Sunday, March 27, 2011

Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011...

Event: Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011
Venue: East Coast Park, Singapore
Date: 26 March 2011
Time: 6.00pm
Distance: 10KM loops (maximum distance in 16 hours)
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Light Run
By Frank

Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011 was an event I was so looking forward too. But it soon became one that I was really upset with that I wanted it to end so quickly so that I could get home.

I couldn't get myself to sleep and only manage 2 hours before the alarm went off. I was up at 4.30am, got everything ready and at 6am, I was off to the airport to catch up with Jamie. As I've already performed the web check-in, I've saved a lot of hassle. With about 2 hours before boarding, both of us caught up with Paul, Poh Chye, Pui San and Julie at an eatery outlet to spend time.

Fast forward, flight was delayed for about 15 minutes. Landing was pretty horrible with the air plane swaying left and right before coming to a stop. Arriving at Changi Airport was one pretty cold affair. I was only in a tee-shirt and bermuda shorts and thus I was freezing. Made our way to Terminal 2 to hop on to the MRT to get to the city. Pui San got off at Bedok leaving the rest of us to get off at Raffles City which was a bad mistake. Got ourselves lost there and it took us a long walk to get to Marina Square. Julie and Poh Chye did not follow and went straight to Bugis though.

With Jamie and Paul, we finally got to the comfort of Marina Square but to our horror, the food court which we all thought serves pretty good food has ceased operation. With no other choices and 3 empty hungry stomachs, we decided to have shabu-shabu buffet below. Although the food was great in taste, it wasn't satisfying for me as it lacks the carbs I needed. After lunch, I met up with Matthew, Karim and Kevin to perform some product exchange before hanging at Starbucks Coffee for some needed caffeine. Another bad mistake where I ordered cappuccino which was basically half foam. Not enough coffee in it!

At 4pm, we hailed down a taxi and made our way to Eact Coast Park only to be delayed by a traffic jam caused by an accident. Paul and myself saw the lack of time and quickly try to get into as much of our race gears as possible while in the taxi. With 30 minutes to go, we all rushed to get our remaining race gear from the organiser and I was SHOCKED to learn that my race number is number 1! A tough number to live through the 16 hours as it was called out at each support station. Yikes...

As I rush to gear up, I miss so many usual rituals like lubricating and taping certain hot spots. Got everything on, took an energy bar and at 5pm, the event was officially started. I started with the Malaysian group and had lots of fun then while we were all still pretty energetic.

Arriving at the first turning point at 2.5KM, the group split up a bit and my pace was building up till I met Khairul. I spend most of my first 10KM with him and enjoyed most of out it chatting with him. Then came Karen. We ran together for till about 30KM before I drop out. The earlier pace was pretty fast, but soon disaster struck me. Rich took over to accompany Karen while I battled headache. The lack of sleep took toll on me and with every foot strike, a hammer came knocking on my head. I was seeing stars. While Karen and Rich took off, I waited for Jamie at the base station. We both decided to walk 5KM together before heading for dinner at Burger King.

At about 11pm, Jeff too had call it a night. He stopped at 40KM and while I was tempted too, I told myself not to give in just yet. With Lynette, the 3 of us went for dinner. Though looking forward to it, I couldn't get the food into my system and only managed half a burger. At mignight, I continued on with Jamie and soon after, Cynthia came from the opposite. I passed her my remaining Coca-Cola and she gulp it down. I guess it was heaven-sent for her.

My system downgraded after the meal. I was loosing it. After the turn and on the way back to the base station, I had Paul to accompany me. I appreciate his company as I was struggling to get my head together. Back at the base station, I decided to take a break. I sat at the side with Jeff and Khairul to put the pieces back together but it came crumbling down.

After 2 hours of rest, I decided to attack the remaining last 5KM and to get over with it. I don not want to come all the way to run under a marathon distance. Held on to the pain of every hammer strike, I went at my race pace. Coming close to 10 hours at 09:50.31, I've managed to run 45KM and this is where I called it quits. As much disappointed I am with this, I guess this isn't my night and my run.

After showering which was kind of an embarrassing moment for me (4 big men showering together clad only in our underwear), together with Jamie and Jeff, we proceeded to McDonalds for breakfast. Again, I struggled to get the food in. Soon later, we found a bench to take a really short nap. I did not, as I look up the sky and though of the run. I cried a little over the spilled milk. "Are my ultra days numbered?" and "Is Sundown 100KM my cup of tea?", I asked myself. No answers but instead, Jeff woke us up and we proceeded back to base station to catch up with the others.

I caught a glimpse of the remaining runners still running and I'm happy to see both Karen and Yim to be in that field. Victor and Poh Chye too. Shine has already completed his 100KM in about 12 hours and still looking great. After a while, I fell back again on the ground to take a rest before waking up at about 6.30am to catch a taxi to the airport.

Although our flight back is scheduled at 12.50pm, I guess the airport was a better place to rest. Nothing much to blog about here from now, as I was just happy that it' all over and that I caught up with 15.5hours worth of sleep back home. If only I could have run that long.

Signing off from this grueling event, I would like to congratulate and thank the following people:

- Ben Swee, for successfully organising this event near to perfection with him team from Running Guild, Singapore,
- Lynette, for all the kind support and assistance given throughout the entire event,
- Jamie, for being again my travel mate and someone I really enjoy to be with during my trips,
- Paul, for being travel mates the first time and accompanying me when I needed someone during the run,
- Karen, for being part of my running adventures and running with me till I drop off. And many congrats on an awesome feat,
- Khairul, for being there during the early part of the race and also catching up mid span of it,
- Yim, for being the runner who had set an example that to defy the odds, it's up to one self. Congratulations too on an amazing feat,
- David, for the heavenly sent red bean ice stick and all the photos taken,
- Mohan, for being the happy go lucky runners and for taking care of my luggage,
- Kash, for arriving at the most critical time to support the runners with running and fuel,
- Meng Wai, Victor, Shine, Poh Chye, Cynthia, Adeline, Alexis, Pui San, Julie and the rest of the Malaysian contingent for making this trip even more memorable,
- To the rest whose name isn't mention here, you know yourself. A huge THANKS and CONGRATULATIONS for everything!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Twilight Zone...

By Frank

This coming 26 March 2011, I will enter the unknown by running the Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011 organised by a good friend of mine, Ben. A 16 hour no frills but yet no pressure running event held at East Coast Park, Singapore running in 10KM loops, I will most likely be outrunning my longest running time of 12:08:16 achieved from Sundown Ultra Marathon 2009.

I do not know how am I going to tackle this as running has been down the drain the past 1 week plus due to a bad stomach. I managed to put in a couple of short runs this week, and although things still look pretty good, I still have my worries. 16 hours of running is no joke. Fatigue, sleepiness and hunger is what we ultra runners will be facing. But on the positive side, I'm actually looking forward to it and also the event is held at the busy part of East Coast Park where eateries is everywhere. Besides, I'm sure Ben has make sure the good welfare for us runners.

Leading to my century distance race later this year, I'm expecting myself to peak at this event. Though it isn't the case now, I'm still going for it. I'm going to try to last the entire 16 hours, whether run, limp or crawl. This will allow my mind and body understand more what is awaiting me at the end of June 2011 later.

Besides the running adventure, it will be one hell of an amazing race for myself and my travel mate, Jamie as well. We are flying in commando style arriving at Singapore in the morning of 26 March 2011 and leaving back home immediately after the race the next day. We only have about a couple of hours to get to the airport after our run. Almost a pretty similar case as our The North Face 100 Singapore 2010 adventure, this is even more jam packed. Talk about rush hour for the both of us.

My arsenal for this event is all but ready. A huge THANK YOU to both K-Swiss and GU Energy Labs for sponsoring my race gears and nutritional needs. With all done from mainly my mind and race gears (physical not so though), the twilight zone awaits!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Missing Snow...

By Frank

When I mentioned that my running mileage took a dip due to lack of time, I know it isn't an excuse. However, when I mentioned that it was due to that and some personal reasons, I really meant it.

Today marks exactly 1 month since my the other Golden Retriever, Clangan Funny Fun Fun otherwise better known as Snow left me. I was left devastated when she left me on 15 February 2011 at a age of just 8 years old.

Snow (taken at the age of 6)...

As seen from my lack of update on this blog, I just had no mood or ideas for any entries. My runs on weekend too were horrible but I managed to pick myself up to show up in front of my friends. And it took me a month to blog about this, although I did not want to at first but decided to, to serve as part of my memories with both my Golden Retrievers. Snow has been with me since year 2003 when I was still staying in a rented house at Subang Jaya. She together with Sky, my the other Golden Retriever boy, was the joy of my life. When Sky left me 3 years ago, I feared Snow will be lonely. She was for sure, at least for the start but managed to carry on with life on her own. She became part of my running life going with me for short runs. When she aged, her runs became much shorter and therefore accompanied me for my warming down. After all, Golden Retrievers needs a lot of attention. When Snow started to fall sick since last year, her personality has changed. There were ups and downs but I guess 1 year down the road, it was time for her to be reunited with Sky at the other world.

1 month later, today and now, I'm certainly missing her. Whenever I hear some sounds from the backyard or simply the shaking of the metal grill, I thought she was the one causing it. But a quick glance, there was nothing there. Life is certainly different now. From 2 joyful Golden Retrievers to 1, and now to none, my life felt so empty suddenly.

Snow, I'm sure you are reunited with Sky and am in a better place now. Thank you to the both of you for all the memories and joyous moment spent together. I will certainly miss you both.

Sky and Snow is now reunited...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bareno Run 2011...

Event: Bareno Run 2011
Venue: National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Selangor
Date: 13 March 2011
Time: 5.30am
Distance: 21KM (20.2KM by Map My Run)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
By Frank

Almost didn't make it to my first race of the year. Was down with fever 2 days prior to it. Emergency counter measure was taken yesterday to make sure I'm able to make it and so I did. Was thinking of giving it a go to try to outrun my half marathon personal best which has been standing since more than 2 years now. I know the chances are slim as my training is based on distance now, and not speed. But I left it to the last minute to decide on whether to whack it, or simply just to complete it based on how I felt.

And so I woke up at 12.30am. Yeap folks. When you are getting ready to go to bed, I'm climbing out of it. Still feverish but it' s better now. Tried to bring it down with a wet cool towel while having a pleasant breakfast before leaving home at 2.30am. By 3am, I arrived at the venue and quickly hooked up with James at his The Marathon Shop sales booth. Had to resupply him with some stuff and wanted a good parking spot for fear of car break-ins which happened at last year's edition. That's the whole reason for arriving 2.5 hours prior to the race. Hahaha...

Nose started running first but my body felt ok. Just a slight fever, I decided to run it. I even choose to run in my tri top and shorts as this will allow me to pour water over myself to cool myself down without having moisture retention. Jamie arrived at 4am and soon was Yim who was holding my race bib. The starting point was 300M away from the race village and we jog there as part of our warming up. At 5.30am sharp, runners were let off.

Had a little problem passing runners at the start but once out on the open roads, things were fine. I tried to keep pace with Jamie which I managed too till completing the Sungai Besi Highway which was rather enjoyable to run on. The climb into the Bukit Jalil bus terminal was horrible due to the heavy traffic and the narrow single lane.

Then, it's into Sri Petaling area where I choke on my GU Brew which I brought along. Didn't help at all with my running nose and I slowed down to catch my breathe. Shortly, I arrived at the 10KM mark, which I think that area is call Happy Gardens. The first major climb and boy it was tough. But I managed to excel here with some hill running methods I've been implementing. The second climb wasn't too bad as I still managed to chat with Alex. *Blargh... Conquering the climbs, I finally caught up with Jamie and shared a few moments chatting together. He even showed me his old house!

Pace was building and so are the others. At 14KM, James and John was there to give out the energy gels but I opt not to take it. Soon later, Ah Ming caught up and we ran together. At the last 4KM or so, Jamie slowed down a little and asked me to go ahead. But a Malay chap came beside me and started pacing with me. I found it really irritating as he came very close to me and was forcing me out of the running lane. I tried to shake him off but every time I slowed down, he waited for me. ARGHH...

"Ironwar" came into my mind that time and so I played some mind games with him reserving one single gear for myself. Stride for stride, we traded till the last kilometer where I just pump into my extra gear and managed to shook him off for good.

Entering the finishing area, Raymond was there to cheer and what I can only offer is a smile. Already breathless while zooming in and nearly fell due to the cobble stone surface. At the end of it, I completed my first race of the year with a time of 01:51:41 which I'm really happy with. Oh yeah, the Malay chap who earlier paced me came to thank me which in the end, was courtesy after all.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Despite not running a personal best, I truly enjoyed this run a lot for the weather was kind and the organisation was good. At least I was not feeling wasted. Besides, I had a good deal of time meeting and catching up with friends like Andrew, Michael, Raymond, Yim, Victor, James Wong, James Fong, Lynn, Michelle, Sunny and so many more. And before signing off, here's a big THANK to Fui Cheng, Rao, Yim and Jamie for helping me with the collection of my race pack. Till the biggie the next 2 weeks...

* Oh and yeah. If you are wondering what are the counter measures I took to tackle my fever, besides the wet towel, it was just green tea! Flavonoid goodness!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

K-Swiss Blade-Light Run...

By Frank

Back on 26 November last year, I reviewed the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race. More than 3 months later, today I'm reviewing its "brother" instead, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run, courtesy from K-Swiss.

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Run...

Received it from K-Swiss to join me for my century distance training, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run is a minimalist trainer that weights in at about 252 grams for a men size US9.0. A light-weight cushioned trainer, it shares the same outsole profile as the racer and its platform and fit is based on the best selling K-Swiss K-Ona C, with some tweaking to it.. The difference with the racer is just the upper where instead of using velcro fastener, the traditional mesh and lacing method is used.

Lateral view of the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run...

Medial view of the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run...

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Run like the racer shares almost the same technology. Flow Cool system for a well ventilated inner, drainage ports to allow water to exit the shoe, GuideGlide for natural gait, AOSTA II blown rubber for durability at area most needed and Superfoam cushioning system. More or less, it's like a copy-cat.

The perforated midsole for superior ventilation and moisture management..

Upon slipping them on, I quickly felt how fitting it is compared to the racer. Instead of a longer toe-box the racer has, this fits really well. And with all the thickened padding around the collar and tongue, I felt my feet was wrap within a pillow. However, though sharing the same profile, I can't explain the reason that I felt that this shoe is positioned higher from the ground. A test run on it proved me almost right, as although the responsiveness is great, it fell short from the racer. The blade design which compress with every strike, managed to response well hence a more effective lift-off. There must be a reason behind the slight different feel, and thus I delayed this review and went for even more runs. And then, the troubleshooting paid off. The wear rate was a little slower compared to the racer. I do not know how is this possible as both outsoles are the same. Perhaps K-Swiss has some genius behind their design team which designed the shoe to be felt and perform differently in a way. Hmmm...

The outsole comprising of K-EVA and AOSTA II which builds the blade design...

The upper of the shoe is made of the traditional mesh overlay. Reflective layers are added to the toe-box area and while the lacing method is based on the K-Swiss K-Ona C, a clever improvement has been added. A secondary eye-lit on the lateral side of the shoe which offers a more secure fit. And both the well padded tongue and collar has also a built-in pulley to enable faster slip-ons, a crucial feature for triathletes during their transition.

View of the secondary eye-lit...

A well padded collar with the pulley for comfort and ease of putting on the shoe...

Whether speed or durability, K-Swiss has an answer in 2 shoes right now being the Blade-Light Race and the Blade-Light Run. Personally for me, my preference slightly edges towards the racer for somehow, I felt being closer to the ground. But if durability is your concern, then the trainer will probable suit you better. In the end, it's your choice between this great shoes.

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Run retails at a recommended price of RM399.00 and is available at Runnerz Circle and other authorised dealers.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

3 Weeks Till Twilight...

By Frank

Last week's mileage was down the drain due to work commitments and tiredness. However, it allowed my body to recover a little before resuming training this week.

Yesterday's run was the usual Bukit Aman to Hartamas with Jamie, Loke, Jeff and Daniel. Felt good and managed a decent pace till crossing the Duta crossover. That's about 6KM. Then came the dreaded side-stitch. It irritated me for 10KM before it finally went away. By that time, the guys has already disappeared into the distance. I tried to give chase but to no avail. The good thing about this, is that I met a lot of runners on the way back. Managed to greet almost everyone but at times, I did miss seeing them and therefore do not know who was it. Some even mentioned that the spotted a COBRA! Lucky no one was bitten. Phew...

This morning, together with Jamie, Vince, Rao, Ivan, Fui Cheng and Jennifer (the great people that make up the Aladdin running group *self named :p), we ran the modified Newton route. Weather was kind and pace was steady. However, as I woke up really early and even went over to my premises to mop the floor and to do some office work, I do feel a little sleepy along the run. But I needed to keep myself alert as a long stretch at Lestari Perdana was pitch dark. The street lamps weren't working and there were cars moving in and out from the neighbourhood. We ran in a group and we looked out for each other. Decided to turn back at the Caltex station at about 10.5KM mark with Jamie while Vince and Fui Cheng continued on the Giant Hypermarket which gave them a couple of extra kilometers.

The return was done on a faster pace. I attack a few climbs but slowed back down to recover after reaching the top. Jamie as usual, attacked the final 5KM. With 3KM to go, I tried to give chase but I can't endure the fast pace hence failing to catch him. By the time I arrive back at the car park with Vince, Jamie was gone as he was late for his appointment. Left a note on my car saying his tummy was not well too. Perhaps that explains his last 5KM pace. Hehehe...

I never felt so good running this modified Newton route. Of all the runs I did here, I struggled. Today is a different story. I was happy with it and this came at a perfect time as a half marathon beckons the following week. And 16 hours Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011 is just 3 weeks away. Really looking forward to it, and hope this week's run is showing a positive result. OK, now where is my bed? YAWN!