This is it. The only thing that stands between me and the recognition of being called a ‘marathoner’ is 2.7km, to be repeated for 16 loops around Bukit Jalil Park. So that will be 2.7km x 16 = 43.2km. In order for me to survive those 16 loops, it was important to have: an experienced friend who acted as a pacer, and an updated playlist on my phone. Ears plugged, we did not make a single sound, except the constant rhythm of our shoes hitting the pavement, with some inhaling and exhaling. I did not mind the silence, it helped me keep my focus. The only time we talked was when “I think we are going too fast/ too slow”, or “Hey, I need to go for a toilet break”, or some words of encouragement. It was too early in the morning for conversations anyways.
Suddenly, at close to KM21, there was an outburst of laughter. Has my pacer gone mad for running in loops? “Sorry, I just remembered something funny that my cousin did yesterday”. And then I realised what he was doing. He’s taking his mind off the pain which was slowly setting in, and the thought of repeating 400 meters of gain in elevation for 16 times was slowly eating away my positive motivation.
Close to KM30 I was dizzy. I thought that I no longer needed a pacer since I was more than halfway in the race anyways, so I allowed my friend to speed ahead. I tried not to think about it, but my head was spinning and I was starting to lose my balance, so I leaned in the shade of a tree for a few minutes. Thankfully, when I completed that loop there was ice cream waiting at the aid station. I even splashed a few cups of cold water onto my head to cool myself down. The quick-dry Iman hijab I was wearing helped evaporate the water quickly, so my head felt instantly refreshed. I will finish this race!
Halfway at the 15th loop I realised it was already 10 minutes until the cut off time. Upon reaching the aid station, the organizers handed me my finisher tee and medal, saying that I should stop since I have exceeded 7 hours. I was frustrated since I had just one more loop to complete the race, but at 1pm the park was deserted and it was too hot to continue running without supervision. As much as I wanted to complete the course, I decided it was best to listen and stop. I left the race feeling disappointed and I don’t think I will ever do another race in loops, but I’ll do 42km or more all over again at a different event.
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner.