Category Archives: #wellness

Race Report: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014

Penang Bridge Marathon will be my third full Marathon. And in 2014, it will be the first time the Penang Bridge Marathon to be held at the new Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, or more known as Penang 2nd Bridge. It was longer, and supposedly more challenging, as the bridge will expose runners longer to the wind and open water.

Standing at the starting line, I don’t have much expectation. The bridge itself will be so boring I thought. And boredom is what killed a marathon runner, as your negative thought will start to pop up. In fact, I was expecting not to finish before the 7 hours cut off time, and going to be picked up by the cut off bus.

Lets Get The Race Started
The Starting Line of Penang Bridge Marathon 2014

“I’m not going to run the Penang Bridge Marathon”, I told Grace, my wife, 2 months ago after a disappointing performance at Half Marathon race at BII Maybank Bali Marathon. Few weeks later, I told myself that probably it is because of the challenging elevation gain in Bali that hurt my performance. So I run another Half Marathon at Jakarta Marathon, only again to finish with disappointing result. I was 30 minutes slower than my fastest Half Marathon time.With this performance, I don’t think I will be able Penang Bridge Marathon in 7 hours cut off time.

So, I just enjoyed myself and let the music trigger the adrenaline release in my system. I don’t really chat a lot, preferring to calm my mind. My friend was out of sight, after we separate for them to drop their bag. I just digest the fireworks that they throw few minutes before flag off. It was beautiful, and really prepared my thought into the race.

“It’s all going to be OK”, I told myself as the gun shot mark the start of Penang Bridge Marathon 2014. Slowly, I move forward and start a jog once I pass the startling line.

Penang Bridge Marathon 2014: What Did I Do Right, or Wrong?

The Bridge Icon
The Icon of Penang Bridge

Today is 1 week after Penang Bridge Marathon. My leg has almost recovered, but the memory of the run still linger on my mind. The marathon is so enjoyable, being so quiet on Penang Bridge in the middle of the ocean, made more surreal with the street lights.

More importantly, I was so in control with my pace. Walking to the starting line with the thought that I will not reach the finish line within the 7 hour cut off time, I manage to pace myself so that I reach the half marathon mark still feeling fresh. There are only slight pain on my leg, but other than that, my breath and heart rate is very much under control.

I run the second half with confidence to make a new personal best of marathon run. And I did clip almost full 10 minutes faster than my previous marathon.

So, in the last 3 days, I can’t stop to think, what I did right days before and during the run? And what to improve to finish in less time for my next marathon, if I’m going to run another one?

So, here is the list.

What did I do right in Penang Bridge Marathon?

  1. Proper food. Yes, the proverb is right, you are what you eat. After a not so great medical check up result, I started to pay attention to what I eat in the last 2 weeks before the run. In particular, I start to consume coconut water, vanilla rooibos tea and replace my snack of fried food with fruits.
  2. Endurance training. Different with my former marathon training, I run more half marathon during my training. Sometimes I run 2 half marathon in 2 consecutive weeks. Each run focus on endurance training: slower speed with lower heart rate. This training sacrifice my speed in race of half marathon or less distance, but it pay off during full marathon run
  3. Nibble during the run. This is an advice that was given my a friend, an ultra runner. Instead of finishing a bread in one go, try to nibble it in a small chunk. It didn’t make me bloated and make your throat dry. Yet, at the same time, nibbling will give constant supply of carbohydrate as energy source. I nibble my bread from km 28 up to 38. It is also help to pass the time.
  4. Keep your heart rate under control. This means that you run slower to achieve target heart rate, giving illusion that you will finish mich longer. But, it will prevent the exhaustion and drop in speed at the later part of the race. I reach the half marathon mark in 3 hours in my previous marathon, compared to 3:15 in Penang Bridge Marathon. Yet, I finish almost 10 minutes faster than my previous marathon
Sunrise On Penang Bridge
Sunrise on the horizon, as runners march toward the finish line

What Should I Improve for my Next Marathon?

  1. Do non-running training. In particular, I feel that I need to do more weight training, and improve my core muscle strength. Swimming is a good exercise that will develop core and upper body strength necessary to improve running endurance
  2. More mileage. I did one 100km/month project in June. Instead of one time project, I need to be more consistent to achieve 100km running per month
  3. Include speed training. Endurance training will decrease your speed. So, to be faster, you need to include speed training along with endurance training.
Eventually, all the improvement will need significant amount of time to put in place. Am I able to commit the time necessary for the training? That is the question that I have to answer before deciding to run another marathon.
Penang Marathon Official Result
My Official Result of Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014

My Treadmill: The Road of Jakarta

I have been running since 2001, but only on 2011 I started to run outdoor, on the street of Jakarta. Why I started late to go out and run on the road of Jakarta is because of the obvious reason: How can someone run on a very polluted air like in Jakarta, and on the road that is lined up with pothole and full of motorcycle?

But, once I started, I never look back. These days, I can barely survive more than 20 minutes on treadmill, while on the road, I can run for hours. The road of Jakarta has become my gym.

So, can you really run and train on the air that is polluted as in Jakarta? The answer is yes! Many people do that. Some even participate in international event, such as Berlin Marathon, New York Marathon, or Ironman Triathlon.

And to tackle the road issue, do some advance planning. Start small, around your house, and familiarize yourself with the surrounding road. Which road is less crowded? Go into small road around the housing complex if possible. Even a road construction project can pose a nice concrete for running, as in the picture below.

This is my gym
From top left clockwise: A small path in a village near BSD. Road construction project with a concrete slab good enough for a run. A new paving for pedestrian. A small path lined up with Banana Tree

Health Turnaround

Here is my blood measurement statistic this morning:

  • Glucose Level: 123 mg/dL. Normal range: 80 mg/dL<Blood Glucose Level<100 mg/dL
  • Total Cholesterol: 262. Normal range: < 200 mg/dL
  • Uric Acid: 8.1. Normal range: < 7.0 mg/dL

Add to the result: I was running half marathon 20 minutes slower in Jakarta Marathon held 26 October 2014. It is not because I have been slacking on my training. I have been training for a full Marathon in Penang Bridge Marathon on 16 November 2014, where we will run on new Penang Bridge. But somehow, my body is not responding to the training. This fact make me feel that I’m not going to the starting line of Penang Bridge Marathon next month.

Jakarta Marathon 2014 Certificate
My Jakarta Marathon 2014. Finishing a Half Marathon at 3:05:36 (Gun Time) is nothing to be proud of.

So, when my traditional training not only stop making improvement, but reverse to become worse, something need to be done.

First, I need to look into my food. I have to admit, for the first six months of 2014, I have been abusing myself on training, and more often, food. During a very busy time of project, I have spent 16 hours in office. Most of the time, we ordered pizza, fried chicken, and many other fast food that provide delivery service. Then of course, some midnight snacking and coffee only add more load to my body.

I have been reading some books about ultra runners, like Scott Jurek and Rich Roll. Rich Roll has done a great transformation near his 40th birthday, eating only vegetable food, and start to train. So, if he can do it, I think it is worth to try as well. I might become vegetarian, maybe, but that is not my goal. My goal is to find the right fuel for my other goals below.

Second, building up my upper body, particularly my core muscle. One morning, I feel that my upper body muscle is not as firm as it used to be. Probably this is what causing my less than optimal performance, or even contribute to higher blood glucose level. I’ve been losing muscle on my upper body.

My goals is not to be a body builder. In fact, I was told by doctor a couple years back that, based on my EKG, I should stop doing weight training. My goals, is to regain the lost muscle, lower my blood glucose level, and improve my running. I’m planning on registering to a gym next year for this.

Third, if I can achieve both goals, I want to compete in running race, cycling race, or triathlon. So far I have only participate, to run, to beat my previous time, but not training to earn prize from a race. My promise to myself is that, Penang Bridge Marathon will be my last full marathon until I can achieve sub-2 hour Half Marathon.

I probably won’t get rich from sports. But, consider it as achievement, a successful turnaround for my health. Stay tuned!

The 100 km Month Project

The long 2 years project that I was working on is finally over on 30 June 2014. And with that, the long nights with pizza, burgers, and any junk food that provide delivery service that you can think of is also over. The junk food is doing a good job to increase my weight, and the long nights made me too tired to wake up and do morning run.

As July come, so does my Marathon this year. I’m going to participate in Penang Bridge Marathon on 16 November 2014, the world’s longest bridge marathon. My official Marathon training program will start on mid August. Preceding to the program, I need to build a base on my running. It is basically increasing the mileage of your run at easy pace, before starting the rigorous and killer tempo and interval training.

Overweight and Marathon. It is a good motivation to put up 100 km for the full month of July. Since I started running on 2001, I’ve never logged more than 90 km per month. My average weekly mileage is 20 km, which consist of 2 x 5 km on the weekdays plus 10 km weekend run. To complete 100 km in a month, I need to increase my weekly mileage to 25 km. Either I add another weekday run, or complete a longer weekend run.

And all the time, wishing that no long hour coming at the office, or weekend work that prevent me to run at the weekend.

But no time to think. The marathon is coming, and with it come the training. If I want to finish and enjoy the marathon, I need to train.

With a lot of wish, I welcome July, and the 100 km/month challenge