I wasn’t even racing, just training, so I’m astounded to discover that I ranked 14th by gun time out of 928 women in Sunday’s race. What a great morale boost! My net time was 1:25:44. You can see that it took me almost 2 mins to reach the start line after the gun went off.
Rain and hills were the order of the day – though I’m not sure 6 AM is technically day as it’s before sunrise here! As it was my first race since early June, and my longest run since late August due to my PTT problem, I kept my expectations low for yesterday’s 2XU Compression 15km Race. There was no question of aiming for a personal best; yesterday was about running, simply because I was able.
My goals were to:
Find a parking spot not too far from the Start line.
Make one last dash to the portaloo before race start.
Finish (perhaps not joyously, but in one piece).
Well, tick, tick, tick, tick and tick!
The race started 10 minutes late due to rain. Being Irish the rain didn’t bother me, and anyway after a few kilometers running in the Tropics, even at night, your clothes are sodden so the rain was a good thing – it kept the temperature down to a nice, chilly 25 Degrees Celsius. Yes, I know that’s a heatwave in Ireland but I’ve made some adjustments to my thermostat after 8 years in South East Asia.
I felt no pressure to be near the front to start, because I wasn’t racing right? Mind you when you find yourself standing beside a girl who is carrying a rucksack and updating her Facebook status on an iPad Mini, it’s probably a good idea to try push a little forward if you have any intention of actually running. So, next time, I will be ballsy, and try squeeze forward nearer the Start line. Though I wasn’t truly racing, I still regret the 2-3 minutes of my life lost trying to get to the Start mat after the gun went off and then through the tight-knit crowd in the first 1.5 km. The good thing I suppose about starting in the middle of the pack is that you get to pass lots of people throughout the race 🙂
I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I had problems with feeling nauseous at my last two runs – a 21km and a 16km. In fact I felt so sick that I slowed to a halt at the Singapore Sundown Half Marathon at 20 km thinking I couldn’t go on without throwing up. I continued to feel sick for at least 15 minutes after both these races finished. On both occasions, I had taken a gel around the 9 km mark. Yesterday, I went gel-less, and instead relied on a 8oz Nathan hand-held bottle containing Accelerade. I also sipped water at every water station. And, no nausea! For the first time in a long time, I actually passed people in the final kilometres and my 15th kilometer was my fastest. Instead, of going over the line, holding my guts and moaning, I sprinted with a guy who challenged me to do so for the final 50m. In the excitement, by the way, I forgot to stop my watch- yet again – but think that my time was 1:26, well down on my 16km with nausea in June (1:19) but the difference this time was that I felt good finishing, and this route was super hilly. And, I wasn’t pushing for a personal best, just a good time (get it?!)
If there is one word that will forever be synonymous with yesterday’s race it is HILLS! I wish I had a photo to show non-KL people what I mean but suffice it to say that one of the two KILLER hills is referred to as ‘La Mur’ – according to my cyclist husband. That’s The Wall in case you’ve forgotten your French. Have a look at the elevation profile if you think I’m exaggerating. The second steep incline was equally challenging and very, very long. I walked up most of both these; though I like a nice hill or two, and ran well on the more moderate inclines yesterday, I wasn’t going to tear my Achilles Tendon or burn myself out on these babies. My goal was to finish (joyously), remember? I ran pretty fast downhill. In fact, my pace was all over the place!
I paid no attention to my watch the whole way around, instead I tried to focus on my rhythm of my stride, the view – spectacular sunrise with a view of the Petronas Towers – and the sense of collective effort that surrounded me. The guy who belched very loudly on the first long incline also served as a brief distraction. Whenever my mind started to give me a bit of grief, as it always tends to, especially near the end of a race irrespective of whether it’s a 10km or a 21 km, I repeated the mantra ‘I Love Running’ to match my cadence. It’s true and it worked. I love running and my recent forced absence, has given me a new appreciation for just how deep that passion is.
I doubt I’ll be in Malaysia next year, but if I was, I’d definitely register for the 2XU Compression 15km run (and do some hill-training in preparation). Plenty of portaloos, well-organised and frequent water stops, excellent route markers, enthusiastic volunteers giving directions and support, nice wide roads throughout the route and some amazing views of KL. The medal is pretty cool too.
Killer hills, rain, 4 AM breakfast, belching runners? Bring it on!
p.s. For those interested in my PTT (right foot) recovery, my foot felt good throughout the race though the Achilles Tendon on the left leg was not happy. As soon as I finished, I felt pain in my right arch and left Achilles, and iced them both before heading home. I’ve been stretching and rolling the arch with a tennis ball in the 24 hours since, as well as icing and elevating as much as possible. This morning, I did a slow recovery 5km. The arch still ached but there wasn’t a murmur from the Achilles so hopefully it has forgiven me yesterday’s folly exertion.
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Come closer, I need to tell you something. I am going to whisper something in your ear. Are you close enough? Here it is…
I’m running again..sh!
I’m not whispering because it’s a secret, or because my physiotherapist told me not to run and I am defying orders. (Hi Akmal!) No, the injury to my Posterior Tibilialis Tendon responded really well to both Shock Wave Therapy and physio so that last week I was, after almost six weeks off the road, given permission to do some light jogging. My foot still hurt a bit, though not at the injury site, and Akmal was happy that this was to be expected as my foot adjusted to knew shoes, hopefully better running form and the strengthening exercises I have been doing. I iced after each run, and my foot felt great. So why the whisper? Why am I not shouting from the rooftops that I’m back!
The thing is, I am in no way back and it all feels sort of tentative. You’ve heard of muscle memory? Well my legs and back are suffering from muscle amnesia, despite staying active and doing all sorts of cross-training while off the road. My core is stronger than it has been in the past 12 months. My hips and ankles are stronger too. Yet, I remember why, when I first started, I found running hard. I ran 8 km this morning at nothing near my ‘usual’ pace and it was harder than running 21 km with hills two months ago. My stamina was never as good as it needed to be. Now it’s dreadful! Still, on the bright side, I am running again.
Next weekend, I had planned to run the BSN Putrajaya Night Half Marathon, in the hope of bettering my time and placing from last year, my very first half marathon. I wrote about last year’s race here, and still get emotional when I think about it as it was by far the most pleasant race I have run. The pleasure was increased a thousand-fold by winning a prize. I have the t-shirt for 2013, I have the bib and timing chip, but I couldn’t even run a 10 km next weekend not to mention 21 km. I have very happy memories of last year though so they will now not be sullied by attempts to do better. Sigh.
There are 20 days to go before the 2XU Compression 15km Run. I only signed up for this race after I got injured, once I realised that I would be missing three events in September. I may or may not make it to the Start line. I am very concerned I may not make it to the Finish! Realistically, I don’t think I will be back on racing form – such as it was – until 2014.
In the meantime, I need to jog – excuse the pun – the memories of these darn leg muscles that feel like they’re filled with lead. And I need to keep doing strengthening exercises and cross-training. My muscle memory may be poor but the one in my brain isn’t going to forget this whole injury period in a hurry. And that’s why I’m whispering.
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