Wednesday, 22 October 2014

SCKLM 20914 Race Report : Tristupe

You have read about Deo's fast 42km, here is the slower version of the 42km by Tri Stupe. On recovery mode for his ITBS, but managed to let it loose for the 42km. In his typical fashion, he took photos too along the way. This is his race report for Standard Chartered KL Marathon. Enjoy.
Tri Stupe Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2014 : Race Report 
Two weeks after my Ironman 2014 and with a tight ITB wasn't my idea of a run for this instalment of Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2014, or SCKLM2014 for short. I more or less decided that if I have to walk the whole 42km, I will. 
So I was excited to go collect my race kit from the expo as I know I was the first to register (as I was helping the organiser to test the registration system a day before). I was obviously hoping for A-00001 and for my wife, C-00001. At least will what we local call "Menang Gaya" (Win In Style). 
Imagine my disappointment when I saw what was on my bib. 
Luckily, in the race pack were a set of AA battery from GP. I take that as a consolation as that could be used to power the remote control at home for the TV and DVD for entertainment. 
The REPC this year was done at Underground Carpark at Dataran Merdeka. It was definitely better represented with more stalls selling relevant running items. Brooks were huge this year with sections selling shoes and running gears. Not to forget the folks from Quicksports and Powerbar as well. I was hoping to catch MarathonShop there, but they did not open their store. 
Good stuff still, we the main reason for me opting to collect the race kit was to bump into friends. With that done, we headed home and prepared for the next day race. As I seldom take nutrition for 42km run itself, I decided to arm myself with the very basic. 

The Hammer Bar will be breakfast for me and wifey. Perpetuem Solid will be spare in case we get hungry while waiting. Core fuel will be the Hammer Gel and the "must have" would be the Endurolytes+Anti-Fatigue (2+1 every 10km for this race). I know the organiser will provide banana and gels at KM 30 or so, and that would be insurance if I were to need it. 

Part of race logistic was to decide on what to wear, gear wise. It was an easy decision as I will be decked out in the Team 2ndSkin vaporlite top, with Kraftfit thighs, Skechers GoRunUltra Nite Owl will be the shoe and I have the spanking new Spyder Corsair as sunnies. Tracking will be on my Garmin Fenix while my wife will be using my 910XT. Additional to this would be the Lifeline-ID that to me is important for races like these as it carries all important information, and doubling up to the emergency info behind my bib. 

With LengLui
On top of that, I will carry the reggae whistle given to me by Mohan and will be using the Samsung S5 with Gear Fit as additional tracking and camera.

We slept early that night - by our standard would be 11pm and woke up at 2am that morning to get ready. We were out by 2.30am and reached Dataran Merdeka by 3am. Found ourselves a nice parking and slept in the car for a while until 3.30am before consuming the fuel and pre-race Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue. We then made our way to the starting line and It was already buzzing with activities. I then try to locate the media tent to sign in but security was too tight for me to get past. I guess the security doesn't think I am also a "media owner" (aka this blog lah, sound glam or not?). Else, I would had gotten some freebies, like an umbrella or...uhhmmm...socks? Anyway....

The organiser made a few changes to the setup of the race area compared to last year. The baggage collection was at the underground carpark, which meant if it rain, nothing get wet (the bags) and it also lend a level of security. Nicely done. Then there is the "entry" gantry for runners, so everyone should technically know where to go to start their run. Unlike previous year were people are coming in from all directions.

The biggest change, if of course the running route. A major part of the run will be on two distinct highway in Kuala Lumpur; AKLEH and DUKE. Gone are the traditional run through inner KL like every year. 

10minutes to race start there were warm up session with a few fitness instructors and the crowd starts to get moving a little. There were 5000 plus signed up for the Marathon and the number that morning certainly looked like there are that many people, at least from where I stood. Myself and wifey stayed in the middle of the pack as that would be the best place to be. 

About 3 minutes to race start, the VIPs took stage and were introduced to the professional runners standing at the front. At least they were on time. Negaraku was played but what was dissapointing was that it was not the full song that was played. Maybe someone missed the memo to play it fully. Most of us sang to the National Anthem - it was a good way to warm the body up! Better than stretching!

Sharp at 4:30am, with the Clock Tower chiming, the marathoner started their run! My mission was to keep moving. I am hoping the ITB will hold up and not cause more problem than it did during Ironman Malaysia. The run started and we headed towards Jalan Raja Laut before turning off towards Jalan Sultan Ismail and turning at Renaissance Hotel along Jalan Ampang. 
There were a few bands that were playing along this stretch of road up till KLCC. 

The funny thing during the run was that we passed a few nightspots and the people partying (still) at 5am were in amusement that there are more than just them not sleeping yet. Some of these people looked dodgy and a few looked wasted, so it is not worth the risk taking their photos as we ran past. 
After that, it was silence as we headed towards Wisma Cosway/Genting and towards Jalan Tun Razak, passing by Tabung Haji and Ampang Park. In fact, it started to become a bit too quiet and a tad boring as we entered AKLEH. It was so boring that I yawned so many times and looked at the road buffer as if they are bed! I told my wife a few times that I was sleepy.  
Sort of confirmed my thoughts that all phone cameras won't perform in low light moving condition
The organiser setup a tent for the Muslim runners to perform subuh prayer. Many runners stopped and performed the obligation. It was a nice touch compared to years before where many Muslim friends prayer by the road side. Good job organiser. We U-turned at the end of AKLEH near Jalan Sultan Ismail (KLCC entrance) and ran back up towards Ulu Kelang. We passed two LRT stations Damai and Dato' Keramat; and that was the highlight of the run on AKLEH, as there were human presences other than just us runners. Of course the KL Skyline were there for photo opp, A few were seen slowing down for a selfie or two with KLCC at the background. Not many, but some did. From AKLEH, we exit at Ulu Kelang and ran along Jalan Ulu Kelang for a bit (aka MRR2) passing by Kampung Kuala Ampang and heading to DUKE Highway. By then, it was brightly lit already.

Took over from Mohan. Blew the whistle a lil, but no one seems to follow...
Usually every year we will have a photo outside of Pavilion but there were no shopping complexes along this route. But there are always Traffic Police on duty which wifey will stop to take a photo with. This year, this Abang Polis became our poster boy.
We headed up towards DUKE and It was about KM 20 by then. About half way through and from the map, I know there is a good 10km to run on DUKE. For many that do not know, DUKE actually runs through many major part of KL. The Ulu Kelang, Keramat, Wangsa Maju, MINDEF, Gombak, Setapak, Sentul, Segambut, Jalan Ipoh and finally towards the PJ side. 
The organiser's idea could had been good because they wanted the runner to "run through" these area. Unless you are from this area, there is absolutely no indication what and where you just passed. I know these area well because I grew up around here. 
Ribena Factory below

Running past the MINDEF housing clusters
 Near Setiawangsa interchange, I saw from far a familiar face, it was Kam. You see, Kam was supposed to run both the PNM the night before and then the SCKLM. But a day before the race, while crossing a road after Friday prayer, he was clipped by a motorbike and ended up in the A&E with bleeding to the head and a bruised left calf.
Left calf obviously bigger 
 We stopped for some photos and part way. 
Wefie on DUKE
The water stations were set up really well this time around. Water at every stops and Isotonic every alternate. Medical help were present with sponging stations as well. Many bins were placed for runners to dispose the paper cup and all. But mentality of runners are still not matured enough to understand that the bins are for them to dispose their rubbish. I saw two runners carrying their own cups, and myself and wifey ran with our own bottles where we refill when we can at these stations. 
What were missing were a food buffet
About KM28, i bumped into Azrul, fellow RMC boy. He is nursing a torn ACL but still strong enough to run. He went on to finish the race ahead of me despite the injury, which is a testament on how strong his mental capacity is. 
Hello Azrul!
Hello Amar!
The low-cost housing near Sentul

Slum in Kuala Lumpur. Yeap. What you do not see doesn't meant it did not exist.
Food at KM29, before exiting DUKE towards Jalan Ipoh
Yeap! Good service!
We headed towards Jalan Kuching near Jinjang soon after and back to "familiar" route of SCKLM. This was at approximately KM32 where the Gaited Community (GC) set up their station to feed runners. Thank you. Sorry I did not manage a pic with you all. 
Andrew walloping the Ice lemon Tea by GC. Pic from Ejah Shah
We ran along Jalan Kuching and exited at the Segambut roundabout. For many of us familiar with all the previous year's route, it marks the last "7km" to finish, but not this year. With the route change, we have a good 10 km to cover from there onwards. 
Exiting Jalan Kuching and into Jalan Segambut/Duta
The organiser setup a shower station in front fo the National Tennis centre at Bukit Tunku. Wifey made the compulsory dip.
The first person to greet me and wifey as we went into Jalan Bukit Tunku were fellow Ironman Nik (Fahusnaza). He was there to capture photos of us at KM33-35. Then the 5:30 pacer lead by Kelvin "Cheerful" Ng caught up with me and wifey and the Malaysia Top Female Ironman Lini "Pretty" Kazim were there to take photos of all of us. 
Thanks Lini!
 For as long as I ran my 42km, there wasn't any "wall". I believe that was because I've taken every 42km run at leisure pace and never had the chance to see the wall. The ITB was behaving well that while there were tugging feeling and the occasional sharp pain n the upper knee (left side, upper), all were good and it did not bother until then.
With Izwah
Wifey still strong
Right after the downhill portion towards Sasana Kijang, past the Arab school, the ITB started to act up and that was when I asked wifey to go ahead and run without me. That was the last I saw her ;-).
And off she went...
The run then brought us past Dataran Merdeka towards Padang Merbuk. Up onto Mahameru Highway and turning left to head towards KL Sentral. 
Bumping into your cousin doing 21km
We ran past Muzium Negara and then past Majestic Hotel past KTM. THen taking a 3-o clock and run up past Dayabumi.
Almost there!
The final 500m were filled with friends cheering. It was festive and I managed to take pics of a few I know.
Half of Kam ;-)
Mun Seng
Deo, friend and Ameeyn
Mohan (and yes, wifey completed the run already)
All the above were taken within the last 200m of the run before I ran to the finish. Wifey met me at the finish and it was definitely one I gotten "chicked" again. I crossed the line recording a 5:34:57 on my Garmin Fenix (which has the strap snapped about 500m to finish, hence I hold it in my hand)

Race Tracking Via Garmin 910XT and Fenix
Some funny things happened. My Fenix did not register the run for a good 3 hours or until I was at DUKE. The total distance, however, were accurate. Just that the GPS tracking were not shown. It seems (consistently) a few of us using Fenix has irregularity that morning. It could be the signal locked were lost or missing a few satellites in the sky. The above tracking were from my 910XT used by my wife. Below is my Fenix tracking. See the differences?

Also, the mapping were consistent with the Samsung S5 i was using together with the Gear Fit. Never mind that the accuracy of the device combo were way off (recorded a full 10km more), the mapping were consistently missing per Fenix. I will write a short review of the S5 and Gear Fit separately. By the way, all the photos above were taken with the S5.

Race Pros
- Best organisation so far under the same race team. Everything was almost perfect from race kit collection, to race venue setup, race start, finish and medal/finisher collection. 
- Support station that has it all. Ice were available at some stations but most did not have. Not an issue anyway, it wasn't hot on race day
- better traffic control with two highway closed. Minimal impact on traffic on race day
- More than one (actually two) food stations. Gel and banana given out twice. The banana was actually ripe and yummeh!
- Mobile toilets at every support stations, superb
- Free LRT to race venue in the morning. 

Race Cons
- The route was boring. Lack of band or supporters' support. Felt "quiet" when compared to years before. For a race in KL, more so a premier race, a scenic route passing by major attraction in town would be superb. Imagine a race that run through Petaling Street or the now turned into tourist Palace ;-). Running on highway was pretty...dry.
- The finishing area were too busy with too many people crossing. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2014 Race Report : Deo Azrul

Love race report? Deo has prepared a report as fast as he ran last weekend's race. His 27th Marathon done in 3:57. Not the timing he was looking for, but we all learn a bit about ourselves in every race we do. Enjoy the race from Deo's perspective.
Standard Chartered KL Marathon : Deo AH

Done my 27th marathon in ‪SCKLM‬ in 3hr 57mins. Not a timing that I wanted. The route was punishing and boring. I couldn't understand on what ground the route testers mentioned that this is a PB course and scenic when all I could see from the highways were tall concrete wall, apartments and many kedai besi buruk along Duke. This is worse than than running in ECP, Singapore.

And I don't understand the reason why SCKLM's route was moved away from the city when 75% (or maybe more) were done on highways. Might as well call it Standard Chartered Highways Marathon. I strongly believe if we want to make running a culture and marathon (and road closures) is slowly acceptable by the public, we should have the course covering the entire city (just like in Majors), not going backward and moving the marathon away from the city.

That was my first reaction after completing my 5th participation in SCKLM overall and 4th just in the marathon category as well as my 27th full marathon altogether. If I were to rate the hardness of this marathon as compared to the other 26 marathons that I have done, it will be among the seven toughest ones. Well, it was not actually about how tough the race was but it was more about the mental challenge and probably the unfamiliarity with the new route were the reasons that made SCKLM2014 a tough nut.

Let's recap on my preparation for this marathon. Obviously, I have not ran in much races this year and SCKLM2014 would just be my 4th marathon for the year after Gammon China Coast in January, 2XU Singapore Marathon in March, and Borneo Marathon in May. Having clocked in a lot of training mileage, I was quietly confident to do reasonably well in SCKLM. Although I was not aiming to do a PB timing of better than 3 hours and 40 minutes done at 2XU Singapore Marathon, I was hoping to at least do better than my previous three SCKLM Marathon, which are 4:31 (2011), 3:50 (2012); 3:49 (2013). To be frank, I was aiming to do somewhere around 3:45.

The only setback to my training was that I did not do much speedworks as my training post Borneo Marathon was focusing on the two 100km ultra marathons - Beaufort and Penang. So, the training was much to do with endurance and a long, long LSDs. The hazy weather when SCKLM was approaching also hindered me from doing the pre-race short runs, which I would normally do two weeks before a marathon. 

I was also having a lot of doubts about racing in SCKLM this year. Firstly, on how would I survive running in hazy condition, would I be able to breathe easily? Would I be out of breath in the middle of the race? That could lead to my first DNF? Well, I think I have a valid reason to be worried as I never ran in such weather condition and I am talking about a fast pace of sub 5:20-minute, not a leisure 6:30-minute pace. Then, the new route. I knew in advance that the new route involves undulating stretch, not one but many, on top of the traditional Bukit Tunku route. And the unfamiliarity to the new route would means that I would not be able to strategize my run - where to attack, where to take it easy, bla bla bla... and when the organizer released the video preview of the route, I knew it was going to be mentally challenging running on the highways, not one, but two plus plus...

The undulating route with sharp inclines at few spots would break (more than make) your target for a good timing :(

Nevertheless, the race day arrived. The organizer has given a clearance that the race would go on despite the haze, as the condition look to be better on Saturday (than throughout the week preceding race weekend) and thankfully it got a little bit better on Sunday morning, although I could still smell burning smells in the air at few spots during the race (but not sure if it was the haze or the rubber smell from the scrap metal yard/shops along the Duke Expressway). 

As I checked in at a hotel around Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, I got extra sleep for an hour or two as I only made my move to the start line 45 minutes before the flag-off time which was at 4.30am. After settling my drop bag business, the announcer made a call for the marathoners to move in the starting pen. I positioned myself about 50 meters behind the front row of the elite runners. So, I reckoned that I would not have much zig-zagging to do at the early part of the race. The reverse direction of the new route which moved towards Jalan Raja Laut at the start would also give the width of the road for runners to break away from the rest of the runners. Bear in mind that the number of registered marathoners this year reached 5,315 (according to the organizer) and from the race photos from various volunteer photographers, you can tell that there were not many instances where you can have only one or two marathon runners in one shot, except for those running with the pace of under 3:45-hour or close to 7 hours. 

The new route that only look nice on paper (and told to be scenic), but in actual it was one of the most boring marathon route I've ever ran.

The race was flagged off sharply at 4:30am after some ceremonial activities by the VVIPs as well as the blunder of Negaraku song played when they played the old version of the song (the marching version) and the song was played incomplete since it followed by Penang state song (I was informed) of which they quickly turned it off. The route took the runners from Dataran Merdeka towards Jalan Raja Laut up to the Maju Junction intersection before turning right into Jalan Sultan Ismail all the way to Jalan Ampang heading towards KLCC. Then moving into Jalan P. Ramlee before getting back into Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan and headed towards Jalan Jelatek via Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang. 9.5km into the race, the dreaded AKLEH Expressway section started as we strolled to the end of the expressway before making a u-turn near Jalan Sultan Ismail and now ran on the opposite direction of AKLEH before we exited at MRR2 (another highway). So, it was already 10km on AKLEH. I got a little depressed on AKLEH as I did not expect the concrete walls at the side of the highways as well as as in the middle of it were that tall. I thought I could see fellow runners on the opposite direction, which could motivate me a lot, but all I could see were their heads and I have no clue of whose heads they were. 

Into MRR2 highway for about 2km before going into the undulating, boring, nothing-you-can-see and dreaded stretch of about 10km on DUKE Expressway. So, that was already 22km on highways/expressways. Exiting the highway on Jalan Kuching towards Bulatan Segambut before entering the Bukit Tunku section. A little twist to this year's route whereby previously we turned into Jalan Raja Laut at the Bank Negara Malaysia roundabout, but this year that spot was just about 37km so we had to head towards Jalan Parlimen, making a big round around the Lake Garden and entered Jalan Damansara (another undulating stretch that killed my quads with 2km to go), passing KL Sentral, the old KTM Station and headed home to Dataran Merdeka. 

My race...

Early in the race along Jalan Sultan Ismail where I was following the 3:30 pacer group
[photo by Running Malaysia Magazine]

As I was targeting to do 3:45-hour race, I think it was a good idea to hook up to the 3:30 pacers as I thought I would try to follow them as long as I could before dropping off from the group in the second half of the race and finish off my race in 3:45-hour. That was what I did. After a short toilet break just after the flag off and before entering Jalan Raja Laut, I had to run a little faster to catch up with the 3:30 pacers. As now I have these pacers to keep control of my pace, I noticed that my pace at the start was not as fast as what I did in 2XU Singapore Marathon where I had my PB. I was comfortable with the pace. It was a small group of people of about 10 or so hooking ourselves to the pacers. So, 10km passed by without much problems where I did close to 51 minutes. I was very much running in the group until nearing the u-turn at the end of AKLEH Expressway (around KM13). The undulating AKLEH route as well as the boring-ness of the route caused me to drop a little behind from the 3:30 pacer group but there were still within 50m in front of me and well within my sight. However, I just could not move faster to do the catching up like how I did early in the race. There was no urgency, the was no strong desire for me to catch up with the group. 

My gap with the group widened up as we exited AKLEH and as we got into DUKE Expressway, the 3:30 pacer group was already some 100m to 150m in front of me. I told myself "that's was it, I would not be able to catch up with them" especially when it was rolling elevation which stopped me from running at a consistent speed if I were to do the catching up. Anticipating it would be a long journey on DUKE, I got demotivated. There were not many runners around me that time to strike a conversation or maybe the other runners also were puffing and huffing at that time, struggling with their pace and in the hazy weather condition. Finally, I made my first walk break at KM22 as my legs almost wanted to gave up on me. But, the decision to have a walk break was made only after I was assured that sub 4-hours would be well within my reach. I calculated that at that point of time, if I were to do an average of 6:00-minute pace for the rest of the race, I would still make it under 4 hours. So I walked. I walked a little before continuing with my run, a little stronger after the walk break, but that walk break prompted me to do many more walk breaks after that and in the end, I walked countless time on DUKE. I hate you, DUKE! 

As I could only see apartments on the right side of DUKE and scrap metal yards most of the time on the left side, the signboard showing that Jalan Kuching was just 500m away was like the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew DUKE stretch would end soon but I still have some 12km to go and that includes Bukit Tunku and the dreaded finale of Jalan Parlimen-Lake Garden stretch. Bukit Tunku stretch was known as hilly and a killer section of SCKLM but at least I knew what to expect, I knew when to take it easy (walk uphill), and when to attack (run downhill). However, as my race was done (literally) on DUKE, I did not have much rooms to play around with my timing. The signs of cramp was also coming to my left calf and right quad so I was just ensuring that I keep moving while not overstretching the muscles that could lock up the entire leg. It was just about 10km to go so it would be a waste to DNF so I took it easy, but still cautious with my pace to ensure another sub 4:00-hour marathon finish. More runners overtook me at this point but I was not bothered by that, it was my own race that I was battling against.

At the Bukit Tunku section where I was battling with so many things - boredness, the threat of cramps attacking my left calf, right quad and even groin area, the wet socks from the sweat, among all...
[photo by EnAiKay]

Arriving at the Bank Negara roundabout and we had to move towards Padang Merbuk/Lake Garden via Jalan Parlimen, the marathoners merged the half marathoners (the slower ones). So, the similar story of slower half-marathoners crowding up the entire Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in the previous SCKLM was happening again this year, on this new route. But unlike the old route when it was just some 2km to deal with problem, with this new route, the marathoners had to deal with the slower half-marathoners for five freaking kilometers. They crowded up the roads, the crowded up the final two (or maybe three water stations) and they were just a crowd of heart-breakers for the marathoners who were struggling to finish their race strongly. The final 5km stretch was not spared from rolling elevation either, and I think cumulatively I walked more than I ran in the final 5km. Only after I reached in front of the Majestic Hotel (near the old Railway Station) that I managed to run all the way to the finish line.

My 10km splits for the race were not pretty: 50:45; 51:38 (1:42:24); 56:28 (2:38:52) and a slow 1:03:24 between KM31 to KM40 >.< Given the dreaded route and how pathetic my pace was (especially in the second half of the race), I was really glad to be able to cross the line with few more minutes to spare before the clock strikes four hours. I was not happy, but was not despaired either. I take it as another full marathon completion for me, 27th to be exact, and another sub 4:00-hour finish which now totals to 13 races (that is 48%) and another finisher t-shirt and medal to keep. Luckily the design and the quality of the t-shirt and medal this year have improved much from last year. The only thing that I was not happy with SCKLM was the route - boring, there was nothing to see, which was in total opposite of what the Race Director, Rainer Biemans said "This is the KL Marathon. We are on the international calendar (of running events) and runners come from all over the world. They don’t want to run in a park. They want to run through the city and see its landmarks and iconic buildings." (read full article here). Other than the new route, the support, marshaling, water stations, race expo, race pack collection, were all commendable.

For the race, I wore Team 2ndSkin World Domination t-shirt in VaporLite material, Kraftfit compression short, Skechers GOrun Ride 3, Wrightsock Coolmesh II socks, Garmin FR620 watch, Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential waist pouch, Lifeline-ID Pro model;

and I consumed Hammer Endurolytes taken pre-race and every 45 minutes into the race (2 caps each time), Hammer Anti Fatigue Caps taken pre-race and every 45 minutes into the race (2 caps each time), Hammer Perpetuem Solids taken every 45 minutes into the race (1 cap each time) and Hammer Gel taken every one hour into the race. 

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.