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Friday, October 11, 2013

Anticipation is over

It was last held here in February 2010. I was there too, though only on the sidelines. Supporting some friends, and witnessing their courage and determination to get to the finish line in 17 hours or less.

I haven't done it myself yet, but I always wanted to do it.

To become like one of them.

The good news is, it is coming to town again - in September 2014.
The long wait has finally come to an end.
Official announcement has been made, and friends are busy talking about it over FB day and night.

Registration fee is going to be an issue for some, if not for many.
Though transportation and accommodation may not be so much of a deal for some, they still involve a good sum of hard-earned-money to spend.

Some will even have to train without hi-tech gadgets in the names of GPS watches, heart rate monitors, let alone power meters like some others do.

Some will spend even more time tweaking their training plans, scratching heads in the middle of the night thinking how could they balance the 24 hours into work time, family time, social needs time, own time, and training time.

Some others around them who are yet to understand the passion, will continue to ask questions of which they won't be able to comprehend the answers given.

But to live a life without dreams, is almost similar to not living a life - some say.

At least I know mine.

"M-dot dream", is one of my dreams.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SCKLM 2013

Seawal pagi keluar berlari,
Penat berlari naik lah teksi,
Cerita dah lama dah jadi basi,
Baru sekarang sempat di kongsi.

You’ve trained hard for months – long distance runs, speed intervals, you name it.
You’ve sacrificed lots of time being away from family on many weekend mornings.
You’ve done what is possible within your capacity.

All you want is to be able to perform well during the marathon, and hopefully finish it with a new Personal Best (PB) timing.
Well, that’s my goal anyway.

I did my first KL Marathon in 2009, and then in 2010 and 2012. I skipped the 2011 edition for the lack of motivation to train back then. Initially, this year around it was supposed to be held in June, but due to bad haze it was postponed to September.

This year, I came with the same ambition as last year but with a different approach. I’m still eyeing for the 4h30m finish time. I know it’s doable, and I also know it’s not easy (well, for me at least). I decided to seek some assistance from the official 4:30 pacers which the organizer has provided.

According to the pacer’s action plan , we were to run with an average pace of about (preferably) 6min/km for the first 21km. The strategy was to bank in some time in the first half, to allow some slagging in speed in the second half. Knowing the weather here, there’s no way you can escape the heat towards the later part of the race. Pace for the second half was planned at below 6:40min/km.

So, right at 4:30am on last Sunday morning (30th Sept), thousands of marathon runners were released from Merdeka Square. 20 seconds after the gun off I crossed the starting line. Carefully keeping up with the pacers with yellow balloon I made my way through the crowd in the cool breezy morning.

The first 5km was done in 29mins. Right on track. We had to skip the first water station (WS). Massive crowd there. The cool breeze gave some sort of energy refreshment.

Getting to 10km and 15km points, we were still within pace target – 59mins and 1h30m respectively. So far so good, I told myself. But still long way to go.

I believe they changed the route slightly after KM18 up to KM20, because Masjid Alam Shah where I planned to stop for Subuh was not in sight. My legs were slowly feeling the fatigue upon running for 2 hours, which explained why at 20km split point I already fell behind target by 5mins.
Still in hot pursuit - pic by Chuah Sakura

I made a quick diversion into my office building at around KM22 for Subuh prayer. Fortunately this time around my tummy behaved pretty good so I did not that much time during the quick break like the previous years. 6 minutes was all it was. Happy. Fast mind calculation would tell me that I was about 1km behind the pacers. If my engine was still fresh, I would be able to catch them up after 10km.

However, coming out right after that stop the fatigue in my legs started to creep up. Though my energy level and heart rate were still within green zone, I just couldn’t maintain pace. I started some walk breaks as early as KM24.

From then onwards, I was just forcing myself to run more than walk. I kept my walk breaks for 20 to 30 seconds maximum. I knew I can’t spare much more time to recover the fatigue in my leg muscles by walking as it would damage the targeted pace too badly beyond repair.

Amazingly though, unlike previous years, the heat and the long stretch boredom of Jalan Kuching and Jalan Ipoh didn’t intrude and dampen my spirit to keep moving. I kept my mind busy counting the number of seconds I took to walk and to run. I didn’t want to give up yet although I knew target finish time of 4:30 is already elusive. I crossed KM30 at 3h13m – 7minutes behind target pace. How disappointing that was.

From then onwards it was all about making sure my legs did not give up on me. I kept overtaking people when I run, and yet to see them overtake me again when I started walking. At KM35 I was 10 minutes slower than target and with that kind of fatigue accumulated I was pretty sure I couldn’t recover the time lost.

Struggling face of a marathon runner - pic by TKB

With 7 kilometers to go, I only had roughly a mere 40 minutes if I were to achieve 4:30 target timing. With fresh pair of legs – yes, very doable. But not in the state I was in. Each KM felt longer and longer. Energy was draining with every steps I made. Nothing much was in my head other than to tell my feet not to walk so much. Pressure started to build up. I may not get the 4:30 timing, but at least I badly wanted to get a new PB timing.

New target made: time to beat is 4h37m which I get during SCKLM2012. Reaching KM40 I already clocked 4h21m, which means I had less than 16 minutes to cover the final 2 km. I told myself if I could reach KM41 at 4h30m then I might have the chance to break PB.

For some weird reason, similar to how I felt during previous years of KL marathon, KM40 to KM41 always feel like the longest stretch in the whole route. Many other runners especially from the 10km categories were filing up Jalan Raja Laut, many of them were walking. I finally reached KM41 with the time of 4h30min. So, my spirit was high to go for the final push.

I was more concerned not to “lock” my legs with muscle spasm (cramp) for sprinting towards the finish line rather than having to criss-cross the many runners on Jalan TAR. With 6 minutes left to get a PB, I had to up my pace a little bit. It was really a race against time.

Once I saw the finishing line few meters ahead I kept on looking at my watch. It was already showing 4h35m30s, or something like that. I tried to sprint and I finally finished my marathon in 4h36m41s.

Trying my hardest to get a new PB - pic by Deo

Yes, a new PB – by less than 1 minute.

My disappointment for not being able to break 4h30m barrier exceeded my delight for breaking a new PB.

And like always, I only blame my preparation for this kind of shortcoming. This means I need to train harder. Perhaps I also need to enter more races as part of the training.

Well, there’s always next time.