Adventure On The Backroads

Let’s take a break from all the photography related posts and return to the running theme shall we? Why don’t you lace up and join me for run on the backroads leading to Putrajaya? We’ll be covering an out and back route from my home through winding roads and peaceful village scenery. Be warned however, that the starting time of 4:45pm will mean bearing the brunt of the scorching evening sun, so put on your shades and fill up the hydration pack with ice cubes and sports drinks, and let’s go! Oh yes, don’t forget the camera-phone as we will be on the look out to make some grain-laden, skewed white-balanced, poorly exposed photos. Today we’re gonna celebrate imperfect photos, but I promise a totally fulfilling run.

I was immediately glad I put ice cubes into my hydration pack. My back stayed cool at least for the beginning of the run. It was blazing hot and the shades was a necessity, not only against the glare but the dust. It will be a medium long run, 7K out and 7K back of mixed elevation. The start will have me go up a 1K hill followed by another click of downhill.

Going up!
Going up!
I promise youll see lots of photos with lensflare in this post!
I promise you’ll see lots of photos with lensflare in this post!

From the outset, the plan is to remain aerobic throughout. It was a challenge, especially coming off a tough hot run the day before. Even though you keep the pace real slow, you struggle like crazy to keep the heart-rate low. The heat will do that to you. What’s easy will automatically be a tough run. I kept reminding myself “Stay aerobic” and “Slow burn, slow burn”, which was ironic since I was indeed being roasted out there. But getting comfortable with the heat and learning how the body functions in the heat is critical should I want to survive the ultra.

Drink up, and often!
Drink up, and often!
I can almost feel the heat looking at this photo. You can see that I was already perspiring profusely.
I can almost feel the heat looking at this photo. You can see that I was already perspiring profusely.

The first lesson learned was discovering how often I found myself taking in fluids. I’ve no specific hydration plan except to drink if I feel thirsty and carrying the pack was a great idea. I carried 700ml of fluids for this 14K run and it was barely enough. I ought to have loaded it to the max 2L. I ought to have brought some cash too in case of emergencies. Reminder to self! I kept things rather free flowing, stopping whenever I spotted a photo-worthy moment. Sure, I was getting the stares from the motorists and folks along the way, especially when stopping to take take some shots. The stoppages turned out to be walk breaks for me too and there were more than enough breaks to be sure.

I passed 2 mosques along the way. This is one of it.
I passed 2 mosques along the way. This is one of it.

One of the reasons I love taking this route is because of the opportunity to observe the laid back lives of the folks here. You have the typical Malay kampung (village) houses for sure but there are also signs of industrialization and decay. It provides for such a contrasty experience that running the loops around KLCC just can’t beat. These roads are still dangerous. I came across a flattened dog, no blood because the sun and heat would’ve sucked all of it up, and there were plenty of road signs warning of accident prone spots. Yet, I spotted no less than 4 motorcyclists without helmets. I, however, didn’t share their carefree approach to road safety and was pretty much hugging the roadsides when I got to the curves.

Just before reaching the point of u-turn, I scared a 3-foot monitor lizard relaxing by the drain. I was as surprised as it was. There were occasional rustling in the tall grasses as I run past several stretches. Must’ve been small cats or more lizards and I never felt in harm’s way. There were much more chances of me being killed by a vehicle than an animal.

2K to the border of the Putrajaya (admin capital of the country)
2K to the border of the Putrajaya (admin capital of the country). As you can see there’s hardly any shade along this route.

The turning point was just after the masonry factory you see above. No guesses for what they produce. The return journey was more or less the same and I continued to capture some photos. The only time I interacted with my subjects was during this shot. These kids just needed a mound of pebbles to amuse themselves, no video games needed. Play to them was just running up and down chasing one another. They spotted me approaching and instinctively posed for this priceless shot. Before I took off, I gave them a thumbs up and shouted “Cantik!” (beautiful) and brought giggles out of them, the girl in particular was so proud to be called beautiful. I hope that one day they’ll remember a crazy Chinese guy in shades and backpack who ran past their house and took their photos, and decide to lace up themselves.

Forget about the Wii and Gameboy when youre older! Just ask your parents to get all of you a pair of shoes you can run in!
Forget about the Wii and Gameboy when you’re older! Just ask your parents to get all of you a pair of shoes you can run in!

A couple of clicks later I was huffing and puffing up the long hill and then minutes later, hauled my sun-burnt body into my driveway. I was glad to see the Carbokids playing cops and robbers with the neighbour kids rather than plonked in front of the TV. A good day indeed. I shall be running this route again but I’ll most like do it at the break of dawn instead. There are more photos taken with the Nokia 5800’s 3.2MP camera than I posted here, so if you’re interested to see the slideshow of all of them, just click on the image below.

Click on the image to launch the slideshow

Published July 11th, 2010.

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