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November 22, 2013

Running Across the Region

Obsessed about running, our contributor, an Adidas Running Ambassador, decided to combine her two hobbies: running and traveling.

by Mia K. Fitri

Any hobby can turn into an obsession. It’s even more fun when when two hobbies can collide into one. I love running and travelling. I had never done running races abroad, so I thought, why not travel and race in different countries?
Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) is a running championship held across South East Asia. Every year since 2011 it holds five races in the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. It has this unique distance too: 16.8km.  If you run all five races you will have been running 84km in five countries, a distance equals to two marathons.
 One of the perks of being an Adidas Running Ambassador is, should you wish, you get to participate in all KOTR races! So I thought this was perfect. I could combine my love for running and travelling!
The schedules for these events were pretty tight. You only get about three-to five-week breaks in between. The distance is also no joke. So aside from travel plans, I definitely needed a training plan.
If I can give a solid advice to anyone who wants to try these running races, training plan must be in your to-do-list. I may be a recreational runner, but I take my training seriously, because it helps you avoid running injuries. I work with a personal trainer at Fitness First three times a week for these races. He knows my fitness history and what I need to improve so he always creates a training plan specific to my race dates. To get ready for my first race we arranged two sessions of strength and speed training and one session of long run.
Manila, the Phillipines was the first one on the list on 7 July 2013. I remember it was an overnight flight to Manila and I couldn’t sleep throughout the journey because I was too excited. It was my first time to the Phillipines, first KOTR and international race! I kept thinking I hope I’d trained enough. Standing at the starting line my heart beat faster as the background music got louder. As soon as the gun went off, I surrendered to my adrenaline rush and gave it all I got. The route took us through the Bonafacio Global City business district, up and down Kelayan Flyover and Sen. Gil Puyat street in Manila. Along the way, cheer squads stood by ready to lift our spirits, and water stations were plenty. My training paid off. I finished my first 16.8km in 1:52 hours happy and without injury.
The second race took place in Singapore just a couple of days after the Eid holiday on 11 September. Unfortunately however, it was cancelled at the last minute due to a thunderstorm.  It would’ve been a bad idea to hold the race as runners could easily get injured. My dream to run all five was diminished. The committee was apologetic and ended up sending medals to participants homes. So the interesting part of this race was I got a medal without running!
Next up was Bangkok. The King of The Road here was far less exciting compared to the Phillipines’. The event wasn’t so well organized and, from the look of it, there were a smaller number of runners participating. The race route was surrounding the Suvarnabhumi airport which was flat and dull. It was a mental challenge going through it as I kept wondering when it would end. I didn’t beat my last personal record, but I still finished happy. Luckily, Bangkok is the heaven for great food and shopping. Tasting Thai street food and the abundant choice of shopping were the highlight of the trip.
A runner’s workout does not consist of only running. It’s important to cross-train as a runner so you don’t keep pounding your feet to the ground. King of The Road Jakarta was up in three weeks so I immediately went back to training. With my personal trainer, I cross-train with ViPR and TRX. These two workouts are good to improve strength and power, two essential things for runners. I can feel the difference in my running after doing this type of functional training. I steadily increase my speed and my running becomes more and more effortless.
King of The Road Jakarta has turned into one of the most sought after race in the city. Held in BSD City on 20 Oct., the event had 4.000 participants running. What’s special about my experience in KOTR Jakarta was the opportunity to give back to running community and became one of the pacers. It was such a rewarding experience pacing for other runners. Your job as a pacer is to maintain a certain running pace throughout the race and finish at a targeted time. My group pacers were helping other runners finish in 2 hours. We cheered other runners and made them finish strong!

Malaysia is King of the Road’s host this year, which made Kuala Lumpur the final destination.  I travelled with my husband who’s also an avid runner and a bunch of other running buddies from adiNation of Runners. The KL race was most professionally done: The pre-race info were timely, you got the race pack with exactly everything you ordered, there were plenty of water stations during the race and the results were out immediately, which were not always the case for the other KOTR races.
The running course was the toughest of all, though. We had to go up and down the NPE Highway, which included very steep hills. But that didn’t matter, because  I knew when I crossed the finish line, I would have already travelled to five different countries doing what I love, and made the most of it.
About Mia K. Fitri
Mia K Fitri is a mother of two boys who's into running and fitness. She's currently an adidas running ambassador managing adiNation of Runners running community with two other ambassadors. She's also a communications specialist on social development issues.