|Team Angkor 2013|
There seems to be a fairly large population of PCVs here in Thailand who run, and run seriously. It’s fairly intimidating listening to their stories about runs/marathons/100k while I was just plodding along running/dancing to my music. They convinced me to run the Angkor Wat Half Marathon with them, a prospect that at the time, was so far off and distant. Why not? Well I signed up, paid, and was in it to win it. Well not win it per say, but run it.
I trained for a couple of months before, running almost every day. Sticking to a training schedule given to me by a friend here. Things went awesomely, my distances went up and mile times went down. I felt prepared when all of a sudden it was race day.
There were a little more than 3000 people running in the half, and 7,500 total running in all the different races. The atmosphere at the starting line was excited. LMFAO’s Shots was blaring through the loud speakers. The countdown started and bang it was time to go. With so many people running we were pretty cramped in the beginning, everyone was jostling politely trying to get into a better position for their run. I started to pass people.
Eventually, around mile 4, I was able to finally get a god pace going and I started to choose random runners to run “with”. They, of course, had no idea they were the chosen ones. For a mile or two I’d maintain pace with them, speeding up when they sped up, passing them when they slowed down. “Where are you going green shirt? Get back here!” I’d think. It worked pretty well for me.
Almost the whole course was lined with excited Cambodian spectators, thousands of children cheering us (in my mind just me) on and giving high fives. That combined with running past ancient temples and elephants was such a cool experience. I was smiling for a good chunk of the race, forgetting the pain in my hip and knee.
Then before I knew it, there were only two kilometers left. I could almost see the finish line and I realized that I still had some steam left in the engine. I started building speed, passing some more people, people who had passed me miles ago. Then there was just one kilometer left, I broke into a full sprint. I zig zagged through the few people in front of me, ran past the cheering crowds lining the finish and crossed the line.
I finished my first half marathon with a time of 1:51:29.9! I averaged 8.6 minute miles and finished 400th out of 1473 men! Take that chubby 8th grade me trying to run hurtles! My original goal had been 2.5 hours, and I had come way under! I was ecstatic, pumped, overjoyed. I got my finishers medal (which I’m super proud of and have hanging on my Christmas “tree”) and went to cheer on the rest of my friends at the finish under the American flag.
We celebrated an awesome race with burgers, pizza, shots, and pitchers of beer before heading back to Thailand and our sites the next day.
I had an absolute blast in Cambodia. Running with so many other people was so much fun, and I did so much better than I ever thought I could. I’m now training for a 25k in a couple of months. My new goal is to run the 25k in the same time I ran my 21.1k half marathon. But however I end up doing, I’m still super pumped and proud of myself. I’ve decided that I can lay claim to the status of “runner”, and I’m taking that title excitedly!