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I know, I know, things are kind of confusing around here right now, timeline-wise!  Because yes, I’m in Southeast Asia now, but as I’m pretty much the worst blogger on the planet I’m still writing about last year’s trip. Here’s to catching up on all my content soon! [Insert the deranged laugh of a crazed blogger here.]

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After my big early 2016 Thailand trip to Khao Yai, Bangkok, Hua Hin, and Khao Sok, I vowed I wasn’t stepping foot off Koh Tao until it was time to head back to the Americas. Ha ha. That was cute.

I quickly remembered that I had no choice but to leave — my visa restrictions include a mandatory trip to the immigration office on Koh Samui every sixty days. Sure, technically I could get it over with on a quick day trip, but have I ever turned down the opportunity to turn a bureaucratic chore into a fun weekend away?

Koh Samui Girl's Weekend

About a month or so prior to my visa extension, I saw an ad on Facebook for the Midnight Run on Koh Samui. I basically laced up my shoes that exact moment. I’d absolutely adored the Midnight Run I’d done in Bangkok a few years prior, and was pumped for the opportunity to try to outdo myself. But I couldn’t run alone!

I quickly enlisted several of my girlfriends into an island hopping getaway to run a 5K, giggle by the pool, and treat ourselves to a champagne brunch.

Drink Gallery, Koh Samui

The run was in Chaweng, Koh Samui’s commercial epicenter, and so we booked a hotel nearby and took advantage of the central location to kick off the weekend with dinner at Wine Connection and cocktails at Drink Gallery, a bar I’d discovered on my last boozey trip to the island.

I’d arrived early that morning to take care of my visa and register the runners in our group, and so after a day of paperwork I was ready to kick back by the time the girls arrived. That said, we took it pretty easy with just one post-dinner cocktail — we did have 5K to run in less than 24 hours, after all!

Drink Gallery, Koh Samui

Drink Gallery, Koh Samui

And so the next morning, we switched to a more fitness-friendly liquid — fresh juice! As the owner of island favorite Living Juices on Koh Tao, my girl Janine can basically turn anything into a business trip with a little scouting trip to the local competition.

This weekend, we checked out two Koh Samui juiceries, Project: Juice and Juice Queen. The verdict? Put all three on your must-drink list for the Gulf of Thailand!

Project Juice, Koh Samui

Juice Queen, Koh Samui

Juice Queen, Koh Samui

Juice runs aside, we spend the entire day “mentally preparing for our run,” also known as lounging by the pool, giggling and gossiping, and moving as little as humanly possible.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the greatest digs to do so by.Typically for a group like this I’d rent a villa, but booking fairly last minute in high season, we’d had pretty limited options in proximity to Chaweng. I wanted to treat everyone to something fun though, so I splurged on what looked like one lovely suite with a private pool and two other basic rooms at a hotel I’d never heard of.

Yeah, it turns out there was a reason we’d never heard of it — the photos on the website were pretty misleading and overall the hotel was pretty cold and charmless. Chaweng Noi Pool Villas was overall underwhelming and I wouldn’t ever go back nor recommend it to anyone. That said, we weren’t going to waste a second of our trip turning our noses up — we definitely made the most of it in the moment!

Koh Samui Girl's Weekend

Koh Samui Girl's Weekend

Koh Samui Girl's Weekend

Koh Samui Girl's Weekend

That evening, we anxiously headed into town for the big event. Amy and I had started running together about a month before race time, and it had been quite eye-opening. In all my years in Thailand, the one and only time I’d run outside had been that previous fun run in Bangkok — otherwise, it was treadmill all the way, baby. As much as I prefer running outside under normal circumstances, I just could never imagine tackling hot, hill-covered Koh Tao with my trainers on!

But it’s amazing what having a running buddy can motivate you to do, and soon Amy and I were challenging ourselves to beat our records as we slogged up and down the mountains of Koh Tao at sunset. We hoped that by the time we made it to the blissfully flat race route on Koh Samui, the whole thing would be a breeze.

Isn’t that adorable that we thought that?

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Well my friends, there was certainly nothing breezy about it. As we tacked on our race bibs, former marathoner Janine (who had to sit this one out due to a knee injury) gave Amy, Johanna and I a race-night pep talk and sent us into the lineup. Costume-clad runners were abound and the atmosphere was distinctly party-like — not innappropriate for a run though Koh Samui’s most notorious party strip.

And then we were off, following the winding route around Chaweng Lake. Johanna took the lead while Amy and I kept each other’s pace behind her. We’d decided to ambitiously aim for an under 30 minute time, despite the fact that our best practice run had been about 35 minutes. My older sister Margaret, a wellness and running coach (who just started her own business in Rochester!) had assured me that game-day adrenaline leads most runners to beat their training times on race day.

Just as I was starting to crave breaking my run for a few moments of walking, fireworks erupted over the lake, giving me the endorphin rush I needed to keep jogging. The next adrenaline boost came as we entered the heart of Chaweng’s nightlife zone, where partying tourists enthusiastically cheered us on and offered us sips of beer (nah thanks). Much more welcome were the waters sweetly offered by the local hookers and bar girls who also excitedly lined the streets to cheer — an “only in Thailand” moment if I’ve ever experienced one.

While Samui is flat, a huge relief after hilly Koh Tao, I didn’t take into account some of the challenges of running in a more urban environment. Basically, I’m talking sewage smells, guys. Thailand isn’t known for its ground-breaking waste management systems, and a few times along the race route I felt so nauseous from the smell of rotting garbage and, um, other unpleasant things that I thought I might be sick. But I kept on keeping on.

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Have I ever been happier to see a finish line? After a brutal final couple hundred meters, I almost collapsed as we stumbled over it in just under 33 minutes. While technically we didn’t reach our ambitious goal, I couldn’t have been happier — we beat our training times, I didn’t break my stride to walk even once, and I ran my fastest race ever! For a girl who used to barely be able to get through a mile, it was a huge accomplishment.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled that the race started and ended outside Reggae Bar, one of my favorite spots in Koh Samui. Still clad in sweaty race gear, we joined hundreds of our fellow runners for drinks and dancing to a Bob Marley cover band until we finally succumbed to the call of the shower and our beds.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Samui Midnight Run. The event was overall well run and organized, and my only suggestion to them would be to please use paper cups for the water stations — all those teeny tiny one-sip plastic water bottles broke our eco-loving hearts!

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

Koh Samui Midnight Run

The next morning, it was finally time to celebrate! Because not only had we just kicked butt in a big race, but it was also Easter Sunday (yeah, I told you I was behind on trip recaps!) And Easter Sunday calls for brunch.

Brunch culture hasn’t really hit Thailand outside a few select neighborhoods in Bangkok, but we were determined to make some magic happen. A trip to Koh Samui requires a serious embracing of chain restaurants, and thus I enthusiastically supported a group trip to The Coffee Club, where we baffled our waitress by ordering a full bottle of champagne along with our assorted juices for DIY mimosas. “You want… to take it away?,” she asked, brows furrowed in confused. Our smiling insistence that we were going to drink it right then and there, at noon on a Sunday, was met with you crazy farang!-style laughter that we returned with a wink.

Brunch at The Coffee Club

Brunch at The Coffee Club

Brunch at The Coffee Club, Koh Samui

It was the perfect toast to the perfect girlfriend getaway.

Brunch at The Coffee Club

Brunch at The Coffee Club

Of course, we had a few more stops. You can’t take a bunch of country Koh Tao girls over to the civilization of Koh Samui without unleashing them on the mall and also a Tesco Lotus or two to stock up on supplies, after all.

Once the retail frenzy was over, blissful as the weekend had been, we happily boarded our ferry back to teeny tiny Koh Tao. And when we arrived, we were greeted by one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d seen in a while. So good I had to stop, put down all my bags, and just soak it all in.

Welcome home, it said.

Sunset on Koh Tao

Sunset on Koh Tao

I can’t wait for my next fun run — or my next girlfriend getaway! Raise your hand in the comments if you have one of either coming up soon…

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20 Comments...
  • Cate
    March 19 2017

    Cool fun run! I am a horrible runner, so I am very impressed. Yummy brunch, you made me hungry!
    Cate recently posted..Behind the Crowds: Cozumel is for the traveler

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      Oh man, I am too… exactly why this was such a major feat for me 🙂

  • Bonnaroo 5K, yes?
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..On the Chocolate Trail: Cacao Plantations in Grenada

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      Heck yes! Now we just have to convince my mom and Miller…

  • Sarah
    March 19 2017

    How on earth do you manage to keep track of all your weekends away and various activities a year later?! I’m so impressed! Do you write rough drafts at the time to fix up later or keep a diary to flip back through?
    I hadn’t kept track of my finances the last couple of days and it took some serious brain wracking to remember what I’d done on St Paddy’s day, 2 days ago…

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      Ha, I get asked this question so often I should add it to my FAQ! So, I am an obsessive note taker. I write a lot a lot of notes, take a billion photos, and also track every dime I spend in a daily finance app. Also, I sometimes look back at my live social media from an event. Between those three references, I can basically totally relive the weekend in my head 🙂 If it weren’t for them I’d be totally lost though — part of the reason I started blogging in the first place was I didn’t want to lose those memories!

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    March 19 2017

    I *might* be tempted into a 5K with a pool and champagne brunch…well…nah. I’d be cheering you guys on and offering water with the hookers 🙂 Amazing job though ladies!! I can barely walk in the heat in Asia, much less run.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Bigger and Better Than Ever

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      You and Janine would have made a great cheerleading team together 😉

  • Kendal
    March 20 2017

    Sounds like a great girls weekend. A friend might join me on a three-week of the AT this summer. I love running, but don’t have any 5Ks planned while in my part of frozen Siberia. This fall I will complete my first 10K, though, and I’m looking forward to that.
    Kendal recently posted..London for $79 Per Day

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      I wish I was better about seeking them out when I’m traveling. I get SO excited and into it when I find them, but with my crazy schedule it’s rarely more than one or two a year I line up with.

  • Dominique
    March 20 2017

    Wow, you ran through sewers and past boozed up tourists and you still managed to make such a good time! That’s super impressive!
    Dominique recently posted..Thalassery Fort

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      Thanks Dominique! Not sure how impressive of a time it is for “real” runners, but for this cardio hater, it definitely felt like a victory 😉

  • chewy
    March 20 2017

    I love combining physical activities and travel in this kind of way! I haven’t done runs like this before, but it looks like a great event. I have participated in ultimate frisbee tournaments though!
    chewy recently posted..[Photo Journal] Going on safari in Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka plus tips on planning your safari

    • Alex
      March 22 2017

      Now that sounds very very terrifying to me. Being on a team where other people will be punished for my absolute lack of hand eye coordination sounds like my nightmare, ha ha.

  • chewy
    March 23 2017

    Hahaha, it’s not that bad. Funnily, I have no coordination with balls, but give me a flat piece of plastic and I’m good to go!
    chewy recently posted..On living at home into my thirties

    • Alex
      March 24 2017

      Maybe a frisbee is just less intimidating 😉

  • Camille
    April 14 2017

    28th May, mini marathon in Nathon, 10km, 5km and 2km fun run

    • Alex
      April 18 2017

      Sadly I’ll be back in the USA by then! Will you be there?

  • Marni
    April 14 2017

    Kudos to you!! As someone who is not a runner, I really applaud you for it. Part of me feels like I would love to be a runner; the other part knows how hard it can actually be on your body.
    Marni recently posted..Lessons I Learned From my First 10 Countries

    • Alex
      April 18 2017

      I’m so not a natural runner either! That said, when I first started forcing myself to do it, I did love the results on my body. I’ll never be a long distance girl though — a 10K was more than enough for me, for the most part even 5K is a major challenge!

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