I recently had a fun and interesting experience running my first mini-marathon in Bangkok. In June I ran the Garmin Blue Run near Queen Sirikit Centre Station. I would have never signed up for this race but my Thai friend was running in it and she persuaded me into joining her.
I thought that Garmin was a well-known brand so the race should be fine. I looked at the race map and it didn’t seem too hard so I signed up. I enjoy challenging races. When I race, I race against myself. I find that more enjoyable then comparing my results to others. My goal is to beat my last 10.5K time. However, I knew with this race I was going to be hard pressed to beat my time. Four weeks before the race I flew back home to the US to visit my family and I overindulged in my family’s cooking and hospitality. I was busy spending time with my family and friends and I didn’t train while I was there.
When I got back to Thailand I had two weeks before the race. I didn’t want to injury myself so I trained lightly. The hardest part was trying to get used to running outside in the hot and humid temperatures. I had to condition myself to the heat. I decided the race would be motivation to get back into running and run more races!
The race started at 5:30am. I woke up anxiously wanting to lace up my shoes and get out the door. I live in Asoke so I planned on walking from Asoke to the Queen Sirikit Centre. Well, I didn’t give myself enough time and when I got there it was exactly 5:30am and the horn went off to start running. I quickly found my friend and we darted off past the starting line. I would describe the scenery much like a concrete jungle. There wasn’t much to see or admire. I ran past shops and tall buildings. I ran over the railroad tracks. They had us run up the street then turn around and run back on the opposite side so I saw the same things twice. The thrilling part for me was running with the crowd through the stopped traffic to get to the other side of the road. I wasn’t expecting to run through the cars. Like I said, it was thrilling and certainly increased
my heart rate.
The area to run was marked off by traffic cones. Some areas were missing cones and other areas the cones had fallen over. I didn’t feel overly safe at some points. I could be just paranoid of getting hit but it worried me some. Sometimes the area we had to run in got too crowded so runners would run around the cones and there was moving traffic on that side. Maybe this is normal here but it isn’t something I’m used to.
What shouldn’t be normal is not having porty potties along the race. I have never been to 10km race where there weren’t at least 1 bathroom stop along the way. Luckily, I was fine but I couldn’t help but think what if someone else needed to go. There were restrooms in the area where you start and finish. I was just flabbergasted by not seeing any along the route. Interesting I guess this is what they mean when they say TiT (This is Thailand).
The route was all pavement. We ran over two highway bridges so for the first and last part of the race there was an incline. I enjoy the challenge of running inclines but this wasn’t a race I had trained hard for. At the beginning, I felt pretty good about the incline because I knew once I ran up then I would be running back down again. It was the last part of the race I struggled with. I feel my finished time was affected by the last two hills. I struggled with them. I tried my best to push myself to run the hills. It took a lot of mental effort to push myself to do that. While I was playing mind games with myself, that is where I saw the first photographer.
Smile for the camera! At first, I was shy and didn’t want my picture but then I realised I never had a good race photo before so let’s try it! Good thing there were many photographers because I had a chance to pose for a few. Vain of me, I know but no shame here. There had to be over ten or fifteen cameramen at the end of the race. I didn’t know until later when I checked Facebook that there were even cameramen at the beginning of the race too.
One hour and five minutes later I made it to the finish line. One of my favourite feelings is running to the finish line and seeing crowds of people around me as I finish the race. Adrenaline rushes through me and I feel like I’m on cloud nine. After the race, I felt motivated. If I could run 10.5K with little training then I could do more with training! My time was my third highest for that distance which I’m still proud of. I met back up with my friend and we cooled down by checking out the tents that were set up in the area. One tent had samples of whey protein shakes. That tent got my approval. The other tents had food. I’m never hungry after a race but we went to check out the food selection anyways since it was all free for runners. The food they were serving was pork cooked with holy basil on rice. I was hoping for bananas and so was my friend. The last tent had Pocari Sweat drinks and water. I tried it for the first time and it tasted good after the exertion. It was just like a Gatorade and replenished the salts and minerals used up in the race.
Overall, it was a good experience but I won’t be a returning runner for this particular race. I expected that a race by an international brand would have been better organised but like I said I need to adjust to running in Thailand as my previous experience has been in the States where safety and regulations dictate regimentation. I am not disappointed though. This race has given me the motivation to keep running and to look for new runs to sign up for. I am told that the American Women’s Club Run for Dek on the 1st of October at 5am in Lumpini Park is one I should sign up for and will be sure to do some acclimatisation training for this one!