This was going to be it. After a series of successful stints of 10km runs over the pat half a year, it was time for me to attempt my maiden half marathon. The thing is for this run, it was going to be a first for many things. It was going to be the first time I am running a half marathon. It was going to be the first time that I was going to run with new gears. It was the first time I was setting my target at 2 hours 30 minutes for the race. Most importantly...
It was going to be the first time I am running outside of Malaysia!
[Welcome to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2012!]
Upon our arrival in Gold Coast, we had to rush immediately to the exhibition area to pick up our kits, still tired from our journey. Still when we got there, countless numbers of booths were there for us to look around!
[Officially checked in for the race!]
[So many things to see in the expo!]
While we were walking around the area to look what was offered, I got myself some of the merchandise and even saw some promotions of other marathons in Japan, New Zealand and even in Europe which was so intriguing to check out. However my main aim there was to get some GU Gels which was selling oh so cheaply in comparison to the shops in Malaysia. Good choice to buy it here.
[Course map of the run itself]
This was one of the many cool features they have in this race. What it is was a program where you get your friends to send you some encouraging words or even a video via the Asics Run With Me app and at certain areas of the race, there would be huge screens and they will actually project the message or video while you run by! Unfortunately I kinda found out about this a little too late and promoted it to you lot late. So there was no video encouraging me when I was passing by.... *scratch, scratch scratch...*
Nevertheless we called it a night early to rest for the early morning flag off.
The next morning at about 4, I was getting ready with my gear when I realised something really bad. I was suppose to have my Malaysian Flag with me to bring when I cross the finish line, emulating other running friends of mine like Ms Road Runner, but somehow out of panic I must have forgotten to pack it in...
Still I had a backup plan. I was going to run with the Malaysian jersey. All pride and passion of it!
[Arriving at the starting line just in time!]
Once we were out we had two problems. Firstly, our supposed chartered buses refused to stop in the bus stop in front of the hotel, much to our dismay and at least 50 more people waiting in line with us. Second, it was 7 degrees that morning and boy was it windy.
Realizing we were going to be late, we begged a group taking a taxi from another hotel to share with us and raced to the starting line. Dashed to the starting line, agreed on a meeting point for us later after the race, kissed my good luck lady, warmed up and we were good to go!
At Kilometer 1, it was freezing and I was feeling the heavy brunt of it. So many people were still in their jackets but I didn't pay much attention to it.
Kilometer 3, everything looked good EXCEPT for my friggin GPS going cuckoo. At this kilometer, it just started recording the first kilometer. Sigh...
Kilometer 5, we were passing by some houses and everyone turned out to lend support. It was amazing to see some kids blowing horns and offering chocolates to runners while we were here. I can't help but smile a bit...
[Saw my first camera. Posed accordingly.]
Kilometer 7, morning broke and thankfully it started getting warmer. People started to shed their jackets and throwing them aside. I would if I were them...
Kilometer 10, I was making good pace and so far, the support team has been nothing short but excellent. Ample watering stations with mixes of isotonic in it as well as medical team units always on the prowl in case of some mishap. It was here I took my first bite on the GU gels.
[Running proud with our colors!]
Kilometer 13, people started to slow down and so did I. I lost track of the 2 hour pacers and right now I am trying my level best not to get overtaken by the 2:30 pacers.
Kilometer 15 was when it got hard. By this time my entire arm was freezing cold from the beach wind and cramps started to develop around the calves. I took a lot of breaks when I felt the pull and walked until the feeling went away. I realized this was the point where I ran the furthers and it started to play around with my thoughts...
Kilometer 17, I could see the kilometer marker from the road signboard and I knew I was close. By this point I was running on pure mental strength of managing fatigue and the cold at the same time. A few awesome runners saw me slowing down and started to motivate me to keep going. That was when I did.
[Was genuinely enjoying myself and this race as well!]
Kilometer 19 was the last watering station and I could smell the finish line from here. By this point the calve cramps was in full glory but I wouldn't give in. I knew I was in time to hit my mark time and I couldn't let it slip. It was here that I saw a few Malaysia screaming at me to keep going and I just had to acknowledge them.
At the last stretch, I saw a huge gate thinking it was the finishing line only to realize it says " Congratulations. 270m to the finish line". I was cursing at being faked like that but kept running.
[visibly not a happy runner...]
One last turn and there it was. As I faced the finishing line about 50 meters ahead of me, everything started to overwhelm me. All the people cheering me on during the race, the friends and family online that was spurring me to get it done, all the training and hard work I put into and most importantly, I was running proud as a Malaysian.
[Could not even begin to explain how it felt]
[Loud and proud, I was going to get this one done!]
And this was this icing of the cake. As I was crossing the finishing line, the announcers noticed me and mentioned my name and country while I was crossing.
All caught in this little video presentation!
I have to admit that at the point of crossing the finishing line I was holding back some tears a little bit but after everything that has been said and done I managed to complete the race. As mentioned that my timing target was 2:30. I did it in....
2:32:35! Personal Best for half marathon!
[4 minutes off from gun time]
Some part of me was slightly upset that I missed my mark by mere 2 minutes but the minute I stepped on that line I was overjoyed to even finish the race. So all that was left was to conclude with the usual pose that I always do for my runs....
Except we couldn't because we lost our camera there!
Somehow we accidently dropped our camera somewhere in the fair ground. We went around looking and ended up reporting the lost camera to the organizers.
Here is where it got superbly awesome to the organizers.
Less that 2 hours after we reported the camera missing, we got a call saying that they found the camera and they are keeping it safe for us to pick up at our own leisure time. As I said, the effort and coordination of the organizers that day was nothing short of amazing and this is your proof.
As mentioned , we did eventually have some additional pictures taken thanks to to Davie and Pam who thankfully brought their camera along for the race!
[Me and Davie with our medals!]
[Winner of the woman's category for the second time, Ms Kaori Yoshida, whizzing by in full speed. Awesome!]
Of course all that was left was for my trademark victory pose. Although I was doing this without the presence of my usual Team TehTarikRunners but still the overwhelming feeling was still there despite going solo for this run!
[Close up shot]
[Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2012 DONE!]
All in all the race has been an amazing experience for me, one that I will cherish for life. An incredible way to clock in my first half marathon and kudos and props given to the organizers and volunteers of the race who made the entire run not just an event but an experience that people would cherish. Special mention to the roadside supporters who kept me going especially the one Malaysian guy who screamed "COME ON MALAYSIA" at the last kilometer.
I implore runners out there, go for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. Honestly best organised race so far!
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