KL Rat Race 2014

When news broke that the company would be sending a team to this year’s Rat Race, some colleagues buzzed me asking if I was really doing it owing to the 4K distance. I guess they too know that I race so sparingly and when I do, the event is usually of longer distances. Having subjected the body and mind to shock treatment during the BHP Run, the Rat Race is a crazier one to be doing but I wasn’t about to let go the chance of participating get away. It was, after all, the first time the company committed to the event’s charitable causes. For the background of the Rat Race, head on to the official website.

Everything was done with just 2 weeks to the race. Runners were quickly sourced – no time for time trials and such – and the company has a team!

From the Edge publication.

Bursa Malaysia was no longer associated with this year’s event hence the runners saw some changes made to the route. The start was from MATIC along Jalan Ampang before heading right into the traffic cauldron that is Lebuh Ampang, hooking left at Museum Telekom and heading to The Weld, Shangri-La Hotel, Beach Club, KLCC and back to MATIC.

Map from the event website.

The mood of the race has always been part social and part intense. This year’s edition wasn’t any different. It was obvious which companies had bigger budgets and it showed in the contingents they sent, the team get-up and props they brought along. It was hard not to have fun with all the festivities happening around. As expected I spotted many friends who are regulars in the racing scene and had a great time catching up. Our Big Boss (BB) had delivered his mission objectives to the team earlier and the takeaways were – Compete, Fair Play and Sportsmanship. That and also to come back with honors! Talk about pressure!

These guys were enjoying their massages BEFORE the race!

Prior to entering the corral, we went on a 2K jog along part of the route to warm the muscles up. Marshalls were already at their stations and the cones were already dropped off, just waiting to be laid along the roads. The day wasn’t sunny but very muggy. Weather forecast called for rain towards the later part of the afternoon and early evening, and nearly every runner I spoke to wanted it to pour! The dress code for the Rat Race was always about tackling the route in office apparel. At the very least, either the top or bottom should reflect what we wear to work. The team had running tops but we stuck by the rules of wearing our long pants or in the case of our lone woman, skirt. Some teams, though, reported in as if they were heading for a half marathon, what with compression tights *snorts*. Certainly debatable when it came to sticking to the spirit of the event.

Front
Back

After the customary photo sessions, it was time for the CEO race to start. Their distance was just 1.5K and there weren’t many in that category. With much fanfare they were let off and the main racers waited for our turn. Slightly over 5 minutes later, the first of the CEOs returned and I learned later it was Chee Kian, a fellow GCAM alumni! If I’m not mistaken, his marathon PR is 3:20-ish. A few minutes later, our CEO rep finished, to our amazement, in 3rd place! Sufficiently motivated, we just couldn’t wait to start. And once the last of the big shots stumbled across the finish line, it was our turn.

Rodents. Photo credit: Wan YL.

The start was crazy. We were somewhere in the middle of the pack and there were the expected jostling when the gun went off. No issues for me as our timing would be based on chip anyway. 150 meters after the start I finally found some space to the left and broke free. Once I was out on the main road, it was a go. The cops managed the traffic well at the major Sultan Ismail-Jalan Ampang intersection and the road was wide. I took full advantage of the space and ran per plan. My team-mates were around me right up to the Dang Wangi-Jalan Ampang intersection, before I surged ahead. I was wary of the dreaded stitch and kept the pace hard but controllable. Rounding the bend in front of StanChart, I spotted Adam just about the same time he saw me. He shouted, “Go GC runner!” Thanks, Adam!

Raja Chulan was next and again traffic control were great. I grabbed a cup of water, took 2 sips and doused the remaining content on my cap. It was very humid. Not much supporters along this road except for the Weld intersection where AMBank employees were stationed. The short climb thereafter was negotiated with no issues and then it was time to push the pace a little going down towards the Beach Club. Up to this point, I counted only 2 runners who passed me (not sure if I passed them again) while I was doing the overtaking. Things were progressing great even if my GPS went wonky reading out wrong splits. I was surprised to see Tony there cheering and took a photo as I waved at him.

Suddenly it started drizzling (the joy!) and the precipitation became heavier as I neared the finish. The company sent very few supporters and I finally had a glimpse of them as I kicked towards the finish. Crossed the line in 19:36 which meant I met my personal goal of a sub-20. Grabbed a chilled can of 100 Plus and just soak up the rain as I ambled around the open area, waiting for my team-mates’ return. Zool came in next in a superb 19:58 followed by Michael in 20:26. Next up was our women open champ Shann (tough woman!) in 21:30 and CY 22:58. All in all an amazing result. Even at that point I knew we didn’t do too shabbily.

150 meters to go. Photo credit: Tey ET.
With former Pacee Jessica, who successfully defended her Women Open title.

Most of us couldn’t wait for the entire results to be published but boy, was it a pleasant surprise to have found out the next day, that we finished 9th in the Open category! With our CEO and Woman Open placings, it was a fantastic outing for a debutant team. Imagine if we had more time in planning! If you’ve been in the running scene for a long time as I have, you’ll see several elites, and even former national/state runners amongst the participants. It was never going to be an easy race, even if it was about charity 🙂

With Seng Chor (CIMB) while waiting for the post-race dinner to start.

Hopefully the company’s senior management commits to our participation again next year, and with luck we can assemble a stronger team to fight for better positions all-round. I – no, the team – had great fun and I’m glad the safety fiasco of past years (see the coverage here) didn’t recur, thanks to a tweak in the route. The Rat Race was the 2nd of 3 short races for me for the month of September. It started off with the BHP Run, this one, and a 10K this weekend.

Men’s Health/Women’s Health Night Run 2016

As our smashing holiday in the Gold Coast drew to an end, a number of us proclaimed (more like groaned) tiredly that we’ll just be doing 5K Fun Runs from then on. If you know these friends of mine, none of them are to be trusted when it comes to all things running. For example, if they deny having done high mileage weeks, unpreparedness for sub-4 marathons or like in this example, resorting to 5K Fun Runs, it’ll do you well to just flick your hair and ignore them.

On the other hand, I’m someone you could trust. Because I did run a 5K Fun Run in the form of Men’s Health/Women’s Health Night Run (MHWHNR or “Meh-weh-nn-err”) last Saturday! It was complimentary entry from my workplace and Putrajaya isn’t too far a drive (and a toll-free one at that!), I thought, it’ll be a nice couple of hours’ worth of running – my fellow conspirator nonamesmentioned and I had planned an 8K pre-race runabout.

That was before a thunderstorm laid waste to all plans. If it was just a drizzle, we’d have stuck to our plans but just like the 2015 Shape Run (when the start was much delayed), weather played a major role once again. The car parks were fast filling up and I was forced to resort to parking in a complex. With more than 2 hours to kill with nothing to do, we hunted for dinner and chanced upon a small hidden-away eatery which served only mee rebus and nasi lemak. Both were pretty good but both weren’t exactly things you’d eat before a race. Please do not follow our examples! Naturally that pretty much ruined the “lean-and-mean” approach going into the race – hey, it may be a Fun Run, but I still wanted to run a decent race. So we waited and waited until the gut felt settled enough before embarking on a token warm-up routine.

By the time we entered the pen, the crowd had gotten in and it was pretty jammed up. Still we apologized our way to the front, stopping probably 10 rows deep from the front line. nonamesmentioned said we could find ourselves being at the end of snarky comments from kids and their parents like, “Hey, shouldn’t you two be over the other side running the 12K?”. Truth be told, I wanted the Half Marathon but the comps were all taken. So there we were looking around us for some “serious looking runners” amidst folks carrying umbrellas and parents with kids on their shoulders. Thankfully we found a few and I promptly hid behind his broad frame, as if to deflect any stares away. I had to caution a kid of no more than 6 years old behind me to watch out during the start stampede. I spotted a number of children positioned too forward for their own safety.

No time to worry as the race was started 5 minutes ahead of time! Some human obstruction the first 100 meters or so but the legs started churning as we began finding some space after that. The lead bike was about 150m ahead and when the runners thinned out as the race progressed, things got pretty exciting. Breathing was comfortable and I was basically running to feel, just feeling my way in a distance I so very rarely do. My decision to go with the Fastwitch 7 was an appropriate one since its PWRTRAC outsole provided great assurance on the wet roads. My apprehension relating to my PF issue melted away as there was no discomfort felt at all and I was able to focus on my running. My legs’ range of motion was unlike what I’ve felt before, along with stronger push off. Stats would prove that my footpod recorded a higher average stride length than ever. I’m truly sold on the Bowen Therapy!

At about the halfway mark, CY who felt a stitch coming, asked that I went ahead and from that point, I was basically on my own. The biker was no longer in sight but I spotted a guy ahead and told myself that there wasn’t a need to go faster – just hold the effort and see if he dropped back. My recollections are rather hazy now on what happened the final 2K. I can’t remember if I passed the dude or he went the wrong way. Because the lead bike was already out of sight, I made sure I asked the crew at every intersection to be sure I was on the correct route. Which made the final 250 meters even more surreal. 2 FTAAA bikers approached and one stayed on my 11 to lead me to the finish. He barked into his walkie that he was escorting the 2nd runner in with 200 meters to go. I was a little astonished (understatement of the year!) at that and couldn’t help but really enjoy the moment. Never mind that this Fun Run category was devoid of elites because they were busy hammering each other in the 12K and Half for the top prizes, I never will experience this again in my lifetime! There was but 1 photographer who took a shot of me as I approached the finish. The rest were positioned along the 12K and Half Marathon finishing chute. A check with several volunteers there confirmed that I was the second one in. Since this wasn’t a timed-category, there were no prize money nor trophy, no mention on the official website and most likely no photos, so you the reader will just have to take my word for it, HAHAHAHA!

Meh-weh-nn-err was only my 3rd race for the year and the 22:19 would probably the recovery effort of the elites. It wasn’t even my best time over the distance but the experience provided me with many positives, that my body is healing well and getting stronger and if I could eke out an effort like last Saturday with absolutely no speed work and in control right to the end, who knows what’s in store?

Till then, onward to the next Fun Run!