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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!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reebok One Challenge 2013: Race Report

With a week to go before my main race of the year, the SCKLM, taking part in an urban adventure challenge was a slightly risky call. Which was why I'm still wondering why I even signed up for the Reebok One Challenge in Putrajaya to begin with. Thankfully I came away unscathed from it, albeit a little exhausted.

The Reebok One Challenge is an urban adventure event which would see participants having to negotiate 9 obstacles in the course of the 18.95 km run. While it might look easy on paper, it was far from it. The obstacles consisted of having to lug a 15kg sandbag, dangling across monkey bars, jumping over barricades, trudging up anthills, slogging up a steep incline, trekking through a trail, running through tyres, climbing a wall and a surprise challenge just before the finish line.

I am getting sick of this, you know ...
The wife who wasn't running the event decided to come along and support me for the run. Since it was Putrajaya and parking would be more than adequate, we decided to sleep in a little and arrived at the race location about 30 minutes before race start. Aside from the wife, this race was a little lonely with none of the usual GCAM guys and gals, save for Yan Leng, present. No company to chit chat along the way.

Runners waiting to be flagged off.
Was a little embarrassed before and during the race with people coming up to me and saying, 'hey, aren't you the guy from the simulation video'. Now I know how celebrities must feel. Hey, let me have my perasan moment, ok ... hahaha! The race started out on time and my plan was to take a nice easy run for the first 10k before hitting the challenges. The run simulation I did a month back was a big advantage cos I knew what to expect for the run stage, route wise and I decided that I could risk switching the easy into a speed session so much so that I PB'ed my 10k just before hitting the first challenge.

The run proper was pretty standard until I came to the first challenge, the sandbag. I was greeted by a smiling Zane, who was the drill sergeant for this obstacle who gleefully gave me a sack to lug for 80 meters. This was where the fitness buffs (whom the wife had a field day ogling) would be in their element, running with the sack while I was huffing and puffing and walking as fast I could to the end of the line.

The must have 'perasan' shot just before the start ...
Next up was the monkey bars, just a short run away. I had already planned to take the penalty and do the burpees for this challenge. As I came into the monkey bar area, the Orange man saw me and a hint of evil flickered in his eye. According to the rules, I had to at least attempt the challenge before doing the penalty so I hopped up and with sweaty hands, slipped off. There, that was my attempt, now let me do the darn burpees and be on my way. The Orange man, with glee in his eyes made sure I did my burpees properly even torturing me with an additional one!

Runners coming back ...
Next up after a 300m short run was the barricade, three of them, which I decided to just climb over like a sissy little man instead of jumping over them ... hahaha ... Hey, I have knee issues, ok? Then a 400m run, and up the anthills it was. This was no fun cos immediately after that was the steepest incline that could give Ammah hill a run for her money. I walked up, no sense torturing myself since it was only about 200-300m. Then came the short trail section which I loved though Kew has issues about a trail being an obstacle. It was brutal la, Kew. There were tigers, snakes and whatnots hiding in that 200m trail, you know ... hahaha!

Harith Iskander, the genuine celebrity ...
After exiting the trails, the tyre challenge was waiting. Again, I decided to just walk through them for fear of tripping over one and falling flat to the ground. Then came a 400m run to the walls. This was another one of my pre-planned not to do obstacle. Look at the walls, can you blame me? I ran up to the female drill sergeant, and asked if I could just take the penalty. She was a strict one though and responded with a loud resounding,'No! Get up those walls first'. With a reply of 'Ma'am, yes, ma'am' I headed up the wall and failed, naturally and did my burpee penalty.

9 feet high walls, no way was I going over them!
Finally the challenges were over save for the surprise one at the end. Now I can get back to proper running. But running after this point wasn't easy. I was already exhausted from the challenges and getting into stride again was an effort. I just couldn't get up to the pace of the earlier 10k and decided to keep it easy till the finish which was after all just a mere 4k away. The sun was also peeking out already and made matters a little hot. Thank god for the sponging stations. Yes, we had sponging stations.

The secret obstacle, which was two trucks (the Ford Ranger kind) parked back to back about 200m away from the finish and even though I knew about it before hand still made me mutter, 'What? Got some more, ah?'. But my spirits lifed when I saw the wife there and immediately perked up with confidence. Come on, you gotta look good for the wife, right, especially when she had a camera in her hand ... LOL!

Trying to look cool upon spotting the wife ...
With whatever strength I had remaining, I climbed over the trucks and made the final dash for the finish, gratefully excepted my medal and made my way to find the wife. I crossed the line in a time of 1:46 and was happy with it considering the tough challenge sections. A yummy and sumptuous buffet line was waiting for the runners, something that added a nice touch to the event.

Overall, for a first time event, this was very well organized. Water stations were aplenty, maybe a tad too many, the medical personnel were more than adequate. The volunteers and marshals were very efficient and friendly, always with a smile urging everyone on. The drill sergeants, while having evil, sadistic streaks in them were absolutely encouraging. A big congrats goes out to Reebok Malaysia and Twenty First Century Sports for providing an excellent platform for runners to have a good time. You're going to have a tough time next year topping this :D

Now, with this all over, it's time to taper and get mentally prepared for the SCKLM next week.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Skechers GObionic Trail: Initial Review

I've always been a huge fan of the Skechers GObionic. I've tried on the entire Skechers GOseries running shoes (and loved everyone of them) but the Skechers GObionic has always found a special place in my heart. Which was why when I first heard about the Skechers GObionic Trail months ago, my heart skipped a few beats.

My interest in trail (and ultra) running has been gaining momentum and I've been grabbing every opportunity to run the trails whenever it presented itself. I'll be honest, I was never a trail junkie until a few people I know 'poisoned' me (the culprits know who they are) and the Skechers GOtrail was my first ever trail shoe.

So when Skechers Malaysia sent me a text to say that the Skechers GObionic Trail was here, I was overjoyed, ecstatic even, seeing as how the wife had her pair for wear-testing two days earlier and I could only look on in envy. But not anymore. Now I have my own pair to play with!

The Skechers GObionic Trail is the second attempt by Skechers in producing a trail shoe. While the original GOtrail was a pretty good trail shoe, there were some 'production' issues that plagued me with them. The Skechers GObionic Trail on the other hand looks like a winner right out of the box. Coming in my all time favorite grey/green color scheme, the GObionic Trail (which I shall refer to as the GBT from here on) falls into the category of the minimalist trail running shoes. Styling wise, the shoe looks stunning, in my opinion at least.

The GBT uses what Skechers Performance describes as nature and an organic inspired design to create a more natural foot movement though I'm not so sure how that came to be. The GObionic Trail is a 2 in 1 custom fit trail shoe, you get a 4mm heel drop with enhanced cushioning and protection with the insole and a zero drop barefoot like experience without the insole. It's ideal for those who prefer some form of cushioning or for those (like me) who just enjoy the feel of the ground. Personally I feel the zero drop option makes it more stable on the trails where rolling or twisting an ankle is much likelier than on roads.

Weighing in at 8 oz. for the men's size 9, the shoe feels so much lighter than it actually looks. In fact, for a trail shoe, it's exceptionally lightweight. The GBT, like all the other Skechers GOseries shoes is engineered to promote a midfoot strike with a propriety Resagrip outsole that is durable, light and flexible. The Resagrip steers away from the usual foam like material slightly and is more rubber like. I'm not sure about the durability of the outsole until I get a lot more miles in them.

The decoupled geometric lugs on the outsole, which is similar to the GObionic's flex grooves but without the 'cuts' are designed to elevate flexibility and grip. The lugs look bigger and more spaced out than some of the other trail shoes I've seen (including the GOtrail) but they do offer good traction and they actually keep rocks and mud from sticking to the shoe while running. A lightweight rock diffusion plate lends some support to your feet, dispersing the pressure to protect your feet against the harsh environment of trail running, though for the life of me, I couldn't tell if there was a diffusion plate or not cos the shoe is that flexible.

The one thing I like about the shoe is the extremely roomy toebox it offers. Just like the road version of the shoe, the toebox allows ample space for my toes to splay and move within the shoe to provide a natural stability on the trials. Compared to the GOtrail, the GOrun 2 and even the GOrun Speed, which are pretty narrow in the toebox areas, the GBT's toebox is like a cavern compared to those three. For those with a slightly wider feet will love the roominess of the GBT.

The upper consists of a lightweight synthetic mesh and is a little stiff but stretchable enough and works nicely to accommodate your feet as they start to swell from the heat or during long runs. The GBT is also given a water-repellent treatment (which could be the cause of the slight stiffness to the upper) but doesn't hinder your foot's movement and breathing. One good thing about the upper being made of synthetic material is that they never absorb water and get heavy, especially in trails where you have streams to run across, though I have not tested this theory just yet. The GBT supposedly also doesn't just repel water but also drains out fairly quick, again this is something I can't confirm until I find a stream to run in. The lacing is a carry over from the road version and pretty much straight forward.

The GBT is also free of any type of heel counter which allows the heel to move naturally and unsupported with a flexible and soft collar. An Ortholite integrated anti-microbial sock liner helps inhibit odor after a long day in the trails. The GObionic Trail, unlike most shoes has an extra thin tongue which helps considerably in keeping the weight of the shoe down. The tongue, which is slightly longer than normal is integrated into the upper and is suppose to help keep small stones and debris out of the shoe.

The trail test (Session 1)

The best way to really put a trail shoe to a test is to actually head out into the trails with it. The wife was so eager to give it a try that I decided to take a day off work and head to the FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) trails, a regular haunt for local trail runners. It rained a couple of hours earlier and the trails would be wet, just perfect for wear testing a trail shoe :D And for leeches too!

I ran this session with the GBT in the cushioned 4mm mode. I initially felt the shoe was a little too tight and made a wrong choice of wearing thinner socks and found my foot sliding around a little in the shoe, which was also a contributor to debris slipping in. My fault entirely, not the shoes. The wife also did find her shoe a little snug and with her bunion issues, she decided to switch her insole with her GObionic Ride and found that the fit was just nice so she didn't encounter the 'debris' problems I had.

Even with her knee issues, she was still adamant to run ...
This trail session was to accommodate the wife, who is more of the hiking-slow-jog-through-the-jungles-who-would-stop-and- tell-me-everything-about-every-single-tree-or-plant kinda girl who is still struggling with her knee issues so we kept it light, sort of a hike and run session. The trails were wet, slippery and muddy and I took whatever opportunity I could to run up and down the slippery inclines, on various surfaces, mud, gravel, grass and sandy stretches. I must say the grip of the GBT, just like the GOtrail was simply phenomenal.

I didn't know there were durian trees in FRIM, the things I learn daily from the wife ...
I was careening down the slippery path at some silly speeds and the grip never once wavered, be it on gravel or on the muddy sections. With the StandChart marathon just around the corner, I shouldn't really be doing silly stunts like that but heck, what better way to test a trail shoe. A big thanks to the trail gods that looks after idiots like me.

The grip on muddy terrain is simply astounding ...
With the shoe in 4mm running mode, the cushioning aspect of it felt much better than the GOtrail. Running over huge and sharp rocks or gravel, while still could be felt was much less noticeable than the GOtrail. It was more of a muted feel which contributes to running with careless abandon. I guess the rock diffusion plate must really be doing its job well of dispersing the pressure evenly. I'm betting in zero drop mode, I'll be able to really feel the rocks and stones a lot more. My next session with the shoe in zero drop mode will tell a different tale I'm sure.

Breathability wise, the GBT did an excellent job of keeping both our feet well ventilated. I thought the water-repellent treatment would have made the shoe a little hot but that wasn't the case. There were no hotspots and even with feet expansion, the shoe felt nice and roomy. The wife, who is normally prone to blisters encountered none of them throughout the entire session. As advertised, the wide geometric lugs on the outsole kept away mud and stones from getting stuck to them as you run but we both found that upon walking over muddy terrain, they do get impacted into the soles making the shoe bloody heavy. The moral of the story here is to just keep running through mud :D

Left pix of running through mud and right pix of walking through mud
All in all, we both came away very satisfied and happy with the shoe. The next session below is when I really put the shoe through the test.

The trail test (Session 2)

This second session, planned by Jamie a week ago had Julia, Richie and Zane running along. The weather was once again spot on! Wet, muddy and cool was the menu for the day in FRIM. We started off at 6 a.m. and headed off into the still pitch black trails. The four of us, except for Jamie, had mediocre headlights that could hardly light up the pitch black trails. Looks like it's time to invest in one of those fancy schmancy headlamps.

This time, I removed the insoles and set up the shoe into zero drop mode. I also made sure I wore a thicker pair of socks to keep the feet from sliding and made sure I laced up snugly this time employing the loop lacing lock technique that held my feet firmly in place.While it kept a lot more loose stones and debris out of the shoe, I can't say the same about those darned leeches though!

The route was basically the same, after all it's FRIM and not many different options to run. We started off slowly towards dream trail and basically ended up walking that section seeing as how it was just too dark, slippery and narrow. Better to be safe than sorry.

Once we were out of this section, the running proper started. It was time to see what the shoe could take and dish out. Again, the grip was simply phenomenal, hardly any slippage. It dug in real well for the climbs and kept me firmly rooted to the ground on the downward stretches. It didn't matter what terrain I was on, sand, mud, gravel or tarmac, the shoe stuck like glue. Well, except for that Syabas trail section, those two long inclines with the rope. I almost slipped twice there on that moldy cement like trail along the ropes.

Running down Syabas trail. Notice the moldy like cement section
on the left of Julia which I almost slipped twice.
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang
Overall, the GBT performed the same as the previous session, which in my opinion was very impressive. Except this time, running in zero drop mode made it feel like I was one with the trails. I could feel the contours of the rocks, the bumps, the branches and every single debris I ran over which is to say that it hurt like a bitch! My recommendation is unless you have soles of steel or you're really used to running barefoot or something in trails, go with the 4mm option, they're much kinder and gentler on the feet. My calves are going to scream bloody murder later today!

I don't know, maybe I'm a wuss or something but the zero drop option hurts, especially in trails that have tons of gravel, stones and whatnots protruding of the ground. Maybe a mild to moderate trail would better suit the GBT in zero drop mode. I know I'm running in that shoe with the insole on from now on. I still need to feel the ground but heck, not that much. The insoles gave just the right amount of cushioning but not completely eliminating the road feel which is something I like.

In the 3 hour 45 minutes (close to 22km) we were in the trails, my feet didn't feel hot at all in the shoe. Even with the thicker socks I had on, breathability wasn't an issue. The Skechers GObionic Trail was roomy enough to accommodate the expansion of my feet so I didn't feel at all uncomfortable with the fit. I'd say going really long in the shoe would be a cinch, just don't do it in zero drop mode :D I did step in some small streams of water and though it didn't get soaked, the shoe dried up real fast which goes to show that the water dispersal possibly works as advertised. I still can't vouch for the durability of the outsole until I put in a lot more miles in them so that'll just have to wait a while.

At the end of the day, I'd place the Skechers GObionic Trail as a trail shoe to be reckoned with. Lightweight, adequately cushioned yet able to mimic that barefoot feeling, responds well to pace changes and great traction. Priced at RM369 for the women's version and RM399 for the men's, the Skechers GObionic Trail is definitely a step up in the right direction. Unfortunately though, the shoe will only see a December launch date in Malaysia.

The pair of Skechers GObionic Trail that the wife and me used above was so kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia as a review unit. This review is of my own personal experience with the shoe and is in no way influenced by Skechers Malaysia whatsoever.

Update: The Skechers GObionic Trail has seen an earlier than expected release and will be available in stores from today, the 20th of September 2013.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shape Men's Health Night Run 2013: Race Report

It was a wet, wet and really wet affair at the Shape Men's Health Night Run 2013 this year. The entire day leading up to the race was cloudy, hinting of wet race conditions, something I was actually looking forward to, what with the humid night conditions of Putrajaya.

The last day leading up to the race had me stressed big time with work related issues for the event that saw me driving up to the race location on Friday to troubleshoot the backdrop set up which forced an emergency reprint due to some technical glitches that were entirely not my fault. We just couldn't have a race without a backdrop now, could we? Managed to get that issue sorted by working through the night.

My customary medal model posing with my limited medal ...
The wife and me left for the race location a little earlier than we normally would. The skies were already turning a darker shade of black. It opened up just as we left the house and I knew it was going to be a wet race. I was relishing it but was a little concerned about lightning cos I knew for a fact the race organizers would have cancelled the start if there was a electrical storm. Thank god the lightning was kept in check.

It was drizzling on and off at the race location as I made my way to the Skechers tent, which was the GCAM group's planned rendezvous point. The rest of the gang weren't there yet and Jamie had already gone for his pre-run session. I hung around the Skechers tent and chatted up with Ivan and Adeline and soon enough I saw Calvin and the rest of the gang started trickling in slowly.

The GCAM group with Foo's famous Ah Teng :D
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang.
The usual jokes and photo sessions were in place and then we all headed to the start pen to await the race. With the limited number of medals for my category and judging by  the likes of the heavyweight runners of same category surrounding me, I knew it was going to be tough fighting for a medal. The skies looked promising for more rain but the conditions were already excellent for a night race.

The start was without any fanfare, at least not from where I was. The first 2k was going to be choked with traffic so I took off at an easy pace of 5:30 just going with the crowd and waiting for the Seri Gemilang bridge section which I knew would open up the crowd a little. Once pass the bridge, I took the opportunity to increase the pace a little to make up for the lost time. My entire strategy was to keep to an even and very manageable pace.

Seeing as how I was feeling totally in the zone, I slowly upped the pace a lot more and was pleasantly (okay, ecstatically is more like it) surprised to see that I could ramp up the pace to 4:45-5:00 with not too much effort. The breathing was fine, the legs were good, the mind was sharp. Even the undulating terrain of the route didn't faze me and I was bounding up the hills like a mountain goat (Jamie's term) and having such a great time in the light drizzle of the night.

Finally got to meet Moey in person.
Pic courtesy of Best of Running.
With the weather being was it was, I skipped the first water station and took a few sips at the next three. Knowing the conditions of the route was also a big plus since I knew exactly where the inclines would be. Before I knew it, I was at 12k mark and the finish was clearly in sight. Sprinted the last 200 metres and gratefully accepted the hard earned limited medal.

I crossed the finish with personal best of 1:02, taking off 5 minutes from last year's time and I am happy with the effort. All that sacrifices, training and mileage I've been putting in, getting my lazy butt forced off the bed by the wife in the mornings with threats of bodily harm if I didn't get up to run seems to be bearing a little fruit. She's been a great pillar of support and inspiration. I went to bed with a smile on my face last night :D

A big congrats goes out to the wife who attempted this race again coming back from a knee injury and was in all honesty under trained for it. She did a good job in completing it. Kudos babe. Congratulations also go out to the GCAM guys and gals too. It was a good meet up again with loads of fun and laughter, as always. Catch you guys in the next race or for an LSD session soon.

Overall, the race was nicely organized, rain and all. I could hardly find fault with it, not that I was looking for any. A big thank you goes out to Skechers Malaysia, one of the main sponsors for the event  for putting a great show. I had a blast. The wife went away with an even bigger smile on her face and lugging a new Skechers GObionic Trail which has me looking at her in envy! Now she's hounding me for a trail run session soon ... LOL! I'm so tempted to put it on and run, pink or not, unfortunately (or thankfully) we're different shoe sizes.

Pretty in pink, the Skechers GObionic Trail ...