Monday, March 31, 2008

Race Day: KLIM International Marathon 2008

3.00 am sharp, and I was up staring at my watch. For fuel, I had a banana, 2 piece of bread and milo.
I had like 5 hours of sleep, but wish I could still sleep more. Luckily, it's not everyday I had to do this, or else, I'll just not sign up for crazy starting time at 4.30 am.

Met haza, Geraldine, tomatoman, stupe, karen, and john (3:16). This time, I was not as nervous as previous year.
The gun went bang at 4:30 am, and soon, all runners were moving slowly out from the starting line. The wheather was pretty humid, and no wind. I quickly settle on my usual pace of around 5 to 6 min/km. The road is still long, and there'll be no point pacing with others who are faster than you. The rule to remember is that you are on your own.

Around 20km, I did a pit stop for dawn prayers just in time.

Things started to look bad from this point. I had a left knee pain, but I just keep reminding myself, it'll go away, or with phrases such as "no pain no gain"...yea rite. By 30km, thanks to powergels from support staff over there, I gulped one of those uneasy food. Then my pace slowed considerably.

Actually, I could have forced myself to run faster, but I didn't. The heavy traffic on the road, with buses and trucks, and cars, provided a not so nice scene to run on. Where's the cheering? Where's the malaysians who should wake up and cheer for these marathon runners, who are "killing" themselves over 42k? Marathons in other countries provide such a great atmosphere, with people lining up, holding signs, cheering, and performing. While here, it's just a run in common KL taffic. Given any choice between hulu langat and KL, I'll run hulu langat where the monkeys could cheer me on.

At one point after the pahang roundabout, there's not even a path for runners. I had to walked on the green grass above the tarmac, while a bus is hogging it.

Things start to look better with the remaining 8km, but I was not going any faster. Moving yes, but just for the sake of completing. The faster the better. At 6km mark, I saw tomatoman on the right side coming back from the u-turn. Pretty fast I would say. He would make it sub 4.

With the remaining 2km, and all the way downhill, it was a mad dash, as I try to ignore pain and fatigue. I never knew Bank Negara looks so awesomely attractive.

Crossing the line at 4:09:10 was below what I target, but that'll be another challenge later. At the least, much better than 5:27 last year.

To all runners who had attempted the full marathon, take good rest, and lets rock Sundown...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Trail running: Bukit Segar

There's a nice uphill trail around my place in Cheras. I have always wondered if I could go up the green hills, but didn't have an inkling of where to start. Until I met Ah Ming at Gunung Nuang. He mentioned it's just around the condos.

Since it's so close to my home, I could go up this hill, and still go to work. There'll be lots of middle age and old folks every morning. I think they do it to keep fit, which is pretty good for their age. So, I think I am the only "young" guy around here.

By the way, the vertical ascent is around 185 meters.

The trail starts right after the car park. Starting elevation is not too steep, until a quarter of the path. The path is littered with occasional rocks, and old rubber trees. There's lots of sand though, not as muddy as Nuang.

I could run the not so steep area, but when the steepness increased, I still find myself panting while going up.

However, after 3/4 of the way, the steepness gradually lowers. The peak is quite clean, and well kept, although you can do nothing much here except stretching and rest.

Then, for the fun part. Going down, or running down can be one hell of a roller coaster ride. It's easy because you don't need to push your heart rate up. It's fun because you can really hurt yourself, if you took a misstep. You just got to look at the ground ahead.

I'll be using this hill for Sabah Climbathon training often. But I still harbor doubts. Training for mountain running will mean pushing higher heart rates, and sustaining it. If only I could change heart just like they change car engines, I'll opt for 4 liter ones :)

Every morning, this place is packed with cars. Owners is somewhere up the hill...

The start of the trail.

Trust me,...get this pair of Adidas kampung. It's dirt cheap (rm5), sticks to dirt, and rocks.

Trails go up and down.

Until you reach this steep part...

At the top...not much things to see really...but nice place to relax..

Mid path, there's an opening, where you could view KL skyline...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Marathon is peanuts?

I always get "Marathon should be easy for you" remarks. Wait, that let me ponder for awhile. Is it easy? And I've always try to think what to answer. Marathon is not easy by the way. It's 42km of running. Try asking the average joe to run that, and you'll get a blank stare saying "no way...why run? i've got modern transport....".

For the record, I have only ran one measly marathon until now. And it was anything but easy. I remember pushing myself to run continuously (yes..non stop) until 35km. And then, the worst happened. Legs were shaking, knees in pain, .... and not an ounce of energy to finish the race. I ended up walking.

Anyone who wants to run a marathon, has to be able to complete 30km the least. The rest, pray hard.

But frankly, after running ultras, I find marathon still a challenge, but not something I look forward to. I'll just come to the starting line, then run, and if I can finish within a time frame, that's it. I am happy as can be. I felt this way, because I know I can finish it. It's just a matter of how much time needed. That's why you got runners running from one marathon to another, to improve on their timing. And comparing timing is the usual chit chat among runners. Faster time, bigger ego.

Oh well, anything sub 4, I'll be up in the sky.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Running Trails Nuang

On the way down...

It's pretty wet at the top.... with mud pools and slippery rocks and roots...

Since the last nuang trail run had so much fun elements in it, my younger bro and I hit the trails up Mt Nuang again. This time, I came prepared with a new pair of MudRoc 290 inov-8 shoes, and also a camelback Sierra bag. The shoes cost rm 400.00 from Nomad, but I found it very good when running on muddy and slippery slopes, and also rocks. As for the bag, it had a 2-liter capacity water storage, and so this could free up the hands from carrying water bottle.

I had also trained up running a hill nearby Cheras with a vertical height 185 meters, and that was real fun too. Since running trails, I found out that it's more enjoyable, and dangerous as well. You could be pushing fast, but any lapse in concentration can end up badly. However, said that, it's truly addictive to blast downhills at high speed. If road running is as addictive as getting a nice warm cup of coffee, hills trail running is like marijuana or heroin.

As usual, my bro was ahead of me, while i slugged along uphill. But with better grip with the new shoes, it was easier to run, and not much slip ups.

But, as we started the almost 50 degrees hike, the muddy terrain proved to be a bit harder, even for my shoes. Not much we could do but slowing down. There are times that even the mud give away.

And there's another worrying issue. There are times I could hardly catch my breath going up. Not much breath means slower pace. I come to realization, that I will have to train very hard on uphills if I were to even join Kinabalu Climbathon.

Soon, we reached the top after 2.5 hours. The wind was cold and strong. And the whole place had a dampness feeling all around. Had some powerbars and drinks, and then soon we were heading down. As we finally reach the wide tar road, I realized we still got half an hour before 5 hours. So we quickly ran, and as usual my bro ran so far ahead, he beat me to the finish line. His time was less than 5 hours, but mine was 5:03

The fun was worth it. But I am pretty sure our timing can improve if we had run more.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Are these runners ultra-tough ... or ultra-crazy?

Both...ultra takes running into another realm. It's a realm of not much prize money, no fan fare, and very very long time on the road or trail. Most of the time, you are on your own. And somehow that makes it a magical moment.

You can read the full article here, which provides insight into ultra runners:
ESPN: Are these runners ultra-tough ... or ultra-crazy?