Wing

Aka and I at 3:30am about to leave the hotel

Aka and I at 3:30am about to leave the hotel

 

I love the fact that the Thai word for run is wing. Some days that’s how I feel when I run, like I have wings and could just fly through the miles, soaring over trees, the wind carrying me. Other times my wings feel broken, stressed out or just tired. But wing in general is a word that sounds positive and lifts you up and carries you through the next mile.

 

My bus left my Thailand hometown at 11am and slowly but surely made it’s way to the next station where I missed my connecting bus. Damn. A two hour wait for the next one that leaves at 3:30pm and would take 5 hours to reach Pak Chong, once I reached Pak Chong I would need to find a motorbike taxi to my hotel and from my hotel I needed to find a ride no later that 3:45am, yes am, to Khoa Yai National Park where I had to pick up my bib, chip, race shirt and rules, store my stuff, go through the mandatory gear check (things we MUST have: head torch, the ability to carry 1litre of water, food, cell phone, med kit, a whistle, map) kind of a long ridiculous list if you ask me and the other hundreds of racers racing the The North Face 100 50k or 100k. but we oblige. Needless to say the travel aspect and little details were stressful. Mai pen rai.  I got there, made it on time and passed the checklist. Start time was 5am, an hour and a half before sunrise—I guess the headlamp was a good call.

 

By the time the sun came up I told myself it was a new run, I had fresh legs and those first 12km or so didn’t exists. We could finally see the ground, I could dodge the rutted mud and gravel more easily, I could no longer blame kicking the rocks on lack of light and only had my own clumsiness to blame, my right ring toenail is nice and purple due to this fact, I suspect it will fall off sometime later this month.

 

The race was a wide variety of mostly farang from all over the world. I chatted with an Austrian, a guy from New Zealand, some Aussies, a few Britts, a guy from Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, I battled mile after mile with a man I referred to in my head as the Red Frenchie.

 

The Red Frenchie was a good-looking French guy that for some reason decided to wear the race shirt (which is red) for the race (totally dorky if you ask me) and red shorts. We battled mile after mile for the lead (not the lead but the lead between the two of us). He would run ahead, then walk and I would run ahead and then walk—it was like this for most of the race. It was a nice motivation to keep moving at every moment. I don’t know if he even noticed me, most of the time he was focused on his I-pod, heart rate monitor and a cadence beeper—I’m not sure he even knew he was in Thailand in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, he was so distracted.

 

I beat the Red Frenchie, FYI.

 

Before long we were at another aide station and the woman there was telling me we only had 15-16km to go. NO WAY, I feel awesome. Is what popped out of my mouth. At the same time a tractor started blowing a whistle at me to get out of the way. Dodging a tractor at an aide station, nothing I’ve had to deal with before—mai pen rai. I hit the trail feeling good, started feeling awesome as I approached the 40km mark.

Many people had been complaining of the hills. In reality this trail run is not what any one from Oregon would consider trails, hilly or really all that scenic. Most of the course was quite flat, dirt roads that have left my ankles tired and swollen. We got to look at the mountains but as far as climbing them, the most vertical we got was climbing a hill up to a Buddhist Wat.

 

After feeling amazing at the 40km mark two Britts and myself decided we could bust out some 10-minute miles and finish in 6 hours. Totally do able, right? I was convinced it was possible. I told myself I had fresh legs again, I led the three of us and quickly dropped the two lads for my own pace. A mile of pavement down hill quickly led to hip discomfort, and eventually when it flattened out led to walking. I was tired. I needed energy and motivation.

 

I would walk and then run and pass the Red Frenchie, and then walk and he would pass me. I truly felt we must be getting close. Looking ahead I soon noticed a group of children in orange t-shirts standing in front of a school. As soon as they saw me they began to cheer, jumping up and down, excited to see a sweaty, tired farang sluffing her way toward them.

All the children reached out for a high fives! I took a moment to bust out my camera (the teacher in me needed these photos,) as soon as they saw the camera 5 more kids ran out from behind their Thai teacher and struck a pose with me, cheering the whole time. THAT is what I needed to get me through the rest of the run, these kids pumped me up, made me smile and reminded me where I was and what I was doing. Not only running a 50k in Thailand, but I’m in Thailand. Here. Now. This is where I am. 

 

Wing, wing, wing.

 

Community. Motivation. Sweat. Mountains. Inspiration. These things have left me with a perma-grin on my face. Since being in Thailand I have lacked community and inspiration and the ability to be. This race, being surrounded by an international community lifted me so high that more than 48 hours later I am still flying. I met people from all over the world that I hope to stay in touch with. This weekend has left me with a feeling of bliss that I hope I can maintain, that I hope I can continue to feel and pass on.

 

[wordpress is being incredibly slow and not uploading the photos fast enough for my satisfaction, so either be friends with me on facebook or be patient and I’ll load some more soon, I promise!]

 

 

 

 

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

Start line

These kids are so stoked!! These kids are so stoked!!

 

 

Image

Finisher!!!

Finisher!!!

Aka, me, Jeff. We look pretty bad ass, not gunna lie
Aka, me, Jeff. We look pretty bad ass, not gunna lie

La Fuerza de la Eneria

I remember when I was in Chile, as an exchange student in high school, contributing to a conversation in class about energia. I think we were talking about life after death, souls, heaven, hell—I probably didn’t understand most of the conversation but my contribution in Spanish was La energia no se puede distruir ni crear…siempre exsite. Energy can’t be created or destroyed, it always exists. I think this was my way of being spiritually awakened at age 17—not knowing (still not knowing) what I believe about life and death and souls and spirits. But I do know that I believe in energy; especially the power and effect of positive energy.

 

I decided earlier this week that I was going to run my longest run yet and practice running in the hotness of the day—I need to train in the heat for prepare for the race in February. After chatting with a friend last night about my hopes for today’s run I asked her to send some positive energy my way around 10:30am, about an hour after I planned on beginning, right when I knew I would need it. She agreed and said she’d send it for sure!

9:15 and I was sweating before I could tie my shoes. This week in Thailand has been unbelievably hot and humid—perfect for heat and humidity training I suppose but difficult to stay hydrated even when I’m not running. My run was to consist of two five-mile loops (I think it’s a five mile loop…) first one I finished no problem; it’s my normal daily run. Embarking on the second loop I could feel my legs and sweat glands working extra hard, I was dreaming of the Gu and water bottle I stashed two miles from where I was. Gummy mouth and energy waning, I needed some water and a few calories.

As I started a bit of down hill I began to feel a bit better, I knew I was getting closer to my hydration, I also looked at my watch and it was 10:31. I smiled and knew my friend was sending me the energy that I needed at that exact moment. I reached my bottle and Gu and kept going trying to hone in on this feeling of feeling okay, not great but not horrible.

As I reached one of my favorite temple ruins I saw a group of 5 monks dressed in gold sitting in the grass facing a group of Thai Buddhist wearing white—they were meditating, creating energy for themselves and appreciating the day. I was feeling a bit needy and mentally asked them for some energy—I had another 30 minutes of this run to get through and needed all the help I could get. At this point I had stopped sweating and was beginning to feel chilled, not the best sign when it’s 98 degrees and I was only able to hold down half the gel and a few sips of water. I asked and took the energy, I’d like to think they knew they were helping the farang though the hot run.

I finished strong. I walked the last 500 meters to my apartment door and smiled at what I had just experienced. Not only my longest run in Thailand but the power of the mind and focus it takes to decide to set out and do something. I don’t know if the energy literally came my way—I’m saying it did, and it helped. And believing in the energy doesn’t hurt…so spread it, share it, give it, receive and appreciate it.

Post run energy--coffee yen!

Post run energy–coffee yen!

 

74, 25, 1

10% and 90%? No. 50% and 50%? No. 75% and 25%? That’s probably closer.

 

This is me trying to figure out the mental to physical strength I’m going to need in February. Yep, you guessed it, I signed up for a 50K trail run in Thailand. What the fuck am I thinking? Part of me said after I entered my credit card into the little box. This is going to be awesome! The other part was saying. 5:30am is not a good time to make big decisions, but I threw down the money and now I have to begin training—for realz.

 

74% mental: (I know, you think I’m nuts…bear with me) 50K is what? Like 30-something miles? That’s a lot of time on your feet, a lot of time in your brain, a lot of time to talk yourself out of something. Or in my case I’m pretty good at talking myself into things. Being here in Thailand is tough on my brain, on my emotions and on my regular life routine. Running has been a savior, if I can convince myself that 89 degrees isn’t that hot (mostly because yesterday was 94 degrees) and I can go out and run—I’m golden. Just 7-10 hours of that on race day and done is done!

 

25% physical: So yeah, I do have to train for this thing. My current idea of a training plan is as follows:

 

6xweek: run

2xweek: 2 a day runs

3-4xweek: yoga

1xweek: try to get out for over 2 hours (we’ll see how this goes)

 

Other activities: badminton, push-up, squats, lunges…etc.

 

By February 2nd it’s just going to be another long day in woods…right?

 

Wait wait wait!!! Where’s that extra 1% ? you ask?

 

1%: Support. Cheerleaders. Positive energy. Love. And Gu… don’t forget the Gu.