[Updated with photos]
“So Nik, did you win?”, “What is your position or number?”
Well, I still got this kind of questions from colleagues at work upon knowing I just completed a running race. I just smiled back at them, not knowing exactly how to answer.
OK, let me try to make this one as brief as possible. With a busy mind at work entertaining so many urgent inquiries, I got this little writer’s block. So, I’ll just jot down something before the memories of that beautiful Sunday morning run faded away.
One good thing was that, I had a good and peaceful sleep the night before the race, and had enough time to squeeze ‘out’ some of my stomach contents before making my way to the race venue. This was done based on what I learnt during the previous Malakoff run. Having to run with an unsettled tummy is seriously no fun at all.
Upon arrival at Bukit Aman car park around 4.40am, we saw some familiar faces and made our way to Padang Merbok. I was feeling very calm that Sunday morning as if I was just about to venture into another LSD training with many other runners. No butterflies in the tummy at all this time.
Did a little warm up run just to break open some sweat on the skin. We gathered closely to each other at the start line and while busy chatting along, the horn was blown. We had to walk few meters before stepping on the timing mat to initiate the timing chip, and as soon as I started my stopwatch, I started pounding the tarmac in the darkness.
I thought they all wanted to run along together, but as soon as I saw Ian making his way forwards very fast, I can’t resist the temptation and I broke loose to follow Ian’s footsteps. Of course I can never be pacing Ian, so I was left running alone, knowing few of the guys were somewhere at the back. I guess that will be a good indicator for me as I can sense that sooner or later, some of them will overtake me.
Talking about pacing in a long distance run race, comparing to my first marathon I did last year, I could say that I was running slightly faster this time to start with. I’m not sure whether I could carry on with this pace (I wish I could though), but I was feeling good and comfy that at least for the first half an hour or so, the running legs were still with me.
I randomly took this shot over my shoulder and it happened to be Doc Julin!
(Sorry doc, I didn't recognize it was you, or else I'll definitely say Hi)
Perhaps this is Cap Ayam Runner's mascot?
Some portion of the area we ran was still in pitch dark. You can’t even see the next 5 runners in front of you. Somewhere there in Bukit Tunku, I was joined by AJ which I heard is a very strong runner and triathlete. We ran along for quite sometimes. He told me that the pace we were doing was quite fast for a 30km distance as normally he would be taking it more relax-ly. He continued running quite fast and I lost sight of him just before I made a pit stop at Masjid Wilayah. I spent about 4 or 5 minutes there, doing the obligatory deeds.
Once getting at the Hartamas Condominium junction, we could already see the top runners on their way back. From then on, alongside the Hartamas area, Plaza Damas until Petronas, I was so impressed with our local runners who judging from the pace they were making on the opposing side of the road, it was as if they were sprinting in a 400m race. I wanted to shoot some photos of them but in the darkness, and them being quite far away from me, I’m sure the result of my photoshoot will only result in a blank black image like below.
Now, this was one point where I felt weird. I guess it is already a norm for us to be getting some kind or ribbon to indicate that we’ve gone through the u-turn point in the races we do. But surprisingly, not this time. Roughly remembering the route, the run behind Petronas Hartamas (or somewhere there) should be a strategic place to collect a ‘u-turn’ band, or ribbon. But this time, we get nothing. I was even wondering where would the marshals be standing in the dark and giving out bands or ribbons, as I don’t want to be claimed as not doing the full route by not collecting any.
Ok, what if a runner stopped by at a water station in front of Plaza Damas (on their way to Petronas Hartamas), and directly make a u-turn there without even going to run behind the Petronas? No body will notice that, right? And what if there was a runner who took a chicken route and crossed any of the many junctions nearby the Petronas, saving them a kilo or two by not running the full course?
Well, I don’t mean to complain. Just jotting down some (weird) observations here. Oh ya, another thing, although the organizer said that there will be distance markers starting from 5km onwards, I didn’t notice a single one of them. Maybe the markers were there but I didn’t notice, or maybe there weren’t any. I don’t know. So, I can’t really gauge my pace as I ran along.
Anyway, I was glad that my legs still felt strong as I made my way back towards Jalan Duta. Seeing the many incoming runners on the opposite side of the road, gave me some kind of boost to keep on moving. The morning sun has also started to light the atmosphere up. Better chance for me to start shooting.
After making the round behind Hartamas Condo and Government offices, I started to notice runners with green running bibs, indicating the 20km runners. I can’t remember exactly what time it was but most of them were seen to be running in very good form, they still looked fresh. With the camera in my hand, I was ready to do some shooting in case I bumped into any of them that I get to know from blogs.
Who doesn't know her, right? The very famous running-mom Haza.
Dia sangat SENANG!
We continued running a little bit more into Bukit Tunku and to my delight, I still managed to overtake more people than people overtaking me. I noticed my pace has dropped a little bit as I started to feel some fatigue in the legs, and that was before we get into Double Hills.
OK, I think I had the advantage this time as even though I’ve heard about the torturous Double Hills so many times since last two years through blogs I follow, this was the first time for me to be running on it. I saw one marshal holding a diversion marker, and as we made the right turn, one lady runner besides me said “Oh no, the Double Hill!”. Gulp!
Yes, the Double Hills did look a bit scary, but fortunately with a little torturous trail running experience I’ve done, nothing can really beat the deadly climbs in the trails. I slowed down my pace as not to overshoot my heart rate and I soldiered up the Double Hills one step at a time, running. Yes it was painstaking, but it was also what made us feel strong when we managed to conquer the hills, right?
As there were no distance markers noticeable anywhere, I only remember that I started to feel really fatigue after 2.5 hours running. I even started to feel the cramp onset on my calves. I chose to be stubborn this time and I proceeded my run without stopping, walking or stretching. I only gulped more of the Nuun-infused Gatorade drinks I carried on my fuel belt, wishing the cramp won’t attack me.
My pace dropped further down, and more people started to overtake me, including Shakhir and Shuk. I really wanted to know how much further we should go so that I can strategize whether to start some walk breaks or to brave through the remaining distance running slowly, but I can't see any distance markers. I got the first cramp on my left calf as soon as I took Shuk’s photo when he overtook me, but luckily the cramp went away minutes later.
At this point where the fatigue in the legs was already high even before reaching 30km, my thought of chickening out from the Putrajaya Night marathon also came to mind. There’ll be only two more weekends left to squeeze in LSD training, and honestly speaking, I won’t be able to peak for the marathon.
Anyway, yang paling sakit hati was when we had to continue running further and making another loop behind Padang Merbok as we see the 20km runners turned left into Padang Merbok to finish their run. Memang sakit hati, dan sakit kaki. Soon, I looked at my stopwatch and 3 hours time was about to come around the corner.
Ok la, what to do, just continue running until the finishing line lah kan. About 20 more meters before the finishing line, both my calves cramped up and not wanting to lose my face to the many photographers ready to shoot me, I opened up my stride with the hope that my finishing photos will look like I was sprinting to the finish line. I forgot whether I smiled or not, maybe I did.
I stopped my stopwatch as I stepped on the timing mat, and directly went to the first aid tent to get some relief spray on my cramped calves. I was limping until they sprayed me, to which indicating that I still need to train more if I want to smile when crossing a marathon finish line.
As a summary, it was a good run. A good start when the legs were still fresh and strong, but I definitely need to train more, especially to survive what comes beyond 2.5hours of running. It was also a good time to meet old and new friends, and I remember saying hi or hello to all those that I know, before, during and after the run.
Both are Corporate Athletes power!
On the right is Daud a.k.a CheRaMiChe
Julie also came to support and cheer for friends.
Check out the photos she took here.
Dr. Mafeitz, TSB, Ian and Dr. Din
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. For my own training record purpose, my time was 3hr 6mins.