If I had a Ringgit for every time someone told me I was crazy for running as much as I do (which, to be honest, isn’t that much compared to some), I’d probably have enough Ringgit to buy a new pair of running shoes.
I’m certainly not new to running, not a stranger to half marathons, but this event, the IJM Land Half Marathon featured some of my favourite things about each of those and had everything a road runner could want. It was a perfect day-sunny and gorgeous with 9000 runners! I truly love the energy of races, such a positive common goal “Run together, Bond Stronger”. The world needs a lot more of that!
On race day, my hometown run-Seremban what a treat! I still woke up ridiculously early to start fuelling and stretching but without travel and parking to worry about. I was way more relaxed on race morning than usual. My two daughters Amisha and Anjali ran the 12KM and hubby a.k.a “sole” mate, ran the 21 KM Half marathon.
At the starting line I felt like a lion waiting to be let out of my cage. I was rip roaring and ready to go. Ready to race? Indeed! I was ready to rumble.
What made this race different was…..
Working with an expert: I ran races on my own and train by myself, but when I started working with my trainer everything changed. Learning from someone who has gone through ups and downs of training and has solutions for everything, is a gift. My running coach, Adli from the S2 Club was at the top of his game as an endurance athlete and trainer. He ran ultramarathons and knew not only the physical side of training but also the mental side. Working with an expert allows you to grow in places you never knew existed! Thank you, coach Adli.
Back to my race report:
The 21 KM flag off was really cool, with 21 shots of fire works and sharp 6.15am we were off! (However, I do hope that the organisers would consider an earlier start at 5.30am for the 21 Km in the near future) The 1st Km led us into a row of shop lots at Uptown Avenue and then into the main road towards Mcdonalds. I was really impressed with the route, it was well planned and executed.
Along the way, there were sufficient water stations filled with awesome volunteers who helpfully spilled water and 100 Plus on your expensive running gear. NOOOOOo, seriously, Thank you, dear volunteers! Be sure to thank them for this, dear runners because I don’t know what would possess somebody to get up at an ungodly hour, travel across town and stand around for hours handling cups to thousands of sweat covered smelly runners! Thank you! Terima Kasih! You guys rock!
I could hear the birds chirping and darkness soon gave way to light as the sun’s first rays crept in; basking in the beauty of the surroundings, I soon felt into a trance little realizing that it was a nice flat route.
At 6KM was the first check point and the U-turn point was located at the IJM Land Sales Office. Then I saw my hubby, running the opposite side ( ahead of me by 5 KM) anyway by seeing him gave me an extra push to keep my pace on track. Waved at him and blew flying kisses and he was gone with the wind.
Most of the course took us through Seremban 2 residential areas. Hometown races are also fun because you see so many people you know out on the course, either spectating or running. I loved the serenity in the early miles. The light was beautiful, all was quiet except the pounding of runner’s feet.
At 9 KM, we once again passed Macdonald’s and were headed into Garden Avenue. The markers, traffic control and marshalling was tremendously well organised. Even though, the roads were partially closed and vehicles were zooming along the roads, but cones and volunteers were stationed along the route.
At 12 KM, there was a banana station and volunteers actually peeled the skin for us! KUDOS And a BIG Thank you for that! After that, there was a gradual uphill that led us into S2 Heights. The hill steepened. It was definitely a pace killer. A series of other small hills after that made the thought of that finish line even sweeter.
At 16 KM, having the home- court advantage gave me the extra push I needed to get to the finish line. I’ve run up and down that route hundreds of times and I feel I know every crack in the sidewalk, every bump in the road, every tree, bush along the final stretch.
At 18KM, I started hurting…or maybe getting tired is the better way to put it. But I went through a check list, in my mind: are my shins ok? Yeah….Side cramps? Nope…. So I kept going, my goal was to finish a sub-3. I was really tired, mentally and physically. I was beat.
I might be acting a little picky with this one but I thought the 21 KM route should not have been on the same 12 KM fun run route. At 18 KM, many 21 KM runners including me, were blocked by the ‘fun runners’ and we were zig- zagging for pace and speed.
Once I hit 19 KM, I tried to remind myself I only had 2 KM left to do. I was already super exhausted and my feet hurt, not forgetting the blazing hot sun. The heat really started to settle in around this point, and whenever there was no shade the sun felt really hot. But I still kept at it. At about 20 KM, I gave in and walked some more, I walked about 300 meters or maybe more, I wanted to be able to run to the finish so I was trying to preserve some energy.
And then I saw it, in the distance…….the end. It looked SO.FAR.AWAY. I can do this! Just go! Finish!
And finish I did! I missed Sub-3 by 5 minutes! But it was my PB! Got a little emotional. Heard someone called, “mummy”,”mummy” and I saw my daughter, Anjali waiting for me at the finish line. I crossed the finish, I cried a little. I got my hard earned medal and my awesome finisher T-shirt. Then I was grinning like an idiot and just loving every second of it and yet letting every second go by in a blur. Now excuse me, while I go do the happy dance.
What I have learned today:
- The starting line is incredibly anti climactic (uhhh, shouldn’t we be running and not ambling forward like cows out to pasture)
- There are a lot more psychopaths who wants to run 21 KM than you’d think!
- Every sign makes you laugh or cry
- Drinking from a cup while running is way harder than it looks.
- But crushing an empty cup in your fist and tossing it on the ground makes you feel like a BOSS!
- Seeing how many non-runners come out to watch the race humbles the heck out of you
- The runner’s high is a completely real thing
- But unfortunately, so is “hitting the wall”
- As tired as you feel after 21 KM, the last 100 meters will give you new life
- Wearing a medal and the finisher T-shirt sounds cheesy, but it’s actually the coolest feeling in the world.