2017 race reflections: first half of the year



Time flies. Six months has passed in 2017. It's time for me to do a half-year (first half of 2017) self-reflection on running!

Here's a recap of the races I completed from January 1 to June 30, 2017:


Race Recap (January-June 2017)

1.   Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2017.01.08, Yangon, Myanmar | 42 km | 3:48:53 | *Personal Best* | Race Report

2.   Twincity Marathon 2017.01.15, Cyberjaya / Putrajaya | 42 km | 3:48:38 Race Report 

3.   Route 68 Challenge 2017.04.16, Gombak, Selangor | 50 km | 5:17:49 | Race Report

4.   Perlis Marathon 2017.04.30, Kangar, Perlis | 42 km | 4:07:51 | Race Report

5.   Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2017.05.21  | 42 km | 4:26:26 | Race Report

6.   Hat Yai Marathon 2017.05.28, Hat Yai, Thailand | 42 km | 3:59:33 | Race Report

Summary (Jan - June 2017)
Full marathons         : 5
Ultra marathon         : 1
Full/Ultra marathon   : 6


Highlights

Here are some highlights with lessons learned during the first half of 2017:

1. Two back-to-back full marathons

  • Yoma Yangon International Marathon on Jan 8, 2017 and Twincity Marathon on Jan 15, 2017
  • Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (May 21, 2017) and Hat Yai Marathon (May 28, 2017)
I did my first back-to-back full marathon in 2016: Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon on Aug 7, 2016 followed by Kuching Marathon a week later on Aug 14, 2016. I thought I was rather crazy to have registered for two full marathons with only a week apart then. After completion, I told myself I would not do it again! It's torturing!

But I got a little overboard and obsessed with the idea of running twelve (12) full / ulra marathons in twelve months (12 x 12 marathons). There is a group on Facebook that lists down names of runners who managed to complete 12 full/ultra marathons in a year. What could be a better way to start it off early to see if I could do it too? A little too aggressive I would think. But never try, never know! So I went crazy by signing up for the four full marathons hoping to hit six marathons by end of June 2017.

I tell you - I suffered big time! So I am telling myself this, "No more back to back full marathons. Been there done thatNo more. Kaput. That's it. Done. " 😉


Lesson learned

As a runner who clocks very low weekly mileage (42 km per week), running back to back full marathons might be too much for me. I have learned to listen to my body condition more in future. 

2. First ultra-marathon:

  • Route 68 Challenge (April 16, 2017)
It has been my dream to run beyond 42 km one day. The urge has become stronger and stronger over the last 2-3 years. But I look at pain and agony on the faces of ultra marathon runners, I told myself that I would not put myself through the long suffering. lol! Besides, I still enjoy running with a little speed for now. Perhaps few years later when I can't run any faster, I can then run slowly and longer on an ultra-marathon. :)

I succumbed to peer pressure. Encouraged by two running friends who also signed up for Route 68 Challenge. I decided to give it a try - 50 km distance, an equivalent to 10 km category in standard running events. 

Lesson learned

Respect the distance. It looked like a mere 8 km more compared to running 42 km full marathon. But the 8 km was.... ahem...... never ending! 😊 I can't imagine following the footstep of true ultra marathoners who endure the 84 km, 100 km, and even 200 km distance!! I respect them but it's better for me to stick with full marathon distance only. 

3. Personal record of all time in a new country

  • 3:48:53 at Yoma Yangon International Marathon (Jan 8, 2017)
The personal record of all time came as a surprise. I didn't expect it. I was running with no pressure since it was the first race of the year. Furthermore, it was in a country I visited for the first time. Now I have run in six (6) countries. Yohoo!!


Lesson learned

Good timing might come when we least expect. I have been too tensed when running a full marathon. I always chase for time; chase for sub four hour; chase for personal record. With such high expectation of myself, I know I need to learn to loosen up. A somewhat "relaxing" run might turn out to have better timing than a somewhat "tensed" run. It's all in the mind!

4. First time participation in four (4) out of six (6) 

I love to experience running in events I have not tried before. It gives me a very fresh motivating factor. I get to enjoy seeing things I have not seen before as I run the 42 km in a new route. That's the joy of running a full marathon - passing through many places, villages, kampungs, local people, etc. But it's also important for me to check on the background of organizers and reviews of other runners who have participated in such events before. I'm glad I have chosen the correct events to have my first new experience: Yoma Yangoon, Route 68 Challenge, Perlis Marathon and Hat Yai Marathon. 


Lesson learned

Continue to run in new places, new routes, new countries for the joy of seeing the local interests, people, culture.


5.  Six (6) marathons in six-month period, the most to date  

  • Six. (Five full marathons - four of the five were back-to-back marathons; and an ultra marathon). Previously, the most I ever managed were six (6) full marathons in a year in 2014.
If not because on my quest to run 12 full marathons in a year, I would not have tried it. 


Lesson learned

Never try never know!! It's good to stretch our limits to know how far we can go.


Lowlights

When there's ups, there is bound to have downs too. The lowlights might only be three points - but they have 

1. Deteriorating performance

My timing has deteriorated terribly, from personal best of all time in January to personal worst of 2017 in May at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon. My self-confidence took a beating - from a high to one of the lowest points in my running journey since 2010.


Lesson learned

Running is pretty much like life with ups and downs. Over confidence kills! My deteriorating performance has taught me to be humble once again.

2. Iliotibial Band (ITB) syndrome

I injured myself in April with iliotibial band syndrome. Sob sob!! I felt so down and depressed. I'm not sure the reason for the injury but i guess it got to do with overuse tendons. Frequent races, low weekly mileage, and increasing distance and speed too fast too soon might all contribute to my ITB syndrome. During this period, I sought for cupping therapy, physio therapy and massage and form rolling in order to speed up my recovery.


Lesson learned

After a period of light depression, I've learned to re look at my injury with a different perspective. I adjusted my racing strategy - and run slower. I stopped running totally, except during the races. I have learned to be more patient too. And personal best time? It can wait. I can't always achieve personal best all the time. I'm only human. And most importantly, when it's time to rest, just REST!

3. Lost the joy of running momentarily 

I think I focused too much on chasing time. With such a packed full marathon races, the joy of running somehow lost in the air occasionally. I started to question why I run at first place. Does it have to chase time always? Or can there be races whereby I just run slower and enjoy the race more?


Lesson learned

Chasing time is important, but it's not everything. Run often. Run long. Run fast. Run slow. But never outrun the joy of running. 

What's in store for the rest of 2017?

I did not start (DNS) at Hulu Langat Marathon this month. 😞 I want to give my legs and body more rest. Even though I have completely recovered from ITB band, I still don't want to exert the leg muscles too much. I will take it slowly for next three months. 

Next race? October 1. Three (3) months from now.

Meanwhile - I will continue running. 

Another good news: My joy of running is back!!! Horray!

I will write another 2017 race review at end of this year or early 2018. 

Happy running, peeps!


Written by Vincent Khor on July 24, 2017.

vincent

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