Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Race Report - Taiping International Marathon 2012

Date: 16 September 2012
Location: Padang Esplanade, Taiping
Distance: 42 km (43.08 km)
Bib No.: A 0005
Registration Fee: RM50 (early bird)
Gears: Brooks Pure Connect, Garmin Forerunner 405
Starting Time: 4.30am (5:09am)
Running Time: 04:42:18
Pace: 6:33 min/km

First, it was not a pleasant experience joining this race, the second race I had in Taiping, the first one was back in 2009 or 2010 for the 15km Taiping Heritage Run. It was a good run for me back then, clocked 1:15 for 15km, a decent average pace of 5:00 min/km. I think I took a lot of encouragement from that run onwards, because I really pushed for it in the last few km back then. Anyway, let's get back to the most recent one.

Saturday, 2pm, the sun was demonstrating on the sky, showing off its heat. The bib collection centre at Padang Esplanande was not spared as well. First, I saw many runners lining up to collect the bibs but somehow the lines were like never changing, never becomes shorter but longer. First thought... shit~!!! Another chaotic bib collection scene, would it be as bad as it was in SP Half Marathon?

Hesitated a while and I joined in the queue. The full marathon line was not as bad as those half marathon lines. Happy to get a 'seeded' runner bib - A 0005, with my name printed on it. A big WOW. Normally this type of bib are reserved for those elite runners, not 'pua tang sai' runner like me. Anyway, I was happy to pose with it, since I do not expect myself to get this type of number next time. Lucky. However, there was no more 'S' size vest for me and I had to take 'M' size, which is too big for me.

Sunday, 3am. Woke up myself even before the alarm blew me awake. Went it and out from the room to get my running shoes, Nathan hydration pack, sunglasses, and breakfast. Took a shower, prep myself with the maroon colour running pants and Sundown 2011 white running vest. Trying to have more variety and not just red and green. By that time, many runners already up as well, Dan, WJ, Kwang Leng, Steven and Ewe Cheong, I think everyone was sitting and waiting to depart around 3:30am.

Eaten 2 tau sah peah, I knew it was not enough but I could not take more. I sensed that my heart beat was a little yo-yo, so I took a measurement. Resting HR was at 72 BPM. Shit.... I was trying to be more positive and ignored it, although I knew that's not a good sign. Departed to starting point at 4:00am and thought to have a gun off at 4:30am but I was postponed to 5:00am.

Another "SHIT" from me... I ate so little yet all the runners were made to wait. We had the timing chip given by the organizer but we were also given another 'cable tie' as ribbon. Cable tie are not made for human and if it was tightened in the wrong way, it could cause some serious issue. I ignored the distributor instruction to tie it on my wrist but instead on my Nathan. I made a crude circumference measurement using my wrist, I believe it could not fit into many runners with a 'bigger' wrist.

At 4:45am, the bus carrying the volunteers to water stations still there. It was really a mess, isn't that a simple thing to get the bus earlier and gather volunteers earlier. Sigh...

We waited inside the barricaded area.

We waited.

5:00am and we were still inside the barricaded area. Many runners started to 'boo' the organizer for not starting the race on time. After a while we were moved outside the barricaded area. It still took some time for the organizer to figure out what to do. 5 minutes later, the race started, how did I know? because I saw runners start running, it was 5:09 I crossed the first timing chip station.

I tried to execute the race plan, the plan A. I had a plan A, which was to finish sub-4. I started slow, I knew my condition was not good, probably due to the mild flu I got the night before, anyway I stick to the race plan. First km was done in 6:15, 15 seconds faster than the 6:30. At that time, 15 seconds was insignificant.

Then, we ran into a dark area, the road was not well-lit, could not see the road very well. Anyway, just follow the runners in front, you won't be wrong. Then km-2 was done in 6:03, again, I thought that 12 seconds was not significant. However, I pushed a little too hard in km-3 which I was reminded by the 405 1-km split timing at 5:36. I should be running at 5:50 pace, I slowed down.

I was trying to run at 5:50 min/km pace for the subsequent distance until km-10. Passed by the water station, which I saw 500ml mineral water bottle being distributed. I was angry. How many runners actually could finish the 500ml? It could easily cater for 3-4 runners if it was served in cups. I did not stop and hopefully runners behind me could make use of it.

I continued to run the subsequent KMs until km-10 in an acceptable pace around 5:50. Then, from that onwards, I needed to run 5:45 min/km, I tried to increase my pace but it was difficult, so I tried to find a target to tag along. After making the turn into the main road after the North-South Expressway exit, the road was totally dark, could barely see the runners at not far in front. Then, at km-12 or so, runners were running against the wind, it was like an invisible force pushing me behind (I felt that way). It was for like 8-10 minutes long, extra effort being out in to run at the target pace.

At km-13 or 14, I tagged along with a group of runners who were running at similar pace, just like training partners. Then, it started to drizzle and the group basically running together at 5:40 pace until km-19, which the rain stopped. It was good running in a small group as it was like helping each other out, even without a single word spoken.

At km-20/21, I had made to the half way, I felt good, but I needed to increase the speed to meet my target pace at 5:20 min/km. I could see Eric Lim in front of me but I did not have the 'ummph' to close the gap, so I just tried to follow from 100-150 m away. I was motivating myself, trying to take the positives from the 5:23 and 5:24 pace that I had put in.

However, in km-24 to 25, I sensed the discomfort at the diaphragm area, I tried to hold on and run my target pace. I struggled, it became more painful. I told myself I had done 25km, I could afford to stop for a while, to let the pain go away, so I walked.

The pain eased a little and I resumed my run. It struck back, the pain came back immediately after I picked up my pace, I was not sure what was it but I could not run with that pain. I was so disappointed with myself because I knew that I could not run anymore. The HR also peaked without my notice up to 193 BPM. Argh.... I hated this so much.

I was down to run/walk from km-25 to km-27, and more and more walking from km-27 to km-30. I saw the water station at km-30, there was a pack of biscuit and a few cup of water. I took one and I intended to take another one, but when Dan stopped by, he was surprised to see that there was so little water left. He asked the volunteers to make call and get more water. I counted the cups, 6 left, I canceled my idea of grabbing another drink from that station and moved on.

Dan was running at a good pace, I only can see him disappeared gradually from my sight. Again, I felt so useless for not be able to run. It was like not be able to run after losing the momentum.

Basically walked, walked, ran, walked.... it was getting hotter and hotter, the sun was practically burning my skin. The second last water station was at km-39. I grabbed the sponge, rinsed it mutilple times in the water and rubbing it on my body, it was good, but why no ice???? I felt like a valcano inside my body.

Walked and ran with walking pace around Taman Tasik Taiping. Saw many runners who had completed their run and enjoying sightseeing at the lake. It was hell like for me... I was wondering why it was so far to get to the finishing line.

After that, we were directed towards the Taiping City before getting to Padang Esplanade. That's where the most chaotic things happened. I was running with the cars and bikes. I could not see the direction marker as it was too small. I did not know where to go. I was pissed off. Where were all the race marshals?

At times, I just stood there and checking out the direction and guessed which way to go. I was exhausted, by my Garmin already showing 42km. Then, I saw 2 volunteers distributing the final ribbon. I was surprised that one of the girl told me 1km to go... walao ehh....

I ran into the 7-11 around the corner, bought myself orange juice and chocolate milk. Finished the orange juice within the 100m from 7-11 and continued to run along the busy Jalan Kota, with cars and bikes around me. Wow.... I could not care much, I just wanted to get to the finishing line.

Finally, I saw Alwin Tan near McDonald. Being cheered by the spectators/runners to complete the remaining 400m. Then, I saw Kwang Leng, Miow Chin, Sam Khong all taking photographs. I opened up my arms to welcome the finishing line. Crossed the final timing chip monitor at km-43. Over distance~!!!!! in 4:42:18. No more M size finisher for me, got XL, luckily still got medal.

Took a glance at the sponsor tent, no more Milo, no other drinks. Luckily I still held my chocolate milk. I had 'FIRE' all over my body, I was roasted by the merciless sun, dehydrated by the warm weather and super TL with the organizer for such 'International' event. Wa Pui~!!!!

Race Summary:
  • First back-to-back Full Marathon done with RJM and TIM at moderate timing of 4:32 and 4:42. Failed to meet my target to better the RJM result.
  • Really lack of mileage and experience to handle full marathon at the moment. Need to spend more time on my feet for 30 or perhaps 35k LSD.
  • Maybe too much, too fast, too soon for me to excel in my minimalist Brooks Pure Connect. It works great in HM but need time to adjust my body to 'accept' it for FM.
  • Need to be selective in joining full marathon races, not simply join those sub-standard races. 
  • So, you all saw Plan A but never read anything about Plan B, C, D, E..... Honestly, I completed the race in Plan Y. Plan Z is DNF :P
Garmin Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/223323015

Race Review:

  • Beautiful lake and city. That's all?
  • Bad bib collection arrangement. Could not get running vest with my preferred size.
  • Postponed the starting time and yet failed to start on time. Runners suffer under the hot sun.
  • Bad 'cable tie' distributed to runners as ribbon. What is the timing chip for then? Don't tell me this is 2 layers of protection?
  • Bad water stations arrangement. No enough water station after 30km and not enough water and isotonic drinks.
  • The promised banana and powerbar/powergel are not there.(Feel like being cheated)
  • Lack visible distance and direction markers.
  • Not enough food and water for full marathon runners at the finishing area.
  • No preferred Full Marathon finisher T size.
  • Is that all? .....
I, mou gan tai.

Hopefully next year, no more. Thanks.

= O.o + =

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