This is it! Ini kali la! This time la! Minutes before 3 a.m., TST was asking for my target time, 5:30? “Coach” Cornelius scoffed, “5:30? 5:00 bah!”
Months before BIM, I lost my pacer, Pammie to her weekend class commitments. Days before BIM, I happened to asked Alvin if he wanted to pace with me and he said yes. And since his target pace was close to mine, this could work. So we derived a plan, run at 7:30 pace for the first few kilometers and allow ourselves to gradually run at cruise of 7:15 and probably, if there is fuel left in the tank, we try to run 7:00 pace for the final 10km. That was the plan. It felt doable. The weather was the main talking point weeks before. And that was a key factor in the race.
At 2:59:50 a.m. the countdown commenced. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. GO!
I started my Garmin and off we go. Four of us, Pammie, Massy, Alvin and myself gradually went over the giant arch, officially marked the start of our 42km run. Alvin and myself let most runners passed us as we try to stick to our game plan. I told Alvin, “let them pass, we going to overtake them again later in the race”. Pammie & Massy raced further in front and soon I can’t even see Massy. We were doing reasonably well. Pace was around 7:50 once we reached the Tg. Lipat roundabout and gradually went down to 7:30-7:25. We were a bit too concerned about our pace it sometimes bothers me to constantly look at my watch but it does kept us on our toes if we appear to stray a bit to the faster side. We forego the first few water stations and once we reached back to Likas Sports Complex, I can feel a slight tingle on my right hip. Once we made our right turn, we made our first pit stop. I got the medic to spray my hip, calves and achilles tendons and off we go. Along the way I made few stops to get sprayed just to constantly ensure that the leg muscles don’t pull any surprises during the race.
We came across Massy before the Yayasan Sabah bridge, clearly injured but we had to go on. We reached UMS just around the 19km mark and I told Alvin I’ll be taking the hills slow since we still have half a marathon to go. I do have another concern, I just do not want to get overtaken by the half marathon groups – although just as we reached the top of the first Maria, 2 “Kenyans” overtook us with ease. As we made our way to the second Maria, more HM runners sped ahead of us. Of course la, you guys already half way there..
I walked up second Maria. Alvin followed suit. I thought, better rejuvenate for the longest run towards Indah Permai. And was looking forward to replenish my fluids at the water station ahead and get myself another deep spray fix. As we head towards Indah Permai, the sun was already out and it started to get warm. I started to realise I can’t go any faster – but I still feel I can still endure the distance. So I started slowing down with the occassional run-walk strategy right to the Indah Permai turning point. As I told Alvin earlier, we did passed other runners whom at this juncture already starting to feel the distance and although doesn’t look dejected, walking is the next best thing. Along the way we passed returning runners – coach Cornelius, Jumat, Asrul, Johnny, Yoke Lee, Sarah, Jiki and even Judy. At the turning point, I got myself sprayed and even doused myself with water to cool off and walked for few meters before started with a jog with Alvin. As agreed before the race, at kilometer 30, Alvin told the “cock” joke. I didn’t get the joke posted by TST earlier. I was a bit knackered I can’t even remember the “robot” joke in its entirely.
On the way back we came across Massy and slightly further back Pammie and although I’m already on my way back I can’t help to think that they still have yet to reach Indah Permai. As we continued our way back we decided to do a run-walk strategy and bumped onto TST near 1 Borneo. Our goal, run towards UMS traffic light and walk a little bit and continue running. We still try to hold on to the slimmest of hope that we can finish in 5:15 – although time is ticking down pretty fast. I stopped slightly earlier than the traffic light but continued running after that but Alvin had stopped and started walking with TST. So I decided to stick to the plan and ran. By this time, cramps started to creep in and running was getting harder since the muscles seems to contract and pulled my foot tighter. But I decided to run it off – and I did. And took every chance at the aid station to get sprayed and cool off my body off with as much water as I can get my hands on. As the distance started to get shorter I finally realised its just 5 kilometers away once I reached the Yayasan Sabah roundabout although at this time, 5:30 is the more realistic target. I was still on my run-wak strategy and I ran as fast as I can and slowed down once I felt the muscles started to contract. Just as I reached the Tg Lipat park, it started to sink in that I’m almost there. 2 kilometers left. I started to get emotional and suddenly felt a sudden surge of energy. And I ran. Cramps? Fuck off. I’m finishing this race. I bumped onto Peterson who earlier on overtook me at the Yayasan Sabah roundabout and told him, “Another 2 km. Come on!”, and we ran. I ran until the final stretch just after the Tg. Lipat roundabout. I had to walk, just a bit and started running heading towards the sports complex. Peterson ran ahead. I can hear people cheering. Some were on their way back with medals dangling across their chest. Red vest. Green vest. Bugger off, I’m doing full marathon assholes and I’m going to finish this race!
This was the longest 2 kilometer in my entire life! It seems endless. And just as I wiped off the sweat from my face, I saw the sports complex entrance with people holding out encouraging banners and urging us forward. Photographers were clicking away but unlike the first 10 kilometers, this time I can’t be bothered putting up a fake smile. Its all raw emotion on display. I followed Peterson closely from the back and once I felt the soft running track surface, I know I’m on the home stretch. I ran as fast as I can. Below 5:30. Below 5:30. I ran. No cramps. I ran. I ran I ran. And then, it ended. I crossed the line. I stepped on the timing marker, stopped my watch. 5:28:32 – unofficial. Regardless, not bad. Not bad at all.
Collected my hard earned medal and got my first full marathon finisher tee. I didn’t do any cooling down. I walked towards the FM’s power breakfast corner and gulped several glass full of orange juice and Milo. There were food too but was too dehydrated to munch on solids, not yet.
After collecting our bags, we decided to get a foot massage. Those we the best foot massage ever.
After a while, more familiar faces emerged. Those arrived earlier. We congratulated each other. I even congratulated strangers running the full marathon. Everyone running the full marathon deserved a good handshake and a pat on the back. I never felt such emotions before but once you experienced it yourself, its a surreal feeling and I understood how those runners felt. Met Jumat, Jiki, Ndutt, Andy and others even my occasional running buddy, Milly. And yet I was still very anxious to know how are the two girls doing – Pammie & Massy. My fellow AUSFians. As the clock ticks down, talks about “sweeper vans” started to emerge. I decided to call Massy. To my horror, it ranged and she picked up – “Where are you?”, I asked. “Dekat sampai sudah. Saya sama Pammie. Both of us can’t lift our legs no more. Sedia mau ambil gambar”. Bloody hell, “Sedia mau ambil gambar”? But I felt happy. After nearly 2 hours they will finish the race. I raced down the stand and ran across the field. Mind you, my legs were killing me. I took photos as they jogged.. (can’t lift legs huh Massy??).. jogged towards the finish line.
After settling down, getting cold drinks we sat down and talked about the race. Talking about our “battle scars”. No more full marathons? We still have Sundown Singapore. We still have HassuTasu.
Now this is over, I can’t wait to see if there’s any nice photos of me during the race. Until then, I will rest for a week and get myself ready for the next race. Well done to all FM runners, you know who you are!