Honestly, after watching and reading so much about the Bangkok Midnight Marathon, I wanted to give it a try! Seeing so many people at all ages and at all fitness levels made it seem more within the realm of possibility.
It sounded like a blast, and I knew my body would be capable of at least walking 21KM, if the whole running thing didn’t pan out along the course. Ultimately, I wanted to prove to myself that I was up to the challenge, and could succeed at the half-marathon.
Even though I’ve run enough half marathons to know my body can handle the distance, I always have a bit of a nagging voice in my head that says, What if I can’t? I mean, who doesn’t feel a little anxiety when they’re about to run a race? There is absolutely no shame in walking—some run coaches even recommend taking walk breaks to get a better time—but the truth is, I’m competitive and sometimes hard on myself. I want to run the whole thing, get a personal record every single time, and finish feeling like a million bucks. Possible? No. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking it.
This time, knowing that I was not totally prepared and didn’t follow my prerace routines and it made me really anxious. I usually know what to expect, but this time, anything could happen. My time was not going to be my best, and that was kind of hard to swallow.
Regardless, I still got myself up the morning of the race and mentally prepared myself to run. And I’m glad I did: I learned an important lesson and the race was a success—despite a few minor roadblocks.
BEFORE RACE DAY
The day and night before the race, I was filled with nerves. To help those nerves, Hubby and I focused on having a relaxing day/evening, eating right, hydrating, and getting sleep. We had a Thai foot massage, listened to music, ate a smaller, carb-heavy dinner- tom yam was on the menu, drank a glass of water every 1-2 hours, and went to bed at 9:00 pm because I was planning to wake up at 1:00 am the next morning. My suggestion is to aim for 6-7 hours of sleep so you’re alert and ready to go. I also focused on thinking positively! I kept reassuring myself that I was going to kick ass the next day, regardless or whether or not I believed it to be true. Sometimes you really just have to be your own hype squad.
I had ALL sorts of doubts and worries on race day. Some thoughts that went through my mind the morning of the race were…
“What if I run super slow and do horribly?”
“What if I have to go to the bathroom mid-race?”
“What if I’m late to the race or can’t find it?”
“What if I get injured?”
Here’s how I dealt with those worries.
First of all, I TRUSTED MY BODY. I knew I had been training for this half marathon for over two months and I trusted my physical capabilities and that consistency I had worked hard for.
Second of all, I trusted my MIND. I trusted the mental stamina I had built up throughout training. I knew that no matter how good/bad of a race I had, I would do my best to happily accept the result instead of dwell on it. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just one race.
Third, I made sure I was eating right the morning of the race. At the end of the day, however, you can’t control your digestive system. That’s why they have bathrooms along the course! Don’t eat anything you aren’t used to. Stick to the basics. And HYDRATE.
I planned ahead. I read the race emails, knew where it was, planned to arrive at least an hour early to account for getting lost or any sort of other potential holdup. You’re better safe than sorry. And don’t be scared to ask for directions! Chances are, there are people in the area or other racers that can direct you to where you need to be!
I focused on staying calm. Breathing. At the end of the day, I realized it’s only a few hours of my life. I stayed confident, calm, and did my best.
I realized no one is judging me but myself. I believed in myself and what I was capable of doing.
Waking up on race day at 1 a.m. was a challenge in itself. Needless to say, I did not sleep very well. I probably fell asleep about 10:30 pm. I woke up at 1 am and when I could not fall back asleep, I made the decision to get up, take a shower and mentally get in this game.
It really is ALL mental.. your legs will keep going (most of the time), it’s just your brain that gets in the way.
We left the hotel at 2.00am. Hubby and I walked to the race venue. There were lots of photographers everywhere. We spent almost half an hour, posing for pictures. Then, hubby and I went to our own starting pen. Standing there at the starting line was an overwhelming experience. There were 16,000 people ready to run. It was still dark. The only lights were the ones that lit up for the course. Looking straight ahead all you could see was the “countdown” to the start. My heart was beating. The music was playing, energy was soaring. Some were crying, others were laughing and still others were just mentally preparing themselves as well!
And we were off!
I paced myself well and just kept moving. The views were unreal.
There were times throughout the race when I wanted to cry just because I was so happy! I’m not saying that the whole 21KM was such a breeze that I was on Cloud 9 the whole time. What I am saying is that there I was -doing it – really doing it. I did it for me.
This is a funny time where you are not really sure who is in front of you and who is behind. The next 5KM, I actually got a decent pace going, I overtook a few runners. The organisers did a good job, roads and routes were well condone, marshals were on standby and traffic police were placed at every traffic lights and junctions.
This is the BEST, such a beautiful morning, the weather was great and the pace feels so easy. Life is so amazing, enjoyed the views of Bangkok City- The city of angels and the breeze felt so good! I was extremely glad that there were sufficient hydration points and medical assistance. Running on the streets of Bangkok had a different kind of feeling.
I hit 10KM, and my legs felt like concrete. I was not expecting to feel so tired so early, but also, after all that walking, I really didn’t know what to expect of my body. The course is an out-and-back for the first 6KM, and when I started to see people turning around and running back toward me, I felt like they were so far ahead. I’ve never felt so tuckered out so early on in a race.
While this definitely wasn’t my fastest half marathon, it certainly wasn’t my worst. And I learned that sometimes, that’s just going to be the case.
With this Bangkok Midnight race, I tried to keep reminding myself, You’re running this for fun. Just enjoy it. There’s no reason to push yourself. It helped, but only to a certain extent. Was I nervous the night before the race? Yes. Did I worry I was going to hurt myself because I didn’t feel properly trained? Yes. Like everyone else in the world, I hate feeling unprepared—especially for races, because even people who are 100-percent trained end up flopping on the course. Sometimes I have good runs and sometimes I have bad runs, but the important thing to remember is that I really do like to run.
Making it to 12KM non-stop was a pretty big deal, as that was the furthest I had ever run without stopping. I was feeling pretty awesome at that point (the so-called “runner’s high” was kicking in), and I wasn’t experiencing any pain or aches in my body. Feeding off everyone’s else’s uplifting energy, I was determined to push myself to keep going. I wouldn’t stop until I absolutely needed.
At around 15KM, I started hurting……or maybe getting tired is the better way to put it. But I went through a checklist in my mind- are my shins ok, yeah! Side cramps, nope! So I kept going. The route was nice and flat. The streets and roads were well-lit and traffic control was really amazing.
Once I hit 16KM, I tried to remind myself I only had a 5KM left to do. No sweat! I do a 5KM daily in the gym, that didn’t really worked. I was already super exhausted and my feet hurt. But I Still kept at it. At about the 17KM, I gave in an walked some more..I walked about 1KM or maybe a bit more, I wanted to be able to run to the finish so I was trying to preserve some energy. And then I saw it, in the distance…….the end! It look SO.FAR.AWAY. I can do this.. JUST GO! FINISH! And finish, I did! I threw my hands up in the air , like I just don’t care, as I crossed the finish. I got my awesome medal and my finisher T-shirt and my legs felt like dead. But I just ran a half marathon, for someone who running does not come easy for, I was (am) unbelievably proud of myself!
I became a runner who wasn’t training for any particular race. Running was just something I did. People would ask me what I was training for and I would reply “life”! My hubby was the dose of maturity I needed to run long distances. He helped foster my self-belief, resist the urge to surge and above all RUN RUN RUN! With gratitude and appreciation, Mr Alan for giving hubby and I this opportunity to run Bangkok Midnight Marathon 2019!
Running is an adventure that has produced beautiful lessons, truths involving friendships an incredible amount of dedication and courage!