Monday, February 13, 2012

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2012 - My race report

SCHKM 2012 Finisher Medal.

I came in this race with a time target in mind. Well, I didn't achieve that. The way I finished the race was not really what I had imagined it to be.

I had been training for this event for some time and I thought I would stand a chance to have a crack at 3:30. I thought of wearing VFF because I thought it would be cold if I go barefoot. After some considerations, I finally decided on going barefoot. Mainly it was due to how I trained for the past few weeks and I had not fully "broken" my new pair of Bikila yet.

Happy that I got my wife accompanied me on this trip. She was running in only her third Half Marathon. Not easy for us to travel, we were missing our children back home.

I met many runner friends on the plane to HK. Surprised to see so many of them. It was always good to see familiar faces, especially in races oversea.

On race day, it rained briefly in the morning. I missed the pre-race Malaysian runners group photo session as I thought it might not happen due to the rain.

I started quite in front of the pack and got off on a good start. The road condition was wet early and I had to be extra careful. The temperature at start was relatively warm I thought at this time of the year, at around 18 degrees Celsius.

First 10km was quite manageable at 49:08. After I came out of the tunnel, when I reached Tsing Ma bridge, the road condition was getting rough. At this stretch, I had to rely on the white line at side of road.

At this stretch I heard a bell-ringing sound approaching. For a moment I thought Santa Claus came early this year. Then a barefoot runner with a vest reading "厦门赤脚 吴善宽“ (Xiamen Barefooter Wu ShanKuan). He was wearing a headgear with a barefoot and a V-sign hand signal. On his ankle was a bell attached to it. When he overtook me, he shouted "赤脚好!“(Barefooted, good!). I replied, "同志!“(Comrade!). Well, what I meant was, we are comrade of barefooters (not in the context of political ideology). He acknowledged me with a thumb-up sign.

Xaimen Barefooter, Wu ShanKuan. Photo by CheungWH.

Then after the first turning point at about 15.3km, there was no white line for me anymore and the wind was blowing strongly from the front, making it quite difficult to pick up speed.

Then I saw Ben Swee, he took a photo of me after my first turn.

On Tsing Ma bridge coming back. Photo by Ben Swee.

You can see that the road condition was not smooth and the safety cone was separating the runners from the white line at the road shoulder. Photo by 高志明.

Then Ben overtook me on the way to Ting Kau bridge. I made it to the half-way check point at 1:43:37.

After the second tunnel, the road condition slowly became worse. It was the one of the worse roads I had even experienced, if not the worst. I was suffering then. I ran this course last year with shoes, and I had no recollection the road was that bad. (When you were in shoes, the road condition wasn't really our concern, right?).

Split time at 30km mark was 2:30:17. Pace starting to drop by that time. I couldn't really maintain that pace with that kind of road condition.

I think this was taken near where I got my injury. You can see the road condition and this was not the worst condition. Worst was before this. Photo by Danny Lun.

I had to slow down at the rough stretches (estimated to be around 6km of it). Near 32km mark, I lost my focus for a split second and didn't lift my left foot high enough on the rough patches. The result, I brushed my left big toe on the rough surface, half of the skin on the toe torn open and I bled.

I stopped for a brief moment, and I thought my race was over, needless to say my target. Then I started to run again. I didn't want my race to end that way. I was just hoping the injury would not be serious and I could still finish the race on my own terms (and not on an ambulance). Of course, if the injury would became worse, I would stop. However, as it turned out, the pain was bearable, and the bleeding was not getting worse.

At the last few kms after the Western Harbour tunnel, the road condition was not smooth all the way. There were still some bad stretches that I had to run with my bleeding toe.

When I reached Causeway Bay, I just enjoyed myself and pumped up the cheering crowd.

Pumping up the crowd. Photo by Nelson Li.

Also "pia" a bit "lah". Photo by Tey Eng Tiong (Special thanks for the support!)

Near finishing at Causeway Bay (still "pia"-ing). Photo by Cheung WH.

Finally I completed the race with the time of 3:39:44. I didn't meet my target of sub-3:30 and I didn't improve on my time from last year. I was a bit disappointed, but at the same time I was glad I finished it despite of the bleeding toe.

At finishing straight. Photo by Andrew Ang.

I asked for medical treatment right after the finish line. The medical staff treated my wound well and I was able to walk slowly to the baggage collection area to get my bag.

I waited for my wife, and she finished her HM in 2:25:30 (net time) for her PB. I was very happy for her.

With my wife at the finishing area.

Although I didn't meet my target, I still find a lot of positives from this race and trip. I can always try again in future events. One important thing was I got to spend some good quality time with my wife.

Until the next race, I just need to focus on recovery and get healthy first. The train hard part, later.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mizuno Wave Run 2012

Photo by Lim Soon Chung.

Date: 15 Jan 2012
Venue: Stadium UPM
Time: 7:10am
Shoes: You mean I really have to wear something?
Distance: 9.97km
Finish time: 49:27

Did a 39km LSD the day before. So really not in the condition to race. Ended up going slowly first half of the race, then started to pick up the pace a bit toward the end of the race. Ended the race strongly but timing wise not so great. Supposed to run slower as recovery run after LSD.

New Year Newton Challenge 12km/25km

Photo credit to Tan Wah Sing.

Date: 1 Jan 2012
Start Time: 6:30am
Venue: Bandar Kinrara
Distance: 11.5km
Shoes: Shoes? What shoes?
Gun time: 1:18:xx

Running along side with wife. Just enjoying the run by starting and finishing together with her. Recovery run for me as well.

Christmas Round the Penang Island Run

Route from my Endomondo application on my iPhone. Complete distance 73.05km.

I thought about it some time, and eventually here I am writing about the Christmas Round the Penang Island run. Not to brag about it, but just to share experience and some learnings. I am sure someone will attempt this some point in time and it would be good to know a few pointers to make a successful run.

I had this wild idea of running around Penang Island in end of 2010. My motivation then, I thought it would make a good route for my attempt to go past 42km for my first try at ultra running. You see, I don't think running 200 laps on the track or 8 laps of Gurney Drive-Esplanade or even 4 rounds of Bukit Aman - Hartamas would motivate me to do that. The route I was thinking was the same as the route in the Round the Penang Island Relay event.

Fast forward all that, I finally got my runner friend, Andrew Loh to join me on this adventure on Christmas Day of 2011. Andrew got 2 of his friends, Chun How and Steve Baron to complete the crazy gang.

Crazy Gang. Photo by Steve.

Great support from Steve on his ride. Photo by Andrew.

Some more details from Endomondo:

Date: 25 Dec 2011
Start time: 5:30am
Start/Finish venue: (in front of) Marina Bay Condominium (near Gurney Drive)
Distance: 73.05km
Elevation Gained: 464m
Elevation Lost: 452m
Calories:4471 kcal
Time taken: 10 hours 31 minutes
Participants: Andrew Loh, Lee Chun How, CP Tan
Support/Marshal: Steve Baron

Elevation chart (from my Garmin log) showing 2 hard climbs. One climb to Genting Restaurant (before Balik Pulau). One higher climb to reach Teluk Bahang. My Garmin 405CX only logged up to 60.8km before battery used up.

Running barefoot on this clockwise route. Pakcik (uncle) at a store in Balik Pulau asked me where I ran from. I said from near Gurney Drive. Then he asked me if I was turning back. I said, "No.". Then he commented, "Tak pakai kasut, nanti kaki boleh pecah!" (Literally translated to: Not wearing shoes, your feet could break!).

Some other photos along the route below:

I was concerned about Chun How's condition as he dropped back. Steve was supporting him then, so I felt he would be ok. After all, he is an ironman.
Well-needed re-hydration.
Pit stop at Titi Kerawang on the 2nd hard climb. Andrew & I were exhausted and confused where to go now... (Photo by Steve)

Continued on the steep and rough climb... (Photos by Steve)

When we were at second climb, the road condition was very rough and I was really suffering. At some stretches I just slowed to a walk.

When we reached Teluk Bahang it was really hot, the road condition also became hot. Andrew & I walked & run a bit until Batu Ferringhi. It was becoming harder to run because of the heavy traffic also. We had under-estimated the traffic volume on that day (it was Christmas holiday). Then we had a short pit stop and I told Andrew to go ahead without me. I was thinking to myself, it would be very tough to complete the run, even with 11km to go. The road was very hot and rough, the road traffic was very heavy and I had hardly any space to run.

Finally, I had to get a pair of slippers and wore it for the rest of the route. I walked most of the remaining distance with a little bit of run until the I reached the finish point. Andrew had completed it earlier than me. We amazed ourselves on this good and crazy run. I thanked Steve for the great support, Chun How to join us in short notice, Andrew for being great running buddy in this Round the Penang Island run. It was an incredible experience on Christmas Day for us.


Some key learnings (for those who wish to attempt this in the future):

1. Start early. Should have started 4:00am or earlier when the weather was cooler.

2. Start point should consider to be at Teluk Bahang. The narrow road from Teluk Bahang - Batu Ferringhi - Tanjung Bungah is not safe/suitable for running when traffic is heavy and the day is hot. If start early, then can run this part when traffic is less and sun is not up yet.

3. Need to bring hydration pack/bag and money. Some stores available to refill water or isotonic drinks, but not during climb except at Titi Kerawang. So really need to hydrate well.

4. Safety first. Safety was, and still is my top concern on long run like this. Wherever possible, avoid running alone. Some stretches quite dangerous especially at the two climbs. Need to inform your family & friends if you attempt this. Bring lights for safety and a phone for emergency use. Better still, bring a few crazy friends but not too many. It will be safety issue if too big of a crowd running together without traffic control.

5. Need to pace smartly. We were pacing a bit too fast in the beginning. Maybe I was hoping we could finish faster to avoid the sun.

6. In case you wonder, my feet looked like this, one day after the run: (I had worse than this before).