Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year That Was 2011...

By Frank

Another year is coming to a close. It was like I just step into the year 2011, right now I'm saying goodbye to it. A year that was filled with work a plenty, meeting new friends and colleagues, a closure of a chapter and also the opening of a new one. Running was extremely minimal this year, but a few achievements was achieved and all I have to say is that I'm grateful that I'm still able to enter this entry here.

The most obvious turning point of my life in 2011 that affected me most will be the closure of the Runnerz Circle physical store. It was not an easy decision to end something I created from scratch but when something is beginning to go wrong, it's better to end it before further damage is done. In the 1 year journey, I'm glad I have good people who have stood by me yet even till today, and I have absolutely no problems with mentioning their names here. In fact, I'm proud to have them as part of a team. Jamie, Yip, Eugene, Raymond and Michelle, I sincerely THANK all of you for the assistance giving in believing in the principle that I've always believe and stood on.

A new chapter continued on. As Runnerz Circle ended its run, a new company was established with the company that was supplying me the most brands back then. But never did I though that I had this chance to actually establish Running Lab Malaysia with its founder from Singapore, Walter. Although it took a lot out of me even till today, I cherished the opportunity and trust given to me and will give everything to build the company and also to give back to the running community with the knowledge I've gained over the years. And it's also through here that I met new colleagues whom has been very helpful though we are separated apart by countries.

Though I may not be running fast or as long as before anymore in the year 2011, I'm glad that some friends especially Karen, Yim, Roy, Paul and Chee Kong are making really great progress themselves. Even without running, the knowledge towards the sports on how to listen to our body and being patience is something Khairul proudly showed out to the community. Chasing dreams is in everyone's mind, but these friends has shown to many out there, that it can be done in a fun way without risking much in life. And also, running isn't a sport about one self. It's about everyone around us, sharing the joy, pain and laughter together with every step taken.

As for running achievements, nothing much actually. I do not know my running distance for this year as my online training journal at Buckeye Outdoors suffered a server crash back in March 2011 hence not able to track back. However, despite doing more ultra marathons this year and completing the gruelling 100KM distance, most was done below par. However, most was done in a very "happy go lucky" manner in which most importantly is that I enjoyed them.

My ultimate 2012 race...

I hope to be running more in year 2012. I've managed to qualify for the ultimate human race, the Comrades Marathon 2012 "Down" race that is scheduled to be held on 3 June 2012. Qualification is through running a sub 5 hours marathon at an AIMS certified route and I did it the tough way at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011. The largest ultra marathon in the world and perhaps one of the most prestigious, training is something I really hope I will have time to do. Travelling halfway around the world, I will really want something out of it. And not forgetting that I will be running as part of charity to raise fund for cancer research, something I myself as a survivor have always wanted to do.

But anyhow, here's to a great 2012! And yes, I be racing again on New Year's day. What a start to it eh!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Want To Run The LA Marathon 2012?

Win a travel package to run in the 2012 Honda LA Marathon
Presented by K-Swiss

The LA Marathon contest is back! From 15 Dec '11 to 31 Jan '12, purchase any pair of K-Swiss shoes at Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall for the chance to win your place in the 2012 LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss!

We have 2 travel packages (worth SGD4,000 / RM10,000 each) up for grabs!

All you need to do is:
1. Take a photo with the K-Swiss logo at Running Lab and email the photo together with a short write-up in 50 words on why you deserve to win to

2. In your email, please include your Full Name, NRIC number, Contact Number, Address, Age and Gender.

3. We will upload each complete entry onto by the next working day.

4. Winner will be decided via number of “Likes” at the end of the campaign.

Terms and Conditions:
• The contest is open to citizens/permanent residents aged 18 and above.

• Employees of K-Swiss, Running Lab, Outdoor Venture, Sports Haven and their immediate family members are not entitled to enter the lucky draw.

• The contest period is from 15 December 2011 to 31 January 2012, both dates inclusive.

• 2 winners will be selected from the contest. Each prize includes round-trip plane tickets between Singapore and LA (if the winner is residing in Malaysia, he/she will have to take care of own transport to and from Singapore), accommodation, LA marathon entry and local transportation. Winners have to take care of their own passport/VISA expenses. Prizes are not exchangeable for cash.

• Travelling period will be from 16th to 19th March 2012. The date of the LA marathon race is on 18th March 2012.

• The winners agree to co-operate with and participate in any advertising or publicity activities of K-Swiss relating to the Draw and agrees that K-Swiss may publicise the name and/or photograph of each winner in such mode and manner as K-Swiss considers fit, without any payment or compensation thereof.

• The winners will have to submit a post-race report of 300-500 words including photographs for K-Swiss’ use.

• If any person is subsequently discovered to be not entitled or ineligible to participate in the Draw or ineligible to receive the prize, K-Swiss reserves the right to forfeit/reclaim the prize at its discretion and confer the same on any other person as may be selected by K-Swiss in any manner as K-Swiss deems fit. No person shall be entitled to any payment or compensation from K-Swiss should any prize be forfeited.

• K-Swiss reserves the right to change any terms and conditions without prior notice. Unless otherwise indicated by K-Swiss, all prizes are non-transferable and are not exchangeable for cash or for any other item.

• Winners will be announced (on and in-store) on 7th February 2012 and prizes must be claimed by 20th February 2012.

• All winners will be contacted by phone/email and must present their NRIC to claim their prizes.

• K-Swiss shall not be responsible for any consequences including but not limited to loss of life, injury to person and/or damage to property arising from or in connection with the Lucky Draw and/or redemption or use of the prizes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2011...

Event: MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2011
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 18 December 2011
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 10.2KM per loop(to run as many in 12 hours)
Shoe: Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
By Frank

Last running event of the year and it has always been in my to run list each year in 2009. A no frills, no pressure and get together event, MR25 is where down to earth ultra marathoners gather together to celebrate running, at least for us from Malaysia.

I woke up real early on Saturday as I wanted to meet up with Geraldine who surprisingly make a very secretive trip back from the land of kangaroos. She arrived with Jamie at Bukit Aman at about 6am and after catching up for just about 15 minutes or so, both of them started their run while I made my return home to pick up my luggage before rushing off to Bangsar to catch my coach at 7.30am. I was in the same bus with Yip, Jeff, Maui, Chin Ann and Poh Chye. Journey was good and I was glad I had my tablet to keep me company.

5 hours later, we arrived safely at Novena Square and proceeded straight to the food court for lunch. We were just really hungry. Had my usual Korean Bibimbap before hanging out in the mall for a while and also catching up with my Singaporean colleagues at Running Lab.

This time round, myself and Yip chose to stay at Value Hotel, Thomson rather than our usual Fragrance Hotel, Oasis as the room is a little bigger, cosier and comes equip with Wi-Fi. Not to mention about SGD$20 more too. After unpacking and a little rest, I made my way back to Novena Square to meet up with Carey and Karen for dinner at a Japanese restaurant at United Square. Great to catch up with them outside the store and office as friends. Dinner was all right, but dessert was the bomb. Had awesome ice cream at a small cozy shop call Udder just outside the mall. Had Pistachio and Dark Chocolate although I still find the latter lacking the bitterness. From there, its back to Running Lab, Novena Square where we hung around for a little while more before parting ways. Thanks Marketing Department for the company and dinner, and not forgetting the shoes. :D

Back at the hotel, a last check on the race gear before turning in at about 11pm. Sleep wasn't good as the room's sound proofing was just bad that I could hear the neighbours chatting hence causing me to wake up a little late. But luckily, all morning preparation went smoothly and by 6.30am, myself and Yip were at MacRitchie Reservoir already.

Got our race number and the usual greetings with fellow running friends followed by photo sessions. At 7am, the usual siren went off to signal the start. Off I went starting from the center pack this time round. No hurry this time round unlike last year where friends said I zoomed out like a rocket. As it rained yesterday, the trails were a little slippery and therefore, I had to be careful with my each steps. Mid way through MacRitchie Trail, the urge to pee came. I swore I have made my deposit before the event started and why is there extras? Sigh... Had to detour to the ranger post at about 4KM to relieve myself and this wasted time and momentum. Not to mention company too.

My first loop was done in just slightly more than an hour. Second loop was still ok but signs of leg soreness is starting show. At halfway through the third, I took my first walk. To make matters worst, I was hungry, really hungry. I was thinking of Udder ice cream which I had yesterday, and perhaps a Mos burger will drop down from the sky some where. With this, I decied to stop for lunch after completing my third. Was joined by Razif and we ate together. I opt for rice which was a bad choice as not only it taste bland, it over filled me. Too heavy sitting in my stomach, I wasn't able to run hence I decided to walk till I felt better. Razif managed to run though and it was back to square one for me, alone.

Exiting MacRitchie Trail for the fourth time, I decided to run a bit. Rain clouds were forming and I knew a repeat of last year will be in the books soon. "Just let me complete my 5 loops in dry conditions please", I told myself. But then, I spotted my ex-colleague Blue at the ranger post and we had about a 15 to 20 minutes chat. Was great to catch up with him, and also glad that he came as a photographer. Thanks Blue!

When I started my fifth loop, the weather was still fine. However, when I got to the ranger post, a sharp pain on my lower back caused me to stop. I leaned against a signage pole there to stretch myself hoping to relive the pain. It did, although it took some time, just enough time for the sky to open up just after the u-turn. And boy, it was really heavy at least for a short while. And during this short burst of rainfall, was where I caught Yim red "legged" at the golf course area running his sixth loop when he mentioned that 5 was enough! Hahaha... Good for him though as I can see he is really enjoying himself.

Back into MacRitchie Trail, it was tough. The muddy and slippery condition made my run hard but I was glad that I did not slip over any loose rocks which may have been submerged by the rain water. Exiting the trail, the sun greeted me and with 1KM to go, I was glad I made this far. 5 loops isn't something remarkable, but this is one run that is meant to be enjoyed which I did completing my 5 loops in 09:10:11. Even my finishing timing number is in sync. Hahaha...

Was reunited with Paul and Tey before I found out about Yip. He again purged and managed also only 5 loops. He looked tired but wasn't as bad as the past 2 years. After collecting my finisher's vest and also the very unique cloth certificate, I rested and refueled before returning to the hotel with Yip to clean up and rest. However, Yip this time round wasn't as badly "damaged" as we both proceeded for dinner after a short rest. We met up with Lynette at Balestier food court and had barbeque steamboat buffet which was just nice after a tough run. I'm sure Yip had a wonderful meal too as he walloped about 3 or 4 bowls of ice kacang. Hehe... But most importantly, we had a great time catching up with Lynette who always had been a great host when we visit Singapore. Thanks Lynette!

Back at the hotel after cleaning up ourselves, we didn't even want to spend too much time packing as we just doze off pretty instantly. Even the noisy neighbours didn't manage to disturb this time round.

Next morning was a wet one too. Our coach back was scheduled at 12.30pm and it was smooth one too despite the long rainy journey. And with this, comes a close to 2011 racing calender. It was a tough MR25 outing, perhaps the toughest of all 3 I've ran. Perhaps was due to my lack of running now, but as Paul mentioned, weird pain on various parts is showing among runners this time round and for me was my mysterious lower back pain I suffered during my fifth loop. But you know me. Don't think too much about it and perhaps it will just go away. Till MR25 the next year!

Friday, December 02, 2011

The End Of An Era...

By Frank

Time certainly flies and it is now 2 years since I ran my marathon personal best at the Macau Marathon 2009. And according to the Boston Marathon qualifying standards, a personal best will only last for 2 years. And with my "expiry" date just around the corner, looking back at fond memories of Macau will be a good idea.

Back then while preparing for the Macau Marathon 2009, I have set my sights that it will be the marathon that I will give my all sacrificing everything that may come in my way. "A sub 4 hour is a must!", I told myself. I trained hard and smart and live a dull lifestyle. "Why dull?", you ask me. I changed my lifestyle for a period of 6 months staying away from delicious but yet unhealthy food, sacrificing my time with friends by going to bed early in order to wake up early the next morning to clock the distance and doing nothing but to train. I clocked an average of 25KM per day and at one point even managed to hit 300KM in a span of just one week.

Macau 2009 (photo credit to Lynn)...

The trip to Macau with my travel mates of Lynn, Chin Chin, Shih Ming, Saya, Shine, Victor, Raymond Hee, Keat Seong and Jennifer was a memorable one too. The nervous moment for me only came in the morning of the race day where I stood aside from everyone to calm my nerves. I wanted to be alone for a moment before the race start for I do not know what may happen to me. And when the race started, I never looked back and went for it. I ran with everything I could and finally did it though I miss my target timing by around 5 minutes due to a toilet stop. It was a painful run and in the end after crossing the finish line, I almost blacked out with a very painful pair of legs. I was cold and I just laid on the stadium track alone till Keat Seong came to my aid.

A painful personal best (photo credit to Jennifer Ng)...

And today, looking back at it and seeing many friends participating in this year's edition certainly bring back fond memories of it, and in the mean time being envious of them. I have not run a good marathon timing since then. I though my body deserve a break after that but the unfortunate happen when I fell from my bike a month after, injuring myself. And since recovering, my focus was on the ultra distance, something I truly enjoy till now.

I don't think I can hack away my marathon personal best and it will be this to stay till I check-out from this world. It's not easy to run a sub 4 hour marathon and with many ultra distance events I want and favour to do, running the marathon has become something secondary for me. I still do enjoy it, but running the ultra brings out a different something out from me.

Come this 4 December 2011, to my friends like Yim, Ben and Yee Hua who will be running this year's edition, do run well for it's a fast course. Besides, with nothing much to see over the 2 loops, I'm sure a fast time will be in the pocket considering the weather is just almost perfect. Therefore, if you guys are able to read this before the run, do say "HI" for me to both the MGM lions. :)

If you guys are wondering what is my personal best timing, it's 03:40:38 hours clocked at the Macau Marathon 2009, and this personal best timing will expire this 4 December 2011. An end of an era for me. But perhaps a start of something new...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nike We Run KL 10K 2011...

Event: Nike We Run KL 10K 2011
Venue: Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 27 November 2011
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 10KM (10.05KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
By Frank

The fourth edition of Nike's 10KM run in this region previously known as the Human Race and KL City Run. It was the second edition at Singapore where my 10KM personal best was achieved. I decided that this will be my final race using my beloved K-Swiss K-Ruuz and I thought of giving it a "grand" send off. My favourite racing flat to date, it will retire from the race scene after this event though will still be using for short distance interval training. Not only it has almost reach its "end of life", the successor is coming to me soon. Hehehe... Therefore, it will be great if I can remember it with a personal best out of it.

I *heart* my K-Ruuz. Thanks for the services (photo taken after the race)...

One wrong move I did a day before the run was that I lost my resistance to subdue myself from having frozen yoghurt. The famous but now I felt over-rated Royal Red Velvet from Tutti Frutti has finally appeared at the mall I'm working at hence I took the chance. Therefore, it caused major bowel movement on race morning that I had to hit the potty pot 4 times! The fourth was particular the worst as I was lined up in a queue of 6 person. The AGONY! Jeff whom I met at the "deposit area" was a little luckier than me. He only deposited 3 times. :p

Tummy was experiencing a tidal wave after all the depositing. Didn't feel good but I was still positive about the race until I made my way to the VIP area. They refused my entry though I was registered as one stating that I did not have a VIP wrist band. I didn't know about this and hence asked the girl in charge to check my name on the name list that was sitting right in front of her. She refused and I was really sore about it! What's so hard to actually flip through a couple pieces of paper to check for my name. I'm sure my name is there as CG Lim (event organiser) whom I met during the race pack collection even knew I'm registered under VIP. "Wait till I find Wong (Nike contact person)", I told myself but sadly I failed to locate him. I met Pueh Tian instead and had a short chat before heading out to Jalan Parlimen where the start is.

Without the VIP access, I can't be line up in front like how I did in my first and second edition of the Human Race. Instead, I was cramped up at three quarter from the front. There goes my personal best. I was with Boon Yeong while waiting for the start and had a lengthy chat before the race was officially started at 7am sharp. Took me about 10 minutes just to cross the starting line and that wasn't even the start of my race yet. Major obstruction from the huge number of runners along the 2 lanes road, I couldn't run straight. Had to manoeuvre myself around and sometimes even running outside the dedicated running lane.

The first couple of kilometers took runners along Jalan Damansara before hitting KL Sentral and then Brickfields. Was nice to actually run here and the first 2 water stations with entertainment like music and drummers appeared along the first 5KM with plenty of plain water and isotonic drinks served which I only took to wet my mouth. Didn't want to risk tummy upset by letting them into my tummy. Mobile toilets were also deployed but sadly even 5 cubicles can't meet the demand to "let go" by the runners. The queue was massive!

Before heading to the next 5KM, I better mentioned that I actually decided to forego trying to run a new personal best. It was basically impossible with the number of runners around me. Therefore, I just though of doing some interval training where I run at a faster pace when I find a clear line, and then recovering when I hit the human wall. I think I did pretty well with this suggestion of mine.

Before entering the 5KM mark where the old train station was, I bump into Hafeez and chatted for a while. Then on Jalan Kinabalu, the running lane shrunk to just 1. I had to run on the pavement to overtake and soon saw a runner in white vest while others are in a red shirt. It was Mohan and I purposely called out "BANDIT" to him. Hahaha... We chatted for a while with regards to or future ultra marathons before I zoomed off to the usual Bank Negara route.

3KM uphill was the task to complete the race and slowly, we entered the final climb along the Mahameru Highway, which at the turning into Jalan Parlimen will be the final attack. From there, I went for it and finally crossed the finish line at where I started from with a time of 00:54:52.

Despite 7 minutes plus off from my personal best, I was really happy with it. It's good to be back in the sub 1 hour time frame after all the ultra distance training.

Back the race village, I was rewarded with refreshments almost instantly and collected a rather unique finisher's gift, a thumb drive in a shape of a shoe. I soon spotted Wong and he gave me a VIP wrist band which is a little too late now. However, I've gained access to the VIP area after the showing my wrist band to the same girl who refused my entry earlier. Met Pueh Tian again and was reluctant to dig into the food served as was afraid my weak tummy will give way again. But finally, I still did though had to choose wisely this time.

Had to rush off after satisfying my hunger for food but soon bump into my good friend Yim and chatted for a while before I bump into Lawrence and Carol along the way back to the car later. Overall, it was a well organised event. The atmosphere was really pumped up with the upbeat choice of songs played. I even enjoyed the route which took runners around KL city on foot which most of the time we have to do it in our vehicles. The only downside was I'm sore about the whole VIP thingy which actually wrecked a potential new personal best. But still I have to thank Wong for the complimentary entry to this race. Till next year...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

En Route Pietermaritzburg...

By Frank

A relief indeed! After crossing the finish line at the recent Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) 2011, I was just so worried that I can't make it to Comrades Marathon 2012. It was such a close shave. 2 minutes slower and I'm done for, burning off more than half a grand Malaysian Ringgit worth of race participation fees.

PBIM 2011, my ticket to Comrades Marathon 2012...

But as of earlier today, I submitted my PBIM 2011 results which was released yesterday to the Comrades event organiser and within an hour plus, they replied, "Race number 57056. I have updated your entry". A sense of relief and happiness, I know I am now a confirmed qualified entry into the race next year. And upon checking up on the system, my joy was doubled. :D

57056 is confirmed...

And as expected, I was seeded H, the last of the last and therefore will be placed in the last start wave also widely known as the "Kandang" in the Malay language. Kind of sad that I have to start at the back, but at this point, I can't asked for more. Chee Kong who will be my host for this event who will also run it too, will be starting at wave D, much ahead of me.

Anyhow, this will be major step. Next will be finalising the charity fund raising for cancer research. Till then, let's do the African dance!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 20 November 2011
Time: 2.00am
Distance: 42.195KM (43.57KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light
By Frank

The task of qualifying for the "oldest" and "biggest" falls to Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011, my one and only chance. An AIMS certified route is needed and I will need to run a sub 5 hour marathon get entry. However, I was aiming for a 10 minute buffer just for "insurance" purpose. Another aim was that I do not intend to stop running along the route except for hydration or toilet needs. An inspiration taken from the Relay Of Life, the run must continue on to signify the fight against cancer is forever ongoing. This I had in mind along my run.

The journey up to Penang was a smooth one. Andy picked me up slightly after 8am and with no where to eat around the Tropicana City Mal, we decided to detour along the way to Bidor for the famous noodle shop before continuing on. At about 12.30pm, we arrived at Queensbay Mall and after picking up Andy's race pack, we rendezvous with other running friends like Jamie, Jeff, Elaine, Alex, Dannie and Carrie for some grocery shopping before adjourning to Equatorial Hotel. Took a while to check-in due to the long queue but was glad the room was just so nice and comfy. Just renovated and even the smell is still there.

Prepare our race gear, rested for a while before heading out to the nearby Super Tanker food court for an early dinner where I finally found the fusion apom pancake which I lost touch of it many years ago. Was glad, was glad that I found it by chance.

Called for an early night and decided to wake up at 11pm with about just 3 hours to sleep. But I do feel good after waking up to a hot cup of white coffee and bowl of hot noodles recommended by Jamie. By 1am, both myself and Andy made our way to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus which I also met Azam too. We both hitch the special van catering only to marathon runners while Andy had to hitch the next. The shuttle van stopped us near Gold Coast apartment due to the blockade but it was good for us as we had the opportunity to do a light jo warming ourselves up to the starting point which was about 1KM away.

At 2am sharp, the marathon was flag off by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and off I went. Immediately the tightness on both my quads for pushing through by bike leg at last week's Powerman Malaysia 2011 showed. I hope to shake it off throughout the run bt that did not happen. Not even the Coca-Cola I had help. In fact, it only help making me more alert. Haha...

Just after the u-turn at about 3KM or so, Yim passed me after a short chat. He was on a fast pace and I had no intention to follow. I want to do this alone, my way, my pace and seriously I don't think my legs can take much punishment this time with lack of training. A few other running friends came along side me but I have to apologise for not being able to chat much as I was too into the run and trying to conserve my energy and concentration. First 10KM was in 58 minutes which was fine but as tightness on my quads was getting bad, my time began to slow too.

Jeff passed me just before the climb up the bridge. But fast forward to the return trip, I caught up to Jeff again on the climb up the bridge. We were joined by the half marathoners here but was glad that no interference from them. But I had the shock when an ex-pat lady came along side me and said "OOoohh K-Swiss" in response to the gear I was wearing. The"OOoohh" part really freak me out!

Nearing the end of the bridge, I caught both Jamie and Jeff walking enjoying the sea breeze which was actually cooling. Jamie came along and we ran side by side for a moment before starting to exchange places. On the Jelutong Expressway, I was struggling with my quads and in addition will be my right ankle which surprisingly is giving out a weird signal. With another 12KM to go, it isn't helping much but I just knew that I have to push through the pain barrier.

Fast forward to the u-turn point at 34KM, I pop my last GU Energy Gel and tried to go for it. However, it was Jamie that went ahead and he disappeared in the distance. Jeff's vest has also came off too and he ran even faster! Crazy fellows!

My timing doesn't look good and I had to visit the loo which I had at 37KM. As the mobile toilet was pitch black inside, I decided to do it behind, fertilising the grass. Hope no one caught a photo of a "K-Swiss athlete flowering the grass". 4KM to go, Karen came along side me and we ran together which she mentioned to finish the run together. She even nearly knock into a ridiculous marshall on a bicycle who I can only describe BLIND! We were both running our lines dressed in bright colours and yet he kept pedalling towards us and finally making a decisive u-turn just in front of Karen. DUH!

At 3KM to go, my time was seriously not looking good and Karen asked me to go for it which I did. A wake up call from her, I push hard only cause my left hip flexor to give way forcing me to slow down again. I grit my teeth and tried to force myself through and at the final stretch, I look at my watch and I saw my sub 5 in bag and slowed for Karen not too far behind and decided to slow down for her. She had the final kick at the last 500M which I couldn't keep up. My heart rate was peaking at 94% and she was on her top gear. But eventually she slowed down too and we both cross the finish line together with my time of 04:57:23. A quick glance at the official timer on the gantry showed a 04:58:xx. I did it and qualified, but in the toughest and most scariest way and I have Karen to THANK for.

Front view of finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Back at the hotel, I quickly called my contact person from the cancer research society to deliver the good news. With green light awarded, I can now disclose a little on the "oldest" and "biggest" event I will be participating next year. It will be the Comrades Marathon 2012 on 3 June 2012. The "down" edition racing 89KM from Pietermaritzburg to Durban at South Africa. And I will be running it as part of a charity fund raising campaign for a certain cancer research society which I won't be revealing till the green light is awarded due to some finalisation that has yet to be done. But it will happen. For now, I'm just glad I made the qualification and all is in good shape now.

On route to Comrades Marathon 2012...

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Small Step for A Bigger Tomorrow...

By Frank

This Sunday, 2am at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011, I will make my attempt to run a sub 5 hours marathon to qualify for something "old" and big" next year. I won't disclose the description just yet and all I can say now is that it is for a good cause, a step forward in the fight against cancer.

A sub 5 hour marathon. "You say it's easy for me"? Well, frankly speaking if it was 2 years back, then probably it shouldn't be much of a problem. I've been concentrating on ultra running this year and though I've gained in endurance, I've slowed in speed. I've built slow twitch muscles around me and I lost the fast ones. And with my busy work schedule, it doesn't make things easier. My bike mechanical fault at last Sunday's Powerman Malaysia 2011 which lead to my quads screaming for 40KM or so, I was on compression tights these pass few days to ease the soreness. Not to mentioned that I been paying a lot of attention to my nutrition hoping that it will help my system get the energy back and repair work done.

The weather may affect my run too. I'm not a rain person and with last year's experience, I been paying attention to the weather forecast for this year. And it may rain again and it isn't a good sign for me. My selection of gear will play a critical part in hoping for a comfy and "mishap" free run.

I did thought of engaging friends like Jamie and Yim to assist me in the run, at least to motivate and pull me along. But after thinking twice or thrice, I guess I rather not. If I were to do this, I rather do it alone. It's after all, a cancer survivor's run towards the fight against it.

Race registration paid for, accommodation and transportation all planned for, charity fund raising mechanics proposed, all I'm lacking now is the qualification for "that" next year's event. And I only have this one single shot at it at the Penang Bridge as it is the only AIMS certified route that I will be participating before the qualification submission is close for. Therefore, as a runner and a cancer survivor, it will be an important one for me, for the cancer patients and survivors out there as my fighting journey towards cancer continues will depend on this.

A little note on my journey up to the Pearl of the Orient. Am taking a lift from Andy who will be picking me up from Tropicana City Mall on this Saturday morning, and then heading for breakfast before commencing on our journey. Will be putting up at Equatorial Hotel which is really far, at least 4KM from the race site at QueensBay Mall. Heading towards there will not be a problem since shuttle bus services will be provided. It's the heading back part after a tiring run. Anyway, we will leaving on Sunday after the run which is a pretty rush trip. But anyhow, I still have to thank Andy for allowing me to follow him up. At least my journey won't be so boring. :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Band Of Brothers...

By Frank

Although K-Swiss entered the running market pretty late and I only started wearing them just April last year, it quickly became both my feet and legs best friend. Probably the most comfortable shoe I've worn for my past 4.5 years plus of running, it quickly became my shoe of choice too for both my training and races.

As of today, I personally own 6 pairs of K-Swiss running shoes that has gone through thick and thin with me along my running journey. Presenting the band of brothers, platoon K-Swiss in the order I got them:

1) K-Swiss K-Ona C - 84KM Sundown Ultra Marathon 2010 personal best and conquered a thunderstorm Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010.

2) K-Swiss K-Ona - A couple of full marathons and today still remain my training and walking shoe.

3) K-Swiss K-Ruuz - A couple of full and half marathons. My favourite racing flats to date.

4) K-Swiss Blade-Light Race - 2 Powerman Malaysia with it, clocking my personal best in 2010's edition. Very close choice between the K-Swiss K-Ruuz.

5) K-Swiss Blade-Light Run - A full marathon and the 50KM Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011 followed by lots and lots of long training runs with it. My current favourite training shoe.

6) K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light - My century distance shoe. Conquered 100KM Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011 with it.

My K-Swiss platoon...

As you can see from the above, all my K-Swiss shoes went through much with me in selected duties. It's hard to define which is the best for me as there are all just equally good or perhaps too close to choose from as each suits different duties. Take the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race for example. The velcro system allows fast transition time during my Powerman and the sock like seamless feeling is just amazing. For the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light, the hydrophobic Ion-Masking coating allowed me to pour ice cold water on my shoe during my 100KM ultra marathon. And during 2010 edition of Penang Bridge International Marathon, when all other brands of shoes became soaking wet in rain water, my K-Swiss K-Ona C performed like no other thanks to the drainage ports and the Flow Cool System.

Each K-Swiss was designed with innovation in mind by runners and triathletes alike. They may still be young in the running market, but the design is back my experience and knowledge from one of the most demanding sports out there, the Ironman triathlon.

And with a bridge to conquer this weekend, which is a very important race for me too, which K-Swiss will I choose from? Will it be my beloved K-Swiss K-Ona C, or will the wet forecast weather the push me to the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light? Or perhaps something 1.5 that has yet to arrive? *hint hint* Decisions decisions... But one things for sure. I'm rocking Penang Bridge in a K-Swiss!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Powerman Malaysia 2011...

Event: Powerman Malaysia 2011
Venue: Seri Manjung, Perak
Date: 13 November 2011
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 11KM run, 64KM bike, 10KM run
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Light Race
Bike: Ceepo Katana
By Frank

Powerman Malaysia celebrated its 10th edition this time round and boy it was a tough one. With zero training and not a single simulation session, chasing the illusive sub 4 hour timing isn't on my to do list this time. Instead, I will be aiming to save my legs for next week's Penang Bridge International Marathon which will be my main race as I need result from there for something yet bigger.

I began my journey to the small town of Seri Manjung up north in the state of Perak on a late morning on Saturday. Had a slow drive and saw some fellow friends like Tony zoomed passed me on the highway. Upon arrival at the usual Lead View Hotel which Tony booked for us, I quickly joined him, Yip, Nik, Mahizzan, Adeline, Sue and Yusran for lunch before resting up back in the room with Yip

Soon, I realised a mechanical fault on my bike. My rear wheels isn't moving as the brake pad is stuck on the rim. I am pretty sure it was fine when I pushed it out of my house before loading into the car and can only suspect that it was "misaligned" during transportation. I panicked and asked Yip for help. He helped align it and the problem was solved but I was still worried. After all, I did not send my bike for service this time round and it was based on last year's setup.

Evening came and it was a nice dinner at Kampung Cina, this time joined by Shih Ming and Saya whom both I've not seen for a while. Had an enjoyable dinner catching up among ourselves and I'm pretty happy to say that I actually enjoyed the food too! Have to thank Tony for this for knowing the way to find good food. Back at the hotel, after some final preparations, it was then lights off at 10.30pm. However, I couldn't get a good sleep probably due to me worrying about my bike.

Race morning and the first thing I did upon waking up was to look out the window. "It's going to be a hot race", I told myself. While Yip was still asleep, I slowly prepared myself and soon we were both ready to leave. One last check on the bike was the rear wheel was still spinning normally. Let's hope it stays this way but I had my doubts.

We both left for the race site at 6.30am and quickly was greeted by friends including the first sneak preview of the weather ahead. Was surprised that my bike parking was just next to Yip and just opposite Yim. Yip and Yim, now that rhythms. Hehehe... Quick catch up with some friends and then performing the usual warm up and stretching, and it's out to the main road to gather for the start. The race environment was great and Adele filled it up with her beautiful voice and my focus is on the run. Bike part, I can worry later.

The devil and the sword...

7.30am sharp, the individual full distance was flag off. I settled into my zone and just let others get on with their run. I didn't want to be distracted but soon I had my own problems upon hitting about 2KM. I was hungry and I can smell the usual dreaded barbecued chicken being sold by the roadside. I kept chewing on my GU Chomps and it did help with my hunger prank. Slightly more than an hour later, I completed 2 loops of the running course and off I went into transition for the bike.

Now here's the worrying part. How long will a problem free ride last? The condition of the road will be the huge deciding factor. I exited the transition area with Saya and pedalled together exchanging places at times. First 10KM of the ride was fine and I was cruising on a comfortable speed which I really enjoyed. The first and second bridge came and then the third dreaded one where we have pedal hard for the climb. I remembered clearly last year where I pedalled too hard up and ended up with a calf cramp and therefore this year, I took it lightly. However, as like last year, my front crank was stuck on the bigger side hence there was still some unwanted resistance.

Successfully conquered the bridge and carried on to the u-turn point where I rehydrated before continuing with the way back. Disaster struck at about 24KM. I struggled with my pedalling stroke and I knew I was in trouble. As I can't see my brake calliper as it was hidden below the bottom bracket, I can only try to listen for unwanted noises. And then, I heard it. Brake pad was rubbing the rim. To stop to try realign it risking cramps or to carry on, it was decision time and I soon chose one, which was the latter.

I was pedalling hard but I can't get the desired speed. My quads was screaming and I was getting burnt out there. I lost Saya after she gave me a smile as I lost my speed and I was on my own. "Push hard but nurse those legs" I told myself as there was still al long way to go. Let me get through this and I can slug it out on the run later. Mechanical failure is always the worrying part in multi sport events and this is my second experience with it. And from here on, I paid extra attention to nutrition as I know it's going to be tough on the body, especially the legs.

At the second bridge again, I forgot to stand up on the bike and was hit hard on the bridge's joint and I shouted "MY BUTT"! It was pretty painful but the main thing was no further fault on my bike. The third bridge climb this time was tough but Yusran was there to cheer us all with his everlasting cheeky jokes. If only he was still there on the return climb as I was just pedalling to survive the climb. Probably the slowest part of my entire ride. Upon conquering it, I got only about 13KM more to go and prayed hard it will be a problem free ride.

Meters and kilometres, I pedalled away and soon was greeted with the transition area after pedalling for almost 2.5 hours. At the transition area, Yip had already completed his race while I was just starting my second run. Off I went as I tried to my find my legs. One step at a time as it was just too sore. The first loop was about recovery and upon starting my second, Azuria offered me some Coca Cola which was a wake up call for me. I soon my found my legs a little and increased my pace a little. The caffeine effect to kick in and as I ran, I tried to cheer and pull other runners, a few I remembered was Jeya, Doris and Liew. At the final kilometre or so, a sense of relief and probably satisfaction too, as I knew myself that I overcame an unwanted obstacle and slug it out on my determination to complete my third and probably toughest Powerman in a time of 04:38:38.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Made my way into the race village again and caught up with some friends before rushing back to the hotel to clean up. Yip won third placing in our age group and he was still back for the prize presentation. I took my time to clean up and rested while waiting for him. Everyone perhaps has left the small town but the both of us took it slow and even had a late lunch before leaving at 4pm. A slow and lonely drive back but most importantly, I made it back safely.

Overall, I still enjoyed Powerman Malaysia this year despite zero training and worrying at potential mechanical fault. But the joy was actually to complete it with determination and injury free with no stops during the entire course of the race. I do hope Powerman Malaysia will continue its tradition annually to be held at the small town of Seri Manjung and live up to its trademark of being the hottest in the world. And with this, my focus will be on my next big one, the bridge!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PJ Half Marathon 2011...

Event: PJ Half Marathon 2011
Venue: Stadium Petaling Jaya, Petaling Jaya
Date: 30 October 2011
Time: 6.30am
Distance: 21KM (21.05KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
By Frank

Probably the oldest running event in the Klang Valley, the PJ Half Marathon made a return to the running scene this morning after a 3 years hiatus. I remembered clearly that in the year 2007, I ran together with Rashid and Ferdinand as part of the members of LYN Runners which today has been sabotaged. Anyway, was really looking forward to the run hoping a good run out of it (I even chose to run in one of my favourite racer), but sadly, it didn't went as planned.

The Ruuz is back in action...

Surprisingly, I slept pretty well last night. Preparation was swift but when I arrived to the race venue with an hour to spare, my tummy sent out a distress call. Time to hit the potty pot! After making my deposit, I met up with lots of friends like Raymond, Michelle, Shine and Yim which the 2 latter I spent some quality time with chatting until the gun went off out of a sudden signalling the start of the run.

I quickly settled into pace trying to make my way past other runners as I started way at the back. Just after 100M or so, Yim disappeared into the front. He was fast! Weather was kind of humid and by the time I hit Federal Highway, I was already experiencing problem with my vision as sweat is slowly stinging both my eyes. Where is the Halo headband when I need them?

About 3KM into the run, Rizal called out to me only to let me know that Jamie is slightly at the front. I gave chase and soon join him and Calvin. Making the turn at the LDP overhead bridge, I slowed down a little for about 1KM to recover myself before going for it again. Then it was on to the airport road and I was joined by Jamie again where we ran together till about 10KM near to where the entrance to the Subang highway interchange was.

Thing started to go awry for me here. Remember the 4 blisters I suffered at The North Face 100 Duo a couple of weeks ago? It actually didn't burst leaving loose skin on the affected area. The main bloody blister on my right big toe burst as I felt a warm sensation followed by pain. To make matters worst, another one above it and the other over my left feet too decided to join in the "fun". It affected the way I run and I had to shift to heel striking at times to avoid as much as possible the contact of the blistered area.

The airport road was long but I soon find myself just before Skypark where the u-turn was. Made my way back and along the way was joined by Paul Dimaandal and Karim. Grin my teeth as I continued on but just couldn't find the way to forget about the burning sensation. As I arrived at the exit of the Subang highway interchange, I tried to control the pain and shifted into gear as I know the finish is close. Then I entered the stadium and suddenly the memories of my Macau Marathon 2009 flash back into me. It really felt the same. I managed to find an extra gear out of me and managed to overtake a few runners leading up to the finish line with a time of 02:02:43.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Overall, pretty disappointed by my run but at least I did not end up at the medic tent like 4 years ago as I couldn't breathe properly. But still, I had fun meeting friends before, along and after the race. Cheering other runners at the entrance to the stadium was fun too while chatting with Jamie, Shine and Jeff. Anyhow, I'm now hoping that the PJ Half Marathon will be an annual event from now on.

* Also CONGRATULATIONS to Roy Yeow for running some marathon at New Zealand and achieving a 04:01:20. Very huge improvement since starting to pick up long distance running late last year. He already outran his trainer and therefore I think his trainer deserve a treat from him. *hint hint* :D

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Project Love Sneaker Malaysia...

Ever wonder how long will a pair of shoes takes to breaks down after having them laid in their final resting spot at a local landfill? The answer is an astonishing close to 1000 years as the EVA parts of the shoes are just that lasting! Sports companies being environmentally friendly now are trying their very best to create better shoes which are friendlier to mother nature while maintaining comfort and technology aspect for us runners to enjoy the sport we all love.

As much has been done, the amount of shoes that land up over at the landfill is still at a worrying state. Runners tend to change shoes very often not knowing that the shoes can actually still be worn, at least casually for walking. Hence with this, Running Lab has came up win an initiative to donate that runners "thought" has reached its end of life while at the same time rewarding them with something. These shoes will then be donated to the needy communities in helping them live a better and more comfortable life. Make someone's life difference today by donating a pair of your old reusable sneaker now at Running Lab Malaysia.

Project Love Sneaker - Running Lab Malaysia
An initiative by Running Lab's founder Walter Tan since 2008 in Singapore, this is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program in its 3rd year running, to collect shoes for the less fortunate who cannot afford to have proper shoes in their daily lives. In commemoration of Running Lab's fourth 4th branch in Kuala Lumpur, Project Love Sneaker will once again lead the way in providing the donated shoes to the Orang Asli/Indigenous Community of Malaysia at the end of this campaign.

"Regular runners are advised to replace their running shoes after clocking about 800KM mileage in order to prevent from running injuries. Most of the time, these shoes are still relatively good condition and it is too wasteful to dump them. Hence, instead of throwing them away, we want to provide an avenue for runners to give a second life to these used running shoes. The shoes can be donated to protect the feet and make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate people locally and abroad", said Karen Chua, Marketing Manager of Running Lab.

Terms and Conditions
Take a stroll to Running Lab at Tropicana City Mall and donate your pair of previously loved running shoes* and receive one RM100 cash voucher from Running Lab.

* Adult sizes in cleaned and reusable condition. We are looking for footwear that is in good condition that might be useful to someone who is less fortunate, including Running Shoes, Cross Trainers, Walking Shoes, Hiking Shoes and Trail Shoes.

Collection period: 09 Nov - 11 Dec 2011

Terms and Conditions of the RM100 shoe voucher are as follows:

1) This voucher is valid till 31 December 2011.
2) This voucher is for one time use only.
3) This voucher is valid for purchase(s) of regular priced running footwear, excluding purchase(s) from "ASICS".
4) This voucher cannot be combined.
5) This voucher is not exchangeable or redeemable for cash or credit.
6) This voucher is invalid if any of its part is found tampered with and/or in any way.
7) Running Lab should not responsible for any loss, damage or theft of this voucher.
8) This voucher cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions or discounts of Running Lab.
9) Terms and Condition are correct at time of printing, and Running Lab reserves the rights to amend the Terms and Conditions at any time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The TNF100 Drama...

By Frank

The North Face 100 Singapore is over. And apparently it didn't go as well as previous years. Frankly speaking after joining it for the first time last year, I do not deny that this year's standard took a dip. But on another side of me, my hats off to everyone who had worked behind the scene in making this inaugural event happened. I may sound bias as the title sponsors are actually my colleagues from Singapore. But trust me, I'm just speaking on how I felt. Take not they are title sponsors and not event organisers. However, I just want to state, that this is my very own personal opinion, my 2 cents worth for it.

The drama started a week before the actual race back at the race pack collection. What appears to be the usual 7.00am starting time for the 100KM duo has been move later to 8.00am and this came as a huge surprise to many participants especially for those catching a flight back home. 2 of my friends Karen and Yim were affected by this as they are going to run another marathon later in the evening. However, their situation was quickly resolved by the organisers. So what actually went wrong? It appears a certain gate at a certain stretch was not to be open before 8.00am by the Singapore Public Utility Board. The organisers had tried to appeal for it but sadly, it wasn't granted hence the last minute decision to change the starting time. Whose fault is this then? My take is, there is no one at fault. Everyone had tried their best to resolve it.

Next we have the race pack collection. Though the goodie bag this year has seen its quality being upgraded, there were problems with the event t-shirt sizes. I was lucky to receive mine but many others who indicated size M and above who collected later only received smaller sizes. This not only happen to TNF100 but also to many other events, some big ones like Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, Sundown Marathon and even our very own events here in Malaysia. Technically speaking, this problem should not happen since participants had already indicated their sizes during registration hence this will be purely the sponsors and organisers fault.

Then come race day. Everyone was excited. Despite the change of start time for the 100KM Duo, runners turn up full strength. The came the drama. Route signage that was put up a week before the event went missing or even misleading. This had caused runners including a few of my colleagues taking the wrong turn and some even ended up running more than the actual distance. Yeap, even my colleagues which are the title sponsor do not know the route themselves before hand. I was one of the victim, but thankfully I did not take a wrong turn. Just had to stop to wonder. What really happen, I do not know. But the things I know is that the signage will most likely be sabotage by humans whether passer-bys or even runners themselves or perhaps even monkeys. Yeap, you heard me right, monkeys. Even our own Singapore Blade Runner aka Shariff had caught an uncle trying to turn the signage to mislead runners 2 days before the event. Shame on you uncle! I myself even saw some empty poles which should be housing the signage. They were not there. Therefore, what really happen, I do not know. My understanding is that biker patrols were sent out to check on them a couple of hours before the race, and some of them even were patrolling during the course of the race. Perhaps marshals shall be stationed at critical junctions so this will be one matter organisers should look into for next year's edition.

Hydration during a hot and long race like this will be critical. Water and Milo were the only planned fluid for runners but upon request, isotonic were then included in. Despite all efforts, a few water stations ran out of water. I've seen the amount of water brought to each station but also witness the ugly side of us humans. Some runners took the whole 1.5L water or isotonic drinks to themselves and carried along with them only to leave it on the run way later, probably only a quarter consumed. Why can't they drink it on the spot before resuming their run. This is rather selfish considering they are other slower runners behind.

Knowing the hydration issue, the title sponsors then took matters to their own hand. Upon completing my run, I saw them communicating with water stations on the volume they are left with. I too then share some of my insights with them indicating which station is running low on it. This gave them an idea and they quickly mobilise themselves and sent it out on their own. This swift action of theirs deserves praises as a few title sponsors are participants of the race themselves and they do understand the needs of runners.

Yesterday, the results were released. Yes, it took a while and there were many errors to it. Some who finished were listed DNF, or have misleading time. I myself have a missing first check point. But do the title sponsors and event organisers deserve to be called names and vulgar words? Come on runners, where are your manners? This time round was a new event organiser and yes they may be inexperience but please just share your insights with them instead of using vulgarity. As long you yourself knows that you completed the race, no other means can deny it. Not even a finisher medal or t-shirt can justify your own satisfaction and glory.

Despite all the drama and problems to this year TNF100, I personally think that the title sponsors has given their all. How do I know it? Simple. It's because I witness it. Humans are prone to error and there are limits to our work force and will. I've seen and heard my colleagues working day and night to prepare for this race but yet in return, what they receive was not a very pleasant. Running events sometimes do not go accordingly but do give them a chance to rectify things. Many events started off as flop but greatly improved the following years. Of course they sometimes take another dip, but hey, look outside the box before condemning them down.

Once again, this is my personal take on TNF100 this year. You may agree or disagree with me but here's my hats off to the title sponsors, The North Face who happen to be also my colleagues down in Singapore. Kudos to you all if you are reading this. WT, HN, MP, DY, KC, CO, RC, YT, NT, JL, JP and may other volunteers (I just use your initials rather than your full name).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The North Face 100 Singapore 2011...

Event: The North Face 100 Singapore 2011
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 15 October 2011
Time: 8.00am
Distance: 50KM (50.2KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
By Frank

Can't imagine it has been a year since my first TNF100 race. I still remember when having dinner with Jamie and Justin last year, popping by BV Sport office to get our gears and a year later, I was with Jeff instead.

The race route this year...

Trip via the usual First Coach was the usual smooth journey. Arrived at about 1.45pm and went immediately to Marina Square to collect our race pack from The North Face store there. After a quick lunch which we were joined by 2 out of 3 of our Malaysian 100KM solo runners, Allan and Victor at my favourite Marina Square food court, we then adjourned to Fragrance Hotel, Oasis at Balestier Road to settle down while unpacking our stuff, not to mention preparing our race gear.

Team Running Lab Malaysia...

With nothing to do and it was still early about 5pm, we decided to go shopping for race essential. Upon doing so and with still available time and unsure if Dannie and Carrie were to join us for dinner, we gambled and proceeded to Fragrance Hotel, Rose to try meet them there after all calls to them failed. Surprisingly at 7.30pm, they really appeared! Haha... The 4 of us including Dannie's 100KM Duo team mate Wong then proceeded to have dinner at apparently a famous chicken rice place which I find pretty slacking. However, it was fully packed! Probably just the hype.

Back to the hotel and called it a night soon after cleaning ourselves up. Didn't have a good sleep as it was a little noisy outside. But was instantly up the next morning at 5am and the adventure begins.

Myself and Jeff all geared up...

After all the fiasco of runners complaining on the change of start time to 8am for the 100KM Duo category, I was delighted to see the number of runners turning up. The only thing was that there wasn't a little gathering among Malaysian runners like last year. The contingent this time was a little smaller. Upon completing my preparation, Jeff caught a glimpse of Shine completing his first 50KM loop. I chased him down to try snap a photo of him running but just can't do so. He was still fast and looking good. Caught up with him at his resting tent where he tries to rectify his blister problem. Allan too check in soon.

I caught a glimpse of Nic and Carey and off I went over to have a little "colleague reunion". Wearing last year's race gear, I checked into the starting area as the start time nears. At 8am, we the 100KM Duo runners were let off and I soon set into pace after waving to Nic and Carey. Like going to war!

With my colleagues Nic and Carey...

The starting field for the 100KM Duo...

I immediately settled into my heart rate zone. Yeap, I have planned to run within the zone of 75% to 84% from my maximum heart rate and have set my Polar RCX5 to give out a reminder should I hit 85% and above. As this is my first official start to my training for that something great next year, my aim is just to complete the run comfortably and within the cut-off time. And after all, it's my first time wearing Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport on trail so I needed to be careful too.

1KM on tarmac, I soon hit the MacRitchie trails. First step on it on the TrekSport and I was like "Hey, this isn't so bad after all". It was actually really nice and not as painful as I might have though so. The only thing was it was a little slippery at certain moist areas. I had to be careful not to end up like a young lass that trip over at about 3KM into my run.

7KM, I saw Shine taking a breather at the water station. Ask if he was all right and he said he was, asking me to go ahead first. Dannie and Wong soon arrived and I was surprised that Dannie mentioned that he wanted to call it a day. Myself and Wong motivated and pushed him and we ran together will about 13KM.

I continued on my own from there on, and occasionally other runners caught up. I took it slow descending certain areas as it was just too slippery for my TrekSport. Arriving at the second water station at 15KM, I nearly got a heart attack seeing Jeff came from behind. He should be way ahead by now. It seems that he took the wrong turn and ran extra. With a flight to catch at 4.30pm, it wasn't helping. Here also, I took off both side of my TrekSport and starting taping up hot spots near both my big toe areaa as it was becoming a little warm. Signals of blisters coming up.

With Syah just after the Mandai exit at 20KM...

Continued on into Zheng Hua Park and back into the trails, I soon arrived at Mandai, 20KM into the race and it was here I bump into my KLCC run leader, Syah. From here we ran together side by side and occasionally changing places a little to keep each other motivated. It was HOT as we run into Lorong Asrama and soon at 27KM, DE JAVU! It was Hill 265. Took a rest at the hut as water was servd. I took the chance to call a few of my friends and even being cheeky, I sent a SMS to Nic jokingly asking him to prepare ice cold dessert for me at the finish line later. Haha...

Syah and myself getting ready to tackle Hill 265...

A cheeky SMS to Nic. Hahaha...

When myself and Syah was ready to again, we attack the hill only to find myself stuck at halfway up on all 4! It was my TrekSport acting up again as I couldn't find traction. One wrong step and I will go tumbling down. But luckily I managed myself and I'm sure Syah had a good laugh from behind.

At about 30KM near the huge hut at the exit of this area, someone called out to me. It was Tekko and I'm glad I finally met him in person. He offered an orange ice bar which was just heavenly sent. Super duper nice as I think he must have made it from freshly squeezed oranges.

Back into Mandai trails, I soon find Syah stopping by the side to tape up his blistered toes. He offered me a preserved plum (assam boi) and it was a wake up call for me. It was really nice but as I was having a recovering blister under my tongue, it gave me the "SYIOKNESS". Haha... I continued without him and back into Zhenghua Park and soon the 35KM water station where an anonymous volunteer handed me a can of Coke. A can was probably too much but he just asked me to take it which I did with a lot of THANK YOU coming out from my mouth. I gulped the whole can down pretty instantly and off I went again burping a little along the way. BURP!

About 2KM ahead, I saw a fellow runner laying flat on the ground with his team mate and a volunteer with him. Offered him help but it was all already taken care of as medics were on the way. I hope he is fine.

I have something to confess at the final 10KM or so. I was holding on to the call of nature since about 8KM into the race earlier. The toilets that appeared on the map did not appear along the race course and I had to hold it. But as time goes by and with a can of Coke downed earlier, I can't take it anymore. Found a secluded area and "showered" the trees there. Sorry Lion City but hopefully some nice tree will pop out next year. :D

With about 8KM or so to go, I got a little lost at a junction and waited for other runners to arrive. A French name Vincent soon arrive but he himself was unsure. Later it was a Singaporean lass who guided our way. I soon found out that Vincent is actually from KL too and stays only at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. What a small world. We chatted briefly before I continued on before accidentally kicking a huge rock. My poor right tiny toe.

Seeing the entrance to MacRitchie Trails was a love and hate thing as this stretch marks the last stretch of trails before the finish. But it can also be mentally challenging as it can feel pretty long due to fatigue. I took it easy and soon enough, I saw the light at the end of it. I was 1KM from the finish line. Recompose myself and saviour all the moment and soon I saw it with others cheering from the side.

Enter the MacRitchie Trail...

Light at the end of the tunnel. Another 1KM to the finish...

With no team mate to wait upon this time round as I was the slower one, I finally completed my second TNF100 Duo with a time of 07:38:39. Boon Yeong was there as an official photographer and we exchanged some words before I proceeded to the rest area where I refuelled and caught up with Walter who was so busy himself organising hydration to be send to respective water stations.

My completion time...

While doing my post run recovery, I caught up with the rest of my colleagues like Huey Na, Marc, Carey, Yati, Nancy and Janet. I also went to look for my ice cold dessert from Nic. Hahaha... Soon, I was reunited with my Syah and Allen too who had completed his 100KM Solo in about 13 hours plus! Respect this guy!

Withnot much time to spare, together with Syah we had a slow walk to the locker area to have ourselves clean up as we are leaving back for home shortly. And this is where I first remove the taping on my toes and VIOLA, bloody blister on my right big toe. I was still able to run earlier as it did not burst but it didn't look pleasant though.

Some love after the gruesome 50KM...

After cleaning myself up, I went back to find my other fellow Malaysian runners and was delighted to see Razif, Ian, Dannie, Wong and even Shine completing their run. Walter was back and we also exchanged some ideas on the event and now I understood it more on what was the fiasco all about.

After hanging out with Carey and Yati for a while, at 6pm, I left the race site with Allen to Novena where my bus is scheduled to be at 7pm. It was a long trip back home alone and I was freezing in the bus. But it was a smooth trip and I found myself back home at 12.30pm. And with this, it was another TNF100 Duo completed.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

This is some statistics and findings from my run:
- I took 3 servings (4 per serving) of GU Chomps, 2 GU Roctane, 1 GU Energy Gel, 1 preserved plum, 500ML of half diluted Gatorade (from the start), 8 cups of 100Plus, 14 cups of plain water, an ice bar, a can of Coke and survived on 2 litres of water in my hydration back pack. Yeap, I did not refuel along the way and it only got depleted at the finish line.
- Suffered 2 blisters on each feet with one bloody version on my right big toe.
- Running on the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport on trails isn't as painful as many though will be. Legs was just as good as new upon writing this entry. However, it was slippery especially in moist surfaces.
- Ran within 75% to 84% from my maximum heart rate and a reminder beep from my Polar RCX5 should I hit 85% and above.
- Didn't experience any cramps though had ice cubes inserted into my calf sleeves twice to manage it.
- Although weather was really hot, I did not have temperature issues even though clad in black.

- Walter for sponsoring me as part of Team Running Lab Malaysia and Karen Chua for managing my registration.
- Jeff for being my team mate this year.
- Gary from Athlete's Circle for specially bringing in a Polar RCX5 G5 in advance for me.
- Syah whom I share some company with from 20KM till 30KM.
- Tekko for the heaven sent orange ice bar.
- The anonymous volunteer at 35KM for giving me a can of Coke.
- My team mate of last year, Jamie whom I know will have been again my team mate if work permits.
- Karen Loh, Yim and Paul for the comfort words and heads up a few days leading to the race.
- Mohan for offering a space in his car booth for my luggage although I didn't take up the offer.
- To all my colleagues whom I met and have played a part in this gruelling race and to all volunteers, a big THANKS to you all.
- And to those not mentioned, as usual you all know who you are. THANK YOU!