Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lumpini Songkran Marathon 2016 - One HOT Run!!

Last weekend I participated in a fun but difficult event at a local park in Bangkok; The 30th Lumpini Songkran Marathon 2016.

Lumpini Park is right in the center of Bangkok and were most Bangkok Runners train. We live on the northern side of the city. Eric and I used to train mostly at Chatuchak Park (JJ). Lumpini is, for runners and cyclists, a good 2.5km loop with lots of green trees and ponds.

This marathon had two events, an individual marathon where each competitor would run 17 laps around the park for a little over 42.5km. The second event, happening simultaneously, was the relay where a team of four would cover the same 17 laps. The first runner 3 laps, second and third runners 5 laps and final runner 4 laps.

Sounds pretty easy, especially for those of us who have multiple marathons under our belts or those who just want to participate, relax and do 17 laps before it got dark ;)

The challenge with this event was the start time and the weather this time of year. Normal marathons here start at 3 or 4 in the morning to avoid the heat and perhaps traffic on the roads. This marathon would begin at 8:00 am and run into the hottest part of the day! That is the reason I chose to actually pay to participate as I knew it would be perfect training for the ten hour ultra marathon three weeks later in similar or worse heat.

The starting dude told us that the temperature was supposed to hit 42 degrees C on the day...ummmm, conversion anyone? No need, that's well over 100 degrees F!! When I finished the race (spoiler) at near 12:30, my iPhone app said it was only 93 degrees, but it's been acting funny all week and I know it was much closer to 97 or 98 when I finished. No matter, the idea was to get the distance and do it in similar conditions to what I expect in May.

So, the race was not so much a race really since I was trying to use it as a practice run. As usual though I went out too quickly. I had told myself that I would be satisfied to start at a 5:30 pace and see that pace to the end or even dial it down to 6:00 per km after 30km...


Me being me and being excited at the start, I went into my 5:00 pace right away. After about the third lap I started walking through the hydration stops (2 per lap) like I plan to do in May. My pace went down but I was happy about that.
Guys like this, to my right, made me go against my running plan. I figured I'd just chill and run 5:30s for the race...then dude runs up behind and stays there for a kilometer, then when about to cross the "finish" line for the next lap, he would pick up the pace and pass me. At first I thought he had lapped me, but he just kept doing this! Made me run a little too fast at times ;) Gotta learn to run my own race!
Eventually, the sun just started frying my skin and I was sweating like a pig. No matter what I did, my legs got heavier and heavier. I was really worried about dehydrating but at the same time concerned that if I drank too much water that I would dilute my electrolytes in my blood and suffer worse than dehydration!
It was tricky, but I made sure that I always had a bottle of Gatorade or Pocari Sweat (both electrolytes and sweet and yummy) in my hand after the first ten km and made sure to drink a cup of water and pour a cup over my head at each hydration point.
You can see half of Robin to my left. This was during one of those bad moments in the race when I was really feeling the heat and the legs weren't responding. Physically and mentally drained. All I could do at that moment was keep my head down and concentrate on the next step...just one more step!!
Worked a charm even though the wet shoes and socks gave me blisters and eventually the race ran out of Pocari Sweat. Luckily, being a public park, they had vendors every kilometer or so around the park and I just stopped to buy Gatorade when I was running low. Gotta play it smart in the hot sun.
Siddartha, Bangkok Runner, got a good 5 or 6 laps in before the heat got him. He is also training for the ten hour race in May. This was a good learning experience for him and he will come to the next race wiser and stronger and with a better understanding of running in these conditions. Not an easy race!
I really started to struggle at about 25km. I just wanted to walk. There were two other Bangkok Runners participating but I think they both called it a day well before the end. Robin, Bangkok Runner, happened to stop by the park to watch some of the "action" and was running with Sid until he dropped out from overheating. He then saw me and started running with me.

He would walk and run the final 15-17km with me, which was a great help in keeping me motivated. It wasn't like "Dude, you're running with me, I'm so motivated!!!" It was more like someone on my right side, talking to me and not letting me walk too long when I took my walk breaks, not letting me get too negative, listening to my short stories and my swearing and telling stories of his own when I went silent and was suffering.
Brother man in the middle knocked out a 6 hour marathon (with two small bridges)
We did have some laughs (mostly when we were walking). At one point, we were rounding a corner where the finish line was situated another 100 meters away. We were walking. I looked over to Robin told him that I wasn't gonna be vane (I used another four letter word) and start running so that people would not see me walking. I told him that I had every intention of walking across the line (12th lap maybe) and only start running after I crossed it ;)
Robin: "Image is everything!"
Robin responded, "Screw that! Image is everything!" to which we both laughed and I forgot about my suffering just for a tiny while longer. I walked the hundred meters to the line, crossed and started jogging to the hydration station another hundred meters away and continued for another five laps.

Okay, I have to admit...Robin was right, image IS everything, hahaha. I actually took my visor off in the last lap because I figured all of the photos from the first 16 laps were with the hat on...why not get some with the salt-and-pepper hair ;)
Honestly, there's nothing like a running buddy and on the day, Robin was certainly that. He saw me to the finish line, made sure I was gonna be okay physically and mentally, then went to chill at a coffee shop. I sat there and stretched my legs and chatted with Pae on my phone. Once I stretched enough and could stand, I planned on leaving for home.

Suddenly I realized that I had forgotten to stop my watch when I crossed the finish line! So, I went to the timer station and asked for my official time, somewhere around 4 hours and 20 minutes. As he was looking my time up, the announcer called for "The fourth place finisher in the 40 year old age category, Mr. Guey Udu".
There's something about me and 4th place ;)
Haha, not sure what was funnier, that he called me Guey Udu or that I actually got a trophy for a 4:20 marathon ;) I ended up the 10th overall finisher and 4th place in the old man age group. (They had two age groups; above 40 and below 40 basically)

It was nice when it was all over. It sucked from 25-42km though ;)
There were three cameras, didn't know which one to look at :)
I'm looking forward to running/walking the ten hour race in May. Usually, an experience like this would have me quitting running forever, but I'm genuinely excited to participate in the ten hour race again. I know it will be very hard, I know the temperatures at the beginning of May will be over 100 degrees and I know that I am going to suffer for the majority of those ten hours. But just reading that last part of that last sentence again...excites me!!

Last time I ran something like 84 or 86 km in the ten hours given...basically two marathons. I ran it in great running shape but with the ankle injury. This time I'm going into it in poor running shape but physically I am uninjured and the ankle is fine.

I have no goals. I'm gonna try to go out 5:30 pace for as long as possible then slip to sixes then crawl out some seven minute kilometers...I'm guessing after the first 50 kilometers I'll be walking most of the time already!!! If I can hammer out 80km in ten hours, I'll be satisfied ;)

I'm not concerned about getting a trophy for the top 10 or top 15. I would love to get another Top 100 shirt though ;) I like "free" shirts ;P


Pae and Guy said...

Unable to edit this misspellings oth my iPad and laptop has crashed so vane is just gonna have to stay vane rather than vain ;) Hell, may as well throw vein in there too

mardenheyjude said...

Guy, I like the hot weather but I could never run in it. Nice to get a trophy to add to your collection.
Monday is the Boston Marathon. I will be watching it on t.v. Bobbi Brigg is going to be the Grand Marshall. You probably know that she was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966. She had to dress like a boy (boy's sneakers, shorts, and a hoodie) because women were not allowed to run. She could not even get a bib.
Good luck in your 10 hour run in May. Hi to Pae. Love always, Auntie

Pae and Guy said...

Auntie, was able to watch it live from here, what a great finish for the women's race! Exciting, and being a long distance runner, I have had experiences (although at a much slower pace) similar to all three of those women. Running out of life with 2km to go (2nd place), getting that third wind with 2km to go and just killing it to the finish line (1st place), just trying to make it to the finish line and get the race over with (3rd place). I really enjoyed watching the race!!

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