Sunday, June 26, 2011

SCKLM 2011 - My Race Report

My seventh full marathon and I thought it was a good one.

I woke up at 2:00am this morning and felt stomach unwell. Immediately I took the herbal medicine pill for stomach problem. I feared it would affect my race.

I arrived at Bukit Aman carpark at 3:35am. Then I found my way to Dataran Merdeka. I met some friends there, but my stomach was still acting up again. I had to go to the toilet once more before the start of the race.

Depositing the baggage was a breeze. They got enough volunteers and counters to do this.

The race started on time and I found myself pacing with the 3:30 pacer, Lionel Lee. But I only managed to follow him up to 16km, then my pace slowly dropping off. Then I found myself running behind Tan Wah Sing for a few good kms. But I was not doing well at this point of the race. I felt quite lousy and out of rhythm until 30km.

My first 21km was around 1 hour 45 minutes. But after this my pace dropped to 5:15 per km and eventually to around 5:30.

I drank at least one cup of water at every water station. At some stations, two. The weather was quite nice with windy condition. I thought it would rain at some point. But it never did.

At km 30, my feet got heavy and uncomfortable. I decided to took them off and ran barefoot. I had actually planned to do this with experience learnt from Energizer Night Race Full Marathon. My timing chip was tied to my ankle already.

Then I felt much better and my rhythm getting better and I could run better. I felt so free and liberated running the final 12km barefoot.

Then, as I was picking up the pace, both my legs and feet starting to cramp up. I had to control my pace so that it would not aggravate it.

When I arrived at km 36, I dropped off my shoes to June (from Full Marathon Virgins). I had carried them from km 30 until here. She was supporting the FMV and the runners. I was glad she was willing to help me. Really appreciate it, thanks!

Coming to km 40 near Jalan Raja Laut, there were a lot of 10km runners walking and blocking the path. I had to navigate through traffic with shouts of "Excuse me, let me through please."

Finally I was able to cross the finish line with the time 3:49:31 (unofficial gun time). This was better than last year but I had failed my target of 3:45:00.

I think I was a bit "greedy" and tried to aim higher in the race by following the 3:30 pacer. For some reasons, my second half of the race was a "mess" until I took off my shoes. Maybe it was my stomach problem or the cramp.

It was a good lesson learnt, and I know what I need to do to improve next time.

After my race, I took time to shoot photos for the runners at the finish line. I will upload and post the photos later. Please stay tune for announcement of the photos location.

My general impression of this race is positive. Water and other part of the organisation was better than last year. Good work and thanks to all the volunteers and workers.

My congratulations to all finishers especially to my friends who successfully completed their maiden Full Marathon. Well done to Paul Liong and Mark.

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

Updated 30 June 2011: My photo albums on SCKLM 2011 now available on Facebook. Please check link in Pacesetters FB page or Full Marathon Virgins FB page. If you publish or use them in other page, website, blogs, forums, FB page etc please quote source or link. Thank you for respecting the work of an amateur photographer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My first barefoot race - New Balance 15km 2011

Thank you Tey for the photos. Much appreciate it.

A Velcro strip from IKEA to tie the timing chip . An old and loose wristband I put on my ankle. A strong and determined heart. An exhilarating barefoot race!

It was maybe last September that I started to train barefoot. I started mixing barefoot running with shod running to improve my running gait and strengthen my feet and legs. At first I was just trying it out by walking in the park where I trained. Then slowly, I started to jog until I could run a full 4km lap around the park. Over time, I built enough muscle strength and confidence to run barefoot on Bukit Aman to Hartamas route.

NB15K has been my tune-up race to SCKLM for the past two years. I would use it to gauge my readiness or form for the full marathon late June. This year, the race was held in Putrajaya where the roads were mainly in good condition. So it did provide a good condition for barefoot runners especially newbies like me.

It was a windy morning and I started quite strongly and before long, barefoot elite runner Tan Wah Sing overtook me. Then barefoot Paul Liong lined up besides me. Then he dropped off maybe 500m later before 2 or 3km mark.

The race course was relatively flat with a few climbs. I was able to maintain a good and consistent pace throughout the race. I didn't want to push too hard as I didn't do any speed training on barefoot before.

At the last 2.5km mark the road condition was bad for about 500m. It was painful running through that stretch. Anyway, at the finishing straight I just tried to maintain my pace to the end.

When I crossed the finish line, it was a great feeling. My first barefoot race. One that I never thought I would do but I did. And I completed it without much problem except some blisters on my big toes (which were kind of expected). But it didn't stop me to do a reverse run to look for my wife after I crossed the finish line and had a brief chat with barefoot Chuah and Tan Wah Sing. I always treasure the opportunity to run/pace with my wife to give her encouragement.

It was a good race for me. I finished it in 1:09:52, much to my surprise as it was my best 15km time so far and it was done on barefoot. The average pace of 4:38 per km was also bettered my expectation. And not forgetting I did a 20km LSD on the previous day.

I will continue to train and race barefoot but not all the time. It will depend on course condition and my training plan. One thing for sure, I still have not trained enough to run a full marathon barefoot. Maybe one day I will. It will be great to do that.

Anyway, the NB15K was well-organised. Good venue, enough refreshment, no hiccups. I will come again.

Maybe I will write more about my take on barefoot running some other time (when I am free).

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