I last ran the double-hill route (or reverse double-hill, depending on which direction you normally attempt!) at Bukit Tunku at the MAKNA Founder’s Run last year, which was then my second race after having Dragon Babe, and was glad to find that I fared better this time round (yes, I had better! :P).
As far as the double-hill route is concerned, the steep slopes from KM#3 right after the route enters Jalan Tunku from Jalan Mahameru were very welcome – not that I was feeling particularly self-flagellating this morning, but for me it was far better running up them than down (yes, it’s my knees again)!
I brought my own water today, and so decided not to stop at the first water station so as not to lose momentum up what would be the steepest slope on the route. Whether it was the cool morning air, or my oats-n-chia-seeds breakfast drink, or both, I wouldn’t know, but I was kicking up a runner’s high as I passed streams of walkers on the hillier parts. I even peered into the compound of the house that momentarily distracted runners at MAKNA last year when the owner’s shaggy dog was spotted pacing its roof terrace, but nah, the pooch wasn’t there today.
As usual, my confident spurts up hills inevitably turn into cautious, antithetical, slow, small-stepped paces downhill when everyone else would be using the downhill gradients to their advantage (yes, knees again). Bukit Tunku’s residential roads aren’t fully closed for runs, so there was the early-morning traffic of taxis and security-guard vans to contend with, as usual.
The second water station was, as expected, at the top of the hill, amongst the condominiums and right before where Jalan Tunku would cross above the Mahameru Highway below. I took a sip here, and ran on in glee, as the route would be mostly comfortably downhill (on not too extreme a slope) after the bridge over the highway.
… until the notorious final gradual incline back at Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, of course. Incidentally, Muse’s Survival came on the headphones at the same spot it did at MAKNA – at KM#10 – and of all the things, I remembered blogging about how the beats in original edit of the song seemed to be too slow for a comfortable pace. I realised I was wrong, the pace was perfect for that usually-torturous stretch – I just had to increase the length of my stride, and all was comfortable; reaassuring, even. I have always set my iPod playlist to shuffle, and I started to wonder, as I looked for thoughts to occupy myself with as I went up that incline, if I should go to the extent of choosing my soundtrack for each race – and whether Muse’s Survival should actually be in there..
Incline over. Now for a breezy stretch before the last push up Jalan Parlimen. I decided that some things should just be left to chance, including playlists.
Back at the fringes of Padang Merbok, the post-race entitlements queue was colossal – it was easily 500m back to the gates of ASWARA, but volunteers worked efficiently to pass us plastic bags if we needed them, finisher’s medal, the usual banana and a bottle of water, and Mandarin oranges as Chinese New Year is coming up end-January – I thought that was a nice touch.
if you study the route map, there is a slight variation in today’s 12K route compared to the 12K route I documented at MAKNA last year. The last two kilometres took the Jalan Mahameru – Jalan Parlimen route (rather than the inner lanes off Jalan Sultan Salahuddin that exit to Parlimen via the Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial). I managed to sustain 7.53min/km over the 12K, something I was quite happy with given the gluttony and relative lack of exercise over Christmas and New Year. My 10K split was ~1:16, 3 minutes slower than my post-maternity 10K best at Powerman, but I was reasonably happy with that as Putrajaya was flat and Bukit Tunku is, well, bukits!
For now, 2014 looks to be a better year than the last!