The Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon - my seventh full marathon not counting ultras - is less than two weeks away. I must admit that I am cramming for this one, and come race day, I am hoping that stock knowledge will see me through. As far as I can recall, this will be the first marathon where I will not be putting pressure on myself to finish with a personal best time. For my first six marathons, the goal had always been to improve in measurable terms. Said differently, the goal had always been to finish faster. And I had been rather successful, too, as my finish time improved from one marathon to the next. During my maiden marathon back in February 2010, I finished in 5:42. It was a hellish experience that almost made me give up on marathons altogether. But I persevered, and somehow, I was able to bring that time down to 4:35 by February 2011.
The improvement has been painstakingly slow, to be sure, but the journey has truly been one big joy ride. What did I do to chop off more than a full hour off my marathon finish time? Simple: I trained for an ultra marathon. I incorporated full marathons into my training and treated them as long training runs. Obviously, it worked. My marathon times went down and I finished my ultra. It's not rocket science and it's a proven formula, that's why I'm doing it again. And so, the coming weeks will be quite busy: KL Marathon on June 26, a 60-Kilometer ultra in Nueva Ecija on July 16, the Milo Marathon on July 31, and then a 68-Kilometer ultra on August 20. I'm sure I will be signing up for other races in September and October, and then there will be the New York Marathon in November. All these races, and that's telling only half the story. The real goal is to run - and finish - my first 100-miler in January 2012. Hopefully, I'll get there, one road race at a time.
But for now, there is Kuala Lumpur to worry about. My goal had originally been to finish in 4:20. After all, it has been said that the KL route is a PR course. Unfortunately, the painful truth is, I am not prepared to chase a personal record right now. Barring any fortuitous event, I will finish, without a doubt. But a 4:20? Impossible - for now. For the third week running (pun intended, as always), I have been training to run long and far, but not fast. I am anything but fast right now. Just check my previous posts. And so, the goal for KL has been scaled down. Tremendously, as a matter of fact. I just want to finish KL in one piece, take in the sights, add another marathon to my race log, and get stronger for the longer races ahead. And of course, I should have fun doing it. After all, it will be my first time in Malaysia.