"You must run at least one race in your lifetime that finishes on a track.
Seriously. It's really something"
It really is.
And let me tell you, running a race on track is a different ball game altogether.
Being a road racer, initially I thought I could easily convert myself to a long distance track runner easy.
What's so hard running a distance of 1500 m compared to what? 15 K? Half marathon? Marathon?
Boy was I wrong.
When I was selected to join Perak's Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM)'s track and field team, I didn't really have a clue what I was getting myself into.
They needed another long distance woman runner to add up points for the team. It was made clear from the start of my role since they already had a star long distance runner who can conjure crazy speeds in her runs.
I didn't mind that. Sounds good to me.
So as in my last entry we had a 4 day centralized training which exposed me more on track running. I mainly wanted to know how many laps to run in a 1500m and 3000 m race, where exactly to start and end, when to maintain and when to surge. And knowing I was a new addition in their team, I received a lot of solicited and unsolicited running tips, in which most boleh pakai and some, not so much.
Anyway, the KKM Games this year was held in Sabah for a good 4 days. I've never been to Sabah so it was pretty exciting to me and I brought the whole clan along. You can say I imported my own personal supporters. Ha.
Thing was, the events were said to start the next day, but none of us received any event schedule. It was harder for me as I was staying outside the Athlete's Village so I had to rely on the sms-ed info from my fellow teammates. I stayed up till 11 pm that night for any kind of news ( yes, that's really late for me) but none came. I found out later that the organizers and managers were in a meeting that lasted until 1 am to discuss about the events. Bukan patut dah bincang dah ke?
Anyway, early the next morning, I got news that runners were to be at the UMS stadium by 8 am. Herannya, when I got there with WW and the kids, it wasn't bustling with people as I thought it should be.
Rupa-rupanya, my coaches told me the events were to start at 2 pm and will continue till 10 pm.
My event the 3000m would be held at 7:15 pm that day and my other event the 1500m was scheduled at 5:30 pm the next day.
What baffled us runners was why the running events weren't held in the morning slots considering daylight in Sabah starts as early as 6 am. Ntahla Labu. Tempat orang, ikut je la.
So we came back at 2 pm to support my other team mates in their respective events. The schedule was kinda cruel. Nampak sangat it wasn't prepared by a runner or anyone involved in sports for that matter.
How can you ask anyone to run 1500m at 2:40 pm? In the hot blazing Sabahan sun, on a heated track that directly reflects the heat back to the runners.
Ye la, memangla ramai doctors, paramedics and nurses there ( nama pun KKM Games), but this was ridiculous.
But in the spirit of the games ( konon), we kept our mouths shut and only grumbled only amongst each other. Lari je lah. And run our best race in the condition given.
I wasn't really jittery as I knew there wasn't any chance of me bagging a medal. Don't be fooled by the KKM title. These athletes are fast, some of them used to be state runners and I wonder why we don't see these speedsters in road races. I know for a fact a guy on KKM Kedah's team who can run a 31 minute 10K and a girl from Terengganu who can run a 5:54/mile average. That's real talent that only us, the normal joes can wish for.
Anyway, like I said, I wasn't at all jittery. I was only concerned of my food intake. Taknak makan berat sangat lah, taknak makan sejuk sebab takut kena semput attack lah. Taknak kena food poisoning lah.
Like I said before, my aim was not to be last. Please save me the humiliation of being last.
Unfortunately, my 3000m race was postponed that day due to heavy rain, Being a road runner, I didn't mind the rain much. In fact, I prefer running in the pouring rain rather than brave the heat. But apparently, track events can't be held in the rain- katanya.
So long. The end. Come back tomorrow.
The next day, I was hoping, they'd bump up the 3000m race to the evening so stupidly I ate lunch at 1 pm. But they decided to continue with where they left off the previous day.
My manager told me to my horror that my 3000m race was to start at 2:40 pm.
Adoi mak, makanan pun tak sempat cerna lagi. And it was blazing hot.
But we were all eager to get it over with. So hantam saje lah.
At the starting line,I can't describe how good it felt when they announce your name before gun off. Your name booms from the loudspeakers, you give a little wave to the spectators and you feel like a million dollars.
Baju besaq gedabak .
Sure, 3K in a road race sounds so easy . You don't even break a sweat, some say. And nobody cares if you get last. But in a track race, you have to keep a fast pace and maintain it. Or else you'll be left behind and you got one whole stadium as a witness to that.
Keyword is sustaining. And sustaining is the hardest part. Especially if you have to go lap after lap after lap. Your stomach cramps up, your breathing labored, your legs go jelly on you and gosh, it's painful.
It really is.
Trying to take over someone in a 400m track is tricky. You feel that finally you have reeled in the runner in front of you to a 40m gap, then when you reach a bend, you chances are fried and the moment is lost.
But what kept me going were the cheers. From my team mates from the bleachers. From my coaches at the sidelines. From my husband and kids near each 400m mark. The cheers were awesome. It was like fuel.
And I did what I could to my capability.
To me, the real fight is in the last lap. When you hear the clanging of the bell, it's like a signal for you to either make it or break it.It's like a final call to give it all you got. And you crank whatever juice you got left and muster that final kick so that person behind you doesn't have the chance to overtake you in the last seconds.
So I crossed the line, almost buckling over the heat at 15 minutes 30 secs with an average pace 8:22/mile. I was 7th out of 12 runners.
Despite not getting a medal, I was ecstatic that I managed to run that in the heat.
And I wasn't last!
The 1500 m
In the last minute centralized training, due to running on an uneven field, I suffered a groin pull on my right thigh. Took care of it, iced it, rested it, salonpas -ed it and prayed that it would get better in Sabah.
While running the 3000m. I did felt a twinge of pain coming back. Once I crossed the finish line, I was almost limping.
Great. And I had another 1500m race later that evening at 9:15pm.
So I iced it again and walked around compressing ice near my inner thigh. People looked at me weird and I wondered why until my daughter commented, " You look like you're icing your private parts , mom."
While resting later that evening ( and still icing it), I contemplated to just run my next race at an easy pace. Even risked it by having an early dinner of ayam goreng spicy and coke at McD.
Senyum lagi sambil menempah bala ayam goreng spicy
But when we reached the stadium, brightly illuminated by the stadium lights with the screaming crowd, blaring horns and drums, tetiba rasa, I've come so far and it's just not worth to race at an easy pace.
As we aligned ourselves at the starting line, I began to crack jokes. I guess it's a form of self defense mechanism. Everybody else looked so intimidating, with their spikes and long legs that stretched for miles and miles. But everybody had nervous smiles on their faces and wished each other luck.
With the loud bang of the gun, we ran. And being a distance runner, a 1500m race was harder than a 3000m race. It's faster and your strides have to be longer. No wonder some of the 3000m runners refused to run the 1500m.
So there I was, running again lap after lap. Perut dah panas dah, the coke in my tummy sloshing noisily. My thigh was burning but I ran through the pain.
Aku pujuk diri. Sabarr.... Maintain...Told myself, this is your last event.
Lepas ni boleh berpoya-poya.
Lepas ni boleh makan ais krim.
Lepas ni boleh shopping kat pasar Filipin.
Lepas ni boleh tengok The Amazing Spiderman (which by the way is in no comparison to the Tobey McGuire version)
Lepas ni boleh pegi ke pantai yang airnya multicoloured.
Sabarrr....Just one more lap.
So I mustered all I got left. And crossed the line at 7 min 12 secs at an average pace 7:37/mile. I finished 8th out of 14 in the list.
Yay not last again.
The first placing girl finished more than 1 minute in front of me. And in running, that's a lot.
But I was still happy to at least get a point for my team.
In the end, our track and filed team placed 5th in all states with I think 10 medals.
It was fun. But it was also an eye opener.
I will jot down my observations in my next post kot. Kalau ada masa.
Will I do this again in 2 years time ? ( in the next KKM Games)
Most definitely, with better training and exposure.
If I'm still in the service la.
Nak jugak tambah yang belakang tu ye.
Okla peeps. Berpinor bijik mata korang baca.
My cuti-cuti is also over.
Back to the office. Back to real life.
And I expect stuff piling on my desk tomorrow.
Higher than Mount Kinabalu.
I got my multicoloured sea.