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#RoadtoPIM: Week 4

Day 22: Monday (Jan 8) – Prelude to Strength

Today’s plan is not to run. I incorporate strength/core workout on days where I don’t run. But to make the core/strength workouts more effective, some sort of cardio has to be done before the workout. I only know one cardio workout that I am good at, which is running. So I go out for an easy run for 20 minutes before doing 30 minutes of strength workout.

In the evening, I bring Adlea and wife for a walk at FRIM. It is Adlea’s 101 to the nature. To many more outdoor adventures with wife and Adlea.

Strava

Mileage: 3.6 km | Weight: 52.7 kg.

Day 23: Tuesday (Jan 9) – Fartlek TakLek

Wheewww… This is a tough one. 16 x 1:1 fartlek, 1 minute hard 1 minute easy. Ideally I will like to have this done on the track. But nearest track is 20 minutes and RM 2.50 away. So I do it at a 800m shaded stretch nearby. The thick canopy poses a problem for the GPS. GPS is slow to react to changes of pace. Often time, I exceed the intended pace. Form is sluggish where I lock up my shoulders too tightly. It takes 10 reps for me to relax. However, once I am loosening my upper body a little bit, my cadence starts to drop. From 188 spm in the first few reps down to 174 in the last rep. This surely is a concern.

Strava

Mileage: 12.8 km | Weight: 53.0 kg.

Day 24: Wednesday (Jan 10) – Cardiovascularly Easy Musculoskeletally Moderate

50 minutes easy around the neighbourhood. Easy runs are cut short to prepare for a big 20 milers on the weekend. Although breathing is easy but my legs are still feeling from the trashing of yesterday’s fartlek. 15 minutes of strength workout follows.

Strava

Mileage: 9.9 km | Weight: 52.6 kg.

Day 25: Thursday (Jan 11) – Melancholy

Today is supposed to be tempo intervals session at the track. The program is to run 5 reps of 2,000m at 4’05-4’15 min/km pace with 400m recovery between reps. Unfortunately it is raining cats and dogs and I have to abandon the workout after 1-4/5 th reps.

Strava

Mileage: 4.9 km | Weight: 52.0 kg.

Day 26: Friday (Jan 12) – Tempo Intervals

Tempo interval is new to me. Before this it was either tempo or intervals. Today’s menu is 5 reps of 2000m at 4’05-4’15 min/km with 400m float recovery. I almost stop at 4th reps not due to fatigue, but laziness. I am glad that I do not listen to my inner voice.  I am happier that I keep those tempo intervals within pace range, bar 1st rep where I go slightly faster. I feel good throughout as I should be as this is not a vo2max workout. 12 hours post-workout, my legs are starting to feel the brunt of the workout.

Strava

Mileage: 17.7 km | Weight: 51.9 kg.

Day 27: Saturday (Jan 13) – Rest

Yesterday was a tough workout. I plan to cycle today. However due to indiscipline, I stayed up late doing nothing last night. I am too tired when I wake up in the morning. I decide to take the day off and be sedentary.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 28: Sunday (Jan 14) – Weakest Link

According to the training plan, today is a long run day of 2-3 hours or 28.8-32.2 kilometres. But for the umpteenth time, I lack of discipline. I stayed up late last night doing nothing again. I oversleep and decide that it is too late to run a 20 miler. I tell myself to run it at night. I used to enjoy running at night especially when I was working in Labuan. But not anymore. I wait for my daughter to sleep and my wife to settle down before heading out of the door. When I reach Titiwangsa for the run, it is already close to 9:00 PM. The night is surprisingly humid than morning. My slowest long run pace is supposed to be 5’30 min/km but after few kilometres, I struggle to run the pace despite already working harder than usual. I stop to replenish after the 4th loop and it goes downhill onward. I don’t know how do people do it. Second wind, east wind, etc. Once I am defeated, there is no way that I am coming back. This happens in all four marathons that I have run. I stop and walk so many times before calling the long run off. 20 miles become 16 miles become 2 hours become 16 kilometres. This is the first key workout that I fail to complete in this cycle. I feel disgusted with myself for being so weak.

Strava

Mileage: 16.1 km | Weight: N/A.

Review

I run 6 days this week. But two of those days are warm up to strength and abandoned run. I end the week with the shortest weekly mileage and shortest running time in the entire cycle. I do not even reach my target of 70 km/week. I am most disappointed with myself for not being able to complete even half the distance of my long run. This is the end of Week 4 already, but instead of getting stronger, I feel weaker. This is not supposed to happen. I won’t re-do the long run and need to get over it soon and get on with the rest of the program.

Weekly Mileage: 65.3 kilometres. Running Time: 5h 43m.

2016: In the Words of Running Shoes

Every running shoe model is not made the same. One may be good for long slow mileage, the other may be good for 5k-10k races. One may be good for you, but may not be for me. Ideally, I would rate shoes according to their intended purposes, speedwork, long run, easy run, 5k, 10k, half and full marathons. However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t own many shoes. Therefore, I will rate them in general. Only shoes that I bought in 2016 make the list. In 2016, I only bought 5 shoes, (in chronological order) adidas adizero adios Boost 2, Nike Lunartempo2, asics Hyperspeed 7, adidas adizero Boston Boost 5, and Nike Zoom Streak 6.

(1st) Nike Zoom Streak 6

T-8. "When your wife says YES to a shoe, you simply cannot say NO". Nike Zoom Streak 6 becomes my most anticipated shoe of 2016 ever since Eliud Kipchoge (Berlin 2015 & London 2016) and Galen Rupp (Olympic Trials) crushed other athletes to win in some styles. It was then-called Nike Prototype but I knew it all along that they were racing in a new version of Zoom Streak. Zoom Streak 6 is a complete revamp of Zoom Streak 5 that I love. Note that it has dropped 'Air' from its name. This suggests that there is no 'Air' unit like in Zoom Streak 5. The 'Air' unit makes way for a Pebax plate across the sole to promote faster turnover. After 11km test run this morning, it is apparent that Zoom Streak 6 is not as soft as its predecessor due to the lack of 'Air' unit. It runs narrower compared to Zoom Streak 5 so I have to half-size up. It is a completely different shoe. It is now on sale for RM439. But if you hold Jerasia card, you can get 10% off when you buy it from Jerasia's Nike outlet. Oh it comes with a nice Nike Track & Field shoe bag too. A touch of class from Nike I would say. Will it be the shoes for Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon next week? It is either this or Adidas Adios Boost 2. Yes I hear you. It weighs 180g for US7.5. #zoomstreak6 #nikemy #nikerunning #scklm #scklm2016 #running #marathon #ingerunner

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A lot of hype around this shoe way before it was being released. It received its first exposure when Eliud Kipchoge’s insole slid out of his shoes during Berlin Marathon 2015 which he still won. It was said he was wearing a prototype that was later refined and named Nike Zoom Streak 6. Malaysians had to wait months before it was sold in Malaysia after its US release. I usually wear US7.0 but I had to half-size up. It was due to the narrowness of the shoes around the arch. Having said that, this shoe may not be suitable to those who have wide feet. Months of anticipation was worth it. This shoe ticked most of the boxes that I wanted in a shoe for marathon. Nike Zoom Streak 6 was easily my numero uno shoe in 2016.

(+) Ample Cushioning/Awesome Ride

Don’t get me wrong. This shoe is meant to be raced in. It’s nowhere near Kinvara, Kayano’s plush. It is still a firm shoe. What makes it standout though is its heel. When the legs are tired at latter stages of a marathon, when we are starting to lose form, when we tend to heel strike more often, the heel provides ample cushioning to accommodate such situation.

(-) Durability

I have already run more than 400 kilometres in this. While the last is still holding up, the upper is not. The one-layered hyper-thin flymesh upper is used to reduce weight and improve breathability, but susceptible to wear and tear. The ‘patterned holes’ around the toe area makes it worse. I poked a hole on the upper barely 200 kilometres in. Since, I had to handle the shoes with care. Every time I run in it, I have to bear this in mind and try not too apply much pressure at the area to ensure that I do not rip the upper apart. Apart from the toe area, the medial side of the shoe is susceptible to cuts as well. I have read about this particular problem in running shoes forum. So this is not an isolated case. I only notice this after I have run close to 400 kilometres. The probable cause  is because the friction between the internal arch strap and the upper. The sharp edges of the internal arch strap eat the upper bit by bit from time to time. Actually, the same problem is present in  Zoom Streak 5 too although the previous iteration uses flywire cable instead of internal arch strap. One may argue that 400 kilometres for a racer is actually a good deal, but I have already punctured the toe area when the mileage is barely 200 kilometres.

(-) Narrow Last

This shoe is definitely not suitable to those with wide wide feet. Even my narrow feet are a bit wider than the shoes, especially during impact when my feet spill over sideways. The feeling of my feet sitting over the edge of the last is prominent during first few runs but kind of disappear afterwards. It is still there though, only it becomes unimportant when I am enjoying the ride.

Number of cons outweigh the pro, but why do I rate this shoe as my shoe of the year? It is because of how it rides. It rides so good that I forget about all the shortcomings that I have mentioned. It reminds me of my favourite running shoes ever, New Balance 1400v2. They are two different shoes, but the sensation I get whenever I am running in them is the same. Any day that I lace up Nike Zoom Streak 6, is a good day.

(2nd) asics Hyperspeed 7

This purchase was unplanned. I walked in to Pavilion’s Stadium outlet one day, and saw this garish shoes on display. I did not know what shoe was it. The colour was so bright that it got my attention. I lifted it from the rack and was taken aback by its lack of weight. Indeed, this shoe is the lightest running shoe that I have ever run in. While the colour got my attention, the design is meh. It reminded me of badminton shoes. Old-school mesh upper with cheap bits of plastic here and there to make up the structure of the shoe. I looked at the heel area, it read ‘Hyperspeed 7’. Hot damn. This is Ryan Hall’s shoes, and I was sold regardless of the colour.

(+) Hyper Speed Hyper Light

I am still perplexed how on earth this shoe can be so light. It only weighs 146g for US7.0 that I am wearing. It defies physics and logic. Thick old-school mesh, plastic strips. Surely, plastic strips are heavier than film overlays. I am not sure how do Asics achieve this. It must be in the midsole. If I am to cut out the midsole, I may probably find a huge void.

(+) Oooohhh Cushioned

Cushioning to weight ratio is off the chart. It is so lightweight but it is so cushioned (read: not plush). However I am confused by the intention of the shoes. To me, this shoe is for the rare occasions when I need to go fast, like speedwork, 5k-10k races. But due to the cushioning, I feel kind of detached from the ground. I prefer shoes with a lot of ground feedback for speedworks and all-out races (5k-10k).

(+) Versatility

Perhaps, it is not designed with solely speed in mind. It is actually a superb shoe that caters for a lot of kind of workouts. I find myself wearing this shoe for speedwork due to its lightness, as well as easy and long runs due to its cushioning.

(+) Durability

I have put in more than 700 kilometres in this shoe. It is such an amazing feat as it is a hyper light racer and it is not meant to last more than 400 kilometres. But here I am, 700 sweet kilometres in the shoes. The upper is good as new. If  it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Probably that’s why Asics stick with old-school mesh. It works without any fuss. But after 700 kilometres, the outsole has finally given up. I have worn down the rubber outsole at the lateral side (I am a supinator).

(-) Not a Marathon Shoe

It is light, it is cushioned. But why is it not suitable to be a marathon shoe. You may find I am contradicting myself. Yes, it is cushioned, but it is thin. It sits close to the ground. The amount of cushioning may mask the feeling for the first 20 kilometres or so, but from that point onwards, the ground feeling will be substantial. I certainly need more protection. While Nike Zoom Streak 6 is a lot firmer than Hyperspeed 7, the greater distance between sole and the ground does a tremendous job in protecting and keeping my feet fresher during later stages of a marathon.

So many plus points for Hyperspeed 7. The only shortcoming is that it is not suitable for a marathon, for me at least. But if you are an elite, with good biomechanics, there won’t be any issue to run a marathon in this. A lot of Asics elites choose Hyperspeed 7 as their marathon shoes. Sadly, I am not an elite. I mainly run marathons over 5k-10k, and this is the reason why it has to settle second behind Streak 6.

(3rd) Nike Lunartempo 2

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This shoe needs no introduction. I wrote a full review of it in a different post. This is a shoe that I initially hated. It grows on me from time to time though. I have now run more than 500 kilometres in it. This is currently my go to easy/long runs. While the rubber outsole is showing great wear and tear, the upper is holding up well. I expect to put in another 200 kilometres before retiring it. Who knows? Perhaps, there is still life in it after 200 kilometres. The downfall of this shoe is really the sockliner. When it is wet, its sockliner starts to slide around. This happens to on a number of occasions. This problem is exaggerated as my feet sweat easily. Consequently, the shoes become wet often. I shall expect the problem to arise when the mileage starts to pass 20 kilometres.

(4th) adidas adizero adios Boost 2

T-15. Barely two weeks before the big race. All is in the bag. It is time to keep faith on the training that has been done and start to taper.It is also important to familiarise with the race. So this morning workout is 5 reps of alternate 800m intervals between half-marathon and marathon paces. Why half-marathon pace? There will be time during the race when our body starts to get fatigued. This is where we need to push slightly harder. By alternating between half-marathon and marathon paces, we will teach our body to switch gears and work harder when our legs are getting heavier. That is also my race shoe. I haven't fallen in love with it yet but I got to keep the faith. Too late to make tweaks. #running #adidasrunning #stravarun #adisboost2 #tokyomarathon #roadtotokyo #poweredbybanana #ingerunner

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This was my Tokyo Marathon shoes. Leading to Tokyo Marathon, I wore this shoe at least 95% of time. From easy runs, long runs, speedworks and the marathon itself. It is a fast shoe. It needs to be run fast to make it fun. That’s the reason why it took me about 300 kilometres before liking this shoe. I know many are wearing this shoe (and adios Boost 3) for most of their runs. To me, it feels cumbersome when it is run slow. To truly enjoy this shoe, it needs to be run fast.

(+) Upper/Fit

Among all the shoes that I have ever run in, probably this shoe has the best upper. It snugs my feet really well, like what a racer should do. I feel fast already by putting my feet in the shoes.

(+) Responsiveness

Among the five, this is the most responsive shoes of all. It begs to be run fast.

(-) Firm

It is a racer so it should be firm. Sadly, too firm to me. I am not biomechanically-gifted so I need more underneath my feet.

(5th) adidas adizero Boston Boost 5

T-24 to SCKLM 2016. Last time I ran a marathon, I wore Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2 (AB2). For my next marathon, I plan to wear Adidas Adizero Boston Boost 5 (BB5). For many, this may seem to be a step down as BB5 is Adidas' second-tier while AB2 is the brand's top of the line marathon shoe. But after KM30 in my last marathon, my forefoot screamed for more protection. Lightness, responsiveness, they all did not matter. I only longed for a bit more cushion. Physically, Boost material on AB2 runs from the heel almost to the toes. While on BB5 the Boost stops farther away from the toes. This misleadingly leads people to think that AB2 has softer forefoot. However, stack heights on both forefoot and heel on BB5 are about 2.0 mm higher than on AB2. So BB5 actually has a tad more cushioning both on forefoot and heel compared to AB2. I'll bring this bad boy for a long run tomorrow to see whether it is really that softer. If not, I still have one race left in my old trusted #adiosboost2. If BB5 is good enough for @walmsley172 for Western States 100, it is good enough for us mere mortals. Plus, BB5 is now on 50% at @themarathonshop. Promotion ends end of this month. So better get yours now. #adidasmy #adidasrunning #bostonboost5 #scklm2016 #whyirunkl #ingerunner

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I am not too sure about this shoe. I was torn between Boston Boost 5 and Nike Pegasus 32. Both were on sale,but Nike Pegasus 32 was a tad bit more expensive. I regret my decision to not spend a bit more for the Pegasus.

(-) Upper

This is the single biggest reason why this shoe is down the pecking order. adios upper is stiff, and it is great. Boston upper is less stiff, but it is everything wrong about it. I have to take minutes to fit my feet in the shoes. The heel counter is not that stiff so it is not it. Perhaps it is the lacing. And the tongue. I am not too sure why adidas beef up the tongue. To provided padded protection? I only feel hotspots occasionally due to its bulkiness. adios tongue is nearly-perfect, so why it does not get trickled down to Boston. I think adidas need to take cue from asics. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

(-) Firm

In adidas line, Boston Boost 5 sits behind adios Boost in term of raciness and firmness. Boston Boost is marketed as a trainer while adios Boost as a racer. Somehow, I find Boston  is firmer than adios. I tried to like it but after more than 250 kilometres in it, I still can’t find a reason to like it.

Silver lining for Boston though, when I run out of shoes to run in (which I am soon), when Lunartempo 2 has finally come to the end of its life, whether I like it or not, I am going to have to utilise with what I currently possess which means that I will be running in Boston more.

Summary

There you have it. Ranking for five shoes that I bought in 2016. Apart from Boston, I like all other shoes. adios is fourth but by no means is a mediocre shoe. Before I splurge on any running shoe, I will look up for reviews online beforehand. I do my research on all shoes before pulling the trigger. But different people, different feet, different preferences. I read only rave reviews about Boston online, and even in my circle of running friends, most rate Boston highly. It is just not for me. For this reason, when somebody asks me to recommend them shoes, I ask them to try the shoes out first. A good place to do so in Malaysia is at The Marathon Shop, Running Lab, Asics, Brooks, and Nike outlets.

Those with narrow/normal feet, I would suggest to give Nike Zoom Streak 6 a try. It is a special shoe. We can base our assessments on numbers but at the end of the day, the feelings that we get from the shoes are what matter most. I am looking forward to any day that I get to wear Nike Zoom Streak 6.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 3

Day 15: Monday (Jan 2) – Rest

First time in the cycle where I don’t run in two consecutive days. But I have fun going down slides at a waterpark in Malacca. It is the end of Malacca trip and I hop it is also the end of my eating binge. Time to clock in some mileage in the New Year.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 16: Tuesday (Jan 2) – First Miles of the New Year

The plan is to run 17 kilometres in 90 minutes to commemorate 2017. Then it starts to get dark, lightning everywhere, and eventually the heaven opens up. It is raining cats and dogs and mouses. I begin to taste my own sweat mixed with the rain. The condition is so bad that I am forced to cut my run short.

Strava

Mileage: 13.7 km | Weight: 53.4 kg.

Day 17: Wednesday (Jan 3) – Lazy Easy

It is supposed to be 90 minutes run that is interrupted yesterday. I wake up feeling lazy to go outside. I get out of the house anyway but only manage to do 70 minutes run. I stop a couple of times before calling it a day.

Strava

Mileage: 12.5 km | Weight: 52.7 kg.

Day 18: Thursday (Jan 4) – Cruise Intervals

It is track day, favourite day of the week. The plan is to run 8-10 reps of KM repeats at 4’03-4’11 min/km. I only eat half of a banana before the workout. Only manage to complete 8 reps as I am feeling hungry. It is a semi-tough workout.

Strava

Mileage: 15.5 km | Weight: 52.8 kg.

Day 19: Friday (Jan 5) – Under the Weather

I wak up feeling something is not right. The weather is fine but I am not. Stuffy nose and scratchy nose, that’s all. And my sole is aching. Fortunately it is not at plantar fascia region so I shall be alright. I am not feeling any better as the day progresses so I am taking the day off. Sometimes you have to listen to your body.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: 53.2 kg.

Day 20: Saturday (Jan 6) – New Ground

I am still feeling under the weather but I don’t want to get behind my plan. I am trying to shake it off by running easy at Taman Metropolitan Kepong, 3.6 kilometres undulating loop. Properly maintained and wide track, so this shall be a good replacement to Titiwangsa when it closes.

Strava

Mileage: 12.6 km | Weight: 53.2 kg.

Day 21: Sunday (Jan 7) – Progression

I am yet to ‘finish’ a marathon in four previous attempts. I am stuck with one gear from the beginning till 28-30 kilometres. When the legs get tired, I just could not find an extra gear. That’s why I am introducing progression run in this cycle, to find that extra gear at latter stages of a marathon.

The plan is to start at an easy pace and increase the pace every 10 minutes for 80 minutes (6’00, 5’45, 5’30, 5’20, 5’10, 5’00, 4’45, 4’30 min/km) before finishing it off at 10k pace in the last 10 minutes. I start to suffer when the pace drops below 5’00 min/km. Bad GPS signal at shaded area greatly affects me. Once at 10k pace, I am pushing a lot harder yet the pace becomes slower. I know it is partly because of the GPS issue but 3 minutes in, I give up and stop. Fortunately, I manage to steal my third CR at Titiwangsa. I regret my decision to stop for the rest of the day though. I am stronger than this.

Strava

Mileage: 16.6 km | Weight: 52.7 kg.

Review

Another 5 days a week of running, no cross training for a total mileage of 71 kilometres in the span of 6h 8m. I am glad to complete two key workouts, cruise intervals on Thursday and progression on Sunday. A bit disappointed not to complete the whole program of the progression run though.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 2

It is almost Friday in Week 3 but I am just about to recap my Week 2 of training.

Day 8: Monday (Dec 26) – Rest

Today I turn 29. The clock is ticking. Only 365 days left for me to fulfil my ultimate goal. I decide to take the day off to spend time and celebrate with family. My wife cooked me soto. It is delicious and I eat a lot.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: 53.8 kg.

Day 9: Tuesday (Dec 27) – Tempo

Age is catching up with me. The plan is to run tempo between 4.8 to 8 kilometres. I usually run my tempo at the track but I want to set CR on three Strava segments at Titiwangsa before it closes for two years for River of Life project. At 29, it is hard to maintain 4’20 min/km pace. I manage to set 2 CR on two Strava segments and fail to attempt the third and slowest segment. I run out of juice and stop after 5.7 kilometres and fail to complete the last segment. I will be back.

Mileage: 12.1 km| Weight: 53.6 kg.

Strava

Day 10: Wednesday (Dec 28) – 60′ Easy

It is mandatory to go easy after a hard workout. My legs clearly have not recovered from yesterday’s strenuous tempo. I run easy for 60 minutes around the hood.

Mileage: 11.1 km | Weight: 53.4 kg. 

Strava

Day 11: Thursday (Dec 29) – 2:1 Fartlek

I arrive early at the track for 2:1 fartlek only to be told that it is closed for the day for a film shooting. Luckily there is a nearby stretch with enough length for 2 minutes hard reps. I manage to do 8 reps of 2 minutes hard, 1 minute recovery jog fartlek. Target pace is 5k-10k pace. My legs are trashed.

Mileage: 12.1 km | Weight: 52.6 kg.

Strava

Day 12: Friday (Dec 30) – Easy + Strides

I am still recuperating from the stress of Tuesday’s tempo and yesterday’s fartlek. Easy feels like hard to the legs. I barely run easy for 60 minutes before adding some strides at the end. Brief core workout followed.

Mileage: 12.5 km | Weight: 53.0 kg.

Strava

Day 13: Saturday (Dec 31) – Bidding Farewell to Titiwangsa

I clearly in need of a break from running to let my legs recuperate properly. But I am going for a short family trip to Malacca on Sunday. So I have to cram a long run today. Today is the last day of 2016, also ‘the last day’ of Titiwangsa. The River of Life project is scheduled to commence in January 2017. I decide to bid goodbye to 2016 and Titiwangsa by running a long run. I suffer today. I am not feeling as good as last week’s long run although I run a lot shorter. It is probably due to the fatigue that accumulates from two hard workouts earlier of the week as well as lack of sleep for the past few days.

Mileage: 23.3 km | Weight: 52.4 kg.

Strava

Day 14: Sunday (Jan 1) – Happy New Year

I welcome the new year with nasi lemak for breakfast, asam pedas for lunch, and seafood and ikan bakar for dinner. While others are running 20.17 kilometres to welcome 2017, I have probably 2.017 kilograms already.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: 53.2 kg.

Review

Week 2 is a quite hard week where I do two hard workouts as well as one long run. It is probably wise to take a day off from running before the long run but I just have to cram it for Malacca trip. My legs are trashed but I am taking a break from running for two days for the Malacca trip. So my legs shall be fresh to start Week 3.

2016: That’ a Wrap

I can’t believe that 2016 has just gone by. It feels that only yesterday I moved in to a new home. 2016 started with positivity where I clocked 500 kilometres in January but it was not what I had imagined.

If you still remember, I set out 3 main goals and 1 secondary goal that I would like to achieve in 2016. But I only managed to complete the secondary goal. I neither managed to run a sub 3:30 marathon, nor run 4 marathons, nor run 3500 kilometres. In spite of the setbacks and disappointments, I ran more often than ever. I ran 2872 kilometres over 212 days. And I ran Tokyo Marathon, which was a memorable experience.

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Run Sub 3:30 Marathon

I was hopeful that I could pull this off. I believed that I could do it during my first marathon of the year in Tokyo. But I was mentally-defeated and finished in 3:37:54 which still remain a Personal Best. I had one more attempt at Kuala Lumpur Marathon and finished even worse.

Mental weakness is the main factor why I could not achieve this goal. This is an area where I really need to improve. Apart from that, it is due to lack of consistency in training. I may run a lot, but sometimes there are things that are out of my control. I got injured few times during the year and my training got interrupted.  Here’s to smarter training!

Run 4 Marathons

The plan was to run Tokyo in February, one before fasting month, Kuala Lumpur Marathon in August, Penang Bridge in November. I was down with a lengthy injury after Tokyo Marathon where I could not run properly at all. I was sidelined for long, then I became a father, and my only sister got married. There was not enough time to train for marathon. Then I ran Kuala Lumpur and Penang Bridge Marathon should have been my last marathon of the year. Few weeks before Penang Bridge Marathon, injury struck again. I tried to shake it off by taking a break from running for more than 10 days but I did not recover in time. In the end, I only ran 2 marathons in 2016.

Run 3500 kilometres

500 kilometres in January set the tone right. Then I hurt my ITB after Tokyo Marathon and only did minimal running for two months or so. I ramped up the mileage in May trying to clock as many mileages as I could for Kyserun Krew May Miles Maniac challenge. Then the mileage dropped again during fasting month. In preparation for Penang Bridge Marathon, I took up FIRST training plan which philosophy was to run high intensity workouts but less mileage. This was where I decided not to pursue the goal I set. I end 2016 with 2872 kilometres, well short of my goal.

Run Sub-42 10k Race

I did it during TM Fan Run where I finished 4th with a 10k PB of 41:46. Although I improved my timing during Mizuno Wave Run where I ran 41:43, I did not take it into account as I did it in the last 10 kilometres (the race was overdistanced by at least 500 metres).

Races

I raced less than I did in 2015. I was only concentrating in running full marathon, so no trail and ultra races at all. I raced 4 times only, two full marathons at Tokyo and Kuala Marathon, two 10k at TM Fan Run and Mizuno Wave Run. I did run two half marathons though at Nike WeRunKL and MHWH Putrajaya but both were run as part of my training.

2017

2017 is going to be almost the same. Focus will be solely on full marathon. It is going to be a more challenging year definitely where I plan to better my marathon PB, stay injury-free, and run a lot farther.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 1

Overview

I have laid the roadmap to achieving my running goal in 2017. First, I need to bring down my weight to 50 kg. At the moment, I weigh around 53 kg. I plan to achieve it over 4 marathons and it starts with a marathon in March, Pahang International Marathon (which I have not registered yet).

I actually started training for the marathon 3 weeks ago but I decided to give it some tweaks. I was using Runner’s World training plan but figured out that I needed more tempo runs. I compare that training plan with the one on Strava. There are two distinct differences between the two. Strava’s training plan has more tempo runs and incorporates fartleks in place of structured intervals. After comparing both, I decide to follow Strava’s.

This training cycle will be documented here, on Instagram as well as Strava.

Day 1: Monday (Dec 19) – Easy

The cycle started with a 50 minutes easy run around the neighbourhood.

Mileage: 9.6 km. | Weight: 52.2 kg.

Strava

Day 2: Tuesday (Dec 20) – Fartlek

This fartlek session was initially scheduled on Wednesday. But since I had an interview on Wednesday, I ran this workout a day early. I ran 16 x 1:1 fartlek, 1 minute hard, 1 minute recovery jog. Target pace was between 5k-10k pace. It did not hurt as much as intervals as each fast interval lasted only a minute. Even though I felt good throughout the workout and felt that I could run a lot more reps, I was aware that I needed to ease off the pedal a little bit.

Mileage: 12.6 km. | Weight: 52.1 kg.

Strava

Day 3: Wednesday (Dec 21) – Rest

I decided to take the day off since I was travelling for an interview and the legs were a bit sore from yesterday’s hard workout. I had KFC for lunch and that would explain why my weight increased tomorrow.

Mileage: 0 km. | Weight: 52.1 kg.

Day 4: Thursday (Dec 22) – Easy

I was late and tried to finish my run before dusk. I got too carried away and ran my easy run too fast. My legs became really sore after the run.

Mileage: 13.0 km. | Weight: 52.9 kg.

Strava

Day 5: Friday (Dec 23) – Easy

Today’s tough was hard to the legs. I paid the price of going too fast yesterday. My baby girl turned 8 months old today.

Mileage: 12.2 km. | Weight: 52.1 kg.

Strava

Day 6: Saturday (Dec 24) – Cycling

Woke up early for my long run. But my mind was playing tricks with me. I was not sure whether my legs were really sore, but they definitely were in my mind. I hesitated and it became too late. I went out cycling for 40 minutes instead. I adjusted the saddle height and it fitted better. This was followed by 10 minutes of core workout.

Weight: 52.8 kg.

Strava

Day 7: Sunday (Dec 25) – Long Run

Being lazy to run yesterday turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I just moved my long run a day closer to my birthday. The plan was to run 23 kilometres in 2 hours or so. When I reached Titiwangsa, I was not feeling it though. I dreaded the distance. I was not too sure that I could run 23 kilometres. 2 laps in, I started to feel a lot better though. I ran 28 kilometres at Titiwangsa on my 28th birthday and decided to continue the tradition of running my age on my birthday, a day early this year. I wanted to do my long runs on empty stomach but I felt so weak that I had to have half of a banana before the run. I stopped few times during the run to replenish with water, 1oo plus, and banana.

Mileage: 29.0 km. | Weight: 53.3 kg.

Strava

Review

Apart from sore legs in the middle of the week, I felt good throughout the week. All workouts were easy to complete. But I had to run easy runs really easy. I am not too sure why my weight increases from 52.2 to 53.3 kg though. I need to document what I eat too I guess. I don’t really understand my body as I can lose as much as 1.5 kg (water loss) from an hour run. Or maybe I need to buy a new scale.

Weekly Mileage: 76.5 km. | Time Spent: 6h 39m.

“The Program”

So, I did not run Penang Bridge International Marathon. What a bummer since I had dedicated 16 weeks of training for it. That was supposed to be the last race before 2016 ends. Gutted, but I am already looking forward to my next marathon in 2017.

I had trained according to Phil Maffetone’s philosophy where I ran 95% aerobically for Tokyo. My mileages peaked at 135km per week, and 500km per month, but the gain was barely there.

I got injured after Tokyo and my motivation was at all time low. I did not follow any specific training plan for Kuala Lumpur. I just ran whatever workout that I felt like doing. Very unstructured.

Then, I followed Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) for Penang. There was a lot less running but a lot higher intensity. Three key workouts every week, namely tempo, interval/speed and long runs. Frustratingly, I got injured in the middle of my preparation and had no results to show.

Undeterred by yet another disappointment, I look for a new training plan for my next marathon. This time around, I want to run a lot more and tone the intensity a notch down. Ideally, the training plan should be 12 weeks long but I can’t find a marathon in the middle of February. Twincity is too early and the nearest one after that is in the middle of March. It is 15 weeks (14 weeks at the time of writing) away. I find one marathon training plan that I like which spans over 16 weeks. I am only a week behind so I decide to give it a try. It is a 16-week marathon training plan by Runner’s World. I get the plan for free by downloading Runner’s World Go on my phone which comes with 2 weeks free trial.

It is a very doable training plan. It involves six running days (with option of skipping two easy running days), with only two key workouts per week for the majority of the plan. Nearing the end of the plan, hill workouts are included making it three key workouts per week. The key workouts consist of intervals, tempo, hills, and long runs. The longest week peaks at 80 kilometres four weeks before the marathon.

Compared to FIRST, this training plan is a lot more tolerable where the intervals are run a lot slower, and the long runs at a really moderate pace. Intervals and long runs are weekly staple but tempo runs are scarce. Only three tempo runs are to be run and these are incorporated in the long runs. There are two 20 miles long runs and one 22 miles long run which is the most daunting workout in the plan. Barring any injury or misfortune, this training plan is easy to complete.

Having said that, I will make few tweaks from what I have read. I will try to run in the early mornings with empty stomachs on easy days, as well as long runs. I have read that this will aid on improving metabolism to burn fat. Easy on easy days, but for long runs? Maybe not, but I will give it a try.

Lastly, which marathon? I have my eyes on one, but am reluctant to register yet since I have some doubts about the organisation of the race. It is organised by an unproven organiser and I only hear uneasy experiences from friends who have run their events before. Unfortunately, there are not many options in March. But I will wait unless there are yet-to-be-announced marathon around.

Shoe Review: Nike Lunartempo 2

Nike Lunartempo 2 has been around for quite some time. Despite being so popular among NBRO running crews (some of them run 2:30-2:40 marathons in Lunartempo 2), it never caught my attention. It all changed when Nike introduced two new colourways which were Whiteout and Blackout. I am a sucker for anything black, but I prefer the Whiteout colourway better. It looks clean and fresh. I rewarded myself with a pair of Nike Lunartempo 2 after running Tokyo Marathon.

It happened that a week after Tokyo Marathon, I injured my IT band. It was disappointing and frustrating to be down with an injury. Contrary to advices that I gave to others, I tried to shake the injury off by running. I made it worse and my new Lunartempo 2 suffered from an unjust assessment. A part of me was blaming insufficient rest from a marathon, while another part of me on unsuitable shoes (Lunartempo 2), as the contributor of my injury. The injury was so bad that it altered my strides. I was limping and running instead of running. And Lunartempo 2 took a lot of heat because of this problem.

After few running outings in Lunartempo 2 totalling to around 150 kilometres, I was forced to come to the fact that I made the wrong purchase. I retired the shoes to become my casual shoes. That’s the worst shame that can ever happen to running shoes. It remained on my shoe rack for months until I wore out all of my other shoes. Buying a new pair of shoes was not an option so I had to recall Lunartempo 2 from my shoe museum.

A day before a long run at Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM), I took out Lunartempo 2 for a quick spin for one final assessment. It felt different. I started to like the shoes, so I decided to run my long run in Lunartempo 2. My review of the shoe will revolve largely on what happened during PNM.

(+) Lightweight

First thing that you’ll notice once you put your feet in the shoes is the lack of weight. Despite its lightness, it offers plenty of cushioning. You only expect this lightness and cushioning combination to come from Hoka One One and Skechers, not Nike. It resembles my Saucony Kinvara 5, but lighter. The lightness of the shoes is achieved through the simple upper construction which does not have any overlays apart from the aesthetic swoosh on the lateral sides of the shoe and strategic placement of the reinforced rubber for the outsole. It is not a full ground contact shoe and the reinforced rubber is only placed at critical area, which are at forefoot and heel. Exposed Lunarlon midsole is used around the midsection of the outsole. The lack of rubber underneath the shoe shaves the weight down.

(+) Cushioning

This is a matter of preference. All of my favourites running shoes come with minimal cushioning like New Balance 1400v2, Nike Zoom Streak 6, Asics Hyperspeed 7. These types of shoes are essentially called running flats where the ground feedback is pronounced. I like to train and race in them. This is one of the reasons why I initially dislike Lunartempo 2 as well as why I dislike Kinvara 5. I do not like muted ‘ground feeling’. But I know that in order to keep my feet fresh and fatigue at bay, I need to do most of my running in shoes with more cushioning. I need to allow time for transition. After some time, I start to appreciate a bit more of cushioning that Lunartempo 2 offers.

Judging from the outer appearance of the shoe, one might think that the cushioning is achieved through thick midsole based on the high sidewalls. This turns out to be misleading. The stack height (thickness underneath your foot) published by Running Warehouse is 26mm (heel) and 18mm(forefoot). Exactly the same stack height as my racier Nike Zoom Streak 6 but Zoom Streak 6 feels a lot firmer.

The cushioning is actually achieved through the soft Lunarlon midsole. I believe the accordion-like design of the midsole sidewall helps too where it allows the midsole to compress more efficiently. This sidewall theory is purely my gut feeling so take it with a pinch of salt.

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Accordion-like midsole

Having said that, Lunartempo 2 is not overly-cushioned. Those who are used to run in heavily-cushioned shoes like Asics Kayano may find that Lunartempo 2 is not that cushioned. To me, Lunartempo is appropriately-cushioned, not too cushioned to render it mushy, and well-cushioned not to render it harsh. This is a good shoe for easy runs, long runs, and even marathons and ultra marathons.

(+) Breathability

My feet sweat easily even when I barefoot. So breathability is a big thing for me. Initially, I feel my feet to be constricted while wearing this shoe. I can feel my feet sweat more. After a while, the shoe becomes a bit more accommodating and the problem is gone. The well-ventilated engineered mesh upper combined with lack of overlays make the shoe breathable.

(-) Traction

The shoe works mightily fine in normal condition, but performs poorly in wet. There are two occasions when the lack of traction becomes really irritating. One, when I am doing a long run at PNM when it is raining, and the other time when I am doing fartlek after a heavy downpour. During the rolling course of PNM, I need to be a bit cautious and put some efforts to prevent myself from slipping especially while running downhill. During the fartlek, I am struggling against the wet and slippery surface. The reinforced rubber outsoles do not seem to grip the tarmac well and it feels that I lose a lot of traction while pushing off, all the while worrying about slipping.

(-) Durability

I am never a fan of pod outsole because of the feeling underneath the foot as well as durability issues. One may say that Lunartempo 2’s outsole is not categorised as one, but the concept is similar. It is not a full-contact outsole, with reinforced rubber pieces thrown around the forefoot and heel areas. This reduces the contact area between the shoes and ground, hence increases the pressure. Despite using reinforced rubber, it does not take long before I notice wear on the outsole. After few runs, the wear is quite noticeable. I supinate/underpronate, so the lateral side of the outsole suffers the most. Since it is not a full contact outsole, the wear creeps to the vulnerable midsole. You also need to be careful when running on gravel surfaces as the exposed soft midsole traps gravel easily and is susceptible to sharp objects. For this reason, I won’t recommend Lunartempo 2 to be used in trail.

(-) Sockliner(Insole)/Fit/Sizing/Upper

‘Sockliner’ is the thing I dislike the most about this shoe. It is a deal breaker. But the problem is not the sockliner. One flaw contributes to a problem, contributes to another, eventually contributes to sockliner mishap.

While doing 33 kilometres long run at PNM, I did a ‘Kipchoge’. Not the third fastest marathon time kind of Kipchoge, but the dockliner slipping out of the shoes kind of Kipchoge. It is a warm, humid and wet night at Putrajaya. After 10 kilometres, the sockliner starts to crease underneath both of my feet. The nuisance is so irritating that I have to stop, take off my shoes, take out the sockliner, and put it back properly. I repeat the same sequences for the next 10 kilometres before I decide to remove the sockliner from the shoe. I run the rest of my long run without a sockliner in my right shoe.

While the sockliner takes the blame, the problem lies deeper (or may I say outer?) in the upper. The lack of overlays (apart from the aesthetic swoosh) makes the upper unstructured which is a double-edge sword. Unlike Flyknit, where the designers can play around with the thickness of the material to reinforce critical areas, the engineered mesh material used cannot. To reinforce the critical areas, it needs other piece of material like overlays, which it does not have. Understandably, the unstructured upper makes the upper more accommodating but the stretchy upper also allows the feet to move around unrestricted.

What happens during PNM is, especially while running downhill, my toes slip to the front, stretches the upper (and my toes) beyond the base of the shoes, and every time I push off, my toes dig into the sockliner and push the sockliner back. Consequently creasing the sockliner. The wet condition makes it easier for this problem to happen. Probably, same thing happened to Kipchoge during Berlin 2015 and since, some of newer Nike running shoes like Zoom Streak 6, Terra Kiger come with glued sockliners to prevent sockliners slipping out of position.

front
Front view of Lunartempo 2. Notice that there is no overlay at toe area.

Suitability

Among shoe reviews that one can find online, I think this is a section that reviews tend to overlook. What defines a good shoe? A lot. But one shoe can be great at shorter distances but terrible at longer distances. There’s no do-it-all shoe.

Easy runs: It is suitable for easy run. Those who are used to high-cushioning shoes may find the cushioning insufficient, but for most, the cushioning is enough for easy runs.

Long runs: Same thing for long runs. Enough cushioning to keep your legs fresh.

Tempo runs: There is a reason why it is called Lunartempo. It is meant for tempo runs. However, I prefer shoes that have more pronounced ground feeling for tempo runs.

Intervals: It is too soft for intervals. And like tempo runs, I like shoes that feels more alive (ground feeling).

<10k races: Read ‘Tempo runs’ and ‘Intervals’ above.

Half-marathon: Lightweight with enough cushioning. It is good for half-marathons. Though, I still prefer more lively shoes like Asics Hyperspeed 7.

Marathon: Definitely enough cushioning to last a marathon.

Ultra-marathons: For 50k road ultras, this will suffice. For distances longer than 50k, I may look for shoes with a bit more cushioning.

Conclusions

 

It is easy to figure out why people love Lunartempo 2 so much. It is lightweight and appropriately-cushioned. At this price point, it is hard to beat. It is not at all a maximal shoe like Hoka, but it offers the same .

In a normal dry condition, the shoe performs so well. But when the condition is far from ideal, wet and slippery, the lack of grip is definitely a concern.

It is not true to size as well. I usually wear US7, and mine is also US7, but I think I might be better if I half-size up. Perhaps, by half-sizing up, ‘Kipchoge’ won’t happen.

It is a good marathon shoe but I don’t plan in running any in it. Because it is down to my preference of running in a lively shoe where I can feel the ground. According to Running Warehouse, the stack height is exactly similar to Nike Zoom Streak 6, but Nike Lunartempo 2 definitely feels higher from the ground compared to Zoom Streak 6.

There is one minor tweak that I would like to see that will make the shoe better. A bit of structure on the upper especially around the toe area that will prevent the upper from stretching too much which in turn will prevent the foot from sliding around. Unfortunately, rumour has it that we won’t see a Lunartempo 3. Nike is said to discontinue Lunartempo line. I do not understand this decision as Lunartempo 2 is such a popular shoe. It is a shame really because it is an alternative to the slightly firmer Lunaracer.

SCKLM 2016

They say, if a Malaysian wants to measure how well he/she does in a marathon, he/she needs to measure it at SCKLM 2016. This is because SCKLM route is a killer one. Mostly flat in the first 30 kilometres or so, then when the legs are already tired, the course goes through the infamous Bukit Tunku where the real test commences.

So when someone asks you what is your marathon PB, it is not your fastest marathon ever, but your finish time at SCKLM. Obviously, this is BS.

Coincidentally, Kuching Marathon is held two weeks after SCKLM. Kuching Marathon is probably the flattest course in Malaysia, ideal for a PB. My heart says, run Kuching. But due to travel time, budget, and other commitments, I settle for SCKLM. After all, Kuala Lumpur is my city.

Although I do not clock as many mileage as I did in preparation for Tokyo Marathon, I still run a lot. My training is unstructured and inconsistent though.

I do not put a high expectation, sufficient if I can break my PB from Tokyo. If everything goes well, maybe a sub 3:30. My strategy is simple. I know I have to stop in the middle of the race for Fajr. Taken this into account, I need to run consistently at a pace of slightly faster than 5’00 min/km. That is the plan.

I arrive at the starting line quite late but early enough to do some warm up. While warming up, as dreaded, I have to spend some time at the loo.

Before going to the starting pen, I receive a text message from my wife.

“Remember mind over matters!”.

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She knows me well enough that I am always defeated by my mind. It is something that I have not mastered.

My starting pen is Pen 2. It is filled to the brim. So I take my position at the back of Pen 2, just in front of those in Pen 3. In my hand, I have a bottle of water. The intention is to take a gel 5 minutes before the start, flush it down with water, then ditch the water bottle. But I can not find a bin so I keep a hold of it.

The gun goes off and off we go. The first 7 kilometres of the race goes through Kuala Lumpur city centre, where the GPS signal is bad due to the skyscrapers. So instead of relying on the numbers on my watch, I run by feel. I may have run slightly faster than intended due to adrenaline rush.

Not long after the start, I see a familiar face. It is Will. I follow him and exchange few jokes with him. I tag along for a while before he speeds up. I restraint myself from running his pace. Then, I see Haziq Hamzah. I am surprised to see him because he is a fast runner and he should be way up front. I am maintaining my pace but somehow I catch up with him. I catch up with him and he says that he is preserving his energy for Bukit Tunku. We are exchanging our pace, splits and distance, and our watches are giving different information. At one point, his watch is off by 800 metres, while mine, 400 metres, compared to the road markers.

Soon, we catch up with Sahlan. He seems to be struggling because he is feeling unwell. The pace is comfortable and I am running side by side with Sahlan and Haziq up till Jalan Ampang before we lose Sahlan.

We are now running on AKLEH where the GPS is stabilised. We are able to catch glimpses of leaders who are already turning back to MRR2. It is around KM11 and the leaders are at least 2 kilometres ahead of us. I do not stop at any of the water station because I have plenty of water in my bottle. I take my first gel (second if you count the one I take just before the start) just before the U-turn at AKLEH.

We pass the toll plaza one more time at KM15, where we catch up with Kak Tahira. I say some words of encouragement to her as we run past her. (I regret this because she passes me later in the race and finishes second in Malaysian Women’s category in 3:28!).

Suddenly, Haziq starts to pull away from me. The gap grows quickly without realising it. Obviously, I can not match his pace, so I run my own pace. Before we go down to MRR2, he is probably 100 or 200 metres in front of me, all gained in a matter of 3 kilometres or so. It feels slightly warmer at MRR2.

Then, comes the first real test. Going up the steep ramp to DUKE. By this time, I already empty my water bottle and ditch it at one of the water stations. I am halfway of the race. My split for half marathon is 1:37:35, on course for a sub 3:20. But I am starting to feel the stress and strain of the race. The motivation is low as I am running by myself. I have completely lost sight of Haziq.

Fortunately, I come across Azrul riding his bike. He paces me for first few kilometres on DUKE. He offers me some Coke and some snacks (I think) which I refuse. He says I am going fast.

“Indeed, too fast for my own good”.

We bid farewell and I am by myself again. I have not seen any walker yet, and I do not want to be the first one. Then I see one Mat Salleh who is walking. I say few words to him to keep him going as I am passing him.

Then, I see 3 strong runners, 1 Mat Salleh, 1 Minah Salleh and 1 Chinese lady in front of me. They seem to be running together. I catch up with them and follow their pace. I glance at my watch and the pace is 4’25 min/km. It is too fast so I back off. Later, I learn the Chinese lady is a former national athlete, Yuan Yu Fang who sets the fastest time for Malaysia Women’s category with 3:19.

Soon, I catch up with a big group that consists a few familiar faces. Will is there too. Fatigue is creeping in but at least I know I am doing something right as I run past the group.

It is now Fajr and I am feeling exhausted. I guess it is a good time to stop for Fajr. I stop at a water station at KM28 and asks the volunteers for Kiblat’s direction. They clearly are not expecting and unprepared for such request. Luckily, my Suunto is equipped with compass. In the midst of the rush, I forget the bearing though. Is it 290 degrees or 90 degrees? I use few cups of water to perform my ablution and as I am about to perform my prayer, a volunteer points out that I am facing the wrong direction. Credits to them, they manage to prepare a cloth for me to perform my prayer. While I am praying, I see Will’s group runs past me and closely followed by Jepah. I have no idea that Jepah is behind me. I am about to shout his name before realising that I am actually praying. Khusyuk much?

My starts to cool down from the lengthy break (4 minutes 4 seconds) and I am starting to feel the dreaded cramps. “Oh crap. It is here early”.

I start to panic. They have energy gels at the water station and I request for some. A volunteer hands me a gel and it is dripping. I ask for another one. It looks like that they already tear the wrapper to make it easier for us. I understand their intention but to me, it is actually unhygienic. The one that they give me is Hi5, one that I have never tried before. The texture is runny but it does not taste that bad. I am losing a lot of time and make a bad judgement. I break my own rule of thumb. I frantically grab everything that is within my sight. I take a gel, few cups of isotonic drinks and water at one time. It is a big no-no. I am now bloated.

My tummy feels so uncomfortable. I run for few steps before stopping to stop to shake the bloatedness (is this even a word?) off. I panic. When I panic, I get nauseated. When I am nauseated, I feel like puking. I do not resist the urge to puke though. I think it might be a good way to unload the air and whatnots from my bloated tummy. So I puke up till KM30 where we have to get a wristband. Soon after, Kak Tahira whizzes past me.

My tummy feels light but my body is drained. I am famished too. External calories no longer works from this point onward. I have been here for a number of times. People call it ‘The Wall’. I have no idea why people call it ‘The Wall’, because it does not feel like I am hit hard every time I am here. ‘The Swamp’ is more appropriate, I think. My legs become jelly and they are sinking slowly together with my motivation and willpower. 3:30 pacer runs past me and I am trying to follow his trail. It only lasts for 50 or 100 metres though before I give up the chase. Stream of people pass me and I am not at Bukit Tunku yet!

Just before reaching the first climb at Bukit Tunku, Abang Yim passes me. Maybe I can stick to him? Definitely, not. I cannot be bothered. I continue walking. Then, it is time for the first climb at Bukit Tunku. The first and the only (sort of) climb at Bukit Tunku. It looks steep, it looks long, but it is actually not as steep as I make myself to believe. Few weeks after SCKLM, I revisit the exact climb on my bike and I learn that it is nothing compared to one of the many climbs at Hartamas. The only climb there is segmented by a roundabout. So some may think that there are two hills but actually it is only one long climb.

I reach the highest point at Bukit Tunku where Raiju Runners cheer crew is. Zaki is handing me a jelly to fortify my jelly legs. I know it won’t do much but I accept it out of courtesy. Thank you!

Whatever goes up, must come down. It is now a long winding descent, a good stretch to gain some time. But I find myself walking down the descent most of the time. Strength, willpower, they are not there anymore. I just want to finish.

Whatever goes down, must come up. Right after the long descent, we have to climb Jalan Parlimen up. I walk the descent, so it is only appropriate to crawl the ascent. At the top of Jalan Parlimen, I catch a glimpse of Munir who is running strong. I greet and run alongside him for few metres before walking again. Adieu!

It is now the final stretch of the marathon. Before the finish line, there are two more familiar climbs that we have to face. One approaching KL Sentral, and the last one near Muzium Negara.

I know my wife and daughter are waiting at the finish line so I sprint the last kilometre or so before crossing the line in 3:45:35.63 (Nett).

Strava

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It is a hard race with many mistakes and a little bit of regret. But I enjoy the suffering, and there are still a lot more to learn and understand. To sum it up, I have a good 2/3 of the race, and a terrible 1/3. It is not enough, yet I am satisfied.

I am gutted but happy. Happy to see my wife and my (then) 3-1/2 months daughter. Thank you for being there at the finish line. I will make you two proud some other time.

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