The Force of Nature: Newton Challenge 2016 30KM Run

I woke up at 4 a.m. to the sound of wind rushing and heavy clouds. It was still dark, yet I knew it was going to rain. True enough, as I was driving to the race venue it began to drizzle. The drizzling gradually turned to a torrential downpour. It wasn’t raining cats and dogs, but the rain was heavy. Yet, I was determined to go for the run. The organizers did not call off the race as there was no thunder and lightning. Upon lining up at the starting point, I was happy to see a few familiar faces and the energy was great – everyone was eager to run too!

By the first water station at 4km, I was already soaking wet. The rain came down on us in big fat droplets, leaving us drenched from head to toe.  Thankfully, I was wearing my black Mumtaz hijab, so it remained opaque even when wet. The wind was blowing, but it was heavy enough so it did not flip up, yet well-ventilated so it dries up quickly when the rain stops (optional: to securely attached your Mumtaz hijab, pin it at the shoulders).

IMG_5009My black Mumtaz Hijab was a life-saver!

IMG_5003We prayed Fajr (subuh) in the rain at the first water station. Nothing was going to stop us!

As expected from last year’s event, the route was hilly. Mental preparation is indeed important apart from physical training. I will keep a positive attitude, and I will not beat myself up if the race does not go as expected. It was just going to be me against myself. Through out the run, I could not help but think about how I felt compared to last year. I did not feel like the hills were mountains that were needed to conquer, but it was all part of the course that we must embrace. It wasn’t raining last year, but at least the weather is cool so we can go faster. Plus, I was glad that I invested in the right gear such as the right hijab, top, pants, and shoes.

I was feeling fine when I reached the 15km marker. Perhaps those cross-training were starting to pay off? Perhaps the additional mileages were starting to show results? I must have done something  right, and I am indeed grateful for all of the support I received.  I was on track to complete the 30km within 4 hours, however, just after midway I had a stomach ache attack. I spent precious minutes getting off track, looking for a toilet and calming my stomach down. The pain was seriously affecting my mental state, I really wanted to turn back to the 15km marker and hop on the ambulance. However, a volunteer encouraged me to keep on going no matter how slow I had to walk as I was already halfway. Finally, I found a toilet after asking at a few shop lots at the side of the road.

Despite not renewing my personal best for this event (I finished around the same time as I did last year), I finished the race feeling significantly stronger. It was definitely a challenging route, yet I had no regrets about signing up for it. Newton Challenge, I will be back again next year if my running calendar permits.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

5 things I wish I told myself when I started running.

I consider running as a new, serious hobby for me, since I’ve been doing it for only 2 years. However, through out my journey, there were some things that I wished I told myself 2 years ago, such as:

1. Read, research, don’t be afraid to ask questions

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This book should be in every runner’s library!

Running – a simple act of putting one feet in front of the next, yet it has been heavily researched with many school of thoughts about training, form, style of running, and culture. In short, there is no clear, definitive line dividing between what’s wrong or right in the world of running. So read up and do some researches to verify what you read, because there is always something new to learn everyday.

2. Invest in the right gear

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What you wear is equally important as what you put on your feet 

A good pair of shoes is the most important gear for every runner. I wish that 2 years ago, I took my time to search for the right shoe to save myself from the infamous runner’s black toenail and provide the right support for my foot arch. Arguably, the 2nd most important thing for me is my hijab. Thankfully, I discovered Nashata’s range of sportswear early in my running career. Thanks to Nashata, my hijab is never an excuse or a disadvantage to my performance in any sports.

3. Take your time to train, but be committed


It’s your own race, so run at your own pace

I took up running as a serious hobby with one goal in mind: Complete the full marathon distance of 42km. So for the first 2 years of my running career, I was relentlessly chasing the mileage until my knees were starting to hurt and it took me longer to recover from a common cold. I was going too fast until I burnt out. However, if I did not set a deadline for myself, I might end up losing focus or get demotivated easily. Looking back, I realised that I should have balanced my trainings better so I am consistently training with smaller increments in mileage.

4. Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train


 Stronger muscles = less injury

As stated in No. 3, I was caught up in a relentless pursuit to clock in enough mileage until I was too exhausted to cross-train. My muscles became weak, my upper body and core were not toned. If I could turn back time, I would have told myself that it’s ok to lift weights once in a while, or do some yoga to stretch out those sore muscles. Click here to read on why runners should cross-train.

5. There is more to running besides just running


Some wonderful people I met through out my running journey

The running community in Malaysia is filled with people with many backgrounds. I’ve expanded my social circle, and this has helped me open new, unexpected doors. I appreciate whom I’ve connected with right now, but I wished I took the time to connect to even more people and treat races just like another conference or networking event. You may never know who you can meet along the way, or how you might end up supporting or helping each other.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner