One weekend. Two races. Zero sanity.
Have you ever tried a back-to-back weekend of racing? I have, and man. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!
1. Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM) and Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) Malaysia races were slotted for 19th and 20th October 2013, respectively. Since I couldn’t decide one over the other, I signed up for both: 21k for PNM and 10k for KOTR.
2. Quite a few of my friends also did the same, so I felt energized knowing people close to me shared my passion. And craziness. Some even went as far as marketing it as, “ayo, 1 weekend, 2 medali!” Ho-boy.
3. Runner friends from Indonesia were also enticed, hence Ruby created a Facebook group called ‘MY 2 in 1 2013 – PNM & KOTR’ to share information and facilitate discussions. The group was open to a few of us from Malaysia and Indonesia who were friends.
4. In my excitement, I managed to also get Helen and Pasha of adiNation of Runners (aNR) Indonesia to join me in PNM. They were scheduled to run 16.8km in KOTR MY, so they signed up for only the 10k for PNM.
5. PNM was special to me because I had run my first half marathon there in 2012. I wanted to have an anniversary run and also gauge how well I had improved over the last one year.
6. KOTR is special in Malaysia this year because we are the host of the finals after the earlier editions held in Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. Singapore cancelled their KOTR this year due to bad weather.
7. The key challenge for me to run both PNM and KOTR was its timing; I predicted finishing my 21k at around 11pm. By the time I could get back to the hotel (where I was staying with Helen) in Sunway it will be past midnight. My KOTR 10k would start at around 7am the next day!
8. Staying nearby the KOTR start line in Sunway proved to be an excellent idea. I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it in time had I gone back home and then driven out again to Sunway earlier in the morning. (Thanks, Helen, for letting me bunk in!)
9. On Saturday the 19th, the Malaysian-Indonesian (or “MYINDO” – as we called ourselves) runners decided to meet up and have a carbo-loading lunch session at Zaaba Restaurant on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Thank you Zainudin for organizing.
10. The MYINDO runners consisted of us locals (the Malaysians), and friends from Indonesia who were either living/working in K.L. or flew in from Jakarta solely for the two races. The locally-based Indonesians were Ruby and Aster, I also got to know Seto. From Malaysia, there was Zainudin, me, Aniza, Franco and Lini (Mrs. Franco) and of course Maggie, whose running career started in Indonesia. My new Indonesian friends included Reza and Ina, who were really nice.
11. Trivia: “MyIndo” is the name of the website which I had started in the 2000s where I wrote stories about my fascination with Indonesian pop culture from a Malaysian’s point of view. Needless to say this “MYINDO” union of runners from both countries excited me a great deal because it married both two of my passions: Indonesia and running.
12. Four women whom I had interviewed for “Inspiring Women Who Run” also came for the lunch: Lini, Maggie, Nancy and the first one I ever interviewed, Ninie! It was incredibly exhilarating to be in the same room with such strong and inspiring women!
13. Later on in the evening, I also got to meet three other women who I had also interviewed (one was Helen, of course): Mia and Juanita of the adidas Running Moms. I was totally on inspiration overload-mode!
13. PNM flag-off for the half marathon was 8:20pm. So Aniza, Helen, Pasha and I got into my little car and we headed out to Putrajaya from Sunway. It was 7pm.
14. Since it was drizzling, getting out of Sunway to the LDP highway was a bitch as it was jammed. Concerned for time, I decided to go the opposite direction and take the Federal Highway towards Shah Alam, then get on the NKVE highway heading towards Putrajaya. This move probably saved us; we reached Putrajaya with just 10 minutes to spare before the 21km flag-off!
15. Though we didn’t really discuss it, Aniza and I had a silent mutual understanding that we would run together somehow. I truly appreciated this gesture from this one tough lady friend of mine, since I know she’s always the faster and stronger runner. (Did I mention she eats mountains for breakfast?)
16. The rain prior the event made for a cool evening run. It was nice running in Putrajaya then. The route felt familiar, as I had done this before. The same level of excitement and boisterous and relentless support from the volunteers made this one comfortable race.
17. I passed by Nannoor and KZ at around the 5th kilometer. It looked like they were pacing each other, too. Since I was on Aniza’s time we pressed on and overtook them. Later on this powerhouse pair would overtake us, but only Nannoor ended up beating us to the finish line as KZ had some internal issues and had to stop by to take it easy on the 19th km.
19. Aniza and I sprinted the last 50meters to the finish line. I always get a bit impatient at the end because I have to dodge people who slowing down. But in the end we made it injury-free. I gave Aniza a big appreciate hug at the end, thank you friend for letting me stick with you. We made it together!
20. I did a positive split for the HM last year (first 10km slower at 8min/km pace, then the 2nd 10km at around 7:30min/km pace). That strategy ended me with a 3:00 finishing time. This year, my pacing was all over the place (ran a sub-7min pace in the first 5km, then mostly in the mid-7s throughout), but in the end my official net time for PNM 2013 was 2:35:10 (Aniza completed one second faster). I knew then that I had improved in my half marathon time by 25 minutes over one year.
21. I met up again with Helen and Pasha who had already finished their 10k for quite some time now while waiting for us half marathoners to finish. I asked Helen how she did and she exclaimed that Putrajaya was a tough course and that she did a ‘personal worst!’
22. Suspicious and curious, I asked Helen what her “PW” was. Her answer: 52 minutes!
23. And what was Helen’s personal best 10k? 50 minutes.
24. Helen’s “PW” at Putrajaya put her at 7th position in the Women’s Open category, as shown on the slide projector that was beaming up the results in public. Pasha didn’t do so bad at 57 minutes, but being in the men’s group, his name was not in the top 25. Men run REALLY fast.
25. After gulping down some chocolate milk (thanks Hanim for letting me have a cup!), we hurried to leave Putrajaya so that we could get back to the hotel and sleep. I munched on a recovery bar from PowerBar because the last time I delayed eating anything after my half marathon it cost me dearly in recovery time and I ached for days. You’re supposed to eat something within the 45 minutes after you’re done with a hard activity to avoid this.
26. We got to the hotel, showered (with warm water, I didn’t care anymore – you’re not supposed to, apparently – cold showers are better for after a race) and tucked into bed. I actually slept in the compression tights that I was going to wear at KOTR in the morning. This was to help me in recovering, which it did somewhat.
Adidas KOTR recap starts now…
27. Helen and I both woke up at about the same time, somewhere around 5:30. I snoozed a bit since I knew I had a bit more time as the 10k started later at 7am. Helen got up, got ready and out the door, I wished her well.
28. After dragging myself out of bed, I got ready to head to the start line of the 10k. As I reached the vicinity, the 16.8km folks had already been flagged off and were streaming past us. I actually knew some people who had run at PNM 21k the night before and I shuddered to think that they were also in that 16.8k group.
29. I met up with Arif and Foong Yee (who also ran PNM 21k). At least I had some company to help me go through with this morning race.
30. The 10k race started, it was pretty much zombie mode for me. Foong Yee and I separated. I tried to follow Jeli’s pace but you know, he’s all Energizer Bunny.
31. As Jeli left me, I ran till about 4km when I suddenly had an emotional dip (not unlike the one I had at RUPM full marathon at the 17th km mark). I was screaming to myself, “what the heck am I doing here?!” It was then that I heard familiar voices that would eventually lift me up in spirits and lead me to the end of the finish line.
32. It was Gai and Nita, chatting up a storm! They too had run 21k at PNM the night before and were making jokes to keep themselves awake at KOTR! Now these two ladies are mean running machines, so when I say our paces were matched that morning, it was truly because they were both spent from last night’s racing and not because I was faster than them.
33. It was then that we decided to run together, come hell or high water. Somehow Jeli and Khairi also became part of this group to run together to the finish, so we became this ‘Famous Five’ of runners, talking loudly and most nonsensically just trying to keep our minds off the pain in our legs and on our feet! We made many embarrassing poses in front of the photographers.
34. Khairi was most probably the insane of the 5 in the group; he actually ran the full frickin’ marathon at PNM! On top of that he didn’t sleep a wink after that and was running the 10k with us, jumping around like a Mexican bean. I wondered where he gets his energy from. Nonetheless it was inspiring to have him around.
35. Khairi was a good example of ‘if you are crazy, there are other people crazier than you’! Eina is also another fine deranged specimen: she ran 21k at PNM AND 16.8k at KOTR the next day. Babe, I salute you lah.
36. So how did I feel running a 10k after racing a 21k the night before? I have to say it hurts but not in the way that I think I would. My calves were fine, my thighs were fine. My pain points were both my pinky toes, which had blistered after PNM (I have this tendency for this kind of injury). Such a small part of your body can cause so much pain.
37. About 7km into the run, we heard another familiar voice; it was Farisha on a streak mission to beat her 16.8km record time. She called out to us as she breezed us by, laughing at how slow and pathetic we must’ve looked. Farisha was so fast that I only saw the tail-end of her Raqtive hijab!
38. Nearing the finish line, the 5 of us decided to run through it together. Instinctively I grabbed Gai and Nita’s hands and we lackadaisically sailed our way past the timing mat. We finished in 1:27. At one kilometer in the race, my pace went as sadistically low as 9min/km.
39. In days to come as our photos from KOTR emerged, it was clear that we had the glazed looks of junkies high on substance (in this case, lactic acid). “Sengal” (painful) became our internal buzzword to describe anything related to our antics at KOTR!
40. When we were refueling at the food/drinks stations post-KOTR, Lini screamed at us for even attempting this 2-in-1 lunacy. She said, “if you wanted to know what it was like running on fatigued legs, you could’ve asked me!”
41. But then again if I didn’t actually experience it for myself, I wouldn’t know the feeling. I think what Lini meant was: don’t attempt it on race days!
42. Lini was chasing a 1:30 timing for her 16.8k. But she almost did it at 1:31. Next year try again, Lini!
43. KOTR was also a favorable outcome for Nancy Jackson. Apart from securing 3rd position at PNM full marathon under Women’s Veteran category the night prior, this hot lady placed 3rd for her 10k recovery run with a timing of 1 hour! She used to the Indonesian term “ngesot” (dragging) to describe her KOTR pace. (Ngesot indeed, and laughing all the way to the bank.) As it was customary for winners to treat her friends, Nancy bought us lunch at the nasi kandar place next to Sunway Pyramid. Thanks, Kak Nancy!
44. Ninie did not show up for KOTR as she was recuperating from PNM Full Marathon (in which she placed 4th in her category with a timing of 3:32). She is still chasing that sub-3:30 full marathon timing.
45. Helen did well, placing 10th in her 16.8km category. Most of the ladies from aNR Indonesia did well, too. Mia said that the KOTR route in Sunway was the most challenging of all the KOTR routes in Southeast Asia. Keep that in mind.
46. And that, my dear readers, was how the 2-in-1 race weekend of PNM & KOTR 2013 went. Fun? Yes! Worth repeating? I’ll stick to one race a weekend, thanks.