Brooks KRI Annual Road Race 2012

True story: For some inexplicable reason, I had forgotten all about my initial registration for KRI half marathon in August. Then, I came across the same EVENT page while browsing through FB in September. Unbeknownst to me, I eagerly signed up for the same event, AGAIN. Felt like Dory in the animation Finding Nemo.

I later wrote to The Marathon Shop to explain my blunder. To my relief, James obligingly refunded my second sign up.

This is not to imply that KRI is a forgettable event. Not at all. If anything, it was quite the opposite. 

I had wanted to do a time trial for half marathon as a lead up to my race in Osaka (Nov 25). To be able to slot in KRI was a boon. I had also desired more family involvement with my races. Therefore, Ipoh was an ideal choice because of it's close proximity to Penang. Parents with kids (and teenagers) would understand why.

Reserved a room at the Kinta River Front Hotel. Conveniently, it was the race pack pick up point as well as the Start/Finish venue. On top of that, the hotel also offered special rates for runners, making it a welcome bonus. In short: Quick getaway, Cheap hotel, One stop, Fast race. Perfect!

Compared to full marathon, I have relatively little experience with half. Having only done a handful of it, and even so, only of late in Larian Hijau and Sungai Petani, I have much to learn. It is the general assumption that if you do well in full, you would naturally be better at half. I think not necessarily so. Not for me anyway. I feel it largely depends on one's race experience. But, I am slowly getting the hang of it. Aside from the staple weekly mileage, I realize that it ultimately boils down to your race strategy. What works well for me is to start conservatively. Gradually build up to the desired pace after the initial few km. No sudden surge. Keeping the pace as constant as possible....

The race started at 6:30 am sharp. We were "lucky" to be literally "showered" with the blessing of a slight drizzle. A good sign of a cooler weather which was always desirable for all.

Gun off. Everyone rushed to the front. You could see the faster runners surging forward at an incredible pace. I maintained on 4:15 pace for the initial 2km. Then gradually worked up the pace to 4:10. Kept it as constant as possible. The route was not all flat as I thought.  There were a few elevations at the elevated highways. But where there's elevation, there's also downhill. All in all, it was not too taxing.

I had marked Siow Tee (a fellow Penangnite) as my "pacer". Knowing that his best time is 1:27. My aim is to do sub 1:30 but if possible 1:25ish. But having little experience on how best to run this race, it is all "trial and error" when it comes to the actual race. Your "form" on race day would also be a major determinant in the outcome beside other issues. I had just done a full marathon (2:57) on the treadmill just a week before. So, I wasn't sure if I have fully recovered to perform my best.

At the 5th km, I passed Siow Tee, knowing that he was just taking it easy, only to pick up pace afterwards. My prediction proved spot on as he zoomed pass me at about 8th km. He shifted his gear and took the lead by about 100m. This remained so through out the race until the end. Chuah, another fellow Penangnite runner nicknamed Tiger, known for his speed and ferocity, surged forward at about 9th km and latched on alongside Siow Tee. This was the trend all the way to the finish.

At about the 10th km, I started to struggle a little when fatigue set in. But soon enough, I regained my focus as I saw the turning point coming up at the 15th km. I always find it invigorating to see the fast runners looping back at the turning point. You get to witness "SPEED" in progress. You see first hand HOW the half marathon race is SUPPOSED to be executed. On their faces were written tremendous focus and determination. I couldn't help but cheered them on. Somehow, in doing so, I felt revived and energized. My fatigue just disappeared.

And as I looped around at the 15th km point, I pushed forward to keep my pace at or sub 4:10. Helped also by some segments of downward slope, I even dipped below 4:00. I knew I had found the right race strategy which worked for me when I could still keep both Chuah and Siow Tee within visual range. The best part is not feeling fatigued but knowing that I could push more if I wanted to. But I was contented with my pace and felt no burning desire to go all out. On hindsight, I realize that I could actually close the gap further if I had sped up a little during the remaining last five km. That's because I still had some fuel left in the tank when I finished. Nevertheless, it was a good finish. The last km almost had me break out in a sprint because of the downhill slope. I finished with a decent 1:27:52 on my GPS.



Well, compared to my SP half in September, which was 1:30:48, this was an improvement. I won't speculate as to how fast I could actually do had I increased my pace at the last 5 km. It is a race that I could learn more about when it comes to deploying the right strategy. Well, at least I go away knowing that there is always more room for improvement.

For my category, Khir Salleh (from Penang) was the champion with an impressive 1:20. I think it was his PB. The second and third place were taken by two Thai runners. Finishing time were around 1:25ish. I was number four.

Races or events like this is naturally subjective and many things to different people. To me, purely as a marathoner, it is an experience that keeps me grounded and focus, with regards to achieving my own objective in training. Good or bad, it always brings out the best in you. As long as you are willing to go through it's grind. The reward is always worthwhile.

Keep running and never stop improving!

Comments

  1. I'm in awe as always, Francis! You make running seem so effortless. I'd kill for even 1% of your remarkable running skills. Congrats on your great finish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nick, I think you have underestimated your own ability :) I am sure you will figure out what works best for you to improve your running experience.

      In the mean while, just keep fanning that flame and keep discovering new grounds....

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