Okay, so Eric and I are running our races kinda backwards. I'm assuming that people start out with running a 5K or 10K (run, race, fun run, walk) and gradually challenge themselves with longer distances such as the half marathon (21K) and full marathon (42K). Well, for me at least, I'd never run in a competitive or organized road race before. My only competitive race was the Vertical Marathon which only lasted for like 10 minutes.So what was my first actual road race? Yup, a marathon. Smart? Probably not, but hey, it's done! Next on the list of races to run, to get it done, to record a time as a "personal best", something to aim for and try to equal or beat in future runs; half marathon.
Eric, after recovering mentally from the trauma of running and finishing the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon with the flu, decided to indeed NOT throw in the long distance running towel, but to pull my butt into running The First Thailand International Half Marathon with him a mere 14 days after the marathon...I was like "okay" after looking at my training schedule and seeing nothing of note coming up. Couldn't be much worse than a marathon right, even though my sister Naomi told me that it was the ideal distance to challenge your body and mind. As she probably most of the time is, she was right. LEt me just say, if you want to skip all of the meaningless details of the race below, WE DID FINISH FASTER THAN THE CAPED CRUSADER, SPIDEY AND THE MAN OF STEEL!! Take THAT Marvel!! Seriously, these three guys run, and cycle, for a great cause.I dragged poor Pae with me to the race. She had just gotten in off of flying the past week and was feeling under the weather and leaving home to meet Eric by 4:00 AM wasn't exactly what she should be doing in the middle of only two days off heading into a two week flight schedule! But she insisted that she be there to support me in the race, to my delight ;)So, we did all of the trying to eat well, trying to sleep before the race and all of the things that I don't do in a normal daily routine, "Satur-Day" and Saturday night. The last thing I wanted is to have to stop and use the toilet buses again along the route. I figured 21 kilometers is a distance where that poo break would really affect my time, adding at least a minute or two. With a goal of finishing under two hours, something I've never done in training, I didn't know where I could make up those two minutes if I had to go. So, I had to skip the yummy normal Thai food that Pae and I would eat on a normal day and just ate fried rice and non-spiced food all day and drank lots of coconut water, Gatorade and bananas.We got to the Rama 8 Bridge (pictured at dawn above) start/finish line, right on time for some stretching and pre-race bathroom visit. Nervous stomach makes everything just come right out! I stood, stretching and fidgeting while talking to Pae, trying not to get the jitters. I felt for Pae that she had to sit around in the mosquitoes and wait two hours for us to finish. I knew that the 10K race would start an hour after the half, so at least there would be a lot of people milling around waiting for the start of that one. She wished me good luck, I told her I'd probably be crossing the finish line somewhere around 1:55:00 to 1:59:59 so she would be able to get some pictures of me (us) crossing the finish line and meet me for a sweaty hug ;) Also she should be able to see the Kenyans sprinting across the line around the hour mark, wow!The MC called the runners to the starting line and I got a little good luck kiss from my sweet puppy girl and it was off to the line! So good to have Pae there! We stood around nervously at the start line waiting for the starting horn. After some important guy welcomed us and read something about the King, they started us. Eric and I were probably 20 rows back and shuffled our way to the start line in about 15-20 seconds maybe. CROWDED! At one point I felt Eric, or somebody, holding onto my shirt as not to get separated. I had to put my hand on several peoples' shoulders just to keep distance and prevent being pushed into them. As we started under Rama 8 Bridge and the majority of the race was on the elevated freeway, we ran about 500 meters before hitting the onramp...incline...horrible way to warm up the legs!!Going up the on ramp we passed this 40+ guy already having breathing difficulties...2km into the run, from behind us we heard the same guy (probably) heaving violently, still on the uphill...Not sure the dude made it 19 more kilometers.
I felt that our pace was pretty quick but Eric and I were still together, having finally freed ourselves from the main crowd. The first two kilos we were picking off runners in front of us slowly one by one. Felt good.
Prior to the race, we had been Facebooking back and forth talking about our running strategy. The contingencies were 1. Run together like the Marathon two weeks before and finish together or 2. Run together until about halfway and if one still had some kick, just go, if the other, just go, if both were hurting, we would just run together as long as possible.
I fully expected to finish together this race because we have run so many training races together and we pretty much know each other's pace and running style, etc. I had run only 4 runs over 21K prior to this race, Eric, a whopping 13!! As long as we were running comfortably at a sub two hour pace I figured we would run it like a training run. Eric had finished his 21K training runs right under two hours, I never had. We never actually finished a 21K together!! Weird now that I think of it...we did a 25.5K, 30K, 33K and 42K together, the other 9 he had previous were runs where I either dropped out, met him halfway through the run or we hadn't started running together yet. So technically, I didn't even know my half marathon time...I just knew that I had hit the split in like 2:07 before during a longer run. I was pretty confident that I could run a two hour half marathon! Plus Pae was waiting for me at the finish line, so I couldn't very well limp over at 2:05 and be too happy about it ;)
So, at about 6km we were getting caught up by a group of runners to our rear, stragglers speckled the road ahead of us, and about 40 meters up in front was a larger pack that we had started in. I hate getting caught by another pack, because something happens where you just start running with them rather than slowly trying to get back to the pack in front. They're running the same speed, they're just ahead of me!!
It was warm, even at 5AM but not as humid as marathon day. There was a little wind at our backs on the way out, but pretty brisk coming back in. All water stops were one over the head and shoulders, half cup for hydration and the other half down my front (Water points about every two kilometers, watermelon and Gatorade at 12km, and that was it for the electrolytes). We were both afraid to drink too much water cuz we didn't want to have to have to pee during the race.
As we pushed through 6-8km, I tried to stretch my legs out a bit and Eric would fall a tiny bit behind, never more than like 3 meters, but normally we run shoulder to shoulder. After one water stop, near 8km maybe, I turned around and we basically shook hands and wished each other good luck. He said he wanted to see my time, I said that he'd probably catch me. I told him that I needed to run a longer stride for my knees, he said he was gonna stay at his pace and push for the final three kilometers.
I took off, trying to catch the groups in front of us, hoping not to burn myself out, expecting Eric to pace his way back to me by the last kilometer or so. In fact, at the halfway turn, I turned and passed Eric probably after only 50 meters, so we were still pretty close. I think either that 12km marker or somewhere around there was the watermelon, water and electrolytes...I only had two hands, I wanted water over the head, Gatorade down to the stomach and watermelon to wash it down...so I took three or four melon slices, and a water, poured the water and picked up a Gatorade. I tried to run but every time I drank, it would pour all over me...so I walked until I finished my Gatorade and a slice of melon. Probably walked for a good 50 meters then ran again, almost choking on a watermelon seed. It would be my only walk break of the race...something I'd never done in training. We'd usually walk for about 400 meters while drinking a bottle of water in the park about every 6-9 kilometers.
The mileage markers started to pass very slowly and the water stations started coming between markers rather than right on the 16 or 18 kilometer signs. Weird only because when you are looking so forward to ice cold water over the head, and it never comes, it puts you in a grrrrrrrr mood!
Another thing that bothers me is when people pass me...girls, women, old guys, people smiling in general!! I feel like crap and you're smiling??? Grrrrrr!! Hahaha. Just some of the things you think while alone with your thoughts, yet surrounded by people. I guess my only real complaint about the event was that they had the half, 10K mini marathon and 4.5K fun walk all staggered start with gaps of like an hour and half hour. What this meant was that when I was getting to about 16km, there were 10K runners making their turn and running the rest of the way in with the half runners. Did I mention that I don't like when people pass me?? These people had been on the road for a half hour and 5 kilometers, smiling, chatting, running hard, disappearing in the distance...I had run triple the distance so far, triple the time, and they were leaving me in their dust. Understandable, but a person in shorts, running shirt, race number, sneakers and glistening of sweat, to me, is someone who I don't want speeding by me like I'm stuck in the mud!
I had enough of them passing me by the time I hit 17km. A school girl passed me, her short hair bouncing around her neck with every step...every step putting considerable distance between her and me...I tried and tried to stay with her, but she was just too fast, too fresh. I think she would go on to finish a good minute ahead of me. I then let this short but stout middle eastern guy with a big beard break the wind for me, kinda ghosted him for a half kilometer as there was a stiff crosswind coming from the right front. He was a 10K runner and I actually spotted him going the other way probably at his 4.5K mark and he caught me and passed me! He would eventually pull away from me and also finish probably a half minute up on me.
As I had drafted off of him for a few hundred meters, there must have been people pulling behind me too...after 19km suddenly this girl in a green shirt sprinted past me, but she was a half runner. She's the only half marathoner who passed me in that last 3km of the race. I had never seen her before and we had been pretty spread out since about 10km, so it wasn't like there were giant groups of runners with a bunch of anonymous faces.
Anyways, I had no chance of keeping up with her, way too fast, even though I could see the Bridge in the distance to my right. I tried to speed up but I couldn't do 2km at a super high sprint...instead I just kept picking people in front of me that I wanted to pass, passed them and then chose someone else. Around this same place on the course, probably about 18.5km the fun walk people started to show up...standing in the middle of the course, taking pictures, spread out linked arms walking in groups of six across the entire width of the road...oblivious that there were runners who aren't participating in a "fun" run of any sorts! I excuse-me'd and pushed my way through groups and groups and groups of fun walkers and chased my way back through even the half runners.
I felt good, just tired legs. No significant pain in the joints, not hungry, no digestive problems. With one kilometer left, I tried to kick into treadmill mode...just one foot in front of the other, treadmill pace set at 13kmh and just finish up strong. Other than the police officer slowly crossing the road right in front of me, the run in was smooth, and I benefited from the off ramp back down into the park under the bridge....The up was a pain, the down was a relief!
I pushed the police officer off to the side with a little passing nudge yelling "Go, go, go, go, go!!", he yelled "sorry" and I sprinted towards the finish line, not able to see the clock time as they were turned towards the photographers so they could get pictures of each finisher and their clock time. I passed several photogs and thought I'd smile or chaka or give them the peace sign, but I could only run. Crossing the finish line I wanted to do something goofy (you know me) but I just didn't have the energy and I thought if I jumped, there would be no telling how I would land, not feeling so graceful after 21km! I did look for Pae right away, walked a little, then looked back to the clock...It read 1:45:?? something...I was like "WHATTTTT???"
I don't wear a watch while running so I had no idea of my splits after Eric and I split at 8km. I would have been ecstatic with a 1:59:59 dude!! 1:45?? I think being able to lengthen my stride and not drinking a lot of water helped me. Pae wasn't even expecting me so fast and she had to run over really fast before I got to the end of the finishing chute. I was happier to see her than I was to have finished the race and in that time. The remainder of the day we would go shopping, have a nap, eat Korean BBQ and basically have a great "date day" together.Don't ask what my body is doing in the picture above, even I can't explain it. I'm sure I was shifting my weight as the photo was snapped. (My legs felt like jelly, perhaps that's what jelly legs looks like!) I am not so photogenic but hey! I grabbed Pae's camera and waited for Eric to arrive. He did so at 1:56:02 (chip time). I believe Eric's previous personal best was a 1:58 in the distance and a 1:57 split during a 30km run. He was a healthy boy for this run, a great improvement on his condition leading up to and during our marathon!When the chip times came out online I actually improved to 1:44:52. I ran the first 10.5 in 51 minutes, meaning that I ran the final half of the race in a bit over 53 minutes! I never thought I could keep up that pace over that distance. It was good to have targets on the road in front of me, footsteps behind me and Pae at the finish line! It was nice to run another race with Eric and nice that we were both healthy and could give it a good go!Two weeks and I think we're gonna ratchet it down (in distance but up in puke factor) for a local 10K. Eeek! Oh, how could I forget- I puked in my mouth at kilometer 14 but was able to gulp it right back down...very acidic throat until the next water station at 16km!!
Overall Finish: 205 of 707
Age Group 40-49: 45 of 173
Finish time: 1:44:52 (Personal Best!)
Overall Finish: 308 of 707
Age Group 30-39: 59 of 129
Finish time: 1:56:02 (Personal Best!)
Thanks to everyone who, over the past months, through my knee injuries, etc., have piled on heaps of encouragement and kind words. All motivating and appreciated! Love to all!
p.s. If you read this far...did you see the little bit of basic photoshop I did in one of the photos? Hahahaha!! Envy!!