KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL
MARATHON 2008 by Jamie
My training for this race started way back in November
'07. My training goal was to keep my training as consistent
as possible with 5 to 6 days of running a week plus
a little more focus on building core strength. That
was it - very simple. And at the end of the 4 months,
I found out that I'd just put in my best ever training.
I said "best", not "perfect". There's
the usual fight with illness and work but I'd say that
this one had to be the best to-date considering the
work-family juggling routine. My tracking had been accurate
(no more guessing game of the mileage and pace!) thanks
to the Garmin and in the asics Kayano 12 and 2120, I
was blessed by being injury free, not even a case of
ITB hit me.
Having training data not only keeps me honest but also keeps
me motivated as well when logging the runs into the Buckeyeoutdoors
training log. Finally I had loyal training partners no matter
what time I trained or how far I went.
Final 2 Weeks
Tapering was an anxious moment for me, with family members
taking turns falling sick. Training was kept low key with
some easy runs between 5K to 15K and a few tempos and a single
Yasso 800s. I had to miss a number of days due to bad weather
and when I felt a little tired, as I didn't want to risk illness
so close to the race. In conclusion I kept running to a maintenance
level rather than all-out sharpening of my race pace.
I was glad to have started boosting my supplements intake
in the final month during which I consumed no less than 2.5
grams of C daily besides the usual antioxidants. Having undertaken
all those preventive measures, I arrived at the start of the
race relatively unscathed!
The plan was to maintain a 5:50 pace (a 4:06 finish) for as
long as I can. The fallback pace was to be a flat 6 for a
4:13 finish. With my training and the recent
30K performance, I was confident that I could sufficiently
hold the effort till the 37-38th K. Come what may, I was prepared
for suffering and pain. Don't we marathoners love that?
With the 4:30am race, I toyed with the idea of sleeping at
the office on Saturday night to avoid waking up the household
on race morning. I figured that by doing so, I can squeeze
another hour's of precious sleep that would've otherwise lost
on travelling down to the race start. But having brought the
sleeping bag and mat to the office on Friday, I decided to
abandon that idea as I was afraid of getting a stiff back
on race morning. A good thing too that I didn't go ahead with
the silly plan.
Race Eve And Morning
In what was a futile attempt to sleep at 7pm on Saturday
night, I found myself tossing about in bed and going downstairs
3 times to play with the kids to "tire" myself
out. Nothing worked. By 9:30pm, it was their bedtime and
only after reading Carbokid 1 his bedtime story did I
manage to doze off. Got up sharp at 1:10am after a 3-hour
but fitful sleep. Felt refreshed right from get-go, and
after the usual toilet business (no problems, yay!) and
shower, I had a little noodles, and a cup of black coffee
(no dairy product for me on race morning!). Since I already
laid out my gear and taped up the sensitive areas the
night before, I was out of the door as planned by 2:45am.
Reached the carpark right behind the start/finish area, and
promptly relaxed by listening to my iPod. It didn't feel especially
cool even though it's been raining heavily in the evenings
for the past 1 month. With an hour to go, I consumed a Clif
Bar and a banana. Then more and more cars entered the parking
area and soon there were runners changing, warming up everywhere.
The Kenyan elites were doing their strides, others were chit-chatting
and doing some nervous stretching. We mortals were conserving
every iota of energy while the elites were warming up! With
30 minutes to the start, I got out of my long top, secured
the car key to my laces, checked my timing chip, grabbed my
Endurox filled bottle and proceeded to the holding area. Along
the way, I stopped to pee.
It's Come Down To The Next Few Hours
As I was lacing up, I chatted with Geraldine, my regular training
partner. I informed her that being a fantastic runner as she
was, she needed only to complete the race to win some cash
money. It was great to see so many familiar faces in the holding
area, including Bruce Wun (long MIA), Ngae (who completed
the Marathon des Sables), DK (who battled illness, relocation
and work), Shine (who is training for the Sundown
Ultra), Kit, Frank, and many more. One runner walked up
and shook my hand and told me that he reads my
blog! Amazing! Never knew there are other readers, besides
the regular handful who leave comments. Then there was Choi
who ran for a noble charity cause. He raised over a thousand
ringgit in his charity drive to benefit an orphanage.
I didn't feel nervous and just wanted to get on with
the "job". I was geared in the Nike Sphere-Dry
vest, Brooks Night Life long tights, asics Kayano socks
and Nike Zoom Elite 3, which to me could've been the
perfect performance trainers had it not for its narrow
forefoot fit. Due to that reason, I laced the forefoot
section looser. Pinned to the tights were 4 packets
of GU and Powergels. I also carried 2 small packets
and the bottle of Endurox. The plan was to drink from
the bottle until the 10K mark to save me some time as
well as getting the more important stuff into the system.
I had Choi for company right from the start. Both our
goal times were nearly identical. Even though my target
pace was 5:50, I was perfectly happy with anything between
that and 6:00. The KL route is very undulating but our
training grounds were much hillier. No problems at all
with hills. We were knocking off split after split consistently.
Despite the terrain, the first 10K route with the wide
highways, had to be the most enjoyable.
I was able to chat with Choi and Frank and I remembered
us commenting on the humidity and agreeing at the 10K
mark to not get carried away since there going to be
4 more such "crossings". That remark sounded
ominous, but we continued to roll along very nicely.
I also ran with Chris, whose girlfriend is a colleague
Dress code for the party
Due to roadworks, we were detoured to another slip road behind
Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka (Linguistics Centre) before hitting
the Loke Yew stretch. I've written in my previous race reports
on the traffic problems of this stretch of road. There are
lots of cars on this road even though it's early Sunday morning
and on the race morning, the problem was made worse with the
Beng (All Souls Day). It seemed like the whole town decided
to head towards the cemetaries to pay their respects! With
the never-ending roadworks, we had to run alongside the traffic.
Luckily the cops managed the whole situation rather well.
I had some periodic stomach and back discomforts during this
first half but they weren't serious enough to derail my pace.
The stomach could be having some difficulty processing the
sugar from the jellybeans, with blood already channeled towards
the hard working legs. Once I scaled back on the beans intake,
things returned to normal again.
At around the 20K mark, I'd lost Choi but I thought he must
be close behind. I slurped down my GU and continued on my
own. Still felt good. My form was still holding and the legs
felt fine. I was still carrying a 1 minute deficit to my target
goal pace, so things were going according to plan.
The short but steep climb opposite the AMBank headquarters
didn't cause any problems and this was when I did the first
of my 2 (Warning: May be yucky to some readers) "liquid
waste removal operations", which felt really good, and
I felt lighter! There were plenty of water to wash but most
importantly I wasted no time at the porta-toilets. I've been
doing this at the longer races, so it was something I'd gotten
used to. This subject is controversial enough to warrant a
discussion thread in the Runners World Forum, so I won't go
deeper into it. When hunting for a PR, the commando mindset
has to be adopted!
Turning the corner at the Shangri-La Hotel junction, I came
to the adidas' Impossible Is Nothing Cheer Team who were equipped
with a heavy duty shower machine! Instead of the misting wall
which Nike set up a few years back, this time, we had a torrential
downpour. Many chose to circumvent it for fear of getting
their shoes wet but I ran through it. Instantly refreshed,
I ran my fastest split after that at 5:27, a ridiculous pace.
I was grateful for 2-time Ironman Azwar's
encouragement at this point as he pulled up on his mini-bike.
A few more Ks later, I reached the finishing area. Unfortunately
we couldn't run straight towards the finish line. Instead
the full marathoners had to take a hard right at the junction
and head towards City Hall. It was here that I sensed that
I might not be able to sustain the pace until the end. First
signs of doubt crept it, but I kept my focus. Onlookers were
plentiful along the roads at this juncture but they were more
curious than supportive. If you're looking for crowd support,
you've come to the wrong place.
Just before reaching the Powerbar station, I came up to Yaziz
who was struggling but upon seeing me, put up a comical mock
sprint to stay in front. I'd wanted to chat him up but simply
had to keep going. We waved at each other instead and I went
my way. I was still 1 minute off target pace when I hit the
30K mark (target 2:55, managed 2:56.16 which was very close
to my GE30K split) and on course for a 4:06 finish.
Then the sickening feeling hit just after I passed Ngae,
the des Sables conqueror, at the Jalan Duta climb. I've conditioned
my mind to expect and deal with pain over the last few weeks
and had no problems dealing with pain and discomfort during
the race but hitting the wall had nothing to do with pain.
You simply ran out of gas. And you had to walk. I had been
playing some mind games to pull me through by thinking "See,
they're walking but you're still in the game!" and "Just
9 more K - that's less than 40 minutes left!" But I had
next to nothing left. At that moment, I was still climbing
the long uphill and the sun was up. Thankfully the tree-lined
highway provided much needed shade but there was still a long
way to go. The welcome presence of PACM's
past President, Munning at his usual cheering spot couldn't
get me back to my pace and I was taking much too long at the
It was especially frustrating since I'd encountered no cramps.It
was only through sheer will that I could still jog (pronounced
"yog" if Ron
Burgundy would have it!) and somehow I walked-dragged-shuffled
myself over the next few miles, aided by the support of fellow
sufferers, until the final 2K. At that point I started jogging-running
again all the way downhill toward the finish. I only saw the
timing on the gantry clock on my approach as I'd given up
tracking my splits. The 4:16 was good but the satisfied feeling
was somewhat tainted. I also didn't know at that point that
I was beaten to the finish line by none other than Spidey.
Carboman was no match for Spidey. Video courtesy of Afiza
I was so wasted past the finish line that I had to pause
for awhile after collecting my medal. Then I walked over to
the open showers to cool off for close to 10 minutes. A short
walk brought me back to the car where I dried myself, changed
into dry clothes and slippers, ate a banana and drained another
tumbler of Endurox. I was tempted to drive home but felt that
I had to cheer my fellow friends and other runners still coming
in so I grabbed my camera and slowly hobbled back to the finishing
area to look for my friends. A good thing that I continued
walking as my legs were beginning to stiffen up. As it turned
out, many others recorded PRs that morning. 3 women, including
Geraldine, in our group even won prize money - outstanding
results all round.
We live for this! Video of me taken just after crossing the
finish line. Video courtesy of Afiza Adlin
An hour later, with the sun blazing, I decided to bid adieu
to the race and drive home - but not before stopping at a
7-11 to pick up a bag of ice for a dip.
After the initial discomfort, it actually felt very good!
It's amazing how much 4 seconds add up over 42K. If I'd achieved
my average backup pace of 6 minutes flat, I'd have returned
3 minutes faster. If I'd averaged 13 seconds faster for each
K, I'd have a 20-minute PR. But there are just one too many
unnecessary "if"s. My take-away from this
race is knowing that I can now hit a sub 6-minute pace for
the marathon. Only some fine tuning is required to make a
jump to the next level. 2 more years to hit sub-4! My next
marathon will be the May 31st Sundown
Marathon in Singapore and training will resume next week!
With some of my friends after the race. That's me in the grey
With Chris (R) who also PR'd. Photo courtesy of Chris