The Daily Explorer

July 5, 2009

Half Marathon Man

Chiang Mai, Thailand: July 2009

Meso FitMe So Fit profile 44pt

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 17,000 visitors have been to see our site since the beginning of 2008. For new readers, Ray has been living nomadically for over 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 him 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 (ray@thedailyexplorer.com) or ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com

Andy Murray

Above: There has been huge interest in this years Wimbledon tennis tournament in Chiang Mai where our global explorer is currently based – “We are six hours ahead of the UK, so I have only been watching some of the matches on TV” said Ray. “Centre Court was a fitting arena for Andy Murray (right) to try and become the first British player in 63 years to reach the mens final. I saw his match with Andy Roddick as it happened and was gutted when he lost” said our tennis fan in northern Thailand (Picture: The Times)

Our lastest issue has been compiled for us by our Asian health correspondent, Me So Fit, who has been keeping an eye on Ray during his training programme. Our global nomad is currently preparing for the first of two half marathon races in Thailand during his build up to the New York Marathon on 1st November. Ray arrived in Chiang Mai to start training in mid April. Up to the 30th June, he had clocked up a staggering 350 miles of running!  Me So Fit also finds out about one or two of Ray’s more interesting social activities and we get an update on Ray’s “Calling All Angels” marathon fundraising campaign from Ivana Getachek.

In our last issue, our global adventurer returned to the Elephant Nature Park with two friends who had flown in from the USA. The park is run by Lek Chailert, who has created a rescue centre for injured and distressed elephants. It is funded entirely from donations and Ray is running the marathon to raise money for Lek (as well as two other causes). It is a compelling place and she is a truly inspirational woman. If you missed it, you can read more about it now at: Return to Elephant Heaven

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Above: In our last issue, Ray went back to the Elephant Nature Park (left) and we discovered he was training virtually every day, rain or shine (right) to be ready for the New York Marathon on 1st November, which he is doing to raise money for three worthy causes. You can read more about it at: Return to Elephant Heaven

Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and probably the perfect base for Ray while he is training. “In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea to train here because of the heat and humidity” said Ray. “But now I am realising just how perfect this place is for a variety of reasons. Obviously one of them is that my coach (Matt Campbell) lives here, but aside from that, there is access to an abundance of fresh organic fruit and vegetables at very affordable prices and great facilities like my gym and proper running tracks. If I start my runs early, the weather is not really a problem. And because I inevitably end up with tight or aching muscles from the longer runs, there are also plenty of places around town to get much needed Thai massage for my feet and body so that I am able to continue training and remain free of injury” explained Ray.

Since I last spoke to Ray a couple of weeks ago, his physical training has definitely intensified and I wondered how he was coping with it. “Much to my delight Me So, I am doing pretty well and am slightly ahead of my schedule as I reach the end of my ten week endurance building block, which completes the second phase of my three phase pogramme” he told me. “I have really been focusing in the last ten weeks on building up distance and getting my body used to running for two hours or more. In May, my long runs were averaging around 6-8 miles and I ran 128 miles in total during the month. In June, the distance of my long runs virtually doubled to 12-14 miles and my total for the month was 181 miles. Now I can see why it will be necessary for me to replace my running shoes before the marathon in November!” he added.

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Above: While he trains for the marathon, Ray is based in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand (left). His 26 week training programme is now intensifying as he gets ready to run his first half marathon race in Pattaya (near Bangkok) in a couple of weeks, which we will be covering in our next issue of The Daily Explorer – “It feels great to be training as hard as this” Ray told me. “The last time I had a tough regime was when I went to St. Maarten in the Caribbean (in 2007) and trained nearly every day at a gym there with Desiree Winkel (right) who had been a champion body builder in Holland” said our athletic traveller

Below: For Ray, the dream of running a marathon was formulated over a long period of time. He was pictured in London during a brief visit in 2007 reading “The Age of Miracles” by Marianne Williamson (left) – “I started to think it would be a miracle if I could run 26.2 miles in around four hours without any injuries” recalled Ray. Matt Campbell, his coach, says “Ray is progressing faster than I thought and is a natural runner”. We managed to obtain this picture of Ray (right) which confirms he was already enrolled in an early training programme to develop super strength in his leg muscles before his first birthday!

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As the long runs have increased in distance, I was curious to know if Ray was noticing any difference in his aerobic capacity? “It is astonishing how much my body has adapted as I have demanded more and more from it” said Ray, somewhat surprised. “In the early days of my training, my heartrate was reaching over 170 beats per minute at a fast pace, which is pretty close to the maximum a heart will pump for someone of my age. As I have gradually built up my distance, I have noticed that slowly but surely, I am running at the same speed, even slightly faster sometimes than I was before, but my heartrate is only reaching 140-145 beats per minute which means my aerobic efficiency has greatly improved. My coach has also been noticing this so he has started to incorporate some new exercises into my training programme, like hill runs and interval training.

June Training Log

Above: This is Ray’s actual workout log for June – anyone can use this neat online tool for free at www.workoutlog.com. The log does not include any details of Ray’s strength training, which is in addition to the running, twice a week at the gym

Below: We discovered that Ray demonstrated his formidable aerobic capacity many years ago at the Brighstone Holiday Camp on the Isle of Wight during a Tarzan competition, when he was seven years old! – “The training I am doing is definitely making me feel younger than my years on the outside, although on the inside I still experience myself like the kid in the picture most of the time” said Ray

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I asked Ray to explain to me what these hill runs and interval training exercises involve. “Both are designed to work the heart hard and increase my aerobic capacity and lactate threshold” said Ray. Running up steep hills without a break obviously increases the heart rate dramatically compared to running on the flat and you build up more lactate acid in your muscles, particularly the ones on the tops of your legs” he explained. “By doing these harder exercises, returning to running on level ground is noticeably easier and the more you mix the two, the easier it becomes although the hill running hurts like hell while I am doing it” he admitted. “The interval training is similar, but it is done on level ground. After a warm up of one mile, I will run just over half a mile at a really fast pace (8.0 min per mile) and then slow down for 200 metres to catch my breath. This cycle is repeated five times – a total of around three miles at very fast pace – and I can tell you that by the end of the fifth set, I am pretty knackered” said our global traveller.

Despite the fact the training is definitely harder than it was the last time I spoke to Ray, it is really paying off in terms of results. I discovered that Ray has already completed a half marathon in his training. “It’s true and actually, I have now run the distance twice and my time is not bad either” said our delighted trainee runner. “Although running that distance is very tiring, I am finding that it is not exhausting which means I am building up a strong belief system about being able to make my body run twice this distance. At this moment in time, running a full marathon remains a fantasy but as each week passes, I am becoming more and more convinced in my own mind that I am going to be able to complete the full 26.2 miles and this belief is going to be crucial in the weeks ahead” he told me. “To cope with the additional energy my body is demanding, I have virtually had to double the amount of food I am eating and drink at least three litres of water every day” said Ray. “Running 13 miles consumes over 1,700 calories in around two hours. To put that into perspective, the average man will normally require about 2,500 calories for a whole day” said our well informed runner.

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 Above: The combination of a great coach, a well designed training programme and a lot of hard work are producing fantastic results for Ray, who is seen here looking quite comfortable as he completes a 13 mile run (for the first time in his training and his life!) on the track inside the municipal stadium just north of Chiang Mai’s ‘old’ city – “Knowing that people all over the world will be sponsoring me, I feel a great pressure to keep up my end of the bargain and get myself to the start line in New York in peak condition, so that I am able to deliver a good result on the 1st November” said Ray. “Having said that, I definitely have the harder part of the deal – to make a donation, all someone has to do is click on their computer screen and enter their credit card details, which is considerably easier and a lot less time consuming than running all those miles!” joked Ray. (Editors Note: In the not too distant future, Matt Campbell (Ray’s coach) will be working with him to increase his speed, which means doing some sprint work on the track. Let’s hope it works out better than it did for the unfortunate runner in the video clip below)

Although Ray is training six days a week, he starts very early and is usually finished by the middle of the morning. “It works well because I can finish my runs before it gets too hot and it leaves plenty of time for other things” he told me. “When we got to Chiang Mai, Nikki and I knew we would be here for six months, so we gave some thought as to how we might be able to earn some money by providing a service to people in the business world. This resulted in us putting together a training/coaching programme for people who want to improve their presentation and communication skills” recalled Ray. “Once we were clear in our mind what we could offer, the next step for us was to go out into the market place and talk to business people, hoping we might find some potential customers or at least work out how to do that in the future. We discovered a new monthly ‘networking’ meeting was going to be taking place at the Meridien Hotel, so we scrubbed up, put on the smartest clothes we had and headed off to the event” he told me.

So how did our two entrepreneurs get on? “As is typical with some networking events, we talked to a lot of people but did not find any concrete business opportunities on this occasion. The great thing for us is that we are not too bothered as we already have enough money to be living here so we are not under any pressure – it is purely a creative challenge and potentially something that allows us both to capitalise on the experience and knowledge we have both gained in our working lives” said Ray. “At the event, they did have some great finger food and plenty of wine on offer so it was definitely a good decision to go there for the evening” added our global explorer.

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Above: A few days after attending the inaugural monthly business networking event at the Chiang Mai Meridien, Ray and Nikki were surprised to see themselves on page 9 of the Chiang Mai Mail (circled), the city’s local newspaper – “They described us both as Directors of Nuera Ventures, making us sound like serious business people, which kind of made us laugh as we are (at this stage) playing with the idea of doing some professional work. Who knows – maybe we will get invited to train someone while we are here” said Ray. “Whatever happens, it is great fun coming up with the ideas and meeting new people so we have nothing to lose”

They sometimes say that the universe always sends you the people you need to meet at any given moment and this is probably true in the case of our traveller meeting Azriel Cohen in Chiang Mai. “He is very creative and very artistic and some of his photography is excellent” said Ray (Editors Note: Azriel took some incredible pictures of Lek’s elephants for our last issue; see Return to Elephant Heaven). “I was not the first or the only person around town to ask him if he might share some of his knowledge and experience with us so that we might all be able to take better photographs” added Ray. “Not that I have had any complaints so far from Mozzie Byte at The Daily Explorer” he was quick to point out! “It’s just that I am keen to learn how to take more interesting and unusual pictures for my own satisfaction and to keep improving the shots I send to Mozzie and the team” he told me. “I was delighted when Azriel announced that he would take a group of four people out with him to the Sunday Walking Market and show us how to look at things from a fresh perspective and how to use features and functions on our camera’s that would enable us to authentically capture what we were seeing” added our excited traveller.

For three hours, Azriel walked through the colourful, bustling street market whilst explaining a few key ideas to each of his four students, giving them an immediate opportunity to have a go and apply what they were learning. “It is a great way to learn” decided Ray, “and far better than sitting in a stuffy classroom. Azriel is very good at getting his ideas across and managed to get us all taking some pretty interesting snaps fter just a couple of hours” he told me.

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Above: From left to right, fellow photographic ‘student’ Mark, Patrick staring through his frame (with Cory directly behind him) and Azriel (right) – “He showed us different ways of looking at things all around us and gave us these cardboard frames so that we could view them in the same way that the camera lens does” recalled Ray. “It showed me that the composition of the shot is critical” said Ray

Below: Azriel explains the ‘depth of field’ concept to his eager students (left) and gets everyone to change to the black and white settings on their camera to try it out (right)

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Above: To the untrained eye, these two photographs may not appear to be anything special, but they have both been composed using the ‘macro’ function on the camera to make the nearest object appear focused and the background out of focus, to draw the viewers attention to a particular thing in the shot – “It’s all very scientific” said Ray. “Before I attended Azriel’s workshop, I thought a macro was a discounted warehouse on the outskirts of town where you could but cheap produce in bulk – I had no idea I had one on my digital camera” joked our traveller

Below: These are two of the pictures that Ray sent to us after the workshop – “I was trying to take some photo’s from slightly different angles, like we were shown by Azriel, and get some depth and perspective in the shots” explained Ray

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Above: “Of all the pictures I took that afternoon, this was my personal favourite” said Ray

Below: Azriel’s phone rings…. “Let me answer it for you” says Patrick. It might be The Daily Explorer wanting to run an exclusive story about your workshop and publish some of the pictures!”  Azriel is also an emerging writer and has recently had his first article published on Brave New Traveller – it’s well worth a read!

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Anyone who has been to Chiang Mai will know that it has a thriving ‘alternative’ scene, which is one of the major attractions for travellers visiting Thailand. “There are loads of yoga studio’s, personal development workshops, opportunities to meditate and a host of similar experiences available here” said Nikki. “One of my favourite places is the Wild Rose Sauna & Studio, which is in the old city. Quite by chance, I have ended up becoming a temporary neighbour of ‘Rose’ herself, who lives in the house next door to the one that Ray and I are renting while we are here” she added.

I couldn’t help noticing that Nikki had acquired a rather exotic tattoo on her hand. “A couple of girls who teach yoga at Rose’s place were recently offering to paint Henna tattoos for some of us. They look so wonderful, I just couldn’t resist” she said. “It’s the first time I have worn one and they only last a few days so it will be interesting to hear what feedback I get from friends. I am not sure if I am ready for anything permanent” said our artistic traveller.

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Above: Nikki displays her wonderful Henna Tattoo, which was skillfully applied (by hand) by an artist using something which looks like the sort of bag you squeeze to pipe icing on a cake – “It takes about twenty minutes and the artist works from a picture in their head – they do not even use a stencil” said Nikki

Below: Nikki with the wonderful Rose (right), whose venue is a very popular place with Chiang Mai dwellers – “She really has created a community of kindred spirits and like minded souls and her Friday night ‘open house’ herbal steam sessions are fantastic opportunities to feel great and hang out in a chilled space” said Nikki

Rose

Nikki also told me that the Wild Rose Sauna & Studio was recently the venue for a rather unusual social event entitled “Chocolate, Passion and Prose” so I asked her to tell me a bit more about it. “When I first met Rose a while back, she told me how much she loves poetry. If you go to her studio, you will notice that she is always displaying prophetic words and phrases on the walls and doors. We share a love of two things – the spoken word (especially poetry) and chocolate so we decided that an evening to celebrate and share both of these things would be a great idea” explained Nikki. “We invited lots of people to come along and bring something with chocolate in it and a poem or a piece of prose which they were passionate about and wanted to share with everyone else” she told me. “It was an outrageously successful event with some people even composing their own poems for the occasion. We compiled an anthology of all the poems and readings from the evening and gave everybody the set to take with them as a souvenir. I am sure we will do it again in the future” she said triumphantly.

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Above: Esme (left) and Phoebe (right) use Rose’s coloured chalks to create a welcome sign for the guests coming to the Chocolate, Passion and Prose evening – “The whole evening was a wonderful example of the very strong sense of community that exists here” observed Nikki. Esme and Phoebe are both daughters of Matt Campbell, Ray’s running coach and they also read their favourite poems to the group” she told me

Below: Nikki and Rose devised an innovative game called ‘Spontaneous Poetry’ – one by one, each person is invited to add a random word of their choice to the blank canvas and when everyone is finished, the challenge is to create a viable piece of poetry from the collection – “It’s a lot of fun” said Nikki (centre)

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Above: Benjamin reads his favourite poem (in French) to the audience – “Some people love the spotlight whilst others have to struggle a little to overcome their nerves” said Nikki. “I love doing this “open mic” sort of thing as it gives people an opportunity to really shine and allows others to see who they are at a more essential level” added our creative host

In our last issue, we announced the appointment of Ivana Getachek, who has joined the team to co-ordinate Ray’s marathon fundraising efforts and will be on board with us until the end of this year to run his ambitious “Calling All Angels” campaign. “I am thrilled to be given this opportunity” said Ivana, as she attended the official launch of the campaign recently. “A lot of Ray’s friends know he is taking part in his first ever marathon, which in itself is quite a challenge for someone of his age, with no previous running experience” she said respectfully. “But most people are not aware that by taking part, he is also aiming to create over $12,000 dollars for three worthy causes. Ray has been working extremely hard (around the clock) with me, Mozzie and the back office team at The Daily Explorer to make this campaign work – it really means a lot to him” she told me. Ray’s “Calling All Angels” campaign was officially launched on the 4th July.

“I am pleased to say that the first donations have already started coming in and I will be continuously monitoring our progress towards the goal that Ray has set. Full details will be published every week on his “Calling All Angels” campaign page” said Ivana. “Because he has met so many people in the 15 different countries he has travelled through during the last three and a half years, it is a truly global endeavour. So far, we have received pledges or donations from people as far afield as the UK, USA, Switzerland, Canada, Thailand, Uganda, Australia, Spain, France, Sweden and Germany!” “By the end of our first week (12th July) we hope to have raised well over $1,000 dollars” she told me.

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Above: Our campaign manager, Ivana Getachek – “I know that Ray has been in touch with some people personally during the last few weeks. He wanted me to say a huge “thank you” to people who have made early donations to the campaign as it has really helped us to get the ball rolling. If you have not seen it yet, please take five minutes out of your day to find out what the “Calling All Angels” campaign is all about. And if you feel inspired, please make a donation! It doesn’t matter how much – really it doesn’t – every little bit helps. Together, we could really make such a huge difference” added Ivana. If you would like to talk to her, you can reach her anytime at ivana@thedailyexplorer.com

Below: Our roving reporter Amber Solaire went to Chiang Mai recently to interview Ray, to find out why he has chosen to take on the challenge of running a marathon and hear more about his “Calling All Angels” campaign. If you would like to know more about the causes Ray is supporting and what kind of help he is looking for, you can watch this three minute video interview:

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Above: Huge crowds of people made their way to the “Calling All Angels” Campaign launch event in Chiang Mai recently…..

Below: ….. whilst at a recent rally in the United States, even US President Barack Obama pleaded with his fellow countrymen to find out more about Ray’s ambitious campaign and encourage them to make a donation

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Editors Note: Our thanks to both Me So Fit and Ivana Getachek for keeping us up to date with the latest news from Chiang Mai. A couple of people have written to me asking what Ray is going to be wearing when he takes part in the New York Marathon on 1st  November, which prompted me to ask our global nomad. “I hadn’t really given it much thought, Mozzie. I guess I will wear the conventional running gear that most people normally do, unless one of our readers can come up with an inspired idea for a fun costume that will not inhibit my performance on the day” he told me. So if any of our readers would like to make a suggestion, then please send me an email, at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com

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Above: Should Ray dress in carnival gear (left) as he did in Ko Samui in January 2006, or monks robes, as seen in this photo taken by Susie Moberly during one of her famous sessions on the beach at Baan Poor in April 2008? Or something else? Please send your suggestions to me, at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com

Below: Ray’s marathon fundraising event is a truly global endeavour. In the United Kingdom, both the Daily Mail (left) and the Daily Mirror (right) have heard about his “Calling All Angels” campaign – “I am so delighted to have the full support of the media” said Ray. “Now, I just hope our own readers get behind what we are doing and make a donation” he told me

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In our next issue, which is due to go online in a few weeks, Me So Fit will be reporting from Pattaya where Ray will be running in his first half-marathon race. “I am really excited about it” he told me. “Having run the distance twice already in my training, I am confident I will finish and I am assessing the race experience to get an idea of how fast I might be able to run the full marathon in four months time” he said. “I hope to complete it in somewhere around two hours” he told me. We will be bringing you all of the news and pictures exclusively in The Daily Explorer, as well as keeping you up to date with progress on Ray’s fundraising campaign.

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 (ray@thedailyexplorer.com) or ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com

MOZZIE BYTE

Pattaya Map

Above: Ray is running in his first half-marathon race on 19th July in Pattaya! Look out for the full story in our next issue of The Daily Explorer, which will be online in a few weeks. We will keep you posted!

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3 Comments »

  1. Thank you very much for your news. It was a wonderful video of the sprint training for beginners – it made me just laughing and I saw that you are running the half marathon on 19th of July, so all my blessings for you. Good luck.

    Raj (Kathmandu, Nepal)

    Comment by Rajkumar — July 6, 2009 @ 4:26 am

  2. Thanks for the latest blog and the update on all the exertions as part of your marathon training. I am very impressed to see how far you have come and can hardly believe what I read. It must be gruelling and inspiring all at once. I am thinking of you as you tread the miles and can only take my hat off and bow, even at this stage, as you are doing so well. Praying for fitness and no injuries!

    Comment by Charlie — July 6, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  3. Glad to see my name mentioned Ray… I can’t wait to live here and enjoy more evenings at the Wild Rose… get snap happy with the G9 and all the fantastic markets here… great blog as usual and good to see some of those haunts you’ve introduced us too… Thanks for all your efforts, Love Susie XXX

    Comment by Susie Cream — September 9, 2009 @ 11:02 am


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