Once upon a time a slightly overweight and depressed woman wanted to make a change. She had had enough of feeling the way she did and something had to be done. So she decided to start running. Not in a Forrest Gump type of way but in a 'one day I'm going to run a race' type of way. She found a friend who ran, and together they ran around the local park a couple of times a week. Surprisingly this woman discovered that she enjoyed running. It made her feel good, less fed up and blugh like. In October of last year the woman signed up for a 10k that was part of the annual city marathon later the following month. A 10k race seemed a reasonable distance, something attainable. By that stage she was regularly running a steady 5-8km each time she went out.
|Race shirt and bib|
This running woman was doing well, training hard and putting in the time and distance. November 20th was not far away and soon she would be lining up to start her first ever road race. Then disaster struck, the city she lived in was suddenly under threat of flooding. That threat soon turned to reality for thousands of her fellow city dwellers. Large parts of town were under water and people had to climb into boats just to get down their streets. The city was struggling, the people were struggling. The organizers of the event decided to postpone the race to a later date. The woman while sad was also pleased. She didn't feel right thinking about running a race when so many others were struggling. The woman was lucky, she lived in a part of the city that wasn't affected by the water. But she watched the news each night and saw the damage it was doing. The organizers then announced the race would be postponed to 12 February 2012.
|With water up to people's waists in parts of the city|
3am is a horrible hour to wake up. I know this because this was the time Mr Lapin and I needed to wake up to get to the start line of the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon on the 12 February 2012 for the much anticipated 10k run. At 3am on a Sunday morning the streets are full of Saturday night revellers, drunk, hungry and a little dishevelled. I am sure the taxi driver stopped just for the novelty of not having a two drunks in the back.
|I am not sure what my reason was, just to see if I could perhaps.|
At the start line I was excited. The atmosphere was fun, there were a lot of us. Mr Lapin was looking at the type of footwear people had, I was busy looking around me. We were all ages and nationalities and in the darkness before dawn a hundred different languages could be heard, all talking quietly and each of us preparing for our own race. I began to feel slightly nervous about whether I would make it and whether it would hurt. Then the bull horn sounded and the crowd cheered and moved forward.
|At the start line a sea of pink and yellow race shirts|
I had misguidedly said to Mr Lapin (aka The Fitter one) that he should run his race and not worry about staying with me. He stared at me with an expression on his face that said 'well yes honey, that was what I was always going to do, see you at the finish line.' And with that he gracefully glided off to run his own enjoyable 10k.
The crowd began to even out, the faster runners surging ahead and the rest of us finding our own pace and place in the pack. I started to find a rhythm listening to my body to see where the aches and pains might be; how were my legs feeling? Did I drink too much or not enough? What if I needed to go to the loo? Then I looked ahead ahead and saw a sight looming in front of me, something I did not expect to see in the city of Bangkok - which at its highest elevation is around 2.5m above sea level. The route was taking us up onto the elevated section of the highway - I was going to have to run a steady incline. A steep incline. More of an incline than I had ever been run before. I soon had the impression that I was not alone in feeling this way because it almost seemed as though the mass of runners ahead began to move backwards.
Once at the top (and a quick wave and shout of encouragement from Mr Lapin as he ran past me on the return stretch) the route continued along the highway towards the Rama VIII suspension bridge a beautiful bridge spanning the Chao Phraya river.
I was running a race, my first race and I was enjoying it, in fact I was loving it. It was both quiet and noisy, groups of runners chattering, a man dressed as Superman sprinting back and forth encouraging us and stopping to have his picture taken - I don't think he was that worried about his time!
|Rama VIII Bridge - admittedly it did not look quite so spectacular.|
I ran for 1 hour 10mins to complete the 10k and as I sit here now I find it hard to actually explain what happened. I ran, I followed the route, I passed some runners, other runners passed me. Along the way there were small pockets of well wishers - not many - road racing that early on a Sunday morning does not draw the Thai crowds. I smiled all the way through. I picked my pace up at the 6km mark and then I was at 8km. By this stage, the traffic was being allowed back onto the roads, so we had to navigate lane changes with mad Thai traffic coming into the last 1.5km. As I came up alongside the Grand Palace I knew I was close to the end. Around one more corner and there it was - the finish line and there was Mr Lapin with a friend, beaming at me as I came into the finish. I crossed the line and then that was it. It was over, I had done it. I had run my first 10k race six months after I started to run regularly. It was only 7.30am and I had finished! I spent the rest of the day smiling and feeling more accomplished than I have felt about anything else for a long time.
|Post race with medal and Mr Lapin's triathlon t-shirt to keep me warm|