Tuesday, March 07, 2006
PAIN AND GAIN
KLIM 2006 was my second full marathon. I had high hopes. I targeted to better my last year’s timing. Training was going well with adequate mileage and conditioning. I was satisfied with my timing for the GE30km run. I thought everything was on course for the big day. Then it had to happen during the third installment of the Circuit Training. At the 18.4km mark, barely two hours into a three hours race, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I tried jogging slowly to ease the pain and hoped to be back in the race. I was wrong. Every 4-5 steps of jog, I felt a jarring pain in the right knee. The whole leg was wobbly and weak. I had no control of it whenever the pain set in. I had to stop the race altogether. It was not worth completing the race with an injury.
I did suffer from knee pain previously but it was not as bad as this. I started to worry on the impending KLIM. I rested for a week before resuming my running. Within the week, I did strength and stretching conditioning. The pain subsided after 5 days but it was still pretty uncomfortable. I had to miss the KL Towerthon because if I did ran the 2000 plus steps, I would have killed all chances of even remotely running a 7km run in KLIM.
I resumed running on very short distances (3 – 5km) two weeks before KLIM. I still felt a bit of ache after 2km. This time, it was not only my right knee but my left as well. I was pretty much contemplating of dropping out of KLIM.
I tried a 10km run a week before the big race. I wore knee support. I managed to complete the run without much trouble but both knees were still uncomfortable. It was not a good sign. At least for a 10km run, I still can push to finish but 42km? Definitely not a stroll in the park.
I rested and worried more and more each day KLIM drew nearer. Should I or should I not?
I decided to go for the race with just completing the distance and not giving myself a target (well, at least by the 6 hours qualifying time) in mind. Also, I prayed I do not have to use the ambulance service midway.
On race day, I woke up psyching myself. I wore knee support on both my knees and doused enough petroleum jelly to set myself on fire (if the jelly was flammable). Had some bread and a power bar for breakfast. Surprisingly, the power bar was not too bad tasting (cookies and cream flavour).
I reached Dataran Merdeka 45 minutes before the flag off. It was such a far cry from the atmosphere of Singapore Marathon. In fact it did not even look like an international event! It looked kind of pathetic and to think that some of the FTAAA officials were in Singapore last year to do R&D on how the Singapore Marathon were organized and gathering feedback from fellow runners. The only difference was the set up for bibs distribution. And even that, they could not handle the action. I had some runner friends whose bibs were given to other runners. They had to return to the center for an exchange. Can’t FTAAA do something right for one particular event?
Flag off was punctual. I started slow. Half running, half praying. There were no problems for the first 15km. Discomfort set in on my right knee around 16km. I expected it and continued running. Sometimes these aches would go away. It was all in the mind. To be frank, I ran half the race mentally. After 15km, I stopped at every water station to down enough 100 Plus to hydrate myself. An advantage for the full marathoners were, after 30km, there were water stations at every 2km. No complains in that department.
The discomfort turned to a slight pain at the 20km mark. Then my left knee activated its pain mode as well. Do these pains have some sort of automatic activation hard coded into its memory? I seriously do think so.
I plodded on, conquering each km with my mind. I bumped into Kelvin Ng near the Pekeliling roundabout. He was having a bad cramp. We walked and chatted a bit, exchanging info on each others injury. I decided to ditch Kelvin to continue. I bet he was cursing. I could hear him even 100 metres behind. Anyway, you did well too Kelvin. You are only 3 minutes behind my finishing.
I started experiencing cramps on both my calves and quadriceps en route to Jalan Duta. The pain on the knees was not enough to torture me but now cramps? I slowed down to jog and walk until the cramp subsided. I saw a couple of ambulances passed by and I told myself that as long as I can still run, I must not give up. The pain is all in the mind. PUSH!
I was confident to do a sub 5. And so I continued. I met Munning Jamaluddin at Jalan Duta taking pictures. I struck a pose. No vogue-ing but sweaty-in-pain kind of pose. I met an Indian runner whom we motivated and pushed other to continue. Great pacing with him. Forgot to ask his name.
Finally I came to the last 4km after the Jalan Duta u-turn and second last water station. I was really determined to do a sub-5 hours even though my legs were screaming in pain. Though in pain, I could still control my running, unlike during the 3rd Circuit Run. The final 4km was a real drag. I met KC’s brother and we paced together all the way to the end from Bank Negara. I saw Rohaizad and he uttered some motivation. I was so blur at that time, I could not even hear properly.
The final stretch of 1km seemed like 5km. However, I managed complete the marathon in 4 hours 53 mins. It was 4 minutes slower than my maiden’s attempt last year. Considering my condition, I should give myself a pat on the back for at least completing the run. Initially I would have settled for a 6 hours completion but I was very happy to be able to do a sub-5.
I shall be resting for a while before I start any races again. It will all depends on the condition of my knees after this grueling run.
To all who have conquered another marathon, WELL DONE!
Prepared by Kevin Chow PM32