Sunday, June 19, 2011

Laguna Phuket International Marathon 2011 – 10.5km

Date: 12 June 2011

Venue: Laguna Phuket, Thailand

Distance: 10.5km (Garmin: 10.3km)

Chip Timing: 52:53 minutes

Garmin Timing: 52:58 minutes or 5:09 min/km (fingers froze at the finish point)

Result: 5th placing (Women); 3rd placing (Age Group); 86th placing (Overall) (results here)

This is the toughest race to date – was practically hotel-bound on Sunday and spent most of Monday off my feet except for a sojourn to the pool in the morning and upper body weight training in the evening. This was also one race which felt like it went on forever – the km did not feel like it was trudging away as it normally does.

Spending the day doing this
And lounging by the pool in this

Over here

The first 5-6 km were great – paces were around the 5 min/km mark even though the turns around the route made the run tiring. For most of the way, I tried to eyeball the shortest possible route and cut across the roads/turns; I am usually a motorist’s nightmare in that sense. Hey, like Kenny says, “it’s a race, you do whatever is necessary to finish or cross the tape at the end in the shortest possible time”. I probably started out a bit too fast instead of building in the speed like in our trainings. I managed to tag onto and pass a girl in a Thai Airways vest but she eventually overtook me in the second half and came in second in our age group. Our time differential was about 7 seconds. Le sigh.

The field was small – about 400-odd and I could not find anyone to pace off with. I am still a long away from getting this pace thing right or close to right. How do you guys do it?

The route up to here took us through some paddy fields and the Laguna lake (think it was a former mining pool). Sorry, I am a bit of a wozzle when it comes to sceneries along the route since like Tay Poh Chye, I zone out most of the time (ok, like 99.99%. LOL!). There were some rolling hills/road elevations here and there but nothing gargantum like Bukit Tunku or the Taman Desa or Kerinchi or Abdullah Hukum stretches. The FM had the best-est route, scenery wise – Sirinath National Park, the coastal road, paddy fields, residential areas, pass a market; all categories pass through the Canal Village and Elephant Trail – the home stretch.

Things started unraveling when we hit the unpaved trail/back portion of the Laguna property (FYI: the 10.5km route is basically run around the Laguna enclave). Running through the stony, muddy and potholed portion was energy draining even if it was “only” a km or two – same story during the Real Run last year. The last km was on the Elephant Trail a.k.a. more of the same nightmare. KK even commented about his reflexology session heading towards the finishing chute despite the mat (see downside point (c) below).

All in, a challenging route thrown in with starting too fast equal to a positive split in the second half. All things considered, I was not too gutted about my final time. I checked the results a bit later on and found out that my age group was probably the most competitive – in fact, the overall winner came from this group and everyone’s time was better than the ones in the age group before ours. Hey, not bragging here.

After coming through the finishing chute, I was a little unsteady and the medics helped me into the tent where they iced me down. However, my hips immediately lock up - I am not too sure if it was from stopping abruptly (yeah, I never learn to walk it off at the end) or the iced blankets they had on my lower limbs. I spent about 15-20 minutes in the tent as the medics worked to ice me down and waited for my heart rate and blood pressure to come down – I was practically radiating heat during this entire time. In fact, the locked hips never gave up and I was more or less immobilized in the hotel on Sunday; it eased up a little after a short and easy swim on Monday morning. Thank goodness or else, they will have to wheel me into the plane!

I do not think I was overheating per say since the sky was overcast when we started and remain so for most of the journey; plus it rained overnight. I think it was more overextending myself. Then again, I always look like death at the finish line of ALL races. Now you know why I never buy race photos! Or put them up here!


a) Superb organization from online registration, bib pick up, race and post race, all elaborated below.

b) Hydration-cum-sponge stations every 2 to 2.5km apart and at the start/finish point. You can even take home a pack of 3 cans of 100Plus, all nicely packed (100Plus was one of the major sponsors). This particular point was especially important given the humidity and temps at Phuket i.e. skyrocketing though this year’s weather was mild compared to 2009 when I first ran there.

c) Well equipped medical personnel – I am making a point of highlighting this because of point (b) above. Those guys were my lifesavers – iced me down even to the point of giving me a hand towel to clean myself after that.

d) Post-race grub – porridge, fried noodles, fried rice, bananas, mandarin oranges.

e) Volunteers, spectators and entertainers along the route – all so supportive e.g. volunteers picking after runners and cheering them on, villagers coming out to cheer/hand out drinks, drummers hitting up beats as runners came by.

f) Post-race massages and these ladies came from the Angsana spa at the Laguna chain of hotels.

g) Announcing your name as you come into the finishing chute – it makes every runner feel all fuzzy and special.

h) Top 5 finishers for each age group for each category – talk about awesomeness and generosity!

i) Within the Laguna properties enclave, especially helpful if you are staying within the enclosure; you will probably just need to wake up 30 minutes before your race. The hotels also provide breakfast boxes, early breakfast buffet and shuttles to the race site (also the expo site).

j) Accurate distance markers at every km; they were about 20-30 meters off my Garmin. The Garmin could be wonky since there were a lot of turns (downside point!).

k) Loved the standardized logo “Run Paradise!” on the swag and finisher’s medal – it makes the entire race/journey seem so much fun.


a) Fees – foreigners pay about 3-4 times the local rate. Mine cost like THB195 and this was during the early bird period.

b) Pre- and post-race parties. I cannot help comparing it to my first time there in 2009 – the buffet selections at the parties were similar to those in hotel cafes (ok, since they did come from the hotel itself but still…). This year, there was only the pre-race/pasta party and I could practically count with my fingers the offers they had; no post-race party too. Boo!

Pre-race pasta party

c) The rocky finishing section despite the mat they laid out – so difficult to speed up here; it is just too difficult to ignore the “FOC” reflexology session. Too many turns around the route – probably another reason why my hips were not too happy.

d) Omni-sex race vest; even with the “S” I got, the arm holes are way too huge for me. I wish they had gender specific vests from a running apparel brand. Recall Nike in 2009?

e) Nothing much of a race expo or a swag. Timex, 2XU, Laguna Holiday Club etc had booths. Swag was just your bib, timing chip, race vest and a locally made muscle rub.

f) Tough route plus not-so-awesome weather does not make this a race for a PB – in the words of the race director: just go out and run and have fun.

g) No category specific finisher’s medal – I doubt years from now if anyone can recall if the gold is for the FM or the silver is for the 10.5km.

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