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.