Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Malakoff 12km KL 2011 - Last race for 2011

Thanks to Jason Thai for this photo.

With a final dash to the finish line, my racing season for 2011 came to a close.

A lot of runners would dread the hilly route of Malakoff 12km. I was one of them back in 2009 when I first ran this race. Since then I had came to the fact that, running hills was unavoidable and I just had to get better at it. I told myself I would come back again to improve on my first outing.

Well, this year was the third time I ran this race. However it was my first time I ran barefoot on this hilly route. The day before, I had done a LSD training. So my expectation was not high for the race, and just hope to finish within an hour mark.

I finished the race in 55:40, slightly better than last year's result. After my race I did a warm down run in reverse direction of the route to look for my wife. It was her third Malakoff 12km as well. I paced her back to the finish line for the last 1.5km. She had done well to improve her time to 1 hour 25 minutes.
Thanks to Lim Soon Chung for this photo.

I saw many runner friends at this event and chatted with them before leaving. Although the racing season was over, but I am still training as hard as I could. New season will start as early as New Year Day and I am setting some high targets for myself for next year. One of them is to do an ultra-marathon, that much I can say for now.

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Run for a reason - Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2011

Thanks to Tan Chow Seng for this photo near finish line.

My 9th Full Marathon and it was one of the toughest that I had done.

I planned to run Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore last year (2010), but I missed the registration window and ended up disappointed. This year, I made it a point to register on time and was happy to get a slot. My wife also registered for half marathon. It was only her second HM.

I didn't train as much as I would want to, prior to the race due to busy work schedule. I planned to run it barefoot, my first time in a competitive FM race. Back in September, I had completed the River Jungle Marathon 2011 in barefoot. However, it was not a competitive run. No official timing or ranking were recorded and no special prize for being the top finishers in that marathon.

This time round, I didn't really know what to expect. It was a whole new race all together. New location, new route for me. I wasn't sure that I could finish in a 20,000-strong, mass-start field. I heard of the narrow street, cement jogging path in East Coast Park, crowded last few kms and didn't know much how it would affect me.

The night before departure, I came down with flu and runny nose and I didn't look good then. After some medication, I felt better to fly in the morning. When we reached Singapore it was already noon on Saturday. We quickly went to collect our race pack in Sands Expo. It was the biggest venue I had ever seen just to give out race packs to runners. Luckily we collected our goods within minutes. No queue at all.

Then we checked in a hotel in Little India. It rained in that afternoon and we didn't really go out far after that. I was also not too well then. Anyway, that night I took some more medication and tried to sleep early as my race would start at 5:00am.

That night I just couldn't really sleep and my lips and throat were dry. In the end, I hauled myself up at 2:15am and ate some breakfast bar & drank lots of water. Then I kissed my wife before I headed to the MRT station and to Orchard starting point for FM. She would only start her HM race at 6:30am from Sentosa Island.

After I dropped off my baggage at the baggage deposit, I walked to the starting point. At that moment I had a funny feeling of being lonely in a big crowd of runners. I was the only barefoot runner and so I thought. I met some runners friends like Zi Shen, Bryan Lee and Daniel Tan. Then I was surprised to see Tan Wah Sing, the experienced and well-known barefooter at the start line. Suddenly I felt a lot more comfortable with Master Tan around. I felt my body condition at start line was ok although I had not slept all night.

When the action was finally on (flagged off), I was trying pace with the 3:45 pacers and Zi Shen. Then Zi Shen broke away after 3km, and I tried to follow him for a few kms. Then I realised he was really going for it and I just had to let him go.

The road condition in Singapore was barefoot-friendly. So I paced at 5:00min/km pace for the first 10km. Then second 10km was mostly in East Coast Park. Some parts were not properly lit up and it was almost running in the dark. Master Tan overtook me at the ECP and asked if I was going to take some energy gel. I replied yes, and he took off. I tried to follow but I found out that he was pacing faster and faster. Within minutes, I lost sight of him.

By 21.1km U-turn point, it was already breaking dawn. My split time at 21.1km was about 1:47:xx. I thought I was doing ok then. But by km 25, I started to feel my stomach was having some gas. I could have taken 2 energy gels and too much water within last 6km. Then I began to struggle. But I saw Alam Shah in front of me and I began to speed up. He was struggling as well. I called him and asked him if he was ok and urged him on. He then picked up the pace and overtook me after a few hundreds metres.

At ECP, I managed to see some other runner friends like Tey, Winnie, Bernard Loke, Ben Lee etc. Really happy to see some familiar faces. After that, the race route took us to narrow road beside a golf course, looked at a construction area. It was at around km 33 that I was being overtaken by the 3:45 pacer group.

My pace has slowed since the 25km mark. By km 33, I was feeling quite terrible. My arms were getting numbed, my leg muscles were "twitching" as if it were going to cramp up and I was tiring fast. I was thinking to give up and just walked back. But then, I just told myself to continue on, no matter how slow I could run. At km 36 or 37, I saw June (from FMV fame) setting up her "kedai runcit" over there. I was in need of a bottle of water then to cool myself and to carry so that my arms would not feel so numbed. Thank you to June and Kash for the bottle of water.

At around here, I was surprised to see Zi Shen in front of me. I had lost sight of him since before 10km mark. Then I passed and called him and urged him on as well. I thought he followed me from behind after that. At around 38km mark, then the FM route merged with the 21km route. It was overly crowded by then. It was really difficult to run trying to zig-zag and passing the walking runners. Mind you that the HM field was also about 20,000-strong.

At about km 40, Zi Shen started to pick up his pace and zoomed past me. I just couldn't follow closely anymore. I was so high in adrenalin that I was burning up and in a "don't-know-myself-anymore" state. I just kept him in sight from then on and the last 2km was really tough. But I knew I was near, I just kept it going until I completed the race.

It was a really tough race and I was glad I overcame the little voice of giving up. At the finish point, I was so tired but I was very satisfied that I just sat on the Padang while waiting for my wife. She finished with a PB 2:46 in her second HM. I was delighted to see her achieved the feat with minimal training. Maybe one day she will train enough to run a FM with me. However, I am giving her time and space to decide on that.

I finished my 9th FM in 3:58:46 (gun time), keeping my streak of finishing last 8 FMs in sub-4 timing. However, I was prepared to finish beyond 4 hours in my last two FM in barefoot. It came as a bonus that I could still keep the streak going. The point is, I had great satisfaction running my last two FMs in barefoot. In this SCMS alone, many runners and supporters gave me thumbs up or greeted me with positive remarks. This was a good encouragement for me. My leg muscles also recovered faster than any FMs I ran before. No Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) syndrome and no serious blisters or injury to my feet.

As for the SCMS 2011 event, there are positive points and areas for improvement. I may write about it later.

Until next race, do train hard and stay healthy.