Thursday, October 18, 2012

Northface 2012 - 50km ?

Northface 2012 – 50km ?

When I signed up for Northface 2010, I told myself this is the first and last time. I just want to participate and go through the experience, knowing how tough the race encompasses.

Fastward to Northface 2012, I did took part of the race on 13 Oct 2012. Someone signed up for me, so I am officially didn’t signed up as I said to myself few years back.

How I ended up running? Well, it is a long story behind the twists and turns. I have to be silenced if I reveal too much here.

As expected, it has been mentally and physically challenging to go through the weeks of training to gear up for the event. 2 x 40km has been planned, I did complete only once. Did a few 30km+ runs. Shins have not fully recovered since KL marathon 2012, add on to the challenge. Peak run 1 month prior to the event. Thinking back now, I think this is the right strategy to adopt.

Unlike the last Northface which have several issues confronting me, this year approach has been better managed. Though with niggling body aches which might flare up during the run; I am fresh and ready for the run.

Strategy: Walk the incline slope, run the down slope. Try to run the flat portion(if possible). Keep a minimum 6km distance per 1 hour. Prefer 6.5km to be on the safe side. Finished around 8-8:30hrs.

Date: 13th Oct 2012
Event: Northface 50km
Venue: Macrtichie Reservoir
Time: 6:45am

I have reached race site around 5:30am. Get the usual parking lot and get myself prepare. Many others are there and we chat, joke along.

Race start on the dot(6:45am), and off we head off on our journey. Unlike training when we run together, this is OTOT. I started carefully and gingerly behind. Not putting too much effort and keep it easy. Shunyin and Angela are running around me until rifle range road. That is the last I seem them.

Meet up with Jancy and Vincent at Ranger station. She has a fall and as usual(blab blab blab). Nothing serious just cuts and bruises. We ran close to each other to the end. Strangely but true.

Reached 10km point at 1:29hr(pace is on target). Miss out on replenishment of the water bag at 2x water points. The past experience starts to alarm bells and I have to silently cursing myself.

Reached 3rd water point(which I didn’t expect) near one of the rear carpark in Bukit Timah area. Phew, quickly top it up. Still feeling okay.

Bypass the 4th water point and head straight to the Petir road whereby our supporters are waiting. It has been nice to meet familiar faces. Grant a cup of gassy 100 plus(not a good idea) and grab some fruits.

Reached 20km point in 2:40hr(pace is ahead of target). Felt strange that I actually gained timing! I am going at an easy pace, shouldn’t be that fast. Anyway, distance marker might not be accurate. Just run!

Keeping a clear and focus mind, slow moving ahead. Keep telling myself, the body is okay, just relax and move along. Reached Mandai road junction and surprise to see Ray and Joanne. The slacker really turns up! I grab a very refreshing energy drink in a pouch! If it is the last 10km, I wouldn’t mind a beer, but not at this stage, whereby the fun about to start!

Cross the road and head into Arsama. Meet up with Cher, Voon Ho and Tiwazz along Mandai main road. Grab some grapes and keep on moving!

Topped up waterbag to the rim at the 5th water point and grab a packet of energy yummies ! Cannot take risk going inside, this is going to be the make/break point!

Time check, 3:30hr heading in. 9 km inside Arsama loop. Gave myself till 5hr to exit Arsama. Weather is hot as expected. Slowly walk and run along,  .256 as the target and slowly moving along.

The familiar training shed, off I go up the slope, whereas many take a breather at the training shed. It wasn’t that tough as expected. Glad that I make it up as to me this is the U-turn point. Happily head downwards and back to Arsama gate.

Hmm…reached the water point at 4:40hr. I am way ahead of my expectation, which is good. Replenish the stock and headed out.

Meet up with the support crew of Cher and the rest at Mandai road side. Saw Terence for the first time as he is heading into Arsama for the 2nd time(he is doing 100km)!. Wish he good luck and I have to push on.

Left groin area starts to show sign of cramping up. Quickly take out heat rub to suppress the pain. I meet up with a foreigner that have good walking speed. I have to run to catch up with him. We leap frog each other until end of Rifle Range road before I ditched him for good.

Nice to see Joanna and the gang along Chestnut Avenue. Took a breather and rested for a while restocking before moving on. In front of the support point is 40km mark, according to Joanna, every runner GPS states it is 37km+. It doesn’t matter anymore as I know I am going to complete it, most probably faster than my previous trip. Total distance based on most GPS is around 48km for the entire race.

So nice to be back at very familiar training ground as I know each twist and turns like the back of my hands. I enjoy the run as I move forward. Caught up with Aili almost at the end of the pipeline(leading to rifle range). She has resort to walking for quite a while now, by looking at her posture. Urging her along as we accompany pace each other till the end.

Kind of disappointed when it seems that the water point near Durain loop seems to be running very low on supplies of water. Fortunately the last water point at the end of Rifle Range road has sufficient to top up my waterbag for the last stretch.

Jancy, Aili and myself slowly jog into MR. Saw a lady foreigner fallen and we help her up. Tough cookie, no injury and she just want to finish. I understand her feeling, there is a point in running that what you care is just to FINISH it. She did a lot of running from my observation and seems to have abundant energy in reserve. At the end 4 of us finish close by each other.

When I reached the last 2.4km mark, I knew the distance is going to way shorter than 50km!

Slow and steady, crossed the finishing line at 7:22hrs. Phew! I make it.

Shun Yin and Angela finished within the cutoff time as well. In fact everyone completed! Cool.

Thinking back, the training in preparation is sufficient. The strategy to peak a month before the event is the right move. I feel fresh before the run and is in control of myself throughout. Most probably i could have push the pace a little faster. Well, run should be enjoyable. Till next time. If there is one. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Forest Half Marathon 2012

Where is New Forest? If you ask me 6 months ago, I am most probably should be the one asking the question.

In life, if everything goes according to script, it will be monotonous. Just do it, when the opportunity presents itself.

I am on a business trip to Reading UK. Check out any event around the period in England, ask around and it seems New ForestNew Milton, Hampshire England UK is a doable destination.

I was late in registration and couldn’t get into the full marathon, so have to settle for 21km. There are only 2 categories and attracted a couple of thousand runners. It is a small town event. Well it will be enjoyable nevertheless.

Date: 23 September
Time: 9:15am
Distance: 21km
Starting Point: Station Road(South) in New Milton town centre
Route: abundant of rolling slopes(multi-terrain)

It was 6:30am when I head out of the house for a 20mins ride to town given normal road conditional. Event newsletter has indicate that we should put in extra hour more due to high traffic on the road. After a mini scare as GPS bring me to a strange location(or wrong GPS co-ordinate given). It took me 10mins of thinking, before I reach the designated carpark(which is about 150meters away) around 7:05am.

Today is a typical English weather – Wet and Cold. A welcome embrace to me! I have to hide in the car until 8am before heading out to the race site (which is 1mile away on the map), in actual face it is like 250meters away! If my bladder can hold it, I wouldn’t have left the car early and stood in the rain, waiting for the race to start!

Not a stranger to this kind of cold weather. For unknown reason, I totally forgotten to bring my Garmin and gloves for the run! Strange!

With my trusted full length CWX and Northface windbreaker, I am ready to tackle any cold runs! Still remember the day I ran with Raven in this attire in falling snow in Japan a few years back.

It is like a small town fanfare run, at least at the starting point. MC speak like they know everyone in the run. The VIP(Not in formal attire), stand tall on a trunk. One of those truck that carry rubbish in local context. One thing do look different, all runners do look like runners! The last time I experience this is at New York Marathon.

The picture is just before the start. I am standing somewhere behind, since there is no running pen for me! Runners are encourage to stay in the pen with their estimated finishing timing. But the slowest pen is for 61-210 minutes. Where should i stand?

The race start exactly on 9:15am without heavy music, hype up atmosphere. Just GO! Just like a training run. Out of town and the rolling slopes start.

Trying not to get pull away from enthusiastic runners, I control my pace. My right shin is tight. It starts to get worsen as distance is extended. Hoping that the feeling will subside but it didn’t until 5-6miles distance. Which is a worrying sign as what kind of injuries I might sustain.

I just hold on the pace and hope that the water point is somewhere in front for me to take a break and given the shin a stretch or rest. The first water point is slightly after 3miles! Wow, that look like an awful long for first water point. Not that I need water(it is raining and cold), but more on taking the opportunity to access the aching shin.

First water point is served by young children. Lovely children braving the rain to serve water! Bravo to them! Some of the supporters are lovely as well, standing in the rain to cheers us along.

Running through old English roads, animal farms, long meandering routes, beautiful sceneries at times, it is something to cycling in Neo Teo area back home. With the different of English weather( Cold and Wet).

Next water point is close to 6 miles. By then I have to resort to walking up the slopes. First the shin is still giving me the creeping feeling. 2nd the body not use to running non-stop anymore. No point pushing hard.

Saw a couple of fireman in full gear overtook me at this point. Wow impressive. I want to push faster, but with the body condition, I have to hold back.

After miles 9 to miles 10, there is a steepest slope on this stretch. The supporter give us a cup with something sweet(jelly beans?). Just telling us, 3 miles with a climb ahead. I remember a steep climb at the last stretch but at this distance. Hmm…Well, I walked up nevertheless.

Almost reaching the top of the slope, heard a familiar sound. Rima has appeared! She suppose to meet up with me at miles 5-6. Not catching her earlier, I thought that is the end of it, and most probably meet her at the end of the run. One of her Taiwanese tenant is with her and we walk and chat along for a while. Her coughing is very bad. No wonder she can’t run with me or miss a few of her recent signed up runs.

I pressed on with the knowledge I am 3miles out to the end. A good and strong 3 miles as I push on the pace, trying to gain the time lost chatting with both the ladies a while back.

Last 2 miles, I am accompanied by 2 lovely English ladies as we push all the way till the end. I could have pushed harder but didn’t. Just enjoying the last few miles of the run.

Crossing the finishing line in 2:18:11. I expect faster time given the cold weather, but guess the body still has to adapt to running on the road. But did finish strong and feeling good that there is reserve strength not tapped.

At the end got a finisher medal. Grab 4 cups of orange water. 1 biscuit(muslie bar) , 1 bottle of water, 1 small sachet of isotonic energy drink tablets on the way out. There is a silver piece of warmer that given to runner as well. Given the number fingers, it is hard to unwrapped it and even take pictures! Just so difficult to punch the passcode to a sensitive touch screen!

An enjoyable first run in England. A typical Wet and Cold Run.

Next time will join Rima for the kind of run she have experienced. 42km event cost 5 pounds! Food abundant before the start, mid and end point. Runner given a map to find their route, get the map stamped(at certain check point) with no road closure or marshall! A finisher certification is given at the end.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Post - KL

Today is Friday. I am still feeling tired. Lack of sleep or too worn out from the run?

Managed 3 bike sessions since last Sunday run. Work has been busy and backlog still mountain high piled up.

I wish I have more time for work. But on the other hand, how much is enough? additional 5 hours per day? Sometime it is like the more work you do, more work will come. Endless....

If it is the system fault, no need to kill myself over it. I have enough of abuse and complains. I just ignore and move on.

I wish I can rest for a while and think about next major event. Unfortunately I am drag into TNF. Maybe it is fated. But I am not going to lie low and let it rollover. I know what I need to do, hopefully I am discipline enough to push through.

Running is a lonely sport at time. Need to bite and push forward.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2012 - 重出江湖

Date: 24 June 2012
Time: 4:30am
Event: Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2012
Venue: Dataran Merdeka

I need a marathon to align with my goals. It does make it symbolic to come back to the location whereby it started everything many years back.

Although there are quite a few runners coming along for the run with myself, but our distance signed up and hotel we are putting up are different. I make my way to start point alone, like many years back for the first time.

In the running pan, alone as well. Everything looks like in the past. Alone and looking forward to the long run ahead.

On a humid and stuffy 4:30am, the race was flag off. The difference this time(compare to my first)is the introduction of pacers. And the Penguins are not around. Though i spotted Tony cycling along cheering the runners on 2 occasions if i am not wrong.

For almost the first 10km, the pacer(5hr) is well within sighting distance in front. Abit edgy and the kinks start to surface at several spots at the beginning is nothing new. I ran a slow 7min+ pace, felt as though this is my efficient pace. :( Rather slow imo, will need to pick up the pace in training in the future.

Did a pee break around 9km while the lights are still dark. :) Experience slight drizzling which make the run much cooler.

Trying to keep calm while slowly moving forward. Try to go at 7min pace and keep sight of the pacer in front. The target is do under 5hr or keep as close to 5hr as possible.

At 16km point, the Japanese 1-man band has caught up just behind me. I was surprised and tried to put in some effort to push forward. Fortunately that is the last I heard of him, else will be pretty stressed.

Reached first 21km around 2:28hr which is within my expectation to finish in 5hr. By then the pacer group has long disappeared.

I tell myself that I can reach target timing if I keep up with current pace. But it is going to be tight especially knowing it is normally to slow down at the 2nd part of the run.

Trying to maintain pace and target each waterpoints as break points. The water point of 1.6km is very nice IMO, even though I express doubt on the reasoning before the run. When you are just trying to meet next objective- the water point. It is a welcome sight.

The young volunteer is just charming. Some of the beautiful smiles on their face ready make the run more meaningful. The traffic police does a good job, though they are some policemen still needs to do better. The pressure they are under the entire day and handling of them deserve a pat on their back on a job well done.

Reached 30km in 2:29hrs. I know by then I have a good chance of going under 5hrs.

Grinning with renewed confidence, slowly push on. By then the body has shown sign of cramping up. Stop to at some of water points just to put on yokoyoko. The warm and numbing effort is good.

Finally meet up a familiar face in Peter aka Commando. So happy to meet someone familiar! Didn't speak much as do not wish to get distracted, have to move on after 32km point. That is also the last water points that I managed to run nonstop in between. Cramp finally starting to pull up at both the calves at exactly the same spots, so have to stop and give it a reprieve.

Only a short walk and I am back on slowly moving forward. I have a target, I know I can make it if I don't walk for too long.

I was force to walk/jog as the cramps start to show more frequent. Yoyoyoko is constantly applied on the trouble spots. To a certain extend it helps.

Mentally do a lot of calculation on the timing on each Km to make sure I am on target. It is going to be close.

At 37km, with 5km more to go I need to buffer 35mins with 7km pace. I reached 4:24hr. I shouldn't force the pace, just go naturally, if it comes it comes.

The steepest slope in the entire course is at 37.5km, which I am prepare for. After that will be downhill all the way. Even walking up the slope almost cramp up, I have to change my walking style and relieve the overuse muscle group.

Going downhill, have to let it go, but have to jog with a unfamiliar stride. :(

Another climb just before merging with the 10km crowd. Hmm...Siao Leow! Maybe I misinterpret the map!

Have to zigzag for the last 2.5km with the crowd, by then I am aware there is no way I am going to miss the 5hr mark. Stopping from time to time just to make sure I don't cramp up on the last stretch!

Saw Tiwazz and Charlotte just around the finishing chute.

4:59:45, I am back.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

KL Marathon - T minus 1

About to get into bed for the night.

Thoughts before D Day:

It has been a long journey and tomorrow is sort of a gauge of my current fitness level.

Life has not been the same since last marathon on Jan 2009. Which is more than 3.5 years back.

Of course i did a MR25 Ultra(Dec 2009), Ironman Australia(March 2010), Sundown 84km(May 2010) and TNF 100km(Dual)(Oct 2010). Which to me is still not the same as a marathon by itself.

Let see what is in store for me tomorrow. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Counting down - KL 2012

Less than 48 hours and I will be back for my first marathon after a few years absent.

It is going to be my third full distance in KL. It brings back memory - A journey that dated to my first full distance.

This afternoon I am heading up to KL. It will be memorable to say the least.

Seeya in KL.

P/S: picture is from last year KL 21k run.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marathon Week - June 2012


Get to gym as usual before work. An hour on the stationary bike to kick start the week ahead.

Legs are a bit tired. Most probably the peak run 8 days back has not recover yet. Well, my peak is either 2 or 3 weeks before marathon day.

It has been a long time since I gearing up for the event that is why the body reacting and I need time to remember and adjust to the demand.

Going to ease down and get myself to the start line healthy.