Athelete’s Perspective: Laguna Phuket International Marathon 2012

Even though you have to get up before most of the islanders go to bed, the LPIM should be on your bucket list.

The idea was to give LPIM a shot and train right. The first endurance test my body was going to go under for some time, I was hesitant at just how it would fair both physically and mentally, pre and post race. I can hand on heart say the preparation was not quite the perfect plan – but it was fun.

I can also say the head didn’t roll off and I still have the mental strength that has got me to the end of all my races.

The body? I am pleased to admit that after a little run this morning (first post race) – this is the first time in a Loooong time that I feel ok. Sore, but ok. What a great feeling. And the spin off from that good feeling is…what next?

I have not had that fire rumble for quite a while and it feels good.

I arrived in Phuket early. The race timing in June is perfect (always has been) to have a little R&R before the next few months of work and travel really ramp up. So what better place to start your break than at the beautiful Banyan Tree in Laguna Phuket!

I stay in many hotels all over the world and am none too fussy – a bed is a bed after all. But on entering MY pool villa at the Banyan Tree – the storm clouds and incessant rain did little to dampen my spirits. This was not just a bed – this was a place you want to live in. Loved every minute and the breakfast? Well, I had it on good authority that the Mango Sticky rice was to die for and so as my carbo-loading days started and not having any real idea of how to prepare for a marathon I threw caution to the wind and loaded up with Mango Sticky rice.

I moved over to the newly opened Angsana on Friday. While it is not the Banyan Tree, the rooms and grounds (previously Sheraton Laguna) are spectacular.

The weather leading into the race on Sunday was an issue. Rain and storms were pounding Laguna. Some people asked if it would be cancelled!! Well, this is not a triathlon and last time I checked, running in the rain is quite refreshing!

The weather on Thursday!

The weather on Thursday!

It seems however race director Roman made a deal with the devil and the skies cleared on Saturday to reveal the hottest day of the trip so far. Things were looking good. Would the weather hold out?

It did! Perfect running conditions of cloud cover this was perhaps the most comfortable ‘running’ temperature I have ever experienced.

Picture perfect race day

Courtesy of Laguna Phuket International

The lead into Phuket has seen me circumnavigate the globe a few times and my body was literally upside down. However my only real screw up started on race morning when my alarm went off at 2:15am (3:15am Malaysian time!) Up I get and I knew something was wrong. Check the watch and stumble back to bed for another hour. Only to fall into a deep slumber and then feel and look ghastly when I finally DID have to get up!

I had no plan of how to run this marathon. Friends would ask my strategy. What my pace would be. I would shake my head and shrug!

As everyone was lining up I tried to move a little to the front but in the end stayed near the back. LPIM is a small race. It is social and family friendly – the emphasis is not on super fast elites.

The emphasis is on having fun running in paradise.

My legs and body had felt extremely heavy on a couple of easy runs prior to Sunday. (perhaps due to some over indulgence?) And my biggest concern, honestly, was I did not want to walk. The race started and off I trotted. I had soon skipped my way past the people in front who I was capable of catching and within a couple of KM had found my own space and settled in.

Now I mentioned this is a small race. And starting at 4:30am, marathon runners are going to be running solo for around 27km until you come back and join the half and 10.5km runners. If you enjoy running with heaps of crowds and fanfare – then you may find this a bit too quiet. For me I was in my element.

All my long runs I had executed by choice, solo – sans music. While I enjoy long runs in a group, my schedule does not always allow this. But also I relish the quiet time – going out for 32 KM’s alone gives me time to think, put the world to rights! It also prepares your head for the mental strength you need to complete a marathon (I think).

So running out in the pitch black I found calming and peaceful – not at all lonely. There was no hustle and bustle once you start winding through the villages and rural roads; it is just the rhythmic sound of your own footsteps and breathing. Once dawn starts to break you are rewarded with a picturesque landscape of the morning cloud rising above distant hills.

It really was pretty easy to keep running when surrounded by such natural beauty.

There are some toilet stops on route and as someone who has never suffered from stomach issues today was going to be a first! Diving into the toilet at the 19km mark despite the no pressure card I had dealt myself I was still hesitant about stopping and losing time. Fact is it got so serious I had no choice!

Once 32KM had been reached I was waiting for the wall, going into territory I had not visited for a long time I was half waiting for the ‘S@#T’ to hit the fan. But it never did. I can hand on heart say the KM’s just clicked away. I never thought “OH no more, please!”

Sure, my legs and hips were killing me. But they are supposed to. It’s a long way to run. But my head stayed clear, my breathing steady and I never looked at the time – NEVER! The first I knew that I had gone beyond what I had expected to do was on crossing the finish line.

While the time was a personal best, the biggest reward I take from this experience is feeling good afterwards. (OK, not exactly directly afterwards). My body kind of has trouble realising that it has stopped and calming down is an issue. But after a major indulgence at breakfast followed by an evening, foot massage, beer and more food – I was as good as new!

Room Service Post Marathon Breakfast

Room Service Post Marathon Breakfast

Running with thousands of people in one of the BIG marathons must surely be a thrill – it is definitely something I would like to do. But if you are new to this, running your first marathon surrounded by social runners who are there to complete not compete and snap pictures and urge you forward is personally a very special experience.

The attention to detail and the personal touch at a small race will leave you with a smile from ear to ear and a permanent soft spot for racing in a destination as beautiful as Laguna Phuket.

Thank you to the organizers and Laguna Phuket for making my ‘comeback – toe dip’ into endurance sports so wonderful – of course I will be back next year!

Stories
21st Jun 2012
Emma Bishop
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