My fifth half marathon. And counting.
Let’s write this blog entry Mahathir-style, shall we. Point form and efficient – both for writer and reader. OK here we go.
1) Sunday, 29 September 2013. Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM). My third entry in SCKLM (did two 10k’s in previous years). Also my fifth half marathon since October 2012.
2) Had grand delusions of finishing a sub-2:30 half marathon. Friends swore, “It’s a flat course lah, babe!” Inspired, sought Dhitri’s advice and she, the lovely creature, proposed a positive split plan for a 2:26 finish.
3) 2:26 was chosen because I wanted to beat my Sydney Half Marathon PB of 2:29:47. Konon. But I will be happy with a 2:30 finish.
4) Was also realistic. Knew that replicating the same level of running speed in Australia with Dhitri during the cool fall season will be challenging in humid and hot Malaysia. Gave myself a 5-6% deviation buffer (max 2:39).
5) This time I did not make a pace band with the planned splits. Wish I had. Got a bit sloppy with keeping track of time during the run.
6) Arrived at LRT station at 4:20am to meet Lily, who had already arrived and was seating almost sleepily on the staircase. Thanks for waiting, babe! And kudos LRT company for starting trains as early as 3am.
7) Somewhere near Kerinchi a photographer came on-board. Lily shamelessly motioned for the perfect stranger to take a snap of us. He readily obliged. Not yet running and already we were posing for photos! Whores we were.
8) At the Masjid Jamek station, we bumped into Ku Zie and Nita (both speedster queens) waiting for Nan. Nan, after some diligent coaching with speedy Bismi, was aiming for a 2:15 half marathon. Bismi himself was targeting a 4:30 full marathon finishing time. Both Nan and Bismi did not reach these goals due to injuries.
9) Lily and I continued on to ground zero in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building, where I managed to find fellow Bukit Cinta runner Zainudin and Indonesian friend Shinta, co-founder of The Urban Mama who came from Singapore.
10) Before entering carrel area, I used the portaloo for the final time. Between my home and the flag-off time, I went to the loo thrice. There is no such thing as going to the toilet too many times on race day. Got nothing in your bladder or bowels? Don’t care –just go! It’ll come.
11) After only about 2km into my run, I was already drenched in sweat and it was barely 6:30 in the morning. This was an indication that I was running harder than usual. And that a sweltering day lay ahead.
12) In the first 10km Zainudin and I were unintentionally playing catch-me-if-you-can. I’d cut him, then he’d cut me back, and it went on for a while. I really wasn’t trying to outpace anyone, just trying to remain consistent. He kept telling me that I was exceptionally running well. I guess all those hours I had spent on my feet during training was becoming apparent.
13) Jeli caught up with me at after 10km. He tried to pace me, but in a very confusing manner. He would run up far ahead, then slow down to check on me, and then speed off again like a deranged bunny. To be honest I was not entirely in tune with his style of pacing. I started missing Dhitri.
14) After about 8km: eh betul lah, this course is flat. Not too bad, feeling good. OK press on.
15) Scariest road was the Jalan Loke Yew stretch between 7-10km. There were a few cars that were speeding so fast. I prayed hard and ran as fast as I could to get off that highway.
16) Someone patted my shoulder at somewhere after scary highway. I turned around, it was Ku Zie. She looked like she was jogging lazily, but of course she left me in the dust after that.
17) Zainudin snapped a picture of me somewhere after km14. Still feeling good here.
18) Not long after that, Zainudin stops to take a photo for a guy, who I presume was an Indonesian runner. They had both had stopped in front of the Indonesian Embassy on Jalan Tun Razak for a photo op. Mm-hmm. Patriotic guy, I thought.
19) As we entered Bukit Bintang area (around km15), I see a tall man ahead taking a walking break. It was my ex-boss. Ran up to him to say hi. Startled, he looked at me like a deer in headlights. Next thing I knew he sped off without so much as a grunt. I chuckled in amusement. He probably didn’t want to get ‘chicked’ by one of his former female staff.
20) True enough ex-boss confesses to me at the office the following day. He tells me he was just starting his walk break before I said hello. After I did, he shocked himself (and me) by running another 3km without looking back. And then resumed his walking when I was out of his sight.
21) At kilometer 17km as I came dangerously near to my cut off time (I was at about 2:03 here), I ran through a balloon arch that was spewing water mist that was intended to cool down runners. Possibly due to the sudden (mild) change in temperature, I cramped. And I was definitely salt-deprived from sweating so much. I was not the only person who cramped that day.
22) Cramp started with the right foot first, the toes started to curl with a gnarl. The sickly sensation spread to my right calf. I stopped at the sidewalk to stretch it out. Jeli turned back to check on me. Offered me GU Chomps and his Accelerade water. I also swallowed my third (!) power gel here. There was a water station ahead so I gulped down some more water.
23) Tried to continue running a faster pace but with the gnawing cramp I was forced to forget about my target goal but I still held hope. As long as I was moving. I fought to stay running.
24) As I approached KLCC Twin Towers, a young fellow said hello to me. The mind all blurred, I stared hard at him trying to put a name to the face. It was Shahril, a guy whom I had run a LSD with the weekend prior. I told him I couldn’t recognized him because he looked exceptionally handsome running the full marathon. He laughed. I laughed. In pain.
25) At KM19 on between Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Sultan Ismail we made a right turn at the traffic to a backlog of vehicles held up by police. Buses were honking impatiently due to held up traffic. It was deafening. For the first time in the race I felt irritated. The loud honks exacerbated loss of patience – just as much as us runners were irritating the drivers I suppose.
26) Heard a story from a friend who saw a policeman yelling at errant motorcyclists who refused to stop for runners when instructed. One police apparently yelled, “if you come any closer, I will chase you and you will be sorry!” Good on ya, Mr. Policeman. Terima kasih.
27) In the last kilometre, half marathoners started to merge with runners from other categories. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman becomes notoriously congested at this point and it is difficult to run any faster. Most people who are already walking completely exhausted to the finish line. I welcomed the slower pace but wanted to finish strong.
28) In the last 200meters I tried sprinting but my leg would not hear of it, threatening to cramp me up again. So I did my best and ran through the finish line with a net time of 2:37:44. Thank God!
29) I was so beat I stopped at the side of the medical tent and and lied down on the road. Jeli went to get some ice for me. Later on I took off my shoes, Jeli ended up carrying them around for me. I felt like a princess.
30) Managed to wait till almost the 7th hour of the marathon. Caught up with Ejah who was waiting patiently for Mira for a photo op. Because she became engrossed with chatting with us, Mira came out of nowhere and Ejah lost the opportunity to catch her on camera. Oops.
31) Also managed to catch Mimi in her final meters of her first full marathon. Way to go, babe, you did it!
32) Many lady friends who ran their 3rd marathons that day got a personal best. Well done, Fisha, Nannoor and Ejah! Congrats to everyone who completed, too!
What I learned this time around:
Never underestimate the power of warm-ups, something which I did not do enough of. Running during a race puts a lot more stress on your body as you strive to run harder than your training. Lini tells us she spends at least 45 minutes doing dynamic stretches (e.g. lunges). And that’s preparation for a full marathon. I reckon for a half marathon, half that time should be enough to avoid those last mile cramps.
Drink Oral Rehydration Salts 3 days in a row before a major race. This supposedly helps with keeping the cramps at bay too.
Just another day in the life of a runner in KL. Till next time, SCKLM!
Photo credits: Lina & Zaini/Liza/Zainudin/etc