After foregoing the KL Marathon a few times, I finally did it yesterday morning (26 June). But instead of running the 42km, I only ran the half marathon, i.e. 21km. Weeks before the race, I was a bit worried about the slopes. And the elevation chart found in the official website did not help at all—it appeared like there was a killer uphill slope at about 2/3 of the route. And I haven't been any good at slopes.
Going into this race, my previous best time for the half marathon was 1:58:22 in the Bareno Run, set in March this year. However, after the Bareno Run, I was given to understand that the distance was a bit short, perhaps by a few hundred metres! The Bareno was a tough hilly race; so I had a feeling that if the full distance of 21.1km was run, I might have taken around 2hrs or even slightly over.
My target in the KL Marathon was to improve slightly by at least a minute. A few weeks leading to the race, I've been working on my speed during midweek training, so I was quite confident of achieving my target, while at the same time a bit worried about the slopes.
But in the end, the thing that was to prevent me from achieving my target was the overwhelming crowd at the flag off. Although the race venue was just about 5 minutes from the Frenz Hotel, I found myself way at the back of the crowd at the starting line. I only crossed the starting line about 2 minutes after the start horn.
The first 3km of the race was quite frustrating for me as I had to run so slow—almost painfully so! It was so hard to break my way through the crowd. Over the several weeks of training, I've built up my pace to about 5mins:15secs per km average. I had planned to run the first km at 5mins:30secs before cruising into the 5mins:15secs pace. But instead I started at around 6mins:30secs for a good 3km. Upon reaching the highway, I was finally able to break free and surge ahead. But it was so hard to regain back lost time.
I had also come up with the strategy of consuming packs 2 energy gels (I usually consume only 1 pack for a half marathon) in anticipation of the slopes. I took the first pack at about Km8, which was about 46 minutes into the race; and the second pack at Km17.5, just shortly after a long but gradual ascent.
Some parts of the route merged with that of the full marathon. But beyond the 3km point, the run was mainly smooth going. This race was a major breakthrough for me as I ran throughout the race without walking except for the very short stops at several drink stations. However, as I was approaching the 19km point, it became clear to me that my hope of achieving a personal best (PB) wasn't gonna happen.
As I turned the long stretch of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, we suddenly merged with the 10km and full marathon runners; and it suddenly became very critical to sneak through the crowd for the final dash to the finish line. By then I was no longer paying much attention to my stopwatch, but I'm convinced that I was doing a 5-minute km. Passing Sogo, then Frenz Hotel, and making a slight turn, I could see the finish line ahead at Padang Merdeka. Although it was an impressive sprint, I saw a 1:58 plus on my stopwatch when I crossed the finish line. I was hoping to at least achieve a 1:57 plus, but it was not meant to be. Then I had hoped perhaps to still achieve a PB by only a few seconds, but that too seemed too far-fetched.
A classic case of so-far-and-so-close. Crestfallen, I proceeded to collect my finisher medal. And emerging on the other side, I saw Jonas who had finished his half marathon almost 20 minutes earlier than I did. Ivy was also there, and was kind enough to take this shot (thanks Ivy).
I waited a good 20 minutes or so before my brother, Harry, finished his half marathon, followed by Mia about 15 minutes later than him. It was a fine morning; it wasn't hot during the race, although it was still humid as usual. We were on our way back to the hotel when I bumped into my friend, CP Tan, who took this photo of the three of us (thanks CP).
The whole day, today, I've been trying to check the official results from the organiser's website, but it was jammed up so bad it's hardly possible to even get to the main page. But shortly ago, I finally managed to access the website and happy to find that I've achieved a PB after all, although by a mere 5 seconds over the Bareno's!
Cornelius Koh: 1 hour 58 mins 17 secs (PB)
Euphemia Thien: 2 hours 35 mins 11 secs
Harry Koh: 2 hours 19 mins 26 secs (PB)