|As you can see, everybody's smiling BEFORE the race|
In my honest opinion, that is the kind of advice that leads to so many first-time marathoners--or half-marathoners, in this case--being sore (or worse, injured) for several days after a race.
Yes, those last few miles of a long distance race requires mental fortitude, but it also requires your body knowing that it can handle the abuse of those miles. And that is why the next time I run a long event like this, I will have at least two training runs longer than the actual race distance under my belt.
I am also giving a thumbs up and a wink in recognition that I totally dodged the conjunctivitis bullet. See, there were tons of Cambodian kids lining parts of the race course, and since I knew I wasn't going to even come close to winning the race, I gave high-fives to as many of them as I could. I don't know about other folks, but when I run I don't carry hand sanitizer or wet-naps, and I for darn sure rubbed the sweat out of my eyes after slapping hands with those little kids. So far, no pink-eye, but if I do come down with it, I'll at least have the grim satisfaction of knowing that I probably helped spread it to a couple hundred other kids, too.
Now for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I am a barefoot/nearly barefoot runner (I even created a logo for it!). About three years ago I started running in Vibram FiveFingers to help overcome patellar tendinitis in both legs. And since moving to Thailand, I have transitioned to doing most of my running completely barefoot, which is quite safe where we live because they sweep the streets here daily. I ran my last 10K in the US in the FiveFingers and had my fastest time in 10 years, but I knew that with the half marathon my finish time this go-around would be much slower than my previous--I finished this one about 14 minutes slower than my other half, but I'm working on getting faster at the longer distance with my chosen (lack of) footwear.
Even though I feel comfortable running barefoot here in our neighborhood, I was not sure what the roads for the race would be like, so I brought my FiveFingers along. Good thing I brought them, because the road surface was pretty nasty and would have made the soles of my feet into hamburger. And I was one of at least three guys running in FiveFingers. Okay, so add the surface to my already mentioned propensity for excessive perspiration, and you have a recipe for serious blisters when wearing the Vibrams. Despite all the charms and advantages of the FiveFingers, the insoles when wet are slicker than snot, and in this humid environment the sweat runs down my legs and does not drain. To help mitigate this, I also wore a pair of Injini toe socks, which kept me from getting even worse blisters than the one I had, but obviously didn't prevent that one.
All in all, pretty good experience. I learned a lot about myself. This is a race I would like to do again, given the opportunity, and I recommend it to anyone who has the time (and means) to get to Cambodia in early December. But remember to get those long training runs in before race day!