Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Big Dreamin'

To tell you the truth, there were moments into and after the race last Saturday night which made me think of swearing off doing another full marathon.
For entirely entertainment purposes (what other purpose should it be?), let me enlighten you with these painful experiences.

  • After we crossed the 21K mark for what it seem ages, me and hub were thinking the same thing: Why on earth did we sign up for more when we could have end it right then and there doing the half marathon.

  • When I was running alone, with the person in front and behind me too far away to have an audible conversation with, I wanted to scream of boredom.

  • It was 30-ish KM and I’ve been running for more than 3 hours, I stopped and asked a volunteer at a junction how many more to go.
Not far now, only 6K left”

Then upon reaching the next water station, the volunteers announced, “ Ok 8 K more to go”. Arghhh..I wanted to strangle somebody. Tipuuuuu..
And mind you, this wasn't the only incidence.

  • The last stretch of the race, when Pacesetters dared to challenge us with another ascending slope, I was so furious, I could've easily swore. I remember saying to another runner then, “ Dah nak dekat habis pun dia bantai bagi uphill lagi!”

  • When I arrived home battered and nauseous that night, my sister had a good laugh when I stared blankly at the stairs wondering how on earth I was going to get to the 2nd floor.

  • Post race saw me as stiff as a board. Oh wait a minute, plywood pun boleh lentur lagi tau.

But now, after 99% of the pain is out of my system, my feet itches for another full. I'm thinking, I should do one soon because I have done enough mileage and I still have the endurance. I’m thinking I should do one soon because other runners have proved that running two marathons in a span of a few months is achievable. I’m thinking I should do one soon because due to other plans in the next half of this year, I will have to take a break from racing ( racing, not running) for a few months.

But then I rethink my principles. I will not do a marathon just because others are putting more than one in the bag. I will not do a marathon just because I think I can finish. I will not do a marathon just because it’s conveniently there.

I want my next marathon to be greater than this one. To be ,more fun. To be more properly planned. To finish stronger than the last.
And I doubt I can do all that in SCKLM.
(Sorry Golazo, horrific past year runner’s account scared me shitless)

And then I think, what’s the rush? I’m still young. Even Murukami does it once a year. God willing, as my family grows, I’ll have more time training rather than curik masa sini sana. God willing, when I say bye bye to my current employer and be my own boss, I won’t feel as tired stealing away my break time to train.

So, for now, for this year, I’ll concentrate on my half marathons. Who knows, once I can achieve that sub 2:15 ( my personal target), I’ll nail that sub 5 marathon in the future.

Ye, mari berangan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

42 K Done!!

Find a seat, people. It's gonna be a long one.
Mutual pre-race jitters

One thing that I must say from this experience, A marathon isn't half worth doing without the camaraderie. That's my honest opinion. I can't imagine going through the whole of the distance with a game face on and not talk to or acknowledging anybody. It isn't worth the pain without the laugh or smiles.

Ok I'll start.
One for the album ( hubs decided to shave it all off a day before. I can only sigh)

We started from Bangi to the race venue at about 3.45 pm leaving the kids with my sister and brother. My kids never minded to be left with my siblings because they are pros in keeping little kids busy. I'm kinda suspecting my kids were glad to see us go after our lengthy lectures on how to keep safe.

Anyway,we arrived at about 4.10 pm and parked near Saba'. We were supposed to take a bus to the race area so hub and I wore slippers and while hub carried our race bag , I held on to our running shoes in a plastic bag. On the way to the bus, we made small talk with an uncle who was also a first time marathoner. I must have looked more like a supporter than a runner with my ratty slippers and a plastic bag in my hand because the uncle asked me , " You kenapa tak lari juge?"
The funniest thing was, when the uncle met up with his friend, he referred us to his friend as 'The Kids'. It tickled me to be 30 and still be called a kid.

When we arrived, we still had ample time to put on our race bibs, time chip and munch on the free powerbar. But by the time we checked our bag in the baggage area, the race officials announced for full marathon participants to be at the starting line.
Although the weather isn't as hot and humid as it was a month ago, it was still exceptionally hot and sunny that evening. While waiting for gun off, the mingling process began. I was totally in awe when Kak Haza and Kak Kash greeted me with hugs, as if we were long time friends.The rest of the guys ( Nik, Ian, Shuk, Syah, Sarah etc etc) made me and hub feel like we belong too. Thanks guys. You almost made my pre race jitter go away.

I was a nervous wreck when the gun went off. Since hub wore the Garmin, I had to rely on him for our pacing. Why I didn't think of wearing his old Garmin is beyond me. So there I went. Garminless, heart monitorless, just trusting my hub with what he had.

The first 10 K was easy. Although before the race, I spent half a day sneezing because my siblings had a cat in the house ( or was it the bunnies), I had minimal wheezing during the first few minutes of the race. In fact, it was barely noticeable because what I thought was a rhythmic bird call in the distance, was actually the sound of my windpipe screaming for air. No worries, after a few Ks, the wheezing was gone.

On I guess the 8th K mark, hub nudged me to look at a roadside sign.
" Macamana ni Ma, it says Kurangkan Laju" he grinned.
" No way!" I replied. Cheyy, semangat lagiiii.

So we continued. I don't know how far we were in the run  when I saw Nik calling out from the opposite side of the road. Foolishly we thought, " Oh, the u turn wouldn't be far now". But we were fooled by Nik's fast pace. It seemed so long to reach the 21K mark. I guess the distance marker which spanned each 2K didn't help kot. It was discouraging for  me  to run for what I thought was at least 5 K, to find out it was only 2K.
Anyway, when at last we made the U-turn, suddenly hub had bad stomach and calf cramps. He urged me to go ahead.  I hesitated at first but he insisted and promised me he'll catch up. So I continued on my own, Garmin less. Hub managed to catch up with me at least 2 times, but he was so badly cramped up, I didn't get to see him again until after the race. Which was bad because every 15 minutes I kept glancing back to where he was.

I ran partnerless for a few minutes, but after that I managed to ran with a few people. Random people would come up and chit chat and talk to me which really helped. Just when I thought of walking, an uncle would come up from behind and say , " Come on, don't stop now, come run with me" or " You're young and strong, you can run faster". One uncle even ran with me for half an hour and gave me a talk on the how to ward off leg cramps ( when I told him about hub's predicament). Even a slight smile from fellow runners gave me the motivation to trudge on.
And did I mention the unsuspecting support crew? I had strangers calling out " You go Doc!" from the sidelines. I don't know who you are but you are my heroes. And then there were the University kids cheering from their apartments, " Go kak go!" and the policemen and women were clapping and giving way, blocking the traffic as I slowly made my way through. And the volunteers giving their thumbs up and words of encouragement. Even the Firemen cheered and gave support. I don't know whether they did this with every other runner or because I was a lady tudung runner running on my own but they defiantly made the pain worthwhile ( and sometimes made me to pick up my pace and go faster)

Unfortunately, there were no distance markers after the 30 K marker, but I didn't know that. There I was running, trying to scan for distance markers on the side of the road. Being a rabun ayam person, I saw a sign board with the number 10 on it. "Great! 10 K to go" I thought. Only to find out a few meters later it was only advertising 10 % off some house in Putrajaya. Then I saw a sign with what I thought was 25KM on it which got me reeling a bit because I thought I crossed the 30K marker. When I got close, it only said 2.5km to Measat. After that ordeal, I gave up searching for distance markers all together. Redah je la.

Truthfully, I felt okay throughout most of the run. Okay, the usual fatigueness was there and sometimes when I feel a cramp coming I'd walk, or sometimes my feet would feel numb. Everything was okay right until the last 8K (I asked a fellow runner for the distance).  I fished my pockets for the last powergel but was horrified to find out there was none left. What I thought was the chocolate powergel in my left pocket was just a packet of ORS. Panik kejap. I retraced my steps only to realize that I must have thrown the damn thing with the rest of my empty powergel packets at the last water station ( tu la, nak environmental friendly sangat- taknak litter konon). So I decided, I'd have to rely on the sickening Gatorade ( it made my tummy ache) at any water station left. Worse come to worse, I'd have to beg for a packet from a fellow runner if I'm really dying for one. So after that, at any waterstation left, I guzzled in a full cup of Gatorade and washed it with a full cup of water. Kembung perut pun kembung la.

The last 4K was bad. Really bad. I keep telling myself, hey it's just 4K. 4 K is easy. But it was not. It was the longest, the toughest 4 K in my life. Suddenly my feet had a mind of their own. They tend to stop and walk without even me thinking it. Really. Betul. And when I tried to run, they can only wog. That's a combination of walking and jogging. Very slowly. And my neck hurts, and my thigh hurts and even coughing hurts. I can only think of finishing fast not to have a good time but to get it over with fast. So I forced myself to wog faster. I had to focus to keep on wogging. I promised my feet I'll walk when I reached the person in front of me, the lamp post, the next turn. There, there, feet only a few miles to go. I saw the Kurangkan Laju sign again and I thought " Hey, no problem."

When finally, a volunteer at the side of the road clapped from the distance and announced that there was 1 K to go, I felt a sudden energy surge. I could hear the music coming from afar. I said to another girl (who I found out later was in the relay), " Let's finish together" and off we went pumping. Halfway to the finish line she was joined by her team who ran together with her to give support. So there I was pumping and running faster that I thought I can ,to the finish line. I had to zigzag my way through other finishers who were already making their way back.
Pumping. Pumping. Pumping.
When I saw the finishing line, I was overjoyed. But I was also mad to see there were cars going out the same lane. Bodoh! I screamed. Bodoh! The runners running behind me screamed. We almost got ran over. The whole lot of us. Furthermore we had to slow down to give way to the cars!

But nothing beats finishing. It was all over. But wait. What? NO LARGE DIGITAL CLOCK?! And there I was without any timing gadget. Come on la, even a 10K race kat Ipoh pon ada large digital clock, okay.
So anyway, I got my handphone out from my pocket and saw it was 11.30 pm. Tolak -tolak tambah, I estimated I ran for 5:30. But today, official results are out ( that was fast) and I found out I did my first full marathon in 5:27. Okla tu..haha. And I PBed the 21K.
Hub arrived, wincing 10 minutes after. Personally, during running, every time I heard the ambulance screaming from afar, I prayed let it not be my hub. Thankfully he mustered enough strength and bit his way through his cramps to his PB! Yay!

All in all, we ran happy ( ok la, last 4k was hell but still acceptable). That's what counts eh? Running happy. And to see friends at the finishing line is the extra perk. And to have  people coming to me saying they respect me running all the way clad in my attire is the extra-extra perk ( to be fair, I don't sweat that much, and it was a cool breezy night).

But to do it again in SCKLM? Naaahh...too close. I'll probably do half to attempt a PB.
And to you people planning to do your first FM, I strongly suggest PBIM. More precisely planned. Post run meals, efficient medal collection and most important, an overall flatter route. ( What's with Pacesetters and their obsession with hills anyway?)

Okay fuh. Penat type. Off to fetch Chiam from school. Bye!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Of makan-makan and free parking.

Our weekend started early at 6.30am for our final short-ish LSD. We figured, as it was just 12K, it was okay to start a little bit late.
The run was done with not much drama. We wanted to go at marathon pace but either we started to fast or it was too windy, I got myself the wheezesies. Struggled to breathe for about 15 minutes but after that it was okay all the way, I guess.
After the run and breakfast ( nothing beats Mom’s nasi lemak), we headed off to KL. Made a lunch stop at Ipoh to ..err..lunch and find Hub’s shoes which he remembered had a 10% off in one of the shops there. But then after 20 minutes of searching at Jusco Ipoh, he realized that he actually saw the offer at Sunway Carnival in Penang. Huh. So much for that.
We arrived at my sister’s home in Bangi by late afternoon. She welcomed us with what she claimed to be the best goreng pisang she ever tasted in ages. I was a bit skeptical, as to me, the best goreng pisang can only be found in Alor Setar. But when I took a bite in it’s extra crunchy but not as oily batter, gosh was I hooked. It was so good, I stopped counting how much I ate. Hehe. It was so good, that when we visited our ex Uni classmate closeby, we even bought some for him. It was so good, he also lost count on how many he ate. And I’m excited already to think that I can have another go at the pisangs by the end of this week.

For dinner, my brother planned to take us to eat somewhere konon lain dari lain. So he took us to Saba’ in Cyberjaya. To our dismay, when we arrived it was a full house and 20 other people from different groups were all waiting outside to be seated. At first we decided to join in the crowd and wait until this makcik said to nobody in particular,
“ Memang patut pun kedai ni nama Saba’. Saba..sabaaaa” ( sambil menurut dada).
So deducting by the time we got our seats, Saba’ would turn to Sarawa’ ( geddit?), we decided to try the Iranian restaurant next door instead.
It was also disappointing to see, after entering, about 5 families were waiting on empty tables for their food to be served and all had bored if not frustrated faces on them. Okay, bad service alert. Enough to send us off to another makan joint.

My sister suggested this place called Kafeteria Nasi Briyani Batu Pahat ( or something like that). I can’t tell where exactly it was because it was too dark and I was dizzy with hunger. But when we arrived, the Indonesian waiter told us that they just ran out of the Briyani rice and we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for another batch to be cooked. He suggested we minum-minum and have a karaoke session with the live band first. Fat chance. Talk about being unlucky.
So after much deliberation, we all decided unanimously to eat at JM Nasi Briyani in Bangi. That was the joke for the night. Pegi jauh-jauh sampai 1 setengah jam, last-last makan tempat dekat jugak. Thank God the food was good. And the tauhu bakar was far better tasting that the ones we ate at Plaza Larkin, which tasted a bit like cardboard.

We went to bed with our stomach happy, Saba’ or no.
The next morning, after breakfast of fried rice and roti canai, off we went to Bukit Bintang to collect ENR’s race kits. We arrived at 10 and went round the area a bit trying to find the cheapest parking spot. With most parking spaces averaging to RM 10 per 2 hours ( ridiculous!), we took a chance and parked our car in next to the hotel at this empty space in front of the LRT escalators and prayed it won’t get clamped.

The banquet room for collection of the race kits was surprisingly small. As the collection time was supposed to start at 11 am, we had to wait in line for a while. Thankfully, the line for women’s 42K was short. There were 3 people in line, well 5 if you included my kids. As expected my kids were active as ever, dancing, singing, jumping and wanting to pee at the most inappropriate moment. After 15 minutes of waiting and a brief
bathroom trip, finally the collection process started. It was done fast, I guess as we were one of the first few in front of the lines. Zip zip zup and it was all done. Couldn’t say the same for the half marathoners. The line was growing fast and because the room was so small, I predicted that the line will overflow to the hall in the next half hour ( and by reading FB updates, I found out that I was right).

Managed to chat a bit with Shah. He was lining up in the women’s section to pick up Kak Kash’s bib. Tall fellow he was, I had to look up to talk to him. Hehe. Hub didn’t have a chance to say hello as he was busy picking up his race kit at the time. Let's get properly introduced with the rest of the gang masa ENR eh?

Our whole race kit and vest collection was done in less than 10 minutes. So I can’t really relate to all the complaints logged in ENR’s FB. I was a bit surprised that the goodie bag will be distributed on race day. I hope there won’t be much drama in that. I’m just thankful we decided to come early.
And our car didn’t get clamped! ( ie we parked for free! In Bukit Bintang! Hehe )
After all that, we headed North back home. Exited at Bidor to lunch at Tapah. I’m surprised a small town in Bidor would even have a running club.. And for a small town, they’re gutsy to hold a Half Marathon event that will be attended by people from all over Malaysia. I really salute them for that.
Lunch was nasi campur with ayam and terubuk bakar at Tapah’s famous nasi campur joint. The kids gobbled up their lunch with much gusto.
Initially we wanted to head up straight to Penang to look for Hub’s shoe and my Ipod but when we arrived home, it was cancelled that off was we were too pooped. All that eating and traveling was a bit tiring.
Later that evening, hub went online and read that runners in ENR on race day must park their cars at a designated spot and ride a bus to the starting point. Huh? What about our supporters? Our crew? Aisey, why la like this? I just hope there’s a way my kids and siblings can come and see us to our starting lines.
Okay, that’s my weekend food galore and race kit collection story. I want to end it with a witty ending but right now I can’t think of any.
The end.

P/s happy tapering and see you all at ENR!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taper 2

Haven’t been up to anything overly active this week. Well, there was that 50 minute run at race pace ( I will not announce exactly how fast to save myself the ridicule) but other than that, this week has been scattered with easy runs here and there and cross trainings for mere 20 minutes.

I must admit, I’m actually enjoying this taper period.

After work, I cook and the family eats and afterwards we spend time together watching my kids’ favorite show, Minja Dorrier ( courtesy of Adik or Ninja Warrior to the rest of you). No more watching TV with hub’s constant pounding on the dreadmill in the background, trying to complete his mileage. Or maybe, not so much.

I’ve spent this week ( and the week before) trying to finish 3 novels. And I’m up to number 3, enjoying the last one the most. If you happen to chance upon The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at the book store, please buy it. It’s highly recommendable. Or should I echo from the book, simply delightful! It’s been a while since I’ve truly enjoyed a good read (Yes, the two I read before weren’t that good). The last rememberable piece I read was The Road by Cormack McCarthy. And this book, by all means can live up to that par.

Tomorrow will be an easy 12K run which we hope to complete early ( Ah! 12 K! I’m beaming from ear to ear). Then we’ll be off to buy Hub’s new pair of running shoes. One of those water sport shoes that’s so thin it’s kinda close to barefoot running. What happened to his barefoot faze? Well, running on a busy kampung road equals to stepping over (or on) animal carcasses scattered everywhere. And God knows which animals they once were ( babi hutan pun ada). So to avoid that but still preserve that barefoot-ish running style, he opted to use those ‘minimal’ shoes instead. It’ll be great if the next Bata store sells those Vibram Five Fingers, but one can’t be indulged in too much wishful thinking. Oh and he’s buying a new pair because the ones he’s using right now has severe signs of wear ‘n tear ( them being so thin and all).

To those picking up their race kits this Sunday, say hey if you see me ( or could recognize me).

P/s Are the recent model of Ipod Nano any good? Mine died on me after 3 years of service. On the dreadmill. Imagine that. Phew.
Mommy’s gonna buy a new toy this weekend .

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tapir (no, that's not a typo)

Early this week, when I checked my training log and double checked it with the calendar; I found out that I’m a week off. Meaning, in the log, there should be 3 more weeks of training and I should do a 22K LSD this weekend. But in reality, the race is only 2 weeks away and I should be tapering. So this means, come Saturday, I just have to complete 16K.

A part of me cheers. Yay! Taper! But another part of me has serious doubts. Am I ready? Was my longest LSD enough to prepare me for the whole 26.2 miles? Was it done too early?

As I’m trying not to freak out, my other half lectures me on being a pessimist. But can you really blame me for my premature pre race jitters. I don’t want all that training, all that running going down the drain. I don’t want all those mornings, waking up to run at 5am to mean nothing.

I know I’m being whiney. I know I have to remember my main goal is to finish. But I’m so damn worried that my training is not enough.

Bodoh kan?

He tells me to relax and enjoy the tapering period. Yes, on paper, it does look less intense. It finally gives me a breather. So I do calm down. For now.

 “ So, okay,” I tell him. “ Maybe we’ll do that 16K, but if I feel up to it, can we do up till 20?

He rolls his eyes.

On another note, did you guys notice? Didja? Didja?
If you didn’t, look at my blogger profile. The digits have changed! I have entered the age group of the elites! The 3 series!
I am so looking forward to what the 30’s will bring . Whatever it is,bring it.
And I ask no more than good health, prosperity, and uh, well a Toyota Prius.
But we couldn't find one with a RM 2 price tag.
Oh, well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Miss Cleo can't fix my broken heart

On Friday morning, while going through the usual limbo of sorting out letters from the main office stacked on my desk, I noticed one particular memorandum calling for staffs to try out for KKM Perak's track and field team for Temasya Sukan KKM Malaysia. At first I nonchalantly chucked the letter aside. I mean, who am I kidding. Back then at school, I couldn't even qualify for the senamrobik team.
But as the day wore on, my thoughts seem to linger on the idea more and more. I began to rationalize it all. I am running. I am at the fittest level I've been throughout my life. I've got people who matter around me giving their thumbs up.
And at the end of the day it finally dawned to me : What are you waiting for?
Sure running on the track is so much different than road running. It's much more competitive. Much more fast paced. And I read somewhere that a runner must experience track racing once in their lifetime. It's one helluva thrill.
Okay, so I'm not fast. I'm pretty sure the late Florence Joyner would beat me by a mile walking lenggang lenggok while I run fast bagai nak mati. But what's the harm in trying kan? You never know if you don't try, corny as it may sound.
So today, I handed in that borang. And I'm officially trying out for that track and field team. Try outs will be a week from Energizer run, ho ho. Don't know whether I could even lift my legs at the time but what's the worse that can happen eh? Not getting through? As if that's not an option..haha.

Mustering up the guts to try out is a major feat for me.

But I guess that's a major feat for every girl. I've met so many people wanting to do this and that but stalling all the time with excuses. I don't mean to sound self indulgent here but I've met women asking for advices (shocker!) on how to start running, how to start working out, how to start making that slight change.(It's either they got the wrong person or the person they initially want to ask was out ).

I'm not Miss Cleo. I can't tell you you're procrastinating because of  lame excuses. I can't even tell you your excuses are lame. I can't tell you the magic words to say to your bfs/spouse to allow you to run. I can't tell you how to handle your kids while you run. I can't tell you there's always a way to go around your tight work schedule for that workout. I can't tell you it's not too late to try. I can't tell you all that because it's your life. You're the only one who knows how to get around it. Sure I can throw advices here and there, tell you how it went for me but at the end of the day, it's all you.

You cut through that tight rope. You walk over that barrier.

I convey this to all women who's hesitating on that run/workout/change. Muster your guts to do it.
What are you waiting for?

Listen to this for more motivation. It works for me all the time especially the part :
" Look at your watch now, you're still a super hot female"
he he.

p/s Guys, it wont hurt to give that extra push.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another pointless entry while waiting to punch off.

I know most of you alternate your running pants when running different runs but I don't. Ha.
Although I have many running pants but seriously I religiously wear only one. The rest are stuffed away in my closet or used as everyday pants or worse still, pyjama pants. Yes, even that RM 150 Reebok track pants.
Why? Because the one that I'm currently using is oh-so-comfy. And with Doraemon pockets. I can keep my keys, mycard, energy goo, some change, heck even a 500L water bottle. But not all in the same pocket la. And after storing all that, it still won't seem bulky. Can't say the same with those expensive Reeboks and Diadoras. You stash a water bottle as small as the 300L ones, and they'll londeh before you even reach the first K. And they're so stretchy.
Most women's long running pants don't have pockets. Pelik betul. To me, pockets are everything in a pair of running pants.
I can't recommend you these pants because I have no idea of its brand. A year ago, I nicked them from my sister's closet and have 'forgotten' to give them back since. Not that she needs them or anything. When asked where she got them, she simply shrugged and claimed she has no clue. They've been in her closet forever. Maybe they're magic pants. Destined for me.
I never dare to wear any other pants in races.You'll see me in those grey pants in all races. They may seem to make my booty look bigger but who cares. Yes, I'm that superstitious.
Eh ,but I wash them after each run la so wipe that snicker of yer face.

The end.