Post-2019 Gold Coast Marathon: What Now?

It’s coming to 2 weeks after the race (GCM19 race report). I’ve not run a single step since then, staying faithful to the 2-week self-enforced rest. Sleep hasn’t been good, with frequent tossing and turning in the wee hours of the morning, the cause of which has been hard to pin down except to put it all down to the ingrained training routine. Now that the euphoria has died down, what’s next? Moving on with the next stage of the plan, of course! GCM19 was always about getting myself as close to the BQ standards as possible, or as Detective Allen Gamble put it in The Other Guys, “…establishing a beachhead…”

We’ve developed a system to establish a beachhead and aggressively hunt you and your family. And we will corner your pride, your children, your offspring…”
Allen Gamble, The Other Guys.

To put that into my personal context,

System” would be the 18-Week HMM/LHR Advanced Plan.
Beachhead” would denote a launch pad, a Forward Operating Base if you will.
Hunt” would refer to my quest to run the Boston Marathon.

I use this movie as a reference not only because I love Will Ferrell comedies, but my life is just as boring as the married Allen Gamble’s (not when he was Gator)! Like Allen, I’m a keen data guy when it comes to training analysis. That being the case and having a bit of time being off-training, I’ve completed piecing together my training plan towards racing a key marathon in the First Quarter of 2020. Having the plan down on paper, well Excel, means it’s tangible and reinforced on a daily basis.

PHASES

DATES

NO. OF WEEKS

PHASE SUMMARY

Foundation

Jul 22 – Sep 22

8

90% easy running incorporating post-run drills, 2 progression sessions and 1 10K race on Week 3 which I’ll race casually. 3 strength sessions at Dynamique will be inserted here. Weekly mileage averages out at only 59K. Objective is to rebuild aerobic fitness and consistency.

HMM/LHR 6- Week Base

Sep 23 – Nov 3

6

Weekly average is 64K, with 80% easy running. Speed-work are all short and non-interval based eg in the form of fartlek and progression only. At the end of the 6th week, I’d have gone through 14 weeks of consistent prep-work. A week’s complete rest with a massage session is planned before transitioning into the very challenging 18-week plan.

REST

HMM/LHR 18-Advanced Plan

Nov 11 – Mar 15

18

I already experienced it first-hand how hard this nut is. Plus, I’ll be running at much faster paces.

Coach Luke has cautioned against embarking on a plan that’s too long, because it’s counter-productive and increases of risk of burn-out and injuries. It’s for that reason I’m keeping the Foundation Phase very loose and easy, and inserting a week’s complete rest before the start of the main body of training. While it remains to be seen how much cushion is needed after the revision of the qualifying standards this year – read up the regulations and try out the qualifying calculator here running a just-in-time race is just too risky. A buffer of 5 minutes would be ideal to give the applicant some measure of comfort (but still no guarantees!), so you can imagine how hard it is just to make it to the start at Hopkinton. I’m hopeful and the numbers do suggest some possibility. But I’m not going to worry about that. Instead I believe that if I can execute the plan well, I’m in with more than a shout. The training paces have been updated into Final Surge and Garmin Connect. So here I go again!

 

GCM19 Base Training: End-Feb Checkpoint

So how is it going, folks? The first 2 months of the year zipped through so quickly and here we are – start of March and the beginning of GCM19 training! Expectedly, we continue to face challenges at work and it’s so important that I don’t get dragged down by the mental and physical stresses. Some days were hard and while I wish that I could just sleep in and not having to keep to a training regimen, I’m glad to have the very same program and my running goals to keep me on an even keel. I’m fitter and more disciplined for it.

Because we’re all so busy, and I get home only at 10pm on most days of the week, everything is done at a greater urgency. There’s no time to waste and over the weeks, I’ve adjusted to the expected urgency of marathon training.

Let it be known that being in marathon training mode doesn’t exempt one from other family duties. Both kids will see major exams this year and as such most of our resources (monetary and time) are set aside for them. If one doesn’t have any goals and discipline to hold oneself true to it, it would be easy to come up with excuses. We see that a lot on social media, don’t we? Goals. Set it and keep at it!

Transitioning back into marathon training has been going well for me. After a slow and gradual start in December (which I covered here), I’ve averaged 43.5 km per week for January, finishing the month with a total 217.7 km run. That’s slightly higher than the same period in 2018. Week 1 of February saw a jump to 58 km, attributable to the many public holidays during that period. Not having to make the journey back to Penang for the Chinese New Year holidays helped. 2 weeks of 50s were quite enough and over the next 3 weeks, I averaged 37 km. This allowed me to catch up on some rest and 😴 and not overrun myself before Week 1 has even started. For February I logged just 169 km. Measly but a great deal more compared to the same period last year.

2018 Jan and Feb total = 273.2 km
2019 Jan and Feb total = 386.5 km

More running, greater fitness right from the get-go. So let’s get it done!

Previous Post: Mid-Jan Checkpoint


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

GCM19 Base Training: Mid-Jan Checkpoint

It’s 2 weeks into the new year so I thought it’ll be good to provide a recap the work I’ve put in up to this point. As usual, these posts serve more as a personal record for me when I review my training progress. I’m a stickler for data and these blog postings complement those I record online such as Strava. These channels allow me to identify weaknesses and opportunities to build on. In short, they’re invaluable to me!

Here are the facts:

  1. I’ll be going with the Hansons 18-Week Advanced Plan. The plan kicks off March 4th.
  2. I’m presently in base phase, details of which are presented in the main body of this blog post.
  3. In the shoes department, I now have all I need for this marathon cycle. The Ultraboost Uncaged and Pegasus 35 will be rotated heavily these 2 months. Both shoes are very versatile and can handle 5:45/km paces quite easily. Standing by is the Zoom Fly Flyknit. With training kicking off in March, the Lunaracer 4 will have a part to play for the quicker SOS days and the Beacon for the crucial recovery days. The Pureboost ATR will continue to be my wet weather shoes, while the Vaporfly 4% my race shoes. There will be no more addition to this department as everything is good to go.
  4. My weight has been holding steadily under 60 kg with moderate eating. Once training starts, my diet will be tweaked a little to follow that of my GCM18 days.

I returned to sparing running 5 days post-Macao, raking in an astounding 11K 😂 ! The last thing I wanted was repeating the same approach post Macao 2017, when I dived into training mode a little too soon. As evidenced by the logs that I religiously keep, I just couldn’t sustain the mileage and eventually fizzled out as January progressed. I was prudent enough not to have forced through the proceedings and by the time training commenced in March, I was rested and ready to go.

So the focus this go-around is on gradual increase in mileage and enjoying the runs without the pressure and stress of pace nor distance. The road is long and the miles to run are high. There’s no point in overdoing things and I’m contented to running easy and getting back the aerobic base at this point. Supplementing that routine are the on-going core strengthening sessions, this time centering on the psoas, hips, and everything from the abs down. A few home equipment were added over the holiday season enhancing the typical humdrum floor exercises.

My Dec looked like this:

  • Dec 3 – Dec 9: 11.1K
  • Dec 10 – Dec 16: 21.4K
  • Dec 17 – Dec 23: 22.8K
  • Dec 24 – Dec 30: 38.2K

The first 2 weeks were hard. The HR hovered in the mid to high 130s even for slow runs of close to 6:50/km pace. But patience and consistency saw improvements in fitness. Numbers don’t lie and average HR eventually dropped to low 130s. Patience continues to be the watchword as it’s very easy to get carried away with the improved endurance. I was running so easily that I was able to put together a 13-day running streak from Dec 26 to Jan 7. The HR even dipped below 130 on several occasions. I called an end to it after Day 13 in order to move into the training routine where there are rest days built-in.

  • Dec 31 – Jan 6: 45.5K; longest run 12K
  • Jan 7 – Jan 13: 46.8K; longest run 15K

The week-on-week mileage is on a very gradual upward trajectory. Even so, I’ve clocked more miles between November 2018 to January 13, 2019, compared to the same period in 2017/18. It’s still very early but this augurs well for my goal of toeing the line of GCM19 with more miles logged. And without any stress!

Oh, the running streak was so fun to execute that I may just go on another streak soon! The next training update shall be end-February before the start of the 18-week training.


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

What’s Next After GCM18?

Here’s a quick update on my running. I returned to easy running 6 days post GCM18, with a 4K jog followed by a 10K the following day. Week 2 of August saw some daily commute transition pains which saw my wife and I moving from driving to taking the train. It wasn’t an easy decision even if for many out there it’s the most obvious choice. Surprisingly the new experience proved quite tiring with more standing, climbing and walking but after more than a month at it, I think we’ve adjusted.

In other words, I wasn’t on any training plan between GCM18 and the publication of this post. I just had to ensure that I keep my weight below 60kg and stick to a maintenance of fitness mode. Exercise comprised of plenty of walking, stair-climbing, mobility exercises (mostly involving resistance bands), and running 4 times a week mostly very short distances, at mixed paces. Weekends will see the low tens.

The past 5 weeks’ mileage (in KM) were 29 > 31 > 31 > 32 > 34. I did try to increase the volume to the 40s but found that to be stressful, and that isn’t something I would like my running to be. In this comfortable, no-pressure mode, I was able to keep to a 30K average the past 5 weeks. This week’s mileage should be in the same ballpark.

Tomorrow begins yet another marathon training cycle which will lead up to Macao in December. While I’ve set my 14-week Hansons plan to another aggressive goal time, I’m still undecided on how I’d like to run it. If I do stick to my aggressive goal, then I’m prepared to take it as a chance to learn, taking this as a build up to my 2019 goals. I won’t beat myself up over things and keep things stress-free.

The second option will be to race it on a less aggressive plan. You may have read that I DNF’d the 2017 edition (read the account here), so this year’s return is a bit of a chance to wrap up an unfinished business.

The final option would be to race the Half Marathon. It’s a good course and it will be a PR opportunity. I’ve a bit of time to think about it as Macao entries open only mid September. In any event, there will be something to look forward to every morning from Monday onwards!

Gold Coast Marathon 2018

Note: For the other fun activities I managed to cram into my itinerary this year, and more photos of my trip to the Gold Coast, click this link.

The alarm rang at 4:50am and in certain ways, it was as if the starter’s gun had been fired signalling the start of my long day. For the past 18 weeks (longer if I included the low volume base months), my daily routine has been practically locked in, from bedtime to the habitual chilling of my drinks in the fridge the night before, laying out of the next morning’s workout gear and logging down the post-workout data. It got so regimented that by the 2nd half of my training program, I no longer needed the 4:30am alarm. The goings-on in the hotel room were calm and quiet – the mandatory toilet visit, a light snack of banana, a Clif bar, and a small cup of black coffee before heading out for a warm up jog around the block with Francis and Nick. Nick, who had been struggling the past few days, would later break the bad news that he would not be starting. It was a tough decision and we were sure he was even more devastated to have literally come so far, to not start. But health is something one shouldn’t be risking over a pursuit as strenuous as a Marathon, and we were all truly sorry for him. If anything, it made me even more determined to run well for my fellow “Hansoner”.

Since the race precinct was just 10 minutes away by foot, Francis and I took our time is getting ourselves there. By the time we got to the main road crossing, the Half Marathoners had completely cleared the start line. At the lawn, we were spotted by some of our friends and everyone looked eager to race. I didn’t warm up any further and with the baggage checked in a short while later, and with wishes of “good luck”, it was time to head to our respective corrals.

The atmosphere crackled with energy and excitement. The event just gets better and better each year. The morning conditions were quite mild and the skies were overcast with little wind. In my opinion, it was perfect weather for racing but I was sure the locals would beg to differ. I certainly didn’t feel the reported 90 to 100% humidity! Once in the corral, I discarded my layers almost immediately. I made the mistake of standing too near to one of the loudspeakers and as a result, nearly had my eardrums shattered by Deek’s customary enthusiastic rallying speech. The Australian national anthem followed next and the 40th Gold Coast Marathon was off and running!

Within a km, Erin, the 3:40 gun time pacer, was already 250m ahead but I stuck to my pace. My goal was to stay comfortable and stay embedded between the gun and chip time pacers till 30K and, depending on how I felt, make a push from there. All I needed to focus on was to manage the fueling and hydration well and just enjoy the easy miles. To my surprise, I bumped into Yaziz around the 2.5K mark and traded some quick greetings with him and continued on my way. Even with the larger numbers this year, the crowd was manageable and didn’t pose any problems.

The number of supporters on the course quickly increased as we approached Surfers Paradise, the 5K mark (25:53). After the first few kilometres, I decided not to micromanage my pace. Afterall, a good race execution was about keeping to the average pace. There would be slight deviations here and there as a result of surges, and slowing-downs (for example at the water stations, possible toilet stops, or fatigue) but as long as the average pace equalled that of the marathon goal pace, that would be fine. The hours already invested running the tempo sessions at marathon pace should be enough. It was about trusting the plan, training and letting those work for the runner on race day. Well-trained, the “Hansoner” will be literally toeing the start line locked (to the goal pace) and loaded (with confidence). There were also visual cues providing a measure of guide of my progress – Erin’s pace flag. As long as the gap between us stayed the same, I knew I was on track – neither gaining nor losing speed.

I used the same fueling and hydration strategy as the previous year – a gel every 5K, along with regular sipping of diluted Powerade from the bottle, supplemented by 2 cups of water at each station.

As usual, the elites came charging from the opposite side of the road around the 10K mark (51:40). Crowd favourite, Yuki Kawauchi appeared to be struggling way behind the 2nd chasing pack and would finish 9th. By then, the watch’s distance reading was already off by some 30m, even though I was running much of the race on the painted blue line, and even some tangents. Nevertheless, that didn’t cause much consternation to me as my average pace was still solidly pegged at 5:10. As we ate up the miles, the level of confidence in me rose as well.

Other than a few visual distractions like the elites and the beautiful beaches to our left, I was in my usual focused self. I did struggle with the road camber along Hedges Avenue dubbed Gold Coast’s Millionaires’ Row. The Nike Vaporfly 4% isn’t the most stable shoes around and do tend to exaggerate a mid to late stage pronation effect. Heading southwards towards Burleigh, I had to run as close to the middle of the road as possible to avoid exacting too much pressure and stress on my right foot due to the inward rolling of the foot. It affected my concentration a little but I tried not to let it bug me too much.

There wasn’t much I could recollect in those early miles except high-fiving Francis who was simply flying with Philip in tow. I was thrilled to see them at the Gold Coast Highway instead of Marine Parade, which meant that I was quicker this year than ever before. It wasn’t much but it was progress for me and it was an uplifting feeling to have approaching the Burleigh U-turn – the best stretch (after the final 1K of the course, of course!) for runners during the marathon. Huge and loud crowds and so easy for a runner to surge only to pay the price 5K later. I hit 15K in 1:17.24 and from 18K to Surfers, battled boredom and impatience. Part of me wanted to be at the 30K mark and get down to racing and hurting.

Staying relaxed before the halfway point. Photo courtesy of Tey ET.
Fortunately, I knew better and when I spotted Calvin just up ahead around 19K and my wayward mind was kept occupied at least for a few kilometres. He wasn’t the only one I saw. My sub 5:13 pace had over the distance brought me ever closer to Erin and I wanted to only get ahead of her after the 30K mark to ensure I hit my primary goal of sub 3:40. As bad luck would have it, she appeared to have hit some problems with her pacer flag holder and 2 runners were seen desperately helping her with the contraption by the roadside. I would learn later that she had to DNF not from the accessory malfunction but from a foot injury 😟.

With Erin sidelined, I ended up passing the 3:40 gun time pacer earlier than I’d planned but it was too late to over-analyse strategies this late into the race. I’d trained for a 5:10 MP, I’ve been churning out the very same average pace this far, weather conditions were ideal with the sun remaining hidden, and I was still good. It was time to pucker up and get on with the race. Other than the sightings of Calvin and Erin, there wasn’t much to write home about. I chugged through 20K (1:43.13), 21K (1:48.24) and 25K (2:09.02) pretty unscathed. The crowds at Surfers had built up and their vociferous support was fantastic. I dropped 5 seconds for 27K but rallied the next 3Ks to pulled back 5:12, 5:06 and 5:09 to establish pace parity.

Just after 30K (2:34.54), I spotted Calvin again and he appeared to be running very well. I decided that I’d better consume the sachet of CrampFix I’d bought at the expo and its tart taste jolted me. To avoid any potential gut issues, I avoided taking a gel here since CrampFix already contained carbs. I took in water as usual and consciously avoided looking over the other side of the road to the finish to minimise distraction. Cleared the short but steep rise (it’s actually steeper than the Sundale Bridge just a kilometre earlier) before the gentle down slope in 5:13.

I’ve to work on my stride length! Photo courtesy of Nick.

The distance from the iconic McDonald’s to the finish was just 10K. At that point, I had run a 2:45 32K and fatigue was starting to creep in. I had finally got to the racing and hurting phase! But first, I attempted to pee in my shorts but nothing came out. I continued to drink over the next few water stations to avoid slipping too much into a dehydrated state. The next 2Ks were hard as I slipped to 5:15 and 5:16 splits. I remembered being upset with myself and questioned my desire. That seemed to work as I dug in and rallied back for the second time from 35K to 38K with a couple of 5:12s and 5:11s. The toughest part of the course was over and it was just about hanging on to the end.

At this point last year, I held back and avoided pushing the pace for fear of cramping but this time around, I didn’t hold anything back. I skipped the last water station and pressed a sustained sub 5:10 pace through the final 4K. Mentally, I replayed all the hard workouts I’d completed, my motivations, the work challenges that I had to navigate throughout training. Learning to tap of this pool of thoughts was a large part of my training.

Coincidentally I found myself running next to a bloke named James and was able to leech off the raucous cheers he got. I didn’t have a personalised bib, you see, so it would be ridiculous to expect the supporters to be yelling, “Go, hashtag GCM18!”

I sprinted the final 300m and finally crossed the finish in 3:38.41, a 9-minute PR.

Intervals, Easy Runs, MPs, Long Runs, Finishing Strong With Arms In The Air – I trained them all!

Here’s to you, Nick! With fellow “Hansoner”, Calvin, who ran a by-the-book and disciplined race to finish nearly a minute ahead!

Official split times, which are obviously a little different from my watch’s.

Crossing the line felt like some weight being taken off my shoulders. It proved that I could pull it off, no matter how impossible it felt like after last year’s 3:47. It justified the months of keeping to the plan and not missing a single workout except for a more drastic cutback in mileage the final week. It made me a little emotional inside but there were no tears. Perhaps I will shed a little some months down the road. Perhaps I won’t. I high-fived Bonza and congratulated other finishers around me. My legs felt extremely fine after having finished this way. As I gathered up my post-race refreshments of fruit and water, I lingered a little longer and enjoyed the moment in the still sparse area. I kept thinking to myself as I sank my teeth into the orange slices, “The plan worked. It really worked!”

Post Race Analysis
The PR was a personal triumph on so many levels. Just 3 years ago I asked myself if 3:58 was as good as it got for me and how running 5:20 pace would be impossible given how hard training had been to even run 3:58. But I’d proven myself wrong last year and yet again this year that with a regimented program, determination, positive mindset, self discipline and consistency one’s limitations can usually be breached.

The Hansons Marathon Method has worked for me for 2 years in a row. Last year’s program was a modified one but this year, I purchased the 18-week plan from Final Surge. 18 weeks was the longest period I’ve spent training for a single event and the most miles I’ve put in. By default, it was also the hardest, although it got easier and was quite enjoyable when I approached peak fitness. All the 3 27K long runs were pretty easy even with negative splits, compared to the week day SOS sessions. To succeed at an aggressive goal, I believe one has to be a little obsessed. You answer only to the program and trust it completely – no races on weekends that will take away the long runs. The 2 tune up races were done early in the program, daily routines became regimented over the weeks and months. I obsessed with data and from the numbers, knew for a fact that my past failures were due to doing too little running, and when I did head out to run, running the miles at the wrong paces. The mind was weak and spirit broken at the slightest challenge. I had no program to speak of as well. This year, I wanted to make sure that I leave myself with no excuses should I fail to achieve my goals.

With data, I was forced to be honest with myself. The first step was to acknowledge the past mistakes and the second step to start working on the weaknesses. I extracted the past years’ records dating back to 2015 and there was no escaping the fact that my training was see-sawing between high mileage weeks and downright horrendous numbers. There was zero consistency.

Mileage tracker of the years. Click to enlarge.

It became clear that with the Hansons, there were more running, at a wider pace range, allowing adaptation to take place. The SOS sessions truly put steel into the mind and body.

I trained to run the marathon at a 5:13 pace but by the end of the training, I knew I could do 5:10. And that was that.

Not only was my 5K splits astonishingly consistent (mind you, I didn’t micro-manage my pace during the race), only 13 runners passed me over the final 5K, while I somehow dropped a mind-blowing 221! It was crazy but that happened!

In closing this already lengthy post, my gratitude goes to Francis who first planted the belief in me 2 years ago and pointing me to the right direction.
Thanks also to Tourism and Events Queensland, Events Management Queensland and HTT for the hospitality once again, for allowing me to be part of the historic 40th edition of GCM and looking out for me as always. My best runs have always been on the Gold Coast! Finally, to my family who gave me much moral support in their own quiet manner. My kids even slipped me a good luck note prior to my departure.
It will soon be time to prepare for my next race, and it will be one which I’ll be using as a test bed. I’m prepared to try new things, learn and chart my 2019 goals from there.

Gold Coast 2018

Warning: This is not the race report but a recap of this year’s visit to the amazing Gold Coast. The race is covered here 🙂

A week on and I’m still trying to get the race recap done. The mind has been in a fog ever since getting back to the daily grind. I need to get going on another running goal soon, or I’ll go mad just dealing with work issues and the 3-hour daily drive.

Considering greater volume and higher intensity, and more days spent training for this year’s Gold Coast Marathon (GCM18), I’d say training went very well, even if I spent the final 2 weeks of training in fear of falling sick. During that crucial period, I was in constant company of the unwell – from sick colleagues to living with 3 stricken family members. The Marathon Gods certainly spared me and blessed me yet again this year with a smooth 18 weeks of training.

The flight into the Gold Coast was smooth and I even got 5 hours of sleep. Arriving earlier this year, on Thursday, allowed us to take things on a more leisure pace. We also got some essential to-do’s taken care of – visit to Harbour Town and the collection of the race bibs – early before the record crowd descended on the popular holiday and marathon destination. There would be close to 400 Malaysians running GCM18 (which was an 82% increase over 2017) and very good numbers from East Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. GCM18 remains popular with Singaporeans, Malaysians and an increasing number of Indonesians.

Once Nick and I were checked into the Woodroffe Hotel in Southport, we waited for the gang who rented a nice house adjacent to David Fleay Wildlife Park to pick us up. The itinerary? Harbour Town Premium Outlets of course! Good thing, the place was just 10 minutes’ drive away. We were all super famished and the thought of sinking our teeth into the juicy burgers dished out by the folks at Grill’d was just too much. And that was what we did, along with some grocery shopping.

Next destination would be the Expo to pick up our race bibs. On the way, we just had to stop by this spot along Marine Parade to grab a few photos of the achingly beautiful sunset.

As GCM18 was the 40th running, a large part of the expo hall was dedicated to the history of the marathon. There were several great buys at the expo but the ones that caught my eyes were the Clif (12 bars for 12 bucks!) and Garmin booths (plenty of happy faces were seen leaving that particular one!).

Naturally, we had plenty of time to catch up with our friends, local and from back home. There’s something about GCM that makes it so welcoming. Yep, it was like coming home 🙂 ! It’s little wonder then that many of us make more than a single visit here.

With the burgers still sitting in our guts, we decided to skip dinner and CY was kind enough to drop us back to the hotel. Before heading up to the rooms, I managed to get some grocery shopping done at the nearby Australia Fair. Southport may be a quiet place to be putting up, but the place has its charms. I discovered several fantastic eateries, truly underrated coffee joints here and shopping for the essentials (both Coles and Woolies are located in Australia Fair) are never far away.

Day 2 would similarly be quite easy with a photo meet up with the South East Asian contingent at the Expo and Convention Centre. Before that, we had to fill up our tummies with a $10 breakfast set at 6729 Bakery just across the Convention Centre. Highly recommended and super-value sets, it’s a place worth supporting. Check out the story behind 6729 here.

Day 3 would be activity-filled! With such close proximity to the race precinct, arrangements for Saturday’s Fun Run were simple. The gang would drive to and park in the vicinity of our hotel, and we will all walk to the start together. It was a nice cool and sunny morning. After the usual banter and countless photo ops (there were no shortage of Marvel Super Heroes!), we kicked off the run positioned in Pen B.

This year’s plan to run a Personal Worst for the 5.7K didn’t materialize as Nick and I had to be ready for our 9:50am pickup for the much anticipated Scenic Helicopter Ride. So after a slow start, I gradually increased the pace from the 2nd km onwards pushing it to MP and below 5-minutes to the finish. My splits were 6:29 > 5:19 > 5:09 > 5:06 > 4:55 > 4:45 for a 30:11 finish (averaging 5:17/km). Body felt good and my mind fresh which were more than I could’ve asked for. Quickly caught up with Mal, who was one of the camera crew this year before heading back to refresh for the plans of the day,

Next up was the much anticipated helicopter ride from Sea World, which lived up to every bit as memorable although I didn’t get my Hollywood Chopper experience (think Black Hawk Down and Apocalypse Now) hahaha! I’m such a movie buff! It was my first ride and the scenery was simply breathtaking, from the views of the coastline, the waterways and suburbs and the hinterland in the distant. We could’ve been flying at around 3,000 feet but I couldn’t be sure as I was consumed by excitement! At that altitude, all the famous spots and landmarks were easily identifiable. The 15-minute ride may have sounded short but it was just nice, by my take.

Post-ride group photos with the Indonesian and Singaporean teams.

Still buzzing from the chopper ride high, the visit to Paradox Coffee was next for a cupping session. Located right in Surfers, it was just a short drive from Main Beach. The set up of the place was really impressive, down to the $800,000 Brambati roaster which could produce 15kg of beans at a time. Paradox roasts and supplies cafes throughout Australia so it goes without saying that they known their stuff.

Their beans are single origins purchased from sustainable sources. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to venture to the other topics such as espresso brewing and the such. Still, it was great to learn more about my pick-me-up beverage of choice. My routine towards to the final 3 weeks of training includes downing an espresso before my midweek SOS workouts! Paradox regularly holds such sessions for the general public, so do check out their website and make the necessary appointments, or just pop over to savour some delicious brew.

After Paradox, Nick and I parted ways with the media group. They were headed to Harbour Town for some shopping and we to meet up with Francis, who had flew in from Melbourne. Coincidentally, Francis had bumped into Hong Kong-based duo Yann Kai and Sheel earlier and thanks to modern tech, I managed to direct them to Lot 1 for lunch. It was fantastic to catch up with YK and Sheel again after my misadventures on the trails of Hong Kong some years ago. There were certainly plenty of hardcoreness at the table with this trio of sub-3 marathoners, but you wouldn’t have known it. They’re just down to earth and often funny folks who worked hard to get to where they are. For me, it was just wonderful surrounding myself with such positive and like-minded people before a key race! That must’ve worked up my appetite because I downed a scrumptious Acai Bowl and a Turkey Sandwich in that one sitting! It wasn’t easy, but I nailed that heavy lunch!

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by the arch to take some photos with some of the Team Malaysia runners. Penang was well represented, thanks to the work of our embedded Penangite-in-Coomera, Khoo. We even inducted Sheel as a temp Malaysian!

After the day’s activities and interactions, it was back to quieter stuff and getting ready for the next day. Physically, I was at the best condition I could possibly be. The important thing was to rest up, stretch, stay hydrated and think positive. I may have a pace band printed but I didn’t even bother fussing over it. The race gear’s all laid out and there was very little anxiety. Just a general sense of calmness. The physical and mental work had all been done in the earlier 18 weeks and the race day was just sticking to the plan and see how it will all unfold.

Dinner was an early affair with Nick and Francis at a nearby ramen shop. Food was excellent and to ensure that I was topped up, I supplemented the bowl of tonkatsu with gyoza just to be sure I didn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

To read how the race unfolded for me the next day, head on to my race report. This one will continue with some photo recap of the spots I managed to see this time around.

The 2 days after Sunday’s race were spent covering the activities and seeing the sights I’ve missed over the years. The planned recovery run on Monday didn’t happen as most preferred to sleep in. The runners had earned their rest and a 5:30am pickup to head to The Federation Walk for a run in the dark and cold, wasn’t that wild an idea. So while Nick and his wife headed off to check out some sights, I decided to link up with the gang. A quick lunch of Shroom Burger at Betty’s was stupendous, deserving of the hype!

We then headed to Burleigh Heads, hiked the trails of the National Park to the Tallebudgera Creek before returning to the group’s home for a feast. Richi, who went overboard with his grocery shopping, made sure the output from the oven were finger licking good while Jeanie’s pumpkin soup was comforting on a cold night.

The planned hot-air ballooning excursion didn’t quite happen though. We were picked up by the ballooning company very early in the morning and after a 50-minute drive towards foggy Canungra and Lamington, the winds still didn’t ease up. The pilots were forced to break the news to us on account of safety. No worries, I quite enjoyed the drive and fresh air and have made it a point to give this place another visit next time!
Before flying home, I still had time to explore The Spit at Main Beach, followed by Southern Queensland and totally fell in love with that area. Pat Fagan Park, Snapper Rocks, Tweeds and we even crossed over to NSW! There’s just so much to see and soak in and I’ll definitely be back to stay a few days there the next time.
Thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland, Events Management Queensland and HTT for the hospitality once again, for allowing me to be part of the historic 40th edition of GCM and looking out for me as always. With their ever ready support, and with those from the GCM Training Group, we were able to extend our assistance and experience to those looking to run their first GCM. The dates for the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon has been announced – 6th and 7th July 2019! Be on the lookout for great deals on the airfare! And if you’re based in Malaysia, be sure to come join our Facebook Page where we publish tips about everything GCM, sightseeing on the Gold Coast and more. Till the next time, keep your running going!

GCM18: Week 17 (SOS Week 12)

Monday
Menu: 11.3K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span

Tuesday
Menu: 10.1K Easy
Shoes: Clifton 4

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 5x2K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Lunar Tempo
Wrapped up the final strength session! Once I was warmed up, it was smooth going and I needn’t even monitor the watch. Reading through the feedback from the Hansons FB page, a number of runners seem to practise a longer taper period than the traditional 10 days on account that they raced better having rested more. While it’s an easy decision (going by how I feel this morning) for me to continue with the final week’s program of 8K > 8K > 10K > Rest > 8K > 5K > Race, I’m opting to tone that down a bit with 5K > 5K > 8K > Rest > 6K (optional) > 5K > Race. I want to toe the start line fresh and eager to race, and not overcooked. With the much lower mileage, I’ll be able to catch a little more sleep, and boy, as I’m typing this do I need some!

2K Average Pace – 4:57 > 5:00 > 5:00 > 5:00 > 4:49

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 15K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Zoom Elite 9
In my haste to get things started I completely forgot to take the water bottle out from the fridge. So the entire 19K was run without fluids. Just a shot of Espresso and a glass of water prior. Dehydrated, but I got the final SOS done! Time to taper and allow the body to adapt.
5:15 > 5:12 > 5:09 > 5:04 > 5:09 > 5:04 > 5:02 > 5:08 > 5:11 > 5:07 > 5:12 > 5:12 > 5:11 > 5:12 > 5:08 (Avg 5:09)

Saturday
Menu: 6K Easy
Shoes: Pureboost ATR
The 10K plan was scuppered due to rain. Managed only 6.4K before it got heavier and not wanting to risk catching a cold this close to race day, I made the decision to stop. Wore the weather ATR for the first time and they felt fine. Certainly didn’t feel the 11.4oz weight. Then had to rush to the pre-departure briefing – good to know that we’ve nearly 400 Malaysians running the Gold Coast Marathon this year! A sports massage session was next and had a good one, working out the knots which weren’t much. That’s always a great thing to hear when the masseuse tells you that. The nearly nightly routine of stretching and self massaging certainly help in the maintenance of the body.

Sunday
Menu: 13K Long Run
Shoes: Pureboost ATR
1 week to the race day! Final Sunday run with the group and everyone is looking forward to the race and holiday. Took it easy as the legs were a little sore from yesterday’s massage.

I can’t believe I completed 17 weeks of training! Not missing a single workout. The only day I had to cut the workout short was this Saturday’s, missing 3.6K. From this point on, it’s all about the mental aspect, focusing on the positives and trying not to let Life’s uncertainties throw me off tangent.

This will be the final training log post until after the race. Wish me luck!

GCM18: Week 16 (SOS Week 11)

Monday
Menu: 8.1K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span
Legs were a little stiff from the get go but quickly loosened up. 391K logged in the Span!

Tuesday
Menu: 8.3K Easy
Shoes: Clayton 2
A bit of TLC with the Clayton. 326K logged in the Clayton!

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 2x4K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Tracer
Legs felt good and it wasn’t as hard to run at this pace. While this won’t be my MP anytime soon, this does demonstrates that the training has made even running at this pace and effort level possible. This goes way beyond this year and even next year’s marathons. It will be a base from which I can build on. 5:00 pace is something I’ve to get used to running and patient, consistent building are what I need to do to bring myself to that level. That’s a few years’ work right there! 287K logged in the Tracer! This is a shoe that just wants to go fast.

5:08 > 4:55 > 4:52 > 4:48 (19:42, avg pace 4:56) > 6:49 > 4:50 > 4:54 > 4:56 > 4:53 (19:32, avg pace 4:53).

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 16K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: VF 4%
Went minimalist, no calf compression, just good old plain shorts and singlet. Pretty much nailed the workout, the second of 3 10-mile tempos. On race day, I’ll be reeling in the pace by running with the pacers, so this workout is basically just a measure of the pace I could still run – hopefully over the last 5K.
5:10 > 5:11 > 5:13 > 5:15 > 5:00 > 5:11 > 5:04 > 4:56 > 5:08 > 5:01 > 5:01 > 4:58 > 5:01 > 4:59 > 5:02 > 4:52 > 4:38 (5:03 avg).

Saturday
Menu: 13.06K Easy
Shoes: Epic React
Legs were stiff and going was tough, even though I massaged the legs last night. Yep, that’s cumulative fatigue for you! Running fast around the same neighbourhood is boring. Running slow around the same neighbourhood is worse than waiting for your turn at some government departments. So I ventured out of the area. Much much hillier (I walked those sections) but at least it helped passed the time/miles. Last week, I said I couldn’t wait until this week is over and now I’m wishing for next week to conclude!

Sunday
Menu: 16K Long Run
Shoes: Clayton 2
Started raining after the 4K mark and conditions worsened with thunder and lightning. Sought shelter twice but braved the weather to quickly headed back to the car for a total of 10K. After a nice glass of hot coffee and slices of toast, the rain had stopped and the weather was just too nice, so Nick and I decided to wrap up the balance 6K and thus saving the need to run again in the evening. It is always more beneficial to complete your workouts early in the day so that you can get your recovery in before the next day’s session.


A 79.6K week and another week to go before tapering starts!

GCM18: Week 15 (SOS Week 10, Hell Week 3)

Monday
Menu: 11.2K Easy
Shoes: Epic React

Tuesday
Menu: 10.3K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 3x3K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Tracer
A good workout to celebrate World Running Day. Minor pace drop off towards the end, but something I won’t lose sleep over. Something went wrong with the Garmin reading a 5:40 split in the 2nd set which didn’t make sense since the total time and average for that set reflected otherwise.
4:54 > 4:57 > 5:00 > Recovery > 4:59 > 4:50 > 5:40 (??) > Recovery > 4:58 > 5:01 > 5:08
14:51 (4:57 avg) > 14:53 (4:58 avg) > 15:04 (5:01 avg)

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 16K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Zoom Elite 9
As this week will be the 3rd and final Hell Week, I decided to see how the body will respond – a quick checkpoint test if you will. Instead of the 15K, I opted for 10 miles instead. It’s just an additional KM but I felt that the session would be a confidence builder going into the final 3 weeks of training. I wanted to challenge the mind and train it to respond to the difficult miles. Once again, I ran the workout replaying the GCM course and the supporters’ cheers. I want the mind to be as strong as the body on race day!

5:12 > 5:08 > 5:07 > 5:05 > 5:12 > 5:06 > 5:02 > 5:04 > 5:14 > 5:10 > 5:17 > 5:14 > 5:10 > 5:11 > 5:06 > 5:00 (5:09 avg).

Saturday
Menu: 10K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span
Keep it super slow as I was able to feel the tiredness.

Sunday
Menu: 27K Long Run
Shoes: Clayton 2
Pushed through the discomfort of stomach bloating to finish the 2nd half of the distance stronger and faster. As usual for the series of 3 27Ks, I took a gel at the mid-point. Easy way to get rid of old packs that were either expired or nearing expiration date. Averaged 5:55 pace for the total distance. Also, good to know that we’ve a handful of BQ potentials from the group!
At 93.9K, this final week would second highest mileage logged in training for GCM18. However, there would be no taper yet. That would be 10 days out from race day!

GCM18: Week 14 (SOS Week 9)

Monday
Menu:
8K Easy
Shoes: Span

Tuesday
Menu:
11K Easy
Shoes: Tracer
Disrupted sleep made worse by the futile attempt to avoid the garbage truck. After the warm up, I just call time on the strength intervals and downgraded the run to an aerobic slog. As these SOS sessions are reaching their peak in the coming 3 weeks, I’ll be switching the SOS days to avoid the garbage collection days. The narrow neighborhood roads are already tough to run fast workouts and I thought it’s pointless to add to the frustration of having to compete with the truck.

Wednesday
Menu:
2K Warm Up > 2x5K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Lunar Tempo
A vastly improved run following yesterday’s fiasco. Pretty much in control with good form. Looking forward to a nice long sleep tonight.

5:00 > 4:56 > 5:04 > 4:54 > 4:57 > Recovery > 4:58 > 5:01 > 4:56 > 5:07 > 5:04
24:50 (4:58 avg) > 25:06 (5:01 avg)

Thursday: No Running.

Friday
Menu:
2K Warm Up > 14K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Zoom Fly/Elite 9

Sort of stumbled along without minding the watch. Started picking things up after 5K. Went a little too quick from 8K but dug in for a fast finish. In a marathon, while every split counts, it’s the average pace that matters. No more tough runs until next Wednesday! The HR readings and run metrics look very consistent with last Thursday’s tempo. I suppose that’s a good thing.

5:11 > 5:11 > 5:19 > 5:13 > 5:19 > 5:08 > 5:16 > 5:04 > 5:06 > 5:07 > 5:03 > 5:07 > 5:00 > 4:56 (5:09 avg).

Saturday
Menu:
13K Easy
Shoes: Clayton 2
Easy run with Nick and CY around USJ for a change. It’s great to break away from the humdrum of the usual running route!

Sunday
Menu:
16K Long Run
Shoes: Span
Certainly took the body to wake up! In fact it took 8K for things to settle in, from the legs, body and pace. Nothing much to report for this faster-paced finish session so all’s good for this week.

84K this week! Next week will be the 3rd and final Hell Week, and the start of 15K Tempo/MP workouts leading to the closing of the 18-week program.


It’s counting down to the closing of entries. If you want to be part of the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM), hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website to register! 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.