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.