2006 kicked off with the Siemen’s 10km run flagging off at Merdeka Square. How apt it was that just five years ago my very first race in Malaysia also took off at this very same place. It was rather unfortunate that the old body did not greet the race with as much vigour and enthusiasm as it had done five years earlier. Could being five years older make such a difference? That instead of bouncing out of bed, it was a painful crawl to the bathroom? I had been ready to shut off the alarm and sleep through the race but I fought the temptation to return to blissful oblivion.
I was determined that this year would mark a year of significant achievements in my running career. Already I was off to flying start for in just one week I would be running my first ever 30km race at the Pacesetters Great Eastern run. Although, I was beginning to wonder about the wisdom of that decision given that I was already so reluctant to waken for a 10km run, let alone 30km.
Despite the struggle to brush off the vestiges of sleep, I made it to the meeting point before the appointed time.
There were quite a number of us running this time. Even AR was there in her Adidas outfit. She was entering the 2km fancy dress race garbed as the old Adidas soccer ball, while T’s little brother carried a large inflated ball which was the new Adidas soccer ball currently in use. AR won a prize for her outfit later, though I’m sure the cuteness factor of T’s little brother must have played some part.
AR had borrowed the balls from her office and it made me think of the Dr Rabbit outfit at Colgate. I’m sure that Rabbit outfit could have fetched a prize as well if the person wearing it did not pass out from heat exhaustion first. The suit was made of three linings and was the equivalent of wearing a ski suit in the middle of summer. Even in the air-conditioned shopping malls, a professional mascot wearer could barely survive 30 minutes in that outfit; I could hardly fathom how anyone could make it through 2km.
Someone had mentioned that this route was similar to the last 10km run and I started having flash backs of that double hill that was nearly the death of me. I felt a need to use the bathroom but I suspected that it was merely a nervous bladder for it held all the way until the end of the race. Although it could also have been my sympathetic nervous system kicking in its “fright flight fight” response, shutting down all functions antagonistic to immediate survival.
There were a lot of familiar faces from the climbing arena.
I brought along the MP3 player for the first time, hoping that it would distract my mind from the pain sensations coursing through my body.
The gun sounded and the race began. Within the first kilometer or so, I had lost sight of everyone I recognized. I continued to pace to the music, but the beat was hardly inspiring. I had forgotten to upload my running tracks and the most uplifting beat I had was “The World’s Greatest” by R Kelly. It was also mildly annoying having to hold the device for I sweat profusely and I was worried I would short circuit the electronics.
There is something about beginning a race in the blue-grey hues of the early morning light. With the dawn came an awakening of my mind as I entered a moment of clarity. It was as if I had begun running with my eyes closed and I had just opened them for the first time to take in the vivid surroundings that heightened the vigilance of my senses. I could feel the warmth of the rising sun against my skin even as the air rushed to greet me. The scent of petrol manifested in the air that filled my nostrils with every breath that I took. I felt recharged by the brightness of dawn just as a solar panel embraced the sun.
Fortunately for me, the track did not take us up the double hill. Though, it was a pity that this omission did nothing to improve my race time. My finish was somewhat of a disappointment compared to the previous 10km race. Despite R Kelly blaring his inspiration about being the “World’s Greatest”, I struggled to power through the final stretch. I slowed to a trot just as merdeka square came into view and clocked in at 70 minutes again just behind V.
Based on my race time for the 10km, I estimated that, theoretically, I should be able to complete 30km in four hours. The Pacesetters Great Eastern race was just a week a way. Whether I would return triumphantly on my feet or in the backseat of a cab would all be revealed soon enough. That would be my deciding factor on whether I would sign up for the KL marathon.