Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Running Into 2009...

By Frank

1916.84KM, 4 marathons, 25 races and 90 blog entries. That’s a few statistics for the year 2008 as it comes to a close. And with just 2 days to go till we welcome the New Year, it is time to take a journey down memory lane to recap back the memories of a truly wonderful year of running.

If I were to say that I took up running as a more casual approach in the previous year, then 2008 can be regarded as the year that I truly accepted the sport as part of my career, though at the same time keeping a low profile. It was a productive year for me in terms of my running career though it got off to a shaky start with the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM 2008. I didn’t fare very well and failed to complete the run within the qualifying time. Although I was awarded a finisher medal, I wasn’t too proud of it as I truly do not deserve it.

Then came the first marathon of the year, the KL International Marathon 2008 where I was rewarded by my first sub 5 hours timing. It came with a price though as I suffered from chest discomfort even before the marathon, a result from unstructured training. This has certainly served as a wake up call and I never look back since. With my working knowledge as a Personal Trainer in the health and fitness industry, I began studying and doing my self research on ways to improve my running and I successfully found my own formula in both training and nutrition. From here, I took training into my own hands using my new found knowledge and soon joined Choi, Jamie and Geraldine in their trainings which made things easier and fun.

Soon after, came plenty of quarter marathon and a few half marathon races and I used them to be part of my training regimes and soon was rewarded an improvement in time at the Sundown Marathon 2008 held at Singapore though still failing to meet my running time resolution for the year. Ran throughout the night and suffering my first cramp ever, it’s regarded my toughest marathon to date but I was glad I took part in it.

It was after a tough 6 months into 2008 and I decided to give myself a month break from intense running. And it proves to be a beneficial one as I managed to recover well and in the same time maintaining my fitness level. And not forgetting to regain some weight I lost from running. And in the month of August, I started training for my first ever fully sponsored race at the Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008 which I ran my first ever sub 50 minutes in a quarter marathon distance.

Building up from the momentum gained, marathon training was resume for my third and fourth marathon of the year. Introduced to me was back to back runs and also in trying to achieve a 100KM weekly mileage which I failed due to fatigue. Though the training was really painful, all was worth it as I ran my current personal best marathon time at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008. 3 weeks down, it was the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008. I took the risk in going for 2 marathons in a span of 3 weeks in trying to fulfill one of my running resolution for the year which is to run 4 marathons and I was glad I complete with no injuries at all. Though I did not run a personal best at Singapore, the meaning of friendship and companionship deepens within me as I bury inside my head, the true meaning of the spirit of marathon.

As the door closes for 2008, I’m glad I successfully achieve both my running resolutions for the year in running 4 marathons and also clocking a sub 4:30 time. Not to mention too that I have improved by “Leaps and bounds” as termed by one of my friends. Most importantly, to stay injury free.

Year 2008 was also a year of friendship. New friends were found and the friendship bond got stronger as each day passes. To my training mates of Choi, Jamie, Lawrence, Loke, Luc, Geraldine and Lynn whom we all make up the self named group called “Platinum Runners”, thanks for everything the past 1 year and for being with me throughout the tough times. Not forgetting my newly met friends of Andrew, Ben and Yee Hua, Chee Kong, Eugene, Fook, Jeff, Kit, Lionel, Pueh Tian, Chin Chin, Yen Erl and many more, it was really great to know you all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from the "Platinum Runners"...

I certainly have no regrets in taking up running. As time passes and I grow older, running will prove to be extremely beneficial to me. In running, I found a better life in terms of health and friendship, something in which money can’t buy. And till the day I can’t run anymore, 2009 will be another year that I shall follow my heart to run. At the same time trying to achieve my newly set running resolutions for the year ahead.

Year 2009 Running Resolutions...
- To run a sub 4 hour marathon
- To run 3 marathons
- To run and hopefully complete an ultra marathon
- Together with friends to stay healthy, injury free and to enjoy yet another fruitful year

And before ending my last entry of 2008, here’s wishing everybody a HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A GREAT RUNNING YEAR AHEAD!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Malakoff 12KM, Kuala Lumpur 2008...

Event: Malakoff 12KM, Kuala Lumpur 2008
Venue: Taman Rimba Kiara, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 21 December 2008
Time: 7.15am
Distance: 12KM (11.19KM by Lynn's Garmin Forerunner 405)
Shoe: adidas adizero Tempo
By Frank

This event was supposed to be a 25KM run at Johor Bharu but due to unforeseen circumstances, it was moved back to Kuala Lumpur with a distance of 12KM. And what was a supposed to be a run on the Sprint Highway was changed at the very eleventh hour to running a 2 round loops around the Jalan Bukit Kiara area. Oh well... Sad to say, but that's how things went. And this being my last competitive event for year 2008, although my running chapter of the year has come to a close at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008, I decided to take it as an easy run. But due to the tough hilly route, an easy run can turn into a tough one too. And it did for me.

Pre-race dinner was exceptionally well as Cheang organised a Christmas party the night before the race. Most of the food served was rich in carbohydrates like pasta and pizza which will prove beneficial for the race. And not forgetting, it was a great Christmas get together with the others like Jamie, Choi and some new found friends.

Making a return to my running life is my adidas adizero Tempo which I kept in the box since it's last action from Sundown Marathon 2008. Cleaned it up yesterday from the "ashes" of my first ever night marathon, it was looking good as new although it has served me with 3 marathons and 2 half marathons.

With only a 3 hours of sleep on the couch, I arrived at the race venue looking pretty stone. As I arrived early with 90 minutes till race time, I was glad I bump into Pueh Tian and Amelia and we hung out at nearby eatery before making our way to the start venue at a later time. We soon later hooked up with the rest like Jamie, Kit, Lawrence, Loke and Geraldine. Choi who did not run, came too to support us and also as a photographer on his cute mini foldable bike. Appreciate him for finding his time to come.

Into the starting pen we went and grouped ourselves at the back to avoid being knock or probably stampeded by the faster runners as the area was rather narrow. Soon, Chin Chin and Lynn arrived too although they started just a bit in front of us.

As we chatted, soon the air horn was blew and off we went still chatting. It took us a while to cross the starting gantry with the timing mat laid on the floor. The start was already an uphill climb and being so limited in space, all of us were running at an "Hit the wall pace", meaning very slow. As we exit the park, we ran into the Jalan Bukit Kiara area which is the start of another hill climb, this time a even steeper one. But the space soon open up and I managed to regain my pace and started my overtaking moves and soon bump into Chin Chin. Not sure where Lynn were though as I carried on.
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Lynn attacking the hill and Choi cycling up in the distance...

Arriving at the Sime Darby Convention Centre, Choi was there snapping photos away. From there, it was a very steep climb up to the u-turn point. It's been a while since I ran hills, and this is the point that I started to feel the first signs of exhaustion. Too early into the race, but yeah, it happens. Eugene who was too running up slowly is starting to feel the strain I guess as I passed him. As a good gestures to my faster friends who I can spot making their return, I tried to wave to each of them. And as I made my u-turn, I finally spotted Lynn and waved to her.

The return route was much tougher with steeper climbs. I slowed down due to my earlier mentioned exhaustion while running up the hills but managed to regain a steady but slower than normal pace on flats. I was glad I was back at the park where another u-turn was needed to repeat the loop. I was glad because the route to the convention centre is much easier. Jeff and Lionel who were sitting at the road side cheered me on but as I was too tired to even utter a word, I just gave them a thumb up.

Stitch soon hit me but I was glad it isn't a painful one and thankfully, I manage to get rid of it before it got worst using deep breathing and exhaling with every left foot strike. Something rather hillarious happened here as an African runner who was already making his return to the finish point, ran into my lane. I got stun for a moment not knowing to go left or right but eventually he made pass me successfully when I moved to the right to avoid colliding into him. Besides that, nothing much happen except that the sun was up and it was glaring at certain parts with no trees. To make matters worst, sweat was flowing into my eyes which extremely irritating.

Arriving back at the u-turn point at the convention centre, I passed Anil who was too struggling with the climb. With 3KM to go and still struggling, things didn't get any better with the tougher route back. My "Ryan Hall" running posture of a straight back with "thumbs up fist" soon became a "Hunchback of Notre Dame" posture. But as I enter the park again towards the finish line, I lifted my back and tried to shake off any exhausted look on my face, at least to show a strong finishing as I crossed the finish line clocking 00:55:20.

A quick check with Lynn who finish shortly later revealed that the distance was actually just 11.19KM, 810M short of 12KM. Nevertheless, it was a good run and I certainly enjoyed the tough hilly route. It will certainly pay off in future races if traning is done here.

With 2 tough girls and a very supportive friend...

I waited for the rest to return and soon one by one from Chin Chin, Geraldine to Jamie all return safely. Congratulated each other and off we went to collect our finisher's medal. And am glad that Chin Chin made it back with a remarkable time, running with problems on her knee. One tough girl!
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Front view of the finisher medal...
.Rear view of the finisher medal...

Hung around at the park chatting and snapping photos before returning home for good cold shower. Overall, a tough but enjoyable race and I'm glad it's over now as I can officially close my year 2008 event calendar. Well done everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eye Asia: A Cancer Survivor’s Story On Marathon Running...

By Frank
Translated by Chee Kong
Article scanned by Jamie

In the month of October 2008, I was interviewed by a journalist from Eye Asia to be featured in their magazine. It was published in November 2008 and since it was a Chinese magazine, I had no clue on what was written until Chee Kong helped me translate it. Though certain parts were written wrongly, I guess it's no harm publishing it here. The following is the write up.

A Cancer Survivor's Story On Marathon Running
Chong Wei Siong - Pain Is Just A Minor Issue

Although Wei Siong's involvement in distance running is just over a year, running is a sport that he is fully dedicated to. In order to run well, he gave up lots of sports like badminton and squash which may hurt his legs. Besides running, he only does resistance trainings. When asked the reasons he likes running, he can't really explain it and replied "Difficult to explain. The feeling when I cross the finish line is something you have to experience it yourself to understand".

At the end of August 2008, he ran in a charity run, the
Nike+ Human Race 10K at Singapore. The event was held simultaneously around 25 countries. The fund raised from the event was donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, WWF and UNICEF.

This event is particular meanigful for Wei Siong because it was his first time being fully sponsored by the organiser. Furtheremore, he successfully ran a personal best.

Wei Siong, 29 years of age is a Personal Fitness Trainer. He is not tall, slim and without 6 packs isn't a huge guy and certainly doesn't have the build of a trainer. When he was 12 years of age, he was diagnosed with
Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer seen among children. He was fully cured though.

"My weight was nearly 80KG during my treament days. It was around 60KG before I first started running. Now I have slim down a lot and that made my parents not supportive towards my running career". Anyway, he felt that running was a great help towards his health as he gets better sleep and his metabolism is greatly improved. Though he has a big appetite, this doesn't make him fat and that's the good thing about it.

Cancer did not affect him a lot as he is still into sports. During his high school days, he took part in mountain biking competitions. He competed for 2 years before finally winning in one of the competitions in 1996 when he was a Form 5 student. He then retired from it as it was a dangerous sport and injuries from falls are common.

Difficulty in walking after a race
In 2005, his friend and him started talking about the marathon. "It looks interesting, thus we started training", Wei Siong said. However, he had some knee problems that time and therefore waited around a year before making his debut in his maiden full marathon in 2007. The distance for a marathon is 42.195KM. Besides marathon, he also participates in other shorter distance races. He still remembers that after his first marathon, he could hardly walk the next day. He needed an umbrealla to support his body. "Now it only takes me a day to recover". He smiled and said, "During my first marathon, I ran non stop for 22KM before I started walking. But now, I can run the whole distance. Although, I can still feel pain after completing a run but it will be gone within a day".

We think a 10KM race should be easy for him. "It's different. The pace for 10KM and 42KM is different. The pace for 10KM is fast and breathing is hard. Normally I can't talk after I finished the race but after a 42KM race, I am still able to". He runs almost everyday except Friday which is a rest day, as he does his long distance run on Saturday and Sunday.

Marathon running not only depends on physical endurance, but also mental strength. Due to the long distance, fatigue will slowly kick in. A good mentality will help to see one through. His suggestion is to try not to stop during a run because it will be difficult to resume as the leg will be in pain and heavy to move.

His running tag line is "No regrets" as he would if he gives up. "I have experienced some tough times in my life. Therefore I remind myself that pain from running is just a minor issue, at least for me".

Setting realistic goals
For those who would like to try out running, he would encourage them by telling them "If I can do it, so can you!".

Before any race, he will set a goal. "The goal must be realistic. I would be happy if I achieve it, else I will try harder the next time". He thinks running should be taken easily, especially for those who are new. Do not over do it.
"Take it easy. Don't try to be a hero. 5KM or 10KM, it doesn't look like a big difference from the number, but it can be felt when you run. For those who are new to this sport, there are lots of information on the Internet to help you get started. Training must be flexible but yet in a discipline manner. Do not over do it if the body can't take it. Be patience as I spent a year training before debuting in my first race".

Running is just as addictive like any other hobby. Wei Siong says he will never stop running, unless something happens. I (interviewer) said that he is still young and have a long road ahead, but he disagrees as anything can happen in the future especially when we are not careful.

The Greatest Race On Earth
In the coming December, he will be running the Singapore Marathon which is one of the races under the Greatest Race On Earth. After this, he would like to particiapate in a 84KM ultra marathon. That's double the distance of a full marathon. " I would like to give it a shot once as it is an achievement that I would like to live with".

People said running a marathon is a sport where money is spent to torture ourselves. Some races required expensives registration fees. However, he thinks that it is worth it especially when one crosses the finish line.

He was looking outside the shopping mall after the interview, so I asked him, "Are you planning to run back home?". He looked to the sky and replied half seriouly, "It's going to rain, better not". 4PM is his running time. 10KM each day follow by 20KM to 30KM on the weekend. Ordinary peoples understanding towards distance running is different from a marathoner. 10KM to them is too short. Running will make you addicted, do not ask him why. You would only know after you experience it.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008...

Event: 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008
Venue: Dataran Putrajaya, Putrajaya
Date: 13 December 2008
Time: 8.00pm
Distance: 1KM per loop in 12 hours
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3
By Frank

Walking is certainly not an easy sport. Though I can walk around the mall for hours, it is nothing compared to walking throughout the night in a span of 12 hours walking around a 1KM loop! This I found out at the 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008. This is my first ever walk race event, and I really had a blast and unforgettable experience there, not to mention the pain too. Personally, I took it as a fun walk event, as a get together with friends and also for the experience too.

The sky opened up in the noon and I failed to get any sleep even though I woke up at 1am earlier and also running 10KM double hills with Choi and Lynn. Knowing that, I know I will suffer throughout the night. And for some reasons, my stomach started acting up just after the morning run as if like my body was purging after a long run or probably detox.

The event was held at Dataran Putrajaya just in front of the Palace of Justice. As I'm really bad at getting myself to Putrajaya, I was glad that I had Jamie car pool with me. Met up with him at Puchong for a quick cup of coffee at Old Town coffee shop before dinner with the rest like Cheong, Chin Ann, Jeff and Kei Ming at a nearby restaurant. Dinner was actually very good as we helped ourselves to local food rich in carbohydrates like rice and noodle to help us go through the long night ahead. Not to mention a strong cup of Chinese tea to go down with it. I had Pu Er tea which has proven to keep me awake, for some reasons I do not know why.

Arrived at the venue just in time for the race pack collection and soon, we are hooked up with the rest like Cheang, Choi, Eugene, Kelvin, Kevin, Ping Loong and Yen Erl. Pretty impress with the goodie bag as it was loaded with lots of stuff like a t-shirt, body lotion, antiseptic mouth wash and more. Quickly changed into our gear and laced up our timing chip as time was running short. I put on my mountain biking jersey which I last worn more than 10 years ago. Boy the memories of those days rushed back into my head! Although it still fits me, it got pretty loose. But it was a good decision to take it out from the wardrobe once again as it wicks moisture better than any of my running vest and keeping me warm at the same time. Not to mention the 3 pocket compartments at the back which came really handy.

Soon, we found ourselves in the starting pen and it was time for photo snapping session with non other than our friendly walker photographer, Pueh Tian. Though the sky was still threatening to rain, it held up and soon, it was time to walk! At 8pm, an approximate 500 walkers were flagged off.

I started with Choi and Jamie while the rest just zoomed off. It was rather an unusual situation as we are just so used to take off from the starting point. However this time, we started very slowly by walking. We joked around and soon we saw Kei Ming and Kelvin at the opposite side! They were walking like seasoned walkers! Soon, Jamie too slowly hasten up but I took it easy with Choi for the first 2 hours. And that was the time when Choi too started to break away leaving me behind. I was lucky that I bumped in to Pueh Tian and we walked together enjoying the sights and sounds of the surroundings. At that time, I was still averaging a speed of 12 minutes per kilometer. Not too bad for a beginner I guess.

Soon, it was time for our first break as we indulged in food and beverages prepared fresh on the spot. There were fried rice and noodles, nuggets, eggs, fruits and coffee to help us stay awake, which is served every 2 hours. And I must say it taste pretty good.

Continuing off, I lost Pueh Tian and it was all by myself. I do not know how many times has Jeff, Kei Ming, Kelvin and Kevin has lap me, but it didn't matter. I was just enjoying myself. Things slowly got a bit tougher as I first felt pain on my piriformis. Knowing there's still a long way to go, I detoured to my car to grab my mp3 player which proved to be handy as I have chosen songs that help me motivate myself, not to mention to keep me awake.

Soon it was midnight and we had our second meal followed by the third at 2am. Things got worst for me at the seventh hour when I felt pain not only on my legs, but stomach as well. I needed to go and I was glad the public toilet was open.

Shortly later, it started to drizzle and I kept my mp3 player back in the car. From there onwards, it's a test of both the physical and mental as things got really tough. I walked with Eugene for a few loops before he decided to rest due to blisters. I myself too had blisters since the early stages of the walk, but I held on. I was lucky it did not burst.

At about 8 hours in the walk, rain started coming down and I stopped to seek shelter, at least for a good half an hour before continuing. Cheong has already given up while Chin Ann has slowed due to fatigue. Jeff too came in but it was wrong decision as he suffered from cramp the moment he sat down. OUCH!
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Jeff totally knock out...

Knowing at that time I still have at least 5 laps to go to meet a marathon distance, I continued when the rain has lighten. Trust me, the pain was unbearable. Pain on areas I have not feel for a very long time and also not while running. My metatarsals and plantar were in no mans land and I can feel my right anterior cruciate ligament. I can hardly bend my right knee as I walk and had to cushion it by walking like an ape with both knees slightly bend. Yes, I look awful at that time with dark circle around my eyes too.

With 105 minutes to go, I managed to complete my marathon distance with 42 laps and decided to take a short break to save myself for the final push. Choi too came in and he himself has completed 50 laps or so. Took a short nap under the canopy and soon, we saw the first glimpse of daylight. It was sure good too see the sun again as I resumed walking with Choi with around an hour left to go.

Dawn has break...

As it was the closing stages of the walk, I decided to bear the severe pain especially on my right knee and went for it trying to complete as many laps as possible with my already very slow walking speed. And at hour 11:47:54, 12 minutes and 6 seconds from the finish of the event, I decided to call it a day knowing that there isn't sufficient time left for me to walk another lap. Therefore, my total distance covered was 46KM equivalent to 46 laps which also resulted to a very penguin and crab like walking Frank.

My completion time...

I survived and look horrible...

Pueh Tian did it...

Double thumbs up from Choi...

Jamie making his triumph return...

Proceeded to collect my hard earned medal before leaving for breakfast with Jamie. Was a solid meal as we decided to totally knock ourselves out upon reaching home which I did, but of course after a good cold shower.

Front view of the medal...

Rear view of the medal...

Overall, I had a blast at the 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008 and glad that I signed up for it. It was properly organised and the weather was actually rather kind to us. In the end, I'm just glad I survived the ordeal. Though I walked slow and the end results was an extremely painful one, I was happy with my own results as I came as a first timer with no experience at all. Not to mention the companionship I had with my friends. Will I be back again? For now, it's a no as running will be certainly be my cup of tea. But you never know...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008...

Event: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008
Venue: Esplanade Drive, Singapore
Date: 7 December 2008
Time: 5.30am
Distance: 42.195KM
Shoe: Nike LunaRacer+
By Frank

5 December 2008. Arrival day...
It was a perfectly cool morning when I arrived at the First Coach terminal at One Utama. Met up with Andrew and Wai Lam before our journey down to Singapore which starts 8am on the dot. Nothing much happened during the journey except for my faulty on-board personal entertainment system and also the bus driver that was on his mobile phone for almost the entire journey that kept my blood pressure sky high. Oh and yeah... Did bump into Shih Ming and San who was on board Aeroline at the Pagoh rest area.

6 hours later, we arrived at Novena Square and went straight to the humongous Singapore Expo to collect our race pack after getting a bit lost on our MRT ride. Though there was a small crowd, collection of the race pack was swift. In 15 minutes time or so, I was done and I found myself in the Sports and Fitness Expo which was next to it. Small exhibition but yet the things that were on sale were very cheap. It's here that I done my first damage of my trip when I spent a whooping SGD235 on the 2XU compression top and elite tights. Gulps... Met up with Ben too who was there working under some fitness company. Had a good chat with him as it's been a while since I met him.
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A scene during the race pack collection...

It was already 3.30pm when we were done so we rushed from the expo to Beach Hotel by cab that cost SGD16.80! Upon checking in, we had our very late lunch before starting our adventure at Orchard Road. Dinner was awesome as we pasta at Spageddies, Paragon Shopping Centre before returning to the hotel to rest.

6 December 2008. Pre-race day...
I woke up pretty early at 8am despite only sleeping for about 3 hours due to "disturbance" from both Andrew and Wai Lam. Chee Kong and Pueh Tian soon joined us when they arrived just before 10am. Peuh Tian despite not running, came for a weekend getaway and was our photographer for the trip. Thanks a lot my friend for the time taken. We all had our breakfast at a nearby hawker centre before Chee Kong left to meet up with his friends. With the 4 of us left, we decided to pay a visit to the Singapore Flyer, the current world largest observation wheel. It was a 30 minute ride that took us to 165M sky high. It was a good experience and we all had a good time snapping photos around, not to mention some rather ridiculous shots.

Pointing to the Esplanade from the Singapore Flyer...

Back to ground, we made ourselves to Marina shopping centre for lunch before meeting up with Jeff and his girlfriend and Suntec City. Parted our ways after visiting the Fountain of Wealth as I returned to the hotel to to process the check in for another room. And after doing so, I took a walk from the hotel to Funan Digital Mall to meet up with my cousin Eugene. Chit chatted and gave some final tips to him as he is taking on the half marathon. Had a very early dinner at Pastamania before we left for home and hotel respectively to rest for the big day tomorrow.

7 December 2008. Race day...
And so the big day is here as I woke up at 1.15am. With both Andrew and Chee Kong still asleep, I took my own time to get myself prepared. At 2.30am, both of them were awake and by 4am, we were all ready to go. Met up with Jeff, Pueh Tian and Wai Lam at the lobby and off we went to Swiss Hotel to meet up with Chin Chin, Lynn and their friends. Took a group photo before we proceeded to the start venue which was packed with runners. Before parting with Andrew and Chee Kong, I gave them some final advice just like an old man. Hahaha...

Into the sub 4 hour pen I went with Chin Chin, Lynn, Siew Swan and Jeff. Met David who was a sub 04:30:00 official pacer, Boon Seng, Yen Erl and Wai Yee. To my surprise, I bumped into Yaziz too who was starting just next to me. I have a history of racing with him towards the finish line at 2 events this year which was done in a rather hilarious manner. Therefore, I told him no racing to the finish line this time. Haha... With the time ticking away, we all waited anxiously for the start while wishing everyone around us the best.

At 5.30am, off went the air horn and I started my sixth marathon, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008.

As mentioned in my pre-marathon entry, I will be running alongside Lynn which we both did. Both of us blazed off upon stepping on the timing mat at the start gantry. However, due to the amount of runners, we were a little off pace as we tried to navigate our way through. As we navigated ourselves, we ran left and right that at times we had trouble spotting each other. Hahaha… Nevertheless, it was a good warm up. It was when we hit the 2KM mark when the crowd had dispersed a bit, that we both increase our pace. As both our goals are similar, I started building a sub 4 hour time with a 4 minute cushion which will sum up to around 03:56:00 upon completion if everything goes smoothly.

As we arrived back at the Esplanade Bridge, marathon runners can still be seen crossing the start gantry at the opposite side. Later, we arrived at Raffles Avenue and I spotted Yaziz. Gave him a thumb up as I ran pass him. Shortly later, I heard a loud scream from a lady runner who wanted to stop for a toilet break. Not sure what happened but my guess is that she had a shock of her life when she opened one of the mobile toilets along the way and that there was someone making his/her deposit inside without locking the door.

Ran pass Republic Avenue and into the long stretch of Nicoll Highway. At about 8KM or so, Lynn took her first gel. Offered her my bottle of Pocari drink to go down with it. At this point, I knew something had gone wrong. The gel came too early for her and she is slowing down. I slowed my pace down keeping myself running just slightly in front of her to offer my support.

Arrived together at the 10KM mark at Mountbatten Road in a time of 00:53:38 followed by a short stretch along Fort Road before hitting it at East Coast Park. Compared to the previous year, runners ran along the tarmac road just outside the park which was really spacious. I kept myself running on the left side to allow faster runners to overtake me and also for Lynn to spot me. Though still feeling good at 14KM, I took my first gel to avoid the risk of glycogen depletion.

I kept turning my head back from time to time to check on Lynn while trying to maintain a constant distance from her, as knowing if I got too close to her, she will ask me to ahead which I did not want to. However at one point, I slowed down to get alongside with her to offer her a drink which she decline. I can see she’s really tired and I felt really hopeless for being helpless. As a personal trainer, I failed badly today. Shortly at approximately 19KM mark, I turned back again and I finally saw the gesture that I did not want to see from her asking me go ahead. Didn’t want to, I gesture back asking her to push on as I stubbornly stayed on my pace and made the u-turn shortly in front. After doing so, Tey ET spotted me on the opposite side and I ask him to cheer for Lynn if he managed to see her which he did with a rather loud one. I spotted Chee Kong too and called out to him giving him a thumb up.

I arrived at the 21KM mark at 02:00:23 with the sub 4 hour timing cushion still barely intact. I took my first stop under the distance marker to allow Lynn to catch up. I was doing a stationary jog there in order to maintain my heart rate. While doing so, Seok Ling ran pass me and I waved to her. Resumed running after Lynn caught up and I was rewarded by a GU Gel at the 23KM mark. After taking it, a volunteer along the route asked me if I was ok. I was really surprised that I was asked the question as I was still doing fine. I replied to her that I was feeling wonderful and carried on. Hmmm… Was I looking awful that time? I wonder.

I decided to pay a visit to the gents shortly later while waiting for Lynn. As she got near, I resumed my run. I know at this point that she really struggling but I was really proud of her for still keeping it up. The time cushion was still hanging on though it was slowly wearing off and frankly speaking, I was prepared to fore go my goals to help her just complete the run. It was no longer a race for time, but instead a race of friendship and companionship.

Around the East Coast Lagoon, I ran pass San and managed a short chat before continuing on. It was at the 27KM mark when I stopped again that Keat Seong ran pass me and also that Chin Chin caught up. She brought me a message from Lynn asking me to go ahead. I turned back and saw she was there and ask if she was really tired. She gave me a nod before Chin Chin told me that she will support her. Reluctant to let go, I carried on, still at the same pace. As I arrived at the 28KM mark, I looked back again and saw Chin Chin running with Lynn. I asked myself at that time if it was right to carry on myself. It was a really tough decision but I know that Lynn had wanted me to go for it as she did mention to me earlier before the start of the race. With this I came to my decision, to run my fullest for a friend and a training mate. I took one final glance at the both of them before I started pushing real hard.

The time cushion is now gone and looking my watch, it will be tough even to clock a sub 04:15:00. However, I remained positive and increased my pace and started using the advantages of the Nike LunaRacer+, the bounce to perform pylometrics. Started landing on my mid and forefoot using my calves muscles extensively. As I near Keat Seong, I tap on his shoulders telling him that I’m going for it. Shortly, I passed Shih Ming too who gave me a blur look when I greeted her. She was running her debut marathon and she was doing well.

I exited East Coast Park into Fort Road again and arrived at the 30KM mark at 03:03:05. I’m slowly building back my time as I took every stride. Soon, I’m into the Stadium Boulevard and the first sign of the “human wall” came into the picture. The half marathon runners detoured into the race route and it caused some congestion. Was lucky the road was wide and it was just for a short while before they were taken to another route. As I made my u-turn just after the 32KM, mark I look to the opposite side to see if I can spot the 2 girls which I did not. Instead I spotted Lawrence and called out to him. We both exchanged a good luck gesture as I exited the area heading towards Kallang.

Took my third and final gel at around 35KM as I noticed that it was possible to run a new personal best as I had managed to reduce my time deficit. With the new found energy, I increased my pace yet again swinging both my arms pretty hard. Just before entering Crawford Street, I spotted Boon Seng walking. As I passed him, I told him to start running again. Not sure if he did as I carried on.

After the earlier signs of the “human wall”, 38KM is where it all began. This is where the marathon runners will run alongside the half marathon runners till the end. To add matters worst, the quarter marathon runners joined in one kilometer later. The whole road was so congested that I had trouble navigating through and at certain points, I had to run on the drain cover on the outer lanes, hence increasing the amount of distance I have to run. My pace dropped significantly here and time was ticking away.

Ran passed the F1 pit lanes before arriving back at Raffles Avenue and into the 40KM mark at 03:56:25. Unlike the previous year where we ran into the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay area, runners are now taken to the Esplanade Drive heading to the bridge itself where it all began about 4 hours earlier. It was about a 5% gradient climb towards the turning point into St. Andrew’s Road and the final one kilometer really felt long. I spotted Pueh Tian taking photos at the junction but as I was “drowned” in a large number of runners, I don’t think he spotted me.

Arriving at the final stretch towards the finish line, I asked myself if I were to stop at the side to wait for my friends? Thinking back yet again of what Lynn told me earlier before the start of the race was the one thing that made me continue on as I slowed my pace down, enjoyed the surroundings and eventually crossed the finish line with my hands wide open clocking 04:08:49 coming in at position 635. My primary goal achieved!

My finishing moments...

As I made my way towards the rather muddy Padang, I prayed that both Chin Chin and Lynn will return safely without any pain. As I de-chipped, rehydrated and stretched myself at the de-chipping area, I waited anxiously for their return. Nearing half an hour later, I spotted Chin Chin but not Lynn and I got a really worried. Chin Chin told me that Lynn wanted her to go on just like what happened to me. And also that I learnt that she suffered a cramp. But the positive side of it was that a friend was with her that time. As time tick away and we waited and waited, she finally arrived. By her looks, I know she was really dejected. And knowing that I’m not good with words, I decided to stay mum.

We rested for a while before proceeding to collect our finisher’s medal and shirt. We then proceeded to the rest area and met up with Andrew, Jeff, Ben, Yee Hua, Michelle, San and Shih Ming. Things got a little easier for Lynn with friends around as we chatted and joked among ourselves. And it was a relieve sign as I see the smile back on my tough training mate's face.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Chee Kong arrived back just before we were to leave for the hotel. He was so exhausted that he downed 3 bottles of isotonic drinks before we all left the race venue. Parted ways with Chin Chin and Lynn as we arrived at Swiss Hotel and I made my way back with Andrew while Chee Kong and Jeff were together.

With Chee Kong who completed his maiden marathon...

Both Andrew and Jeff proud of their half marathon and marathon debut respectively...

Congratulations to Chee Kong and Jeff who completed their maiden marathon respectively 05:08:41 and 04:48:25: And to Andrew for a successful half marathon debut, it’s a stepping stone to marathon running. To Chin Chin, congratulations too on a strong performance. Finally to Lynn. If you are reading this, "Don’t worry about me as it was my own decision. You ran great as it’s not easy to run such a time. There will be more to come for you and I’m sure you will come back stronger. Most importantly, stay strong and keep smiling".

The second race of the Greatest Race On Earth, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 seemed to have suffered the effects of the global economic downturn. Thought it was still a great event, the overall quality took a dip for last year’s edition. This year saw less musical bands and cheerleaders. Though refreshment was sufficient, isotonic drinks were hard to spot and they were really diluted. Let’s hope the event will be back to it’s fullest in year 2009.

With the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 over, I successfully completed my sixth marathon and managed too, to run 4 marathons this year, a resolution met! Not forgetting that's 2 marathons done in a span of just 3 weeks. And not to mention my running curtains down for this year’s marathon running. To sum up this event, though the new route is a little tougher than last year's, it was not physically tough but instead it was mentally. And despite having successfully met my primary goal, I was disappointed with myself for I couldn't help a friend and finish the marathon alongside as I thought of. Being helpless at the point when a friend needs support really brought me down to earth. And to make the decision to leave a friend in need, trust me it was tough to make. Nevertheless, I was really proud of my friend and therefore, I dedicate my sixth marathon to this friend of mine.

For my run analysis, hit the RunPix link here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Into The Lion’s Den…

By Frank

Continuing off from my fifth marathon at Penang, I shall take on my sixth at the upcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 in a week’s time. In terms of marathon races, this will be the shortest interval between 2 marathons, a span of only 3 weeks.
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Singapore, the lion city...

Preparation to this race hit a hiccup with a week to go as flu struck me. My family was down with flu even before my adventure at Penang but I held on. But I guess my body defenses finally succumbed to it as I first felt it a few days ago. Quickly, I hit the panic button and became paranoid about certain things. I quarantined myself from my parents, took extra doses of multi vitamins and even rewash my bed sheets. I may even sound like a crazy person going around and spraying the house with anti-bacterial spray hoping to keep the viruses at bay. All these I do it just for the sake of getting my health back. Not sure if it was déjà-vu, but I ran last year’s Singapore Marathon with fever, flu and total lost of voice. Will it be a repeat this year again? I hope not.

After completing my marathon at Penang, I was back running in just a few days time although keeping my runs easy and the distance short. Weekend runs were still on but they were cut to a maximum of just 15KM, Even when I knew that something was wrong, I still went ahead. Bold or stupid move? But I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

A visit back to the lion city this year will see a slight change to the marathon route at the first 10 kilometers or so. Instead of running to the Marina area, runners will now be taken straight into the city route before hitting it into the East Coast Park. Although I have absolutely no idea on the new route, I’m pretty glad that there was a change to it as the Marina area can be pretty dark and narrow, and not forgetting the large amount of runners this year.

My goal of my sixth marathon. The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 was initially my main marathon to go all out before bringing my 2008 marathon running curtains down. But after my results at Penang 3 weeks ago, I have now no pressure to deliver myself the results, though I will still be giving it my all as it is still listed as my year 2008 main marathon. My primary goal will be to run a sub 04:30:00 which I should be able to do it unless something goes horribly wrong while secondary will be to outdo the time I clocked at Penang. And finally but not least, after giving it serious thoughts about it, a tertiary goal which I have never set before, to run a sub 4 marathon. To achieve my third goal isn’t something easy but I’m glad that I have Lynn agreed to run alongside me. Just hope I will be able to locate her on race day. I will try my best to help her achieve her goals and by doing so, I’m able to help myself too. Will used all my knowledge and experiences gained the past 11 months for this one important race. But even if I do not run a sub 4, I won’t be disappointed as after all, it isn’t on my year 2008 resolution list.

To my friends Chee Kong and Jeff who will be running their maiden marathon. Enjoy the race and rest assured that your life will change after you cross the finish line. And to Andrew who will be running his maiden half marathon, it’s a small step towards marathon running. Finally to all my friends, RUN STRONG! Have fun all of you! Till I return, I hope the following short write-up will be able to build some inspirations.

Arise, Runners for we run!
Legs shall be shaken!
Guts will be tested!
Feel the adrenaline!
Run now! Run now!
Run for your pride as something great awaits ahead!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nike LunaRacer+...

By Frank
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The Nike LunaRacer+, the racing version and big brother to the Nike LunarTrainer+ was introduced to me back in August 2008. But I did not have the opportunity to run in it until October 2008 recently. Since I have reviewed the LunarTrainer+ which can be seen by hitting this link here, I will not go to deep into the LunaRacer+ as it is build pretty similarly. Instead, I will highlight on the major differences.
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The Nike LunaRacer+...

Similar to the LunarTrainer+, the LunaRacer+ is a neutral cushioning racing shoe designed and built around Bill Bowerman’s original 1972 “Moon Shoe”, hence the use of the waffle tread. Revolutionizing the shoe further was the use of the LunarLite foam jointly developed with the aerospace industry that gives the shoe its unique cushioning system. Not forgetting the reference to the Nike Free series thus giving the shoe’s its great flexibility, and the Nike+ concept that makes the shoe a “running computer” with the use of the Nike+ Sports Kit or SportBand.

The difference between the LunarTrainer+ and the LunaRacer+ can be felt immediately after holding it as the latter weights ridiculously light at only 156 grams! That’s almost half the weight as oppose to the LunarTrainer+, and it’s really tough not to run fast with it. So how did Nike achieve this? As seen from the shoe, gone is the traditional air mesh which is replaced by a hip futuristic looking semi translucent nylon sheet called the FlyWire. FlyWire features threads of nylons being interlaced with each other to provide superior strength for shoe and fitting for the wearer’s feet. No stitching was visible and one can be sure it offers the seamless fit thus eliminating abrasions. However, due to the FlyWire technology which made the shoe felt tighter, it is recommended to choose half a size bigger. But for some reasons, my right foot which is a quarter size smaller than my left experienced some rubbing on my tiny toe against the shoe wall. A quick check with 2 of my running mates too had the same problem. No problems on the left though. And due to the nylon threads, I’ve notice not a single hole around the shoes hence the feet felt warmer as ventilation was a tad poor.

Up close and personal on the FlyWire...

As with the LunarTrainer+, the LunaRacer+ uses the same cushioning system based on the LunarLite foam which is encapsulated in a lime green phylite carrier forming the outsole which then the tread is shaped like a waffle iron. However, the LunaRacer+ has a much lower profile hence giving the wearer a much more “road feel”. A quick check on the outsole shows that the waffle pistons looks a bit larger compared to the LunarTrainer+ with a slightly different design where each piston comes with “nipples”. Coupled with additional BRS 1000 carbon rubber to prolong life span at high wear areas, I felt the traction of the shoe much improved especially on wet surfaces over the LunarTrainer+. And probably due to this and the virtual post hidden at the heel of the outsole within where the LunarLite word is, both my feet did not feel wobbling around too much even though the shoe looks narrow in fit with less “foundations” touching the ground.

The waffle tread. Notice the "nipples" on each piston...

The virtual post within where the LunarLite word is...

Some other good to know stuff about the LunaRacer+ are that since the collar is designed very thin, it is recommended to wear well padded ankle length socks to protect the Achilles heel from any abrasion that might occur. Not forgetting that the socks need to be sweat wicking due to the shoe’s ventilation. Addition to this, do try out different lacing methods to eliminate hotspots as the shoe’s tongue is thin and the narrow fit tends to be tight at the forefoot area. I personally used the traditional criss cross lacing method but I loosen the area around the forefoot.

The thin collar...

The tongue...

It’s really hard to judge and recommend the Nike LunaRacer+ as it may not suit everyone due to its design. You just have to give it a try to feel it. But from my personal view, it’s a great shoe. And if you fit comfortably in the LunarTrainer+ like me, then you’re in luck for this shoe may help in achieving a personal best. Do check out Jamie’s take on the Nike LunaRacer+ too by hitting this link.

The Nike LunaRacer+ is now available at all Nike stores retailing at a recommended price of RM439.

Comfort: 7.5/10
Cushioning: 8.5/10
Design: 8/10
Flexibility: 9/10
Weight: 9.5/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 16 November 2008
Time: 3.00am
Distance: 42.195KM (42.21KM by Choi's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Saucony Grid Fastwitch 3
By Frank

The near perfect conditions, determination, deep thoughts and a pair of superb shoe all contributed to something I did not expect at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008, though it was a mentally tough route.

15 November 2008. Pre-race day...
Together with Choi and Pueh Tian, the 3 of us boarded the Aeroline coach from Sunway Pyramid at 8am and departed for Penang on a wet morning. Haza was too on the bus with her kids. It took us 5 hours to arrive at the Sungai Nibong bus terminal and was greeted by Chee Kong who came to pick us up. First thing first, we went to Queensbay Mall to pick up our race pack. It was a quick one and within 5 minutes, everyone was done. The race pack contained our running bib, a free size running vest which is too big for me, a t-shirt, race guide and some stuff from the sponsors. Pretty good I would say. Later, we met up with Cheang and Chin PF before heading off for a quick and simple lunch.
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Contents of the race pack...

View of Queensbay Mall on the right, while the Penang Bridge on the top left...

After lunch, we checked into Krystal Suites which is rather near to Queensbay Mall and we rested till 6pm before heading out for dinner with Luc at the New Lane hawker street. Jeff and his girlfriend joined in too and we even met a few other runners from Kuala Lumpur including Loke and his family. Kept dinner simple as I do not want to risk any potential diarrhea and it's back to the hotel to call it a day.

The crowded New Lane hawker street...

16 November 2008. Race day...
The day I'm waiting for. I woke up just before midnight while everyone else was still asleep. I took my time to prepare as I munched down a bun and a Cliff Bar with a cup of hot coffee before hitting the shower. Shortly later, Choi was awake too and by 2am, we are ready to leave. Chee Kong and Pueh Tian woke up just before we left and we all exchanged good luck wishes before heading off to the lobby to meet up with Anil, Kit and Luc. Had a good quality walk to the starting venue, and by the time we got there, our body was partially warmed up.

The course route...

Together with Choi before taking on the legendary distance...

Reported ourselves into a barricaded area while waiting for the start time. Bumped into Tey ET just before heading out to the roads alongside Queensbay Mall. One final check on my Saucony Fastwitch 3 to make sure the laces are secured and the usual stuff of wishing everybody well was done before we hit it. At 3am, with lion dances and confetti being shot up into the air, an approximated number of 500 runners took on the legendary 42.195KM distance.

As I know that this will be a race all by myself with no pacers, I decided to go at my own comfortable pace without trying anything fancy like plyometrics. The first stretch was along some service road heading towards Gold Coast resort. It was pretty dark here so I had my eyes on the ground to make sure that I didn't run into any potholes or reflectors. There were a few spectators along the road to cheer us on before we arrived at the extremely long stretch of the Bayan Lepas Expressway that took runners along the coastal road passed the industrial park that houses Intel, Agilent and some other big names.

The whole expressway was closed so runners had the opportunity to run anywhere on it. But as I was going at a steady pace together with an Indian runner, I did not have the privilege on running on the inner lane. Was stuck next to him for a while until he broke away. I was feeling very good here as the weather was just perfect. The light morning sea breeze contributed to a cool morning and me having my weekdays training under the blazing hot sun at 4pm, took advantage of this. Shortly at 5KM, came the first refreshment station but I did not go for it as I had my water bottle filled with Endurox R4 with me, which really did help a lot. I took small little sips every 15 minutes and that save me lots of time from drinking from cups at the refreshment stations.

As I approached the end of the expressway, I saw the first runner which is no surprise a Kenyan, making his way back. Shortly, I saw Luc too as I head towards the Batu Maung U-turn point as I cheered him on. Seeing how fast Luc went eventually motivated me as I hit the 10KM mark in a time 00:53:18. As I made my turn, I kept my eyes on the runners heading towards the turn instead and eventually saw Anil, Raymond, Choi, Kit, Tey ET and Cheang. Gave my thumbs up to them before I head back. At about the 12.5KM mark, Anil came out of no where and went off after wishing me. Slowly and slowly, he began to disappear into the distance.

Arriving at the 20KM mark in a time of 01:47:54 (00:54:33), was the start of my problems. I "crashed" into the human wall as thousands of half marathoners detoured into the race course. And to make things event worst, the PowerBar Gel which is stated to be stationed at the 15KM mark appeared on the 20KM mark instead with no priority given to the full marathoners. I do not understand why did the choose to give the gels to the half marathoners when they just started the race, probably just into their third kilometer. I tried to grab a gel but by the time I got into the crowd, I noticed that there was a long queue for it and therefore decided not to have it. I decided to carry on, but that's of course after trying very hard to run my way out from the crowded gel station.

As I approach the 2 lane ramp heading into the bridge, I had to maneuver myself through the sea of runners. Despite bright yellow signs stating "Slower runners keep left", no one even bothered and I was forced to run on the rather narrow pavement alongside the railing to overtake some of them. I tried to indicate to them that a runner is coming through but no one listened. Yes, not a single one! Some were walking holding hands, calling on their mobiles and even stopping to pose for photos! Honestly speaking, I do not mind but please do it in a proper way so that other runners are not obstructed.

My hydration plan was all messed up here. Without fluid as I had earlier finished my Endurox R4 at the 15KM mark, and with the refreshment station at the 22.5KM mark crowded with runners around a small table, I carried on as a very dry runner. However, it was after this station that I had some breathing space I managed to break free from the crowd.

Knowing my energy level is depleting fast, I took my first PowerBar Gel, without any water leaving me with a rather sticky throat and lips. But I know I had no choice and to rely on my saliva and time to wash away the effect.

As I made my way, I spotted Pueh Tian and caught up with him. Greeted him before I continued on but then, he gave a sprint and stopped a couple of meters ahead and took a video of me, which at first I thought was a photo instead. Haha... Thanks! As I began my ascend up the bridge, Raymond came from behind and greeted me with this message "Good pace", before he sped off like a rolling tomato, hence his nick the TomatoMan! And to make things even interesting, he actually stopped earlier when he had to hit the potty-pot! This guy is awesome!

Shortly in front, a runner from the 25KM category has feel unconscious. Other runners gathered around him but I was guess it was the wrong move. Though it was kind of them in trying to help, the poor guy needed fresh air which was blocked off by others. His legs were raised to allow blood flow and he was slapped lightly a few times hoping to wake him up. The ambulance arrived shortly after I ran pass, and I hope he is fine.

As I hit the 25KM mark, I quickly grabbed a small little cup from the refreshment station only to find out that it was empty. Quickly asked the person in charge to filled it up as I continued on. It wasn't enough though as water was splashed out from the cup as it was poured in. Though desperate for water, I wasn't about to look back and was rewarded at the 27.5KM mark with a good supply of water before hitting it again and arriving at the 30KM mark in a time of 02:46:04 (00:58:09). I was very surprised with my time as I was on course for a sub 4 timing. However, things took a dramatic turn here. Read on...

Arriving at the U-turn point just before the toll interchange, I took my second gel just before making my return trip. Nothing much happen during my return trip on bridge except that I bumped in Chanbai who was running the 25KM category. However, I know I was slowing down and was seriously dry, probably due to the sea breeze.

Before exiting the bridge, I took 2 cups of isotonic and a cup of water before getting kicked on my right heel by a lady runner who was running wobbly left and right. She did not apologise and though it only hurt me a little, it slowed my momentum down. Shortly in front, I notice that she ran herself into the first aiders. Despite still continuing, she was put on alert by the first aiders as from what I heard.

Then came the final refreshment station as I took one final cup of water. As I ran along the final stretches of the Bayan Lepas Expressway, I know my sub 4 timing is fading fast. At the turning into the Gold Coast Resort and with approximately 800M to go, I almost broke into tears when I saw my watch hit 4 hours. Knowing I had to carry on which I did, I fought back and carried on with Seok Ling right behind me.

With 500M to go, as I was making my way around the Gold Coast roundabout, my left hamstring gave way. The pain sent me limping as I grab on my hamstring and ran. The word "Pain" was written all over my face and one of the road marshall spurred me on telling me to drag myself to the finish line if I had to! Gave him a very painful smile as I continued running and counted down the distance marker. 500M, 400M, 300M, 200M and finally into the finishing area as I crossed the finish line with my arms wide open at position 33 with a time of 04:04:44, a new personal best for me! That's 00:25:31 shaved off my previous.
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Front view of the finisher's medal...
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Rear view of the finisher's medal...
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The finisher's certificate...

Further down from the finish line, I was presented a towel which really came in handy together with my finisher's medal and certificate. Shortly later, I was congratulated by Seok Jiun who was there waiting for her sister's arrival. Luc who completed his run at position 12 with a time of 03:18:01 was there too and we congratulated each other before meeting up with Chee and Loke and soon the others too. I hydrated myself with 3 cups of isotonic drinks and a bottle of water before heading off to catch up with the others to share our running stories. Congratulations to Lynn too for completing her 25KM category in position 14 with a time of 02:20:36.

After chilling out at the rest area for an hour plus, I decided to head back to the hotel with Chee Kong and Choi for well deserve shower. It was at this time, I asked myself what had gone wrong? Thought I ran my fastest 30KM distance, it is at this point that things started to fade for me. Now that I know, I know which area I am to improve on. Nevertheless, I am overall very happy with my performance as I was not aiming for a sub 4 timing. I was just giving it a go since I felt good and saw the chance coming. Most importantly, I was glad that I didn't stop at all throughout the entire course. And frankly speaking, I do not know how I did it. All I knew was that during the entire course, my mind was fill with thoughts of my running mates including Choi, Jamie, Luc, Geraldine, Lynn and the others who went through thick and thin with me for the last 3 months.

After cleaning up, we headed to Swatow Lane for our post marathon meal with Luc. He won some prize money and we had a feast of local food there while exchanging our run stories before we head back to the hotel for some quality rest while Luc returned back home to Kuala Lumpur.

About the quality of the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008, I would say it's much better compared to the one organised the previous year. It may have his downside of it, but I guess every races has it. The question is, how bad it is? Probably the organisers should look into the PowerBar Gel station and water issue. Some refreshment station ran out of water, while other ran out of cups. This is really an important issue to look into as life is at risk. So will I be back next year? As for now, I can't really commit myself though I did enjoy the race as it will always be nice to try out different marathons. Unless that I can't meet my target of at least 4 marathons a year, the Penang Bridge International Marathon will definitely be on my running calendar.

Full marathon, Men open
04:04:44 - Frank Chong (33)
04:28:42 - Yip Kit Weng (50)
05:21:26 - Tey Eng Tiong (99)

Full marathon, Men veteran
03:18:01 - Luc Bodart (12)
04:41:44 - Choi Chik Choy (66)
05:36:34 - Chin Phoy Foon
06:23:45 - Cheang Meng Wai

25KM Half marathon, Men open
02:18:00 - Chen Chee Kong
02:26:32 - Jeff Ooi

25KM Half marathon, Women open
02:20:36 - Lynn Guan (14)
02:26:00 - Tan Chin Chin

17 November 2008. Post race day...
The highlight of the day before we left Penang was my lunch with Choi and Pueh Tian at a resurant called T-Bowl at Queensbay Mall. The letter "T" stands for Toilet so I guess you can pretty guess how's the food served. Yes, instead of the usual bowls, it came in mini toilet bowls! Even the seats are of toilet bowls and I hope they are new. Conventional tables are replaced with sinks with a glass top. Even desserts came in mini bath tubs! And after filling up our tummy, we left Penang at 3pm via the Aeroline coach. So it's goodbye Penang!
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Me digging into my meal in a toilet bowl...

Desserts served in mini bath tubs...

As for now, it's time to recover for my next marathon in 3 weeks time, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Taking On The Bridge...

By Frank

As of this evening, I have completed my training that includes my tapering phase and all totalled up to 688.51KM of distance ran since starting back in August 2008 for my upcoming fifth marathon at Penang this weekend. I will be taking on the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008 this Sunday which is scheduled to start at 3am making it my earliest marathon! The marathon was originally scheduled to be held in June 2008 but due to financial problems by the original organisers, it was cancelled. But thankfully, the state government decided that they will take on the responsibilities in organising this event and thus, runners were gifted the oppourtunity to run one of the longest bridge in the world this November 2008.
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The majestic Penang Bridge which span a total length of 13.5KM (8.4KM on water)...

I did pretty badly at last year's edition running in the half marathon category as I was hit by plantar pain quite early into the race. However, this time round, I'm feeling pretty good about it even if I'm running twice the distance. My training has been pretty intense and probably my toughest to date too. Being introduce to me for the first time was the back to back long runs. Though tough, I was lucky I have my running mates with me to go through the ups and downs of it. And this will certainly fill my mind when I take on the bridge especially when things get rough and tough.

I ran so much that at one stage, I neglected part of my resistance training. It's certainly not easy to do both trainings together especially having to run long distance. Knowing the disdvantages of not doing it, I got myself into the groove again and managed to put in some quality ones.

Training so intense for the first time left me battling with fatigue at one stage which slowed me down. The body just felt heavy and "lifeless" and it really made me look like a "walking zombie". Took about a week to get myself back into shape with a proper diet although my appetite just wasn't there. I just had to force myself to eat for the sake of the nutrients my body needs. Another to mention is the wound on Achilles which took ages to heal, courtesy of chaffing from one of my shoes. But everything went well towards the end of my training and I'm all ready to take on the bridge.

Now to my target. Frankly speaking, there is no target set. But I will run my best to try achieve a personal best. And not forgetting to stay injury free. Reason for such a simple and straight forward target is because I want to save my best for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 which is 3 weeks later.

And finally, I'm certainly looking forward to this trip. Not only I get to run, I have always love visiting the Pearl of the Orient. Food of course will one of the highlights of the trip but I will save that as a post marathon reward as I do not want to mess up my system. Not forgetting, that there will be large number of us making this trip. I myself will be travelling with Choi and Pueh Tian via the Aeroline coach while others like Geraldine, Lynn, Chee Kong, Kit, Loke and Luc will meet us there. It's always nice to travel with friends especially those with the same interest and thus, I'm sure this trip will be a fun one, despite the "pain"! Before hitting the bridge this Sunday, here's to everyone, "GOOD LUCK and RUN STRONG!". Till then...

Monday, November 03, 2008

New York City Marathon 2008...

Congratulations as Jamie ran his personal best at the New York City Marathon 2008 with a time of 04:03:49 and Geraldine clocking 04:12:32. This is what Jamie had to say.
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"Very tough course. Cramps on thighs. Kept pace right up to 32K. Fought back a 4min deficit to 2min then lost back 1. In the end finished in 4:03 for a 13min PR. Glad with my effort as I didn't walk and able to rely on positive thoughts of my kids."
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In the mean time, Paula Radcliffe made it a treble to win yet again. Read all about it here, courtesy from The Sun UK - 3 November 2008.

Paula Radcliffe put on a one-woman show fit for Broadway to blitz her rivals in the New York marathon.

Radcliffe finished almost TWO MINUTES ahead of her nearest rival to become only the second woman to win the Big Apple spectacular three times.
. The top 3 women finishers...

Exactly 11 weeks after her disappointment at the Beijing Olympics, when she could only finish 23rd after a stress fracture hampered her preparations, a fit and healthy Radcliffe re-established herself as the world’s best over 26.2 miles.

She clocked 2hr 23.56sec as she crossed the Central Park finishing line.
Radcliffe, 34, even had time to pose for photographs with daughter Isla before Russian Ludmila Petrova came home in 02:25.43.

Among the first to congratulate Radcliffe on the podium was Norwegian legend Grete Waitz — a former Olympic silver medallist, who won the New York marathon nine times, the last 20 years ago.

Radcliffe, who pocketed £110,000 in fees and bonuses for her victory, said: “To win three times is very special. To be a third of the way to replicating what Grete did here is amazing. Grete was a huge inspiration to me.

“Why can I get it right every time in New York and not at the Olympics? It is frustrating.

“The Olympics only comes around every four years and you have to get it right on the day.

“Constantina Dita got it right and won but I wasn’t able to. Sometimes you have to deal with what life deals you.

“It was nice to run it differently this year and make it easier on my husband. The two previous finishes here were very close.”

This really was the Fairytale of New York as once again Radcliffe defied those who had written her off in Beijing.

The marathon world-record holder had come into the race as the defending champion, having won here a year ago after giving birth to Isla.

Back then, victory came after a sprint finish with Ethiopian Gete Wami.

If that was sensational, this was even better. Wami faded away out in the Bronx with more than six miles left, leaving Radcliffe to battle it out with 40-year-old Petrova, champion here eight years ago.

Then, with just over four miles to go, Radcliffe kicked and left Petrova standing.

Radcliffe insists she wants to continue running up to London 2012 for the chance of finally achieving her Olympic dream.

She has now won eight of the 10 marathons she has competed in — the only two missing being in Athens in 2004 and Beijing.

Bookies are already offering odds of 10-1 on her winning gold in four years’ time.

New Yorker Kara Goucher finished her debut marathon third in 02:25.53, the fastest time ever by an American woman.

Goucher, 30, who beat Radcliffe in last year’s Great North Run, was inspired by the Brit’s New York triumph in 2007.

She said: “I’d never seen anything like it.

“It was the most inspirational athletics performance I’d ever seen. I’m still in awe of her. And today she just hammered us.”

Glasgow’s Hailey Haining finished 12th.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Terry Fox Run 2008...

Event: Terry Fox Run 2008
Venue: Tapak A, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 2 November 2008
Time: 9.00am
Distance: 3KM or 5KM
Shoe: Nike LunaRacer+
By Frank

Those who knows me, especially my past history will know that the Terry Fox Run is part of me every year. A charity running event held annually to remember Terry Fox and also towards cancer research.

My third Terry Fox Run since 2006, this year saw a massive crowd, probably the biggest I ever seen. I participated this year with Lynn, Loke, Luc and Wai Lam. Not forgetting that I met Niki, Richard and Stephen too! Way to go guys! I've earlier done a 10KM slow and easy run as I start my tapering phase and therefore, a further 5KM will be just nice.
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My running mates...
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What a huge turnout...

We started from the middle pack after some delay and had trouble finding the way through as the roads were narrow leading up to the top of the deer park. Besides, most are walking. We grouped together for some chit chats before Loke decided to begin running as we hit the bird park. Being tempted by him, I started running with him. I thought Lynn and Luc will start running too, but I was wrong as I turned back shortly later and could not spot them. With this, I went ahead with Loke.

The same start/finish arch at the same spot...

I must say that Loke can certainly navigate through the crowd very well. I sticked with him till we hit the advance route heading towards Carcosa. Pueh Tian who was there snapping photos called me and he managed to snap a photo of me. Thanks a lot! The advance route is much easier to run with what I can describe as almost empty! Went on a faster pace here before detouring back to the normal route slowing down till I finish the run. Light snacks and drinks were served and I certainly enjoyed this year's run. To those who particiapted, I sincerely thank them for being part of it as it does brings a lot of joy and hope to those fighting cancer, loved ones and also to survivors too.

I did not time myself this time as compared to my last 2 previous years but I felt I went at an OK pace. This is the first time I handed the Nike LunaRacer+ it's first run on tarmac and I was simply blown away with it. I just need a few more runs in it to get use to it before handing them a race debut, most likely at my sixth marathon! And with this event, I now officially enter my tapering phase. I will certainly miss the trainings I had with my running mates, at least for now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Triple Action...

By Frank
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It's the final push towards my fifth and sixth marathon being the Penang Bridge Marathon 2008 and Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 respectively. With only 19 days till my fifth, I'm pretty happy with my progress. Despite battling fatigue a couple of weeks ago, I can proudly say that I'm back to my very peak now. Now into my final week of training before I start to taper off, I'm here to run my first triple 3 days back to backs runs. So here's how it went.

25 October 2008
Despite having a sore and tired gastrocnemius, I still decided to proceed with my plan and handed my Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 it's second 30KM run.

The turnout was huge with the usual group comprising of myself, Lawrence, Loke, Luc and Lynn, and those from Ronnie's group. However, the run was ran in 3 groups with Ronnie heading the first group being the fastest. Luc was with them too. I ran in the second group of only myself and Lynn, while the others were in the third group.

I was glad that I had Lynn with me for throughout the journey as it was certainly punishing to go through the route alone and it was sure easy to call it quits if it wasn't for her. We paced excellently together for till 21KM before Luc joined in for the journey back. Knowing that we can't follow Luc's blazing pace, I told him to go ahead with 5KM to go.

With a time of 02:57:18, both me and Lynn arrived safely back at the Bukit Aman carpark. It would have been a photo finish should it be a race! It was my fastest 30KM run and also my first under 3 hours! Although feeling battered and tired, I certainly felt good. And speaking of my pacing partner of today, I guess myself and Lynn now qualifies to be Luc's new padawan learner (student in the Star Wars universe) after both Jamie and Geraldine graduated recently. Haha...
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We ran 30KM...

26 October 2008
It was suppose be my rest day, but I just couldn't resist Luc's invitation for a 20KM run therefore triggering off the triple back to back runs.

The turnout was just myself, Luc and Lynn. I decided to put on my Nike LunarTrainer+ to save my legs but I guess it was the wrong move. Reason why, read on...

I've though that this will be an easy run, but I was wrong, as both of them was on fire. I managed to pace with them till the Duta Highway crossover before losing them slightly. With every uphill, I managed to catch up but only to lose them again later. Arriving at the Petronas Station, I checked on my Achilles wound which I suffered from the Mizuno Wave Run 2008 as I felt some discomfort. Despite bandaging it, the already damaged Achilles just couldn't take the punishment from further chaffing from the thin collar of the Nike LunarTrainer+.

The journey back was ran in a pretty easy pace for me with the other 2 taking off. I was running like a damaged F1 car driving slowly trying to nurse it, in my case, my Achilles. It was at Kenny Hills with approximately 4KM to go that I totally lost both Luc and Lynn. I was pretty happy that I could keep up with them till this area though.

And in the end, I completed the run in 01:56:19. Though my Achilles was hurting and upon checking, it was slightly swollen yet again, I guess this run was pretty OK. I personally felt that if I have ran 20KM the day before, this will be a much tougher run if it was a 30KM. Now, just one more run to go to make it triple back to back, something I have not done before.

My poor Achilles...

27 October 2008
It's back to the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 for this run as I needed the padded collar of the shoe to protect my Achilles which was double bandaged this time round.

What was suppose to be a 15KM run was upgraded to a 20KM instead with a pretty fast pace warm up session with Luc running the Carcosa Lake Gardens route. With just the 2 of us as Lynn was pretty stressed up with work, I tried my best to keep up my pace with him which I successfully managed to.

Met up with Ronnie and the rest back at the Bukit Aman carpark before taking the remaining 15KM on. It was a blazing pace for me during the first 7KM or so thanks to the earlier warm up. However, as blazing as I was, I couldn't match the hyper speed of Luc. I was trying to keep up with him as I needed to guide him through the route as he wasn't familiar with. It was only after exiting from double hills that I slowed down as I suffered from stitch, probably due to the fast pace and the gradient. But I was glad that Ronnie caught up and had to pass the baton to him to guide Luc.

Back near Kenny Hills for the second loop, I decided to give myself a minute's rest to allow my diaphragm to adjust it's place which was causing the stitch. This also allowed Kei Ming and Wern Tien to catch up which was part of the plan so that I have a pacing partner to bring me through the remaining kilometers.

It was at the remaining 3KM or so that I managed to get my rhythm back and I managed to stick with it till I arrived back at the Bukit Aman carpark clocking 01:51:45 which was rather fast!

And with this, I successfully completed my first ever triple back to back runs in 3 days totalling up to 70KM! Darn, it felt good! For now, a much needed rest is needed which I did not get after the run as I was dragged by Ronnie to Prabu's house for his Deepavali open house where I refueled with a variety of sumptuous Indian food. Back home, I fell into a coma. zzZZ...

HAPPY DEEPAVALI...