Sunday, July 15, 2012

Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon: Conquered!

I survived my third full marathon! I was not in the condition I would have wanted to be in, but I ran and finished before the cut-off time, which I'm still thankful for. I had a worse time than my second full marathon; I was initially planning to at least beat my HK full marathon record by at least a few minutes. But I nursed a bad case of colds for three weeks prior the trip which impacted my training and of course, race day itself.

There's no doubt that Kuala Lumpur will be my choice for the next marathon destination. It's one of the remaining places in South East Asia I planned on visiting. For me, Malaysia's a country closest to home, at least to the Metro Manila feel. The only thing that made their city better is their transportation. They have a number of train lines - LRT, KTM and monorail. It was so easy to navigate the city and fares are so cheap!

I recommend SCKLM as a great international marathon location. It's way better than Singapore; less crowd and nicer race route. And for those planning to run this race in the future, here are 42 pictures I'd like to share, to give you a glimpse of what's in store for you when you travel to Kuala Lumpur:

June 21 (Thursday) - straight from our flight, Daves and I went to Dataran Merdeka to claim our race kits. Some runner friends asked us a favor to claim theirs, so we were carrying a lot of stuff before we even got to check-in at our hotel.
The race kit claiming was fast! There were a lot of volunteers (I would have wanted to have the volunteer shirt, it was so nice!) manning the claiming booths. The only bad thing I could say regarding the expo is that there was no electricity at the partner booths. People looking for merchandise were using their mobile phones as flashlight to see items on sale. Weird, right?
Dataran Merdeka, with its changing light colors!
KL Tower - We weren't able to go nearer the tower. It was better to take a picture of it from afar. Initially, we planned on dining at the 360 degree restaurant (for carbo-loading) on top of the tower but that did not push thru.
Our first glimpse of Petronas! It was magnificent seeing this famous KL structure, even from a distance. We were so tired though so we just postponed our supposed visit  to the next day. 
Tune Hotel - where we stayed. It was around 1.4 kilometers away from Dataran Merdeka, the starting area of the race. Quite strategic, there are two train stations nearby. I love the Subway store at the ground floor! 
The SCKLM race kit contents. I got a small-size singlet, which is still too big for me. Aaargh! Oh well.
June 22 (Friday) - 9am, we already purchased bus tickets going to Genting Highlands but it wouldn't be leaving until 11:30am so we still had time to go to Petronas. Upon climbing the stairs from the train station, we saw the entrance to Suria, one of the biggest shopping malls in KL.
Seeing Petronas Twin Towers is probably one of the highlights of this trip. You really have to see this in person to be awed by this architectural masterpiece.
Inside Suria - the shop that had me bankrupt - UNIQLO! Haha! I think I purchased ten tops.
After an hour bus ride from KL Central, we reached the cable car base. It was a 15-minute cable car ride going to Genting Highlands.
Going up! The pressure change hurt my ears.
We arrived at Genting Highlands, walked a bit and reached the outdoor theme park. Initial reaction: "THIS IS IT? WE PAID 58 RINGGIT FOR THIS?" Haha! There was no wow factor whatsoever. Daves even said our Star City is better. 
To kill time (since we had no interest whatsover in trying out the park rides), we queued in the Go Kart  ride. It was more than an hour wait. When we were near the front of the line, it rained hard. Tough luck! We had to wait another 30 minutes before the rain stopped (most of the people ahead of us in the line already left), and then it was our turn. Nothing special in the karting course.
Boring rides. I guess since I have already been to Six Flags theme park in the US, everything else will already bore me.
The only pic of me in the outdoor theme park. Haha! A double-decker bus near the roller coaster. Spot the Starbucks paper bag. I had my Kuala Lumpur tumbler inside. Wee!
Famished, we ate at Marrybrown, one of their local fastfood restaurants. I ordered Nasi Lemak and it was so good! After eating, we rode the cable car back to the bus station and another hour of travel to KL Central. I slept during the entire bus ride.
Back to KL Central, we tried out one of the local milk tea shops  - Tea Tarik Place. The place was crowded which roused our interest. The drink was just plain black tea with milk, nothing fancy like the milk tea choices in Manila. I still enjoyed it though.
Back to Petronas. Day shot done, night shot done. The towers were even more magnificent during nighttime. 
June 23 (Saturday) - Traveled to Bukit Bintang, KL's shopper's paradise. Pavilion is one of the must-visit shopping malls. The Food Republic food court is located here, with a lot of cuisine choices. Food Republic is love.
Another must-see location is Beryl's Chocolate Kingdom, the famous local Malaysian chocolate brand. We were surprised to see a number of tourist buses parked outside, which only meant big business coming in for this chocolate shop.
Here's me and Daves checking-out their best-seller - Tiramisu chocolates. They had dark, milk chocolate and white varieties. Free samples as well for their different chocolate items on sale. One can never resist buying a lot of pasalubongs from this place!
We had lunch at Nando's, and I tried out their peri-peri chicken. They had different levels of spiciness,  and I just tried the moderate spice. Don't miss dining at Nando's!
They had a DC Comics Shop in the Pavilion Shopping Mall. I purchased my most expensive shirt in this place (a Batman shirt)!  Haha! 
June 24 (Sunday) - Race Day! Team Alpha1 Deemen in KL Marathon! You can do it!
There were around 3000 full marathon runners. It  was a lot less crowded than SG and HK, which I liked a lot.  Less human congestion.
Mark and I at the gunstart. Daves planned to arrive just in time for the race start so we weren't able to meet him in the assembly area.
Pacers were there with different color-coded balloons. 
One of my most anticipated areas of the race, as I have read from Scientist Runner's blog  - the Cool Zone! It was located at around KM26.
The irony is, it was not cool at all! Haha! There's just this mist that didn't even have any cooling effect on me.
One of my favorite shots - me running with the Petronas Towers in the background at sunrise.
After five and a half hours of running, we finished the race. I wore my finisher medal around my neck and the finisher shirt at my hand. 
Just had to have a shot at the Dataran Merdeka finish line before heading back to our hotel.
The finisher shirt fit was just right. I'll proudly wear this some time in the office. Haha! Upon returning to the hotel room, I had a quick shower and dozed-off immediately. 
We tried out the local coffee - Old Town.
I had their best-seller - ice blended white coffee. Delish!
June 25 (Monday) - One more side trip before heading back to Manila. I just had to visit at least one cultural place. What better place than Batu Caves, a usual shooting location for The Amazing Race? 
The 272 steps going up the caves were more than enough active recovery for our tired legs. It was torture going up!
This is the cave entrance.
Inside the caves, there were mini-temples. And a lot of aggressive monkeys. You have to be careful with your stuff since they could snatch anything real quick.
And then it was back to Manila, back to reality. Official marathon photos were available 3 days after the race. I created this collage to post at the Team Alpha1 page. Romp, Daves and I conquereed KL Marathon!
My three most precious full marathon finisher medals - SG Marathon 2010, HK Marathon 2012 and KL Marathon 2012.
Now where to next? :)