Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, Another Year Gone...

By Frank

365 days seems to pass by so quickly nowadays. And in a blink on an eye, year 2010 is history. Wonder if has anything with age? Hmmm...

Anyway, being a running blog, my mention about my yearly running distance is not to be miss here although it's a tad poor this year round with only 1549.75KM. That's close to 700KM lesser compared to 2009's distance. I guess being lazy isn't an excuse so therefore I'm blaming purely on injuries and also the setting up of the Runnerz Circle store. Besides, after running a sub 4 hour marathon for the first time late last year, I do think I deserve a break.

If I have complain I have race lesser in year 2009, year 2010 will be even lesser! But boy the major races I covered has been truly enjoyable. Enjoyable to have done it with friends and not from the results. In fact, results has been really poor this year. If you are guessing, it's 3 ultra marathons, 4 marathons and 1 Powerman duathlon were the major ones.

Looking on the brighter side of things, I think I have done acceptably well in my ultra marathons. But the most important thing about ultra marathon besides being painful, is that it must be fun. It was a blessing in disguise by not qualifying for the 100KM solo race in The North Face 100 as I seriously did not have the time to train for it. Besides, I was given the chance to partner Jamie in the 100KM duo race instead which was one event I truly enjoyed. I'm pretty sure Jamie enjoyed too as it was his first ultra distance. Not forgetting Chin Chin and Poh Seng too whom I've ran together with during almost half the race.

Then came triathlon. Though I can't swim, I still made my debut in it by doing the relay at the Port Dickson Triathlon. I thank Raymond Hee a lot for this for he is trying to motivate me to take up swimming. He partnered me and while he did the swim, I was suppose to bike and run. Sadly, it was a race to be forgotten as I suffered a puncture on my bike with just less than 10KM into the race. Then came my main race of the year, Powerman Malaysia 2010 duathlon. Though I did well improving my time, I was left disappointed as the chance to race a proper race faded away during the bike leg as I suffered cramps on my weaker left leg. Guess no one I can blame except for myself as training is certainly lacking.

The setting up of the Runnerz Circle retail store has taken up most of my time this year. It certainly wasn't easy and I hit many bumpy roads which I still am today. The first step in setting up is done, but now am fighting for survival. It's certainly not easy to sustain in the sports industry. Like a friend say, passion may not be the breadwinner. But anyhow, I'm glad that I'm able to bring in the products sought by athletes and to offer my services to them. And it's through this, I managed to feel pampered by getting sponsored.


Runnerz Circle's success isn't complete without a team...

(Taken at our year end dinner)

Personal training too came to a halt at the of June 2010. I just couldn't find enough time for myself, and not to mention my clients. But before I left the scene, I was really happy that I managed to train 14 of my clients in becoming first time marathoners! The feeling is certainly something money can't buy. However, come January 2011, I'm once again accepting clients to offer my services. This is one job that I really enjoy doing so I'm just glad to be back.

Every year, I made new friends in the running scene. Im sure the year won't be completed without this aspect. This year round, I made many crazy yet humble new friends from Karen, Cynthia, Alexis, Ian, Khairul, Yim, Hong Soon, Sallehan and so many more that if I continued listing, this entry will be flooded! Anyway, it's been fun knowing all of them and the road will be more fun with them now.

Year 2011 will once again be a quiet year in terms of racing. However, I have done my homework and have short listed down the major races I'm doing next year. And yeah, it's going be an ultra year! I hope a friend (who drives a black hatchback car - pun intended) will read this and jump into the ultra wagon too next year. Hehehe...

Before signing off the year, I'm not setting any resolutions for the following year. As I aged, my personal opinion on resolution has changed. Don't get me wrong. It's still a good way to motivate one self but right now, I guess I just let things go their way. However, the most important thing of all is hoping everyone to stay healthy, remain positive and race well. Here's cheers to everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2010...

Event: MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2010
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir
Date: 26 December 2010
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 10.2KM per loop (to run as may in 12 hours)
Shoe: Salomon XT Hawk 2
By Frank

Here we go! The final race of the year and one that I'm really looking forward too. It's a revisit to MacRitchie Reservoir where my love hate relationship with it dates back to last year's edition and this year's The North Face 100.

It's Christmas and I'm spending it in Singapore. Took First Coach again from Bangsar with Yip. Arrived early and had breakfast at the mamak eatery behind before Poh Chye and Yip came and join me. Shortly later, Jeff and Tey too arrived. Our bus left at 7.30am and arrived 5 hours later. Pretty fast trip although I was uncomfortable with the driving style. The driver was zig zagging the bus too often and at one stage, his door came loose and it opened! I though at first it was a puncture before Yip told me what had happen. Luckily nothing happen or else I will be on newspaper headline on Boxing Day!

Quick lunch at Novena before walking towards Fragrance Hotel - Oasis at Balestier Road. Halfway walking, it poured and together with Yip, we both ran clumsily with our luggage. We were wet upon arrival at the hotel and immediately showered up before I met up with Matthew to restock my stocks for BV Sport.

6.15pm, we met up with the rest of the Malaysian contingent at Bugis Junction for dinner. Those that came were Ben, Yee Hua, Poh Chye, Jeff, Tey, Wern Tien, Chiu Miew, Wendy, Pui San, Lynette, Yip and 2 new friends Dennis and Mawi. Dinner tasted so so but most important, it gave us the energy and nutrients most of us need the next day. Then, it was dessert before we made our way back to our respective hotel to rest.

Christmas decor at Bugis Junction...

With everything packed, I turned in pretty early around 10pm. Fell asleep easily this time. Not sure whether it was the bed or I had a satisfied tummy with desserts in it. Hahaha...

Boxing day 2010, race day...
I woke up really fresh. 6 hours of sleep packed with a good hearty breakfast, I'm ready. With motivation through Facebook and SMSes from 2 Malaysian friends, I felt more than great. Left the hotel at 6am and travelled to the reservoir by cab. Upon arrival, collected our race bib which was really colourful and unique as it's made of cloth. No matter how you fold it, it will return to its original shape.

My unique and colourful race bib made of cloth...

Then all the race preparation before the entire Malaysian contingent grouped together for a photo session. At 7am, we were off! I started well and managed to pace comfortably myself. Quickly enough, I arrived at the exit of the MacRitchie Trail. Close to 4KM, appear the first refreshment station serving Pocari Sweat. As I drank my first cup, a runner could not stop in time and knock into me from behind. The impact cause me to choke and Pocari Sweat started coming out from my nose. Oh man! Nasty indeed.

Continued on, passed the ranger station and into a short destructive trail full of really sharp and larger rocks. Luckily, the turning point was just shortly and the few volunteers here was really energetic cheering for us while doing their job, manually taking down our race number. I nearly went straight though before one of the volunteer called out to me, as I was just following the 2 runners ahead, without realising they weren't participants. And from there, I made my way back through a slightly detour at the ranger station which was really steep. Otherwise, it was the same old trail back passing the same refreshment station. And before that too, I saw all my friends making their way to the turning point. I was kind of surprise the lead I had. Was I going too fast?

On my re-entry to the MacRitchie trails, I was surprised to see Paul. He started 15 minutes late as he got lost trying to get to the reservoir. Then Sallehan came by and I followed him. My pace increased here and I really hammered it. However, I still felt good, in fact great. Soon, I arrived at the start/finish area (pit stop) with a time of 01:02:27 for my first loop. With a time like this, I think I'm asking for it cause at that moment, I was in the top 20 position, according to Paul.

I slowed my pace down at my second loop. Still going great actually but then towards the end of it, my legs started to hurt. The ball on both my forefoot is hurting and my big left toe is hurting too. Back at the pit stop, I tape up my hurting toe hoping it will help cushion the impact. Honestly speaking, it didn't help. Arriving at 22KM or so, Ben passed me. I managed to catch up with Hong Soon wo passed me earlier the pit stop and we paced each other. Hong Soon is my Singaporean friend whom I met during this year's Sundown Ultra Marathon 2010. He was the one who kept talking with me. Hahaha... I managed to run with him just before the turning point as my legs can't take the pounding. At about 27KM, Yim passed me. More and more started passing as I reduced to walking on rocky areas. The pain made both my legs wobbly and I didn't want to get injured by slipping and falling. So, I took it real easy from here onwards. Anyway, this is a run to be enjoyed.

Back at the pit stop after my third loop, I managed to get a quick shot with Yim before restarting. And just before doing so, I stared sending SMSes back to my friends updating them on what's going on. Talk about live updates. Hehehe... I took a GU Roctane Gel followed by a banana. I was risking the banana as shortly after restarting, I could feel my gut spinning. "HANG ON THERE" I told my gut and slowly managed to shake it off. Phew... Was mixing walking and running here and upon arrival at the refreshment station, Jeff and Paul caught up. Jeff continued on himself while I went with Paul which was seriously a good idea. We both kept each other company by chatting on numerous issue like marathons, ultra marathon, triathlons and even about ourselves. We even paced each other. This is how an ultra marathon is to be done and enjoyed!

With the Yimster after our third loop...

At the end of my fourth loop, I bear with pain and sprinted to the pit stop as I though that each loop needed to be done in 2 hours. I did 01:59:13 for this loop. But later, someone explained to me that it was in fact the total 5 loops to be done in 10 hour. I had plenty of cushion! Sprinted for nothing.

Started my fifth alone but 2KM into it, I bumped into Yim. I stopped and walked with him and again like Paul earlier, we chatted, walked and accompanied each other. Paul too rejoin us and we walk till the refreshment station before the skies decided to open up. Santa Clause gave us a surprise here by treating us to a heavy downpour. We took it really careful here as the rocks were really slippery. I seeked shelter at a hut near the ranger station with Paul before deciding to go again seeing the rain isn't going to stop any sooner. The path leading towards the turning point turned into a river which I swear to be at least 1.5cm to 2cm high. Had to be careful not to step on any loose rocks here and slowly made our way out.

After exiting, the rain stopped. Eugene is catching up as we met him at the refreshment station. Chatted a while before parting and I'm on my way home. 1KM or so to the exit of MacRitchie Trail, Wern Tien and Chiu Miew caught up and the 4 of us walked together till the finish like bearing our Malaysia flag. We are calling it a day after 5 loops. I initially wanted to do a minimum 6 loops but due to safety issues, I think it's wiser to stop here. I don't want to get injured in the month of January again. And so, 5 loops covering 51KM in a time of 08:36:06. Slow but fun is how I describe my run. And it was made even better with friends. Here's my race splits:

1st loop :01:02:27
2nd loop: 01:15:09 (02:17:37)
3rd loop: 01:41:23 (03:59:00)
4th loop: 01:59:13 (05:58:14)
5th loop: 02:39:29 (08:36:06)

Collected my finisher's vest and the unique finisher's certificate which again is made of cloth. Tey then came to break a bad news. He told me Yip had quit and I was surprised to hear that as I saw him running really strong. He has return to the hotel. Though I wanted to go back to check on him, I still waited for few other friends to complete their run like Eugene, Shine and Jeff. While doing so, I shared the run experience with Paul, Yee Hua, Tey and some others before making my way back. Upon opening the hotel's room door, I was glad that Yip greeted me. He was literally fine actually except for his stomach. Again, he threw up. Hmm...

Finisher's vest and again unique finisher's certificate made of cloth...

Cleaned up and went for my post race dinner which I over did on it. Was eating like a glutton. At close to 10pm, I accompanied Yip out for some dessert. His gut wasn't ready to accept any solids and some fluid and fruits will be good. At 11pm, it's time to call it a night after a tiring and somehow painful day.

After effect of running an ultra marathin in the rain...

The next day, a quick breakfast and it's walk back to Novena to catch our bus back at 12.30pm. Bump into Jeff and had another round of dessert. Journey home was smooth and got back in slightly more than 5 hours. And it was made faster by snoozing for almost the entire ride. Hahaha...

Overall, I really had fun. This is certainly a tough run but if one wants to enjoy nature and seeing different kind of runners from those wearing formal clothings to run, with long beard, weird running style, one that blows the whistle (pun intended) and much more, this is the race I would recommend. As for me this time round, it was my legs that gave up on me, not my cardio. I guess I need more legs conditioning from now onwards to tackle my century distance. But all in all, I'm glad to completed my 2010 running year with fun and satisfaction!

Acknowledgements
- Yip, for being my travel mate again for this run.
-Tey, for making all the way down again to support fellow runners and snapping good photos of us.
- Hong Soon, for trying to pull me on.
- Yim and Paul, for the much appreciated company.
- Wern Tien and Chiu Miew, for completing our run together side by side with Paul.
- Ben, Yee Hua, Eugene, Dennis, Mohan, Mawi, Jeff, Shine, Poh Chye Pui San and Wendy, for participating in this run for your presence made it more fun and interesting.
- My 2 Malaysian friends who had kept company via SMSes through the trip and race.
- And many many more. You know who you are, THANK YOU!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Malakoff 12KM Kuala Lumpur 2010...

Event: Malakoff 12KM Kuala Lumpur 2010
Venue: Bukit Kiara Equestrian Park, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 19 December 2010
Time: 7.10am
Distance: 12KM
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ona
By Frank

It's a very cool morning! It will play a good part for this run. However, there is always someone out there to spoil the whole mood!

This is one of the tougher runs around the Klang Valley. With the number of rolling hills, this run will be a good one to test out one's endurance and tolerance. And with this, I will be running with my client to guide him through. I agreed to coach him and it has been 2 weeks he has been following the program which I've sent to him. This is the first time I be running alongside with him and this will allow me to study him further.

And so, I arrived at the Securities Commission car park at 5.45am. The car park is half filled but I managed to secure a pretty good spot, at least I though. I waited for my client to arrive, but he didn't appear. Instead I met up with Lawrence, Henry and Yim before I jog to the race site. There, I met my client! Went through with him the warming up and stretching procedure before we witness the women category being flagged off at 7am. Yeap, it's a staggered start this year with the men being flagged off 10 minutes later.

Started slowly as I wanted to run it with him monitoring his heart rate. Completed our first loop with ease averaging a 6:15 per kilometer pace. He did fine but as we approach the second loop, he began to slow. On the flats, he was fine but towards the hills, the pace slowed. Overall during the second loop, I gave him 2 sessions of increased pace, being on the hills. He did fine but there was plenty of room still for improvements.

Anyway, I did managed to run alongside my client the entire distance and we crossed the finish line together with a time of 01:12:43, almost 2 minutes ahead of the time secretly set by me. Didn't want to tell him this as I didn't want him to feel pressure. Exchange some trial and error tips with him as we walked towards to collect our finisher's medal and post run meal. Then taught him about stretching too before we parted ways later.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Managed to catch up with Karen, Carol, Khairul and Lawrence later. It was fun to hang out with them as their happy go lucky personalities is really hard to come by nowadays in the running scene. Quite a fair bit of chatting before going back to the car park with Carol and Lawrence. As I walked towards the car park, I thought of last year's car break in incident. And when I got back to my car, I instantly checked on my car's trunk key hole which was damaged a few months back during the Shape & Men's Health Run 2010. And to my horror, it was dented! Someone has tried to gain access to it. And being an empty trunk, I lost nothing. My car's trunk and also the interior was empty except for my Jusco teddy bear! But my poor key hole which was just replaced a couple of months back is back dented again! *grumbles*

Dented again...

Anyway, the positive side from this run is that beside being well organised, it also stamps down as my return as a personal trainer, 4 months after leaving the scene. And it's one job I really enjoy doing!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010...

Event: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010
Venue: Orchard Road, Singapore
Date: 5 December 2010
Time: 5.00am
Distance: 42.195KM (42.5KM by Keat Seong's Garmin 405)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
By Frank

Just glad No. 14 is all but over...

No. 14 was officially the first training for my century distance at the Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011. Approaching it was the same, in terms of dieting compared to my No.9, at least looking at it in 2 weeks before the race. Just wanted to take it easy and to complete without too much of a suffering without wearing any compression wear. Did not want to rely too much about it.

Pre race day was a little tiring if you ask me. It's all about travelling. 8am was the the start of my journey on board First Coach from Bandar Utama, together with Poh Seng, Keat Seong, Jennifer, Yann Kai, Che-Ryl, Yen Erl and her friends. Journey itself was very cold as it was raining outside plus the air condition was working at full power.

This accompany me during my journey down...

Upon arrival at Singapore at about 2pm, I met up with Matthew from BV Sport to pick up some stuff for my premises before adjourning for a quick lunch at Novena's food court. Met up with Siok Bee and Siok Leng, and evne Paul too! Next, to the Float at Marina to collect our race packs. Though it was properly managed, I do feel a Malaysia feel with it as the race packs wasn't standardized. I'm missing key information about the race in mine. The small little expo which showcase just only ASICS and a supplement company was a tad disappointment.

Not that we have the time to shop, we left for our hotel via train. Checked into our room at Peninsula Excelsior Hotel which was Room 811. First thing that caught Poh Seng's nostril was the smell of cigarette! Don't think we can have our room change as the hotel is fully booked by other marathoners. Lived with it and hopefully with our shampoo smell, it will go away. While Poh Seng took a quick nap, I prepared my race gear before we adjourned for dinner at 6pm at Funan's food court. A really simple dinner which couldn't fill me, I bought a Subway sandwich back. Also met up with Eugene to pass him he BV Sport Anatomical Tights for he is running his maiden marathon.

Back at the hotel, it's shower and some minor preparations before I went into dream land at 9pm. I quickly fell asleep as I was tired plus the bed was actually pretty comfortable.

Race day...
Had a little trouble waking up. Only had 90 minutes to prepare but it was sufficient. By 4am, we were ready and together with Keat Seong and Jennifer, myself and Poh Seng hop into a Bentley taxi! Made ourselves to Orchard Road, hung around there till race time at 5am while meeting some friends. Keat Seong stared with the sub 4 hour group while myself with Poh Seng and Jennifer somewhere in the sub 5 hour. I was originally put at the above 6 hours group as I did not notice an e-mail sent out to request our expected finishing time However, as Chee Kong did reply his e-mail, I used his bib to check into his group before taking off his bib, putting on mine. This of course is done via his permission as he is away at South Africa.

K-Swiss K-Ruuz saw competition for the first time...

The race start was pretty unique. Music blasting and emcee talking away before it suddenly went all quiet. Sharp at 5am, the music came back with the horn blowing to indicate the start. Talk about suspense! Took us a while to cross the star gantry so we just slumber around to enjoy the Christmas lighting. And even after crossing it, I still had problems navigating through the amount of runners. There were estimated 19,000 marathoners this morning.

I was getting a bit impatient after 2KM cause my body has already warm up but I couldn't get into my comfy pace. My pace was too slow. Then it was the first refreshment station at 2.5KM and there was a mad scramble for it. Let the other runners get their refreshment and the road ahead was slightly clear for me.

It was some where at Fullerton Hotel where the road began to clear for me, and I managed to clock in some decent but yet comfy pace of my own. Next was Nicoll Highway and memories of 2008's race came back to me. This was the stretch that my friend began to slow down back then. The ghost of my past came back haunting me in the darkness. But the show has to go own. "let me get out of this stretch", I told myself and soon enough I hit 10KM at 00:55:19. Too fast! I wanted to run a 6 mins/KM pace and this was too fast! I slowed down to readjust as I enter Mountbatten Road.

Next was East Coast Park and upon entering, a fruit station was there handling out bananas. I skip it for fears of my gut sensitiveness to it. Just kept running passing certain areas that reminded me again of 2008's edition. Then into the main park where memories of this year's Sundown Ultra Marathon 2010 came back. At about 15KM, Poh Seng came along side me. He asked if I'm OK as I have slowed down. Told him I was as my earlier pace was too fast. Was just readjusting.

We ran together and about 17KM or so, I grab my first isotonic drink from the station. Totally disgusted with it and I felt like throwing up later. Kept spitting to get rid of the taste in my mouth. As we approach the half way point u-turn at 02:03:47, we saw Keat Seong running strong at the opposite side. We are at least a kilometer behind him. When I got to the turning point, I saw no energy gel station which was promised to be there. I was disgusted by the empty promise. Further down, Poh Seng had to stop for toilet break and I continued on my own.

The energy gel station appeared at close to 23KM and I took 3 sachets from it. I had to stop to insert the 3 sachets into my back pocket. Hahaha... Then Poh Seng caught up. At 25KM, I felt a burn on my right feet. I told Poh Seng that I desperately wants to get out of this park for I thought the concrete surface was contributing to the burning feeling. But little did I know, it wasn't. At 27KM, I felt wetness on my right feet's big toe and saw a reddish patch on my shoe. Immediately I knew it due to the swelling I suffered a couple of days back and that the toe has failed me. I slowed down tremendously here onwards and let Poh Seng go.

I began stopping to adjust myself. The more stops I made, the more problems began to surface. Legs started to lock up and the same old spot on my left calf that gave way during The North Face 100 Singapore 2010 and Powerman Malaysia 2010 came back. I swear that whenever a runner who wore the BV Sport Booster came passing me, I felt like stripping it off him to wear it on myself. Hahaha...

Entering the 30KM mark at 03:09:39, I was taken into some construction site along a golf course. Further ahead, I was treated to a magnificent view of the Sand Marina area which oversea the central business district. This is probably the best view I get from this entire race. And though the sun was shining at full here, I was greeted by a gentle breeze which I really welcomed! Walk run walk run and this is what I am left to do. Used markers along the way to help me accomplish this. Exited this area via marina Mall and into the streets along Sands Marina.

A TOTAL MESS is how I describe the next area. The quarter and half marathon runners clash into the full marathoners and the running space is just about 2 lanes. Hardly any space to run in a straight line, I really gave up on running here. I just walk and walk till I got to Republic Avenue before resuming my run again. Close to an hour wasted here I guess.

Into Raffles Avenue and I know the finish was close. Then the Singapore Flyer came into sight and I told myself "It's almost over". Pick up my pace a little, enduring the pain on my toe and soreness on both legs and just though of finishing it. The final minor climb up the Esplanade Bridge and turning into Fullerton Road was the sight to behold. The finishing line is ahead!

I remember Tey mentioning in his Facebook to call out to him if we spotted him. And so he was at about 100M to the finish line with his "advertisement" hung behind his neck. With all my breath, I inhaled and screamed out to him! It was pretty loud and he noticed and managed to snap a photo of me. Hahaha... And so, I just ran and ran, crossing the finish line in 04:54:36. No.14, you're in my bag.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Walk around, picked up my finishers medal and tee and regroup with Keat Seong and Poh Seng. Soon, Yee Hua, Jennifer and Siok Bee came in too with the latter being the most wasted of all. A slow walk back to the hotel, freshen up and treated ourselves to a Japanese lunch before I'm off to Novena with Poh Seng, Keat Seong and Jennifer to catch out bus back at 3pm. The bus itself was filled with almost the same passengers we came with. However, a horrible experience at the Malaysian custom as we spent more than an hour there just to show our passport to them. Yes, the word is "show". This is due to the large number of tourist from China. But still, that wasn't the excuse...

My poor toe...

All in all, I didn't really enjoy No. 14. But I'm glad it's all over for now. 5 marathons this year and none came close to my average performance. This is what I get with the lack of training. But most importantly, I made it back in 1 piece though my poor toe now is again swollen with a little "reddish" souvenir on my new K-Swiss K-Ruuz. But anyhow, it's over and I shall look forward to the next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No. 9 & No.14...

By Frank

Almost a year ago, I did my 9th marathon at the Macau Marathon 2009 which happen to be also my first official oversea marathon (Singapore not included). The result stands as my current personal best. And not only that, my friends all did wonderfully with Keat Seong running his first sub 4 hours marathon and Lynn running her half marathon personal best. Looking back at it now, everything of it came gushing back like a huge tidal wave. I really train for it, run my legs and life out for it and returned with almost a fond memory from the entire trip, not only from the race but the holiday with my friends. My 9th remains currently my best marathon but how I wish I can go back in time a year ago to have this trip repeated for I regret that I did not have something else done.

Memories of No. 9...

A year down the road, today I'm looking at my 14th marathon which will be the inaugural Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 happening this coming weekend (5 December 2010). A whole new sponsor, they promised a new route. Lots of marathoners were taken by it, and in the end, only a quarter of the route will be new, being Orchard Road where the start is, and the Sands Casino area. Nicoll Highway, East Coast Park and certainly The Padang where the end is, will still be part of it. And the best part, half marathoners will be running into Sentosa Island and the marathoners not. Such sad case indeed.

However, the above isn't the main reason that I'm not looking forward to it. Back in year 2008, when it was still known as Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008, though I ran a decent time, I had a nightmarish run. Myself and a good friend of mine agreed to pace each other hoping to finish the marathon in our best possible time. We started well together but my friend began to fall back after a quarter distance into it. I tried to pull my friend but by the third quarter, my friend asked me to go head. I won't forget that faithful moment when I had to choose to whether to wait or let my friend go. I chose the latter when a a message was passed down. I regretted with my decision that day, and probably till now too. Upon completion of my run, I waited and waited impatiently and finally was relieved to see my friend completing the run, though in difficulty, pain and sadness.

That unfaithful moment still remain fresh in me. The first time agreeing to pace a friend, I failed to do so and even failed in taking care of my good friend. Since then, I have not pace anyone.

Though I will be returning to the Singapore Marathon this year, all I can say is that I'm running as part of my training regime for my century distance. After all, I've registered for it and no point backing out now since transportation and accomodation has already been purchased. A quick splash and dash trip with Poh Seng, Keat Seong and Jennifer, I just want to get this over as fast as possible.

My 1st, 5th, 9th, 14th or any marathon that lies ahead, I would probably say now that my 9th was the one that I want to repeat it again should time travel is a thing to be made. Given the chance, I would want to relive the entire trip and to rectify the things I've done wrong, or perhaps not done at all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

K-Swiss Blade-Light Race...

By Frank

At the recent Kona Wolrd Ironman Championship 2010, K-Swiss officially introduced an arsenal of super light running shoes cater for racing, training and recovery. And thanks to them, I had the privilege of trying out the all new racer, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race and to race in them at my recent Powerman Malaysia 2010. And after a 28KM long run and race with it, it's about time to give my review on it.

K-Swiss Blade-Light triplets...

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Race weighting in at 245 grams (men size US9), is a no frill minimalist racing shoe built with just meshes, overlays, rubbers, velcro and a few plastic. Nothing mumbo jumbo about it, though the inspiration of getting it design is rather "special" in a way. The construction of the shoe is all similiar with it's other 2 siblings, the Blade-Light Run (trainer) and the Blade-Light Recover (recovery compression shoe). It shares the same outsole and what is the difference is just the upper.

K-Swiss Blade-Light Race...

Lateral view of the shoe...

Medial view of the shoe...

The way the cheetah runs, fastest land animal on earth is the inspiration behind the blade designs. A close look on the blade designs on the outsole reveal 2 sets of blades. The forefoot area has its blade pointing 45 degrees to the back while the mid to hell area has it's blade pointing 45 degrees to the front. The idea is conceive from when the cheetah runs, the front legs are pointing to the back, while the hind legs to the front, hence the design of the blades. It may sound weird but it does really work if you are are mid to forefoot striker. The blade compresses and the energy return can be felt, at least for me hence a very responsive ride. The only downside of the blade designs is that it picks up small pebbles easily hence getting stuck in between.

Closer look at the blades...

The outsole construction is based on the K-Swiss exclusive K-EVA rubber with the Aosta II blown rubber covering one quarter of it. Therefore, three quarter of it is exposed K-EVA which may prompt a quicker wear and tear, especially for mid and forefoot strikers. And located in between the outsole and the insole, a layer of Superfoam EVA is stitched to the footbed for the extra cushioning hence double density foam goodness.

View of the outsole...

Superfoam on the footbed. Notice the ventilation holes for the extra breathablility...

And not to be miss is the 10 drainage ports on the outsole, part of the Flow Cool System to keep water out of the shoes. The ports are on a small side compared to the K-Swiss K-Ona C, but it still does it's job well. As for the main Flow Cool System, it's still located on the toe box and collar area, keeping the feet well ventilated and wet socks at bay.

Flow Cool System on the toe box and a closer look at the mesh...

The meshes and overlays are built on a 1 piece seamless construction, hence the good news for triathletes, no socks required! It's pillow soft but yet thin meshes will keep the feet really comfortable, just like wearing a well cushioned socks. As for the velcro fastener, it will shave seconds off during the transition. I swear by this for during my Powerman Malaysia 2010, I just slip the shoes on and off easily, on or off the velcro went, and off I went. Just don't try to get the velcro aligned properly as this is very subjective due to the different width of our feet. And when the feet swells up after all the pounding, just loosen the velcro and you are ready to go again. A downside on the velcro fastener is probably the inability to fasten a timing chip on it. Therefore, an ankle band to hold the timing chip is really required here for those using this shoe for pure running purposes only. One little cool feature is the pulley on the collar. Really like this nifty feature as it allows ease of putting the shoe on. In goes the feet, a little pull from the pulley, velcro on and you are ready to go! Fast!

Something werid about the fit though is the space around the toe-box. Even with my regular size on, the extra space on the toe-box is about at least half a thumb in length. A quick check with some K-Swiss athletes around the world and also some wearers showed similiar results. Whether is this a good thing or not, I had no trouble with it, though a triathlete I know did mention about problems during tackling of turns and corners where the toes tend to move around.

Overall, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race is a fast and comfortable shoe indeed. Not only it's responsive, it will also help shave time off during transition and probably races too. And you don't need to worry about laces coming undone. The downside, the outsole wears out quickly too. Whether a 10KM, marathon distance or anything beyond, I'm pretty confident that this shoe will be able to stand up to the challenges.

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Race retails at a recommended selling price of RM369.00 and can be found at K-Swiss official store at Runnerz Circle.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Running The Century...

By Frank

84KM, double of the marathon distance is the furthest I ran so far and I did it twice. The North Face 100 Solo is in my to do list but sadly, I failed to qualify for it this year. Still fighting to get myself in, last week came the chance for me to topple off the 84KM distance.

A few days just before the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010, I've received news that the Sundown event for next year will be divided into 2, the regular marathon and the ultra marathon. And the ultra marathon will undergo an upgrade to 100KM and scheduled to be held on 25 June 2011, a month after the marathon. I was thrilled! I know my source is reliable and by night time, it came true. Newsletter were sent out to past participants e-mails and soon, Facebook was flooded with it.


As of 19 November 2010, my new chapter in my running career started. In a matter of minutes, I was registered. 100KM, a century distance is on my to do list for the year 2011, and will be my Class A race. Completing this new distance is my main goal, qualifying for The North Face 100 Solo will be my secondary. Personally for me, the distance is doable especially on the road. But please be advice that this isn't the case for everyone. One shouldn't try this distance if they have yet to complete any distance above the marathon. And Sundown's game isn't on the easy side. One really have to fight the sleepiness to complete it. It takes physical and mental strength to run this tough and probably boring distance too.

And if any of the above mentioned has decided to register for the race, probably now it's a good time to think about training. It's about slightly more than 6 months till the race, and hope is still there provided discipline and sacrifices is part of the training regime. Unofficially, Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010 was the beginning of my training though it didn't go down well. But at least it redefine my mental strength and my pain barrier which I'm willing to undergo.

Training for an ultra isn't all about running. It's a total body workout if you ask me. Just keep running normal maintaining the usual weekly mileage averaging about 60KM to 70KM. But do try to run at least two or three times super long runs at the peak of training. That's the tip from my really strong ultra marathoner friend and I found it really useful without having to put my body into serious torture. Then beside running, resistance training will be really helpful too. Upper body and core strength is really essential when tackling the distance, and I do hope to get some actual packs out from my abdominal area (talk about serious thick skin here).

To be honest, I'm kind of disappointed that Jamie and Lawrence decided not to run it. I know they can do it, but I respect their decision for they have analyse through it wisely. I'm still pinning my hope on Yip though, though earlier news from him is that he won't be participating. But knowing him, he might just reconsider. And also Chin Chin and Poh Seng who personally I think, they are ready for it. But I"ll let them decide. They know themselves best. I do not know who will be my training mates this time, but I'm keeping my fingers and toes cross that I will find some that will go the distance with me, if not accompany me.

And with the race committed, it's now goodbye again to all those delicious food. :(

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 21 November 2010
Time: 2am
Distance: 42.195KM (42.28KM by Nike+ SportBand)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ona C
By Frank

Since year 2007 when I first started running, the word "Quit" has never came into my mind during my runs whether a marathon distance or even an ultra. But yet this morning, for the first time, I thought of it...

3.30am as the time I woke up on Saturday. Didn't feel too good as stomach was bloated with wind. Took my very own sweet time preparing myself before leaving for Subang Skypark at 6am to catch my flight scheduled at 7.10am. Bump into Chris who is on the same flight and running the quarter marathon distance. Had a good catch up with him before boarding the plane. Surprisingly, we took off 5 minutes earlier! Hooray!

Upon touching down at Penang, it didn't take long for Chin Chin to pick me up and we headed straight away for breakfast at a famous prawn noodle stall. Lie Wei and YannKai was already there waiting. The noodles tasted pretty good I will say, though it was on the spicy side. From there, we then proceeded to Chin Chin's home to unload some stuff before heading for some traditional toast and steam bread. I visited this place before at Campbell Street which I really like their steam bread. However this time, we waited a long time to get our order taken and somehow, my bread came out to be "disfigured"! Taste wise was still awesome though!

Next stop, Eastin Hotel as Luc has already arrived. The rest left to do their stuff while I check out Queensbay Mall with Luc before having a simple lunch. Then it's back to the hotel to prepare our race items before getting some rest which technically I did not.

My race gear...

5.15pm, I reunited with Chin Chin and Lie Wei and we headed off for dinner with Keat Seong Jennifer, Siok Bee, Carmen, Chris and Yvonne. A simple dinner then it's back to the hotel for rest. I turned in at 8pm but only manage to do into dream land an hour later.

Race day...
Didn't have a good sleep and manage only 3 hours. Felt sluggish and yet the stomach issue still stands. Breakfast wasn't too ideal too. By 1am, we headed down to the lobby to meet up with others like Keat Seong, Jennifer, Poh Seng, Karen, Mohan and more. Took a slow walk to the start venue and just hung around there.

The start venue was rather a busy but boring place with the emcee repeating the same old message till the start. I was hoping the organisers will play some motivational music to brighten up the race atmosphere.

At 2am sharp, with the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng present, runners were set off. I started fine but upon arriving at about 3KM, I started feeling really tired. My stomach felt heavy and my thighs and calves are still feeling the tightness from last weekend's Powerman Malaysia 2010. It's going to be a real challenge to complete this race, I told myself.

Back at Eastin Hotel which is about the 5KM mark, I was really wasted. And after 44 months of running, the first time thinking to quit came. "Why am I doing this when I can be sleeping through the night in the hotel?". Just when all the negative thoughts were coming, Poh Seng ran beside me. He encouraged me not to quit and just carry on slowly aiming just to complete the run. His idea did not struck me instantly but I continued on with him slowly disappearing into the distance ahead with Keat Seong.

Soon enough, I found myself on the Penang Bridge. And the first sign of the sky opening up soon came with the presence of thunder and lightning. The weather forecast did forecast a wet morning though.

Kept running till the u-turn point at the end of the bridge. I wanted to take my first stop at the 20KM mark but was shattered when I saw the u-turn point to be only just 16KM. I though it was 18KM as stated on the race information booklet? However, upon completing the u-turn, another distance marker appeared this time showing 20KM instead. I was confused!

This is also where Karen passed me. I tried to stick with her but slowly for sure, I was loosing out. Then the sky finally open up, big time indeed. Heavy rain and the droplets were huge. And to my suprise, Loke came beside me when I though he was already far ahead. As the droplets were huge, we ran beside the wall hoping it will shield us.

Then at about 21KM or so, came the defining moment. The rain help freshen me up and I was ready to pounce. And with the really wet conditions when other shoes began to feel heavy and squashy, my K-Swiss began to shine. I navigated through the runners like a possesed one and managed to catch up with Karen. She followed me closely and I welcomed her company. But my pace reduced again after 24KM. Probably just an instant boost from the rain.

Managed to find ice cubes with the medics at the bridge's mid span distance and use it to ice my thighs. Rain was slowing down but the roads was still very wet. With the bridge conquered, it's now the mentally challenging Jelutong expressway. At about 28KM or so, I spotted Jennifer walking. Pulled over beside her to find out that she is facing chest discomfort. Knew how that felt for I had experienced it before. And looking at how strong Karen was running, I guess the better option here was to keep Jennifer company.

Whenever Jennifer is ready to run, I did too. And she was leading it. We used signage and markers like street lamps to indicate where to walk and restart our runs, something which I use during my ultra runs too. We stopped at most medic stations to get our legs ices. I even stuffed ice cubes into my calf sleeves.

With each other's company, we soon arrived at the u-turn point at 33KM. One final long stretch back to the the finish line. Time wasn't the factor anymore for I just want to complete it. Though stomach isn't really well, I was hungry and looking forward to breakfast.

Meters and kilometers, it got closer. We are still walking and running till the final kilometer. We ran, looking forward to the finish although with ease as legs were giving way. Don't want to end our run in "style" and we just hobbled till we see the finish gantry. Good to see friends like Yim and Paul cheering by the side as we both completed our run in 05:06:28.

Collected our finisher's medal and shirt and then reuniting with our friends. I went to Poh Seng immediately to thank him for his encouragement. Karen was also there and she ran a superb first marathon in just under 5 hours. WELL DONE!

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Some quick photographing session and we then limped back to the hotel to get ourselves clean up before heading for breakfast. Luc ran around a 3:20 despite being unwell too. After breakfast, I rested in the hotel room. Luc left at about 10am while myself 11.45am for the airport where I hung around with Shine, Keat Seong and Jennifer before finally heading home on a 1.50pm flight.

All in all, despited not a personal worst, it's by far most my worst marathon experience. The condition I was in made it really difficult to run. Even experience runners falter at times like this and had to rely on others to see me through. At the end of the day, I'm just glad I still remain marathon "Did Not Finish" free!

Acknowledgements...
- Luc, for paying for the hotel room using his corporate account.
- Poh Seng, for encouraging me not to quit but yet to run slowly aiming just to complete the run.
- Karen, for the pacing together and spurring me up. And a HUGE CONGRATZ on completing her maiden marathon strongly and in style!
- Jennifer, for the pacing together.
- Chin Chin and Lie Wei for bringing me around during my short stay.
- And to many others I met during this trip and along the race, THANK YOU!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Powerman Malaysia 2010...

Event: Powerman Malaysia 2010
Venue: Seri Manjung, Perak
Date: 14 November 2010
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 11KM run, 64KM bike, 10KM run
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Light Race
Bike: Ceepo Katana
By Frank

My main race for year 2010 but one to be forgotten. :(

Travelled up to Seri Manjung late Saturday noon at 4pm with Chin Chin in my car. Poh Seng who is driving his own had Debbie with him. Journey started smoothly till we hit the mid of the trunk road when it started to rain. The traffic there was also on the heavy side due to a few lorries. To add matters worst, I was in need of the washroom! After about 3 hours driving, we made it safely and proceeded immediately to Leadview Hotel. Met up with my roommate Yip and unloaded some stuff before heading out for dinner with Chin Chin's Penang friends. Dinner was really good and I'm sure Chin Chin enjoyed hers as well as she really wallop it.

Back at the hotel, after unloading all the stuff and preparing my race gear, it was off to bed after cleaning myself up.

Race day...
I woke up really early at 3am due to coldness. Was trembling even with my blanket on. A quick check out the window revealed a wet morning. Kind of surprise here and I started hoping that the rain will stop in time, especially during the biking leg later.

Gobbled down my breakfast, cleaned myself up and by 6am, I'm all ready with Yip. Proceeded to the lobby as we wanted to avoid the bike traffic at the lift. The rain has lighten to a drizzle and both of us made our way to the race site hoping to be able to check our bikes in early. Sadly, that was not the case and we hung around the area chatting with friends.

At close to 7am, I started queuing up to get myself int the transition area. Checked in my bike and prepared all necessary stuff. While doing so, my friendly rival, Andrew hop by. A few friendly taunts here and there with a photo taken together, and we are off for warm up.

With my friendly rival, Andrew before the start...

At the race start, I had Poh Seng with me. 7.30am and we are off. Had a little difficulty heading out of the start area but soon spotted Lynn and Pat. Wish them luck and I broke free. Poh Seng followed me closely. Kept reminding myself to control my pace as I did not want to repeat the same mistake last year. 55 minutes for the first run is the time I'm looking for. Just about 3KM into the run, Poh Seng was already off on his own. Tempted to follow, but I did not. I stood with my own strategy.

At one point, the locals were barbecuing chicken and the smell was really "bad" (aromatic) for the duathles. Hahaha... Kept running, completing the first loop and soon re-entering the race site again for my bike transition. Leg was still fine, completing my 11KM in 00:51:39! That's more than 3 minutes faster than I wanted too but still slower than last year. I will take it.

Bike transition was a mess. Everything went on well except my bike shoes. The double strap plus 1 lock took me some time to put them on. I had to stop twice while pushing my bike out due to the shoe loosening. Sigh... Took a cup of water, clip on and I'm off. Spinning on low gear first to get my legs moving and once out on the main straight road, it was game on.

Down I went on the aerobar, and slowly switching to high gear, I went for speed. The aero helmet helped a lot here when I managed to reach speed of 41.2KM/h (the only time I checked my speedometer). The wetness on the road was fine as it has started to dry up but sadly to say, the road condition was bumpy due to cracks. And at a certain point, I had to battle head and side wind. I was swaying left to right and it was really scary considering the speed I was going.

First bridge, second bridge and then disaster struck at the third. While climbing the long steep Raja Permaisuri Bainun Bridge, I stood to climb. Was really surprised Andrew managed to catch up with me here. The climb was bad but when I got to the top, it was speed again going there. However, I guess damage was done as just slightly ahead, my left calf gave way. Going at high speed on the fast lane and then slowing down was really dangerous and it took me some time for clear road to pull over to the side. Yes, I was forced to stop as left calf cramped up. Really really early still in the race and I was wasted about 3 to 4 minutes here.

Back on the bike, the leg wasn't itself anymore. Twitching all over my left calf sending signals that it may give way again. I can't push anymore and I know my Class A race was over. It was all about nursing it and to complete the race. I lowered my gear and just pedalled. The aero helmet did not help anymore and I just concentrated on the road ahead.

Completed the first loop in 01:03:31 and I'm off again for the second. Average speed has dropped to 29KM/h and dropping even further. More and more cyclist overtook me including one on a Ceepo Viper! Just before the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Bridge, Sunny caught up with me and kept motivating me. I swear that she is such a good cyclist! I'm glad to have her company here. We switch places a few times as I played around with my gears. Zooming ahead and then slowing back down. Soon, Raymond too caught up and the 3 of us pedalled together back to the transition area for our 2nd run.

Disaster struck again as I had problems getting my bike on to my rack due to the athlete beside my rack sitting on it. I told him about it but he was simply taking his own sweet time putting his running shoes on. Luckily the other athlete on the rack beside was not back yet, and I quickly do what I can first as I did not want to stop too long. Left calf was already signalling me and I quickly slip into my running shoes, removing all the bike essentials from my back pocket. Then I screamed to that guy again who is still putting on his shoe when I'm already ready. He now noticed me now and apologised. I shifted my bike into the correct position and off I went running.

Emma was at the side of the exit area cheering and she tip me not to stop running. I have no plans on stopping either as I know it will be disastrous should I do that. "Small strides, small strides", I told myself. The weather was hot now. I was already grinding my teeth as I run as it was plain horrible. Legs were really tight and even my right quads is showing signs. Entering the side of the race site, I told the marshall to splash water on me which he did. It was really refreshing as it was cold. Surprisingly, he apologised but I gestured to him that it was a job well done. My shoe was all wet here but I had confident in the moisture management system.

Just after completing the first loop, Chin Chin passed me. She was in great shape and I took the opportunity to follow her. About 4KM to go. "You hang on there legs" I told myself. At the last kilometer, I spotted Pat and gave her a thumbs up before I went for it. I was really glad to see the finish gantry and just made my way happily through it completing my second Powerman with a time of 04:08:21, a new personal best.

Chin Chin followed closely behind and I took an opportunity to have a photo taken with her at the finishing area, congratulating all our friends before heading straight for the fruit stall to replenish my sugar level. Did not want the same thing to happen last year when I went fuzzy. A few more photos taken with friends and I waited for a while at the finishing area to wait for a friend. But I was forced to leave as I knew Yip was waiting for me back at the room. I forgot the drop the keys in at the lobby.

Chin Chin and Poh Seng who both did really really well. Maybe it was the black in them...

With super supportive Emma (noticed some of her gear) :) ...

With June Yew, an uprising star in the triathlon scene...

Showered, packed up and went for lunch before making our way back to KL at about 4pm. Overall, a very simple race trip. As for the race itself, though a personal best, I was left utterly disappointed with it. However, things like these do happen I will take it and learn from this experience. What may have cause it, I'm not sure. But one thing for sure, it's the same muscle that gave way during last month's TNF 2010. Could that be the cause?

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Acknowledgements...
- My sponsors K-Swiss, BV Sport and Key Power International (Ceepo) for the gears provided for this race.
- Chin Chin for keeping me entertained during the long drive to Seri Manjung and congratulations for completing in the top 10 with a very good time.
- Poh Seng for the convoy and company together, plus congratulations on an amazing result.
- Yip for being room mates again.
- Sunny and Raymond for the morale support given during the race.
- Tony for making the arrangements for accommodation.
- Emma for the cheers and support.
- Andrew on the friendly rivalry. And a HUGE congratulations on a HUGE improvement!
- And to others not mentioned above, you know who you are. THANK YOU!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Du"ing It Right...

By Frank

With the Powerman Malaysia 2010 barely a week away, I should be into tapering mode. However, how do I taper if I have not train well. Sigh... But still, it will remain my main race of the year, but should I fail to hit my target, so be it. There's always another Powerman.

Only done 3 brick sessions, 1 main and 2 minis. Compared to last year, although the "jelly leg syndrome" is still there, I guess it's much more manageable now. If the weather permits tomorrow evening, probably I will do 1 last mini brick session. Longest run was done the past Friday with my TNF 2010 team mate, Jamie revisiting the Newton 25KM route. We extended our run to 28KM visiting an unexplored territory for me, hills, hills and more hills. Though it was a killer run, I managed to complete it fruitfully while testing my new race shoe for the upcoming race.

To my race gear now, as mentioned above, I received a new race shoe for this race from my sponsors. The K-Swiss Blade-Light Race coupled with race apparels. The apparels which are for running which will be used in my next marathon, but in this Powerman, I will race in the tri-suit given earlier ago. As for my bike, the Ceepo Katana is now race ready as described by Daniel from Specialized Malaysia. It was fine tuned and cleaned up by the boys there and now looks spanking sparkling clean! The one thing I worry, puncture. I now have a phobia after suffering it twice and not knowing how to change it. The boys at Specialized Malaysia did gave me some tutorial on changing but I guess I will need to perform some hands on one of this days before the race.

And in this year's race, an old friendly rivalry will be reignited. My battle with Andrew Chan! Hahaha... Andrew who is a stronger cyclist pass me last year but I made my move on him on the run, thus finishing just barely ahead of him. This year, Andrew if you reading this, let's see what you have up your sleeve! *wink*

Collected my race kit yesterday at the collection centre. I was there to exhibit my products with dad and Jamie helping me out. Had a really good time meeting all the athletes. And besides, Melody and her people from Quick Release really know how to treat us well. I had a good time chatting with her during dinner not only on the race but on other matters too. She's really an amazing dedicated person.

But anyway, my diet has to be clean for the next 6 days. Diet has always played an important role in my race result. And let's hope that it will go well this time too. Before signing off, here's wishing all Powerman duathletes, happy tapering! Oh and ya, although I did Powerman Malaysia last year, but how do I get to Seri Manjung again? 0_o"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Road To Powerman 2010...

By Frank

I made my duathlon debut at Powerman Malaysia 2009 and instantly was hooked on to it. However, last year I took it as part of experience and also for training for my Macau Marathon 2009 which was my main race last year. This year though, as some will have knew, the Powerman Malaysia 2010 will be my main race, my class A+ race!

Planning for this big race came as early as after completing Powerman last year. The bike which I rode last year did not satisfy my hunger for comfort and speed and thus, I went straight to the drawing block in search of a new bike. That resulted with the BH G5, a bike that I was really happy with. However, things came to halt later when work commitments took most of my time away, even till now.

Training regime was really in a mess but with some races and friends to train with, I managed to build my fitness and maintain it. But I know that it won't help as I need strength too. I have been building calf strength whenever I have the free time as it's an important muscle, plus the workout is really simple. And with a treadmill in my premise, I'm able to train my runs in a very controlled environment.

As for the bike which will be my weakest link, sadly to say I have not done much of it. But then, came a boost when I was sponsored a tri-bike which really made a difference. I am more comfortable in an aero position compared to the handle bar or drop bar of the road bike. Call me weird, but that's the way I am. Managed to test it out at the Port Dickson Triathlon 2010 which I must say the bike was awesome. Sadly to say, I suffered a puncture and that was the end of it. And right now, I have this phobia of tyre puncture, mainly because of my incapability of changing the tube. I got to learn this soon!

Only 2 simulation was done, the latest being yesterday. I'm pretty happy with the outcome though I can still feel the "jelly leg syndrome" on the second run. Last year at Powerman Malaysia 2009, I cramped pretty badly at the second run and at the finish line. I hope with my revised strategy this year, I'm able to cope with it. And not only that, the super hot weather will play a part. Last year, I was pretty dehydrated that I was seeing stars at the end of my race. Keat Seong assisted me last year, but he will be absent this year. I wonder who will assist me this time round should the same thing happens again. Hmmm...

As for my race gear, it's all ready. Received my latest race gear for this race from my sponsors a couple of weeks ago and was really impressed with it. I do hope it will give me the results on race day.

This year's turnout will be great. Most of my friends will be there and I'm really happy that Lynn and Chin Chin made their jump from sprint to the full distance this year. Am going to miss Keat Seong and Jennifer though. So with exactly 2 weeks to go, let me see which area can I touch up so that I can "du" it right.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Am Who I Am...

By Frank

October is cancer month. Although being a cancer survivor for the past 19 years, I just found out about this via Facebook when my friend Denis Oakley posted this on his Facebook status. It reads, "October is cancer month. In memory of every cancer patient, family member and friend who has lost their battle with cancer and in honor of those who continue to conquer it! Put this up for 1 hour if you love someone who has or had cancer. Many won't copy and paste, I did. Will you?"

Let's light the luminara lantern for the fight against the Big C...

With no hesitation, I copied and pasted on my status too hoping others will follow. Perhaps it didn't get notice immediately, but it slowly got momentum in the afternoon and by evening, I can see lots of my friends posting it on their status. Way to go!

Besides that, I even receive some messages especially from my high school mates that knew what I had gone through as a 12 year old kid. I was really suprised by this as I though I have lost contact with them, except for some close ones who are among my Facebook contacts.

Being diagnosed by Rhabdomyosarcoma amd going under the knife for the first time at the age of 12, things were looking fuzzy for the kid in me that time. Though I know what was going on, I wasn't prepare for what I was going to go through. The war for the next 3 years, life has been painful and horrible. Not only physically tormenting, it was an emotionally hurting one too. I was looked from a different point of view by many others for I do look "different". And things did not settle down for the next 10 years for subsequent checkups needs to be done for a fear of relapse. But I survived it.

Surviving it is one story. Living through it, is another. Life has change for me ever since then. I'm no longer the same person before being diagnosed. I may be 31 years old this year but the body seems to feel older and weaker. Some friends see me as a mentally strong person after having gone through this, but I know I'm not. I'm just wearing a mask. I may have once won a championship, ran several marathons and ultra marathons, but to be honest, I'm just a nobody. I don't feel great at all!

Cancer has changed my life tremendously and I'm not liking it. For the past 19 years, I have been living in the shadows of myself. I may have escape hell, but I'm living in a nightmare of my own now. I dislike my life and for what I have become today. Though I do feel proud of my own achievements but sometimes looking back, I wish I had more. I wish I was living a normal person. Today, I live the life as a cancer survivor bearing the scars from the war which I triumph. Whether I like it or not, for what I became today and how I felt all these while, I am certainly who I am today. Nothing can be change...

That's me...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mizuno Wave Run 2010...

Event: Mizuno Wave Run 2010
Venue: Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang
Date: 17 October 2010
Time: 7.25am
Distance: 10KM
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ona
By Frank

I did not sign up for this event. However, I was tempted to run it when Michelle and Raymond told me to tag along with them during our duathlon brick session yesterday. Since missing Nike's KL City Run last weekend due to fatigue, and after some hesitation, I finally agreed. Besides, some good news from Michelle is that Lynn has an extra bib from a friend who decided not to run. That will make me a legal runner! Thanks Lynn and your friend.

Woke up feeling really sluggish due to insufficient sleep from the night before. Right knee was also feeling weird from the knock I had from the careless fall yesterday. Besides, tummy was feeling "fiery" from the effect of tom yam at yesterday's night farewell dinner for my cousin, Diana who is leaving for Melbourne in about an hour's time at the time I'm typing this. Good luck Diana! Since I'm joining this race as part of my training for my upcoming Powerman 2010, I decided to run at a steady pace of nothing faster than 6 minutes per kilometer or slower than 6 minutes half per kilometer. And only to push at the last kilometer. Pretty simple and similar training runs I have during regular days.

Went to Raymond's house at 6am to meet up with him and Michelle as we are car pooling together to the venue. Thanks Raymond! Always nice to travel to race site with fellow running friends.

Arrived early at the race site, and secured an illegal parking lot. Most cars were parked illegally as there is just insufficient parking area at the venue. Anyway, did our necessities and proceeded to the start to look for Lynn which we had trouble finding. Took a while just before the women's race was flagged off at 7.15am that Michelle managed to find her and pass the bib to me. Phew...

The men's event is to be started 10 minutes later and I had time to bump around with Lawrence, Uncle Yee Choi and Kwan Weng. Once the race started, I found myself sandwiched at the rear pack and facing difficulty maneuvering through the other runners. The path was really narrow and the first climb which appear really soon didn't make things easier.

The climb was long and pretty steep at certain areas, but those who did last weekend's TNF 2010 will find it nothing compared to those they experienced. However, the run was nice as it takes runners into the surrounding and within the area of the university. Running path remains narrow and I had to run on the grass at certain point just to maintain my planned pace. It was like about 4KM later that the road widen and some other runners slowed down. Managed to break free here and started to make lost ground, but most important, my pace began to remain constant here.

There are a lot of climbs in this race route. I attack most the climbs using fast and short strides and it does the trick. Getting over with it fast and still feeling good at the top. As for down hills, I played around with my stride and gait hoping to find a solution to my weak point here. I have never like running down hill but I must do something to make sure I won't injure myself in the future.

I skipped the refreshment station but stop for a drink at the second at around 7KM I think. The final stretch to the finishing is a long steep climb. However similar to the earlier climb, it's nothing compared to those at TNF 2010 and I managed it pretty well. At the top of the climb, I saw the race finish site and began to hasten up.

It's the final kilometer and I push here, to finish a race strong. Towards the last bend which I nearly out run the running line cause of the sharp turn, Lynn called me out. Thanks Lynn. And from there, it's all the way to the finish line though I reduced myself to my normal pace just before crossing it, just to make sure my heart rate drops back normally. I completed this race in 1 hour on the dot, 01:00:00.

Continued running for a while as part of my warm down before proceeding to collect the goodies bag, rehydrate myself and to meet up with Michelle and Raymond. Hung out for a while, meeting up with friends before adjourning for breakfast.

All in all, a productive training run for me. No regrets taking up Lynn's friend bib to run this and also thanks to Michelle and Raymond for the brainwashing. I did have fun!

* I've heard the passing of a runner at approximately 3KM into the race. May he Rest In Peace and condolences to his family and loved ones.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Terry Fox Run KL 2010 Roadshow & T-shirt Distribution...

"We are marking the 30th Anniversary of the Terry Fox Run this year on November 7th at Tasik Titiwangsa, a milestone unimaginable without the support of so many people, there is so much to be done yet we must always celebrate our victories - of which there have been many."

This year, Runnerz Circle is proud to be associated with the Terry Fox Run KL 2010. In leading up the actual event day, together with the organisers, a roadshow on the fight against cancer and about Terry Fox and also t-shirt distribution will be held at our Runnerz Circle premises. The following are the details:

Date: 25 - 29 October 2010
Time: 11.30am - 5.00pm

Venue: Runnerz Circle
Address: 12-1, Street Wing, Sunsuria Avenue, Persiaran Mahogani, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Contact: +603-61426787 / +6012-3959598
Facebook: Runnerz Circle
E-mail: info@runnerzcircle.com
GPS coordinates: 3°9'16"N 101°35'23"E
Map: http://runnerzcircle.com/webshaper/pcm/pictures/Map.gif

Terry Fox Run KL 2010 t-shirt at RM25 each...

A little something on the Terry Fox Run KL 2010
On the Road of Hope for cancer research Terry Fox knew personally, the importance of the need for cancer research. At the age of 18, he was told that his right leg had to be amputated above the knee as a result of bone cancer. During this crucial period, Terry saw the intense pain and despair of other cancer victims and was deeply moved. In order to raise funds for cancer research, he decided to run across Canada asking for donations. This became "The Marathon Of Hope". Terry Fox died before he could complete his crusade, but his legacy is carried in the hearts of all who participate or donate to the Terry Fox Run each year around the world!

Since it began in 1983, the Terry Fox Run has become the largest, single-day, fund-raising event for cancer research. Here in KL, the organisers aim to continue the quest to keep Terry's dream alive. This year, with the support of donors and participants, we hope to raise both funds and awareness for cancer research here in Kuala Lumpur. The beneficiary in previous years and this year as well is the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF). You too, can take up the quest so that Terry's dream of finding a cure for cancer can become a reality.

Event date: 7 November 2010, Sunday
Venue: Tasik Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur
Time: 9.00am

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The North Face 100 Singapore 2010...

Event: The North Face 100 Singapore 2010
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 9 October 2010
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 100KM Duo - 50KM each runner for a team of 2 (50.7KM by Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Salomon XT Hawk 2
By Frank

My toughest running event to date, and I experienced it first hand with my team-mate Jamie and a whole bunch of Malaysian friends. Experience running like no other, The North Face 100 Singapore 2010, an extreme running event on trail!

9 October 2010. Pre race day...
Morning started extremely early for me. Had only 4 hours of sleep and soon I find myself sitting in McDonald's at Subang Skypark Airport having my breakfast at 6.15am. Jamie soon arrived and with company around, time flies. However, our flight got delayed and we had another hour to spent. While spending it on the couch, we bump into a familiar face, Lynn's brother Glenn who is making his way to Koh Samui.

Our flight to Singapore...

At 10am, we left on board Fireflyz and soon arrived at Changi Budget Terminal slightly more than hour later. Made our way to Marina Square to collect our race pack. However, we got lost due to the word Marina as we opt to travel by train to Marina Bay instead. There, we had to walk at least a couple of kilometers to reach our destination. Though a long walk, both myself and Jamie did have a good time snapping photos at the recently open Sands (hotel, casino and shopping gallery). Soon, we arrived and met up with Matthew from BV Sport. Got our race pack, had our lunch and off we went to Matthew's office to try on our sponsored BV Sport Booster suits. We also met up with Karim before Matthew sent us to our hotel at Balestier Road.

Sands by Marina Bay...

Managed to get ourselves check-in in a small but yet comfy room. Just after checking in, both of us were already packing for our check-out the next morning. Hahaha... Packed up our race necessity and dump other items into our bag. At 6pm, Justin arrived at our hotel doors and we went to United Square for dinner at Pastamania. It's been a while since I seen Justin and it was great to once again catch up with him. He's currently recovering from a leg injury and surgery but it looks he's making great progress recovering. Am sure he will bounce back soon. With dinner done, we paid a visit to Velocity at Novena to check out some sport gears and to buy ourselves water and breakfast for the next big day. Then, it's back to the hotel for some final preparation before going to bed at close to 10pm.

Team Runnerz Circle race apparels. Thank you BV Sport...

"Ticket" to the jungle...

9 October 2010, Race day...
Despite having my alarm go off at 3.15am, I only woke up at 4am. Was kind of sluggish but eventually managed to climb out of bed to prepare all the necessities. The first time I'm sharing the room with Jamie, I hope I didn't disturb him with my "waking up early habit". At 5.30am, we were ready. Checked out of the hotel and travelled by taxi to MacRitchie Reservoir. Quickly enough, we soon bump into our Malaysian friends. All look so excited and we managed a few crazy and happy shots together before proceeding to check ourselves into the starting pent, of course having weight our hydration back pack. Mine weight in at 2.75KG! MY GOD!

Team Runnerz Circle...

Part of the Malaysia contingent...

Runners getting their hydration pack weight...

With Walter from Outdoor Venture...

At 7.00am sharp, we were flagged off. Was with Jamie, Yim and Haza that time and we wish each of us the best before I broke free. Then it's with Jamie, Poh Seng and Chin Chin on the road before hitting the MacRitchie trail. Familiar ground for me for the first 4KM before hitting the unknown. My pace was good and I managed to maintain my heart rate at about 75%.

Jamie in action...

I arrived at the 10KM mark in 01:06:58. Pretty healthy pace I would say but I'm feeling the strain on my right tiny toe already. It's starting to swell from the trail pounding and I was on 2 pairs of socks. Arriving at 15KM mark, I had to take off the first socks and immediately, I felt the relief.

Trust me, this is just a small hill...

We even had to tackle this...

Out of MacRitchie trail and into some neighbourhood and then to Mandai, things started to go down for me. I had to fight dizziness and my guess was my sugar level is dipping. At 18KM mark where the huge refreshment station was, I gambled and took down a banana with lots of isotonic drinks. Was hoping my tummy won't have any negative effect on it. Walked and jogged a little as I left the station but I wasn't myself. Shortly in front, Chin Chin and Poh Seng caught up with me. They stopped and accompanied me but I felt guilty about it. I restarted my run albeit the slow pace but at least that kept the 3 of us going.

Slowly, I was getting myself back. I took a GU Roctane gel at the 25KM mark where the "unrunnable route" was hoping to get the sugar level back up to a healthy level and also to slow down the lactic acid buildup. But soon after the climb, another nightmare for me. Tarmac and concrete. Hardly any trail and I had problems running it with my trail shoe. Chin Chin and Poh Seng who both are on running shoes, have their advantage here but we waited for each other. Let's call ourselves the 100KM Trio, I told myself.

The "unrunnable route"...

My strength is with climbs and I attacked most of the climbs. Chin Chin and Poh Seng coupled with the running shoes are stronger with flats here and also downhills. With this, we made up with each other. At 28KM, I knew it was over for me. At this point, I just want to complete the race injury free and to concentrate on next month's Powerman 2010. Bumped into Walter of Outdoor Venture here and tried to pull him along but he was just too tired.

Back at the refreshment station earlier, this time at 32KM mark, I took a long rest with Chin Chin, Poh Seng and Walter. I even called Matthew to joke with him that I was getting burnt under the hot sun. Glad that I'm still able to to that!

Restarted and immediately got hit by side stitch due to too much of isotonic drinks. Darn! Tried to shake it off by mixing walking and jogging hoping to keep in touch with both my friends. I believe they slowed down for me. Feeling guilty again, I hasten up and was lucky my side stitch went away pretty quickly.

Back at Bukit Timah, there was a part where I followed the runner ahead. Instead of running the trail above, he opt for the below causing most runners following him including the 3 of us to climb up a pretty small and steep hill. Myself and Poh Seng cramped here! I had to paused halfway through the climb as my left shin was cramping like there was a mouse in it. ARGHH!!! Had to bear with it for a while before getting my leg back.

Hardly can run due to the loose and sharp rocks. Foot bed was already hurting like mad and I swear that the 3 of us is going to blow anytime soon. Just keep going and we were looking forward to the 38KM mark where refreshment station were. But it appeared later than expected and the marshall told us another 14KM to go. He must be kidding and we were sure he is wrong cause the return route is slightly different from the one where we came from. Stayed positive and resume our run.

Soon, we are back onto MacRitchie Trail. We are on our way home! Tried to run as much as we can despite the rocky conditions and was looking forward to the trail's exit which will mark 1KM to go the end. However, it took ages to appear. At 47KM, I wanted to refuel so I started digging into my backpack for my energy gel only to get my right arm cramped up. Weird place to have a cramp and even Poh Seng was amused. He helped me straighten it before we continued on. Finally oh finally, we saw the light at the end of the jungle. I hasten up, armed myself with my camera hoping to get some good shots of my 2 friends as they run towards the end.

Chin Chin and Poh Seng at the final 1KM...

After 50.7KM of trail running (30KM together with Chin Chin and Poh Seng), the 100KM Trio completed our race in 07:42:11. However, it wasn't over for me. I did not cross the finish line and a few eyes were on me. Instead, I turned my back on it, and walked back for 200M before waiting at the side for my team-mate, Jamie. A familiar face, Yim soon came into the picture. With his help, I roughly have an idea where Jamie was. While waiting, Raymond, Michelle, Shih Ming and Saya came by. Michelle asked me to cross the finish line first but I refused. Time was still available and this is a team game for me. I wanted to cross it with my team-mate despite not having run it together. I waited on. After about 29 minutes, Jamie finally arrived as we both ran together with our arms held together, crossing the finishing line officially at 08:11:05. We have done it! And congratulation to Jamie for his first ever ultra-marathon, one that he had to choose this tough one. Hahaha...

Just about another 200M to go...

After all the running, most of us managed to regroup though there were still a few of us running. Though worried about them, we are all still being positive. With a plane to catch at 6.50pm, myself with Jamie and Poh Seng quickly showered up at the shower facilities provided before saying goodbye to others. Tired, burnt but not as sore as I would expect to be, I treated myself to a huge Mega Mac burger from McDonald's at the budget terminal. And finally at 9pm, we were back at our beloved country. I fetched both Jamie and Poh Seng to Sunway Pyramid before I made myself home for a well deserved rest. Despite after more than 6 hours after the race, certain parts of my body like my shin and toes are still cramping up even in my sleep. Argh... But I guess this is common for this is certainly the toughest race for me to date. A more than 10 hours at this year's Sundown Ultra Marathon was indeed a blessing in disguise. If I had run a sub 10 hours, I would have asked for trouble. If you asked me now if I would do it again next year, I guess most of you would have know the answer despite not having me answering it here. :D

We did it...

Front view of the finisher medal...

Rear view of the finisher medal...

Acknowledgements
- BV Sport, for sponsoring our race suits. It really works!
- K-Swiss for allowing me to wear another brand of shoes for this race.
- Jamie, my team-mate at Team Runnerz Cricle for everything since the first day when we decided to team up for this event. Enjoyed it to the max!
- Chin Chin and Poh Seng of Team Tri-Ultra, for the training and good time together throughout the final 30KM in unexplored territories.
- Kash and Rais for managing our luggage before, during and after the race.
- Yim, Ian, Syah, Nik, Alexis, Haza, Pui San and a whole bunch of Malaysians participating in this race for the company did brought lots of memories to be treasure together.
- Yee Hua and Ben, for the advised on what to expect in the race, and not forgetting on the hamburger joke.
- And to everyone else from friends, photographers, volunteers and more who played a part in this adventure, THANK YOU! You know who you are.