Sunday, November 9, 2008

I finally came in first!

Malakoff Duathalon, Lumut 9.11.2008

Yes.. i could not believe what i was hearing.

 the guy was on his speaker “get ready, get ready, first runner coming in! first runner coming in!” 

could it really be me? am i the first runner his referring to? 

“431, 431.. girl.. girl” he said

 431.. that’s my number! yes! that’s me.. that’s really me! 

but hang on.. what’s that he’s saying?

 “medic, medic, ready medic, first runner coming in!”

 medic? must be something standard seeing that even i am surprised for being the first runner in.

i looked around trying to make sense of the whole situation. trying to catch logic but it keeps slipping my mind. 

the scene passes quickly yet it seemed like forever that i was there. so much confusion, so much urgency in everybody’s voices.. i hear an ambulance in the distance but i can’t see it.

i see the finishing area, but just. i see the finishing arch but i am not heading towards it. 

what’s happening.. am i not first runner in? 

we suddenly stop.. it is calm again. i can hear my breathing. i hear somebody mumbling, i look around to trace the voice. three faces looked at me. and then I heard it.. 

“oh! dah tumbang lah tu!”

 suddenly a loud crack of metal, like a bursting vault and a sliding door. a man, tall man, appears.. he comes above me and say “you’ll be alright” and he carries me.. out from a van and into a nearby ambulance. 

he placed me onto a day bed in the ambulance and starts taking off my shoes. another man comes up. a flash in my left eye.. another in my right.. i blink. he asked me questions i can answer but only mentally. i somehow could not speak. 

“are you asthmatic?” he asked, “no” i said inside.

“did you eat?” he asked, “i think so” i said inside.

“can you hear me?” he asked, he looked a bit worried so i said “penicillin”


don’t ask me why i said it, i’m sure a simple ‘yes’ would have been sufficient at that time, but it was the first word that came out of me.


“what?” he said, “i’m allergic to penicillin” i replied.


finally, he laughed “don’t worry, we’re not going to give you penicillin, you’re probably exhausted, or had a sudden low blood pressure. lie here, we’ll check your oxygen levels in your blood. you’ll be fine soon..”


there you have it. my first victory.. my first “faster than everyone else”. of course we’re talking about under the circumstances of being the first to require emergency medic help and an instant pull out from the race.. but the fact remains, that after 3 years of racing, i finally came in first!


and like most first timers, i’ll like to share with you the events that lead to my ‘victory’.


the day started pretty normal. woke up at 6am, cycled to start point at 6.45am, reach transition at 7am. race starts at 7.30am.


at transition, i realised i left my riding shoes in the hotel. panicked a little but made a quick counsel and decision to ride back to get them.


rode back to hotel, grabbed shoes and headed back to transition. i reached transition at 7.20am.


flung my bike on the rack, arranged my shoes, placed my helmet, ransacked my transition bag for my number and my breakfast bar, reset my bike computer, grabbed my sunnies, grabbed my sunblock, got chased out of transition by marshal at 7.25am.


heard the lady say “5mins to start”, ran to start line, found my buddies and asked for help slapping on sunblock while i tried to eat my breakfast. was told i could give my sunblock to another buddy supporter, ran to him about 80m away and ran back still trying to finish half a bar. before i could swallow, the race started.


so off we went. i was actually feeling quite good. somehow faster and lighter than normal. i said to myself “must have been that fast and furious warm up i had, i’m already sweating buckets!”


first water station, i rewarded my fast pace with a brisk walk pass the station. still feeling strong but perhaps pushed a bit too hard first part. so, i started running again but at a slower pace. but water from the station made me feel a bit queasy, especially since i had just swallowed my bar not too long ago.


i slowed down a little more, tiring to settle my stomach.


as I approached the second station, just before the 5k mark, i thought “ok, very queasy now.. starting to see a bit of spots and can feel the bar escaping me”


at that time, Rahim had just passed me at a good pace. feeling up to it i told myself “walk to station, after station, there’s a van, hide in front of the van and puke (didn’t want to disgust the other runners so early in the morning!), then catch up with Rahim”.


i looked at my timing “not bad.. this could be one of my faster 5k!”


so I wobbled, controlling my restless bar, drank some water, and headed for the front of the van, away from everybody.


i bent over to let it rip, resting my hands on my knees, when the grass suddenly looked grey and my head very light. a thought came to mind “wonder what would happen if i just rested my head on the ground?”. i looked to my left and the van had a fender bar. i thought it would be a good idea to reach for it and held it for balance while i puked instead.


i reached for the fender bar but i’m still not sure if i touched it because next thing i know, my eyes won’t open and i hear people speaking in a rush.


i open my eyes to see the sky, i was on my back and a girl was speaking to me in mandarin. not sure what she was saying so i just stared. nothing seemed to register and nothing seemed to be moving.


i was confused and rolled to my side to push myself up. nothing happened. instead, for the strangest reason, my eyes were fixated on an ant sniffing a blade of grass. i don’t know why i was so attracted to the ant and i don’t know why i was looking at it and not getting up instead. i just looked at it with a blank mind.


finally, i hear English “ok, this one cannot wait already” and whoosh! a man scooped me up from the ground and carried me into the van. i felt like jello!


even as i lay in that van, and later in the ambulance, i couldn’t believe what happened. did i really pass out? i was just trying to throw up, and i always felt better after throwing up. why did i plop down and close my eyes? the race had only started! why would i do such a thing.. now my race is over!


much later, as i sat at the back of the imcyclist van i thought of what i’ve done while watching people coming in from their bike leg. a huge sense of guilt, and regret came over me. i felt that what happened in the morning could have been avoided. i should not have thought about resting my head on the ground, i wouldn’t have passed out.


i felt sad, angry at myself and defeated. so, i called that number we all have. that number that we always called when we wanted to feel less lonely and more loved. when we wanted to tell ourselves "it's ok" but needed to hear it from someone else just to be sure.


i rang his mobile but no answer. “maybe he’s home” so i called there.


as he said “hello”, i’m suddenly 6 years old again. with a lump in my throat, i tried to sound normal and said “hi dad, can I speak to mom?”


he replied equally cool “ya, ok. hang on”. but you could hear him rush, calling out for my mom, great urgency in his voice. and then you can hear mom, rushing to the phone.


“why senn? what happened? did you fall, are you hurt? don’t cry.. just tell me what happened”


like a 6 year old who climbed a tree, fell and now can’t play with all her friends, i told my mom what happened between sobs. all just to hear her say those magical words -  it’s ok, just enjoy the rest of the trip with your friends and try again next year.


and honestly, i really did after that. i passed my camera to willie to take pictures, i watched and cheered my friends, i gave my water to a runner in need. by the time most of them finished, i’ve resigned to the fact that shit happens and i’ll just have to try again next year.


i had a good balance of concerned friends, well wishers and friendly slander.


here are some of my favourite slander moments, all shared in good faith and loads of adoration:


senn: they didn’t have water in the ambulance, so I drank saline! yuck!

ishsal: maybe it was so early, they didn’t even have time to prep that ambulance and you came in!



mac: where did you pass out?

senn: at the second water station, before the 5k mark

mac: so technically is that worst than dnf? because you didn’t even pass the first timing mat, your timing would say dns!

senn: haha! you’re right.. man, what a waste of a good race

mac: what a waste of a timing chip!



alwin: what happened la?

senn: passed out even before 5k man..

alwin: o! you just said “malas to race” and faked your pengsan, issit?



senn: the medical attendant asked me if this was my first race and i replied i’ve been racing for 3 years!

ishsal: you should have said, “i’ve done an ironman! TWO in fact”

senn: haha.. wonder what he’ll say then..

ishsal: mm.. “yea right, 5k pun tak habis.. nak buat Ironman!”?



ade: when did you pass out?

senn: it was before the 5k mark. i think even before 8am

ade: o! very early ya..

ishsal: well, you know how it is: if she ain’t going all the way, she might as well be the first to quit!



mac: we need petrol. the light’s been on for some time already

ade: don’t worry, next rest stop area is coming up

ishsal: ya, i see the signboard coming up

senn: ya mac, don’t worry. it’s so near, worst case scenario i’ll walk to the station. but i must warn you, if it’s further than 4k, i might pass out before reaching the station! 


thank you:

* malakoff: for your team’s quick response to my emergency.       

* mr mystery man in the van for acknowledging my urgent need of medical assistance, carrying my weak body and rushing me to the ambulance instead of waiting for it to arrive.

* ms mystery mandarin speaking red crescent volunteer for seating behind to make sure i didn’t fall of the seat of the van. by the way, you still have my rudy sunnies.


congrats to all winners and finishers. to all DNFs or DNSs, don’t worry, come back and i’ll finish the race with you next year!


The Editor said...

you are hilarious...

Nyways, its just one out of how many races that you have done.

Chief Kutu said...

May Senn,
After completing TWO Ironman, u don't need anymore accolades... well done girl...U are a real sports person!

big easy said...

haha! best article i read this week!

a month of many tirbulations, ain't it?

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

- Lance Armstrong

The Editor said...

Actually, this is one time that u are really "before cut off".

Ishsal said...

ROFL, hilarious girl!!!!!

OP Kam said...

Hey... at least you are better than me... I didn't even cross the start line :P

Go girl!!!

Ride 2 infinity n beyond said...

darling, there is always a next time, already ironwoman di, no need to worry la,this is btw, touching yet hilarious article. u take k & rest well till the next race, soon enuf :)

yipwt said...

sorry to hear you passed out...but really...interesting to read.

Wandernut said...

AWwwwww... hugs :)

bola2api said...

no wonder i didn't see u at all during the race. I asked around and they said maysenn is doing powerman, so i waited for a glimpse of u.

it's OK. there are good races and pretty bad ones. at least this time, the race report is different from everybody else's. take care girl.