Follow Your Heart

This past weekend I competed in the 7.5 km Singha Obstacle Run VI in Phetchaburi, Thailand. It started out as a weekend of doubts but soon turned into a weekend of fulfillment and accomplishment.

The story begins early in April. To be honest, I haven’t really been working out much since I got to Thailand because my motivation level has been low. The gym in my apartment consists of minimal, old equipment. I’m used to the huge Athletic Center and Aztec Recreation Center as my gyms so going from lots of top-notch equipment to a tiny square room of old weights has left me less motivated to work out. The two times that I tried to run on the treadmill it sounded like it was going to break the entire time and I didn’t go much faster than a slow jogging speed. Enough of my excuses though, plain and simple I just didn’t have enough motivation to want to deal with the circumstances.

I thought a great motivator would be to sign myself up for a race in Thailand. For one thing, it would be a really cool experience to compete in a race out here. For another, I would have a set date that I needed to get in shape by and that would help motivate me to work out again.

I began researching different events in Thailand and came across the Singha Obstacle Course Run VI, which takes place on April 24 just two hours south of Bangkok. I watched recap videos of people climbing over obstacles in the mud and was immediately sold. I had always wanted to compete in a mud run back home so I was definitely running in this event. I registered and bought my ticket shortly after posting about it on Facebook in our Thammasat University International Student group page.

I told a bunch of the international students about it in hopes that people would join me. I knew I wanted to go no matter what, so that’s why I bought my ticket, but I also knew it would be fun to have some friends come along. A couple of people showed a big interest in going, but unfortunately, they waited too long and registration was soon closed.

Once I found out that no one was going with me, I was pretty bummed. The days prior to the race I was regretting buying my ticket. I had tried researching different things about the place, but minimal information was coming up online. The race was being held at the Thai Diamond Land resort in Kaeng Krachan, but their website was all in Thai so it left me with more questions than answers. I had no idea where I was going to sleep and no idea how to even get to the resort.

The day before I was supposed to leave, my roommate, Emma, told me that she read about shuttles going from Victory Monument in Bangkok to Phetchaburi. I quickly did some research and found out where I could find those shuttles and where they would drop me off. From Phetchaburi I would have to somehow make my way two hours west to Kaeng Krachan, but no information could be found on how to get there. I just figured I would get into town and have to take a taxi if worse came to worse.

Saturday came around and, even though I wasn’t feeling prepared and had feelings like I should just stay home, I put my backpack on and made my way to Victory Monument. I took a shuttle from my campus on Rangsit to Victory Monument. Once I arrived, I looked for any sign that said Phetchaburi. After 10-15 minutes, I stumbled into a shuttle station and they thankfully had the sign I was looking for. The shuttle was leaving in five minutes.

It was a long two and a half hour drive and then we were dropped off on a random street. I had no idea where I was and no data on my phone so I had to walk until I found a place that offered wifi. I found an internet store, connected to their wifi, used Google Maps to figure out where I was and how to get to Kaeng Krachan, then walked down the street to the nearest shuttle station. I showed the woman behind a desk where I wanted to go and she told the mototaxi to take me to the other station, which happened to be another street that I would have never guessed as a place shuttles pick people up from.

I waited about an hour until the shuttle for Kaeng Krachan showed up. When we left the spot, I was the only passenger in the car so the driver asked me exactly where I was trying to go. Along the way we stopped at different spots in town, picking up a total of nine people. We dropped a couple of them off at their home and then it was my turn to get dropped off. The resort was near a national park so there really wasn’t much of a town in the area. The resort was on the side of a two lane road with mountains all around. No other grocery stores or hotels or hostels could be seen. The driver took me inside the resort and dropped me off where the check-in area was for the race.

After a six-hour commute, I was finally at my destination. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a mixture of nerves and excitement. Seeing all of the signs for the race made me realize that this was actually happening. I checked in, got all of my race gear and then headed over to the office of the resort to see if I would have a place to sleep that night.

There were two women behind the counter and I told them my situation. When the woman asked if I had made a reservation and I replied no, I saw an almost worried look on her face. I asked if there were other hotels or hostels around and she asked if I had a driver, which I did not. She then told me to sit down and she would see what she could do for me. She got on the phone and talked to someone in Thai, so I have no idea what was said, but she soon told me that I had a room for that night. I was so relieved!

One challenge after another seemed to work out perfectly so I started to feel like I was meant to be there. I settled into my room, grabbed my camera and began to explore the beautiful resort. The race was throughout the resort so walking around you would see different obstacles set up. I noticed a couple of people follow the areas of the path to check out the obstacles, so I felt inspired to do the same. Soon enough I was walking the path that I would be running the next day and couldn’t hide the smile from my face. Each obstacle was different from the next and got me pumped to soon be trying them all out.

While scoping out the route, I saw a storm coming in from a distance. The roar of thunder could be heard while the long bolts of lightning were striking. By the time I finished looking at courses 12-20 and made my way to the finish line area, it had started to sprinkle. Within two minutes, that sprinkle turned into a downpour.

Thankfully I was under a plastic cover, sitting in a chair, and thinking about how perfectly timed that storm was for me. I wasn’t somewhere out in the middle of the course worrying about my camera getting wet, instead I was sitting peacefully listening to the sounds of the storm. I was honestly pretty happy that it was raining because that meant that the dirt track was getting some moisture so tomorrow’s race wouldn’t be filled with overwhelming dust in the air.

Thailand’s storms don’t last very long so after 30 minutes, it was back to clear skies just in time for sunset. I walked over to the eating area for dinner and got to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in Thailand. As the sun went behind the mountains, I felt a huge amount of gratitude and joy for where I was. Yes, I was sitting alone, but I was so proud of myself for committing to doing something that I really wanted to do, whether my friends could be there or not.

After a delicious meal, I headed to my room to get ready for bed. I was asleep by 9 pm because I had a 6 am wake up call the next morning.

Usually I’m not a morning person, but today was “game day.” I eagerly woke up, put on some music, and began getting ready for my morning. Putting my race number on my t-shirt was the moment that it all felt real. I was about to compete in a race in Thailand and I was ridiculously excited!

I got dressed, ate some breakfast, listened to pump up music, then made my way over to the race area for the briefing prior to the race. There were multiple groups of racers and my group, the 7.5 km singles race, was sent to run at 7:45 am.

I had an absolutely amazing time throughout this race! You didn’t last long before getting covered in mud. In fact, the first obstacle was a mud hill that you slid down into muddy water and then climbed up the other side of the hill. I was covered to my waist in mud within five minutes and couldn’t be happier! The objective of the race was to have fun and work together so it was really neat to see everyone helping each other over the obstacles. Like they say, teamwork makes the dream work.

After 7.5 km and 22 obstacles, I was running across the finish line with dirty clothes and a smiling face. Yes, I walked part of the race but after minimal training prior to today, I was so proud of the performance I gave. I made friends along the course, helped people over walls, soaked in the scenery of where I was running and ultimately had the most fantastic experience.

All-in-all, I was so happy that I followed my heart and did what I wanted to do. Yes, it would have been amazing to have friends by my side to enjoy the experience with, but at the end of the day I am the one who controls my happiness. If I waited until my friends said they wanted to go, then I wouldn’t have been able to compete in this amazing opportunity. Something that I learned from this experience is to always follow my heart. It’s truly mind-blowing how things will work out if you just take the chance.

I feel as if I went into this experience with blindfolds on and hands tied behind my back, but came out flying across the finish line. I had no idea how to commute to the resort, no idea where I was going to sleep and no idea how I would get back home. I took the chance and everything worked out perfectly.

A guy from Brazil I met in the beginning of the semester told me something that I will never forget. He said that they have a saying back home that goes, “Those who have mouth will make it to Rome.” We were talking about traveling and how he never resorts to getting a taxi because it’s overly expensive. He told me that if you just ask people, then you will find your way to wherever you want to go. He has truly been an inspiration for me throughout my journey this semester. I only knew him for maybe an hour – I can’t even remember his name – but he left a lasting impact on my life.

All I had to do this weekend was ask for help and guidance was exactly what I received. Maybe it’s the friendly culture of the Thai people or maybe it’s the helpful nature of human beings in general, but either way we shouldn’t be scared to ask for help. You’ll be amazed at the obstacles you’ll overcome and the things you’ll accomplish when you work together. Thank you to all of the people who have helped me throughout my journeys. Whether it was for five minutes or multiple days, I am feeling truly blessed with the life lessons that have been brought to me during my time here. Every day I am shown why I love traveling so much and why I feel that this is part of my purpose in life.

A Singha beer never tasted so good.
A Singha beer never tasted so good.

TiffanysmallTiffany Geer is earning a bachelor’s degree in communication at San Diego State University. She is blogging from Thailand for the 2016 spring semester.

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