The Noob Runner Series: I Survived My First 21km

[A fairly belated post] 

Izwan left me scurrying to catch up with him after 200m. He was swept away by the current of enthusiastic runners. I increased my pace, frantically looking for him, hoping that he’d wait for me at the curb.

The night before he said, “Kaki sakit lagi la… Kita lari slow-slow sama-sama.” (My legs still hurt [from bootcamp]. Let’s slowly run together.)

Pffftttt.

Never. Taking his word. Again. When it comes to ‘running together’ during a race, that is.

I was contemplating to do 21km during my freshmen year of running. But because Izwan was so good at coaxing me into doing it, I ended up registering both of us months before the PJ Half Marathon which was on 6 Sept 2015.

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PJ Half Marathon Route Map

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Race kit collection day at Kelana Jaya Stadium

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Since the fasting month and Raya month came slightly before PJ Half Marathon, we were slow with our trainings, and festive food got in the way.

We did however manage to do a couple of 5km and 10km runs over the weekends at Bukit Kiara TTDI Park, and a week of vigorous workouts at MuayFit Damansara Perdana – but that didn’t sufficiently prepare me physically for a half marathon. Let alone, mentally.

Lesson learned – the hard way.

A half marathon is no joke. I can’t even imagine doing a full one, even at this point.

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My ensemble – new 2XU compression tights and Brooks GTS15 saved my legs

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I was so nervous that I constantly felt like peeing and was out of breath after 2km. I tried fast-walking, but it aggravated by bladder, so I had no choice but to run.

At the 5th kilometer, I was already doing Zumba in front of the portable toilet while waiting for my turn. The torrential sweat made my compression tights cling on me like a second layer of skin. It took ages for me to take off my… OK, probably too much information, but you get my drift.

The 10K runners were already zooming past me at 5km. I’m like – what-the? Am I really that slow?

All in all, I survived the run! Despite the excruciating curse-worthy hills in Petaling Jaya (near SEA Park School and along the cemetery, just to name a few), I managed to pull through. I honestly had the urge to throw a fit at the cheerleaders by the road side who kept on saying, “You’re almost there!”  No, no, 18km or 19km is nowhere near “almost there” in Maylin’s running manual.

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This blur photo depicts my vision during 19 km

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Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate every ounce of effort they put in to motivate the runners, but honest to God, it feels like an eternity to reach the finish line – even at the 20km mark. Anyway, here’s an interesting article to scour through: 10 Things Not to Say to Marathon Runners 

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Lesson Learned and Tips for the Sloth Runners (Like Yours Truly)

  • Find that inner peace when you’re running – Really, woman? Inner peace during a half marathon? Well, yes. If you calm down, and forget about your other half who left you like a lost puppy, you will be able to find that inner peace while running.

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  • You can start taking a sachet of power gel after the 10th kilometer – it did wonders for me! Some people can survive with a sachet until the end. Since I had an extra packet with me, (Read: Izwan insisted that I held on to it for him because he didn’t have a pocket and refused to strap on my pink polka dot pouch) I decided to enjoy the second pack at 15km.
    • However, sadly, although I felt energetic and less tired, my legs couldn’t jive with the newly ignited energy I had. My legs hurt like mad. So, people, don’t skip your scheduled trainings. Seriously, don’t. The consistent trainings and proper physical conditioning is crucial to avoid these sudden cramps and pains while running.

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  • Don’t gulp on water; sip it slowly, bit by bit.
    • I used to guzzle half a bottle while running, only to end up hurting my sides and abdomen. It works better when you sip the water, just enough to hydrate your throat. Some runners don’t like running with water bottles strapped on their waist (it sort of slows them down), however I prefer to do so, just so that I can have a sip every now and then to get me fueled. It really depends on what works for you.

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  • Never let the runners who run pass you deteriorate your pace or mess with your head. If you allow that to happen, you’ll be overly demotivated and feel a surge of sucky-ness all the way. That was my experience, at least for a whole 7km.
    • Although it is indeed good to catch up with faster runners, and mark one or two as your pacers, don’t push yourself over the edge if your body doesn’t allow it. Remember, safety first – always!

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  • Invest in compression tights and good running shoes.
    • Both Izwan and I swear by 2XU compression tights and Brooks running shoes. No, I am not paid to say that. This is purely based on our experience. With no compression tights and wrong shoes – I would have probably ridden on the sweeper van halfway.
    • There is no perfect item for everyone – what works for us, might not work for you, so it’s important to check out and try out a gazillion shoes (and tights) until you find the perfect fit.

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Izwan and I – both with super sore legs

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During my run, I somewhat regretted signing up for the KL Marathon (recently cancelled due to haze) and 2XU Compression Run. So many negative thoughts gushed through my head, until I learned it’s all actually just this bugger called ‘mind freak’ – unnecessary thoughts and voices in your head advocating negativity, saying that you can’t do it.

So, people, take it from me who has a high voltage mind-freak – stop fueling it.

I’m thankful that Izwan slaps my back or gives me the elbow every time I exude negative vibes. It immediately defuses the freak-ness in this head of mind.

Steering back, I’m looking forward to the next half marathon in November, with clear blue skies. Praying that Indonesia won’t burn down the entire country this time.

 

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