Monday, October 31, 2011

PJ Half Marathon Race Report

I woke up 5am, and I know it very well that this is not my day. Even though the sore throat is gone, but the left nose still blocked. These are the flu bugs from my boy and its lingering since Deepavali. From experience, I should be ok to run with this condition, but need a longer warming up and tentatively sub-2 is out of my reach.

Reached the stadium around 6:10am and the road & parking to the stadium was already jammed. Lucky I still manage to find a parking. When I came off from the car, the warming up session in the stadium is just over and the emcee requesting all HM runners head to starting point located outside the stadium. With some quick warm up, I slow jog to the starting line. I am surprised with the number of HM runners at the starting line. There must be at least 1000 runners took part. This means the limited medal will also out of my reach.

We flagged off on time and I started from the very behind of the pack. We are heading to Federal Highway from the old airport road. We were diverted onto the motorcycles lane when we reached the Federal Highway. It gave me some tough time as the lane is narrow and kind of difficult to overtake others runners. The route is still dark until I reached the 1st water station and approaching the U-turn at the cable bridge. It took me 27 minutes on this stretch and 5 minutes behind my plan. As I don’t have an instant feedback on my pace, and the distance markers are limited. I only gave my best to keep running. I still have the sour taste on not giving my best during the PNM final leg. I would not want to repeat the same mistake and give up a race before the finish line.

The sun came out early by 7:30am, and all runners get toasted on the old airport road until we U-turn again in front of terminal 2. After toasted under the hot sun for an hour, I finally reached the exist point to the stadium. Step on the finish line on 2:09 and concluded my 4th HM. Deo is snapping some photo outside the stadium and he got my relieving look right in front of the stadium entrance :) 

I only managed to check my pace on Nokia post race, it shown that I am maintaining a good 6 min pace throughout the race. Also I didn’t walk at all for the whole 21km (only few steps after the Ara Damansara water station, the sun and the sweat got into my eyes). As my current training plan is focus to have a good FM finish time (sub-6 hours), so it will be hard to challenge the sub-2 target for HM. I know this HM result is properly my current best and I am happy with that. May be if I change 1~2 LSD into long 20km tempo run will help me to achieve the sub-2 in PBIM. But it may also hurt me due to over trained. Am I that dying for sub-2 HM? We shall see.
Another photo by Tey. Inside the stadium before the Finish Line.

PACM is organizing LSD at Bukit Aman-Sri Hartamas this coming Sunday. I plan to do a 30~35km on the route and this will be the last longest LSD before I tuned down the intensity of my training and rest for SCMS.

See you in coming races and training.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preparation for PJ Half Marathon

The PJ Half Marathon will be in this weekend. To me, its biggest selling point will be having a chance to run on the dreaded (at least on working day rush hours) Federal Highway. Btw, I don’t think it will be a total road closure like the Adidas KOTR. So, we will need to deal with some traffic. Hope the organizer at least blocks up a lane for runners and perform traffic control on all the junctions.

My target will be to sub-2 hours in this HM. A 5.5min pace will grant me this sub-2 result but I don’t have the GF405CX to get instant feedback. So I plan to use the water station location, which located every 4km. I will have 22 minutes from one water station to another. I can also roughly depend on the HRM. Tentatively the hearth rate will climb and stabilize at 155~165BPM. It will be sign to slow down whenever it touches 165BPM.

October has been a very good training month for me. I clocked so far 199km this month, and sure will break into 220km per month after the PJ HM. This is definitely a good preparation for the coming Singapore Marathon, and I will slow down the amount of training after 7 Nov. Got some family event committed. It’s also time to start reducing the rate so that body starts to recover and back to best condition before the SCMS. Now, there are still 3 races (PJ Half, PBIM Half, and Nike 10k) between me with the SCMS. All these races will be serving as speed works for the marathon training. Training plan for the pass two weeks were adhered 100% in term of mileages. I will sure challenge the sub-6 hours Marathon finishing in Singapore. This round, there will be no alternative game plan. For SCMS, the game plan is fixed, run at 8min pace, adjustment only come if I am still ON after 35km. Simple and workable plan :)

See you on the PJ Half starting line this Sunday morning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Putrajaya Night Marathon Race Report

Finally, the big event came and gone. I completed my 2nd marathon in 6:18 hours, outside of the targeted 6 hours cut-off time. It was a very well organized event and I guessed lots of runners enjoyed the run as much as I do.

Yes, I put in many thought to plan my game, but none of the plans was followed on the game day. I pushed too hard at the first 16km, the HRM shown about 150~160BPM although I am not going really fast (pace at about 7.5min/km). The body didn’t used to the night race and took more energy to ramp up. I should stay within or even at the lower bottom of my aerobic zone, 130~140BPM will be a very good start. After 16km, I start to felt I am struggling to keep running. I took the first energy gel at 18km and continue to push on.

Basically, after 22km, I started to walk a bit. I used the counting cons/lamp poles technique to keep myself within the control limit of walking. But the walking getting more frequent until the water station at 26km. Lots of runners passed me from this stretch. I know that I will not able to make it back to finish line if I kept walking that much. So, I popped in the 2nd energy gel at the water station, drove the walking option out of my mind, and ran to the next water station at a steady slow pace. On the balance of the distances, I am running from water station to water station and tried my very best to keep walking at minimum. Mid night passed and I only reached 28km mark. I knew I need to keep going to made it to the cut off time.

At the 32km, my left calf started to tense up and I knew it’s about to cramp up. So, I had no choice but to walk more from here. Got the PowerBar gel from the sponsor but I had to keep it for later. No point to push unless the tense eased up. Btw, I walked some the tense never eased up; really no choice and I popped in the 3rd serving of energy gel at 35km and pushed on. This time, I told myself I can’t stop or slow down if I really wanted to finish by 6 hours. I started to push harder and my hearth rate moving up to 165BPM range. There are 7 more kilometers to go, and I had 50 minutes left before 2am. Too bad, these final stretches are just as tough as the other part of the course. I can only pushed my pace to 7~8 min/km. At 1:50am, I still had 2km. From that point, I gave out running and only walking. I think I can still pushed on, and finished the race at about 6:10, but the driving force just drained out of me once I noticed I can’t made it in the cut off time.

With Tan at the starting line.
Through out the race, I am like duet with Tan from the start. We first met at the RJM on the dreaded 3km climb. He is very friendly and gave me lots of encouragement during that climb. This round in PNM, we met at the starting pan, wished each other good luck and took some photos. From there, we met in varies spots on the route. He is tough and going with very consistence pace. When I am walking at the final km, Tan again caught up with me. With his encouragement, I restart my engine and heading back to the finish line in running. He is really amazing and still able to surge to high speed at the last 200m, hence Tey (who finished his 5:27 FM, and start snapping photos, thanks for the nice photo) can took a nice single shoot for both us respectively. Thank you Tan for your company and encouragement over the 42km.
2:18am in the Morning, at PNM Finish Line. Photo by Tey.
Catch up with Chan too at the Starting Line, he is doing HM.

Learning for this FM,
1. Start slow at FM, stay at the bottom of the aerobic zone until you feel comfortable for the first 2 hours, then you can push harder. Btw, I do observe that my aerobic zone is matched with a slower pace through out the race. May be it’s a night running which the body is not familiar with. So, put some training that mimic to your racing condition is important.
2. If you cleared your mind and don’t keep think of walking, you can run very far and still keep going. In other words, FOCUS.
3. Planning is important. What more important is “Follow the PLAN”!

On the other preparation (apart from training mileage), I am surprised that the Nokia Phone with SportsTracker can stay up for 7.5 hours. I forgot to turn off the SportsTracker so its kept my driving speed too :P

My next race will be the PJ Half Marathon, follow by the PBIM (I took HM only), Nike 10k, then my 3rd Marathon at SC Marathon Singapore. Hope to put up a training plan and game plan to sub-6 hours in SCMS.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Preparation for Putrajaya Night Marathon

This will be my 2nd marathon and the 1st one happened only 3 weeks ago. This is an official race hence my pre-race excitement also partly built with nervous. I had thought over, planned, reworked many time on my race day’s game plan.

The cut off time is 6 hours. From my experiences, I should have no problem to run all the way to 25km in less than 3.5 hours. The challenge will be on how to handle the balanced 17.2km, in 2.5 hours. I belief that I can still stretch a bit to 30km, but after that it will be more like a run-walking game. The pace at this zone will be very difficult to predict, but as long as I complete the 30km in 4 hours (before mid night), I will have no issue to meet the cut off time.

The current dominance game plan will be pushes all the way towards the whole 42.195km – RUN! I wish to do this and it will be a major achievement to me, if I really break through all boundaries and run the whole 42.195km (sure we stop for water stations, toilets & stretching when necessary). In this plan, I only need to go at 8.5min/km pace, and I will finish right on the dot of 6 hours. This speed fit well in my aerobic zone of 6.5~8.5min/km pace, and it is very doable. On the other hand, with the raising of adrenaline, I am secretly hoping that I can even going with 7min/km. But I am not too sure if I should start with this pace and keep it up for the entire ran, or start with a more conservative 8min/km pace and slowly pick up if I am still manageable down the road.

Anyway, as I will only using the Polar FT4, I will not have instant feedback on my pace. I can only depend on the distance markers on each KM, and the good thing is that I will have some calculation to keep my mind busy. In this case, I may just run to my comfort speed (whatever it would be). So, plan B will be based on HRM and run within the aerobic zone of 130~148BPM.

Plan C? No, there is not plan C. I need plan C if only I am getting to sick on reworking plan A & B. Then plan C will be “Just Do It!”, return to the core of running – pleasure! Run fast if I feel like to, and slow down if I feel like to. Don’t border the pace, the time and the rest.

Other tools for this race,
1. Nokia Phone
I will use the SportsTracker in my Nokia to track this race and it pace. So, next round I can have more data to predict the pace during my run-walking zone. Btw, I am not sure if the phone can last for 6 hours running on GPS.
2. Bigger Pouch
This is for extra fuel (energy bars & gels) supply during the race. From the RJM experience, I will get very hungry after 35km and the energy gel alone is not sufficient to cure this so I saving the PowerBar from the race kit for this.
3. Headlamp
As this is a night race, I will bring along the headlamp (from previous Energizer race), tired it to the pouch with some Velcro straps and it’s much comfortable compare to using it on your arm or head.

Am I ready for this race? I am not too sure, but I am prepared to my best (except putting more mileages under my belt before the race). Now, is the time to enjoy it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Further Thought about Running & Marathon

It has been an eventful year which filled with joy, excitement, and lots of sweats. I am into running for more than a year now! This year I had ran 1300km and expecting more until end of the year. I tried varies distances races with 7k, 10k, 14k, 15k, 21k and 42k, which I will not be able to imagine myself doing just few years ago.

Running is a great tool for meditation; all you faced is you alone, through out the runs. In that nature, lots of important lessons can be learned via running, one of them is Focus. With Focus, your limitation will be reset to a level that beyond your imagination. All you need to do is focus to get yourself to find the door and you will be accessible to this hidden treasure of yours. Focus to your next step, and soon you will reach your destination. Beside this, I am enjoying the common improvement (better endurance, health, weight loss, emotional control, happier & etc.) and suffering some pains (arching calves, knees pain, tiredness after long runs, energized only during running, & etc.), that almost all runners entitled.

I confirmed that naive belief of mine: if you can break down the distances and completed them in a week, you will have no problem to handle the distances in the race day. But I am too weary in RJM to confirm the opinion about the half marathon. Further more, I didn’t push that hard in the RJM. Think I will need more exposure to marathon distances before I can conclude that.
Next week will be my second marathon, Putrajaya Night Marathon. I didn’t do any extra prepare for this marathon but only carry out the routine as planned. Hope to put in one last 30~35km long run on this Sunday before I tune down the training for some rest. Target completion time will be below 6 hours & 8.5 min/km pace. Btw, I may have some problem to maintain my pace without the GF405CX. I will use the HRM as the main reference with the timer to calculate my pace from the distance markers. My running will be within my aerobic zone (130~148 BPM).

See you next Saturday night in Putrajaya.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 405CX (Part II)

The GF405CX is now on its way to Taiwan for a warranty claim trip. It only in service for 5 months (brought in March, but only got it in May), but failed since the River Jungle Marathon. It’s only 6.5 hours run and partially (last 1.5 hours) done in the rain, I would expect this unit to perform better than this.

GF405CX is really a great help on my routine trainings to keep me paced. I had minimum complaint about it performance (satellite signal receiving, response, recording, ease of use, etc.), the only complaint I would able to think of is it battery life. Very obviously it’s not able to last to the 8 hours as per factory setting in running with GPS. The most I got so far is the 6.5 hours during River Jungle Marathon before it screen frozen at 41km. On the bright side, its encourage me to complete my marathon within 6 hours :)

During the RJM, the unit frozen at 41km and I only realized that after I want to stop the timer at the finish line. The first battery low alert started at around 30km, along the way it shown some more alert on and off, but some how it doesn’t run flat on the balanced 12km. At the finish line, after I filled up my tummy with bananas and bread, then I tried the soft reset to unfreeze the screen. As the battery may not sufficient to restart the unit, it ended up in the restart-off-restart mode. This mode is very annoying and there is no way to turn it off, it will continue until the battery is totally flattened.

From the previous battery out experience, once it back to the charger, the unit will be live again. However, it doesn’t turn on this round. Did some research over the internet and surprisingly saw this is a common issue amount GF405 & 405CX. Some unit will just die off like that and users suspected the moisture ingression caused the problem on the battery contact point. Some users waited for few days until the moisture inside clear off, plug in the charger then the unit will back into life. I am confused! Aren’t the unit designed for running, should taken the drizzling, sweating conditions into account? How come so many users still suffered from the moisture issue?

Finally, last Friday I visited Garmin authorized distributor (AECO) outlet at SS14 Digital Mall. They took the unit and sent to their office for further checking. They contacted me yesterday and said the unit will be send to Taiwan factory to recondition and the repair should be under warranty. As my unit came from Singapore, I will need to pay the shipping cost of RM180. Hope it will return before PJ Half or PBIM. Guess that is the price we need to pay for not buying from the local distributor (anyway, even with this RM180, my unit from Singapore is still cheaper compare to the RRP quoted in Malaysia).

Btw, during my research, I also noticed that the all the Garmin Forerunner’s battery will need to change back in the factory, users can’t really DIY when the battery no longer functions. Anyway, Garmin offered an option to send back to factory for recondition with USD110 (based on your model, check out here for detail). You will need to pay the postage cost if the warranty expired. So, if you are consider to get a Garmin, please take note on this extra cost which may occur in 1~2 years time (btw, some users responded with no issue with the battery even for 3~4 years).

For me, I am still thinking the GF405CX is a good tool that I had for my running. You should consider one HRM with GPS unit. With training plan in place, it will help to improve your running.

Another 10 days to my 2nd Marathon in Putrajaya Night Marathon. For now, I will stick with the Polar FT4. 

Link to Part I / Part III on this Device.