Friday, October 21, 2011

My First Full Marathon - TRJM 2011

It has been a while, isn’t it?

3 weeks has gone by and I’ve only done 2 LSD since then.

And this report is slowly collecting dust.

4th October 2011
Has it really been a week and a half, since I completed my first full marathon? Goodness. It felt so long ago! So what if it wasn't a real marathon with timing chips, placing and prize monies for the top 3 winners. But it was a real marathon distance with finisher medals and finisher Tshirts!

I’ve tried a couple of times to sit down and write my race report on The River Jungle Marathon 2011 (“the RJM”). But every time I conjure up those feelings and thoughts I had experienced during the RJM, they would flutter around in my head like restless butterflies. My heart would beat faster as I recall the run, and I am once again lost in it. To be honest, words fail to describe it all and I’m tempted to skip this report and tell you in a nutshell.

We arrived at Choon Hwa School in Pekan Batu 18 in time for the briefing to begin. First things first, we queued up for the mobile toilets. As a newcomer, I paid close attention to James’ briefing. He looked kinda cute, though. =P

Thanks for the pic, Jamie!

Seng Chor arrived and the five of us, including Bench and Paul, waited near the starting line, to be part of the flurry of photographers.

Jeff Ooi came around and started distributing paper with his and his wife’s name with a big red heart printed on it and asked us to hold it up for the photo session. We then stood at the start line, gripping on to the paper and waiting for our claim to fame.

I decided later on that I’d rather hide behind the guys than be caught standing right in front. Too shy la.

The Run
With the sound of the horn and the toots from a car, the runners headed off into the darkness. Most runners had their headlights on and as some parts of the route had street lights, it was enough for some runners to run without headlights.

The first 5km
The route required runners to make a U-turn at 2.5km. On the way back, we had a chance to wave at the other runners heading our direction.

The first water station was at the school where the starting line was. Every subsequent 3km after was a water or Gatorade station, so runners were always well hydrated.

We ran about 32mins for the first 5km which, according to my plan, was too fast. Never mind, we thought. We’ll just continue running anyway, since the road was nice and flat.

The second 5km
As runners slowly dispersed, the route became quiet. The stillness of the wee hours of the morning were a welcome sound, but YB and I continued chatting about goodness knows what.

It felt like our usual LSD where we’d make small talk while clocking the mileage. =)

Jamie caught up with us and we made small talk about possible photo opportunities we had seen along the way. Unfortunately, with just a compact camera in the dark, we were handicapped.

Past the second water station, YB and I were running our own pace until we had to overtake a runner in front of us. Just as we passed him, he’d speed up to overtake us, and then slowed down, getting in our way.

You know how you’re doing your own pace and there are times your body just propels forward and you are therefore obliged to run past runners ahead of you?

It became like some dance routine between us as the same thing repeated twice. We’d overtake him with our current pace, and then he’d speed up to overtake us, just so he could remain ahead of us.

We figured it could be a male ego thing because when Jamie ran past him, the runner gave him no heed. When YB overtook him and stayed ahead, he remained contented behind YB.

Eventually, we overtook him and kept some distance between us. The dancing had to stop sometime, right? *grin*

At the 10km mark, I checked my watch and saw that it was 1:07. OK, still bit too fast.

10km – 15km
Out of the blue, Jamie came from behind and told me to watch out, the slopes are coming. I distinctively remember exclaiming, “What?? I thought it’s halfway…?”

“Yes, the gradual slope starts now!”

As he sped off, I quickly caught up with YB and passed on the message. We decided we might as well keep it easy (we could see Jamie up ahead) and crossed our fingers we’d survive this mountain of a slope.

We caught up with Seng Chor and chatted for a while. Paul and Bench caught up with us too.

15km – 20km
As the skies gradually became light, we could see some runners ahead road gently sloping up and winding into the corner. It is at the 17km when the steep climb began.

YB and Bench continued on a steady pace while Paul, Seng Chor and I half ran and half walked up the hill. Either one of us would run up ahead while the other two straggled behind. When the person ahead eventually gives up to walk, the two would catch up and do their best to trudge on but only to give up a few metres later. By then, everyone was immersed with their own thoughts.

After spending so much time battling with the so called Spirit Breaker hill, we could see the top of the hill, with PT Lim waiting to catch action shots of the survivors.

I made sure I straightened myself and looked energized. =P

The top of the slope was a relief. Timing wise, it was a pretty bad one.

20km – 25km
The first 2 km downhill was so much better but tough on the knees. Through the mist, we caught glimpses of the dam and enjoyed the welcomed distraction.

Upon reaching the foot of the hill, we had to turn right on the route, only to make a U-turn to head back to the left of the junction. Most of us found it quite unnecessary for the u-turn but I guess they needed to chalk up the mileage?

Seng Chor helped us snap a pic.

I saw a cyclist stop to snap pictures of the runners. I waved at him. Wasn’t sure who was he waiting for or whether he was one of the photographers. He took plenty of me *cough* but I haven’t come across them in Facebook.

25km – 30km
It was pretty uneventful.

There were groups of cyclists along the way and a girl cheered us on.

“Well done! Keep it up!” she said.

It’s such a delightful moment when strangers cheer you on. You tend to pull yourself up, put your chin forward and keep your legs moving.

Started to get a bit of cramps on my right thigh. Dang. Got me worried.

It was already 4 hours.

30km – 35km
Every now and then, my right thigh would harden up and I would have to stop for to stretch. I really didn’t want to stop but I had to. It was bloody frustrating but there was nothing I could do.

A group of cyclist went by and one guy in pink caught our attention. Wished I had my camera in hand!

Come 33km, YB and I silently congratulated each other.

It was the longest distance we’ve had to cover so far and I couldn’t help but to break into a smile.

“Yay!” I enthused. “Awesome! This is amazing!”

YB admonished me for celebrating so soon. Boo.

Then I recalled Melvin who asked us once, “What is this ‘wall’? How does it feel like?”

I laughed.

Damn the guy for not knowing what a wall is!

35km – 39km
I hate this part. I hated this part.

Every time I recall this part, waves of disappointment would come crashing down on me again. (Like right now, as I write this.)

The cramp in my right thigh was more frequent than before. Then it would alternate between my left thigh and my left calf as well. Soon, I was walking more than I was running and I was really, really, really frustrated.

C’mon, I begged legs. “Just a bit more and we’re home free! Please, please, PLEASE!”

But they refused to listen and so YB made us walk from 37km to 38km.

I hated it. I didn’t like seeing other runners past me by but what could I do?

I think somewhere along the way we bumped into Gila Bola Karim who was enjoying his ice-cream. We eyed it hungrily, and told him that was definitely a good find.

“No choice,” He shrugged. “I needed it.”

Lucky fellow.

It started to drizzle. I stretched some more and put my cap on. Told YB that I was ready for the final onslaught.

“Let’s do this,” he said.

39km – 40km
I tried not to look at my watch because there was no way in hell I could make it in sub-5 hours. Yes, I was sorely disappointed.

As the rain came down on us, we ran in silence. My legs slowly eased up and I was pleased.

Slowly, but surely.

The last 2km
As the rain continued, we started speeding up, knowing that the finish line was near.

So many thoughts and images came into mind. My mind was abuzz.

Only crazy people love marathons. I’m not one of them.
The amount of commitment and dedication required for just one marathon is insane!
I can’t believe I’m doing this, I’m completing my first marathon!
I need to train more, I hate cramps!
Why, WHY didn’t I get a sub-5? Stupid cramps!
The finish line is near. YAY!
Kenny, I know how he felt when he completed his first full marathon ...

I finally understood what Kenny said about the sudden grip of emotions.

I couldn’t believe that my fat legs managed to carry myself through 40km on the road. I couldn’t believe I had come that far.

It was very hard. Who ever said a marathon was easy without adequate training needs to be slapped.

Not only was I running for myself but I wanted to run for a cause. But I have no cause to run for, except for my family. My parents, perhaps? My sisters, too.

I want them to continue persevering and fighting, to overcome obstacles that come their way. It’s the determination of not giving up that really matters, and I understood that then.

Just keep on running. Life’s all about the journey and how you perceive it to be – never give up.

A sob or two escaped me. YB turned back to check on me but I had already composed myself.

With 700m to go, we sped up. We could see runners ahead of us speeding up as well. We could hear a faint cheer somewhere ahead. That meant the school was near.

We sprinted towards the finish line and familiar faces (Yin Yin and Gilbert). We made sure we smiled for the cameras although we definitely felt like crumpling to the ground.

42.2km done!
In 5:18!

Gawd, that was freaking painful!

Next up, everyone was eager to get out of there and devour a meal fit for a king!

Respect the distance. Train if you want to do a marathon and don't do it if you cannot commit the time to train.

Being supportive is very important.

What I'm saying is, always congratulate someone who just completed their running event, regardless of the time and distance. It is an achievement to them, be it big or small. Do not belittle them.

I was lucky to have YB run alongside me all the way. Thanks a bunch. =)

I don't want to run another marathon, but I have to. One more and that's it, I'm retiring. But apparently that's what people always say.

And it's true. Two years ago when YB and I started running, we made a pinky promise that we would never be crazy enough to run a marathon.

Look where we are now? Pinky promise broken!

Loved the pink bib!

The 'What if's
As human nature would have it, we would always wonder about the 'what if's.
What if I had no cramps? Would I have done a sub-5?
What if I had done more LSDs, would I have avoided the cramps?
What if I hadn't stopped to walk or take pictures, would I have saved a few minutes?
What if I had eaten a proper breakfast?
What if I had worn shorts instead of tights?
What if I had this and that?
What if ...

YK says that's the way it goes, we'll always be wondering bout the 'what if's after every race.

Other reports:
CP Tan


  1. A great report and an enjoyable experience reading through it. I wonder when is my turn. :)

  2. Ive heard that many times "Im not going to do another one" but as greedy as a human can be....when you do your sub-5, you want a sub-4:30, then you better again....cos it's always the 'What If" that drives you to train harder. Hehe.

    It hasn't happen to me yet as I really having a hard time getting back into training after such a long lay off. (Actually I had almost 2 years lay-off from running when I came to KL. But I was younger then to come back). When you run your next one in overseas (as in cooler climate), you will understand why I want to do my marathon overseas. You spent so much time & effort to train for it, you really want to do well and humid climate doesn't help a bit. I don't do that many marathon. Boston will be only my 5th considering I started serious running when I was 17. That's almost 20 years. I see a lot of beginner runners running more than 5 in the space of 2 years.

    So enjoy your run, and don't pressure yourself too much on the mileage and all. It's the fun that keeps you going, not the torture. Good luck in your next marathon (damm, it's coming soon...ok ok...Im not pressuring you!)

  3. cool post! :) i agree with Captain.. we better start running marathons in cold places :)

  4. Well done for your maiden Full Marathon! You did well in this hilly course.

    Now you can call yourself a marathoner, less than 0.1% of the world population had ever run one.

    With more structured trainings, tips from other runners and experience, you will improve for sure.

    See you in next event!

  5. So menyayat hati, my dear... :D I guess it's always like what they say when you do it the first time. The wave of emotion is something else cause we've never done it before... the pain, the excitement and the thoughts that you will be doing something really great in your life. (I AM still talking about running a marathon... ;)...)

    So, proud of you for doing it. I'm proud for whoever who tries it no matter how far they take it even after this. You'll always remember the first time you did it. (Yup, still talking about marathons)

    But, was impressed you and Bin took RJM to be your first. The rest will be even easier for you guys from now on. Let's do the next one together! ;)

  6. "Being supportive is very important.

    What I'm saying is, always congratulate someone who just completed their running event, regardless of the time and distance. It is an achievement to them, be it big or small. Do not belittle them."

    :) *thumbs-up*

  7. Thanks for the words of encouragement, fellas! Erm, thanks for reading this, actually. hehe.

    I can't think of full marathons for the time being, as putting in the time and effort at this moment is an uphill task.

    I've yet to achieve my 2 hour target for a half marathon, and I'm not sure if I can even do it this year. =(

  8. Awesomelah. But still got time to pose and take pic at 20km -_-

  9. Couldn't agree more that you got to train hard for a FM, else sure gonna suffer!
    Congrats on your maiden FM, sub 5 is just around the corner :-D

  10. Hey!

    One more marathon and I thought you are done with it?

    So apa cerita with MWM? LOL

    1. yeah, i should ask you the same thing: apa cerita with MWM??? you know and i know that we both got suckered into signing up for it - all for Girl Power! :D