HSN21KM 2018 Race Review

The Terrible, the horrible, no good run

To say I was waiting for this day all year-long is an understatement. You’ve put in hundred of miles and looked forward to this day, expecting to be celebrating, but end up feeling bitter and let down. It’s not fun, but it’s part of racing. Well, this definitely wasn’t the race I was hoping for and not the recap I really wanted to write but sometimes races don’t go the way we’d hope.

On Saturday, I was primed to have The Most Awesomest Run Ever.

I’m a competitive person – put me in a dodge ball court and it’ll get ugly – but for me, running isn’t a sport. It’s a sanctuary – a sweaty, beautiful hour of my life that is just about my feet and the ground.

You can do everything right, and you’ll still have runs that go poorly. For every few runs that make me feel like I’m on the top of the world, another one will come around that tests my resolve and shatters my confidence. And sometimes, on the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. But as I get more mature in both my real life and my running, I realize more and more how many aspects there are to running. It may be a physical act, but it requires a degree of mental and emotional strength – many would argue that these are even more important than the ability to put one leg in front of the other. Bad runs happen to all of us – and as they pop up, I am trying to use the opportunity to reflect on potential causes. Is there is something going on in my life that is affecting how I feel today?

And fine maybe I’m taking my word of the year a little too far to say I LOVE bad runs, but really they don’t bum me out the way they used to when I first started running. Now I kind of embrace them because I’ve learned that a bad run is a great teacher.

At 7.45pm, the 21KM runners were asked to gather at the starting line- we were briefed by the emcee (however, announcements were not clear, due to the echo- it was difficult to hear/understand) To what I observed, this race had many elite runners as well as first timers and beginners. Let me also give you a picture of the course…..downhills…….downhills……..wind at your back…..darkness….rain……..slight up hills……turn around…….u-turn…..and run back up these damn hills!

The atmosphere:

This was one of the best part of this run- best feeling ever, standing at the start line in the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. You could just feel the energy pulse through the crowd. It’s positive. It’s up beat! It’s anxious and it’s simply awesome!

The flag off however was delayed because the organisers had to wait for the green light from the police before they could proceed , they needed time to clear and close the roads before the could start the race. Then, we sang the ‘Negaraku’. After 15 minutes later, the elite runners were flagged off, followed by the runners five minutes afterwards.

The music was pumping, the energy was high, and we literally danced to the beat as we approached the Start Line. As people made it closer and closer to the start, the race commentator shouted “You are a hero”; “You are amazing”; and “This is your race, go for it”.And on that note, we were off!

Along the way, there were many hydration stations, however, to my disappointment, it was badly manned. I had to skipped three hydration stations to avoid being pushed and shoved. The paper cups were just stacked up and was empty, runners had to wait for the volunteers to pour into the cups. Eventually, paper cups ended up flying everywhere.

I’m not being dramatic, when I say this, but at the Selangor Turf Club, I was so impressed by those running around ( and past) me. It was drizzling, dark muddy and pot holes everywhere, I even got hit by a stroller (Gang Runners’ Stroller) Oucchhhh……but even though it was evidence we were all struggling , everyone pushed on! It was like a scene of a herd of cows and goats being ushered into the ‘kandang’. Eventually, runners had to walk along this route to avoid from being injured. While walking through this route, I observed that a few runners were injured though, some fell into the ‘longkang’, sprained their ankles due to have fallen into the pot holes, I even saw a runner collapsed by the side, awaiting for medics to arrive. ( hope and pray that he is alright). At this point of time, the medics and ambulance were working non-stop on their tippy toes….

What perhaps wasn’t so positive (but ultimately maybe is in the hands of the organisers- the lack of marshals and the number one priority- Runner’s safety!) Now, it’s not like I was the only runner out there suffering. Everyone I passed or passed me was working incredibly hard. It was like a trail run! There were no smiles, laughter or jokes. It was all hard work!

After the 10KM marker, I just wanted to give up! I shed a few tears…..it was a terrible feeling. I have trained so hard, I wanted to do my PB. I was hoping for a better time tonight. (Sorry, coach Adli) We are runners and we expect more of ourselves after all that is why we do it and that is what fuels the fire to keep training……but I ‘hit the wall’.

However, on a more positive note, I was touched by all the cheers from passing runners, it made me feel positive even though I was struggling! I appreciate each and everyone of them and I am sorry I did not cheer back, I did in spirit, as always, though…..! Somehow, I was just focused on keeping one foot in front of the other, so that I won’t fall into any ‘longkangs’ or pot holes. I hope you enjoyed my stressed out pain face…lol…

The route just got tougher in the second half of the race that headed into the Technology Park Malaysia (MIMOS), I know that Halloween is coming soon, but do we really need to practice running in darkness for the occasion? This section was hilly, dark and it was drizzling too. It was like in a movie scene “Hantu Kak Limah” where the three main characters were running in the ‘kampung’ (village), running ‘lintang-pukang’ (run for your life!) because ‘Hantu Kak Limah’ (Kak Limah’s ghost/spirit) was chasing them. Indeed, the runners made it a point to stick together in groups in this particular section. A creepy, spooky feeling crept inside of me and it sent chills to my spine….eeeeeekkk…

Then at one point, we were led and were running on a pretty busy highway-Sg Besi highway. Even though, it was a short distance about 500meters but somehow I felt that the runners’ safety were put on high risk. There were cones and barricades to separate the traffic and runners, but somehow I felt ‘malang tidak berbau’ (That’s why it’s called an accident) Thank God there were no unwanted incidents reported.

Anyhow, the route was altered slightly after that. The hills are alive……The hills, how do I put this, stairway to hell! I could actually feel runners around me going, “ohhhhhh Noooooooooo!” as we climbed out, but we soldiered on. After winding around through parts of Bukit Jalil, traffic was in a stand still. At the junction of Calvary Church, there were lots of unhappy road users that were stuck for hours! Lots of the drivers were honking. Runners were terrified at this intersection. Then, I suddenly felt something shift in my body…If you’ve ever heard a runner talk about ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’, it was what exactly happened for the second time! My body just quit on me. Then, I’d switched gears in my brain…it’s now mental and endurance! I got this! I am not going to quit! Not now! Almost there…..I can! I will!

The first hill was easy and the first long incline was rough but I made it through it. Many runners passed me and I passed a few as well. We came to the turn around point which I had never run before and it was rolling HILLS! I ran up and over the first two sets and finally saw the turn around point and said (while pointing with my finger) “WE have to run all the way there?” I plowed through the next hill with strong legs and felt pretty good but wasn’t quite ready to push it. Then came the longest, flattest straight stretch of road that one could run on – a causeway/bridge with a long hill at the end. The straight stretch killed me and the hill was easy – go figure! Yeah right!

20KM went by in a bit of painful blur. I was just focused on keeping my legs moving. Then I saw, the magical creature……My unicorn…..ehhhhh, I meant the magical number 500 meters to go…. That moment…pure joy and happiness……but wait, a u-turn! OMG! It ain’t over, till it’s over….runners had to make a u-turn to get into the stadium and to the finishing line..

And there it was…….The National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. I did! I made it! I finished it! I was ecstatic! Tears of joy flowed through my cheeks! The most rewarding moment for me throughout this 21 KM Half Marathon was being able to run to the finishing line, inside the National Stadium. I felt relief while I lined up gratefully without any injuries (Thank you, God) and accepted my much deserved 21KM Half Marathon medal, picked my finisher Tee and went off in search for my ‘sole-mate’-aka hubby. We didn’t hang around long. Took off our shoes and walked barefooted to our car. With that said, good job to each and everyone of you for actually being out there running, walking , crawling and even pushing the strollers. YOU DID AWESOME!

The biggest thing I took away from this race was how wonderful the running community is. From the strangers we talked to during the race; the volunteers passing out water, cheering & encouraging us; the organizers; the singers on the course; to every single person who worked the expo and the event–they each played a role in my race. My friends who cheered me on during the race and my friends & family, especially my mum, who stayed until 1am to wait for my wassap message, saying that I have finished the race and that we were on our way home and my sis who was tracking me during the race were amazing. Thank you…. The sign posting for getting to the event was good, parking was plentiful and the signage for the actual race was decent as well with markers pretty much every 3km.

Be realistic! Was it really such a bad race? You are racing no one but yourself, so this time ‘yourself’ lost, next time ‘your other self’ may win……..see what I mean? Take the good runs with the bad, remember the highs and don’t dwell on the lows! Now excuse me while I go and do the happy pappy dance of joy!

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One thought on “HSN21KM 2018 Race Review

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