In my PNM (Half Marathon) race report, I wrote that I was, for once, smart enough NOT to have registered for the marathon distance. Now that I’ve ran the same tough course the second time in two weeks, I guess I’m not that smart after all! However, having done PNM and coming so close to hitting 2 hours despite not starting out with a racing mindset, CAPAM presented an opportunity to right the “wrong”. This time around, I was better prepared. 2 gels and the iPod Shuffle were added to my gear and after some slight rubbing experienced on the little toe, I opted for a pair of thinner asics socks along with the Boston Boost. Finally I adjusted the Virtual Pacer on the Garmin 620 to 5:20.
CAPAM was such a low-key event that having failed to pull in the crowds in an already congested running calendar, the organizers reopened the entry. That was when I signed up along with Nick. We often get ourselves in such situations – you go, I go kind of thing. Except for next year’s Nuang Ultra where he’s on his own! Out of the 5,000 expected entries, the event saw only around 2,000 runners across all categories and distances, which ranged from 22K, 10K and 5K. There were no porta-potties at the start (runners were to use the limited public toilets opened at that time) and along the route. With 25 minutes to the start, the car park was still sparsely filled. By the time we entered the corral, we saw that harboring all hopes of sneaking a 10th position (RM200 purse) would be stupid because there were at least 20 Africans amongst the bunch of runners. I won’t go into the controversy involving phantom runners and cheats among this group of runners but from recent investigations by other runners, something definitely smells fishy.
Due to the small number of participants in the 22K category, Nick and I found ourselves only 5 rows from the start line. The gun went off sharp 6:30am and by the first left, we were already running at 5-min pace. That would be normal for race starts and pace correction will set in quickly enough. However we found it hard to keep the pace down. Through constant monitoring, we managed to keep things manageable. The first walk break came at the 12K mark. This was where runners encounter the short but sharp incline section just after the Precinct 20 cemetary. I’d taken my first gel at 8K so it was more of self-preservation rather than hitting the wall that I chose to walk up. The Putrajaya route is a tricky one and one simply has to run (or walk) smart.
Until that point, the going had been slightly easier than what I went through during PNM last weekend. The morning weather was cooler, there were more visual distractions, I had music pumped into my ears and gels pumped into my system! On the other hand, the visual cues also made me more impatient as I found myself questioning how far it was to the next landmark! Ironically, the visual sensory deprivation associated with night racing that PNM was made focusing easier.
The second power-walking episode happened at the sharp climb up to PICC (14K @ 6:06) but I quickly cut back on the deficit with 5:10 and 5:09 splits over the next 2Ks. It was still too early into the race to be surging, so I quickly pulled back to a more manageable pace thereafter. I constantly kept Nick, who was about 50-80 meters ahead, in my radar just so that I don’t fall back too far. I popped my 2nd gel at the 16K aid station. Just before the 18K mark, hordes of runners from the 5K category merged into the route and we had to execute a few dodging maneuvers.
The pace over the next 2K was like a roller coaster as I was tiring. A peep at the watch revealed the sub-2 goal to be in danger. It was already 1:41 at the 19K mark and this course exceeded 22K. I would have to run low 5s the rest of the way to be able to nail it. The final bridge proved to be a minor irritant which slowed me down to a 5:35. That must have got me into a panic mode because I didn’t realize I ran the remaining distance at 5:16, 5:04 and 4:33! My mouth was as large as a feeding whale shark’s as I gasped for air like crazy. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The finishing photos also confirmed my suspicion that I’ve to correct my hip weakness if I’m to run more efficiently. Right now, I’m just not pushing off strongly enough. Too much wasted energy.
Anyways, I did get that sub-2 with a 1:57.57 for the 22.3K course. The 21K split was 1:52 which wasn’t a personal best – the most recent being 1:50 in Gold Coast 2 years ago – but it was certainly my best in dreaded Putrajaya. Until the official timing is published, I don’t know where I placed. It doesn’t matter much as there was just too many controversies surrounding this event. I got the timing I wanted, averaged 5:19 against my goal pace of 5:20 and was able to dedicate another race to a friend. That’s all that matters. #FTT!
Aside: Tey, you asked about my max HR recorded during the race. It was 191!