Sunday, January 18, 2009
Great Eastern Run 20k
I'm glad the race is over. But the muscle ache is not.
I never thought that I will do this, but I did. Completed a 20km race in less than 5 months since I started running. For me it is an achievement by itself.
I always want to do something new every year. Running is one of the things I started doing last year. You see, I do not have an athlete body build. For me to pick up running, there is a lot of discipline and self-motivation involved. With encouragement from some friends, I made the first step in Mizuno 10km run and was rewarded with a medal.
The Great Eastern Run 30k/20k was orgainised by Pacesetters and it was a marked improvement from the somewhat chaotic Mizuno 10km run. This time the start/finish venue is at the Lake Garden.
I arrived early in the morning before 5:30am near the Bukit Aman car park and it was already full. I managed to squeeze in my car anyway without obstructing traffic (no, I didn't park at side of the road or on yellow line). I met my friend and running buddy BP there and we walked to the Lake Garden to meet Lam.
The race for 30km started at 6:15am, late by 15 minutes. I guessed they were not fully prepared to start at 6:00am. The 20km race started 15 minutes later on time. This time there was no timing mat at the starting line. I think this time they use only the gun time. All runners were deemed to start at the sound of the starting gun. In this way, there was no need to step on anything and thus eliminating any delay in starting.
The first corner immediately took us to a climb to a jogging track in Lake Garden. This was a good warm-up to the race. BP was pacing quite fast and I was following him. At 1km point, we realised we were pacing too fast, running less than 6 minutes per km. So we slowed down the pace. At that time, I thought we lost Lam at the back. At the 2.5km mark, we were taking the second climb. It was near the Bank Negara train station. This was a long climb that peaked at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial. The descent took us to the interchange that let us crossed over Lebuhraya Mahameru and we were on the way to Bukit Tunku.
In Bukit Tunku, there was a steep climb and it was quite punishing. I was taking it easy and trying to conserve my energy. The descent was a steady long downhill that ended at Langkak Tunku. Here we took the left (this was the turn we missed last week during training) to start another ascent and we were on the way to the Kompleks Kerajaan Jalan Duta. At this point, I could feel some pain in my left knee and I started to wonder if I could last the whole 20km.
The road to Kompleks Kerajaan involved crossing the busy Jalan Duta. Here it got quite dangerous and the traffic police and marshals were doing what they can to make sure runners were safe. The 10km mark was located near the Kompleks and we reached that split just under an hour. I considered the time was a good one.
We continued to ascend until a point where we did a U-turn (about 12km mark) and collected the check-point wrist band. By this time, I could no longer follow BP's pace and I ran with my own pace thereafter. I saw Lam on the opposite direction after a few hundred metres from the U-turn. He was managing well with his own pace.
After leaving the Kompleks area, I was back at Bukit Tunku area running now on flat road for about 2km. I took the opportunity to refuel myself with Powerbar Gel and some Gatorade drink. The next climb was not too tough, but at that time, my body was not as good as the first 8km of the race. I was just holding on and still wondering if I could see the finish station on my own feet.
Luckily the next 1.5km was long stretch of downhill and I took the chance to save my reserves for the next two climbs. The second to last climb was the second climb in reverse direction. It was an easy climb from the reverse direction, with longer downhill than uphill.
The last climb was the most punishing. The uphill stretch could be about 2kms and you would wonder when you will see the peak. The sun was shining like a fireball in my face and I was tiring fast. It was near the road leading to the back of Istana Negara, on the way to the National Monument. I was so glad when I saw the Monument. It meant I have conquered all the hills in the route. The steep descent back to Lake Garden traffic light must be treated with care. With the tired body, one could hurt himself/herself descending here.
After that it was just making sure I don't fall and keep running to reach the end. I was basically running alone for the last 500m. Those elite runners were already finished the race in under 2 hours. And those slower runners were probably a little further behind me.
This time there were no queue at the finish station. There were only two gates. One for the 30km and one for the 20km. There was a timing mat at the end and photographers were there to capture your final moments of the race.
There I was, finished the race in a happy mood although I was feeling the aches on my knees. Lam finished just 20 seconds behind me and Chuah (BP) did a sub-2-hour 20km. I checked my time was under 2 hours 5 minutes. I will cross check that with the official time later. Although it would be good to run under 2 hours, but given the hilly course, I was happy with 2 hours 5 minutes.
After that we had some light breakfast and took some photos. It was a good run for all of us. We all went back with a medal in bag, and looking forward to our next run.