One year ago, I vowed to never attempt this race ever again.
12 months later,
I went back (Haaaaa!).
I had a horrible experience last year. You can read about it here.
The best thing about the registration process was that you didn’t have to pay upfront. I signed up first without giving it much thought.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go. In fact, I only DOUBLE confirmed 3 days before race day. Transport was the main problem (amongst others). But thanks to Wai Ching, he managed to find someone (Lili Suhairi) that we could all carpool with!
The journey was surprisingly very pleasant! I had imagined it to be a 6-7 hour ride but we only took 4.5hours with several stops in between! I guess we had a pro driver. Plus, I had the whole backseat to myself! There were supposed to be 4 of us. Affindi pulled out on the morning of our departure.
This trip was rather spontaneous. We hadn’t even book a place to stay before we arrived! After settling our race kits, we drove around to look for a place to stay.
We called Muhaizar up and thankfully, his apartment had 2 extra rooms left! So, we bunked in with him and the rest of his mates.
The biggest room with a double bed all to myself!
After checking in, it was time for dinner! We ate at the stall by the roadside. I didn’t think it was a very good idea to eat by the roadside, especially before a race! You never know the quality of their hygiene and true enough, I found two bugs in my soup! Thank God for my stomach of steel (it was all good).
After dinner, we bought some snacks and water before heading back to our hotel. It was around 10pm. I took a shower and called it a night. The rest of the guys stayed up to watch football! Take note, this is what elite runners do a day before race day (Haha!).
Although I went to bed early, I couldn’t sleep! I was very tired but my mind refused to shut down. This would have been my 4th consecutive day of disturbed sleep. I am such an insomniac.
My alarm went off at 5am. It felt as though I was awake the whole night!
This is where it gets a little interesting……
Okay, you know how sometimes we have pre-race day rituals/routines that we follow and how we should NEVER try anything NEW on race day (to make sure nothing goes wrong)?
Well, my routine went out the window and everything that could possibly go wrong, WENT WRONG! Here’s the breakdown:
-First of all, I signed up for the Half Marathon. But I actually wanted the 12KM (this was just me being lazy, blahhhhhhh!). I was so sure that I could change to the 12KM that I wasn’t prepared mentally and physically to run the Half Marathon.
-I wore “new shoes” (a BIG NONO). I brought 2 pairs of shoes – Puma Ignite and Nike Flyknit Free 4.0. My Puma Ignites have been worn down to the core (more than 800KM). I shouldn’t even be wearing them but they are my only pair of training/road racing shoe! I have placed my order for new shoes but they have yet to arrive.
On the morning of the run, the guys advised me against wearing my Pumas. I felt that I shouldn’t take the risk too. I had no choice but to wear my Nikes. I HAVE NEVER RACED IN THEM. And it was going to be a HALF MARATHON!
*Disclaimer: I have permission from my Sponsors to wear Nike*
-I wore new socks. My usual thicker pair of performance socks was soaking wet so I had to wear the other one which was still new. New shoes + new socks = ?
–I didn’t have my usual breakfast. I usually eat 2 slices of Gardenia wholegrain bread and a banana. I brought 5 slices along with me from KL. After knowing that I couldn’t change to the 12KM category, I had to load up for the Half Marathon. I consumed all 5 slices the night before. I wanted to buy a new loaf but I couldn’t find it even after going into 3 convenient stores!
And then the banana. I brought two bananas with me. GUESS WHAT?! They both had worms wriggling around! I had to throw them away.
No bread AND banana!
Whaaaaatttt! I had to settle for a pack of Meiji biscuits and an apple.
-I didn’t bring any gels (because I was so sure that I was going to do the 12KM). Thankfully, Lili had ONE extra pack. It was the High 5 gel WITH caffeine. I hadn’t taken that before.
-I forgot my iPod.
–I didn’t get my haircut. This may sound a bit funny but I was planning on getting my haircut before we left to Terengganu. Time was not on my side and I didn’t manage to. I WAS FEELING VERY UNEASY about it! I like to get things done when I set my heart and mind to it.
-I didn’t get enough sleep and my right eye was swollen near the tear gland.
So, yay! Everything went wrong. You can imagine how excited I was for this run.
We made our way to the starting area 30 mins before the flag off. Did a short warm up and met up with all the familiar faces!
The crowd was small but very competitive. We were off at 6.30am. You know how I always dart out at the start? I didn’t do it this time! It was a good start. Ran alongside Annie and Yu Fang for the first few KMs before they broke away. There were a few others following closely behind but I managed to shake them off before we hit the bridge.
I remember hitting the wall last year at KM 15 because there were only 2 water stations! This year, I made sure I drank heaps at every water station! I even drank some of the water from the sponge (they were pouring mineral water over them). To my surprise, there were about 5-6 water stations throughout the entire course! WHOOP! They also had many sponge stations!
When we got on to the bridge, it felt so familiar and I knew it was going to be a long straight road ahead. It was mentally very challenging. I tried to maintain my pace. I think I went a little faster after we made the U-turn.
I decided to take my gel at the last water station on the bridge (KM 15). I was contemplating whether or not to take it because I hadn’t taken that particular one before! I wasn’t feeling spent of energy but I didn’t want to risk not taking the gel. Thankfully, it went down pretty well.
It was very hazy. I could barely see the surrounding buildings. I remember it was blazing hot last year but this year, it was cool and rather gloomy (probably due to the haze).
I wanted to slow down towards the end as I felt blisters forming beneath my toes. When I looked at my watch, I knew I was going much faster compared to last year. I kept the momentum just to see if I could hit a PB (I really wanted to slow down).
I gave 85% down that last stretch! Crossed the finish line and stopped the timer with a smile. I shaved off about 4 mins from last year and a PB for my 4th Half Marathon (if you extrapolate that is. It was only 20.5KM)! I finished 4th too, behind Annie. Double 4! Coincidentally, my bib number was 1163 and hers was 1162. 🙂
Thanks to Nik for the sports drink! Best way to consume it? Put it in the freezer and drink it like a slushie! SO GOOD!
We chilled for a bit before heading back to the hotel room for a nice cold shower! We checked out and went back to the race area to collect our prizes. Had a good chat with the other runners. Everything was fast and efficient. We were done before 12pm!
Congrats to Wai Ching for his 2nd place in the 12KM Uni category and Lili in 9th in the 21KM Men’s Open. Everyone went home with something!
Every year, this race attracts the elites of Malaysia (well, most of them). It was good to catch up with them and of course, a privilege to race among the best. I am glad I came back for this one! The organisers made the necessary changes (like adding MORE WATER STATIONS) to improve race day conditions. It was a good day. 🙂
9 weeks in since the dengue episode. Starting from the bottom, I wasn’t expecting much from my body. I pushed when I could and rested when I should. I certainly did not expect to break my 5KM, 10KM and Half Marathon PB!
1. Listen to your body. Many people told me to take 3 months off post dengue. Some people do need that much time to recover. You know your body best. YOU decide.
2. Train hard
3. Be consistent
4. Never give up!
God has been good. Without Him, I would never have had the courage and strength to push through. Praise the Lord!
What’s next? 😉