Reflections on the Grind

thoughts on training and life of an introvert

Chom Bueng Marathon 2012

with 4 comments

Chom Bueng, Ratchaburi
Chip time 3:21:25 (PB).
693 runners finished. 6 DNF. I came in 31st overall.
Winners: (M) Chakrit Boonkong 2:47:18, (F) Chothip Kan-uam 3:23:57

Halfway splits: 1:33/1:49. My half marathon PB is 1:36:xx. That right there tells the story. A too ambitious effort.

It was warm at 4 am. 24-25 C, said the announcer.

I wanted to set out around 4:44 min/km pace, which would be sub-3:20 finish. My plan was: if I didn’t feel good, I would ease off. Simple. That pace would better my Tokyo time (3:27), which I ran in a near ideal weather condition. So I thought 3:20 is probably unrealistic. But then, it had been over 300 days since Tokyo. I should be in a better shape. So, a fitter body versus tougher weather, who knew which would win out.

At the end of the first km, I looked at my watch and saw 4:19 min. I knew it was too fast. But I felt good and didn’t want to ease off. This is a marathon, I thought, not a training run. I raced the distance less than once a year. I was not going to cruise it in.

The crowd was good. Though it was early, volunteers, many of them young kids, were out there in the dark to cheer for the runners and hand out water, watermelon, pineapple, and banana. I drank at almost every station and splashed water on my body to try keeping my body cool.

The route was dark in many sections. Could be dangerous as there were potholes.

I didn’t look at the watch again until the finish. I tried to stick with a group of strong and experienced runners. I could hang on for a long while and was on a sub-3:10 pace till the 24-km turning point. Then things went south.

Stomach started cramping at about km 27. (There were no distance markers from km 24 to km 32 so I wasn’t really sure.) Spent last 15 km of the race in pain. The road was under-lit and I was in a dark place, both literally and figuratively. I slowed down. Legs were fine but the stomach pain made it hard to move.

I tried hard to keep moving so that, at least, I can beat my Thailand time of 3:55. That would be a minimum goal. If i were to fail, after over two years of training, it would be quite disappointing. I wasn’t thinking about beating my Tokyo time. Actually I couldn’t think about the time goal or anything in the last 10 km. My thought becomes cloudy and I couldn’t think straight. I just wanted to cross the finish line and stopped running.

The 39-40 km section was my slowest, clocking about 6:15 min. In the last few km, I tried to keep up with a female runner. I thought she was doing marathon but actually she was doing half. When I kicked it in with everything I got left, and saw my time of 3:21:xx I was amazed.

I was handed a piece of paper indicating i finished 9th in my age group, I was happy. I knew the situation was very favorable for me. The race had no cash prize. So the top runners either did not come, or they ran shorter distance and saved themselves for the more lucrative Khonkaen marathon, being held in two weeks. Also there were a lot of trophies—10 for each of the 10 age groups. So 100 trophies for males, and 100 for females. There were about 700 marathon runners. So almost 30% of runners get a trophy. Anyway, I am still happy about my first ever trophy.

I was ecstatic with the time. Even though I struggled mightily in the last part, the strong start was enough to offset that slowdown. An unexpected PB earned from a painful race. That’s how I’ll remember this race. I beat my Tokyo time in a much warmer condition and after dealing with a week of cold. I was just proud to fight through pain and finish. The time was a very nice surprise.

Still I could have done better with this race. What could cause this cramp? On Saturday I ate a normal meal (white rice at Thai soup) at the race expo for dinner. Then only had banana and small piece of fried pork for breakfast. I had been on low carbohydrate diet for months, but reverted back to regular carb intake three days before the race to prevent hitting the wall. I also drank some sweet M-Sport electrolyte drink during the race. Maybe the body wasn’t ready for the high-sugar beverage.

Perhaps a bigger factor of the pain was the too-fast start. Body just protested that it had insufficient training for that kind of pace. Specifically, there probably were not enough long runs. My longest run was 16 miles. Maybe it was a mistake to not check my splits and to chase other strong runners. With better pacing I could have gone under 3:20.

But who knows. Marathons are unpredictable. It’s easy to sit back and analyze. I think I did the best I could and I am happy about it.

Now my quads are super sore and I’m taking days off for the first time since March 2011.


Saturday lunch at Baan Plai Garden. Steak, pasta, and warm cocoa.

chom bueng marathon 2012

so glad to finish

chombueng 2012

9th in 35-39 age group. my first ever trophy.


Written by Rop

January 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Posted in running, travel

4 Responses

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  1. many congrats rop on your pb, rop. that’s a really terrific performance in tough conditions. maybe another cool season marathon will help you reach your full potential? now for that 3:14:XX


    January 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

  2. Congratulations, Rop. Gutting it out to the finish with a painful stomach is very impressive. Considering that, plus the heat and the darkness, that is a really good performance.
    I think the stomach problem was probably caused by the drink. Fried pork for breakfast is not a good idea, but a small piece would not affect you so much. I don’t think the fast early pace caused it either. Although definitely not a good idea, especially considering that you were coming off a cold, which weakens the body, the pace would be likely to affect your legs, not your stomach.
    I really think it’s better to stick to water during a marathon. If you want some energy, use gel packets or energy gel candies (don’t know if they sell them in Thailand), or even just ordinary hard candies (that you have eaten during long training runs, so you know they’re ok).
    I’m sure your next race will be a good one!

    Bob Poulson

    January 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  3. Thanks Bob, Marty. I hope I can do 3:14 one day.

    I agree that it would be good to experiment with different snack during long runs. Gels are hard to find, and expensive, in Thailand.


    January 18, 2012 at 5:40 am

  4. Great job in the race!!!!!! Sounds like a great race to run…. And congrats on the placing!!!!



    January 25, 2012 at 12:47 am

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