I wasn’t planning on putting out this race report but after thinking about it for a few days, I reckon it’ll still be good to have a blog entry to document my post GCM19 activities leading up to the Spring ’20 marathon. HSN21 is one of the races I entered just to keep me engaged and motivated before marathon training begins in November. Besides, I don’t want to lose too much speed in the legs. Since this year’s event was to take place in Putrajaya, it wasn’t too hard a decision to make – the location just 15 minutes’ drive away.
One of the signs this year’s edition wasn’t going to be smooth was the choice of the race pack collection – the Proton Centre of Excellence facility in Shah Alam. As the title sponsor, Proton had the power to decide on the REPC venue, but couldn’t they have found a “friendlier” location for those who needed to rely on public transportation? And when the collection dates came up, horror stories about 3-hour queues spread like wildfire on social media. I was lucky to have chosen the home delivery option.
But wait, they were not done! The supposed 5am flag off time was moved by 22 minutes. By which time, my body had already cooled down after the 2K warm up. From the social media chatter, the root of the problem appeared to be traffic management issues!
Nothing much to write home as far as the race was concerned. Expectedly, Putrajaya was hot and humid, and the route was really challenging where most of the tough climbs were towards the last 7K. It would’ve been nice to maintain a 4:50 average pace but at this stage I clearly couldn’t hack it yet. A 48-minute 10K was a conservative effort because I knew the worse would come later. I started tiring from 15K (1:13) onwards but there was still an excruciating climb left to negotiate.
I then rallied the last 1.5K with a 4:50 split before taking the left to the finish. Totally winded but somewhat satisfied given the in-between status I’m currently in. There were plenty of late nights, with the eldest going through his major exams at the moment. The usual year-end stress at work is ramping up and on some mornings, I just couldn’t tear myself out of the bed. The body just needs the rest at this time or it wouldn’t be ready to sustain the volume and intensity when Week 1 kicks off.
While the organizers may have messed up several areas, the volunteers at the water stations and finishing area, and those who manned the road intersections all did a great job. There were many photographers as well and I think SmartPix is a pretty cool service. Although the AI still needs some work, I was able to search out some personal photos. Until the next race, the Garmin 10K!
My first experience with the increasingly popular Twincity Marathon last year didn’t end so well. In fact, my race ended just after 6K when gut issues forced me to a clump of bushes outside a construction site to jettison my “load”. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and I ended up an underwear short as I made the long trudge back to the car. Another year wiser, I saw it a great chance to kick start the year with a Half, primarily as an outlet to burn off extra energy from being on a low key maintenance plan prior to the start of GCM19 training in March. The thought appealed to the training crew as well and many of us ended up toeing the starting line that 5:30am.
If you’d followed the progress of my base training, my “diet” has been all about consistency, easy running and very gradual build-up. The Twincity race week was the 3rd week where the mileage hovered in the 40s and with a course notorious for its long climbs, I had no expectations going into it other than to run an honest pace and get the training mileage in.
Even though it was just a 10-minute drive from my home, it was still a ridiculously early bedtime (failed at that despite being in bed at 9:30pm), and an even more nutty wake up time at 3:30am. A nut bar washed down by an espresso and a glass of water were all I took before heading out of the door. As agreed, Nick, Cheong, Boh and I met at the designated petrol station at 4:15am before making our way to Cyberjaya. Surprisingly, we were lucky enough to locate a decent spot to park before changing into our gear and proceeding with our warm-up.
The morning wasn’t too humid and by the time we were in the starting pen, more and more runners were jamming into the confines. Despite the reminders by the emcee to fun runners to move to the back of the pack, there were still these folks who forced their way into the head of the pack, smartphones ever at the ready to do the Insta or FB Live thing. As for me, I was just eager to get the race started, and the running underway. That we finally did, to the pounding of traditional drums sharp 5:30am.
Instead of taking the few turns towards a crazy uphill, there were slight mods to this year’s course. The first few Ks were nice as the body and breathing started to get online. 21K was going to be my longest run since Macao, nearly 2 months ago, and even if there were no expectations, there were still whispers of self-doubt if I would eventually be reduced to a mangled wreck by the 17K mark. I had determined that I should run by feel and see where I went from there instead of being pegged to a particular goal pace.
Cyberjaya isn’t an area I’m familiar with, but it was probably at the 3rd km mark when right after a left turn, one runner (with earphones plugged in) cut into my path flashing a V at the photographer. Instinctively, I pushed him aside which was a good thing because at the pace we were going, one of us could’ve easily tripped the other. That really annoyed me but I looked straight ahead and focused on the race. He, however, turned and stared back at me a couple of times as if I was the wrongdoer. He purposefully ran ahead and obstructed me, and after the water stations, would sprint up and repeat the behavior.
When you commit to lead a race, you’d better be in control of the pace. It’s also more stressful to be in the lead and doing the hard work. Lastly, it’s better to be the hunter than the hunted. As the hunter, I was able to press the pace, and pressure him into committing to a pace he couldn’t sustain but I felt that the speed at which I was running was already good enough and sustainable to the finish. To push the pace further may backfire. In the end I chose patience and ran my own race. Eventually he stopped coming back at me.
Whenever the climbs came up, my pace would drop close to 5 whereas I’ve been keeping to the 4:40s on the flatter sections. With 5K to go and my form flagging, I felt a slight stitch on the right. I’d quit looking at the watch by then and relied solely on the accurately placed distance markers. Another push over the next 2 climbs and a long flat followed by a hard right and I found myself on the straight towards the finish. It was still about 400m to the gantry but I made it under 1:45 with nearly a minute to spare. If I was halfway through marathon training, a 1:43 wouldn’t be a far-fetched finish.
5K: 24:11; 10K: 48:34; 15K: 1:13.09; 20K: 1:37.45; Finish: 1:44.03. The official timing was 1:44.06, good for a 15th place finish in my category and 69th overall. And a PR by about 3 minutes!
All in all, an enjoyable and happy outing for me and gave me much needed motivation for March. Coming off December’s Macao Marathon, my weekly mileage started with a couple of weeks of 20s, then 30s and with Twincity, I completed my 3rd week of 40s. To come away with a 3-minute PR on a tough course, there’s nothing but positive takeaways. If you’d like to follow my Gold Coast Marathon training progress, just click on the #GCM19 hashtag.
If you’ve not signed up yet for the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon, you’re still in time to enjoy early bird fees. It’s a weekend of running on the beautiful Gold Coast and if you’re chasing for a PR or that Boston Qualifier, you’d be hard pressed to find another course that’s conducive for that in July.
I’ll be running my 9th Gold Coast Marathon this July! While the IAAF Gold Labelled marathon route is fast, flat and scenic where over 60% of runners achieve their personal best, I’ve grown to love the Gold Coast for its vibes. If you’ve not been to the Gold Coast, it will surprise you. Attractions are never more than a short drive/commute away from the city centre. From her world-famous beaches, to the tranquil hinterlands, and to the adrenaline pumping theme parks, the destination has it all. Come join me this July and register before end April to enjoy early bird fees. Details here: www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au