Bangkok Quarter Marathon

Trip Start Jul 30, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday November 25th
We were on our way to the Grand Palace again today (havent seen the inside yet). We always seemed to get sidetracked somehow. This time an older guy stopped us and said. No, today only Thai people. He grabbed the map out of my hand and pointed out a few other options. He said, "Listen, I know I am teacher". He pointed out three temples, said they were free today only. Tuk-Tuk will take us and wait for us for about 30 Baht. This is the second time we had heard this and we figured it was too good to be true. Soon a Tuk-Tuk rolled up and the 'teacher' started haggling. He got him down to 30 Baht. We were still very apprehensive and asked many simple questions to see what the scam was. We figured we would stick to our guns and only pay 30 Bajt no mater what. Lyn actually shortened the route and talked him into 20 Baht. We were soon on our way to Wat Thewarat kunchon to see the 'Big Buddha'. We headed inside and there was an old monk sitting there praying. We were very quiet, took a few pics and headed out. our driver was still there and told us to find the temple behind for the really big buddha, only 20 Baht. Here we go, I figured. We paid, went in and it was a really big Buddha. Nice temple. We hopped in the Tuk-Tuk and our driver gave us the low-down. He said if he took us to a tailor shop, he would get his kickback of a coupon that is good for free gas for his Tuk-Tuk. "Only look, no buy". We figured we could do this. We arrived and waited for the high pressure sale. But the guy insode merely said "We make suits for men, would you like one or not". I thought this was very odd. WE said no, but that we would like to look at the other items... silk scarves, silk ties, silk bathrbes, etc. He never approached us again, and we might have bought something it had caught our eye. WE left painlessly and told our driver if he had a jewelry store where he could get his coupon, we would like to look. Lyn has been searching for a small gold charm for her bracelet, but they seem to focus only on gemstones here in Bangkok. We went, looked and left. Soon we arrived at Wat Mai Amatarot. Temple of the standing Buddha. This is home to the largest standing Buddha in the world.... it is BIG. It is outdoors and is surrounded by temples. This was only a block or two from our first hotel (the Trang), but we never knew it was here. There were not many tourist, even though this was the nicest temple I had seen yet. There were many small temples and Buddhas around. Outside there were tables lined w/products. If you make a donation you could pick from flower arrangements, Lotus flowers, charms, some kind of 'holy water' and many other things. The people looking after the temples never said a word as we walk by. They also had a few people there with a stack of bird cages. For a small amount of Baht we could take a cage and give the little finch inside his freedom back. This is supposed to bring good luck to the person who releases it. After wandering around and checking out some of the smaller temples (amd even a Chinese temple in the back that had alot of color and dragon ornaments all over it) We were back in the Tuk-Tuk. At our last stop, the Golden Mount (Phukhao Thong) Wat Saket we said goodbye to our driver (after about two hours of sightseeing) and handed him the 20 Baht. I was SO surprised when he said "Thank you very much, enjoy the temple". I could not believe it. I ran after him and gave him another 10 Baht for a tip and he said, "Oh thank you, for my son". I guess I have been conditioned into thinking everything has a catch and the price always changes at the end... It was a great for him to prove me wrong. We climbed the 350 or so steps and had a great 360' degree view of Bangkok. It was a nice afternoon and if you are in Bangkok, pick three temples and negotiate w/the Tuk-Tuk drivers.

After our afternnon tour, we drove to Lumphini Park where I think I made a mistake. You see, we were in Athens on the day of the Athens Marathon. I jumped in and did the 5K which finished inside the Olympic arena. It was a great. I was surprised at my time and I still had energy at the end. It was below forty degrees (F) and the last half of the run was all downhill. I saw an add for the Bangkok Marathon which is tomorrow the 26th. So I signed up for the 1/4 marathon (10+K). After thinking about it... it is quite hot here even with a 6AM start. Also, it is really flat here, there are no downhills and it is twice the distance as the Athens run. I wish I thought of this before.

November 26th-
Early wake up call... 5AM. Took a cold shower and hit the road. It was a quick walk over to the Grand Palace for the start of the Quarter Marathon. Everything was all setup since the full marathon had started at 2AM w/30,000 participants!!!. It was a short wait and we were soon on our way. It was slow out of the gates and the pace in overall was pretty slow. I was strong for the first half. Passed many people then we turned into the morning sunrise. Even at 7:00AM the sun was hot and strong through the haze. I tried to keep myself distracted by watching all the sites below (temples, canals, river) as we ran a long way on the elevated expressway. I kept giving myself short goals to keep going, but I the humidity was getting to me. There were only 3 or 4 water stations along the way (no oranges, no bananas). I made it to water station #3 and milked it a bit by slowing down to a walk. Running again I passed a woman who was cheering who said "Way to go, only one more meter". I felt a second wind kick in and I knew I could take down 1 more Km (I figured she meant kilometer as a meter is only three feet). We passed some sort of cheering section that had about 5 different groups. They all had some sort of band, a group of girls dressed in strange outfits and there were a few of the ugliest women I ever saw (they even had Adams apples!) I ran and ran looking for the finish line around every corner. I could not take it anymore and had to take a break and walk for a few seconds. (I felt like walking back and asking that lady what the heck she was talking about!). I was disappointed as my goals were #1- Run the whole way, no walking. #2- Finish in under 1 hour, and it was quickly approaching the 1 hour mark. I tried to keep it up and as we approached the Grand Palace I remember on the map they had given us that the Palace is square. Running along the backside there should be two left hand turns and the we finish would be in sight in front of the palace. But in fact it is not square and there are many left hand curves to the wall surrounding the Palace. Again, after each turn I looked for the finish, but it was nowhere in site. Finally I sucked it up and kept the feet moving 1 more corner and I finally reached the finish. Time 1:09 Excluding the few minutes it took to get past the starting line and into a stride, I think I was pretty close to goal #2. I received and medal, breakfast and a nice yellow shirt that will help me blend in w/the locals (It is the color of the king and the majority of people you see everyday wear yellow shirts.)
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