Race Review: Twincity Marathon 2018, a 3:59:39 Full Marathon Finish Without Energy Gel

Event Name.       :  Twincity Marathon 2018
Date                     :  21 January 2018
Venue                  :  In front of MaGIC, Persiaran APEC, Cyberjaya
Start Time           :  4.00 am
Event Organiser  : Ten Senses
Race Director      : Deo Runner

Twincity Marathon 2018 held on 21 January 2018 was my third time running, having completed full marathons at Twincity Marathon 2016 with a net time of 3:56:42 and Twincity Marathon 2017 with a net time of 3:48:38. With a net time of 3:59:39 in the most recently concluded Twincity Marathon 2018, I feel that I'm very fortunate to be able to achieve three (3) sub-4hour full marathons in three consecutive years at the same event despite the fact that my time this year was the slowest of all. 😀

First Twincity Marathon: Twincity Marathon 2016 (Race Review)

  • A race that I wanted to DNS after encountering sudden demise of my beloved mom on 6 December 2015. But I decided to run for her on 24 January 2016, which was also my mom's 49 days (7 weeks) not being with us and my dad's 92nd birthday.
  • A race that has given me strength and hope to look forward to God-given life in the midst of  depression for losing my beloved mom
  • Net time of 3:56:42
  • Running shoe: Saucony Kinvara 6 White

2nd Twincity Marathon: Twincity Marathon 2017 (Race Review)

  • Net time 3:48:38
  • Gong or not to Gong! Facing the honesty moment! It would have been my PB in a full marathon. But due to the 1 km under distance, I felt that it would not be honest to myself to hit the gong! 
  • The most selfies ever with our dear popular running blogger and ultra marathoner Evelyn Ang.
  • Running shoe: Saucony Kinvara 6  Orange

3rd Twincity Marathon: Twincity Marathon 2018 

  • Net time 3:59:39 (over distance by 500 meters or so)
  • First Full Marathon without power gel consumption, fuelled by natural raisins instead. 
  • First ever complimentary slot to run in a running event since I started running at end of 2010. (Thank You, #TwincityMarathon! Muaks! 😊)
  • Ran prayerfully for speedy recovery of Evelyn Ang
  • 30th full marathon, 31st full / ultra marathon
  • Running shoe: New Balance 1500 v3

Here's the race recap and highlights of Twincity Marathon 2018:

Twincity Marathon's Social Media

Photo credit: Twincity Marathon
Twincity Marathon 2018 ran a series of social media marketing with some faces of runners from previous Twincity Marathon. I was fortunate to be one of them.  It was also my first ever social media marketing involvement by any race organisers! I was so thrilled and excited! Thanks again to Race Director of Twincity Marathon!

Running Clinic 

Twincity Marathon 2018 also held several Running Clinic sessions with Coach Edan Syah to give coaching and advice. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to participate in the running clinics. Otherwise, It would have been awesome to be able to learn from our marathon great Edan Syah!

Race Pack Collection

In the previous two years, I didn't encounter any long queue at all during the REPC (race entry pack collection). Both years were very fast and efficient. Unfortunately, I was so shocked when I arrived at 11:30 am on the Friday (19 January 2018). There was a huge crowd and a very very very very long queue at this year's collection! I needed to queue for 1.5 hour to reach my turn! Thankfully I bumped into a friend who was already queuing in front to help me collect mine. I also heard that those runners who arrived during lunch hour needed to queue even longer!

My friend was telling me that with such a popular event, Twincity Marathon could have started the race kit collection one day earlier (i.e. Thursday to Saturday) to ease the crowd since no postal service delivery was available. Additionally, there should be separate lines for different race category instead of all queueing up same line.

I hope the above suggestions can help Twincity Marathon to improve in the future. 

42km Race Route

Photo credit: Twincity Marathon
The 42km race route at Twincity Marathon 2018 was different from previous two years' 42km routes. I have found that this year's race route is more challenging and tougher than the last 2 years' race routes, with some undulating hills along the route, and the last uphill slope around KM38 to KM41. I love this route for its challenging hills. What can I say? I love hills!

There were 2 areas during the route that I thought could have been improved:

1. Running along the highway

Somehow, I found that there were more cars this year compared to the last two years. I believe it was due to the new race route. After the unfortunate incident of car hitting runners at Klang City International Marathon 2017, I was very concerned and cautious of ongoing motorists and vehicles. Thankfully, the marshals and volunteers are doing awesome job in helping to manage the traffic. Plenty of safety cones were also helpful! At some dark areas, spotlights were used to ensure runners were safe. Kudos to race organiser for increasing the safety measures for runners

2. Turning into "Finish Line" area at K29 making it mentally very challenging

After running 30 full marathons, this was the first time that I encountered running passed the Finish Line area before the actual finish! Mentally I have found it very challenging! For the virgin marathoners, it might be even thougher for them. Psychologically, after seeing the "Finish Line" arch, 42 km runners still needed to run 13 more km to reach the finish line! It's like, "Hi Finish Line, I see you now but I can't cross you yet! I need to go a big big round of 13 more km to finally cross the finish line!" 😁 Kudos to all the runners for not giving up but to press on for 13 more km running through the crowds of 10km runners! 💪💪💪

 I believe some runners also found the start venue to be a bit difficult to find, including myself. Perhaps it was a new race venue and my unfamiliarity with Cyberjaya / Putrajaya area, I was turning around few times to find it. I wasn't the only one. I saw some other runners were also going round and round like me! ha!ha! But it was fun though!

Additionally there was limited car parking spaces around the start venue. By the time I finished my race and wanted to go home, many parked cars were found in the middle of the roads etc, blocking the ways.

Overall, the new 42km route is great with more hill challenges. Personally, I love Twincity Marathon 2017's 42km race route the best even though it was 1 km under distance.

Running Strategy

As my age is catching up, I realised that I needed more time to recover after a full marathon. 

2017 has been a hectic year for me with too many full marathons to swallow - several of them being back to back full marathons! And I wanted to have enough full recovery for each race this year! 

1. 5:30 min / km pace up to 30km

In view of my participation in Tokyo Marathon 2018 to be held on 25 February and potential stomach discomfort with excessive energy / power gels, I decided to use Twincity Marathon 2018 as my 30km LSD running at an average pace of 5:30 min / km. I planned to run at this pace until K30 and see how my body felt. If my body felt ok, I would then run at any speed I could from K30 to finish line, knowing that my speed would have dropped drastically from K30 onwards.

2. No energy gel / power gel throughout 42km

Usually I take about 4-5 packets of energy gel during full marathon races. But this time, I planned to avoid taking any power gel / energy gel to see if I could last the whole 42 km without any fuelling from power gel. I haven't done that before but I thought I should try it out. Therefore,  I brought along raisins for my energy replenishment but I still kept 2 packets of power gels in my pouch as reserve. haha! 

At Start Line

I managed to take some photos with some running friends before the start. It was like a gathering of running friends at the beginning of the year! A very nice happy feeling indeed!

Sort of a 2018 New Year gathering with running friends! Awesome!

Runners were excited to start! I noticed that there is no digital clock on the arch - like SCKLM, Perlis, Kuching Marathon! It would be nice if there is a digital clock on the arch!

Race Outcome

I took 3 capsules of Hammer Nutrition's Anti Fatigue caps one hour before the race.

At KM10, KM20 and KM30, I took some raisins that I brought along with me.

At KM20, I also took two more capsules of Hammer Nutrition's Anti Fatigue caps.

Along the route, I sipped water and isotonic drinks at every single water station. I remember I also took 1.5 bananas at 2 separate hydration stations.

And how could I forget the refreshing coca-cola around KM12 or so? Oh wow! Coca-cola never tasted so so so so good!!! haha! Now I come to think of it, I still remember vividly how refreshing and awesome the coca-cola was!

Photo credit: Jefffrey Teo

Oh yes, I also I took the iced coffee provided by Twincity Marathon's sponsor at KM28. It was also my first time drinking coffee during a race! I was so tired then and the small little cup of iced coffee was really served at the right time!! 😁

As per my original running strategy, I was doing my best to keep my average pace to be as close to 5:30 min / km average pace as possible all the way up to KM30.

When I decided to take it easy and slow down more at KM30, somehow I felt I was given a renewed energy! 😋 Perhaps it was the caffeine in the coffee that I took at KM28! Suddenly I felt alive and awake! At the time when I was supposed to hit the wall, I became energised! And I started to pick up my speed again until the last few KM when I ran out of steam! haha!

Love the iced coffee at KM27.5! It gave me the much needed boost to wake me up! haha! Photo credit: Twincity Marathon

I was so glad that even though I was tempted to consume energy gel especially from KM20 onwards, I decided to use my mental strength to fight my physically weak body. 

Whenever the thoughts of taking energy gel popped into my mind, I kept telling myself, "You can do it! You can do it! You can do it without energy gel!"

And since I wasn't aiming for a Personal Best time but just a sub-4hour full marathon, I felt that I could afford to take a little more risk without energy gel. At least I should try for one full marathon!

In this new 42km race course, I faced a few unforeseen mental challenges. Besides the decision to use mental strength to overcome my dependance on energy gel, and the undulating hills, I had to also face a mental challenge at KM29  - with the Finish Line in sight but yet there was still 13 km more to run. Additionally, it was a merge with 10 km runners. Some runners were walking blocking the way. It was a good time to practice moon walking zig zagging through the 10km runners as well. 😀 Personally, seeing the 10km runners was a moral boost for me because after running close to 3 hours, I finally got to see more runners on the road! So it was quite refreshing indeed! But I think many other runners felt that 10km runners were blocking their ways. haha! 

At KM29 with the finish line arch in sight and merging with other 10 km runners. Photo credit: Checkpoint Spot

Another photo shot around KM35. Photo credit: Mohd Syakir Izhar

But I missed the Cendol at KM 37.5 though. By the time I reached there, the cendol store was just about to set up! :) So I didn't get a chance to taste the delicious cendol! But it's ok as I was chasing the sub4 hour. I couldn't afford to stop too long at the water station. But I know that many runners really enjoyed the cendol!

Photo credit: Twincity Marathon

When I reached the start of the last uphill slope at around KM39, the sun had risen! Wow! Challenging indeed! With the seconds and sub-4hour slowly slipping away from finger tips as my speed was getting slower and my feet was getting more tired,  I had no choice but to really focus on the run and do my best to ensure the hope to have a sub-4hour full marathon was still possible!

But around this time too I felt the tightness in my New Balance 1500 v3 running shoes! I wore the thicker socks I got from the Taiwan Rice Heaven Full Marathon 2017. And the socks were soaking wet with my wet feet from running. Somehow, the wet socks made my toes very tight and hard to move. Without thinking much. I told myself I must persevere until finish line! (Later I realised that I ended up with four bruised toes due to tightness of the thick socks! Lesson learned! No more thick socks in future!)

I also thought of Evelyn Ang - as she is still recovering from her car accident. I thought of her mental toughness, I thought of her lying in hospital now, and I knew that I was running this full marathon to collect the mileage for her and pray for her full recovery.

I knew it's gonna be mind over matters now! And I wasn't ready to give up!

Photo credit: Jamal Zabari
Thank God I survived 42km full marathon without any power gel or energy gel! Yohoo! I was so thrilled that I managed to use my mental strength coupled with raisins, anti-fatigue caps, Coca Cola, the iced coffee, isotonic drinks, water and banana to replace the energy gels!

(Please don't misunderstand that I don't like to take energy gels. I would love to. It's just that every time I take more than three energy gels in a full marathons, I would have the "too sweet" taste in my mouth that makes me very uncomfortable. Several times, I couldn't consume the whole packets of energy gels but to throw it away. If I can find energy gel that is not so sweet that gives me very pleasant feeling, I definitely would love to consume it! haha! After all, it's easier to pack energy gels than raisins. lol! But again, raisins would be more natural I guess!)

Yay! A 3:59:39 finish without energy gel!

A new exciting thing at Twincity Marathon 2018: All sub-4hour runners will have the "sub4" stamp on the certificate! Unfortunately, only my net time made it to the sub4, and not my gun time! So sad, no "sub4" stamp on my cert!haha!

What made me even more exciting was that I managed to squeeze myself into sub-4hour with a net time of 3:59:39! I was elated! Who would have thought that without any energy gel consumption,  and with the original intention of running a 30km LSD, I could end up with another sub-4hour full marathon? In fact, it was my 12th sub-4hour full marathon! I really thank God for allowing me to take some risks and do some experiments at Twincity Marathon 2018. Even my time wasn't the best,  I was very happy, contented, and satisfied.

Finish Line - Food fiesta and friends' gathering!

The finish line are was awesome!! It was like a food fiesta! Besides the free food, there was also an allocated area for food trucks selling food and drinks.

And since Twincity Marathon is also the first full marathon of the year, many runners would treat Twincity Marathon as a great kick-off to a wonderful new year and new running season

I could see joyful, smiling faces of runners - some were busy snapping photos with friends or doing selfies, some were queuing up for food, refreshment, baggage collection, etc.

It was truly like a Runners' Gathering at the beginning of a new year! It also feels like an Open House during a festive season! haha! Very festive indeed! I love it!

I didn't manage to queue up for refreshment. I only managed to have the soy bean milk! The soy bean milk tasted so so good especially after running a full marathon! Loving it!

Food trucks - something new at Twincity Marathon 2018! More food! haha!

This year, Twincity Marathon was also very gracious to provide more hampers, trophies etc for more podium finishers. Some of my friends all ended up podium!! Wow! Really really happy for them! I could see the joy and sense of achievement written all over their faces! Such a joy to see all being happy! 

When will be my turn to be on podium? lol? I guess that day will never come.... I'm not a super fast runner, anyway! Let me continue to dream of myself on the podium.... in my dream...... hahaha! 

Again - great congratulations to all podium finishers! The more the merrier as this recognition really encourages the runners! Kudos to Twincity Marathon 2018!

Yay - catching up with friends! Congrats to all podium finishers too!

Beautiful, Creative, Trendy, Awesome Twincity Marathon 2018

What can I say? I could see that Twincity Marathon 2018's organiser and race director put in lots of effort in terms of design, creativity and quality.

First up, the blue running vest with the white borders by 2ndSkin Asia! Wow! It's so unique, trendy and fashionable! Wearing it makes me feel so young and energetic!! haha! I love it!

Secondly, the finisher tee shirt. The 2ndSkin Asia's tee shirt material is so so soft and cooling! It's such a wonderful cool feeling wearing it in a hot tropical weather in Malaysia! And the color is also very outstanding - and trendy! And the Roman warrior design - it's simply awesome - connecting history back to today's modern world! 

And the finisher medal - one of the highest quality and best design finisher medal I have collected! I can easily rank it in as one of my top 5 most favourite finisher medals now!

I find that Twincity Marathon 2018 really took care of all the details! I'm not sure if you also noticed about the running bib! There is a background Roman Warrior's picture on the running bib! I was like! Now that's design, creativity and quality that doesn't confine to the norm!

The picture below really summed up my race experience at Twincity Marathon 2018:
  • a 3:59:39 full marathon finish without energy gel! 
  • a mind over matter race! 
  • a raisin over energy gel race! 
  • a race for Evelyn Ang!

Thank you Twincity Marathon 2018 for organising such a marvellous event! 

And my sincere appreciation also goes to the Race Director Deo Runner for showing his encouragement and support to me for my blogging journey by providing a complimentary slot to run Twincity Marathon for the 3rd time! He said that writing a race review is not easy, and he would like to recognise my effort for writing. His encouraging words mean much more than the complimentary slot. Indeed, writing and blogging isn't easy! And I really don't like putting my face out to the whole world to see! haha! But if a race review or an article can somehow stir a person's heart to give his/ her best, I guess it's then well worth the effort in writing.

Thanks again for always being a very emotionally memorable running event for me - three years in a row!

Words.    Vincent Khor
Date.       3 February 2018


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