There were so much indication that it would be raining cats and dogs (and the odd toads too) as I drove towards the race venue. Flashes of lightning streaked menacingly in the distance and the skies were as dark as the depths of Arkham. I had Yvonne on tow but despite being earlier than usual, we found ourselves having to take the scenic route to Precinct 3 due to the road closures. Let it be known early in the post that there were 2 things I dislike – running in Putrajaya and running at night. Because the place is mostly landscaped, Putrajaya has some of the most rolling terrain out there. But after getting some superhero vibes from Spongebob, I thought these won’t be factor. The goal was multifold – first, practice holding back. This was to help secure my “pacee” to a good start and also to practice pace discipline for the marathon. Second objective was run by gut feel and not depend so much on the watch. Finally while not a personal best time, a 1:52 would be a bonus.
I opted to keep the poncho in the car as the skies didn’t look like it was going to open up – the breeze just wasn’t strong enough to signal impending rain. Perhaps it would be later. In any case I had my cap on and the large open mesh Nike Speed Cage+ was the shoe of choice. The Kinvara stayed in the car (rhymed?). Diet had been patchy during the day – had a late soupy breakfast at 11am, rice with potatoes, veg and tofu at 3pm and a small bowl of noodles at 6:10pm. In between 3 bananas while waiting for the race to start, I drained a bottle of sports drink while a smaller bottle filled with pre-soaked chia seeds in raw honey and lime juice would be my fuel for the distance. I had 2 gels clipped to my belt just in case. Some dynamic stretching and then it was time to head to the starting area.We were actually a little late joining the throng of half marathoners at the starting line and as such we were lodged close to the back. No choice then but to worm our way politely towards the middle of the thick crowd. Plenty of Excuse me‘s and Thank you’s.
A few minutes later, we were let off. but for more than 2 minutes we were still standing there wondering if a technical issue had cropped up. It turned out that the starting mat were too narrow and the runners had to funnel through a tight area. A slight tinge of regret crept up – perhaps I should’ve gone further up. All that thoughts vanished as soon as we’re off the start. The road opened up and there wasn’t any excessive dodging of slower runners. My pacee stuck close to me. While the plan was to run according to feel, I wanted to check on the pace of the first 2K to ensure we weren’t running too fast. I brushed off the 5:10 first K as screwy – the watch can’t be right. 2nd K was where I wanted it to be 5:28. Then I shut off the reliance of the watch and just concentrate on getting the rhythm going. Even at this early stage we were passing more runners than we were being passed.
Despite the ups and downs of the roads my pace was reasonably consistent. I took my own natural fuel according to the visual cues of the water stations and therefore could bypass the crowd at those areas. All I needed to do was to just keep the momentum going. The crowd support, at least in the beginning of the race, put together by the organizers were superb and very vocal. Certainly a mark or two above the dour racing atmosphere in this country. It was then that I noticed the heavy breathing of my pacee. Told her to focus on staying relaxed and that we were doing fine, however in the middle of being in my own world and the pacing, I lost her somewhere before the 10K mark. I reckon she wouldn’t be far behind and would have me in her visuals.I passed my colleague Zul who was running the marathon (he was busy snapping photos!) at the Sri Saujana Bridge. Further up, I chatted and passed Winnie before literally running into Pui San (luckily we didn’t go sprawling on the tarmac). You could safely guess that if those 2 ladies are spotted, Mohan can’t be too far away. True enough after squinting hard (must be the age), he recognized me heading towards him and the bantering about Air Asia and photo opp ensued. Time to go!
A nice touch was the placement of large LCD distance markers (complete with canned cheering, LOL!) at some major checkpoints. I noticed running past 3 such displays in my half marathon race. Traffic control had been flawless and everyone could concentrate on running. There were even supporters in superhero and Star Wars costumes. I thought Darth Vader would strike out at the passing runners with his light saber but thankfully he waved it like a traffic warden. The initial apprehension on Precincts 7 and 9 were non-issues and were in fact the most enjoyable long stretch I went through. I was still totally aerobic and hitting the 10K mark in 53 minutes were very very easy. Confidence had build up along the way and the rolling roads were no longer a factor. I had a decision to make, to keep going at this relaxed pace or to give it a go at racing. Giving it a go won the night. At the top of one of the ramps heading towards Shangri-La Hotel, I came up to my training partner Calvin. I didn’t get to link up with him at the start so it was nice to have caught up. I called out to him and said there were just 9K to go. 9K compared to the tough 32K progressions done. 9K which is less than 8 loops around the KLCC Park. I caught a downhill and rolled down expecting him to follow.
Things only started to get a little challenging the last 3K when a stitch hit. No choice then but to grit it out without slowing down. The form was affected but can’t slow down by much. Just keep going and ignore the 4 pebbles lodged inside my shoe! I’ve problems of this nature with the Lunaracer and the Cage. After a while the pebbles didn’t matter anymore as they’re embedded into the insole with each step. Those that were shifting about inside, one just had to ignore. I refused to check the watch. At this point it didn’t matter anymore. 2 more turns to the finish, I passed Michelle who was visibly struggling – not only affected by illness but also the grief of the passing of fellow runner Meei Meei. Luckily Raymond was close by and in attendance and KP Tan was around too.
Lots of huffing and after spotting KA and Ben in the crowd by the finishing chute, I crossed the line just missing the bonus goal by a minute at 1:53.15. Got my finishing pack and drinks and ambled up to a quiet section to rest up.
Just as I stood up to walk to the car to change into dry clothes, I bumped into Adeline (actually we spotted each other at the same time!). Chatted a bit before hustling to the car. Changed up and I was back to the finish area distributing the race entry forms for the Run For Your Heart and MPIB Run. After that it was time to link up with my pacee whom I thought did well considering the conditions she was running under. As I said she really gutted it out and will have her PR another day (she can take heart in a points I mentioned in a recent post). It’s just the nature of racing. Some days everything comes together, some days despite what you do or how you’ve prepared, things just don’t align themselves. It comes down to how we manage with what we’re dealt with, which was why I thought she did great.
I had a good race – it was more of a training run actually. It needed to be a strong and focused run and I think I nailed that. The legs are strong and the focus is there.I surprisingly found the rolling terrain quite enjoyable, what with the cooperative weather. What counts on Nov 25 would be pace discipline. I’ve a final 32K to go next weekend before the double 11K running legs at the Powerman Duathlon. Need to make those workouts count.
Splits: 5:10 > 5:27 > 5:24 > 5:21 > 5:30 > 5:24 > 5:18 > 5:15 > 5:21 > 5:10 > 5:15 > 5:05 > 5:05 > 5:15 > 5:15 > 4:58 > 5:10 > 5:21
5K – 26:52 | 10K – 53:24 | 15K – 1:19 | 21K – 1:50