Efficient delivery of runners to the starting point, prompt flagoff, spectacular first section of the race, accurate distance markers, ample refreshments, Powergels, post-race breakfast, nice finishers medal. Could this race really be in Malaysia? As it turned out, yes! Just about the only thing wrong was my lack of training. So it wasn’t surprising that even when I boarded the bus that would be ferrying us to the start (felt that I was heading to Fort Wadsworth for the NYC race!), I had no clue as to how I would be running the race.
All doubts were laid to rest by the excitement of starting off from the runway of the AFB (Air Force Base). Just after the gun went off, we were treated to a fireworks display and all of us took off to the runway. The area was sufficiently lit as the KL-Seremban Highway was just parallel to the 2K strip but the organizers shot plenty of flares into the early morning sky to ensure a surreal experience for all of us. I felt like an army grunt running to take up positions in the trenches to fend off enemy attacks – think WW2 and Vietnam War scenes!
Frank reported that he ran very comfortably – I was too until the 10K mark. The early splits were very fast nevertheless, for a Half Marathon. I reached the 10K mark in 51 minutes and promptly realized that I won’t be able to sustain the pace until the end. The course was quite all right but with most tackling the 10K distance, the half marathoners were somewhat spread out, making the Federal Highway and Seremban link quite boring and very challenging. A few of the climbs late in the race made things extra difficult too. So it was with great relieve when I crossed the line in 1:48.28 (average pace 5:18). After the customary photo sessions and catching up, I drove off the base with nothing but admiration for the uniformed personnel who handled their duties professionally. I made sure I thank each one I passed on the way out. All of them waved back with a smile and one even replied “You’re Welcome!”
Next race will be the Sundown Marathon. It will be difficult but I’m placing enjoyment over performance. With little or no training, that’s the only strategy to adopt.