Yesterday I woke up, excited to go do a run up my favorite mountain around here. It’s called, “Ngorn Nak.” It’s located in Tub Kaak, Krabi, Thailand. It is 500 meters high and is extremely technical. Roots and loose rocks, as well as a couple of scrambling sections that will get you on all fours running up like a monkey.
Then Nick called off. Sick, he said. Damn. Then I looked out the window and saw the weirdness. Low clouds or fog, maybe it was mist. Just plain weird. We have about two days a year like this in Krabi. You never know what it will mean, a light rain falling all day, or no rain at all and eventually it clears up.
I got prepped and was ready to head out. Nick SMS’ed me: BBC news just said clouds over Krabi are remnants of a Hurricane that devastated the Philippines. I sent back: FML.
Then about 2.5 hours later, when I was sure I was just going to work on my books all day, I took another look out the window. It looked worse. Darker clouds. But still, no rain. I SMS’ed Nick: WTF, it’s either the most perfect day EVER for running on the mountain, or the perfect storm is brewing out there and it will be the worst. I’m going…
And I did. I fired up the motorbike, drank half a can of Red Bull. At the 7-11 I grabbed two 500 ml Gator-Ade bottles and a water and was at the base of the mountain around 11:30 am. It had barely warmed up at all, the temperature was about 72 degrees. That is one of the coldest days I expect in the next year, so I was hoping my body could handle a hard run. I left one of the ‘ades in the motorbike seat and took one and one water bottle. I tried to assess how I felt. I had done some great workouts in the week leading up to this. That might mean my legs aren’t ready for an all-out effort. Or, it could mean they are. I never know until I get started.
I jogged a bit, loosened up a bit, careful not to stretch anything. I clicked “Start” on the IronMan watch and took off. I felt good. Then I felt really good. I hid the Gator-Ade behind a tree to save some weight. I headed up for a good 5 minutes and reached the split in the path where, if I arrive under 5 mins, I’m on a great pace. I was at 4:57. That was very good because I wasn’t really trying that hard yet. I was definitely ready to push.
The next section is a pretty good incline, some parts are barely runnable, some just are not. I did the best I could and approached the first major steep climb. That one takes 90 seconds to get up, and if I go too fast, it zaps me by the top and I stand up there sucking wind. I took it cautiously. Quick and cautious. At the top I felt OK and charged ahead, running for the short slight incline down and then back up some steep sections, then to the flat… then another gradual climb, and then bam, steep climb number 2. This one only takes about a minute if I go quickly, but sometimes I’m already out of juice to go quick. On this run I was able to get through it to the top and keep going without any breaths rest. A great push.
The next section is a lot of flat. Maybe 1/2 km, 550 yards? Something like that. I pushed hard and felt great.
That was basically how the entire run went. I pushed hard and felt great.
After the last vertical climb is a patch of maybe 350 m flat, but technical terrain. I attacked it and pushed harder than I ever have on that section.
I knocked off 2 minutes off my fastest time there ever. An amazing run.
What do I attribute it to?
The weather mostly. Usually, I’m running this trail in 92 degrees F. 72 was a godsend.
I did also push very hard, but it was because the weather was so cool that I was able to do so. I have lost some weight, and down to 76 kg (167 lbs) so i am feeling, and now getting faster. It’s a great feeling.
So that’s it – just a personal record that I’ve been looking to beat for 2 yrs now. The best time previously was during a race up that mountain where I got 41 minutes to that same point at the top. To think that I got 39:07 without having anyone there to push me, is really phenomenal. I think during the next race in March, I should be able to do a little better than 39 if I have a good day and keep losing a little bit of weight. Would be nice to get down to 72 kg for that race.
Update: Less than a year later I got 35:57! Recently, in 2022, I’ve been around 49 minutes. Gained weight. Got older (55). Still going to get sub 45 though, hopefully, this year.
OK then – cheers, and here’s some advice…
Take advantage of the cool and dry days. I never feel better than when I’m running at 84F or right around there… because we just don’t have days like 72°F very often. Usually, it’s raining hard when the temperature is that low here. The difference between running in 95°F and 72°F is at least 4 minutes. That’s my guess. That’s up a mountain over a 4 km trail.
Best of luck out there, hope you set a PR on one of your favorite runs by the end of the year…