Race Report: Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marthon 2017 - 42 kilometers of humility and surrender

I lost my half marathon virginity (21km) to Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) in 2011. I then lost my full marathon virginity (42km) to Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) a year later in 2012. Ever since then, I have not missed a year of running a full marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon - THE marathon event in Malaysia!
  • SCKLM 2012 (4 hours 38 min). 
  • SCKLM 2013 (4 hours 37 min). Race report here
  • SCKLM 2014 (4 hours 6 min). 
  • SCKLM 2015 (cancelled due to bad haze condition)
  • SCKLM 2016 (3 hours 52 min). Race report here
How did I fair this year?

Well, out of the 5 years running SCKLM full marathon, I must say this year's race result was my 3rd worst. Or to be positive, 3rd best out of 5!! haha!

How could I run a 3 hours 52 min just a mere 8 months ago (last year's SCKLM was held in September 2016) and on last Sunday I could only manage to finish with a miserable 4 hours 26 min34 min worse?

SCKLM 2017   Net time 04:26:26                                          SCKLM 2016   Net time 03:52:21
Why? Why? Why?

Oh well..... I guess everything happens for a reason. I just need to live it and learn from it.

Don't try to understand everything, because sometimes it is not meant to be understood, but to be accepted. 
And here is the story...

Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC)

I must say this year's race entry pack collection (REPC) gave me the best REPC experience!!

  • REPC Venue at KL Convention Center (even though it's in a tent and not in one of the halls) was simply the best REPC venue ever. It was well air-conditioned and easily accessible by all public transport systems. And it's against the backdrop of KLCC!! Wow! Last year's SCKLM vanue was the worst - at Kenanga Mall KL. All previous years were held at the basement of Dataran Merdeka.
  • Race entry pack collection was as smooth as a 10-min "touch n go" awesome experience! I went there on May 18 (1st day) around 6.30 pm. It took me a mere 10 min to collect 3 race kits at full marathon counter and 10 km counter. No queue!! It would be even more awesome if they could have allowed me to collect race kits of different categories together (in my case, 42km and 10km categories). But hey - no complaint!! Total 10 min transition for both collection separately? It's heavenly!
  • Exciting Expos (Prudential Healthy Life Expo and other promotional booths) really kept the runners excited  for last minute power gel purchase, the cap, the compression pants, the Brooks shoes, etc. For me, I was very happy to have spotted the promotional booth by Korea Tourism Organisation Kuala Lumpur promoting 4 major marathons in Korea. In case you missed it, you can check it out on on my write up by clicking here
  • Awesome SCKLM2017 wall with the names of full marathoners! I really love the color and the wall! And I managed to find my name! Yohoo!
Best REPC experience at SCKLM 2017 at KL Convention Center

SCKLM2017 mobile application

Instead of going to the website to find out more info, by downloading the SCKLM2017 mobile app, I could have all the necessary information about the race: race day program, course map, REPC information, public transportation, road closure, runner's guide.

2 most outstanding features that I really enjoyed are the selfie feature with the SCKLM2017 frame as well as the live tracking of me and my friends.

2 weeks leading to race day

The warnings and the lightning strike

My right knee was literally "struck" by lightning on May 7 - exactly 2 Sundays before SCKLM 2017 on May 21. 

Yes, I have iliotibial band (ITB band) - pain on the side of my right knee, right thigh to the hip and also my back.

How timely! 2 weeks before the big SCKLM day!

Truthfully, I already received some early warning signs prior to the "lighting strike"!

First warning sign came during Perlis Marathon 2017 on April 30 (race report here). I already felt I was overly exhausted and and I was having burn-out from running. Body tightness couldn't seem to go away easily. But I ignored. 

2nd warning sign came on May 5 when I was running a tempo run of 10 km at 5:00 min per km on treadmill. As I was running, suddenly my right knee gave way! But I managed to compose myself and thought it wasn't serious!

3rd and final warning sign  - the "lightning strike" finally hit me on May 7 during Sunday 21km LSD run. Wobbly knee, pain on the side of my right knee, right thigh to the hip and also my back came like tsunami over consuming all my joy of running! Instead of joy, there was only pain and disappointment.

Desperation for full recovery

With only 2 weeks to go and my last ITB band injury occurred more than 3 years ago, I was desperate for full recovery to run the race of the year - Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2017. 

I stopped running completely since May 1. Zero mileage.

I sought for all sorts of sport injury (particularly ITB band injury) treatments that you could name it:
  • Sport injury massage and cupping (click here for write up)
  • Foot reflexology (click here for write up)
  • Physiotherapy treatment (click here for write up)
  • Home rehabilitation exercises using resistance band and body weight (click here for write up)
All sorts of treatment for ITB band recovery within 2 weeks!! lol!! 
I was desperate! I was impatient! I was hoping for a miracle!

But miracle didn't come. 

The only phrase that could sum up my feelings would be, "My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak!"

Pre-race day: should I or should I not?

Headache headache headache!! Should I run or should I not?
Headache!! How to decide?

After the physiotherapy session in the morning of pre-race day, I came home sitting hopelessly staring at the wall thinking,

"Should I DNS?"

"Should I still run tomorrow despite the IT band injury with heavily taped up back, thigh and knee?"

"Should I run but DNF if I couldn't finish the whole 42km?"

"Should I still go for sub 4 hours?"

"Should I just run slowly?"

My mind was utterly confused. I know my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak!

But but but... but I didn't want to miss THE full marathon of the year Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon!!!

Could I pull it off with mere mental strength despite he physical injuries?

I also seeked advice from some experienced running friends to help me make up my mind.

Two notable contradictory advises from experienced running friends were:

Advice A from one friend: not to run

"Friend... injury (pain) is body indicating signal to you. Injury (muscles tiredness) is just tired from too hectic activities such as running, working, etc. If injury (pain) I think it's not the time to use your brain (wake up and see how on race day to decide) to think for your body. If injury (pain), your body is signaling you already. If you don't listen, how else you think the body can make you understand / listen?"

Advice B from another friend: to run

"ITB is common. Overuse and yes, increasing mileage and speed too fast too soon. You need to roll it and stretch adequately. Usually despite it, you could run through it. Just need to make sure there is enough warmup and proper ITB stretching. It still should be okay to do a good time. "

My final verdict with my brainless head

Did I hear "It shill should be okay to do a good time?" from the friend who thought I could still run at SCKLM2017?

Ha! Ha! Ha! 😜

I know I know I know. I should have listened to advice A (not to run) and not advice B (to run).

But instead, I used my brainless head to think this round and decided to give disrespect to my physical body.

Stubborn me!! Never listened to body!!

Race Day - Flag off

I showed up on race day fully taped!!

Yes - fully taped on my knee, thigh and back with rock tapes and Phiten tapes.

I showed up on race day fully deep heated too on my knee and back muscles with the muscle counter pain!!

Yes, I was ready to ensure the 42 km with all the tapes and counter pain!! 😝

fully taped!! haha!

What next? I needed to camouflage myself going into battle field.

Hey - do you notice that I was wearing this year's very cool nicely designed Brooks sponsored SCKLM official running vest for the race?

If you noticed from my previous races, I hardly wore the official running vest on the same race event. hehe!

In the early days may be I still wore same official running vest on same race event until my friends asked me to wear a different color of running vest. Reason? Simple reason - so that I could spot myself in the running photos taken by all the ever supportive photographers after the event. haha! So vain yeah!!

But this time, I wasn't ashamed to admit that I wore Brooks sponsored SCKLM2017 official running vest to run for only one big reason:

I wanted to BLEND IN and BE UNNOTICED!

I wanted to be far away from my fast sub 4 friends.

I wanted to just run alone at my own pace without the pressure of others.

I didn't want to aggravate my ITB band injury further - with the hope of finishing the race with my stubbornness!!

Mood was down. Physical body was unwilling.

But hey - thanks to the ever supportive friends who managed to cheer me up with some group photos before the flag off! At least I managed to squeeze out a smiling face for perfect group photo sessions!! 👌😊

Oh yes - I decided to wear my newly bought Kinvara Saucony 8 for the very first time too to cheer myself up! hehe!

My Genting Sempah running buddies. So happy to be able to take this photo with them.
Do we look like brothers? haha!

The 42km battlefield

SCKLM2017 42km route map
It was forecasted to have thunder storm around 3.00 am -5.00 am on the race day morning. I was truly looking forward for the shower to wash away the hot and humid weather. But it didn't rain throughout the whole 42km battlefield.

This year's route map had some slight changes at the beginning and towards the end. 

There were plenty of water and isotonic stations (I think every 3 km but it felt as it every km!!), with some of the hydration stations providing water sponges too!

There were two stations providing High Five energy gels and bananas.

What made it interesting was several guitar bands were playing some beautiful hit songs at selected hydration stations along the route to motivate and cheer the runners!! 

Of course it was rolling hills - up and down with expressways, bukit tunku hills etc! 

But hey - SCKLM was not the easiest full marathon route to run but definitely a challenging and fulfilling one!!

The mind and body battle began...

Too proud, too glam to give a damn to  my weakened broken body

I was simply too proud, too glam to give a damn to my weakened broken body - ignoring all the warnings!

I kept telling myself that I might not be in perfect condition (in fact I was in shitty condition!), but parts of me still felt like I could pull it off - even a sub 4 hour marathon!!

I did sub 4 before, right? I could do it again!

ITB band injury? Let the mind win over the body!!

I may not be perfect but parts of me are pretty awesome!
I also kept telling myself, "Never let the body tell the mind what to do! The body will always give up. It is always tired - morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

Truthfully, my mind was also tired due to lack of self-confidence. 

But hey! I shouldn't give in so easily even before I embarked on the battle!!

"Never give up!" my mind told me!!

KM0 to KM15: 15 kilometers of confidence building 

Dataran Merdeka to Lebuhraya Bertingkat Ampang-Kuala Lumpur

I felt shy started off at Pen 2 (sub 4) this time around. I squeezed myself all the way to the back so that I wouldn't block those true sub 4 runners.

I bumped into some friends at the Pen and we exchanged some greetings and wishing each other the best. At that point, I know I would not see their faces as they would sprint off once the flag-off gun was sounded!! :)

Taking it slow to test out my legs after zero mileage for two weeks and the ITB band injury, I was running slow in high cadence of 185-190 beats per min. I was thinking perhaps the slow run and high cadence could help me to over stride and put additional stress on my ITB band.

I was running alone almost the whole 15 km, except bumping into couple friends along the way.

I was happy to have bumped into Josephine Pin Pin from Indonesia's Indo Runners' Group. She was the one who introduced me to the weekly Thursday evening run in Jakarta with Indo Runners. She helped helped me greatly during my two-year stint in Jakarta four plus years ago.

I was running next to her for a while, chit chatting and catching up.

After a mobile toilet break, I decided to run on my own again trying my best to listen to my body to see how much I could stretch it this round.

My body felt okay. My feet felt okay too.

I tried to run a bit faster but immediately I could feel the pain and tightness on my ITB band. So I decided to slow down again.

The split time every 5KM below stated that my average pace was way above the sub 4 hours of 5:40 min / km. 
  • KM0 to KM5 : 05:54 min / km average pace 
  • KM5 to KM10: 05.46 min / km average pace
  • KM10 to KM15: 05:53 min / km average pace
Under normal circumstances, I would have run at an average pace of 5:20 min to 5:30 min per km.

Oh well - what to do? I still had a long battle ahead - the rolling hills, the expressways!!

KM15 to KM27: 12 kilometers of humility

Lebuhraya Bertingkat Ampang-Kuala Lumpur to Lebuhraya Duta-Ulu Kelang

I still wanted to do a sub 4 hours full marathon! If I couldn't aim for 3 hours 50 min, I would still be happy with a 3 hours 59 min 59 sec.

I saw not running a sub 4 full marathon as a personal failure! Sob sob!

With my body and legs feeling okay for the first 15 km and my average pace was around 5:50 min per km, I somehow gained back a little self confidence.

May be my ITB band and back pain were that bad after all! (What a fool I was!! haha!)

During this next 12 kilometers, I was on a catch-up mode for a sub 4 full marathon!!

From 5:50 min per km average pace, I tried to catch up to have an average pace of 05:30 to 05:35 min per km so that I could still finish within four (4) hours.

It also meant that I needed to run faster than 05:30 min per km in order to make up for the slower first 15 km.

Unfortunately, as I tried to increase my speed, my right ITB band and back pain started to kick in badly. I felt such tightness in the muscle tendon. I could also feel the pull of the ITB band as I widened my stride strength (with same high cadence).

And this time, I also felt the tightness on my left leg- same area as the right leg!! Oh no!! Not ITB band tightness or inflammation!!! I feared the most!!

But still - I tried my best, minimizing my pain and I could only squeeze out a miserable average pace of 5:34 min to 05:40 min per km for this 12 kilometers.

KM15 - KM20: 05:34 min / km average pace
KM20 - KM25: 05:40 min / km average pace

My effort wasn't good enough for a sub four hour finish!

During this stretch - whenever I saw a station with the muscle spray, I asked the volunteer to help me spray on my both legs. And of course, I said managed to squeeze out a smile to say, "thank you" for their selfless volunteerism.

It was truly a 15 km journey of humility for me!!

I have learned that...
Humility is the wisdom of accepting the truth that you might just be wrong!
Yes, I was wrong!

Yes, I under estimated the seriousness of IT band injury and back pain!

Yes, my stubborn head got into me!

Yes, my pride took over me!

I finally admitted it!

At this point.

At this juncture.

At this hour.

At this minute.

KM27 to KM42: 15 kilometers of surrender

Lebuhraya Duta-Ulu Kelang to Dataran Merdeka

KM27  - I would never forget!

That was when I looked at my Garmin Vivoactive GPS watch. And the average pace read 5:50 min per km.

It was then and there that I knew all my hard work and effort would go down the drain.

No more hope. 

No motivation to strive further.

No more goal to achieve, except to finish the race!

I knew it was time for me to accept the fact!

I knew it was time for me to S U R R E N D E R fully!

I surrender to what is!
Let go of what was!
Have faith in what will be!

I surrender!

Does S U R R E N D E R mean a person is W E A K?

Strange as it might seem... but the moment I surrendered, I felt as if the heavy burden on my shoulder was lifted up!! There was a sense of liberation! 

I started to walk, slow run, take my sweet time to drink at hydration stations, spray my legs at almost every stations with muscle spray that I could spot. (Yes - I ended up spraying both my feet at a total of 5 stations!! The most in my running history!! what a record!! lol!)

Both of my feet were painful. I felt numbness on my left feet now. Even my left toes, I felt some numbness. 

I believe I had muscle cramps too in addition to the ITB band injury!

In fact, I was running / walking at snail pace - a pace which I never experienced in a full marathon for a long long time. 

  • KM25 - KM30 : 06:42 min / km average pace
  • KM30 - KM35 : 07:05 min / km average pace
  • KM35 - KM40 : 07:58 min / km average pace
  • KM40 - KM42 : 07:20 min / km average pace

Anyway - I didn't care much anymore!! I endured the physical pain as much as I could.

But my mental pain was no longer there.

I felt more peace in my heart after I surrendered totally!!

I just wanted to cross the finish line!!

I just wanted to go to the medical tent at finish line to ice my legs and back!

Suddenly, a surge of joy started to fill my heart.. bit by bit!

No more time.

Just to finish the race I started!

Sub 4:30 is where I belong, not sub 4:00

Yes, I managed to crawl back and cross the finish line at the most prestigious running event in Malaysia - Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2017!

My time? A miserable 4:26:26, 34 min slower than 8 months ago at SCKLM 2016.

But hey - I was overjoyed and emotional that I finished it with a beautiful finisher medal and Brooks finisher tee!

Beautiful high quality finisher medal and Brooks finisher tee
As I was resting at the medical tent icing my both feet and knees as well as back, mixed emotions and feelings gushed through my head!

I was so grateful that I managed to pull through the most painful physically, and the most drained emotionally full marathon I have done in a long time. 

I would like to thank all the concerned friends who kept encouraging me and showering me with lots of advice and motivation. 

I would also like to thank Rainer and SCKLM for such a well organised event!! I would say it was the best SCKLM so far!! Top notch!! 5 star!! Thank you!

Last but not least, I would like to thank God for teaching me a great lesson in life!! That I can't depend on my physical body all the time! I need to depend on Him!

This full marathon truly brought me down on my knees.

Despite having achieved nine (9) sub 4:00 hour full marathons thus far, it has been a disappointing few months lately - plagued with slower time and then ITB sport injury.

I started to doubt my running capability. 

Have I been trying too hard? 

Have I been only chasing for time and losing out the pure joy of running?

I started to feel more at ease with running a sub 4:30 hour full marathon instead of the pressured sub 4:00 hour full marathon.

I want my joy of running back! 😜

It rained around 9 am on the Sunday.

Find rest my soul...

Find rest my soul.
Well, Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2017 has closed the curtain yesterday. And we now look forward to an even more exciting SCKLM 2018 next year!!

Meanwhile, I need to listen to my physical body and give my body a full rest.

Another lesson learned: "Life is all about balance. You don't always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it's perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing."

Life is all about balance
And this time - I shall shut down my feet and stop running for a while! :) I shall go for swim, cycling, traveling and other things in life!

I shall also find rest my soul..... and learn more about surrender!

To rise again...

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Give me time. 
Give me space.
To heal my wounded body and soul.
Yes, I failed.
Yes, I was disappointed at myself.
Yes, I lost the joy of running.
But I will rise again.
I will rise and rise again.... until lambs become lions!
And I will find joy in running once again!

Written by Vincent Khor on May 22, 2017 (a day after SCKLM 2017)



  1. Injury is never a time for heroism. Rest well ��

    1. Dear Wai Yee, yes you are absolutely right! Injury is never a time for heroism. :) Only fools would have insisted on it. haha! Thanks. I will give my body a much deserved rest.

  2. Thanks for sharing, it resonated with me. Rest well and come back stronger, Vincent. I was exactly in your shoes, 2 weeks before the D-Day, had a very bad right Achilles injury and had to stop running. I too was humbled on 21st :( but unlike you I am still chasing for my first sub-4. Will start from beginning and try again. Never give up.

    1. Vincent Khor12 June, 2017

      Hi there,
      Thanks for leaving your comment. I hope you are well on your way to full recovery from your right Achilles injury. From your sharing, I can tell that you are a very persistent determined passionate runner. Yes, we can start from beginning and try again. Running is a life long journey. I too have been resting. I think more than 1.5 month without proper running expect the hatyai marathon after scklm. I hope to start from beginning again in July. I hope you too can start soon. Yes... never give up! I'm sure one day you will see your sub 4 dream come true. Wish I could be there to cheer u on when that sub 4 day comes. It will come.. my friend! Cheers