My "Home Run"....

Terengganu, my birth place. Known for it's Redang Islands, Monsoon Cup, and among triathletes, the Kenyir Lake, is a beautiful state with many hidden gems. This year, we took a "leisurely" drive, traversing the Northern Peninsular via the East West Highway to "回家" in the name of the Chinese New Year celebration. It was a much anticipated event as the whole Yeng clan would be back in Kuala Terengganu for the reunion.  吃团圆饭.

The drive was worth a mention. It was my very first experience using this highway since moving to Penang less than a year ago. Though I have heard mixed reviews from various folks who had frequented this route, I had no inkling of how it would actually turn out. As we drove past Grik, we ascended the mountainous route to be greeted by Tasik Temengor (Temengor Lake). The sight was breathtaking! You can imagine our astonishment as we were not expecting to see such awesome beauty in the middle of no where! The amazing panoramic view reminded us of the Lake District in UK. Needless to say, it was definitely the highlight of the journey.... However, due to the sharp curves and undulating surfaces, the whole trip took seven hours! Can't imagine if it were on Saturday or Chinese New Year Eve, it would have been far worse.

The subsequent few days were spent catching up with family members, plus the usual New Years preparation, and indulgence on sumptuous and glorious food. We seemed to be stuck in the endless cycle of eat, (and drink), sleep, talk and eat again....Needless to say, as much as I wanted to throw caution to the wind (after all, it's CNY, right?!), I had to be a bit careful with my weight. Gaining weight is effortless, but losing it is a whole different story. It's not as though you can just run it off the next day.

With the SCHKM in just less than 2 weeks, all the effort to lose weight seemed futile with the onslaught of CNY's food feast. After all, it would be impolite to refrain from eating. So, I ate like there was no tomorrow. But I had a back up plan.

The plan was simple: Run as often as possible during my time in Terengganu.

The following day after my arrival in Kuala Terengganu, I got up at 6 am and jogged to my favourite running place: Bukit Besar. I used to train there in my secondary school days for my athletics events. It was a very tough uphill course. And that morning, I was certainly reminded of that. Half way up the hill, I was already gasping for breath. My pace was reduced to a slow jog and even then, I was struggling. Of course, I blamed it on lack of sleep and too much beer and food the night before. With much perseverence, I maintained until the top of the hill and breath in the crisp fresh air of the morning. There was still fog in the horizon as the sun began to dawn. What a wonderful way to begin my CNY! I thought.

Did a few 80m hill sprints (four to be exact) and gave up attempting the fifth because I realized I needed the remaining strength to jog back home after that. Nonetheless, It was a decent run. I have a lot of respect for this hill. It hasn't changed. But my stamina has. Used to be a lot more tougher. I guess I have not done enough hill training.

The following morning, (after another cycle of eat, drink, talk and sleep) I set out to do my weekly LSD. This time, I chose my favourite route of running along the Batu Buruk beach, all the way towards our family's favourite beach front, Chendering. I had my Garmin, so, it was easy to keep track of my distance and pace. Set off at about 6am plus. The streets were quiet and remarkably, there was a total absence of dogs. I guess the Majlis Perbandaran in Terengganu is a bit more vigilant with their strays control. The run along the beach front was nice and breezy. Temperature was just right and my memory drifted back to my school days again. Totally nostalgic! (Except that I would never have dreamt about doing the kind of distance I am doing now!) Made a few loops at the beach front residential bungalows and off I went towards the highway to Chendering. Pace was not on my agenda. But soon enough, I picked up pace because I was having such a good time. The locals looked amused by my gears: fuel belt stuffed with 4 bottles of energy drink, running cap and shades. I guess this is not a common sight for them. Made my way all the way just beyond Chendering, and turned back as I reached 15km. Maintained a pace of 4:45 all the way back towards my home. Did 30km in 2:25. And felt refreshed! Come to think of it, this would be longest distance I had ever done in my hometown! And to think that all these years, such a wonderful route was just waiting right at my own "backyard"!! What have I been missing out?!

Took a "day off" on CNY day. Slept in because I was too tired to move after the 团圆饭 (reunion dinner). Had too much alcohol, actually. Anyway, on our last day in Terengganu, I woke at 7am and headed for a small hill just right outside our residence. This is a new development by the state government and I must say they have done a good job. It was a 1km climb with very easy slopes. Ideal for hill intervals. The view on top of the hill was excellent. I could see the whole of Kuala Terengganu town. And rightly so, the hill is called Taman Panorama. There is a watch tower right at the top of the hill. And the morning breeze was just so refreshing! I didn't want to leave. In fact, after I completed 5 interval hill repeats, I went home (which was just across the road) and drag my wife up to enjoy another hill walk.

After thoughts: I have always had these places right in front of me all these years. But to think that I have never given much thought leave alone appreciated them until I have left. And now, having experienced a life of marathon running, my perspective seemed to have changed. It's like flipping the hourglass and reliving moments that I had missed out in my younger years. God is gracious to allow me such opportunity to come back to it. Most of the time, we just move on and never look back.

This trip, aside from the reunion with beloved family members and parents, has been a very meaningful chapter for me in my running life.

Comments

  1. Very beautifully written. I truly enjoy reading it. Thanks.

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  2. That's a whole lot more than my zero running! CNY always throw a spanner into my running, but I'm not risking incurring any wrath from my spouse! Good luck for HKG!

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    1. Haha! Jamie, I had to. HK is too close to start slacking. But it was an eye opening for me back in KT. Really loved the runs.

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  3. Francis, next time take some pictures and share KT with us.

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  4. Haha, thought of that! But enjoying myself too much to think about snapping photos la....next time if you are in KT, (for some reason), try to check out the routes. Bukit Besar is the 5 hills of Rasah Kemayan combined! Quite challenging! But you will love it!

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  5. I've always wante to run along the sleepy and breezy coastal road from Marang to KT. Hopefully one day somebody will organize a marathon in Terengganu. Anyway, I hope it's not too late to wih you a happy new year. Have a great year of runnig and with life!

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    1. Thanks Deo. Yes, that would be a nice route. So far, no marathons ever organized in KT. Had halfs for a number of years but even that sizzled out (largely due to poor organization)...very sad.

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  6. Hi Francis, I'm new member to your blog. Enjoy reading it. Ya it's always special to run at hometown, especially to those who studying/working outstation and done training there. I think 'running at hometown" is very meaningful to a runner, whether for a elite runners to compete at "homeland", or for leisure runners (like me) to run at the small town that they grown up. Running among all the familiar building, roads and scenery, that once you passed by using bicycle, motorcycle or car, is truly nostalgic and of feeling great.

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    1. Thanks Kent! It has been many years since my last family reunion dinner. And even more so since my last run in KT. So, the memory of those familiar places were uniquely personal, you feel it more acutely only when running...the effect isn't quite the same when driving thru it...Yup! It was definitely nostalgic!

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