The SCKLM was the second event I took part in last year after I first started running. Of course I ran the 5k Fun Run, and I still remember the excitement on that day; the very early morning preparation, the feeling of anticipation, and the run itself, which turned out to be pretty good for me.
I was a little ho-hum about this year's event and actually missed the "public registration" period. But since Media Prima has a special arrangement with the organisers, I submitted my name for the 10k under the corporate registration exercise. But here's the tricky bit; I could have sworn I clicked on the "10k Crusie" (for those expecting a time of 90mins), but when I got the race kit, I was mysteriously "upgraded" to "10k Speed" (for those expecting a time of 60mins -- which was never gonna happen for me, for now).
Plus, all the extra weight training has somewhat jumbled up my cardio routine. Ah well, I thought, no shame in finishing at the back of the pack. I might even get a better time running with all these speedsters. BUT, the stakes was somehow unexpectedly raised...
I am buddies with this rather awesome running group called TT Kuda Runners who are based at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa (FYI, even our national marathoner Shaharudin Hashim is part of this posse). And one of the group members is this dude known as "Kadok Kings", a really friendly guy who befriended me since my first running event in Putrajaya. Well, Kadok mentioned in the TT fb group that we had both had ran at Brooks and Newton this year, and the "score" was tied at 1-1. Suddenly, a "battle" was brewing!
I upped the stakes even further by putting up the pic above and dubbed this SCKLM as the "winner takes all" battle for the ages. Haha. I mean, people were talking about 40min 10k and the full marathons, and here we were, talking smack about our battle at the back of the pack. But in fact, the challenge rapidly drew interest from those who knew us. Yes, the pressure was on!
Anyway, I woke up at 3am on Sunday morning to, first and foremost, watch the Euro quarterfinal match between Spain and France. A yawner of a game, if I'm being honest. As usual, I gobbled down some peanut butter sandwiches for the much-needed energy and lots of water. Did a bit of stretching as well before taking a shower and suiting up for the run.
I left home around 5am, and it was actually drizzling along the way. Wah, a literally cool run this will be, I thought. Unlike last year where I made the rookie mistake of coming from the NPE and basically got stopped from getting into the city, resulting in my having to take two trains from Brickfields; this time I got in through MEX and straight on down to Jalan Ampang and parked somewhere near Kotaraya.
Then I walked towards Dataran Merdeka from Masjid Jamek, and saw that the Half Marathon folks were getting ready for their run.
I then continued my walk to the 10k starting point near Tugu Negara. By this time, I felt like wanting to pee continuously. I did exactly that twice along the way, and yet I still felt like I needed to go again. Even worse, I also started feeling like I needed to pass motion! It became rather desperate for me as the clock ticked towards 6.30am.
I blocked out all these unwanted urges and started to stretch again. And where was my "enemy" Kadok Kings? I didn't see him actually, and I honestly thought that the "battle" had fizzled out. I was in the middle of the pack and there was no way to see where he was with a few thousand other runners all around me. So I just recited the Al Fatihah, a short doa, and started my run as the gun went off.
The first km was pretty good. As we passed by the Carcosa turn-in, the breeze even felt icy-cold. Seriously! At 2kms, I saw someone in the distance that looked like Kadok from the back. But I wasn't really sure cos the dude was wearing a vest, and Kadok usually ran shirtless (you'd have to ask HIM why).
Then it was up the flyover passing the museum and down on to Jalan Bangsar in front of KL Hilton. My pace was quite good by my standards, and I was really enjoying the run. Then it was into Little India where the smell of curry became an instant distraction. But I didn't let up on my pace as we went down the turning into Federal Highway.
The first water station came at the 4km marker. I took a couple of gulps, and suddenly things changed for me. Strangely, instead of giving me a boost, I instantly felt a tad tired and sluggish. Maybe it's because I had to completely stop to grab the drink. But I did recover and got back on to my original pace.
THEN I saw him at the 5km mark! A shirtless Kadok running on his own. Whoa! The battle was back on, I thought. I pondered over whether I should "hide" myself or let him know I was around. Being a gentleman, I decided on the former. I ran past him and simply muttered, "Kadok". The look on his face when he realised it was me was simply priceless. "Adoi! Tetiba dia ada pulak!" he said (or something like that).
Things instantly got serious then. At this point in time as well, I realised I was on pace for a Personal Best for a 10k. Not 10k event, but 10k flat for myself. My previous best was 1hr 18mins or thereabouts, and I was confident I could beat that time.
We went up the flyover past the old KTM station towards the Masjid Negara roundabout, and my first big test was just up front -- Bukit Aman! Going up the previous flyovers were a tad tricky, but this hill was gonna test me good. After Pusat Islam, the hill came and this was where I first started walking.
To be honest, I never looked back to see where Kadok was, but I could sense he was around. Halfway up the hill, I ran again, just to psycho him out (cos he knew hills were my weakness). One of Larian 40 Taman's main runners, Daud then suddenly came from nowhere and ran past me (he likes hills apparently, pfft). He pointed out Kadok to me and took a couple of pictures. I benefited from his tow but then he quickly disappeared.
We were in Lake Gardens now and as soon as the route became flat again, I re-started my run. We then passed by the 10k Leisure and 5k Fun Run folks near Tugu Negara. Damn it, these peeps haven't even started? I mean, the sun was already burning then!
Anyway, upfront was the next water station at 7km. But nooo, I didn't want to hurt my momentum again and didn't stop for a drink. Instead, I grabbed one cup from one of the volunteer's outstretched arm, but probably consumed only a couple of drops of the water before throwing it away. Kadok would later tell me that he had planned on stopping for a drink and breaking open his powergel but abandoned his plan when he saw me not stopping. Haha.
Then it was straight past Bank Rakyat and to the roundabout. And guess who I saw there at the 8km marker? Kadok's wife!! Who sportingly took this pic...
I started walking for a bit after that, but opposite DBKL, I basically kicked into another gear. Which didn't last long, really. I still didn't look back, but I knew Kadok wasn't too far behind.
When we reached the 9km marker, the Nike + told me my pace and I instantly smiled. I was on pace for that 10k Personal Best. We then made the u-turn at Pertama and was on the home stretch on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. And a few hundred metres later, we got to 10km, and I would have done my best for the distance so far.
At that point, that was all that mattered to me. BUT the run wasn't finished yet. I figured there must be another at least 800 metres to the finish line (God damnit!), and the Mother of all 10k Battles was still ongoing.
But I did notice that unlike last year when there were all sorts of bands and cheering squads, cheering us on for this entire stretch, they were disappointingly missing this year. I remembered getting a last-gasp adrenaline rush as we ran to the cheers of this lot. So that was a bit of a downer really. Instead I had to depend on Katy Perry's "Firework" on repeat for the same effect.
I still didn't look back then, but just before we got to the old Mahkamah Sesyen and with only a few hundred metres to go, Kadok actually overtook me! Holy smokes! I then had to make a decision; to simply let it go, or find something in me to make a mad dash for it. I chose to make a mad dash for it.
And for the last 300 metres, there we were, making a mad dash for the finish line, just like school kids at the padang trying to outdo each other. It was mental. It was childish. But it was nothing less than freaking awesome.
Every bit of my body was shaking like hell as I ran beyond the permissible level. But probably with 50 metres to go, Kadok actually gave up and stopped. The momentum carried me forward, but I then stopped as well. We caught our breaths, and seeing how close things were, I waited for Kadok, and we crossed the finish line together.
It was a draw. An honourable, and memorable draw.
We shook hands and paid each other compliments. I looked at my iPhone and saw that I had clocked 1hr 20mins for the 10.8km. Which meant, my pace of 7.25 was the best I had ever done for a 10k. Better than the Borneo Marathon, and definitely better than Brunei.
After taking our goodie bags, we then wandered off on our own for a bit before meeting up again near the old Mahkamah Sesyen to wait for the other awesome runners of TT Kuda. People who knew us were anxious to know the result of our battle, and we were happy to tell the story.
No, we didn't run the Full Marathon or even the Half, but we were two not-so-speedy men pushing ourselves beyond our limits. And what an amazing feeling that was...