Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon 2008

Bangkok Marathon Eve
Decided to do the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon so that I could do an overseas running event together with Sera. I was supposed to bring Sera with me to Macau and do the Macau International Marathon in December. Unfortunately, the Macau event does not allow her to run the Half Marathon and I didn't like the idea of her having to wait too long for me. If she could enter the Half Marathon, she could at least run with Renohtaram. For the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon, Sera would only be able to run the 10.55km event too. But at least, she would be under the care of my friend for additional 1 hr 30 mins and I would be the one looking out for her (the starting time of her race was 6:45am) as I should finish my race just before she finishes hers at the end of the event.

Sera and I met at the airport on marathon eve, i.e. 22 Nov, just before noon time. After the immigration clearance, we met Teelee and his girlfriend for late breakfast. We also met Zco while waiting inside the boarding area. Flight from Singapore to Bangkok was uneventful although we read about protests by the supporters of the Thai political opposition. We reached Bangkok just after 1pm. Clearance at the immigration was fast and we went separate ways from the others soon after.

Met up with Jason at the airport and he brought us to the race expo to collect our race packet. It was a small race expo. (Jason was my American runner friend whom I met through the Marathon Guide.com website when he replied to my email back in 2002.) The staff were very nice and helpful. One of the ladies, who looked like in her 50s, showed us a picture of her running with her dog! As we were very hungry by then, we left without exploring the rest of the booths. Jason brought us to this food court with many selection of stores. Jason and I go for the safest choice of mixed vegetable rice while Sera ate a plate of noodles. We then took the MTR to the hotel that Jason helped us to book near where he stays. We arranged to meet at 1:15am on Sunday as the race would flag off at 2:00am for the marathoners. After unpacking everything and laid out my race day gear and attire, I went to sleep while Sera stayed up late to do some reading. Well, she could afford since she's running the 10.55km race although she still had to wake up early to go to the race start with us.

Marathon Race Day
I woke up on and off to hydrate myself as usual. Then at about 12:30am, I woke up to bath and change into my running gear. Sera also woke up since we were all going to the start point together. We left the hotel and waited for Jason at the 7-Eleven opposite the hotel. He arrived late but there was plenty of time left to reach the start. It was warm by my standard although there was a slight breeze. There were many runners at the start but certainly no match for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. This was probably because for the Bangkok Marathon, the slower runners like myself, could opt to start at 2:00am, while those requiring less than 5 hours could start at 3:30am. I also knew of runners who could run less than 5 hours starting at 2:00am, probably to catch the elite runners crossing the finishing line. :) I met another SGRunners, Seong350, at the start. Well wishes were exchanged before I proceed to the starting pen. At 2:00am, the organiser promptly started off the race.

My strategy for the race was simple. Race hard for the first 30km and take it easy thereafter. The Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon was just 2 weeks before the Macau International Marathon and I felt if I give it all in Bangkok (i.e. attempt a sub-5 marathon), I might not have sufficient time to recover in time for Macau. Not that I couldn't finish Macau but then, Macau did have a stringent cut-off time of 5 hours. Thus, it didn't make sense for me to go all out for both, knowing that completing a marathon is never an issue but completing below 5 hours is still a big challenge for me. Besides, the weather condition in Bangkok was never ideal enough to do a sub-5. So the stage was set: I had to complete 30km inside 3 hours 30 minutes - the cut-off at the 30km mark for Macau.

The first 10km was fairly easy as I had the habit of starting slow. At the 6km mark or thereabout, we turned into the highway. It was rather boring and we were not helped by the early morning start. Luckily, the aid stations were situated every 2km so I had something to look forward to - looking forward to seeing the volunteers! Meanwhile, I passed Eliza, Bananaman30, and kcslchin too. Before the u-turn point at the 15km mark, I saw Teelee zooming past me at the other side of the road! Closely following behind him was Zco and Mohan. Mohan signalled me to stop for a quick photo shoot. I obliged before wishing him all the best. After the 15km u-turn point, I past Harmoni who was wearing a purple color wig. Then I met Eliza again (she's running towards the u-turn point). We took a photo of each other before continue our run. At around the 22km mark, I saw the lead vehicles for the elite runners zoomed past. Soon, extremely fast foot steps could be heard. It was scary! Most of the runners moved to the side to allow the elite runners ran past us. Whoever didn't would probably suffer the terrible fate of being knocked down by such ferocious running humans that moved more like ancient men on the hunt for food for survival.

At approximately the 28km mark, another set of lead vehicles drove past us and this time, I could see 2 elite female runners ran past. Their foot steps were light and fast and they were literally flying. As for myself, I was running ok but there was no sign of the 30km mark when I expected it. Instead, I saw the 31.5km mark and my watched showed a timing of 3 hours 40 minutes (or thereabout). I reckoned that my timing for the 30km mark was about 2 minutes off my intended target of 3 hours 30 minutes but I was not absolutely sure. Nevertheless, I felt that it was a good effort and I ease off a little. After a small loop in the city, I reached 37km mark at about 4 hours 25 minutes and I saw Harmoni ran past me. I was by then feeling hungry and did not reject her offer of Power Gel. They sky was getting brighter too. I tried not to think of the sun that would be coming up and concentrate on reaching the next km marker. Unfortunately, after passing 39km mark, the remaining km markers were not accurate. I slowed down considerably until I finally saw the 41km mark. It perked me up a little as I seriously thought I had ran much longer than 2km between the 39km and 41km markers. I was right as after passing the 41km marker and turning left, I saw the finishing line just 50m ahead. In fact, I had to ask around the other runners if that was really the finishing point! My gun time was 5:17:11 while my chip time was 5:16:07. My fastest in such humid condition so I should not complain. Met up with Jason soon after, who only did a 30km and the rest of they guys. I also managed to snap a picture of Sera finishing her 10.55km race. Although we felt hungry, Sera and I didn't ate the MacDonald burger that was given to all finisher. Instead, we went back to the hotel, had a good bath and rewarded ourselves by eating at the hotel's restaurant. I was glad I met my target although I was 2 minutes off, since Macau would be much cooler and less humid. I also looked forward to my next overseas trip with Sera.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Nice. :) I'm looking forward to running my first 10k tomorrow here in Bangkok.