Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Running Into 2009...

By Frank

1916.84KM, 4 marathons, 25 races and 90 blog entries. That’s a few statistics for the year 2008 as it comes to a close. And with just 2 days to go till we welcome the New Year, it is time to take a journey down memory lane to recap back the memories of a truly wonderful year of running.

If I were to say that I took up running as a more casual approach in the previous year, then 2008 can be regarded as the year that I truly accepted the sport as part of my career, though at the same time keeping a low profile. It was a productive year for me in terms of my running career though it got off to a shaky start with the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM 2008. I didn’t fare very well and failed to complete the run within the qualifying time. Although I was awarded a finisher medal, I wasn’t too proud of it as I truly do not deserve it.

Then came the first marathon of the year, the KL International Marathon 2008 where I was rewarded by my first sub 5 hours timing. It came with a price though as I suffered from chest discomfort even before the marathon, a result from unstructured training. This has certainly served as a wake up call and I never look back since. With my working knowledge as a Personal Trainer in the health and fitness industry, I began studying and doing my self research on ways to improve my running and I successfully found my own formula in both training and nutrition. From here, I took training into my own hands using my new found knowledge and soon joined Choi, Jamie and Geraldine in their trainings which made things easier and fun.

Soon after, came plenty of quarter marathon and a few half marathon races and I used them to be part of my training regimes and soon was rewarded an improvement in time at the Sundown Marathon 2008 held at Singapore though still failing to meet my running time resolution for the year. Ran throughout the night and suffering my first cramp ever, it’s regarded my toughest marathon to date but I was glad I took part in it.

It was after a tough 6 months into 2008 and I decided to give myself a month break from intense running. And it proves to be a beneficial one as I managed to recover well and in the same time maintaining my fitness level. And not forgetting to regain some weight I lost from running. And in the month of August, I started training for my first ever fully sponsored race at the Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008 which I ran my first ever sub 50 minutes in a quarter marathon distance.

Building up from the momentum gained, marathon training was resume for my third and fourth marathon of the year. Introduced to me was back to back runs and also in trying to achieve a 100KM weekly mileage which I failed due to fatigue. Though the training was really painful, all was worth it as I ran my current personal best marathon time at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008. 3 weeks down, it was the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008. I took the risk in going for 2 marathons in a span of 3 weeks in trying to fulfill one of my running resolution for the year which is to run 4 marathons and I was glad I complete with no injuries at all. Though I did not run a personal best at Singapore, the meaning of friendship and companionship deepens within me as I bury inside my head, the true meaning of the spirit of marathon.

As the door closes for 2008, I’m glad I successfully achieve both my running resolutions for the year in running 4 marathons and also clocking a sub 4:30 time. Not to mention too that I have improved by “Leaps and bounds” as termed by one of my friends. Most importantly, to stay injury free.

Year 2008 was also a year of friendship. New friends were found and the friendship bond got stronger as each day passes. To my training mates of Choi, Jamie, Lawrence, Loke, Luc, Geraldine and Lynn whom we all make up the self named group called “Platinum Runners”, thanks for everything the past 1 year and for being with me throughout the tough times. Not forgetting my newly met friends of Andrew, Ben and Yee Hua, Chee Kong, Eugene, Fook, Jeff, Kit, Lionel, Pueh Tian, Chin Chin, Yen Erl and many more, it was really great to know you all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from the "Platinum Runners"...

I certainly have no regrets in taking up running. As time passes and I grow older, running will prove to be extremely beneficial to me. In running, I found a better life in terms of health and friendship, something in which money can’t buy. And till the day I can’t run anymore, 2009 will be another year that I shall follow my heart to run. At the same time trying to achieve my newly set running resolutions for the year ahead.

Year 2009 Running Resolutions...
- To run a sub 4 hour marathon
- To run 3 marathons
- To run and hopefully complete an ultra marathon
- Together with friends to stay healthy, injury free and to enjoy yet another fruitful year

And before ending my last entry of 2008, here’s wishing everybody a HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A GREAT RUNNING YEAR AHEAD!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Malakoff 12KM, Kuala Lumpur 2008...

Event: Malakoff 12KM, Kuala Lumpur 2008
Venue: Taman Rimba Kiara, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 21 December 2008
Time: 7.15am
Distance: 12KM (11.19KM by Lynn's Garmin Forerunner 405)
Shoe: adidas adizero Tempo
By Frank

This event was supposed to be a 25KM run at Johor Bharu but due to unforeseen circumstances, it was moved back to Kuala Lumpur with a distance of 12KM. And what was a supposed to be a run on the Sprint Highway was changed at the very eleventh hour to running a 2 round loops around the Jalan Bukit Kiara area. Oh well... Sad to say, but that's how things went. And this being my last competitive event for year 2008, although my running chapter of the year has come to a close at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008, I decided to take it as an easy run. But due to the tough hilly route, an easy run can turn into a tough one too. And it did for me.

Pre-race dinner was exceptionally well as Cheang organised a Christmas party the night before the race. Most of the food served was rich in carbohydrates like pasta and pizza which will prove beneficial for the race. And not forgetting, it was a great Christmas get together with the others like Jamie, Choi and some new found friends.

Making a return to my running life is my adidas adizero Tempo which I kept in the box since it's last action from Sundown Marathon 2008. Cleaned it up yesterday from the "ashes" of my first ever night marathon, it was looking good as new although it has served me with 3 marathons and 2 half marathons.

With only a 3 hours of sleep on the couch, I arrived at the race venue looking pretty stone. As I arrived early with 90 minutes till race time, I was glad I bump into Pueh Tian and Amelia and we hung out at nearby eatery before making our way to the start venue at a later time. We soon later hooked up with the rest like Jamie, Kit, Lawrence, Loke and Geraldine. Choi who did not run, came too to support us and also as a photographer on his cute mini foldable bike. Appreciate him for finding his time to come.

Into the starting pen we went and grouped ourselves at the back to avoid being knock or probably stampeded by the faster runners as the area was rather narrow. Soon, Chin Chin and Lynn arrived too although they started just a bit in front of us.

As we chatted, soon the air horn was blew and off we went still chatting. It took us a while to cross the starting gantry with the timing mat laid on the floor. The start was already an uphill climb and being so limited in space, all of us were running at an "Hit the wall pace", meaning very slow. As we exit the park, we ran into the Jalan Bukit Kiara area which is the start of another hill climb, this time a even steeper one. But the space soon open up and I managed to regain my pace and started my overtaking moves and soon bump into Chin Chin. Not sure where Lynn were though as I carried on.

Lynn attacking the hill and Choi cycling up in the distance...

Arriving at the Sime Darby Convention Centre, Choi was there snapping photos away. From there, it was a very steep climb up to the u-turn point. It's been a while since I ran hills, and this is the point that I started to feel the first signs of exhaustion. Too early into the race, but yeah, it happens. Eugene who was too running up slowly is starting to feel the strain I guess as I passed him. As a good gestures to my faster friends who I can spot making their return, I tried to wave to each of them. And as I made my u-turn, I finally spotted Lynn and waved to her.

The return route was much tougher with steeper climbs. I slowed down due to my earlier mentioned exhaustion while running up the hills but managed to regain a steady but slower than normal pace on flats. I was glad I was back at the park where another u-turn was needed to repeat the loop. I was glad because the route to the convention centre is much easier. Jeff and Lionel who were sitting at the road side cheered me on but as I was too tired to even utter a word, I just gave them a thumb up.

Stitch soon hit me but I was glad it isn't a painful one and thankfully, I manage to get rid of it before it got worst using deep breathing and exhaling with every left foot strike. Something rather hillarious happened here as an African runner who was already making his return to the finish point, ran into my lane. I got stun for a moment not knowing to go left or right but eventually he made pass me successfully when I moved to the right to avoid colliding into him. Besides that, nothing much happen except that the sun was up and it was glaring at certain parts with no trees. To make matters worst, sweat was flowing into my eyes which extremely irritating.

Arriving back at the u-turn point at the convention centre, I passed Anil who was too struggling with the climb. With 3KM to go and still struggling, things didn't get any better with the tougher route back. My "Ryan Hall" running posture of a straight back with "thumbs up fist" soon became a "Hunchback of Notre Dame" posture. But as I enter the park again towards the finish line, I lifted my back and tried to shake off any exhausted look on my face, at least to show a strong finishing as I crossed the finish line clocking 00:55:20.

A quick check with Lynn who finish shortly later revealed that the distance was actually just 11.19KM, 810M short of 12KM. Nevertheless, it was a good run and I certainly enjoyed the tough hilly route. It will certainly pay off in future races if traning is done here.

With 2 tough girls and a very supportive friend...

I waited for the rest to return and soon one by one from Chin Chin, Geraldine to Jamie all return safely. Congratulated each other and off we went to collect our finisher's medal. And am glad that Chin Chin made it back with a remarkable time, running with problems on her knee. One tough girl!
Front view of the finisher medal...
.Rear view of the finisher medal...

Hung around at the park chatting and snapping photos before returning home for good cold shower. Overall, a tough but enjoyable race and I'm glad it's over now as I can officially close my year 2008 event calendar. Well done everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eye Asia: A Cancer Survivor’s Story On Marathon Running...

By Frank
Translated by Chee Kong
Article scanned by Jamie

In the month of October 2008, I was interviewed by a journalist from Eye Asia to be featured in their magazine. It was published in November 2008 and since it was a Chinese magazine, I had no clue on what was written until Chee Kong helped me translate it. Though certain parts were written wrongly, I guess it's no harm publishing it here. The following is the write up.

A Cancer Survivor's Story On Marathon Running
Chong Wei Siong - Pain Is Just A Minor Issue

Although Wei Siong's involvement in distance running is just over a year, running is a sport that he is fully dedicated to. In order to run well, he gave up lots of sports like badminton and squash which may hurt his legs. Besides running, he only does resistance trainings. When asked the reasons he likes running, he can't really explain it and replied "Difficult to explain. The feeling when I cross the finish line is something you have to experience it yourself to understand".

At the end of August 2008, he ran in a charity run, the
Nike+ Human Race 10K at Singapore. The event was held simultaneously around 25 countries. The fund raised from the event was donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, WWF and UNICEF.

This event is particular meanigful for Wei Siong because it was his first time being fully sponsored by the organiser. Furtheremore, he successfully ran a personal best.

Wei Siong, 29 years of age is a Personal Fitness Trainer. He is not tall, slim and without 6 packs isn't a huge guy and certainly doesn't have the build of a trainer. When he was 12 years of age, he was diagnosed with
Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer seen among children. He was fully cured though.

"My weight was nearly 80KG during my treament days. It was around 60KG before I first started running. Now I have slim down a lot and that made my parents not supportive towards my running career". Anyway, he felt that running was a great help towards his health as he gets better sleep and his metabolism is greatly improved. Though he has a big appetite, this doesn't make him fat and that's the good thing about it.

Cancer did not affect him a lot as he is still into sports. During his high school days, he took part in mountain biking competitions. He competed for 2 years before finally winning in one of the competitions in 1996 when he was a Form 5 student. He then retired from it as it was a dangerous sport and injuries from falls are common.

Difficulty in walking after a race
In 2005, his friend and him started talking about the marathon. "It looks interesting, thus we started training", Wei Siong said. However, he had some knee problems that time and therefore waited around a year before making his debut in his maiden full marathon in 2007. The distance for a marathon is 42.195KM. Besides marathon, he also participates in other shorter distance races. He still remembers that after his first marathon, he could hardly walk the next day. He needed an umbrealla to support his body. "Now it only takes me a day to recover". He smiled and said, "During my first marathon, I ran non stop for 22KM before I started walking. But now, I can run the whole distance. Although, I can still feel pain after completing a run but it will be gone within a day".

We think a 10KM race should be easy for him. "It's different. The pace for 10KM and 42KM is different. The pace for 10KM is fast and breathing is hard. Normally I can't talk after I finished the race but after a 42KM race, I am still able to". He runs almost everyday except Friday which is a rest day, as he does his long distance run on Saturday and Sunday.

Marathon running not only depends on physical endurance, but also mental strength. Due to the long distance, fatigue will slowly kick in. A good mentality will help to see one through. His suggestion is to try not to stop during a run because it will be difficult to resume as the leg will be in pain and heavy to move.

His running tag line is "No regrets" as he would if he gives up. "I have experienced some tough times in my life. Therefore I remind myself that pain from running is just a minor issue, at least for me".

Setting realistic goals
For those who would like to try out running, he would encourage them by telling them "If I can do it, so can you!".

Before any race, he will set a goal. "The goal must be realistic. I would be happy if I achieve it, else I will try harder the next time". He thinks running should be taken easily, especially for those who are new. Do not over do it.
"Take it easy. Don't try to be a hero. 5KM or 10KM, it doesn't look like a big difference from the number, but it can be felt when you run. For those who are new to this sport, there are lots of information on the Internet to help you get started. Training must be flexible but yet in a discipline manner. Do not over do it if the body can't take it. Be patience as I spent a year training before debuting in my first race".

Running is just as addictive like any other hobby. Wei Siong says he will never stop running, unless something happens. I (interviewer) said that he is still young and have a long road ahead, but he disagrees as anything can happen in the future especially when we are not careful.

The Greatest Race On Earth
In the coming December, he will be running the Singapore Marathon which is one of the races under the Greatest Race On Earth. After this, he would like to particiapate in a 84KM ultra marathon. That's double the distance of a full marathon. " I would like to give it a shot once as it is an achievement that I would like to live with".

People said running a marathon is a sport where money is spent to torture ourselves. Some races required expensives registration fees. However, he thinks that it is worth it especially when one crosses the finish line.

He was looking outside the shopping mall after the interview, so I asked him, "Are you planning to run back home?". He looked to the sky and replied half seriouly, "It's going to rain, better not". 4PM is his running time. 10KM each day follow by 20KM to 30KM on the weekend. Ordinary peoples understanding towards distance running is different from a marathoner. 10KM to them is too short. Running will make you addicted, do not ask him why. You would only know after you experience it.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008...

Event: 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008
Venue: Dataran Putrajaya, Putrajaya
Date: 13 December 2008
Time: 8.00pm
Distance: 1KM per loop in 12 hours
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3
By Frank

Walking is certainly not an easy sport. Though I can walk around the mall for hours, it is nothing compared to walking throughout the night in a span of 12 hours walking around a 1KM loop! This I found out at the 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008. This is my first ever walk race event, and I really had a blast and unforgettable experience there, not to mention the pain too. Personally, I took it as a fun walk event, as a get together with friends and also for the experience too.

The sky opened up in the noon and I failed to get any sleep even though I woke up at 1am earlier and also running 10KM double hills with Choi and Lynn. Knowing that, I know I will suffer throughout the night. And for some reasons, my stomach started acting up just after the morning run as if like my body was purging after a long run or probably detox.

The event was held at Dataran Putrajaya just in front of the Palace of Justice. As I'm really bad at getting myself to Putrajaya, I was glad that I had Jamie car pool with me. Met up with him at Puchong for a quick cup of coffee at Old Town coffee shop before dinner with the rest like Cheong, Chin Ann, Jeff and Kei Ming at a nearby restaurant. Dinner was actually very good as we helped ourselves to local food rich in carbohydrates like rice and noodle to help us go through the long night ahead. Not to mention a strong cup of Chinese tea to go down with it. I had Pu Er tea which has proven to keep me awake, for some reasons I do not know why.

Arrived at the venue just in time for the race pack collection and soon, we are hooked up with the rest like Cheang, Choi, Eugene, Kelvin, Kevin, Ping Loong and Yen Erl. Pretty impress with the goodie bag as it was loaded with lots of stuff like a t-shirt, body lotion, antiseptic mouth wash and more. Quickly changed into our gear and laced up our timing chip as time was running short. I put on my mountain biking jersey which I last worn more than 10 years ago. Boy the memories of those days rushed back into my head! Although it still fits me, it got pretty loose. But it was a good decision to take it out from the wardrobe once again as it wicks moisture better than any of my running vest and keeping me warm at the same time. Not to mention the 3 pocket compartments at the back which came really handy.

Soon, we found ourselves in the starting pen and it was time for photo snapping session with non other than our friendly walker photographer, Pueh Tian. Though the sky was still threatening to rain, it held up and soon, it was time to walk! At 8pm, an approximate 500 walkers were flagged off.

I started with Choi and Jamie while the rest just zoomed off. It was rather an unusual situation as we are just so used to take off from the starting point. However this time, we started very slowly by walking. We joked around and soon we saw Kei Ming and Kelvin at the opposite side! They were walking like seasoned walkers! Soon, Jamie too slowly hasten up but I took it easy with Choi for the first 2 hours. And that was the time when Choi too started to break away leaving me behind. I was lucky that I bumped in to Pueh Tian and we walked together enjoying the sights and sounds of the surroundings. At that time, I was still averaging a speed of 12 minutes per kilometer. Not too bad for a beginner I guess.

Soon, it was time for our first break as we indulged in food and beverages prepared fresh on the spot. There were fried rice and noodles, nuggets, eggs, fruits and coffee to help us stay awake, which is served every 2 hours. And I must say it taste pretty good.

Continuing off, I lost Pueh Tian and it was all by myself. I do not know how many times has Jeff, Kei Ming, Kelvin and Kevin has lap me, but it didn't matter. I was just enjoying myself. Things slowly got a bit tougher as I first felt pain on my piriformis. Knowing there's still a long way to go, I detoured to my car to grab my mp3 player which proved to be handy as I have chosen songs that help me motivate myself, not to mention to keep me awake.

Soon it was midnight and we had our second meal followed by the third at 2am. Things got worst for me at the seventh hour when I felt pain not only on my legs, but stomach as well. I needed to go and I was glad the public toilet was open.

Shortly later, it started to drizzle and I kept my mp3 player back in the car. From there onwards, it's a test of both the physical and mental as things got really tough. I walked with Eugene for a few loops before he decided to rest due to blisters. I myself too had blisters since the early stages of the walk, but I held on. I was lucky it did not burst.

At about 8 hours in the walk, rain started coming down and I stopped to seek shelter, at least for a good half an hour before continuing. Cheong has already given up while Chin Ann has slowed due to fatigue. Jeff too came in but it was wrong decision as he suffered from cramp the moment he sat down. OUCH!

Jeff totally knock out...

Knowing at that time I still have at least 5 laps to go to meet a marathon distance, I continued when the rain has lighten. Trust me, the pain was unbearable. Pain on areas I have not feel for a very long time and also not while running. My metatarsals and plantar were in no mans land and I can feel my right anterior cruciate ligament. I can hardly bend my right knee as I walk and had to cushion it by walking like an ape with both knees slightly bend. Yes, I look awful at that time with dark circle around my eyes too.

With 105 minutes to go, I managed to complete my marathon distance with 42 laps and decided to take a short break to save myself for the final push. Choi too came in and he himself has completed 50 laps or so. Took a short nap under the canopy and soon, we saw the first glimpse of daylight. It was sure good too see the sun again as I resumed walking with Choi with around an hour left to go.

Dawn has break...

As it was the closing stages of the walk, I decided to bear the severe pain especially on my right knee and went for it trying to complete as many laps as possible with my already very slow walking speed. And at hour 11:47:54, 12 minutes and 6 seconds from the finish of the event, I decided to call it a day knowing that there isn't sufficient time left for me to walk another lap. Therefore, my total distance covered was 46KM equivalent to 46 laps which also resulted to a very penguin and crab like walking Frank.

My completion time...

I survived and look horrible...

Pueh Tian did it...

Double thumbs up from Choi...

Jamie making his triumph return...

Proceeded to collect my hard earned medal before leaving for breakfast with Jamie. Was a solid meal as we decided to totally knock ourselves out upon reaching home which I did, but of course after a good cold shower.

Front view of the medal...

Rear view of the medal...

Overall, I had a blast at the 1st Putrajaya International 12 Hour Walk 2008 and glad that I signed up for it. It was properly organised and the weather was actually rather kind to us. In the end, I'm just glad I survived the ordeal. Though I walked slow and the end results was an extremely painful one, I was happy with my own results as I came as a first timer with no experience at all. Not to mention the companionship I had with my friends. Will I be back again? For now, it's a no as running will be certainly be my cup of tea. But you never know...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008...

Event: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008
Venue: Esplanade Drive, Singapore
Date: 7 December 2008
Time: 5.30am
Distance: 42.195KM
Shoe: Nike LunaRacer+
By Frank

5 December 2008. Arrival day...
It was a perfectly cool morning when I arrived at the First Coach terminal at One Utama. Met up with Andrew and Wai Lam before our journey down to Singapore which starts 8am on the dot. Nothing much happened during the journey except for my faulty on-board personal entertainment system and also the bus driver that was on his mobile phone for almost the entire journey that kept my blood pressure sky high. Oh and yeah... Did bump into Shih Ming and San who was on board Aeroline at the Pagoh rest area.

6 hours later, we arrived at Novena Square and went straight to the humongous Singapore Expo to collect our race pack after getting a bit lost on our MRT ride. Though there was a small crowd, collection of the race pack was swift. In 15 minutes time or so, I was done and I found myself in the Sports and Fitness Expo which was next to it. Small exhibition but yet the things that were on sale were very cheap. It's here that I done my first damage of my trip when I spent a whooping SGD235 on the 2XU compression top and elite tights. Gulps... Met up with Ben too who was there working under some fitness company. Had a good chat with him as it's been a while since I met him.

A scene during the race pack collection...

It was already 3.30pm when we were done so we rushed from the expo to Beach Hotel by cab that cost SGD16.80! Upon checking in, we had our very late lunch before starting our adventure at Orchard Road. Dinner was awesome as we pasta at Spageddies, Paragon Shopping Centre before returning to the hotel to rest.

6 December 2008. Pre-race day...
I woke up pretty early at 8am despite only sleeping for about 3 hours due to "disturbance" from both Andrew and Wai Lam. Chee Kong and Pueh Tian soon joined us when they arrived just before 10am. Peuh Tian despite not running, came for a weekend getaway and was our photographer for the trip. Thanks a lot my friend for the time taken. We all had our breakfast at a nearby hawker centre before Chee Kong left to meet up with his friends. With the 4 of us left, we decided to pay a visit to the Singapore Flyer, the current world largest observation wheel. It was a 30 minute ride that took us to 165M sky high. It was a good experience and we all had a good time snapping photos around, not to mention some rather ridiculous shots.

Pointing to the Esplanade from the Singapore Flyer...

Back to ground, we made ourselves to Marina shopping centre for lunch before meeting up with Jeff and his girlfriend and Suntec City. Parted our ways after visiting the Fountain of Wealth as I returned to the hotel to to process the check in for another room. And after doing so, I took a walk from the hotel to Funan Digital Mall to meet up with my cousin Eugene. Chit chatted and gave some final tips to him as he is taking on the half marathon. Had a very early dinner at Pastamania before we left for home and hotel respectively to rest for the big day tomorrow.

7 December 2008. Race day...
And so the big day is here as I woke up at 1.15am. With both Andrew and Chee Kong still asleep, I took my own time to get myself prepared. At 2.30am, both of them were awake and by 4am, we were all ready to go. Met up with Jeff, Pueh Tian and Wai Lam at the lobby and off we went to Swiss Hotel to meet up with Chin Chin, Lynn and their friends. Took a group photo before we proceeded to the start venue which was packed with runners. Before parting with Andrew and Chee Kong, I gave them some final advice just like an old man. Hahaha...

Into the sub 4 hour pen I went with Chin Chin, Lynn, Siew Swan and Jeff. Met David who was a sub 04:30:00 official pacer, Boon Seng, Yen Erl and Wai Yee. To my surprise, I bumped into Yaziz too who was starting just next to me. I have a history of racing with him towards the finish line at 2 events this year which was done in a rather hilarious manner. Therefore, I told him no racing to the finish line this time. Haha... With the time ticking away, we all waited anxiously for the start while wishing everyone around us the best.

At 5.30am, off went the air horn and I started my sixth marathon, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008.

As mentioned in my pre-marathon entry, I will be running alongside Lynn which we both did. Both of us blazed off upon stepping on the timing mat at the start gantry. However, due to the amount of runners, we were a little off pace as we tried to navigate our way through. As we navigated ourselves, we ran left and right that at times we had trouble spotting each other. Hahaha… Nevertheless, it was a good warm up. It was when we hit the 2KM mark when the crowd had dispersed a bit, that we both increase our pace. As both our goals are similar, I started building a sub 4 hour time with a 4 minute cushion which will sum up to around 03:56:00 upon completion if everything goes smoothly.

As we arrived back at the Esplanade Bridge, marathon runners can still be seen crossing the start gantry at the opposite side. Later, we arrived at Raffles Avenue and I spotted Yaziz. Gave him a thumb up as I ran pass him. Shortly later, I heard a loud scream from a lady runner who wanted to stop for a toilet break. Not sure what happened but my guess is that she had a shock of her life when she opened one of the mobile toilets along the way and that there was someone making his/her deposit inside without locking the door.

Ran pass Republic Avenue and into the long stretch of Nicoll Highway. At about 8KM or so, Lynn took her first gel. Offered her my bottle of Pocari drink to go down with it. At this point, I knew something had gone wrong. The gel came too early for her and she is slowing down. I slowed my pace down keeping myself running just slightly in front of her to offer my support.

Arrived together at the 10KM mark at Mountbatten Road in a time of 00:53:38 followed by a short stretch along Fort Road before hitting it at East Coast Park. Compared to the previous year, runners ran along the tarmac road just outside the park which was really spacious. I kept myself running on the left side to allow faster runners to overtake me and also for Lynn to spot me. Though still feeling good at 14KM, I took my first gel to avoid the risk of glycogen depletion.

I kept turning my head back from time to time to check on Lynn while trying to maintain a constant distance from her, as knowing if I got too close to her, she will ask me to ahead which I did not want to. However at one point, I slowed down to get alongside with her to offer her a drink which she decline. I can see she’s really tired and I felt really hopeless for being helpless. As a personal trainer, I failed badly today. Shortly at approximately 19KM mark, I turned back again and I finally saw the gesture that I did not want to see from her asking me go ahead. Didn’t want to, I gesture back asking her to push on as I stubbornly stayed on my pace and made the u-turn shortly in front. After doing so, Tey ET spotted me on the opposite side and I ask him to cheer for Lynn if he managed to see her which he did with a rather loud one. I spotted Chee Kong too and called out to him giving him a thumb up.

I arrived at the 21KM mark at 02:00:23 with the sub 4 hour timing cushion still barely intact. I took my first stop under the distance marker to allow Lynn to catch up. I was doing a stationary jog there in order to maintain my heart rate. While doing so, Seok Ling ran pass me and I waved to her. Resumed running after Lynn caught up and I was rewarded by a GU Gel at the 23KM mark. After taking it, a volunteer along the route asked me if I was ok. I was really surprised that I was asked the question as I was still doing fine. I replied to her that I was feeling wonderful and carried on. Hmmm… Was I looking awful that time? I wonder.

I decided to pay a visit to the gents shortly later while waiting for Lynn. As she got near, I resumed my run. I know at this point that she really struggling but I was really proud of her for still keeping it up. The time cushion was still hanging on though it was slowly wearing off and frankly speaking, I was prepared to fore go my goals to help her just complete the run. It was no longer a race for time, but instead a race of friendship and companionship.

Around the East Coast Lagoon, I ran pass San and managed a short chat before continuing on. It was at the 27KM mark when I stopped again that Keat Seong ran pass me and also that Chin Chin caught up. She brought me a message from Lynn asking me to go ahead. I turned back and saw she was there and ask if she was really tired. She gave me a nod before Chin Chin told me that she will support her. Reluctant to let go, I carried on, still at the same pace. As I arrived at the 28KM mark, I looked back again and saw Chin Chin running with Lynn. I asked myself at that time if it was right to carry on myself. It was a really tough decision but I know that Lynn had wanted me to go for it as she did mention to me earlier before the start of the race. With this I came to my decision, to run my fullest for a friend and a training mate. I took one final glance at the both of them before I started pushing real hard.

The time cushion is now gone and looking my watch, it will be tough even to clock a sub 04:15:00. However, I remained positive and increased my pace and started using the advantages of the Nike LunaRacer+, the bounce to perform pylometrics. Started landing on my mid and forefoot using my calves muscles extensively. As I near Keat Seong, I tap on his shoulders telling him that I’m going for it. Shortly, I passed Shih Ming too who gave me a blur look when I greeted her. She was running her debut marathon and she was doing well.

I exited East Coast Park into Fort Road again and arrived at the 30KM mark at 03:03:05. I’m slowly building back my time as I took every stride. Soon, I’m into the Stadium Boulevard and the first sign of the “human wall” came into the picture. The half marathon runners detoured into the race route and it caused some congestion. Was lucky the road was wide and it was just for a short while before they were taken to another route. As I made my u-turn just after the 32KM, mark I look to the opposite side to see if I can spot the 2 girls which I did not. Instead I spotted Lawrence and called out to him. We both exchanged a good luck gesture as I exited the area heading towards Kallang.

Took my third and final gel at around 35KM as I noticed that it was possible to run a new personal best as I had managed to reduce my time deficit. With the new found energy, I increased my pace yet again swinging both my arms pretty hard. Just before entering Crawford Street, I spotted Boon Seng walking. As I passed him, I told him to start running again. Not sure if he did as I carried on.

After the earlier signs of the “human wall”, 38KM is where it all began. This is where the marathon runners will run alongside the half marathon runners till the end. To add matters worst, the quarter marathon runners joined in one kilometer later. The whole road was so congested that I had trouble navigating through and at certain points, I had to run on the drain cover on the outer lanes, hence increasing the amount of distance I have to run. My pace dropped significantly here and time was ticking away.

Ran passed the F1 pit lanes before arriving back at Raffles Avenue and into the 40KM mark at 03:56:25. Unlike the previous year where we ran into the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay area, runners are now taken to the Esplanade Drive heading to the bridge itself where it all began about 4 hours earlier. It was about a 5% gradient climb towards the turning point into St. Andrew’s Road and the final one kilometer really felt long. I spotted Pueh Tian taking photos at the junction but as I was “drowned” in a large number of runners, I don’t think he spotted me.

Arriving at the final stretch towards the finish line, I asked myself if I were to stop at the side to wait for my friends? Thinking back yet again of what Lynn told me earlier before the start of the race was the one thing that made me continue on as I slowed my pace down, enjoyed the surroundings and eventually crossed the finish line with my hands wide open clocking 04:08:49 coming in at position 635. My primary goal achieved!

My finishing moments...

As I made my way towards the rather muddy Padang, I prayed that both Chin Chin and Lynn will return safely without any pain. As I de-chipped, rehydrated and stretched myself at the de-chipping area, I waited anxiously for their return. Nearing half an hour later, I spotted Chin Chin but not Lynn and I got a really worried. Chin Chin told me that Lynn wanted her to go on just like what happened to me. And also that I learnt that she suffered a cramp. But the positive side of it was that a friend was with her that time. As time tick away and we waited and waited, she finally arrived. By her looks, I know she was really dejected. And knowing that I’m not good with words, I decided to stay mum.

We rested for a while before proceeding to collect our finisher’s medal and shirt. We then proceeded to the rest area and met up with Andrew, Jeff, Ben, Yee Hua, Michelle, San and Shih Ming. Things got a little easier for Lynn with friends around as we chatted and joked among ourselves. And it was a relieve sign as I see the smile back on my tough training mate's face.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Chee Kong arrived back just before we were to leave for the hotel. He was so exhausted that he downed 3 bottles of isotonic drinks before we all left the race venue. Parted ways with Chin Chin and Lynn as we arrived at Swiss Hotel and I made my way back with Andrew while Chee Kong and Jeff were together.

With Chee Kong who completed his maiden marathon...

Both Andrew and Jeff proud of their half marathon and marathon debut respectively...

Congratulations to Chee Kong and Jeff who completed their maiden marathon respectively 05:08:41 and 04:48:25: And to Andrew for a successful half marathon debut, it’s a stepping stone to marathon running. To Chin Chin, congratulations too on a strong performance. Finally to Lynn. If you are reading this, "Don’t worry about me as it was my own decision. You ran great as it’s not easy to run such a time. There will be more to come for you and I’m sure you will come back stronger. Most importantly, stay strong and keep smiling".

The second race of the Greatest Race On Earth, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 seemed to have suffered the effects of the global economic downturn. Thought it was still a great event, the overall quality took a dip for last year’s edition. This year saw less musical bands and cheerleaders. Though refreshment was sufficient, isotonic drinks were hard to spot and they were really diluted. Let’s hope the event will be back to it’s fullest in year 2009.

With the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 over, I successfully completed my sixth marathon and managed too, to run 4 marathons this year, a resolution met! Not forgetting that's 2 marathons done in a span of just 3 weeks. And not to mention my running curtains down for this year’s marathon running. To sum up this event, though the new route is a little tougher than last year's, it was not physically tough but instead it was mentally. And despite having successfully met my primary goal, I was disappointed with myself for I couldn't help a friend and finish the marathon alongside as I thought of. Being helpless at the point when a friend needs support really brought me down to earth. And to make the decision to leave a friend in need, trust me it was tough to make. Nevertheless, I was really proud of my friend and therefore, I dedicate my sixth marathon to this friend of mine.

For my run analysis, hit the RunPix link here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Into The Lion’s Den…

By Frank

Continuing off from my fifth marathon at Penang, I shall take on my sixth at the upcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 in a week’s time. In terms of marathon races, this will be the shortest interval between 2 marathons, a span of only 3 weeks.

Singapore, the lion city...

Preparation to this race hit a hiccup with a week to go as flu struck me. My family was down with flu even before my adventure at Penang but I held on. But I guess my body defenses finally succumbed to it as I first felt it a few days ago. Quickly, I hit the panic button and became paranoid about certain things. I quarantined myself from my parents, took extra doses of multi vitamins and even rewash my bed sheets. I may even sound like a crazy person going around and spraying the house with anti-bacterial spray hoping to keep the viruses at bay. All these I do it just for the sake of getting my health back. Not sure if it was déjà-vu, but I ran last year’s Singapore Marathon with fever, flu and total lost of voice. Will it be a repeat this year again? I hope not.

After completing my marathon at Penang, I was back running in just a few days time although keeping my runs easy and the distance short. Weekend runs were still on but they were cut to a maximum of just 15KM, Even when I knew that something was wrong, I still went ahead. Bold or stupid move? But I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

A visit back to the lion city this year will see a slight change to the marathon route at the first 10 kilometers or so. Instead of running to the Marina area, runners will now be taken straight into the city route before hitting it into the East Coast Park. Although I have absolutely no idea on the new route, I’m pretty glad that there was a change to it as the Marina area can be pretty dark and narrow, and not forgetting the large amount of runners this year.

My goal of my sixth marathon. The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 was initially my main marathon to go all out before bringing my 2008 marathon running curtains down. But after my results at Penang 3 weeks ago, I have now no pressure to deliver myself the results, though I will still be giving it my all as it is still listed as my year 2008 main marathon. My primary goal will be to run a sub 04:30:00 which I should be able to do it unless something goes horribly wrong while secondary will be to outdo the time I clocked at Penang. And finally but not least, after giving it serious thoughts about it, a tertiary goal which I have never set before, to run a sub 4 marathon. To achieve my third goal isn’t something easy but I’m glad that I have Lynn agreed to run alongside me. Just hope I will be able to locate her on race day. I will try my best to help her achieve her goals and by doing so, I’m able to help myself too. Will used all my knowledge and experiences gained the past 11 months for this one important race. But even if I do not run a sub 4, I won’t be disappointed as after all, it isn’t on my year 2008 resolution list.

To my friends Chee Kong and Jeff who will be running their maiden marathon. Enjoy the race and rest assured that your life will change after you cross the finish line. And to Andrew who will be running his maiden half marathon, it’s a small step towards marathon running. Finally to all my friends, RUN STRONG! Have fun all of you! Till I return, I hope the following short write-up will be able to build some inspirations.

Arise, Runners for we run!
Legs shall be shaken!
Guts will be tested!
Feel the adrenaline!
Run now! Run now!
Run for your pride as something great awaits ahead!