Friday, September 21, 2012

Race Report: River Jungle Marathon 2012

A long overdue race report.

Finisher Medal (Front)
This is a very stressful race, eventhough this is my second time running on this beautiful route, but my physical condition don’t allow me to enjoy very much on the scene. I rushed back from Ipoh on Saturday night and can’t sleep well after prepared my race kit for the next morning. The alarm sounded on 2:45am, and I need to force myself out of bed and get ready to the starting point which is about 50minutes from my place.
RJM Route
Reached the venue about 4am and the parking were quite full. There are 400+ runners this year. Saw lots of familiar faces in the starting line, we took some photos. James briefed us about the route, promised the “fun” will begin from 17km (the Bukit Hantu) and some surprise along the route. The joke eased my stress a bit. Then we flagged off on time, and we heading to the 1st u-turn around 2.5km. The route is dark but I had less worry about the potholes issue as the roads seem to just resurface recently. I kept a very consistence pace @ 6.5 ~7 minutes all the way to 17km water station, right before the Bukit Hantu. The first stretch completed in 2hours as planned.
RJM Route Elevation
Stopped for some drinks and collected the energy gel for later. I took up the climb by slow jog. The mist still very thick when I start climbing, felt really great running in such cooling weather. The first km still manageable, but I had to slow down to walk as the elevation increasing, and finally reached the peak @ 20km. Charge down the descent at about 6~7 minutes pace and finished the 2nd stretch of the route in 51minutes, with 9 minutes to spare! Saw Khoo and his two princes volunteering @ water station, didn’t chat much as wish to use the balanced momentum to continue until the 2nd u-turn.
After 25km, still looking fresh. Photo by Khoo
This stretch is the most beautiful part of the route, it overlook to the magnificent water dams, but the sun start to come out and temperature raise. Completed the u-turn and returned to the water station for a banana, Khoo told me that there will be surprises in the 29k water station. That actually kept me going for a while. But I find it hard to kept on 7 minutes pace and the pace start to yo-yoing from 6.5 to 9 minutes. Not really good thing during the half way of a marathon. Finally reached the 29k water station and the icy cold coconut waiting us! Took my time to slowly drink it in and enjoy the surprised look on the other runners. Rested about 5 minutes, then dragged my legs out from the water station and move on.

From there onwards, I can hardly maintain an 8 minutes pace. I am not sure about my condition, I felt tired, weary and legs seem too heavy to keep moving. The situation continued and finally I gave up on running around 35km (even the great asam-boi ice popsicle handed out around 32k can’t help the situation). It must the longest 3km I faced. Walking alone under the hot sun, I can’t help to blame myself on taking up this challenge again, and swear that I will not return for the 3rd time next year. I tried to restart the engine by the run-walking interval, but that can’t help too. 5hours passed and I only completed 37km, I doubted myself could finish the balance 5km in one hour and I will definitely missed my target time. The feeling sunk to the bottom. I certainly missed Khoo who pushed me to continue last year.

Now, I can’t pin-point the reason that jump-started my engine again at 38km. Is that caused by the cheerful volunteers at water station, or may be is it the Singapore Mad Runner who passed me so cheerfully with other runners? Or I just get thru “the wall”? I don’t know. At that point, I just damped all my thoughts, ignored the pain, shut the mind off and continued the running. Stopped by the last water station for a quick refill, then I ran all the way back to the finish line. Completed my 6th marathon in 5:44’06”, 4 minutes behind my target.
Finisher Medal (Back)
RJM 2012, finish line
Overall this is a great marathon that you should try at least once. The challenging route, the scene view and the best organizer will sure give you the mixed feeling whether to redo it or not. For time being, I would like to taste that jump-starting feeling again, and I had the 3rd part of my game plan failed to execute. So I will return in 2013.

Key learning,
1. Lacking of training will definitely screw up the execution :P
2. GU Chomp not suitable for me as replacement of Gel. I don’t like the taste that staying too long in my mouth.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Preparation for 2012 River Jungle Marathon

Another 5 days will be my 6th marathon. River Jungle Marathon 2011 is my first full marathon. Back then, the route and the 42km really beat me up. I was really lucky to just finish the race, and I promised myself I will return to the course again to improve my timing. Looking back to what I had completed since then, I should be able to better the timing for this coming marathon compare to 6:31 last year. But I didn’t have sufficient training lately, so, a game plan is essential for me to optimize both speed and fun of running.

We can divide the route into three sections.
1. The first 17km from the starting line towards the 1st U-turn point, then all the way to the water station before the big climb. This section is rather flat, so I will go with 6.5~7 minutes pace to complete these 17km in 2 hours.
2. Then follow by the 6km of the famous Bukit Hantu, a combination of 3.8km climb and 2km descent. Plan to go with 10~12 minutes brisk-walking pace so I can clear this 6km in 1 hour.
3. Then the balanced 20km with a short climb, will be the real test on me to hold up to 7 minutes pace.
If everything went well, I will complete the race in 5:20. I will leave 20 minutes for spare. My target for this marathon will be 5:40.
This is from 1st edition, some changes made on the route
I will not put up a plan B, the mind will tentatively swift to auto mode and roll out the plan B (usually run-walking from 30km onwards) if I fixed something like that up front. Marathon, like other aspect in our life, we will need to push ourselves over the limit to enjoy the most of it. I planned to play hard this time, how about you? Good luck to those who running in Adidas KOTR.