Friday, September 14, 2012

Race Report - River Jungle Marathon 2012

Date: 09 September 2012
Location: Pekan Bt.18, Hulu Langat
Distance: 42 km (41.94 km)
Bib No.: A 123
Registration Fee: RM90 (early bird)
Gears: Brooks Pure Connect, Garmin Forerunner 405
Starting Time: 5.00am
Running Time: 04:31:16
Pace: 6:28 min/km

Months before the registration started, I was hesitating to join either Adidas King of The Road (KOTR) or River Jungle Marathon (RJM). It took me a while to make the decision. I like the vest that Adidas given out to runners in KOTR 2011 but I did not get a good result that I wanted in that race, so I wanted to do a redemption so badly. However, after settling down the 'pay back' emotion, I found that I love the 'tree' on the RJM finsiher-T even more, the RJM 2011 finisher medal design was beautiful and since then it was in my 'must-own' list.

I forgot what had I went through and I am glad that I registered for RJM. I was wondering whether I might be hooked up with full marathon and I would ditch any other race for FMs. The fact is RJM is a 'special' race, it is a race that runners are encouraged to 'run your own race' on a difficult route (my own opinion, if you don't buy in, try it for yourself). I was checking the elevation again and again 2 days before the race day to see how bad the elevation is and how bad I was going to suffer for that. After convincing myself that it was not that bad, I threw the race behind my head, did not think much about it, until the race day.

Collected my race bib and The Marathon Shop at Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya. Don't ask me where is it because I was navigated there, without knowing where was it. There was no vest, which I was very curious why there are none spotted wearing RJM vest during the 2011 race, errr.... run, not race. They are not giving out any vest for participating but only finisher-T for those who finish the entire course, I would say the longest time that I have heard is 9 hours plus. You will get one as long as you finish it.

Did not rest well and woke myself up at 3:00am at Jayson's house, somewhere at Cheras. Quickly prep myself in 15 minutes and got to go, no time for a proper breakie and bowel cleaning session. I searched 'Batu 18, Hulu Langat' in Waze (a free iPhone navigation Apps) but I failed to find it. I did not care much, I just needed to get to Hulu Langat, so I just followed whatever I was 'advised'.

Went along Jalan Hulu Langat, it was a long road, but I only saw Batu 9, I was shouting inside "where the hell is Batu 18??????!!!!!!!" I had zero idea where I was heading to, I was new there, it was the first time I drove into that road in my entire life. Shit.... it was already 3:40am and the compulsory briefing was on 4:15am. I stopped in front of Batu 9 Police Station, I calmed myself down, pulled out the RJM booklet and I got my clue there. That's why the organizer gave you the booklet, there must be a reason.

There was only one turn that I did not take, I was hoping that THAT's the one. After made the turn, I saw that the signboard stated Pekan Batu 18, Hulu Langat 10km. Wow.... I was running out of time. However, I still drove carefully, you never know what's in front, the fact that I was even sure where I was. Just followed the signboard.

Finally I saw the Batu 18 Police Station and opposite was the Choon Hwa primary school, there were already many runners there. Cars were parked along the roads, it was 4:05. Parked my car and put on everything I needed, Brooks Pure Connect, Nathan Trek, RM7 headlamp and kaya-kok that I bought for my breakfast.

Organizers were still moving around, arranging tables and chairs, move stuffs here and there. Many runners gathered and took photos, I know none of the runners there, except a few well-known ones, like Tey (the dedicated photographer), Deo and Yim (the one always in Sarong, many people thought he is a Malay)... LOL....

Runners were called inside the school compound so that the briefing can be started. I hardly can hear what was being said because many runners were taking to other runners, it was noisy. I just heard 'headlamp, dark, careful, Volkswagen, photo'... That's all.

At 4:56, the race was started, runners spotted wishing each other good luck and everyone was literally running to the underworld (it was so dark). I started slow at the back. I knew so well that this was not a PB route and after the back-to-back 21k, I just wanted to complete the run in one piece, so  that I can continue the mission impossible for another 42km in Taiping International Marathon. Way under mileage to put in a good run.

Really running in the dark, I did not use the headlamp in front but switched on the red blinking light at my back. First km, I was running at a easy and mau-tak-mau pace, by the time I went past the 1km and heard the buzz from my Garmin 405, I was running at 6:40. LOL... way too relax. I tried to run faster, maybe around pace 6:00 and I started to see runners coming back before km-3, saw Yim among the fast runners in front. By that time, I knew that there was a U-turn not far away.

After the U-turn, it was till dark and we were going back to the place we started, there was the first water station. Grabbed a cup of water and continued running at comfortable pace, when I checked, the pace was around 6:00 min/km. I was feeling great and I tried to increase the speed a little by little as I could still overtake some runners might started too fast. That gave me some morale uplift. The air was cool, I paid attention to my running economy because I could not afford to use up the fuel, unintentionally.

I was running so fine that I thought I could be running to break my PB again (it was just a split second thought). Crossed the 10km mark at 61 minutes. Around k-11, made the first turning to left into a place that I did not and still don't know.

However, that's the place that I saw Karen, I know from internet which she did 2 marathons in a day with Yim. I was trailing behind her, like 200 meters. There was a little elevation and I tried to run in a more economical way because my shoulders were heavy, maybe it was because of the tensed muscles? or lack of training in upper body :P. I think both.

I overtaken Karen around km-14 to 16 before the 300m+ elevation. I was feeling great. Great. Pace was around 5:50 km/min. My pace was still OK until I saw the slope in front of me, it was not as bad as I imagined looking at the graph. I shouted 'hoosh'.... I could hear Karen said that 'that's 3km to the top'. Should be OK for me...

I was still running up the hill, they call it Bukit Hantu? Many runners already stop running and started walking up the hill. I could see Jeff Ooi, who was in a soaking wet white pants and shirt, asked him to continue running. I felt light, I felt great, I felt that I could tackle the elevation after running 500m on it, not as bad as Tokun, the hill near my house. It was foggy and at times, there was a little sprinkle, probably due to the higher altitude, but just for a while. It was dark....

The first km on the elevation was 10 min, second km was 12 min. I could hear some runners talking nonsense watching a few runners like me who were treading our way up the hill. "Why waste energy running up the hill laaa, stupid laa" Anyhow, I did not care, I syiok sendiri and you're behind me now. I felt like I worked harder in the 3rd km up the hill, I checked the HR and it was close to 183, a level that I tried not to 'disturb' at the moment. So, I stopped to walk a little and ran towards the water station which was at the highest point. Completed 20km at 2:13, not bad at all, on track for 4:30 finish.

I refilled my Nathan Trek bottle with isotonic drink and began my journey down the hills. That was the toughest part of the race, running down the hill, with my minimalist Brooks Pure Connect. I tried to balance the pace and impact on my ankles, but it was very difficult. I was like smacking my feet on the tarmac 80% of the time going down the hill. The pace was not impressive as well and it was only like 6:09 and 5:35 until the next water stations. My ankles were screaming for help... at that time, it was still about half to go.

At the bottom of the hill, Karen caught up at the water station while I was taking my time with the banana. Her pace was great, I could not let myself slip so much, so I gave her a chase. I tried to tag along as my motivation level was going down quite fast after the downhill run (maybe I was stupid for doing the uphill run?)

I tried to maintain the distance between me and Karen, as I did not want myself to be distracted, I found that myself was doing OK tag from a distance away. I ran with average pace around 6:15 from km-25 to 29, it was quite difficult to maintain that pace, maybe I did not take the 2nd gel, because I ate a lot one day before the race :P

Luckily at km-30, there was a coconut drink water station, it was the first time I had coconut drink in full marathon run. I did not want to waste much, hence I almost finished 90% of it. Quite full. Karen was still not far from me as she left the water station earlier. Coconuts drink had it's magic. I chased Karen and tried to tag closer to her, I think we ran with an average pace around 6:00 min/km. Could see many cyclists doing their long ride at the same route too.

However, at km-35, I gave up to continue running the whole 40-42km. I chose to walk because the ankles were still screaming. Snapped the photo of my Garmin 405, uploaded to FB and wished that there was something special happen, but none. (Sorry, runners could be thinking something else while hitting the wall)


From km-35 to km-38, there was no one overtook me, I was wondering whether I was on the right course, I was somewhere else, I was too fast, others were too slow, etc.... but it was a huge relief, other runners were still there. I just ran, walked, ran, walked. At the time, the sun was quite high up. Sometimes, I walked in the shaded area, ran at the open area, just to escape from the sun. Played some running games, like mini-intervals, mini-tempo, who gets to the 'X' location first, etc.

Math started to play inside my mind, whether I could make it sub 4:30 or not. It was playing quite some time inside my mind, until the idea finally went off at km-39. I ran, walked, ran, walked again. Every km was like 10000m again, but I was doing fine.

I knew that the finishing line was close, I adjusted myself to run at a comfortable pace, I wanted to end in good condition. Made the right turn to the main road of Pekan Batu 18. The hawkers were already started operating, there were more cars on the road, more people walking around, compared to 5am just now.

I crossed the finishing line (entrance of Choon Hwa Primary School) at 4:31. Got the finisher medal that I always wanted, the finisher-T with the 'tree'. Missed the sub 4:30 but lesson learned that I just need to keep running and forgot about the whether sub-X or sub-Y, just run if I could. Greeted by Deo who finished the run much earlier than me.

Race Summary:
  • Enjoy the race so much although under mileage for full marathon. Have not done any run >21km since SCKLM 2012 (end of June).
  • Need to do some serious LSD to train up the endurance again for PBIM 2012.
  • Love the medal and finisher-T, but the T would look better without all the sponsor's trademarks.
  • A challenging route with sufficient support from the organizer.
Garmin Data:

Race Review:

  • Challenging route with all the up hill and down hill running, surrounded with mother nature and not concrete or skycrapers.
  • Sufficient water station with sufficient water and isotonic drinks, banana, coconut drinks, gels and banana were distributed along the run.
  • Abundance of nasi lemak and isotonic drinks after the run at Choon Hwa Primary School.
  • Beautiful medals and finisher T.
  • Full marathon runners only, did not need to mix with runners from shorter categories.
  • Quite expensive?
  • Quite dark in certain area and might have some safety concern.

Taiping International Marathon, I'm coming.


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