2015 was an eventful year. My racing plan did not go according to plan. I completed two full marathons, and an ultra trail, but I only accomplished one goal out of three that I set. It was disappointing. However, the setbacks did not deter me from setting loftier goals in 2016.
It has only been 6 days into 2016. Many things can change throughout the year. But having something to aim for is important. Having goals means having purposes. This will encourage us to work harder (and smarter) to attain them. That’s what motivates me to run. Frankly, I hate running. Running is boring. The things that keep me going are the challenges and goals. I am trying to be good at something.
1 Full Marathon in Each Quarter
Just like 2015, I plan to race in few selected events only. This is unlike majority who want to race as often as they can, collecting a lot of medals. And for those who are fast, collecting some money as well. I am tempted to race often as well, as I love the adrenaline. But I know that running a marathon is no easy feat. It takes month to prepare, and weeks to recover, physically and mentally. For me, quality trumps quantity, any time any day. I am not in this to run hundreds marathons in my lifetime. I want to gauge how fast I can run. A minimum of two months of careful preparation is essential to run a high-quality marathon. Other than that, I want to do this for as long as I can. When I hit 50, 60, 70, I want to be out there pounding pavement. In order to avoid burn out at a tender age of 28, I have to be smart not to run frequently. Therefore, I set a goal to race a marathon every quarter. Having said that though, I plan to participate (read: participate not compete) in a shorter distance, most likely half marathon, in the build up of each marathon. Some people call it conditioning race. I call it filler race. It is necessary to keep the ember burning.
Q1 – Tokyo Marathon (28th February)
So far, Tokyo Marathon is the only race that is confirmed. A slot and return tickets are already in place. Tokyo Marathon is one of six major marathons in the world, and the only one in Asia. Hundred thousands apply to run the marathon, with only 35,000 slots available. I was lucky to be selected. It will be my first participation in major marathons, and I won’t miss if for the world.
Q2 – TBC
My only sister is getting married in May, God’s willing, I will be a Darth Vader few weeks prior to the wedding, and Ramadhan may fall on 6th June. The only weekends available to race my second marathon of the year are 21/22 May, 28/29 May, or 4/5 June. I haven’t checked Malaysia running calendar yet, but I may choose the one which is closest to home.
Q3 – Kuching Marathon (14th August) or KL Marathon (7th August)?
KL Marathon is undoubtedly the most prestigious running event in Malaysia. Unfortunately, it falls a week before the fastest marathon in Malaysia, Kuching Marathon. I vowed to return after a disappointing maiden marathon in Kuching last year. But I expect to be busy with my duty as a Sith Lord, and I may not be able to make the trip to Kuching, while Kuala Lumpur is my hometown, the city of my birth. Running my fifth marathon in Kuala Lumpur is more likely as it seems. But I won’t rush into things as I believe there will be many other marathons in August and September.
Q4 – Penang Bridge International Marathon (21st November)
Penang Bridge International Marathon is another nearly-flat course. It is not as flat as Kuching, but it is still a good course to do a Personal Best (PB) in marathon. I broke the 4 hour barrier here in 2015, and I may run it again this year to beat 3:57’04 that I did last year. I am open for other marathon though.
My PB is currently 3:57’04 that I set in Penang in November 2015. I was on track to do sub-3:50, but I lost motivation, and ended up with run-jog-walk routine in the last 15 kilometres. With my current ability, barring cramps, sub-3:50 marathon is possible. But 3:30 marathon is a completely different story. It is extremely ambitious, but attainable. The best place to do this is at Tokyo Marathon, as it is pancake-flat, and cold. But it comes too early, and I am not accustomed to run in under 5 degC yet. I will still give my best shot in Tokyo, though. If I fail in Tokyo, I may have to look elsewhere, most likely outside of Malaysia where it is colder.
This is more like a secondary goal. If I end up running Penang Bridge International Marathon in November, I won’t have anything in December. If that is the case, I plan to race a 10K in December when I am out of the marathon cycle. I haven’t raced a 10K in a long time. My current PB is 48-ish I did when I was running around KLCC Park back in 2014. Coming out of marathon training, I am not sure whether I have the speed to run a fast 10K. I won’t be losing any sleep if I fail to hit the target.
3,500 kilometres in 2016
This is another goal that I set. I ran slightly less than 2000 kilometres in 2015. My monthly mileage exceeded 200 kilometres in a couple of months only. In order to run 3,500 kilometres in 2016, I will have to run 292 kilometres a month. As of 5th January, I have already run 87 kilometres. It is highly achievable, but let’s see when I become a Darth Vader.
Hello, 2016! Please be good!