Monday, May 31, 2010

Malakoff 26km Penang 2010 - Race in the Heritage City

Note the people around the finish line. They must had wondered if this guy won anything.

The feeling was incredible when I crossed the finish line. Completing my second run in my second home (Penang) since PBIM 2009, with my wife waiting for me at the finish line, the feeling was probably close to winning it.

I signed up for this race after I learned that I would need to skip Sundown Marathon because of a wedding dinner in Penang. I got my wife to join me although she opted for the shorter distance 6km. She is targeting her maiden 21km in PBIM 2010.

I didn't set any target in the days leading up to the race. I am actually training for SCKLM 2010 42km scheduled on 27 June. So I was treating this race as a training run.

The race started on time at 5:30am. My wife was near the start line to cheer me on. She would start one hour later for the 6km race.

After about 2km, the climb started on Jalan Mount Erskine. It was a quite a challenging (up and down) climb to about 4.5km mark but I was glad it was at the beginning of the race. After 7km mark, when I collected my second check point ribbon (the first was at the starting line), the race course took us downhill to Jalan Batu Ferringhi where the terrain is flatter. The run on this road was pleasant with a slight upward slope near Tanjung Bungah Hotel.

At the Gurney Drive round-about (about 13km mark), it was a familiar place for most people. I had also run several times from Gurney Drive to Esplanade (and back). This route overlapped partly with my training route, so it made me felt much more comfortable and I continued to maintain my 5 minutes per km pace. At this stretch, a foreign lady runner was trying to catch up with me but I was able to hold my ground.

When I was about reached the round-about at Light Street, I saw Michele Tan already made her turn and was about 500m in front of me. I thought it was a tall order to catch up with her, so I didn't.

I collected my third check-point ribbon at the turn, around the 18km point. From here, the course took us to part of the Heritage City roads. From here, I managed to overtake a few runners. The sun by now was already shinning brightly but luckily the buildings and the trees provided the much needed shades for the runners.

At the last 3km, I followed two runners in front of me closely and I was trying to find a right time to make my move. At the last km, three of us ran into heavy traffic near Jalan Utama on the way to back to Youth Park. I was running just less than a metre from the cars cruising at around 50-60km/h, not to mention the motorcycles. Luckily there were traffic police near the traffic light to Western Garden and we safely made our crossing to the other side of the road.

After I turned into the entrance of Youth Park, I made my move and overtook the runner in front of me. Then I passed another runner 100m before the finish. At the finish line, I was just enjoying myself and crossed the line with my arms wide open.

Then I met up with my wife who snapped my finishing photo. She had finished her 6km race in about 40 minutes and helped to take some photos around the race. I quickly returned my timing chip and got my medal and goody bag.

It was a good run as I completed with an unofficial time of 2:11:35 for position 24th in Men Open Category. Average pace just about 5 minutes per km. And I was able to break the 1 hour 45 minutes barrier at the 21km split. This gave me some hope that I could improve my half marathon timing and hopefully my full marathon timing as well.

I may give my comment about this event later.

Until the next run, do train hard and stay healthy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quick update on Malakoff 26km Penang

Finally broke the 1 hour 45 minutes barrier at the 21 km split en route to a 2:11:35 finish in this morning Malakoff Penang 26km. More details later.

I have uploaded some photos in my Multiply site. Please add me as contact if you want to view.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Balance Pacesetters 15km 2010

One week ago, I was still not sure that I could run in this race. Luckily my toe injury was healing well and I actually racked up 30km (with the injured toe) in 6 days leading up to the race.

This time, my wife joined me for the 15km run. This would be her second 15km race. What was different from the first one she'd been to, this race course was hilly and unfamiliar to her.

The race course was basically reverse double-hill route with some added routes to make it 15km.

This year the race started first for all women categories and followed 15 minutes later by men. It was in complete reverse order compared to last year. I thought this was better.

I started the race strong and stay close to the front pack for the first km. Of course, when I said close, I mean within sight. But that didn't last long as the front runners charged away.

Tan Wah Sing, the well-known barefoot runner from Kuantan, overtook me at around 1km mark. I was able to follow him for a good 500m. This was the first time I saw him run, I mean his gait, from close. I noticed he lands on mid-foot and not on fore-foot as commonly-believed gait of a barefoot runner. I thought this was the best landing for runners. When I said the best, I meant the best in term of injury prevention. Landing on fore-foot, puts a lot of stress on the Achilles tendon, while landing on the heel puts stress more on the knees.

I met my wife just before 6km mark. She was doing fine and I ran next to her for a while and gave her some encouragement.

Kwang Leng catched up with me at around 6.5km. Then we both passed Yin and her mom, SH Tan coming into Bukit Tunku. After that, I reached the mid-way check point at about 36 minutes.

Then it was a long climb followed by a long descent. I saw Mr. Yong at the point of start of descent. He applauded and cheered me. I applauded and saluted his dedication to serve as a road marshal for this run (and also many other Pacesetters run). At this time, I picked up my pace and tried my best to maintain that pace.

On this run, I saw many runners paying tribute to Ngae (a runner and triathlete) who passed away recently. Some donned a sarong while running (e.g. I saw Jennifer with a sarong), while some wrote a message on the back of their vest. I remembered him from an article he wrote on Footloose magazine Jun 2009 and I saw him running barefoot in some races and donning a sarong. My deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

Back to the race, the last part of the run was really tough as the sun was out shinning brightly and the heat started to build up. It reminded me of the the recent BIM.

This time, I was mentally prepared and luckily also there were many shaded areas. In the end, I managed to finish my race in 1 hour 16 minutes. No personal best this time, but I was happy as I could run/race again.

Thanks Tey for this pia photo at the finishing straight.

I quickly grabbed some drinks and took some watermelons and then started shooting finishing photos. This time I didn't got many shots as I started a bit late. I slowly jogged and walked in reverse direction of the route to find my wife after 15 minutes at the finish line. Then I saw her around 100m from the finish. I ran with her for the final stretch and she finished just under 2 hours. I congratulated her for a job well done.

We had to leave early to pick up our kids from class and caretakers. So I didn't really have much time to catch up with friends. BP was running this morning, but I didn't manage to see him. His knees are still bothering him. Only managed to say hi to Yin, Elaine Pan, Kwang Leng, Pang, Chuah Seih Seng, Dannie, Carrie, Moey, Lawrence Law, Julia Lim, Wai Sum, Hoffen and Christopher Jong. Julia got 3rd place in her category. Congrats!

Until the next run, do train hard and stay healthy.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

New Balance Pacesetters 15KM 2010 - Bib collection

Date: 8-9 May 2010
Venue: N Concept Store, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre

Sigh... not sure I can recover in time to run next Sunday.

BIM 2010 - My feedback on the event

First, I would like to congratulate the organiser for the overall successful event. Thank you to all the crew, volunteers & sponsors too for the time, effort and sponsorship to make this an event to be remembered.

The good or positives:

1. Ample water and isotonic drinks at the water station. Water stations were located roughly 3-5km apart.

2. Got free return bus transfer from hotel to stadium. Very important for runners who came from other countries or states.

3. Nice flat race course, scenic at some parts.

4. Strong number of crew and volunteers. They were friendly and cheerful. Also encouraged the runners along the route and urged them on. Note there weren't many other people care/bother/cheer/watch along the route.

5. Distance marker at every km.

6. Nice medal design.

Areas for improvement:

1. No finisher T-shirt after race. Finisher T-shirt for full marathon has become a norm. So BIM can consider this next year?

2. Race for full marathon started 4 minutes late.

3. Race course was not certified by AIMS. I tend to believe that the actual course length was in the range of 42.6 to 43km. This was based on the recorded distance on my GPS and other runners' GPS. This could be partly due to the runners were directed to run on right side of the road (not necessarily the shortest path). In actual survey or measurement of the route, I believed the shortest path is measured to get the usual 42.195km.

4. Lack of atmosphere surrounding the run. Partly due to lack of participation I think.

5. The split time of the runner at key points of the race was not recorded. This caused the full result to have no split times other than the finish time. Last year, split times at key points were recorded and full results showed this. This also meant that manual checks were needed to ensure runners ran a fair race.

6. Lack of refreshment station after the race. Maybe I was comparing with the runs held in KL or West Malaysia. Perhaps watermelons, or even bread were not too much to ask?

BIM 2010 - My maiden run in the land beneath the wind

I arrived about noon time at KK and went to the King Park Hotel (3-star, I remembered) to check in. I estimated the trip from the airport to the hotel was about 10km. The taxi coupon fare was RM30. Then, just about 30m from the hotel, the taxi that I was in, bumped into a Kancil in front that stopped suddenly. It was not a major accident, but enough to jerk me a bit. I thought that was not a good start to my first trip to KK.

After checked-in, I took a walk to the bib collection centre located in Community Hall less than 1 km away.

I didn't really get much sleep the night before the run. I tried, but I couldn't sleep. I guessed I was missing home and at the same time getting excited about the race. I woke up many times in the hotel room and eventually watched small part of football game before attempting to to sleep again. In the end, still I didn't really sleep.

I got up eventually at around 2:15am to freshen up and get ready. A bus came at around 2:55am to my hotel. There were already some runners in the bus, but only less than ten.

I arrived about 3:15am at Likas Stadium. There were already some runners there. The 42km run started at around 4:04 am.

Fast forward to after the race, I was too tired to wear my other hat as a photographer. Really wanted to, but I was too exhausted and the injury to one of my toes didn't help either. The heat had taken a lot from me, more than what I had anticipated. I had not trained under such intense heat before. I almost collapsed at the end. Losing focus at second half of the race, also caused me the injury.

The paramedic team at the stadium said they couldn't remove the blood under my toenail. After that, I met up Cornelius and then went back to the hotel to take a shower.

I had to find food quickly and then checked out of the hotel. My next stop, Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency ward. I had to get the blood clot and the broken nail removed. The same toe had previous similar injury before and now it was completely busted.

Luckily I got the treatment that I needed in the emergency ward. The medical team injected local anesthetic on my toe and remove the blood clot and the toenail. They also gave me a tetanus jab as well. The photo below shows how the toe looked after one day. Not sure when I can run normally again.

In short, my first trip to KK had been a tough and painful experience. I couldn't really say I enjoyed the run. However, overall impression of the event and my trip was still positive. Therefore I didn't regret flying alone all the way from KL to KK for a 30-hour stay (that included almost 4 hours of running & zero hour of sleep).

I will give my comments on the event in my next post.

Until the next run, do train hard and stay healthy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Borneo International Marathon 2010 - Running my toughest race yet

I started the race with a target of 3:50:00. As I was running my last few kilometres, I was thinking if I could achieve my personal best (PB), it would be still ok for me. But when I was entering the Likas Stadium, I still wasn't sure if I could even break my previous PB of 3:57:20. I just wanted to cross that finish line. At that moment, PB seemed so insignificant, compared to what I had gone through in this race.

I was determined to make my first trip to KK and my first visit to East Malaysia to run this Borneo International Marathon 2010. Initially I registered for Sundown Marathon scheduled on the 29 May, but I cannot make it due to a wedding event that same weekend. So BIM was kind of a replacement for that. Also for me to train myself to be race-fit for full marathon at least twice a year. Sabah seemed to be a good destination too. And I always thought I would come to KK to climb Mount Kinabalu. But not this time.

I arrived in KK one day before, in fact less than 18 hours from start time of the race. It was very very hot when I arrived. The sky was so blue and without a trace of cloud. I was beginning to worry. Before I registered for the race, I asked my friend Cornelius about the weather and the sunrise time in KK. He said sun rises before 6am. By 6am, it will be quite bright. If the race starts at 4:00am, it would mean that I would need to run for about 2 hours under the morning sun for a 4-hour finishing time. Probably still ok to enrol and experience the race, I thought.

So here I was. I came by myself with no known kaki to join me from KL in this race.

At the starting line, I met Cornelius, his wife and friends. All came here for a purpose. Some for running the full for the first time, some for better personal timing and some looking for a lobster meal. Other runners that I could recognise was Alam Shah and Michele Tan Bee Kiang. Oh... the Marathon Maniac, Mohan was there as well.

The total number of participants for the full marathon I think was around 200 people.

I started my race quite cautiously. I quickly found myself running along side Michelle Tan. She is an elite lady runner, consistently on the podium position in local run events. I don't know her personally but I recognised her. We paced together for about 6km when I ran slightly faster (or did she actually slowed down her pace then?) and moved ahead of her. My split time at 10km was 51:32. I was doing quite well then.

I made the U-turn at around 12.5km mark with the split time around 1 hrs 4 minutes. At the turn, Kevin (introduced earlier to me by Cornelius) came up along side me. After pacing with him for about 3km, I decided to let him go. He was going strong and I planned to conserve my energy for the second half of the race.

By around 18km, it was already breaking dawn. I reached the 21km marker with a split time of 1:50:17 (faster than my half-marathon PB). From here, I thought that as long as I could complete the rest of the race in 2 hours, I would achieve my target.

Little did I knew that the sun was getting hotter when I was approaching the waterfront in the city. In the city, the shadow from the buildings provided the much needed shade for the runners. When I headed towards Sutera Harbour, the sun was already so hot and I could see some half-marathoners who were running back from the Tanjung Aru turn were already suffering. At this point, there was still 15km remaining for me.

Passing Harbour City shops that provided temporary shade from the sun.
Photo courtesy of Cornelius and his friends, Buddy and Sophia.

From here on, I started to look for water sponge at the sponge/water stations. I made mistake of sponging too much onto my body and legs. This caused excess water to go into my shoes and feet. After a few more kilometres, I could feel that my feet were getting wet and a bit uncomfortable. Also I accidentally kicked into two bumps on the road (forgot where exactly). From 28 km onwards, the whole complexion of my race changed. I was not running comfortably as I was in the first part of the race.

Nevertheless, I reached the Tanjung Aru U-turn (~32.4km mark) with a split time of 2:51:15. I felt the exhaustion and the heat was eating into me. I drank 2-3 cups of water at all the water stations thereafter. I also almost finished my sport drink I carried along on my fuel belt by 35km. At this moment, Michelle passed me. I didn't feel I have enough in me to follow her pace. I was just hanging on to about 6 minutes per km pace.

At this time, I just kept running with my heart and maintained that pace and hoped that I could hit my target. But as I was running with the sun in my face for more than one hour, that thought slowly faded and I could still accept any improvement on my PB.

The last few kilometres were really a torture. The distance marker seemed so far apart. I lost focus a few times and I thought about why I was here, what was happening back home, work etc.

Entering Likas Stadium with the sun in my face for the last 200m.
Photo courtesy of Cornelius and his friends, Buddy and Sophia.

Entering Likas Stadium, I was just glad to see the finishing gate without too much thought about my target and PB. Still, I managed to cross the line with about one minute improvement from my previous PB. Unofficial time was 3:56:15. A volunteer immediately put the finisher medal around my neck.

Then, I felt like fainting. But I just kept walking until I found the water station. I took in a lot of water. My arms were a little numb as well. I did some stretching and found a seat besides the track at the stadium to recover. Elaine (who also came from KL with her friends to run in the half) was kind enough to pass me a tube of muscle rub. I met Alam Shah too. He finished second in the Men Veteran category. Congrats!

I also took off my shoes to find out that I had a few blisters on my toes. Also one toenail was broken with blood under the skin. Argh....

When I was good enough to walk, I collected my bag and changed to dry clothing. Initially I planned to shoot photos immediate after my run. But I was just too exhausted to do that.

Then I met Cornelius and took photo with him before I boarded a van back to the hotel.

There is much more to tell, but this post is getting long. So I may post more about the run later.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Borneo International Marathon 2010 - Unofficial Results

First, some unofficial results of BIM 2010 as posted by the organiser at the Likas Stadium.

Please check in official website later (organiser promised to upload by 5 May) for the official results.

Full Marathon Men Open:
1. Peter Kipleting Ketgr - 2:38:00
2. Johnson Kipkosgei Tarus - 2:39:09
3. Sila Kipruto Sematei - 2:45:19
4. Mohd Faizal Waridi (Malaysia) - 3:11:55
5. Faslee Mojudo (Malaysia) - 3:21:34
6. Mark Miller - 3:25:29
7. Syawal Mahmud (Malaysia) - 3:37:31
8. Franky O. Madalag - 3:40:42
9. Joseph Lau (Malaysia) - 3:49:29

Full Marathon Men Veteran:
1. Liew Joon Kim (Malaysia?) - 3:24:26
2. Alam Shah Ismail (Malaysia) - 3:24:52
3. Timothy .... (unreadable last name from printout, sorry) - 3:40:13
4. Neil Soden - 3:51:04
5. Sikin Aggom - 3:53:20
6. Dany Matias - 4:12:39
7. Robert Santi - 4:15:39
8. Edmond Gusui - 4:16:08
9. Shum Kok Khoon - 4:18:44

Full Marathon Women Open:
1. Tagami Mai (Japan) - 3:23:28
2. Susan Jemutai Chepkwony - 3:33:48
3. Peris Poymo - 3:33:58
4. Monica Chepkurgat - 3:46:37
5. (Michelle) Tan Bee Kiang (Malaysia) - 3:50:59
6. Akiyama Naomi (Japan) - 3:59:11
7. Judy Liew (Malaysia) - 4:13:54
8. Natalie Privette - 4:17:25
9. Tan Lee Lee (Malaysia) - 4:32:04
10. Claire Bowden - 4:52:44

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Quick update on BIM 2010

Completed the most difficult race so far. Ran more than 1 hour with the sun in my face. Almost fainted at the finish line. Barely got my PB. More details later.