Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nike We Run KL 10K 2011...

Event: Nike We Run KL 10K 2011
Venue: Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 27 November 2011
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 10KM (10.05KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
By Frank

The fourth edition of Nike's 10KM run in this region previously known as the Human Race and KL City Run. It was the second edition at Singapore where my 10KM personal best was achieved. I decided that this will be my final race using my beloved K-Swiss K-Ruuz and I thought of giving it a "grand" send off. My favourite racing flat to date, it will retire from the race scene after this event though will still be using for short distance interval training. Not only it has almost reach its "end of life", the successor is coming to me soon. Hehehe... Therefore, it will be great if I can remember it with a personal best out of it.

I *heart* my K-Ruuz. Thanks for the services (photo taken after the race)...

One wrong move I did a day before the run was that I lost my resistance to subdue myself from having frozen yoghurt. The famous but now I felt over-rated Royal Red Velvet from Tutti Frutti has finally appeared at the mall I'm working at hence I took the chance. Therefore, it caused major bowel movement on race morning that I had to hit the potty pot 4 times! The fourth was particular the worst as I was lined up in a queue of 6 person. The AGONY! Jeff whom I met at the "deposit area" was a little luckier than me. He only deposited 3 times. :p

Tummy was experiencing a tidal wave after all the depositing. Didn't feel good but I was still positive about the race until I made my way to the VIP area. They refused my entry though I was registered as one stating that I did not have a VIP wrist band. I didn't know about this and hence asked the girl in charge to check my name on the name list that was sitting right in front of her. She refused and I was really sore about it! What's so hard to actually flip through a couple pieces of paper to check for my name. I'm sure my name is there as CG Lim (event organiser) whom I met during the race pack collection even knew I'm registered under VIP. "Wait till I find Wong (Nike contact person)", I told myself but sadly I failed to locate him. I met Pueh Tian instead and had a short chat before heading out to Jalan Parlimen where the start is.

Without the VIP access, I can't be line up in front like how I did in my first and second edition of the Human Race. Instead, I was cramped up at three quarter from the front. There goes my personal best. I was with Boon Yeong while waiting for the start and had a lengthy chat before the race was officially started at 7am sharp. Took me about 10 minutes just to cross the starting line and that wasn't even the start of my race yet. Major obstruction from the huge number of runners along the 2 lanes road, I couldn't run straight. Had to manoeuvre myself around and sometimes even running outside the dedicated running lane.

The first couple of kilometers took runners along Jalan Damansara before hitting KL Sentral and then Brickfields. Was nice to actually run here and the first 2 water stations with entertainment like music and drummers appeared along the first 5KM with plenty of plain water and isotonic drinks served which I only took to wet my mouth. Didn't want to risk tummy upset by letting them into my tummy. Mobile toilets were also deployed but sadly even 5 cubicles can't meet the demand to "let go" by the runners. The queue was massive!

Before heading to the next 5KM, I better mentioned that I actually decided to forego trying to run a new personal best. It was basically impossible with the number of runners around me. Therefore, I just though of doing some interval training where I run at a faster pace when I find a clear line, and then recovering when I hit the human wall. I think I did pretty well with this suggestion of mine.

Before entering the 5KM mark where the old train station was, I bump into Hafeez and chatted for a while. Then on Jalan Kinabalu, the running lane shrunk to just 1. I had to run on the pavement to overtake and soon saw a runner in white vest while others are in a red shirt. It was Mohan and I purposely called out "BANDIT" to him. Hahaha... We chatted for a while with regards to or future ultra marathons before I zoomed off to the usual Bank Negara route.

3KM uphill was the task to complete the race and slowly, we entered the final climb along the Mahameru Highway, which at the turning into Jalan Parlimen will be the final attack. From there, I went for it and finally crossed the finish line at where I started from with a time of 00:54:52.

Despite 7 minutes plus off from my personal best, I was really happy with it. It's good to be back in the sub 1 hour time frame after all the ultra distance training.

Back the race village, I was rewarded with refreshments almost instantly and collected a rather unique finisher's gift, a thumb drive in a shape of a shoe. I soon spotted Wong and he gave me a VIP wrist band which is a little too late now. However, I've gained access to the VIP area after the showing my wrist band to the same girl who refused my entry earlier. Met Pueh Tian again and was reluctant to dig into the food served as was afraid my weak tummy will give way again. But finally, I still did though had to choose wisely this time.

Had to rush off after satisfying my hunger for food but soon bump into my good friend Yim and chatted for a while before I bump into Lawrence and Carol along the way back to the car later. Overall, it was a well organised event. The atmosphere was really pumped up with the upbeat choice of songs played. I even enjoyed the route which took runners around KL city on foot which most of the time we have to do it in our vehicles. The only downside was I'm sore about the whole VIP thingy which actually wrecked a potential new personal best. But still I have to thank Wong for the complimentary entry to this race. Till next year...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

En Route Pietermaritzburg...

By Frank

A relief indeed! After crossing the finish line at the recent Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) 2011, I was just so worried that I can't make it to Comrades Marathon 2012. It was such a close shave. 2 minutes slower and I'm done for, burning off more than half a grand Malaysian Ringgit worth of race participation fees.

PBIM 2011, my ticket to Comrades Marathon 2012...

But as of earlier today, I submitted my PBIM 2011 results which was released yesterday to the Comrades event organiser and within an hour plus, they replied, "Race number 57056. I have updated your entry". A sense of relief and happiness, I know I am now a confirmed qualified entry into the race next year. And upon checking up on the system, my joy was doubled. :D

57056 is confirmed...

And as expected, I was seeded H, the last of the last and therefore will be placed in the last start wave also widely known as the "Kandang" in the Malay language. Kind of sad that I have to start at the back, but at this point, I can't asked for more. Chee Kong who will be my host for this event who will also run it too, will be starting at wave D, much ahead of me.

Anyhow, this will be major step. Next will be finalising the charity fund raising for cancer research. Till then, let's do the African dance!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 20 November 2011
Time: 2.00am
Distance: 42.195KM (43.57KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light
By Frank

The task of qualifying for the "oldest" and "biggest" falls to Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011, my one and only chance. An AIMS certified route is needed and I will need to run a sub 5 hour marathon get entry. However, I was aiming for a 10 minute buffer just for "insurance" purpose. Another aim was that I do not intend to stop running along the route except for hydration or toilet needs. An inspiration taken from the Relay Of Life, the run must continue on to signify the fight against cancer is forever ongoing. This I had in mind along my run.

The journey up to Penang was a smooth one. Andy picked me up slightly after 8am and with no where to eat around the Tropicana City Mal, we decided to detour along the way to Bidor for the famous noodle shop before continuing on. At about 12.30pm, we arrived at Queensbay Mall and after picking up Andy's race pack, we rendezvous with other running friends like Jamie, Jeff, Elaine, Alex, Dannie and Carrie for some grocery shopping before adjourning to Equatorial Hotel. Took a while to check-in due to the long queue but was glad the room was just so nice and comfy. Just renovated and even the smell is still there.

Prepare our race gear, rested for a while before heading out to the nearby Super Tanker food court for an early dinner where I finally found the fusion apom pancake which I lost touch of it many years ago. Was glad, was glad that I found it by chance.

Called for an early night and decided to wake up at 11pm with about just 3 hours to sleep. But I do feel good after waking up to a hot cup of white coffee and bowl of hot noodles recommended by Jamie. By 1am, both myself and Andy made our way to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus which I also met Azam too. We both hitch the special van catering only to marathon runners while Andy had to hitch the next. The shuttle van stopped us near Gold Coast apartment due to the blockade but it was good for us as we had the opportunity to do a light jo warming ourselves up to the starting point which was about 1KM away.

At 2am sharp, the marathon was flag off by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and off I went. Immediately the tightness on both my quads for pushing through by bike leg at last week's Powerman Malaysia 2011 showed. I hope to shake it off throughout the run bt that did not happen. Not even the Coca-Cola I had help. In fact, it only help making me more alert. Haha...

Just after the u-turn at about 3KM or so, Yim passed me after a short chat. He was on a fast pace and I had no intention to follow. I want to do this alone, my way, my pace and seriously I don't think my legs can take much punishment this time with lack of training. A few other running friends came along side me but I have to apologise for not being able to chat much as I was too into the run and trying to conserve my energy and concentration. First 10KM was in 58 minutes which was fine but as tightness on my quads was getting bad, my time began to slow too.

Jeff passed me just before the climb up the bridge. But fast forward to the return trip, I caught up to Jeff again on the climb up the bridge. We were joined by the half marathoners here but was glad that no interference from them. But I had the shock when an ex-pat lady came along side me and said "OOoohh K-Swiss" in response to the gear I was wearing. The"OOoohh" part really freak me out!

Nearing the end of the bridge, I caught both Jamie and Jeff walking enjoying the sea breeze which was actually cooling. Jamie came along and we ran side by side for a moment before starting to exchange places. On the Jelutong Expressway, I was struggling with my quads and in addition will be my right ankle which surprisingly is giving out a weird signal. With another 12KM to go, it isn't helping much but I just knew that I have to push through the pain barrier.

Fast forward to the u-turn point at 34KM, I pop my last GU Energy Gel and tried to go for it. However, it was Jamie that went ahead and he disappeared in the distance. Jeff's vest has also came off too and he ran even faster! Crazy fellows!

My timing doesn't look good and I had to visit the loo which I had at 37KM. As the mobile toilet was pitch black inside, I decided to do it behind, fertilising the grass. Hope no one caught a photo of a "K-Swiss athlete flowering the grass". 4KM to go, Karen came along side me and we ran together which she mentioned to finish the run together. She even nearly knock into a ridiculous marshall on a bicycle who I can only describe BLIND! We were both running our lines dressed in bright colours and yet he kept pedalling towards us and finally making a decisive u-turn just in front of Karen. DUH!

At 3KM to go, my time was seriously not looking good and Karen asked me to go for it which I did. A wake up call from her, I push hard only cause my left hip flexor to give way forcing me to slow down again. I grit my teeth and tried to force myself through and at the final stretch, I look at my watch and I saw my sub 5 in bag and slowed for Karen not too far behind and decided to slow down for her. She had the final kick at the last 500M which I couldn't keep up. My heart rate was peaking at 94% and she was on her top gear. But eventually she slowed down too and we both cross the finish line together with my time of 04:57:23. A quick glance at the official timer on the gantry showed a 04:58:xx. I did it and qualified, but in the toughest and most scariest way and I have Karen to THANK for.

Front view of finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Back at the hotel, I quickly called my contact person from the cancer research society to deliver the good news. With green light awarded, I can now disclose a little on the "oldest" and "biggest" event I will be participating next year. It will be the Comrades Marathon 2012 on 3 June 2012. The "down" edition racing 89KM from Pietermaritzburg to Durban at South Africa. And I will be running it as part of a charity fund raising campaign for a certain cancer research society which I won't be revealing till the green light is awarded due to some finalisation that has yet to be done. But it will happen. For now, I'm just glad I made the qualification and all is in good shape now.

On route to Comrades Marathon 2012...

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Small Step for A Bigger Tomorrow...

By Frank

This Sunday, 2am at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011, I will make my attempt to run a sub 5 hours marathon to qualify for something "old" and big" next year. I won't disclose the description just yet and all I can say now is that it is for a good cause, a step forward in the fight against cancer.

A sub 5 hour marathon. "You say it's easy for me"? Well, frankly speaking if it was 2 years back, then probably it shouldn't be much of a problem. I've been concentrating on ultra running this year and though I've gained in endurance, I've slowed in speed. I've built slow twitch muscles around me and I lost the fast ones. And with my busy work schedule, it doesn't make things easier. My bike mechanical fault at last Sunday's Powerman Malaysia 2011 which lead to my quads screaming for 40KM or so, I was on compression tights these pass few days to ease the soreness. Not to mentioned that I been paying a lot of attention to my nutrition hoping that it will help my system get the energy back and repair work done.

The weather may affect my run too. I'm not a rain person and with last year's experience, I been paying attention to the weather forecast for this year. And it may rain again and it isn't a good sign for me. My selection of gear will play a critical part in hoping for a comfy and "mishap" free run.

I did thought of engaging friends like Jamie and Yim to assist me in the run, at least to motivate and pull me along. But after thinking twice or thrice, I guess I rather not. If I were to do this, I rather do it alone. It's after all, a cancer survivor's run towards the fight against it.

Race registration paid for, accommodation and transportation all planned for, charity fund raising mechanics proposed, all I'm lacking now is the qualification for "that" next year's event. And I only have this one single shot at it at the Penang Bridge as it is the only AIMS certified route that I will be participating before the qualification submission is close for. Therefore, as a runner and a cancer survivor, it will be an important one for me, for the cancer patients and survivors out there as my fighting journey towards cancer continues will depend on this.

A little note on my journey up to the Pearl of the Orient. Am taking a lift from Andy who will be picking me up from Tropicana City Mall on this Saturday morning, and then heading for breakfast before commencing on our journey. Will be putting up at Equatorial Hotel which is really far, at least 4KM from the race site at QueensBay Mall. Heading towards there will not be a problem since shuttle bus services will be provided. It's the heading back part after a tiring run. Anyway, we will leaving on Sunday after the run which is a pretty rush trip. But anyhow, I still have to thank Andy for allowing me to follow him up. At least my journey won't be so boring. :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Band Of Brothers...

By Frank

Although K-Swiss entered the running market pretty late and I only started wearing them just April last year, it quickly became both my feet and legs best friend. Probably the most comfortable shoe I've worn for my past 4.5 years plus of running, it quickly became my shoe of choice too for both my training and races.

As of today, I personally own 6 pairs of K-Swiss running shoes that has gone through thick and thin with me along my running journey. Presenting the band of brothers, platoon K-Swiss in the order I got them:

1) K-Swiss K-Ona C - 84KM Sundown Ultra Marathon 2010 personal best and conquered a thunderstorm Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010.

2) K-Swiss K-Ona - A couple of full marathons and today still remain my training and walking shoe.

3) K-Swiss K-Ruuz - A couple of full and half marathons. My favourite racing flats to date.

4) K-Swiss Blade-Light Race - 2 Powerman Malaysia with it, clocking my personal best in 2010's edition. Very close choice between the K-Swiss K-Ruuz.

5) K-Swiss Blade-Light Run - A full marathon and the 50KM Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011 followed by lots and lots of long training runs with it. My current favourite training shoe.

6) K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light - My century distance shoe. Conquered 100KM Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011 with it.

My K-Swiss platoon...

As you can see from the above, all my K-Swiss shoes went through much with me in selected duties. It's hard to define which is the best for me as there are all just equally good or perhaps too close to choose from as each suits different duties. Take the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race for example. The velcro system allows fast transition time during my Powerman and the sock like seamless feeling is just amazing. For the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light, the hydrophobic Ion-Masking coating allowed me to pour ice cold water on my shoe during my 100KM ultra marathon. And during 2010 edition of Penang Bridge International Marathon, when all other brands of shoes became soaking wet in rain water, my K-Swiss K-Ona C performed like no other thanks to the drainage ports and the Flow Cool System.

Each K-Swiss was designed with innovation in mind by runners and triathletes alike. They may still be young in the running market, but the design is back my experience and knowledge from one of the most demanding sports out there, the Ironman triathlon.

And with a bridge to conquer this weekend, which is a very important race for me too, which K-Swiss will I choose from? Will it be my beloved K-Swiss K-Ona C, or will the wet forecast weather the push me to the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light? Or perhaps something 1.5 that has yet to arrive? *hint hint* Decisions decisions... But one things for sure. I'm rocking Penang Bridge in a K-Swiss!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Powerman Malaysia 2011...

Event: Powerman Malaysia 2011
Venue: Seri Manjung, Perak
Date: 13 November 2011
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 11KM run, 64KM bike, 10KM run
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Light Race
Bike: Ceepo Katana
By Frank

Powerman Malaysia celebrated its 10th edition this time round and boy it was a tough one. With zero training and not a single simulation session, chasing the illusive sub 4 hour timing isn't on my to do list this time. Instead, I will be aiming to save my legs for next week's Penang Bridge International Marathon which will be my main race as I need result from there for something yet bigger.

I began my journey to the small town of Seri Manjung up north in the state of Perak on a late morning on Saturday. Had a slow drive and saw some fellow friends like Tony zoomed passed me on the highway. Upon arrival at the usual Lead View Hotel which Tony booked for us, I quickly joined him, Yip, Nik, Mahizzan, Adeline, Sue and Yusran for lunch before resting up back in the room with Yip

Soon, I realised a mechanical fault on my bike. My rear wheels isn't moving as the brake pad is stuck on the rim. I am pretty sure it was fine when I pushed it out of my house before loading into the car and can only suspect that it was "misaligned" during transportation. I panicked and asked Yip for help. He helped align it and the problem was solved but I was still worried. After all, I did not send my bike for service this time round and it was based on last year's setup.

Evening came and it was a nice dinner at Kampung Cina, this time joined by Shih Ming and Saya whom both I've not seen for a while. Had an enjoyable dinner catching up among ourselves and I'm pretty happy to say that I actually enjoyed the food too! Have to thank Tony for this for knowing the way to find good food. Back at the hotel, after some final preparations, it was then lights off at 10.30pm. However, I couldn't get a good sleep probably due to me worrying about my bike.

Race morning and the first thing I did upon waking up was to look out the window. "It's going to be a hot race", I told myself. While Yip was still asleep, I slowly prepared myself and soon we were both ready to leave. One last check on the bike was the rear wheel was still spinning normally. Let's hope it stays this way but I had my doubts.

We both left for the race site at 6.30am and quickly was greeted by friends including the first sneak preview of the weather ahead. Was surprised that my bike parking was just next to Yip and just opposite Yim. Yip and Yim, now that rhythms. Hehehe... Quick catch up with some friends and then performing the usual warm up and stretching, and it's out to the main road to gather for the start. The race environment was great and Adele filled it up with her beautiful voice and my focus is on the run. Bike part, I can worry later.

The devil and the sword...

7.30am sharp, the individual full distance was flag off. I settled into my zone and just let others get on with their run. I didn't want to be distracted but soon I had my own problems upon hitting about 2KM. I was hungry and I can smell the usual dreaded barbecued chicken being sold by the roadside. I kept chewing on my GU Chomps and it did help with my hunger prank. Slightly more than an hour later, I completed 2 loops of the running course and off I went into transition for the bike.

Now here's the worrying part. How long will a problem free ride last? The condition of the road will be the huge deciding factor. I exited the transition area with Saya and pedalled together exchanging places at times. First 10KM of the ride was fine and I was cruising on a comfortable speed which I really enjoyed. The first and second bridge came and then the third dreaded one where we have pedal hard for the climb. I remembered clearly last year where I pedalled too hard up and ended up with a calf cramp and therefore this year, I took it lightly. However, as like last year, my front crank was stuck on the bigger side hence there was still some unwanted resistance.

Successfully conquered the bridge and carried on to the u-turn point where I rehydrated before continuing with the way back. Disaster struck at about 24KM. I struggled with my pedalling stroke and I knew I was in trouble. As I can't see my brake calliper as it was hidden below the bottom bracket, I can only try to listen for unwanted noises. And then, I heard it. Brake pad was rubbing the rim. To stop to try realign it risking cramps or to carry on, it was decision time and I soon chose one, which was the latter.

I was pedalling hard but I can't get the desired speed. My quads was screaming and I was getting burnt out there. I lost Saya after she gave me a smile as I lost my speed and I was on my own. "Push hard but nurse those legs" I told myself as there was still al long way to go. Let me get through this and I can slug it out on the run later. Mechanical failure is always the worrying part in multi sport events and this is my second experience with it. And from here on, I paid extra attention to nutrition as I know it's going to be tough on the body, especially the legs.

At the second bridge again, I forgot to stand up on the bike and was hit hard on the bridge's joint and I shouted "MY BUTT"! It was pretty painful but the main thing was no further fault on my bike. The third bridge climb this time was tough but Yusran was there to cheer us all with his everlasting cheeky jokes. If only he was still there on the return climb as I was just pedalling to survive the climb. Probably the slowest part of my entire ride. Upon conquering it, I got only about 13KM more to go and prayed hard it will be a problem free ride.

Meters and kilometres, I pedalled away and soon was greeted with the transition area after pedalling for almost 2.5 hours. At the transition area, Yip had already completed his race while I was just starting my second run. Off I went as I tried to my find my legs. One step at a time as it was just too sore. The first loop was about recovery and upon starting my second, Azuria offered me some Coca Cola which was a wake up call for me. I soon my found my legs a little and increased my pace a little. The caffeine effect to kick in and as I ran, I tried to cheer and pull other runners, a few I remembered was Jeya, Doris and Liew. At the final kilometre or so, a sense of relief and probably satisfaction too, as I knew myself that I overcame an unwanted obstacle and slug it out on my determination to complete my third and probably toughest Powerman in a time of 04:38:38.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Made my way into the race village again and caught up with some friends before rushing back to the hotel to clean up. Yip won third placing in our age group and he was still back for the prize presentation. I took my time to clean up and rested while waiting for him. Everyone perhaps has left the small town but the both of us took it slow and even had a late lunch before leaving at 4pm. A slow and lonely drive back but most importantly, I made it back safely.

Overall, I still enjoyed Powerman Malaysia this year despite zero training and worrying at potential mechanical fault. But the joy was actually to complete it with determination and injury free with no stops during the entire course of the race. I do hope Powerman Malaysia will continue its tradition annually to be held at the small town of Seri Manjung and live up to its trademark of being the hottest in the world. And with this, my focus will be on my next big one, the bridge!