Monday, December 8, 2014

Training report: Seoul International Marathon and training week 3

The highlight of training week 3 is the start of the tempo run and the long run. If you compared to the usual training program, Hanson method used slightly difference terms in this two key workout. In short, tempo run will be practicing targeted marathon pace, and long run is working on anaerobic threshold.
I was doing fine in week 3. The speed repeats completed without too much of issue with all 8x done faster than 4.5min/km pace. Anyway, I wasn’t able to complete the planned tempo run and long run. I only managed to hold up that pace for part of the planned distances. The pace was selected at 5min/km and 5.4min/km respectively. Not a very fast pace but it will still hurt if doing it for long enough. I am not very worry about this cause it is normal when you aimed to take down a pace that obviously beyond your existing capacity. The body just need time and practice to getting used to the pace and intensity. Like how it handles in the previous program. If it’s ok to take the pace, it will slowly ease into it. If it’s not ok to take the pace, it will show some sign to tell me to stop the abuse. I just need to listen closely to my body now.
Easy 9.7km

Speed 8x 600m
Speed 8x 600m
All repeats faster than 4.5min/km

Tempo 9.7km
Only 5km in tempo pace
Easy 11.3km

Easy 9.7km

Long 16.1km
Only 9km in long run pace
Total Done
Right ankle & PF issue
The right ankle seems to have some pain from the tempo run last week. I suspect that is a PF issue. The intensity of the training is taken its toll on the body. Calves felt tights most of the time and I had a hard time to loosen them in my every night stretching. Anyway the training intensity in the coming weeks will be reduced as I will be traveling from this Thursday onwards. I plan to continue with the 6 days training but change all into 10km easy run. Hopefully I can still maintain the momentum during my trip.

Today the long waited Seoul International Marathon registration has started. The fees increased to USD50 but still one of the most affordable IAAF GOLD label marathon. Flat course with 10-15degC weather are the big plus if you are chasing your PB. Furthermore, you will finish the marathon like a champion after the final lap inside the Jamsil Olympic Stadium (for 1988 Olympic Game). Click the picture below to the official website.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Training report: Intro to Hanson Marathon Method, and training week 1-2

I am working my marathon timing by following Hanson Marathon Method. It’s an 18 weeks program that grouped you into beginner or advanced marathoners, to follow a slightly difference schedule in order to train and achieve your goal in a full marathon race. I had explained many time my impression on the effectiveness of this training program, hence I will not repeating them. I will be documenting my perception and some tips from user point of view. I will suggest you get a copy of the book for reference.

In short, I will only recommend you to follow this program if you completed at least one marathon or several half marathons before. Even the beginner program is not really suitable for newbie (I am referring to those whom not developed the routine running habit, 3-4 days a week). It’s assumed the users have certain level of running skill and knew his/her limit relatively well. The typical weekly mileages for beginner program is ~30km per week for the first 5 weeks, after that, it kick up to 50-70km per week, and peak at 80km. Advanced program on the other hand, skipped the 5 weeks of warming up, started straight with 50-70km per week and peak at 90-100km per week. Not many amateur runners can take that in without an injury. Just for comparison, my usual training weekly mileage before I started this program was only 30-50km.

The past 12 months I was using the program and I am going to do the advanced program again for the coming Seoul International Marathon (SIM). Target now marked to 330 and hopefully I can survive. Basically 1st week was just a warming up to tune your body to get into the 6 days a week training program, and I was just focus on recovering from the APBIM. I will just skip the week 1. Also, as the SIM is only 17 weeks away, the week-17th in the standard program will be skipped too.

Easy 9.7km

Speed 12x 400m
Speed 12x 400m
2x laps slower than 4.5min/km

Easy 9.7km

Easy 9.7km
Rest for importance meeting
Easy 9.7km
Family activity
Easy 12.9km
Family activity
Total Done
Right foot PF still persisted

Week 2 was completed without much issue except the Friday management meeting and the family activity caught up. The speed intervals were done in the MPSJ running track. I was a bit worried with the pace of 4:20-4:30min/km in these speed intervals, but surprised me that the 400m still manageable. Some of these run affected by the mild level of flu, but now the flu is getting over. The right foot PF still persisted plus the outer ankle giving some problem (hard to tell if only the PF or the ankle is also aching). I will continue with my daily stretching of the calves, and strengthening of the foot. Almost every evening raining now, hence the morning weather was fantastic.

Week 3 will mark the first Tempo run of 9.7km at 4:59min/km pace. I did that in my recent 10km PB, but I am not sure if I am still capable to repeat that now on a weekly basis for all the tempo run scheduled. Nonetheless, the program will be more interesting when all these SOS sessions kicked in.

Enjoy your training.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Random Update

Thanks to the help from AECO Malaysia, the Garmin Forerunner 910XT service completed right before the start of the APBIM. I was surprised to get a free replacement of reconditioned unit from Taiwan. I got mine on 2012 March, which is 2.5 years before it punctured. Anyway, the unit working fine and it will be great help for the starting of another round of 18 weeks training program from Hanson Marathon Method, for the preparation of Seoul International Marathon. Btw, the Garmin Forerunner 920XT will be available in Malaysia from mid-December onward, make sure you got yours from the authorized distributor and it will save you lots of trouble if something went wrong. Anyway, I will only consider mine after the Seoul International Marathon. May be I will got it as a gift (for achieving my 330 target, or a consolation price for missing the target).

I finally decided to purchase from Amazon. Ordered the VFF Komodo Sport from it and all I needed pay was USD84.56 (MYR289.14 via credit card). I received the parcel 2 weeks after the order, and the only downside about this purchase was the shoe is the older color (or production batch, the black and silver series). But I am ok if it compared to what I need to pay from local running (MYR447). I will give it a last change before I give up and move to other barefoot friendly shoes like Merrell Bare Access. 

I used the saved amount from my online purchase to sign up my next race, Route68 Challenge. This is the inaugural race for this 68km ultra marathon. Start from Dewan Serbaguna Komuniti Orang Asli, Gombak, ran 34km to Bentong Hot Spring, and then have a dip before taking the u-turn and ran back to the starting point. Initially I think of skipping it, but from the previous race experience, I will need to have some other target to reduce my dip too deep into the post-race blue. And I will be more or less done with my speed chasing (gave in my best shoot during Seoul International Marathon). Difference type of running will be good.

Kids had their yearly race yesterday at Desa Park City. They were really enjoyed the race refreshment (icy Milo, 100Plus) and running around freely. The event was great, and the kid race getting lots more participants from year to year.

Running with joy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report: APBIM 2014

Originally, I wasn’t planned to join this race. I registered last minutes after the route announced in August. I was thinking I should be able to avoid the congested route if I go fast enough (i.e. sub 4), and shit did happened. Felt regrets about my action now.

This was a touch and go marathon trip. I took the flight on 8pm from SZB and arrived PEN 9pm and Queensbay Mall by 10pm. Many runners thinking the same and some even changed in running attires from SZB. The free shuttle buses from Queensbay Mall to the race site were still aplenty during that time (fewer participants for FM compared to the rest of the categories). Grab some supply (supper and coffee) from AEON then took the bus to the race site. Arrived at the starting point around 11pm, I still got plenty of time to kill and took my time change into my race attires.

The men open category flag off at 1:30am. The starting pen was overcrowded and one water tanker from the MPPP decided to join the flag off... The first 2km was chaos! We was flagged off from a 3 lanes highway, and then funneled into a single lane up to the bridge. Best part was, some participants already started to walk! The incline was not stiff and we were hardly 1km into the race! This gave me a hard time to warm up my engine. The start-stop, acceleration & breaking really messed up my pace. The situation only eases up after we came down from the top of the bridge.

The rest of the route heading to main land was only me, other runners, the bridge, the sea, and the lamp poles. The endless lamp poles view posted a great challenge to the mental strength. And you will need to at least double that challenge because we will u-turn and heading back to the island later! The weather was beautiful and I slowly set into my running rhythms. I reached my target pace but the heart rate stayed on the high side (~165BPM compared to my usual racing HR of 155BPM). I knew something going to break in the later part of the race. 16km, left ITB felt very tight. 18km, right tight felt like going to cramp. Blister under my left sole, knees pain, and ankles pain, one hit after each other, even the bandage over my nipple washed away and it started to bleeding. 24km into the race, I took a longer break in the water station, decided this wasn’t my day hence reduce the plan to just running from water station to water station with slower pace. Think this was the result of less training since SCKLM.

Looking back from the main land to the island, the endless lamp poles view was magnificent, but torturing too. Repeated the strategy running from water station to water station, until 32km, where we met the half marathon-walkers. I was already behind my schedule hence I was expected to crush with them, but I forgot to take into account for the inexperience newbie runners/walkers – they don’t travel by consistence pace. Tentatively, they running very fast at the start, and very slow when exhausted. If the pace were consistence, they should be at least running (7-8.5 min/km pace), but now everyone were walking on the bridge (>10 min/km pace)! No one cared if you were still running cause they just took up the 2 whole lanes. I was demoralized and started to walk more. Later my life saver (Chua, men-open 4.5 hours pacer) came and I tried my best to tag along. Thank to his encouragement I finished the race with 4:27’01”.
Trusted GF910XT, returned just in time for APBIM
Finisher Medal, APBIM 2014
Overall, this is by far, the worst Marathon Event I ever attended. But nonetheless, still some good thing happened,
1. My registration was towards the end, the courier options ended earlier. But the organizer still entertained and I received my race kit 1 week before the race.
2. The experience running over the bridge was great. Even though the route is flat, but the boring and endless route view (yes, you almost can see the whole route from the top of the bridge), gave sufficient challenge to the runners endurance and mental strength.
3. Dedicated Full Marathon finished area was good, the sponsors booths also duplicated inside the finished area.

Things to improve,
1. Basic requirement for a race is not fulfilled. Poorly designed water stations (short and only using one side of the road), no or minimum distance markers, bottleneck/funneling of race route in varies location, insufficient of portable toilet, no notices boards to divert the human traffic at varies points.
2. Flag off or starting time design. May be the organizer thought of women ran slower that man, hence in FM & HM, men open flag off first. But how come later 10k women got flag off first? Should copy how other major event perform, flag off by target finish time. Don’t bother if the runners are honest enough to declare their timing correctly, but at least the human traffic jam will be reduced.
3. Starting pen got a water tanker inside! Come on!
4. Finish area were too dark, put up some more light please.
5. Route design for varies categories. The delayed starting time for 10k participants is good for the HM and FM, but too bad the 10k participants have to run under the hot sun. May be can separate the 10k and HM from FM (Saturday and Sunday).
At the last turn into finish line, elbowed too many people until no eye see :P 
The list goes on, but I recalled that the organizer seems to be hardheaded and never listened / learned from runners’ complaint, hence no point for me to continue to complaint here. My recommendation, if you are serious runners, there are many more others races in this country or region for a better running experience. Don’t waste your time and money on this event.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Preparation for APBIM

It was not in my plan to run in Penang Bridge Marathon this year. I stayed at the side line for very long time and only consider register after the organizer announced the route. Not really about the race, but I don’t like the crowded route on the bridge after merged with other categories (refer to 2012 experience). And I decided to register after looking into the final race day program and the route. The majority of the participants (at 10k and fun run) will be separated from the FM and HM, and HM too separated into 3 starting times. This will ease the crowd on the bridge.
To be frank, after the SCKLM, the fatigue of the training lingering and wont go a way until today. I didn’t run much since then, mostly 5k on weekdays and often skipping the weekend long runs. The excuse I used will often be the FR910XT not around, rainy morning and etc., but deep in my heart I knew that’s the withdrawal syndrome/depression from a major race. The more preparation and anticipation you had with the race, the longer it stayed. I spent about 7 months to prepare for SCKLM, hence I guess I will continue to suffer from it for may be another week or two. Some good about this, is the body is now well rested. For the unfinished sub 4 target, I will just convince myself that all the required training is completed. The body is well prepared to run a 4 hours 5.5min pace to finish that business. Now, you just need to do it this Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, like it or not, today marked the starting of my new 18 weeks training to Seoul International Marathon on 15 Mar 2015. Seriously I am waiting for the GF910XT to return so that I can bang on those speed intervals. The target this time – 330. If you are interested to run a full marathon in cold weather (10-15degC), flat course, reasonable fees (USD40, in 2014) and finishing in 1988 Olympic Stadium, mark your calendar and registration will start in early December.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Trail Running in HangZhou

I was conducting training in HangZhou last week. As usual, I will check out if any race or event happened around the city. I was surfing the internet and this map pop up and caught my eyes!
Click the map to visit the official site of the trail race.
It was a trail running map for an event that only takes place on 9 Nov. After all the serious training and running for marathon, I was tired and wanted to try something else. I started with downloading the trail course into my GF910XT, but it went back to factory after SCKLM. I will need to explore the trail all by myself (map, navigation, and etc.), this is even better than what I planned for!

Woke up early on Saturday morning, I packed my Camelbak, and the 2 Powerbars I brought from Powerbar SCKLM promotion. Initially I wish to go with my VFF, but the rainy weather since Thursday made me opts to run with Merrell Bare Access to avoid the wet shoes situation that I had in SCKLM. I arrived at the trail starting point behind the ZheJiang University Yuquan Campus’ library around 7:15am, and the first challenge I need to overcome, a long climb of more than 800 steps of stairs! This continued for the rest of the day. In fact most of the trail paths are converted or converting into cements stairs. If 75% of the elevations are covered by stairs (say each step with 20cm height), for total elevations of 1500m, I must have done more than 5000 steps of stairs in this “trail running”.
 The whole course marked with the green dots, and there are lots of maps available along the way. It will be hard to not following the right course, but I did take a wrong turn after 15km into the trail. The wrong turn took me extra 2km on foot, but also brought me into this very nice trail within a tea plantation. I actually walked most of the sessions except the 2 sessions of the course with dirt trail. Those cements, stones filled path and lots of others walking tourists took away my desired to run. The whole 20km trail took me 7 hours. I ran out of food and water towards the end and decided to skip the last peak.
Starting point of the trail.
700 steps of stairs done! More to go!
The first peak after the few hundred steps of stairs (195m)
Marking for boundary of West Lake Cultural Landscape Heritage
Trail Map along the Course
West Lake from the trail, too bad the hazy condition
Stones filled path
Dirt Trail, in process to convert to cement path...
Dirt trail cross the tea plantation
Another path of dirt trail over the tea plantation
Happy face :)
15k into the course, followed the orange dot and took a wrong turn here
Overall, it was a great experience of trail running. The weather was great at 22-25degC. The only draw back will be those stairs. The course scatter with stones filled path is not barefoot/VFF friendly. After the run, both legs suffered with serious muscles soreness that last until now (at least 3 days, worst than Titi50). If I wanted to venture into trail running, I will need to get a pair of trail running shoes, and obviously I need to have more trail/stairs training. Anyway, this is the small detour from my marathon training. Still got unfinished business on my Sub-4 project, hence should back to road running now.

Btw, the GF910XT tentatively will not return on time for APBIM next Sunday. I will need to run with the HRM alone. Looking at the track record of not having enough distances markers in APBIM, it will be difficult to maintain my pace. Or may be I just need to get my self used to running within my capacity (go by my best effort, which reflected by heart rate, 150-170BPM).

See you next week in Penang.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Forerunner 910XT punctured!

After 2.5 years of faithful service, the side button (up and down buttons) decided to give way. About a month ago, I observed the fogging up of the front panel crystal during my run. I checked thru the case after the run and found that the down button is punctured. Don’t observed water ingression, but the unit will fogged up when the power turned on. Also, the down button no longer working, but I was lucky to have the last run with the virtual partner pace set to my target marathon pace, and all other functionality were working too. I can still using it to guide me thru the SCKLM (even though I missed my personal target).

Now the unit was sent back for repair, and I need to continue my workout with the Polar FT4. As all the training for sub 4 was completed, I only planned easy runs for these few weeks just to maintain the momentum. Most of the workout will be running at easy pace with <140BPM. Still some adjustment needed to run solely by effort, but I think soon I will get used to it. Hopefully 910XT will return home timely for the APBIM.

Garmin announced the all new 920XT (link to DC Rainmaker review page, 6 Nov updated in-depth review here), which look really great. It will definitely on my wish list, but properly only get mine towards end of next year.
Forerunner 920XT (photo from internet)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Race Report: SCKLM 2014

This is my first marathon in 2014. After the preparation for almost a year, finally I was about to face the challenge! I am still remembered the feeling of sub 5 result from the last marathon in Munich (it will stay until I return to Munich next time to claim a better timing). And the conclusion I made in that race report, that I am doubtful if I can replicate the result back home. Now, one year later, I aimed even higher to attempt sub 4 in my home country. How could this happen? Actually it divided into 2 parts, internal and external drivers.

Let’s start with internal driver. For the few years in running, I was never a competitive runner. All I wanted was to enjoy the run, race, and slightly improvement of my racing time from time to time. I was talking about sub 5 marathon for 2 years before I achieved one, and I was talking about sub 2 half marathon but still none until today. I got the awareness that I am not trying hard enough for my target in Munich Marathon. In that race, I knew that I can run the whole 42km without walking, and hold my heart rate up to 160BPM for the whole 5 hours without killing myself! It was like open up a brand new chapter with so much more possibility to be discovered. Then I was thinking it will be great if I can do the sub 5 back home soon, but how badly I wanted it?

On external driver, I met few more crazy running souls in FB. Few of them introduced the Hanson Marathon Method, and few of them are really crazy about getting faster. With the new blank page that I just discovered, naturally I drawn to their reason, training, improvement and races. All these are new possibility I wanted to try out! I wonder if I can run faster or go further. I am convinced that I should stick to marathon for now until I discovered my full potential before I moved on to ultra. Hence the project sub 4 started.

It was dramatic towards the race day. Not about my training, but the hazy condition in KL going up and down since October. Like I concluded in my last blog post, I was about 75% completed to the training program and I was optimistic about the result. But the hazy days in KL reduced the tapering mileages to even lower level. Last week I only ran twice before the race. Emotionally I was disturbed and the self doubt went over the roof. To make thing worst, my wife joined her company trip and I left home with two young kids… (I didn’t leave them alone at home for the few hours during the race, my brother’s family was kind enough to stay with the kids over my marathon race). Finally, Saturday came, and after settle my kids, I get myself some well needed rest around 10pm.

Alarm went off 2am, and the race day started. Arrived at Padang Merbok by 3:30am, found a nice parking slot and get myself ready for the race. I foreseen some blister issue with the VFF around the toes, I wet them with plenty of Vaseline. The starting line filled with lots of people, found the barefoot gang and took a few ground photos, and then time came to get into the starting pen for the flag off. I don’t want to block by too many runners, hence I got myself moved towards the front. Bang! We flagged off on time.

The 2014 KL marathon has a new route this year. We went straight into the heart of KL city (Jalan TAR, Jalan Sultan Ismail, KLCC, Pavilion, Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Ampang), then move on to highways (AKLEH & DUKE), then back to the usual KL marathon route at Jalan Kuching. The traffic control is much better this year cause most of the roads involved are closed from traffic, and the Jalan Kuching traffic is much better this year (I could be wrong cause I arrived at this stretch way earlier compared to 2 previous years).

There are 3 pacers for 4 hours group and using dark green color balloon. They did great by actually spreading out (one leading with ~5.5min/km pace, one tailing with ~5:40min/km pace, and one more person running in between). I chased down the middle pacer and tailing the pace leader from far (200-300m). The running effort controlled at a manageable level and only pushed when I hit the inclines. Heart rate was maintained at 152-155BPM. Everything was great and hit the 21st km within plan (1:56). Then I felt the VFF getting too wet, and thing started to fallen from 26km. I felt some pinch from every step near my left feet arch. Then follow by the right feet at the same part too. It affected my pace and I felt difficult to keep up with the pacers. Finally, I can’t take it anymore and had to let the pacers goes. I stopped after the DUKE toll gate around 30km to adjust the shoes.
Blisters, after the rubbing of the very wet VFF arches supports, from 26km to finish line. 
I felt the efforts spent in my training wasted! I was only 8 seconds behind my planned 30km split, but I knew I will not able to kept up with the pace because the adjustment of the VFF can only slightly reduce the pain. But I learned from my previous marathon, it was still too earlier to throw in the tower. Nonetheless, I only took 2:48’08” to cover the last 30km. If I keep going, I will surprised by my own finishing time later. Slowly, I restarted the run by slower pace (6.2-6.5min/km). Stopped few times to adjust the VFF in the Bukit Tunku area and walked up the long incline after the Tijani2 entrance. Lucky, after that, I found the pain was more bearable (may be the mind just shut off the sensor) and I slowly gaining speed over the long decline along Jalan Tun Ismail. Then after the Bank Negara, we joined with the half marathoners.

This is the worst stretch in the new route. Most of the HM already started walking after only 100 minutes into their race, and I need zigzag to dodging lots of people just to kept a 6-6.5min/km pace here. Water stations from this point onwards were all at chaos mode. After 37km in the race, I felt regretted not running with my bottle. Traffic built up at the Mahameru highway and the last water station located in this session with only one lane blocked off for the runners. This created a major bottleneck for both runners and the traffic. I almost elbowed my way to the water station here. Finally the homing stretch, decided to drop the hammer after the National Museum. Slowly but surely I was gaining speed and sped across the finish line with 4:08’30” on my watch.
First sub 5 timing achieved in home ground!
This result again left me with some unfinished business. Nonetheless still a fantastic PB that improved 51 minutes and I finally packed a sub 5 marathon at home ground! Apart from very sore tights and calves (plus the blisters on my arches), I finished without injury and not cramps! Hence I am optimistic to attempt sub 4 again in next month APBIM. I just need to figure out how to deal with the VFF (may be wet the whole feet with Vaseline next time).

Overall about this race,
1. New route, we avoided the usual last 2km people mountain people sea from the old route. But that exchanged with last 5km with walking half marathoner. Anyway, after the rough calculation, I was unlucky to choice to finish around 4 hours. If I run faster than 3:45, or slower than 4:30, I will not hit the bulk HM run-walker whom will finish around 2:30-3:00.
2. Traffic control at most of the route, except within the Bukit Tunku area. Those big cars some time is difficult to stop by volunteers.
3. Plenty of water stations. In fact to some point in the race, I felt there were too many water stations. As I don’t have my trusted bottle with me, I need to stop at every water station, sometime, this disturbed my pace (in a good way of course).
4. Much better control at the finishing area. This year it was fully barricaded for finishers only, and practicing a very systematic way to distribute medal and t-shirt.
5. Please relocate the last water station, 100m down the route and the road opened up widely.
My 13th Full Marathon Finisher Medal
Now, time to go back to the drawing board to fill up the training plan until APBIM. See you guys in Penang next month.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SCKLM Preparation

Another few more days to the final exam of my Project Sub4.
Last Thursday was the last SOS run for the Hanson’s Marathon program. When I first started with the 5:40min/km pace training, I struggled in most of the SOS workouts (long run, tempo and speed work). But after half way thru the program, I have no more issue to follow thru the pace and the distances in the program. The training gave very obvious result in the CICM 10k and other training run. I event did my first sub 2 in half marathon distance at Padang Merbok – Hartamas route in one of the Sunday training run.

Anyway, I was not able to follow thru 100% on this training program. I only clocked in an average of ~50km/week. I need to travel regularly for work hence the training mileages will be low on those times. I suffered two major down times from plantar fasciitis and a skin cut behind the ankle from a chafing of the new VFF. The PF tentatively caused by the very high intensity training and tight right calf. I am doing the stretching, strengthening exercises and massage the calves religiously every night before bed. The stretching helped lots to speed up the recovery between workouts, but some time the body still felt too tired and refused to go. From observation, my current life style can only support up to 70-80km/week, anything more than that, will need to bargain with the body or change my life style (at least go to bed earlier).

Even I wasn’t fully follow thru 100% on this training program, I still ran >150km at target marathon pace (compared to planned 190km). I will score my self 70% (with some score minus from Speed works and Long runs too). After all these tempo run, now I need to slightly hold back in all my easy run because it will slowly but surely sped up to 5:40min/km. It’s not about my capability to hold on to this pace now, but I have some concern on the burning rate and it may jeopardize the tapering effort. I think this is a good problem to have, it’s indicated that I still have room to improve, and may be looking for 330 in next training plan.

Not surprised that I am excited, and with the tapering period reduced the demand in running, the extra energy are all channeled into self doubt. I am fully aware that I had done all I can and when Sunday come, its time to harvest the efforts I put in so far. But some planning will be good to comfort myself. We have a new route this year, so the plan used for previous SCKLM will not be applicable. But I think I am well prepared, just need to put in few more mental check points during the race,
1. Start slower, hold back at the first 2km with 5:50-6:00min/km pace.
2. Maintain the rest of the miles with 5:36min/km pace.
3. If still got lots left in the tank when turn into Jalan Parliament (~37.5km), shift to higher gear and just run by heart.
4. Take one energy gel every 7-8km (not carrying water bottle in long distance race for the first time, will need to depend on water station location).
5. Stop by every water station for water (alternate isotonic with water after 20km).

Another huddle I may need to face is the GF910XT casing punctured and some moisture slipped into the unit. It’s still functioning until yesterday, but I am not very sure if it will fail me on Sunday. So, plan B will be stick to the 4 hours pacers team (whom properly going with 5.5-5.6min/km pace hopefully, Green Colour balloon).

Good luck if you racing this weekend too.
See you in the SCKLM starting line. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Race Report: CICM Responsible Care Run 10km

This is the yearly event that my office took part in the corporate category, and few of us tasked to take the trophy back to the office. We did that for the past 2 years, and we hoped to get a 3x streaks this year. The boss committed to pay for 50 participants and we did some promotion of this race within the company, hence we have a much bigger group joined this race (~50 compared to 5~7 in the past 2 years).

To me, this is the final trial exam before the SCKLM. My plan was to test out my capability to run the equivalent pace for a sub 4 marathon in the 10k race, which is 5:06 min pace from McMillan site. The sub 4 project been going on for a while (more then 6 months now), its time to check out the result and fine tuning the final stretch with only 34 days from SCKLM. Anyway, as my last race was >3 months ago, I was excited to join a race to again taste the rush of the adrenaline in the blood stream.

Not much special preparation on the race and the 18k training run on the Saturday before felt terrible. I think the body was yet to recover from long working night on Thursday. Both legs like steel rods and I was really in doubt. Should I just go for 5.5min pace like last year (which is very manageable effort now), or should I continue my plan to test out the 5.1min pace? On top of that, the PF syndrome at right foot still occasionally caused some pain. Lucky when I woke up Sunday morning 4:30am, the body felt normal, not overly excited or too tired for a short race. Left home at 5:10am and it took me 45 minutes to drive to the race venue, SMK Bandar Tasik Puteri.

There are many other races in KL city, hence this event only have less than 1000 participants. Half marathoners flagged off around 6:20am, I think less than 200 participants started. After a few warming up lap, I get myself into the starting pen around 6:40am. The crowd of 10k was more than the half marathoner, but I was not in the mood to count. Tuned my mind to the racing mode, waited in the 2nd row from the front. Then “Bang!” Charging out from the school, the expected adrenaline kicked in but I was still consciously hold myself back so that I will not going out too fast.

After 1km, the number of fast runners reduced to only 20-30, and I knew at least 2 other colleagues were in front of me. The rush of adrenaline pushed my pace to 4.9min, but the body seems to taking in positively with a heart beat rate of around 160BPM. I was looking for a chance to slow down to 5.1min pace. The first 3km past just like that, until I saw one runner in uniform (other company representative) running not too far in front. Then I pushed, past him. Then I realized one of my colleagues was not too far in front. I pushed, past him too. Closing up to the first u-turn point, I counted the returned runners on the other side. Less than 20 now! And there was another colleague not too far in front of me. After the u-turn, I pushed, past him at 6km. From that point onwards, I told myself, WTH, and started to push all the way back.

Approaching the 2nd u-turn point, I did another count of runners in front of me. Hell! Less than 10 now! For sure the top few runners could have finished, but I may still be able to take home one of the individual trophy! I dropped the hammer and thrown in all I had. Past the last lady in front of me and charge back to the finish line. Hack! Finished 49’16”, only 6 second behind the 10th placed in Men Open category. If only I pushed earlier... (I am fully aware that my current capability is yet to enable me to finish on podium, I get these close to it only because of many speed demons when to other races in KL city) On the Corporate Category, as all 5 of us came back before 52 minutes, we won. Our top runner finished with 4th placed in Men Veteran category with a respectable timing of 46min.
Team Linde Malaysia
Overall, the race was ok. We are running around the golf course hence the weather and the route is very nice. Almost no traffic observed during the race but still, occasionally a car or motorcycle zoomed by, overall traffic control actually quite poor. Also the venue is really too far and it directly impacted the number of participants.

Anyway, I still packed home my 10km PB. With a 6 minutes improvement from last year, I couldn’t ask for more. The trail exam completed with a result beyond my expectation. I am very comfortable now for my sub 4 project, I only need to keep going with 5:40min pace for 42km or 4 hours. Now the challenge will be on the new SCKLM route. The elevated highways sure will increase the total elevation, but I will only know the full impact until I tested it out. Hopefully it will be like what their race director said, “A route to produce new course record”.

33 more days until the final exam.

Happy Running.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Project Sub 4 Update

I will be doing my first full marathon in 2014 in about 19 weeks from now. As Hanson Marathon Method typically goes with 18 weeks training plan, I think now is time to reflect my progress and may be do some final adjustment on my training plan.

In my recent race report (15k at Kuala Kangsar), I was confident that I am going to sub 4 in October. But the situation is changing now. I felt into sick (flu, cough and running nose) for 2 weeks. That jeopardized 15 days from my training. I only managed to restart slowly from last Wednesday. Eventually, after a week back into training, I felt the sickness and break didn't take away too much of my trained stamina and endurance. But that will be too early to tell. I was so looking forward to my mid term exam – Ipoh International Half Marathon to gauge my current progress and score my first sub-2 half marathon. Unfortunately it was postponed to November now. Hence, all training plan back to drawing board and I have to adjust my plan only with what I had from the 15k race.

I will be following the Advanced Program in Hanson Marathon Method, with a target finishing time set to 3:45 hours (target pace 5:20 min/km). The main difference of Advanced Program compared to Beginner Program was the tempo run. It’s kick in from week 3. Progressively increased from 9.7km to 16km. Towards the end of the program, I should have completed ~191km of tempo run at target marathon pace, which hopefully will map the pace into my muscles and body movement. My heart beat raise by only looking at the pace chart. The problem will be my speed. I haven’t run that fast before and the speed works recommended a pace that I recognized as my top speed previously (4:41-4:53 min/km). I may want to review the plan around week 7 or 8 after I did a few longer tempo run.
Some key lessons learned from my attempt to follow the Hanson Marathon Method program twice,
1. Avoid joining races in training plan. I was racing too much in my first attempt to follow thru the training plan. These races some how proven the effectiveness of the training program, but I was just too excited in racing and injured my leg back then.
2. Stick to the planned pace, especially if you are going to a totally new territory. If you are aiming too high, better play safe. Especially on the strength and speed intervals, your system will be under high level of stress. Pushing too fast not only jeopardized the quality of the workout, it will also invite injury.
3. Stay away from sick people. The training program is very demanding even on the Beginner Program. Some study found that running long distances will actually reduce the capacity of your immune system. I will suggest that as the high intensity of running will need more time and effort from the body to recover between workouts. These recovery activities will definitely reduce the capacity of the body’s resistant of sickness.
4. Have enough sleep. This comes hand in hand with the above. Sufficient sleeps improve the recovery and helps to ensure quality workout session.

Happy Running!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Some of my friends and families sent me this article, cause they all know I ran in VFF. 

I don’t have much to said about the “scam” putting up by VFF, it was just merely a slogan or marketing gimmick that we usually saw in many campaigns or promotions. If VFF is guilty for this, then all other company that jump into the barefoot bandwagon too are guilty. As runners, I only belief that running is an activities that based on yourself (being your legs, foot, muscles, core and others part of your bodies). And obviously, running should not be the type of shoes that you are wearing. Most of my thoughts were described in this article here. 

Have a look, think and working on what you believed in.

Loved my experience in my first Full Marathon in VFF
Loved my barefoot running too, but BF is in the back seat now.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Race Report: Kuala Kangsar Larian Hari Keputeraan Sultan Azlan Shah 2014

I was running the previous edition of the same race, which was only 12km back in 2011. The experience was great. As I missed 2 years on this race, I signed up immediately once it opened for registration in December. Then I tuned down my races appetites after the burn out in early January this year. Initially I was thinking of DNS, but after I worked out my plan for sub-4 in SCKLM, the race served right as a trial exam to gauge my training progress. So I decided to give my best and see if I am on track with my aim. The game plan is simple, set my Garmin Virtual Partner to 5.5min pace and go for it!

Figured out that few races happened during the weekend, we may not have many photographers taking runners photos, hence I tagged along with my Olympus TG2 for some photos during and after the race. I reached the event site early around 6am, met some running kaki and taken some photos. But the TG2 not taking very good night shoot (may be is my scene setting issue) hence only few of them can be used. We gathered in the starting pen 10 minutes before start, some 7km school children queued in and joining us. As there are not marshal manning the starting pen, this is not surprised me. Told some of them to start later, but eventually some were flagged off together with us.

The flag off is 2-3 minutes earlier than the plan 6:50am, but I am ok with that. Stuck with the usual jammed start, but still the starting pace was furious! Not much slowdown in the first KM. The jammed eased after we turned into the main road. The first water station emerged after we came down from the bridge (2.8km). After the water station, finally some one was checking the 7km and diverted them into difference route. We continued into the kampung area. Nice view and friendly villagers cheering the runners to keep going. The feeling was great!

The 2nd water station at 5.8km and the 3rd water station at 8.2km where we made our u-turn back to the town. The sun was rising beautifully before I made my u-turn. I kept consistence pace at 5:10-5:20 for the whole stretch except took brief stop in every water stations. The heart rate was averaged at 160BPM. As I was pushing all the way, I didn’t noticed much what is the content in each water stations. Before the start, I heard there are more then the usual water and isotonic served, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. I noticed there were one local food stall in the kampung area that allocated some of their food with a board said “Free for Runners!”, but I was not able to take a photo. There were coconuts served at the final water station at 11.6km, I gave it a miss as I was still feeling strong and eagle to see how far I can sustain this pace. The finish line approaching fast, I decided to push harder to finish strong.
Sprint into finish. Thanks Sean for the photo.
Overall the race was very well organized and really value for money (RM20 registration for timing chip, medal, t-shirt, socks, shoes bag and buffer breakfast). Live entertainment, special water stations (coconuts and fried banana), marshals and traffic control, all made this event near perfect for runners. The only area for improvement will be the route. The 15km route no longer going to the palace and town area, it will be perfect if we can have the route cover that part of the royal town. Saw one incident of a collapsed runner when I near the finish line, hope he is doing fine now.
What is the feeling of staying 160BPM or 86% of max heart rate for 15km? Tough! But one has to recognize that you really need to push, and then you can expect a break thru. I have confident in my training regime and belief all the hard works had transformed and built my body to go with that pace and rate. The result? I completed the 15.6km with total time of 1:21’59”, average pace 5:15min/km. The fastest pace achieved at the final 1.6km @ 4:52min/km without injury (but left with some very sore muscles, I think it was mainly due to no stretching after the run, I continue to take photos right after my ice-cream).

My conclusion, I am on track in my Sub-4 Project. I think I am ready to first sub-2 in the half marathon. The next test will be in Ipoh Half Marathon on 22 June. Frankly, I still think Ipoh Half Marathon (or the official name is Ipoh International Run) is suck. Until today their official website is not fully updated and functioning (but I registered online since the online registration part is working, yet I can’t check my registration status). I signed up with only one reason, to do it in 5.5min pace, in order to gauge my training progress. I will fine tune my training plan for SCKLM with the outcome from this half marathon. I wish to see how fast I can go.

The finishers photos taken stored in my FB page HERE.