Laguna Phuket International Marathon

The beauty of running is its lack of discrimination. Anyone can participate. Young, old, fast, slow: everyone lines up and runs on the same streets at the same time.

No one tells you that if you want to run a marathon, you’re going to have to do a lot more than run.

I felt confident in my training and my abilities as a runner. I run often, and I run strong. As the Laguna Phuket International Marathon crept closer it started to hit me- but the nerves were streaming from everything leading up to getting to the start line. Will I sleep through my alarm? Will I forget my passport? Will the line ups to the porta porties be too long and I will have to run 21KM with a full bladder? LOL, all these were my legitimate thoughts.

Few days before race day, we did a check list such as passports, hotel reservations, flight details and race confirmation only to realized that our names were listed in the full marathon 42.1 KM instead of the 21 KM Half Marathon. Fear, anxiety and panic crept inside of me. We immediately contacted the event/ organiser to informed about the mistakes and they informed us that upon our arrival at the race expo, they will be able to rectify the mistakes.

We took the noon flight and arrived at Phuket International Airport on schedule. We rented a car and drove straight to the race expo only to be told that we were 10 minutes too late! Nothing could be done. They cannot rectify the mistakes. My heart was shattered into pieces. The event organisers tried to justify the situation and informed us that it was alright to just participate in the Half marathon 21 KM, however, we won’t be entitled for the medals, no finisher-tee, no timing chip..hmmmm….

Devastately, we drove to our hotel, showered and had an early dinner in silence. Then hubby made a decision at the eleventh hour to run his first ‘virgin’ full marathon 42.1 KM… I rooted for him! And this is his story:

At the starting line, I felt like everyone else. Nervous, anxious, excited. No months of training, no hundreds of miles run BUT here I was, ready to take on what had always seemed like an impossible challenge.

The gun sounded and I was off. Feeling great. Keeping a steady pace. Enjoying the sights and sounds. This went on for about 10 KM without a hitch. I was on pace to hit my goal and everything felt great. With the rain slowly toning down and my body slowly adapting to the low temperature, I continued my jog and stopped at all the water stations.

People around me were smiling, running, talking, cheering, singing etc. The feeling of running all alone with hundreds of strangers encouraging you and pushing you to keep moving is beyond exhilarating. I couldn’t help but feeling overwhelmed with emotions. I continued to run. I smiled, ran and smiled some more. I ran like it was the only thing that mattered.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other. That is, until around 30 KM. Where I hit the wall. Yes. THAT WALL! The one you always hear about but never understand until it happens. The kind of wall that leaves your body saying, “Hell no”, regardless of how much your mind says, “Yes”.

For me the first time in my history of running, I felt angry. And above all, disappointed in myself. I slowed to barely a jog, and finally a walk, my mind wanted me to push through, to fight the pain, but my body simply couldn’t. I was sore, tired, thirsty, hungry and outright uncomfortable in just about every way you can imagine.

Then my thoughts of my wife and children crossed my mind. Bring back the medal…….Bring back the finisher-tee….I got this! Do it for my wife and kids! Bring home this awesome journey and tell them that I did it! I am a 42.1 KM finisher. I am officially a marathoner!

So, I walked. Then I walked some more. And a little more. I jogged a few steps, and quickly went back to a walk. Hands on hips. Sucking wind. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

35 KM. 36 KM. 37 KM. I passed the KM markers. Slowly, but I passed them. Jogged a few steps further.

38 KM…………39 KM………..My walk had slowed to a crawl. I listened to the other marathoners around me, complaining. Gasping for air. Keeling over in the grass to stretch. Sipping coconuts for energy. I started to doubt if I’d ever cross the finish line, or if the ambulance would eventually come pick up with the rest of the stragglers…LOL

At this point, mental strength took over, physical strength is secondary. At this point, the clock ticks around 6 hours. The rain is long gone and the sun is up and shining brightly. Then I saw the magic number 40 KM. You have no idea how excited I was after seeing the sign, Suddenly out of nowhere the energy just hit me hard.

Every 200 meters I ran felt like forever, it was the last stretch of road before reaching the finishing line. Yes! My feet were alive again, they wanted to cross that line so badly that I started sprinting my last few hundred meters towards the finishing line, and I heard the host calling out my name: Segar Rajoo from Malaysia!!

The moment I sprint passed the finishing line, I felt relieve, I felt freedom and there’d be no more running….Just my RUN-CA-TION in Phuket with my wife. It was no easy task, but I did it! There was that sense of pride and excitement. And that feeling was one of a kind, sensational and somewhat magical!

Long story short. I did it! Clocked 6 hours and 30 minutes. MY first full marathon 42.1 KM- Laguna Phuket International Marathon 2018. It was an unforgettable experience, the whole journey was simply incredible and I urge those who are still contemplating to join a 42.1 KM, JUST DO IT!

I’ll work harder. Do better. Run faster. And get stronger. That’s the thing about marathons (Literally or metaphorically) They smack you in the face, kick you in the ass, make you feel like dying but keep you coming back for more…

Because the biggest rewards in life are the one’s that have to be earned.

Running a marathon isn’t about the miles/KM. It’s about the lifestyle. It’s about giving something your everything, then a little more, even when there’s absolutely nothing left to give!

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SCORE Night Edition Race Review

Why I Run? Because I can and it makes me happy! It excites me. I have learned to love running. I’ve been thankful for every mile pounded out on the pavement because of what it has taught me about myself and about life.

We reached Putra Jaya at 7.00pm. It was like a big carnival venue that night. All the runners were rushing in towards the start point from every possible direction. A bird’s eye view of that would have looked like gazillion of colourful streams (of runners) flowing and merging into the sea. (The start point) At the starting line, after the countdown, I ducked down to checked the retie my laces the way you tug the seatbelt before the roller coaster jerks in life. And there was a horn blast and the crowd surged. Ten minutes later, I crossed the line under a blare of music and cheering. Then long slow downhill took us gently away and the sound of cheering and music gave way to the steady rhythm of footfalls and breathing.

The race began and with that we were off, no more time to overthink it (though I suspect I was the last person at risk of overthinking this race today) Flocks of runners started moving forward. Many started by walking, some were running to advance in the start itself. As soon as the crowd started moving, I too started running at an easy pace. The group immediately turned to a chaotic stampede of runners and I didn’t even make it to two kilometres before I lost the pacer. Anyway, now I was part of the running crowd which was scattered all over the road. We were on a bridge, overlooking “Putra Jaya”. It was like a moment out of my dreams. It was a feeling of ‘harapan’ (HOPE) and sheer joy as I was crossing the bridge, overlooking the magnificent view of Putra Jaya. Pure bliss running down every nerve of my body giving goose bumps. That feeling will last forever in a corner of my heart. I felt proud as a Malaysian running in the middle of the night in Putra Jaya- the pride of our nation!

I skipped the first water station due to a massive crowd pushing and shoving for water. Some parts of the route was not brightly lit, had to watch my steps in the dark. At times, we were accompanied by the moonlight and stars.

By the 5KM I had found a steady pace that felt good- a little faster that I had planned but not ridiculously so. I didn’t think about what lay ahead, only step in front of me.

Someone once told me she knew running wasn’t fun because you never see smiling runners. Though I was surrounded by a serious-faced mob, I thought I had probably never been in the midst of such uniform happiness. Our faces were serious, our minds focused but our bodies, every one of them, were smiling. If you are wondering just how it is exactly that a body can smile, you will have to run a half- marathon to find out!!

But just as I was feeling snappy at the top of the hill one, a steady, relentless series of hills in all shapes and sizes followed. I stopped trying to keep track of them. I didn’t acknowledge them. When they came, I looked away and kept repeating my mantra….keeeeeeepppp go…….goooo…going…..!

Unfortunately, the course was very overcrowded, and there were multiple occasions, particularly during the last 5 KM and during the twisty parts of the roads that it became quite hard to find space to just run. Even at the several water/aid stations, volunteers ran out of cups, so we runners had to share bottles of water.

In truth this section was a bit of a trudge, long straight roads a midst tall apartment blocks and cars parked on the roadside….

Well, the half marathon continues to be my nemesis and I do not know why..Each time when I run a half-marathon, half way through the route, I keep asking myself, “Why am I doing this?, Why am I running a 21km?, This will be my last 21KM……I will just stick to a 10KM run..” All these thoughts runs through my head..But trust me, after you crossed that finish line, you would want to do this again, to run a 21KM half-marathon..LOL

Alright, on to my race. The plan was……hmmmmm, I had no big plans, just to finish the race…with this SCORE NIGHT EDITION RUN being a nice flat course…..NOT!!! Turns out, a positive attitude goes a long way. I just kept reminding myself to relax my shoulders, I smiled and had fun with the ups and downs..the hills, not emotions! Markers were placed along the route, however traffic control was a little messy. As far as logistics go, it was probably chaotic! In my opinion, there were too many runners and the space was congested.

The last 3KM was a struggle. On a positive note, I was so touched by all the cheers from passing runners. It made me feel awesome even though I was struggling! I appreciate each and everyone of them and I apologized I did not cheer back, I did in spirit! But I was very focused on keeping one foot in front of the other. This is a huge tease to ALL-THE-HILLS that you have to run to get back at the 18KM to 20KM and to the finish. No matter how you slice and dice it, you are going uphill to get back. (quite lumpy, but not in a torturous way) I hit 19KM, from here I played a run walk game. Run at a fastest pace, walk a bit, run a little, walk a bit. My legs throbbing a little, ankles hurting a little and head aching a little. Though my immediate concern was hunger..LOL

One thing that I have learned through racing in the past is that counting down to the finish is bad way to race, especially in a long race…with that in my mind, I set my body cruise control and settled in for a long flight…

Uh Ohhh…., we’ve got a long uphill stretch and I feel my legs started to cramp, I’m worried because I can already hear the emcee and I don’t want to be the girl with noodle legs at the end that can’t make it to the finish line. It’s time to hedge, I started to walk, I decided that finishing with style is much more important than 5 extra minutes….LOL

I could hear the finish. It was a cruel sensation. My mind was buzzing with the sights of Putra Jaya at night, the experience, pain and what I have achieved.

In summary, I enjoyed the race, not only am I proud of the accomplishment but during the race itself I was actually having fun…The course took us through some beautiful parts of Putra Jaya and I had literally zero expectations for myself so I focused more on the environment than my own performance. The finish chute seemed a bit hidden and to the side so not much glory to run to the end. The recovery zone seemed good with lots of medics giving out massages to sore runners. The medal collection was painless, no lines. The medal was nice and chunky too, I was a bit saddened in regards of the ‘special medal personalized with your name- for free’. Organisers were overwhelmed with the high demand therefore could not provide sufficient assistance and therefore the queue was very very long. However, the organisers apologized for this error and will rectify their mistakes.

We all had them. They are inevitable. A part of life. Sometimes for no reason at all. Nothing to point to or everything to point to. A BAD RUN. We hate it but it’s bound to happen from time to time. The bad runs build our true strength. As in life, when you have tough days, tough experiences, learn how to see the big picture. Bottom line? Learn from the run (Organisers as well as runners)

Stay healthy and there will be future races and for every bad race, there will surely be some great ones!