Articles

Healthy Living: Runners Ques

Curated by Bianca Henao, 131 TESS

Every year, a new group of Peace Corps volunteers arrives in Thailand with new goals or habits to be achieved and ready to tackle their 27 months of service with their best foot forward. Some of us maintain true to ourselves and binge watch Netflix in our free time while others take up running, a popular athletic activity all over Thailand. Races ranging from 5k’s to full marathons are happening everywhere. I interviewed some of these “Forrest Gump’s” to ask them what we’re all thinking..


Ashley Resurreccion, 130 TESS

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

2018 – 16 Road Races
2019 – 15 Road Races, 5 Trail Runs

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps?

I did general fitness activities like running, weight training, and yoga, but 7-8 minute miles are average in America, so I never thought anything of it. Since my village is spread out over gardens and lakes, running is a great way to see my neighbors. It’s also a fun way to travel throughout Thailand and meet other inspiring individuals! 

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

Once I set a goal, I follow through with it. It is important to look up runs I want to do. Where is it located? (Is it convenient to access? Is the landscape/city course beautiful? Are others going? Is there a prize?) What can I explore there? (Any nice cafes, museums, or art galleries?) Am I capable? (I’m not dead yet, so probably, although I’ve had my fair share of good stories, like meeting a Thai national runner, finishing a marathon with dengue fever, and getting my rabies shots after runs. You know, the usual PCV life.) 

Favorite memory?

My favorite running memory is doing the 120km Ocean to Ocean Relay Race with 7 other PCVs. Our 8th runner bailed on us and our driver felt bad we’d get disqualified, so he literally drove around town asking if anyone could run with us. That random stranger ended up being our MVP, and the 8 of us hyped each other every step of the way! Em and I are romantically together and have been running marathons every month since then. 

What motivates you?

I don’t have a meaningful answer, to be honest… But it’s an empowering experience. A meditation, almost, because I don’t need to think about anything when I run and I focus on my breath and where I am at exactly that moment. You feel the wind push you through, bless the trees that shade you, and refresh yourself under the waterfalls and in the oceans. When that isn’t enough, I think about everyone beside me, equally appreciating this moment. About people back home, excited to see my nature photography or hear my stories. About everyone making this opportunity possible, from the kids who high five me to the organizers who take pictures and grant trophies. Time doesn’t matter, I have everything I need, and the finish line calls me over. And if that journey doesn’t motivate you, maybe this picture will. Have fun running!

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Alison Reenock, 131 TESS

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

I’ve run 3 races so far in Thailand: a 10km race for the King, a 21km night run, and the Bangkok Midnight 42km Marathon. It was my first time running a full marathon 

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps?

I’ve been running for a while even before joining the Peace Corps. I ran cross country all throughout high school and, even though I didn’t run competitively in college, I still ran (almost) every day. I’ve continued to run even after college.

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

Mentally: I can’t really explain it, to be honest. I just love to run. I love the feeling during a run, with your heart beating, the music in your iPhone blasting, and that feeling at the end when you know that you have reached your goal. Basically, I know I’m not really competing against others, but working towards my own goal, so I stay determined and think of the big picture.

Physically, I eat light, stretch often, and do cross training to strengthen my muscles and also give my body a break when it needs it, so I don’t burn myself out. Cross training is seriously a life saver.

Favorite memory?

My favorite memory from running is crossing the finish line of my first full marathon. I was feeling so self accomplished, but also so grateful for all the friends at the finish line that stayed up all night to cheer me on. Shouts out to y’all!

What motivates you?

Honestly, I’m motivated by making the most out of life’s experiences. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the world, and in each new place I go, the majority of the time I spend exploring is by running. 

I’m also motivated because I know how fortunate I am to be in good health and have the option to even think about running races. I recognize that there are people out there who are unable to run, or really be active for various reasons, and I intend to take advantage of my ability to move, be active, and push my limits for as long as I can.

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Chukwuma Osuji, 131 YinD

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

I have ran a total of four races. Of those four, three of them have been at my site while the other was in Ubon Ratchathani.

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps?

Prior to Peace Corps service I would run for fitness and health purposes, however running in a marathon never crossed my mind. This all started as an integration tool, now it is an activity that I cannot say ‘no’ to.

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

Preparation is a key part of performance in any sport, and a significant part of that for me is music. My playlist keeps me mentally prepared, giving me warrior like feelings. Hydration is a key element, so a day or two before each marathon I make sure I’m eating well along with adequate amounts of water.

Favorite memory?

My favorite memory is missing the final turn on a 5K and completing a portion of the 10K route. Although an unfortunate incident, I came out with more pride as I ran 7.21km and placed 4th in my 5K age group.

What motivates you? 

The social aspect of marathons; the opportunity to meet new people in a positive and healthy environment is a major factor that drives me. But of course the free shirts and post-race snacks are very much appreciated.

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Skyler Matthias, 130 YinD

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

I’ve ran 4. Two marathons, one half and one 13k. 

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps? 

I did not at all! I tried, but wasn’t able to find the determination to keep it up. Peace Corps gave me the time and patience to pick up such a positive hobby. 

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

 I definitely try to eat better, be conscious of how I am to my body a week before the race and then mentally be very kind to myself. There are limitations to our bodies, but our bodies are also very very limited by our own thoughts. “I can’t run that far.” Or “You’re In so much pain, just walk!” A marathon especially becomes so much about reminding your brain that your body is capable. So I try to be really generous towards myself before during and after a race or even a training run!) Don’t be crazy and run something your body can’t do, but also know that something really powerful happens when we push our bodies to their limits. 

Favorite memory?

 Finishing my first marathon. I was so slow. It was so hard. And the last two miles I was really dragging. I finished the race 10 minutes before the cutoff and I just remember laughing my way to the finish line at how miserably sore my body was. So. Much. Fun. 

What motivates you? 

I like to see how far I can push my body and mind. I like to challenge myself. I love the feeling I get, morning or evening, when I finish a run. It’s all fun!

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McKenna Meehan, 131 YinD

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

I’ve run 4 races since being in Thailand, and have signed up to run 4 more in the next 2 months. 

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps?

I ran before joining the Peace Corps, but my longest run to date was here in Thailand.

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

Physically I stick to a strict run plan that incorporates easy run days, long run days, race day pace days, as well as yoga and weight training to ensure my muscles are loose and strong since running puts a toll on them. In terms of mentally… I can’t say I’ve ever been mentally ready for a race. I always get those pre-race gotta pee nerves but once I get going I’m fine. It’s honestly always been picking a mailbox… or some kind of landmark that I push myself to run to and then I just keep picking new landmarks until I cross the finish line.

.Favorite memory?

My favorite race memory was my ultra 60k race in Nan, I made so many connections because I didn’t run with anyone. We were all suffering the same route, pushing until the finish line. Although running is most definitely an individual sport the support and love from fellow runners is immense. 

What motivates you? 

My mother motivates me. She was an incredible woman and even better runner. I run though because it’s my release, the thoughts that cross your mind over the grueling miles you pound into the ground with each step is incredible. To be able to push myself and my body to accomplish feats I never thought I could is what motivates me.

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Moises Puentes, 131 TESS

How many races have you run since being in Thailand?

I’ve ran a full marathon (42k) in Bangkok and a half (22k) in Mae Hong Son.

Did you run before joining the Peace Corps?

Yes, my first races were short 5k’s during college, but it was after I graduated that I began to invest a lot more time and energy into running long distances. I ran my first marathon in 2017 crossing at 4:04, my second one the following year finishing at 3:44 and a half that same year in 1:39:22 raising over three thousand dollars during training for St. Judes.

How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race?

I follow an 18 week-long training plan called the Hanson Marathon Method. I like to start the beginning of the training cycle by reading their book to remind myself of the physiological changes each type of run and aspect of training will produce, and the benefits I will receive from it. During a week there are three easy runs, a long run, a tempo run, a speed run and a strength workout and I like to write down every single workout on my planner so I can see how each and every single day has its own purpose and in the end will help me achieve my goal. People thinking about running their first marathon often think of it as running 26.2 miles and doubt themselves but that is why it is important to focus on the day you’re on and the mile you’re running. You’ll start by running 3 miles in one day and towards the end of peak weeks you’ll be running 60 miles a week. Or at least that’s how I went about it back in the states, I try doing the same here, but it is far more difficult hitting and keeping paces on a mountain and the rainy season and lack of control in diet certainly don’t help.

Favorite memory?

My favorite memory was when I was running the last miles of the Rock and Roll Half in Chicago. I was in the middle of a training cycle for a full marathon and was planning on using this race as a long run but because I was raising money for St. Judes they asked me to speak in front of all the runners and when they asked me for my goal time I said, without thinking, that I wanted to break 1:40, not an impossible goal but this was supposed to be a chill run and I had never ran that fast for that long. I went out running 7:30 miles in the rain, doing math in my head every time I checked my Garmin after mile 5 to see how much slower I could go and still hit the goal,  getting ready to start letting go of 1:40 by mile 10 until I see this woman in the middle of the road, under the rain, yelling at the top of her lungs as if she was mad at us “One day you won’t be able to do this. Today is not that day. You came for this.” I’ll never forget that woman. Shirt, socks, shoes, everything was soaked under the pouring rain and that just made all of this more glorious. So I just went for it. Came in 410 out of 8909. 13.1 miles in 1:39:22. All because of that woman.

What motivates you?

First of all, I love running and am passionate about it because it makes me feel free. After many miles it is just peaceful; I let go of many things while running and after a while that’s all there is, just the mile you’re running, the song you’re playing and the views. Also, knowing that you are capable of running hundreds of miles for weeks and running 26.2 miles in 4 hours makes me feel as if I don’t ever have to stay in one place, as if I could get up and go and be sure I don’t have to rely on anyone else but myself.

Second, I am motivated to train for marathons during hard times such as service because by making sure the hardest part of my day is my running workout it makes the rest of the day seem easy. It puts things into perspective, and it allows me to see exactly what it is I’ve done each and every day, and what kind of progress I’ve made to accomplish my goals and get to where I want to be. At the end of a successful training cycle not only will I have run close to 300 miles, but I will also have spent 5 months of my life working hard to accomplish a great feat.

And finally, running has saved me many times from low points in my life by giving me something to strive for and teaching me patience, perseverance, and discipline. The first marathon I witnessed was the 2013 Boston Marathon and it was incredible seeing this city come together after the bombings, determined to be strong. When I committed to training for my first marathon I also committed to pursuing the dream of qualifying to run the Boston Marathon by finishing in under 3:05, or what runners like to call “chasing Boston.” Additionally, I would like to run the rest of the Abott World Marathon Majors which include Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York. I want to do this for the people that cant, the people that never got to or will never get to,  and for the people that think they can’t because if they see me do it they might start believing they can too. It’s not about running 26 miles, it’s about running the mile you’re in, one mile at a time, believing in yourself and watching it all come together. As Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon winner, says “Keep showing up.”

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Along with Bianca’s past articles and contributions, check out previous Healthy Living articles and contributions.

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