As the months, weeks and finally days to the event drew nearer, I was giving up all hope of actually putting in a decent show. With the training I was putting in, I would have been happy just to finish. But with the euphoria of the GCAM still lingering, it was hard to get into a real training plan. Whatever training I was doing was sporadic at best.
Yeah, I was putting in the mileage, almost every day at that but with no proper direction or plan, it was just put on my shoe and run, see what happens from there. Whatever marathon training plan I drew up, I didn't follow. So as the days to the race grew nearer, I had to revise my initial time goal and hope for the best.
Come Friday, bright and early, the wife and me headed to the airport for our 6.55am flight. After a harrowing experience of being driven to the airport by a taxi driver that was almost falling asleep at the wheel and in the process almost making me puke, I was glad to finally get in the air. It was much safer up there! After a 2 plus hour flight, we landed to a nice cool 17°C weather. I've so much to write about Chiang Mai, but I'll leave that for another post. This post will purely be on the race itself.
|Three rather camera shy volunteers ...|
Race kit collection wasn't until the next day but both of us decided to check out the new start location, which was now at the Three Kings Monument to familiarize ourselves with the layout. The place was already bustling with workers setting up the place for the event. Mingled around, spoke to the organizers to get a better understanding of the route, how many drink stations were on hand, etc. With some additional knowledge in hand we headed to finally check in and get some rest since we planned for an easy shakedown run around the Thapae gate borders. The weather was pretty cool for 5pm and we had a lot of photo opportunities along the 6k plus route which I took to post vain pictures of myself on Facebook. Yes, yes, I'm shameless!
|The Three Kings Monument, the new race start location.|
Race day saw me meeting up with Jamie just outside the Thapae gate and a slow jog to the race start location which was already bustling with runners. The weather wasn't as cold as I'd expected and was actually just nice for race conditions. My gear was kept really simple and minimal. I opted for my Columbia short sleeved top which offered some protection from the cold start and would keep me cool when things got heated up later along with my Nike shorts and my trusty Skechers GOrun 4 as my shoe of choice. No compression as I'm weaning myself away from them. Armed with 6 gels, I was ready for race start.
|The early birds at the race kit collection ...|
Somewhere around the 2k mark we made the u-turn that would take us out of the old city and into the outskirts of town. There were a lot of cars even at this ungodly hour and after hearing tales of the crazy drivers here, I was a lot more alert with looking out for speeding tuk tuks! Strangely I was feeling pretty good, the legs had loosened up considerably and I was cruising at a comfortable pace of 5:45. A touch of worry did cross my mind on whether I could maintain this pace for long but I decided to give it a go.
|A traditional performance during the welcome dinner.|
I hit the 10k mark around 57 minutes, a whole 3 minutes off my earlier planned target. I evaluated my condition and since I was still feeling good, I increased the pace ever so slightly. It got pretty mental from this point with the route taking you out of the city completely along a mentally challenging path of the highway which involved at least 4 u-turns through a mind numbingly flat and boring stretch. It was also at this point that things got really cold and chilly.
Being away from the old city, this stretch had the freshest of air but was really, really chilly. My body was beginning to cool down rapidly and my breath was misting (is that the correct word?). At this point I was glad I chose a short sleeved tee instead of a vest. I stepped up the pace a little more to try to work up more heat. I wasn't sweating buckets like I normally do.
|The route map on display.|
When I hit the 30K split with a time of 2:50 and with legs that was still feeling pretty good, I knew that I had a good chance in hell to get a PR. Though the legs were a little tired, there was hardly much fatigue, no indications of cramping, no pains, everything was chugging along nicely. My average pace up to that point after some rudimentary calculation was somewhere around 5:35. I could hardly believe that my legs weren't protesting and spewing vulgarities at me for running at that pace. Piew, I tried to get a cramp at the 27k mark but it just wouldn't happen ... LOL! (Sorry, this is an inside joke between the GCAM gang).
|Always on the lookout during race setups for tips I could use back home.|
I was already tiring considerably by this point. Keeping to a 5:35 or so average pace was finally taking its toll on me. The pace was dropping. I drew every bit energy and determination I had left in me and kept pushing hard. I drew strength from the wife who never failed to believe that I could do this and who for the first time ever I could actually high five while on the run as we crossed paths. As much as I wanted a sub 4 for myself, this was all going to be for her. I wasn't going to let this moment slip from within my grasp.
|My well deserved rather garish medal.|
After picking up my rather garish medal and finisher tee, I made my way to our pre-arranged spot to wait for the wife who was still running her half and also for Jamie. I had time to think of this rather unexpected result. I honestly came here just hoping to break my 4:23 PR by just a few minutes. I was never confident of or even contemplated going for a sub 4 but I'm not complaining. I'll just bask in the moment for now :D
|Tired but happy with my free McDonald's burger!|
The route could have also been plotted a little differently at certain points cos there were some stretches where you had to cross through traffic and the drivers here don't really care about pedestrians if you ask me. Witnessed an incident where a pick up just decided to ram through the cones and barricade instead of waiting. That put the fear of God in me.
Aside from that I thought everything else was pretty good. If you're looking for a nice and cool year end race to attempt a PR, I'd recommend this to you. A nice flat route with hardly any elevation save for a few small ones on the highway. Weather is simply perfect for running and the old city sights and food are equally good. Makes a nice holiday too :D
A good job to the wife (who had her nationality changed to Thai ... LOL!) on her half marathon, not a PR for her but she bettered her PNM half timing. Kudos babe! And also to Jamie for the determination he put in to complete the race considering he was under meds! And a good time at that too.
|Not too long to go.|
Pic courtesy of Refill.