What an anti-climax—a few weeks' worth of training ended up in a big disappointment for me. I ran what turned out to be a very tough half marathon for me at the Energizer Night Race in Cyberjaya last night. I did it in 2:05, which is a painful 5 minutes outside my sub-2-hour target.
It was a night of disbelief at the Energizer Night Race. The next time anyone says Cyberjaya is a flat ground, don't you believe it! The first 2 kilometres into the race, my quads were already burning up because of the slopes. And those of you who've been following this blog, you would know my weakness when it comes to the slopes. Thankfully, however, at least the slopes were not as terrible as those in the Pacesetters New Balance 30KM I joined earlier this year.
The slopes were not the only thing I don't believe. Although a friend, C P Tan a.k.a. blaze, said that his GPS registered an accurate 21.1km (official distance of a half marathon) there are many others who measured the distance as at least several hundred metres more than that. Personally, I'm inclined to believe that the distance was longer than 21.1km. I passed the 11km mark at exactly 1 hour. And I reached the 15km marker, which was at a drink station, at 1:22. But beyond that point I slowed down slightly and actually walked several times for very short distances for a few seconds each time. But I don't believe that I slowed down to the extent of over 40 minutes for 6km to the finish line. Maybe that 15km marker was wrongly positioned. Either that or the total distance was longer than what it should have been; or it could have been both the marker and the distance. As I said, it was a night of disbelief.
On the other hand, based on a conversation I had with a full marathoner at the finish line, he said he couldn't believe that the distance for the full marathon was accurate. He said he ran the first half of his event too fast and then had to pay dearly during the second half, to the extent of having to walk several times. He expected to be some minutes adrift of his usual marathon time, yet he arrived with a 2-minute improvement. He said it did not feel like 42km!
All 3 of us from KK opted for the half marathon event in the Energizer Night Race. And both Kevin and I failed to achieve our respective targets. Kevin, having achieved a personal best of 1:42 during training, did it in 1:52 in Cyberjaya. He was trying to achieve a 100-minute half marathon (1:40), but instead of shedding that 2 minutes, he gained 10 minutes! At any rate, since this was his first "official" half marathon, it was his personal best! Having seen Kevin run in Likas so many times before, I know for certain he can do better than a 1:52 for half marathon, so I think he should make it a point to prove himself soon. As mentioned earlier, I was adrift by a margin of 5 minutes off my target. The only winner for the night was Teo who achieved his target with the luxury of more than 10 minutes to spare!
Both Kevin and I agreed that Teo is wasting his time being an engineer. He should've been either a lawyer or a politician. The time limit for the half marathon was 3 hours, and he set his target at 2:59. He crossed the finish line, I think, in about 2:47, plenty of time to smile broadly for the camera. Of course I was complaining that Teo did not set a realistic target for himself. He did the half marathon in Penang last November in 2:28, yet he set his target this time at 2:59. He's the kind of trapeze artist who'd set several layers of safety nets at the bottom before starting his act, you see. And before the race, we were saying to him that he must make sure he'd finish the race, otherwise he'd go home empty handed and a failure! To this, he answered that as far as he's concerned, the mere fact that he actually got to the start line already made him a winner! Now can anyone tell me why Teo shouldn't be running for one of those top posts in the MCA elections!
Anyway, coming back to the race, I must say that I was a bit disappointed, too, that there were simply insufficient KM markers. I think those folks from the organiser should run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon one of these days and see how huge and clear and many those KM markers they have in their races.
Apart from KM markers, there were hardly anything to indicate the respective routes for the several events that night. I'm aware of the full marathon, the half marathon, the 10km, and a relay event. And all of them were criss-crossing that same huge area in the dark of the night. So it was a bit confusing to see runners running in the opposite direction, or other directions, not to mention those 10k racers who eventually merged with the half marathon racers.
Well, not that I am likely to join this race again in the future, but perhaps the organiser can think of a more systematic way to spare the runners from such confusions. It's not very amusing to get confused when one is already exhausted—it's not very pleasant to run in doubt of whether one is running in the right direction. Maybe the few marshals along the routes could have been a bit more helpful if they knew what they're doing.
Another important aspect the organiser had failed to take into account was that quite a number of runners were not from Cyberjaya. So it was quite a challenge to find their way to the start line; where to park etc. Maybe if they had clearer instructions, or perhaps more road signs etc, runners are better able to find their way to the place where there were supposed to have been shuttle buses to get to the start line. Can anyone of you there last night tell me if you saw shuttle buses around? To be quite honest, I didn't.
An interesting conversation took place in the car on our way back to the hotel. Teo was saying that he will only continue running for the next 2 years. After that he said he will move on to other "milder" sports. And then as if suddenly struck by an afterthought, he mentioned the sport of curling. Curling? What the hell is curling? Those of you who don't know it, here's some information from Wikipedia. And for those of you who would like to see the actual game in progress, here's something from youtube. Teo is particularly interested to become the sweeper. I said to him that's a brilliant idea! Since curling is practically an unknown sport in Malaysia, he can be the first sweeper to represent Malaysia in the Olympics! And if by a stroke of miracle, he can bring home a gold medal, he can even be bestowed with a Datukship without having to pay RM300,000 for it! You can't get any better deal than that! I don't know why Kevin's mom was laughing so hard up to the point of having difficulty driving the car?
Well anyway, that sort of concludes my rantings for the Energizer Night Race. Now I will have to rest and then start training again next Tuesday for the gruesome full marathon on 2nd May in the Borneo International Marathon here in KK! In the mean time, some of you who know me well, would also know that because of my failure this time, I will be keeping an eye open for any half marathons within the next few months prior to the Penang Bridge International Marathon in November where I will again run the full marathon.
Update: (29 March 2010) (Special thanks to Kevin's mom for being the official photographer of the evening)
Shortly after our arrival at the car park of the race venue. Teo, as you can see, is showing a thumb up and very pleased with the fact that he made it to this event after all.
And this is another shot of Teo and his knee straps all ready on both legs. Notice the banana and Livita nearby. When talking about preparation, Teo is da man! He came prepared with a variety of energy bars, energy gels, several cans of energy-boosting drinks, bananas, knee straps, deep-heating lotions to numb the muscles, his high-tech Sony earphones for the music. It's like he was moving house!
Not exactly an advertisement for Nike, but Teo and I had the LunarTrainer, and Kevin had the LunarGlide. Those thin strips of orange-coloured thing on our shoes are the new disposable timing "chip" used for the race.
Trying on the headlights provided by the organiser. But they proved to be quite uncomfortable and all of us decided not to put them on in the end. By this time, it was fast getting dark.
A few minutes before the flag off, Kevin and I were waiting for Teo while he made a quick visit to the toilet.
A quick photo with the mascot of this race. Teo is all pumped up for the race. He seemed to have forgotten all about his knee problems.
After finishing the race, we posed with the medals just before heading back to the car. Oh by the way, Two had his new pair of tights worth over RM200 which he bought at the exhibition hall in Melia Hotel. I think he did so well mainly because of his new tights.