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!

- 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.