My first 42.195 km - that long run/walk thing

A full Marathon!

To a normal person, running would come naturally. To me, the idea of running always flash the image when I stood at the starting line of a 100 metre dash when I was 8 - overweight, and stopped running after the 5th metre. So yes, running was intimidating to me. Conquering the feel to know that I could run is in itself an achievement, but I stood at the starting line last Sunday at 5 a.m., conquering my fear for running the distance.

Man, how intimidating it was. Not only butterflies, all of the animal kingdom were shrieking inside of me...

For the record, the longest LSD I have had was 32k, mostly long walks at the last 10k thanks to both my ITBs. So when I was driving at 2.30a.m. towards the Dataran, I told myself to just complete the marathon, irregardless of the time. I would walk the entire afternoon if I had to. Still, at the back of my mind I wished I could run as fast as I drove that morning. Some fantasy, lah...

Considering this was my first, almost all things in preparation for the race were experimental, and to be evaluated and assessed for the next marathon. Call it the 'Amateur's Amateur Guide to a Full Marathon'.
My final preparation started on Saturday. My breakfast as usual with bread and peanut butter, water (no dairy today), and lunch at my sister-in-law was a full-blown nasi minyak and ayam pedas. Put my feet up a lot, thanks to my understanding wife, I skipped house chores this week (phew!). Prepared 2-servings of non-pedas chicken pasta, and had my dinner at 6p.m., but due to trance from the whole Madagascar crew in my guts, I only managed to go to bed at 9 p.m.. I put myself to sleep thinking whether I would make it to the starting line the next morning and counting the odds of whether I could actually finish he race. Few hours before the marathon, I was still in doubts. Apa nak jadi...

Woke up at 2.30a.m., and immediately bukak periuk for a serving of rice with chicken curry was all I could muster. The chocolate cupcake had to wait. The next hour was spent in counter checking my gear, and playing the run in my head over and over again. I wonder if other first time marathoners were doing the exact same thing at that moment...

In the car, I sipped a bottle of water and ate my peanut butter sandwich. Arrived at my usual spot at Jalan Tangsi (thanks to my PAM membership, an exclusive parking in its compound), put on my knee guards, shoes and applied a healthy amount of the analgesic rub all over my legs. Sports bar, gels, ORS, wristwatch, iPod, RM10, coins for the loo - all checked. Still I have that nagging feeling after sleepovers, when you suddenly realise you have left your toothbrush in their bathroom.

When I arrived at the Dataran, the atmosphere was dull. Obviously I didn't know any of my (professional) friends would still be awake at 3 a.m. unless there's a submission pressing. While moving around between my 3 trips to the loo, briefly met Ian (CA), and caught up with Nik and Kash when warming up prior to the start. Saw Azhar from the running clinic, and finally rub shoulders with AAR, a fellow Consultant in his 50s running for his 4:45 (phew, old man). I tried to not stop moving, jiggling away while waiting for gun-off, when it started to rain... Man, as much as I hate running with wet feet, I love running in the cool weather and gentle rain. I guess God is 'buttering' me up.

By the time the gun went off at 5 a.m., I started a steady, slow run, and reassuring myself over time that it is perfectly ok to let others pass me, and it's alright to run that slow. You see, I was more conscious to complete the race, and run safely in a bid to delay any ITB sign kicking in at the first hour. Not taking any chances now.

I saw a couple in late 30s running together, and I paced them for a good 10k. I passed the first 2 water stations as I am accustomed to not drinking in my 10k races. Then the guy slowed down, so I set the next target, and kept doing that until we reached the Ampang Park where I stopped for my gel and water. Kept running into Pekeliling, turned into Jln Ipoh, into Kg. Baru and KLCC. At this point, I have missed some water stations where they ran out.

Beladi hell!
I gulped few of the ORS without water, and the danger of dehydration started to kick in. Many times I slowed down between Kg Baru and KLCC to stretch when the urge for a multiple cramp on my left and right calf was too strong, and eventually tured into a 5-8 minutes walk. In front of Petronas Towers, a young lady was standing with a peace sign, and holding a placard that says "Nice Shorts!". I was running and laughing out loud...

Stopped at Central Plaza 7-11 for a 100+ (damn, queued for about 5 minutes to pay as there were many dehydrated runners), and went to walk until KL Convention Centre. Again I found myself queueing in 7-11 for a bottle of cold water to help me with Power Gels, for another 10 minutes or so. This time on, I did not let go of that bottle, no matter what. Refilled at Shell Jln Raja Chulan, and went on running until Telekom building near Menara Maybank when another cramp attacked. I just finished stretching when Haza came strolling and strong, and we went to run for a short period when I left her with Azmar, marshalling on his bike.

So far, I have had my gels on the 10th, 20th, 25th km. Collected my free gel near Petaling Street for my 35th km only to find out I dropped it along the route. Finders keepers. By the time I hit Dewan Bahasa, I was mostly walking, and making friends with sheepish comments about finishing the distance. I have read somewhere that in the last 10k, most runners are zombies walking towards the finishing line. Somehow, I had that image in my head and it was playing continuously, I became one of the zombies. Hamjadah... my mind needs fine-tuning.

I think, it was the stretch between Jalan Istana towards Jalan Pertanian was the mostest dullest and crappiest stretch where there was no water at all, no petrol station to refill my bottle, we were walking/running alongside grumpy drivers being held against their will (they probably were thinking we were idiots and environmentally-idealists to run that far, that early on Sunday where driving was so much convenient). I saw 2 portable loos across the road where there is no way as hell we could cross that highway.

I have ran out of ORS from the 35th km, and not having enough water earlier took its toll on me. In my back pocket, I only have my car key, my dead iPod and RM4.50 (the coins were making some odd background music). At this point, my run whenever I could, was so slow that it was even faster when I power walk. So power walk I did from Wisma Pertanian towards Sogo, side-by-side Ganesh (a lawyer from Subang) who was running his 7th marathon. I had a bottle of water in my hand when we U-turned at Wisma Cycle & Carriage/Lorong Hj Taib (yeah, few trannies were looking at us in our shorts, glistening sweat etc hehehe), which I keep on pouring on top of my head to cool my head. Surprisingly, my knees held up to this point, which I was very grateful.

When I reached Sogo, there was this one guy standing by the roadside and said to me "few hundred metres buddy, you are coming home...". That gave me goose bumps... I was coming home!
Then I started to run, picking speed along Kamdar etc when it came to a screeching halt at the traffic light before the Dataran. The bloody policemen were releasing the cars instead of us runners (few of us there). I yelled a loud "HOI!", gave an 'Aparaa' sign to him and dashed into the confused traffic. Luckily no cars hit me, and by the time I crossed over was when there were lots of people cheering, hi-5-ing me, clapping, and cameras etc... OK, I was star-struck for a bit, but I had goose bumps all over my body, and started to sprint for the finish line...

When I came through, I wanted to scream 'I BLOODY FINISH' but instead I was confused by few people who came over and scanned my number etc. I mean come on... my time was not important for the podium, let me bask in my own glory, lah...

I heard Kash calling my name, and they told me my time was at 6:01 something (thanks Kash & Nik)... Overall, I am very happy with the time, considering the 7-11 fiascos, queuing for water tap at Shell and held by the traffic (terima kasih, lah abang policemen. Next year do a better job). As I had promised myself, time will not be an important factor but to finish this race is paramount. Unbelievable as it is, I completed my first marathon! As a bonus, apart from the many cramps on both calves, I practically ran injury-free.

I was running consciously holding back, in 'respecting the distance', but given the limited time, work commitments and travels, etc, I feel great! Of course I would have wished I didn't get the cramps, and able to run longer, feel more pain so the gratuity at the end of the run would be more blissful. I suppose I'll tackle that in my next marathon.

Next marathon? Huh...

I am, on high!

There are a lot of inspiration along the way, from the people I have met. Looking at them, I have no excuses not to run my better marathon next time.

I ran this marathon as a testament, looking for proof that I simply could do it, run this course before I got any older. I crossed the finish line knowing I could, and hell, wanting for more. Funny how could something quite/so torturous become so addictive?

All in all, I have read many complaints about the organisation of this event. I too, have my grouses, from waterless pitstops, bad traffic handling, weak event management, insensitivities to the runners (had to queue under the sun to claim my XL finishers tee? How many marathon runners are in their XL and XXL frames?) and unprofessional towards the whole thing. But, I'll leave it at that, knowing (hoping) that Octagon or whoever have learn their lessons, and quadruple their effort for next year. If not, too bad coz the route is one hell of an enjoyable route!

So there, before I start running mid 2008, my vocabulary of a 'marathon' was referred to the many Lord of the Rings and Harry Potters' when me and studiomates got a little too 'malas' to prepare for our crits. Never before in my life had I imagine I would endure running such a distance, but what gratifying experience it is when I did.

Notes :

OK-things for pre-race
1) No dairies 3 days prior
2) Final run training 2 days prior to race
3) Stop Strength Training a week before
4) Carbo-loading gradually the week prior, and the day before with heavy carbs (pasta), chicken, no broccolis, no hot/spicy food 24 hours prior
5) No chocolate bars (they give me gas) a day before
6) Energy bar an hour before race
7) Water diluted with ORS prior to race
8) Power Gels at 10th, 17th, 26th, and 35th km
9) ORS at every 5th km
10) Always bring some cash

Do not repeat / To improvise
1) Peanut butter sandwich and rice 3 hours before race is sufficient for the first 26k. Need to eat more rice at this hour (2 pinggan ka?)
2) Need to sleep longer than 4 hours the night of race
3) To have heavier lunch a day prior to race
4) DO NOT accidently turn on my iPod while not listening
5) Do not skip drinking water with ORS
6) 'kedai runcit' as Kash would call it with all the goodies
7) to drink water with ORS 1-day prior?
8) Need my shades

And apologies to Kash for not stopping for a chat after the race as I rushed home to help wifey for some cupcakes orders that lunch.
To Ian (CA) who texted me to find out how I did after 3 days of no entry, and Haza who posted the question, I have been meaning to post this earlier, but I was dragging my sore legs all over Penang on Monday and later Kota Bharu on Tuesday/Wednesday on my business trips. So much for properly resting with my feet up... hehehe


Nice report, syah. You've heard this many times, congratulations! I suffered the exact same thing as you did on my first KLIM last year. But guess what, that same year I went to do another 3 more marathon. Hehehe.

I suggest to ditch the ORS for Nuun salt tablets. You just need to suck it and its refreshing in the mouth. Macam suck asam.

Good luck training for the next one and hopefully we'll see each other in December!
amsyah said…
Thanks Kash for the tip. Mebbe I shud bring some asam later, huh... sedap jugak tu.

December for sure!
Syah, mannnn ... u took the short-cut to Marathon & survived blardy well :) I've said it before, and I don't mind saying it again "DARN PROUD OF U, DUDE" ... and you did it all by yourself!
Anonymous said…
So you can walk straight today?

Congrats, marathoner! C u in SG.
congratulations my friend!

you are loony to run that far you know that don't you? hehe. then again it's success stories like these which are inspiring =D

well done!
amsyah said…
haza : Thanks... I went around Penang and Kota Bharu for my site visits walking like a broken Decepticon. Getting on Firefly's small seat was hell heheehehe...

Saya budak baru belajar, tapi Singapore here we come for sure...

ayien : thanks too. Loony that we all are, will go for a next one already huhuhh! Woohoo...
Anonymous said…
I am really,really(indifinitely)PROUD of you dear!
May Allah bless you with magnificient health all your life!
amsyah said…
thanks sayang for supporting me... that means the world. we have Singapore this December

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