Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nailing the 14K

Bob and I traveled to Luang Prabang in Laos this weekend to indulge our penchant for using a race as an excuse to see a place. In this case, it's unlikely we would have come to Laos, a little sliver of a country near Vietnam and Thailand. One of our friends in Beijing asked, why would you want to go to such a small country?

But Laos has proved to be charming. We even liked Vientiane, since I booked a charming boutique hotel outside the clamorous town, one with a nice pool but rock-hard beds (it's an Asian thing). And Luang Prabang has turned out to be about as laid back as you can get, with spiky roofed temples all covered with gold leaf, a decent cuisine (think Thai meets Cambodian meets Vietnamese, heavy on the lemongrass and coriander), and very sweet smiling people who greet you with "sai ba dei," or hello, at every chance.

This morning I ran my first 14K. It was two 7-K loops through the charming town, the whole thing a UNESCO World Heritage site. That actually helped my pacing because I could keep track of how far I had to go (for instance, one fancy hotel had set up an archway with sprinkler to run through and cool you off, which was not horribly far from the end).

There were only two runners in my category, females 50-59. The other woman was from Sweden and I imagined her as an Amazon with blonde hair, something like Brianne on Game of Thrones. My number was 238; she was 239. I won't deny that I spent a good part of the race peering at people's bibs. I never found her. There are two theories on this: one is that she ran the 14 kilometers (8.4 miles) in 45 minutes and was drinking an iced Lao coffee by the time I crossed the finish line; or, she never showed.

In any event I ran the whole thing, which was the longest race I've ever run. Bob was alone in his category of men 60-64, which made him claim to be a winner.
I finished in a little under 2 hours (stop laughing), but I only stopped to drink water, take a pic, and maybe dance a little with the kids handing out water at one stop (Can anyone resist Gangnam Style?)

I'm now lounging by the pool at another charming boutique hotel, and thinking about dinner. It's not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Post-race update:
It turns out that the Swedish woman was a no-show. So, like Bob, I won in my category. It looked as though, other than the American ambassador to Laos and one fellow in the 70+ category, we may have constituted the older folks in the race. No matter. It was fun, even if getting home again was a classic tale that involved 14 hours of various sorts of travel, missed flights, and meals that were made up of an angel food cake cupcake and peanuts. 

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