Three months ago when Lim asked me whether he should register me for the full marathon, I opted to run the half instead. I was on a roll at that time, consistently improving my times in training and was comfortably able to run 20k in 1h50m and wanted to clock a good time for the 21k.
It turned out 2007 was to be a really busy year in the office and also in other commitments. My weekly mileage slowly dwindled and there were weeks I could not run at all. It's just amazing how long it taked to build up fitness but how easy it is to lose it. Just two weeks of no running could result in almost total loss for me, perhaps not for some seasoned runners.
Two days before the KLIM I suddenly felt the urge to run the 42k in KLIM. Knowing well I would probably run my worst 21k, I decided I might as well attempt to complete the 42k instead, and try to do it inside the qualifying time of 6 hours.
I knew that plenty of suffering would probably come with this but wanted to know what it would be like to run the marathon completely untrained and unprepared. Facing my worst fears might be the best way to become a better marathon runner. So anyhow it turned out I managed to get a bib to run the 42k from Ronnie and Justin readily took over my 21k bib.
At the starting point with Lim, Lee, Peter, Albert, SJ and others
The only thing that I felt good about was that I had enough sleep on Saturday. Everything else I was going to take it as it comes. Tey asked me to pace with him till 20k and then take it from there. We started slow at almost a 7 min pace. The 10k mat was shifted further down this year. We crossed it in about 1h12m.
I was still feeling ok at that point, considering my longest run was about 8 to 9k in the past 2 months. I could sense we were slowing down once we turned right at Dewan Bahasa heading towards Loke Yew. Tey snapped a couple of my pics before we reached the 15k mark, thanks bro!
I started to lose Tey when we were closing in the 15k water station. I thought he must be busy taking some photos but it turned out later that he started to get cramps. I passed Abu later who was walking and had a fever and cheered him on. I ran the next couple of kilometers with Yong from KLCC before he picked up the pace.
I was still feeling strong at my easy pace as I closed in the 18k mark but that's when the dreaded cramps started to hit. What turned out to be slight muscle pulls became bad cramps after I passed the 20k mark. I passed Lim at that point as well doing some stretching. Crossed the 21k at exactly 2h31m compared to last years timing of 2h25m.
When I reached somewhere around the 23k mark somewhere on Bukit Bintang road, both my hamstrings were hit with such severe cramps that I almost fell to the ground. Stretching did not help much so I moved to the side and just didnt know what to do. It was almost 5 minutes before I was able to start walking.
At this point I didn't know if I should try running or not, never experiencing this kind of muscle cramps before. I just tried running a few steps and brisk walking back to Dataran, thinking whether I should continue or give up at this point. The 21k runners were completing their run around that time and many of the guys cheered me on as they passed me.
I reached Dataran in about 3h20m and decided to continue. I've never DNF any race and didn't want to start. Lim caught up with me by then and was an encouragement, thanks captain! The rest of the race was pure suffering. Cramps would hit if I tried runing more than 20 seconds. I was forced to change my strategy to time myself in walking.
Lim helped me a lot along the way, even getting me to sit down and help me stretch. I knew that I had to walk no slower than 10 minutes per km in order to finish inside 6 hours. I passed the 30k mark in exactly 4 hours. At 32k I had to sit down and get help to stretch again. Cheong passed me at that point, well done to him for his maiden marathon!
At 38k, I saw Tey on the opposite side of the road just about 500m behind me. I was looking out for him to catch up but he never did. His cramps were much worse than expected. As I approached Dataran, I was glad it was over but never once regretted the decision to take part.
Thanks to all the Pacemakers and friends who were there to cheer me to the finish line. Thanks to Lee who welcomed me at the finish line. Even in the last 100m the cramps just wouldn't let go as I tried to run across the finish line clocking 5h59m with just 1 minute to spare! This is one experience that I'm sure will help me quite a bit in my future marathons.
Well done to all my Klang running buddies who did well today. Especially Albert who clocked 4h32m, you are one strong and determined dude! Well done to all runners who had the determination to complete the race today, whether in the 21k or 42k. Keep on running and see you at other races!