I had Registered for the SCKLM fairly early as a commitment to continue running as a health cum recreational requirement. I had been off the road for quite a fair bit of last year. Could I still do the Half Marathon ?
Fear I had not, other mind issues aplenty. This year's SCKLM will be my Waterloo if anything. It is to do or die. I chose the former.
For the whole week just before the event I had more that the normal anxieties. I had more than butterflies in my stomach. I had literally panic fears. I had cold sweats and hot flashes, compounded by my quarterly Zoladex injections. Just the thought of the SCKLM will trigger horrible moments with hot flashes. Do I abort the race? Can I do it? My heart said YES but my mind said firmly NO ! Talk about delimas.
Sunday came too soon.
I finally said yes to participate, one final run if any. Shouldn't we all deserve one final run? There were also other family and relatives factors that made me participate. Done. I am in.
I had collected my gear at Bukit Jalil on Friday. Thankfully it was very well organised and no queues. What, with 22,000 participants, I was actually anticipating a mad collection queue. Pinned my blib number and fixed the tab to my oldest pair of shoes on the same day. Got my grabs together on Saturday night, water, bites, emergency sugars, iphone, a cap, head sweat band and my pair of knee shock absorbers. I am all ready.
Left the house at 3.30 am for want of a nearby parking space and more importantly see off the full marathoners. Parked at Pardang Merbok and walked slowly to the Dataran. Too early to warm up. The Dataran was already picking up with the early birds like me. The anouncer tested the mics, the stalls were preparing for their sales and promotions. Met a couple of old friends and meekly exchanged hellos as I was missing out most of the runs in the past 9 months or so. Nice to be back. Familiar faces and friendly smiles in the brightly lighted Start area.
I had also a particular mission that morning. I wanted to meet a virtual online friend from JB. I had, but had not met June Malek aka Anak Mami, an angel and mentor to a group of passionate runners who styled themselves as FMVs. It wasn't hard to spot her. She had a beakon, a halo which reflected a distinct charm of leadership and grace. Nobody would missed her and nobody needs a GPS to find her. I just waited quitely at a chokepoint in the spectators area and there she was. It was a hello and goodbye fleeting moment. If our meeting was any longer I gladly would have aborted my run to join her at her Kedai Runcit at 37 km.
The half marathon event flagged off at 6.15 am. I had lined up at the rear of the crowd early, but was pushed up to the front area unconciously. I finally found myself three quarters upfront instead of being in the rear group. It is OK, as I would be falling back after a few hundred metres after the startline. I walked briskly to warm up usually for the first 3 km or so. I know my pace and had set my target to 3.30 hours, it being cutoff time for veterans. I had managed 3.40 minutes twice over two Pacesetters LSDs. So my target would be quite realistic. It is a doable.
I had made an assurance to myself and that is to listen to my body. No matter what. I must run SAFE. My heart is my archiles heels. I can compromise the pain in my knees but I should not push my heartbeat beyond 160 hb for my age and hypertension. My heartbeat rate will be my critical throughout the run. For the first three km my hb was ranging 150 - 160. A slightly faster pace or a slight up slope would bring my hb up to and pass 170.I would slow down for a minute or so to 160. I was maintaining my pace like that for the whole run. I had no choice. A group of elderly singaporeans wearing SAFRA ( Singapore Armed Forces Retiree Association) vests 'pushed' me to increase my pace. I actuall felt kiasu. But my mind said stop it. Run safe, it is OK to su. The leader of the SAFRA said that my pace was 9 mins per km and I would be finishing about 3.30 to 3.45 hours. So he was pacing me and squaring me up. I did not get Batu Api-ed. Let him go. I need to run safe.
I was doing all right for all the 20 km until the home run. I backed off each time peak at 170 hb. I had no pains, no cramps and thankfully there was plenty of water every 2 km on the route. I was safe and I felt good, no need foe any finishing medal. Just come in in style and comfort.
But that was not to be. On the final approach along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the crowd cheered me on. A few more minutes to cut off. You can do it. I CAN? Go Allen Go. All hell let loose. My heart beat went 175 - 180. Slow down? No way my ego said. Die die my have the finishing medal. I foolishly decided to hold at 170 hb max. It is dangerously high for me. BUT the finishing line was already in sight. My heart was pounding as I crossed the line at exactly 3.30 hours my watch time. I think I am going to die. I felt like a bloody fool to die like this. I had failed myself. I had failed my family and friends. I rested a full five minutes to stable my hb to 140 before I headed to the finisher's tent and got my finisher's medal together with a few more just behind me. I made it just in time. Happy?yes. Sad? yes, Cried? Won't tell.
Will I run another Half? You tell me.