Luang Prabang Half Marathon 2016

Lost in Luang Prabang, Laos

It’s safe to say that was the longest half marathon I’ve ever done! It’s also safe to say this is probably the longest post run report I’ll ever write too!

Today I set the goal of achieving a personal best on the 21km distance… so when I looked down at my watch and saw the distance approaching 20km with no sign of the ‘home straight’ in sight, I knew something was wrong.

Being me I continued on the rather sharp incline and watched as I saw the meters tick over until I successfully achieved my half marathon personal best at 1:38:06… but, there were still no sign of aid stations or anything. I even saw signs to Vientiane only a sly 380 or so km away.

At this point I conceded defeat… I was lost in Laos. This was the key part and greatest personal lesson learnt from the race.

The American Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön taught me about the term ‘shenpa’, simply put, it’s that immediate feeling and reaction we experience in varying situations. I experience it as an almost internal boiling sensation. That’s how I interpret it anyway. The urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down.

I was frustrated and a little agitated, but I recalled reading that the shenpa sensation is said to last just a few short seconds, I believe the number is in fact 6 seconds. It was in that very moment of recognition that I was able to ‘unhook’ myself from the automated cycle where the mind can have such a tendency to develop an irrational story, further compounding any fairly minor issue.

With a fresh and clear outlook, I nipped it in the bud, it was what it was and I went about attaching my thoughts instead to what this detour meant from a #Smilinggg perspective.

It gave me further opportunity to share a “Sabaidee” and smile at a greater number of people.

Everything happens for a reason. This was my reason. That’s at least what I was telling myself!

After a few more kilometres, I was finally back on the right track and encouraged by the generous support of the volunteers and spectators.

I’ve noticed the spoken word of encouragement in South East Asia tends to be FIGHTING. I’d respond “yes with three G’s!” It gave me a giggle, even if I was the only one who got the joke.

Having clocked the best part of 34 kilometres, I finally crossed the finish line to be greeted by the beaming smile of Amanda who only went and achieved a top three podium finish for her 7km run! Hashtag proud.

As always, a huge thank you must always go to the volunteers for their encouragement and for the most part, their directions. Thanks to the race organisers. All proceeds from the race went to the Laos Friends Hospital for Children.

The final thank you is to you for actually reading this… I have a real tendency to waffle. Talking of which, I think it’s time for some.

Steps and Smiles 


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