Tuesday, September 30, 2008

World's First Sub 2:04...

The world's first sub 2:04 timing for a marathon has been achieved by Haile Gebrselassie at the 35 Berlin Martathon 2008 on 28 September 2008. Read all about it here, courtesy from The Star.

Berlin: Haile Gebrselassie bettered his world record yesterday to complete a title hat-trick at the Berlin Marathon.

The Ethiopian Gebrselassie, 35, clocked 02:03:59 for the 42.195km distance, taking 27 seconds off the record 02:04:26 he ran for the Berlin victory in 2007.

The legend crossing the finish line...

Gebrselassie also won the race in the German capital 2006 to become the first man in 35 editions to get three Berlin victories.

“I am so, so, so happy. Everything was perfect, the weather, the pacemakers, the crowd,” said the delighted Gebrselassie.

“Berlin is my lucky city.”

German Irina Mikitenko, meanwhile, became the fourth-fastest women in a race history with 02:19:19 to add the Berlin success to her win in London earlier in the year.

Gebrselassie won ahead of Kenyans James Kwambai (02:05:36) and Charles Kamathi (02:07.48), undeterred by a recent calf muscle problem and a not fully ideal preparation - having run the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics in August where he came sixth.

“I had a small calf muscle problem two weeks ago,” said Gebrselassie, who had to sit out training for a week and only resumed practice eight days ago. “I had some doubts but today was really good.”

Gebrselassie made the most of perfect conditions, sunny skies and not too warm temperatures, passing the halfway mark in 01:02:05 hours well on record course.

He then ran the second half of the race in 01:01:54, shaking off Kwambai and storming over the finish line close to the Brandenburg Gate in world record time.

The moment history was made...

Gebrselassie has now raised the world record by 57 seconds in the last two Berlin races, the former mark being 02:04.55 from Kenyan Paul Tergat in 2003.

Officials said that Gebrselassie will be back in Berlin to run the marathon at the world championships next year, which will take place on a different course.

So will Mikitenko, whose race at the worlds will be on her 37th birthday.

“I think I can run as fast next year,” said Mikitenko after becoming only the ninth women to dip below the 2:20-hours barrier.

“I can’t believe it. It was always my dream to run under 2:20,” she said after her big win in only her third marathon.

The Berlin Marathon featured some 40,000 runners and is also part of the prestigious World Marathon Series.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hell Week Training 2008, Session 1...

Event: Hell Week Training 2008, Session 1
Venue: Bukit Aman carpark, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 27 & 28 September 2008
Time: 5.00am & 5.10am respectively
Distance: 25KM & 30KM (25.82KM & 31.51KM by Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205 respectively)
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 & Nike LunarTrainer+ respectively
By Frank

The Hell Week Training was created by Jamie which includes 3 sessions of 2 days back to back LSDs (Long Slow Distance) runs to achieve a 100KM weekly mileage. Besides, it was done to take advantage of the Hari Raya holidays which falls in the middle of the week. The main goal is simple, to complete the targeted mileage to boost our fitness and anaerobic level for the upcoming New York City Marathon 2008 for Jamie and my Penang Bridge Marathon 2008 and also Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008. The secondary goal is of course to complete it within the fastest time. Having to only done 1 back to back LSDs last 3 weeks ago (20KM each) in my whole running career, it was a real test this time. Lets see how it all went...

LSD 1, 27 September 2008...
It was a chilly morning due to rain the night before. A perfect weather to take on the first LSD of 25KM with Jamie, Loke and Luc (a Belgian marathoner with a 02:50:00 personal best). I decided to go with the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 for this run. It was my first time handing the shoe this distance although I normally suffer with calf discomfort after running 20KM. But as the shoe felt better and better the more I ran with it, I think it's worth the risk.

And so off we went. The start was easy till I cross the Duta Highway where I decided just to go a bit faster. Luc was even faster and he was really running fantasic. His posture and running style is something which I really admired. Although at times he tends to run away from us, he does slow down and sometimes even stop to allow us to catch up with him. Nice of him to do so. We used the new Mont Kiara route which is generally tougher due to the climbs but I really enjoyed it as it gave me a new feeling of running this usual LSD route. And it's the climbs that we will appreciate when we hit race day.

As it was still early and thinking that the Petronas station isn't open yet, we decided to stop over at a convenience store at Desa Sri Hartamas to refuel ourselves before continuing. Did a loop around the Petronas station before starting our journey back. I slowed down as we passed Plaza Sri Hartamas as I was experiencing some slight tummy discomfort probably due to the carbonated 100Plus. Loke was still behind but Jamie has taken flight with Luc, but still within sight. I managed to catch up with them just before the income tax building. And before crossing the Duta Highway, we bumped into Ronnie's large running group which includes Lionel. They started at 6am. From here, I paced myself together with Jamie while Luc went for it.

Luc waited for us near Tijani and I felt bad about it. We are slowing him down. He mentioned to us that it is advisable to go fast towards the end of a run or race as it may help prevent cramps. Hmmm... Interesting. Hasten things up and soon enough we arrived at Jalan Parlimen before I went for it. Arrived back at the Bukit Aman carpark, and refueld before joining the folks from Runners Malaysia for the remaining 4.3KM run which I took as a warm down run. I eventually completed both runs totalling a distance of 25.82KM in a time of 02:33:22.

Felt good after the run and I had no complains about the Vomero+ 3. Yes, my calves still hurts but it wasn't as bad compared to my other runs. Refueled myself with Endurox R4, before going for breakfast with the rest from Ronnie's group. Then for the whole day, I slept to have myself recover for the next run, the next day.

LSD 2, 28 September 2008...
For this run, I just had to choose the Nike LunarTrainer+ to protect my legs after having done 25KM yesterday and also I wanted to try it out on a 30KM distance. Suprsingly enough, my legs weren't as sore as compared to my first back to back run. Overall, I felt good. Together with Jamie, Lawrence and Luc, we started off at 5.10am.

Pretty much like yesterday for the start, easy pace. It was just before the Solaris Mont Kiara when I made my move. Even though going pretty fast, Luc had no problem catching me. Salute to him. Decided to slow down before the climb to Sunrise Mont Kiara to save my energy as there is still a long way to go. As usual, I stopped at Desa Sri Hartamas to refuel with Jamie before continuing to the Petronas Station. Luc has already arrived there and while we were doing our loop around the station, he was actually doing his second! Lawrence arrived shortly and mentioned that he decided to just run a 21KM instead of 30KM as it's a been a while since he did this long. Take it easy, my friend.

Continued on and this is where I started to suffer. Somehow, my stomach started to bloat up and soon I was in need of the toilet! "Big business" is coming! As it was still early and there was no toilet in sight, and I got no choice but to hang on. Jamie and Luc was getting very far away from me but still within sight. I was hoping that the Malay food court just beside the income tax building is already open but it wasn't, probably due to the fasting month. Argh...

I held on as it was another 5KM before I arrived back at the Petronas Station. Did my loop around the income tax building and made my way back. The pain subside a little and I managed to speed up too. Met quite a number of morning runners and although I do not know them, I greeted each of them, as a sign of courtesy. Soon, I was glad I'm back at the station. Both Jamie and Luc was refueling themselves and I asked them to carry on without me as I made my deposit.

It was so much better after clearing my bowels. Refueled with Gatorade at the station and met up with some other runners including Daniel who is back running after spraining his ankle at the recent Shape & Men's Health Run 2008. Didn't spend too much time chatting and off I went again. It was the last 10KM and I struggled to get my momentum going as I had stopped for too long. Plus, it was my first time making my way back using the new route which is seriously tough. There were multiple climbs which were very steep. Plus, it was a lonely run here. I had to be discpline enough to conquer the climbs without stopping as there were no one around to motivate me, except for foreign workers. And so I did which I'm really proud off.

I found myself back at Tijani and I know it's another 4KM to go. Sights of morning runners slowing down and even walking isn't really an interesting sight to see. The "Devil" inside me tempted me to join them, but the "Angel" asked me not too. Of course, I listened to the "Angel" and soon, one my favourite area, Kenny Hills came into sight. Ran through it with haste and I arrived back at Jalan Parlimen before my final push to the end at Bukit Aman to complete, a supsingly amazing run (excluding tummy upset) covering 31.51KM in a time of 03:12:24.

Though tired, I was really happy that I made it. My legs were of course sore, but not as bad thanks to the Nike LunarTrainer+ which I now certify good for 30KM. Spent some time warming down and stretching while catching up with Adam, Choi and Jamie, before leaving for home for a quality rest. Till the next session 3 days later...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nike+ Marathon Charity Challege 2008...

Log your training miles for charity! For the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Nike and the Bank of America are teaming up to donate up to $100,000 in conjunction with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. To support two local charities – Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Imerman Angels.

Help lead the charge in the fight against cancer by joining the Nike+ Marathon Charity Challenge and logging your runs on nikeplus.com. The number of dollars depends on the number of miles you run and log through Nike+!

The above stated challenge although is organised in the US, is basically a virtual event where any runner can run and log their training miles from anywhere including Malaysia through their Nike+ Sports Kit or SportBand. Don't wait. Start running and logging your miles now in the name of charity!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pacemakers Track Meet 2008...

Event: Pacemakers Track Meet 2008
Venue: Kampung Pandan Sport Complex, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 21 September 2008
Time: 7.00am
Distance: Various (200M, 400M, 800M, 1500M, 3000M, 4X400M)
Shoe: Mizuno
By Lionel

The following is on the 1500M distance participated by Lionel.

This was a half day track meet where you run at most three individual events and try to accumulate as many points from those events. However, I was more interested in reliving those memories of running the 1500m back in secondary school. So yah, just the 1500m for me. No eye on the overall champion prize. Back in secondary school, training was 4 - 5 times weekly with lots of hard interval runs. Now, I train differently – just 3 long runs weekly. For those rest days, they involve a bit of strength or other sports. Only recently did I have weekly interval trainings with the Pacemakers. But even with this, I still trained no more than 3 times a week.

So race day. I got up at 6.15am, earlier than expected. Since my race was scheduled at 8.55am, I decided to go for a full breakfast. I reached the race venue at Kampung Pandan around 8am and oh well, we were expectedly behind schedule. Yes, I don’t like that because excessive waiting tires me out. Thankfully, the weather was fine and my race eventually started at 9.30am.

Now, 1500m, and we gathered at the starting line. I thought they could follow the international procedure of starting distance track races. This was to line everyone half a meter behind the starting curve, and on the instruction of ready, everyone ushers themselves to the line. Before running off, an official will run across the starting line to ensure the runners are behind the line. Only after this does the starting gun/horn go off. Try that next time lah. We want a more exciting race =P.

Ok, we started off with no problems. No false start. Richard rocketed off and led the starting pack. In fact, this pack was very much together for the first 600m and I was boxed in several times. During then, my worst position was 8. .

Starting my run comfortably...

Measuring my condition after 600m, I made a move to give myself some running space and came into the final 2 laps second behind Richard. I was happy if I could finish this race behind him. After all, I was more concerned about knowing how my timing would compare to that of my secondary school days. If I wanted to challenge him, it had to be with speed. Endurance? NONO!! This meant I would stick to him as close as possible until the last 80m. If I could do that, I would challenge him to a final sprint.

I continued to maintain my focus on the third lap and managed to close up the gap with Richard. Given my condition, I decided to go one further and overtook him with 450m to go. Yes, I was prepared mentally if he produces some finishing kick. Typically, I would kick with 300m left. But I’m no longer training as a middle distance runner. So I decided to do so for the last 200m instead. While I did kick, I was also afraid from a kick from Richard as well. I looked back with 100m left (something I normally don’t do ok? =P), but my vision was somehow unclear. So ok lah, last 100m, everything for me to pia.

Making my move on Richard...

I was astonished when I crossed the finishing line. Not because I finished first, but more so for the timing. It was a freaking 00:04:48!!! I used to clock similar timings during secondary school and couldn’t believe this timing given the training I’m doing now. My 1500m PB is 00:04:44, done in 2001 and 2002. Richard on the other hand, did the 3000m earlier this morning in 00:10:18. Now, that’s super. My PB for 3000m is 00:10:41, done in 2002 =P. Next year, I’m most likely taking part in the 3000m, and perhaps the relay as well.

Crossing the finish line...

On the whole, I was very pleased with the huge turnout, though sadly, not enough (pretty) girls took part =P. There was a relay, race for kids and people with learning disabilities, plenty of refreshments, and competent officials. Hope to see more participants next year.

Thanks to Ah Fook for the photos. For the full results, hit the link.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket...

By Frank
Those who had read or seen my pictures in my Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008 report will have notice that I’m wearing a pair of sunglasses during the race, something which I have never done in all my previous races. Therefore, here I am to proudly introduce the Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket.
The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket...

The Flak Jacket can be said as an upgraded version or successor to the ageing Half Jacket. In terms of design, it looks pretty much the same. The most significant difference will be icons at each side of the ear sleeves. Instead of having the icons pointing horizontally up as in the Half Jacket, the Flak Jacket now has it both pointing straight out instead, making it more eye visible to others. .

Running in style...

Upon putting the Flak Jacket on, I can’t help to say but this pair of sunglass is really light. The frame is made from some synthetic plastic material call O Matter in which it is built to withstand shock and also environmental hazards like sun UV rays, rain drops and even sweat. And what I really like about this is that the colour on the frame will not fade (according to the reseller) unlike other frames especially those that are made of metal.

As for the lens, no doubt that Oakley High Definition Optics (HDO) is second to none. Being an interchangeable system, the lens can be change instantly to suit the environment. Mine came in standard black iridium lens with full UV protection. While there is another lens option being the XLJ lens, it did not really suit me as it is wider and thus touching both my cheeks. The lens offered by Oakley from the Flak Jacket to the higher end Radar models now are all hydrophobic lens where it repels water and fogging. Fingerprints and skin oils can also be clean easily with just a wipe using microfiber cloth or the included microbag. And being an iridium lens, glare is greatly reduced. Though not as perfect as polarized lens, it still does a good job.

During runs, it is by all means that our entire body including the head moves around a lot. Therefore, the shades must be secure and not bounce around. The Flak Jacket for me has certainly met this requirement. A quick check on the Oakley website states that the Flak Jacket uses a Three-Point Fit with balance pressure points to help secure the shades in place. Not sure where the point is but I do feel that it is due to the design of the frame which is suppose to "wrap" around the head. And not forgetting the ear sleeve and nose piece which are both padded in Unobtainium, another type of synthetic this time a rubber by Oakley to help secure the shades in place, and it works even better when it’s wet! Certainly a bonus as runners does perspire a lot during runs.

Top view. Notice how it's designed to "wrap" around the head...

During its debut at my Nike+ Human Race 10K, I had minimal complains about the Flak Jacket. It held its place nicely without bouncing and offered me optical clarity at its best. It did rain during the race and the hydrophobic lens just did its job by repelling the rain drops. It’s like having Rain X on the lens! The only discomfort I had was with the lens as the left side was just touching my cheek, although I quickly forgot about it as I ran. The right side was fine though and that was probably caused by different sizes on my both cheeks perhaps as the sunglass was straight. A larger size nose piece might tackle the problem.

And speaking of the lens. Since it only came in black iridium lens that only offers approximately 9% light transmission, some might find it a problem at darker areas. It’s excellent on sunny days though. And being a LIVESTRONG edition, the only way to tackle this problem is to buy another pair of lens.

Probably biggest disappointment of the Flak Jacket is that it doesn’t support RX Lens also known as prescription lens as it was in the Half Jacket. Although not necessary to have especially in sports shades, those who have a high degree of power might just be turn off with it.

Another was that since the Flak Jacket fit nicely and securely, I had no space getting my fingers between the sunglass and my eyes to clear any sweat that might irritate my eyes. I had to remove them to clean my eyes. I probably have to wear a sweat band around my head to prevent sweat from flowing down or I just have to work extra harder in wiping it off from my forehead.

Finally. So what’s the difference between the normal editions Flak Jacket compared to the LIVESTRONG edition? The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket is a sunglass made to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It also comes in various models such as the Radar and Straight Jacket. With every purchase of it, Oakley will donate USD20 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Compared to the normal editions, the LIVESTRONG editions come only in jet black colour for the frame and also the signature yellow colour on the icon area. Besides that, it also has the LIVESTRONG word being “lasered” to the edge of the left lens. And of course, the microbag bears the LIVESTRONG tag too.

The signature yellow colour on the icon area...

The Oakley LIVESTRONG Flak Jacket retails at a recommended price of RM725 and comes with a 1 year international warranty. It’s about a RM100 more compared to the normal editions but as a fan of Lance Armstrong and as a cancer survivor, it’s worth it, at least for me. After all, it’s for charity. And if I were to rate the Oakley Flak Jacket in terms from quality to overall performance, I will be glad to give it an amazing 9/10 despite indentifying quite a number of shortcomings which I can’t really blame Oakley. Yes, it’s that really good! After all, it’s all about protecting one of our most important assets, our eyes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back To Nature Relay 2008...

Event: Back To Nature Relay 2008
Venue: Taman Metropolitan Batu, Off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 14 September 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 3.9KM per loop X 3 runners
Shoe: Mizuno
By Lionel

Although my present focus is on marathon running (training for a sub-4 timing for December’s Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon), I thought of getting some change from all those long “slow” runs. So I signed up for two middle-distance races, the Back To Nature Relay 2008 and the Pacemakers Track Meet 2008 1500m.

The Back To Nature Relay 2008 was held at Taman Metropolitan Batu which simply required each runner to complete a 3.9km course around a lake. There were three in each team and my team, The Pacefollowers, included Chin and Johari (coming all the way from Johor Bharu). The race was scheduled to start at 7.30am but it was then delayed till 7.50am since a lot of people had trouble finding the place.

Runners getting ready to start...

The Pacefollowers...

After gathering all 159 runners for a group photo, Chin made his way to start for the Pacefollowers. Johari took the second leg and I anchored. During the race, the runners couldn’t be seen except at the start/finish area. So not much fighting could be seen =P. For our first two legs, Chin finished his lap in 00:14:20 and Johari did his in 00:15:02. For both legs, the Pacefollowers were in fifth position. Still following the pace well!

Chin at the home stretch...

And yes, when my turn came, my body was pretty numb from all the waiting. For the first 1km or so, the anchor runner from the senior veterans winning team worked really hard to catch up with me. I could hear his breathing and pounding gradually getting louder. Eventually, he did catch up with me, though he didn’t hold that pace for long.

Waiting impatiently for my turn...

I was pretty much going solo after that, with the next guy quite some distance ahead of me. But after catching up with the more casual teams doing their second leg, I soon saw Naresh ahead. Given his position that time, he looked to be conserving for a good finishing kick. So when I did overtake him, I told myself not to keep up with him if he responded to my overtaking. Fortunately he didn’t respond. Towards the last 800m, I also saw Suresh within sight. But this time, there was not enough distance to put up a fight and we finished fourth with a time of 00:43:44. My lap time was 00:14:22.

Overal results (For full results, hit the link)
Team Pacefollowers (Team 4 out of 19)
F1) 00:14:20 > 00:14:20 - Chin Teck Sin
F2) 00:15:02 > 00:29:22 - Mohamad Johari
F3) 00:14:22 > 00:43:44 - Lionel Lee (Captain)

I was generally pleased with the organization. The organizers, though understaffed, did what they had to do and got everyone in order quite easily. The only other thing I hoped for was a designated area to put our bags safely. Next up… the Pacemakers Track Meet 2008.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Living Yet Stronger...

One of my idols and cycling all greats, Lance Armstrong a winner of 7 Tour de France titles in 7 consecutive years and also a finisher of 2 New York Marathons and a Boston Marathon both under 3 hours during his 3 years retirement from professional cycling, on 8 September 2008 announced that he will be coming out of retirement to try win an eight Tour de France crown in 2009. The below is his statement and story courtesy from MSN Sports.

US cycling icon Lance Armstrong said on Tuesday he will return to professional cycling in 2009 and try to win an eighth Tour de France crown.

"I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden," Armstrong said in a statement, while in an exclusive interview posted on vanityfair.com the 36-year-old cyclist says he has his sights set firmly on the Tour de France in 2009.

I am going back to professional cycling. I'm going to try to win an eighth Tour de France," Armstrong told Vanity Fair.

Armstrong, who will turn 37 on September 18, cited 41-year-old US swimmer Dara Torres's Olympic comeback in Beijing as proof that age was no barrier to an elite sports career.

"Look at the Olympics," he said. "You have a swimmer like Dara Torres. Even in the 50m (freestyle) the 41-year-old mother proved you can do it," he told the magazine.

"The woman who won the marathon (Romanian Constantina Tomescu) was 38. Older athletes are performing very well. Ask serious sports physiologists and they'll tell you age is a wives' tale."

Armstrong said he decided to tackle the Tour again in August, while competing in the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Colorado.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor and vocal advocate for cancer patients, hopes to use his return to spread his message of support for those with the disease as well as his call for investment in cancer research.

"This year alone, nearly eight million people will die of cancer worldwide. Millions more will suffer in isolation, victims not only of the disease but of social stigma ... it's now time to address cancer on a global level," he said.

Armstrong, who won seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, has vigorously denied doping accusations that have dogged him even into retirement, and told Vanity Fair that in his comeback he plans to address the issue of doping head-on by submitting to a rigorous testing regime.

"We're going to be completely transparent and open with the press," Armstrong said. "So there is a nice element here where I can come with a really completely comprehensive program and there will be no way to cheat."

Armstrong said he would discuss details of his plans for competition in 2009 on September 24 in New York City.

On Monday, cycling website VeloNews.com reported that Armstrong was poised to join the Astana team, although an Astana spokesman denied it.

In his Vanity Fair interview, Armstrong mentions Johan Bruyneel, onetime sporting director of Armstrong's US Postal and Discovery Channel teams who is now general manager of the Kazakh-backed, Luxembourg-based Astana.

Bruyneel himself said on Tuesday morning at the Tour of Spain that he thought reports of the cyclist's impending return were only "a rumour."

However, Bruyneel seemed to leave a door open for the American.

"If he were serious about a comeback ... myself having a team I could not imagine him at CSC or Rabobank," Bruyneel said.

Astana didn't appear in the 2008 Tour de France, having been barred by organizers Amaury Sport Organisation in the wake of a series of doping incidents.

Armstrong told Vanity Fair that he is already preparing a back-up plan if the ASO attempts to exclude him from the Tour - taking his case to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I've already put a call in to him," Armstrong said. "He has said strong things about me in the past."

To know more about the latest developement, do visit the Lance Armstrong Foundation website. From Runnerz Circle, we wish Lance Armstrong the very best!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Runnerz Circle 1st Annual Dinner...

By Frank

One happy running family...
On 1 September 2008, Runnerz Circle is officially a year old. A year into running actually. What started off from a forum to what we became today is certainly an achievement although just a minor one. With a long road still ahead, it is time now that we all celebrated this little step to living something yet bigger. A get together is certainly a must. But since I was away for the Nike+ Human Race 10K down at Singapore, it was instead held on 6 September 2008 which was just a while ago. It was held at a simple restaurant called Restoran Peranakan Place at 1 Utama bringing together my running friends. Those who attended was myself, Eugene, Lionel, Rashid, William and the only girl, Ija. Not forgetting our special guest from Nike Malaysia too, Wong Li-Zren, who had to answer questions after questions. So sorry about that but I'm sure it benefited people like us who would like to know more about Nike.

Food ordered was simple being from chicken, fish, squid and vegetables served with rice. A pretty balance diet I will say, one that suits atheletes like us.

What most important is, I hope everyone had fun getting together and knowing each other better. Till the 2nd year, happy running...