Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bidor Half Marathon 2009

The best-looking medal in my trophy cabinet. The Bidor Half Marathon 2009 finisher medal.

The run time was 2:05:33 after running for 21.81km (according to my GPS reading) under a hot sun in Bidor. Technically this is my first half marathon. The GE20km in Jan was just short of half marathon distance.

BP and I were missing Will for this run. He had to take a rain check. I really wished he could join us for this. But we will have to wait for the next one.

We arrived in Bidor at Saturday evening to collect the running vest and bib. The place to collect the package was called Tukang Jahit Mexico. The owners belong to a runner circle called Bidor Runners. The running vest turned out to be just an ordinary T-shirt with all the sponsors' name all over the T-shirt. See photo below for the medal and T-shirt on display in the tailor shop.

Then we surveyed the run route. Apparently the route was not so hilly as expected. And it was not as scenic as we thought. The route passed through mostly wild bushes, palm oil plantation, kampung houses, (smelly) pig farm, and cemetery. The route was a narrow two-lane road with a section that took us to the end of the road (gravel road). Now we know the other reason (apart from accommodating outstation runners from KL etc.) why the run was scheduled to start at 7:00am. The route was without street light and was pitch dark when we survey it at 8:00pm.

We had our dinner in a hawker stall before leaving for Slim River for the night. We couldn't book a hotel in Bidor last minute. All the rooms were full the night before the run. In the end, we had to trouble Will to ask his dad to book a hotel room in Slim River, that is about 25 minutes away from Bidor.

The room was a really basic one. Luckily with air-conditioning. The cost was RM60 per night. We had no complaint, we just needed a place to sleep. See photo below for the best hotel room available in Slim River.

We slept early around 10:00pm so that we could wake up early. I had a relatively good sleep as I was tired.

We woke up at 5:15am and prepared ourselves. Then we shot off to Bidor and arrived there around 6:20am. We hung around and warmed up before the race. The start/finish line was just outside of the Dewan Muhibbah Bidor. The MC announced that there were around 1600 runners. The race started 2 minutes before 7:00am according to my watch.

Moment before the start of 21km.

We started at middle of the crowd. We were pacing quite fast (for our standard) at the first 1-2km. So we decided to slow down the pace. The first 5km was quite flat except for a bridge over the PLUS highway. The 5km mark was where we collected our first check-point ribbon and made an U-turn. The split time at 5km was 27:27.

Then we returned to the town and took a kampung road going up a small hill. This was the 10km mark. My split time at 10km mark was 54:34. My fastest 10km time so far.

The kampung road was a bit more challenging than the first 10km. The road was winding and with some small uphill roads. We quickly made our way to the second check point which was near the Bidor waterfall at end of the kampung road. We collected our second check-point ribbon and made an U-turn. We were heading back to town by the way we came. The road was not interesting to run on and the sun was shinning brightly to our body. I had to stop at every water station to rehydrate myself.

From the 16km mark onwards, BP was still maintaining his pace and I dropped off a bit. From 18 to 20km, I was running slowly at about 6:40 per km. I was feeling too tired then. At the last km, I gathered enough strength to pick up the pace and made sure I was not passed by anyone from behind. In the end, I finished the race in with the average pace about 5:45 per km. The position I got was 125th. BP came in 2 minutes earlier and got 114th.

With BP at the finish line. You can see it was a hot day.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the run. I didn't set any big target before the race. After the race, we quickly collected our medals and headed for the famous duck noodles in Bidor. This was the real "reward" for us. See the photo below for the duck noodles.

Our next run will be the New Balance Pacesetters 15km in May. See you there.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

30km training run

The reading from my Suunto showed 30.05km after I completed another three more laps around the Bukit Aman car park. That's the end of my training run after a grueling 3 hours 37 minutes.

The Saturday morning started early and I reached Bukit Aman car park just in time at 5.15am. Lam and BP were already there. We started our run as usual by making a loop around the Bird Park. This loop is about 2.85km.

From the Lake Garden then we made our way to Seri Hartamas via the hilly Bukit Tunku. This is about 9.8 km away. Along the way we crossed path with a lot of runners, including those familiar faces from the Pacesetters and Der Pacemakers circles. I guessed they are training for the SCKLM 2009 also. When we reached there. We made another two loops of 2.3km around the housing area. Then we made our pit-stop at Petronas Petrol Station before we made another 2.3km loop.

From here, we headed back to the car park at a slower pace. Learning from our experience from last week, the aim was to complete the 30km without too much suffering. Unfortunately, at 24km mark going uphill, we started to slow down to walking pace. Once one of slowed down, the rest also followed. But we decided to run again. Lam and BP were ahead of me as I felt pain on both of my feet and decided to slow my pace considerably. At 27km mark, the pain was getting too much and I decided to walk for about 1.5km. I have no problem with my calf muscles this time round, but the feet was getting stiff and painful.

Finally at the last 1 km to go, I decided to run again, when I reached the car park, I could see Lam and BP already changed their shirts and were waiting for me. I knew from my Suunto this point was 29.2km, little short of 30km. I decided to do a few laps to get to 30. At the end of the run, I was quite exhausted but the feeling was better than last week (when we did 28km).

My feet recover quite fast after the run, but my right knee was still painful on the inner side. I guess all that uphill and downhill really put a lot of pressure on the knees. I hope I can find a solution to mitigate this.

Next Sunday, it will be the Bidor half-marathon. I heard that the course is a hilly one also. BP & I will be there with WW. This is going to be our first half-marathon. I will treat this as a training run and enjoy the scenery.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The end in mind

Run blaze, run.

Some people say every journey starts with a single step. I think it is more fitting to say every journey starts with the end destination in mind. For me, the end in mind is the finish line of 42km full marathon.

I have signed up for the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2009 yesterday. I have finally confirmed the timing. Though the time is short, but I think running in the city where I was born and raised, some more close to my family and good friends, will be a big motivation for me. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend 28km training run

I was training yesterday with my running buddies Lam and BP. We planned to run 28km, our longest run to date.

We started at Bukit Aman car park at 5:30am. We were joined by another running buddy, Ravin. This was the first time he trained with us. I got my new GPS to pair with my Suunto t3c (heart rate monitor). Now I can tell my running distance and speed/pace more accurately.

Our training route here.

We started by making a loop around the Bird Park and the Memorial, then we proceed to Jalan Dato Onn, the road besides the Bank Negara train station. A small climb here. We proceed to Bukit Tunku and eventually reach the turning to Kompleks Kerajaan in Jalan Duta. This was our 10km point.

Our next stop target was Hartamas. Before pit-stop at Petronas Petrol Station, we did another big loop around the housing area there. The distance covered at pit-stop was our 19km point. We quickly got our drinks and headed back to Bukit Aman via Kompleks Kerajaan and Bukit Tunku. When we came near to Kompleks Kerajaan, we were going into an "unknown zone". We never did anything beyond 22km and we weren't sure what to expect from that point onwards.

At 26km point, near Bukit Tunku, my calf muscles and feet were getting stiff. They felt heavy and stiff. It was not cramp, I have not experienced this feeling before. It was getting more painful to continue. After that point, I decided to slow down and eventually walk. The muscles were like not working anymore. I was not short of breath, I wanted to continue but I don't want to risk injury. So I decided to walk the remaining 2km back to the car park. BP was also at walking pace, but Lam was able to continue his slow run for the last 1km. Finally I made it back to the car park in 3 hours 26 minutes, covered a total distance of 28.8km.

My tendons around my knees were very sore after the run besides the stiffness of the muscles. I drank lots of water to recover. But the soreness around the knees took more time to recover and I have to skip the BHP Orange Run (11km) this morning.

It was a new experience for us. All of us wanted to train for the full marathon and this was only a small but significant step for us. I was contemplating to enroll for the full marathon. The timing was either for the KL International Marathon in June or Penang Bridge International Marathon in November. After this training, I'm still undecided. But one thing for sure, the training continues.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 15

I am really getting serious about good running shoes. When I started running, I never pay attention to what type of shoes would fit me best. Now I know what kind of shoes are suitable for me. I need shoe with stability support feature. The ASICS GEL-Kayano 15 reviewed here is suitable for stability.

ASICS is one those old sport brands that I remembered from my secondary schooling days. It was not very popular, but I do remember I bought some sport apparels from ASICS back then. I didn't really notice this brand nowadays as it was not easy to find retail shops selling their products. From talking to my running buddies, I got to know ASICS again for its running shoes. At top of the range and the latest addition is the ASIC GEL-Kayano 15.

First impression of GEL-Kayano 15, I can see the unique design of the large amount of GEL at the heel area of the sole, seen here is the photo below.

The function of the GEL is to absorb the landing impact near the heel area and disperse the forces laterally.

There is also inner medial support DUOMAX for stability seen here.

The latest GEL-Kayano 15 has this unique feature, an asymmetric (or off-centre) alignment for the shoe lace. This looks quite strange at first, but it follows the curvature of a normal foot at that area. Therefore the design is not an arbitrary one or for the sake of different from the rest.

When I first wear the shoes, I felt the cushioning was very comfortable. The inner sole material is really something different and worthy of a mention here.

The shoes provide great support and it is really ideal for the serious runners who value stability. The shoes are quite responsive and reasonably light.

I will post more on the shoes. I will need my buddy, BP to comment on this. Now, he is the proud owner of the shoes. Stay tuned.