Marathon Date: November 26, 2006
My Age: 70
My Finish Time: 5:36
My Marathon Rating: Worst start time – 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
Memorable Moment: Watching the Kings guard’s parade – precision marching and the many colorful uniforms.
Lessons Learned: If at all possible do not travel alone to run a marathon in a foreign country. If you get injured you need someone in the country that you know that can help you.
Marathon selection and registration:
For my 8th worldwide marathon I decided to run a marathon in Asia, which would be my 4th continent. I spent quite a lot of time identifying the many marathons being held in Asian countries and finally broke down my choices to China, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. I finally decided on the Bangkok, Thailand marathon that would be held on November 26, 2006. I registered on-line on August 11, 2006 – the cost was $40.00 – there were no problems with the Registration process – very efficient.
Marathon Training Program:
Prior to the start of my 17-week training program for the Bangkok marathon I started training for the Palos Verdes marathon on January 16th that was to be held on May 20th. I started my Bangkok marathon 17-week training program on Monday July 24th. For my training program I cross-trained 2 days/week [weights/swim] and rode my bike 1 day/week for a minimum of 20 miles. My training was going great I was meeting all of my time goals – until week 13 of my training program [10/21/06] when I pulled my right hamstring muscle at mile 4 of my 14-mile run. The pain was so bad that I could not continue running and had to try to walk to get back to my car, which was 10 miles away. Fortunately I was training with my running group and when I didn’t show up on time they came looking for me and gave me a ride back to my car. The hamstring never completely healed even though I used Ice, rested the hamstring, and used the SPA. I stopped running for the last 4 weeks of my 17-week training program in hopes that the hamstring would be okay for the marathon on 11/26.
05/20/06 Palos Verdes Marathon finish time: 4:23 * 1st in my age group [70 –75]
I flew non-stop from Los Angeles to Bangkok Thailand – it was a very long 17-hour flight. The seats were wider and more comfortable than the US Carriers have- and the food and services throughout the flight was excellent. I had an aisle seat and was able to get up during the flight to stretch my hamstring, which was still painful. I stayed at the Sheraton Royal Orchid Hotel for 14 days [11/21 to 12/6] it was a very nice hotel, which is located along the Chao Phraya River. It is only 3 miles away from the Grand Palace [start & finish of marathon] and a 5-minute walk to the River City shopping Complex.
While in Bangkok I toured the many historical sites spending most of my time at the Royal Grand Palace – one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my worldwide travels. I also went to the many outdoor markets that are held throughout the city, and took a 4-hour boat ride up the Chao Phraya River. On December 2nd I attended the changing of the palace guard with the many military units in all different colored uniforms [Black, Blue, Yellow, Green, Red, etc] and all of the soldiers wore Black Cossack hats. The precision marching was unbelievable everyone was in step – amazing exhibition. I also attended the King’s birthday parade at the Palace – there were at least 250,000 Thai’s waiting for the King to come by in His Limousine so that they could wish him a happy birthday. Everyone was dressed in a Yellow shirt – which is the king’s favorite color. No one was allowed to put their feet on the road that the king was coming down out of respect for him – when the car went by everyone bowed their head out of respect for the king.
The race route started at the Royal Grand Palace went passed Thammasat University and the National Theater and then the route goes over a very long and steep steel bridge for the next 4 miles and then proceeded along the highway for another 5 miles where the runners would turn around and go down the other side of the highway. For the first 13 miles the runners were running on a long cement highway. At mile 17 the route takes the runners into the city area where they pass some of the city’s famous sites – the Vimanmek Mansion, Throne Hall Chitrada Stadium, and at mile 23 Boxer Stadium. The finish line is at the Royal Grand Palace and there is a beautiful park near the finish line where food, massages, and liquids were available for the finishers.
When I arrived in Bangkok I was quite sick for 2 days [11/21 & 11/22] and could not eat any solid food for those 2 days – could not sleep woke up at 1:30 am in the morning – I did not leave my hotel for the first 2 days. On the third day [11/23] I finally was able to eat some solid food and had a very good breakfast before venturing outside for a walk – my hamstring was still bothering me. At 9:00 am I took a taxi to the Bangkok marathon Expo that was at Lumpin Park to pick up my race # and chip which goes around your ankle and not attached to your shoe. The Expo was very small with only 20 booths located inside the building and after talking with some of the race staff I found out that there would only be about 2,000 runners who will run the marathon. We were warned not to drink any water along the route unless it was from an unopened bottle of water.
When I returned to my hotel there were police and soldiers everywhere because the Crown Prince of Bhutan was staying at the hotel when I went into the Lobby there was a long red carpet leading to the stairs. While I was standing there the Crown Prince came walking into the hotel stopping to talk to people and shaking hands. I went back to my room and prepared to go out to eat at a restaurant that was highly recommended near the hotel. The next morning [11/24] I woke up at 1:30am and could not go back to sleep so I started reading a book that I bought the other day until I finally fell asleep. Had some breakfast and went down to the pool to relax and maybe get some more sleep. Woke up the next morning [11/25] at 1:30 am again – I just was not getting any quality sleep time – went back to sleep at 4:30am and woke up again at 6:30 so I did get some sleep. I went out to eat my marathon Pasta dinner at 12:00 pm as the race would start the next morning [11/26] at 2:00 am – what a terrible way to start a marathon.
I was starting to get very concerned about my ability to finish the marathon in a respectable time because my hamstring was now bothering me again, I had not had a good nights sleep since I arrived in Bangkok, the start time of 2:00am, and of course the smog, humidity, and the terrible air quality in the city. I went to bed at 6:00 pm to try and get some sleep before the start of the marathon – I had difficulty trying to sleep and finally went to sleep after 2 hours of tossing and turning. I woke up at 12:00 am, showered, and started to get dressed for the marathon. I took a taxi to the start of the race and arrived at 1:30 am. The start area was already crowded with runners – all of them wearing Yellow shirts.
Prior to the race, the race organizer spoke to the runners reminding them of the rules of the race and that if any runner was in serious medical trouble the runner would be removed from the race by the Medical team that would be following the runners. The race started promptly at 2:00 am and with a loud roar, and the banging of many drums, I was off on my quest to finish my 8th worldwide marathon and my 4th continent.
The weather at the start was very hot and humid after mile 3 my hamstring started to bother me and I was soaking wet with sweat – the start of the race was not a good omen. At mile 6, going up the steel bridge, I was feeling the pain of the hamstring but I was able to keep up a fairly decent pace. At the halfway point in the race my hamstring was so painful that I had to stop after each mile for a minute of light stretching. At mile 21 I was in serious trouble, not only with the hamstring, but I felt that I was starting to dehydrate – which definitely was not a good sign. While I was trying to get a relatively good pace I turned around and saw two members of the Medical team on a Moped pointing at me. All I could think of was that they were going to pull me out of the race – and that would definitely not be acceptable to me.
At that point in time I felt like I was Road Kill and they were 2 Vultures swooping down on me. They pulled up alongside of me to see how I was doing when I gave them the thumbs up sign they just looked at each other, laughed, and waved me on. I do not remember anything from mile 23 to the finish line –the only thing I remember was standing just beyond the finish line and a Thai girl putting a medal around my neck. I spent the next 2 hours trying to figure out what happened after mile 23 but could not remember anything. While waiting in line to get something to eat after the race I told my story to a couple of runners in front of me – they just looked at each other and said that they saw me weaving my way down the last three miles to the finish line – now I know what happened during the last 3 miles of the marathon.