RMAF HALF MARATHON
2008 by Jamie
of runners to the starting point, prompt flagoff, spectacular
first section of the race, accurate distance markers,
ample refreshments, Powergels, post-race breakfast,
nice finishers medal. Could this race really be in Malaysia?
As it turned out, yes! Just about the only thing wrong
was my lack of training. So it wasn't surprising that
even when I boarded the bus that would be ferrying us
to the start (felt that I was heading to Fort Wadsworth
for the NYC race!), I had no clue as to how I would
be running the race.
All doubts were
laid to rest by the excitement of starting off from
the runway of the AFB (Air Force Base).
Just after the gun went off, we were treated to a fireworks
display and all of us took off to the runway. The area was
sufficiently lit as the KL-Seremban Highway was just parallel
to the 2K strip but the organizers shot plenty of flares into
the early morning sky to ensure a surreal experience for all
of us. I felt like an army grunt running to take up positions
in the trenches to fend off enemy attacks - think WW2 and
Vietnam War scenes!
Frank reported that he ran very comfortably - I was too,
until the 10K mark. The early splits were very fast nevertheless,
for a Half Marathon. One of the splits even read sub 5-minute.
I reached the 10K mark in 51 minutes and promptly realized
that I won't be able to sustain the pace until the end.
When the 10K runners converged with the half marathoners,
I feared that there won't be sufficient water for us in the
longer haul. The doubt was unfounded as the volunteers handled
the stations admirably.
The course was quite all right but with most tackling the
10K distance, the half marathoners were somewhat spread out,
making the Federal Highway near to Mid Valley and the Seremban
link quite boring and very challenging. A few climbs late
in the race made things extra difficult too. There was nothing
much to do except to dig in deep while counting down the miles.
I remembered checking my watch and noted that with only 2K
to go, a sub-2 hour timing was assured, so the pressure eased
Yards from the finishing line. Photo courtesy of Tey
Nevertheless it was with great relieve when I crossed the
line in 1:48.28 (average pace 5:18). After the customary photo
sessions and catching up, I drove off the base with nothing
but admiration for the uniformed personnel who handled their
duties professionally. I made sure I thank each one I passed
on the way out. All of them waved back with a smile and one
even replied "You're Welcome!"
Next race will be the Sundown Marathon. It will be difficult
but I'm placing enjoyment over performance. With little or
no training, that's the only strategy to adopt.
Group photo courtesy of Ronnie
May 25th 2008