Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bidor Half Marathon 2008...

Event: Bidor Half Marathon 2008
Venue: Dewan Muhibbah Bidor, Perak
Date: 27 April 2008
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 21KM (20.38KM by Polar RS800sd S3 footpod)
Shoe: adidas adizero Tempo
By Frank

Bidor is a small town approximately 140KM from Kuala Lumpur. The town is famous for it's herbal duck noodle, guavas and also chinese biscuits. But that's not the main reason I visited the town for over the weekend. In fact, I went there to run the Bidor Half Marathon! A half marathon in an unknown race route. How will I do? Read on...
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The race kit collection centre, a tailor shop...

And so I left KL yesterday morning with a total of 15 (11 ladies) of us including myself, Andy and Kee Fong. I do not know the remaining 12, as it was my first time joining them and honestly speaking, I only knew Ben Swee, Yee Hua (Ben's wife), Yen Erl and Fook. And even these 4 person, I only knew them through their blogs. But it's one of the wonders of running that I managed to meet up with these people and in the process to be friends with them. The journey from KL to Bidor took us less than 2 hours and upon arriving, we went to collect our race kits. It was a simple process at a tailor shop. It was done in a brisk and after that, we went to have the famous herbal duck noodle for lunch. And it was also here that I introduce myself to Ben and Yee Hua. I was suprised that Ben actually know my name and he reads this blog. I felt honoured. Lunch was good. It was my second time trying out this herbal duck noodle. The first time was many years ago and I wasn't too impressed with the dry version back then. This time, I ordered the soup version and it was better. And so after filling out stomach, we left for Kampar, where our hotel is located.
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Streets of Bidor...

Bidor's famous herbal duck noodle...

Kampar is around 30KM away for Bidor. Why book a hotel so far from the starting point? Well.. I guess there isn't any hotel at Bidor and besides, this is actually the official hotel for this event. The hotel is called Grand Kampar and it is very nice considering the location of it in the small town of Kampar. 3 rooms were booked, 2 for the ladies and 1 for the guys. I bunked in with Andy, Ben and Fook and our room was just simply amazing. Everything was so well placed except the (air con) and it was spanking clean and huge! For RM160 a night, I could stay for another night longer. Hehe...
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View of the room the guys room/suite...
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Kampar and it's surroundings...

After settling down, we explored the rest of the hotel visiting the swimming pool at the roof top before we proceeded on to the town of Kampar and also to some lake just beside Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. With most of the places explored, we returned to the hotel to clean ourselves up before heading back to Kampar town for dinner. We tried the famous curry chicken bun here, and it was certainly tasty. But I didn't want to risk it as I know I be running the next day, so I just tried some potatoes in it. And it was during dinner time, that I actually chatted with Ben about both our running stories and also our job. He is also a free lance personal trainer like me. I was simply blown away upon hearing his running career. Not only into runs, he also cycles and swim. He is after all, an Ironman! We continued chatting even after dinner as we made ourselves into the night market where I eventually lost contact of my driver Kee Fong. Haha... But soon afer locating her, we all went back to the hotel to call it a day.

Kampar's curry chicken bun...

27 April 2008. Race day... I woke up at 3.45am freezing as the air con temperature was set to 23 celcius and both the vents are blowing directly to me! As everyone was still asleep, I slowly clean myself up and had my breakfast. Soon, it was 5am and everyone was up getting ready to race. At 5.40am, we left for the race venue. The starting point was filled with runners and music was playing softly into the silent morning. I reported in and was given a nifty Nike wrist band. I warm myself up and did some stretching while waiting for Ronnie and the other Pacemaker's arrival as I was holding their bibs. After passing them their bibs, it came down to race time. The half marathon was scheduled to be flagged off first at 7am.

And so, after a short speech by the organisers, the race started. A few days before the race, I read Ben's blog and he mentioned that he would like clock 01:40:00. I was tempted to pace with him to achieve that time or somewhere near. But in the end, I was glad that I didn't choose to pace him as I thought about it seriously. "I am not at that stage yet", I told myself. I need to be realistic. And so it happen. Just 200M after the race started towards the second corner, Ben called me as he overtook and just disappear towards the front. He's fast! And so it all came down to my race strategy, to run negative splits. I remember Jamie mentioned before that a second makes a big difference while running a marathon. Although this is a half marathon, I decided to give it a try. I started off at a comfortable average pace of 6:10/KM, with every kilometer increasing my speed by 1 second . The first 10KM was pretty flat except for a mild climb on the bridge. The scenery was beautiful as runners was treated with the scenic views of the mountains. I ran all the way to the end without any problems which was the 5KM mark. Just before the U-turn, I saw Ben making his way back. He is running at a very relax pace and still manage to smile back at me, while all I can do is just to give him a thumbs up. I just can't smile like he do while racing and all I can offer is just what I call a "pancit" look. Hehe... Soon, I was greeted by the first refreshment station there and I took my first PowerBar Gel as I made my u-turn. Bumped into Andy after a while and just like Ben earlier, I gave him a thumbs up.

As I run my way back, I overtook this lady runner at around the 9KM mark. However, as each time I overtook her, she increase her pace and overtake me back and this happened for like 5 times or so. But it all ended as we arrived at the 10KM mark which was the start of the hill climb, as I increased my average pace here by 2 seconds faster for each kilometer. And although it's a long hill climb, I find it pretty comfortable. I wasn't struggling. I guess all the hill training paid off. Shortly in front, I bumped in RunWitMe as he is making his way back from the 10KM run. He took a photo of mine. Thank you! I also bumped into Kee Fong. Actually, she called me as I didn't notice her as I was in race mode. This second part of the half marathon route is all hills and although it's isn't very steep, it's a long climb as we run deeper into the so called oil palm forest heading towards a waterfall. Bumped into Ben again as he makes his way back. At least this time besides a thumbs up, I managed to inform him on his position. But still at the cost of a "pancit" look. All the way to the end, was some rocky dead end and I did not see any waterfall. The refreshment offered at this u-turn was H-Two-O by Yeo's. Took a sip and it taste weird. And so, I saw the last 5KM distance marker and this time, it's downhill. I increased my pace again, this time 5 seconds faster. I bump into most of them as I made my way back. Yee Hua and Yen Erl looks tired although still running strong. Fook still looking good. But the big joke was Andy as he was cursing all the way up the hill. Haha...

Caught in action by RunWitMe...

I took my second and final PowerBar Gel at the second last refreshment station at around the 17KM mark as I got ready to unleash my everything. And at the last 3KM, it's all out from me. Not thinking of how many seconds to shave off my average pace, I just went. I overtook a malay runner but he managed to stay behind me as I can hear his breathing and footsteps. Out of a sudden, he overtook me back with 200M left to the finish line. And with that, I suddenly remembered the torturing speedworks training I had with Ronnie and the rest. "I must put that to good use now", I told myself, as I let all that is left in me out. With just around 30M to go, I managed to overtake him and managed to complete the half marathon in position 25 clocking 01:55:10, a first sub-2 hours for my half marathon, a new personal best! And I dedicate this victory to a friend of mine, Andrew, who is currently (at time of entering this entry) warded at Sunway Medical Centre for pneumonia.

video

How I overtook Yaziz...
(video courtesy of Ronnie)

As I warmed down and did my stretching, I caught up with Ben. He clocked a time of 01:37:36 at position 9 and was awarded a trophy. NICE! Ronnie joined in too later and he informed me that the malay runner that I was racing with earlier was Yaziz, the same guy at my KLIM08 finishing video. Haha... I met up with him too shortly later. Took a few photos together while I waited for the rest to return. Half an hour after I completed my run, came Andy. He "drifted" into the scene at the last corner and ran like Speedy Gonzalez towards the finish line. The way he ran was so funny that I would really like to see it on video as Ben did manage to capture it. Hehe... And so with everyone back safely, we return to the hotel to have a good shower before checking out from the hotel to have our lunch before bidding farewell to Bidor and Kampar.
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The 15 of us from KL came and conquered Bidor...

Front view of the huge beautiful finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Certificate of achievement...

And so, Bidor Half Marathon 2008 came to a successful end. It was a great event organised properly with minimal complains from me. They even had a commentator at the finish line commentating on almost every runner running towards the finish line. And not forgetting the nicely designed finisher's medal. It was the biggest medal I received so far and it was heavy. They even sealed the certificate. Smart of them as they know that our palms will be sweaty after a long run. Anyway, overall kudos to Bidor Runners for successfully organising this great event. I shall be back for more!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay Fun Run 2008...

Event: Olympic Torch Relay Fun Run 2008
Venue: Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 20 April 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 5KM (5.82KM by Polar RS800G3 GPS sensor)
Shoe: adidas adizero Cushion 6
By Frank

With the Beijing Olympics 2008 just 109 days away and also being the Olympic torch is now here in Kuala Lumpur scheduled for a relay tomorrow, it was certainly a must to have a running event which relates to it. The Olympic Torch Relay Fun Run 2008 is much more of a fun run for most people, but some took things seriously as there were medals offered, 20 medals each for the men and women categories. As for me, I took it as my speed training for my upcoming runs.
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Group picture with the Pacemakers before the run...

I arrived at Dataran Merdeka as early as 6.30am and found a great parking spot. Ronnie arrived shortly and we chatted for a while before the rest of the runners arrived and we made our way to the starting point. Before the race started, we actually had the chance to catch a glimpse on the actual Olympic torch which was just stunning. At 7.30am sharp, we were let off. I started very fast and managed to follow closely behind Lai FS and Ryan. After a short flat route, runners was greeted by the first hill climb behind Bank Negara. I attacked the hill as part of my training. I was going very strong all the way till around the 3KM mark when disaster struck. Side stitch came on my right side and I swear, it was the most painful side stitch that I have ever encountered. I guess the change of gradient and also my pace caused it. However, I still kept running. I was still very near Lai FS and I was actually hoping to complete the run with him side by side. But then, as I entered Jalan Parlimen near to the Lake Gardens entrance, I just couldn't bear the pain anymore. I slowed my pace down and nearly wanted to start walking, which I didn't. I continued running slowly as Lai FS eventually just disappeared in front. I struggled all the way to the finish line completing the run in a time of 00:30:56. Not a very good time for a 5KM run but then, I checked my GPS sensor and it recorded 5.82KM! With this, I'm more satisfied with my timing. Ronnie informed me that my estimated position is 72. And also, congratulations to Geraldine as she complete the run on the number one spot in the women's category.

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My finishing video...

Certified Olympic runners, in a way...

Overall, the run was pretty ok except that it was pretty dull along the way. Not many runners participated too as it was announced late. But anyway, the certificate of participation is certainly very nice. Probably the nicest running certificate I received to date.

The bright orange coloured certificate of participation...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Polar RS800sd/G3...

By Frank

I received my Polar RS800sd a week before KLIM08. The “sd” version meaning the one with the foot pod also known as stride sensor. The package came with the wrist unit, heart rate monitor, chest strap, foot pod, infra red communications link with cable and the Polar ProTrainer 5 software.
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The complete package...

Being a former user of the Polar RS200sd, switching to the Polar RS800sd is a major upgrade. Not only the wrist unit is way much sleeker and sexier in design, it sure tracks lots of data including altitude with a barometric altimeter built into it. The way the wrist unit is designed is very similar to the Polar RS400sd except for the difference in colour. It is light weight and very ergonomic it fits my wrist without any discomfort. I even felt that the built is tougher but yet lighter than my previous RS200sd.

The wrist unit...

The heart rate monitor is now built on a new technology call the WearLink W.I.N.D. transmitting at the 2.4GHz channel which is interference free. With it, it also solved the issue of crosstalk while running too close to other Polar users. The chest strap is now softer and instead of a clip on system, it uses a hook now, which allows the whole strap to be secure on the skin rather than one part being the transmitter back panel. This prevents irritation on the chest caused by the transmitter’s back panel which I suffered during my Polar RS200sd days. And not only that, the fabric is now lighter that I can hardly feel that I am wearing one.

The HR monitor with the chest strap...

The foot pod is now known as the S3 stride sensor and is also built using the W.I.N.D. technology. Currently, only the Polar RS800 is using the S3 stride sensor. Having switch from the S1 foot pod, it sure was a big difference, as it is the smallest and lightest Polar foot pod to date, just slightly bigger and thicker than a RM0.50 coin. It not only tracks distance and speed, but also strides rate and length. My first use with it was at the recent concluded KLIM08 running a full marathon. The S3 recorded a 42.95KM distance without calibration. I will say it is pretty accurate as I did run on the outer loops on a certain places and also going zig zag overtaking runners. After all, Polar did state that it offers 97% accuracy without calibration and up to 99% if calibrated. And these distance sensors are very subjective as the way each runner runs is different. One thing that annoyed me was the lithium battery. Although Polar claimed 50 hours of usage and is user changeable, I still find it a lot of hassle in buying those types of batteries and also changing it. Therefore, I will only use the S3 in my full and half marathon races.

The S3 stride sensor...

Now with all the basic units looked into at, here’s the final unit, the Polar G3 GPS sensor which I just got it last week. Bought separately as an add on accessories, the G3 sure is huge, about the size of typical notebook mouse. But luckily, it’s pretty light weight. It operates on a single AA battery which last around 10 hours according to Polar, and its hassle free unlike the S3. With this battery, I will use the G3 for my 10KM races and training. Also built upon the W.I.N.D. technology, there is a nifty feature as there is an option to use the full power or half power mode to save on battery life. Full power mode will use its highest signal strength to “lock” onto the satellites especially in shady areas. The half power mode can be used if we are running at an open area without any trees or tall buildings. But of course, it’s only for outdoor usage. Satellite detection was a breeze. Just power on the unit and wait for the connection. It should take an average of no longer than a minute or two (I was lucky that it did got connected in around 8 seconds once). Accuracy wise, I used the G3 for the first time at the BHP Orange Run 2008 3 days ago and it recorded a 9.98KM distance. Very accurate indeed as Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded 9.89KM and my previous Polar RS200sd (now sold to a friend) recorded 10.1KM. The package came with an armband and storage pouch. I did not use the armband as I just don’t like the feeling of using one. Therefore, I slip through my race number belt and buckle it on my waist and it didn’t bounce at all. The only downside of the G3 is it doesn’t track any location information which I think the Garmin Forerunner does. Oh and yes, the G3 sensor only works alone as it can’t co-exist together with the S3.

The G3 GPS sensor...

As a conclusion, I love my new Polar RS800sd/G3 very much. I did not regret switching from my previous Polar RS200sd to this despite the price. Although it still uses the traditional chest strap (which some people find it uncomfortable) while some manufacturers are moving towards detecting the heart rate via the wrist unit sensing the radial artery and ulnar artery, I have no problems with it as some does say that it is still the most accurate. Yes, the Polar RS800sd/G3 may be the one or of the most expensive running computer to date, but the amount of technology built into it and also the information it tracks, made it a perfect training and race tool for me. I won’t give a rating value for the Polar RS800sd/G3, but I greatly recommend it should any of you doesn’t mind splashing the cash.

The retail selling price are:
Polar RS800sd - RM1969
Polar G3 GPS sensor - RM629

Video from Runner's World on setting up the Polar RS800sd/G3...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Flora London Marathon 2008...

The Flora London Marathon 2008, part of the World Marathon Majors was held yesterday 13 April 2008 at Greenwich Park, London. The following are the respective report for the Men and Women Elite category extracted from Runners World.

Martin Lel Wins His Third London Marathon in 2:05:15
One hundrer years after the marathon distance was standardized as 26 miles and 385 yards at the 1908 London Olympics, the Kenyan Lel made an argument for his being the greatest current master of that distance as he joined Dionicio Ceron and Antonio Pinto as a three-time London Marathon titleist , outgunning Sammy Wanjiru by nine seconds in a course record of 2:05:15. "I was under pressure to do something today," realized Lel. "They asked for something and I gave something." He successfully defend his 2007 laurels; he also won in 2005. The race was actually on world record pace for about 20 miles. Abderrahim Goumri's third place was 2:05:30 was a Moroccan national record in the first marathon ever to have six men finish under 2:07. "To win this race you have to work extra hard," observed a happy Lel. "This is one of the best races I have done. Now I want to come back next year and make it three in a row." It's expected that Lel and Wanjiru will both be named to the Kenyan Olympic team. Lel is now the fourth fastest marathoner of all time behind behind Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat and Sammy Korir on the world all time list.

Germany's Irina Mikitenko Upsets Zakharova And Wami At London Marathon
Mikitenko was a track runner who'd represented Kazakhstan in the 1996 Olympics; she has run 14:42 for 5000 meters. She later switched her allegiance to Germany and, in her marathon debut, finished second to Gete Wami in Berlin in 2007. On Sunday in London, in just her second sojourn over 26.2 miles, she accelerated away from former Boston and Chicago champion Svetlana Zakharova of Russia in the 24th mile to win by 25 seconds in 2:24:14. “I was in such good shape I knew I could do it,” explained Mikitenko, who became the first German winner of the London Marathon since Katrin Dorre in 1994. “I am so happy to win my first marathon and I know I have much more to show at this distance.” There was good news for Zakharova, too; after the race, she received a call from her Russian federation confirming that she'd be on her country's Olympic team for Beijing. Gete Wami, the World Marathon Majors champion, took a hard tumble at a refreshment station just before the 30k mark and may have lost as much as 30 seconds, but she recovered on Sunday to place third. Liz Yelling ran 2:28:33 for ninth place and may have earned a spot on the British Olympics team. "I'm delighted to break the two-and-a-half hour barrier, I'm not sure I ran the best tactical race," observed Yelling, "but I decided to just race and see how much I had."

Martin Lel (L) and Irina Mikitenko (R) winning the London Marathon 2008...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

BHP Orange Run 2008...

Event: BHP Orange Run 2008
Venue: Piazza, The Curve, Selangor
Date: 13 April 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 9KM (9.98KM by Polar RS800G3 GPS Sensor)
Shoe: adidas adistar Cushion 6
By Frank

It was a rainy and cold morning when I woke up at 4am. I was hesistating to wake up as it was just so nice to continue on sleeping. But I knew I have a run in 3 hours time, and so I forced myself out of bed at 4.30am to prepare. Just a simple breakfast consisting of bread with a hot cup of Ovaltine with oats. Enough to fill me for the run.

As I left home at 6.15am, the rain has been reduced to a slight drizzle. Met up with David at The Curve's parking before proceeding on to the entrance of Fitness First to pass the bibs to the other Runnerz and also those from Pacemakers. At 7am, the rain stop and the weather was cool enough to my advantage. Did my warmup and at 7.25am, runners from the A and C category, being the men open and men veteran were called upon to the starting line. I panic at first as my Polar G3 GPS sensor had trouble detecting the satellite. It was the first time I'm using it and the sky was cloudy so I assume that was the cause of it. But luckily, everything was set up few minutes before the race. I started at the middle pack with Cheang and Ping Loong. Sharp at 7.30am, we were flag off. Although this is a fun run, I took it as a race. I went on my race pace and managed to clocked an average of 5:05/km for the entire distance. I attacked each corner and hill and glad my body didn't let me down.

The first 3KM in the housing area of Mutiara Damansara was fine. I met Keat Seong here and we chatted for quite a distance before he asked me to go ahead as he couldn't keep up with my pace. Guess he is still recovering after a full marathon effort at the recent KLIM08. After exiting from Mutiara Damansara, the road became kind of harzardous due to constructions, plus the rain earlier caused certain areas to be slippery and not to mention the puddles of water. I went zig zag in order to avoid it. It was near the 4KM mark after the Pelangi Damansara area, when runners were greeted by the first hill climb. I attacked the first hill and soon came the second hill at Sunway Damansara. It was an approximately 1.2KM climb here and that's where Jamie overtook me and as usual, full of carbohydrate power, *poof* he went. As I complete this hill climb, there was a short down hill before the third climb which was the steepest heading towards the former Sony building at Bandar Utama. Although the steepest climb, I find that this is my strongest. As it isn't very long, I push on till I reach the top before I was greeted by a flat route all the way back to the finish line.

Just before KBU, my photographer friend, Jasmine was there to snap some photos as agreed. After zooming pass her, I raised my game a little and push. The second last corner after 1 Utama, is where I started to empty my tank. It was still an approximately 1KM to go, but I felt good. And as I saw The Curve, I knew I had clocked a good time and therefore dashed to the finish line as I crossed it at 00:50:53. I'm very happy with my time as the distance is very closed to the 10KM mark as measure by my GPS sensor and also the other runners. And not to mention the hills. And therefore as promised, I managed to redeem myself for this run after doing badly last year. A 00:12:52 shaved off. And not forgetting that I wore a heavy shoe which I did on purpose so that not only racing, I can actually train with it too.
. Orange Run, therefore I'm in orange...

Despite the "downgraded" goodie bag made out of a pretty good quality material (not sure what the bag is called) as it just consists of a finisher's certificate and a bottle of mineral water, I actually enjoyed the run. Nothing to complain here as it's after all a free run. Traffic control was better than last year and at least the water station served the original 100 Plus this time together with the tangerine flavoured. But I wonder. If the distance is so close to 10KM, why not change the name to 10KM run instead. Does BHP have a liking for 9KM? Hmm...

The goodie bag...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

What's Next...

By Frank

KL International Marathon 2008 has gone down into my history books. And people are asking me when is my next? Oh well, I have just recently signed up for my second full marathon of the year which is the adidas Sundown Marathon 2008 scheduled to be held on 31 May 2008 at Singapore. And yes, it's a night race. A whole new experience indeed. The race being just 8 weeks away from now, and most of my Sundays being pre-occupied with other shorter distance races, I guess there wouldn't be much isolated training but instead to attack, attack and attack! With the race route being told to be mostly flat, I have been pressurised by some to outrun my KLIM08 time! *sweat* I hope to do so too. But anyhow, here's the other races I will be participating in as I await the arrival of 31 May 2008.

13 April 2008 - BHP Orange Run. Although there's no registration fee for this run, I aim to do well this time after a bitter experience last year. The route will be tough and hilly and I'm sure it will prove beneficial for upcoming races. And not forgetting the absolutely incredible goodie bag I received last year. Hoping it will be as equally as good this time.

27 April 2008 - Bidor Half Marathon. A first time for me and I have heard praises for this race everytime it was held. Not sure about the race route though but as Bidor is a small town, I will expect minimum traffic obstruction.
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10 May 2008 - Larian Bersama Bomba. I missed this event last year although I registered for it due to a boil I suffered. The route will be through Bukit Tungku and then to Jalan Duta, a route which I have not run for quite some time already. Not too much hill but the traffic at Jalan Duta might irritate some runners. A good run a week before hitting the 15KM.

18 May 2008 - New Balance Pacesetters 15KM. A high profile race running through the ever famous double hills. It's a tough race route but runners will be rewarded with a beautifully crafted medal (leaf shape in year 2007) and also a personalised certificate with their finishing picture.

25 May 2008 - RMAF Half Marathon. Another first time for me. Running on the aircraft runway will certainly be cool! Not too sure about the race route but I heard it's a bit hilly. I will need to tackle this race carefully as it's just a week before the big Sundown. Probaly will treat it as my last long run before the mighty 42KM!

31 May 2008 - adidas Sundown Marathon. A new race route. A new race time. A new challenge. And it's in Singapore. My second full marathon of 2008. It all comes down to this!