Thursday, July 27, 2006

0716 - Seremban Half Marathon Race

On 16th July Sunday morning, in Kuala Lumpur, at 4:00am, it was a humid morning when I left my house to meet Sonny Ng, PK Chan, Mr. Teh, Walter & Yee Sum at Sonny's house. This was my time to look for a house address at such hour, under the dim moon light; hence, I was seriously cautious on every turn I took. Thankful that with Francis Toh's perfect guidance, I have no problem to arrive Sonny's house in time.

Francis, the VP of Pacesetters, who is so helpful to coordinate the registration & transportation arrangements for us. But, he couldn't come to race due to his knee problem which caused him some setback after few races this year. Indeed, we missed his presence. At 4:25am, we were gathering at the outside of Sonny's house as planned by Francis for our departure to attack the Seremban Half Marathon race. Nobody was late. This truly a spirit of runners.

Without any further delay, Yee Sum, who was the excellent driver, took off his newly bought "MPV" with a soundless engine zooming out of the supposedly to be quite & peaceful Section 17, PJ; but not in this morning, while we were waiting for Yee Sum, the dog at the opposite house, kept barking at us. Aiyo! it was disturbing & nearly waking up the whole neighborhood. We were in trouble if the whole neighborhood looked for us!

We chatted a lot in the car; while sitting at the last row with Walter, I took the opportunity to have some conservation with Walter, who is Hawaiian, working in Singapore. To my surprise, he is an Ironman & has done few triathlon races with the excellent timings. He will be joining the popular Triathlon Meet in Port Dickson on Sunday, 23 July. He unselfishly shared his vast experiences in the races with me. In fact, I was delighted with his stories. What a amazing man!

After nearly 45 minutes driving, we were reaching at the Seremban's toll plaza. Sonny asked to wait for another car, which we met at the Sungai Besi toll, to arrive as the driver didn't know the exact race venue. So, waited for less than 10 minutes, the car arrived. During the waiting period, we were given a chance to watch the popular Singaporean-made comedy show in the MPV.

We happily left the Seremban's toll plaza with another car following at the back. We were actually very near to the race venue; less than 5 minutes, we could see the participants were running across the road to the starting area. Finally, after a few turns, we were reaching the race venue.

So fortunate that we allowed to find a perfect parking lot which is located next to the "Padang", of course it must with a permission pass. It was a walking distance toward the reporting counter, as well as the starting line. After dropping off my reporting card, I was heading toward the toilet; then I met KC & Weng. We were walking together to the starting line.

The venue was full parked of people. Not doubt that the response to the Seremban race was always very encouraging. When we made ourselves to the starting line for the half marathon category; we encountered less runners compared to last year; we met a lot running friends from Pacesetters, Pacemakers etc. Nevertheless, we enjoyed each other accompany & we managed to take a few photos before starting the race. Quit a relax atmosphere!

The Camel race began...
The half marathon race was started on time at 6:45am. There was not any briefing given. All the sudden, big Bang! "Camel" from desert who unintentionally came to do his torturing race in Seremban, haw, haw. After the 1 km distance run, all runners were slowly spreading out. I was trying surfing myself forward & running on my own pace, to flight for my own battle. As a matter of fact, I had my own mission in my mind. It was to finish it within the qualified time & with a high hope that I could complete the run below 2 hours.

At the first few kms, I was running behind Yee Sum & followed his consistent pace of 5 min per km.
For the first 11 km, before disturbing looking for water, I was really enjoying the run & meeting some friends (i.e. Joviet Sim, Yee Sum, Ah Loong, Khoo Yit Kiat etc) along the way. Furthermore, the route was mostly run at the outskirts of the town which was good for runners to appreciate that the greens. I could see a lot of tall trees & farms & feel the cooling fresh air especially right after the early morning rain. Cool, man! Most runners welcomed the rain before the race as it would cool down the heat from the road.

Luckily, it was a cool morning; otherwise, I would think that I might have stopped running after 8 km distance. I was damn thirsty & I meant it. My body was screaming for water & my lips were becoming dry. Furthermore, at certain stretches, some odd & burning smell was coming from nowhere; it was disturbing too!

At the 1st & the ONLY water station, at around 11 km marker, we were given only isotonic drink, not a single cup of plain water. Why? I don't know. If anyone was having a power gel, then where to get drinking water?

Knowing that there might not be anymore water station, I drank quit a lot, at least six cups of isotonic drink. My tongue could taste the sweetness and my stomach was full of isotonic water. My assumption was right as there would be no water station in front as I prompted a question to the volunteers - where is the next water station? One of the volunteers answered with a unclear answer & nearly said : "don't know".

So, I didn't want to take any risk to be dehydrated condition. I stood there for a good few minutes & drank a few more cups, looked like there isn't no tomorrow. Man! no joke.

True enough that when approaching the "water-station" at the 15 km marker, there was neither isotonic drink nor mineral water; only “sponges”. Did the sponges cool me down? Well, not really as the sponges' water was not icy at all. I was told at the finishing area that most of runners were unhappy but no choice to drink the "pipe-water" at the gas station at approximately 3 to 4 km marker.

After the only one water station, I encountered that so many of my running friends along the route, one by one slowly overtook me, namely Jason Chin, Ryan Teoh, Joviet Sim, Ang Chee Kiang & Yee Sum. Deep in my heart, I wished them good luck & have strong finishings in their journey. Frankly, I didn't give up to catch up with them; but I was actually running out the steam.

At the last 5 km, the run was getting tougher because of the hilly slopes and we, the half marathoners had to run with the big crowd of slow walking school boys and girls. They were particularly walking and not running. I was wandering why were they presenting themselves here as it was not a Seremban Big Walk event.

At least, they should try their best to run. Some of young boys & girls were holding hands; boy! they are so sweet. While approaching the last 2 km, I heard one school girl talking with her handphope & asked a question : "Where are you now?" I believed that she might check up her friend's location whether she was behind or in front of her.

In addition, the last few kilometers were a terrible stretch for runners as the entire road was jammed up with heavy traffic. It was very disorganized; I could see that few traffic polices strived to control the traffic. At the several traffic junctions, runners were trying to overrun the cars with their exhausted body. Boy! it was messy, at one point, I was running side-by-side with a car for two hundred meters. I supposed to run at the road side; instead, but the only way to overtake the school boy & girls was running at the center of the road or opposite of the road.

At last, I finished the race with a 50th position & 1 hour 59 minutes finishing time. It was so nice that Ronnie was standing at the finishing line to cheer & snap my photo & record down the finishing time. I strongly think that everyone was deserving a solid pat at his or her back after the great accomplishments for completing the 21.1 km Camel race.

At the starting/ending area, I was really having a good time drinking EXCEL as it was free flow. It was a payback time; not sure how many cups I drank but it should be quite a few. I don't dare to drink too much of Milo as it might upset my stomach. I walked around with Eric & Roger greeting and talking to others friends. At the same time, Weng took a few group photos of us.

Overall, the race was quit well-organized, but a marginally setback in the preparation of water stations & effective of traffic control especially at the last 6 km. It was insufficient water stations & the traffic was madness.

Due to the empty stomach, we left the venue at 11am & were eagerly looking for a good restaurant where selling any delicious food. We stopped at one restaurant which nearby & ate some soup noodles before leaving for Kuala Lumpur. Thank you PK Chan for buying us the delicious soup noodles & drinks.

On the way back to Kuala Lumpur, we were talking a lot & having good laughs in the MVP, to keep our dedicated driver awake & alert at all times. Our conservations were relating from eating durians (caused now is a durian season) to speed driving. Sonny recommended that if one want to eat durian, must look for "D14" as it is the best. We also talked about KC's writeup on durian which could enhance one's running performance. Maybe, it is true that eating durian can make one runs faster. Try it out by yourself & let us know about your performance. Perhaps, it is a different type of carbo-loading.

I concluded that I enjoyed the run & presences of the Pacesetters. Once again, thank you Francis who took the effort to register us for the run on our behalf & Yee Sum for fetching us there & back.

Chee Wee

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