I almost decided not to go for this race. Having registered online much earlier, I was not certain if I would be around in KL as my business trip to India has been long pending. Besides that, the stories from my running friends from Klang about the poor organising, lack of medals or plastic medals made me think twice.
In the end with so many PM members going for the race I could not resist the urge to join in the fun. I knew that in the last few months I was sorely lacking training and this would be a really good opportunity to get in the mileage and some race experience in the 21km category. Two weeks to the race weekend, I was putting in some decent mileage at the KLCC track and I noticed some improvement in my fitness levels.
Most of the PMs were staying in Merloon Hotel which is a budget hotel. I would have bunked in there as well if I had gone alone but with my wife and son coming along, I decided to get a room at Syuen so that they could enjoy the facilities like the swiming pool.
We arrived in Ipoh around 2pm but spent almost 20 minutes looking for the hotel. Having stayed there before I was pretty confident of finding the place but once again my sense of direction failed me. Once we had checked in, it was just a short walk to the Dataran where I collected the running numbers for myself and some others.
Nicholas was quite excited about the whole trip and he was hard to keep up with for the rest of the day. I told my wife that I would be drained of energy even before the race began. Later at night we did some shopping at Parksons and then walked down to a nearby hawker center for our dinner where we met Ronnie and the others.
I woke up at 5.30am feeling quite fresh, having slept a good 7 hours. After a quick shower and change into my running attire, I downed a packet of chocolate milk and did some stretching. From my room's window on the 9th floor, I had a perfect view of the race starting point and registration area. I could see that it was really crowded.
I made my way down to the lobby by 6.20am and was surprised to see Ron and Shine coming into the hotel. They were going to visit the toilet for a 'big job'. Ah Loong was waiting outside the hotel and we went on ahead to register ourselves. The packet of power gel I had with me was quickly consumed before we made our way to the side gate where all the runners were being confined like a pack of bulls waiting to be released.
The first 5k
Once we had been released out of the gate to the starting line, I saw that it was not such a big crowd as I had initially thought. From the running numbers, I could see that there were over 300 registered runners in the mens open category, out of which many of them looked like they were in it for the fun of it.
We were allowed to start close to 7am, and I was thankful for the cool weather. It seemed to have rained the previous night. For the first two kilometers, most runners were running at an easy pace while trying not to trip over one another. I was glad to see that the km markers were in place and seemed pretty accurate.
After the 2nd km, I knew that all the runners whom I knew were probably way ahead by now. I just continued to cruise at a sub 6min pace. My Nike Triax was proving to be very useful with the pacer mode turned on. At the 5km marker I was a little behind my target for a 2 hour timing, but it didn't really bother me.
5k to 18k
By now I was starting to enjoy the run. The first 5k had warmed me up sufficiently and my tight muscles were now quite relaxed. As much as possible I tried to maintain my pace but towards the 10k mark, I found that I was starting to slow a little.
After a little analysis, I realised that despite not stopping completely at the first two water stations, I had slowed down quite a bit which put me off pace. My timing at the 10k mark was just below 60 minutes. I decided I would not try to make up for lost time but just continue to maintain a comfortable pace and complete the race without walking.
I was pleasantly surprised when we were given a power gel at the 15k mark. I'm not sure if it really helped me push on, but perhaps it did help me mentally. The first two water stations did not have isotonic drinks. At the third water station I decided to stick to plain water despite 100plus being served there. My stomach was feeling good and I wanted it to remain that way.
By the time I reached the 17k mark, I could feel the tiredness starting to set in. My legs were also starting to feel a little strain. I had counted that not more than 6 category 'A' runners had passed me in the last 10k and intended in keeping it that way.
The final 3km
In the last few kilometers, I had been running quite closely with runner A64 who happenned to be from the Kelab Roadrunners Ipoh. Seeing me almost contemplating walking, he urged me to push on and pace with him. This enouraged me and lifted my spirits. Closing in to the 20k mark, I saw Aeow and Jason Lim on the opposite side of the road and waved at them.
Knowing that they were only a few minutes ahead of me gave me some extra energy to push forward. After taking the u-turn and getting my second ribbon I dug deep into my reserves and picked up the pace a little. My calves were really starting to ached badly by then.
My new friend 'A64' was still quite close and as we neared Dataran, he asked me to turn on the turbo if I could. As I turned the final corner towards the finish line there stood a colourful looking bunch of people cheering for me. Of course they were none other than the Pacemaker gang and friends. This gave me a big boost to turbo 'kau kau lat' across the finish line.
My total time was 2h09m52s, and position 97 in the mens open category. Overall I enjoyed the event quite a bit and will come back again next year if I have the chance.
I think Rohaizad is right that it takes a few races before we can finally get the right pace. I believe that I am getting there. The medal is quite nice even though its not pewter. It's definetly heavier than the KLIM medal that I got for running the 42km.
I'm now looking forward to my Penang race on the 30th of July. Being an overdistance half marathon at 22.3km, I think I will set my target to complete within 2:15. This week will be my last week of serious training before leaving to India for two weeks.