Unlike the eve of SCKLM where I couldn't sleep at all, I slept and rested well last night. I would normally have butterflies in my stomach at the eve of any race and my adrenalin would be so high that I'm unable to sleep. Therefore, having such a sound sleep came as a surprise to me as I was secretly hoping that I could break into Top 10 position in the Men Veteran category in the absence of top runners as a result of various competitions held on the same morning.
Wai Mun and I reached Seremban around 6.10am and quickly kept in touch with Mr Yee who is so kind to help us to register for this race and to collect the BIB numbers on our behalf. Many thanks to you, Mr Yee!
Quickly we did some light stretching and I also "helped" to water a plant (pee!...smile). Some past experiences reminded us that there wouldn't be announcements for the race to start, so we headed to the starting line slightly early.
True enough at 6.45am sharp, the race started. I tried running fast and started to attack from the beginning. Alas, I found my legs were too heavy this morning and my rhythm has gone hay-wire! I tried to keep my composure and suddenly I heard the "beep, beep, beep" sound. The road marshall who was directing the leading pack on the motorbike had apparently made a blunder leading the elite runners to the wrong turn and had to lead them back to the correct path. I could hear a lot of grumbles especially from the elite runners while they jumped over the road divider. The poor African Express who could have easily run an extra km!
Soon, we were led to the new route with long rolling hills. I'm not familiar with Seremban but I think it should be a new highway leading to Paroi. It would be nice and enjoyable to run if I wasn't struggling to find my rhythm at that moment. My legs felt rusty.
My "best friend" finally came when I almost arrived at the first sponging station. "What take you so long?", I whispered. With the second-wind and renewed confidence, I tried to narrow the gap and catch up with whoever who was in front of me even though they might be way, way ahead.
I conquered the hills - quite a few of them. I hydrated myself. I sponged. I inhaled fumes. I ignored traffic. Soon I reached the padang in 1:40:52, still with some energy to spare, no thanks to the last distance marker which indicate - 2km to go, when all we needed to run was only about 500 metres! Misleading.
I came in 16th. in the Men's Veteran category. Mission failed but I wasn't sad as it's just a guideline for a better performance in future races. Congrats to those who finished ahead of me! I reckon that I need to run below 1:36 if I ever dream to achieve Top 10 again.
Wai Mun came in 1:51 for a 11th position. However, she is the 7th Malaysian lady to cross the finishing line, thus won some prize money - enough to cover our expenses for petrol and toll and of course, buy me Seremban siew pau!
Despite some minor hiccups and shortcomings, Seremban HM organiser deserves a pat on their shoulder as they did make an effort to improve in providing adequate water/isotonic drink and sponge stations, shortening prize-collection time and most importantly re-designing 60% of their route which is now more conducive for runners. Thank you, Seremban HM Organiser!
Now, I'm fighting against time to recover for a bigger challenge - another full marathon next weekend.