A 10K with “neighborhood” vibes, RM35 entry fee, short drive from home, new route away from the same-old same-old, what’s not to like? There was a little apprehension about the climbs though as I remembered Putra Heights are littered with ups and downs. A few days before the race, a certain someone who, at the point of writing this report is happily Skyrunning in the Highlands, confidently told me that the route is flat and the podium is a possibility. Because he’s driven it before. Right. Luckily I had the foresight to check the route out by plotting it in MapMyRun. Let’s just say that it’s NOT flat!
Anyways, this being a “cheap” run with like I said, “neighborhood” vibes, the plan was to run it as a tempo workout. Watch the pace and keep an eye on the climbs. The pre-race briefing was akin to an ultra race briefing. The race director stood atop a platform and basically gave a verbal run-down of the entire route (there were several distances) and at one point I’d expected someone to fish out and started marking their map from a ziploc bag!
I was a few feet from the gantry which was constructed wrongly because the Start and Finish were facing the wrong directions. That contributed to some confusion as well. Anyways, I broke free after the first bend coming out of the One City Mall compound. The roads were wide enough that I could run without being obstructed. Not even a K into the race, we had to start huffing up. Right then until the finish I was mentally grumbling at that certain someone happily enjoying his scones and tea LOL!
If I was trying to enjoy the run, another chap from the same category whom I’d passed at the early stage of the race started pushing his pace and caught up with me. That would be fine as it’ll keep the pace interesting which is what racing is all about. But he started getting too close as if he wanted to snuggle up. Even when the road is so bloody wide. My left elbow kept brushing into him and I’m not one to have a wild arm swing. A few minutes later I couldn’t take it anymore and said to him if I happened to elbow him, that would be unintentional. He sheepishly replied, “Oh that’s OK”. I was working the hills too hard to have realized that he just gave me permission to elbow him! No chance to test the theory out as he immediately dropped pace.
When it got to 7K, it was clear that the distance would be longer than 10K. I’d worked myself up the Category C (Junior Veteran) pack and picked the fellow Cs one by one. By now there were more runners along the roads, including the always inspirational ones on wheelchairs (not those racing 3-wheelers, mind you). Huge props to them for socking it back to whatever challenges they face. I then refocused to tracking a fellow C who had traded leads with me. Wanted to make sure that the next time I passed him it was for good. With 1K to go, I slowly drew nearer and nearer and saw that he wasn’t speeding up. 700m to go, I drew alongside and I held on by his side just to feel if he would respond. None. So I pulled away and finished some distance ahead of him. Distance was 11.69K and my timing was a very average 57:21 (4:54 pace).
I was handed a #9 card which meant I’d secured the Top 20 medal. There were some initial confusion whether there were special prizes or a spot on the podium for Top 10s but there was none. Regardless, I was quite pleased with the pace and effort. It wasn’t a podium ending but I thought some of the short racing nous are beginning to return.
I was a little peeved that the organizers could’ve extended the distance a bit more to a 12K instead of 10. That way, I’d also record a better timing than my disastrous outing at BHP. Even funnier was when a battle-hardened racer like Vincent said that I must’ve improved due to all the speedwork I’ve put in. After several attempts of denying that I’d done nothing of that sort, and him not believing anything I said, I was chuckling so hard inside. Then another seasoned vet asked my age and gave me a several thumbs up and said that I looked like an ostrich (yes, he used the comparison!) – good form and all! If I’d been anything they’d said, my pace would’ve been around 4:30 and I’d be on that podium!
After the race, I hung around for a bit distributing flyers for January’s MPIB Run (If you’ve not done so, please sign up soon!). Bumped into many familiar faces including Zijil and Meng Yong. Also spotted many others who live around the Subang and Puchong townships. The run is dedicated to a friend facing a far different battle. I’m sure he knows now that the team is with him all the way.
Oh yes, I was still laughing at those comments as I drove away from One City!