, from start to finish. I saw one guy's Facebook page said under 5:30 but I think he subtracted the time it took to stop and pick up the half marathoners and 12km runners and take photos as a group at those points. Either way, it was nearly six hours on our feet and good training for longer runs.
I'm still targeting February's 50km trail run, but my commitment to that race has wavered in recent weeks, mostly due to the cost involved in racing that race and the lead up to it. If I run it, great. If I don't run it, great also! I'll find a more reasonable substitute!
Overall, the Banana2U Marathon was a great concept, well organized and involved a bunch of really nice people. One of the organizers told me that it was a lot of work to organize and wasn't sure if there would be one next year...but from all of the feedback, good feedback, I think they will organize this event again! I'll be there!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Banana2U Marathon pre-post

Finished the Banana 2 University Marathon (measured 44.3km) earlier today and finally saw some photos published online. Thought I'd throw one up here while waiting for photos from the second photographer who followed our run.
This photo is from after about 24km after we picked up the half marathoners near Don Muang Airport. As a whole, we stayed together as a group formation, later in the run we would be running in two columns due to smaller roads and heavier traffic as the sun came up. 5 hours and 42 minutes of jogging, good conversation, nice scenery. To be continued...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Piggy and Mr. Piggy

Preparing for the Banana2U Marathon, and of course unable to sleep! Start time is 2:15am on Sunday morning and they say we will finish at about 10:30am. It will be a long, slow run, but it is perfect for my 50K trail run training.

The race has a Facebook page and there is a lucky draw for some running gear. Runners qualify for the drawing by posting a photo of themselves, Banana2U shirt and BIB number on the fan page and sharing it to their own this is the picture for the drawing that I posted ;) Thought I'd share ;) I should actually be thinking about getting a couple hours of sleep hahaha! But that never works!
So, hope to have a relaxed 7 hour run of about 43 kilometers and get home by noon so the landlord can send the plumber over to fix our leaky sink and roof! Good thing Monday is a holiday and I don't have to go to school!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Commandant's Award Photo

Just today I got an email from a Marine buddy, Duku. Over the years we all kind of lose touch, reestablish contact, lose touch and reconnect again! There is a web of us out there, so usually if you can  get in touch with one you can eventually get back in touch with the whole of us.

He had come across a newspaper clipping from back at the Defense Language Institute and emailed it to me. I had previously posted this clipping, but the one Duku sent had the entire piece including the names of other graduating classes and award winners! So, I thought I'd post it up here for posterity sake ;)

Funny thing is that I don't remember the "Korean Donor Book Award" although I do remember receiving a decorative Korean vase near graduation from some important people at the school. I actually think it was from the Korean Consulate...I wanna say it was called the Korean Consulate Award, but it may have been the Korean Donor Book Award", it's all a blur ;)
Three things that stick out in my memory from this picture are:

1) I'm wearing a LCPL Goodley's (Baby D) dress blue uniform as I was one of the last boot camp graduating classes not to receive them as part of the standard issue for uniforms. He was one of the only other Marines as thin as me, actually thinner, so the collar was squeezing all of the blood into my head! I had previously borrowed his dress blues to march in the Special Olympics opening ceremony the year prior. I wish I still had photos of that event because I met the sweetest little Special Olympian in 1990 and 1991 at that event.

2) I was waiting in the wings of the stage to be presented with the Commandant's Award and I actually felt a little nervous. Leading up to the decision as to who would receive it I had been pretty "whatever" about the whole thing. Award or no award, we would still walk around the joint service base thinking we were the baddest mama-jammas around! A little nerdy perhaps, but still felt indestructible and superior (inter service rivalry is like that!) Marine Corps pride! The look on my face...who knows...perhaps similar to the face I'd make in the chow hall waiting for breakfast, in line with sailors, airmen, soldiers and other Marines. It was like a little game to glare at members of other services until they averted their eyes...inter service stare downs in the chow hall, mature!! Hahahaha!

3) Looking out over the 800ish other students of other languages, other members of our military, "Agency" types and my peers was pretty overwhelming but awesome! We were all in it for similar reasons and we were all finally graduating. We would soon be off to complete the more technical part of our training and be assigned our duty stations. Many of my friends and classmates from other services ended up stationed in Korea. I ended up in Hawaii, making yearly deployments to the Land of the Morning Calm. I've always been very proud of this service and always took pride in the job itself, from learning the language to using it for military intelligence purposes. Heck, I can still order lunch in Korean ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's like that!!

Here is a photo from last weekend's Ayutthaya Half Marathon. I wanted to run it but wasn't able to as it fell the week after the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon. Many runners from Bangkok Runners participated and actually won prizes! One guy, who holds interval training sessions at a track in town, won his age category and two women from the running group took the top two places in their category as well! Representing!
This picture is just a little funny...Ayutthaya is a little away from the bright lights of the big city...kind of a little "countryish" if you ask me...**and if you ask me, you'll have to note that I've been here in Thailand coming up on 6 years, but haven't once been to Ayutthaya!!!** Here in Bangkok, we get people running small 5 and 10K runs with their little chihuahuas or (insert other breed of yappy lap dog here).  They dress them in dog clothes and dog shoes; pretty much go all out. In Ayutthaya it appears to be just a little different! I'm pretty sure these two placed first and second in their category!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fourth and Final Marathon of 2012?

I'm still not 100% sure if I'll run The North Face 100 trail race in February, but I really want to do it. The expense that comes with this race is a little steep with lodging in the area, purchasing a required hydration system, trail shoes and running five 39+ kilometer training runs plus two trail half marathons down in Pattaya between now and February. Running is a fun hobby and very challenging, but I can't go breaking the bank just to run the races I wanna race. Heck, if that were the case, I'd be registered for the Great Wall of China Marathon, The Angkor Wat Half Marathon, The Singapore Marathon, The Chiang Mai Marathon and the Hong Kong Marathon!!

There is an interesting marathon (The Banana2U Marathon) being held on December 9th and I'm signed up for it already, Eric is gonna take a pass and run a half marathon instead. It's not your typical marathon, it's not a race. It's a group marathon that starts at 2:30 in the morning at Chulalongkorn University and runs at a relatively slow pace, as a group. It's intended to be somewhere around a five hour marathon. At the half way point, all registered half marathoners will join us and we will continue on our way towards the finish at Thammasat University. 12km from the finish, the 12K runners will join us and the group will run together to the finish!

It's more social than physical, although a 5 hour marathon is nothing to scoff at! I'll be using it as a training run as the thought of running five super long runs at Chatuchak Park is just too much. I love running at the park, but not a full marathon! So, the Banana 2U Marathon is meant to keep me moving and on my feet for 5-6 hours to try to simulate the same situation (minus hills) in February's trail race. If I run the February race, I hope to be able to finish within the 18 hour time limit, haha!!

No medals, no chip-recorded split times, but it's something different and I'm looking forward to it!

Moto Post - November 25, 2012

I'm no Ryan Hall, but I know how to suffer! Three marathons in the books and three excellent "learning" experiences...if ya know what I mean!! Suffer well, people...find the positive...never stop learning!

School work

Here's my semester post from some of the work my students hand in to me from either Science class or Health class. I think most of these are going to be from Health. I teach 4th to 6th graders health and much of the first semester focuses on puberty, dangerous behavior and the human body.
Here are some gems from my students, but before I give you their work, I'll give you some of the obligatory graffiti that I find on the whiteboard as I enter their class to teach...they're obviously excited to see me...apparently I have armpit hair and a bird and dog targeting me with excrement! Thanks kids!
This first one is from our discussion about dangerous sexual behavior and how teenage pregnancy can change a person's life. We don't go as deep into explaining all terminology as this student's answer to "What is abortion?" might suggest.
So I guess it's during puberty when girls might start to show signs of becoming "High maintenance"? Hahaha, simple spelling mistake (they meant to say menstruation) and it becomes a little funny ;)
Here's a good one, anatomically I guess "underwhere" (sic) is gonna be fine and Teacher Guy will probably award full points ;)
And finally, during puberty boys and girls begin to have "romantic fillings" for each other...I'll say no more :)

Dan Ger

In our new neighborhood, nearer to school, they have been building all of the side roads up to lessen the effect of yearly flooding during the rainy season. It's a little inconvenient at times with entire roads closed down to everything but residents of the soi, but in the long run it's gonna be helpful to keep some of the flooding down. Last year during the Thai Floods, this area was under a good amount of water. In fact, our house that we rent still has water damage and even water lines stained into the walls! Sounds a little ghetto, but we call it home ;)

One day Eric and I were on his motorcycle heading to the park for a training run and we came across some of this road improvement. We passed this sign a little and both laughed, and immediately decided that we needed to get a photo. Nothing really special, just a hand painted warning sign that translated says "Danger, Machinery Working". It's just the English symbol for "Danger" split in half became "Dan Ger" and the little man with his farmer's hat and motorized bike turned food cart or garbage collector that gives it its charm.

Family Photo

Bun found a little crack between my body and arm and got comfortable one day. When he does this we pet his head and he crunches his teeth with happiness. We have come to call this kind of petting "Armpit Petting" haha! On this day, we interrupted his armpit petting for a family photo ;) It's rare when we can get all three of us in the same photo. Happy Holiday season from the Bangkok Udas!

Growing Bunny

BunBun is an eating machine! We live in a larger space now and Bungy has a little more room to run around, exercise and maneuver. Lucky he gets a little exercise or he would be a fat little rabbit!

Bun eats mostly dry food, but he really loves the occasional carrot or small piece of fruit. He likes tiny apple slices, grapes, strawberries and...well...really, anything you stick in front of his face! Below is a photo I snuck when Bun and Pae were both napping on the couch ;) He woke up actually, probably hoping that my camera was a piece of guava or something similarly sweet and juicy!

We took him to the vet a while back and he weighed out at 2kg...I think that's getting near the max weight for a Holland Lop, but considering Bun is a mix, he may be able to put on more weight than that eventually. We try to keep his food bowl stocked with nibbles of this and that and keep some alfalfa grass available for him to get at whenever he wants it. Really, he should be eating mostly alfalfa grass with limited dry food and snacks, but he'll have nothing of that!

He doesn't like to be held or picked up, so the only way to get him into his cage when we want to leave home is to lure him with some type of treat. The one that works the best is an Aussie breakfast cereal called Weet-Bix! We can open the canister and stick a piece of cereal in his bowl...while he's napping in the corner...and within thirty seconds the smell of the cereal will make its way to his little wiggly nose and he will leap up and sprint on the slippery floor and slip and slide his way to his cage in a fit of excitement. He pulls his cereal from his food bowl and starts crunching away with wide eyes like he's getting his drug fix! At this point we close his cage and head out the door. The little man is a cereal junky!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon 2012

The second Bangkok Marathon of this calendar year! The first, in February, was 2011's marathon that was delayed because of the flood. No such natural disasters this year, so the 2012 race went off as scheduled.

Our first marathon experience, Eric's and mine, was the 2011 Bangkok Marathon. We finished it in 5hrs 17mins. I won't rehash that experience here, but I will say that this time was much better ;)
Our 2012 race pretty much began when we finished the Pattaya Marathon in We trained well, not too much, not too little, not too hardcore, yet not too lazy either. We put in the miles on the long runs and came into race day pretty confident that we would do much better than in February.
Eric and I were both coming off of our best marathon times from Pattaya and were pretty certain that we would cut some time off of our PRs but had no real number goals. Sub-4 is always something to shoot for, but finishing the race injury-free is pretty much what we hope for, especially with big races coming up for us next year. I jokingly told Eric prior to the race that I think we could combine for under 8 hours which meant that we'd have to shave a good half hour off of our combined Pattaya times. Something to shoot for, but that was seriously deep in the back of our minds.
We both went with our Pattaya Marathon strategies...Eric running an even pace throughout, but this time not starting off so quickly, and me just pushing hard until I crash and then limping my way to the finish (hahaha). It's actually no joke, that's what I did in Pattaya and I repeated the strategy this time in Bangkok.
I've actually got to work on my race strategy, but it's all I know at this point and I'm not confident in my body after 20 miles...I feel that regardless how hard i run prior to 20 miles, the wheels are gonna come off for that last 6 miles and I'll be at the same snail's pace.
This year's marathon was extra special for me because Pae requested the day off from work and she was able to share the experience, from the days leading up to and the couple days after! It was great having her home for it all! She was very supportive in the lead up to the race and after when I was limping around the house and around town when we'd go out for lunch or dinner ;)

The race itself started at 3:00 AM which had us waking up at midnight and in a taxi by 1:30 AM to get to the starting line in time for a toilet break and some electrolytes. This went off without a hitch and we were exactly an hour early for the race. Pre-race was a little pacing around, visiting the toilets and quickly saying hello to a local group of runners "Bangkok Runners" who I have trained with on occasion. I also talked to a couple Kenyan marathoners in the toilet queue who insisted that I needed to go train with Ryan Hall (American marathoner) in Colorado ;) Just some small chit chat between runners to cut through the tension and ease some of the pre-race anxiety.

There were only 1,152 marathon runners this year, so when we lined up in the starting chute, I was able to be near the steel fence where Pae was waiting to watch the start. I ran over three minutes to the start horn and got a pre-race kiss then prepared mentally for the next four hours. Eric and I gave our customary pre-horn handshake and waited for the runners in front of us to surge forward.
The horn went and we were off. It took us some 30-45 seconds to get over the start line, and another couple minutes to be able to get into a place where we weren't shoulder to shoulder with other runners. I went out pretty fast, a little too fast, but slowed it down on the two bridges that lead up to the elevated highway, where most of the run takes place.
There was a Russian kid who I noticed in Pattaya and finished right behind in Pattaya who I noticed again at the start of the marathon. He was wearing another body suit but this time his suit had silver striping criss-crossing his butt, so I nicknamed him "Shiny Bottom", or something less appropriate if memory serves me ;) So anyway, I knew Shiny Bottom was fast based on his previous marathon times that I had dug up online. He's a sub 3:30 marathoner, meaning that Pattaya where he ran just one second faster than my 3:48:50 was a bad day for him (darn hills). So I see this guy right in front of me for the first 10 kilometers and I stay with him, his shiny spandex no more than 5 meters in front of me for the first 45 minutes of the run. But every time I pass a kilometer marker I looked at my watch and saw that I was going way too fast. Shiny Bottom eventually started pulling away near the 15 kilometer turn around point and would go on to finish at 3:26 on the day.
At this point, I was again in this strange space on the course; well behind the elites and stronger runners in  the front but not caught up in the hoard of runners behind. Basically I was in the empty space between those two groups, running mostly alone. There was one guy in front of me who kept looking back to see who was behind us (or to see me cuz he heard my footsteps). After about the third time he looked back over his shoulder, I finally looked behind me and there was empty space...nobody behind me! What???? Such a lonely spot to be on a course with only eleven hundred marathoners, held on an elevated highway with no spectators cheering, and held at 3 o'clock in the morning!

My short term goal on the day was to pass the 15km turnaround point at a time of 1:15 which is 5 minute kilometers., I arrived and turned at 1:10 and tried to slow it down as I was 5 minutes too fast. Another goal was to cross the Rama 8 Bridge in the dark. Last year's race we were walking at the 30km point, where the bridge is located and it was already getting light out, so this year I wanted to get over the bridge while the sun was still below the horizon and in the dark, therefore getting the "poor" photos on the bridge.
You see, the bridge is very beautiful and the photographers are waiting at the end of it for the runners to get pretty pictures of the runner and the bridge...very nice photos when it is light out, with the golden wires rising into the sky behind and above the runner, like the photo of a couple of "Bangkok Runners" crossing above...but the photos for those first 300 athletes to cross are pretty much just a flash photo in the dark! Hahaha! Here's my "Bridge Photo" where I was still feeling quite good! Poser! Eric was also happy to cross in the dark! Below is the only picture I could find of me or Eric crossing the bridge!
Well, I got to 34km in 3 hours exactly in Pattaya and this time I hit 34km at 2:51 so a nice improvement of nine minutes. The next two kilometers would be at five minute pace and I hit the 36km hydration point at 3:01, right at 3hr 30 minute pace. I had been feeling the need to use the bathroom since after the bridge, but it wasn't something I could do on the side of the road, like I saw others doing...Yeah, I needed to sit or squat!!
I knew that they had some toilet buses parked near the Capitol building at 36km, so I told myself that if I got there and I still had an outside chance at running a 3:30, that I would keep going and just pucker up for the last 6km. If I was way outside the 3 hour time at 36km, I would take a quick 3-5 minutes in the toilet and just finish in comfort somewhere just under 4 hours. I got there one minute outside the 3:30 prospect so I just kept going, but I did pour a whole cup of ice down my backside...not sure exactly what possessed me to do that, and for the next 500 meters I was reaching down my backside and pulling out chunks of ice that were numbing my rear.
At about 38km I though I crapped myself! I was already experiencing "The Wall" and my legs felt like lead. My strides were becoming shorter and footfalls heavier. I knew there were only a few kilometers left in the run, but all I could do is think about not soiling myself! Sad to say, my decision at 36km not to make a pit stop was almost a poor decision! As it turned out, I didn't indeed crap myself, not even a racing stripe, so that was a great positive about those final couple kilometers!
The organizers also put together some signage with cheering stations at certain points along the run. I think the first time I saw them was at the 15km check point, they had to be driven in a van up there before the race I'm sure. Then I remember seeing them at 36km and around a couple turns. It was great to have a couple cheering sections, I even gave and got some high fives. The signage was great, lost in translation, but great! "I just died" haha! What better motivation at 38 kilometers!!
I was however helpless as several marathoners passed me during that last half hour. I passed 15km in 61st place, 34km at 68th place and crossed the finish line in 84th place. That shows just how many people passed me during that last 8km!! It actually felt like more people passed me, but many of those others were half marathoners who ran the same course as us, just a couple hours delayed. The organizers like to do that so we finish around the same time. They only separate the finishing chutes...mostly for spectators and photographers to know who is finishing.
Pae mentioned that one thing she noticed was that when a half marathoner passed her (she was waiting at 500 meters from the finish) that they were able to sprint and they had the look in their eyes like they were gonna get to the finish as fast as possible. She then said that when a marathoner passed her, having ran already double the distance and another 2 hours more than the half marathoners, they just had this distant look in their eyes and just kinda shuffled their way past with no desire other than to eventually make it those final 500 meters! Hahaha, that's exactly how I felt! As much as I wanted to pour it on and show Pae that I still had something left in the much as I wanted to sprint past her and to the finish line...all I could do was accept the bottle of water that she was holding out to me, shout "I love you" and try hold off the jelly legs for another half kilometer!
It was awesome to see her around the corner from the finish, certainly motivational! The water she gave me went straight over my head and face and I continued to finish in 3:42:45, a new personal best. It was educational and I hope that there are more marathons in my future so eventually I can put all of the lessons together and figure out what I have to do or how I have to run to put my best performance out there.
This was my best performance, and I gave it my all. If I had limped in at 5 hours, yet still tried my hardest, I'd have been happy. 3:30 was out there and in my head for a while, but inevitably, my body wasn't prepared for that sustained effort. Maybe someday I can work towards that, but my 3:42 is perfect and truly reflects my ability at this stage of my running. Super happy about that.

Eric, unlike me, never really hit the wall this marathon. He intentionally started out slowly and worked his way into his pace. I was looking at his times at the checkpoints and he just killed the last 8km!! The last 8km is where people slow usually from running out of energy or just from being tired. Eric ran a negative split for that final tough part of the race, 44 minutes or 5:23/km! I ran them in 51 minutes or 6:17/km!
Eric finished his race in a sub-four time of 3:57:58 and felt great afterwards, his wife Amy also waiting at the finish to congratulate him on finishing. Such a different feeling from both last year's Bangkok Marathon and Pattaya Marathon. I'm sure future marathons will similarly have their own unique challenges and overall feelings.

Above: Cookies Running Club first two sub-4 marathoners, haha!
After the finish line Amy, Eric's wife, caught me looking at my watch to see my finish time. At this point, I was struggling with coordination when walking up to the people who cut the timing chips from your shoes after the finish! Good stuff! I quickly collected my finisher shirt and then did a U-turn and went to look for Pae. Right before I found her, I stretched my hamstrings and removed my nipple bandades, put on my finisher shirt as to stay warm and drank some water.
When I saw Pae, she was still looking in the finishing chute for me, but we found each other and I sat to take off my trusty Asics running shoes and put on some flip flops. I had two giant blood blisters on my right foot but they didn't affect my run at all. I felt them forming after the bridge, but they didn't swell, press on any nerves or burst so I was just fine running blistered.
**Back to Mr. Shiny Bottom from Russia. As I look through the times published online, I notice that we are very similar in our running (even though he is faster than me). I stayed with him past 10K, he passed 15K 2 minutes ahead of me, passed 34K 15 minutes ahead of me and finished his final 8km in 50 minutes. Okay, the numbers look like a lot considering that he picked up 13 minutes on my in those 19K between 15k-34K...and I wasn't slowing down much during that time. Meaning that he sped up.
And like me, he hit some sort of wall somewhere after 34K....If you look at my finish time compared to 34K time, I finished the final 8km in 51 minutes...basically the same time as Shiny Bottom! I'm sure we were both in a similar place for those final nasty slow 50 minutes of running! In fact, I've gone back and made a small collage of his finish and mine...500 meters from the finish. This is encouraging for me. If I can keep up my speed in the middle kilometers of the marathon, or even speed up a little bit (not sure that is possible physically for this old man), I might be able to hang with him like in Pattaya! Maybe one day I'll be a sub-3:30 marathoner!
Guy's stats
Overall time          3:42:45 (PR)
Overall place        84 of 1,152 marathoners
40-49 year old      26 of 367 marathoners

Eric's stats        
Overall time          3:57:58 (PR)   
Overall place        145 of 1,152 marathoners
30-39 year old      31 of 224 marathoners
Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon 2012 stats (approximate)
Full marathon        1,152 runners
Half marathon       1,656 runners
Other distances     Reported at over 35,000 runners for 10.5K and 4.5K runs
Total runners         40,000 runners
It was great to have Pae there supporting me for the marathon and to see Eric run under 4 hours. I was also very happy with the effort I put forth, perhaps not the best strategy, but I gave it my all! We'll do this all over again next year! See you again then! I surely hope these two environmental activists are there again next year too, running with their "Don't destroy the world" signs! Aloha!
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