I had the pleasure of enjoying a large meal and drinks with some Thai friends Lynn, Chayanisa and Por at Lynn’s new restaurant on Saturday night before we made our way through the busy streets to the Tha Phae Gate to watch the colourful Grand Krathong Parade. After taking photos of the parade, we made our way to Loco Elvis to listen to the live rock music and enjoy another few drinks. Zoe Bar was a bit too busy, so we caught a tuk-tuk back to my condo. I could quite happily have stayed out drinking into the wee sma’ hours but I did have a race in the morning.
To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a repeat of last week’s race which had left me exhausted so much so that I couldn’t train at all on the Monday. However, I did have good week training with a 10k tempo run on Tuesday, 11k including 6 x 1k reps on Wednesday and a good 20k long slow run on Thursday. Friday was my planned rest day and Saturday was my usual pre-race training of 5k easy with a few strides thrown in.
It was about 12:30 when I went to bed on Saturday but my head was buzzing with good thoughts and I didn’t really get much of a sleep before the alarm clock went off at 4:45 am. Within half an hour, I was on my bike cycling through the old city and across the Ping River towards the race start at the PEA offices. The roads were quiet but there were a number of groups of young men letting off fireworks along the river bank and a few couples launching their krathongs from the bridges over the Ping.
I was quite proud of myself when I arrived unscathed and un-lost at the race HQ. As I parked my bike I noticed that there was already a lot of serious pre-race warm-ups taking place within the vicinity.
I handed my bag in and then joined in with the others in warming up and chatting before joining the 1,000 runners at the start line. I exchanged greetings with Lance and Udom, known as ‘number 1 and number 2’ in the Chiang Mai MV60 race community before we were set off at 6:00 am. Lance and Udom joined the hundred or so other runners who shot off leaving me running my own race. However, the field was strong throughout and I found myself running in a group of runners going at a pace which suited me.
The conditions also suited me with a slight breeze and 20C. We ran north, joining the River Ping and at 1.7k we turned left, across Nawarat Bridge and onto Thapae Road. I had drunk a lot of water during the night so I wasn’t thirsty as such but I was extremely parched and was glad to wet my throat at the first water station. We reached the moat and turned left, my Garmin beeped to reveal that the 3rd k had taken me 4:31. The first two kilometres had taken 4:22 and 4:26. I was comfortable running at this pace and knew that if I could sustain it I’d be one for a decent time. We reached the south side of the moat and turned left onto Sridonchai Road back towards the river. The 4th K took me 4:27. Although some runners had fallen away I still had company. We turned right and then veered left along Changklan Road, home of the city’s famous Night Bazaar.
The fifth kilometre took me 4:29. 22:15 for 5k, that’s one of my fastest 5ks of 2017 but it means nothing if you fade in the second half of the race. I stuck to my pace and the 6th k took 4:31.
We reached the Ping again and turned right along the riverside. The 7th k took 4:33 and the route turned left taking across the Mahidon Bridge. I now had to make a decision, stick to my fast but comfortable pace or to increase it with the potential of fading near the end.
We turned left off of the main road and down Ko Klang Road. There was a yellow refuse truck on the right-hand side but my eyes soon noticed ‘number 2’ in front of me. For whatever reason, he looked over his shoulder and saw that I was on his tail. He immediately dashed off and again I had to consider my tactics. I decided not to go with him but to gradually increase my pace hoping that that would be sufficient to catch him before the finish line.
As it happened, I managed to catch him a couple of times and even overtook him at one point but on every occasion, he dashed off leaving me behind. The 8th k had taken me 4:25 and the 9th 4:27.
We were now running alongside the tail end of the 3k fun runners and walkers and I knew that there wouldn’t be too long to go. Once more Udom sprinted away and again I stuck to my steady pace but then ‘shit their turning left off of the road, the finish line can only is a few hundred metres away’. There was no time for tactics and no reason to hold back, the only one way of catching Udom was to give my all and that’s exactly what I did sprinting past him at 3:05 min/k pace to crossing the line with a time of 42:36.
The race had been 9.6k long and I had run the final 600m at an average pace of 3:59. I was happy with my race and I was happy with my time but most of all I was happy with my progress. I had felt comfortable throughout the race, had a strong finish and placed second in my age category. That’s three MV60 races that I’ve run in Chiang Mai, finishing 4th, 3rd and now 2nd. As we congratulated each other w were joined by Lance, who pointed out that it was only a few weeks ago that there had been 90 seconds between the three of us at the 7.5k race and that the gap today had dwindled to around 30 seconds. Of course, it’s now my target to beat Lance and become ‘number 1’ but for now, I’m extremely happy at becoming ‘number 2’. The impressive trophy and the cash prize, my first in Thailand, are appreciated but the real glory is seeing all the hard work at training come to fruition on a race day.
Udom didn’t seem to mind too much about getting beat, in-fact he seemed to take great delight in explaining to his friends how I had sprinted past him down the final strait.
Despite only being here for around six weeks both Farangs and Thais have welcomed me to the local running community and complete strangers congratulated me and asked if they could have their photo taken with me, ‘Number 2’.
Many thanks to my fellow runners, the organisers, the volunteers and the photographers for their respective roles in making the event so special, thanks as well to a number of ‘Facebook Friends’ for forwarding the photos to me. It really is much appreciated. I even learned a few new Thai words which we haven’t covered in class, ‘wing di’ which means ‘good run’ and ‘thi song’ which means ‘second’. Now, what is the Thai for first?