Sunday, June 18th was my very first half marathon road race. Those who know me to have run the 42.195km in the recent KL Marathon are quite surprised when I tell them this is my first 21k road race.
Having participated in the PJ Half 10k event last year, I was looking forward to this year's event especially since I was running the full distance. Preparation leading towards the race was very minimal. My longest run since KLIM was a 19k LSD at Hartamas, followed by the NB 15k race. My average mileage in a week over the last 3 months was less than 20k.
I managed to get about 4 hours of sleep the previous night, but having rested and slept quite a bit throughout Saturday, I didn't feel too tired when the alarm woke me up at 4.20am. After getting ready and having some bread and a mochacino, I drove out to Klang town to meet the others.
Peter, Albert, Lee and Leow were running the full distance as well. We reached the Kelana stadium before 6am and managed to find parking quite easily near the main entrance. I was feeling relaxed and really thought that I was going to be able to run a sub 2 hour race, not knowing how wrong I was.
As soon as the gun went off, I was weaving my way through the crowd with Albert by my side. The plan was for me to pace with Albert but once we reached the Federal Highway, he asked me to go on at my pace if I could. Feeling that I needed to run a fast 10k in order to have a chance for a sub 2, I turned on the turbo.
My split time at the first water station was 19:43 and I was told that was the 4k mark, and if that was true then I was going way to fast. I continued on at almost the same pace and reached the second water station with a split time of 22:35. By this time I could already feel myself slowing quite a bit and I knew that I was definitely going too fast.
10k to Terminal 3
By the time I had reached the 3rd water station, I was desperately trying to force myself not to walk. However once I had stopped to grab a couple of cups, I just could not resist the urge to grab a breather and walk while I downed the fluids.
It was a downhill race from that point onwards as I had given up in my mind. Runners just kept passing me, including Albert, Kelvin, Kenneth, Jamie and many other familiar faces. Most of them asked me to just keep going but I lacked the will power to push forward. The spirit of 'pia' as the Pacemakers would call it was nowhere to be found.
The final distance
Once I had taken the u-turn at terminal 3, I was desperately looking for the next water station. I was really surprised when I came across yet another sponging station much further down instead of a refreshment station. "Hadn't I just passed a sponge station back then??"
I was also a little surprised to see Aeow walking as he had overtaken me much earlier. He said he didn't have any fuel left. When I saw the NKVE signboard, I knew that we were closing in and tried to give myself a little push. That's when I felt a slight pull on my left calf and right hamstring.
I walked a little again just to ease the muscle pull before pushing on towards the stadium. Once entering the stadium a sudden burst of energy filled me, allowing me to overtake at least 4 runners in the last 300 meters. I was given a card which told me that I was in position 250. Total time on my watch showed 2:12:36
I was quite disappointed not so much with my timing but the fact that I have yet to overcome my mental weakness. It would have been better for me to have run at a much slower pace without walking, I would have gotten much more satisfaction that way.
This is a good lesson learnt. I now understand better how important pacing is in a race. I guess my sense of pacing has deteriorated since my weekly mileage has dropped over the months. I am going to have to discipline myself to put in the mileage and control my diet. The 3kg I've put on since KLIM was of no help either.
Overall I think the organisers did a good job, but traffic control could have been much better especially the stretch heading towards Terminal 3. I could see many runners including myself having to stop traffic along some stretches. I will definitely be taking part in next year's PJ Half again. I'm now looking forward to the Ipoh International Run on July 2nd.