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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.

More analyses in the Review section below.

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 of Sportsbeans 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.

First Half
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 of mine.

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 Taoist Cheng 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.

Second Half
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 water stations.

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 Adlin

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!

Race Review
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 T-Shirt

With Chris (R) who also PR'd. Photo courtesy of Chris

6:03 > 5:54 > 5:56 > 5:51 > 5:54 (5K, 29:40) > 5:57 > 6:02 > 5:59 > 5:40 > 5:56 (10K, 59:17) > 5:51 > 5:55 > 5:56 > 5:30 > 5:47 (15K, 1:28.19) > 5:51 > 6:02 > 5:44 > 5:53 > 5:51 (20K, 1:57.42) > 5:43 (21K) > 5:44 > 5:31 > 5:58 > 5:27 > 5:51 > 5:59 > 6:05 > 6:15 > 5:55 (30K, 2:56.16) > 5:53 > 6:02 > 6:19 > 6:27 > 6:54 (35K, 3:27.52) > 6:11 > 7:19 > 7:18 (38K, 3:48.43) > 6:45 > 7:21 (40K, 4:02.50) > 6:47 > 5:37 > 0:51 (42.2K, 4:16.05)

Average Pace: 6:04
Fastest: 5:27 (20km/h)
Slowest: 7:21 (10.8km/h)
Position in category: 67th
Gun time: 4:17.06
Chip time: 4:16.05

Fellow runners' stories:

Full Marathon
Running Mom | Frank @ Runnerz Circle | DK | Phyllis | Ultraman Yip | Ben Swee | Tey | Choi

Half Marathon

For full results, visit the official website.



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