Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nestle Fitnesse Malaysia Women Marathon - Race Report

Three months of sticking to a training plan was a very tough assignment. I don't like routine and I don't like being bogged down, but I stuck to it as much as possible, which surprisingly (but not really) turned out to be 90% of it.

Three months to train for just ONE marathon.

One week before Race Day
Taper week (a week before Race Day) proved to be the hardest for me. Sleep was messed up - I kept waking up in the wee hours therefore didn't have quality sleep or sufficient hours of daily rest.

The period was due but I was hoping very very hard that it would arrive earlier so I could avoid a run as bad as PNM 2012. But no, I was bloated as a angry puffer fish and to carboload during the week just made me more pudgy than usual when in fact, I had lost some weight two weeks ago. Fek it.

My left knee would sometimes hurt like a bitch that I feared if I continued ignore it and completed the marathon regardless, there would be permanent repercussions to my gait and already bad posture. It had been hurting on and off for the past one month or more but I stubbornly refused to get it checked, just because I didn't want the doctor to tell me to quit running. After all the training I have been putting in, I could not not put it through the test. Stubborn, I know.

Two days before Race Day
Then, last Friday evening, my eyes felt heavy, a sign of  fluey symptoms. The period hadn't arrived yet but I'm already fat and bloated and I was feeling fluey?? Things could not get any worse. I was so upset (with the things I couldn't control) that ...

It started with a tear drop. Then two. Then a trickle. A sob. Then two. Then a full blown howl, one after another.

As I buried my face into the sheets, I bawled and wailed like a banshee going through painful childbirth. I howled my eyes out. I howled my lungs and heart out as I contemplated the unfairness of the situation. It felt like my chest was being ripped open and my heart was breaking into a million pieces. I howled some more that I thought my eyes were going to pop out and fizzled into nothingness. I howled and howled and thought how ridiculous I sounded - pity the poor neighbours.

It was Self-Pity at its best.

But I felt much better after that. Once I released the dam of frustration which had threatened to burst throughout the entire week (I told you it's hormones!) I felt more calm.

Everything laid out the night before.

Sunday, 7th April 2013 - Race Day
I arrived at I-city before 3:30am and the place was rather quiet. I supposed because it wasn't a full blown international event, there wasn't the usual fanfare and excited chatter to greet you that morning. I said hi to a few friends and walked around. Warmed up a bit (refused to join the young hunks who were leading the warm up session) and had a brief chat with an old school friend, Judy Liew (who completed the run in 4:10). She gave me a tip before the race started and that was what made me change my strategy then.

Had a bit of a panic when I thought my earphones weren't working. I stared at Seng Chor, mortified that I'd have to run 5 hours with no music.

But apparently my iPod was on pause. Heh.

~ KM0 to KM5.0 (32:21)
As we ran off into the sleepy streets of Shah Alam, I started off with Seng Chor, Pey Lee and later on, Gus. This was the first km or mile, I think. There was a lot of banter and laughing but I honestly don't recall what exactly transpired. I recall teasing some friends (Lawrence Law!) with a "Wah, why so fast one??" as they ran past me and that's about it.

I remember saying to Gus that it reminded me so much of The River Jungle Marathon where we were the only ones on the quiet streets. It was so serene and peaceful that I wished a band would pop up and give us a tune or two.

Then I got bored. Of the pace, not company. It was 6:36 min/km for the first km and thoughts started cramming into my head:  

"Hey hey, good stuff! We're definitely going to hit 4:45 at this rate!"
"Seriously? Just 4:45?"
"Aren't you going to try for 4:30? You've trained for it!"
"But I may not make it... it's a HILLY ROUTE!"
"Let's try and we'll slow down if we can't stick to the pace, ok?"

With that, I took a deep breath, dug in my heels and increased the pace a bit. I knew full well that once I hit the slopes, I would slow down anyway and suffer.

Cleared the slope at KM4.xx and reached KM5 in one piece.
Not bad.

~ KM5.01 to  KM10.0 (31:46 / 1:04:xx)
Skipped the 1st water station at KM4 and kept running in the dark. It was either a Girls' Generation or TARA song which was currently playing on my iPod. Came across CP Tan at KM7 and was so happy to see a familiar face!

KM8 was an incline which I had omitted from my notes. I thought it was negligible when I was surveying the route the day before but nevertheless it proved to slow me down just a tad bit.

~ KM10.1 to KM15.0 (32:15 / 1:36:xx)
Round the Shah Alam Stadium we went. There were a few groups of supporters cheering by the side and I waved. Poor people were sitting and standing in the dark, ok! I'd fear for their safety, you know, if I wasn't too busy focusing on my running.

Ah, crap. The incline at KM14 was a slow one but I kept on going. Overtook Esther Sim and Sasie (YKK's hot Thai friend) who was shaking her head to her music. Was overtaken by David Spence.

At this moment I was starting to feel bored and wished I had blasted the volume on my iPod instead of putting it so low that it was a mere buzz in my ears. 

1st power gel taken: half at KM10 and the remaining half at KM15.

~ KM15.01 to KM20.0 (32:42 / 2:09:xx)
Was relieved to clear that slope so I could carry on running. I was looking out for Hsu Ann who told me she was at KM17 or KM19 so I had to stop to say hi.

The incline at KM18 was quite tiring. What the hell! It was quite a relieve to reach the water station and Hsu Ann ran alongside with me for a while (like a coach! :D) asking me how was I feeling and stuff. Offered me some Gatorade, too. THANKS!!!!!!!

Was quite amazed that I was still keeping a steady pace up this stage.

~ KM20.01 to KM25.0 (32:47 / 2:42:xx)
I'm not sure at what point did Carol Chan suddenly whizzed by. Could have been before KM20. But anyway, she was running pretty steadily so I thought I'd try to pace her. I was also pacing with Jeanne Ong then (I was awed by the number of runners ahead of me! Respecccccct!) and we even managed to make small talk about ... the weather? I can't remember.

I braced myself for what was coming up next, the incline at KM23 and then making a u-turn at the junction to go back up the same incline at KM25. I saw Couple On The Run already on the other side. Waved at them. 

On my way up KM25, it was my turn to look at the runners on the other side. Waved at Seng Chor and Pey Lee, Lawrence Law and his pacee, and Amelia Ang. It was great to see them still going strong!

2nd power gel: half at KM20 and the remaining half at KM25.

~ KM25.01 to KM30.0 (32:20 / 3:15:xx)
Quads were starting to show signs of fatigue and I was like hmmm. Was EXTREMELY relieved to see the Perskindol team at KM26 and requested plenty of spritz on my thighs and hamstring. Felt soooo much better!

I knew the u-turn at KM28-29 was coming up but it felt like forever.

Raymond Tan called out to me from across the road and as I waved back happily, my bottle of water with my Garmin strapped around it flew out of my hand and onto the road. Was horrified to see my poor Garmin watch badly chipped. Thank goodness it was still working.

Continued running.

It is at this junction when I start talking nonsense to any of the marshals and water station volunteers along the way.

"Boss, pinjam motor, boleh tak?"
"Water station up ahead, I hope?????"
"Eh, got shortcut or not??"
"Morning!!! Had your breakfast?"
"Yeah, I'm hungry, too!"

Ran past that Thai lady in red and black polka dots, who is/was apparently a beauty queen? Oops, I didn't know. She is damn good. I was continuing to be amazed with the runners I was slowly catching up with whom I never realised were ahead of me.

Sometimes it's good to be ignorant.
I was not keeping tabs of everyone but to see them up ahead and chugging along was such an inspiration to keep on moving those thunder thighs of mine.

Bumped into Femes Bunny's hubby and son again.
I need to come up with better poses for the camera. :\

~ KM30.01 to KM35.0 (33:00 / 3:48:xx)
Carol slowed down at the water station and I was confused for a while. I was so intent on pacing with her that when she stopped, I stopped, too, wondering if I should wait for her.

That was quite a silly thought, to be honest. Not sure why I thought that! I had to kick myself to keep going because it was just 12km away!!!!

Checked my watch was still amazed I had come this far in 3:15. What the hell??

KM33 is not easy. Another incline to embrace and I was ready to call it quits. My quads were starting to throw a tantrum and I desperately looked around for another Perskindol spray station, perhaps?

Bumped into Hsu Ann again at the water station. Made quick dash after finishing up the remains of my 3rd power gel.

Came cross Deo's kedai runcit at KM34 thereabouts which was very cute. He did look genuinely distressed when I asked whether he had spray - I thought he was going to hop around in a fit! Thanks, anyway, dude! Bumping into a familiar face is good enough a distraction.

KM34.xx was a stupid hill. Argggghhhh.

~ KM35.01 to KM40.0 (32:53 / 4:20:xx)
Was soooooooooo happy to see the FMV stop with 2 guys with muscle spray!!!! Forget the fact that CP Tan had his camera clicking away when I told him hey, it was not going to be a pretty picture with me pulling up my dress like that.

I must say that this is an epic picture. :D

Thanked June Malik and peeps profusely before moving on. The Coke was great!
Felt much much MUCH better and the legs could go on. Was surprised I managed to keep going. I don't recall anyone overtaking me nor did I check behind me whether there were anyone close by.

The quads were definitely getting ready to cramp on me and I had to stop for a quick 10 second stretch before heading off. I realised that if I did take the time to stretch, my muscles would seize up and tighten, so I was better off running.

It was run walk run walk situation as I trudged up the neverending slope. Saw Kah Wai at a distance. Was hoping he didn't see but as I caught up, he turned around for some shots of me. Bet I looked shitty but never mind. :)

He ran with me for a while, up a freaking slope and urged me to continue moving as the end was near.

"Lazy lah," was all I could answer.

But I sped off anyway.

~ KM40.01 to KM42.2 (11:50 / 4:31:50)
I was pleased as punch when my watch told me that it was 4:20:xx at KM40!!!!!


So excited and yet so lazy...

I couldn't wait to complete the run as I was getting bored and tired and worried that my quads would seize up anytime now. I was so happy to see the final water station at KM41 and eagerly accepted the water and isotonic drink. Was about to run off when sckhoo greeted me.

With a final 1KM to go, I forced myself to hurry up, only to be disappointed with the route towards I-city. This is Persiaran Permai we're talking about. 

There was a puddle of water on the left side of the road, and I could see that most of the half marathoners were walking along the pavement.

I was at a loss, wondering whether I should just run in the middle of the road (ignoring my safety) or do I bulldoze myself through the walkers on the pavement.

I opted for the safer option, which sadly wasn't the best choice. The pavement was uneven and narrow and I had to run and stop several times and requested people to make way for me.

Hitting the road leading towards I-city, I wanted to speed up yet I was also quite lazy. I was already happy that I managed to hit each 10KM mark on target that I was no longer bothered about 4:30.

Eventually I picked up my feet and jogged towards the finish line (after being coaxed to get moving by a smiling gentleman in pink tshirt and a turban), knowing that there were paparazzi waiting. I managed to muster up a super lame pose (what's with the thumbs up sign?????) and huge grin and before I jogged across the finish line.

OMG, lamest pose ever!!!!! tsk tsk

I usually do a final sprint during the last 100m towards the finish line, but this time, I was in NO hurry at all, which was honestly very puzzling indeed.

Crossed the finish line and glanced at my watch - and I couldn't resist a grin.

A volunteer rushed towards me to hand me a ... position number?

Wow, I wasn't expecting that.

That's when Nick came running up to me and played the role of the paparazzi.

I don't think I've ever seen a picture of me THIS ecstatic after a run before!

Since there was no one waiting for me at the finish line (I felt #foreveralone), I could have hugged him but I didn't. I was elated but I could only grin silly to myself.

But it's OK. That's what technology is for, at this time and age.

I took out my phone to check for messages and saw that the hubby and KYK had been tracking me on the MWM website. It was as if they were listening to the radio on a horse race and hoping that the race they bet on would win. It was so funny!!

I reported my time and position to everyone important/concerned and well, like I said, at this time and age and with the availability of the live tracker, well wishes and congratulatory messages were already pouring in on Facebook and Whatsapp. 

You guys are fabulous!! :)

Post marathon photos:

With Zaidi and Andrew.

With Seng Chor and Pey Lee.

Everyone wanted a piece of Kathrine Switzer :D

With Vivienne Loo and Karen Loh.

Finally managed to catch the Femes Bunny after her 1st marathon!
Since I had no one to hug so at least I could give her a hug for a job well done.

About the race:

1. It was a small boutique affair which I enjoyed. Like The River Jungle Marathon, an event catered for a limited number of participants makes it all the more precious to the participants. After crossing the finish line, I managed to congratulate the 2 ladies I had overtaken for a job well done. (I couldn't find Carol!) I'm not saying that it is a must to do so, but I felt obliged to do so as great sportsmanship requires you to acknowledge a great opponent (I'm just saying!). They were fantastic runners and kept me on the go and it was an honour to have ran with them.

2. There was ample isotonic drinks and water at the water stations. Additional ones like Deo's kedai runcit, 2ndskins' own stop and FMV's stop were super fantastic!

3. The volunteers at the water stations were fantastic! I really really loved them to bits! I did my best to say hi and thanks to all of them, but if I did forget to say hi to any of them, I do apologise.

4. The road marshals were not too bad. Most of them were friends from the running community. They were very supportive and encouraging, it was great to hear them cheering for the runners. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Some of them could even caution me to take care of myself and beware of errant drivers. :)

Shout outs to Lum Oldman, Jason Loh, Weng Woo, Fabio Lee, Ling King Keong, Terrence Poon, Chin Ann, Mr Wan Yew Leong (I *think* it was him!!), and others I can't remember!

5. I loved the band playing at ... I don't remember which distance. To show my appreciation, I waved at them and their mentors as if I was a beauty queen sitting in a floral parade, driving by. Bwahahaha!

1. I could not really spot the specific "Miles" we were supposed to come across during the event, such as the Kathrine Switzer Mile, Banana Boat one, topless hunks baring their pecs, AirAsia's cheer station (I think they were at KM10-KM15? I couldn't tell in the dark). Oh, and where was the Husbands' Mile? 

Guess I was too engrossed in my run.

2. There were no isotonic drinks available after crossing the finish line. Thank goodness for the MILO truck and the Gardenia truck, but that's beside the point. I had to nick ask Andrew and Marcus' for their isotonic drinks!

3.  Parking at I-city cost TOO MUCH! RM10 is a rip off. 

4. Aerobic warm up exercises is not really apt for the event. This is a general thought, by the way, and not directed specifically only for this event.

5. Did not like running past the bus station. The bus drivers' were not very keen to slow down for the runners and instead, I chose to stop and make way for them to turn into the station.

6. Did not like the many inclines as well, but it was good stuff. I EAT HILLS FOR BREAKFAST!!!!

7. There are too many junctions and roundabouts in Shah Alam. With traffic not halted to a standstill, it was quite scary to run alongside the dividers or weave through the cars at the roundabouts (when traffic is stopped). Brrrr!

Ooh paparazzi Nick caught me wincing!

Overall, it was a fantastic experience, one which cannot be forgotten. Many thanks to the people who made the event possible!! 

And many thanks for the crazy support from my Dutamas Runners and GCAM run clinic peeps - you guys made me feel on top of the world!! :D

And to the hubby and my conscience for keeping tabs on my training all along, having to listen to me whine about it almost on a daily basis is not easy. Believe in the training plan, eh?

Never laugh at someone's notes - they're pretty important!

Further thoughts on marathon training and my run will be shared in another post. This post is already so long on its own!

AND CONGRATS to the first-time marathoners!!!

Related posts:
MWM Race Report - Part 2
Press Launch: Nestle Fitnesse Malaysia Women Marathon
I Swear It's Just Hormones
Training for MWM


  1. Slow bunny never get to see the Milo or Gardenia truck. I guess only femes people get to enjoy them *double hmph*

    p.s. CONGRATS on your superb run! Yes, you eat hills for breakfast. :)

    1. congrats on your first marathon! at a women's one, too! how cool is that!!!

      ala, you had pacers for your last 5KM mmkayyyy ... way better than MILO and Gardenia. :)))

  2. Congrats. Nice seeing you at finishing line. Loves that running dress.

    1. THANKS RAYzeef!!!
      i thought you were pacing wifey for her half? and you had volunteer duty, too?

  3. Excellent write up and congrats!
    Too bad there was a last minute change or not I would had paced with you on the route. When I came to Hsu Ann, she said you had zoomed past ages ago! :)

    1. you would have enjoyed the hills!!!!! LOL

  4. i think you copy-catted me for those lame poses..

    1. puhleeese, quite embarrassing ba, every pic also got thumbs up sign! :P

  5. Congrats & well done, Yvonne! Enjoyed reading your interesting running report :)
    And my regards to Bin.

    1. thanks!
      i thought you picked up running as well? :D

  6. Don't worry, for your next marathon, I'll be waiting with a keg of beer at the finish ... hahaha!

    But on a serious note, well done!

    1. cheers, man!
      can't wait to torture you on hills this weekend. :D

      a KEG???!!! you think i'm going to shower in it, is it! hahahaha

  7. Congratulations dahsyat! Meaning throughout the whole 42km you ran more or less the same pace? With those long steady inclines some more. Well done!! :D
    And I saw you lah with your pretty running dress. Next time I'll go say hi. With my friend the Femes Bunny :)

    1. Heya Millie!
      Perhaps I'll catch both of you at the next major race, or so? :)

      and hope you've recovered well. i'm still suffering from muscle fatigue, apparently. ack!

  8. Congratulations on your super awesome timing! I doubt I'll ever be that fast so I'll just admire from far :D

    It's amazing how you manage to break the marathon into parts and relive the experience. I barely remember much (when I should have since it was my first HM). I guess I was just so intent on finishing ^_^

    - Ena (Running Tortoise)

    1. thanks,Ena!

      when you're with friends, you'll be too busy having too much fun to remember much about the pain and suffering, if any! i ran my 1st 10k and full marathon with the hubby (then boyfriend) so it was good to have company. :)

      hope to see you at the SCKLM in June!

  9. You are Amazing! Well Done on your 1st Marathon!