Deep Heat. That's the gooey stuff most of us were rubbing onto our legs in the break of dawn on Sunday 18 March. It's the morning of the KL International Marathon where some fanatical (and some possibly reluctant) ERE staff and friends have gathered to run the 10km race through the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
(L to R) Dat's me, Ann, Reggie, "Dr. Bala", Dylan, Samantha, Saw Hong, Shan Min and Raymond
At the starting line, everyone was in good spirits….there was Dylan, Reggie, Shan Min, Zai, Sam, Raymond, Saw Hong, Ann, Jason a.k.a.“Dr. Bala” and me. We cheered as a Kenyan jogged across the finish line to win the marathon, closely followed another Kenyan, and another Kenyan. After a white man (presumably NOT from Kenya) crossed the line following yet another Kenyan, the bang of the starter’s pistol signaled the start of our race. We were OFF!!!
I looked around, the gang was getting going. Zai’s already gone! Probably in the sea of serious runners swarming the road leading to Dayabumi several hundred metres ahead. We swarmed past the railway station and up the slope to Jalan Mahameru leading to the Istana…hey, someone forgot to close this road to traffic. Yeah, we had one lane exclusively to run on, but the sight of vehicles zipping by a few feet away was more than a little unnerving, not to mention buses bellowing black smoke into our faces. A couple running with matching vests (what is it with couples and matching clothes ??) pushing a pram brazenly overtakes me. There’s a kid in the pram, of course, getting his or her dose of fresh air.
Our CO intake reduced considerably as we turned towards Dewan Bahasa, and boy did we need every bit of clean air as we trundled up the steep incline we so take for granted when we drive here. Dyl’s right up infront of me looking strong, with Zai nowhere in sight. Still trodding on at a leisurely pace when we crossed Jalan Loke Yew heading towards Pudu Jail, grinning at the stalled traffic as the police kept them at bay.
By now, all sorts of people are running past me. The barefooted variety, a hippy in torn jeans and doc martins footwear, fat people and several geriatrics. Runners hooked up to mp3 players; is the race boring you? And then we were on Jalan Imbi, where the first water station turned up suddenly without warning. You know you can’t drink and drive, well apparently you can’t drink and run either. The water goes everywhere, your windpipe and out your nose, and your throat just wouldn’t swallow. So, drink station No.1 was pretty much a non-event for me.
Round the bend and it was Jalan Bukit Bintang, and leisurely run has now become a struggle in breathing. There is really a “bukit” in Bukit Bintang, no kidding here. Legs felt like lead as I took forever to pass Sg. Wang. The downhill stretch Jalan Sultan Ismail did not seem to help my cause as everything now seems uphill to me. I just kept me head down as I concentrated on negotiating this phase of the race. Looking at the road, I noticed lotsa and lotsa gobs of spit and phlegm. Ugh. There is so much spitting that I thought I was in the middle of a football match.
The scenery no longer mattered as I gasped for breath running the final stretch of the race. It didn’t help when I wiped the sweat off my face with my hand still having residue of deep heat. Now my face was burning and felt like I’ve been slapped a couple of times.
Drink station No.2 was a sight for sore eyes, and this time I stopped to make sure that some fluids actually trickled down my throat. The “second wind” never arrived and so I laboured on my first and only wind as I turned into Batu Road. The finishing line came into sight as I drew level with this butch of a woman. We stole a quick glance at each other, eyed the finishing line and made a dash for it. Screams of support from the ERE cheering section led by Fiza can be heard as I mustered my big finish.
A few steps into my “dash”, an official steps in front of me and told me to queue up to the finish line (WTF?!), as the butch was allowed to scamper across the finish line. This has got to be a first for a race, queuing up for the finish line. So along with other shocked participants, we showed the world how orderly and civic Malaysians can be by lining up to cross the finish line. Yea.
Ummmm... life's a queue
A grinning Zai has already collected his finisher’s medal, from his seemingly effortless morning stroll. Dylan and I picked up our race certificates, with all the gals finishing in medal positions. What a great effort! “Dr. Bala” also duly checked in and collected his certificate, a superb effort considering his 11th hour inclusion in the race.
Good morning's work..
I regained the sensation in both my legs soon after, and rejoiced with the rest of the gang. There were many Kodak moments with K and Fiza busy snapping away. What enthusiastic and great supporters they were! It may have been just a 10 km and nothing as heroic as the marathon, but every one of us can be very proud of our morning jog around Kuala Lumpur on 18 March 2007.