Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Down And Out...

By Frank

As some of my friends will know, I suffered a fall a few days ago before the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM 2009 race. It was a pretty bad one as I fell at the last 2 steps going up the stairs at home, and landing on both my knees. Not knowing the extent of the damage done, I still went on for the 30KM race. Friends will know my stubbornness that unless I can’t walk, seriously hurt or lying motionless, I will still go for an event that I have already signed up. Not setting a good example here, but that’s just me.

The end results were a ruptured right patella and an inflamed right Piriformis muscle. That explains the reason that I experience severe pain throughout the run.

Things were going fine after the race coupled with stretches and recovery supplements. Still managed to blog about my race experience before going for my recovery nap. It was then when I awoke, I felt an extreme pain on my right knee up till my gluteus. Sensing something bad has happened, I had no choice but to pay a visit to a nearby specialist hospital. Was lucky that it was still open despite it was already in the evening. However, it was still a long wait as most probably, the doctors were away for dinner. Feeling lonely and down, I decided to first break the news to Lynn which kind of caught her by surprise.

After near to an hour, it was time to perform my bone scan before waiting again for the results. Once the results are out, it was time for some “mumbo jumbo” consultation with the doctor in charge which again was a long one. It was confirmed through the scan that my right patella suffered some minor fracture during my fall which was made worst from the run earlier. I refused my right knee to be casted as it will mean going on crutches. Not a very good sight with the festive season around the corner. Besides, it’s going to be tough living the days with it.

A lateral view of the patella and it's surroundings...

The inflamed Piriformis muscle was caused by the pressure from the knee which travelled up the gluteus hence rubbing the muscle wall. At this time, I was just glad that it wasn’t my Iliotibial Band that was hurting as it will mean that I will be sideline for a very long time.

A posterior view of the Piriformis muscle and it's surroundings...

No running or leg exercises for a minimum of 2 months, says the doctor. In addition, I have to limit my leg movements especially at the knee area. I do have to agree with the banning of leg exercises, but as the stubborn person I am, I may be back running again in less than 2 months. At the time of writing this, I have set myself to return on 8 March 2009 to have a test run on a running event I can’t miss, running around the National Zoo compound in a run organize by Choi, the Wild Wild Run 2009.

To Lynn and the rest of the “Platinum Runners”, THANKS for all the concerns and encouragements given. As I become grumpy, you all certainly made my day brighter. Till I return, happy running as I cheer you all from the sidelines.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM 2009...

Event: Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM 2009
Venue: Tapak A, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 18 January 2009
Time: 6.00am
Distance: 30KM (29.8KM by Lynn's Garmin Forerunner 405)
Shoe: Nike LunaRacer+
By Frank

Since the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008, my trainings has just been during the weekends sticking with long runs. Haven't been doing much shorter faster runs during the weekdays. Although I managed to keep my fitness level up, I can feel that it has dropped at least a little.

I have high hopes for this year's edition of the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30KM. After having done badly the last year, I thought it will be nice to redeem myself with a good run out from myself. And besides, my beloved golden retriever name Sky passed away at the day of last year's run. Though it's still 2 days to his first anniversary, I thought I will dedicate this run to him. A primary goal of a sub 3 hour timing will be nice, but it will be great if I can better my 30KM split time of 02:46:04 clocked at last year's Penang Bridge International Marathon 2008.

Have already done a simulation run 2 weeks before to check out the new route and sure it's really tough due to mixture of gradients.

2009's race route...

Everything kind of went smoothly till I had a bad fall while going up the stairs a few days before race day. Landed on both my knees and somehow pulled my left feet. Am feeling pain on both of my lower knee caps and also my left metatarsal, especially when in motion. To make things even worst, even my right metacarpals started to hurt 2 days from the race. Not knowing the reasons and hoping the pain will go away in time, I doubled my supplement intake keeping my fingers and toes cross that it will help. Unfortunately, it did not. So, I guess it's down to my persistence and my tolerance of pain to see me through at this year's race. And with this, I no longer think on both my primary and secondary goals stated earlier. Will just be great to complete it safely without much suffering.

Everything started on Saturday morning, a day before the race. Having collected the race packs a few days in advance, it's my duty to pass them to the "Platinum Runners" at the Bukit Aman car park before leaving to pick up Chee Kong who arrived from Miri at KL Sentral. Speaking of race pack, this is the first time I am running with a bib number of A001 which is normally reserved for elite runners. Kind of made me special, but a number is after all a number.

With Chee Kong, we were joined by Andrew, Jeff, Lionel and Wai Lam at a dim sum restaurant call Restaurant Hong Kee at Damansara Jaya. Having our stomach filled, we then proceeded without Andrew though, to Mid Valley to bring our Miri "tourist" around. Didn't do my legs good as the walking was kind of torturous towards my injured knee. Was glad everything came to an end 3 hours later when we all went back home after getting stuck in a nasty crawl around Mid Valley for about 40 minutes.

Happy faces after filling up our stomachs...

To the race day now as I woke up and was relieve that there wasn't any discomfort on my metacarpals. Did all the necessary and picked Chee Kong up from his place at 4.00am before proceeding to Bukit Aman carpark to secure my usual car parking spot. Was lucky that I didn't arrive a little later as cars were seen coming in. As I wore my 2XU compression tights and tops which I bought from Singapore recently, I test run with it doing a short warm up while waiting for friends to arrive. I just hope the compression will hold my knees in place as I tackle the route. Soon, everyone from Choi, Lawrence, Chin Chin and Lynn arrived and we made ourselves to the starting point.

Deposited our bags and went chatting away while waiting for the race to be started. Met up with David and Ben too who came all the way from Singapore. With 10 minutes to 6.00am, we checked into the starting area and waited. There appears to be some delay and the race only started at 6.15am. As with other Pacesetters events, there was no prior announcement for the start of the race. The air horn was just blew out of a sudden and off we went. As I didn't do a proper warm up earlier, I took the exit from Lake Gardens as one. Besides, it's a hilly a climb too.

Upon reaching the main road at Jalan Parlimen, I can already feel both my knees. Ben who passed me here could even tell by just looking at my face. Both me and Lynn exchanged positions for a few times and I must admit that it really help me a lot in trying to keep myself going.

Arriving at the reverse double hills route, I took it easy especially during descend. Lynn took advantage of it and off she went. Tried to stay in touch with her but she was getting further and further. Only managed to catch up with her after crossing the Duta Highway. As the route gets tougher as the mixture of up and down hills starts from the IRB building heading towards the MATRADE area, things too turned from bad to worst as I started limping. But I wasn't ready to stop just yet, and therefore I ran with it.

Arriving at Sri Hartamas which is the 15KM mark at the Petronas station, I took my Honey Stinger gel courtesy from Lynn and was rewarded instead with another gel from the guys from PowerBar. As my body reacts positively with Vitamin B presence, the Honey Stinger gel which was fortefied with it soon took effect and I felt the surge of energy. Though with loads of energy, my legs just wasn't working.

It's time now for the journey back and under the bright sunlight, it didn't do justice to my eyes. It was glaring at certain areas and I missed my Oakleys. After successfully tackling the MARTRADE area for the second time, I arrived back again at the IRB building. I took my first stop here as the pain on my right knee was just bad. Even my right Iliotibial Band was hurting. Took some time to stretch and also to wait for Lynn, as the point of breaking myself apart, I really need a friend to help me carry on.

There's still approximately 10KM to go and a quick check on my wrist unit shows that my GPS had stopped recording at 18KM. Probably due to memory storage but I was in no mood to check it.

At the long stretch of Jalan Langgak Tungku, I was passed by Chui Miew. Didn't really mind at all as I was already overtaken by countless runners earlier. My right metacarpals was showing signs of a slight discomfort here. It was rather stiff and I had to flex it as I ran. Thought irritating, it didn't pose to be a problem, at least not as bad as my knees. As I was back running alone again, I took a quick glance back to check where Lynn was. Didn't manage to see her and therefore had no choice but to carry on myself which I did only till Jalan Tungku when I stopped to stretch again. It was a long one and Lynn caught up. With her, I started running again and entered Kenny Hills but only to be forced to stop again for another stretch.

As I exit Kenny Hills, I bumped into Alex and managed a short chat to keep my mind of the pain. Then, it was a loop around the Tungku Abdul Rahman Memorial before hitting it at Jalan Sultan Salahuddin. One of the marshall who spotted by bib number cheered me on. I was kind of embarassed actually and replied him with a smile.

I stopped twice as I entered the palace area. As it was roughly a couple of kilometers to the finish line, I took one heavy stretch and went for it as I remembered that Luc one told me that speed towards the closing stages of a race will help ease the pain. I tried it but it didn't work out as my pain at that time was just hitting the red alert zone.

Finally, back in Lake Gardens. The finish line is near but still I stopped twice again to stretch. But towards the final straight, I was just relieved that I made it as I crossed the finish line clocking 02:50:14.

The whole thing didn't end as I completed my run with a rather dramatic ending. As I crossed the finish line, both my knees was just in a world of hurt that I couldn't even control my slowing down procedure. I nearly collapse to the ground but Sam was there to quickly grab hold of me. Thanks Sam! A medic from the Saint John Ambulance came to help me but I was fine after managing to grab hold of the umbrella tent to support my body weight. It was a pretty embarassing sight as there were quite a lot of people around. Even David and Wong (Nike) was there too!

We did it...

Lynn came in shortly followed by Chin Chin too. Rested, stretched and rehydrated ourselves before proceeding to collect our well deserve medal and goodie bags before proceeding to hang out at a corner while waiting for the rest to return. And one by one, they returned safely but battered. Caught up with the rest like Ben and Yee Hua, San and Shih Ming before leaving the race venue for a well deserve lunch and back home for a cold shower.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Overall, I was satisfied with my achievement considering my condition. I didn't even feel so wasted in running a marathon except for my first 2. But in the end, to achieve my primary goal is something I can live with. At least I completed it within the qualifying time this time. And to Sky, this run is for you!

Missing you, Sky...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank You, Terry Fox Foundation...

By Frank
Back in November 2008, I participated in the annual Terry Fox Run 2008 in Malaysia. In fact, I have been participating in it since 2006 and I mark it down each year to run it, in a charity drive and running event to raise the awareness of finding a cure for cancer.

All the way from Canada...

As usual after completing each running event, I will certainly blog about it. However, Terry Fox Run 2008 was different in a way as upon blogging about it, I received an e-mail the next day from Judith, the international director for the Terry Fox Foundation from Canada. She has read about my entry and her reason was simple, to use some of my photos taken at our local run here and also to give some feedbacks on it. I have no problems on such a simple request and therefore agreed to it. Today, a couple of months plus since the event, to my much delight, I received 5 copies of the Terry Fox Foundation certificates accompanied with seals, ribbons and event tattoos for my friends who joined the run with me. And there was even a "Thank You" card from Judith herself.

To run in Terry Fox Run is certainly great. But to receive an e-mail directly from the foundation itself and also the certificates and stuff, is something beyond words. In fact, it's priceless. To Judith and the Terry Fox Foundation, I thank you for everything. And in together, we shall share our dedication to Terry Fox and his dream in finding a cure for cancer. THANK YOU!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Geraldine's Farewell Dinner...

By Frank

Running isn't all about putting on our shoes and going out to run alone of with friends. It's about sharing and getting together too. And today, the "Platinum Runners" group had organised a farewell dinner for Geraldine who will be migrating to Melbourne, Australia in a couple of weeks time. I do admit that it's really sad that she is leaving us, but one thing for sure is that we didn't have that written all over our face during the dinner. After all, it's a happy get-together event.

The dinner was held at California Pizza Kitchen, KLCC which was booked by Jamie in advance. I arrived together with Geraldine and Lynn as we car pooled together. Due to work commitments and also having to travel from Petaling Jaya, 15 minutes late was all it takes for us to make a grand entrance as the rest were already there. Settled down and began ordering. Luck wasn't on our side thought as the pizza oven broke down. How do you call a pizza restaurant without serving pizza? Hmm... Therefore, we ordered pasta instead which can be regarded as carbo loading for next morning's long run. Sounds like a pretty good choice.

We started with some Miso salad and chicken caesar salad ordered by Choi and Geraldine . Both are very unique but I have to say I enjoyed the chicken caesar salad a bit more due to the crispy romaine lettuce. Then came the main course. The guys all ordered pasta and mine was called Chicken Tequila Fettucine. Taste like some Chinese noodle dish to me, but it was prety good. Only Geraldine and and Lynn had something else which was in the form of Portobello Mushroom Ravioli. Next was dessert and I certainly made the wrong choice of ordering the hot fudge. Thinking it was like the mud pie served at TGIF, I gave no hesistation ordering it. Upon arrival, I was shocked that it was HUGE and certainly not hot. It's cold. Hahaha... Shared with the others and we all sin together. Well, at least there's a long run the next morning.

The super huge hot fudge...

After filling our hungry stomach, it was time to present Geradline with her farewell gift. We bought her a pink Oakley Half Jacket sunglass. Even the lenses were in pink! We asked her to try it on and it certainly looks good on her. And I'm glad it fits her nicely. Then came the suprise from the lady herself. She presented each of us with gifts too. Now it really feels like Chrismas gift exchange.

Before leaving, we took a group photo together, probably our last one before she leaves. And with that, we called it a night as most of us are running early the next morning.

We all going to miss Geraldine (2nd from left)...

The dinner was good but the company was excellent. It's always nice to take some time off running and spending the time together although most of the topics we talked about are still about running. Hey... We are runners after all.

We all are going to miss Geraldine dearly. Weekend runs are going to be so different without her. From her hard breathing to her speeding off with her relentless pace, that's something that we will all remember of. And with this entry, we all wish Geraldine and her family the very best. May we see each other again soon!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Of EVAs, Mesh To Rubbers...

By Frank

About a month or more ago, Lynn pops a question on the number of running shoes I have. Well… In my whole running career since I started back in March 2007 till now, 8 pairs is the answer. They are adidas Supernova Cushion 6, adidas adizero Tempo, adidas adistar Cushion 6, adidas Response Control 7, Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3, Saucony Grid Fastwitch 3, Nike LunarTrainer+ and Nike LunaRacer+. Of all the pairs, I have retired the adidas Supernova Cushion 6 which had gone through an estimated 700KM plus distance and sold off the adidas adistar Cushion 6 due to incompatibility issues.

My fellowship of running shoes...

I only had 1 pair of running shoes when I first took running seriously and used it to train and race. And not knowing that my feet actually enlarge with all the pounding when running, I choose a pair that fits nicely, without any additional space for my toes to move around. Consequences was a very painful feet. It was then the arrival of my second pair a good 8 months later that spun off my collection of running shoes in the comfort and performance zone. My collection of shoe varies from different brands, models and functionality. But it can be best describe as trainers and racers. The trainers though heavier than the racers are used for my training runs since they offer longer life span and also better protection for the foundation of our body, our legs. I hardly use my racers as they tend to wear out fast due to the low profile design. Therefore, they are used instead for races especially in major events like the marathon.

All shoe models are made differently that offers different function. Therefore, the advantages of having multiple running shoes are that it allows our feet to adjust to different “unique feel”. Besides, it decreases break down time. The shoe especially the cushioning system will need an average 1 day or slightly more to allow it to “regenerate” itself. With an alternative pair, the shoe can go on its much needed “break” just like how we humans do. Therefore, if viewed from another perspective, it can be seen as a costs cutting measure.

I’m lucky that I did not have to buy all the shoes I owned today. Some were given to me by the sports company for their trial program while some others for review purposes. I really do appreciate these programs as it does help with the thickness of my wallet. People say running is the cheapest sports around and although I must admit it is cheaper compared to others like cycling, it is no longer cheap. With innovations in technology that includes shoes, apparels to gadgets like GPS sensors, runners tend to spend a whopping amount annually.

A pair of running shoes will cost in between RM250 to RM500 (some costs even more!) depending on brand, make and model and it probably last an average distance of 700KM. For a hardcore runner, that will be probably a pair every 3 months or so. And even if the tread doesn’t wear out, the cushioning system will. So it’s best for the runner to know when is the good time to replace them before causing any damage. Till my ninth pair...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pacemakers Network Run 2009...

Event: Pacemakers Network Run 2009
Venue: Tapak A, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 1 January 2009
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 13.8KM for Men, 9.2KM for Women
Shoes: adidas adizero Tempo
By Frank

New hopes and resolutions as the new year came knocking at the Pacemakers Network Run 2009 which attracted more than 100 runners on a gloomy turned sunny morning at Lake Gardens. As most people were still in the party mood, most of us were seen pretty stoned. One of them will be yours truly, who didn't sleep a wink, arrived early at 6am with a bloated stomach, heavy eye bags and a very pale face. I seriously needed some sleep.

Arrived together with Chin TS and with an hour plus to go, we hung at the organisers tent and chatted away, while sending new year greetings to friends we met. As the sun began to brighten the rather darken area, all runners soon arrived and I met up with Chin Chin and Lynn. Not forgetting that it was my first time that I met Victor too. The race was delayed a few minutes due to the "disappearance" of a few runners and also due to the launch ceremony of a running group call "Chap Ayam" which literally translates to Chicken Brand. Hmm... I wonder if they are related to the food industry?

At roughly 7.45am, the air horn was blew and away we all went. It's a 2.3KM loop and the men are required to complete 6 of them while the women just 4. At sleepy times like this, I wish I was doing 4 instead. And for the first time in a Pacemakers event, a timing chip is used. My first loop was rather comfortable. It was then at the second which I began to struggle. My head was rather heavy and am short of breath. In other words, my body just felt like shutting down. I was slowing down but I kept telling myself to complete this run for new year's sake. Just get it done!

Although a few runners passed me, I was rather all by myself till midway into the third loop. Somehow, I felt Lynn was just behind me and with a quick glance over my shoulder, it proves that I was right. How did I know? Hmm... Somehow I just knew. Ran together till we got back to the starting point and with just one more lap for her, I gave out a sign for her to push as I made myself out of her way. However, she slowed down at the Boat House (waterfall) area which allowed me to regain my lead over her. Heard her breathing which was just as deep as mine. Not wanting to break away which may demotivate her should I do so, I kept myself a short distance in front of her trying to guide her to the finish line as quickly as possible.

And as we arrived at the refreshment station which was something like 300M to the finish line, I slowed and swayed to the side to allow Lynn to pass me as I did not want to spoil her finishing photo which should be taken by the photographers. And as she crossed the finish line, I applauded her while I continued on. However, something amusing happened here as Kelvin being the funny man and also the emcee of the event, announced loudly that I was overtaken by Lynn. If I can remember what he said, it was something like "Frank the hot dog was sayur by Lynn". (For international readers - sayur means being overtaken, a Malaysian running slang). Hahaha... I actually laughed my way through the start gantry.

Halfway through my fifth loop, I bumped into Victor who was struggling. Pace with him hoping that we will be able to help each other as we are really both really tired. However, he lost it when he stopped at the refreshment station with 1 more loop to go. I told him to carry on saying that I will wait for him but somehow, although he started running again, he has slowed down a lot. I passed Chin Chin and Lynn who was walking back to the car after completing their run and that served me as the sign for my final push.

I was already hallucinating at my final loop. I just want to get it over with as soon as possible, to end the new year's day with a successful run. And that I did as I cross the finish line at position 13 clocking 01:06:26. What a way to start the year!

Relive the experience with RunWitMe...

As we waited for the all the runners to return, I was joined by Chin Chin and Lynn again. Lynn scored a second placing while Chin Chin fifth despite her knee discomfort. CONGRATULATIONS to the both of them as they were awarded not only a finisher's medal but a trophy too. Now, that's really a great way to start the year with. As we chatted around with Jeff, Lionel, Loke and Victor, time quickly passes by and after a group photo taken, we were soon on our way home.

Volunteers and runners together...
.Overall, though really tiring, it was a great event and a meaningful one especially for runners to start the year with. The event was well organised but however, I was kind of disappointed with the lack of isotonic drinks and mineral water at the finishing point. Only canned Milo were served and being a dairy product, not every runner can take it after a run. Other food like bananas, watermelons and nasi lemaks were sufficient though to replenish all the tired runners. Anyhow, well done to the organisers especially to Kei Ming who undertook successfully the role of a race director for the first time. Kudos to him. And not forgetting, Happy New Year to everyone!

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...