Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Brooks Half Marathon 2013


Second race of 2013

Elusive Bib

Firstly, I have been to Bukit Jalil before to watch my beloved Liverpool FC play,  so getting there was never a problem from Bukit Bintang.  Just hopped on the monorail to Hang Tuah and then take the LRT to the stadium from there.  The problem was in finding that elusive race pack.  We went around and nobody seemed to know where the place was.  Apparently others were in the same predicament as us.  Got a lift from Kwan, and after a couple of attempts we realised it was at the front of the stadium.  Nice way for us out of towners to warm up our legs for the run.  We had no problem getting the bib, race top and timing chip after locating the tents.

 Orange power!

Before the run...

Did what I said I wouldn't... Walked. A lot. Spent nearly the whole day out. A huge chunk of it was at KLCC.  Did tapau a beef sandwich for supper. Lessons learned from my PBIM race was to have something to eat at least two hours before my run.  So I got oatmeal bars with apricot bits in them and coated with chocolated.  I know it sounds decadent but the calories were actually around a hundred, so I ate three! Took my vitamins and glucosamine for the knees, always do the latter for any long run, since I used to have knee problems not too many years ago.  My main worry was that I was going into the run at 97kg, which was five kilograms higher than PBIM.  However my training regime had been good. Had run 14km, albeit on the dreaded treadmill, in 99:38, and this was a day after Colour Rush. That was more than enough to convince me I had it in me to complete 21km.  For the Penang run I had trained too hard.

Caught a taxi to Bukit Jalil.  Cost me 20 bucks.  The guy had been to Kuching a couple of times so we had a fun time chatting.  Was trying my hardest to drop my Sarawak Malay style of talking, but failed miserably.  Brought a change of clothing in my baggy just in case it rained.  It didn't.  Better be safe then sorry.  Also had Gatorade on standby just in case.  Wasn't running with a bottle this time as I thought could survive on the water stations alone.  The atmosphere was very relaxed.  Queues to the toilet were really long even though approximately 12,000 people participated in the event.  Of which 5,000 were running the half marathon.  Compared to Penang the whole area looked rather empty.  Yours truly started well back in the crowd.  In fact I didn't even hear the gun go off.  There would be a five minute differential in my stopwatch time.  The fact is I need a better watch then the throwaway Casio I was using.

During the run...

 Half an hour before start

What I noticed from the get-go was that many of the runners were unprepared for a long run.  A half marathon isn't something one decides to run on a whim and a prayer.  We do actually have to train for it.  Youngsters may have an advantage in doing 5km and 10km runs, but 21km is not a joke.  Saw runners with leg problems inside km2! One poor soul was even retching at the side of the road.  That wasn't a good sign of things to come.  In fact the bus stops were where the injured congregated.  Some were lucky to have friends with them.  Even saw a runner with skin scrapped off from his arms.  Yet he kept on running.  Now that's the spirit.  Also runners were walking earlier.  This I blame on the long inclines.  One seemed to go on for a whole kilometer.  The distance markers were deceptive at best.  Went by my pace instead of the kilometer markers.  Apparently this was the same problem as last year.

Since the 21km started at 5.30am I was expecting darkness.  However I wasn't expecting total darkness.  This happened when we ran under flyovers.  It happened a lot too.  It was so dark that I had trouble seeing manhole covers and several times those speed bumps in the housing areas caught my feet by surprise.  Drivers in KL are a most impatient bunch.  They were honking their horns at smaller intersections.  For the biggers ones they behaved since the cops manned those.  There were stretches where we had to run at the side of the highway and the orange safety cones were sufficient, but many a runner would stray beyond them, and this was extremely dangerous.  While I like seeing couples run together, this at time can be daunting, as it is hard for people to pass them.  The walkers should keep to the side well away from those who actually want to run.  A couple of times in the early stages over-enthusiastic runners brushed past me.

The water stations had ample supply.  I also chose the ones at the end to avoid all the jostling.  Even got to drink some 100 Plus once along the way, which was most welcome, since the energy gel at km10 never materialised.  If I had known about that earlier I would have packed two, one for each 7km, but alas I just ended up drinking more water, which is never a good thing for me.  If I am going to run Brooks again I will run with at least two 200ml water bottles filled with re-hydration fluid.  Then the need to gulp down water at each stop is lessened.   Luckily for me my legs held up.  My pace was really slow no thanks to the inclines.  Where I had to walk I walked.  My 10km time was 88 minutes, which was very poor, but part of me was expecting it, and so I didn't push myself.  Knew there were many more runs to conquer this year, and my goal was to finish the race.  Unfortunately for many pacing was an unknown word.

 My reward for finishing...

Sadly in my euphoria to finish I forgot to stop my watch.  Thanks to the efficient timing system I found out I ran the distance in an official 3:03:13. My net time was 2:57:23. There was 500ml of water waiting for the finishers.  Gulped down the Gatorade that my MBF gave me instead.  She had run the 10km in 1:21:04 and finished just before me.  Went to collect my gold cup and finisher t-shirt.  Would later have a good laugh when one of the female bloggers called it fugly. Am partial to bright colours so the orange was a nice change from the midnight blue of PBIM.  Would wear it when I went exploring at Bukit Bintang again.  Suffice to say it was near impossible to queue for all the goodies post-race.  The 100 Plus and Milo lines were so long! Heard there were a lot of goodies served, but chose instead to go off quickly and find my own in town.  Since I still had so much gas left in my running tank that was not a problem.

Nasa Zaidul and I flank Wong Keet Wah and Dinah Law, 
friends who ran their first 10km race

Post run...

My MBF was the first to tell me that she saw someone being resuscitated around km1 of the 10km race. It appears that the individual had suffered a heart attack.  We would later learn that the runner had passed away. This was indeed very sad news to hear. Reading other blogs I learned that the deceased was 50-years-old and he was planning to run a full marathon towards the end of the year.  Be forewarned, distance running is not for the faint of heart.  It is best to have a full physical and special attention paid to the heart, if anyone plans to run.  Just because you look fit and feel fit doesn't mean you are.  Look at me! I am over-weight, but I know now my heart can take a lot of punishment, yet I still don't push myself beyond my limits.  Pace yourself is my best advice.  Know what your body is capable of.  Let the younger runners do their thing.  You are there to finish the race.  So am I too for that matter.  We all want to finish the race standing upright.  My condolences go out to the gentleman's family.

I am a strong believer in hydration.  Water is not enough.  If you feel thirsty then it is already too late.  Make sure you re-hydrate as much as you can.  Of course that doesn't mean over-doing it until you are bloated with water.  It is hard to run on a tummy full of water.  Just take sips when you need it.  If you feel thirsty long before the next water station, then it is best to bring your own water bottle.  I find that small capacity bottles work best for me.  Two 200ml bottles for 21km should work just fine.  Fill them with re-hydration fluid.  This is very important for those who don't like drinking 100 Plus.  If you plan to run 42km then go for four 200ml bottles.  The capacity and number of bottles of course depends on the individual.  Do though train with them long before using them on an actual run.

Always remember to bring a spare race top.  This is especially for out of towners.  For the Brooks Half Marathon it is best to bring brightly coloured race tops with reflectors.  Thankfully Brooks did provide one that I was comfortable wearing.  Just had to remember to put a dollop of Vaseline on my sensitive nips.  What  I did discover from the Asics people was the right shoe for me.  Will get a pair and train in them hopefully for my next run.  Those into running bigger 'international' marathons should remember that this half marathon is small in stature even though the turnout was really large.  So expect some shortcomings.  Things sort of even itself out in the end.  Just be prepared for the shock of seeing so many first timers attempting to run 21km and give the speedsters a wide berth.  The probability of seeing them again in the latter half of the race is very high.

Will I run Brooks again? The answer is a resounding yes! It can be used as a training run.  The long inclines make for a good workout on the legs.  Knowing what I know now I will use the inclines on the treadmills and also the elliptical cross-trainer more for such runs.  The stair-master thingy at the gym was never my thing and I don't plan to do a Towerthon in the near future, so I keep away from it.  Pain is not the runners' friend. If you feel pain don't try to block it out.  Yes over time your pain threshold will improve.  However do not ignore pain.  It's your body's way of telling you something is wrong.  Listen to it and do what must be done to alleviate it.  Yes we all want to run and keep on running.  At the end of the day it's about how well we know our body and how well we maintain it for future runs.  Here's me hoping to meet you guys again on another run. Run safe always!

Wondering what I should try next...