Kuching Marathon 2017: A personal account for the Half Marathon race

Kuching Marathon 2017: A personal account for the Half Marathon race

Did you know there’s a special lane at the immigration upon arrival at Kuching International Airport? This is one of the many interesting things I found during my journey to Kuching Marathon (KM17). It’s a small gesture but very meaningful to participants. In town you can sense the anticipation of the event as runners from all over the world can be seen mingling with locals, either buying souvenirs, enjoying the local delicacies and the like. At the REPC, we can visit the many booths in the race expo and there is quite a variety of brands represented too. Race pack collection was a breeze on the second day and the electronic registration system across the many counters really helped.

Fast forward to race day, it’s worth noting for drivers like myself to reach town more than an hour before flag off if you want to get a good parking spot. I got my spot just down the road from Wisma Hopoh by 2:45 am and the 200m or so distance to the event venue allowed me a warm up jog. Porta-loos are aplenty so that’s convenient. One thing though… it struck me was how seemingly quiet Padang Merdeka was prior to 3 am. Was I too early for the half marathon flag off? But being early has its perks; you can visit some of the exhibition booths (Honda takes 180° photos of you), relieve yourself without worrying about queues and stretch in uncrowded spaces.

Did you know that KM17 is one of the few races where prayers are recited just prior to flag off? As an international race recognised by AIMS, I find this most interesting. However, one thing I found not so exciting was the organisers effort to liven the venue. Be it the choice of the emcee or the kind of music being played (or lack of it), I believe much can be improved to the likes of Standard Chartered KL Marathon. It’s too quiet! The race itself follows a scenic route around the city and its outskirts (not that you can see much in the darkness) where most of it is well lit except for some sections (like around the pitch dark MBKS building!). This is where the volunteers really helped; they lit the road with torchlights and alerted traffic of our presence. Well done! Safety aspects were very good and this was evident in the dense cone arrangements, RELA presence and well managed traffic diversions. I just wished the road users themselves were more concerned with the runners safety because some can be seen speeding too closely. Volunteers at the water stations were also a sight for sore eyes; so helpful and cheerful at every stop. Water was aplenty as were sponges. But you know what the best thing was? Getting cheers from people who came out of their homes and volunteers. In the still of the morning and even with the light drizzle they really gave us motivation.

Personally I feel the last 500m is a such fitting end leading to the finish line. Passing by the historic Old Quarter of Kuching, the quintessential Main Bazaar and Waterfront, overseen by the gleaming DUN and dwarfed by the old Courthouse where finally we are then presented the finisher medal right in front of a colonial Post Office. Such a great feeling to be part of so much history and to complete yet another half marathon. In closing, if there is anything to improve then I would like to suggest for the organisers to make the post-run festivities more happening & vibrant, photo op areas should be aplenty to avoid congestion, there should be rest areas on Padang Merdeka for runners to congregate, meeting points should also be created to ease participants looking for each other.
21km done and dusted!
I would love to run this event again. Therefore I will make it a point to return!
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#kuchingmarathon #teamprotonrunners #tpr #protoncars #itsinthedrive #trainharderforlonger #runnersofasia #myteamisbetterthanyours #runningbuddies #runningfamily #teambelanjasikit #igrunners #instarunners #instarun #kuching #sarawak #malaysia
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Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016: My very first 42k!

 

To those who want to do their first full marathon (42.195 km), let this piece of writing be a reference for you to prepare yourself. It’s not a professional account but I assure you this is as real as it gets. Statistics reveal that only 1% of the world population has ever done a full marathon so that spells it out for you; if it was easy then everybody would do it.

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If I could put my head down I would fall asleep in an instant. Like seriously. #beyondtired

That picture of me was taken right after crossing the finish line, less than 2 minutes before the cut-off time of 7 hours. Talk about cutting it real close. I had successfully crossed 4 checkpoints earlier so missing the course cut-off time would have caused a major disappointment. To think I started this endeavour with a sub-6 hour target! So, what happened?

Let’s start with what I feel I did right.

My fueling strategy worked as planned; carbo loading went on schedule the day before and thus I didn’t have major problems with energy to drive me forward. During the race I burned 2,253 calories whilst I consumed about 1,000 calories throughout race time in the form of 1 banana, 1 energy bar, electrolyte salts, energy gels and isotonic drinks. In the future I would want to fuel up a bit more because I remember feeling incredibly hungry towards the end.

My gear strategy also functioned as planned; apart from my usual running apparel, I used kinesiology tape to support my thighs and knees along with calf compression support. I also prepared sport sunnies, a cap and a long sleeve running tee to protect my skin from the sun. Ironically I brought my earphones but didn’t use them at all. Somehow I felt comfortable listening to the ambient noise, my breathing and even chatter from fellow runners.

My run strategy was plain and simple: to finish the course without any injury within the stipulated cut-off times at every checkpoint. This would relieve me of the pressure to over-perform, keep my pace at ease and my body relaxed. I didn’t know what to expect after crossing the 25 km mark so it was prudent to exercise caution to avoid bonking too early.

So if everything was in place, what went wrong?

Although I strategised my food & fluid intake in the days leading to race day I made a foolish error of eating too much spicy food 48 hours to flag off. The combination of chilli & spices gave me a sore throat which in turn lead me to being feverish. Luckily for me it wasn’t serious and a few pops of paracetamol controlled the spread. But the damage was done…

At the starting pen I made a silly mistake too. I was so overwhelmed by the atmosphere and excitement that I mistook the 6 hr 30 min pacer balloons to be 6:30 min/km speed. Duhhh! I ended up losing a lot of time and momentum in the first 10 km or so before I realised what was happening. Talk about being ignorant…

There’s a well known belief that when you run a full marathon you have to cross that 30 km ‘wall’ in order to have the mental strength and physical drive to finish the course. Well, let’s just say that wall got the better of me. Mentally I was raring to go but physically I was beaten. The culprit was my right knee and later the doctor told me that the ligament was sore & stressed hence why I felt the excruciating pain. It was so unbearable to run that I was forced to alternate between brisk walking and jogging. And it was a long walk-jog indeed (12 km under the blistering hot sun).

So quite simplistically the fundamental reason as to why I didn’t achieve my timing target was because I didn’t train enough. I didn’t acquire the necessary mileage for my body to accustom itself to the stresses from running 42 km. That was why my knee ligament gave way. It was a tough lesson to learn, in the most painful way. And I have no one else to blame but myself. But I have to say that for the right things I did, I did them well. I did not have any blisters, no black toenails, my upper body bore no major soreness, didn’t suffer from any cramps nor sunburn and definitely no chafing.

But you know what? The experience was immeasurable, knowledge acquired was priceless and so much more to learn as I look forward to better myself. Yes you read that right, I would want to do another full marathon!

Looking back at that picture of me, I am certain of one thing: I wouldn’t have finished the last 500 m within the cut-off time if it wasn’t for team support. Team PROTON Runners waited and cheered me on. The best team in the world in my books. Thank you Mr. KE for capturing that moment in time and big thanks to those who gave me the final push 😉

Now let’s plan for the next shall we?

#scklm2016 #fullmarathon #runninggoals #fitlife #fitness #teamprotonrunners #myteamisbetterthanyours #tpr

Running the UEM Half Marathon 2016

Fellow runners, budding runners, aspiring joggers! I just wanted to share my little exploit which transpired from yesterday’s UEM Charity Run half marathon. I am not a pro when it comes to running a 21k nor am I a seasoned runner but I do know what works and what doesn’t for my body. Therefore do take whatever I’m sharing here with a pinch of salt and remember that what works for me may or may not work for you.

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Post-race celebration with #teamPROTONrunners. Photo credit to ActionPix Malaysia.

Firstly, the stats. The course ran along the North Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE) from the Subang toll all the way to Bukit Lanjan for a turnback, along the way entering Kota Damansara toll and another turnback just after Persada PLUS just before the finish line. Ambient temperature was 26 deg C at 5 AM flag off and about 30 deg C 3 hours later, cloudy throughout. Elevation gain was 173m above sea level, the highest being Bukit Lanjan.

I finished the course with an official time of 2:43:05 which was surprising for me since I was ill with a recurring fever and intermittent coughing. Having said that, I knew what I wanted to achieve and will go all out to get it: I wanted to enjoy what could possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience AND finish uninjured.

THOUGHT 1: Find your goal and fix on it.

Out of the 1,734 runners in the half marathon I finished at 847 and in my category (Men Veteran Malaysia) of 323 runners I finished at 197. In essence, your position in the field shows how well you prepared yourself for it. I know of individuals who ran over 100km the last month unsurprisingly ending up about 20 minutes faster than me but I also know of individuals who consistently ran faster than me ending up further back this time. Why?

THOUGHT 2: Prepare not only your body but also your mind.

Running any race is an investment in time, energy and money. So in that respect you better make it worth your while. It doesn’t matter if it’s for 10k, 21k or 42k. In my case, I made sure I trained for it via workouts and I made sure I had a proven nutrition plan. Never underestimate a proper refuelling strategy, pre and during a race. This will eliminate unnecessary toilet breaks, dehydration and body aches.

THOUGHT 3: Nutrition planning is one of the key elements to finish strong & injury free.

For the race I consumed about 820 calories in the form of an energy bar, gels and isotonic electrolyte drinks (FYI one red velvet cupcake contains about 248 calories which will require you to run 60 minutes to burn off). I did not take any Saltsticks. My body burned about 1,417 calories in the end of the 2:43:05 during which I achieved 98% peak performance at the average heart rate of 163 beats per minute (bpm). What I’m getting at is, do your math with regards to what your body needs during the course of the race so you’ll know how to balance the energy you need to maintain your running form. In my case, my calculations were spot on except for fluid intake; I forgot to compensate for the higher than normal ambient temperature which caused my body to become dehydrated faster.

THOUGHT 4: Know your limits and calculate what you need to fuel up for your body to perform its best.

I must admit I enjoyed the novelty of the run and I achieved what I set out to do. It’s very rare to have so much space to move during a race and to run on tarmac usually reserved for vehicles going above 110 km/h is surreal. But what is most satisfying to me were the ‘mini goals’ which I achieved; this was the first time I ran 21 km without stopping and I only made one trip to the water station at km 20 as my bottle was empty. I didn’t make any toilet breaks nor did I suffer from any cramps, didn’t injure my toenails, didn’t get any blisters on my feet and only had the usual muscle soreness at the calfs. The only pain I had were post-race at one knee side probably due to unusually long inclines at some stretches and the way the expressway tilts to one side too.

THOUGHT 5: Focus on maintaining good running form, speed will come later.

As I’m writing this I am already thinking of how I can improve further for my next race. Perhaps I can use less energy gels and instead use more organic sources of energy like nuts? Perhaps I should rethink my hydration strategy to be more efficient? Clearly improvements can be made and I’m sure after reading this you’ll do the same. We are all built differently so find what works for you and remember, always run your own race!