Sunday, 29 September 2019

Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon 2019



I ran the KL Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) 2019 as a returning individual runner. For the first time in the history of this iconic sporting event in Malaysia, the organiser of  KLSCM implemented a ballot system due to the high number of registration this year. Along with other participants of SCKLM 2018, I managed to secure a slot through their 'loyalty registration' program.

While successful registrants were elated to get an entry to this increasingly popular running event, the dreaded haze problem which started in early September cast a dark cloud over the event. Air quality for the weeks leading up to Race Day was at moderate to unhealthy levels in and around Kuala Lumpur, serving a bitter reminder of the cancellation of SCKLM 2015 due to poor air quality. Running plans were abandoned, goals revised as it was not feasible nor safe to run outdoors.
I took my training indoors and ran on the treadmill. On the upside, I did maximise my gym membership for the month of September.

Thankfully, the haze started to diminish on three days to race day with intermittent rain in the Klang Valley. I joined a running group with the theme "Haze go Away" and ran my heart out with other keen runners who were all eager to run on Sunday.

A heavy downpour in KL on Saturday afternoon cleared the skies of smoke and dust which have enveloped our city and with that, the haze was finally defeated.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, the KLSCM 2019 will be taking place on 28 & 29 September, it was announced by Dirigo Events on Friday 27 September.
  
The KLSCM 2019 switched to a two-day format this year - the first day for the Kids Dash + 5km competitive category. There’s also the Friendship Run which started in 2016,  a warm-up fun run for the FM registrants, followed by a Pasta Party where runners get to mingle with other runners, exchange ideas and forge new friendships.

On day two, the race categories are 10km, the Half marathon and Full marathon. This year saw the biggest number of participants in the FM category (13,000), followed closely by HM (12,500).

With a  record number of participants numbering 40,000  Dataran Merdeka turned into a sea of blue in the morning of Race Day.

I signed up for the HM this year with the goal of breaking 2 hours. I came close to achieving it in the the Great North Run (2:01) back in 2016 but since then a sub-2 finishing has been elusive.

This year I had the company of Cheng Yee (who stepped up from 10k) and JJ who was making his HM debut in KLSCM 2019. A Run For a Reason (RFAR) participant, he helped to raise funds for Hospis Malaysia. Danny on the other signed up for his favourite, no-less-competitive distance of 10km in the speed category. CY, JJ and Danny and I recently had a fantastic time running in the Asics Relay Malaysia.

Selfie time while we make our way to the starting line from Pen 3


So I ran alongside CY and JJ starting from pen 3. We were delayed by 8 minutes before we reached the starting line, taking in the electrifying atmosphere of flag-off.  It was great running together with my team-mates. I broke away from CY at km 1, and later from JJ at km 4.

Confetti blast with the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building in the background

The HM course was familiar to me as I ran the same route in last year's SCKLM; I was strong and steady in my pace; the heat which usually slows me was not too bad even as I picked up my pace - thanks to the rain the night before. Even on the elevation along Duke expressway and the Duta tunnel I managed to keep on running by reducing my pace but not did not walk at all. As I stood a good chance of reaching my goal of a sub-2 finishing, I stopped only briefly at the water stations. The volunteers were awesome as always. With their outstretched hands offering a choice of water or isotonic drink to the runners, they gave out fun cheers and motivational chants - ‘"jia you", "looking good", "you can do it" and "don't give up".


Keep calm and carry on running..
Getting closer to the finish line..

Ya baby.. finish arch is in sight

I'm happy to report that I finished the race in 1:54:11 and achieved a new PB!

Well done to the organizer of KLSCM 2019 for a doing a great job and congratulations to all the runners who achieved their running goals. I’m sure the KLSCM will continue to grow in popularity as Malaysia's no.1 running event.


We are the winners.. We are! We Are! We Are!


100 Plus Active is my preferred isotonic drink




At the title sponsor's booth before it was crowded

The moment when you find out  it's a sub-2 finishing


Official results:
Gun Time: 2:02:28
Net Time: 1:54:12
Rank: 31 

Saturday, 7 September 2019

ASICS Relay Malaysia 2019











The 2019 ASICS Relay Malaysia is the third leg in the popular Asics Relay race series across Asia and this year it was held for the first time in Sepang International Circuit, Selangor on 7 September.

As was in previous editions of the Asics Relay race, a team is comprised of four members - each running a quarter of the distance of either the Half Marathon (5.25km per runner) or the Full Marathon (10.5km per runner) in one of the three categories: Male, Female and Mixed (FFFM, MMFF, or MMMF).


.

Mixed Team in Half Marathon Relay



Runner 1: Cheng Yes, Runner 2: Danny, Runner 3: JJ, Runner 4: CK


So I signed up for the mixed team in the Half Marathon category and named our team DKJY.
I ran in the inaugural Asics Relay Kuala Lumpur in 2016 

Cheng Yee was the first runner in our team. She rushed to get to the race village in time for the flag-off at 6:30 pm. For some unknown reason, traffic on the ELITE expressway last Saturday evening was at a snarl coming into Sepang. The flag off was delayed much to the relief of many late comers... and then the first runners were flagged off around 6:55 pm.



Electrifying atmosphere in the race village just before flag-off

Crew members pretty in pink


Team DKJY finished strong with a ranking of 50 out of 353 teams in the mixed open category, with a finishing time of 1:58:38. This finishing time is better than the Half Marathon PB of all of the team members', which says a lot about the power of teamwork!

Despite the humid weather on Saturday, it was an evening of activities, excitement and sweat, and fun. 

What I enjoyed most was witnessing the camaraderie of runners participating in a team relay race. Each and every runner who raced on that evening did not run mile after lonely mile by themselves, but did it as part of a team effort... and it is fun to be part of a team. 

After we collected our medals, Team DKJY posed for photos in celebration of our collective victory..  


Order following Team Leg

A wifie with precision and careful positioning

Happy faces after learning that we achieved a sub-2 hour finishing


Official results:


Friday, 8 March 2019

The Day We Unite: Tokyo Marathon 2019


Can't hide my excitement after collecting race bib from the lovely volunteer at the Expo

Posed for this pic just before entering pen J
Starting Line at the Metro Government Building 
Crossing the starting line 25 minutes after official start

At halfway point, with a view of Tokyo Skytree 
My attempt at vlogging
First photo in the hotel after changing into dry clothes
Yoyogi Park 


Goal for Tokyo Marathon 2019:   new PB and sub-5 finishing

I ran the Tokyo Marathon last Sunday under miserable weather conditions. It was raining before the race started with temperatures of around 5-6 degrees. The relentless rain and the biting wind made it difficult for me to run at my goal pace, furthermore my poncho buttons kept getting undone and buttoning it up required a level of concentration, distracting my focus on my running pace.  The cold also caused my hands go to numb - by km 38, the 'pins and needles' in my hands were so severe that I had to shake them while soldiering on with my run.

It was the coldest day in Tokyo Marathon history, according to the Race Director, Mr. Tadaaki Hayano. Some runners including top Japanese male runner Suguru Osaka withdrew from the race as their body succumbed to the cold and harsh conditions. Malaysian tops runners Muhaizar Mohamad and Leo Tan also withdrew, which I'm sure was a tough decision for them to take.

In spite of the unfavourable weather conditions, I managed to achieve my goal of finishing the race. Achieving a new PB of 4:42 (shaved off 28 minutes from previous PB) was indeed icing on the cake on this bone-chilling cold race day.

Summary:
Net time: 4:42:19
Ranking: 16995
Average pace: 6:28




Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Terry Fox Run KL: Marathon of Hope lives on

he Terry Fox Run Kuala Lumpur has been taking place in Malaysia since 1991, this event is helde Terry Fox Run Kuala Lumpur has been taking place in Malaysia since 1991, this event is held in memory of the late Terry Fox to ld in 1977 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer which led to his right leg being amputated above the knee. He was so overcome by the suffering of other can
The Terry Fox Run has been taking place since 1991, and this year it was on 16 December at the Perdana Botanical Gardens. 


The Marathon of Hope, which Terry embarked on in 1980 was an adventure with a goal of running across Canada. He ran close to a marathon a day, for 143 days, which was truly a feat not only for the able-bodied runner, and an extraordinary feat for an amputee. Read the story of Marathon of Hope here.

I'm glad to have participated in this charity run as my final event of running in 2018,  in support of cancer research in Malaysia. With the company of family and friends - running alongside one another - the run was truly an all-inclusive and enjoyable one. There's a great camaraderie among runners in a non-competitive run as participants are more concerned about the person they are running with than their running pace.

Personally, participating in the Terry Fox Run KL which was 100% organised and run by volunteers was an experience which really count towards running for a cause. 

"It's got to keep going without me" Terry Fox.

And so, 37 years on, Terry Fox run is staged around the world in his memory and to continue his dream of finding a cure for cancer.


cer patients many of them who are young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.


With emcee Yasmin Yusuff

With Chairman of Terry Fox Run KL


Warm up before run
My running friends

memory of the late Terry Fox to keep his dream of a Cancer-Free world alive. Terry Fox was 18 years old in 1977 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer which led to his right leg being amputated above the knee. He was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients many

 of them who are young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.
Terry ran for 143 days, ovhe Terry Fox Run Kuala Lumpur has been taking place in Malaysia since 1991, this event is held in memory of the late Terry Fox to keep his dream of a Cancer-Free world alive. Terry Fox was 18 years old in 1977 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer which led to his right leg being amputated above the knee. He was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients many of them who are young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.
Terry ran for 143 days, over 42KM everyday across Canada. He was forced to stop running because Cancer had appeared in his lungs. Terry passed away at the age of 22. The Heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy and dream lives on with everyone of us who share the same dream. The Marathon of Hope lives on with us. er 42KM everyday across Canada. He was forced to stop running because Cancer had appeared in his lungs. Terry passed away at the age of 22. The Heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy and dream lives on with everyone of us who share the same dream. The Marathon of Hope lives on with us. osed with bone cancer which led to his right leg being amputated above the knee. He was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients many of them who are young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.
he Terry Fox Run Kuala Lumpur has been taking place in Malaysia since 1991, this event is held in memory of the late Terry Fox to keep his dream of a Cancer-Free world alive. Terry Fox was 18 years old in 1977 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer which led to his right leg being amputated above the knee. He was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients many of them who are young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.
Terry ran for 143 days, over 42KM everyday across Canada. He was forced to stop running because Cancer had appeared in his lungs. Terry passed away at the age of 22. The Heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy and dream lives on with everyone of us who share the same dream. The Marathon of Hope lives on with us. Terry ran for 143 days, over 42KM everyday across Canada. He was forced to stop running because Cancer had appeared in his lungs. Terry passed away at the age of 22. The Heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy and dream lives on with everyone of us who share the same dream. The Marathon of Hope lives on with us. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Racing to the Gate: Berlin Marathon 2018 report


How it began

Early in the year, I received an email from SCC, the organizer of Berlin Marathon that my application through ballot entry was successful. 
So my FM plan for the year was set: I would be running the Berlin Marathon 2018, the fastest marathon (many world marathon record times were achieved in Berlin) on September 16.

16 September is also Malaysia Day. a public holiday to commemorate the formation of the Malaysian Federation in 1963. What better way to celebrate this day than to run my first World Marathon Majors in the beautiful German capital city.

For the monumental event of my running journey, I ordered a customised running shirt which I I would be wearing on race day. It arrived a week before the race and served as an impetus to continue with training till the day I flew out of Malaysia.

I chose "3" as this would be my third FM (there previous two I ran in the SCKLM 2016 and 2017 respectively).
Read the blog post on my second FM here
Read my blog post on my first FM here 

On the front of the shirt, the words "Harapanku Malaysia" or my hope for Malaysia gives me an opportunity to express my hope for a greater, better and more inclusive Malaysia.

My customised shirt was a winner as it got the attention of other Malaysians




Training

I purchased an 18-week three-times-a-week training plan in June. I set a goal of sub-5 hour for this marathon. However, as the weeks by and with my continued shortfalls in training, I figured I revise my goal that I would run my best FM, i.e. improve PB of 5:38 set in SCKLM 2017. I was able to get in 3 days of running a week for most weeks, but the long runs were always a challenge for me due to work/life/heat/rain. I know that the most important component of training are the long runs and since I missed them or cut them short due (the longest I was able log on was 28km), I would pay dearly for those 'debts' on race day. To make matters worse, around three weeks before race day, the plantar fasciitis (PF) in my right foot flared up rather badly; fortunately a couple of visits to a physiotherapist helped me to keep the pain under control.
On my 17th week of training, I joined Leo Tan for an evening run at the National Sports Centre in Bukit Jalil. The meeting with him certainly gave me a much-needed boost for the upcoming race.


A selfie with Leo Tan


Pre-race

I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Berlin via a short layover in London. Arriving on Thursday, 13 
September, I proceeded to check-in at my hotel in Wilmersdorfer Str. 36. Lucky for me, the hotel staff were happy for me to do an early check-in. After that it's straight to the Berlin Vital Expo to collect my race pack. Located at the former airport Tempelhof just over a kilometer from the hotel, getting there was easy with the U-bahn. From the Tempolhof station, there was no need to refer to the map in the race guide as I just followed the other participants who were making their way to the expo. The drizzle in the afternoon did not dampen the spirit of the enthusiastic crowd.

From the reports that I read about the big crowds at the expo every year, I determined to go on Thursday afternoon to avoid the massive crowds on Friday and Saturday. Although a little tired from the long flight, the excitement of checking out one of the biggest expos in the running world of sports quickly took over me.

At the entrance to the expo, I produced the required Start Card and upon verifying my ID, the steward put on a wristband on my right hand. The band can not be removed as it is stapled around your wrist (to avoid unauthorized transfer of bib). The wristband serves as a pass to enter the race kit collection area which is restricted to runners only. The walk to the bib collection area was a long one, and I passed a long line of exhibitors marketing and selling everything from nutrition, functional wear, running gear, sports medicine to active holiday package. There were over 190 exhibitors and numerous photo spots -  I was overwhelmed by it all. 
My race bib was printed on the spot on presentation of my ID and the wristband, and I was also given a timer chip (ChampionChip) which was to be tied to the shoe lace. After that, I was handed my race pack which contained a sponge, a deodorant, a shower gel and a fast-acting energy bar. I thought it was strange that the organizer gave me a sponge to carry with me on race day. After much deliberation, I decided to leave it behind on race day.
Next I queued for the pre-ordered finisher t-shirt. There was a long single file, but the wait was only around 15 minutes as the stewards controlled the crowd in an organized and orderly manner. The steward took a look at my bib, detached the voucher on it and handed me my Adidas tee. Next, I went and queued for a commemorative poster which took another 15 minutes or so. More queuing was required as I wanted to pose at a couple of photo spots.


Tempelhof: former airport



Found my name on the Wall of Fame



Race

I got up early the next day. I kept it simple for breakfast - bread and jam, cereals with milk and banana with a cup of coffee to boot.
I took the U-bahn (U2) and got off at the Potsdamer Platz. From the station, it was an 8-minute walk to the start at Strasse des 17.Juni. Along the way, I saw runners of different nationalities, colours, shape and form.

I showed my wristband and upon entering the participants area, quickly settled into my block (H, the eighth and last block) around 8:30 am, just in time to join the organised group warm-up. There was a lot of waiting till flag-off at 10:05 am (3rd wave), but the emcee kept the crowd engaged with various dance moves. There were cheers everywhere when the gun went off for the elite runners at 9:15 am.

Let the race begin: flag-off of the first wave


My goal for the race was to hold myself back and to run at a slow pace of 6:40 per minute. I didn't want to think about the lack of training or the PF pain in my right foot. Focus on running form and breathing.

The first 10km went by without any struggle. I had a steady pace of  6:20-6:30/km. One could understand why the Berlin Marathon is touted as the fastest Marathon in the world - the course is mostly flat the roads are wide. There was no problem for me navigating on the course despite the high number of runners around me.  The first landmark which I immediately recognised was the victory column (Siegessäule). This was soon followed by the Reichstag, which I had the privilege of visiting a day before.

The next 10km went by without any problems. A Malaysian runner, a lad in his twenties came from behind and put his hand around my shoulder and greeted me, "Hi, I'm Hafiz and I'm from Malaysia". We exchanged some pleasantries and he took off. I reminded myself to keep a steady pace of around 6:15-6:20/km. Another Malaysian came up later and said hi to me. Her name is Ina. She's a sub-5 finisher in SCKLM, a mother and fast runner! She paced me for about 5km up to 20km. I guess we were both quite comfortable as we were able to converse in short sentences without worrying about losing our breath. After the refreshment station at 20km, I lost track of her.

Half marathon at 2:15.  Looking good, CK. Keep it up!

The crowds that came out on the day to support the runners were awesome. They carried placards bearing the name of the runner whom they were cheering for. Some placards had words like "touch here (button) to power up". There were also cheerleader teams, live bands and percussion artists.. The atmosphere was carnival like! I waved and thanked the performers when I ran past them.

Courtesy of Sportograf
An interesting observation was that there were thousands of crushed plastic cups in the water/refreshment area. Runners had no choice but to step on the used cups. The were hundreds if not thousands of runners around me doing the same thing, thus creating a cacophony of crushing sounds that at beast I would describe as unpleasant. The hydration stations were all well-manned and the volunteers were aplenty to hand a drink to a grateful runner.

Around 25km, someone held a sign which stated a new WR of 2:01:39 had been created. Congratulations to Eliud Kipchoge. I'm glad to run in the same race in which he achieved a new world record.

At 28km, things started to go downhill for me as I started to feel pain in the thigh in both legs. I tried to concentrate on my running form, but the pain persisted and soon I felt tightness in my calves. 
I knew this was the price I had to pay for not doing enough long runs. I carried on running...

But I had to stop,  and went to the side of the road and did stretching for the legs. It helped only a little. After a few steps, the pain came back. It was agonising.  The quads were hard and the calves were on the verge of going into spasm.

But it's not the first time that I experienced this problem. At 30km, I knew I had to come up with another strategy. I figured it's not possible to walk to the finish line as there were 12 km to go: I had to run with small strides and made sure that I avoided heel landing altogether to keep things light on my legs. This strategy worked somehow as I managed to do a little running until my quads hardened and then I switched to walking.  Many runners passed me by, and one came from behind me, a Asian lady I'm guessing from Singapore. She touched my shoulder and said "only a few km's to the finish line". I nodded to her. It's an understanding between runners that goes beyond words.

I received another boost when an Asian lady in the spectator area shouted my name (she's the only one who addressed me by name, while other spectators referred me as Malaysia). She said "Chiew Kit, you can do it!" Yes, I've got this. I've come this far. And no I'm not done yet. I mustered whatever energy that was left in me and charged on. 

Thank you spectators and fellow runners - you guys are awesome!
Courtesy of Sportograf

At around 40km, at which point I was almost completely spent, a volunteer said we were at the last turning to the finish line and those words, those words, were music and magic to my ears.
I was now in Pariser Platz and the majestic Branderburg Gate was in sight. This was going to be a historic moment when I cross the finish line in front of this iconic landmark. I whipped out my phone, putting one foot in front of another, gradually picking up the pace and shot a video of me racing to the gate.... 


Finished Berlin Marathon 2018.



Go on and crush them (Courtesy of Sportograf)









Post-race
After I received the finisher medal, I hobbled to the beer (non-alcoholic) station to get a free beer. It was the longest 500m walk I had to endure but it was worth it. I found a spot in the garden, laid out a plastic sheet, removed my shoes and lay down. While the pain had not subsided, I felt incredibly satisfied that I had finished the Berlin Marathon, and achieved a new PB.


Keep walking after crossing the finish line
Got my poncho on.. and Kipchoge's face on my medal

Happy Malaysia Day: Sayangi Malaysiaku


My first star of the Abbott WMM's 6 stars

Facts:

45th edition of the Berlin Marathon in 2018
fastest marathon in the World Marathon Major series (due to its fast and flat course)
44,389 athletes 
6,000 volunteers
80 bands
140 nationalities amongst participants 
thousands of spectators
new world record: 2:01:39 by Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)



Summary:

Net time: 5:10:37 (new PB)
Overall Place: 34276
Gender Place: 24947