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My First Night Marathon by Ooi Wei Min

It was never my plan to run anything more than 30km this year initially. I was aiming to break my PB on half marathon. It was not until I saw energizer route. The route looks plain (no scenic view to look at, it is night, I can focus on the run) and flat (again, got mislead by fellow runners). It just seems right for my first full marathon (even though my Garmin stated 39km, we will take it as full for the moment). Ng's influence also plays part of it. Therefore, I registered my first ever full marathon. However, along the way life gets busy and training slows down. I regretted a bit for that short moment. Looking back now, I thank god for making that decision, as I did not go through the hassles that half marathoners had to. I am lucky.

There is no doubt that I would be able to complete the whole 42km on 4hr 30min or less. In fact, 4hr30min would be good for my first. It was until Putrajaya twilight run organized by Irwan (thanks for taking initiative in organizing the run) on end of Jan that I finally got hit with reality check. Before the run, I was chatting with Chris confidently that if I still have energy I might go for 38km instead of 33km. Unfortunately, I end up hitting the wall on 32+km mark and had to limp all the way back to the finishing line. Luckily, I met up with new friend Yen Erl, she accompany me back chitchatting about our running experience. This is where I realize I need to train more. Got some tips from Julie and other experience runners that night. Under Chris proposal, a bunch of crazy fanatic runners started training on the same route on Saturdays after then. There were at one point where I clocked 50+km/ week. It was that point everything just burst, first leg, then back spine (once again, a friendly reminder, runners listen to your body, or else medical bills could be quite costly). Up till today, the leg has recovered and the back is in the process of recovery (praying). It was depressing especially when the momentum was so strong. I was being forced to lay low for a few months. Quitting Energizer did come across my mind, but I decided to stay on. Did manage to sneak in for Penang Malakoff 26km run, got my PB but was expecting better.

Here comes the day, with insufficient preparation, I didn't really expect much out of the race, just tried to have fun and enjoy the run. Thanks to Koo for inviting to carboload at his house before the run. Arrive Sepang car park at 6:30pm, was taking my own sweet time to equip my self. With my own delaying and lack of instruction to the starting point, I manage to make it approximately 3min just before the race started. Even so, still manage to take a few photos with Chris, Ng and Tee before the race started. Starting a run at Sepang F1 circuit with a lot of people cheering on the side really makes you feels like a hero. Man! It is exciting and I felt great! Started at a pace of 6:30min/km, I kept on reminding myself to reduce the speed so that I can complete the run without stopping. The pace eventually drops to 7min/km then 7:30 min/ km. Everything was fine until I hit approximately 24.5km mark. I was exhausted and I started to walk. Somehow energy kicks in and I started running again at 28km mark singing loud in a hype state. As usual my singing was very "polluting", but somehow the runners have different opinion. They cheer me when I run pass them (maybe they wanted me to run faster so that they won't have to bear with my hideous singing. ^^). I was really having fun and enjoying the process. I would like to thank Jason Chua for accompanying me a distance during the run and encouraging me to keep on running.

My leg cramped twice before I finally reached Sepang Circuit. Somehow a thought came into my mind, I decided no matter what happen, I will finished the race whatever it takes even if it means that I have to crawl to the finishing line. I posted on my FB status also. Please don't ask me how it feels to run in Sepang F1 circuit. It was the most mental tortured and physical taxing experience even up to this point. It is not the elevation that kills, it is the curves. Every time you see the curve, believing that the finishing line is just around the corner, there comes another curve. It seems like never ending and there was never a finishing line. Have to admit, I was cursing the track designer on that point of time for creating such mentally challenging track. On the other hand, the track was not meant for running anyway. While entering the track, I start compete with this runner. I ran passed him until I have to walk. Then, he ran passed me until he could not run anymore. This goes on for quite some times. Even while walking, both of us refuse to stop. It was kind of fun in someway despite both of us are very exhausted and it did help distract me from the pain. Every step taken was very painful and hard. It felt like all the blood vessels on the foot burst, filling my leg with blood. It feels like there were thousands of needles poking/pricking on the foot every time it touches the ground and I were stepping on my blood.. I then learned that person who can withstand more pain in the end wins the game. Everyone is as tired as you near the end of the race. That one additional more step can bring you closer to the finishing line. That little bit more pain that you can endure will bring you faster towards the finishing line. The difference is huge. Just don't quit. Life is like that also. I think this is why people are so into reality show like American idols…..etc, they want to see miracles and believe in one. Instead of seeing people creating miracles, marathoners (100km, 42km, 21km,….etc) are individuals who went out there finish what they started, instead of quitting when situation gets tough. They created their own miracles. I am privilege to be associated with them and know them in person. That is one of the beauties in running. As I finally crossed the finishing line (around 12:45am) I was greeted by runners. I felt tired, exhausted but at the same time satisfying, peaceful and happy knowing I have push the limits and done my best again. My timing was 5:19:32. Mr. Tey Eng Tiong's were behind the finishing line taking my victory photo. Thanks Tey. Maybe because of the late I manage to skip the chaos, and manage to get my finisher medal within 5 min.

Despite all the hoo-ha that happened I would like to give credit to the organizers as this is one of the safest routes for runners. I thank Energizer for organizing the run. I also appreciate sincerity and effort of Energizer to solve the issues even though I do not agree on the refund side. I think what runners really want is a basic respect for the effort that they put in, and a safe environment for runners to run. This cannot be bought by a mere RM60. In addition, we did run in F1 Sepang Circuit. I think it is a tough situation to be in. Luckily, all the runners are safe and all issues were solved. I was lucky that at every water station, I did sufficient hydration (since I was not pushing for time). So, i don't really have any problem on water supply. Special thanks to Koo, Joline, Fong and other SBSP teammates for concerning about mine, Ng and Tee's safety. They took effort to drive outside the track to look for us trying to pass us water. It is touching. This is pretty much my experience on my first full marathon.
I am looking forward to my first torch carrying run in July and will be taking part in my first ever relay in August. For the first time team SBSP is sending 4 teams to participate in this race, awesome! It will definitely be very fun and exciting as most of the team member is participating in this run. I am eager to go for my first out of country run in October. Registration opened 7 days and 30,000 runners already registered. Imagine that! Life is awesome and running is great experience that one should not miss!

Ooi Wei Min
June 2011


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