Friday, October 17, 2008

Borneo Marathon (post- race)

This is it! The race I have been planning for a couple of months now. My very First 21k. Kota Kinabalu's very First 21k and it is finally happening on this day, October 12, 2008, Sunday at 6:00AM at Likas Stadium Complex.

Rewind to the night before at the Pasta Party at the same place where I saw two women seated in front of me with the Sabah shirts "Are You Tough Enough?". It made me wonder then if I am tough enough to finish race and at that time, I thought to myself, "Yes, I would think so. I have done my long runs except for the last two - three weeks so I can taper for this race. I would eat well tonight to prepare for tomorrow. I have done a 15km and a 16km race before and finished all at good time with no or very little pain so this is just 5km more. I am prepared for this race and excited for it!"

I may have been too excited as couldn't get to sleep the night. I was in bed by 10pm but was just restless the whole time. Just counting the hours till it was time to wake up at 3:30AM. Shuttle was going to pick Benny and me up at 4:20AM. Ben was at the lobby by the time I got there and a few minutes later, the bus came along to get us. Inside were already two runners: a Singaporean girl and a European guy. We picked up a few more runners before we all headed to the stadium.

And what a stadium! It was like the Beijing Olympics or the FIFA World Cup as very well lit and huge (at least for me). Runners were slowly coming in and place was getting filled up.

At that time, it was only the half marathon runners who were here as the full marathon had already started at 4:30AM and the 10k race will still start at 7:00AM. Half marathon race will start at 6:00AM and we arrived there around 5:20AM to check in our bags, do some stretches and warm ups and hydrate ourselves for the big race.

A runner checking the chip timer blue mat. Your official time begins when you step on this thing so got to step hard to make sure your time registers. Haha!

The instant photo booth with a lot of photographers.
5 minutes before race official time of 6:00AM, we were all at the starting line waiting for the Go Signal. Catwoman was there and also this girl in a pink wig. There were also a lot of AirAsia runners here too. The race was divided into three segments: those who think they can finish in 2 hours or less, those who finish in between 2 to 2 and a half hour and those who think they can finish at a latter time. Naturally, the Kenyan group went off to the very first line. Ben slowly went to the front as well while I was comfortable at the back part.
Then the 10 second countdown began and the race started! At that time, the sun was up already but nothing we can do about it. I was just glad it didn't rain hard like that of the previous night or I will get a lot of blisters before my run is finished.
The runners took off almost immediately and we ran out of the stadium and into the city. It was very tight at first as we shared one lane only and shouldn't cross to the next lane. Pink plastic cups serve as markers for our run. Pretty soon, the roads got wider and there were better sceneries as there were trees and parks and we ran beside the harbour too. I pretty much realize how fun it is to run in an unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar faces vs doing the same run over and over again. I was curious in all the places we ran on, never setting sight on them till this morning only. We ran to the slightly stinky market and we ran to the shopping area of Centerpoint before we headed off to Sutera Harbour Resort.
At that time, I was pretty much comfortable with my pace and foresee finishing the race at a good time. I eventually passed by my hotel and went along the road for another chip timer mat marker. Wow, I wasn't used to the chip timer mat and was expecting ribbons or straws to be handed out to me by the marshals to prove to race organizers that I didn't cheat. This is technology at work!
There were ample water stations here and I even had a banana at the half leg of race. Too bad I couldn't get a hold of a Powergel as guy watching over it said it is for the full marathon runners only. My 10km was at 1 hour and 4 minutes. Not bad actually but then I hit a snag on the 2nd half.
The sun was fully out and it was extremely hot! I am used to running in Philippine hot weather but this was worse. I push myself to run more and more just so that I can finish this race and get it over with but the heat just took the energy out of me. By 15km, I was walking most of the way doing only 2-3 minute runs before I had to walk again. My runs became shorter and my walks longer. I felt every step I made was like walking in the desert as my feet felt like they were on fire. There were a couple of times where I thought I should completely stop from the run, sit down, remove my shoes and see if my feet were burning or not. It was that bad!! But I always put that thought behind me as I know if I acted on it, then I won't run anymore and will just quit from the race. So I push on with a fear on what is happening to my feet and always on a look out for a water station nearby.
It was a long road back to the stadium with limited shade and sun blasting fully on me. I was sure I was sun burnt already. Or maybe it was my mind playing games on me. Either way, I wanted this to end so badly and couldn't imagine doing a full marathon in my lifetime. At last, the stadium was in sight and even then I couldn't run all the way there. I was so glad when I finally entered it but then I saw that I had to run a half loop around the track to cross the finish line. With it just 200 meters away I pushed myself to run all the way there.
It was a blur crossing the finish line as I stopped my timer watch, had a finisher medal put around my neck and asked immediately for a chair to sit on. Once seated, I immediately took off my shoes and socks and took a look at my pounded feet. No blisters, no injury,no cuts, nothing! And I was so glad for that! I just sat there the whole time watching runners enter the stadium and cross the finish line. I just didn't want to move at all. I was thirsty too but prefer to just sit rather than look for water. I had to constantly blink my eyes to clear my vision, always afraid that I would faint from the heat and collapse right in front of everyone. That didn't happen as my pride wouldn't let me.
A few minutes later, Ben came to me and said there was a Milo booth nearby and I could just lie on the grass there to rest myself. That was enticing enough to leave my sanctuary chair! The Milo was very good and after having a few cups I was back to normal again. I count myself lucky not only for finishing this race but for surviving it.
Which brings me back to the original question : ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH?
I guess I am but just barely...

After 30- 45 minutes of crossing finish line, I got my strength back to take my finisher photo.

The grand prize for me! And I am so happy for this because of the difficulty in getting it!

A very exhausted Running Fatboy (less his shoes) drinking his secret stash of Gatorade!
On a final note, the race was very organized as there were really a lot of water stations and energy drinks all throughout the race. But I guess the heat was just too strong for me even with that benefit.
I ranked 63rd out of the 117 runners for the Male Open Category, about mid-point area. I managed to finish race just below 2 hours 30 minutes so still quite pleased with my time as my goal was between 2 and a half to 3 hours.
Ben, on the other hand, had a very fast finish of 2 hour 7 minutes! He ranked 36th out of 85 runners in his category.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis....congratulations my friend. Trying to catch up on the e-mails and blogs. Running in any stadium is like the Olympics. You deserved it.

Take care, rest up and I'll see you soon (about 20 days - November 8th)!

Anonymous said...

Wow, absolutely amazing! Congrats!

I hope I can do the same this lifetime. Naks!

bards said...

wow congrats. you really had to work/run hard for your finisher's medal. read from the another blog that the heat was the enemy at borneo.

enrico said...

congrats! i don't even think i can finish a 10K run but i'm working on it. hehe. knowing that you did better than your target is an achievement. considering that you struggled 'a bit' on the other half of the race.

btw, i've been checking out your blogsite and trying to get myself to join a race. and finally, i did. joined the 5k adidas kotr 2 saturdays ago. and then there's another race on the 31st. hehe. it's addictive pala. haha

Running Fatboy said...

hi Wayne, thanks for this! So glad when I finally saw the finish line in this race. haha. It didn't deter me from not joining New Balance 25km. Just hope I won't suffer as much as I did here.

hi MJ, Thanks so much. Start with 5km and slowly build up your mileage. There are a lot of training programs you can get in the internet for this.

hi bards, yes definitely the heat was the enemy that day. thanks!

hi enrico, yes it is quite addicting. congrats on your 5km run. On the right side of my main page, there is Philippine Run Schedule link there so you can see list of upcoming races in the country. See you soon!