Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Putrajaya Night Marathon 2016...

Event: Putrajaya Night Marathon 2016
Venue: Dataran Putrajaya
Date: 12 November 2016
Time: 8.00PM
Distance: 42.195KM (42.5KM by Suunto Ambit 3 Sapphire)
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 7 RunShield
By Frank

My first marathon since my Comrades qualifier at last year's Istanbul Marathon, I was actually a little reluctant to register and run the Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM) for I know it was just a week after BTS Ultra (Bromo Tengger Semeru). I registered pretty late too as I waited for the announcement of other marathons to be used as my Comrades qualifier for next year. However, to no avail, most marathon dates just didn't fit my schedule and with no other choice this was my only ticket to South Africa next year.

I ran the very first edition of PNM back in year 2010 and did not run it since then. But yet, I heard horror stories of cars being broken n year after year despite the run itself being well organised. And with that, I opt to arrive at the race site as early as at 4PM to secure a good parking spot and that I did, which was just opposite Dorsett Hotel just below a street lamp, hoping the lights will shine on my car throughout the night.

The Putrajaya Night Marathon race route.

As I waited in my car, I was glad I brought along some bread to munch on while waiting for the race start at 8PM. There were rain clouds all over Putrajaya with the forecasted rain to arrive at any time.At 6PM , the rain finally came. Though not heavy, it was enough to bring out the humidity of Purtrajaya and also to wet the race course. Eventually, I geared up and for a very long time since I really do not know when, I opt for shorts and t-shirt to run with this time. And knowing that my legs still has yet to recover from last week's adventure, I put on the CEP calf and quad sleeve as part of some preventive measures.

The Saucony Kinvara 7 RunShield for the forecasted wet marathon.

Proceeded to the race site and soon the rain got heavier as everyone seek shelter along the canopies and bus stops. Eventually, the starting pent were open as runners made their way in. I managed to secure a spot just behind the Afircan elites at the front. But knowing the condition I was in, I expected many runners to pass me as soon as the race got underway. I knew my legs were protesting and my body needed rest. But in my mind, I know I had to do this for there will not be another marathon for me as I headed towards next year's Comrades. I just needed a sub 5 hours finish time, and that I can do though I know it will be painful. Am not expecting an Istanbul nor an Amsterdam this time so legs, just behave and bring me home ya!

Someone built a very nice gantry.

The male emcee was really irritating me with his sarcastic jokes and I can't wait to start. Was glad the countdown of 10 started and at 8PM sharps, the marathon was started as I slowly find my pace. Not surprisingly, I was passed by many runners as I navigated through the slippery wet road before exiting into a much wider Lebuh Setia which lead to Lebuh Wadi Ehsan. With a mild climb ahead, I was surprise to see Selva zoom pass me. He was indeed going very fast, probably at a 5 minutes pace. I hope he knows it was still a long way to go. I've no intention of following him and besides, I still couldn't find my rhythm.

My legs were protesting right off the start earlier and my heart rate was spiking. My whole body felt heavy and was resisting to move. Indeed all signs of fatigue and perhaps under training too. It will be a long night for me and all I could do was just to hang on and do my very best. After all, a ticket to Comrades was at stake.

As I approach the climb, I could already see returning runners at the opposite side which includes Jeff whom we greeted each other with a thumbs up. And upon making my turn, the first refreshment station came into view ahead as I grabbed a cup of water to wet my throat before pushing forward. At 5KM, runners were to make a turn off towards the main highway in darkness. There were same minor construction here and not wanting to trip or fall over, I slowed down to make sure my path was clean. Organisers could have installed a temporary generator here to power some lights for safety sake.

I survived the darkness and entered into the Persiaran Selatan highway. I didn't recognise it at first, but after running a bit further, I soon noticed that it was the same highway where I ran through at Putrajaya 100KM from Taman Cabaran heading towards Taman Rimba Alam. A sneak preview of what lies ahead next week! Had almost all the lanes here to run for with one reserve for the vehicles.

The highway was a long affair of rolling up and down as we ran towards Persiaran Timur. The leaders most of them made up of African runners were already making their way back as I arrived at the 11KM mark. And as for me, I just continue to make my way forward and was glad nothing unfortunate happen, except for me slowing down as the distance grow. It's all about survival for me now for Comrades is at stake.

The u-turn point couldn't come sooner at 16KM near the turn off to Alamanda Shopping Centre and boy I was glad that runners need tot run up the overhead bridge to make the turn and instead, there was an opening in between the railings. Phew... And it was here that I pass Selva whose fiery start has taken its toll on him. And for the return leg, it was another affair of rolling up and down the highway back to where I came from. And by the halfway point, surprisingly, it was my right knee that started to hurt. I guess there was too much compensation on it after the knock on my left knee at both Cameron Ultra and Bromo. It was still manageable and I continued to push on till 25KM before I finally gave in, and started the walk run strategy.

With my heart rate still spiking, I knew my body was constantly utilising sugar as it's primary fuel and I begun taking isotonic drinks while pouring water over my head to cool myself down. I was loosing time as I approach the 30KM u-turn point in the dark. Yes, it was total darkness and even the volunteers there didn't have much lighting to light the area. Organisers should really look into this as portable battery powered lanterns are widely available nowadays at very reasonably price.

I was struggling to move and all I can just keep telling myself is to get to the next water station which is about 2.5KM to 3KM apart to get some drinks and also water to splash myself with. Pace was definitely not getting any faster as fatigue set in. But as of my other long distance races, I began to use markers such as street lamps, road reflectives or even bushes to help with my walk run strategy. It really help and soon I arrived at the 36KM mark back near the entrance to the Putrajaya core island with the convention center looking down on me.

At the 36KM mark water station, I gulp in plenty of water. I poured water from other cups into the only single cup I used hoping to save the environment. However, to my disgust, the volunteer threw all the cups away and just before I left, I politely told her that her actions wasn't acceptable. I only held the cups and did not even drink from it. She agreed with me and apologies for her actions which I gladly accepted. After all, it's all about educating and admitting to mistakes.

I saw the Putrajaya "3 sisters" and knew I was heading the right way. However, it soon appeared behind me and I wonder where was I heading towards as I saw faster runners running on the opposite side. There must be a u-turn ahead and it soon appeared near the 38KM point. Up the flyover and turning back down on the opposite side.

With the final 3KM or so to go, like Comrades, strength began to return as I huff and puff the final stretch of the highway before turning back into Lebuh Setia where it all started some close to 5 hours ago. And at the final Kilometer or so, I saw Mister "You know who I am" from The "H" maximalist shoe ambassador. And it was because of his very arrogant character, I told myself that I must at least zoom pass him, and that I did. Hahaha...

The final straight at Persiaran Perbandaran was a sense of relieve for me. The finish gantry was just ahead and I had 15 minutes to spare. And with that, I knew my Comrades slot for next year is secured as I completed the race in 4:46:20 hours, qualifying for a H seeding. YAY!

I didn't linger too long at the finish, only managing to catch up with Wind before making my way to my car. Cleaned up and changed into fresh clothing before another marathon back home, this time driving. Yes, it's a marathon 42KM distance from Putrajaya to home. Hahaha...

Overall, an expected results for me at Putrajaya Night Marathon. I wasn't sore about it despite one of my worst marathon timings in the past 3 years. I can only blame myself for the lack of training and also recent events at Bromo and also my tooth surgery. But all in all, I am still glad to complete it within 5 hours to secure my slot for next year's Comrades which I will once again start from the final pent. And with this, I have yet another visit to Putrajaya the next weekend for an even longer distance, an event organised by the friendly people of Team Pacat. And that, I look forward to!

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