Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Race Report: Island Ocean Marathon

This is the inaugural version, but the race got really great response from the running community, and it is almost full! James (the race director) told us on the flag off briefing that we had 997 signed up versus the full 1000 quota!
Children having fun at Cenang Beach
Flew in Langkawi on Friday afternoon with the family, rented a car instead of depending on taxi, (MYR120 for 2 days, Viva). The children were so happy when reached the Awana Porto Malai hotel, but later found out that the hotel got nothing for them except the swimming pool. We heading out for dinner after a quick dipped in the swimming pool. We had KFC for dinner… Day 2, kids woke up 7am and we heading to Cenang beach for some fun with the sand. Drove to Kuah town and had some Thai food in restaurant Wan Thai, had some very nice and spicy tomyam. Spent the afternoon in the wild life park fed animal and some bird. Then we were heading back to hotel for some more swimming in the pool. Had dinner in Sheela’s place with the usual pre-race pasta (stomach in upset mode since lunch…), then back in hotel to prepare the race and had some sleep.

Wake up 3am in race day morning, prepared myself and only took some bread in the hotel buffet, really not in the condition to take in more food. We gather at the starting point and James briefed us about the event. Follow with a silence prayer for the Boston Marathon victims, and we are ready to go. At 4:30am, with the air-horn and firework in the background, we flagged off. I ran with the impact from the tomyam still in my stomach, but I really enjoyed the eventful flag off. I throttled down my speed to 7.5~8 min, secretly hope that the stomach will get better after I set into the rhythms.

We turned into Cenang Beach, enjoyed a 1km beach run. The beach was dark and organizer marked the route with glow stick. We ran in the dark, only then I observed the starry night is so beautiful! Love the running at the beach even though some sand got into my Vibram. Came out from the beach and we were heading to airport. The stretch of route is again very dark. On top of the starry night, we also had the light refreshing breeze now. Then I bounced into Khoo, he actually right in front of me for quite some time but I just don’t realized that is him. We chatted for few km before the first u-turn, and I felt the call of natural… need to speed up to find a proper spot to clear the bladder. Btw, no porta-potty provided along the route and there are no patrol stations too, all runners had to settle their business on the road side. I did the same too. But don’t dare to do it again after the sun came out cause saw lots of dead snakes bodies along the way. Who know what will pops-up and interrupt when you half way in the business (lucky my stomach held up nicely all the way).
Last 1k to go, and I can't even run in front of a camera... :(
The crazy inclines started from 17k ahead. Rolling hills and the scorching sun really put our mental and physical strength on test. I had to give up my steady pace after 23k, changed the strategy to slow down when climbing, speed up when coming down. The pace start fluctuating from 6.5~9 min and I think the declining strides really impacting my legs. At 27k, I felt my right leg will cramp if I pushed further and we reached the really hilly part of the route. I decided to stop pushing further. Start the usual enjoying and doubting cycles along the rest of the distances. Enjoyed the coconut at 29k, supporting from water stations, and the up and down hills. Doubting about the earlier decision on pushing, about the whole marathon, about the tomyam yesterday, and about the running itself. Finally, completed the race in very low key/mood at 6:11’07”. I am still not sure why I didn’t felt the usual finishing high this time. Not meeting my target? Not tried hard enough? Or may be something else in my mind (like the uncertainty from GE13)? I really not sure.
IOM 2013 Finisher Medal
After the race, pick up the wife and the children from the swimming pool, clean up and check out. Heading to airport and flew back to KL. That concluded my first visit to Langkawi. Both ankles are slightly swollen until now and I think this is from the speed declining from those hills. In short, I am not ready yet for a sub-5 marathon being either mentally or physically. More training needed to pump in before the SCKLM in the next 66days. Will I return next year? Tentatively yes, but will stay in others hotel with beach as per the kids’ request.