Summertime in Thailand, despite the excruciating heat, has been a great time to do lots of physical exercise. In addition to frisbee three times a week, I joined CrossFit Chiang Mai for the summer to supplement my other workouts and build core strength. The workouts are all about “constantly varied, high intensity functional movement.” I really enjoy it and it’s a great community of people.
CrossFit is at once both encouraging and humbling, which I’ve learned is an important combination in life. Today, my 5×5 sets of back squats at 60 kgs (132 lbs) was dwarfed by my lifting partner – a young woman – who hoisted nearly double that weight for her sets. And across the gym was the physically unimpressive community church pastor squatting 115 kgs (253 lbs.) Still, one can’t help but be encouraged by the community, in particular by said pastor who often quips, “We must be mental to pay for this…”
I’ve kept up with running, swimming, and biking as well. Here’s a picture from a monster ride through the mountains a few weekends ago. The 100 kms through the mountains was less crazy to my friends than the fact that we did it during the smog covering Chiang Mai this month.
I did my first official triathlon on Monday here in Chiang Mai. It was a 1 km swim, 25 km bike, and a 10 km run. The best and worst thing about it was that it started at 8:00 AM. On the one hand, I didn’t have to wake up at 4:30 AM like the usual early morning races. On the other hand, it was over 90 degrees by the time I got to the run portion of the race.
For the most part, the run was insane. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the Thai announcer explained that the run would go off into the countryside. It didn’t disappoint. Two kms into the run, we turned off into a steep and windy “trail” that left many of us squawking. The trail was hardly run-able with large rocks and trenches, likely left over from the rainy season. Most runners walked the more treacherous portions. To make matters worse, there was burning on either side of the narrow trail. I psyched myself up by imagining I was running through a war zone. Ironically, a misspelled sign along the way read, “TRIAL.”
I was happy with my performance and ended up in 5th place in my age category (29 and under), which put me in the upper 50% of my competitors (there couldn’t have been more than ten 29 and unders.) To add credibility, the race included an olympic triathlete from a European country that I can’t remember now, which was really cool to see. Also, the Chiang Mai Ultimate Club represented with 5 of us participating.
I met up with Kyaw Kyaw, a former Payap student from Myanmar. He recently went back to Myanmar for the first time in 8 years making a year away from New Jersey seem manageable.
I really enjoyed the triathlon and would like to do more. Admittedly but not regrettably, however, I don’t have that inner competitive edge to take it too seriously. I may remain a perennially average athlete. That’s the way I like it. I’ve grown to appreciate the old adage: everything in moderation. Over drinks and discussion, a friend of mine recently reminded me of the inherent contradiction in that saying and has recommended an important nuance: everything in moderation, including moderation itself every once in a while…
Alas, I love life in Thailand. I love biking most places and not owning a motorized vehicle. Here’s a picture of a gang of us who biked out to our friend Bill’s house for the Superbowl a few months ago. (There’s over 150 years of living in Thailand between the five of us.)
Life is good here. There’s a proverb in Thai that says ในน้ำมีปลา ในนามีข้าว (“In the water, there’s fish; in the field, there’s rice.”) Like most sayings, it could be (and has been) interpreted in a number of ways over the years. For me today it is a call to find satisfaction and happiness in the simple joys of life, like physical activity.
I love you all,