During my 4 weeks motorbiking through Vietnam I didn’t get in a lot of quality running.  I decided that after 5 days on a beautiful beach on Koh Rong, where running was also non-existent, I would spend 5 or 6 nights in Kampot to do some serious running.  Kampot isn’t very big, and there isn’t too much to do.  This was perfect, because there would be lots of roads with light traffic to run, and during the day I could just relax without feeling like I needed to rush off to go on all sorts of different tours.  The hostel I’m staying (The Mad Monkey) at is perfect for this.  It has a pool, day beds, decent food, good wifi; all the ingredients to encourage lounging around.

My plan for running included 2 runs per day.  I’d do a quality run in the morning and an easy, optional run at sunset.  My goal was to get some quick fitness into my legs to help me through the Thailand International Half Marathon in Bangkok on Dec. 14, and the Chiang Mai Half Marathon Dec 21.  I don’t expect to come close to a PR on either course, but I figured a little running now would not only help me get through those races, but help me as I get into proper training when I get back home at Christmas.

These two guys were always there to greet me at 6AM, tails wagging

These two guys were always there to greet me at 6AM, tails wagging

 

Day 1 (Dec 3)

Today I arrived in Kampot from Sihanoukville.

AM Run: 8k easy in Sihanoukville.  I didn’t really have a run planned for the morning because I wasn’t in Kampot yet.  But when I woke up I decided I wanted to see a bit of Snooky and I’d give a short run a go.  My legs felt lousy to begin with, but they improved over the first couple of km’s.  (My Garmin file doesn’t seem to have uploaded)

PM Run: 5k easy in Kampot.  My plan was just to get a feel for running in Kampot.  Running in SE Asia there are things you have to consider that aren’t really a worry back home.  One of those things is road conditions.  Some roads are really just muddy stretches.  Also, aggressive dogs are something you need to aware of, and finding routes where there aren’t too many of them.  It can also be tricky to know what is a dirt road, and what is someone’s property and part of their farm.  I began running south from the  Mad Monkey (my hostel) and my plan was to run parallel to the river.  The road quickly turned to clay and then really sloppy mud.  I turned around and ran towards town.  I ended up running to the old bridge before turning back.  The sun sets over the river and the sky was all sorts of shades of orange and red, which made for a picturesque run.  HERE is my run file.

Other activities: Didn’t do much else in Kampot, most of the day was spent waiting for the bus and taking the 2 hour journey to get here.  I did have a really good BBQ chicken salad from a place called Rusty Keyhole in town.  I will definitely go back there.

The sun was setting during my evening run

The sun was setting during my evening run

 

Day 2 (Dec 4)

Today the work began, but I also hit a bit of a road block.

AM Run: My run was 12k with 5x1k pickups.  I did a 2k warmup and then alternated hard and easy km’s.  All of my hard km’s were sub4:00, not great by my pre SE Asia form, but I was happy I could still at least accomplish that.  I did briefly get chased by 1 dog during part of an easy km  but a local in the street promptly stopped the dog in its tracks.  I began my run at about 6:30AM.  I’m going to plan to start my other morning runs at 6:00AM.  It gets hot really fast as the sun rises (sun rise is about 6:00AM), I want to run in the light so if I start a little earlier it wont be quite as hot.  I was really happy to get my first tough run in the books.  HERE is my Garmin file.

PM Run: I planned on an easy 5-6k but I was exhausted after my activities today, so I gave it as pass.

Other activities: Danny was with me, he’s leaving tomorrow, so we rented motorbikes and headed for the Bokor National Park.  There’s a hill station, old church, temple, and incredible views from the top of the mountain.  We ended up riding around the park for about 5 hours.  As we were riding around I noticed km markers on the ground at the top of the mountain, and saw a touraround marker.  There must be a race in the park.  I didn’t realize how tired I was until we made it back to town and had lunch.  I was thinking about heading to the Temple in a Cave, which was only about 15k away because we had the bikes for the day, but I was way too tired.  Lunch was the BBQ chicken salad (again) and some chicken fajitas.

Bokor National Park

Bokor National Park

They claim there are still some tigers in the park

They claim there are still some tigers in the park

That was the good, there was also some bad.  It was raining really hard in the evening.  I was reading in the lobby of the hostel waiting for a break in the rain so I could run into town to get a big bottle of water (can’t drink the tap water) and a small snack to have something in my stomach before I ran.  Just before 10PM the rain broke so I hopped on the scooter I still had from earlier today to make the 1k trek to town.  I got to town, got what I needed to and headed back.  There’s no street lights where I need to make the turn to the street my hostel is on, just my scooter light.  I slowed right down so I could watch for it, just as it was coming up my front wheel got caught in a crack and I went down.  I was barely moving so the spill wouldn’t have been a problem if it was on pavement, but I fell on gravel.  I ended up scraping my left knee, left elbow, both hands, and some other really minor spots all over.  I didn’t hit my head, and notice was seriously hurt.  It was really dark so I couldn’t really see the condition of anything so I pickup up my bike and travelled the remaining 200m to the hostel.  Once inside I immediately hoped in the shower to rinse everything off.  I then used the first aid kit at the hostel to clean everything up best as I could.  I decided to be safe rather than sorry so I went to a local clinic.  They cleaned up my scrapes properly and bandaged up my knee and elbow.  I felt like an idiot for what happened, but realized it also could have been much worse.  I’m not sure how this will effect my running.

The 'operating room' where they cleaned me up

The ‘operating room’ where they cleaned me up

 

Day 3 (Dec 5)

Day 3 became an easy day after last nights accident.

AM Run: I chose to skip a run this morning just incase something flares up overnight.

PM Run: Easy 8k.  It was a great run.  I left the hostel running a little angry, I was upset with myself that I let yesterdays accident happen.  But before long I settled into a comfortable pace and my legs felt good.  I ran to an old train station.  Its abandoned now.  There use to be an old train parked there, but it must have been removed because I didn’t see it.  HERE is my Garmin file.

Old train station

Old train station

Other Activities: I didn’t stray too far away today.  I decided to wander around Kampot.  I got a late breakfast at the Rusty Keyhole.  They’re known for BBQ ribs, not really breakfast, but I decided to give them a go.  They were really good, I don’t eat ribs too often so it was a nice treat.  After that I walked around to see a few of the monuments (they seem to have them at the centre of all the roundabouts), and the prison.  After my run I went back to the clinic to get my bandages changed (their recommendation yesterday).  From there I stopped by a popular dessert place, Kampot Pie and Ice Cream, as a treat for being a good boy at the doctors.

Not quite local food but definitely tasty

Not quite local food but definitely tasty

 

Day 4 (Dec 6)

Day 4 was a really good run day.

AM Run: 8x800m.  I woke up today feeling tired.  I was up at 6:00AM to be running before it got too hot.  I felt okay during my 2k warmup, but after my first 800m  interval my legs felt dead.  At that point I decided my rests would be 500m walking to get lots of recovery, and I questioned how many repeats I would do (4 seemed like a good number).  After my 3rd interval I decided 6 would be my target number.  When I finished 5 I decided I’d just push through and finish the whole workout.  I’m really glad I did.  My times weren’t great, 2:53-3:00, but I survived it.  HERE is my Garmin file.

PM Run: Easy 5k.  My legs felt surprisingly good.  I didn’t push the pace at all, but I wasn’t dragging my legs around like I’d felt on other workouts.  HERE is the file for the run.

Not such a bad place to be running

Not such a bad place to be running

Other Activities: Today I took a bus to Kep.  It’s primarily a fishing village about 25k from here.  Most people take motorbikes, but after my little incident I decided the bus was for me.  The bus dropped me off at Kep Beach.  I first walked west along the water to see the White Lady Statue and the Big Crab.  The Big Crab is a huge crab statue in the water welcoming visitors to Kep.  From there I walked to the Crab and Seafood Market.  It was about 2k, and my legs weren’t loving me for not taking a tuk tuk in the heat.  At the market there’s all sorts of restaurants, but the main attraction is all the live seafood.  The pier is full of ladies offering to sell crab, shrimp, squid, and other fish.  I wanted some crab.  One of the ladies pulled in a crab trap that was in the water.  I got a half kilo, 4 crabs, which worked out to $2.  From there you take you live crabs to another group of ladies who cook them for you ($0.50 for their services).  I ended up with 4 steaming hot, fresh crabs in a bag.  I walked to the end of the dock to eat them, but I wasn’t totally sure how to go about doing that.  The crabs were small enough that with a little work the shell could be cracked with my hands.  It was really tasty.  I had my fill after 3 crabs and gave my last to some kids playing in the water.  It was a nice day trip and got me back to Kampot in time to relax before my evening run.

The giant crab in Kep

The giant crab in Kep

 

Day 5 (Dec 7)

Day 5 was another good run (and food) day.

AM Run:  I tightened the screws over 7k.  My plan for the run was to run at 4:30, 4:25, 4:20, 4:15, 4:10, 4:05, 4:00 (actually my original plan was to run 3k at 4:20, 3k at 4:10, and 3k at 4:00, but I decided I wasn’t fit enough for that).  I managed to beat all of those paces with km’s of 4:22, 4:16, 4:18, 4:14, 4:07, 4:03, 3:56.  Despite making the workout easier I was still really happy to get through it.  I felt like I was running strong in the middle km’s.  HERE is the file for the run.

PM Run: Easy 5.7k.  Weird number to run, but brings me to 69k over 5 days.  It’s a silly thing, but I’d rather be at 69k than 68.3k.  The run was alright, ran easy and tried to keep my legs loose.  It was a little hot when I went out but I managed.  HERE is the Garmin file.

Another sunset

Another sunset

Other Activities: I took a cooking class at Khmer Root Cafe.  I went there Thursday night and really enjoyed the Massaman Red Curry, so I went back to learn how it’s made.  I took some notes, so I’m hoping I can replicate it when I get home.  I also went back to the Khmer Root Cafe for dinner to try the Yellow Curry, a traditional Cambodian dish.  It was good, but the Massaman is much better.

Learning to make Massaman Curry (no high tech kitchen tools required)

Learning to make Massaman Curry (no high tech kitchen tools required)

 

Day 6 (Dec 8)

I forgot just how congested Phnom Penh is.

AM Run: 12k run w/ 10×1:00 pickups.  Today was an easier ‘hard’ run.  The last two mornings I’ve had tough runs that I really had to work for, so I decided today I’d still get in some quality but make the run a little easier.  My run was about 12.5k, and my legs felt good.  My pickups were in the neighbourhood of 3:4X pace, and I was under 5:00 when I was just cruising along.  This is a lot better than the 5:XX cruising pace I’ve had some of the other days.  I was happy with the run.  HERE is the Garmin file.

PM Run: Easy 5.5k.  From my one night in Phnom Penh on the way to Koh Rong I had forgotten how bad traffic can be.  Luckily there are two parks just over a km from here.  I ran to the parks, did a lap and a bit of each, and ran back.  I stopped to take a couple pictures along the way, I ended up running by all sorts of monuments.  Legs were a little tight at the start, likely from sitting on the bus for a good chunk of the day, but they loosened up as I went.

Other Activities: Okay so my mini camp was supposed to be in Kampot, but I decided to head to Phnom Penh today.  I enjoyed Kampot; nice place, good people, good food, dogs aren’t too much of a problem, but I had done all there is to do there.  Phnom Penh is a bigger city and there are a few different things I’m looking to do there.  So instead of just sitting around in Kampot for the day I hopped on a bus to PP.  I’ll do the final day of my run mini camp here in Phnom Penh tomorrow, and will likely continue running every day while in Phnom Penh, just not the quality and doubles.

As for what I did today I had a very interested conversation with a local tuk tuk driver that really made me think.  There’s too much to get into the details here, but maybe it’ll get it’s own post.

My run took me around the Independence Monument

My run took me around the Independence Monument

There were lots of statues in the park where I was running

There were lots of statues in the park where I was running

 

Day 7 (Dec 9)

The gas tank is on empty.

AM Run: 13k easy run.  My plan for today was to do a 2-3k warmp followed by a 20min 5k.  Very early on I realized that wasn’t happening.  It was a struggle to run low 5:00 km’s, my legs had no pop but were full of fatigue.  It was just after 6:00AM, and I was up and outside, so I figured I might as well keep running and see a bit of the city.  It crossed my mind to try to do some pickups, but my legs really were tired and I didn’t want to risk injury. I ended up running by the Independence Monument, the Royal Palace, along the water, by a driving range, and a small amusement park.  I kept looking for landmarks in the distance and running to them, it helped the time pass.  My 5:11 average pace is far from impressive, but I did like getting a few more km’s into my legs.  HERE is my Garmin file.

PM Run: No run.  I’ve thrashed my legs over the last couple days, so this afternoon I’ll let them rest.

Other Activities:   Today I visited the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.  Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge slaughtered approximately 25% of the Cambodian population, primarily business people, doctors, lawyers, and other people of affluent stature.  The Killing Fields were essentially mass graves, and Tuol Sleng was a prison.  This isn’t the appropriate forum to go into detail, but suffice to say they’re sobering places.  If you don’t know about the Cambodian Genocide it’s worth learning about.

 

Week in Review

Total km: 100.61km

Total Runs: 11

My 1 week mini camp is over.  I managed to run just over 100k (100k became a goal mid week).  Overall I’m happy with how it went.  I ended up missing one quality run, a sub20:00 5k I planned on doing the final day, because I had nothing left in my legs.  I also missed a quality run my third morning but I had planned on an easy run one morning so I just rearranged my schedule.  I’ve begun to adjust to getting up earlier; both the Bangkok and Chiang Mai Halfs start at 5:00AM.  For my morning runs I’ve needed to get up with the sun to try to avoid the heat, so I’ve been running around 6AM.  I did 11 total runs, out of a possible 14, a number I’m content with.  I’m very thankful that my little motorbike accident wasn’t more serious, all my wounds are healing well as I write this.  I plan to continue to do short runs daily (thought I might take tomorrow off) for the rest of the week.  I’m looking forward to see what kind of an effort I have in my legs on Sunday morning in Bangkok.  I know I wont be PB’ing, but it will be a useful measuring stick to gauge where my fitness currently is vs. where it was before I left.