Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bangkok Trail Ultra Festival 50K

I have two or three running posts to catch up on and I will do them in separate posts just to stay organized with my runs.

Eric and I had just planned and started a 16 week training schedule for the 2013 Bangkok Marathon, one what we intend to run every year if possible, like tradition, since it was our first. During week three there was to be an ultra marathon of the 50 kilometer variety held close to Bangkok. Though I hadn't run in forever, I really wanted to run this race which would be my first trail race.

So, I had to adjust my training plan for the Bangkok Marathon as close to what I thought a tapering schedule would be since the race was only a couple weeks away. I was coming off of several months of not running due to vacation in the states and minor injuries and illnesses. Running a marathon would be difficult but I had no idea what to expect with eight more kilometers and trails.

Turns out that I enjoyed the trail aspect of the run as it was a 7.2km loop around a lake with rice paddies, relatively flat and not very technical. Perfect for a beginning trail runner. The thing that wasn't too cool was that I was out of training and that the race started when the sun came up, so by the time runners of the 50K were deep into their run, the sun was scorching hot.

This race had 50K, 21K, 14K and 7K events, all flagging off at different times. The week before the race, the heavens opened up for some good old Thailand rain and soaked the clay roads and clay trails around the lake. There were areas where you had to choose between running in the water or running through the muddy clay.
It made for some muddy shoes and even in the case of several runners I saw, lost shoes! Funny!
The 50K runners, 74 of us, started first and got about two laps in before the 21K runners started. Eventually the course would be clogged up (the trails weren't very wide) with 14K and 7K runners/walkers. Sometimes it's amazing that they don't "get" that there are people actually competing and not there for a "fun run" as some of these events are advertised. It's a complaint of many serious runners here, but it will never go away...people stopping mid-course, taking selfie photos, lining up across the course and walking and's cool to chill during a fun run, but when there are runners running in the rice paddies to go around you, you'd think it would be common sense or at least common courtesy to single file up while the faster runners are getting their run on. But...enough was a really fun race.

There was a hill that amounted to about a four story climb over about 20 meters, so pretty steep. I hit it hard the first two laps and struggled on my 21K lap. My legs were destroyed after the third time sprinting up it. I decided to walk it the final four laps ;)

The rice paddies were cool, although the area was wide open and flat. I have this thing, kinda opposite of claustrophobia, where I hate wide open spaces...puts me in a funk. So that portion wasn't the funnest, but it was probably only about 1 km of each lap. There was a farmer spraying pesticide on the rice plants off in the distance, I thought it was interesting and wondered what he thought as hundreds of runners were stretched out on the "farm" for several hours as he worked and sweated.
By 35km, the sun had come up pretty high in the sky and it was throwing down some serious heat. Not only was the air thick with humidity and hot as you know where, but the heat was actually coming up from the rice paddies. I felt like I was roasting in an oven for about 21 kilometers. That's one of the reasons why many of the marathons in Thailand start at two or three in the morning, to avoid the dangerous heat.

I saw a friend, really fast friend (3:08 marathoner) drop out after 35km and it kinda took a little confidence from me, but I kept going. I walked a little during water stops as I wasn't in shape and I wanted to avoid getting really sick from the heat. Amazingly, when I look at the results, I saw that about twenty runners finished the 50K in 8+ hours!!! Holy crap!! That had to be torture, because the sun was destroying my brain and my will to live at 4 hours, imagine 4 more hours of the hottest part of the Bangkok day!! Wow!

I thought that I might be able to finish the 50K in about 5 hours and I made that my goal. I was on track when I passed marathon distance at about 4:15, but the heat basically stopped me in my tracks (plus I started the race way too fast) and I just coasted in the final lap. I finished in 5:05. I think I finished 14th overall but I could be just totally making that up, hahaha, 6th in my age group? Something like that, but again, there were fewer than 100 of us 50Kers. I'd love to run it again next year if they hold the same event. I'd love to see if I could do the whole 50K in around 4:30.

This last photo is classic. I had just finished and I was sitting down getting ready to drive home and cheering on some other runners. I was eating some tomatoes and just letting all of the pain sink in. This is pretty much my running look for anything over 32km ;)

1 comment:

mardenheyjude said...

You did very well for your first time trail running. You look so different running with a cap on your head. I reckon you need it when you run in the sun. Nice race and terrific time. Love always, Auntie

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