I write this a little late having been back from our Thanyapura running retreat for a few days and battling a bout of food poisoning courtesy of a last minute prawn pad thai outside the hotel on our last day in Phuket.
What a week that was. There are plenty of pics that will follow so I won't have to write too much hopefully but to capture everything the week provided requires the best of both.
28 of us flew out on Sat 28th May mostly from Sydney (a couple from Dubai) bound for Thanyapura Sports resort in Phuket. This resort was setup to be a hub for budding, amateur and professional athletes alike and it really caters for all levels. You will get a sense below of what facilities are offered but essentially it has everything you need to train, recover and eat well. It also offers very comfortable accommodation surrounding a nice pool with swim up bar.
Sun 29th May: Started with a tour around the premises followed by a run around the 500m training track for as long as everyone wished. This was followed by a dip in the pool and our first healthy breakfast buffet.
From there, it was a day of pilates, core strength, stretch class, Aero boxing (for the keen), yoga, mind conditioning classes and massage - all these were on offer and included in the total fee.
PM: The resident triathlon coach (Lucky) took us on the 7.5km road loop outside the hotel which was a warm humid run. There were a few stray dogs around but they didn't seem to fazed by us luckily.
124km total for the week
Mon 30th May: The day kicked off with a 3/2/1 fartlek session both run on the road and the track as an option. A tough session on the road for me as I fought to keep up with Neil Pearson early on but managed to hold form and push away on the 3rd 9min cycle. The hills didn't assist and by the end, we were stuffed. 14km total. PM: easy 4km jog on the track with those keen.
A few toured around the island on elephant tours and tiger interaction visits. Phuket is quite a bit larger than you might think but the fact that the traffic and infrastructure is all over the place, it makes it slow going. I decided to stay put and send Jaden instead.
A few others (incl myself) decided to check out one of the nearby coastal towns - Kamala and get a massage. Unfortunately it rained throughout the whole day but it didn't stop us having a relaxing massage and a beachside lunch.
Sonya, Greta, Rachel & Jac all looking after me!
Monday night was trivia night over dinner and drinks with the unlikely and random I might add pairing of Neil and Dylan absolutely blitzing the field to win a Singh beer stubby holder and key ring as first prize.
Tues 31st May: Easy run 5km in the pouring rain. It is the monsoon season but we are hopeful at this stage of some sunny days. This was followed by a stroke correction swim session by head coach Miguel who is currently training a few athletes heading to Rio. This session was excellent being a hack myself. We also saw Clem show how awesome a swimmer she is on the surface but also Rachel and Matthias showing their underwater swimming prowess.
Midday: 10km treadmill run: The gyms at Thanyapura are very impressive. Stocked with everything you could think of. Cardio, weights, resistance etc etc. Then the pilates, zumba rooms are upstairs from these. Off to one side is the lifestyle locker where a 7deg cold plunge pool and a 39deg spa sit side by side for that extra recovery. Very effective. Seeing a few of our guys doing Zumba was quite entertaining. Not sure it's for me. It was then time for the Extreme Obstacle course session but the monsoon struck again and a massive downpour stopped that happening. So we played volleyball in the rain instead.
Charlene Cassie, our resident nutritionist spoke to us all at happy hour about the importance of diet during preparation and competition phases and the general 80/20 balance as rule of thumb to balancing the good with the naughty. I've decided to sign up with her for my Melb Marathon campaign.
It may not look like it, but it poured on us.
Wed 1st June: We woke to a sunny morning so everyone was in great spirits considering we were to be out that day visiting an island. But first a track session. Cycles of 1km and 500m (2 laps and 1 lap) off 5:30min cycles so long recoveries post 500m but it worked well with the whole group. Neil and I ran on average 3:03 for each of the 1km reps and 89-91secs for the 500m laps. Happy given the heat and humidity. Everyone trained extremely well.
Just had to move the barriers.
Quick swim and breakfast then it was time to take our snorkel / dive tour with James Bond.
Yep that's what he calls himself. Everyone in Thailand gives themselves a nickname as us foreigners would have no idea how to pronounce their real names. So this boat captain decided he was James Bond. We met a lady called Oil, the coach Lucky, another guy called Fresh and when you put them all together........... well the joke was there at the time.
We boarded a speedboat from Phuket Town marina and 30mins later reached Rai Racha Island where some of us donned the scuba gear and other the snorkel equipment. The sun was still out so it was a definite tanning day.
And that's 007 right there in the foreground!
Wednesday kept going with the State of Origin kicking off at 5pm local time. We managed to secure a great bar lounge, hook up the projector and watch it live on the big screen and followed this with a few hours of karaoke fun. The NSW blues failed but there were some great performances coming out of our group of talented singers and dancers.
Thurs 2nd June: Easy 8km to start the day and shake off the fuzzy karaoke head followed by stretching, foam rolling, breakfast and then another master swim class with Miguel. Others opted for a mind body soul session which focussed on breathing & letting stress go so as to clear & calm the mind thus maximising energy levels to better perform at your best across all areas of your life. Some went for a thai massage whilst a few ventured off to the Blue Elephant cooking school to learn how to cook the local cuisine.
PM: Easy 5km. Starting a slight taper for Sunday's half marathon.
Easy afternoon / evening as we all prepared to check out tomorrow and head beachside.
Fri 3rd June: Early morning 8km followed by a Zumba class for me. Yep earlier in the week I mentioned it was not for me but as I hadn't actually done many classes (too busy organising stuff), I decided to try it out. It was basically an hour of dance moves which was kinda of fun. A few beers under the belt may have helped though. Apologised to Greta for having had to stare at the instructor's backside for the whole hour just to learn the moves. Another swim, checkout and we were off to Bangtoa Bay.
A fond farewell to Thanyapura. It was such a buzz seeing the excitement in everyone throughout the camp and Greta and I were very proud to have been able to provide this experience for them.
Fri: PM: Checked into the Sunwing resort and a short jog (4km total) up to the marathon/half marathon expo to collect numbers and look around. The sun was out and it was here to stay. No more rain from now on which was great considering what we were seeing was happening back in Sydney.
Group dinner across the road at a place called the Sugar Cane. I was mindful of what to order and luckily all was good. Spectacular tasting food.
Sat 2nd June: Pool day today. Lots of swim time with the kids. Some were heading home tonight which was sad but we all soaked up the day. I barely ran (easy 4km with Stu in the heat) as we got ready to watch Greta, Char, Cass, Julie, Mitch, and Mel run the Phuket 10.5km event in the middle of the scorching sun. Wow, hope the morning isn't like this us half and full runners were thinking.
Greta came flying around the corner in what we thought was 1st place but we had missed a short girl hiding behind a tall guy and alas she crossed in 2nd so close. It sounded like a great head to head throughout so well done honi. Tough conditions (have I mentioned that already?)
Well done girls
Easy dinner, swim etc and a very early night for me. 4am get up time for the race. Neil even earlier as his start was an hour before ours at 4.30am.
Sun 3rd June: Up easily and out the door with Stu, Jac, Clem, Mitch for the half. Neil was already running and we wouldn't see him till just after I crossed.
This came through as the official email afterwards so happy to get a spot there behind the guy in green who threw his hands up every two seconds. Ok so the most bizarre starting line situation to have ever happened to me occurred today. We were positioned 20m back from the line which wasn't too bizarre at first until I found out why. The music was shutdown and the announcer advised that her royal highness the princess of Thailand was about to arrive to take her place on the start line and run the half marathon. Ok all good, she's managed to get herself a seeded start, good for her. I asked a local what she ran for 10km and he just looked at me blankly. Then it got more serious as we waited and waited and we were told that she would start 3mins ahead of the whole field. Wow, imagine that at the SMH half, just rocking on in and heading off whilst Barts, Tom and the crew looked on. Ha if only.
And then finally like something out of Madam Secretary, a blaze of armoured black SUV's raced around the corner into a cleared access drive right up to the start gantry in front of me. The Muay Thai boxing bouncers came in first checking that we were all ok to be in her presence, then the military then finally the princess in her race outfit. Accompanying her were two lookalikes who stood behind her straight away and thus defeated the purpose, and a few other runner/bodyguards. We were all told no photos whatsoever but here she was happily snapping up selfies which I'm sure I photo bombed once or twice.
Finally we were away in the dark. I could have used those extra 10mins from the delay later on but that's the way it is with royalty I suppose. Immediately there were just 4 of us bowling along for the first few kms. We were averaging 3:23 through 10km so a lot quicker than I was hoping or planning for but as Neil had advised, just sit off the leaders. They were all from the Philippines and as such well accustomed to the conditions but I was feeling great and keeping pace easily so on we went. Gradually two of the group dropped off and it was me and the one guy I had spotted pre-race that looked like a good runner, left to battle it out.
I could see that he was comfortable but not too much so to surge ahead yet but as we approached the 10km mark I could start to feel the strength wearing off. Nothing was hurting but my core temp was lifting and as such the energy efficiency required to keep up was dropping. We passed 10km at 34:30 and almost to the second it was done, he surged and had me unfortunately. I was thinking about the day before when Greta came second and nothing was made of it. Winning was everything it seemed and as much as I tried to lift, I could not. By the 15-16km mark I knew I was over a minute ahead of 3rd but managed to battle on okay even lifting the pace slightly again. I had dropped off quite a bit and was only chasing down a sub 77mins at best. Finally the last km arrived and took us through a shopping mall of sorts before the turn for home (greeted by Cass and Jules). I finished in 76:56 for 2nd spot.
Soon after Neil came in 2nd over the marathon course in a fantastic 2:47, a very very solid result for such an arduous race. And fresh off 2 recent marathons plus a rather large Friday night in Patong for last minute preps. Jac O'Connor and Stu Cassie crossed next with solid half marathon performances. The first running race Stu has done for over 5yrs. Solid start back mate. Then Clem and Mitch rounded out the Rejoov half finisher list, well done guys.
Whilst the media weren't too concerned with 2nd place getters, us bridesmaids still stormed the stage to capture the moment. Neil and I also managed to pick up a Seiko dress watch and pair of Oakleys so we didn't really mind at all.
And so that was the week that was. A very busy, tiring, invigorating and at some stages relaxing. Spent with great friends who all displayed such enthusiasm and energy throughout.
My total for the week was just 90kms but I was ok with that. The last afternoon spent relaxing by our private access pool with our two new additions.
Stay tuned for details on the next Rejoov Running retreat announced soon.
PS: Beer of the week: Chang, Singh and Tiger in no particular order of ranking.