Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Borneo International Marathon 2014 - Race report

My Second BIM FM

The Heat Is On

I really enjoy coming to Kota Kinabalu. I have friends there. I like the people there. They are so very friendly. In fact when I am at the coffee shop I often think I am back in Kuching. We are so 1Borneo. Am sorry if I rattle any nerves, but that's how I feel.  The only difference is in the slang and dialects spoken. I remember running a good race in 2013. The only bit that got to me were the hill at UMS. So this time around I had trained for it. The big issue was yet again my weight. It had ballooned to 95kg. I admit it, I am a disaster when it comes to dieting. The weight always comes back. I just like to eat too much. Arriving in KK I realised how hot it was. Was told by friends that it hadn't been raining in awhile. Since I know how long it would take me to run BIM I was already nervous how I would be at km30. Last year that's where the hurt started. Since I was carrying more kilos I knew that my fat coupled with the heat would be trying indeed.

The race pack collection went like a charm. Met up with a couple of familiar faces. Chatted up a storm like I always do. We even parked at the same place at Suria Sabah. Talk about deja vu! Ate at the foodcourt there yet again. Maybe ate a little too much - chicken rice and pasta and even a beef curry puff. In the heat of the moment decided not to wear compression pants for my FM. I would only use calf compression. Stopped eating my big meal 12 hours before gun time. Did hydrate lots though. Friends wanted to meet to chit chat later in the evening but I told them I needed to rest, which I did. Everton were playing Manchester City that night and I really wanted the Toffees to win it since I supported Liverpool FC. As everyone now knows, the Citizens prevailed. The Red half of Merseyside failed to win against Norwich City, and the sight of Luis Suarez sobbing away uncontrollably will remain with me for a long time.

Since I always stay near the Horizon Hotel pick up point it is very easy for me to go by shuttle to Likas Stadium. Went there half an hour earlier and met up with some of my Facebook friends. That for me is always a joy. The bus came early. Of course we all had time to kill before the 3am start. That meant chatting with more friends and also photo taking. Mohan Marathon was there. What is a marathon in Malaysia or Singapore without him? I would miss uncle Oliver Kerr as he was in Penang doing a walk. However our contingent from Kuching was a huge one so it was like I was still at home. Some were even here to do their FMV and HMV and believe it or not their first 10km. What a nice place to start. We were told that this year saw a big increase in runners. However it still didn't look that many compared to the other races I have run in. I make no secret that I like running in small races, hence my love affair with marathons like Island Ocean Marathon and the River Jungle Marathon

After running in so many races I don't feel nervous anymore. All I must always do is pee before I go. I hate using portable toilets. This time I chose not to run with camera in hand because I knew I had to concentrate on the run more since the heat would most definitely be bad. My plan was to run a good 21km and make it on time to 30km and then get home in 6:00. Last year I managed 6:08, so I knew what it would take. Used the same approach as how I ran the Penang International Bridge Marathon for the second time. In that one I was running in pain but still managed to improve on my time. It's all a matter of muscle memory I call it. The brain remembers moments like this forever. If it happens again then the body will know what to expect. Unfortunately the brain and body weren't prepared for so much sun. There was no plans for me to run for time for this one. All that mattered was that I finished. DNF wasn't in the books.

Let the sun shine

At gun time yours truly started somewhere at the back. My plan was to run 10km in under 1:30 and then hit 21km under 3:00 and 30km in under 4:15. I truly believed I had the legs for it. And yes, at 5km I managed 42 minutes, and was at 10km by 1:25. Was feeling good about myself. Then at UMS braced myself for my nightmare. Hit 21km at 2:50. I wasn't complaining as I have a phobia of that place. It was nice that I got to meet up with MBF when I was running out of there and she was running in. I surprised her with a hug and kiss. This according to our friend Donna must have energised MBF enough to run past her.  Worse case for km30 for me was 4:15, and I made it to the 29.5km checkpoint at 4:07. That was as good as it gets for me.  It went downhill from there though. My belly fat didn't help one bit. The sun didn't even melt any of it. Gravity really does work after km30. I knew at that moment in time I was not ready to do another ultra just yet.

Not once did I hum "You are my Sunshine" when I ran. I must admit I began to get worried from km25 onwards when there wasn't any 100 Plus. Yours truly is not a big fan of carbonated isotonic drinks. My drink of choice is always Gatorade. Having discovered the uncarbonated 100 Plus Edge I am hoping that the marathon organisers in the future would select it too. It reminds me so much of Gatorade grapefruit flavour, which is my favourite. My own two bottles of hydration formula only sustained me till km25. Then I filled it with water. Always have this fear that I need more water than I really need to consume. When a water station at last year's PBIM ran out of water for a short while I nearly freaked out, but instead chose to carry a full load of water on the way back. This got even worse for me when at the 29.5km check point I realised there was no 100 Plus there too. I took the ice cubes in the plastic bag to cool my neck down. The banana was much welcomed. It would help keep the cramps at bay.

On the way back I knew I needed something more than water. There were still two gels on me. I didn't want to use them if possible since both had 100mg of caffeine. Instead, together with others, I stopped at a long roadside stall selling fruits and veggies. A very kind Sabahan lady runner treated me to fresh coconut juice even after I insisted I would pay for it. She dashed off and I never saw her again. Instead I enjoyed a can of ice cold coke and a 100 Plus. The sugars and the caffeine helped me a bit. At km32 I even turned down water since I was already so water-ified. However as the sun belted down on me and the going got tougher and both my legs threatened to cramp whenever I tried to run I knew I was fighting a losing battle. It felt so horrible to be walking and seeing others motor pass me. A nice big hug from my friend Meek Soon and later the presence of Mohan and also Billy Wong did help lift my spirits. Others who knew me on Facebook would greet me too. I told those heading towards km29.5 that there wasn't 100 Plus and to buy them at the aforementioned stall.

At 1Borneo, like last year, I stopped to get me some Mountain Dew. Really needed to do the dew for the caffeine. So I sipped it slowly and walked on. Did chat with a couple of runners who couldn't run anymore. Met the lady who claimed to be the last runner. She was escorted by 3 bikers so I believed her. Liked her positive attitude. When you can joke about your running the going is still good. As I went past UMS again and headed towards my favourite landmark - the Tun Mustapha tower - I saw a lady being stretchered into an ambulance. Turns out it was the same lady I had met earlier coming out of UMS. Had asked her if she was all right since she was running in a way that raised alarms for me. She assured me that she was fine and powered on. Alas she was a spent force now. It was nice to see that she was in good hands. Would later learn that a blogger friend of mine had also kaputed at km41. The poor guy was gutted. He only knew what had happened when he woke up in the hospital 3 hours later. He was running fast and the heat got to him.

There was no way that I wanted to be like the lady on the stretcher. Felt the heat get worse and worse as I saw the sea. There were so many cars around as there was a fishing competition going on. All I could think of was getting back safely. Knew at that moment that I wasn't going to make the 6:30 cut off time. Memories of TITI Ultra 50km came back. I would finish but I wanted my time. So I forced myself to walk on. Many thanks to those who encouraged me along. I even stopped to take photos with a friend just before the stadium entrance. The worse part for me was that I wasn't able to run the last bit like I did last year. My buddy Jason, who had run the 21km, was trying to encourage me to run, but my legs were just too kaputed. What's more my chaffing was so bad. I had not chaffed this bad ever. Lets just say I didn't relish taking a cold shower after the race. Got my medal and my finisher t-shirt. Always nice to have collared ones for a change. Then met up with MBF and the others who had run 21km too.  My time 6:39, and yes, they posted it online.


Heard lots of complaints about the race from experienced runners. Have not run as many FMs as them, so who am I to open my trap on what went right and what is wrong. All I know for me is that the heat took it's toll. I make no excuses, having trained in heat for this. It's just now I know how to improve on that training. This was a real eye opener for me on how hot things could get. Hopefully when I run the Kuching Marathon in August I will be able to face the heat better. Also need to be better prepared for emergencies. Like when my water bottled started leaking. That panicked me. Since I always carry at least RM20 on me I shouldn't be so worried. There will always be a 24-hour convenience store or a petrol station or a fast food outlet. So if I needed something more than water and they wasn't any at the water stations I could buy it. It's not like it would hurt my time since I was already going slow. For me there must always be a Plan B.

The constant want to cramp feeling I again blamed on the heat. The wonderful medical personnel always came to my aid with sprays. Once two guys sprayed my legs over-zealously with way to much Salonpas. Lets just say I tried not to curse them when I was running. However I wished there were more sponge stations and not only near the end. What's more the cups seem to have disappeared. Maybe next time I will bring my own cup. Will see what works better for me after this. Am definitely not carrying a 1.5L bottle of water. The sight of many such bottles on the pavement still filled with water greeted me along the way. A big thank you to the those who provided the watermelon. Really needed that. Controlled myself by taking only two small slices. The others behind me needed it more. Would have kissed the fat lady even if she didn't sing if she gave me ice cream then. Maybe that is best reserved for the two FMs am doing after Ramadan.

As it stands I have officially completed seven full marathons, after a sputtering start to the year with a very questionable DNF where I got a towel and then the most joyful hazed out FM ever in which I wore a finisher skirt. Over-all I have no big issues with this edition of BIM. In fact I highly recommend it to my Sarawakian runners in the future. This would be an ideal run for those who have never run outside our state. It feels much like our own home. Will I run in KK again? For sure! My friend Jason summed it up best by saying it was now my second home. Of course I will email the race director about what in my humble opinion must be worked on for the betterment of the next run. I will also bring the knowledge I gained here to our very own marathon in Kuching. This is the sort of invaluable input that only comes from running a full marathon. How I wish all marathons would treat the last runner like they treat the first runner. Running should always be a celebration of the human spirit. The many happy faces that made it to the finish line was proof enough for me that they were happy with this run.

(Please note that I took pics from various sources, including friends and those who have their own watermark. Most of them however are mine. If anyone is unhappy with me posting the pics please contact me and I will immediately take that pic off.)

My two BIM FMs (2013 and 2014)
Finisher t-shirt and running t-shirt. Liked the words.

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