I could not have gone another step, but on Saturday I ran across the finish line of the SCORE Night Run’s Half Marathon, my first run for 2019. My legs shaky, my feet numb, I did it. And everything hurt. Turns out, 21.1 kilometres is far and the journey to that elusive finish was a mental and physical test unlike anything I’d ever endured.
This is a spectacularly well run event. Running in Putrajaya is among the best routes in the city. With 15,000 runners, the start was crowded, but the course is open. There are rolling hills, amazing beauty along the course and a grand finish with an instant race results on the spot! You really can’t ask for more from an event. I highly recommend this event to any experienced or beginner runner.
I felt a real mix of emotions: nerves, excitement and a real sense of disbelief. However, I’m a firm believer that you should take every opportunity offered to you, and the chance to run the SCORE Night half marathon was too good an opportunity to miss.
The 42KM flagged off was at 8pm. Right after that, the 21KM runners were asked to standby in the pen. While waiting for flag off, we were all entertained by a 20 minute cultural performance. It was really nice and traditional however, as a runner I would have preferred a warm up session before the race instead of a cultural performance. After all, our running tee says RUN-DER-FUL, ehem, not culture-ful. Somehow, along the 21KM half marathon, there were a lot of runners injured due to muscle cramps, hamstrings injuries etc. Therefore, I would highly recommend a warm up session before the race.
We arrived early, so we managed to get a good and safe parking spot, quite near to the starting point. Alright, let’s begin with a quick rundowns of the PROs:
- It was a ‘night run’. It had a totally different feel than a morning race would have, which I enjoyed it.
- It was a nice feeling to be running in Putrajaya “Conquer the City”-Run the Night
- The crowd was overwhelming
- Water stations were plenty
- Porta-porties were sufficient
At 8.40pm, the horn goes off and 13 000 runners shuffled in life! A stunning diversity of masses bouncing around for position. This is a funny time where you are not really sure who is in front of you and who is behind. The theme for SCORE RUN- Conquer the city, “Dear runners, conquer the city-not conquer the streets, however I do wish that runners would practice proper etiquette while running, overtaking, talking or spitting.”
The next 5KM, I actually got a decent pace going, I overtook a few runners. The organisers did a good job, roads and routes were well condone, marshals were on standby and traffic police were placed at every traffic lights and junctions.
This is the best, such a beautiful night, the weather was great and this pace feels so easy. Life is so amazing, enjoyed the sounds of pounding feet on the streets and the breeze felt so good! Luckily, once my body got used the rapidly occurring climbs and descents, my breathing got more regular, and I kept the “paced run” mentality in the back of my mind. During the up hills I tried to climb, and during the down hills I just tried to let gravity do its work. On the straightaways, I pushed myself like it was a paced run: relentless, forward motion, one step at a time.
Right about now, my lower legs felt fatigue. There were very gradual rolling hills throughout the course that kept things more interesting than challenging. ~ 15 KM but I didn’t find it to be bad. It was short and not too steep but the placement can make it challenging. That being said, I developed sharp pains in my right hip flexor and knee right after the hill. The last mile is deceptive because there are a lot of loops and turns. You think that the end will be around the next turn – the good news is that this eventually does come true. Ohhhhhh, and then the route led us to twilight zone..Seriously, we ran into a very dark tunnel . As I was running, I was imagining that Valak was behind of me, chasing me, trying to give me the push for motivation to speed up….but it didn’t work. I was more freaked out by the darkness and afraid of getting hit by cars at this point rather than being chased by Valak!
Then suddenly I felt something shifted in my body. If you have ever heard a runner talk about “hitting the wall” or “bonking”, that was exactly what happened. My body just quit on me. Then, I had no choice, I had to switched gears in my brain. The run now is all about mental challenge! I got this! I am not going to stop! Just keep going! I can do this! I can! I will! I run because I can…
I stopped at the hydration station, only to get a cup full of ice cubes, I had to wait for the volunteers to pour water into the cup. After that, I pushed on. I managed to keep going but in a bit of a painful blur. I saw many runners stopped for medic assistance as well as massages and first aid. assistance.
I am not quite certain how it works, but it always amazes me how the body can do things on race day that you really didn’t think it’s possible!
Then I saw a sign – 3 KM to go! With sweat dripping every part of the body, fatigue increasing. I really started to struggled with my breathing, sounds like making excuses, it sort of is…LOL. But wait….what? Another loop?? OMG! This was a challenge! By this time, most of the runners were just walking towards the finish line. This has got to be a real mental challenge to complete this race! Sometimes, race day is a funny thing! Most runners aren’t competing for first place. They are competing against themselves, either for a better personal time or simply to finish! Life is similar. While it may look like a race against each other, the only real competition is yourself!
After the hydration station, I tried to remind myself I only had 2KM left to do and my hubby-aka ‘Sole” mate would be waiting for me at the finish line with his camera. I do 5KM everyday, no sweat…….but that didn’t really work. I was already super tired and my feet hurt. But I kept at it. I gave in and walked some more. I walked about 1.5KM maybe a bit more. I wanted to be able to run to the finish as 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! I turned my head to the right and there I saw my hubby with the camera lens focused on me!
JUST GO! FINISH! And finish, I did! I threw my hands up in the air, like I just don’t care. However, after crossing the finishing line, we were asked to queue up for medal, water and results. Then, we had to walked about 200-300 metres more to collect the finisher Tee. I got my awesome medal and my finisher-Tee and my legs felt like dead. But I just ran a half marathon. For someone who running does not come easy, I was (am) unbelievably proud of myself!
It’s hard to explain the feeling unless you have also accomplished something you felt was impossible. It doesn’t have to be a half marathon. We all have dreams and goals! And each one of those takes steps to complete them. The message here is that you can do anything you want to do if you want it bad enough. Just take the steps to do it and don’t give up. Yes, it may be difficult but the most valuable things are usually the hardest to obtain. You can do it. If I can do it, anybody can!