National Geographic Earth Day Run 2019

Having enjoyed its debut edition last year, many of the GCM crew returned to give this year’s event a go. It was a small event that’s appropriately timed around the mid-point of GCM training, perfect as a checkpoint of sorts. As with last year, the 15K route took us through the affluent Kota Kemuning township, a location that we don’t often find ourselves. It’s always nice to have a refreshing change of scenery every now and then. True to its green message, no cups or bottles were used at their drink stations. Instead, runners were advised to bring along their own reusable cups, flasks, or bottles.

Nick had kindly offered to drive CY, Calvin and I there and we got to Gamuda Walk pretty early at 5:35am. Even so, cars had started streaming in with the car parks filling up rather quickly. We quickly geared up and promptly went on our warm up jog around the area and as if rehearsed, were able to pick up Hee Boo and Cheong along our way. We logged around 2K and made our way into the starting chute all sweaty.

The initial plan was to run at MP but I decided just to run by feel. In a race of this distance, the textbook execution would be a fast start to clear the crowd, settle back into and hold an appropriate race pace, be patient and pick off anyone struggling, before pushing for a strong finish. That was precisely how I ran the playbook. Within the first 500m, I was in a bunch of 25 or 30 runners, and by the first KM (4:32), the bunch had disintegrated into tiny clusters and solo runners. I brought up the rear and was running alone. The route was the same – it wasn’t a hard one to forget, a few roundabouts and turns and one or two landmarks to gauge the progress. As expected the distance markers were all prominently displayed and the drink stations well-staffed, helping runners refill their water supply via hand-pumped siphons. I didn’t think any of us at the front stopped to refill. I’d been sipping from my handheld 500ml Salomon soft flask filled with plain water, a conscious choice instead of sports drinks, since I planned to take in a gel early into the race. After the fast start, I’d settled into the low-mid 4:50s and considering how depleted I was last week due to recovery from illness and the resulting fatigue, my breathing were very much in control.

Progress was steady and as mentioned I ran mostly alone. The throaty cough that had plagued me for a week surfaced just once and I could tell it wasn’t as bad as previous days. That certainly helped with my confidence! Hee Boo, Cheong and Calvin were so far ahead that I only spotted them after the 7KM mark when the runners took a turn to make their way back to the finish. I’d been keeping an eye on 3 runners, which included the lead female, ahead of me and as I gently nudged the pace down from 4:53 to 4:49, 4:47, 4:47 and 4:46 over the next 5KMs I’d reeled them in and passed them. I tucked the empty flask into my waist band and continued to hover around the low 4:50s as the only visible guy ahead was simply too far to catch. Not only was he not slowing down, he was pulling away from me.

Nearing the finish line. Photo credit: Penonton.

As I got close to the u-turn for the 5KM runners, I started picking up the pace to take advantage of the gentle downhill. My 4:46, 4:44, and 4:33 took me past another runner (not the one who pulled away) with 1.5KM to go. I’d thought of pushing for a sub-1:10 when I hit the 10K mark but a 1:11.28 (4:46 average pace, 6th position) was still a very satisfactory result on an accurately measured course. I ran 1:10.28 (4:54 average pace, 5th position) in the 2018 race [race report here] which was 600m short. It was a strong and patient run which restored a bit of confidence in me. I learned a lot from this race which reaffirmed my decision to adjust my goal for GCM19. I’m reminded that the pursuit of goals can’t be rushed and being patient can result in a far more enjoyable and fulfilling journey.

After the ice-cream! Photo courtesy of Khay Ann.

Thanks to Nick for collecting the race packs and offering the ride to and from the race site. My appreciation also goes out to the organizers, sponsors, crew and photographers, for putting up and supporting a great small event! Here’s to Week 9 and beyond!

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