Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SCKLM Half Marathon race report

This was my first half marathon race. I had done the same distance few times and tuned my mindset, I belief I will have no problem at all to complete this race. My trained mileages in June so far had been the highest on my book. Compared to previous months’ records which averaged at ~130km/mth, I completed 160km in June right before this half marathon. Although most of these mileages logged below 20km each time, but I think I had done enough training. I think if we are not really aiming for the best/good timing, as long as you are able to complete your race distance in a week time, you will have no problem to complete the race on the race day.

As per my plan, I wake up on 3am (in fact I couldn’t sleep well and woken by 2:45am), done my business to prepare my self. The most important thing I needed is the Vaseline on my toes and between the thighs. Used tones of Vaseline on my toes, put on the Injinji socks and off to the BA car park by 3:40am. Arrived at BA carpark on 4am and there are still some parking, but its filling up fast. Had my breakfast inside the car (half of the PowerBar, two slide of bread and coffee), put on my shoes and walk to the Dataran Merdeka.

The field is filled with people. This is actually the first time I attend some activity in Dataran Merdeka. Took few pictures on the colorful ex-High Court building and watched the full marathoners flagged off on 5am. Ekiden and half marathoners will be flag off only around 6am. I took my time to slowly warm up, and start to fill myself to the starting line around 5:50am. At that point of time, out of the blue, I felt hungry! The breakfast mast ran out after my warm up session and now I had an empty stomach at the starting line! No choice, so I calm myself and aiming to take some banana at 11th km. HM flagged off on 6:15am. We have about 5000 runners, so from the starting line until 3rd km marker I ran with kind of big crowd. I kept my pace at about 6min/km and stop on most of the water station for water. There are some stations with sponge. This is the first time I used sponge in the race. I made a mistake by squeezed the whole sponge on top of me and wet almost the whole body by the first sponge station. I guess my sock also wet that time and caused extra resistant on my toes to form blister faster than I expected.

I usually got blister on toes when I ran longer than 10km, and the pain will come out by 12~14km. This time, the pain hit me on right leg, right after the 9th km. I must have adjusted my running form to pamper the pain and put on too much pressure to my other leg. Its ankle start to hurt at 14th km. With both legs downed, I can no longer maintain the pace. The pace dropped to 7~8 min/km and subsequently the run-walk strategy took over. I asked few first aider, but they didn’t prepare any Vaseline. I think I need to keep some spare myself on my next race. As predicted, HM runners will join the rest (5km/10km/FM) in front of SOGO. But may be my time is not so good, so when I reached that stretch, the crowd ease a bit. The joy of completing the race took over me, and I pick up my pace again in this final km. Completed the race with 2:25’30” with joy and a big happy face. The official time was 25sec faster than my time, I must be too happy that time and forgotten to stop my watch. Collection of finisher medal is fast, but the banana I got is yet to ripen :(  The result was 10 minutes slower than my target, but looking at my condition, I am glad I am still able to finish under 2:30.

With the blister and the painful ankle on each of my legs, I decided to give them a quick stimulation. Took off the shoes and walked barefoot from Dataran Merdeka to BA carpark. What an experience! I don’t felt my blister any more and the ankle seems to be relief a bit. Btw, it is walkway on most of the stretch, except some road crossing. The worst road surface is actually on the carpark, the small stone is quite sharp and it’s painful to step on them. Clean myself and heading home around 10am.

Overall, this is a very well organized race and everyone I asked are quite happy with it. I will definitely return next year, but, it will be a full marathon for me.

Btw, I registered to The River Jungle Marathon at Hulu Langat in September. It will be my first marathon, and it has a very challenging route. Can I finish it? I am not sure, but I am sure that I will not push for the time or speed; instead I will enjoy the company and the scene, with focus on how my body reacts to this distance. I will throw in more BA-Sri Hartamas + double hills and Taman Duta training in August. What I going to do in July? I got a month full of races, will 2x half marathons, Ipoh International Run (this Sunday) and Seremban Half Marathon (24 July). Both half marathon will limit the medal to 200th, should I push for the speed? It’s depend! If my ankle and flu get better by Saturday, I will push for it in Ipoh for my target: 2:15.

See you in Ipoh this Sunday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coming 21km Race @ KL Marathon

Finally, it is the time for the long anticipated event: KL Marathon, this Sunday. Race kit collection started yesterday at Dewan Sri Putra, Bukit Jalil. I did it on the first day as usual. Took half day off from work and thinking of to jalan-jalan a bit after the race kit collection.

Reached there about 2pm, the collection is very well organized. As this is only the first day plus it is a working day, the dewan is not really crowded. There is visually no queue on all the categories, but the queuing barriers are fixed. I walked from the end of the queuing, and start walking zigzag to the counters. My head spin a bit after the zigzag thru the barriers and I think this is even more challenging than a 10k distance.

Race Kit collection counters

Collection is fast. Each counter has 2 guys stationed. One operates the computer + scanner, another run to collect the bib and the rest of the goodies. The one who collecting the bib number used a small piece of paper to write down the bib number, which, I think is absolutely not necessary. As the organizer emphasized that we need to produce the confirmation slip upon bib collection. If the bib number can be assigned and printed on the slip, you can save some hassle here. I guess there will not be major problem for FM and HM as there are on about 6000 in total, but try to imagine the 10,000 participants who doing 10km. You saved lots of time and potential mistakes there. Also some potential to improve further on the flow, as 2 more goodies (the yogurt bar and the PowerBar) needed to collect from their expo booth (but this may be the trick they used to get you to their booth).
Race kit & Goodies for half marathoner

Looked around at the expo area. The New Balance booth as usual offering 20~30% on the shoes and some extra discount on the apparel. I am hoping to find NB905 or even the Minimus series, but none. TIMEX also have a big booth set up, lots of people there as they are offering RM500 discount for their GPS model, and the new TapScreen model at RM268. I am happy with my GF405CX, so I didn’t walk into the booth. Quick-Sport have a booth selling running gears that filled with people, we all runners will never missed the change to check out the runner gears. Left the expo about 3pm without any purchase.

Back at home and study further the race guidebook. I actually get more worried on the final leg of the race. There are about 10,000 runners on 10km, and 5,000 on half marathon and 5km respectively. I would expect about 50% of us will enter the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in front of the SOGO at about 8:00~8:30am. Average runners use 30min for 5km (flag off on 8am), 1hr for 10km (flag off on 7am), and 2hrs for 21km (flag off on 6:15am), plus some elite from FM who doing sub 4hrs. My estimation, it will be around 10,000 runners from varies categories running on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman on that 30 minutes time slot! If we all on yellow, then we are actually practicing the rally 2 weeks earlier. My plan? No, I have no plan to avoid the jam. If I wished to push myself for a sub 2 HM, I will need to maintain 5:30min/km pace all the way. This will definitely kill me. My target pace is 6:30min/km, which will bring me to that hot spot about 8:20am. Hopefully the peak is over or at least easing a bit.

Event Bag
Another problem will be parking and baggage handling. If we take the shuttle buses, we need to carry our gears with us. But the event bag is too small! The baggage counter will only took this bag and it will be very challenging to stuff all you may needed (clean shirt, tower, short and slippers and later exchange them with your running gears, wet shirt, short, tower and running shoes) especially the running shoes. I plan to start my journey early at 3:30am to reach BA before 4am, and try my luck to get a parking lot.

Despite all these potential huddles, I am excited, and looking forward for the event. See you on the starting line 6:15am this Sunday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bukit Kledang, Menglembu Perak

This is a famous trekking place for those live around Ipoh. Beside the jungle trek, it also has the single lane road heading to the peak of the hill used by RTM and Telecom (TM) for their transmission towers. During my active time (teenager, like 20 years ago) we only have 3 ways up, the road, the steep trek on the side of the hill (lead to 4-2, I have no idea how this number coming from, but if you ask people on the trek/road on Bukit Kledang, everyone will show you the same place), and the river/jungle trek. Most challenging path will be the river/jungle trek, and most of the people will take the road. But both treks are shorter, only the road will lead you to the peak of the hill.

For the pass 30+ years I lived in Menglembu, I never peaked this hill. Many reasons, mainly, I had no stamina that time and had no time and not spending any effort to train it. The most, I reached 4-9 location, and never advanced an inch from there. After I start my active running, the Sunday morning when I am in Ipoh I will be either spent in Polo Ground or Bukit Kledang. I am able to run more, but still never reached the peak of the hill. Either I am started too late or get too tired to continue (not enough determination). But this round, I am prepared.

I packed my usual running gear and NB905 for the weekend trip back to Ipoh. NB1226 with higher heel cushion is actually not good for down-hilling. Weak up on 5am, completed my business and off to the hill. Reach the parking and surprised myself, it was so dark and the usual parking with full of cars, now only got my car. I thought people in small town usually started way early, but 5:45am may be is too early for Menglembu nowadays. So I moved my car to nearby housing area (and also the starting point for the steep trek), and planned to cover some extra distant. No issue from the nearby housing area to the hill side, just another early morning road side jogging. But once reach the hill side, I regretted. I should bring along the head lamp I got from Energizer race. I only ran with some shaded light from other people who hiking with touch light. After passed few of them, I ran in complete darkness. I can’t even see the road surface! The little devil in me took the chance, I stop running after 2.5km and start walking/hiking, it only 1/4 way to the top!

Station Kledang Bawah
Slowly, the visibility improved, and I managed to run a bit from time to time but the driving force is no longer there. I didn’t push myself. My hearth rate maintained at aerobic zone, I ran only when it dropped below the zone. The only force to keep me moving is the plan to peak the hill. Kept going and finally reached the peak on 1.5 hours. There are 2 main groups of transmission towers, Kledang Bawah (located at 716m elevation) and Kledang Atas (actually I forgot the name of this 2nd group, at 790m elevation). So, after you see the road junction to Kledang Bawah, you still need to hike another 10 minutes to the real peak.
Station Kledang Atas (sorry forgot the name)

Newly built station at Peak
On my way up, I met some people heading down hill, guess I am actually started not too early. On my way down, I met few uncles jogging up! It’s a very tough challenge to face the 730m elevation gain and running to the peak. I am still having some problem on the down hill. I tend to uses heavy steps. This time, I kept my strikes length short, I ran downhill like a bouncy rabbit in the battery advertisement. My calf and the quadriceps felt more impact and there are still aching until now. Return home with happy and fulfilled heart. Next time, run to the peak!

This plan is actually part of self assessment on my readiness on The River Jungle Marathon. It’s shown that I am not really ready to fight the devil in my heart on this 8km hill climb! But what the heck why not give it a try! As long as I reached my planned training mileages of 200km this month, I will proceed to sign up! See you there!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Addiction to the Race & Running

Lately, I found some extra enjoyment on my running. I really love and addicted to the sport and can’t wait to have it more. I do my routine training in my neighborhood, and frankly speaking it’s a very routine and not really excited route. I ran the 1km stretch beside the main road to-and-fro for the weekdays’ 7~10km workouts. It’s had not much difference with hamstringing in the 400m oval track in Complex Sukan MPSJ, but I am starting to enjoy it more as I pushed myself out of the bed on 5am to start my workout on 5:30am. The usual demon still within me, its voice is getting weaker nowadays.

As of today, I already logged in 70km for June. I think this will be the month that I break my 200km/month mark. Looking at the mileage, I belief that I will finish my half marathon without any major issue. I don’t think I should be too concern about the speed and finishing time. As of now, I wish to enjoy every single run and race. My race schedule for July is almost filled up every weekend (the only weekend without a race is because of my birthday!), I am like the bear which preparing it self for hibernating prior to the winter. Yes, the racing winter in Malaysia will start in the Fasting Month. I am sure that I will be still running around (BA, Lake Garden, Double Hills, etc.) in August, and I am eyeing for some race which can bring my spring in September.

The Long Slow Distant by PACM on 11/9 will sure on my list, and now, this look extremely tempting…

Click me for more info :)

It’s a fun and small run (organizer emphasized, “This is not a race”) with very scenic but very challenging course. The best part, it has only one category, 42.195km.

Am I ready by then? Possible, if I reach 200km on my book this month and next month… hmmmm… tempting...

Monday, June 6, 2011

NB Pacesetters 15KM Race Report

It was a morning with beautiful weather, cool breeze blowing and nearly raining when I reached Putrajaya on 6am. I am looking forwards my first race in rain. Warming up by slow jogging on the long stretch of road in front of POJ, used the toilet, and the race is about to flag off. And out of certain, the clouds were blown away and the cool breeze stopped. En Rustam flag off the race for all categories by 6:30am at once, and we all off from the crowded starting line.
Map from Garmin Connect records

Pace records

My target pace would be 6:15/km, and complete this race by 1:34. After 2 weeks of weekdays tempo runs with 6:10/km pace, my body are now kind of adopted and felt good on about 6min/km pace. As the race course is widely opened, I kept myself comfortably at the mid pack of all runners without feeling too clamped. Once the mid pack started to ease up at about the 2nd kilometers (some runners started to walk a bit, guess it may due to the certain change in weather), I pushed on and start logging sub 6min/km pace and felt good about it. I only stop-by the 1st water station manning by Dannie at 3+km, greeted by his friendly and loud voice. A good boost to my pace, although another thought came across my mind was the residents whom still sleeping in the Presint 18. Kept going with my feel good pace. At Presint 4 roundabout, I saw some elite runners already turned and heading back to finish line on the bridge.

Courtesy of QQ's sNaP

After climbed the bridge, I entered the Presint 5 and rounding the hilly Putrajaya International Convention Centre. Pushed all the way to the second water station, gulped in few cups of water and Gatorade, then I felt my stomach twitched. Lucky the water station located on peak of the hilly Presint 5 route, I still managed to maintain the pace. Double checked my GF405CX, my pace will still a head of target for few minutes, so I decided to walk up the bridge after the U-turn. At the peak of the bridge, I restart my engine and charging all the way to the 3rd water station. Gulped in more water and Gatorade this round and surprisingly I don’t feel the twitch. From there, I maintained at 6min/km pace all the way until the Finish line and cross the line on 1:33’47”.

PACM prepared lots of watermelon, nasi lemak and even taufufa. The Gatorade and Nestle counters are there too. Thanks to the organizer and the volunteers, I had a good time on running in Putrajaya and completed my 15km target pace.
NB Pacesetters 15km Finisher Medal, front view
Think this is the build outline of the Putrajaya International Convention Centre
Finisher Medal rear view

The main difference I felt from NB15km from all previous races is I found that I am starting to enjoy the scene, the environment, the feeling about the race. Most of the previous race I joined, I am only pushing it thru hence the great feeling is not there. Why we runners love to take part in races? I guess I started to have the feeling of it. Running is an activity which you can either do it by yourself, or in a group. In most of the time, we are running alone, especially in training. Races are the time that we have lots of companions whom will head towards the same direction with similar pace. So, in other words, we not only competing in the race, we also united in the race. This is the thought I had so far for running and racing. It will sure change from time to time, but, the important thing is, I am starting to enjoy more and learned not to over push myself in the race. There are many more things in the races worth enjoying.

It will be less than 3 weeks from my first half marathon on 26 June. Looking into my pace in this race, I guess I am quite ready to handle this coming 21km. See you in KL Marathon.

Enjoy your races and running.