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Gold Coast Airport Marathon Special: Preparing For A Personal Best
Winning a chance to run in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) is a dream come true for Fadhli Fadzil. The 26-year-old's photo entry was picked out from the numerous submissions in the Men's Health Singapore-organised Gold Coast Airport Marathon Vacation contest to snag the grand prize worth $3,000. Besides a GCAM running slot, Fadhli's travel package includes free return airfare, four days' accomodation and a 12-week training programme with Team Fatbird, all sponsored by Tourism Queensland.
According to Fadhli, the GCAM is one race he's been looking forward to since a year ago. "I did my research on marathon destinations and the GCAM was actually one of the few marathons on my list," he says, "I heard it's scenic, flat and fast -- the best combination you can ask for." As an added bonus, his birthday falls just a few days before the race, so he's naturally thrilled. "I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift!" he exclaims.
No Stranger To Overseas Marathons
The civil servant is no stranger to running overseas. In fact, this GCAM will be Fadhli's third full marathon, all of which would have taken place outside of Singapore. Fadhli broke his marathon cherry in Barcelona, Spain during a solo backpacking trip around Europe in 2011 and completed his second 42km in Tokyo, Japan in February 2012.
Fadhli explains how his overseas racing preference started. "When I first wanted to do a marathon, I wanted the first one to be special. Not that Singapore isn't special enough, but I wanted an experience," he says. But there's another simple reason he hasn't been lured to sign for a full 42.195km race here yet. The heat is a major turn-off for him, Fadhli admits, but "definitely, as a Singaporean, you have to do a marathon in Singapore!" he says. That's not to say that he has never ran a local event before. Since Fadhli started running seriously four years ago ("to compete with myself," he says), the 26-year-old has completed a number of local races, including 21km at the recent Sundown Marathon. It's not a bad record for someone who confesses not to have enjoyed running much in the past.
Ops Kookaburra Training With Team Fatbird
Fadhli is used to training by himself, preferring to plug into his music and pounding the pavements at his own pace. He had a do-it-yourself approach to training for his first marathon last year, reading up on training ideas and such. Fadhli crossed the finish line in Barcelona in five hours, well within the 6-hour time limit. As part of his GCAM preparation, Fadhli gets to train with Team Fatbird. The running group organises a special training programme for Singapore-based GCAM participants, called Operation Kookaburra. This training is based on Team FatBird's in-house fitness system and complemented with aspects of the Official Gold Coast Marathon Training Program. Over a 12-week period, participants not only condition themselves physically for the race, but also get to mingle with experienced GCAM participants and get to know fellow runners they will be lining up with at the starting line.
After attending his first Ops Kookaburra training session, Fadhli is able to appreciate the benefits of a structured training programme. "I train by myself most of the time, but having a running buddy usually helps you to push on," he says, "The structured training is good because when I first started running, the idea was just to complete the marathon. But eventually, you feel that you can do better, except I haven't been able to push myself. When I ran with these guys, they had pacers, and you know that their speed is the one you have to maintain throughout (to achieve your desired time). And when you drop off the desired pace, you know how far you are from them."
Tips From Past GCAM Runners
Besides tuning his body to get race-ready, mixing with the other Team Fatbird members has also gained Fadhli useful tips to prepare for GCAM. "Anthony (Sum, Team Fatbird chief running officer) was giving advice on how to run the course because it's quite flat," he shares. "I also spoke to some of the other guys who have been there. The weather is not too cold, and not too hot, it's just nice at about 15 deg Celsius. So long as you train, and you run, you should do well," says Fadhli.
One of Fadhli's objective at GCAM is to improve his Personal Best (PB) time, which is currently 5 hours. "According to the reviews I read, it's a really flat course and you're supposed to get a good timing. I don't know whether I will, but I hope so!" he says. On top of training with Team Fatbird, Fadhli also clocks additional mileage on his own. "I try to clock at least 40km a week -- a 5 to 8km run three times a week, and a 10 to 15km run on weekends, gradually increasing it to 20 to 30km nearing the race," he says. Fadhli also includes swimming, cycling and core-strengthening exercises as part of his training plan. "As with all my marathons, my goal is to simply complete the GCAM. But I hope I'll get a PB timing. I've heard very good reviews about GCAM being a good place to get a PB," he shares.
What he's looking forward to at the Gold Coast
"I haven't been to the Gold Coast before, so I'm sure the long coastal scenery itself will blow me away. I already have a lot of friends telling me where to go at the Gold Coast, so I think I should have a few days after the race to enjoy the sights. I'm looking forward to the beach, but my friends say it's winter so I don't think we'll be busy sunbathing or anything!"
What he looks forward to most at marathons
"As with all races, I'm really looking forward to the part before the race -- all the jitters, encouragement from fellow runners, the cheering; that's something special."
The appeal of running overseas
"The local support is always much better because they treat it as a major event for their city. It's a really big thing there and the organisation is a lot better."
Advice for those running overseas for the first time
"The most important thing is to always prepare for the climate and the weather you'll be running in. The weather is the only challenge if you're not used to running in cold weather. My first time running in the cold was no joke for me. Always remember that mother knows best -- Heat rub, lip balm, cap and sunblock; things which I took for granted the first time despite my mother's good advice! And I would advise you to buy your racing photos!"
The 2012 Gold Coast Airport Marathon takes place on June 30 - July 1. To sign up for the race and learn more about the various activities and programs in store, visit www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au.