Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008...

Event: Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008
Venue: Esplanade Bridge, Singapore
Date: 31 August 2008
Time: 4.15pm
Distance: 10KM (10.09KM by Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Nike LunarTrainer+
By Frank
*Warning: Long report ahead*

30 August 2008. Pre-race day...
The much awaited day is finally here as I woke up early filled with excitement and anticipation as I get ready for my trip to Singapore for the Nike+ Human Race 10K, a running event where it unites the world in running together globally for the name of charity. 25 countries will be holding this meaningful event with Singapore being the only country in South East Asia to be selected. With my luggage double checked, I left home for KL Sentral to meet up with Pueh Tian to board the KLIA Ekspres for the airport. Arrived at KLIA in 28 minutes sharp and met up with Jamie who arrived as early as at 9.30am. Our flight, MH603 was scheduled to leave at 12pm. With 2 hours to spare, we had ourselves checked in before proceeding to chill out at McDonalds. But as the excitement builds up, time quickly passed and we soon met up with Niki (R.AGE, The Star) and Richard (TimeOut KL), both from the media team at the boarding gate.

It was rather narrow on board the Boeing 737 but luckily it was just short trip of just 45 minutes. But this short trip turned out to be one of my most “scariest” air flights ever. Due to bad weather halfway through the journey, the aircraft shook pretty badly and at one point, it even hit an air pocket. My stomach took a dive from it but I managed to stick to my composure as we landed safely at Singapore Changi Airport shortly. Although I enjoy flying, I guess I prefer to use the coach at times like these. Hehe…

It was my first time inside the passengers lounge at the Singapore Changi Airport and I must say I was really impressed. Clean, well organized and the people there served with a smile on their face. Immigration and customs clearing plus our luggage collection were all done in a breeze.

Gallery Hotel...

From here, we took a cab and proceeded to meet up with Alison from Nike Malaysia at Gallery Hotel located at Robertson Quay. Nice hotel and I really like the concept. Collected from Alison our race kits which she helped collect earlier and that saved us lots of precious times. Really appreciate it. Upon checking in, I was surprised that each of us was given a room each! WOW! We are all pampered by the generosity by Nike Malaysia. Deposited my luggage in my room which was number 731 and went straight for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Spoilt again with choices, I ordered cod fillet with something and something which turned out really good although it couldn’t fill my hungry stomach. Those who travel with me will know how much I can fill my stomach with. Anyway, lunch was really good and we all had a good time getting to know each other.

With the gang during lunch...

We parted our ways after lunch and together with Jamie and Pueh Tian, we went to Orchard Road. Upon arriving, we found the sky begin to open up with some light drizzle which later became a heavy downpour. And that was around 4pm and we got a little worried as the race was scheduled to be flag off at 4.15pm the next day. With no where to go, we hung around at Lucky Plaza and Paragon before making a dash across to HMV at The Heeren till about 8pm where the rain had stopped earlier. No damage for me but the other 2 guys shopped till they dropped for CDs and DVDs. We then made our way to Plaza Singapura for a simple but yet wonderful dinner where I ordered 2 portions of Singapore’s local delights.

With our stomach filled, we made our way back to the hotel. But that will be before stopping by at both Boat Quay and Clarke Quay for some photography session as the place was light up for the upcoming mid autumn festival. With that done, we each called it a day to have some much needed rest for the big day next.

Before turning in, I took the opportunity to check out my hotel room which I didn’t earlier. Armed with all necessities, 2 single beds and a large LCD screen (with 1 dead pixel), I was living like a royalty. With that done, while enjoying my green tea, it’s time to unpack and check out the goodies in the race kit which consists of a race tee with my bib number of 829620 printed on it. How cool is that! Oh and yeah. The bib number is actually a global running number. Then we have a water tumbler, a gym knapsack, Nike+ Human Race 10K mementos and race guide plus race necessities. All these items certainly come in handy and I just simple love them. With that, it’s light off!

A view of my room...

Contents of my race kit...

31 August 2008. Race day...
MERDEKA! Yes, Malaysia is celebrating its 51 independence but yet, I find myself in Singapore getting ready for the Nike+ Human Race 10K. Found myself awake at 6am after a wonderful rest. Upon cleaning up, it was time for breakfast at the hotel’s cafe. Local and American breakfast were served and though was simple, it was sufficient. A good start for a much awaited day. With plenty of time to spare, together with Jamie and Pueh Tian, we decided to pack up our race necessities and leave for the city for some sight seeing. And while doing so, we surveyed part of the race route along the Boat Quat and Clarke Quay area. At the same time taking some ridiculously funny and wacky photos.

Running the wrong direction thanks to the misleading markers...

We came, we ran and we even posed...

The gigantic stage...

Every now and then, we had our eyes on the sky as it threatened to open up with rain clouds seen since early morning. Fingers and toes were crossed. Soon, it was noon and we had an early lunch at Pastamania, Funan DigitaLife Mall. Talk about carbo loading. As we made ourselves around the mall, our Nike LunarTrainer+ was really an attention grabber. Even a kid noticed them telling her mummy that the 3 of us were in the same shoes!

As minutes tick away, it was time to visit the race village. Final preparations were being done to the village as we caught up with Siva who was part of Malaysian team behind the gigantic stage. Got ourselves geared up, shoes and ChampionChip checked and wrist tags were on. Red tag being for the first wave runners estimating a sub 50 minutes completion time and the pink tag for the access Nike partners lounge area. Caught up with Wong Li-Zren too while we were checking out the partner’s booth.

Synchronised running...

With Wong Li-Zren from Nike Malaysia...

Our eyes were still paying attention on the sky as it was still threatening to rain as we deposited our baggage. It was a simple and yet systematic process and there wasn’t any long queue. Probably the best baggage deposit I have ever experienced thus far. However, we weren’t as lucky with the media center as we failed to locate it after even asking the marshals around. With that, we made ourselves to the Esplanade area and hung area there till 3.45pm before we had a very light warm up.

20 minutes to go, we checked ourselves in at the reporting area along the Esplanade Bridge and met up with Boon Seng and David. Soon it was time and together with Pueh Tian, we made our way to the starting area and were placed at the front line only to be pushed to the second when the elites came in. I spotted Shaharudin, our Malaysia top marathon runner among the elites who was part of our Malaysian contingent too. However, we lost Jamie who was stuck at the back of the field. As we all waited for the moment of truth, I jump around a little to keep my heart rate up and also to keep my calf muscle warm as they will be used intensively later in the race. I handed my new Oakley Flak Jacket Livestrong edition shades its race debut and just hope that I will run comfortably in it. Shades down, and I’m ready to go.

With Boon Seng and David...

5 minutes to go, the emcees of Utt and Taya announced that a kid suffering from cancer will flag off the race together with a panda! Not a real panda though but the mascot for WWF. The huge crowd consisting of an estimated 11,000 runners applauded the kid as he was interviewed and that certainly lifted the crowd’s spirit as the Nike+ Human Race 10K was a charity running event after all. It did for me as after all, my pledge is with the Lance Armstrong Foundation and myself as a cancer survivor. And with 1 minute to go, the “red army” was ready as a countdown begins for Singapore, the fourth city in the world to be flag off.

4.15pm. Race time as the “red army” began its conquest! My ChampionChip went *BEEP* as I stepped on the mat and away I went leaving behind Pueh Tian who was still standing around taking photos. Haha… Knowing that the route at the second half of the race will be narrow and tough to run on, and coupled with my advantage of being a front row runner, I decided to take off from the start. No match for the elites though as they rocketed off. My first kilometer was faster than my usual although still comfortable. Boon Seng and David who started from the blue tag area even overtook me. But things took a turn when I threw the hammer away and went into my race pace after completing the first kilometer and eventually started overtaking others including my 2 friends as I made my way around the Marina area.

Away we went. Try spotting me on the left...

Shortly later, the first entertainment zone appeared and was playing some loud music. There were a total of 4 entertainment zones along the entire race course which I didn’t really took note off. I was concentrating on my every stride and didn’t have time to engage my ears for entertainment purposes. There were some discomforts along the way as sweat began to flow down into my eyes. I couldn’t wipe it away as my shades were blocking. Suffered the sting for a while before I began to keep wiping off the sweat from my forehead. A refreshment station came into the picture shortly but I skipped it. In fact, I skipped all 4 refreshment stations along the way. Although I believe I would not have any trouble grabbing a cup of refreshment from it as it was properly organised, I didn’t want to do so as it will only slow me down having to drink from the cup. Besides, I have already hydrated myself well enough before the race.

Making my way back into the city area, I could see the second and third wave runners running the opposite side making their way along the routes I ran earlier. It was a sight to behold as everyone was in red! Soon, I’m back at Esplanade Bridge and it should be the halfway point. I’m not looking at my Nike+ SportBand (part of my strategy in running my fastest pace) and just had to rely on the distance markers. As I entered the underpass of the Esplanade Bridge, I swore I smell durian! What a lovely smell, but where did it come from? I know Esplanade Theaters On The Bay was shaped like a durian but…

2 things happened as I made my way to the Cavenagh Bridge. The first being a runner who just cut in front of me without first looking to the back and that nearly caused me to run into him. It slowed my pace down and although I managed to regain it shortly, another runner stepped on my beloved Nike LunarTrainer+ from behind which again slowed me down. I was lucky the shoe did not come off but this is where I began to struggle as the sky started to open up and it drizzle. Although not heavy, it slowly made the surface wet and to make matters worst I was starting to run on tiles. It was really slippery and I had to slow down a little to avoid slipping as I was struggling for grip.

Soon, I entered the Boat Quay area and red bricks surfaces took over. Not as slippery as before but still I had to be careful as certain areas was still made of tiles. Besides, this is also where congestion is expected to happen as runners were taken through a narrow path alongside bars and restaurants. And unlike in Malaysia, weekenders who were around the area are there to cheer for the runners, something which was priceless. At the end of the Boat Quay area is where the Alkaff Bridge was. I made a u-turn here and entered Clarke Quay. It was even narrower here than before but I know that it was my last chance to push. And so did me as I began to empty my tank, although in a very cautious method. I began to navigate through other runners who had slowed down due to tiredness or the slippery surface.

As I near the last underpass, a marshal who was there to direct runners cheered us on. She told us to push for it’s the last 1KM to go. And as I emerged from the underpass, I knew the finish line was really near already as I had earlier checked the route out. Ran pass the Sir Stamford Raffle statue and it was a straight run along the routes of the Supreme Court. I could see the finish line ahead and with 300M or so to go, I slowed my pace down to enjoy the final moments of my race as I lifted my right arm up and pointed towards the sky inspired by Ryan Hall who did just that at last year’s Olympic Trials. As I near the finish line, I saw the clock attached on top the finish gantry and I knew at that time that I have successfully achieved my secondary target as I crossed the finish line in a new personal best of mine completing the race in 00:47:55. The only question now is the distance.

I made my way to the de-chipping area located within The Padang and exchanged my ChampionChip for the beautiful finisher’s bracelet, a really unique alternative to a medal. As I did my warm down and stretch, I realized that I was still fresh and my legs weren’t tired at all. I guess my preparation really paid off but probably it was also due to the second half of the race when I had to slow down to avoid slipping on the wet surfaces. I met up with Jamie soon and it was the moment of truth as I checked with his GPS sensor. It read 10.09KM! I did it, my first sub-50 minutes 10KM race! Was really delighted on my performance and although I know I could have been faster if the condition were right, that was something that I didn’t want to think about.

The finisher's bracelet...

As we both rested at the VIPs lounge, the rest of the guys soon joined in. Exchanged our race stories as we indulged ourselves in the delicious food prepared. There was even beer served but yours truly was the only one that skipped it. The music concert started shortly as we bumped into Shaharudin and found out that he completed the race in fifth position. WOW! And below is the ChampionChip timing of our Malaysian contingent. In brackets are our global positions versus an estimated 1 million runners worldwide.

Shaharudin Hashim – 00:35:44 (563)
Frank Chong – 00:47:55 (18694)
Jamie Pang – 00:51:06 (33326)
Niki Cheong – 00:58:19 (79565)
Richard Augustin – 01:13:40 (166975)
Lim Pueh Tian – 01:42:03 (216288) *detoured back to the hotel to grab his DSLR camera*

My race results...

The Malaysian contingent with Shaharudin second from left...

Made ourselves to the media center with the help from Niki. It was actually hidden within a building thus missing it before the race. As Niki was busy sending his write-up back to The Star, we were each busy collecting our media kit. The media kit, like our race kits were superb! Consisting of a press release kit with an attached CD, we were given a jacket too which retails at SGD112. I took China and it made me like a walking “ang pow”. Jamie took Japan which made him looked like a moving target while the rest took Mexico.

Contents of the media kit...

It was from the media center that we parted ways as I went to Robinsons at Raffles with Jamie for a short last minute shopping for his kids. As we made our way back to the hotel later, we passed by again The Padang and managed to catch a glimpse of the on-going concert. The music was loud and the 4 big screens and lightings made things really interesting. However, it was late and we decided to call it a day. Our dinner was just a simple kebab which we packed during our 2KM walk back. And after a good race, I was rewarded by a refreshing shower before I indulged myself with the kebab I bought earlier with a bar of dark chocolates and a cup of hot green tea. Heavenly!

1 September 2008. Post race day...
Although I had only 5 hours of sleep, I was feeling rather refresh. Probably still pretty high after yesterday’s achievement and the endorphins from the chocolates I had. With my luggage all packed up and ready to go, I left the room with a heavy heart and adjourned down for a quick breakfast before checking out. Alison had earlier booked us a shutter cab to bring us to the airport. And with that, it’s goodbye to Lion City as we flew back to KL at 9.55am on board an Airbus 320.

Thank You…
Before signing off this super long report, I would like to take this opportunity to congrats and thank Alison Lee, Wong Li- Zren, Siva, Nike Malaysia and the whole Nike Global team for a job well done at the Nike+ Human Race 10K and also everything else from apparels to travel expenses as I certainly race like a human and lived like a king. And not forgetting my travel and running mates too. It was great travelling with you guys and I really had a good time! It was a blast!

And with every great moment, comes an end to it and everything should be in our memories. I’m really proud to be part of a million runners running globally on 083108, in the name of charity. The Nike+ Human Race 10K certainly redefine running from another great perspective. And with that, comes to an end of this very first edition of the Nike+ Human Race 10K. Till the second coming…

An article from the Singapore Straits Times says it all...

To relive the experience, do check out entries from Jamie, Niki and Pueh Tian. And thanks to them for those great photos!

Do relive my preparations leading up to the race by hitting the links below.

- Racing The Human Way… (ready to race)
- Nike LunarTrainer+… (shoe of choice)
- Eating The Human Way… (diet plan)
- Training The Human Way… (training plan)
- Running On Marshmallows… (Nike LunarTrainer+ preview launch)
- Run A 10K Like No Other… (introduction to Nike+ Human Race 10K)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Racing The Human Way...

By Frank

28 days has passed since I first started my preparation for the Nike+ Human Race 10K and with just 2 days to go, what I can say now is that I’M READY! As the excitement builds up, there is no doubt a little pressure on me too, to deliver the “goods”. I’ll be flying down to Singapore tomorrow with my travel and running mates Jamie and Pueh Tian. And not forgetting those from Nike Malaysia and also those from the media crew. Therefore before leaving, here’s one last entry from me before the big race day.

2 days to go...

Feedback from my trainings and races the past 28 days has come up with positive results. Though the duration may sound short, through persistency coupled with training and eating smart, I would dare to say that my fitness level is back at full. The only scare I had was with my discomfort with my right piriformis muscle less than a couple of weeks back. Lighten my running and also through some rehab exercise, allowed me to tackle the problem.

Flight tickets....

Here’s a look on the running course. The race itself will commence on 31 August 2008 at 4.15pm, 15 minutes ahead of what was originally planned. Judging from the map given, it will take runners from the Esplanade Bridge through East Coast Park before entering the Central Business District. From here, runners will be taken around Boat Quay and Clarke Quay before heading towards the finish line at The Padang. Interesting route I would say as judging from it, as runners will run pass certain iconic places like the Merlion and Alkaff Bridge.

The race route...

And before signing off, here’s my race expectation. As mentioned previously, I would like to return with a personal best timing for a 10KM race. That will be my primary target. However, there will always be a secondary target which is to run a sub 50 minutes, something which I have never achieved before. Should I achieve my primary target, I will be very happy, but to achieve my secondary target will send me ecstatic. But should I failed, life goes on and there will be chances ahead. But this is what I promise, as I will run my life out like no other 10KM races before. Till I return, do enjoy the following official trailer of what to expect at the Nike+ Human Race 10K at Singapore.

Official trailer for the Nike+ Human Race 10K Singapore...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nike LunarTrainer+...

By Frank

After looking into both my training and diet, now here’s a look on my shoe of choice for the Nike+ Human Race 10K, the Nike LunarTrainer+.

The Nike LunarTrainer+...

I am a fan of Nike’s apparel but I have to admit that I didn’t pretty fancy their running shoes during the early century due to their durability and comfort issues though they are really nice in design. But everything’s change now and I “swallowed” the words I have once said. First, there was the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3, and then on 5 August 2008 recently, I was introduced to the Nike LunarTrainer+ and Nike LunaRacer+. Be prepare to be blown away by my following review on the LunarTrainer+.

A view from the outer side...

The Nike LunarTrainer+ was a heavily researched shoe that took 4 long years before the final product was made available. The concept isn’t entirely new but it was a major revolution from Bill Bowerman’s original 1972 “Moon Shoe”. Therefore, one can say that the LunarTrainer+ actually took more than 30 years to be made.

The original "Moon Shoe"...

The Nike LunarTrainer+ is categorized as a performance training shoe and weights at only 240 grams, making it on par with certain racing shoes out there. A cushioning system like the Vomero+3 with the flexibility of the Nike Free, it’s designed as a neutral cushioning shoe and will be suitable for mild-pronators to supinators. And yes, its Nike+ enabled. At first glimpse, it will give the wearer the impression of how pure this shoe is. The white breathable air mesh is simply so white in colour that one can easily mistake it for a school shoe if it wasn’t for the lime green outsole. Reflectives were places just above the outsole and also at the front of the air-mesh on the toe-box, giving an impression that the shoe is hovering on air.

The breathable air mesh. Notice the reflectives...

The design is pretty weird when viewing it from the top and rear due to the wide outsole. But it’s design of the outsole that makes this shoe so special. As mentioned earlier, it is based on the original “Moon Shoe” which the running tread is actually shaped like a waffle iron as it resembles the footprints left by astronauts on the moon. While in this particular design, each waffle or tread contains the LunarLite foam, a revolutionary cushioning system developed by the aerospace industry, which gives the shoe its name. However as this foam can’t be expose to air, water or even sunlight, it was encapsulated in a phylite carrier which makes up the design of the waffle iron tread. And to maximize the shoe’s lifespan, carbon rubber was placed in high wear areas. It’s highly visible as those areas are black in colour. And there you have it, a brief description to give you an idea on how the LunarTrainer+ was designed.

A view from the top...

And from the rear. Notice how wide the outsoles are...

Next, how did it feel? Upon slipping both my feet into it for the first time, I can’t help to say but the shoe actually “molded” around it. And being built seamlessly which prevents any irritations from stitchings, it fits perfectly and my feet didn’t move around too much in it. The only problem I had was an issue with the width which later became history. The toe box was good and my toes had sufficient moving and breathing space. Ventilation was good and I can feel air coming through the air mesh in an air-conditioned room. The shoe’s tongue has no padding in it and was just as thick as a regular comic book. Though not a one piece construction like the Vomero+ 3, it didn’t move around at all throughout my runs. And that was good enough to give enough protection in preventing hotspots on my upper feet even though using the most common criss cross lacing method. Next, the very thin or almost no-feel collar and heel counter. It has almost the same thickness as the shoe’s tongue and there weren’t any padding in it not to mention memory foam on the collar like most other shoes have especially in trainers. Though it did not cause any irritation on my Achilles heel, I must advise that one try it out first before deciding to wear “low” socks. An ankle length sock will be a better option here.

The very thin but yet protective shoe tongue...

A glimpse on the inside and also the thin collar...

Now, to the performance. The shoe’s width issue which I mentioned earlier was totally gone as I started running. Somehow and someway, I tend not to feel the slight tightness I felt upon slipping it on my feet. Now to the highlight. The cushioning by the LunarLite foam was soft but not as soft as those found on the Vomero+ 3. And besides being just soft to my liking, it offers the bounce too which I certainly welcome as it produces a more effective toe-off. And due to this, less energy is needed to propel every stride. And yes, the flexibility of the shoe is only second to those on the Nike Frees therefore plyometrics is easily done on the LunarTrainer+. However, some feedbacks I received are that the response wasn’t really as expected to be. I’m not really sure on this as it worked perfectly and effectively for me. The first thing that came into my mind was that the LunarTrainer+ will only show its full potential should the wearer be light weight. For those heavier probably more than 70KG or so, it may help absorb the 2.5X body weight impact on the knees especially, but sacrifice on the responsiveness. Just my assumption though.

I had tried various way of landing and it offer superb cushioning even if I land on the forefoot, though that will probably hasten up the wear rate. And talking about wear rate, I doubt this shoe will last till 400KM although it’s a trainer. Next, it looks that the shoe does not offer any support at all. But this is untrue as Nike has it all hidden. Though the outsole is as flat as it looks, arch support was there, well hidden within the outsole although very mild. And there is actually a virtual post located just around where the LunarLite word is.

A virtual post is well hidden within the LunarLite word...

Traction was pretty good on tarmac but it dropped significantly when the surface is wet. It too wasn’t able to grip properly on sandy and synthetic surfaces probably due to the waffle tread. However, when the condition is right, the waffle tread and the width of the outsole actually offers great stability. And the good thing about the waffle tread is that small rocks don’t get stuck in between treads which may cause drag. I have taken it to a half marathon and a 10KM race. The half marathon was done on an easy pace while for the 10KM race, it brought me to a new personal best even when running for almost an easy pace throughout 80% of the race. And not to mention that there was hardly any fatigue on my legs too after both races. True to their tagline of saying “Your legs will last longer” with the Lunars.

The waffle tread. Notice the resemblance to a waffle iron...

There is no one runner that is fully satisfied with their shoes as there isn’t a perfect one. And it’s up to the sports company to actually listen to the feedback received. Nike has done this and has taken the “Moon Shoe” concept in creating the LunarTrainer+ a shoe which not only I give double thumbs up, but also 2 halluxs up! Now, just imagine the LunaRacer+, the racing version which instead uses Flywire for its upper body and also a slightly different waffle tread design. The Nike LunarTrainer+ will be retailed at a recommended price of RM389 while the Nike LunaRacer+ at RM439 which will be made available shortly in October 2008.

Before wrapping up this amazing review, my many thanks to those at Nike Malaysia for presenting me with truly an amazing experience with a superb shoe.

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shape & Men's Health Run 2008...

Event: Shape & Men's Health Run 2008
Venue: Tapak A, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 24 August 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 10KM (10.38KM by Choi's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Nike LunarTrainer+
By Frank

The Shape Run was originally a running event made specifically for women. However, as the Men's Health magazine in Malaysia is under the same roof with the Shape magazine, The Shape & Men's Health Run 2008 is born and men is given the opportunity to run. And what an event it was! .

Healthy and "shapely" men runners...

I arrived with William at Bukit Aman at 5.15am and it was pitch dark with just a few cars around. With William taking a nap in the car, I took a walk around to get my core temperature up to allow me to perform some stretches. As time passes, more and more runners arrived and then came Andrew, Andy and Keat Seong. Then, there was this urge to visit the toilet although I have emptied my bowels twice at home. Probably due to probiotics I had the last few days. Anyhow, after emptying my bowel for the third time, we all made our way to the starting point. We jog there just to get ourselves warm and upon arriving, we were amazed by the carnival atmosphere. Bumped into others like Loke, Pueh Tian and Shih Ming where all of us were in our Nike LunarTrainer+. We can't be more amazed than our shoes and just can't resist taking a photo of it thanks to Pueh Tian who came armed with his trustworthy camera.

Sexy legs! Oops... I mean the Nike LunarTrainer+...

Now to the race. I ran a very easy pace yesterday morning with Jamie to see how my piriformis muscle is holding up and luckily there was no pain. Therefore, technically speaking I should be able to perform today but as earlier mentioned, I will go easy on this race which somehow I did and didn't. And so I was in the starting area somewhere just around the middle pack with Loke. Both of us were worried that our "very white" shoes will get step on during the start of the race as the start was really narrow. We were all packed like sardines. With the race started, I nagivated myself through the sea of runners trying to avoid getting step on which luckily I didn't. Easy pace for me at the start as I know exiting Lake Gardens will be hilly. We were taken around the lake which is 2.3KM in distance. Halway through, I can already see the first pack of runners at the opposite side. Simply amazing!

As I arrived at the top of the deer park, the route is now wider which allowed me to have some running space. As runners began to exit Lake Gardens, it was then a familiar route to run on, Jalan Parlimen towards Bukit Tungku. However, we detoured into the Padang Merbuk area which was a good choice to keep runners away from the traffic. Gave Chui Miew and Nazib both a thumbs up as I overtook them. A refreshment station was set up here but I skipped it.

Next, one of my favourite running route, Kenny Hills. Air was fresh with the greens around and I eventually completed it without even feeling any strain. However nearing Bukit Tungku, my worst fear came. I felt my right Piriformis muscle and had to slow down my already easy pace. I grab my right butt cheek and started massaging the area of area as I ran. I was struggling here and I hope my picture was not taken by anyone as it was obscene grabbing my butt and running at the same time. Came later the second refreshment station set up on a hill climb and I took a cup of water as I was already slow enough to drink from it. At the end of the hill climb, my discomfort has went away as I collected my second ribbon. I’m back into the run at this point although still easy.

With the Mahameru highway in sight, I decided to up my pace a little only to trigger off the discomfort again. I told myself to bear the pain as it is nothing compared to what I had during my treatment days. With it, I endure with the pain and continued my journey hoping that it will go away which it did shortly before entering Jalan Parlimen. And from here, to regain what I lost, I up my pace to my regular racing pace as I make my way back into Lake Gardens. As it was mostly going downwards although not much, I began using my plyometrics to propel my every stride. With 200M or so towards the finish line, I spotted a runner in the same category. I up my racing pace to sprinting pace hoping to gain a position from the numerous positions I lost earlier and eventually managed to as I cross the finish line at position 57 clocking 00:50:26, a new personal best to my suprise.

Honeslty speaking, I do not know how to explain my performance today. It all came with a big suprise for me. With my piriformis muscle problem and also a comfortable pace only to go into racing pace towards the end of the race, I was truly amazed by myself. And best yet, there was minimal fatique! Was it the Nike Lunar Trainer+, results from my training or was it just my sheer pace? I do not know. But at the end of the day, I was just so glad with my ownself. And besides, it's yet another small little step in my medal collection as I hit number 20 since I started running 18 months ago.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

The certificate of achievement...

Contents of the superb goodie bag...

Here's my view on the event. This have to be truly one of the better events held in the Klang Valley. Traffic control was good, directions was well given, superb refreshment station and a truly value for money event. For RM20, each runner was given a goodie bag worth around RM300! And not forgetting the carnival like atmosphere. The downside will probably be the starting area which is rather narrow but that can be excused as Lake Gardens was made this way. And so with this event, the running scene comes to a temporary close as we hit the the fasting month. But there is just one more to go for me next week. Till then...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eating The Human Way...

By Frank

Eating has been one of my favourite hobbies. I’m sure it is for many out there. But as an athlete, I must eat the healthy way. I’m not a person who is fussy about food as I basically eat anything that is edible. And living in Malaysia which is a food heaven, it’s really tough to stay away from all the obsession. I however believes in the discipline key factor and therefore choose what I eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle especially when there is a major event coming up.

In preparation for the Nike+ Human Race 10K, besides training smart, a healthy diet is a must. And by mentioning a healthy diet, I stay away from oily and fatty food especially those that contains trans fat. In addition, I eat small meals a day and the only meal that I follow the normal routine is my dinner. My meals are made of mainly carbohydrates with addition to a little protein before a workout to help train better with the much needed energy. And after each workout, I replenish what I lost by taking in the same thing but with a higher dosage of protein to help in muscle recovery. Replenishing the glycogen level and nourishing the muscles after each workout is essential as it allows the body to prepare for its next workout.

Although I’m a meat eater, I don’t eat much of it. The only meat that I like would be fish. They are rich in protein and healthy fatty acid and makes good alternative to other meats. I’m more on a vegetable and fruit guy. With it, I get the anti-oxidants I need for a much needed resistance against most sickness.

I'm taking health supplements to enhance my health too. Some of them are like multi-vitamins and minerals for well-being, multi-oil formula (Omega 3, 6 and 9) for cardiovascular system, glucosamine for joint health and sports recovery drinks. Recently too, I have started taking probiotics supplement too as a way to detox my system. I felt better and lighter after having them but in comes with a price. Bowel movement has been increased as the system starts to purge the waste. To counter it, I take an activated charcoal pill once every 2 nights before going to bed. It helps detoxify the system too but in another manner which is easier to the system. It helps retain the waste by “sucking up" the water in the system which is then release easily without much stressful purging. Besides, it also helps in eliminating stomach wind. Therefore with these, I take in 1500ML of plain water each day to keep myself hydrated and also as the multi-vitamins tends to be very heaty with the heavy concentration of Vitamin B in them.

The heatlh supplements I'm taking...

With each days passing till the race day on 31 August 2008, it is not easy to eat healthy everyday. When people say that eating healthy is pretty dull, I have to admit myself that in certain aspect, it is true. Therefore, I still go for my “cheat meals” (e.g. fast food), although I tried to avoid it. The only time I have them is to reward myself after a good workout or race and so far this month, I only had it once. Sometimes, a “cheat meal” makes one feeling guilty and hence the next training session will be more intense, hoping to make up for what is loss. So if one think out of the box, “cheat meals” can be beneficial too. Besides, we all only live once and so why not enjoy some simple things in life while we can.

After completing a half marathon and a 10KM race, here’s an update on my fitness level. Though my fitness level has been showing positive signs, my right Piriformis muscle gave me a scare yesterday. In the morning, I felt a slight pull on it when I climb up and down the stairs. Not thinking too much, I still went running for a distance of 10KM. I did not feel anything during the run but upon returning home, I felt it again. Now with just 12 days to go till the Nike+ Human Race 10K, this is really scary. I guess I have to lighten my running these few days and concentrate on resistance and rehab exercises and see how it goes. And so, I guess this Sunday’s Shape and Men’s Health Run 2008 is going to be a very slow and easy run for me. Till then, I’ll just hope that there is nothing wrong.

A view of the piriformis muscle...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Larian Perpaduan Merdeka 2008...

Event: Larian Perpaduan Merdeka 2008
Venue: Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 17 August 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 10KM (10.24KM by Nike+ SportBand)
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3
By Frank

The Larian Perpaduan Merdeka 2008 or Merdeka Unity Run 2008 is held in conjunction with Malaysia's 51st independence day. No targets for me again as I did not want to risk any injuries before the Nike+ Human Race 10K. So just like last weekend, I'm going to treat this as a training run.

As usual, I arrived at the venue as early as 5.45am to secure my usual parking spot. Did a few pushups while waiting for time to pass and shortly later at 6.3a0am, Choi arrived and so did the others too like Daniel, Pueh Tian, Ryan and Ronnie. And so before reporting into the starting area, we all did our usual warming up before I went to empty my bladder.

Group photo with the Pacemakers...

At 7.20am, I found myself in the starting area in the middle pack with Choi and Ryan. With 10 minutes to spare, we chatted while waiting for the Prime Minister's arrival, which he eventually arrived on time at 7.30am for the start of the race. After releasing the event baloon, he shortly started the race. Ryan managed to get a clean start and off he went leaving me and Choi behind. Both of us got stuck for a while before eventually finding ourselves some running space.

My first 5KM through Kenny Hill and Bukit Tungku was at an easy pace and I ran comfortably till I hit the exit to Jalan Duta. This is where I normally will suffer. However, suprisingly I did not suffer as much as I expected today. Although the weather wasn't really hot, it was dry. But thanks to my recent training which starts at around 4pm, it had really helped me here. There were plenty of vehicles and the fumes made things worst. I started clearing my throat by spitting whenever I feel it gets clogged up. Not even halfway through yet, I caught up with Ryan who had already started walking up the hill. I encouraged him to do a slow jog instead to get his momentum running which he did later. We paced together till the next climb up to Jalan Parlimen where he was reduced to walking again. Sigh... I continued alone here and was greeted by the runners of the 7KM and 3KM category which turned the streets into a runner's nightmare. All lanes were taken up by them and most of them were walking. I had to run in a zig-zag manner to maneuver myself around them just like an obstacle course. I almost collided with a kid who was running out and in of the safety barriers. Although I tried to avoid him by seeing him do that, but somehow, he just came in front of me. That slowed me down a little. At the traffic junction leading to Lake Gardens, Adam was there as a spectator. He cheered me on by informing me that I was in the top 10 position. Haha... That joker. Further in front, I caught up with Zulazlan and we ran together for a while. Back at the Bank Negara roundabout, I really had to "thank" the traffic police in charge at that time to allow vehicles to pass while runners are coming in. I lost my running momentum here as I had to slow down and eventually stop for a while. This has certainly slowed my finishing.

As I near the finish line, Zulazlan made his move. I told him to go ahead as I won't be challenging him. And while he sprinted to the finish line, I took an easy time to enjoy myself as I suddenly heard Lionel calling my name. He was just at the side snapping photos of runners including mine. Thanks my friend. Shortly later, I crossed the finish line at position 78 clocking 00:53:19.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Despite not my personal best time on this particular route, I was satisfied as it was an easy run and I did not suffer as much as I used too. And as I mentioned earlier, I have set no target. I participated in this race to train which I did and to have fun, which I did too. The event was well organised and I can't actually blame the organiser for the "human traffic jam" at the Jalan Parlimen stretch. For a RM10 event which I was rewarded a finisher's medal and certificate with a goodie bag filled with food and drinks, there is nothing else I can ask for more. But here's a tip. I mentioned above that I did a few pushups while waiting for the others to arrive. The pushups has really helped me maintain my running posture as the stronger pectoral and deltoid muscles seems to assist my shoulder strength while I run. It really helps and may I suggest that for those who are reading this, try it out before the start of a race as a warmup.

The finisher's certificate...

Now, just a relook on the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 which I wore for this race. After running for an approximately 250KM in it, the shoe was still comfortable to wear as it's more "run-in" now. But after falling in love with the Nike Lunar Trainer+, somehow it seems that I now can't get use to the softness of the Vomero+ 3. I felt my toe-off was slower as I need to work a little harder. Another issue is the outsole on the left pair seems to giving out some weird noise since 200KM or so. It sounded like air being pushed out from the outsole at the heel area just like a suspension system. Although it doesn't happen always, it still gets pretty irritating when it does, which it did today. I'm not sure the reason behind it, and I shall try to find out with a few runs in it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Training The Human Way...

By Frank

It has been 2 weeks since my return from my rest period and to the start of my training for the Nike+ Human Race 10K. Everything is running smoothly and I certainly have positive reviews on myself.

The recent half marathon I ran on Sunday showed that my fitness level isn’t too much affected. I’m still hanging on pretty well. In fact, the rest period has allowed my body to recover from all the hectic runs I had during the earlier part of the year. It allows any minor tears in the muscles to be repaired and also new tissues to be regenerated hence a stronger and fitter body. Therefore, it is very true when people say that resting is also part of training!

I have always done my weekdays runs during the evening in between 4.30pm to 5.00pm. It sure is hot but certainly will help in my preparation for the Nike+ Human Race 10K which will start off at 4.30pm. However, I’m pushing myself just a bit more by starting off with a bit of resistance training at 3.30pm and then my run at 4.00pm around my neighbourhood with no shades at all! Apply some sunscreen lotion over my expose skin and not forgetting placing a water bottle filled with diluted isotonic drink just outside my house first to serve as my refreshment station as it’s very dry lately, and away I go for my run. Some of my neighbours must be thinking what is this crazy fellow thinking, running under the hot sun. Haha… I tend not to think too much of the weather and also what others are thinking as I believe through persistence and this, my race at Singapore will prove to be much easier.

Do not run under the hot sun without it...

Ready to hit the roads with the Vomero+ 3...

As my weekends are now filled with races till 31 August 2008, I will run those races as part of my trainings. I will then start my week off by a short 5KM recovery run on Monday before a 10KM tempo run on Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, I will run a 5KM but at a much faster pace. I finish off each of my runs with a slow jog followed by static stretches. Sounds pretty simple but trust me it's not, especially when running alone. Finally, a slow walk with my dog around the neighbourhood again. Yes, a cool down with a household pet especially the dog will certainly help. I agree when people says that dogs actually helps the person to calm their nerves down due to their temperament. Besides, dogs need their exercise too!

Meet Snow, my Golden Retriever and aslo my training partner...

Now, to share a little on the Nike LunarTrainer+. It’s been a week since I first received it and I’ve handed it, its first maiden race on the past Sunday’s half marathon. The shoe is just amazing, truly a revolution over other shoes. Though categorised as a trainer, its light weight has certainly put it on par with some of the racers out there. No wonder Runner’s World categorised it as a performance training shoe. The cushioning is soft although not as soft as the Vomero+ 3 is certainly my feet’s beloved ride now. Myself together with Jamie wore it for the half marathon and yet we felt very minimal pain or sore the next day. Truly Nike has been true to their saying of “Your legs will last longer”, a phrase used for both their LunarTrainer+ and LunaRacer+. I will be alternating between the LunarTrainer+ and the Vomero+ 3 for my trainings before finally using the LunarTrainer+ for the big day at the big race.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Want To Live A Long Life? Run...

A very interesting article from the 12 August 2008 edition of The Star.

People who want to live a long and healthy life might want to take up running.

A study published on Monday shows middle-aged members of a runner's club were half as lkely to die over a 20 year period as people who did not run.

Running reduced the risk not only of heart disease, but of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, researchers at Stanford University in California found.

"At 19 years , 15 percent of runners had died compared with 34 percent of controls," Dr. Eliza Chakravarty and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Any type of vigorous exercise will likely do the trick, said Dr. James Fries, who worked on the study.

"Both common sense and background science support the idea that there is nothing magical about running per se," Fries said in a telephone interview. "It is the regular physical vigorous activity that is important."

The team surveyed 284 members of a nationwide running club and 156 similar, healthy people as controls. They all came from the university's faculty and staff and had similar social and economic backgrounds, and all were 50 or older.

Starting in 1984, each volunteer filled out an annual survey on exercise frequency, weight and disability for eight activities - rising, dressing and grooming, hygiene, eating, walking, reach, hand grip and routine physical activities.

Most of the volunteers did some exercise, but runners exercised as much as 200 minutes a week, compared to 20 minutes for the non-runners.

At the beginning, the runners were leaner and less likely to smoke compared with the controls. And they exercised more over the whole study period in general.

"Over time, all groups decreased running activity, but the runners groups continued to accumulate more minutes per week of vigorous activity of all kinds," the researchers wrote.

"Members of the running groups had significantly lower mean disability levels at all time points," they added.

"Members of the running groups had significantly lower mean disability levels at all time points," they added.

The team also set out to answer whether taking up running late in life would benefit, and whether people who stopped exercising began to pay a price as they aged.

Most of the runners have stopped running as they reached their 70s, Fries said. But it was difficult to find people who totally stopped exercising. "Almost all of them did something else. They continued their vigorous exercise," he said.

People who took up exercise when they were older also improved their health, he said.

The study also showed that people cannot use the risk of injury as an excuse not to run - the runners had fewer injuries of all kinds, including to their knees.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

adidas King Of The Road 2008...

Event: adidas King Of The Road 2008
Venue: Dataran Shah Alam, Selangor
Date: 10 August 2008
Time: 6.45am
Distance: 22.7KM (22.21KM by Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Nike LunarTrainer+
By Frank

Before going into the race, I just have to mention about the race kit collection which happened 2 days ago. It's by, the worst race kit collection ever in my entire running career! It took me around 4 hours to collect 30 kits, which 29 is behalf my friends. It could have been longer if Andrew had not answer my call for help. Thanks my friend. I don't see any issue on collecting 30 kits but the collection system was based on categories which didn't allow bulk collection which consists of another category. Therefore, I myself had to queue one category after another which I had to do 5 times. And to add matters worst, each category had only 1 line each. Imagine the mens category which always sees the most participants! It took me an hour plus just to collect 6 kits for the men open category! They only increased the line by 2 or 3 an hour plus later when they actually realised the problem but still, it didn't help much as the collection itself is already a slow process. So what was the problem?

1) Collection based on categories, and not in bulk categories.
2) Collection is done manually by hand which had to be go through one by one.
3) Vest to be collected seperately from the bibs.
4) Participant's name not in the registered list.
5) Not allowed to collect race kit if name and IC number were not written on collection card.

The chaotic scene during race kit collection day...

Even the people distributing the kits weren't polite at all as when I tried to speed things up by helping collect the safety pins, I only got sounded by them. And finally, when I was about to collect the last race kit which is for the students category, I was asked to go to a different place. I was shocked and was asked to read the registration form properly which I did and it clearly showed that all collection were to be collected on the same place at the same time. No one inform me of any changes! Is this how things are done? I can go on and on here but I guess the above mentioned summaries my whole experience. At the end of the day, I was just so tired and stressed up that asking me to run will be an issue.

Now, to the race. No target for me. I'm taking this as a training run so I'm going easy. I don't think my fitness level is up there yet after just returning from my rest period so this will be my first test run. My plan is just to pace with Jamie for as far as I can. And besides that, I'm actually putting my new Nike LunarTrainer+ to test here. So I'll be doing different things as I run to get the feel out of it. I know it's a bit risky putting on a new shoe which I only ran 4KM in it, to run a half marathon, but I have the Injinji Tetratsok to protect my beloved feet.

I arrived at the venue as early as 5.15am to find myself a good parking spot which I did in a hotel. Met up with Lionel and his dad too and had a chat while waiting for Jamie who arrived shortly later. We were both in need of the toilet but sadly to say, none were spotted and so we had to resort to the "nature's" way. As the starting time ticks nearer, we did our warm up and stretch before checking into the starting area. Together with Jamie and Lionel, we placed ourselves at the back of the pack. The race started 5 minutes late at 6.50am due to the late arrival of the Selangor Chief Minister. Started with a comfortable pace and still managed to chat with some of the runners around. Lionel however took off and was not seen throughout the race. As for the condition, it was just great with a light breeze blowing.

The first 5KM or so brought runners into some industrial area. Traffic wasn't a problem here as it was still early. The first refreshment station appeared here which was rather early. It was packed with runners and was under man power. I did not stop as I was carrying my own water bottle. I slowed down a little while waiting for Jamie to have his drink. As I later exit this area, I found myself at the Selangor's Aquatic Center. I bumped into Eugene here and had a short chat before I left him. This is where our first hill climb appeared. Not very steep and quickly it was over. While descending, I did some plyometrics using my calf muscles to propel my every stride. The responsiveness of the shoe was just amazing! As I arrived at Bulatan Kayangan, it was a long straight and flat route ahead passing by Concorde Hotel and the Shah Alam Mosque. Shih Ming tap on my back and we managed to pace for a little while before she took off. She was also wearing the Nike LunarTrainer+ and it really looked good when the 3 of us were running side by side at one time. Shortly later before, I bumped into Keat Seong who was already struggling with pain on his leg. I told him to just think of his recent Gold Coast Marathon as he did an impressive time over there.

Next up at the 11.5KM mark according to Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS sensor came the another refreshment station. Surprisingly, it was labelled as 10KM. But anyhow, this station was only man by one person. It was suicide! It's clearly that he won't have enough time to get the cups ready with the drinks for the pack of dehydrated runners coming in. Luckily, I still had my water bottle with me. Kept running and soon was at Padang Jawa. This is where the problem starts. It was a industrial area and traffic was pretty heavy here. Crossing the roundabout was a problem and not forgetting the fumes. I had to spit numerous time to keep my throat "fresh". And so it kept going like this till I was back at the Shah Alam town area. Throughout the journey, I've lost count on the number of roundabouts and hill climbs.

At the final 3KM or so, my throat was really dry and I needed a drink. I had earlier finish up the water I brought along. But at the final refreshment station, it was packed with runners, some of them even stood there to drink like they were having some picnic. Not wanting to waste time, I continued on. And as I aprroach the final roundabout which was around 1KM till the finish line, I was glad I was still with Jamie. I was thinking that it wil be great to cross the finish line together. But suddenly, he increased his pace. I tried to follow him but at the final hill climb, I lost my momentum and had to return to my normal pace. As I approached the finish line, Shih Ming who had completed her run cheered me on from the side. Thanks my friend! And so I crossed the finish line just roughly around 20M behind Jamie at position 86 clocking 02:00:24! Sharp on the spot of the qualifying time as the gun went off just shortly later as I was rewarded a finisher's medal and a certificate of participation. .

With Lionel here who completed his run in 01:46:33...

With Yen Erl and friends after the run...

Front view of the finisher's medal. Same old design from last year...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

The certificate of participation...

Overall, I enjoyed the route although it was tough. However, I can't say the same for the management of the run. I only saw 2 distance markers along the way both which are really off. The refreshement station was a major upset which I didn't bother to stop at any of it. Traffic control was just OK but safety barriers or cones should have been allocated around to separate the runners from the vehicle lanes. So in the end, I have to say that the quality of the event has dropped significantly compared to last year.

Not forgetting too that I met up with lots of friends whom I haven't seen for a long time like Daniel and Jane (both ex-colleagues from Fitness First), Kit, Anil, Shukri and Din. And besides, it was nice to run along side Jamie. We paced each other pretty well and the highlight was that we were wearing the Nike LunarTrainer+ which caught the attention of many runners along the way. And at the end of the run, both my legs and feet were free of any pain and blisters, which was just remarkable. And to make things even better, I was not even tired at all! Something which resulted from my resistance training which helped my upper body stay strong throughout the race hence a strong posture. I guess it will be a while more before I'm at 100% again. Till then...