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Monday, May 25, 2009

Is this the peak?

I didn’t really know what to expect from running more than 31km run (my last longest run was a painful 31km, two weeks ago). I know now that it’s doable (provided you’ve done the base training), but whether you’ll end the run with a smiling face or not, that’s totally a different story.

And my story goes like this.

As normal, Friday would be the day I made arrangement and planning with Kash on how far and when to start our Saturday morning long distance run. This time, the plan was a 32km, to be started at 6.30am from Kiara Park. I leave the actual running route plan to Kash as she is more familiar with the area. No matter how many loops or where the u-turn point would be, I will just run it.

”Daddy, daddy, ni henfon daddy bunyi”, I was awakened by my daughter who passed me my handphone when the alarm rang. She was in feverish mode on and off that night, and at 5.45am in the morning when the alarm went off apparently she was not sleeping well. But, good to see her getting back to her deep sleep as I walked out the house for the run.

I arrived at Kiara Park with just enough time to swallow (after proper chewing lah) two cream buns, a little bit of hydration and to stretch my leg muscles. When Kash showed up, we finalized our preparation and started running in the Kiara Park.

For I’m not sure what the reason is, we saw lots of mountain bikers that morning. They were everywhere!

Kash directed us to run 1 loop inside the park, and 3 mix loops (big n small) outside the park, before heading outside to Hartamas and LHDN building. Somehow I know the run that day will be more than 32km.

My time was showing around 1hr18min (if I’m not mistaken) as we finished the loops nearby Kiara Park, and I still felt strong. We chit chatted while running most of the times. My legs felt strong, breathing was very smooth and calm. I thought it was going to be a good running experience, with that very good start.

Maybe I spoke too early. After 1hour 25minutes running, I started to feel the pain at my toes. Still bearable, I continued running. But from then onwards, I had to keep my mouth shut. Focusing the energy to endure the pain in the legs rather than wasting it for talking.

We soon arrived at Petronas Hartamas for a quick hydration break. A bottle of Gatorade each would do it. It was a pretty fast break. Arrived there, bought Gatorades, drank a bit, filled up our bottles, and off we went to continue the run.

2 hours into the run, the knees started to feel the pain. Somewhere nearby the Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan I asked Kash about how she was doing, whether she had any pain or not. I told her that if there’s a blinking light at my feet and knees (like the one Ultraman has on his chest), the lights at my feet and knees would already started blinking in amber color.

Upon making the u-turn at the LHDN building, I asked Kash to stop for a much needed rehydration. I almost drank all the water inside my two fuel belt bottles, I was so thirsty. And the pain in the legs never seemed to reduce or subside. Kash suggested me to start taking glucosamine to strengthen the knee joints. All I could think was where else could I fork out some extra cents to get that kind of expensive supplements. Almost 1 month to go before the actual marathon, realizing that my knee joints are in trouble for long run is not a good think to know.

Running our way back from there, Kash took the lead. That’s the point when I told her that she was running strong. She looked strong, and she was indeed running strong, like nothing could stop her from moving forward. Fortunately, the weather that morning was very pleasant. It was pretty enjoyable to run in that kind of weather.

I followed Kash from behind, slowly running up the rolling hills nearby Plaza Damas. The longer I followed her, the slower I ran. The distance was getting bigger. My ‘ultraman’ light at my knees was already turning red. So did the light at my toes. Checking the distance, Kash told me we’ve passed half marathon distance, 21km. I was in real pain. With every step I took I was thinking I should stop running and start walking instead. I started to have the doubt in being able to finish the whole run. I really was.

Upon reaching Petronas Hartamas for the second time for another rehydration stop, I told Kash that I needed two bottles of Gatorade when she offered to go inside and do the purchase. I sat down on a bench, took off my shoes and gave them a little bit of massage. Now, my toes were in much more pain than the knees. One bottle of Gatorade went straight into my body, and the other one went to my fuel belt bottles. 1 ltr of fluid added to the weight I had to carry for the remaining 7km run.

To keep myself strong, I chose to run ahead rather than being at the back. Not that I sped off and left Kash behind as I could always hear her foot steps. I just needed to be at the front, to help maintain my mental strength running in the pain. I know, if I let Kash run in front of me, I would immediately start walking.

As she wrote it in her blog, when we faced the slopes after passing KLGCC, she asked me whether I could still run. Maybe I’ve complained about my pain too much. I wanted so much to run throughout the slopes until the peak, to test my inner strength. When realizing that I was running as slow as I would if I was walking, I then walked. I turned my head back and at that instant, I saw Kash also had started walking. I felt a bit regret for starting the walk because I had the feeling that if I continued running the slopes, she would too. And that would be a great achievement to be running up the long steep slopes after running for more than 3hr45min.

About 200m from the park, Kash increased her pace, like she was heading towards the finishing line. I tried my best to follow closely behind her. I almost ran out of breath.

I stopped my watch. It was showing 3 hours 57 minutes. Kash said the distance was 34.9km.

I then screamed, ”Yeayyy, 35km!!!”, while punching my fist into the air.

And to think about it, that almost 4 hours of running was somehow tougher than 3.5hours spent for an Olympic Distance triathlon (I’m sure I myself won’t agree to this statement when I am in a triathlon race, hehehe).

I was happy, but I couldn’t afford any big smile at that time. After a little bit of cooling and stretching down, I took off my shoes. Luckily there were no blisters, and everything was still intact. The pain I had that morning was the greatest amongst all pain that I’ve had while doing marathon training.

With practically 4 more weekends available for training, I don’t know whether it’s good that I consider this as the peak (35km, or 4 hours run) of my training. Of course I won’t stop my run training until race day. I do have plans to clock some lighter long distance training while in the tapering process. But looking at current schedule and condition, I think this is where I peaked.

35km is done. Hmm, I wonder what would the remaining 7km do to me.

For me, 42km is not anymore equal to 35 + 7. It’s more like 35km in pain, plus PAIN, PAIN, PAIN, PAIN, PAIN, PAIN & PAIN.

But, pain can also make you become stronger. True?


kev said...

I think the mountain bikers were there training for Xterra. Don't think too much of the pain of the marathon, otherwise you would REALLY experience the pain. Think more of your preparation, and how it has made you strong enough to finish the race. Which I think you have done, 35km is a big feat. Time to taper down well in the remaining weeks.

And oh, maybe consider some alternative footwear, socks or shoes, since your toes are hurting?

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Yup Kev, maybe i should consider that (when my financial condition allows).

Thanks for the tips too. Yeah, 35km is looooooonnngggggg.....

KOOKY KASH said...

Nik, if only we can end like how we ran during the first half, with minimal pain. But alas, it's not to be. Like I said to u before, past 30-35KM would be the most challenging.

I ran my best timing in Penang with a running buddy and if you ask me, I think we are going to do just fine since we will be running together on marathon day. We can draw strength from each other.

We did had a nice run. Well done!

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Thanks again for your never ending encouragements.

Wa tabik spring sama lu...