Nike We Run KL has been around this part of the town for a few years now, strangely this is my first time running in this race. Although is a half marathon race, however a race under the famous sports brand banner from Oregon would be everyone race to go to and therefore the race's slots were selling like a hot cake limiting to the number of running tee allocated for each shirt sizes. Assumption taken based on the fee structure of the race, the race is aiming towards the younger generation instead of the old folks like me, encouraging the youngster to engage into taking up sports. Run clinics were also organized by Nike weeks before the race led by Nike certified Coach Din and Coach Sue building up to race day. There were a lot of hype for this race, but is it really worth the hype?
Received a Whatsapp message from Yan Leng on the race registration opening informing me to quickly sign-up before it was snapped up. As usual on a weekend morning, I was out having some quality family time and wasn't accessible to a home computer. Knowing that, she quickly ask me to reach out to Choo for help and I did. Minutes later, I received an email on my mobile from the race organizer stating that "You are in". Fact is, I have been running more than 3 years now, but this would be my second race on the half marathon distance. First being New Balance Half Marathon years ago and this would be my second.
I've been in the rut since Kyoto Marathon (race report here), losing motivation and training mileage were in the low 40 KM/week at max without a reason. For some time now, I have always been talking about recording a sub 2 hours half marathon (HM) timing but I have never recorded one. I wondered with all the marathons and multisports races that I've done, do I really have what it takes, and with the lost of motivation to train, can I really nail it? I have doubts in my training and I have doubt on how to race a HM being a relatively newbie on that distance.
Fast forward to race day, Jeanie, Sue Jean and Me would meet up at the Light Rail Transit (LRT) station before heading off to race side. However, 10 mins before reaching the station, I've got a text from Sue Jean informing that Jeanie was already 20 mins late and has not pick up her phone. As she was usually very punctual on our training run, I was wondering if she has overslept and start calling her frantically. After a few attempts, I finally managed to get though and rearranged the meeting time. No damage done as we have agreed to meet up early so even if she was late for the meet up, we still have spare time on hand. Reaching the race site, we quickly wade though the crowd to the baggage area and a quick toilet break, we then head to our designated "Sub2" pen. We met up with the rest of the gang (Piew, Yan Leng, Zijill, Selin and Choo) at the pen all ready for race start. The weather was very humid and hot, I started to sweat profusely standing without doing any warm up except for taking a few pictures that is hehe. Knowing a fact that day was hot, I kept wondering if it was because I was nervous for finally putting myself up to the test and I so wanted badly to nail it for good. Anyway, I was going blame Jeanie for being late if I didn't made it :p
With some ra ra, the race finally got underway on time. Piew being the fastest among us was telling me that he is going to start slow and picking up pace along the way and 5:40 min pace would be a no prob for a sub2 race. I was running along Piew for the 100m - 200m and within the next 500m he was gone like a speeding bullet and I was like " Blardy hell, what about the starting slow that we talked about?" Anyway, Piew is of a different league to me and would not be able to keep up with him anyway, so I kept going and doing my own race, my own pace.
Not a big problem wading through the crowd and manage to create some space between me and runners around me as we ran into the first 5 km with some rolling ups and downs. The ups are not big but with the kind of humidity and temperature that we were running in, the heart had to worked extra time supplying the O2 meeting the high demand from the legs. My pace was good, in fact it was 20 sec under the target sub2 pace, but I wasn't going to take any chances and kept going just in case I needed to walk later part of the race
Oh I forgot to talk about the race shoes!!! Ahem, my weapon of choice for the race was none other than the new Saucony Kinvara 7 (K7) in Red/Yellow (Chili Padi as I would call it). I bought the shoes about a week ago before race day and had only run about 11 KM in it. Is always a risk to run a new pair of shoes in a big race especially one that you are chasing for a goal time. Nevertheless, my first impression on the shoes was very positive, very stable and was able to comfortably put in a good pace during the first run. The K7 was a tad firmer than my recent marathon shoes but in return it gives the much needed stability stride after stride running a good race. For a fast comparison, it is definitely softer than the like of Adidas Adios Boost, Salomon X-series and New Balance Zante that were more unforgiving to my weak legs, but they are still fast racing shoes
Back to the race... 1st half of the race, we ran past a few KL city landmarks namely the formal Pudu Jail, Time Square then to the ups along the stretch of Lot 10 shopping mall, followed by Pavilion and the Prince Court Hospital. Running with a small softflask, meant that I skipped the 1st 3 water stations (3km, 5km, and 7km) so that I don't need to break my rhythm and keep going. On the 4th station at the KM 9, which was supposed to be my planned first stop, but seeing I haven't run out of juice I decided to skip the forth and made sure I finished up my flask heading to the 5th which incidentally was at the half way mark of the race slightly after the KLCC tower. A quick stop and go at the water station and a peeped at the watch for average pace, it was all good at 5:16 min/km. I'm not surprise with that average, but can I hold on to it for the second half? The race starts here!!
At KM 14, I found my second wind and felt really strong pushing for pace going down below 5:15 min/pace and I told myself to capitalize on it and don't let go of the feeling. It felt really great for the next 2 KM then I developed a side stitch at KM 16, was forced to slow down managing the pain. I was determine not to let the sub 2 race slips away this time, with the pain I kept pushing finding the limit without letting the pain slowing me down too much.
|I could really use a stretch at KM 16|
I remember sprinting down on the last straight, over taking a few more runners, the crowds were cheering and the straight felt forever reaching the finishing chute. I finally saw the finishing chute along with the clock, with meters left I could see the timing and it was under 2 hours sprinting across the finishing line. With my head held high, I gave myself a pat on the shoulder whispering "well done and thank you legs" to myself.. Yes I finally walked the talk and recorded an official sub 2 hours HM race!!
|Ice on the head cooling down on a hot hot day|
|Good to see our brother Zane back in action|
|two hot mamas|
|The 2 potential podium winners|
The race was good with plenty of water/aid stations along the race route, oh they has sponge soaked with cold water too. The route was challenging with a few steep and gradual ups passing KL city landmarks and traffic police did a good job controlling traffics at any given busy intersection. Apart from the race pack collection and the absence of a race expo expected out of a big brand name race, it was an overall well organized race event. However we have much to learn from the overseas race organizer, this is true for all races held in MY and not specifically to Nike We Run KL. Yes they hype was real and it was worth the hype