The recently concluded CICM race started out with lots of negatives for me. I'm glad that it's over and that I managed to cross the finish line in one piece. Things for this race started to go wrong as early as one week ago when both the wife and me fell horribly sick which resulted in me completely missing the entire week of training.
I even contemplated not turning up for the race but the fact that we paid good money for it prompted me to abandon that line of thought. Both the wife and me woke up a little late today. We normally like to reach race locations early so that we can prepare ourselves well in advance and also to get decent parking as near to the start/finish as possible.
But bad enough with waking up late, I forgot to fill up petrol the night before and had to make a pit-stop along the highway for a fuel top up. Then when we reached the Setia Alam toll plaza, there was only one cash lane open with a long line of cars queuing to pay for toll.
I forgot to top up my smart tag and had to join the long queue of cars to pay the toll. Had an earful from the wife about topping up my smart tag way in advance the next time. There we were stuck at the toll with the clock ticking away to race start and when we finally got through the toll, finding parking was like nearly a kilometer away from the start/finish ... siggghhh ...
Took a brisk walk to the start/finish and we reached there with barely 5 minutes to spare cos while in the midst of a warm up session, the gun (or was that an air horn) went and I was scrambling to start the race. Darn, I wasn't even fully warmed up yet. I knew I was going to pay for this later.
Because of that, I kept the start pace real slow to get the body parts all warmed up and optimized for the race. The first 10K was surprisingly a good run. Kept to an even steady pace, not too fast to preserve the legs for a later charge which was not to be. The route was relatively unknown to me though I did a cursory recce during the race kit collection.
I think I said it was a nice flat route but it was far from it. The inclines were so minimal but long that you don't realize that the road ahead is slowly leading to heaven and you only realize that fact when you start gasping for air and wonder why the heck that is happening when you're supposed to be on a straight flat.
After discovering that fact the hard way, I started changing my pace to suit those 'invisible' inclines better. It worked for a while up to KM11 or so and then first of many coughing fits started. Had to stop, spit out a huge load of phlegm and then carry on which totally ruined whatever momentum I had. It's really hard to get back momentum once you stop but I pushed on.
Was a little startled at KM 12 when Ray called out to me. Finally managed to get to meet him in a race after a few missed opportunities. A little further down, Kah Yen called out and it was good to see more friendly faces.
Then a kilometer or so more, I managed to see the wife across the road running up the incline with total concentration on her face. Waved at her and gave her a thumbs up sign to spur her on (first time I actually saw her while running a race). Before I go further, congrats to the wife who did a personal best by taking a whopping 5 minutes off her precious time during the PJ half two weeks ago. Bloody proud of her. You must remember, this is only her third ever HM in her entire life. Amazing job, babe.
By this point the coughing fits started getting more frequent and stopping to clear the phlegm from my lungs was taking up precious running time and also putting me out of synch with the race. I knew there and then that it was going to take a huge effort to get to the finish and decided to change my entire strategy to just complete the race, to heck with the time.
The last 3K was like hell on earth for me. The sun was out with a vengeance and Ray caught up with me by then and asked if I was holding up okay. Told him I wasn't but that I would be okay. He headed off and I pulled out everything I had in me to get to that finish line. At the end of the day, I barely crossed the line in 1:58:59 and was bloody surprised that I managed to come in in under 2 hours! Not too shabby a job considering I was still unwell.
I thanked whatever running gods up there looking out for badly coughing runners like me and gladly accepted my finisher medal with much relived joy. The hard days work was finally completed and I came out of it, though slightly battered but overall unscathed from the race. That's my final 21K for the year and thank god the next two races are shorter distanced ones.
The route was a challenging one (in my opinion anyway) and was littered with cow dung and construction mud at certain points. Had to keep an eye out on where I ran for fear of stepping in a cow-pie :P I did see some shoe marks emerging from some flattened cow dung so I pity the poor fellows who stepped in them ... LOL!
Overall, it was an acceptable performance considering being sick and not running the entire week before the race. The legs were thankful for the freshness of the rest but the body and mind just weren't quite up to speed yet. Like Ray said, there's always more races ahead.
Congrats to each and everyone out there who ran the race today.