Intro and Training for Jakarta
After completing the Dingle Marathon back in September I was ambitious to get another marathon under my belt since I was trained for long distance running. Will found the Jakarta Marathon was taking place around the time we were going to Bali. We pulled trigger and signed up for the full and half with little thought about the high heat, humidity and the city itself. With a few weeks recovery I began training again. This time around my long training runs had to be run in…. Nepal. I would not recommend running in Nepal since the roads are narrow, the paths are rocky, there is pollution, you never know when a protective dog will chase after you, and the designated routes aren’t always run-able. Regardless, we both trained our best in Pokhara, a lakeside town where trekkers gear up before heading to Annapurna.
Read on to hear more about our training and how the marathon went!
Considering we ran our long runs (Will 10 miles, Me 18.5 miles) the day before starting the 8-day Annapurna Base Camp Trek our training was out of the ordinary. I also wouldn’t recommend walking 8 days straight in the Himalayan mountains a few weeks before a marathon, but it’s totally doable :). We didn’t run on the trek due to rough footing, lots of stairs, the rolling terrain and lack of energy left after trekking long hours. No need to push our bodies too hard with a marathon around the corner. We were worried, however, that the lack of run training would make the run more difficult for us. So with a very out-of-the-ordinary training regimen complete, we headed to Jakarta, Indonesia for the International Marathon (and half).
Marathon Expo & Our Jakarta Experience
Upon arrival in Jakarta a feeling of culture shock came about, which is normal for me when entering a new country with a different primary language and a city that is really crowded. We quickly got a cab (Blue Bird taxi company was the most reliable) and headed to the Marathon Expo for packet pickup on our way to the hotel. My packet was easy to get after explaining what my last name was to someone that didn’t speak much English. My bib read “Jenny French” in big bold which made me feel like one of those sponsored racers come to win the prize money. Haha, no way, I’m some random American who paid the race fee, who likes distance running, and who happened to be traveling through Indonesia. Will’s packet pickup experience was a bit complicated. They gave him the bib for “Bill Vincent” which is very random considering Will’s middle name is Vincent. We thought it was just a mix up of his names but… he went back to check after seeing the emergency contact name was someone we’d never heard of. After going back and forth between three expo volunteers trying to sort things out he finally got his correct bib. Meanwhile I struck up conversation with a photographer who was shocked we were from America running this race. Her and me both! In addition to the photographer, I was approached by two Indonesians videographers conducting interviews about the race, and they wanted to interview me! I felt like an elite runner in my 15 minutes of fame (but rather, I was just a random American, in a randomly hot country, doing a random marathon). After talking with them they wished us luck and we headed to taper and see Jakarta for a few days before the big run.
Turns out Jakarta is a big city full of banks, businesses, honking tuk tuks, crowded streets and mosques. Not a great place to visit for travelers, in our opinion. We made the best out of it though considering we stayed at a great hotel. The Morrissey had a delicious breakfast, in room kitchenette, a rooftop pool, rooftop gym with all my fav essentials, free self service laundry, and a good Italian/Asian restaurant on site.
The city itself was a bit too crazy, crowded and hot to venture into so hanging at the hotel worked best. Our daily “activities” we’re blogging at Starbucks, shopping for groceries, getting massages and swimming in the pool.
The “touristy” things we did included a stroll through one of the massive malls that Jakarta is known for, dining at the highest rated Trip Advisor Mexican restaurant (pretty good for Indonesia) and jogging 1k to check out the national monument from our hotel. On the jog we discovered how hot and humid the weather was and how physically demanding the race would be.
We trained ourselves to get to bed early, wake early at 4am and get up to go for a walk in order to adjust for race morning. Turned out the mosques sound daily at 3:45am so waking up wasn’t as difficult. Okay, it was still painful to roll out of bed before the sun!
On race day we were jogging to the start line from our hotel by
4:30am. Although painfully early and still dark, we were glad to wake so early with it being the coolest part of the day. The start was crowded with a variety of runners considering the event offered a full, half, 10k and 5k. This year 13,000 participants took part which was the largest the event has ever been. So crowded. With a good luck kiss, Will and I separated to our respective corrals. So full of nerves and excitement! ‘Butterflies were raging’ as I call it before I do a race event. The full marathon gun went off at 5am and began the crowded trot under the Start banner. Time chips beeped, spectators cheered and feet began the 42 kilometer journey. It was a slow first few miles weaving through people before I was able to settle in with the right pace group. I targeted a 4 hour finish knowing that the heat might take me out.
Highlights throughout the 42k:
-ice cold water sponges to squeeze all over my body every ~3k (took one every chance)
-lots of bottled water to drink every 1.5k (kept me very hydrated)
-bananas, oranges and watermelon every ~3k
-no elevation change (aka no big hills!)
-getting passed by the long legged elite runners (mostly from Kenya)
– Asian spectators who spoke little English yelling “run fast Misses” or “do good keep go”.
-the police officer that wanted to run with me so he paced me up a hill. Probably wanted a photo with me, but I found it funny and kept running a bit faster.
-the German guy who caught up to me just to ask where I was from because we were few of the only Western looking people participating.
-the post-race ice baths in inflatable pools (painful but amazing for quick recovery and cooling core temp)
Cons of the Event:
-no signs for toilets
-the city is polluted so bad air quality
-the high heat and humidity
-seeing runners drop on sidewalks or dry heaving due to heat stroke. The medical tent is the last place I (we) wanted to end up in a foreign country!
-unregulated race track near the finish b/c of a street fair. Dodging passerbys became an annoying game for a few miles. Not fun!!!
-no water at the finish. Only Pocari Sweat (local electrolyte sport beverage) that I forced myself to drink.
Will’s Half Marathon Experience and After
He began with the half runners shortly after I started at 5:10am and targeted finishing around 2 hours, although I know he really only wanted to survive the race. He had a tougher time with the heat but managed to finish in a good time (2h35m) and survived the heat and race without injury. He learned to pace himself with taking water breaks every so often and slowing when necessary. Post-run I met him safe and sound back at the Morrissey where he had already showered and was enjoying a big breakfast. He said, “I’m never running in that kind of heat again”. I quickly agreed and helped myself to coffee and breakfast.
We were thankful our Jakarta experience was over, we successfully participated in another international running event and we were off to the island beaches for a month!
More to come about our travels around the islands of Bali, Lombok and Gili T. In the meantime live some adventure (maybe an international race) and take care,