Thailand running – 12th to 22nd of August 2015

Visited

Personification or Engrish – you decide!

Post holiday blues are in full swing!

For our honeymoon, Lis and I travelled 11 or so hours to reach Thailand. We had two stops planned; a couple of days in the capital of Bangkok, and a further week on the island of Koh Samui.

There wasn’t much running done, though I will take this opportunity to muse over what I did do.

Bangkok

Bangkok’s a pretty crazy place. Not organised chaos crazy, like Vegas, more real working city chaos crazy that seems to typify most Asian cities.

We arrived in Bangkok on the Queen’s birthday, which made it a public holiday. Whilst Lis and I were on the Sky Train (effectively an overhead subway), we noticed a few people board in running gear with bibs on their chests and medals around their necks. Digging around showed it was a half marathon with mini marathon (10.5k) and fun run options (6.2k). Like many things in Thailand, entry also looked super cheap with the half marathon costing only £10.90 after conversion to enter! Part of me was gutted to have dropped the ball and not done my research before the trip, and in retrospect, it looks like there were a few events I could have potentially entered. Mid and southern Thailand really only has one season: summer. The mercury reached the low 30s by 8am each day, and peaked in the mid 30s by lunchtime – I’m not sure if I quite fancied the 5:15am start time for the race!

Andy Yu in Bangkok

Bangkok was too warm and crazy to run outdoors…

Given the warmth and humidity, I resigned myself to the hotel gym whilst in Bangkok and only managed to complete one 10k run on the treadmill. For a city centre hotel gym, it wasn’t half bad with nice and cool air conditioning, plenty of treadmills, and mirrors all around to help me focus on my form. Despite the recent wedding, jet lag and fatigue from the heat, I felt super fresh – I also hadn’t run for almost a week, which probably helped! The two attendants in the gym probably didn’t see many using the treadmills at all, and so seemed utterly fascinated by this mad man completing a 10k on there. Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Koh Samui

After Bangkok, the island of Koh Samui has got to be in the top three most popular tourist destinations in Thailand with 300,000 visitors each year outnumbering the 50,000 local residents.

For similar reasons as in Bangkok, I completed all but one of my runs indoors at the hotel gym. It was far more basic compared to the facilities I had access to in Bangkok, with the gym resembling something an individual would have at home rather than at a 4.5 star hotel. There were issues with the air conditioning each time I ran in the gym; it would either be turned off entirely (WTF?!) or would be set to a fairly high temperature (22 degrees on a tropical island – seriously?!) to make for a few uncomfortable runs. Neither the treadmill in Koh Samui or in Bangkok had a built-in fan either! Here’s the Garmin data for the treadmill runs:

Koh Samui 5k elevation profile

Pretty hilly for just 5k

The one run I did complete on the roads of Koh Samui had to be cut down from the intended 10k to just 5k. The plan was to make it to Chaweng, the nearest major town, and then turn back for home. I was welcomed by the 31 degree morning sun, but it was the hilly route that broke me. All the locals I ran past shook their heads as if to say, “Crazy foreigner fool”. The only solace I found was a nod from a fellow tourist also out on his morning run, acknowledging that I wasn’t the only crazy out there. The roads themselves were much like the country lanes you’d find around the UK, except a 40-50cm width was marked with a white line for pedestrians. I treated the roads much like in the UK and I ran facing the traffic, only switching sides if a corner restricted my view. And to be fair to the Koh Samui drivers, they all gave me a very wide berth as they drove past; with tourism as the main industry of Thailand, it probably wouldn’t have helped if I were to be mowed down! Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Ed Caesar's Two Hours

Perfect reading material for lazy days on the beach

Ed Caesar’s Two Hours came out just in time for the honeymoon. It had received pretty favourable reviews and looked like perfect reading material for a two-week trip. Written with a primary focus on the sub-2 hour marathon, Geoffrey Mutai (he’s a Joffrey, don’t you know) provides a secondary human element for readers to relate to. I particularly enjoyed the history lesson behind the amateur origins of the marathon along with the science behind a sub-2 hour marathon. Easy to read and at times, it felt like a spiritual follow-up to Adharanand Finn’s Running with the Kenyans, which is no bad thing at all.

In all, we both had a fantastic time away but it’s now time to get back to reality and shift some of this honeymoon weight (6lbs!). I have the Cardiff 10k next week and the Cardiff Half Marathon at the beginning of October – neither of which I feel completely prepared for…

Time for the next entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

No spitting on the track

Hold it in. Please. If you can’t, at least spit into the infield. Or onto someone who’s barking, “On your left!”

(Just kidding)

(Not really)

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