Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fraser Hill Tristate Ultra 50km 2018 Race Notes.

Fraser's Hill Tristate Ultra Trail Run 2018

https://event.howei.com/event/frasers-hill-tristate-ultra-trail-2018

Distance: 50km
Elevation Gain: 2,303 m
Cut Off Times: 17 hrs
Organizer: Kow Kow Sport



1. After Penang Eco 100k, I decided to take it easy. Recover, run a bit, be healthy for Ramadhan. Goal was to avoid a 2nd straight DNF while experimenting some stuff. Leading up to the race, organizer sent a PDF race info kit/guide. Pretty insightful but there wasn't much info on the course. You sort of have to estimate the gain by looking at the profile image.

2. So I did some google research on the course and turned out the route was basically a famous out and back hike to Gunung Semangkok (GS) and some trails around town. Due to the mysterious "land slide", the route was altered to cater for the missing section after GS. So it's basically a duo-state ultra.

3. As I dig deeper, I realized that it's going to be tough but since the distance was only for about 50k, I assume it was going to be ok. My assessment has never been off.



Pre-race

4. I did the REPC at KL so I was in no rush to get to race site. Arrived and parked at the nearby mosque and went straight to the expo. Nothing interesting and new. I asked the organizers for some basic stuff which wasn't in the guide like baggage drop but they thought I meant drop bag. So they say there's no baggage drop (turned out there was). Tried to sleep at around 9PM and woke up at 11PM to get the gears ready.

5. Did the mandatory check and listened to the briefing. Race starts at 1 AM and started with the poles in hand.

Race

6. The first 10k was basically a rolling road run around the town area. There were some short trail section before going up to pine tree hill peak.

7. Suprisingly, I didn' realize we have passed pine tree hill peak and was on our way to GS. By the time I was at CP3, I was glad to hear that there are about 5k (climb) to go to GS.

8. I didn't refill as I assumed that 1L would be enough. However, I used most of it to perform ablution for subuh prayer by the side of the trail. At the top of GS (CP4) there were just guys taking our number. No water or food so, I consumed my supplies and had to save whatever water I have left before heading down. I also stowed the poles and tried to go down as quickly as possible. It was also already daylight by then.

9. Back at CP5/CP2, refilled my water and swiftly made my way to Jeriau (CP7). It turned out to be quite a downhill/hike. I hit my head from an overhanging branch and immediately stopped. It felt like I was hit by a metal pipe. I stopped and found that my eyebrow were bleeding but not gushing or anything. I walked it off and realized it's not that (relatively) serious. At the Pine tree hill peak - I can finally see the amazing view.

10. I also ran out of water and luckily these 2 guys who decided to DNF gave me some of theirs. That probably saved my race and I am grateful for that and why I love this community of trail runners!. Out from Jeriau/CP7, we had to endure this uphill road section back to town. Once in town, one of the crew in a car pulled up and told me to turn right at the roundabout to finish. He even said it's close and semi-congratulated me. This makes sense since I've already covered 50k+. Upon reaching the roundabout though, I saw a sign that says "50k go straight". I followed that sign which lead to Bishop trail.

11. In Bishop trail, I was alone and doubt started to creep in whether I should've turned right at the round about and finish the damn thing. The race was pretty disorganized so they might have decided to cut it short. I arrived at a junction in the trail that leads to more trail and to town. I decided to head to town even though the marking indicates to continue straight down the trail (I tought marking was ok). En route, saw the 2nd runner up in his car and was encouraging me to keep going (more reason to love the community). He quickly pointed out I was off course which meant that I was given the wrong advice by the crew in the car. I was probably assumed to be a 25k finisher or DNFer.

12. I was not that dissapointed though since I was not competing. Having lost about maybe half an hour, timing didn't matter much and I just want to finish the race since I'm nearing the end anyway. There were other runners/spectators encouraging (did I already mention how cool the community was?) which really makes my day.

13. So I continued on, hiked the remaining trail in town, Bishop, Rompin etc. before arriving at the finish. I enjoyed the last bit as I felt like I was sight seeing Fraser Hill in one day!. I had to somehow alert the organizer upon finishing as they were busy doing I don't know what.

Post-race

14. If there was food, I wasn't directed to it. Got the customary shirt/medal. Went back to the car, shower, prayed, got some food and drove back home.

Race comments

15. My race was pretty good. The reason to run this race was because it starts at 1 am. I seldom (never?) train in the middle of the night and this run provide the experience to run with inadequate sleep and test my cheap headlamp. I did 2 ultra that involves running through the night (TMBT/PenangEco) and I didn't do too good. In those races, I lost motivation towards the end and I contributed it to lack of sleep. In this race however, I was positive throughout and rarely screaming "F**k this s**t!" inside. Those negative moments was probably down to nutrition because after I got some calories in, my head/thinking felt better. In TMBT/PenangEco my head was so fuzzy and negative.

16. I also ran with the poles for the 1st half and found that it's pretty useful at the steep road section but quite a hassle at technical section and at downhills because you need to use your hands a lot. I wouldn't rule them out and will practice more with them.

17. Nutrition was something I also tested out. I mainly consume tailwind/water, 1 tesco chocolote chip granola bar, 1 cocopie, some watermelon and banana (at Jeriau). So the fact that I can recall the quantity of stuff I consumed was pretty cool. No major cramps and still ran some parts towards the end. In my previous race I consumed too much, countless gels and hanging around aid station eating.

18. I have mixed feeling for the overall race experience though. The course was challenging and beautiful and I believe most runners truly enjoyed the course (up to a certain point) but from a consumer point of view I have to question the value of doing this race.

19. A typical consumer would compare goods and services to try and get the best value for money. I value a race according to these main item:

i)  location (course uniqueness/challenge/training effect)
ii) services (from pre race info, UTMB points to race day organization);and
iii) goods (REPC goodies, t shirt, medals, aid station content).

I think for item i) there's no doubt it that it was well worth it. But for item ii) and iii) there's a lot that can be improved when compared to other races at around the same price point.

20. Goods and Services - I don't know but it felt a bit disorganized. From the beginning there were a lot of anomaly. For example, the statement "PLEASE NOTE AID STATION POSITIONS ARE BASED ON VOLUNTEER AVAILABILITY" in the guide was a red flag. The profile on the guide/website doesn't show elevation gained between station which I would normally use in training to determine point to point climb/descent difficulty. The correct GPX file was uploaded the day before the race (less than 24 hours actually). The baggage drop looks like a last minute kind of thing with the masking tape, the finishing line snub/lack of hospitality etc.

21. Granted, this probably sounds a bit entitled. I mean ultra runner are suppose to be bad ass right?. But there are things from a paying consumer/runner point of view that should be prioritized. For instance, aid station distance (time wise) was probably a bit far especially when you have steep climbs. At Jeriau (last CP) I saw tons of energy drinks, bananas etc. and felt like supplies could probably be better distributed among CPs. Apart from the tough course conditions, this too probably contributed to the amount of DNFers. DNFers had to hike back out so it's not as if they get to ride in a car (except at last CP - better access to road). So the general effort to preserve the well being of runners and evacuation of DNFers/injured runners feels like an afterthought.

22. I also think that some safety aspect was overlooked. Safety concerns can't be stressed enough especially after what happened at PD tri. This course is tough and at some point dangerous. A crew or two at critical sections (i.e. wall/rock climbing section at night!) in case anything happen can mean a lot. A medic would be better but feels like I'm asking too much.

Image result for pine tree hill
Rock climbing - fun, but a bit dangerous (pic: fraserhill.info)
23. To be fair, I understand that it is difficult to get to some of these check points let alone while hauling supplies. It could also create unncessary waste/garbage. Maybe the location of the aid station can be placed strategically when the route was designed. Or, they can provide estimated hike time or in my case CP to CP elevation gain so runners are better prepared. Some pictures/videos of the course especially on these dangerous sections can also help.

24. Speaking of course design, I also feel like I can cheat the course since the race didn't have proper tracking electronically or manually towards the end of the race. I literally saw no crew after Jeriau except by chance - the guy in the car that gave me the wrong direction.

25. I have to qualify some of the statements made though. The guide did show no water/food at GS and there could probably be some food at the finish (I didn't check). But generally runners, myself included, didn't pay enough attention to the guide given, assumed the CPs are like other races and was too tired to think hoping for the crews to (correctly) assist during these times.

26. Upon checking their FB page, the reviews sort of validated my observations of this race. The common theme of safety and aid stations are prevalent. Generally people felt like they were ripped-off. It is also regretful to see some trail runners scoffing at the comments/reviews. I feel like there's a clique forming. I hate that participants are arguing among themselves. The fact that participants chose to pay to run this race (yes, self inflicted) does not take away the fact that the organizers didn't do their job properly. This to me is a threat to this sport because any mishaps would involve the authority and could effect other races. This threat is real based on actual accounts of injured/DNF runners.

26. The review section is also interesting because you can observe range of runners in terms of ability and understanding. It's the responsibility of the organizers/crew to ensure that their services cover all spectrum of runners.

27. And for heaven's sake, RDs out there, can we stop with this finishing medal/Ts BS. Let's just call it a participant medal and be done with it.

The Race

28. Entry Fee: Early Bird, RM265.90

29. Result: 14:02:04, h:m:s, 25/97 overall, 24/80 gender, 14/41 category

30. Finisher rate:
97/144 - 67.4% (50km)
85/220 - 38.6% (25km)
196/223 - 87.9% (15km)

http://runnersunite.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16634&RId=1064

*My garmin didn't properly record and was unable to download the data. What a tragedy.

Final Note

31. The trail were amazing and some sections were runnable. I truly enjoyed the running part. It is also challenging and I love that too. I was happy with the way I ran it and manage again to discover and experience something new with my running.

32. However, as a noob/mid pack runner, I consider things like safety and aid stations as a basic standard feature in any race. Heck, for the elites, the risk is even greater especially when descending at high speed. IMHO, having measures to minimize risks gives you more confidence and a peace of mind to finish the race even when you are f**cked up.

33. Also, when you pay almost the same as other races, you expect comparable goods/services. When an organizer do something because it makes their job easier instead of the paying customer/runners you know something is off. For this tough race, the lack of crew and basic organization (to me at least) was a clear symptom of this. Some I can live without but some are just basic and is commonly practiced by other races/RDs.

34. In general, the whole community is involved in producing a good race experience:


  • Runners/praticipants in general - Train for the race, be informed of the risks, provide feedback;
  • Organizers - Provide clear information, assist runners to finish and enjoy the race as much as possible regardless of their ability pre race/race/post race;
  • MURA/MUL or whatever association - They are doing good job voluntarily reviewing races. But maybe they can take it a bit further by imposing or at least providing some minimum standard requirement guide for RD/runners. It could be a blog post for all I care. At least we can make more informed decisions;
  • Seasoned runners - Their voices are heard and I feel like they could make a big difference in making races better instead of scoffing (not all tho) at how soft new runners are;
  • Authorities - Generally, they have been helpful. The BOMBA, police, JPAM etc. I'm more worried when bad things happens and they take the easy way out by stopping any future races because it is deemed dangerous/fatal.

35. I hope organizers use this race to learn and improve for their sake. Consumers (in this case runners), will ultimately choose based on the value they can get with their hard earned money and not just how good the trail and tshirt/medal design are. I don't wish to see runners arguing among each other in socmed. As in any endurance endevour there are risks involved but it can be managed with better information/prevention measures. It's a niche sport with awesome community and we don't want to build a perception that trail running is a wreckless sport ran/organized by wreckless people.

Next race: FGV Tekam 25k

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Penang Eco 100km 2018 Race Notes



https://www.facebook.com/PenangEco100/

http://endurancenature.com.my/index.php/penangeco1002018/

Exact Distance: 104.0km
Elevation Gain: 3494m D+
Cut Off Times: 30 hours

Pre-Race

1. Trained. Went and done some hill reps. No actual long run. Kept it below 2 hrs. Hoping to carry some of the SCKLM fitness. Since the race had less elevation gain than TMBT 100k, a sub 24 hour (22-23 hour) finish seems like a reasonable target.

2. Went with mom and dad. They were visiting relatives and friends near the area.

Race

3. Strategy: stay on top of things. Run easy all day. Avoid cramps until halfway. Eat as much as possible. Run at runnable section at comfortable pace.

4. Coming into CP 1 -3 : Nothing new. Ran as slow as possible. Heat zaps some energy.
CP 4: Legs felt like crap. But still running.
CP5: Walked most of it. Didn't feel that bad, had some proper meal/solid food. Overall Ok.
CP6: Suprisingly good. The hot meal helped. Rushed at CP. Didn't fuel up well for the next section.
CP7: Horrible, the climbs and descent zaps whatever energy remained. Laid at the basketball court. Couldn't eat much.
CP8: Flat but couldn't run. Ran in worser physical condition before tho. Walked all of it questioning my participation in this race. Sleep deprived setting in. Underestimated the power of sleep.
CP9: Slow but moving. Getting sick of the whole thing. Pray and poop.
CP10: Annoyed. Impatience. Wanted to stop. Saw daylight.
CP11: Stopped. With 7km and maybe 2-3 hours to finish.

Post-race

5. Declared DNF, surrender the chip and got the drop bag. Immediately got on the car and went home. Arrived at some RnR for shower and food. Slept about 3/4 on the journey home.

Race Comments

6. DNF. I was at the last CP and volunteers were trying to convince me to continue but my mind was made up. I was tired which was expected in a race like this. But I was more mentally fatigued and I think I have passed the point of diminishing return.

7. It was fun, challenging etc. at first. Then it became borderline stupid and I started questioning the reason for doing it, feeling like it's a complete waste of time. It was compounded by the fact that I needed to finish before 12:00 PM since mom and dad had checked out of the hotel. I was also frustrated by the way I was moving. The tradeoff were not that much attractive either, a medal, finisher T. I didn't race because of that, and while contemplating about DNF I felt like the remaining time seems better invested into something useful (like going home and rest).

8. Felt slight regret because it would be nice to register a time for a 100k race like this for future reference. I think finishing a 100k, ~4000m vert within the cut off is somewhat established. The mistake I made was embedding this idea in my head that there should be some improvement from my previous TMBT 100k, time wise and experience wise. There wasn't. I wanted a good race. No pity party. Just a focused, straight forward race where I did all the things that was planned. Overcoming challenges along the way. However, near the end, I spent too much time thinking about quitting and how everything sucked. I succumbed to those feelings and at that moment, it was the easiest decision I have ever made but for probably for the weakest reason. It's not physical but purely mental.

9. The race was literally divided into two parts. By design or coincidence, not sure. 1st 50k, flat, some small climbs. Ran in palm plantations, some village road section, paddy field and trail. There were some nice part in there especially when we climbed up this hill with a house on top. That was nice.

10. The second part was done in the dark and it was really tough. It was pure trail and very technical. Steep climbs and movement was slow. Highlight of the 2nd half include running out of CP 5 going to CP 6. It was beside a dam or some huge body of water before proceeding for the climbs. I felt good and confident. Upon reaching CP 7, for some stupid reason, I decided to rush and only took in few food. Restocked and went off to CP 7. The climbs got steeper and I was slowly draining energy. There were some flat section going to CP 8 but it was then that I realized I didn't have it to run. That was the acid test and I failed. Even though I was feeling crappy, I can't help but be mesmerized at these small beaming lights coming from runner's head lamps as they made their way up the hill. I felt humbled and small.

11. At CP 9, the volunteers made coffee. It was nice. I stopped for a while to pray and poop. Didn't have the appetite for anything. It's dawn and I secretly told myself that I would finish it by 12. Upon reaching CP 10, it was around 10 am, but things didn't look good. I was moving slow. I arrived at CP11 at 12:35PM and called it a day. I needed to get back home.

10. As for the race organization, it was the best I've experienced so far. I applaud them for:

a) providing dedicated drop bags;
b) real volunteers who understand the need of fatigued/half asleep runners;
c) markers were accurate;
d) choice of food was nice - watermelon and coke ftw!;
e) Large area at halfway CP for runners to take care of things;
f) pre-race information was spot on, timely and up to date;
g) Provided hotels, transport info etc.

11. I do however have to point out that some runner didn't pick up their timing device because they were not directed (REPC at race site). They can in the future have some sort of flow when picking up the REPC. I had to ask for mine. Maybe it's different during the REPC session at the hotel.

The Race

12. DNF
22:35:48
STATION DISTANCE FROM START TIME OF DAY SPEED RACE TIME
START 0 Km Sat, 02:00:00 pm - -
CP1 9.9 Km
CP2 20.1 Km Sat, 04:24:01 pm 8.37 Km/Hr 02:24:01
CP3 29.7 Km Sat, 05:44:22 pm 7.94 Km/Hr 03:44:22
CP4 42.8 Km Sat, 07:58:22 pm 7.17 Km/Hr 05:58:22
CP5 49.9 Km Sat, 09:25:26 pm 6.72 Km/Hr 07:25:26
CP6 59.7 Km Sun, 12:15:57 am 5.82 Km/Hr 10:15:57
CP7 69.8 Km Sun, 03:46:14 am 5.07 Km/Hr 13:46:14
CP8 78.4 Km Sun, 05:58:59 am 4.91 Km/Hr 15:58:59
CP9 83.8 Km Sun, 08:30:36 am 4.53 Km/Hr 18:30:36
CP10 86.9 Km Sun, 09:53:04 am 4.37 Km/Hr 19:53:04
Cp11 95.9 Km Sun, 12:35:48 pm 4.24 Km/Hr 22:35:48
FINISH 104 Km

Race Detail

13. Time: 22:35:48
Distance: 95.9 km (3,575m+)

Final note

14. Looking back, it felt so good to DNF at that time. I was desperate for some real food and sleep. Physically I was ok to continue. There were other runners in more severe conditions and they finished. But this race was about improvement and that was my main motivation. It was about still running the flats. Moving at a good pace on the climbs etc. It didn't happen and I lost all motivation.

15. I have to manage my expectation better. Just because I trained, doesn't mean things will improve. It may suck and I've identified why it did. I think the more I race, the more mistakes/experience will be revealed. So I have to live with the fact that no matter how much I prepare, shit happens and will continue to happen. You move on and learn.

16. This race seems perfect for anyone who is going for their first 100k, 50k or 30k. Challenging and well organized. Perfect combination. For 100 miles not sure.

17. Next up, fraser tri state ultra 50k. Less than a month after Eid so I'm expecting a very tough day, but hopefully no pity party.



Friday, April 13, 2018

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 Race Notes


Standard Charted Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2018
The 10th Anniversary of the SCKLM was held on 8 April 2018 and takes runner through KL. It's a new course (I think), but still retain the rolling hills which to me is the hallmark of SCKLM. Around 38,000 runner participated in various category from FM down to kids dash. I registered for the FM hoping to (again) break 4 hour.



More info:

https://www.kl-marathon.com/

Pre-Race

1. Around 4 hour into last year's race, I was upset things didn't go the way I hope it would. While nursing my cramps and jogging to the finish, I was determined to sub 4 SCKLM 2018. I was less prepared then and "hoping" things would go my way was not really a convincing strategy. After the 2017 race, I examined what went wrong, found a training plan and stuck to it. SCKLM sub 4 mission officially started early December 2017.

2. SCKLM was personal because apart from the Ironman marathon, I never ran a marathon other than SCKLM. I set a goal to go sub 4 at my first and second SCKLM and failed miserably. My 3rd last year was close but not good enough. I knew I needed to properly train and I did that this year. That was why coming into this race, I was less nervous. In fact, on Saturday, I was more excited about taking my kids to play at the KLCC playground plus having a nice dinner at KLCC than the REPC.

3. My strategy was to run 5:30/km, get to halfway for subuh prayer plus some major maintenance and see out the rest of the way around the same pace. I planned to perform ablution (wudu) before starting so that I could pray with my socks on. I also planned to take it easy on the uphills and take advantage of the downhills. There's little margin for error like pooping or cramping etc. during the race. I told my wife the day before the race that it's gonna be 3:50 to close to 4:00 hour.

Race-Day

4. Slept around 10 PM and woke up at 3 AM. Had my usual breakfast and pooped. This was a mini victory for me as far as pre race ritual is concerned as I rate pooping higher than warming up haha. By 3:30, I had showered and started warming up in front of the hotel.  It was nothing fancy, just routines/drills to mobilize the hips. 15 mins before the start, jogged to Pen 2. It was already overflowed. However, as people started filling the gaps, I squeezed in. The runners around me were mostly happy, nervous etc. Being someone who is kind of an introvert, I relish being all alone among thousand of runners. I was focused on not getting beat by the course.

5. While waiting for flag off, I saw the 4 hr pacer and 3:45 pacer with their oversized balloons. I decided to stay in between them so I could worry less about pacing. I couldn't trust the GPS signal around tall buildings. At 4 am sharp, the gun went off and I focused on hitting my cadence at >170 spm. Lots of people were in front of me but the road was wide enough. I was faster than my goal pace and slowly catching up to the 3:45 pacer. This was when the competitive side of me started giving me funny ideas. I thought that I should capitalize the great feeling I was having and stick with the 3:45 pacer and try to go sub 2:50. But the rational side of me was obviously against the idea as I was about one hour into the race, and at that rate, I'm sure to blow up and could easily go from feeling great to not so great.

6. So, I decided that it's too much of a risk to follow the 3:45 pacers. Instead, I used the buffer I had to slow down at aid stations and just taking it easy on the uphills while ensuring the 4hr pacer were still behind me. I ran sub 2 at half way, my stomach was fine, legs were good, still didn't fart or anything so all were good. I had the urge to pee though, but I needed to perform the Subuh prayer first. I had to hold it in until I reached the 27km mark to pray and then peed. Feeling good afterwards, I decided to run a little bit on the uphill, especially the short ones. It was when I reached the 30km mark that I felt a familiar sensation on my left hamstring. Hello cramps, it's been a while.

7. Before I knew it, my quads started to feel the same. It dawned on me that I needed to sort it out. I walked the aid station, put on some ice, ate some bananas and gels being distributed. Few moments later, the cramps were gone and I started running at goal pace again. The cramps would pop up now and then so I decided to carry ice with me and use the magic spray as much as I can to prevent the cramps from getting worse. I slowed down on the climbs and even walked. The buffer I had was instantly reduced.

8. But after a while, I could somewhat run and ran the last 2-3km relatively faster as I wanted to finish the race ASAP before the wheel fell off completely. I felt it was a bit reckless but I was nearing the end with minutes to spare. Right after crossing the finish, my left leg cramped up. I stretched a bit before meeting up with my family. Took some pictures and went back to the hotel. I finished in 3:53 with an average pace of 5:26/km and to me it felt like a huge win. Take that SCKLM! :)

Post-Race

9. After the race, I was in no hurry to eat, but forced myself anyway. Rehydrated and went to take the car parked at KL Sentral via LRT . On the way home, I was already thinking about the next race. Once home, I slept.



Race Comments

10. I have nothing to add from my last year post on SCKLM. It's a great race and IAAF certified. Additionally, the course was hilly. So having the sub 4 felt legit and so pleasing.

11. As I look back at the result and what I did in training, few things stood out. Among them are:

 - Strides couple times per week for economy/cadence
 - Ample recovery between quality workouts
 - Took it easy on easy days
 - consistency is king: mileage
 - specificity is queen: practiced marathon pace on long runs
 - Adding threshold workout in long runs and on tired legs

12. On race day, the decision to sit back and taking it easy in the 1st half paid off. Though I did sometime went over my head and went a bit too fast. Holding back requires as much focus as going fast. Stopping to save time is a bit counter intuitive though I considered it as an investment as the time used to take care of things proved to be a good decision. I didn't specifically train on hills so I felt it was necessary to deliberately slow down, walk or even stop to save my legs. I know I was doing it right when people passed me on the uphills.

13. 3 weeks before the race, I did a long simulation run with a 2 x 10km at marathon pace. I fell apart after 26km. I was worried that this was a sign I couldn't sustain the pace. But, come race day, I trusted my training and stuck to the pace I had trained for despite that particular "failure". I realized in hindsight that it was actually a good run considering I didn't have gels and was running in the heat. As Sebastian Kienle 2014 IM World Champ said "Never judge your life because of one bad day. Judge it because of the best day"*. That quote rang true to me.

14. I know some people can sub 4 the marathon in their sleep. But to me, it was a challenge therefore I really felt a sense of achievement. The last time I felt like this was after 2016 IM Langkawi. For this race, I poured all my effort (about 4+ months) and was at the border of my limits (the cramps was a sure sign). Last year I did KOKK a week before SCKLM and it disrupted my prepration. This year, I took the preparation and execution for this race seriously.

15. I don't race a lot because training/preparing for a race deliver a much more profound sense of accomplishement. While doing triathlon, I felt like most times I needeed to race to identify myself as being a triathlete. But after the IM, I knew that being an athlete was more than just the IM race itself. It's a long term, resource consuming effort that goes beyond what I initially perceived. Having experienced that, I've ruled out a lot of things/noise and left with the things I knew I wanted out of sports that brings the greatest satisfaction.

16. Through obervation, runners wearing some sort of finisher T at REPC and peole doing funny things (cheat/course cutting) just to get their hands on the medals/finishers T, just goes to show that, marathon/ironman/endurance sports in general is more than just a sport, it's a way for people to express their identity. It's a bit of a generalization but that's the way I see it (big sample size in SCKLM). I'm no different.

17. As for the course cutters, I think it is down to ignorance + indifference as to what running a marathon really means. The aftermath and reaction to the viral posts showed that it is personal to many (including me). Also a reminder to myself, taking social media at face value is also something that we need to be wary about. There are more behind these posts with smiles, medals etc.

19. The mundane aspect of training, juggling life + work, the lows (and chafing haha) is almost never shown. But it's not specific to running only. It's social media culture to show ourselves in the best light possible. These posts are a subtle way to show we are the best or at least belong in a certain group. Likes and comments only reinforces this idea. It's a convenient way to feel good about ourselves. Newer runners are probably "pressured" to "fit in" and/or as a socmed content to fish for likes, especially if they've announced they're running a marathon. We're all gulity of this to a certain degree. My 2 cents.

20. Whatever it is, running doesn't mean it should always be about hard work etc. Running itself is fun racing or not. There are bucket list races that I just want to finish and enjoy (mostly ultras) and trails/mountains I want to explore. On the other hand, the competition aspect of running, pushing yourself etc. can only come in races. Improvement is fun too. Besides, I just don't physically possess the ability to recover fast enough to race a lot. It also saves me loads of money.

Race Notes

21. Race itenerary kind of went like this:

Saturday
03:00 PM: Race kit collection
04:00 PM: Playground KLCC with the kids
06:00 PM: Dinner at Ben's and stocking supplies from Cold Storage
07:00 PM: Park at KL Sentral
09:00 PM: Snacking on pizza and sushi
10:00 PM: Sleep

Sunday
03:00 AM: Woke up/shower/breakfast/poop/warm up
04:00 AM: Race
07:55 AM: Finish race/pictures/stretch/eat/rehydrate/back to hotel
10:00 AM: Check out and brunch at Nu Sentral
12:00 PM: Home and sleep

22. The race:

Registration: RM90(medal, event sleveless t and finisher t, post food, 2 gels on course, bananas)
Accomodation: RM160 (Adya hotel, family room)
Traveling cost: Parking (RM 72, DO NOT PARK OVERNIGHT AT KL SENTRAL, should've parked at Nu Sentral), LRT from KL Sentral to MAsjid Jamek: RM1.20 (Bring T&G or buy tickets in advance - long que after race)
Waiting for toilet: No issue
Sorting out drop bag: No issue

23. Race Detail:

3:53:47 (Nett)
43km
~820m D+ (strava)
293/8155 overall

Result check:
https://register.kl-marathon.com/2018/scklm18/reg_scklm18/result_check

Some cool stats:
http://www.runpix.co/arace11/57/kul18/rp.php

Final Note

24. In short, I love planning, training and executing a race and this year everything clicked. There were times I doubted my self but I had faith in my training. There's some element of honesty about racing. We can say whatever we want, but in the end there's nowhere to hide if the work was not put in. I've experienced both end of the racing spectrum and it made me love the sport even more.

25. Anyway, road racing season is over. I am 1/2 in terms of 2018 goals. Time to accumulate some vert and have fun in the trails. Next race, Penang Eco 100k. A new cycle begins.

*Originally from: http://ap.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2014/10/kona-week/kienle-kona.aspx#ixzz5CG7kkjLm, 
2018

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Case For Triathlon

Image result for ironman langkawi 2018



1. The Ironman Langkawi 2018 will be held on 14 November 2018. I've done it in 2016 and it was one of the best times I've ever had. After the race, I tried to rationalize  my obsession with the race. In the end, I couldn't. The cost factor and the time it takes to train for the race was a strong case against doing an Ironman. But if I had the resources to do an Ironman, would I do it? What made me do it in the first place?

2. Since 2016, Ironman Langkawi has evolved. The 2017 edition saw the 70.3 + full distance held together. And in 2018, interested participants can pay the entrance fee in 3 months installments. And there was also a limited 24 hour flash sale where you get  further discounts prior to the normal early bird rates.

3. It's quite capitalistic (if not already) if you ask me. Nothing wrong with that. People can do whatever with their money and businesses can smell money making opportunities. In the Ironman case, the organizers truly capitalize the irrational choice theory here.

4.  They know triathletes are the obsessive/determined/irrational kind. You then market the Ironman to suit the narrative/image of a triathlete: disciplined, full of sacrifice and ultimately finishing the Ironman to encapsulate all of that. Put in some marketing gimmicks and motivational slogans and the seed is planted. Marketing 101.

5. The slogans I must say is quite powerful: "you will do this", "swim 2.4, bike 180, run 42.2 brag for the rest of your life", "anything is possible". I bought into it. That was the whole point. The need to do the ironman was to identify myself as a triathlete and as a person (to me at least). Damn, I know it's quite vain, but still.  I do somewhat feel complete and contend after doing one so it validates that I was just in it for the title.

6. I bought into the whole Ironman thing probably because I found Ironman before I found triathlon. I swim and bike because I wanted to do an Ironman. Running and all the marketing gimmicks fits the reflection I had of myself at the time. And that provided fertile ground for the Ironman seed to be planted.

7. Back to the question at hand. Am I going to do an Ironman if I had the resources?. The answer is yes. Even though the rational side of me strongly opposed to the idea, the sport of triathlon (including Ironman) has given me a lot. It's a sport with plenty of memorable highlights. Here are probably my top 10 highlights of a triathlon:
  • Bike racking - you rolled in your bike like thousands other triathletes with butterflies in your stomach. Racked your bike and hope it'll be in the same condition as you left it.
  • 1 minute before swim start - at the beach / or pontoon knowing that it's going to be a long day full of uncertainties. Love that pre-race feeling. And more butterflies.
  • First 5 minute of swim start - things get real and you realize you're actually doing it. I sometime smile and feel grateful to have the chance to be doing what most children love. To play in the ocean.
  • T1 - when you sighted land. Heart racing and you just can't wait to get out of the water.
  • Drafting - the joy of maintaining a faster speed and riding with fellow competitors. Taking turns pulling and cracking jokes.
  • Nutrition on the go - Felt like a true triathlete drinking and eating while on a bike. Not to mention the joy of grabbing a water bottle on the go.
  • T2 - like in T1, the joy of finally to be in a straight up position and seeing some supporters/friends/family.
  • Running in pain - some enjoy it I think. I do.
  • Dousing water - On a hot day, it's heaven. Especially iced water.
  • Music / MC at Finish - The finish is usually about taking care of business cause you enter normality again. I actually have that relieved feeling when I hear music or the MC like < 100 meters to the finish.

8. As I now turn my focus to running, the quote below hit me hard:

“The longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind--a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.”


― Scott JurekEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness


9. In the end, running or triathlon, it's about how it makes you feel. Running couldn't make me feel the way triathlon makes me feel, vice versa. I probably had my best memories  more at Pd triathlon than Ironman, but Ironman opened the ultrarunning door and that to me is priceless. Only in triathlon racing can I reach that state of mind. Because It's rare that you practice/train all three discipline in one go. I would love to be in that state of mind again.





Thursday, February 08, 2018

2017


I usually have this post to start the (blogging) year. It's February, so I think it's still in that "early 2018" range. This review is skewed towards sports stuff since that's mainly why I kept this blog alive. But I think, I'll put some 2017 "reflection" and all those emotions/feeling/thoughts crap as well later to be consistent with previous years.

Anyway,

1) I love interpreting datas as a way to improve. Been doing it since Ironman 2016 training. There's a lot to learn by just observing trends or simply recognizing patterns. Through this, I hope to better understand my limits and visualize what consistency and progress looks like. This blog, in a way, is part of that effort: to also collect the intangible part of training/racing.

2) It also helps with goal settings and also serve as motivation + help be more accountable. By the end of it, I get to see the whole picture and use the insights gained for improvement. Solutions are already loaded on the internet and I'm not overly concerned with them. To apply a solution the problem must be acknowledged and current situation need to be objectively gauged. Sounds good, but in reality, difficult to do.

3) In 2017 the focus was to a) break 4 hours at SCKLM and b) finish 1st 100k - TMBT 100k. For the first half (sub4 attempt), I made up my own plan based on previous Ironman training. So there was no specific workouts and I would just try complete a long run each week and hit my goal marathon pace which was minimum 5:40/km for a sub 4. Not very wise.

4) For TMBT, I just did a lot of up and down on mountains and doing ultra races building up from 50k to 70k and eventually TMBT 100k. I was reading Jack Daniels (JD) Running Formula at that time and didn't have a training plan for TMBT so I did one of the marathon plans in JDs. So there were a lot of threshold stuff but no real speed work or specific hill training since it was for road marathon. Not very sensible.

5) In between, the fasting month was a great way to recover and set up for 2H2017. After TMBT, slowly pick up the miles and just had fun running.

Goals

6) Sub 4 marathon at SCKLM: In short, failed. My race day preparation + execution let me down (nutrition). But there were lots of positives. Mainly, I didn't dread the long runs anymore and can maintain a somewhat faster pace without major breakdowns. Main take away, no shortcut and training has to be systematic.

7) TMBT 100km: Finished. That was the minimum. Positives: I know where I'm at in terms of distance and elevation gained (definitely not at that 100km and 5000+m level yet). Learned a lot about prepping for a 100km and to be honest, the training was fun. Main take away, be specific to the demand of the race.

Training

Table 1
8) Table 1: Basically I did too much vert for the marathon training (sub4). It was too long (26 weeks) but mostly it was base building. Training was not specific enough tho. I realized in hindsight that, I can’t be doing just one workout and hope that it’ll be good race day. Hope is not a good strategy.

9) What's interesting is that I averaged 10hrs/week compared to 6:39 hrs/week for marathon during TMBT training. Big difference, but most of it were because I was on trail and that took a lot of time. Time on feet is a pretty general ultramarathon training rule and going up/down mountains guarantees that. Good vert number (1,507 per week), to me at least. It was a bit short (12 weeks) but I think the marathon training did help with building fitness. It is strength that I failed to incorporate for the TMBT training. 

Chart 1: 2017 Weekly and Average Mileage

 10) Chart 1: I like how I slowly build to 80km/week (week 1 to 15) with one down week every 4th week. Decided to maintain around 60km/week for marathon training. With rest/low week. No injuries but intensity/training load was not that big. Fluctuations is not good. Anyway, 60km/week is a good benchmark for future training.

11) Lots of spikes because I went to the mountains at least twice a week (2H2017). This is something I can/should fix. There should be a phase of progressive miles/time and plateu at a considerably high level for few weeks followed by a regressive taper. I went from 100km/week to 10km/week in a month and that’s just not right, I think.

Chart 2: Cumulative Mileage and Time

12) Chart 2: Main takeaway, training for a marathon: mileage is a good indicator/goal and ultras: time.

Chart 3: Cumulative, Weekly and Average Elevation Gain

13) Chart 3: Too much vert in the 1st half. Should’ve been working on running economy doing speed workouts with easy runs. Oh, well.

14) Doing vert in 2H2017 was a great idea. But wasn’t specific enough. Especially running downhill. I thought I could get by just training going uphill. Learned the hard way at TMBT.

Chart 4: Weekly and Average Time

15) Chart 4: Again spikes. No regressive taper. No weekly consistency.

Worthy positivies

16) Can't be all bad. I mean I did put in some effort into it. Here's what's good:

  • Got no. 3 at KOKK 50k. Felt like crap especially towards the end. But nice to grind it out;
  • 5th at TMMT 70k. Pacing went perfectly well. After finishing like crap at CULTRA decided to start at the back and take things one aid station at a time. Consciously decided to run the last 20km and ended up placing 5th;
  • Prepping for a 100k. Developed a pace chart which I think can only be applied up to around 60-70k, 2000+m race. For the 100k, 5000+m races, need  more data/experience; and
  • Long runs. Man, do I enjoy going out doing time on feet in the mountains, despite hikers giving me the look when I try to pass them. Meanwhile, on the road, I can just insert some fast workouts during the long run so it ends a bit earlier. This way I can get to tesco or whatever domestic responsibility I have to attend to. 

Summary

17) What's my barometer for success? placing? finishing? time? having fun? participating? getting some contents on social media? (i can't be posting my children's pics all the time ..haha). There's more to that and others which I want to extract from 2017 before I forget them (incl. 2018 plans, and ultra culture) but this post is too long already.

Till then,