The results are in. I ran my marathon in 3:08:09, placing 60th out of 543 finishers.
This morning my alarm went off at 1:30 AM. I hopped out of bread and had my banana, honeyed white bread, and apple juice. I then climbed back into bed for another one and a half hours of sleep.
At 3:20 AM I was up again. I took a shower, shampooing and conditioning my underarm hair. I would say it definitely reduced chaffing. I put on my racing gear, put some sweats over the top and Randy and I were out the door.
We arrived at the starting line at 4:10. I swung my arms around a little, let them make some mark on my racing number with a sharpie, and then started jogging around a little. About this time I got a little scared. The outside of my left ankle was painfully tight. God be praised, the pain and tightness were gone by race start. Four minutes to start, I handed Randy my sweat pants. Two minutes to start, I handed him my jacket.
4:30 AM the horn sounded and we began to move forward. They hadn’t done anything to organize people according to goal speed. Everyone was packed into one chute. Since my time wasn’t going to start until I crossed the starting line, I wasn’t in any kind of hurry. I joined a few other runners taking their time to the start line waiting for the chaos in front of us to thin. About a minute after the starting horn I crossed the starting line.
The first kilometer I was dodging in and out of a mess of people. I went through the first kilometer about 17 seconds faster than my goal pace. I forced myself to relax. My time for the second kilometer was right were I wanted it. My pace remained very steady for the next 30 kilometers.
About kilometer 4 I noticed my head was getting sweaty. I took off my hat. I jestingly offered it to the guy running next to me, when he declined it I threw it to the side. About this time I noticed a white-haired man, and a my-age girl running steadily up ahead of me. I made them my focus. I started slowly closing in.
Kilometer 6 I consumed my first ever energy gel. I was glad Randy had warned me they can be a bit thick. I grabbed some water from a water table and washed it down. Some where in here the top of my right foot started hurting. I was a bit up set. It was way too early in the race to already be having issues.
Kilometer 12 I Randy met me at a corner. I handed him my gloves, and he handed me another energy gel packet. Just past kilometer 12 a guy who looked my age and my ethnicity came up beside me. I said hello. The guy turned out to be from Sweden. His English was quite good. He also had his eyes on the white-haired guy up ahead of us. This was his first marathon also, and he, like myself, had a goal of three hours and ten minutes. Running together I was able to relax. The pain in my right foot either disappeared with the relaxation, or was buried in the distraction of having someone to talk to.
Somewhere around kilometer 14 the Swede and I caught up with the girl, who had fallen behind the white-haired man. She sped up a little to hold even with us for a little while. We learned her name (which I now forget). We learned she was from California and had a few marathons before. The marathons she had run however were on softer surfaces. The concrete was not agreeing with her legs.
Kilometer 15 we passed the white haired man. He looked even older from the front, the strength and consistency of his pace defied the age his face suggested (I’d say late 60s early 70s).
Kilometer 16 Randy met me again. He snapped a picture.
After passing Randy we started making our way out of the city. Along the way we passed a few schools where students were outside cheering and giving out water. A few of the schools had a marching band out for us. At one of the non-official water station I got the very unpleasant surprise of ice cubes in my water.
Around kilometer 22 my Swedish friend stepped out of the race to pee. I started noticing the pain in my foot again. Keeping pace was much harder.
Just before sunrise, I think it was about kilometer 23, we passed a body of water. The air coming off the water was COLD! About the same time, I don’t know if the cold triggered it, I became aware of an unpleasant load in my lower abdomen.
The next eight kilometers the pain in my bowels increased. Running (particularly the bouncing involved) became unpleasant. I maintained pace. About kilometer 28 a tall white guy came up from behind me. I started running with him.
At kilometer 31 there was a sign for a toilet. I started shouting ห้องน้ำอยู่ไหน (where is the bathroom). Everyone around started laughing; a few people pointed to a green closet under a bridge. I made for it. I took care of business, realized there was no toilet paper, made use of the bucket of water that was there, noticed that I had made a mess of the place, thought an apology for the person to discover it, and as back on the course in about 45 seconds.
Back on the road I felt much better. It was good too, because suddenly hills started springing up all over the place. Despite the hills I picked up my pace, hoping to make back up my lost 45 seconds.
At kilometer 32 our course merged with the half marathon course. It was annoying. All the half marathoners that were merging with us were much slower that the marathon runners (the faster half marathoners had already passed by). Pacing became a little confusing.
At kilometer 35 we merged with the quarter marathon. They were running yet slower.
Around kilometer 36 Randy joined me and ran with me up over the last big hill. It was a big help. He pointed out the tall white guy I mentioned earlier up ahead of me and told me to go catch him.
About the time I was catching up with the tall white guy, who by the way was sporting some rather distinct spectacles, one of the quarter marathon runners (intentionally?) pushed his friend into my path. I tripped, but didn’t go down. As I was stumbling I yelled “what?!” Both kids started laughing. It made me pretty angry. When the rush from the stumbling had cleared from my mind, I knew I was ahead of the tall pair of spectacles.
Kilometer 40 Spectacles pulled along side me again.
At Kilometer 41 I left him behind.
The last 1000 meters they had every 100 meters marked. It felt great flying passed the 1000, the 900, the 800 . . . At 200m they made an attempt to separate the three categories of racers. As raced dazed as I was I got in the wrong lane. Fortunately, by 100m I was back where I should be. Making for the line I saw the clock 3:08:27. I crossed with a clock time of about 3:08:40. My net time will be a little faster. They will subtract off the time between the starting horn and when I crossed the starting line.
After crossing the line they took our chips. I had laced my chip to the toe of my shoe. I had to stand there why they unlaced my shoe. By the time they were finished, my legs had tightened up so bad I could barely start walking/limping forward. I got inside the recovery area and took off my shoes. I found and then ate an orange. I wasn’t yet hungry for more. I made my way to the place I was supposed to meet Randy. He wasn’t there yet. I made my way back to the free massages. That helped some, but fifteen minutes of massage can’t take out three hours and ten minutes of running. The massage finished, I found Randy. Together we found a bathroom. I grabbed some more food, and we got on the road.
We swung back by Randy’s friends’ house. I got a shower, and we joined them for breakfast.
On the way home I road in the backseat so I’d have more room to stretch my legs out.
I am still alive. My right foot hurts. My joints and connecting tissues in my legs are achy. Under my arms is chaffed some, but not bad; I have experienced much worse. By the grace of God I am unblistered, my body did not experience any severe crash, I didn’t experience any injuries that would require dropping out, or dramatically slowing down.
When Randy and I arrived in Khon Kaen, we went straight to registration. We picked up my racing number, chip (they give everybody an electronic chip to put on their shoes that allows the race officials to know when you cross the start and finish lines, and whether or not you went through all the checkpoints), shirt, etc, then looked around at some of the shoe and uniform sales. I ended up buying a jersey and two power gel packets for the next day. The jersey I wasn’t sure I was going to wear, but it was cheap and nice to have as an option.
The next order of business was finding in the real city of Khon Kaen the places I had identified on a map as places I would like Randy to come and cheer. It turns out Khon Kaen is not nearly as straight forward in real life as it would appear on a map, especially if driver and passenger keep talking to each other rather than paying attention to the road.
Having figured out enough of the city for Randy to get around, we sought out some pre-race Italian food. We followed someone’s directions and arrived at a place that looked like we ought to put on tuxes before entering. Not having tuxedos along we decided to ask around a little more. We eventually got directed to a steak house that proved quite the find. I ordered both a pasta carbonara and a pork spaghetti. Both were wonderful. Randy got a steak that he said was quite good as well. To make the restaurant even better, the service was unbelievably fast. It made it seem like they were opening up microwave meals in the kitchen, throwing them in the ol’ nuker and bringing them out to serve us, but we could see into the kitchen from where we sat and they really cooked the stuff. All this—three entrees and two drinks—for roughly $15.
Dinner finished we went to Randy’s friends house to spend the night. Randy joined a game they were playing downstairs. I went upstairs and released my nervous pre-race energy into the task of making the jersey I’d bought a usable piece of equipment. I cut the edging off the lower side of the arm holes. The edging was some thick rough stuff that would have worn through my skin by kilometer 17. I also took out a nice embroidered logo, that also would have eaten a hole in my flesh. That finished, my number pinned on the jersey, and my chip on my shoe, I went to bed.
Because the Marathon this Sunday starts at 4:30 AM I have been working on starting each day this week earlier and earlier, which incidentally means I have been needing to go to bed earlier as well. Morning runs are different from afternoon runs. I like the feel of both, but it has been awhile since I did an early morning run. The long absence made the return sweeter.
Tuesday morning I had a great start to my run, the sky was red and purple and orange. The weather was cool. My legs felt fresh. Thursday morning my run was under the stars. Again, cool weather. The roads were wide open. I saw a whole mess of bikers biking together and thought, “I should get a bike.” Whooshing along empty streets together looked like fun. It looked peaceful. It looked like a good way to start a day.
First for the Cold: The weather here in Ubon has been positively chilly of late. I do not use the word “freezing” because I realize some of my readers actually live in places where the outdoor temperature could indeed cause things to freeze.
Usually I sleep with the window open and the fan on. Recently the window has been shut and the fan off. Additionally I have been sleeping under every blanket that I own (two rather light blankets). Last night I added a warm shirt to the two blankets.
Despite the cool nights, the sun is still quite capable of warming up the world during the noontime hours.
Now for the feet: Since my twenty mile run my right foot has been giving me a bit of trouble. I cut back on milage last week to give it a rest. It seemed to be helping, but halfway through my run yesterday the pain was back in force. It’s annoying to have two months of good training seemingly falling apart this close to the goal (the marathon I’m training for is the 25th of January).
I find myself wanting to back down from the goals I set for myself when I first planned to run this marathon (see the title of the post). But another part of myself balks at such withering of resolve.