Monday, September 30, 2013

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2013: Race Report

After a three month postponement because of the 'Malaysian annual haze festival', the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2013 went ahead yesterday, marking only my measly 3rd marathon attempt though I came away grinning from ear to ear after the event.

The three month postponement initially frustrated me, seeing as how I was busting my butt training for it. But the postponement was a good call due to the extremely hazy conditions around KL. It also was a blessing in disguise, giving me an additional three months to train for it.

A week prior to race day saw me falling sick and battling to get well in time for the race. I was worried all that extra training put in would have gone to waste. The illness was cutting it close though I managed to recover just in time but had me fretting whether my performance would have taken a dip.

You smell awful ...
The wife and me put up in a hotel nearby the race location like we did the past three years. Seeing as how she was running the half marathon event which flagged off an hour an a half later, it was a wise thing to do. It was also our annual 'act like a tourist' in KL event, though the sun was blistering hot while we were pretending to be tourists. The hotel was pretty decent with each floor having a different themed room such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Bollywood and Hollywood. We ended up with the Bollywood themed room. And no, I didn't chase her around the bed or anything ... LOL!

Surprisingly I didn't have butterflies or a jittery stomach this time around. I was putting my faith in my training and knew I had done everything I could to be prepared for the event. A lot of thought was put into planning for my nutrition and hydration needs, my gel consumption, my salt tablet intake, my attire, my shoes, etc that the only thing that could ruin all this was myself.

The Bollywood themed  room tiles in the hotel room ... 
So come race morning, I was up bright and early, did my pre-race ritual, kissed the wife, wished her luck for her event and trotted down happily to the race location which was about 5 minutes or so away. The atmosphere on the way there was electrifying as always with the streets of KL choked with runners heading the same way.

Met up with the GCAM group at the pre-planned meet up point, next to the toilets, good call on that one, Jamie ... hahaha! Joked around like we always do, got the compulsory pre-race picture and then headed to the start pen to await gun off.

My strategy was to run my own race, not get caught up in someone else's race which was why I decided to abort my plan of following the 4:30 pacers. From last year's experience, I knew the start wouldn't open up for at least the next 2km, so an easy and slow start it would be. I was lined up with Kew and Foo around the middle of the start pen.

4.30am, it was time. The gun went off and it took us close to a minute plus to reach the start line. A slow easy trot with the hordes of marathoners along the very narrow starting stretch of road. It's a good thing I decided to ditch the plan to follow the 4:30 pacers cos they were nowhere in sight. It's a long race, so I was determined to keep to my planned pace and not get caught up in the euphoria of the run.

By then Kew had bolted off somewhere ahead leaving me to myself. Had the good fortune to catch up with Zane a few minutes later and we decided to run together since we were both on the same planned pace settings. The roads opened up just as we exited Jalan Tun Sambanthan or better known as Brickfields.

It was easier running at this point seeing as how we didn't have to zigzag our way around runners. One good thing about running with a buddy is it's never boring which was why I was pretty thankful to have Zane striding along with me. We joked around, made fun of people, asked Batman where his Bat Mobile was and plain motivated each other along the way. We kept each other's pace in check, perpetually telling each other when we were going too fast and it was time to slow down.

Nothing much to say about the route since it was the same as last year. The legs and body were feeling just fine, no signs of any problems which I was thankful for. All that group and solo training I did was well worth it. Took my gels as planned, alternating them with my salt tablets just before reaching the water stations. In fact feeling sleepy was bugging me more than the running itself. I was practically yawning and fighting heavy eyelids most of the time and waiting for it to get brighter to tell the mind that it was actually really morning already!

There is absolute pain and agony behind that calm exterior ...
Picture courtesy of Tan Kien Boon
I was also a little taken aback with the new overpass near the Chan Sow Lin area which had me groaning about having to run up that new incline (it was still in construction last year) and a steep one it was too. Somewhere around the Jalan Raja Chulan was when the lead half marathoners zoomed past Zane and me like as if it was a run in the park for them.

One of the volunteers was so happily clapping away at these speedsters that we asked her if we looked anything like them only to elicit a shake of her head ... hahaha! Next we came to the Beach Club (?) traffic lights where we were heckled and whistled at by some leftover party women in skimpy clothing. Must be the tight compression we had on ... hahaha! We both had a good laugh at that.

By the time we reached KLCC Zane was having a little issue with his quads and told me to go ahead cos he didn't want to slow me down. I was sad to lose the good company but I did have a target to fulfill so I bade farewell to Zane and headed off on my own. Now comes the mental part cos the dreaded Jalan Ipoh stretch was looming.

By the 29th kilometer, I was beginning to feel some leg fatigue, nothing serious but still noticeable. I suffered from cramps last year at this point and was hoping it wouldn't be a repeat cos I was right up on the mark with my pace at that point and even had a couple of minutes spare in the bag. Once I reached the 30k mark, I breathe a huge sigh of relieve, the legs were fine.

The agony is almost over ...
Picture courtesy of Lim Choon Yuen.
This stretch was so mentally challenging and boring and not having a buddy to run with saw me walking a few times here. I don't know, this stretch somehow felt a hell of a lot longer than it did last year and I was praying for the Jalan Kuching stretch to arrive sooner. Somewhere along this point was where Richi came along and sped past me. That boy was zooming, my hats off to him for a job well done.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally entered the Jalan Kuching stretch. Now all I had to do was keep my cool, stride confidently and consistently and I'll be fine though I did employ a little run/walk along this stretch due to leg fatigue creeping up slowly. I was anxiously looking forward to the Jalan Kuching roundabout section cos of the independent volunteer crew giving out Milo flavored Popsicle's which, if you asked me, was god sent! I graciously took one from the little girl giving them out and made my way to the final stretch of this torture.

By the 35th kilometer mark, I could already feel twitches along my right front thigh, sure signs of an impending cramp. Decided to walk the twitches off and along came Frank who urged me on. I gamely got back into a run but Frank was on a roll and soon enough disappeared into the wilderness. The twitches got worse and escalated into a full fledged cramp which forced me to walk. Took my last reserve salt tablets and soon enough, the cramps felt bearable.

The only time I get to be behind this vehicle is when it's parked!
Andrew came along at this point and pushed me on yelling that we had only 3km to go and not to stop now. That was the push I needed. I dug deep into myself and pulled out everything I could to go the distance. It was tough both mentally and physically to build up the pace again for this final 3km. I looked at my watch and knew that I would still make my target, more or less and I just couldn't give up now. That last 3km of running was built on will power and nothing else.

When I finally crossed that finish in a time of 4:36:38 (net time), I was ecstatic. I vowed to myself in the beginning of the year that I would improve from last year and I did, taking 45 minutes off last year's time, making this my personal best for a marathon. It goes to show that with proper motivation and training, you can achieve anything. I know my timing is no big deal to a lot of you but heck, to me it is. I put my sweat, blood and tears into it.


I thank the wife who so gamely put up with me being away most weekend morning's running with the GCAM guys and gals for our LSD's, for her dedication in kicking me out of the bed on weekday's promising me bodily harm if I didn't lace up for my run before work, most of all for her faith that I could do this. I thank my GCAM buddies for the company in our weekend group runs, spurring and encouraging each other on, without which, this would have been all the more difficult to accomplish.

Overall I thought the race was well organized save for a few bad points I observed and experienced. Traffic management on certain stretched were horrendous to point a few runners, myself included were stopped by a traffic policeman to let cars pass! I thought that was ridiculous and we made it known by screaming at the policeman. On one occasion, me and three other runners were nearly run over by a bus who ignored a stop warning by the cops that had me fearing for my safety from that point on.

You KL drivers are seriously a bunch of bloody impatient idiots! It was made known that the roads would be partially closed months in advance and you can't even tolerate it for just 6 hours on a Sunday? All that honking, coming out of yours cars and berating the poor marshals who were only doing their job of keeping the roads safe for us runners? You guys are pathetic, that's all I can say!

My only other peeve is to the runners themselves. While I have no issues with you guys holding hands and running/walking/skipping with your partners and loved ones, stopping to take pictures in the bloody middle of nowhere with this banana guy or that watermelon fellow or simply just walking in a single file across the entire span of the road but please leave some space open just before the finish so we can pass without having to squeeze into a single line just to get to the finish? I appreciate the cheering and support from you guys but just a little bit more space to run through would have been nice :D

Other than that, the race was well organized though the weather was simply a killer. A big thank you also goes out the tireless volunteers and crew who worked just as hard if not harder than the runners themselves. Kudos to you!

With that, I take a short, really short, like one day, break from running and training resumes after that for a 12 hour endurance run in two weeks times followed by the Putrajaya Night Marathon. I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve getting through it but I have to try since I have already so insanely signed up for it.

But before I sign off, a huge congrats to the wife who completed her half marathon with really insufficient training. I applaud you, honey! To the GCAM virgin marathoners, good job and let's do more of this!

17 comments:

  1. Congrats Nick. that's a bloody good timing. 45mins off. A huge congrats again to you my friend :)

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    1. Thanks Ray. When I reached that Pertama complex area, I was hoping to see you there telling me I had 500m left to go ... LOL!

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    2. Bloody good job, Cap'n :-)

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  2. Simply amazing! Good job and well done.
    I pushed the best I could after my yelling. Had to dig real deep to find my last last last source of energy.

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    1. Thanks Andrew. That shout helped wake me up from my painful slumber.

      Congrats on your great run too.

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  3. So fast one, your report! Congrats on the big PR! And this statement "huge congrats to the wife who completed her half marathon with really insufficient training." I can't make out if it's sarcasm or otherwise LOL!

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    1. Hahaha ... now you've got the wife thinking if I was being sarcastic as well!

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  4. Congratulation on the great performance!

    The traffic is getting worst nowadays.
    I think it was getting more cars on the road and I don't felt safe to run anymore (especially the stretch on Jalan TAR to Jalan Ipoh).

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    1. Thanks Neoh. Didn't manage to catch up with you before the race though.

      Traffic was scary at certain stretches and the exhaust fumes was another matter entirely.

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  5. Whoah, must be interesting to get heckled by skimpy dressed women. Did it make you run faster or slower? Hihihi

    Congrats Nick! 4:35 means i was lepaking just a few mtrs from the finish arch. How did i miss you!

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    1. Thanks.

      Zane and me almost stopped from laughing like crazy ... LOL!

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  6. Congrats Nick for your glorious PB ever... So next year, it's gonna be Sub 4 for you, izzit? Well done Captain Skechers! Truly inspirational!!!

    Catch with your in the next several events then... Kept on blowing newbie like me away then... I had to agree with you, the hot weather is a killer one.... Felt like running in a Sahara! LOL

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    1. Thanks but no Sub-4's la. Not capable of feats like that, getting too old for this already. Going to start looking at the slower running events.

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  7. wow, 4:36, lagi 6 minit tersasar from your 4:30 target. congrat to you bro.

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