In the spirit of #bangkitbersama

Day 1 of #bangkitbersama

Distance: 15km
Venue: Larian Sukan SEA 2017, Putrajaya

Swept by the enthusiasm and the spirit to support our marathoners, I headed to Putrajaya to witness our very own Muhaizar and Leo Tan against other South East Asian athletes in the SEA Games 2017. At the same venue there was the Larian Sukan Sea all ready to flag off. I did not register for this event but after a lot of thinking, since I was there to support the athletes participating in marathon that day, might as well I run too. I needed the mileage anyways, it was too hard not to say no to 15km. As I did not pay for the run, I shall reserve my comments about the race to those who are entitled to give feedback ie the participants who paid.

I was not in this picture because I was still running nonetheless, it made me feel so proud to be one of the supporters. (Picture courtesy of Running Malaysia Magazine)

First rule of running in an event that you did not register: Bring your own water, or a whole hydration pack like I did. The drinks at the water station are reserved for the participants only. If you don’t pay, you don’t drink.

Before the run I had the opportunity to witness world-class, professional athletes run for at least 10km. Graceful, yet swift and powerful like cheetahs, their beautiful running form made running seemed effortless. All of these take years of practice and coaching. In my eyes, even the last finisher among the countries were already winners for going all out. I may not have the chance to represent Malaysia in the SEA Games, but at least I can learn to improve myself from watching these athletes. I was proud to hear that Malaysia finished 3rd, behind Singapore and Indonesia. Another medal of Malaysia, yeay!

The front pack was too fast for my camera

Day 2 of #bangkitbersama

Distance: 21km
Venue: CICM Responsible Care Run 2017, Shah Alam

I cannot deny that I woke up contemplating if running again was a good idea. Yesterday’s event was not really a hard run however I woke up feeling lethargic, probably from not taking enough protein and water. However, as another ultramarathon looms ahead, every mileage counts. Plus, Taman Botani Shah Alam was a good, hilly training ground so I knew I had to do it.

Total elevation gained was over 400m. To put that elevation into perspective, running from Gombak to Genting Sempah will give over 500m elevation.

The hills are never going to end in this route, aren’t they

Despite the hilly route Taman Botani is secretly one of my favourite places for running events because of the well-maintained roads and lush greenery inside the park. It was not hot despite running at 9am although it was more humid than usual. However, the organizers prepared water station every 3km so it was sufficient. As I was running, I spotted areas inside the park such as the open theatre and a few facilities that were not maintained which is a shame. The park had many visitors who came there for picnics, cycling, or just walking around with their family, hence the facilities should be fully utilized to maximise the visitor’s experience. There was also a clogged drain or blocked irrigation which lead to a mini-flood on the running route, soaking the participant’s pants and shoes.

No where was it stated that there will be a “river crossing” in this event. Did I miss the memo?

You can’t avoid it too because there is a checkpoint at the end of this road

Probably the organizers wanted to have a feel of trail runs but on road conditions?

Other than that, it was a small-scaled, simple, yet good event because it met my expectations. The water station was sufficient, medic and volunteers were helpful, the quality of the medal, event tee, and finisher tee matches the price point, and Taman Botani Shah Alam is a beautiful venue. Taman Botani, I will be back for more!

Views like this serves as an inspiration to just keep going

 

The BIG DAY is here!

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I was driving around the heart of Kuala Lumpur with a colleague when we spotted a sign that stated there will be several road closures as part of the annual Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) 2016.

“Wow, it’s already time for SCKLM again? How time flies! I remembered that this event was canceled last year because of the haze”. Even my non-runner colleague was excited for this event!

2014 vs 2016 - Same girl, same event, different distance. I am not ashamed to admit that there is no secret and short cut to achieving something that you want.

2014 vs 2016 – Same girl, same event, different distance.

SCKLM 2016 is the highlight of every runner’s calender. The organizer’s decision to cancel last year’s event did not deter runners from signing up again. Due to the scale of the event and its internationally-certified course, it is THE event that everyone has been waiting and training for. So many took this opportunity to do something significant or memorable, such as run their maiden full marathon, or ensuring that Personal Best (PB) are renewed, and I was no exception. 21km, it is payback time!

The last time I ran a half marathon was during Nike We Run KL, and I was not in the best state of health to run 21km. So since the route was almost the same, this is a second shot for me to reach that sub-2:30 goal. The morning air was clear, the temperature was warm, I was feeling well-rested and carbo-loaded. I ran past several iconic attractions in the city centre, such as the Twin Towers, Pavilion Mall, the funny-shaped Menara Tabung Haji, and many more. Despite driving by the same location several days before, it is always interesting to be passing by these buildings on foot instead of behind the wheels. In the end, I exceeded by goal by 7 minutes however it was still a PB for me since my previous achievement was 2 hours 45 minutes.

Since this is an important event for every runner, SCKLM is also a gathering of various running groups. I bumped into a lot of familiar faces through out the race, it was almost like a running community reunion! Some groups even cheered through out the course and not just at the finishing line. Most supporters gathered at the last few kilometers, handing out candies, setting up soft drink booths, or shouted words of encouragement. I could see some runners mood were uplifted when they hear people clapping for them!

IMG_5164

IMG_5155IMG_5147I’m so proud that Nashata has always kept me covered without compromising my modesty in every and any race. I choose to wear the black Ultra top to match with the colour of the team that has always been supporting me.

I returned home with many good memories about this year’s SCKLM, and I hope to return again next year. Now it is time for some well-deserved rest and prepare for next week’s event!

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

KL Towerthon 2016

Once again I find myself at the base of the iconic KL Tower on a fine Sunday morning, ready to take on 2058 steps to get to the top of the tower. I did this Towerthon race last year, so I decided to participate again this year to challenge myself if there was any improvements and if I could beat last year’s personal record of 36 minutes.

As usual, they flagged us off in waves to prevent bottlenecks at the staircase, so as everyone fell into their own pace the crowd was evenly spread out. No one was jostling or pushing to overtake each other on the staircase. I recalled feelings of claustrophobic and monotony last year, but this time I was mentally prepared.

IMG_3976Are we there yet?

Upon completing the race at the top, I did not feel any muscle aches or joint pains from climbing the stairs. Maybe all of those squats and strength training paid off, or maybe the recent mini-hike during Taman Negara’s trip had prepared my legs. However, I was feeling breathless and nauseous from the elevation gained. I can feel the blood pounding and pumping in my head. Unfortunately, I don’t think I beat last year’s record of 36 minutes.

IMG_3977One more floor to go until we reach the finishing line at the top!

The only way to get down was to get on the passenger lift. I was disappointed with the crowd management this year. Last year, transferring the participants from the finishing line to the base of the tower was very fast and smooth. We did not wait for a long time to get into the lifts. But this time, hundreds of participants ended up waiting for 1 hour and 15 minutes (or more!) in a very narrow and hot space for the lift to get us down. There were a few participants who fainted due to the heat, exhaustion, and dehydration. The poor crowd management portrayed a negative image to our country’s iconic attraction too, as there was an international participant who expressed her dissatisfaction by saying she will never participate in an event like this again.

IMG_3989What goes up, must come down. Or in Towerthon’s case, it might take 1 hour 15 minutes to be able to go down. Everyone was getting agitated at this point.

On a positive note, I decided to continue last year’s spirit of being a tourist in my own city. Despite being born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, I could not remember when was the last time I visited the observation deck of the KL Tower. So my friend and I took advantage of the promotional price offered and bought tickets to the open-air observation deck and a new attraction called Skybox.

IMG_4015Skybox is an extended platform made from glass, giving viewers an unobstructed view of the city. Just a piece of glass separating you from going 431 meters down.

Looking at KL city from a different perspective, I can’t believe this is the city that I grew up in because it looked so different from above. I felt as if I was discovering a different city. Sometimes, you don’t have to go very far to feel like you are on a mini-vacation – all you need to do is explore your own backyard.

IMG_3999Hello Kuala Lumpur. You look beautiful from up here.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

Nike We Run KL 2016

About a week before Nike We Run KL, I had ambitions about breaking my personal best (PB) and aimed for a sub 2:30 hour for 21km. I studied the route, I had it all planned out…until I was down with fever a few days before the big day, and the fever progressed to sore throat, cough and flu.

 

So I have two options:

Would I rather finish a race just for the sake of completing it since I am unable to give my best,

Or

Would I rather rest, DNS (Did Not Start, in other words, did not show up) for the race at all? 21km sounds like a rather long journey.

 

The night before the event, I decided to proceed with the race and finish it, even if it means I will end up walking. Besides, I will end up feeling even more miserable at home alone anyways. Thankfully, I was placed in the above 2:30 hour starting pen, so I was out of the way of Elite runners who were aiming for the podium. I could take my time completing the race.

 

I started off feeling pretty comfortable about my health. Maybe it was at the sight of encouraging friends, or the adrenaline rush of running in a crowd, or the ‘runners high’ that was kicking in. I continued my pace consistently until it was time for Fajr prayer break at about 5KM. The organizers were thoughtful about planning the route, because there was a masjid strategically placed at the right time. After completing my prayers, I continued running. At 10KM my lungs were slowly caving in, and the coughing and sneezing fit ensued. At this point, I was already too far into the race, in fact, I was almost half way. It’s too late to give up now, hence the run-walk-run-walk cycle begins. I ran when I felt comfortable for as long as my lungs could keep up, and walked when I couldn’t continue.

 

After slightly more than 3 hours later, I crossed the finishing line with a timing that I was not proud of. But I was thankful that I made it in one piece, without having to ride the ambulance. I caught my breath in a less crowded tent, quickly took a few pictures and headed straight home.

 

Did I regret my decision to run today? Not one bit. I guess I was just too stubborn to quit.

IMG_3660IMG_3669The face that says “I just wanna pop some pills and take a nap right now!”

IMG_3661 IMG_3668Proud finishers (and potential winners!) of We Run KL 2016.

 

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The Weekend Runner: Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015

Lately, most parts of Peninsular Malaysia has been blanketed by haze. After giving up hope that it will rain on the day before the race, I decided that it is best not to run at all for this year’s Standard Chartered KL Marathon. As much as I would like to make my full marathon debut in this event, the Air Pollution Index (API) showed unhealthy levels of air quality, and visibility was poor. Exposure to the polluted air can lead to devastating consequences in the long term, not to mention lack of oxygen absorbed into the body, itchy eyes, and dizziness or headache. Luckily, the event organizers were on the same boat as I am, so they decided to cancel the event at the very last minute.

12074936_1020289538002021_4792959815078213638_nJust in case if you are wondering, no, this is not Instagram-filtered. The haze was THIS bad!(Picture courtesy of the organizer’s Facebook page.)

 

However, the organizers allowed all participants to collect their finisher t-shirts (for full marathon) and finisher medals on the day of the event. API kept worsening, but it did not dampen the runners’ spirits, as the venue was buzzing with activity. Armed with masks or face towels, everyone collected their entitlements and took plenty of pictures.

 

IMG_1057 At the starting line: On your marks, get set, COLLECT!

 

Overall, there was a hint of disappointment from the crowd. Many travelled from other states or overseas just for this event. But they accepted that this is for the best – it’s better to miss one event than not being able to run in the future because of respiratory or other health problems. As I spoke to other runners, the collection venue was slowly turning into a networking event. Everyone took the opportunity to meet runners from other groups or countries. We might speak different languages, come from different backgrounds, but our common interest have bonded us together into this international family of running.

IMG_1053 Obligatory ‘finisher’ photo with medal and finisher tee.

 

IMG_1069Runners not running.

 

11063768_10207592466079561_4212637369368883586_n Oh hello, cute Japanese runner!

 

12074748_10205796472045128_7043026021782382454_n 12118712_10205796472845148_8656779571434365007_n Bros from Brunei

 

In conclusion, everyone agreed that not running sucks, but falling sick would suck even more. Let us all hope that the weather condition improves so there will be no more event cancellation. For the mean time, minimize your outdoor activity, drink plenty of water, and stay healthy. See you again next year, Standard Chartered KL Marathon!

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.