When Life Hands You Watermelons ...
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is seriously just around the corner. There's really not many more weeks left till I board the plane to the Gold Coast again. Training for me has only really just got into gear, what with being sidelined from a meniscus tear for close to two months plus. That really was plain depressing.
I've been on a very easy plan coming back with lower mileages unlike the previous 15-20-15k back to back that I've been doing on a weekly basis. Even my rest days have been increased and I have to make sure that each and every session is a quality one cos I don't have the liberty nor nearly enough time for a proper structured plan.
As it is, my training plan had to be heavily modified to cater for my comeback and that really doesn't leave me with much training time. I've been really careful with my comeback. The past year has seen me making it a habit of getting injured just before race day and I don't intend for that to happen again. Ever!
|My dog doesn't seem impressed with my achievements!|
I'm slowly but surely coming back to some semblance of fitness and hopefully that'll be enough to see me to a decent finish in the Gold Coast. I have to run smart and really plan my strategy on race day if I'm to make it to the finish in the personal goal I set for myself.
The training with the gang has been very helpful to put me back into gear and I'm grateful for their company. My wife has also been helpful in my recovery and has taken on the mantel of being my unofficial coach to get me back on proper footing. With some focus, I'll hopefully be able to pull something off in GC. I just have to believe in myself.
All that aside, sometimes running just needs a dose of fun, which was why when I was offered a complimentary slot for the Watermelon Relay, I took it up. I buzzed the gang to see who wanted to join me and Choon Yuen and Yan Leng gamely took up my offer. This wasn't in anyway going to help with any of our training but we just wanted to have some fun. Besides, Jamie so kindly switched our training day from Sunday to Saturday so the three of us could run the race.
The Watermelon Relay requires one to run with a 2kg watermelon for a 3km plus loop around the Metropolitan Park in Kepong, with each team member running one loop each. How hard could it be, we thought. How badly wrong we were on that count! A 2kg watermelon is not something one should take lightly, especially when you have to run with it.
So, come race day, Choon Yuen, Yan Leng along with Jeanie, Piew, Choo, Yeehoo, Foo and Kai Mun met up much earlier to get in a pre-run along the park before the race. Before heading off for the pre-run, Choon Yuen wisely suggested we pick up our 'watermelon baton' first which was a good thing, cos the late comers got even bigger watermelons!
After stowing away our watermelon, it was a loop around the park. I've run here before and never really liked the park for its numerous highs and lows littered throughout half the park. Even a regular run around here was mental, let alone running with a watermelon. This was when I was questioning my sanity.
The race started with the team challenge category flagging off first followed by us fun runners 15 minutes later. I took the first leg, seeing as how I was currently the slowest of the three and was hoping they'll take up whatever time deficit I incur. Soon it was time for me to start and Choon Yuen told me to position myself at the front. This was a fun run but we were still pretty competitive deep down inside.
The imaginary gun went off (a shout really) and off I went. The first kilometer was the toughest part of the route with 3 rolling inclines. Since we had done the pre-run earlier, I was already warmed up and was instantly on a speedier start setting. I managed to get in front of everyone and was instantly in a 4:30 pace which bloody surprised me cos I haven't done that kind of pace since before my injury.
This though, was when I discovered that running with a watermelon was not only difficult but nearly impossible. My arms were already uncomfortable and I was switching the watermelon from one hand to the other. And this was only 600 metres in the race. I managed to keep that pace throughout the first kilometer but with the watermelon already weighing me down, the pace began to deteriorate.
The next kilometer was getting painful for the arms. I just couldn't find a comfortable spot to hold the watermelon and it nearly slipped off my hand three times which would have resulted in a penalty of another loop for all three of us. Good thing we had gloves on cos that helped a great deal. The final kilometer was even worse. My hands could hardly hold the watermelon. My pace was completely shot by then and I even had to resort to walking for a bit even though my legs were fine, it was the arms that needed the break.
Up to this point no one overtook me though I was already overtaking lots of the team challenge runners who started earlier. I realized we had a good chance of getting somewhere with this, especially when I glanced behind and saw the second placed runner about 700-800 metres behind me. It was time to move my butt again and around this time I saw Foo and Kai Mun in the distance. My spirits lifted cos it's always good to see your training mates there supporting you.
After some quick and fun exchanges, I headed off to the start area to hand off my 'baton' to Yan Leng who was our second runner. I mentioned to her that we may be the first team back, she acknowleged me and off she went. With that, my race was over for the moment. Yan Leng ran her leg pretty fast and was soon back for Choon Yuen to go. At his current fitness level I expected him to come back pretty fast and he didn't disappoint. He was back in a flash!
Now for the final part of the race where the three of us had to eat and finish our watermelon before we were allowed to cross the finish line. Let me tell you it wasn't a decent sight watching us dig into the watermelon trying to finish it. The only good thing was the watermelon was sweet and tasty but I for one won't be eating anymore watermelons for the next 6 months minimum!
Once done, we ran the final short distance to cross the finish. I was surprised when they placed a tag around Choon Yuen's neck and was ecstatic to see the words 1st place printed on it! We had done it, we kept our cool, ran a good race and for the first time in our life, well mine anyway, came in first placing. We didn't care that it was a fun run, first place was still first place .. LOL!
After some quick photo sessions, we headed off to change and come back for the prize giving a little later. All three of us were pretty happy and we were walking around deliriously. After changing, we came back to get our hamper which we shared amongst us and finally headed back home, totally happy.
While it was not anything competitive, it was still fun and is what running should be like. It's not always about running marathons or ultra marathons for that matter, sometimes you need to let your hair down, those with hair anyway, and just have fun. And in the process, if you actually win something, that's a bonus.
Now bring on the Durian challenge ... Hahaha!
Pic credit goes to Jeanie, Foo and Choon Yuen
Pic credit goes to Jeanie, Foo and Choon Yuen