Well as promised, I now give you the detailed account of what transpired after that sleepless night. My dear wife surprised me by waking up at 2am and gave me the much needed moral support before I left the house. I reached Peter's house around 3am and he was just putting his bag into the car.
We reached Klang town around 3.20am where Loh and Lee were both waiting for us. Saturday night fever was still pretty obvious as the traffic on the road was still rather heavy. We parked our car near the masjid at Dataran and after getting into our attire and having our powerbars, we made our way to the starting point.
There wasn't much happening there. I still remember the environment for my very first road race which was the Putrajaya Marathon 2005 was more happening than this. I managed to spot some of the PMs including Tey, Jamie and Kelvin. We got a few group photo taken before entering the starting pen.
Group photo taken before the race
Someone called out my name as I was entering the pen... it was Chin (Apek) from Penang. I was glad to finally get to meet him. We would later run most of the race together, and cross the finish line hand in hand.
0 to 10k
I met more familiar faces once we had entered the pen. We just relaxed while waiting for the start. No music was being played as I had heard people talk about in the previous KL Marathons. It was only after the gun went off, some pathetic kompangs were being played at the front.
I started at a really slow pace and noticed that most people were already pressing forward. I remembered that I had promised to take this race easy as I was concerned that my foot injury might reappear if I did not. Peter ran with me in the first 2k or so before picking up the pace.
A little while later, Chin joined me and we enjoyed some conversation which made the run much easier. I was trying to lookout for more familiar faces but I suppose everyone was much quicker than us on that day. We reached and crossed the 10k chip mat together, at approximately 1h8m. I thought this was quite alright and decided to just maintain the pace.
10 to 21k
After the 10k mark, I started feeling the pounding impact on both my feet. This was the first telltale sign that my NB680 was not going to give me the cushioning I needed to last the distance. Sure enough, once I had reached the 15k mark both by feet were feeling really sore.
I was quite happy with the frequent refreshment and water stations that was setup. I didnt need to stop for water in the first 10k as I had brought along a bottle of Endurox. I did stop at every station just briefly from the 15k mark onwards.
Chin continued to run with me and we passed RunWitMe just after the 15k mark. I checked my watch as we approached the 20k water station and realised that my pace was slightly slower than my planned race pace, but as my feet were already becoming quite sore, I didnt want to increase my pace.
Our time showed approximately 2h25m when we crossed the 21k chip mat. I did a quick calculation and confirmed that I should be able to reach the 30k point in 3h30m if I maintained the easy pace I was running at. However I would later find out that this was just not to be! I took my first powergel at this point.
21k to 30k
Once we had reached Jalan Bukit Bintang, I was running slightly ahead of Chin most of the time. We had met another new friend by then who was wearing a yellow 'Camel' vest. I didn't get his name, but he would also end up finishing the race with us.
Chin caught up with me again at the 25k mark and this time he pushed on ahead while I tailed him from behind. It was just after making the u-turn at Dataran that I started to feel my left calf tightening. I slowed down a little and at one point walked a bit just to check if I was imagining it.
I must have slowed down quite a bit by then, because by the time I crossed the 30k mark my time was 3h43m. I had taken a shot of rehydrating salts at the 25k mark which I had premixed in a medicine bottle. At the 30k mark I took my second gel which the organiser so 'graciously' provided.
I didnt really feel exhausted by this time, but both my feet hurt like crazy and to make things worse I started to feel another cramp on my right thigh after passing the 32k mark. My left calf was still showing signs of cramping as well.
At this point, what I also realised is that I had not really been monitoring my pace and keeping a look at my watch as I would have in trainings. I suppose that's quite bizzare since this was the actual race, but perhaps thats what helped me enjoy the race and not feel the pressure. I really felt relaxed even though I knew I was really off my target pace.
I could still make out Chin running some distance ahead of me. I wasn't really sure it was him though because that runner had a cap on and when he left me behind, he wasn't wearing a cap. I took my last powergel at the 35k mark and found some renewed energy to push forward after that.
Somehow I managed to run more in the last 6k than I had from 28k to the 35k mark. At the final water station, I finally confirmed that it was indeed Chin I had been seeing all this while. I was quite happy to finally join him again. Our 'Camel' friend was also there.
We made our way over the final 2k with renewed vigor, with just an image of crossing the finishing line in mind. As we approached dataran we got a few cheers from some bystanders even though there weren't many around.
The best part was as we approached the final 100m and saw people we knew who were cheering for us. There was pm1, pm21 and some other PM members there who were cheering us and taking our picture. Lim (Klang area group leader) was also there to cheer me on. And finally there was Tey as promised waiting near the finishing line with his camera, asking us to pose... here is where both Chin and I joined hands and made our way to the finish line, crossing with a Gun time of 5h25m29s.
The marathon is for everyone, the young, middle-aged and even the old. The most important thing is to have the heart to complete it
Posing for Tey just before crossing the finish line
Many have complained about the finishing medal and a lot of things about the race organisation, but for me I didn't run this event for any of those, but rather for self development and satisfaction. With that I can say that I have achieved my ultimate goal. I am now a marathon runner!
Finally, I can call myself a marathon runner!
Even though I have not met my target of completing the race below 5 hours, I am quite certain that it will be something that I can achieve in future races, so long as I learn from the mistakes made in this race and ensure that I am better prepared for the next one. My long term goal would be to one day be able to run the full distance without having to walk
To all my friends who have helped me achieve this in one way or another I want to thank you... namely my Klang friends Peter Goh, Albert Goh Lim Tow Suan and Ajeep Arshad, my PM friends and advisors Jantzen Tey, Jamie Pang and Ronnie See. Also to all those who have given me your sincere advice and help at any time in any way... thank you very much!
What went wrong?
I can summarise a few things which I feel might have contributed to my slow finishing time. I strongly believe that the main reason is the lack of cushioning in my NB680. It is really unfortunate that my Nikes gave me problems in the last minute forcing me to switch to this pair. When I bought the NB680, I had just started running, so I walked into the shop and asked Albert the shop manager to show me the cheapest New Balance shoes in the range, so you can guess why these shoes didn't perform.
The other factor could be that having to reduce my mileage between 70% to 80% in the last 3 weeks just when I was supposed to peak with my final few long runs might have resulted in loss of fitness and endurance. This along with the poor cushioning in my shoes resulted in the minor cramping I faced as early as the 28k mark. I suppose the fact that I didn't sleep a blink the previous night was of no help either.
Now that I've finally experienced what covering the distance of 42k feels like, I should be able to better prepare myself for my next marathon. Many runners vow never to run another marathon after their first attempt, especially if it was a suffering experience. As for me, even though it was a painful experience, I found it to be quite enjoyable and found myself wanting to put on my shoes and to go out and run again the very next day... not that I could because my legs and feet still hurt like crazy... haha!
For the next few months, I'm going to have to keep my running to a maximum of 3 times a week as there are many things for me to catch up on. I have a paper due on May 6 for my Masters Degree course and I cannot afford to procrastinate any longer where that is concerned. Then there are a whole lot of projects at work which will keep me really busy as well. Most importantly, I want to spend more time with my family as they have been really understanding and patient with me over the last few months while I was out there pounding on the roads.
As for my next race, I think it might only be in June. I have decided to take part in the Klang 10k race as well as the PJ Half marathon. I should only have some time for serious training after submitting my paper on May 6th, so these races might be good events to focus on. Meanwhile you guys can keep getting updates on my happenings from my blog and also my occasional visit to the PMs shoutbox.