I failed at my attempt to have Sandeep guest write today’s post about running the Malakoff 12K Kuala Lumpur. Instead, we agreed on an interview. It worked out pretty well – I practiced my interview skills, Sandeep half dozed off and the kids busied themselves with his race medal.
Diya: Why did you want to run this race and wake us all up at the crack of dawn?
Sandeep: I want to do what I would do if I lived in the places we’re visiting. Running is what I do in New York, so I want to see how locals do it around the world. I think they do early morning races to avoid heart burn. After eating spicy Asian food for a month, I’m getting heart burn for the first time in my life.
Diya: I think we’re just getting old. How did you find out about this race?
Sandeep: I seached for runs in Malaysia and this came up. I missed the Penang Half Marathon, which would have been great.
Diya: What were your impressions when you got to the starting line? The kids and I were watching the horses. You probably had other things in your mind.
Sandeep: Since I wasn’t local, I got there an hour early to get my race pack, but everyone else was already stretching. I thought that was odd considering the run itself was only about an hour. This is totally stereotyping, but the Asian competitive spirit was clear at the onset. One announcer acted like a club DJ trying to ra-ra the participants. All the while another motherly type announcer was saying things like “If you’re not feeling well, don’t compete. Rest and you’ll have another try.”
Diya: As long as we are stereotyping, do you think the competitive spirit is why Asia is getting ahead?
Sandeep: People seemed extremely disciplined and very goal oriented. Definitely more intense than a New York 12K would be.
Diya: How was the run?
Sandeep: It was humid, but the run itself was excellent. It was by an upscale neighborhood (Bangsar) at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort, which is probably an indication that running itself is an upmarket sport in Kuala Lumpur. It was perfectly organized by Pacesetters. Signage was easy, there were no glitches.
Diya: Was it worth the registration hassle? You had to wire money from Penang and then hunt for a fax machine to send a confirmation receipt.
Sandeep: Absolutely. My quick dry t-shirt alone was worth the 65 Ringgit registration fee (about $22). On top of that there were all kinds of food at the end – noodles, ais kacang, cereal for the kids, and of course Gatorade. Way better than a dry bagel and bananas.
Diya: Sorry for not embracing you at the finish. Your shirt was pretty soaked. What kind of shape do you think you were in for this run?
Sandeep: Didn’t you say you sweat more when it’s humid? I’m in terrible shape. I hadn’t run in five weeks and then spent the last week in Penang trying to train on hills. But the fun of running here with the Petronas Towers in the background was exhilarating enough that I maintained my pace. Watching the runners was cool. They were of all different ages and races. I’ve never run with women in burkas, and a lot of them beat me.
Diya: Should we plan on 5 AM wake ups everywhere we go?
Sandeep: Yup, if I can work it out. But I’ve been finding it difficult to find organized runs in a lot of the areas we are going to. I did find an ultra marathon in Durban, South Africa. But it’s 100K and reserved for elite runners, so I won’t be participating. The 2011 December “mini marathon” organized in Kerala (India) has been postponed to December 2012 due to “technical issues” so I won’t be holding my breath for runs in India. Anyway, the last time I ran there I got chased by village dogs. I’m also looking into cycling events. I found Tour de India. The website has a countdown clock to the second, but doesn’t mention the actual date.
For the record, I did hug Sandeep once he took a shower. Ava was less discerning.