Monday, September 30, 2013

Race Report: Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2013

This race was postponed from it original schedule from June due to haze condition. I thought it will be a great opportunity for me to be more ready to sub-5, but turned out this is an unfinished business for my next marathon.

I arrived at Dataran Merdeka around 4am, walked a bit and said hello to some familiar faces. Then we gathered into the starting pen and ready to go. The weather is hot. I consumed almost half of my 500ml water, which never happened before the flag off in other races. I knew that it will be very challenging race. As the biggest marathon event in Malaysia, closed to 4000 marathoners flagged off together, and it took me 4 minutes to cross the finish line.
Before flag off, look so not into running mood...
I started off slowly and ramped up to target pace of 7 minutes. The route is packed with others but still manageable. After about 5km, I finally caught up with one of the 5hrs pacers and I planned to stick with him until we done. The only hold back is my condition, not able to sleep well before the race (anxious) and the running nose bothering me. The pace is slow, but the effort is high with hearth rate averaging at 160BPM. Tried my best to keep up with the pacers, but it getting harder by time. From 18-24km, I can only tail them from far, and I lost sight of them after KLCC. The traffic from that points onwards was havoc. The whole stretch of Jalan Tun Razak, Bulatan Pahang until Jalan Ipoh was in mess. Don’t feel comfortable or safe running on this stretch.

After turn into Jalan Ipoh (27km), the mind started to play trick. “The sun so hot, the pacers are gone, walk-lah…”, repeated in my mind whenever I struggled. Then, I gave up and started some walking around 30km. Repeated the last year mistake, started off too fast and got into other’s race (pacers). Then the rest will just the usual running from water station to water station. Planned to back in running after 38km mark, but the engine was too cool to restart. After merged with the 10k runners/walkers/shopping goers, the last drop of my will to push on gone. No mood to speed, I just walked most of the stretch for the last 2km and only sprint to finish after past those crowd blocking the way. Completed my 11th full marathon in 5:24’06”, only 2 minutes better than the RJM with much tougher route.
At 36km, not much steam left to run. Photo by Kelvin Tan.
In front of camera, have to pretend running a bit. Thank Lina & Zaini!
2013 SCKLM Finisher Medal and T-shirt.
Like what I observed last year, the race is still a very well organized and happening event, but none of the area for improvement resolved. The Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman still jammed by walkers and supporters. Especially the junctions with Jalan Tun Perak, people just block off the road and only left a small gap to let past 3-4 runners at one time. I appreciated the spirit to support, but please at least don’t obstruct the traffic! Ok, I think I going to kept this post a short one, else these complains will continue.
Unofficial Result.
The result page is now more like the one I got from Singapore 2 years ago. Looking at the statistic, not much changed, I am still fit perfectly into the middle pack of runners. May be is time to look into a difference running and training approach. Meanwhile, I got unfinished business with the sub-5 target. Look like I can’t go by my makan agin pace in Munich, but to give in my best. Need to focus on a good recovery now.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Race Report: Back to Basic 30KM

Like last year, PACM arranging a training event in order to support our preparation on the coming marathon races. This race happened in Mardi Serdang this year. I intended to use this as my last LSD before the SCKLM, and judge my fitness level to look at how much harder I can go during SCKLM.

The event started at 5:30am and target to end by 11am. Knowing well my LSD pace will only cover 30km in 4 hours, I planned a solid 30km as minimum and hoped to go further than that. So the key is to arrive there early and may be do a few km warming up. Anyway, I am not very familiar with the place so I missed the SKVE entrance from LDP and went straight into Putrajaya. Only arrived at Mardi around 5am and I got no more moods to cover some extra distances up front. Just hang around the starting point and chatting with friends. The race director conducted a briefing, and at 5:30am we let loose to do our long slow distances. I didn’t aware about the last minutes change of route, until I completed the 1st loop at only about 7km. May be the race director announced it but most of us can’t heard what he said without a loud header.
4th loop, I was looking at the party happened at the finish line.
Running in the Mardi / MAEPS for the first time, I seriously love those rolling hills. It let me practicing how to scale back my strides and adjusting from running to brisk walking when climbing a slope. But I think I haven’t fully recovered from the RJM, the tights and calves were not doing very well in descending. Covered the first 3 loops with steady pace (slightly slower than my target marathon pace) but the mind was keep debating how many loops should I go. The finish area was partying since we started. PAC will give you the finisher medal as long as you completed one loop; hence lots of runners didn’t continue but chose to hang out with their friends at the finish area. This made the decision to continue the next loop getting harder as more runners joining the party after each loop. Finally, at the end of 4th loop, I decided to just continue and I left the finish area alone without anyone running in front or behind in sight. The sun was overslept and the volunteers did a good job to keep us running; it will be completely wasted if I didn’t continue for the 5th one. The last lap was tough, but I am glad that I did it. Learned the real meaning of "bloody nipper" during this training, now I can claim myself one bloody hardcore runner.
Hard earned medal and finisher t-shirt
I really enjoyed the event and thanks PAC to organize the run in a new venue. Now is time to zone into tapering mode and get myself ready to push real hard for the sub-5 target in SCKLM. See you guys next weekend at the starting line :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Race Report: River Jungle Marathon 2013

3rd time running in this event and due to some landslides, we had a new route.
My attempt to sub 5 again failed but I really enjoyed this race.
Split times on the arm.
We flagged off with some firework from the school at 5am. It was quite pack when we leaving the small Bt18 village heading towards the T-junction. The pack only eases up after the first water station at 5km point. Its helps on my pace cause no way I can ran too fast at this stretch and I was only planned a 7:15 pace all the way to the peak at the 1st u-turn. The early morning weather was humid but cooling with light wind, and it was very dark for the first 10km. Finally, when you able to look out far, 11km passed and the T-junction greeted you with a 4km long steep incline all the way to the 1st u-turn point. I was happy to reach this point because my pace still very steady and I actually ran all the way up to the peak. Time checked when I reached the peak, 1’45” behind my plan, great! Let’s push harder now when going down hill! Obviously I underestimated the decline part. This stretch taxed me more that I anticipated and left me a black toe nail with very sore quads muscles. I can’t pushed up to my target pace, and the climb at 20km really beaten me flat.

The other issue I had was the upset stomach. I tried new energy bar before the race, taken the new gel around 14km, the stomach started to felt rumbling. Managed to hold up until 20km then doing my first release. It was ok for a while, when I passed the 22km fruits / water station, it started again. I walked a bit from the fruit station (didn’t take any of the fruit because I don’t want to challenge my stomach further), and I realized that I will again missed my sub 5 target. I walked about 2 minutes and finally able to regenerate enough strength to continue, but can only kept a slower pace cause the stomach rumbling again. After the 2nd u-turn, went straight to the porta-potty for 2nd release =.=

I corrected my mistake this time. On previous race, I usually walked quite a bit once I missed or gave up my target, and often felt regretted. This time, I did a better mental check and knew that I still have some chance to hit 5:15 but for sure I will sub 5.5. Hence I pushed again from 30km, until I really hit the wall at 36-37km (or may be it was just the sun came out…), then I plugged in the run-walk strategy (ran for 5 minutes and walked for 2 minutes). Until I reached the mark of 40km, I gave myself a longer walking break. Then I charged all the way to the finish line. Finished my 10th marathon by 5:26’45” (net time). I stayed back for another 2.5 hours to snap lots of runners returned to the finish line. Enjoyed lots of happy face :)
Great things about this race,
1. Well organized marathon, improved with fruits station (when coconuts became a norm). Being part of the marathon series also gave additional excitement when we received the extra t-shirt. Great medals design!
2.  The detour or alternative route is even better! We were like a bunch of runners having a great party over the 42km! The 2 u-turns gave you lots of changes to cheers or being cheers by your fellow runners.
3. Safest parking. We parked into the police station!

Possible improvement,
1. Shuttle service from town. Parking will be an issue if the number of runners kept the same growth rate. Some of us parked along the roadside and may create some inconvenience to the local.
2. To have an official cut off time. The race without cut off time is not very healthy because we tend to draw some participants who run without training. To complete a full marathon with sufficient training itself already a challenging task, without training will only make the situation worse and increase the injury rate. I think if we wish to encourage more runners to take part in full marathon, may be we can set the cut off time to 8 hours.

This is a race that all runners can enjoy. Had very challenging route for seasonal runners and long / no cut off time to ease the stress for FMV. Scenery route for everyone to take a break from the traffic packed city races. I will sure return in 2014! Now, back to training plan to revisit my sub 5 target in SCKLM.