Race Report: Newton Challenge KL 2016.07.24 (30 km)

Newton Challenge 2016.07.24

After 6-month hibernation from joining a competitive race (my last one was Kaohsiung Marathon in February 2016), I have decided to join the third race of the year - Newton Challenge's 30 km distance. 

I haven't run Newton Challenge's 30 km route before. I heard it's very hilly and tough. Rolling hills!!

I did run the Newton Challenge's 25 km route in 2012 and 2014 though. My running kakis and I used to use it as a year end closing run since it was usually held at end of the year.

Last year, I came to support Newton Challenge 2015 as a photographer, not as runner.

But this year, I decided to sign up for Newton Challenge 2016's 30 km distance which was held on July 24 because I wanted to use it as my 30 km LSD in preparation for the most anticipated full marathon of the year - Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016 on Aug 7. Additionally, it's also for me to experience the 30 km route for the first time.

Therefore, I didn't give myself too much pressure for this race. I treated this as prelude, a 30 km LSD, before SCKLM's full marathon. 

Pre-race Strategy

I already planned it out to pace one of my running friends at an average pace of 5:30 min / km  throughout, targeting to finish at 2 hours 45 min. I know it's a hilly route. But if I could do 5:30 min / km pace, that means I might have a chance to achieve sub 4 at SCKLM 2 weeks later. :)

But with the hilly route, I kind of doubted I could even run at average pace of 5:30 min / km for the whole 30 km distance.

During Race

1 - 15 km
Running in the rain can make hair very messy! haha!
Photo credit: AKU, Wong. 

It was a cool, wet, drizzling morning. In fact, before we started to run, it rained quite heavily but subsided before we started at 5:30 am.

The start line area was rather narrow. My friends and I stayed inside the close-by tent to avoid the rain until the horn was blown to start racing. Only then we moved our bodies sandwiched by other runners toward the start line. 

As usual, I started slow and let the crowd to move forward first. I used to be very gan cheong when races started. But I have learned that for endurance running, there is no need to rush unless I am aiming for podium finish. haha!

Anyway, I know I'm not a podium material. I just want to improve on my time. Therefore, it's ok for me to start slow so that I don't get caught up with the packed runners at beginning 1-2 kms.

My supposedly 5:30 min / km pace friend already moved ahead. And I lost sight of him after 500 m. haha! At that time, I was running > 6 min / km pace. 

Running in the rain was kind of awesome! Very cooling and nice! Less tired. But just need to watch out for piles of water on the ground to minimize my shoes from getting too soaking wet. 

I just continued to run at my own pace, slowly increasing my speed after 10 km. 

16 - 30 km

Rain stopped. Continued running pretending to be cool but deep inside, panting like crazy... lol!!
Photo credit: Victor Chong

After 15 km, my average speed was around 5:25 min / km or so. And I still felt okay. And at that point, I still didn't see 2 other running friends who were usually at same pace as me. 

Therefore, I decided to forgo the 5:30 min / km target but to increase my speed as much as I could, hoping to catch a glimpse of 2 other friends who were in front of me.

I guess having a target to chase after friends in front worked. :)

Slowly but surely, I managed to see them in front of me - one after another. And with the cool weather's help, I managed to catch up with them. I chatted with them for a while and I decided to continue running at my own pace.

I'm not sure about others. But for me, as I run, I like to use wild imagination and visualization. :)

For this race, I applied same tactic. 

I visualized myself running at SCKLM. And once I reached 20 km, I imagined I already reached 30 km for a full marathon. haha!

Some friends said I closed my eyes to run. Did I? I guess my eyes were too small. lol!

Then I did a quick check on my energy level and tiredness. Supposedly, I would have "hit the wall" at 30km for a full marathon. But this "imagined 30 km" felt different (of course it was only 20 km!). I felt I was still having some energy left and no hitting the wall. 

Without much hesitation, I decided to march on with my speed and increase as much as I could with the cheering crowd at finish line to be seen soon (again - it's imagination and some visualization).

There were many hills - up and down. 

But I believe my Saucony Kinvara 6 shoe and the weekly 30 km LSD training helped me a lot in overcoming the hill challenges at Newton Challenge. 

Of course, I still suffered as I ran up the hills. :) But I have found it more manageable already compared to before. I'm very grateful to the weekly 30 km LSD training lately.

Finish Line

Hooray! So happy to have crossed the finish line with 15th position at Men Veteran category and 47th position overall with a net time of 2:33:40.
Photo credit: SevenChiam Photography.

I never expected to cross the finish line at net time of 2:33:40, more than 11 min faster than my targeted 2:45. 

I was overjoyed and in cloud 9 with this speed. haha!

It served as a great motivation for me, especially with 2 weeks left to the most anticipated running event of the year - SCKLM. 

This race has given me hope to a possible sub 4, which I haven't achieved before at SCKLM. And with the last year's haze and event cancellation, the anxiety really built up!!!

I really love the running vest and finisher tee. Very nice. I also love the finisher medal - Grey, Red, Blue are all my favourite colors!! :)

Saucony Kinvara 6 - I really love you for helping me to run at this unimaginable speed. Thank you.

Later when I checked the race result, I was even more surprised at my ranking:

Total 1719 runners for 30 km distance 

      30 km Men Open         : 879 runners
        30 km Men Veteran      : 479 runners
        30 km Women Open     : 218 runners
        30 km Women Veteran  : 143 runners
        Total runners for 30 km : 1,719 runners

My ranking based on gun time: 

       15th position (out of 479 runners) in Men Veteran category; and 
       47th position overall (out of 1,719 runners)

Who would have thought I could end up at this speed and at this ranking? As I age, speed would be affected too. So I am very grateful for this result. :) It was purely unimaginable before the race. :) So I took it as a great motivation for me.

Catching up with running friends after race

I feel a bit odd coming back to local races since 3R Marathon at Putrajaya in January 2016. 

Many new faces - new and young faces indeed whom I don't even know. :) But it's truly encouraging to know that running has become so popular.

 I was looking for some friends whom I know before as well as any facebook friends whom I haven't met in person. I guess not running races might limit the chance to meet up with each other. 

With the 6-7 months of absence in local races, I thought I would stay back a while to say hi to some friends. 

Faces of Happy Runners

This is the running friends I usually run with at Genting Sempah on Sundays.
Special thanks to Kelvin Tan (neon green) for introducing me to the group. It's also through his motivation and encouragement that I managed to improve my time. 

TPRC group - a very humble, down to earth running group with very friendly, nice members.
This is the only running group I'm more familiar with.  And it's indeed a privilege to be able to take a photo with them. 

It's through Kelvin Tan that I managed to run Genting Sempah more regularly. Thank you, bro!

I salute Kuan for joining almost races EVERY WEEKEND! 
Really salute him! I'm also very happy for him that he has improved on his speed tremendously!! 

Yohoo!! Carol Chan - so stunning with the rest of hotties from TPRC group. I  pulled Kuan in for the photo. haha!

Mr Malaysia / Mr KL Ray.... oh his arm is 3 times larger than mine!!! wow!!! my jaws dropped!!
One of the elite runners I admire for his speed. Glad to be able to take a photo with him.

I really admire her (Grace) - for her style, her poise, her determination, her speed.

Yeah - managed to take photo with Chua - owner of Runners.Cafe and pacer for the event.

2 other running friends whom I know for few years already.

Newly met friends - so now no longer FB friends but real friends. lol!

Yohoo - this is the group again - from Genting Sempah... 

Very happy to take photo with Chiau Wu - a very nice and pleasant runner.

In conclusion

It was a rather well organised event. I love it, especially running under the rain in a cool weather.

Water Station
Water station was provided at every 4 km. It could have been better if water was provided at every 3 km instead of 4 km,  I was also asking for isotonic drinks at every water station but not all water stations carried isotonic drinks.  Thanks to the weather. Otherwise, I would be very thirsty. haha!

Running Vest & Finisher Tee
I see some facebook comments saying the running vest is not so nice. But for me -  I love both the running vest and the finisher tee. Why? because red, grey, blue are my favourite colors!! 
And I was very happy with my race result as well  - a boost for me for the upcoming full marathons.

Thanks Newton Challenge! I shall come back to join again next year! Very fun and challenging!

Written on 2016.07.29


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