Athens Marathon was just 4 weeks ago, so not a lot of time for tapering. I rested one week after Athens and went back to long runs between 13 and 18 miles. And that was already in December. I tapered for about one week and it was time for vacation! Oh well, it is flat course - cannot be that hard in my mind.
When our family arrived in Chiang Mai on Dec 16th, the temperature was around 20 C - very ideal for a race day. We spent the day before the race in an elephant farm; feeding, bathing, and riding elephants through the jungles. That was such a fun experience. And card loading was definitely easy in Chiang Mai: there are probably more night market food stands than the population in Encinitas. Seriously!
Our hotel was just two blocks away from the start line. The race started at Tha Pae Gate of the Old Town. Something unique about this race was the noise level - there were whistles, drums and firecrackers. Definitely high energy. the route followed along the roads around the Chiang Mai Moat, passing some beautiful Lanna temples. The backdrop of the route is Doi Suthep where the renowned “Phra That DoiSuthep” is situated, the sacred place of worship of the Chiang Mai city.
The first 5 miles was eventless. The crowd was not too big (~3000 runners), and the morning breeze was very comfortable. The only little surprise was that they only closed half of the road - and it was a very narrow road next to the moat to begin with. It slanted more than I am used to back home. But no big deal, the race continued.
At around mile 8, I felt some discomfort on the inside of the right upper arm. I was pretty sure that it was a mosquito bite - I am a mosquito magnet. Not much I could do for a mosquito bite, so I ignored it and kept running. That continued for another hour, and it got so uncomfortable that I had to give it a scratch at one of the water stations. It was already under daylight by then and I saw my fingers were red after the scratch. Blood? Cannot be from a mosquito bite! I was a little shocked and had a look at my inner arm - it had a raw spot from chafing the size of a strawberry. No wonder it was hurting so bad - the sweating was really rubbing the salt over the wound.
This was the first race that I had to ask help from medical to "patch" me up - and I was expecting an easy one. At least the rest of the race went on without further surprises. At about Mile 24, we came back to the old town, heading towards the finish line. I finished the race a mere 5 minutes faster than the Athens Marathon despite being a flat course. At least that sets a new PR.