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!


frank rizzo said...

another very entertaining post ... dunno what had me laughing harder ... the racing stripe bit or mr. shiny bottom :))

mardenheyjude said...

WOW!!! What a beautiful story and awesome pictures to go along with it. I love the way you express every little detail. I laughed when I read about pulling chunks of ice out of your rearend; laughed louder when reading about you almost crapping yourself; and I laughed every time you mentioned Mr. Shiny Bottom. (Three great butt stories) :) When you mentioned Ryan Hall, only one thought comes to my mind and that is "The fastest American runner ever". What wonderful memories you and Eric have of your running accomplishments during 2012. It is great that you both had the wives at the finish line. You both should be very proud. I look forward to following you in your future training and races.
Love always, Auntie
P.S. I hope you continue with your blog with other stories of your life and adventures. I love reading your posts and viewing pictures.

Anonymous said...

Hi, that was a nice story. It will be my first time running bangkok marathon or any marathon for that matter in Nov and I will not have any family or friends with me so I am wondering, are some of your photo from the official website or were they all taken by family and friends?

It would be nice to have some photo for memory.

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