What a feeling when months of preparation comes to a harvesting moment in a form of Standard Chartered KL Marathon – SCKLM 2017. It is one of the biggest marathon events in Malaysia. Some regard it as the biggest in Malaysian standard. Which is also the nerve-wracking moments building to this event.
The ninth edition of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) took place at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, with close to 36,000 runners from 52 countries and 75 nationalities taking part in the event. Out of these, 8,000 runners had taken part in the Full Marathon category, a 7% increase from previous year.
I like this analogy from our SRR leader and buddy, Chin Heng. He said that this marathon is like a major examination, and those training that we had were like revisions, exercises, assignments and trials. This is the day of the report card, the day to show your performance from all your hard work of endless training. Training after training just to beat our best record in the previous year’s achievement. I am no different as I was carried away by the waves of enthusiastic runners group I am associating with.
From the social media group like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat and Blogs, everybody seems very much involved with this event. Describing their training, nutrition, habits, best practice etc. To a point that I had an impression that this event was as big as the Boston Marathon, an iconic marathon event in the world. Perhaps SCKLM is regarded as iconic in Malaysia’s perspective.
On the eve of the race day
On the contrary to my running buddies, I was lack of training due to commitments to family and work. In fact, I was still working on the eve of the event. The place of work for that day was so near to the starting line in Dataran Merdeka. Felt the strong urge to pose a couple of photos at the starting line, but decided to deterred as it was already 4:00 pm at that time, and I supposed to catch some rest and sleep before the big day (see how the adrenaline got the better of me).
Final countdown at the final week to the race (tips & tricks, preparation on the final week, the race kit collection experience)
Normally I would prepare everything before the race day – Bib pin nicely to shirt, ensure all nutrition is in order, shoes, socks, watch and phone are fully charged etc. This time all has not been prepared, oh man. Panic mode sets in briefly, before everything is set in order around 7 pm, except for the watch and phone which is still charging. I got to settle down, calm the nerve and catch some sleep. Easier said than done… 8 pm I can’t seems to sleep. The heart beat seems to be drumming like a war beats than a soothing relaxing beat. 10 pm, still the same (that was the time my watch is fully charged). 11 pm better but still on alert mode….11:30 pm finally….. and 12:50 am woke up at the first sound of the alarm. In summary, not much rest as I would like it to be. I guess that I have to sit this through without much rest…yes running a marathon like a zombie if I have to.
Walked with Master and Wai Ming at 1:25 am to the waiting point at 99 speed mart. Around 6 cars arrived at the waiting point. I hopped into Ping’s car together with Master and Alex Wong. A convoy of SRR cars spearheading to Central Market Kuala Lumpur, the place of parking. We had arrived at around 2:45 am.
The weather forecast said that it has a 55% chance of raining between 3 am to 5 am. It was cloudy when we arrived but no signs of rain or thunders. Everybody was excited, adrenaline was boiling high. So many familiar faces in the running scenes. High five each other, fist pumping, self-affirmation, self-talk, joking with a bunch of friends, some catching up with old times… all just to calm the nerves that were running so high that I can hear the sound my heart beating even with the noisy environment in Dataran Merdeka.
Ready, Get Set, Gun Time
Everybody was instructed to go into their respective PEN. I was in the PEN 4, the most runner category. A quick warm up session by the MC, which we could hardly see from PEN4. And there is no place for that as all runners were packed like sardine fish. The moment of truth had finally arrived, this is it!. A quick call out and a 10 seconds countdown from the mayor of Kuala Lumpur…and gun time!!!
We have to walk a bit towards the starting line as we were from way back. From slow walk to slow jog, to faster jog as approaching the starting line. Started my watch for a recording when crossing the starting line mat. I was consciously minding my pace, as I made the mistake in last year’s half marathon. This time guess what, it is still the same 6min pace…this adrenaline seems to be a ‘nagging’ adversary (I shall put that in my note as a point to improve in my training).
Summary of my run by 5-10km block:
- km1-km15 – managed to maintain my cadences above 180spm on average
- km15-km20 – slight walking due to the uphill slopes of the highway
- km20-km30 – more walking and a sharp drop of cadences. But still managed to maintain at about 180spm for the moving pace.
- km30-km40 – was the most suffering of all, as I’d subdued to more than half the distance to walking. Walk/run at this stretch, especially the uphill – walk, downhill – run, at a control pace.
- km40-km43 – tried to run steadily but not fast, as I felt some pulling sensation at my hamstring. Passed by the last 500m big Honda balloon banner but dare not surge until the last moment of about 200m.
14, 20, 30, 36 and 6:30 was all the numbers I had in my mind when I started the run. These were the cutoff points for the race, which translated to the followings:
- Reach KM14 before 6:35 am
- Reach KM20 before 7:35 am
- Reach KM30 before 9:15 am (and collect wristband)
- Reach KM36 before 10:15 am
- and reach the finishing line before 6 hours 30 minutes.
I had a Data Fields called Race Screen in my Garmin watch that serves as a real-time finishing predictor. It uses your current pace to predict your finishing time as you run. It has its pros and cons. The Pro is when you are faster than your set pace, it will give you a shorter finishing time, and the Cons is when you are below pace especially at those killer hill slopes which it will give you a longer than kingdom come sort of finishing time – which is not helping your defeated spirit at that time.
I was happy that I had reached those checkpoints with time to spare:
- KM14 reached at around 5:43 AM (6:35 AM)
- KM20 reached at around 6:32 AM (7:35 AM)
- KM30 reached at around 8:00 AM (9:15 AM)
- KM36 reached at around 8:52 AM (10:15 AM)
With these timing, it had encouraged me to surge on the remaining of the course.
The pinnacle of the cutoff point is the KM30 where the green colour wristband was handed to me. Without this band, you can’t collect the finisher T and medal. It is so important that I dropped the band while running through the row of volunteer handing out the bands.
I was running at a steady pace of 6+ min. It was manageable and felt good about it. At about KM3, my watch reported less than 6min pace (5:52min), I knew instantly something was wrong. At this time it was about 300m off the mark. Then it struck again at KM5, recording 4:26min, this time it was off by around 1.7km!!. This is similar to the previous year GPS glitch incident at about the same area. This had imposed a physiological barrier as the mileage build at the later stage. Imagine when your watch told you that you had reached 38km, but later you saw the distance marker board that says KM37. It creates a false positive scenario that affected my performance. At this moment I really wish that I have the ‘Run by Feel‘ skill (ok, another note in my training book).
The accidental pacer
I was running my own pace, kept telling myself not to load too much anxiety into my run. Keep the adrenaline at bay. All the sifus’ teaching flashing in my mind at that time… don’t exert the energy, keep the energy for later use especially in all the elevation and uphills that are ahead. Don’t be intimidated by people that passing you by, even those that looked bigger and fatter size than you. Then I came across Madam Sim who was running alone. I’d noticed that she had difficulty breathing, some runny nose problem. She was running at a slower speed, and I thought I can use her company and be able to watch for each other on the run. At first, I thought she would just stick for 1 or 2 km before she would sped off. But we ended up finishing the race together (I was just 0.1 seconds ahead of her). For many occasion, she would wave me to carry on while she clears her nose for better breathing. I would keep looking back to check on her.
She almost gave up at KM12, which I’d encouraged her to keep going. “Try to see whether we can reach KM14 the first checkpoint”, I told her. We’d managed to pass the checkpoint 30 minutes ahead of time. Then in KM16, she wanted to declare DNF again, which I told her “let’s see whether we can reach the second checkpoint at KM20”, which we did. At about KM23-24, she told me to carry on and I haven’t seen her since. At about KM40+, she reemerged again. She told me that she had walked a solid 2km and really wanted to declare DNF. Luckily she kept on. It is at this point that I almost gave up on the idea of sub 6. Well, it was a funny game, as she encouraged me in return this time. She told me that sub 6 is still a possibility and not to give up now. We both fist pumping, run and walk till the last 200m before dashing to the finishing line for our ‘strong finish’ :). The last stretch in Dataran Merdeka was a memorable one, as it was filled with spectators at both sides. Leaving a small lane to pass by before going into the finishing line.
Madam Sim taught me not to run in uphills when energy is low, and make the time back by running at downhill. This was part of the reason I didn’t get any cramps throughout the race. (apart from loading madly on power-gel and salt stick, but that’s another section).
I had consulted the sifus on how to fuel to keep the energy up and prevent runners worst nightmares – the cramps. So I stick to the fueling playbook (the first hours 1 power gel and 1 salt stick, the next 10km 1 salt stick, another 10km or hour 1 power gel and so on. The last stretch 1 power gel). I have never practised this before in my LSD runs. So I would not know whether my body will adapt to this settings. By the way, it will cause me a fortune if I’m practising this fueling strategy this on the weekly LSD 🙂
The following were the actual fueling I had at this race.
- KM 9 – 1 power gel + 2 salt stick
- KM12 – 1 salt stick
- km? – 1 salt stick
- KM25 – free power gel – consume
- km? – 1 salt stick
- KM35 – consume the free power gel from KM32
- KM39 – power gel
Due to the fatigued, I couldn’t remember clearly the exact KM mark that I took what. When I stock counted, I left with 3 power gel and 5 salt stick. The overall experience was that I didn’t felt any hunger as my stomach was quite full to a point that I don’t feel like consuming the banana. I even gave one of the bananas that I got from the 1st fruit station to a road worker.
I was able to skip water station at the first 15km – stopped at alternate water stations in order to shed some precious timing. However, I had stopped at each water station from KM20 onwards.
Reflections of my run
I’m still in disbelief, surreal state that I’d actually completed a marathon. A humongous challenge that anybody can take on at any given Sunday. Like what all my sifus would have said, “Don’t be a hero on race day”, “Run as per what you had practised”, “Don’t change your game plan”, “Reached 30km mark to assess your condition before deciding to surge or walk”. These wisdom were what I hold at heart during those massive challenges especially on the rolling and punishing elevated highways stretch and Bukit Tunku.
So now, I am officially a Marathoner.
- I saw a lot of people stopped by the road side due to cramps from KM25 onwards. This could be due to the rolling hills of the highways where runners pushed too hard too soon. And the weather was not helping – hot and humid.
- It could be fatigued that blurred my vision which I thought I saw abandoned of unopened power gel pack on the road. At least 3 sightings. I couldn’t u-turn and check it out. But it could be a hallucination.
- My overall average pace was 8:02min, the exact pace as previous year half marathon. In my HM I finished in 3 hours, but this FM I’d finished less than 6 hours. Perhaps this time my pace was more consistent than the previous year.
- Caught up with Chin Heng, Peter and Albert at the Jalan Kuching turning into Jalan Duta. I was pleasantly surprised that I could catch up with them, especially the Goh’s brothers.
- Chin Heng told me that it is his wish to finish every marathon below the 6 hours cutoff time at the international marathon level. I have not fact-check this one yet. Perhaps I shall check it out later. Chin Heng is an international marathon runner who has 9 marathons under his belt.
- Both Peter and Albert were so relaxed finishing the race. They had encouraged me to continue running and minimise walking. Very good sifu they are.
- I have to confess that I didn’t go to the mobile toilet throughout the course. I have the urge to pee at KM4 mark, but the toilet stoppages incident that caused my sub3 HM finishing by 1 minute last year still fresh in my mind. Somehow the urge subside and gone from KM9 onwards – miraculously 🙂
- Along the Duke Highway (after the U-turn just before the toll gate), at the Damai LRT station, I’d noticed a train with a handful of runners (with SCKLM running vest) looked a bit worry. It was about close to 6 AM. I guess if they were HM runners, they would have been late for 30mins unless they were the fun run or 10km competitors.
My results and personal records:
These are my personal best recorded by my Garmin watch (but knowing very well that the result is not accurate due to the GPS glitches). But it felt good, isn’t it? That could be my next target timing also…. hmmm (need to consult my sifus first):
Overall experience on this event (Race Review):
Pre-Race: (check out the photos in this blog)
- Entry and Information
- Registered via an online medium
- price – RM90
- FM was sold out in just 3 days (or less)
- Race registration and kit collection
- Located in Hall 6 of KL Convention Center.
- Staff were friendly and helpful
- Collecting the race kit is very fast – in about 5 minutes.
- Ended up spending more time to check out the exhibitors at that floor.
- Race site facilities
- My previous experience was HM. This time is my first FM which I was not so familiar.
- Ample parking space if you arrive early. To reduce the traffic congestion of the 36,000 participants, the organiser provides free LRT ride on the race day.
- Care of Competitors, race course management and organisation
- Many complained that the course was quite challenging and there were some changes at some point.
- Unlike the Honda HM, the FM lacked the words of encouragement signboards. Statements or signs like the followings are very useful to boost the morale of the energy depleted runner especially at the tail end of the course:
- Giving Up is not an option
- PUSH past the pain!
- Mind over matter – Keep going!
- You’ve come too far to give up!
- FINISH the race no matter What!
- SCB management involvement in the field was very encouraging. I think she is either the spoke person or high ranked management ranking in SCB (I think I saw her on TV) was at the around Bukit Tunku hailing for the runners…”keep going, ahead is down hill” – big thumbs up
- Traffic control was very good along the way. Big size sign board of direction and distance marker were clearly displayed.
- Those staff in green colour uniform were friendly and supportive as well. Giving words of encouragement along the way. – thumbs up
- Sufficient water in every station – thumbs up
- A suggestion was to hand water to runners instead of letting runners to the water tables. This is to disperse the congestion at those stations.
- Medical support was at every water station – thumbs up
- To have more spray station, especially from KM20 onwards. I found that the spray supply was insufficient and those runners with nagging muscle pull were left stranded without supply especially at the KM25 onwards. There was one spray station where quite a bunch of runners rack sacking the box of near empty spray box. Quite an unpleasant scene.
- The gel station in KM25 and KM32 were very good. The staff were strict in giving out the High5 Powergel – one gel per person. – thumbs up
- The fruit station was also good as there was no congestion at all. The station at Bukit Tunku was the best with shading settings and seems like no one is taking it. – thumbs up.
There was about 3,000 Standard Chartered staff deployed for this event. And not including those volunteers and paid professional. No wonder the experience of redirecting the coming back runners was excellent. There was no human traffic jam. So no irritation especially to those tired runners. – thumbs up.
The only odd feeling was that after marking your Bib and checking your wristband, you were made to line up to get your stuff. The first station was the bag section where a few people which in charge of an item will take turn to fill up your bag – empty bag, an apple, a pair fruit, a banana, a can of Lucozade. Makes me felt like those jail scenes. – moderate thumbs up.
The next station was the finisher T and medal station. The staff were friendly and efficient in handling the items – thumbs up.
The result was instantaneous. Runner’s timing result and E-Certificate:
http://www.kl-marathon.com/results/. You can use the mobile app called Standard Chartered KL Marathon to track yours and your friends result. You can even replay the minute by minute tracking simulation run of those timing you had clocked.
I felt that the organiser of this event is setting the trend for the marathon scene in this country. Very advance. – Big thumbs up.
Congratulations to all my SRR running buddies:
|1||Chan Wing Lam||3:44.41|
|3||Kwang Tuck Ming||3:57.20|
|4||Foo Chee Chung||4:00.53|
|6||Ping Shih **||4:03.14|
|7||Tom Tan **||4:15.57|
|8||Koh Chee Chong **||4:21.51|
|9||K K Lim||4:23.00|
|12||Lee Eng Tong||4:33.57|
|13||Chong Yit Mei||4:34.06|
|14||Siok Soon **||4:50.21|
|16||Lim Siaw Cheng||4:52.13|
|20||Tan Hooi Chee||4:57.41|
|22||Eng Bee Tiing||5:10.20|
|27||Lai Seng Sin||5:17.47|
|28||Lim Chin Poh||5:25.12|
|29||Ng Lye Hock||5:25.18|
|30||Chong Wai Meng **||5:28.05|
|33||Pua Han Hooi||5:33.47|
|38||Ng Lien Chin||5:45.13|
|43||Nicole Lee **||5:48.12|
|44||Chew Lup Yun||5:49.21|
|45||Simon Low **||5:50.46|
|49||Terence Ong **||5:59.22|
|53||Chai Hoi Leong||6:14.01|
|56||Chew Sing Han||6:30.43|
|57||Tan Yi Fang **||6:36.54|
|58||Leow Chin Huat||6:43.27|
|59||Chia Lai Hoong **||6:45.54|
|60||KenKen Lim **||6:45.34|
|61||Few did not finish the race due to health reason||DNF|
** Virgin Marathoner
|1||Soh Soon Hup||1:59.23|
|3||Goh Kar Chun||2:24.25|
|4||Lim Kit Xiang||2:39.58|
|5||Yeoh Chai Chuan||2:40.23|
|6||Teh Chui Mui||2:45.45|
|7||Chong Mong Shan||2:54.33|
|12||Lai Kok Ming||3:29.22|
|1||Wong Pok Yong||57.08|
In next year’s event, SCKLM 2018 will be the 10th year anniversary of Standard Chartered organising this prestigious marathon event. I am sure that it will be a smashing hit once again. And I shall be there to run the race again. See you next year. Remember to say hello to me if you see me.
You can view the photo album ===> here