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!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

8:44 a.m., a moment that nobody can ever take away from her!

Here is a sequence of photos I found while going through some of the pictures online of this past Sunday's Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon.
I'll let the photos speak for themselves, but I'll give a tiny bit of race background based on the photos.
The woman, age between 50-59, is just crossing the finish line of the Full Marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers. Her finish time was 5hrs 44mins.
The man, I'm assuming her son, finished the 10km run and was waiting for her near the finish line.
Finishing a's an emotional thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Auntie Judy,

Finished the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon before a needed nap! Thought I'd post my official time up here for you! 3 hours 42 minutes 45 seconds. Made the first page of the results too! 84th of 1,152 marathoners! More later! Also, Eric ran his first sub-4 today!!
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