Thursday, July 25, 2013

Priorities

It's been a while since I took part in a running event. The Salomon Jamboree doesn't really count, ok. With the postponement of the SCKLM and the fasting month currently in progress, the race calendar is practically dry. The focus has just been on training, training and more training.

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon would have been my platform to put all that training into reality but the haze put a damper on those plans. In hindsight though, it's sort of a blessing cos it gave me the chance to put in more training. I mean, more time for training can't hurt, can it?

But the postponement and my eagerness to try out new things has also slightly screwed with my race calendar a little making me doubt myself all over again. I initially planned to do three marathons this year and without the SCKLM postponement would see them spread over a period of a three month gap between each marathon, giving me ample time to train for each of them.

Now though, I'm saddled with running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon at the end of September and hardly 20 days later, the Putrajaya Night Marathon but NOT before I attempt my first 'ultra' (if you can call it that) at the Back 2 Endurance event. That's a lot of running that needs to be done in a space of three weeks and that's not including the Shape Men's Health and 2XU Compression run which will be sandwiched between these three! I am a little worried.

I have no idea why I dived into signing up for the Back 2 Endurance Ultra event. Maybe it was ego, maybe I was out to prove something, I don't know. It was sheer lunacy. Even the wife was trying to dissuade me from signing up but do I listen to her? Nooooooo ... I just go and sign up anyway. She put up a lot of valid reasons why I should not take part but that egoistic and senseless voice in my head kept saying otherwise. I should have just listened to her.

I am a person who takes races seriously. It's a matter of personal pride for me to do well in races. I train hard for them, I run even harder in them. I get very disappointed when I don't do so well and mope around for days. So it's a little headache concentrating on which event to gear my training for. Do I concentrate on one and set myself up for disappointment with the other two?

I guess for now I'll just take one day at a time and leave the decisions for a little later. I've currently moved my entire training programme to the morning part of the day (so they don't get scuttled by last minute late night work commitments) and placed priority for the SCKLM seeing as how that would have been my main race for the year. Training wise, I'm enjoying these early morning sessions though waking up is a real bitch. The wife has to force me up on certain days when the sleepy genes are in overdrive. Once I'm laced up though, it's all systems go.

With the current training phase I'm going through, I feel pretty confident of doing well for the SCKLM but don't know if I can actually hack if for 12 hours from dawn to dusk, hardly two weeks after and followed by the PNM a week later. There's hardly even enough time for the body to recuperate properly. I guess I'll just have to wing it and see how things go.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Pang ...
I really have to give more thought into my race calendar for next year before signing up for any race. I'm gearing my training for trail and ultra running by the year end or early next year and will be sitting out from a lot of races unless they complement my training plans. A helluva lot more time will be spent on training to make sure I'm ready to take on these new challenges.

It's going to be tough trying to juggle the training timeline with the family and also around work seeing as how I'll have to spend a lot more hours on the roads and trails toughening up the body and legs to withstand the rigors of trail and ultra running.

So many things to do yet so little time to do it in. A lot of meticulous planning and detailed scheduling will have to be looked into. What's more important, a lot of money will need to be saved cos some of the races I plan to run in next year will be more costly than the regular local races. Then there's also the gear to think about. Let's not even talk how much that is going to cost!

With that said though, I'm eagerly looking forward to the racing season to start again after the Hari Raya celebrations. It would also mark an increase in my work schedule once the races start again seeing as how I'm lined up to be doing some work for quite a few of them. It's going to be hectic, that's for sure.

See you all at the start line!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leadville Trail 100, Here I Come!

Bet that got your attention :D No, I'm not doing the Leadville Trail 100 mile Ultra Marathon. I may be a little crazy at times but I'm not that crazy la, though I do have some secret desire to try this one day when my head isn't screwed on right.

Razif Yahya, whom I highly suspect is not really from this planet is attempting (and I'll bet he'll do just fine) to take on the Leadville Trail 100 mile race that's slated for the 17th and 18th of August this year. Razif or Ray as I call him, is a good friend and running buddy and being the only Malaysian in the event, I thought it'd be good to give the guy some support.


He's been training like there's no tomorrow, raking up the mileage day after day to prepare himself for this. Just looking at him hard at work is enough to tire me out for a year or two. I had a good chat with him during the PNM launch and learned quite a lot from him about ultra running and also found out that he was doing the Leadville Trail 100, don't forget its in miles and not kilometers, ya?

The Leadville Trail 100 mile Ultra Marathon (also known as the Race Across The Sky or LT100) is known to be one of the prestigious Ultra Marathons in North America that's held annually on the trails and dirt roads near Leadville, Colorado. First run in 1983, runners in the race climb and descend 15,600 feet, with elevations ranging between 9,200-12,620 feet.


In most years, less than half the starters complete the race within the 30-hour time limit. The LT100 is one of seven trail running and mountain biking races in the Leadville Race series, currently operated by Life Time Fitness. The course is a 50-mile out-and-back (from Leadville town to Winfield town  then return back Leadville town), starting at 10,200 feet. The centre piece of  the course is the climb up to Hope Pass at 12,620 feet - the highest point in  the race, which added more difficulties in completing the race due to the thin air and  high altitude.

Now, here's the genuine 'femes' one ...
More information about the race can be found at their official website or you can visit Ray's blog for added details. Even though I won't be there in person, I'll be supporting you all the way from here. Do us proud, Ray! I have the utmost faith in you! Come on and join me in supporting our very own Ultraman!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Salomon Jamboree Trail Run 2013: Race Review

The Salomon Jamboree Trail Run was initially a race I wasn't supposed to sign up for. But the wife, knowing my desire of wanting to dwell into the world of ultra and trail running decided to so graciously give up her NTV7 race which she signed up for and let me take part in this. I have only one word to say to her, 'honey you're the bestest!' Ok, maybe that was a little more than one word la.

Anyways, I was looking forward to the race. The gang from the GCAM training group was also taking part and at least I'd have familiar faces running alongside. After picking CY and Kew, we met up with the rest of the gang and convoyed our way towards Kuala Selangor, the race location.

The race was initially supposed to be at a different race location and was later moved to Kuala Selangor Munical Council premises for some reason or rather with the distance being increased from 7km to 12km. I was glad that they increased the distance of the race.

A couple days or so before the event though, Yvonne gave me and Choon Yuen a heads up that the route was more road than trail with a 30:70 ratio or something along those lines. This might not mean much to some but it had me deliberating on my shoe choice, trail or road shoe? With only 4 plus kilometers on the trails and the rest being on the roads, I decided to bring along both trail and road shoe and make a decision at the location itself. 

He could at least wait for me to brush my hair before snapping away ...
In the end, seeing as how I can run faster on the roads than I can in trails, the Skechers GObionic was my choice of rubbers. With the trails coming at the beginning of the race, I strategized that I would run the trails slower as a warm up and once we hit the roads, I'd put the pedal to the metal. At least that was the plan.

The race started a little late with the men's open being flagged off followed 5 minutes later by the women's category and then finally the men's old fogeys category being flagged off last. I happen to fall under this category by the way. To be honest I found it a little odd that the men's veteran category was flagged off last cos there were quite a lot of powerhouses in this category.

At the blare of the horn, Piew and me took off at an easy stride while Khay Ann decided to hit his turbo boost button and disappeared instantly. He's just fast! Khay Ann was fourth by the way. The first three kilometers or so was basically road with a little dirt trail and my pace was a little too fast. Both Piew and me decided to slow down a little to conserve some energy for the trail part of the race and also brace for that dreaded stair section we knew was out to get us.

The run was mostly incident free and once we hit the trails, which wasn't really a trail mind you, more like off-road, I slowed down a little more (since I was in road shoes) and mostly kept to the grassy sections as much as I could. Thankfully, the terrain was pretty flat and even, so it didn't really pose too much of a problem and I experimented with a slight increase in pace and found it bearable.

Then we came to a fork in the road and just like everyone else, we followed the person in front of us, happily running along. A kilometer or so down the road, I saw the front runners heading back. I found it odd that we would have to do a u-turn and head back as the route was really small and there would be too many people running too and fro at the same time.

The 'off-road' trail section of the race.
Pic credit goes to Manson Chew
Then Piew and me spotted Khay Ann who hollered at us to turn around and head back the other way cos it was the wrong route. That was when all hell broke loose with everyone trying to turn around and run back the other way with runners almost colliding into each other. 

While I was initially a little annoyed at the thought that I'd have to trek back another two kilometers to head back to the proper route, I was more sympathetic towards the front runners who were fighting for the podium. They'd have to work extra hard to keep their placing cos some of the back runners would now be in front of them. I think some potential podiumers lost some placings cos of this boo boo.

After composing myself and focusing back on my race, I slowly picked up the pace again and headed off in the proper direction. I lost Piew around the 6-7k mark and was basically on my own. Once we left the off-road sections, I took it slow for the next 200 meter to negotiate that blasted 80 meters or so of stairs and once at the top, I stepped up the pace all the way back to the finish.

Stairway to heaven ... the dreaded stairs.
Pic credit goes to Salomon S-Lab Kuala Selangor Jamboree Trail Run 2013
I had already made a conscious decision not to officially cross the finish line as a sign of respect to the runners behind me cos I'm very sure I gained a lot of position upfront after doubling back earlier. It wouldn't be fair to the rest. I walked around the finish chute and picked up my free cap for the first 200 runners (which by the way was left over stock from the 2010 event). Ok, I shouldn't have accepted the free cap but heck, I did after all run and suffer the same as everyone else too.

After grabbing a chilled bottle of water, I headed to pick up my free breakfast, goody bag and medal and waited for the rest who started to slowly turn up one by one. Once everyone was done, we headed back to the car to get changed and cleaned up and that was when I found out that they ran out of goody bags and breakfast for the runners! Judging by the comments on Facebook, some were even missing out on the medals, though I'm not too sure of this.

While I don't run for goody bags and medals, I thought it was unfair on the part of the organizers to be so ill prepared as to not have enough of the items they promised the runners would get and they did say everyone would get a medal, goody bag and breakfast. I felt sorry for the late comers cos they all drove miles and miles for this event only to leave with a bitter taste in their mouths. 

I was lucky, I came in early and had everything so no complains from me aside for the lack of marshals or signage which led everyone astray at the 4km mark. Thinking back though, at least it did make the race longer :D I'd gladly welcome an over-distanced race to an under-distanced one any day! At the end of the day, I did have a good race and came in with a time of 1:04 covering a total of 12km. I'm happy with that.

I'm not going to comment much about the race organizers (even though they did delete my entire comment from their FB the day before) cos overall I thought they didn't do too bad. Water stations were where they stated it would be, traffic was well managed and the spray of water just before the finish by the fire department was simply awesome, they could do with improvements in other areas. I'll take this as a lesson to find out more about who the race organizers are next time before blindly jumping into signing up for races. The medal though was simply beautiful in quality. I have to say it was one of the better looking medals I received in a while.


That said, the GCAM group provided the laughter with their crazy antics as always with special mention going out to Foo, our very own resident GCAM stand up comic providing the bulk of the entertainment! The month of August is going to be a barren month, race wise and hopefully I can find at least one race of 21km distance or more. For now though, the training continues.