OK this is weird. Usually blog reports will immediately flock the cyberworld after races, but everybody seems coy. So, what gives?
Anyway, I can't check my results yet, as the traffic was too overwhelming it seems, and I cannot do this at work as work is really, really swampy.
Rewind one year ago, it was very different. I hardly knew anyone, and the cold morning was literal. This year, I ran my anniversary FM with loads of beautiful people. And what a morning it was.
Parked my car behind the Kelab and unable to snooze - I went through my gears. At that point, I was packing stuff into the Blowfish, but it felt too heavy. Lucky I found my belt in the gym back, but I forgot the bottles. Crap... I had to carry 2 full-bottled Gatorades no matter what. 4 gels, some asamboi, the essentials, cash etc. Snoozelen? Impossible... I was either too nervous, or too full of a week's worth of food stuck down my throat.
pic cilok-ed from Yim
After meeting the clans under the pokok and warming ups (feet and jaws), meeting more friends, we huddled along into the line as soon as we see pacers' balloons entering the kandang. I spotted Kei Ming tied in bright orange balloon and tension rose. Fresh from Sundown, I felt it was a huge jump to shave 30mins off my time, but I stood there, watching the digits on the bloody balloon, and it was my colour of redemption.
Ian joked that I should start in front of Kei Ming as the pacer will go faster on course. I chuckled...
I scribbled 2 pace notes on my left palm - one safety net, another a motivation. For kicks, I used and record in tandem with the motivation pace note, knowing I'll be OK with my original target.
I love KL races - there are many familiar faces, jokes we plucked from the air etc etc. There were Ian, KA, Diket, Shuk, Nik, Nizam, Ziff, Kak Jenap, Hailmi, etc, still pulling each other's legs when people started to move forward in a roaring rain. In a jiffy, everybody disappeared in the wet and dark morning. I set forth in front of the balloons, navigating myself away from the crowd when I caught sight of Julie cheering by the roadside.
I started easy running between familiar faces of strangers. I was tempted when King Mambo, Nik and Shuk passed blazing for 4:30 pace, but wait... I held my pace and they disappeared with distinct chants about a fish, or something ahhahah...
Nizam came and I paced him a while. We took it from Brickfields to Sungai Besi Airport, into Cheras and back towards Jalan Tun Razak. So far so good, the day breaks with beautiful skies and cool air, the traffic held up, and I looked at the toyol on my palm - I was making good progress. I was doing a negative split with 3 minutes to spare.
Making ways into KL CBD was refreshing, as we took a turn at a place where Aiden was born just recently and reminded of the struggles thus far. No way as hell I'd give everything up... And soon later we passed Pavilion and my gym, with a cool Brazilian cheer group. Uplifting stretch this one, soon with the cabbies after McD Bukit Bintang, and the StanChart volunteers in front of MSC, jetsprays at Istana and the water station in front of ING... New York calling? dunno, but the orange coloured building reminds me the balloon will catch up.
Up this point, I was getting mental, thinking the balloons would indeed catch up and how devastating it would be. Heck, I did not even dare to look behind. Kei Ming would just be behind me for all I care, but it sure did keep me running. Talk about motivation, huh?
I paced with Nik Arief for a while here towards KLCC, with the La Bodega bare-chested cheerleaders did their best. We came into a quiet Twin Tower stretch, into Yap Kwan Seng, back into Tun Razak towards North. The run with the customary 3-minutes walk breaks worked well, as when I reached the 30k mark, I had a safety net of my 7 minutes in the bag. Over the course of my run between KL, I have been lapping and being lapped by Ian in between his stretchings, and after Nik came from behind, I set forth my views within visual distance of Ian and Nik, which went on until Bukit Tunku.
But it was the Jalan Ipoh stretch that I could feel I was getting slower. But my progression was run to the water station, walk break, and run to the next oasis. As I arrived at the 35th km marker, my pace was on the dot... oh no! I upped the pace, knowing Kash and Rais will be waiting just behind some corner. With the cold drink. With warm smiles.
I jogged up the stretch towards the Jalan Duta roundabout with the sun coming out in fullforce, and thanks to the traffic doing a fantastic job, I came into a very familiar territory. I thought, hey... another day of LSD, and we are on our way back towards Bukit Aman. And coming into Jalan Duta and Bukit Tunku was never felt so blissful, with a cold Gatorade delivered with cheery smiles. I saw them from far and it almost felt like a finishing line!
The Tijani stretch was eerily quiet, and the hill past Tijani 1 downed me to a walk. The arterior right knee was throbbing real bad, not the ITB whatsoever kind, but felt like a muscle tightness overdose. It really felt like I was pushing it to the edge. Till now, apart from few threatening cramps on my left calf, I held up just fine. I played the mantra, 'bring it on!' too much I forgot to put on some music, and the winding road under the shades was oh so coolness! The end is near... and I was shutting everything down, and doing the maths in my head to keep me sane.
Seriously... try 8x9+20-3.5 when reaching your 40th km...
I still stopped at the 40th km to sip and shower. I must have smelled like a rotten fish, but tasted like 100+ with all the showers I have been taking since the 14th km hydration system. Cold shower awakens me, and in stations without the cold sponges - 100+ shower was my drug. And I also could not track my pace as the toyol was all smothered off by the deep heat rubs to my left calf, but looking at time, I'd still make my target.
Coming into Jalan Raja Laut, I saw Dett cheering, and he obviously finished ages ago. Moved towards Sogo when my feet temporarily shuts down at the Sogo traffic light. I did not know why, but as I was doing simple maths in my head, and think how to solve some of the design problems at work, one runner pulled my arms and said, 'Run!'... and sure as hell I started running, turning into MARA building who paid for few awesome years abroad, and into Jalan TAR. Always, this is my favourite stretch... with people, bhangra music, spillover air-conditioning, etc... that stretch is a piece of work!
pic cilok-ed from Ijam - coming back along Jalan TAR
Sogo, G.S.Gill, Kamdar, the panggung wayang... I put in more speed and I saw the tents... More speed - the blister on my toes disappeared in the hype of adrenaline rush as I sprinted back home. Not as uber cool as the finishing at SCSM, but outstanding nonetheless.
I saw the timing board, and I almost flew into the gantry.
Alhamdulillah... I returned home in one piece, injury-free, and within minutes of my inspirational friends. The time on the board was 4:45:03 (my watch showed 4:47:24). I said whatttt? Macho-ness aside, I almost, ehem... shed a tear or two :D
I was euphoric.
Last year I survived, and tasted the whole distance and catapulted into a registration for SCSM'09. This year, at the finishing line, I tasted the true meaning of running and giving my heart out, not letting the small talks get the best of me... knowing that one further kilometer is achievable.
It the final sprint past Sogo, I tasted the feeling of wanting so badly, and going for it, and knowing I could do it... was incandescent.
In the final 10km, I tasted the smell of defeat, probably losing to my mind as I played the word 'dreadful Jalan Ipoh stretch' over and over again a week prior to the marathon - but went on kicking it off, and knowing the feeling of setting achievable targets.
Now I know why people keep the pictures of their families in their wallet.
On my 26th km, I doubted I would ever compete in another marathon, and found the lost love back on the 27th km. Crazy is what crazy do...
Last year I ran my FM as a testament, to prove if I could do it. Now I know that I can, I will run for the finisher's tees :D
Quickly regrouped with Nik, Ian and Shuk, had my shots at 100+ stall, collect the medal, a banana and the finisher's tee (judging for a monstrous M vest, I took S for the tee). For a brief of time, we found ourselves in a sea of people, darting between a massage tent, into running to Deo, other friends, soaking the air before we all converge on the Balairong Seri, where the King Mambo himself was resting. We were joined by Dett, Che and later Nizam when the lambung continued with the sounds of Faizal Tahir singing on a stage across ours.
It seemed that on this great day, we all have PB-ed, despite the many elevations etc. Well done, friends!
As discussed, we resumed to Ibrahimsha for brunch, caught Zaki coming back towards the gantry, and Ijam patiently waiting with his SLR.
And at Ibrahimsha, we caught up with Zaidi and Hanchik. In between the forced Nasi Kandar, we saw a glimpse of Ziff too. Only if we have our seats outside!
And sorry KA and Julie - I would love to lepak and chat but my car is overdue for service, but we'll see each other soon!
This is not a goodbye note, so soppy thank yous will be spared. However, I am grateful for all friends, Kings, Datuks and all. All those fun runs paid off, eh!
I woke up the next day and felt sore all over. It felt like I had squeezed a good juice out of me. It felt I have given it all, and spared some to resume my normal life in the suits, hiding behind the large spectacles, until zippy zappy in the phone booth again (this case, in the car).
caught with missJewelz. Nasib baik cameras cannot detect smell :D
I am loving this marathon because;
a) my anniversary marathon, hands down! I understand the mechanics more
b) scenic route - love running KL
c) rained - both years! love running in rain
d) they listened, and it shows - the improvements on all aspects are positive. I did not break my notes, sufficient hydrations, better quality vest and finisher's tee, not-so-bad medal design
e) friendlier running strangers and no short of encouragement along the road
a) another fatality - too young too soon
b) I heard the pacers were too fast? What?
c) could improve the improved cheering team next year?
d) perhaps a full-blown expo next year?
What have I learned this time;
a) carbo-loading a week prior is a good thing, even though it leaves you bloated most times
b) ORS-ing extra in the final 3 days pays off
c) important to stick to what my feet says - I love the fit NB1224 has become
d) the sweet midfoot running
e) with enough fuel pre-marathon, I only need 3 gels at every 10th km, and euuhh! the chocolate gel was gross... and the asamboi doesn't give the effect when it did during trail runs
f) enough rest and sleep in the final week are mandatory!
g) do not fret when side stitches attacks... press against the stitch, breathe like a fish in the water, and it'll go away
h) mandatory walk breaks still translate to good timings
i) I still cannot eat heavy meal post race, no matter how hungry I am. Quick protein fix - protein shakes.
j) LSDs, speeds, hills, intensity
An excerpt from Dean Karnazes' book which I pictured in my head, battling it out... I dedicate this to all GKL, RBUs alike.
"We all have dreams an ambitions, though few of us ever become all that we could be. We fight a silent war over purpose, over reaching our farthest destination. Onlookers watching us marathoners pass by today may have only seen the act of running, but as anyone on the course could tell you, there was a powerful, complex conflict under way. The runner fights the most savage of enemies : himself/herself.
And as with any war, this one comes with misery and suffering. War is hell, and a marathon is nothing short of war, a raging battle to keep moving forward, to stay the course in the face of unimaginable pain. The marathoner asks more of himself than is reasonable."
Happy Zero Week, everyone...