The Daily Explorer

May 18, 2009

Marathon Man

Chiang Mai, Thailand: May 2009

Meso Fit



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MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome back to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time. To our regulars, many thanks for viewing our online publication and for giving us your feedback. Over 14,000 visitors have been to see our site since the beginning of 2008. For new readers, Ray has been living nomadically for nearly three and a half years since he left England in November 2005. In that time, he has visited or lived in 15 countries and we have been publishing news and stories about his travels throughout that period. If you would like to know more about what’s in our archives, check out some of our Previous Issues.

We always aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at

Our lastest issue has been compiled for us by one of our Asian correspondents, Me So Fit (above). Having first appeared in our sister publication, The Daily Lama in 2006, he immediately established himself as a firm favourite with our readers and we are delighted to see him return and make his debut for The Daily Explorer. Me So Fit will be bringing us all of the news and pictures from Chiang Mai in Thailand as Ray undertakes his gruelling 26 week training programme to be ready for the New York Marathon on 1st November. Already in his first four weeks of training, Ray has clocked up a staggering 108 miles of running! We are also recruiting someone to lead Ray’s Marathon Fundraising Campaign. Details of the campaign and the person who will manage it will be announced in our next issue, “Calling All Angels”.

In our last issue, our American correspondent Nick Elandimer ended his tour of duty with news and pictures about Ray and Nikki as they completed their month long tour of California. Before they left for London, they went to Lake Tahoe and explored the beautiful city of San Francisco. They also spent some time exploring the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at Carmel, Monterey and the Big Sur. And we had an insight into Ray’s inner world as he attended a two day personal development workshop in Oakland. If you missed it, you can read it now at: Adios California


Above: Bakers Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. You can see more pictures and stories about the closing stages of Ray and Nikki’s month long adventure on the west coast of America in our last issue: Adios California

Running in a marathon is a huge challenge for anyone, so I was very interested to find out why Ray had decided to undertake this and how he had come to choose Chiang Mai in Thailand as his training venue. We spoke on the phone whilst he was in London, preparing to fly out to Bangkok. “It is something I have always wanted to do” Ray told me. “Although I hardly ever mentioned it to anyone, I always dreamed I would run a marathon before I was 50 and I have just over a year left, so now is the time. Having recently been trekking in the Himalayas, I feel in pretty good shape and ready to make some massive demands on my own body” explained Ray. “I know it is going to be tough for me over the next 5-6 months as I get into the discipline of training every day, but I am really excited about doing something physical on this scale – something that I would normally consider beyond my capability. And it will enable me to raise a lot of money for worthy causes, so long as I can drum up support from Daily Explorer readers and friends around the world” added our traveller.

With only a few days in London to prepare for being away the rest of the year, I wanted to know what our global nomad would do with the time? “Oh my gosh Me So, there are so many things, I am not sure how to answer your question, but lets start with the marathon itself. Before I fly off to Thailand, I have to register for a place in the race with one of the major charities and establish my fundraising strategy. Then I have to make sure I get the best equipment I can – a pair of properly fitted running shoes, a ‘camelback’ water bladder, socks, shorts and other bits and pieces. I also have to make sure that my laptop is properly set up and working as it will be the engine of my fundraising campaign and I will have real problems if it gives out on me” explained our nomadic traveller. “And of course, I would like to see one or two friends and catch a bit of the cultural scene in London before I go as it will be a while before I get another chance” he added.

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Above: During his brief stop over in London, Ray managed to see The Jersey Boys musical (left) which is a colourful tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – “I loved hearing all of the songs, like Rag Doll, Sherry and Let’s Hang On” said Ray. By way of a total contrast, our traveller was also invited to a rendition of Handel’s Messiah at the Albert Hall (right) by his friend Adrian Hollister – “I have known the music since I was a child and the chance to hear it being performed live was an opportunity to good to miss” said Ray. “My friend Adrian has been very supportive and very generous since I left the UK and I really appreciate it” he told me

Below: Ray calls in at the London Marathon Store in Covent Garden to have his gait analysed and buy correctly fitted running shoes – “It’s amazing when you begin a journey with no previous experience” said Ray. “You start to discover that there is so much you do not know (what learning experts describe as ‘unconscious incompetence’). For me, the shoes were the first example of this happening” he told me. “I had myself filmed on video on their treadmill to see if my feet turned in or out as I ran, which determines if you ‘under-pronate’ or ‘over-pronate’, or are a ‘neutral’. The type you are determines which running shoe is the right one for you. I am an over pronator i.e. my feet roll inward too much when I run, which means I require a shoe with a lot of support. It may seem like a small point, but if you are wearing the wrong shoes in a 26 mile marathon, it can be very painful and cause serious injuries” explained our novice runner

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Above: Ray meets Natalie Tarrant, Events Manager for the World Cancer Research Fund (left), who have granted Ray his place in the New York Marathon – “I talked with a few charities and decided that the WCRF would be a worthy cause to support” said Ray. Several of my friends have had cancer and one recently died, which has made me feel very connected to the work the WCRF do. I am also going to raise money for two more groups – the Namaste Childrens Home in Nepal and the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, both of which are causes that are dear to my heart” he told me. I discovered these duirng my travels in Asia and I know they would be thrilled at what they could do with the additional funds that running this marathon might generate. I will be asking The Daily Explorer to publish full details of my “Calling All Angels” Campaign in the next issue, and would like to invite all readers to support me to raise the money that these people need” explained our adventurer. Ray’s 10 year old nephew, Dan (right), was the first person to sponsor our global nomad as he set off for Chiang Mai – “I am very proud of him” said Ray. “He insisted that he wanted to contribute some of his own pocket money and if we can get more of this kind of support, we should be able to to make a really big difference” said our excited traveller

Below: Ray’s arrival in Bangkok was carefully timed – “Anyone who has been to Asia will most probably know they celebrate their New Year in April with a water festival called Songkran” explained Ray. “Anyone who is around during Songkran is likely to get soaked, as is customary! I made sure I arrived as the festival was ending, staying in Bangkok for a couple of days until it was completely over. The people of Chiang Mai really go over the top in their celebration of the festival and it is impossible to avoid getting drenched” added our experienced Asian explorer (Photo: Susie Moberly)

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Two days in Bangkok gave our traveller an opportunity to get re-acquainted with a city that has become a regular stopping point in the last three and half years on the road. “I have lost count of the number of times I have been through here” said Ray. “This is my seventh visit to Thailand, not to mention other destinations where Bangkok has been used purely as a travel hub” he told me. “It is a fabulous city for stopping in, but not one I would want to live in – it is way too noisy and polluted for me” added Ray.

Talking to Ray, I discovered that there were two reasons he had decided to stop in the capital. “One is to meet up with Nikki, who arrived here a few days earlier than me (from England). We will then head off to Chiang Mai and start looking for somewhere to live for the next few months. The other is to meet a couple of business people who live and work in the city, to find out more about the opportunities that may exist for freelance work in Asia in the next year or two” said Ray. “I have always thought that I would get involved in business again at some point and although I do not want to alter my nomadic living experiment, exploring ways in which I can work alongside established businesses out here on an ad-hoc, temporary basis is of great interest. Last year, I got in touch with a couple of people I read about in The Bangkok Post, and they both agreed to meet me for some initial discussions. One of them has invited me and Nikki to meet him at his wife’s club, which should be interesting” said our enterprising traveller.


Above: The Bangkok skyline seen from the Expressway, with Lumphini Park in the foreground – “Its great to be back, if only for a couple of days” said Ray

Below: The river is one the highlights for visitors to Bangkok – “I know I have told our readers before, but it is worth mentioning that you can ride the entire length of the city on the river bus for around 20 pence (30 cents), making it one of the cheapest ‘star quality’ attractions in the world” claimed Ray. “The river bus passes many landmarks, like Wat Arun (left) and riding in one of them (right) is a unique experience” he told me

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Above: When people think of business, images of suits and offices spring to mind – “Things are very relaxed in Bangkok, certainly in the ex-pat community. One of the people I had arranged to meet was very excited about meeting at ‘The Check Inn’, his (Thai) wife’s club so I took Nikki along with me to enjoy the entertainment” Ray told me. “Actually, the girls were really rather good, singing a set of very popular songs to a small but lively audience. Regarding business, we had a productive conversation over dinner with our contact, which has led to Nikki and I agreeing to provide training and coaching services to companies in Asia that want to help their executives have a more powerful and dynamic personal impact” said Ray. “He has offered to help introduce us through his network, so watch this space!” added Ray  (Editors Note: If any of our readers have business contacts in South East Asia who may require this type of service, Ray would be delighted to hear from you, so please drop us a line via email at

Chiang Mai

Both Ray and Nikki have previously been to Chiang Mai, having made their initial visit in 2006. “We first came here after six months on the road in Thailand, when we decided to enrol at the Language Institute at the University to study for our TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) qualification. It was one of the hardest courses we have ever done in our lives, but worth it in the end as we both passed the course with honours” recalled Ray. “During that period, we made quite a few friends, both ex-pat and Thai, and we got to know the place very well, so it feels a bit like a second home coming back here” he explained. “It was during my last visit, in July 2008 that I met Matt Campbell, who has kindly agreed to be my marathon coach. He lives here wit his wife and family and Nikki and I are going to rent a temporary home for the next few months while I train with him to get ready for the big race in New York later this year” said Ray.

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Above: Map showing the location of Chiang Mai (left), which is where Ray has decided to train for the 2009 New York Marathon – “Lots of people say to me that it might be very hot training here and they are right, which is why I am going to be doing most of my road running at 5.30 or 6.00 am!” Ray told me. “And if I can reach all of my goals training in this environment, I should have a big advantage when I run the race in New York as it will be quite cool in November and will feel easier (relatively!) joked our novice runner. While Ray and Nikki were conducting their search for a rentable home, they stayed at The Tip Top Thai Guest House (right), which Nikki first discovered a couple of years ago – It has become my preferred guest house for short stays” she told me, “because the lady who owns it, called Noi is a lovely, kind host who feels more like a friend than a landlady. We always have great conversations about the nuances of the English language. And there are only five or six guest rooms, plus a kitchen so it really feels like a home raher than a room ” added Nikki. “I am delighted to say that Noi is also a Daily Explorer reader” said Ray

So how did the search for somewhere to live work out? “Well Me So, it was a little bit harder than we initially thought and we had to engage the help of several Property Agents to get a good selection of places to see” Ray told me. “For several days, we hardly did anything else other than phone agents or advertisers in the local press and attend viewings, which in the 40 degree sunshine was pretty exhausting. As I am sure most people who have rented a home will have experienced, we reached a point where we felt like giving up. We lost one fabulous apartment to someone else who narrowly beat us to it and nowhere else we saw after that matched exactly to our specification” recalled Ray. “But as these things usually go, it must have been serendipity because a couple of days later, a friend of Nikki’s who has a lovely, fully furnished and secluded house in the old city (our favourite part) announced she was leaving town for four months and was looking for someone to rent her home while she was away!” recalled our very excited house hunter. “We had a chat with her and decided it was perfect for us” he told me.


Above: Ray stands outside one of the many houses and apartments that he and Nikki went to see as they searched for their ideal temporary home in  Chiang Mai

Below: Nikki chats with Esther White, an American living in Chiang Mai who just happened to be returning to the USA for four months whilst her and Ray were looking for a base in the city – “In choosing a home, what is most important to you and Ray?” enquires Esther. “Now, let me think” says Nikki. “Oh, I know… how far is the nearest decent coffee shop?” replies our caffeine lover


Shortly after his arrival in Chiang Mai, Ray linked up with Matt Campbell, his marathon coach to agree a plan that would see our global explorer reaching race condition towards the end of October this year. I was curious to find out what was involved and asked Ray to explain it to me. “First of all, I am really thrilled that I have a coach at all” said Ray. “I know a few people who have attempted this and have done their training on their own, using books or other online sources to guide them, which is an approach that I did not feel particularly comfortable with. So when I asked (six times marathon runner) Matt if he would be my coach, I was absolutely delighted when he said yes and if he helps me become even half as capable at long distance running as he is, I am sure I will remain indebted to him for the rest of my life!” said our appreciative traveller. Although it is still to be confirmed, we are hoping to get an interview with Matt for the next issue of The Daily Explorer so we can find out a bit  more about him and how he is working with Ray.

So what is the plan that Ray is working to? “In simple terms Me So, we are working to a plan that has three phases. I have already completed the first phase, which lasted two weeks. When I arrived, neither Matt or myself had any measure of my level of fitness so we had a very relaxed two week period where we ran together a few times and did some training in the gym. During this time, I was using Matt’s Garmin 405, a GPS enabled sports watch to monitor my pace, heart rate and other vital statistics and we used this data to establish the best programme for the second and third phases” explained Ray. “I now have one of my own and it’s really useful in enabling me to analyse my performance on the computer immediately after I have done a run. Over time, I will be building distance and improving speed, so having the ability to pace myself and measure the difference in every run is vital” said our high tech traveller.


Above: The incredible Garmin 405 Forerunner GPS enabled sports watch – “There is probably as much computing power in this device as there was in the mainframe computers used to launch men into space in the sixties” said Ray

Below: Ray stretches before undertaking an ‘easy’ three mile run in the Powerhouse Gym (below this picture, left) during Phase One of his training plan – “In this context, ‘easy’ means way slower than marathon pace” explained Ray. “Ideally, I would like to complete the marathon in under four hours, although I will not know if this is feasible for another few weeks when I am further into my training. If it is, then I will need to run at a pace of 9:09 mins per hour. My ‘easy’ training pace is just under 11:00 mins per hour, which means my heart rate stays relatively low, making it easier to complete the run without feeling exhausted” he told me



I asked Ray what has been the hardest thing for him so far? “Definitely my first day” he told me. “This was the point where the talking about doing a marathon stopped and the actual work started – up until this moment it had still seemed like a fantasy, but when I turned up at the lakeside in my shorts and vest at 6am on a chilly Monday morning to meet Matt and ran two and a quarter miles with him, the reality of my choice hit me in the face like crashing into a brick wall” recalled our novice runner. “I finished that run absolutely exhausted, wanting to punch Matt every time he loudly instructed me to ‘go faster’ towards the end – I began to realise that mountain trekking and running are two very different things and I suddenly started to panic that I would never be able to train for a marathon in time” added Ray. “Even my heart rate was peaking at 175 beats per minute, which for someone of my age, is pretty close to the maximum. It made me feel quite dejected as I was at full capacity and running like a tortoise!” joked our traveller.

Ray’s coach saw all of this going on and tried to re-assure him that it would all be OK. “I tried telling him not to worry and to just ease his body into the idea of running over the next two weeks. I said that we would be pretty flexible and that he should keep active, sleep and eat well (lots of fruit and greens) and have a massage or two, especially if he experienced ‘DOMS’ later that week” said Matt. “DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. After a workout, it is quite common and quite annoying, particularly if you are just beginning an exercise programme or changing activities. For the new exerciser who wakes up one day and goes on a three mile run, there is bound to be some muscle pain and soreness the next day or two. This is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build. The soreness is generally at its worst within the first two days following the activity and subsides over the next few days” explained Matt. So has Ray been suffering from DOMS? “Actually no – I have been quite lucky so far” he told me. “Stretching is going to be key for me to stave off any injury problems, and as Nikki is part of the yoga community here, I have a lot of help at hand in that area, as well as a local physio who is joining my marathon ‘team’ while I am here” Ray told me.


Above: Ray looks quite comfortable as he reaches the halfway point of his training run. I asked him what he thinks about while he is on the treadmill? – “Oh, I am listening to a list of 250 songs that I have compiled on my iPod for my ‘Marathon Playlist’, which will be one of my support tools for the race” said Ray. “For a four hour time, I will only need around 50-60 tracks so it is critical that I choose those songs which really get my energy going and give me an extra boost, especially as I get more tired in the second half. So I am listening to them all and every week I eliminate those that are not right, a bit like my own version of ‘Pop Idol’. I hope to end up with the “World’s Best Music to Run a Marathon To, Ever!” he laughed

Below: Stretching is vitally important, before and after every training event – “It is one of the areas where I know I am vulnerable, as I have never learnt how to do it properly and basically don’t like it” admitted Ray. “I am taking Matt’s guidance and using some of the stretches which are explained on his website and Nikki is also helping me develop a stretching routine I can do in around 40 minutes per day. By developing the habit, I am hoping to avoid any injuries” said our cautious athlete


Returning to the three phase plan, I asked Ray what the typical regime had been during Phase One. “The idea of Phase One (the first two weeks) was really for me to get to know my own body a bit better and for Matt to get an idea of my starting point so he could coach me effectively” explained Ray. “We were both considering it as pre-training, so in my first week, my programme looked like this:

Tuesday – Cross Train (30 minutes on a bike)

Wednesday – 3 mile easy run at 10 min/mile pace

Thursday – Huay Tung Thao Lake; tempo run: 1 mile easy, 1 mile at 9min/mile and 1 mile easy

Friday – Cross Train (30 minutes on a bike)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 4.5 mile run (or time on your feet 45 minutes)

“In total, I ran 11.7 miles and cycled 22.4 miles in my first week, and then increased this to 16.6 miles of running in my second week, giving me and Matt a solid base of performance data to work from on entering Phase Two, a 10 week block of endurance building to enable me to run longer and longer distances, finalising at around 13 miles in a single run (half marathon) by early July” said Ray.


Above: Pushing himself harder than he has done for a few years, Ray is determined to build his strength and endurance during the second phase of his three phase training programme – “After 10 weeks, I will be asked by Matt to undertake a time trial, which means I will have to run either 10 kilometres or a half marathon within a specified time. If I achieve the goal time he sets me, then (the 16 week) Phase Three will be specifically designed for a four hour marathon. If I finish the trial outside of the specified time, we will have to adjust my target time for the race downward as it is extremely unlikely that  my body will cope if I try to do the marathon in four hours, leading to a lot of discomfort and possibly exhaustion. In that case, it would be much better for me if I aim for a slower time from the outset and train accordingly” explained our well informed runner

Below: Matt and Ray are energised after one of their early morning runs, this time at The National Stadium about seven kilometres outside Chiang Mai

Early Run

Matts own story is quite inspirational. A forty year old Englishman living in Chiang Mai with his wife and three children, he became a runner in July 2003 after several years of being considerably overweight and in relatively poor health. “When I heard about this and saw some photographs of how Matt looked just seven years ago, I could not believe it” said Ray. It has inspired me with confidence that I can get myself to the point of marathon fitness and I know that Matt will be able to empathise with the barriers I will hit as I continue to train in pursuit of my ultimate goal. Running has changed Matt’s life and it is not all down to exercise – he is also very disciplined about what he eats, and is now more less entirely consuming raw foods” said our eager running student.


Above: Matt in December 2001 (left) and a more recent photograph taken in 2008 (right). He now weighs 68.5 kilo’s and has around 8% body fat from constantly running around 30 miles per week, cross training, yoga and a raw food diet. You can read more about Matt’s personal story on his ‘Rawrunner’ web site

Below: Ray enjoys a two hour treatment with Jang, his Thai massage therapist – “Nikki introduced me to her in 2008 when she came round to our house and gave us both a fantastic treatment, releasing a lot of tension and stretching our tired muscles. Since then, she has been a regular visitor and is now the official ‘physio’ on my small but growing marathon team. She is brilliant at what she does and the more I train, the more I look forward to our sessions as they really help me to maintain muscle flexibility and ease out some of the soreness in my joints from pounding mile after mile of concrete” said Ray


When you are focused on something and you get into some sort of routine, distractions can sometimes feel unwelcome, but for our trainee marathon runner a few days ago, there was a major exception. “Two of my best friends, Nic and Regina Meredith, who Nikki and I recently stayed with in Sacramento, were visiting Chiang Mai for the first time. Naturally, Nikki and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible and make sure their visit to the city was memorable and comfortable” explained Ray. “Fortunately for me, most of my running is done in the early hours before the sun gets too strong, so them being here was hardly going to interfere with my training. I was very excited about them coming as they are my first friends from the west to venture out to this part of the world” added Ray. “Nikki and I went to meet them at the airport and it was so exciting to see them arrive. We couldn’t stop talking about all of the wonderful things they were going to experience here” Ray told me.


Above: Ray can barely contain his excitement as his dear friends Nic (left) and Regina (right) arrive at Chiang Mai airport

Below: The following morning, Nic and Regina experience their first ride in one of the city’s many tuk-tuk’s


Like many foreigners who visit Thailand, one of the motivations for Nic and Regina to come to Chiang Mai is the easy access to high quality, low cost dental treatment. “When Nikki and I were at their home in California a couple of months ago, they told us about the dental work they were both going to undertake in Sacramento and how much it was going to cost” recalled Ray. “Convinced that they could save a great deal of money, we put them in touch with a reputable dentist here in Chiang Mai and after investigation, our assumptions were confirmed. This was fantastic for them, as it meant they could get all of the treatments they both needed, saving lots of money and getting a holiday thrown in. And it was fantastic for us as it meant we would see two of our best friends for at least three weeks” said our excited traveller.


Above: One of Chiang Mai’s many beautiful Buddhist temples – “Nic and Regina are in for a real treat” said Ray and Nikki, as they revealed their plans to me for showing their friends around the city

Below: Nikki looks at a map of Chiang Mai (left) with Regina whilst they figure out what her and Nic would most like to do during their well earned rest in the city, working around their hectic schedule of dental treatments! Buddhist monks (right) can be frequently spotted throughout the city, giving the place a very tranquil feel




Above: (left) “The best foot massage in the whole of Chiang Mai is available at the Chinese Reflexology Centre on the Rachadamnoen Road” says Nikki. After trying it for an hour, Regina and Nic definitely agree with her! So far, so good – Chiang Mai is working it’s magic on Regina who takes time out to relax in her apartment (right)

Below: The Sunday Walking Market is an institution in Chiang Mai, frequented by foreginers and tourists alike. One of the popular attractions is this converted VW bus that is now a mobile coffee shop (left). And after a couple of hours of browsing the numerous, colourful market stalls, what better than to get some delicious street food and join the huge crowd, al fresco dining outside one of the beautiful temples (right)


With Nic and Regina orientated and settled, Ray returned to his marathon training, which was now entering the crucial second phase with a 10 week endurance building block. “This phase is all about being able to train Ray’s body to run longer distances” Matt told me. “I have instructed Ray to concentrate on distance rather than speed for the next 10 weeks and I will also introduce some core strength work and plyometric exercises into his programme to prepare him for phase three when we will no doubt have to focus on increasing his speed and pace. But for now, putting the miles in is the name of the game” explained Matt. “His goal is to be comfortably running around 40 miles per week by the end of this phase” he added.

“Once I had seen the programme, I soon realised that I would run around 330 miles in the 10 week period before starting my 16 week marathon specific training, which would add at least as much again. I now understand why Matt recommended I brought two pairs of running shoes with me, as the life expectancy of most shoes is around 500 miles” added Ray.


Above: Matt discusses the second phase of Ray’s training programme and makes sure he understands what is expected of him regarding the time trials in ten weeks – “Gulp!” says Ray. “I suddenly feel an increase of pressure as I’m aware that if I don’t run fast enough, I may not realise my ideal time of four hours” he told me. “Don’t worry, Ray” says Matt re-assuringly. “You are in good shape and making excellent progress. Just stay focused on building distance and we’ll work on the speed later. Oh, and by the way, I may have a surprise for you in the next couple of days” said Matt, adding a bit of intrigue and mystery. For any readers contemplating a marathon, the ten week programme Matt has designed for Ray is based on one he adapted from Road Racing for Serious Runners by Pfitzinger & Douglas

Below: Ray tucks in to a hearty portion of brown rice salad at a local vegetarian restaurant – “There has to be an upside to getting up at 5.30 or 6am every day and running a few miles, and I think I have found it” Ray told me. “Basically, I need a lot of calories so it is necessary for me to eat lots of food, provided it is the right kind! And in Chiang Mai, tasty, healthy tuck is something there is an abundance of” said our rather hungry runner



Above: Into the first week of Phase Two, Ray is up early grinding out the miles (left) at the old sports stadium in the city. The daily cup of fresh coffee is a welcome treat after the run and a shower, and an ideal opportunity to catch up with the news in The Bangkok Post (right)

Concentrating on building endurance, I found out that Ray got a call from Matt about half way through his third week of training inviting him to take part in a 10 kilometre race at the weekend. “I was a bit surprised when he suggested it” said our nervous runner. “I have never run in a competitive race before over any distance, nor have I run 10 kilometres in one go since I got here. And I have only been training about three weeks in total” he told me, “so I guess you can understand my reluctance. But at the same time, Matt wants me to experience race conditions with no pressure at all to hit a particular pace, just to get used to the scene and get a feel for what the crowd and the atmosphere are like” explained Ray. “It is possibly too early for him” said Matt. “However, it’s probably do-able at 11:00 min/mile pace and will be good experience for him” he added. “I think it will be a great opportunity and am going for it” declared Ray. So, come 5.00am Saturday morning, Ray and his cheerleader Nikki set off to join Matt for the start of Ray’s first ever competitive race.


Above: Ray arrives at 5.15am to register for a place to run in the ‘Yang Nerng’ Minimarathon, which is 5.97 miles long – the furthest distance our runner has attempted to date, after three weeks of training ……

Below: Ray stands in the shadows and quietly contemplates his race strategy – “I am making no attempt whatsoever to compete with anyone else” he told me. “This is about me having a chance to find out if what people say is true about pacing. For example, Matt has told me that the presence of the other runners, the crowd and the atmosphere will make me want to set off at a faster pace than I should, which would have a detrimental effect on my overall time – something I want to be very aware of when it comes to the New York marathon in November” he told me



Above: The master and the pupil – Matt arrives to talk through the race details with Ray and help settle his nerves – “He is so great. He was not running in the race as a competitor, but came to accompany me, helping me with pacing and generally supporting me to do the best I could” said Ray

Below: Making sure you know the route is one of the essential things that Ray needed to know for this local race (left). Fortunately for him, the New York marathon is very well organised and this level of information gathering will not be necessary. Thailand provides a very picturesque setting for a race (right), although the humidity is bordering on unbearable and means runners need to drink vast quantities of water to stay hydrated. The rather fit looking ex-pat to the right of our runner (with his hands on his hips) went on to win in his category


Above: Matt helps Ray set his Garmin 405 up to record his performance data during the race (left). Meanwhile, Ray takes a look at some of the competitors and realises that he is probably going to find it hard to keep up (right)

Below: Just a minute or two to go before the start and Ray is still able to joke around with Matt, despite his nervousness – I just hope I can run a decent enough time so I get a sense that I am making some progress with my training” Ray tells me



Above: Less than an hour later, and it is all over as Ray crosses the line with Matt in a personal best time of 54 mins 18 seconds – “I feel very chuffed” said Ray. “My pace was around 9:03 mins per mile, which would be slightly faster than my marathon pace, although it was less than a quarter of the distance, but it is very encouraging at this stage” he told me. And what did Matt think about his protege’s performance? “He has done very well for his first race. I think he is a natural runner – his race time already ‘predicts’ a marathon of 4 hours 19 mins, which is not bad going for just three weeks’ of running! He did start off a bit quick, which was partly my fault for the first two miles. They should have been slower – maybe 9:30 mins and 9:10 mins per hour pace. He put in a great 4th mile, was obviously hurting in mile 5 (due to the first two miles being too fast), and overall a good last mile” was his assessment. “His first race, his furthest distance and his fastest (average) pace since we started working together. Not a bad morning’s work!” added Ray’s encouraging mentor (Editors Note: Ignore the time on the clock – it’s not correct!)

To see a short interview with Ray and Matt talking to Amber Solaire after the finish of the race, watch the video clip below:


Above: Feeling very hot and very satisfied, our novice runner enjoys the moment as he reflects on his first race – “I got so hot out there, instead of drinking the water we were handed at the last two stations, I was pouring it over my head to cool myself down” Ray told me. And his mentor? “I am actually enjoying training him” said Matt, “as it is something quite new for me”

Editors Note: What a great article from Me So Fit –  it makes me feel hot and sweaty just reading about Ray’s exploits! Our next issue, “Calling All Angels” is due online in a couple of weeks. We hope to announce the name of the person we have chosen to run Ray’s fundraising campaign and give you much more information about the three organisations that Ray is running to support. If you have missed previous issues of The Daily Explorer, we asked Ray why he had chosen to run a marathon this year. “I wanted to undertake something that I would normally think of as ‘impossible’, partly for the mental discipline of transcending my own limiting beliefs, partly as a major investment in my health as I get ready to enter my fifties and partly to raise money for people who need it” explained Ray. “By running in the New York Marathon, I will be raising funds to support the World Cancer Research Fund, the Namaste Childrens Home in Nepal and the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. My goal is to raise $12,000 dollars. In order to create this, I am counting on as much support from our readers as I can get! I will be writing personally to many of you in the next few weeks and would be extremely grateful if you would join my campaign to support these organisations” said Ray. If you are one of our regular readers, please look out for the link we will send you and please, please support Ray’s campaign if you can.


In the meantime, our research team has come across a picture of Jason Jacobs (left) who just ran in the 113th Boston Marathon dressed as an iPhone. It made all of us at The Daily Explorer offices curious to know if any of our readers would like to suggest what Ray should wear when he runs in the New York Marathon in November. If you have any ideas, please drop me a line at

Meanwhile, one of our regular commentators – Susie Moberly in Ko Samui, Thailand sent us a news item which will probably sadden many of our readers in the UK:

“With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is perhaps worth reflecting on the death of someone who made an important contribution to our lives and which went almost unnoticed last week. Larry La Prise, the man who wrote “The Hokey Cokey”, died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in ….. and then the trouble started!”

That’s about it for now. We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please keep sending us your ideas to help us improve it. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at



Above and below: These two amazing images were also sent into us by Susie Moberly – “I just love Edgar Mueller’s work” she told me. “Look at the hours and hours he puts in for you and I to enjoy. Creating temporary art takes courage”. Our thanks to Susie on behalf of our readers!




  1. I was in Bangkok for Songkran too! I flew back to London on the Tuesday. Good luck with the training.

    Comment by howard — May 18, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

  2. Great stuff… great read… great pictures and great to see you using mine too! Thanks for the credits! You are very dedicated Ray. I don’t know how you do it?? What stamina – good luck and looking forward to catching you with my camera during training when we’re in Chiang Mai in July…
    Susie Cream!

    Comment by Susie Moberly — May 18, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  3. Amazing Holmes, absolutely brilliant! I so enjoyed reading about your marathon training and seeing the interview footage with Matt. I am deeply impressed with your progress and the time you achieved in your first ever race. Well done – you can be proud. I am proud of you, brilliant!!!

    Comment by Charlie — May 18, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

  4. I love reading about your adventures. Go Ray!!!!!!!

    Comment by Denise Pappenberger — May 19, 2009 @ 12:58 am

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