Race Report: To gong or not to gong at back to back full marathon - Twincity Marathon 2017?

Twincity Marathon 2017 (January 15, 2017). 


After finishing my first full marathon of 2017 at Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2017 in Myanmar with first-ever sub 3:50 finish time the Sunday before (Jan 8, 2017), I told myself I would take it easy at this back to back full marathon at Twincity Marathon 2017 on the following Sunday (Jan 15, 2017).

But at the back of my mind, I was scolding myself, "What was I thinking? Back to back full marathon again? Last year August's back to back full marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016 and Kuching Marathon 2016 still not enough a painful lesson to learn? Why so stubborn?" :)



Well, here I was, at the start line of Twincity Marathon 2017, scolding myself for the unwise back to back full marathon decision, yet getting rather excited to find out whether I could survive and overcome. 😊


42 km race route - last minute route change but much better than 2016's

 


The Putrajaya and Cyberjaya race route was not at all flat as most runners would think. Its rolling hills and the occasional up and down the bridges under humid hot weather could take a toll on a runner.

I compared the 42 km race route provided at Twincity Marathon website to my Garmin Connect's completed race route, it seemed to have some changes to the race route from 2nd half onward. No more running on bridges crossing the lake, but looping instead. Later I found that that it was due to other events being held at the original race route area. A little disappointed with the last minute change but fully understood the situation.

Anyway, the race route was still much better than last year's. I remember we had to run on the smaller uneven-surfaced bike lane with rocks and stones. I saw a runner tripped and fell. Even our barefoot king Mr Tan also gave feedback about the uneven surface with rocks and stones which was not conducive for barefoot runners. This year, we were all running on the main roads all the way - and no more uneven-surfaced bike lanes. Hooray! Kudos to the organizer for the improvement!



1 - 21 km: Felt like a champion with the escorting marshals for female podium finishers!😁

When I mentioned I would want to take it easy at this back to back full marathon, I really meant it. But my "easy" meant "experiential". 😛 Cheeky me yeah? lol!

When I set my running resolution for 2017 early this year, I have already decided to listen more to body, and be courageous enough to try different running strategies, tweaking certain running forms and techniques during races even if it means affecting my finish time. 

Perhaps this is what I mean by being "experiential"?

I should have stuck with my original strategy of running on an average pace of 5:25 min / km to 5:30 min / km. And with the drop in speed expected during second half, I might still have a chance to finish around 3:50 to 3:55 if all went well.

But seeing William, Sharon, Angel, Richard, Ang and some other elite runners in sight, I thought of trying out to follow some of their pace as much as possible. 



1 - 21 km on Garmin

As you noticed in the chart above captured through my Garmin Vivoactive, my average pace was much faster than my usual full marathon race. In fact, I would say I ran the fastest first 21 km in a full marathon race, which usually saw my average pace to be around 5:25 to 5:30 for the first 21 km. 

I sort of regretted for running too fast during this first 21 km. And I made a wrong decision for trying to follow the elite runners. Sob! Sob!! What went through my mind at that stage? Who the heck am I? I am just one of the regular passionate runners who has been striving very hard to improve every single step. But again, wasn't I supposed to have an "experiential" full marathon at Twincity Marathon 2017? Once I comforted myself by psyching myself a bit, I then felt ok and let it be - whatever the outcome it might bring at end of 42 km. I should just run and enjoy the race! 


Champions are champions! Podium finishers are podium finishers!! Before I knew it, I started to lose sight of some of them - William, Ang, etc. They ran at lightning speed! Amazing! Truly speedily fast!! I could only smell their fart!! With my legs not listening to my heart and mind, I ended up trying to follow as close as possible to Angel, Sharon and 3 other female front runners. And at certain distances, I also tried to follow behind Richard when I still could see him until he sped up and then could only smell his fart!! 


Tried very very very very hard to keep up with the awesome Richard. My attempt failed but worth the try! lol!

I tried! I tried hard! I tried very hard! I tried very very hard to keep up with the female podium finishers!! 😭

Painful as it was, an amazing thing happened!!


Suddenly. I could feel that there were some race officials riding 1-2 motorbikes very close to runners - just few feet in front of me next to the female podium finishers.  Initially, I didn't pay attention to them thinking they were passing by. Then I started to notice that they would slow down or speed up as if keeping up with some runners. And they were smiling, accommodating, and supportive!

And when I started to pay attention to who the race officials on motorbikes were following, only I realized that they were the escorting marshals for the top female runners who were in the top 3 positions at that very distance.

I was like - oh wow! That was so cool! I never had an opportunity to have escorting marshals next to me (well - close enough lah! :)) before! And thanks to the female podium finishers, as I tried my best to keep up with them, I suddenly felt like a champion myself!!! lol!! 

Was it called "syiok sendiri"? lol! Yeah yeah - I know the escorting marshals were not for me but for the female top finishers, but at least let me have the "syiok sendiri" and "euphoria" feeling for a little while while. Can or not? :)  Only my first experience after running more than 20 full marathons leh!

I wasn't a champion, but that stretch with the escorting marshals surely made me feel like a champion!! :) I actually was smiling from face to face for some moments there (of course not letting other people see! :)) happily imagining the cheers, the shout all the way to finish line!! 

Well, dream on..... :) And I should know it better that my dream would be shattered soon as I ran into second half of 21 km....

Smile - say cheese - camera - no matter how tired I was!



22 - 42 km: Felt like a slowly deflated punctured tire and defeated soldier with the slowing down pace


Ok - I was really running too fast in the first 21 km! Sob sob!

I started to feel as if there was a nail on the race route somewhere that poked into my both feet! Suddenly, the bouncy feeling and lightness of both feet were slowly dissipating! What replaced them were the heavier feet, slower cadence and tired body. Oh boy!! Oh no! Not now!!

From 22 to 32 km or so, I still could see the female top finishers in sight. And then I bumped into another elite fast runner Daniel. I looked at how he ran - so effortless!! Cadence was perfect, body form was perfect, breathing was perfect!! So effortless! I tried to keep up with him for a while until I saw 2 Caucasian runners (1 male and 1 female) and another Asian runner running side by side passing us by.

At that very moment, I really thought they were full marathon runners who sped up after 21 km. I then stupidly tried my best to follow them for about 2 km on a fast speed - I believe around 23-25 km stretch - reaching 5:13 min / km to 5:18 km / min.

And I forgot my tire already punctured!! haha!! I quickly ran out of breath and my pace dropped immediately to 5:54 min / km at 26th km. Only later I found out they were to top 21 km finishers!!! haha! Talking about being blur blur!! lol!!! I couldn't stop myself from laughing when I thought about this few days later.... hahaha!! Anyway, I had fun trying to chase the untouchable and unreachable!

Then Daniel caught up. And I could only see him passing my by. As much as I tried to follow behind him, I couldn't. I could only see him run further and further away in front of me - still so effortlessly in such good running form. And then....... he disappeared in my sight!!

My already punctured tire got deflated even more - mentally feeling demotivated!


22 - 42 km on Garmin

And then Sharon and some other runners started to catch up and speed passed me. I also saw Michael on the way close to 38-40 km or so. It was very nice of Sharon and another female podium finisher to allow me to pace them behind. But really - a flat tire was a flat tire!! No magical air pressure pump that could bring me back my speed!!

I paced Sharon for a while. She was so so strong!! I was truly impressed by her. She ran the last 10 km as if it was a fresh 10 km race!!! Her cadence, body posture, speed were so consistently and getting faster and faster with no signs of tiredness!! She had her first sub 4 full marathon last year at same event - Twincity Marathon 2016. I knew it as I was running with William when he was a pacer and William helped her and me reach our sub 4 last year.

But this year - I saw a much stronger, determined Sharon!! Her kind caring helpful personality have also made me more impressed about her as a person! She tried to help me to run faster, but I said to her I couldn't keep up anymore and asked her to go ahead telling her that she was running for top 3 already.

After that, my journey to the finish line was a lonely journey!! Didn't see any friends I knew! Didn't feel much about my feet due to tiredness! But I decided to press on focusing on my breathing and my cadence as much as I could. I needed to pull through this! I couldn't give up now!! The finish line was so close!!

Then I started to pray for God's strength, and think of how I did my last year's Twincity Marathon 2016  (click the link to see last year's race report) which was specially dedicated to my mom.

Suddenly, I could feel a renewed strength towards the last 1 km or so. A bit too late but it was all I needed for the last dash.



punctured tire at a water station... still needed to smile and say thank you! :)



Last dash to finish line: Felt like a stubborn, never give-up fighter 


Mohan's smiling, encouraging presence at about 700 m to the finish line really made my day! He cheered and took photograph for the runners. I gave him a high five and then gave my utmost best effort for the last dash!! Even if I could have 1 second faster, I would still try to do it!

Another runner that I would like to thank was the awesome runner wearing B2-0529.  He saw me tired, and he quickly grabbed my hand to run together for few meters to encourage me for the last push!!

Such an awesome feeling knowing runners supporting runners to achieve their personal goals!! I was really grateful for the hand grabbing run. It did give me the much needed 500 m last dash energy!


Thank you B2-0529 runner for grabbing my hand to run for 100 m or so giving me the much needed push on final dash.




Oh my goodness - look at my face!! Constipation? hahaha!! Any more longer I would faint!




At finish line!! So blur until my friend Kong Hui Chong whom I got to know at Kuching Marathon 2016 standing next to me but both of us didn't notice each other! lol! That showed we could only see stars!!! :)

Yohoo!! I made it to the finish line in one piece in a strategy that was wrong from the first km. But I made the best out of the situation.

I was just so so so happy to have completed this back to back full marathon after Yoma Yangon Marathon 2017 the week before.



To gong or not to gong? Did I achieve personal best time?



yohoo! Very nice finisher medal with my Garmin Vivoactive time.



According to my Garmin Vivoactive, the distance was 41.55 kmshort by 500 m.  And according to my Garmin Vivoactive's net time, it was 3:48:42 but officially my net time on e-cert was 3:48:38.


Here is the summary:

Distance                   : 41.55 km

Time                         : 3:48:42 (Garmin Vivoactive); 3:48:38 (net time on e-cert)
Position                    : 13 (Men Senior) / 52 (overall)
Average pace            : 5:30 min/km
Best pace                  : 3:11 min/km
Avg Run Cadence    : 181 spm
Avg. Stride Length   : 1.00 m
Elevation Gain         : 433 m
Elevation loss           : 425 m
Min. Elevation         : 9 m
Max. Elevation        : 63 m
Running shoe           : Saucony Kinvara 6 (Orange)
GPS watch               : Garmin Vivoactive
Running vest           : Adidas
Running shorts        : Karrimor

Happy with the result even though I could have done better! Shall come back next year to hit the gong! :)

There was a special awesome place at finish line that allowed runners to hit the gong if he/she achieved his/her personal best. 

The sign read, "HIT ME if you achieved your Personal Best"

I was hoping I could hit the gong as the official net time was 3:48:38, which was few seconds faster than Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2017's 3:48:53. 

Officially I was qualified to hit the gong, but technically I was not qualified due to the 500 m short in the distance. I believe with the 500 m, my time would have been more than 3:50. Sob sob!!

It's okay! I wasn't sad! A bit disappointed but it was a tough back to back full marathon anyway. And I managed to try new things and have new experience as well as gain new running friends during the course of the 42 km. 

It was also a very humbling experience trying to keep up with the top elite runners. Even their farts smell great and refreshing!!! haha!! I don't mind smelling their farts again next time - if I can keep up! :)

I know there is still lots of work and training for me. And I shall continue to keep learning and training. The "official" net time of my first sub:50 in Malaysia has given me a "sneak preview" of how I would feel when I "officially" and "technically" achieve it one day. And I am very motivated more than ever knowing that it's possible one day. 

So, the answer to the question, "to gong or not to gong?" I didn't hit it. :)

But I am determined to hit the gong one day! 

And I shall work on it. Time to go back to drawing board for more training and finding out what is best for me!! 😋

I was also honored to have witnessed and take photos to celebrate the gong hitting sessions with the amazing woman - Carol - who achieved her personal best and #8 position in full marathon; ultra super famous runner and blogger Evelyn who also achieved her personal best and #10 position in full marathon; as well as the now king of trail Teoh BJ who also achieved his personal best and #10 position in half marathon. Not to forget the beautiful and fast runner June too for her personal best and podium finish for the 21 km. Wow!!! Wow! Wow!! So so happy for them all, especially Carol as it was truly a touching, unforgettable experience for her!



Carol - you are simply amazing!! Your achievement inspired me!! Well done!




Evelyn - gong gong gong! Congrats on your PB! You asked why I didn't gong? Now you know.. :) I will come back next year to hopefully hit the gong. hahaha!




Teoh - congrats again!! proudly hitting the gong!! yohoo! 






Happy smiling faces of friends achieving podium finish, personal best times, and race completion


I love the photos taken at finish line with some of the wonderful runners, my cousin and cousin brother. I believe everyone smiled widely showing the Colgate white teeth! :)  It was simply a great unforgettable experience to share all their joys of achieving their own goals in running! Congrats to all and thank you for being such great supportive friends!




My counsin brother ran his 12 km! congrats! His son Chan Jun Kwan, brother of our famous Ironman Chan Jun Kwan also ran his first full marathon in Malaysia.  Congrats to Jun Kwan too!


Kuan - I wonder how his legs were made of - joining race after race! A 110% passionate runner!! And Lawrence - a great runner too! So happy to know them both!


Romzie ran back to back full marathon too - he also ran at Yoma Yangon International Marathon 1 week before. Congrats bro!!


Zijun Loh CK - one of my favorite runners who is also Reebok ambassador! His stories never fail to inspire me and many others! Proud of his yet another great achievement!


The famous #sub4ismine tagline owner - Michael!! He too is one of my idols and motivators for me to work hard for sub 4.


Funny happy picture with Carol and Evelyn.


I love this picture - Carol, Evelyn, June, Teoh BJ and 2 others. 
wah.. for me..I felt shy taking photos with 4 podium finishers who also achieved their personal best times at Twincity Marathon 2017. :)




There you go - the proud podium finishers and person record breakers!!! Congrats!


Another happy wefie! Teoh BJ is super duper awesome in taking selfie! Must learn from him!


Phang Tze Hau - thank you for the photo. finally managed to take a photo with you! Carol  in cloud 9? Smiling so widely!! :) 


Rooney and Kuan - another 2 favorite runners of mine who have demonstrated such strong passion for running. Their legs are kaki besi! :)


Carol - you will never forget this day!! :)


With the Ironman Fendi. Thanks bro for the picture.


One of the runners from Pacemakers who helped me to the finish line!! thank you bro!



Overall: a very well organized, high quality full marathon event

This was my second time running Twincity Marathon. Last year was my first  and it was a very emotional race for me with memories and visions of my mom filling up my mind the whole 42 km. I just depended on William to guide me to a sub 4 finish. I also remember clearly that I was physically and mentally exhausted sitting at the finish line for 1 hour not being able to stand up.

I am glad I joined this year's Twincity Marathon 2017, despite the fact that it was held on the following week after Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2017. The reason is because running Twincity Marathon truly brought back so much memories of my mom for me and I wanted to run it to keep the memory alive!

If you were to ask me to rate this year's Twincity Marathon, I will give 2 thumbs up!! Thanks to race director Deo AH for understanding the runners very well with him being an elite and ultra runner himself. He could anticipate what runners would look for at certain distances and at finish line! There are some technical hiccups but I am very tolerant to it. :) No race is perfect. But this Twincity Marathon 2017 ranks on top of my full marathon list. 


What I love about the Twincity Marathon 2017:



  • running on wide road with excellent traffic police and marshals throughout 42 km. No more running on bike lane with uneven surface and stones. 
  • plenty of water stations with water, 100 Plus and sponges at certain hydration stations.
  • 2 stations with bananas
  • No power gels were given during the course but the refreshing coca-cola at 2-3 stations were good enough for me!! A refreshing change too! (Luckily I brought enough power gel though! But an extra pack could have come handy at crucial times)
  • certain dark areas (before sun rise) were lighted up with bright neon lights and one stretch in particular was with Kerosene lamps on the trees, making it rather unique and romantic. :)
  • Wonderful, professional pacers (not all FM has pacers!)
  • One of the best full marathon finish areas I have ever experienced in a full marathon fully satisfying the runners' needs:
    • sports massage tent for the tired legs
    • Roti canai (making on the spot) for the hungry 
    • Fried meehoon (frying on the spot) 
    • Icy cold waters in a tank for finishers to grab at finish line!
    • plenty of rest areas with tents and on the grass under shades
    • surau tents
    • bag corner
    • coca-cola by McDonald's corner
    • well organized finisher tee collection area 
  • My first ever 2ndSkin running vest and finisher tee!! I never knew wearing 2ndSkin tees can be so comfortable and cooling with its soft material! I really love both of the running vests - along with Adidas SCKLM's running vests. :) Thank you 2ndSkin (Eugene and Deo for the partnership!)
  • "Gong" area for achieving personal best - an awesome innovated addition at finish line. I love it! Wish I could hit the gong myself though. Never mind, I will be back attempting again. :) Now more reason to come back stronger next year! haha!


Areas for improvement:

  • Technical glitch with 500 m short in distance for the 42 km race. Many runners also ran short - or was it truly 42 km but the route somehow caused us run 500 m less?
  • Technical glitch on the BIB timing system recording gun and net time to be the same (but was rectified later - even on the e-cert! Thanks organiser for the quick rectification!)
  • Would be awesome if there are power gels in next year's event in addition to the refreshing coca-cola! haha!

As you can see, it was an almost perfect race! And yes - I will wear the SecondSkin tee shirts to work, out to the malls. I just love the soft materials and cutting. 

Twincity Marathon 2018 - I will come back to hit the gong! Please make sure you still keep very creative addition at finish line!!😉

Some photos below capturing all the energizing activities at finish area: 


rest area, surau, bags storage, stage

sport massage area and the hit the gong area.. very popular!

Wow! Such great refreshment, banana and medals for finishers! look at the icy cold drinks in the tank!

Refreshment - with roti chanai made fresh on the spot and also the meehoon fried fresh on the spot! Awesome!

Race director Deo in action with the finisher tee collection line!! 

2ndSkin shirts - my first to experience wearing them!! such soft materials! I love it!! and the coca cola!!







 Anymore back to back full marathon in future? 😨


I borrowed my dad's walking stick - so tiring after the back to back full marathon!! It was for fun lah!! my legs were only tired! haha!


So, you may ask me, "anymore back to back full marathon in future?"

😨 NO MORE! 😨


But again - never say never........ lol!



Written by Vincent Khor on 2017.01.29 (CNY day #2)

vincent

4 comments:

  1. Your picture with the walking stick is very funny :))

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    Replies
    1. haha!!! Yeah - my dad was laughing too when I asked him to take the photo for me. lol!! Just thought for fun!

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