GCM18: Week 4

Despite the low weekly mileage, the plan still managed to have a “pull-back” week which saw us dropping back down to 33K. Ironically, this was the hardest week yet for me. Stress at work ensured that I only had a good night’s sleep last week. There were plenty of tossing and turning and the downstream effect was tiredness and the occasional lightheadedness (which could also be due to an inner ear issue).

Again, there’s nothing to report on the running. I’ve kept to the pace and distance discipline. Sore quads and glutes from the strength exercises ensured that I stuck to the plan. So all’s good.

Week 5, let’s get going already!

*I ran exclusively in the Lunar Tempo the entire week.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 3

The week saw the highest mileage logged so far – a massive 37K😂 . After 3 weeks, I’ve managed to stay on track with the Hansons Plan. There’s an extra incentive to get it done, when you purchased your training plan, you see. Granted, it’s still honeymoon phase so there’s been no intensity, and no structure other than easy running and cross-training.

Nevertheless, I make it a point to celebrate every completed week because things are so stressful at work. It’s therefore necessary to my psyche to just take one week at a time.

Other than several days of stomach issues, there were some signs that the fitness level is on the uptick. Nothing extraordinary to report actually. I continued working on hip mobility, massage, rolling and also with resistance bands. Runners often look at the elites’ running form and nice running locales without realizing the many hours put into “behind-the-scenes” that make them run the way they do. These unglamorous work are not Insta worthy I guess, but if I can scrounge another 45 minutes each week, I’d spend them on prehab than logging extra miles. I’m at an age where benefits and improvements are going to be reaped from time spent on the floor and mat.

Here’s to Week 4!

*Photo shows the shoes I ran in this week – the unsung Zoom Span and cushy but flawed Clayton 2. I’ve logged over 200K in both pairs.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 2

The week’s mileage is slowly nudging up but still very very low. After mixing in some quicker paced runs last week, on account of very low mileage, I’ve returned to keeping to the pace discipline per the program. There were lots more “in-the-zone” running for sure. The iPod (yes, the one which refused to die on me despite the cracked screen) and the Jabra Sport Pulse continued to keep me occupied. Other than the Sport Rox, I’m not particularly a fan of the Pulse, what with the latter proving quite an uncomfortable and even painful fit on my right ear. As such, I’ve ordered the ultralight JBL Reflect Mini. Again. The first one kaput on me after a year’s service and although I have trepidation, the RM230 price tag is more palatable than the RM560 Jaybird X3. Now, if the JBL quits on me again, I’ll have an excuse to get the X3. But until then…

Back to the training part.

Analyzing the past week’s data, I’ve noticed that there’s been an improvement to my running economy, form-wise. Going through the Garmin metrics, the footpod has shown an increase in stride length, lower ground contact time (GCT) and a very balanced distribution of left/right GCT percentages. I’m totally sold on the targeted mobility workouts as mentioned by Jay Dicharry in his Running Rewired book so much so that I’ve stopped doing those static core routines.

You’ll notice that I’ve added just a bit more distance to the prescribed 27K. And my rationale as follows:

  1. The 32K logged are still very low, only 5K more than prescribed.
  2. All of the miles were run at the prescribed easy pace. Just a few pick-ups within the easy miles.
  3. 32K will be a smaller jump to Week 3’s 36K.

On to Week 3!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

GCM18: Week 1

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
Van Gogh

And so it has begun! The preparation for the annual Marathon time trial happening on the Gold Coast has kicked off. If you’ve followed this blog, I’m going with the Hansons Marathon Method (HMM), having purchased the Beginner 18-week Program from Final Surge.

I ran last year’s PR using a derivation of the HMM, based on a 12-week plan. I undertook that coming off a funk, so there were very little base mileage. The resulting PR came off consistency and a dietary tweak of more greens, and less meat.

This time around, I’ve a very loose base program which started November, faltered in December and saw a rather mixed January and February. Many things conspired to test my resolve – work deliverables that constantly ran into challenges, home fix issues and a lingering case of the PF. Not to mention the loss of 2 friends and a friend’s family member.

I was in survival mode in January and February and 30K weeks were all I could manage. I wasn’t able to extend a very good first week into the second and beyond weeks of the 2-month McMillan Base Program. As I battled the daily stresses, I felt that I could still force workouts through but I wouldn’t have been pretty and downright risky. Illness, staleness, were all real dangers. The HMM is taxing enough and pushing an 8-week base training comprising of 60-70K weeks before HMM even starts would be just plainly asking for burn-out. Coach Luke Humphreys repeated that a runner would want to peak after 15-16 weeks of training, not 7. 60-70K weeks even before actual marathon training starts were just too much for me.

There were still plenty of positives during the last 3 months. I remained healthy, which is the most important thing. Through conscious choices of food, I was able to maintain a consistent 60kg, give or take 0.3kg. Not in training doesn’t mean one can simply throw healthy eating out of the window. In early February, I finally managed to put the PF away through self-administered Trigger Point Therapy.

And so, here we are early March, the first week of HMM, with the most ardous running yet to come, at least for another 4 weeks. The first 5 weeks are what I call the “bedding-in phase”. Very easy and very short runs, 2 days of cross-training and a 1 day of rest. No issues so far, with the scheduled workouts completed with little drama. I took the 2 cross-training days seriously, focusing on what Jay Dicharry said in his book, Running Rewired, “Complementary Training”.

On to Week 2 then!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Brooks Returns as Official Apparel for Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018

SCKLM2018 Pacers to be outfitted by Brooks gear while more than 38,000 runners will receive Brooks SCKLM2018 Running Tees

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 Feb 2018: Official Apparel Sponsor Brooks returns to the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 (SCKLM2018) for the event’s 10th Anniversary, providing more than 38,000 registered runners with Running Tees and outfitting SCKLM2018 Official Pacers with a complete set of running gear.

SCKLM Pacers with Tiew Cheng Tai, Managing Director, Paragon Vest (far left)), Gloria Ng and Victor Tiew

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) 2018 Pacers will be clad in highly visible bright yellow tops. Out of a total of 29 Official Pacers, 18 were on hand to receive their Pacer kits at a handover ceremony at the flagship Brooks outlet at MyTown in Cheras.

Pacers received their exclusively designed Brooks singlets with Equilibrium Technology, along with a pair of running shorts and shoes. There will be 23 Pacers assisting runners in the Full Marathon category and for the first time, there will also be another 6 Pacers for the Half Marathon category.

Pacing is a crucial element if you want to complete a marathon in your expected time and Pacers play an important role in helping to ensure runners keep to the required pace. New runners especially, find it difficult keeping pace due to inexperience and fatigue, and this is where expert Pacers can provide the right encouragement and motivation to get runners back on track to finish the race in the required time.

“We have been fortunate that our Pacers are usually returning ones,” said Gloria Ng, Director of Dirigo Events, the owner and organiser of the race. “They are all exemplary runners who have a great attitude to running and sacrifice their own race to assist others in reaching their timing goals. We started our Pacing programme for SCKLM2010 and we have 

Pacers who have been with us since then, so we are very grateful for their continued support” she added.

Malcalm Chew and Kelvin Ng are two such runners who have been Pacers for SCKLM since 2010. “From the first time I became a Pacer for SCKLM, I received encouraging feedback from my friends and social media followers. SCKLM was also one of the better organised running events and kept getting bigger and better so it has been an easy decision to come back every year, except for 2014 when I decided to be a runner instead,” said Malcalm.

Kelvin on the other hand, has never missed SCKLM since its inception, and is now part of an exclusive group of runners called the SCKLM Juggernauts, those who’ve participated in every SCKLM since 2009. SCKLM’s 10th Anniversary this year has special significance for him as it will also be his 10th. “I have been running for a while now and feel that I have gained a fair amount of knowledge and experience over the years and I’ve always wanted to share and make my own contribution to the development of running in Malaysia. That’s why I’ve been coming back to SCKLM as a Pacer every year,” said Kelvin.

First-time Half Marathon pacer Munitaran Sundram decided to take the plunge after being a serious competitive runner for more than three decades. “I have a strong passion for new adventures and feel that the time is right to embark on a new one. I want to do my part in giving back to the running community and being a Pacer at SCKLM is a great way to motivate and encourage runners to achieve their personal running goals,” said Munintaran.

“This is a special year for SCKLM as it celebrates its 10th Anniversary so we’re very happy to partner yet again with the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, the premier running event in the country,” said Victor Tiew, Brand Manager, Paragon Vest (Brooks). “We are committed to providing the best possible running experience for SCKLM participants through our innovative apparel and running shoes like the Adrenaline GTS 18 and the new Levitate range with its energised cushioning, quick transitions and intuitive fit. We wish all SCKLM Pacers and participants the best of luck on Race Day,” he added.

For more information and updates on SCKLM, please visit:

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/SCKLmarathon
Twitter : www.twitter.com/SCKLmarathon


Suthan Narayanan | 03.7887.4717 | suthan@dirigo.com.my


For more information on Standard Chartered KL Marathon:


Gloria Ng | 603.7887.4717 | 2015@kl-marathon.com

For more information on Brooks Malaysia, please visit:

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/brooksrunningMY/
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/brooksrunningmy/
Website : http://www.brooksrunning.com.my/

### End ###

About the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018
Back for the 10th year, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon takes place on Sunday, 8 April 2018. The marathon, owned and organised by Dirigo Events, will see participation from close to 36,000 runners, ranging from elite athletes to first-time distance runners. A truly international event, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon boasts participants from all over Malaysia and over 70 countries. The Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 remains Malaysia’s premier running event with top runners competing for a total of USD 125,000 in prize money.

For more information on the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, please log onto:  http://www.kl-marathon.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/SCKLmarathon.

About Dirigo Events
The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is owned by Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd, an award-winning event management company founded in 2011 by Rainer Biemans and Gloria Ng. The event not only draws a large number of Malaysian runners, but attracts runners from more than 70 countries around the world. Rainer Biemans and Gloria Ng have a combined experience of over 48 years in executing and creating world-class and impactful events for international clients around the world such as Europe, Brunei, India and Singapore.

Apart from owning the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Dirigo also organises the Bursa Bull Charge and provides operational services for other mass participation events.

For more information on Dirigo Events, please contact +603 7887 1717 or email dirigo@dirigo.com.my

About Brooks Malaysia
Brooks’ purpose is to inspire everyone to run and be active by creating innovative gear designed to keep runners running longer, farther and faster. This purpose is supported by Brooks’ Run Happy philosophy, a quest to celebrate and champion the sport of running and all runners everywhere. At Brooks Malaysia, we provide a range of in-store services to advise runners and recommend the best running gear to suit their individual running experience. Brooks stores in Malaysia are located in The Curve, Sunway Pyramid, Great Eastern Mall, IOI Putrajaya City Mall, 3 Two Square and My Town in the Klang Valley, and Queensbay Mall Penang and Batu Pahat Mall Johor.

About Paragon Vest
Paragon Vest is a distributor for a range of international sports brands, including Brooks, Kronos, Atlanta, Aetrex, Bodyglide and Polygel, for the Malaysian and Singaporean markets. For 25 years, the company has strived to provide the best possible products and services to fulfil the needs of the sports industry in Malaysia and Singapore.

Fila Flow K4

Can’t Afford Them Nikes
The 2005 Pegasus was my shoe of choice but at RM340, I found myself priced out. My secondary choice was the 2004 model which was a very well received version, soft and cushy albeit a little tadpole like in the looks department but the RM202 offer was no longer available.

How Now Brown Cow?
My choices then were narrowed down to a handful of NB models but I was apprehensive of their durability in the heel strike area. The new models seem to be poor in that area despite the Ndurance carbon rubber material used. Mizunos on the other hand are workhorses in nature. You can literally run them to the ground but they’re just overpriced.

An Obscure Brand?
While not a household name for running shoes – their expertise being in tennis – Fila have been producing excellent racers and performance trainers for some years. At the elite end, many top Kenyans are in their stable while locally, this brand is well received by the triathletes. Azwar himself loves the K4 Racer. I found myself in a Fila shop for the 4th time recently in Penang and was glad that their sale was still on. I had trouble finding my size for the Flow K4 performance trainer in KL. The Isetan salesgirl told me several weeks back that this model is currently being phased out (probably for the arrival of the K6) and the popular size 9 and my usual 9.5 are no longer available. But they’re available plenty here in Penang. Although the running websites tend to feature the grey/black version, I chose the red/white one as they don’t look as dull. 1st try of 9.5 is too small, which show that the Fila fit and last was snugger. Size 10 was perfect.

Visual Rundown

The extensive use of mesh is just great and the removable sockliners are also vented. The shoe is slip lasted with 2 large vents in the middle of the last to allow the warm air to escape. Also a moisture draining feature I think especially useful for triathletes who may choose this model as their footwear of choice.

One Cool Shoe

The Flow technology apparently focuses on keeping the feet dry and cool by channeling air into the midsole through strategically positioned vents and air channels in the midsole. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw where these vents are. Beside the ones in the last, there are 4 small holes on the lower medial and lateral sides of the shoe. You can see them clearly in the middle photo of the 2nd column. The toeboxes are vented further with 4 holes placed vertically.

Bright Too

Large reflective strips are placed at the front as well as the heel counter area. Nice.

Support Features

For a 10.5oz shoe, this model certainly pack plenty of support features. The decoupled heel works together with the small medial post to slow down the rate of pronation. This is useful support feature in the later stages of a long run/race. Meanwhile a transparent midfoot shank provides rigidity much like asics’ Trusstic System and NB’s Stability Web.


As mentioned earlier, the 9 was just too snug for me but the 10 was perfect. They’re snug around the midfoot and you can even feel the arch support (some may not like this) but offers plenty of breathing space on the forefoot with a nice toebox, essential to accommodate the swelling of the feet in the course of a distance race.

The Ride

The feel of the shoe was really really smooth – smoother than the Pegs and Maverick. The fluid heel to toe transition just has to be experienced. The ride is responsive and I felt that the 3Action rear cushioning is even better than the Precision. The 3Action material is supposed to provide a blend of stability, cushioning and responsiveness. The forefoot outsole is made of dimpled blown rubber with plenty of flex grooves for flexibility while the heel wear areas are made of EverGrind, a proprietary rubber and metal flake compound that’s supposedly 10% lighter, cushier, flexible yet more durable. I hope it’s as lasting as Mizuno’s X10 material.

First Run

The medial posting was hardly noticeable, being very small but I think towards the later part of the race, the support will be felt more substantially. The smooth and responsive ride was there too. Whether or not this shoe will be in my Singapore Marathon packing list remains to be seen. I’ll need to test them out over a series of longer and slower runs. I find that I perform as well in responsive shoes these days so I’m optimistic that this pair, bought at RM203 after a 40% discount, will be suitable for me.

First Race

I’ll be wearing the K4 for the Putrajaya Half next week, so I’ll be acquainted more with it pretty soon!

Originally reviewed Sep 4, 2005

Base Phase: Week 1/8

Here we go again! This week saw the kick-off of the 8-week McMillan Base Program.

Distance Covered: 11.7K averaging 6:18. Average HR  135 bpm.
How It Went: Base training kicked off on New Year’s Day, along with the unveiling of the GCM18 Team Malaysia Banner. An easy run within the prescribed pace range. 

Distance Covered: 10.4K averaging 6:16. Average HR 136 bpm.
How It Went: The PF surprisingly behaved and an enjoyable run was had in the heavier Glide. Started the run at 5:15am to ensure adequate time to complete the scheduled session. Pace was pretty consistent on a cool morning and I wrapped up with a series of drills and stretching.

Distance Covered: 6K averaging 6:08. Average HR 138 bpm. Followed by drills.
How It Went: A little tired having tallied 50.4K the last 7 days. Took some minutes reviewing the scheduled base runs and decided to make the call to pare down the Wednesday runs from 1:05 to 50 minutes. 2 reasons: 1) The objective of base training is not to beat oneself out even before starting the bulk of the main training (and the HMM will be very tough!) but to prep the body and mind to accept and adapt to the rigors of marathon training. 2) These base miles are higher than even the first 4 weeks of HMM, which won’t make sense. To proceed with such high weeks and then come down to 20-30K weeks the first 4 weeks of HMM could risk a bit of a deconditioning on top of having to rebuild after 60K weeks. 3) The HMM will demand a lot on the body and legs where all components are equally important. I don’t want to risk burning out even before the start of the HMM or tiring even before Week 8 of HMM. Further adjustments will be made as I progress into Week 2.

Distance Covered: 10.5K averaging 6:13. Average HR 139 bpm.

How It Went: Stuck with the Zoom Span this morning. Need to wear this pair out before breaking in its replacement, the Noosa FF (a smidge lighter at 9.5oz). I’ve resolved not to pull another new pair of shoes unless I’ve retired the current ones, which is a tough thing to do. I so want to start putting miles into the Lunaracer 3 and the Noosa! Anyways, this morning’s run was enjoyable except for a close brush with an idiotic driver who nearly drove his MPV into me as he swerved too close into a corner. When I caught him later along another road, I shouted at him and he stopped about 40m, with me fully ready for a confrontation. He didn’t get off the vehicle, though. My legs felt fine, with the PF almost not making its annoying presence felt at all. The mild flu which I’ve struggled the last few days appear to have blown over as well. Immediate post race fuel was protein and I’ve a bit of time to stretch the hips and psoas as well. Tomorrow, I shall claim my much needed rest day!

Fri Rest!

Distance Covered: 11.3K averaging 6:20, 137 bpm.
How It Went:
Yesterday’s scheduled rest day was key to how good I felt this morning. It was cool but humid. Nevertheless running a new route proved refreshing enough. Ideal pace for the Zoom Span again. Here’s to tomorrow’s 1:35 run!

Sun: 1:35 Long Run between 6:05 to 6:54.
Distance Covered: 15.4K averaging 6:11. 2K pickup @ 5:00 pace. Average HR 139 bpm.
How It Went: Easy pace was easy enough but the hip wasn’t as engaged as I’d like to. When the pace was upped, only did the body come alive. An average session but no less important one. 

Week Summary: Like the coach said, “Time on your feet is more important than pace in a long, steady run. Run easy and run long.” Can’t complain with 66.2K on first week of base. Not too bad. Body’s getting the conditioning it needs and the mind stays fresh with the slow running. With the exception of 1 day, I’ve managed to get in an average of 6.5 to 7 hours daily.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.


What’s Next After Macao?

I’ve moved on after the recent Macao DNF. I’ve been back to running with greater frequency and consistency is slowly but surely getting re-established. Going through the Garmin and Buckeyeoutdoor logs, I discovered that despite this period of reduced running, I’ve been averaging more miles than the same period last year. Perhaps I’ve been a little harsh on myself.

With things slowly restored to business-as-usual, I’m just letting the consistency takes it shape over the next couple of weeks. Between now and the new year, 40K weeks shouldn’t be that hard to move up to. That will segue nicely into the 50K weeks accorded by the 8-week McMillan Base Plan. The Base Plan will have plenty of easy running, building on consistency and time-on-feet. I’ll be following the plan honestly.

Once the 8 weeks are done, it’ll be time for the actual training to begin and for that, I’ve subscribed to the 16-week Hansons Program. I’ve opted for the Beginner Plan which will peak at 91K with the longest runs at 26K. Due to the unique concept of the Hansons, the plan will only work if the runner follows the prescribed workouts to the tee. The first 2 weeks consist of low mileage work and will double up as cutback weeks following Base Phase.

Hansons Coach Luke Humphrey repeatedly says, “Don’t make it harder than it already is.“ He’s not kidding. The workouts will tax the body and mind to take on the stress of consistent weekly mileage, stressing the legs to simulate cumulative fatigue. Easy days must be kept easy. Long runs must be run at prescribed pace. Midweek SOS workouts must include warm up and downs. And I’ll have to get enough sleep as recovery.

Gear-wise, everything is good to go. Most of my running thus far has been in heavier, bulkier and protective shoes. That’s the Zoom Span, Glide Boost (mothballed 2 years ago in new condition but now recalled to active duty), and the 2 Hokas – the Clayton 2 and Clifton 4. With the exception of the Span and Clayton, the rest are over 10 ounces in heft. The odd one in the collection is the NB Vazee Pace 2 Protect. The weather resistant upper will ensure that rainy days aren’t excuses to skip workouts. They’re all shoes that I don’t typically run in but I’ve to protect my legs and feet. The firmer Ride 10 will have to wait in the wings.

For faster running, the ones you see below are my trusted ones, each capable of covering distances between 5K to the marathon. Even my GCM18 race shoes (not shown here) are good to go.

On the injury front, the PF is finally, FINALLY (!), brought under control. It has taken a lot of effort on my part, from 4 times a day trigger point massages, stretching and mobility exercises. More than anything, I’m hoping that the issue will be fully resolved by end February, and I stay healthy all the way through July.

So as 2017 comes to a close, here’s wishing you the best in next year’s training and racing!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

2017 Galaxy Entertainment Macao International Marathon Experience

Observant readers will note that I didn’t classify this post as a “Race Report”. That’s because it wasn’t a race. IMHO, an event is only a race if the participant has put training hours, effort, and planning into executing it. Otherwise it’s just a run, an outing or experience. And that was the state of my fitness when I toed the start line of the MGEIM last Sunday.

It all started with my plan to insert a year-end race so that I keep my training going. But it became clear that picking myself up post-GCAM17 was going to be tough. I tried easing into it and when that failed, tried pushing the pace in whatever shorter distances I managed to squeeze out. Neither approach worked. A hectic 2nd half of the year at work and the ever-present PF issue added to the misery. A major work event that was supposed to have wrapped up in November was instead deferred to a December start, and that pretty much doused whatever optimism I’ve left – the hope that I can get in 2 months of decent running for a 3:55 was abandoned.

Languishing in no-man’s-land running wise, I quickly emailed the organizers to downgrade my distance to the Half. Unfortunately all slots for the Half had been filled and they were no longer accepting any requests for that distance. The Mini Marathon turned out to be only a 5K instead of 10K, so that option was immediately dismissed as well. Que sera sera!

The 6:40am flight into Macao was smooth and I even managed to nap some time into the 3 hour 45 minute flight. A short 10-minute cab ride into Taipa (all cab drivers in Macao are hell drivers, there I said it!) cost me RM34 and since it was too early to check in, I dropped my bags at the concierge and went off to get my race bib at the nearby Olympic Sport Centre Stadium where the race would start and finish, looking for late breakfast and do some photo-walking.

Very decent room. I especially like their firm mattress and supportive pillows.

It was my first time in Macao and I enjoyed the laid back old town feel. Crowded but not entirely without the old town charms. By the time I returned to the hotel, I’d got some fantastic shopping done at the Nike Factory Outlet and tens of nice photos. Simple meals cost between RM16-RM25. Drinks, unless they’re alcohol, aren’t that cheap though.

Indoor stadium block of the complex. Same spot for baggage deposit the next morning.
Lengluis at the REPC
At my pace, no amount of doping will get me to the podium hahaha!

It was dark by 6pm, but with the public track just adjacent to the stadium complex, a shakedown run was in order. This track was a godsend to me. The upkeep of the infra was excellent with a well-maintained track, superbly well-lit and there’s even a drinking fountain, lockers and a couple of vending machines. The 300m track goes around 3 tennis courts (all utilized the time I was there) and 2 football fields. All these smack in the middle of high-rise flats. My routine was a mixed one, easy jogs, strides and stretching. There were even several elites from Japan, South Korea, India and Africa working out. With the exception of my departure day, I ran everyday in Macao.

With no goal time, getting kitted out for Sunday morning was so easily done. No point fretting over every piece of gear – just a training run, with the GoPro coming along for the outing. Contrast that to Saturday night prep-up for the Gold Coast Marathon! The only thing I did that took more time was taping up my foot.

Putrajaya Ultra tee, Kalenji trail shorts, Saucony cap, Hoka Tracer
Brought 6 gels, consumed 4.

With Masters marathon extraordinaire, Lim who would finish in a superb 3:30-ish.

The event attracted around 12,000 runners across all categories but everything was pretty well organized in such a small area. The marathoners get the section at the head with the “halvers” corralled off in the rear. I was positioned right in the middle of the pack. Weather was comfortably cool, no shivering at all. The start was stop and go due to the narrow exit out of the stadium but immediately after that, there were plenty of space on the roads. The stabbing pain on the PF surfaced right after the start but the discomfort eased off with each passing mile and I was able to gradually enjoy the run. Temps were at a perfect 17 Celcius and a little foggy. The 2.5K long Gov. Nobre de Carvalho Bridge was our first challenge. The bridge was strangely not lit, so we weren’t treated to a scenic view. No vain shots then! Before hitting the 300m stretch of climb that was steeper than Mayor Hill (see photo), the bridge was completely flat and we were even treated to gentle cool breeze. At my conservative 6:05 pace, the climb didn’t pose much of a problem.

Runners were taken past some landmarks such as the mega casinos, the Guan Yin statue, and the famous Ah Ma Temple (because we’ve to balance the sin of gambling with absolution, don’t we?). All very grand and glitzy but if you’re observant, you’ll see some pretty grungy shop-apartments too.

MGM Casino

The event was sparsely supported by the locals. Other than the crew at the road junctions and drink stations, most of the folks out there were senior citizens – some offered claps while most just went about their morning exercise routines. The roads were well maintained with no potholes and traffic weren’t that much of a problem either, with very few cars out.

An Ah Mah walking past the Ah Mah temple

After a couple of switchbacks, it was another bridge to tackle – the Sai Van Bridge back to Taipa.  This climb was gentler but longer, and the entire bridge was closed to us runners. By the time I got back to the vicinity of Galaxy Casino (20K mark), I had to make a call. To continue at the easy pace I was going would mean I’d outdone my own doubt of finishing within the 5-hour cut off with the PF. I reckoned that even factoring some slowing down in the late stages, finishing around 4:15 wasn’t that far-fetched. Considering my longest run was a 23K a couple of months ago, along with 30km/weeks the last 2 months devoid of running mojo, I was a happy chump.

Heading down the other side of the bridge towards Taipa. Lenglui alert!

At that point, there would be no doubt that I would be able to finish well within the cutoff time. But at what price? Would it make the PF worse, being out there so long? With base training starting January, just 3 weeks away, it was a risk I daren’t take. Another 22K would’ve meant longer time spent on my feet pounding it out. That pretty much decided it for me, to be conservative. Focus on the big goal in July 2018.

Once the decision was made, it was easy to run the 8K to the 28K mark without any pace inhibitions. So I went for it. It was just a lovely feeling to run unburdened by pace restrictions knowing that I could just go with the flow and how I felt. At 4:57 to 5:05 pace, I was still largely in control. At that pace for the marathon, it was thrilling to pass many runners. While I was in a high to entertain the thoughts of continuing right through to the 35K mark, I was also savvy enough to know that the crash will probably hit me hard at the 30K point, potentially aggravating the PF further.

So I stuck to the plan to stop at the starting point of the 2nd loop for the marathon, roughly the 28K mark. I removed my bib before walking 1.3K to the stadium to collect my bag. Along the way I couldn’t help but cast envious looks at the huge medals and towels the HM finishers sported. The faster marathoners were just coming in.

I reminded myself that that morning I made the right choice, ran smart and in the later miles, at a pace that conjures up wild imaginations despite my lack of physical fitness. Most importantly, I managed the injury risk prudently and didn’t end up worse than when I started. It was time for serious rehab work and getting stronger for 2018.

In closing, 2017 was becoming an extreme case of the highs and lows for me, running wise. I ran my best ever marathon on the Gold Coast, yet until Macao, 2 races – SCKLM and GCAM – were all that I’ve done. It would’ve been 3 but I DNFed Twincity Marathon due to stomach issues. Thank goodness I don’t have anything in the pipeline for the remainder of the year. Let’s get this year over and done with already!

Website: http://www.macaomarathon.com/en/
Entries: Opens sometime in September, capping off at 12,000 runners, across the Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K Fun Run categories.
Race Fees: 400 MOP (approx RM210) for both the Full and Half Marathon; 70 MOP for the Fun Run.
Race start: 6am for the Full and Half Marathons, 6:15am for the Fun Run.
Cutoff: 5 hours.
Entitlements: Towelette, sling bag for baggage deposit. Post-race: Finisher towel, medal.
Description: AIMS certified. Other than 2 bridges, the course is largely flat. Marathoners go on a 2nd loop within the island of Macao (covering Taipa and Cotai) after the first 28K. Course is not very scenic on the island, with the sights around the peninsula faring better, with the casinos, Guan Yin statue, Ah Ma Temple and 2 bridges. Support is sparse.
Weather: Hard to predict Spring weather. Monitor the weather constantly.
Quirks: Baggage deposit area is inaccessible from the start area even though they’re within the same stadium complex.
Challenges: Hotels are expensive in Macao. A bit of digging around is necessary and I was lucky to have found the Asia Boutique Inn located in Tapia and a short walk to the start/finish.
Good: Comparatively small event. Well-stocked drink stations that included Pocari sports drinks and sponges. Well-managed traffic. I may one day return to run the half marathon and will have my wife along as a tourist.
Bad: None that I can think of, except the late opening of entries and narrow exit out of the stadium.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Training Plans for GCM18

After running my quickest marathon at GCAM17 (race report), it’s pretty much decided that my next key marathon will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM18) in July. As with this year’s goal, I’m setting an equally aggressive target for myself. With a goal, there’s a need for a plan. On a high level, I’ll be looking at a 6-month preparatory period, broken down into 8 weeks of base before embarking on a 16-week marathon specific training.

Due to work and family commitments, I’ll be sticking to online programs. So began my research into the wide gamut offered by FinalSurge.  The website aggregates many options from well-known coaches such as Matt Fitzgerald, Hansons, Greg McMillan, and the Northern Arizona Elite, just to name a few. Missing are those from Pfitzinger, Higdon, and Daniels, all of whom sell theirs off their own websites. A great thing about the plans offered through FinalSurge (FS) is that they integrate with Garmin, so workouts sync across each platforms. On top of that, FS has their own app (iOS and Android) from which you can check your progress. Workouts are also sent into your mailbox each day, if you’re the type who needs to be reminded. Lastly, each plan comes with a preview of key weeks, so that you can figure out if they’re something you can realistically strive for. Needless to say, you’re required to enter some numbers to determine your goals and abilities before the system spits the plan out for you.

After deliberating between the many options, I’ve decided on the Level 4 McMillan 8-week Base Training Plan which costs ($34.99/RM158). You can check the contents of the plan out via the link. It appears to be the most holistic one which includes pre-hab routines. The plan is littered with time-based easy running in the first few weeks to build consistency before embarking on a more varied diet of running paces. Time-based sessions take away the pressure of chasing mileage this early, something which I really want to avoid since my ideal training is usually just 3 months. Base will start January 1st 2018 and end February 25th. I’ll then have a 9-day break before the start of the 16-week plan.

I’ve roughly 2 months to get myself into the marathon mode before January. While I don’t have any key races between now till December 31, I’ve been managing a barely-there weekly mileage, so there’s no complete absence of running.

Although it’s still early, I’m leaning towards McMillan’s 16-week Level 3 Combo Runner plan for the training as I feel that the mileage is something I can handle. McMillan’s appear to have a balanced I’d love to use Ben Rosario’s 12-week Northern Arizona Intermediate Plan but I know I won’t be able to manage the high mileage it requires from the get-go. According to the plan’s notes, the program kicks off with an 80K week!

If you’re scouting for any training programs for GCM18, it may be worth checking out the Final Surge. There are plans catering to 7/9/10-day cycles and their pricing is accessible. I’d have liked a local coaching approach but given my work and family commitments, attending weekday training sessions would be impossible. Having a training plan will keep me honest.

It’ll be great if we somehow end up with similar ones and are able to train and motivate each other for GCM18. Whichever approach you go with, commit early and you would’ve won the first of many battles!