I’m not a runner. I don’t like running. I get seasick on treadmills. I zone out when I do something repetitive and monotonous. And let’s face it – running is repetitive. And monotonous.
But when the company I work for signed up for The Edge KL Rat Race in September, I decided to volunteer to be one of the runners, for the fun of it. So at the beginning of August, I started my training for the 4.7km run. I’m not fast, but I was surprised at how I was able to maintain a steady (albeit slow) pace throughout my 5km training.
Itching to test my stamina, I got excited when I saw a night run organised very near my home. The only thing that made me hesitate was the distance – 8.5km!
After much hemming and hawing, I decided to sign up after all and give it a go. I was initially hesitant about signing up because I didn’t want to tire myself out before the Rat Race, but when I saw that the dates were quite far away from each other, I decided to I had no more excuses. In the end I’m glad I did, because due to circumstances out of our control, the company had to pull out of the Rat Race which I had really been looking forward to.
This would be my first time running in a competitive race, and participating in a run that was more than 5km. I have never even run more than 5km in my own training! Needless to say I was quite nervous before the race.
The Tropicana Nite Race this year had several categories, including individuals and group (for families – 2 adults and 2 kids). The individuals (divided into men/women, teenagers/open/veteran) would run 8.5km, while the group would run 5km. Due to my age, I was part of the veteran group… that was a sad reality as to how the years are passing so fast for me!
The race would be run along the buggy track, and the 8.5km would cover the entire golf course. Although I had visited the Tropicana Golf & Country Club many times, my visits have only been to the main clubhouse, and at most to some of the houses of my friends and students; I have never visited the Golf Wing, and I have never explored the entire course.
RUN NIGHT 6 SEPTEMBER 2014
It was a nice breezy night, and it even rained a little which helped cool the atmosphere a lot. I really had no idea what to expect as it was my first competitive race.
The race kit collection was on the day of the event, from 5pm onwards. I was there so early that although the tables for the collection were set up, the volunteers weren’t ready with the name lists and bags yet. I wasn’t the first one there (I saw a few other people sitting nearby waiting for the tables to be opened), but because I went to enquire at the table immediately, I was the first one to collect my race kit. We each got a goodie bag which had a T-shirt (compulsory to wear), discount vouchers from sponsors including Domino’s and KPJ Damansara, and bottles of essence of chicken by Eu Yan Sang. There were also a bottle each of water and Revive, and a banana and a sandwich (which was delicious!). There was no race bib because the T-shirts had our participant numbers preprinted on them, which was pretty great!
The race was only going to start after 7pm, so instead of hanging around I decided to go home and rest, since I stayed only 15 minutes away.
I had signed up for the race purely to test myself, but it was a pleasant surprise to find out that the organisers had prepared finisher medals for everyone. The good news was that there was no time limit – as long as we finished the race, we would get the medal.
There was a warm-up session led by group fitness instructors which started at 7pm, which I didn’t join. Personally I find the warm-up session organised by these kind of events are more for fun than serve as actual warm-ups. They’re really fun to do when you’re in a group; but for the serious runners, I think it did not really serve any purpose. I saw many of the participants doing light jogs and personal warm-ups out on the green while the rest were dancing inside the hall. Not that I was a serious runner; I just personally prefer to do my own warm-ups.
The flagging-off started at 7.45pm, with the different categories released at different times. My category was the third to be released, after the teenagers.
I started off at a steady pace, reminding myself not to go too fast as I have never tested myself beyond 5km. It was of course tempting to try to go fast when we first started, especially when there were many ladies who shot off like a bullet from the very start!
The golf course was a lovely view at night, with a lot of rolling greenery and soft lights that gently lit up the course beautifully. The water hazard may have been a bane to golfers, but it was lovely thing for the eye to observe when running the course that night.
I am sure that for many of you who are used to running half and full marathons, 8.5km was just a tiny chip off the iceberg. But for someone like me, it was the whole iceberg.
I constantly alternated between running and walking, as I did not have enough stamina to keep up the running or jogging pace. I never doubted that I could finish the run – my kiasu nature would never let me give up. But the thing is, I did not only want to just finish the race, I wanted to complete it according to my own personal time record. I set myself a target time of 68 minutes, and I told myself that no matter what I must not take longer than 85 minutes. But within the first kilometre, I was already doubting my ability to complete it in that time frame. If the brain says no, it’s already a battle lost… but I doggedly kept at it, keeping a constant check on the time taken to finish each km. Having had a tiring week at work was also of no help. Halfway through the route, I was almost regretting my decision to sign up, thinking that I would never be able to make it. It was all I could do to keep up a quick pace in the last three kilometres, as the temptation to just sink to a slow walk was very great.
But I did it. I managed to finish it in 70 minutes!
It isn’t a very fast time, but it’s good enough for a non-runner like me 🙂
I must have amused a lot of people who were lolling around near the finish line when I shouted “YES!!!” as I jumped across the finish line. I think it was recorded on their official videocamera. I don’t really want to find out.
And it was with great pride that I collected my Finisher Medal.
The night ended with prize-giving and lucky draws (in which I did not win anything). The top three winners of each category received trophies and cash vouchers; and the champions of the adult categories won an LED TV each!!!! This special prize was not written in the entry form. When I saw them walking off the stage with the television, I was like, “WHAT!!! If I had known about the TV, I would have tried a lot harder!!!” As if I even had a shot, haha!
I bumped into my friend Lily who was there with her family. They had taken part in the group event, and emerged first runner-ups! (The champion of the group category took home a microwave oven in addition to the vouchers and trophy.)
All in all it was quite an interesting experience for me. The Finisher Medal bug has now bitten me, and I’m itching to add more to my collection. Curse you running bug!
Here’s to more Finisher Medals!