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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wising Up

I know it's a little too early to look back on the year what with there being still close to one and a half months to the year end and all that but since I'm in a writing mood and nothing better came to mind, just indulge me, ok :D

Looking back I've done close to 15 or so races with two more to come before year end. This was also the year I took the first steps into running a full marathon, something I never thought I would ever attempt and lived to run another day. Running wise, it's been a pretty good year. I achieved all the goals that I set out to accomplish.

The past month or so has been a very hectic time for me. It's been one race after another starting with the PNM. To say I wasn't burnt out by the end of it all is an understatement. Physically and mentally, I was tired, really, really tired. That had me seriously thinking about things. 

Am I taking part in just too many races? Admittedly yes. The moment I see a race event being promoted online, I'm immediately clicking on the link and signing up for it. It doesn't matter if it's a 5K race, a 7K race or even a half marathon, I'm game to take part. 

Nothing really wrong with it. It's mostly fun, you get to meet lots of friends and make new ones but I asked myself what my goal was in wanting to run every single race organized in the Klang Valley. I couldn't come up with an answer. But the truth of the matter was, I didn't have a real goal in mind.

Granted, I had dreams of running a full and I achieved it. Even though it was mostly suffering for the entire 42K, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The joy of crossing the finish was something I can never truly describe. Joy? Happiness? Bliss? Contentment? All of those. That was when I decided I want more of these 42k like suffering. I want to better myself with each marathon I do, if possible.

Which is why I'm taking a totally different approach to running next year. I have a goal, a real one this time. I plan to excel (in my own personal capacity, that is) in the SCKLM next year. I'm planning to put in a lot more training and effort to achieve it. No longer will I be signing up for just about every single run out there. The plan calls for specific races, races that will benefit me in terms of training to achieve my goal. 

I've come to realize that taking part in too many races tends to leave me with no time for a proper training plan. I give my all during races (who doesn't), sometimes just a bit too much and sometimes end up paying for it in the form of injuries. I'm injury prone especially at my age.

I've got two more races for this year and after that I'm taking a step back to fully concentrate on my training for my third marathon at the SCKLM 2013. It's going to be a lot more training than racing. I'm putting a plan together, after taking what I've learned from the two that I've done, that hopefully will see me doing much better this time around for my third attempt.

My motto for next year is 'more quality than quantity' and it's something that I intend to see through. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be taking the wife for any race that she wants to run even though I'm not running it myself. She's been there for me at races that she doesn't run and you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be there for her.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Powerman Asian Duathlon Championships 2012: Race Review

I have this saying, you need to try something at least once in your lifetime which was why I signed up for the Powerman Asian Duathlon Championships 2012. I was on the verge of signing up for the sprint event even though I would have probably had to put training wheels on my bike when my buddy Sean came to my rescue.

My ever loyal medal model ...
He suggested I take part in the relay event and managed to find a rider for me while I do both the run legs. I heaved a huge sigh of relief at the prospects of not making a fool of myself trying to cycle and falling into some 'longkang' somewhere and relished the idea of doing both the run legs.

Things were put into motion, I signed up for it and though I only met my team-mate half an hour before race start I was looking forward to the event. The wife decided to tag along and lend her support to me, which I truly appreciated cos she actually wanted to run the CICM half marathon instead. We got to the race location early, like we always do for most races to get the best parking spots.

The place was already crawling with participants pushing and setting up their bikes into the transition area. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming. I felt completely out of place. I'd normally see loads of faces I'd recognize during a typical running event but it was different here, everyone looked foreign to me. The faces were unfamiliar and they all looked like professionals, which some of them actually were. The atmosphere was totally different as well.

I was overjoyed and glad when I saw Ray, finally a friendly face. Chatted with him for a bit before heading off to the transition area to get acquainted with my team-mate. After settling in and exchanging details about how long we would take to complete our respective legs, I headed for the loo which was when I saw Jamie, another familiar face heading to the transition area. 

The front row elites at the start of the individual event ...
By the time I got back, the individual category participants were lined up and ready for their start of the run leg. Watched them flag off and got into place for the relay flag off. The weather was excellent at that time of the day and once we were flagged off, all the prior reservations evaporated. Time to dig in and concentrate on the run. 

The start of the relay category ... Pix courtesy of Cycling Malaysia
Game plan called for a tempo paced run for the first leg and managed to achieve it with a slight glitch that threw off my concentration when I discovered it was a 5k loop route. Damn it, Nick! You really need to read your instructions properly!

Aside from that, the first run leg was pretty good. The route was fairly easy with only a small 200m or so incline just before the finish. The water stations were more than adequate. I told my team-mate earlier that I'd be back in an hour and I came in exactly in one hour on the dot. Now came the hard part. The waiting game. I had approximately two hours to wait for my team-mate to get back. 

Caught up with Jamie for a bit, then headed off in search of the wife who was busy snapping pictures of everyone. I couldn't sit idly for two hours so decided to walk around the place. Met with more familiar faces like Jason, Nithi and his crew and some new ones like Yvonne and this guy I didn't get his name who was also doing the relay which I was chatting with for a bit before heading to find the wife again. She was having a blast taking pictures of all those hunky looking elites and showing them off to me ... LOL! And here I thought I was hunky! 

The wife was rooting for this hunk ... hrmmmppphhh, I thot I was hunkier ... hahaha ...
Besides that there really was not much else to do except wait. I was getting restless and the waiting was drastically cooling me down and putting me into a very relaxed state, which was not at all good. The muscles started feeling tight. Kept moving as much as I could but it wasn't helping much. Nothing I could do about it though.

With Jamie playing the waiting game after the first run leg. Pix courtesy of Yvonne.
The weather was also a concern, with signs of the sun peeking out from the clouds so when Jamie felt a drop of rain, we both had our hopes up instantly. It started to drizzle just as my team-mate zipped in on the two hour mark catching me by surprise. I was not prepared. Scrambled to exchange timing tags, grabbed my cap and bolted out of the transition area. True enough, the body was too well relaxed to actually get into proper running form. The legs and muscles were tight and it was a struggle.

Yours truly about to start the second loop of the first leg ... Pix courtesy of E.T Tey.
The drizzle got heavier which had me inwardly smiling. Now that was more like it, God really is a runner after all :D But it was not to be cos after a kilometer plus, the rain stopped and the heat that was coming off the road was horrible. The sun decided to join in and make the place even more humid and hot! My pace was instantly affected and dropped a couple of notches.

I had to stop at most of the water stations and pour cold water all over my head to keep cool. I was heating up too much and I knew from that point on the race was going to get difficult. I just grit my teeth and concentrated on just finishing the darn leg. By the time I got to the second loop of leg two, I was crawling along just waiting for the finish to show up. 

Some poor soul getting his/her car towed away for indiscriminate parking along the Start/Finish ...
Seeing the finish after struggling along in the rising heat was a joy to behold! I took my medal (all 3 of them), got my timing chip unhooked from my ankle, gladly accepted the ice cool towel and water and headed off to find my team-mate, who strangely was nowhere to be seen. Unofficially, I think we came in around 4:11 - 4:15 but will have to wait for the official results to be certain.

Took my stuff from the transition area and joined the wife, grabbed some of the free food entitled to the participants and waited for Sean and Kelvin to cross the finish. Said my goodbye's once they were in and finally headed home for a much needed sleep.

With Sean and Kelvin (the real POWERMEN) and the little pretender ...
Did I enjoy the event? Yes, I did. It was an experience to remember. Would I take part again next year? With the right rider and only doing one run leg with someone else doing the second leg, yes, I would definitely take part again. Would I ever do a full? Not in my lifetime and especially not with my child like cycling skills.

The rows and rows of really expensive bicycles
But one thing I have to say is that these guys truly deserve to be called POWERMAN cos damn, for the hell they went through with doing the run, cycle, run legs on their own, nothing else better describes them. It's a herculean feat and one I don't think I could match even on my 'bestest' of days!