Thursday, 15 March 2018



I arrived at this event with not short of confidence to finish my 5th FM since my FM journey started in 2017.The feeling just based on experiences in finishing my previous FM runs.

The only concern was on how would be my run with the preparation and build-up to this event disrupted with the recovery process from 2 minor injuries suffered after Twincity Marathon and Kiara Conquer the trail run.

Failed to do any 30km LSD run at least 2 weeks  before like I always did.In the same time, after my longest LSD run with 21km distance on 3 Mar in the build, I was aware that my fitness level was not as good as I felt in my build up to Twincity.Total km reached in Feb was only at about 130km with mostly only less than 10km distance for each run.

With this level of preparation, I feel more nervous in Mar because I am having the self created double FM challenge.After this event, one more FM event is waiting for me on 18 Mar in Miri to start the Great Borneo Series 2018.

Pahang Marathon 2018 is the second event where I returned to run a FM after running  aHM in its previous edition in 2017.The first one was at SCKLM 2017.'

Last year, I joined and went for the event in a group of friends from Anonymous Runners and this time it a weekend family trip for me.Coincidentally, my eldest son just moved to finish his matriculation course at UIA Indera Mahkota Campus in Jan. Apart from the event, I took the opportunity to spend some time together over the weekend as well.

We started the trip on Saturday morning and my plan was fetch my son-survey the event venue-RPC-hotel check in upon the arrival.

For this year, the event suddenly moved from Taman Gelora in Kuantan to Kota SAS not to far from Indera Mahkota just few weeks before the event.I did not like at all because that has caused my travelling and accommodation arrangement was no longer close to the event venue.From the planned only walking distance to the venue, I had to wake up early and drive about almost 20km.

I visited the event venue and saw the preparation was still in progress where the start/finish arch already there.I have some doubts about the route especially in term of safety and traffic control with the change of venue.However, I tried to stay positive and the organiser will take needed actions to improve in all aspects based on feedback received last year.

Then I went to the RPC and it was smooth as well at Berjaya Mega Mall at Kuantan City.

Checked in at hotel at almost 5 p.m and followed after a short rest, we had  a family dinner at Tg. Lumpur which is not far from the hotel.I have been in Kuantan many times before but this is the first time I went to Tg. Lumpur to eat which is  very famous for its seafood.Had a great time during the early dinner here and we spent time at the beach nearby the seafood restaurant just before the Maghrib prayer time.

The plan was I want to go back to the hotel early to sleep by 9p.m. because the FO time is at 3 a.m. in the next morning.

Had to miss watching the much awaited clash EPL game MU vs. LFC that night because truly needed a rest after a long drive from KL and things I did since we arrived.

Woke up at about 12.30 a.m and get myself ready.Feeling so good when I saw the online update that the History Channel team beaten 2-1 by MU.Decided to wear my MU jersey again to the venue.Left the hotel at about 1 a.m. with my wife who will run 5km at the event.

Arrived at the venue at about 1.20 a.m. and we were early.Parked at the Surau Building which is just next to the venue.Had some more rest in the car before leaving to the FO area at about 2.15 a.m.

They were not that many runners for FM.Less than last year and I heard only about 400 over runners this time.Bumped into some friends from Klang Valley, Kuantan and Nilai at the FO area and chatted with them and taking photos.

The route is also different this year because of the new event venue.It was not as flat as the FM route last year but that was not my worry so much. I am not the type of runner who will study the exact details of any route because I prefer to unlock everything while I am running going through it.

My plan was simple. Tried to run at pace 6 until the longest distance possible at take it from there. Before the run, I knew that I am going to struggle with my fitness but was not sure at what stage of the run.

My strategy to take the salt stick, energy gel and re hydration and refuelling at each WS was also the same like my previous FM runs.
The FO was on time at 3a.m. after a simple and short warming up session led with the music from the stage.Everything was according to my plan when I was able to run at pace until I reached Kuantan city and up to 17km of the distance.

Entering the Kuantan city  during the wee hours with the windy ambient was quite nice and comfortable.The traffic also was clear for runners with crews and traffic policemen seen manning the exit/entrance the roads, turns and junctions along the route.

Despite taking the water at each WS and did everything else as planned, I started to feel exhausted  after that and naturally I started to lose my pace in following few more kilometres. At this stretch, my already dropped to pace 7 and pace 8. Tried to take extra energy gel than planned it  did not help me much to feel re-energized by the time I passed the 23km along Jalan Besar, I started to feel some muscle stress with some normal running pain at my calf and top of my foot.This started to affect my run because I could run with my normal steps as I did before that.

I continued to run slowly and pushed myself until I reached the WS where the place to pray  was provided between 25km and 26km. I stopped here to pray with the hope the stress and pain will ease a little bit after that for me to start running again.'

This was already at the main road after passing the Jalan Besar and Jalan Mahkota from Kuantan City to Gambang.

However,it did not happen.Just after few metres of running, the normal pain that I felt before that suddenly turn into something more where muscles at calf and top of my foot for both legs started to become hardened.This caused me to stop and had a deep breath for a while for me to manage the sudden pain at that muscles.This was the time when I believed that my problem truly just started. I tried few times to gauge the problem by doing fast walk and slow run before I reached 27km but it did not ease the pain for me to run at all.

Other than that problem that I have to endure, the route from Jalan later Jalan-Jalan Mahkota-Jalan Gambang was more dangerous that the previous part of the run.This was the stretch where the traffic started to have more moving and fast vehicles coming from behind of runners.Despite it is a one way two and three lane roads, safety cones placed just to indicate the route forward and not providing the space for runners to run at the left side of the road.

Crews, RELA personnel and some traffic policemen were only seen manning some points and junctions along the road.So, I had to be more careful and alert about the traffic along the route for my own safety.
At this stage, I have just passed about the 3:40 mark of the total time.At other FM runs before this, I have passed the 30km mark with the same total time.

At this stage, I knew that the remaining 15km will be the distance that I have to manage myself carefully to avoid further pain and injury that will stop me from finishing my run.I also realised something.I have a strong feeling that the problem was caused by the lack of fitness and the level of readiness of my body that translated into the exhaustion and muscle pain when I reached that stage of the run.

So, it did not take me long to decide what to do next.I just decided to continue with fast and run slowly whenever I feel I can run.The positive part was I did not feel signs of cramp but my body really felt like very little gas left to restart with my normal run at that stage.

My goal after that was just to finish the run and I had the belief I could still finish it in under 6 hours if I do not encounter other problems or injuries to the FL.What I need to just to continue to walk and run whenever possible at the pace that would not add further to the existing pain.

Then from the Jalan Gambang, I turned to the right to enter Jalan Permatang Badak in between 28km and 29km.This part  of the route was the nightmare for me in term of safety.This is a two way road with only one lane each way.Safety cones placed exactly on the white painted stripe on the edge of the road with no space at all for runners.The one way lane on the left side of the road is shared between the moving vehicles from behind and runners.

To add to that is the road was mostly dark with street lamp poles are only at some points of the road. The problem that I had and with that road conditions, I just walked at almost throughout the about 3km distance of the road before turning right again to enter another one way two lane road,Jalan Pintasan Kuantan. Towards the end of Jalan Permatang Badak, the surrounding started to become more bright with the morning sunlight started to make more things more visible to the eye. In the same time, there was drizzling started and I expected the rain to come at anytime soon after that when I saw the black cloudy sky is gathering above us.

I was truly puzzled and shocked on why the organiser chose the very unsafe road for runners to pass through such as the Jalan Permatang Badak. At some points I can feel the  body of the vehicles almost touch me when they passed me from behind.It was fortunate that there were not many runners passing it in the same time because the small numbers of the total FM runners.'

I started to run at Jalan Pintasan Kuantan when I reached the 32km distance.The road has the space for runners to run on the left side but the traffic was more busy and speedy from the previous roads.

At the stage the drizzling happened on and off along the road.With the vest, short, socks and shoes soaked with more than just sweat, the added load from the rain water did affect the already exhausted body to run.

It was purely a mental strength versus the body(with all the signs to just stop) to continue to finish the run.To relax myself, I started to take some photos and videos at some points along the route.I started doing selfies when I reached the bridge crossing the Kuantan River between 32km and 33km.Then I did it at one water station helped by the crews to take my photos and more selfies at 6km and 2km distance left markers and the last one at the signage of Kota SAS towards the FL.

On the bridge, I met a new and much younger friend Saiful from Kuantan.We had a quick chat and he told me he was about to have a cramp but still able to manage it.
Then we had some  running and walking together while chatting.The run was his first FM and told me the longest distance he ran before that was only HM distance.He felt a little regret because was not able to have the 30km LSD run to prepare for his FM.

I also shared with him what happened to me this time and in the same time I told him that I believe he would be able to finish if he can avoid cramp or any injury.
I encouraged him o continue and also advised him stay calm to avoid cramp until he can reach the FL without thinking too much about the timing.

The last point I bumped and talked to him again was when I stopped and took photos at the WS at about the 36km.Forgot he was in front or behind me after that but I did hope and pray he will become another marathoner that day.After the the run we became a FB  friend and he successfully finished his first FM in front of me.

The last part of the run to was once I reached the 6km left marker at the slight uphill road between the 37km and 38km at the exit from Jalan Pintasan Kuantan to Jalan Raja Abdul Aziz.I felt relieved at this stage because I started to be able to run more than walk again.At the downhill and long uphill stretches along the Jalan Raja Abdul Aziz,the drizzling gradually turned into rain.

From the 6km left markers, FM runners were joined by HM runners towards the FL. After I managed to overcome the last uphill at Jalan Raja Abdul Aziz, I arrived to the downhill where the Jalan Kota SAS started.

This was the time when the rain suddenly became heavy downpour for about 1km. I took advantage of the much cooler ambient and downhill road to stay running until I reached the entrance of Kota SAS.

While running here, the time was about 8.30 a.m something and suddenly I heard a very loud ambulance sound coming from Kota SAS and later saw it leaving passing runners.I assumed there might be something had happened.After the run, I found out that the ambulance was carrying 4 runners who were hit by a car during the rain at the road not far from the FL.

Once I entered the Kota SAS area, I just continued running slowly for about  another 2km to the FL.By this time the rain has stopped and started to feel the heat of the sunlight.Called my wife at about 1km left and she had already finished her run.Told her to meet me at the FL.

Then I arrived at the scene where the accident happened.I saw a white Nissan Almera with the back plate number already taken with a police car, few men and policemen still were talking among them.

I passed the scene and continued my run with about 500-600 metres left.If at Twincity, I was still able to run and  sprint during the last 1km to the FL, this time I was just happy enough to reach it a d to cross it.While running slowly within less than 100m to the FL, I saw the surrounding was fairly quite and not as lively with the noisy and cheering crowd like at Twincity, SCKLM and Borneo Marathon that I ran before.

Then I saw my wife on the left side taking photos of the truly exhausted husband to finish his 5th FM. I only noticed one guy overtook me at the last few metres from the FL but I was not sure he is from what category either FM or HM.

The final steps to the FL

Finally I crossed the FL at my watch showed it was just under 6 hours at 5:57.Another FM finish in my bag!The time clocked is my personal worst so far.However the feeling is much more amazing because despite the injuries scare and recovery process since Twincity in January and in the build-up to this event, finally I am still capable of finishing a FM run with no drama involved along the 42km such as muscle cramp, other injuries and etc.

Officially I was ranked 192 out of only 300 FM finishers this time.It indicated how small was the total number of runners I guess although I am unsure about total runners in other distance and categories.
The official result
According to my wife, there were about less than 150 runners from 5km fun run for an event promoted as the biggest running event in the East Coast.
All the pain and troubled times that I encountered were very much expected but I feel so grateful I was able to manage it very well.

After crossing the FL and collected my medal, snack and bag, me and wife took some photos at the FL area. Also took photos with friends who I bumped into. It was quite unfortunate for me this time for not being able to spend more time to find and meet more friends because we need to be back to the hotel.Then I need to do some stuff for my son before sending him back to the campus and then to drive back to KL.Pity my wife because the 5km fun run di not provide any medal for finishers and just event wrist band.

Left the venue happily and also relatively satisfied about what I have achieved. It also gave me the confirmation that I should be fit and healthy enough to run at Miri on this coming Sunday. I don’t feel anymore muscle pain or sore at all at my foot and calf on Tuesday after the run until I completed writing this note today ( Wednesday, 14 Mar).

Will I come back next year? Honestly I am unsure because overall, the event was below my expectations for this year compare to in 2017. I was more lively and energised at the event venue last year although quite big improvements made in the traffic control and supplies at each WS.Other than the selection of roads that were very unsafe to me, I don’t have much complain about the route.It was a quite challenging route but safety must be the top priority above all that.

Congratulation to all finishers at Pahang Marathon 2018 and to all my friends and also newly found friends, nice to meet all of you again.

Thanks to everyone especially my family members and running friends who have been very supportive, helpful and inspirational to make remain positive and motivated to keep running to stay healthy for my life. Also for all the tips and experiences shared that helped to go through the recovery process until I was able to finish another FM run on 11 Mar.

See you again and hopefully to see some of you in Miri on 18 Mar for another FM challenge.In sha Allah.

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