Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2016...

Event: Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2016
Venue: Persiaran Flora, Cyberjaya
Date: 24 January 2016
Time: 4.00AM
Distance: 42.195KM (42.19KM by Suunto Ambit 3 Sapphire)
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 5
By Frank

It wasn't my intention nor I have the interest to run the Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon as it was located pretty far away from where I stay. But when my participation at the Istanbul Marathon last year came into jeopardy due to the Lufthansa cabin crew strike, I in a frenzy mode went in search for a local marathon to be used as my Comrades qualifier. And quickly enough, I found this and signed up without any hesitation. But when my flight was resolved and I managed a good run at Istanbul, I had a little regret signing up for Twincity. But nevertheless, DNS (Did Not Start) was not an option as I was well and besides, I needed the training.

View of Cyberjaya from my room.

The organisers collaborated with Tune Hotels Cyberjaya to have a special rate for runners. Thinking it wasn't feasible for me to drive all the way there to collect my race pack and then driving home before returning back there the next morning, I opt for a night there paying only RM90. Pretty good deal I will say. And thus, I made my way there about 1PM on Saturday and met up with Soon Chung who help collect my race pack before I check into my room. Then it was a quick lunch with Zijill before I return to the room to rest for a while. And did I mention that the hotel bed was comfy, and I had the whole queen size bed for myself! I did sneak out to the supermarket below for a bottle of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice though as that was what I had the night before Istanbul Marathon. Maybe it will work some magic again.

Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.

Rested till 7PM before Soon Chung return and check into his own room which was just opposite mine. Had a simple dinner at Sushi Zanmai opting for cooked food rather than sashimi or anything raw to be safe. Chatted away till about 9.30PM before we returned to our room to call it a night. But before that, I caught the Liverpool game with Norwich which was nerve wrecking match. Liverpool won with a score of 4-5, with the winning goal coming at the final extra minute! Remind me again not to watch a football game before running a marathon!

With the starting venue just a few hundred of meters away from the hotel, I woke up 1.5 hours before the start at 2.30AM. And I had more than enough time to prepare myself though the usual ritual didn't go very smooth. As the hotel room didn't come equip with a boiler and cups, breakfast was light with only a Gardenia waffle, Twiggies and a can of coffee.

Left the hotel with Soon Chung at 3.30AM and proceeded to the start point. It was already packed with full marathon runners which  was about close to 2,000 runners I think. Met some familiar faces as we lined at the rear of the pack. Chatted away and with all out of a sudden, we heard the gun went off signalling the start at 4AM sharp! Before I start writing further, I should inform that since I am not familiar with the surroundings of Cyberjaya, I can only tell the story of my run through the Kilometers.

Both mine and Soon Chung's target was a simple and easy one, to run the distance at close to 5 hours. As my upper body was still a little sore from the weekday's gym workout, I opt to pass on my hydration backpack which most of you will have seen me wearing during training and my pass 2 races.  But, I remembered to bring along the #FTT bib which I had it on the other side on my waist. The weather was surprisingly good probably due to the rain yesterday although humidity was a little on the high side. And with this, I managed to keep my heart rate in control and cruise at an average comfy pace of about 6.40 minutes per Kilometer.

The first sector was to run around the central district of Cyberjaya's business hub. Was a little pack but enough to navigate through the runners. But this allows us to mingle with some friends like Kevin, Malcalm, Tick Hock and Mohan before I eventually took off near the Cyberview Lodge approaching the Perdana View Lakeside. It was about 12KM here before I needed my pee break and kudos to the organiser for preparing 2 mobile toilets at most of the water stations. Oh and yes, before I forget, most water stations were equipped with generous amount of mineral water and also the newly launched Lucozade Sport which is locally produced. Way off the UK version in my opinion!

I continued on into some highway and was asked to run along the motorcycle lane. A good safety measure for runners. With Soon Chung no longer with me, I was running together with some strangers. Certain stretches of the motorcycle lane was pretty dark but was lucky the road was mostly in good conditions. We had to run through 2 underpass which was lit up by candles. The candles looks awesome if you ask me, but should anyone accidentally farted in the underpass, there could be a minor explosion though. Hahaha...

The second underpass was the first u-turn too which brought me up some elevated flyover which I could see Soon Chung making his way to the underpass. He was not far behind and I thought I can slow my pace a bit for him to catch up so we could run together. However, after a little thinking, I decided to stick my own pace for I am sure the young lad will manage to catch up at the later stage.

A familiar sight as we ran towards Taman Cabaran though we didn't really got there. But it was good to revisit this place again for it's part of the route for the Putrajaya 100. Things got interesting upon arriving at the halfway point in 2.14 hours. I might be able to do a 4.30 hours marathon should I am able to maintain and up my pace a little. It wasn't a target but rather a bonus for me. I can even put in some fartlek training here too which will be especially useful for my upcoming long race. However, I stood with my current pace and will only decide later.

Exiting the Taman Cabaran stretch, I saw Soon Chung on the opposite side and he had already close up the gap.It was a matter of time before he catches up as I stop for my first cup of Cola. Refreshing as I needed some caffeine since it was morning. Hehe...

Into another highway and when out of a sudden, Soon Chung came passing by as we were joined together with the half marathon runners. Told him to carry on with his blistering pace as I wanted to stand by my plan. I passed Eddy and Afiq who was pacing the half marathon runners for a 2.45 hours finish. Well done to them especially Eddy for he improved a lot since I first knew him almost a year back.

The first sight of sun rise soon came as I felt stronger. Maybe it was time my body began to wake up from sleep or maybe the Cola earlier has started to take effect. I caught up with Soon Chung at a climb as my "solar panel" started to generate some energy from the sun. I up my pace a little to see how my legs will feel and surprisingly, there were fine. Tired and sore yes, but working well.

At about 32KM. it was time to make my decision. I think it was realistic to complete the run in 4.30 hours. I looked back to see where Soon Chung was. He was not far and thus decided to wait up while reducing my pace. And once he did, I asked him if he could push towards the finish together as I felt really good here. His reply was straight forward as his legs were a little tired from last weekend's Hong Kong marathon and thus asking me to go ahead. Not wanting to force him, I went ahead myself as I up my pace till arriving at the water station at about 33KM where roti canai was served! I spotted Razif finishing his meal there as I grabbed a slice.I was hungry but didn't want to eat too much. Although I would love a hot cup of coffee too, I skipped it as it was mix with milk and did't want to risk a tummy explosion. I continued with Razif as we walked and chatted away before resuming our run.

I eventually left Razif when my pace pick up again. Was merged back again with the half marathoners and I think the 12KM runners too. But was lucky it didn't clog up the running path as the roads were wide enough to cater for everyone. The only thing I misses was the water station serving the ice cream!

And at the final 5KM, full marathon runners were diverted off to another section. I looked at my watch and knew I was still on time though only at the border. Probably lost some time munching the roti canai earlier. But it was of none important to me. Stood with my pace and carried till the home stretch where I caught up with Azlan before the turn into the final 200M stretch. I didn't sprint to the finish but kept my cool and pace and eventually cross the finish gantry with a time of 4:28:45 (4.30.00 gun time). Made it on the spot for the gun time and I was really delighted though not according to my original plan.

Overall, I was really happy with my run. Yes, it was obvious that I competed my run faster than I would like to, but the more important aspect from my personal view is that I stood with my plan till the final 10KM before going for it. I guess being flexible based on my condition was a good idea to add some variety of running pace into my races. There was some improvements compared to my last 2 events as I continue to train and improve towards both my big races 4 months later. And yes, after completing the Twincity Marathon, I suddenly did not regret signing up for it. Instead, I thought that this event may be a good Comrades qualifier next. It's a mild undulating but fast course with a spot on distance! And not forgetting, plenty of food and hydration along the way with the just right amount of runners. Though I heard of some cases like pacers getting misled and some runners cheating, I must say the organisers did a pretty fine job, at least from my own personal experience. My word to them is to continue from where you left off here, study and learn from the mistakes and may the third edition next year be a better one.

To close up this entry and for all the good effort and happy moments, everything crumbled during my walk back to the hotel as I was disgusted by a particular person. I can't remember his name but he was one of the Penang Bridge Marathon pacer back in year 2012, and if not mistaken a 5 hours or maybe 5.5 hours one. He asked about my run and upon sharing my time with him, I was disgusted when he mentioned about my slow time. With all due respect, you do not know me that well, nor do I know you that well either. I don't even know your name! And knowing runners, we all have our good and bad days, an important race and a so not important race. For me, this is my training run and I do know myself when to push or when not to push, when to perform, and when not to perform. As mentioned in my last Watergate 16 Hours report, all my races till Comrades this year will be as training and a "sacrificial" one. So kindly watch your mouth and do respect not only me, but other runners too. And finally for one more time, be glad I do not know your name!

* Found out later in the evening that one of a Sarcoma patient, Tee Chin Long passed away after the cancer spread to his lungs. :(

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