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!