Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Flashback on 2013...

By Frank

Here we go again, ending yet another year, this time with 2,085KM worth of running distance! So here's a little look back at year 2013.

Year 2013 has certainly been a roller coaster year.  I started the year by ending my Year to Year 6 days Circuit Run at Pretoria, South Africa which was absolutely a great experience. However, the highlight of my year will still be the Comrades Marathon 2013 which took place in mid year scoring my back to back achievement. Though I did not achieve what I intend to, my overall finish time was an improvement. And again, my medal was donated to CARIF as part of creating awareness for cancer research. And speaking of this, an outreach program under the initiatives with CARIF with the name Be Frank was launched in April 2013.

However with all the great running achievements I've experience, I yet again failed to complete the Craze Ultra 100 miles for the second time. Not an entirely heartbreak for me though as I got to admit that I do not pay attention to this event for preparation for the next edition of the Comrades Marathon is my utmost important mission.

Towards the final quarter of the year, though under trained, I miraculously scored pretty good timing at both KL and Penang Marathon hence upgraded my seeding for next year's Comrades Marathon. It was certainly a confidence boost which I hope will carry on forward with "official" training starting real soon.

Moving away from running, work has been awfully horrible. The society has changed and it's no longer easy to serve people especially in the retail servicing line. Work has taken away most of me this year. With others doing their runs and get together, I am stuck at work. Where has my life gone to? Not only it affected my performance in running, but it also affected my social life. So, is it really worth it? Money ain't everything...

Anyhow, year 2013 is now behind. I guess it's no point bragging about it. Just accept the success and move on leaving behind the failures and sadness. To a better year ahead and I do hope year 2014 will be just as great as what the fengshui book mentioned for my zodiac. Hmmm...

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2013...

Event: MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2013
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 29 December 2013
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 10KM per loop (to run as many in 12 hours)
Shoe: Saucony Peregrine 4.0
By Frank

After missing it last year as I visited Pretoria for the Year to Year 6 Days Circuit Race, I made my return to the MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon this year. At the time of writing this, my South African friends are doing this year's edition running in circles again over 6 days. To support them over here, I simply brought together my South African Buff headwear to be worn during my run at MR25. Was glad that the organisers had somehow manage to revert back to the original route when I first ran back in year 2009, the big 10.5KM loop from MacRitchie Trails, to Jelutong Hut, pass the golf course and into Lornie Trail before returning to the start/finish area. Definitely a more interesting and scenic route.

My trip down to Singapore was on board First Coach from Bangsar at 7.45pm. Met up with Susanah at her place together with Lai and had to trouble her dad to drive us to Bangsar. We arrived just in time and caught up with Jason and Hong Lan and the journey began. Journey was a smooth one and I was awake the whole trip with Susanah resting as she almost had a sleepless night. Worried about this girl's sleep pattern and while she worry about my eating pattern. Hmmm...

Upon arrival at Novena at around 1pm, it was lunch plus some errands before checking into our dorm at Backpackers@SG. Pretty neat backpackers I would say as we rested before early dinner at Lavender food court before it was lights off before 10pm.

Waking up around 4am, pre-run rituals was a smooth one and soon enough, all of us were already at MacRitchie Reservoir by 6.15am. Race pack collected, had our baggage checked-in, and by 7am, the event was started. I had my fiery red Saucony Perigrine 4.0 with me again, a much proven shoe during my TNF 50KM recently and thus was confident with the traction it can provide.

With the usual suspects before the start.

As this isn't a race for me, more like a long distance training run, I still came with a mission in hand. After what happened in Penang Bridge Marathon last month, I told myself that I would not leave Susanah behind again. To run along with her to at least the minimum requirements of 5 loops was my utmost mission. And so I did, started off with her on a very comfortable pace. As both of us aren't the chatty type during running, we kept our conversation to a minimal. We ran as we can, and walk when needed. I followed her. We completed our first loop comfortably and went on for our second after some catching up with Uncle Oliver who pulled his calf muscles. Shame indeed.

Second loop was a little slower but still fine but third was the turning point. I felt painful to see the pain Susanah had to go through enduring with pain on her feet and a little chaffing too. I felt really lost at that time as we shouldered on till the start/finish site where she did some adjustments to her kinesio tape. She asked me to carry on without her for my fourth loop. I was really reluctant to do so, but after she repeated a few times, I guess that she will be upset if I stayed on with her. It was a tough choice to leave her again, but a choice I had to make to at least calm her mood at that time. I didn't want her to feel bad so I went on feeling awful after giving here a little tap on her head.

When I started my fourth loop, my focus was to complete the next 2 loops as fast a possible, so that I can wait for Susanah to be with her again if she decides to carry on her six loop. I blazed my fourth loop but my fifth was a little painful one with discomfort on my left metatarsal, a reoccurring problem. I had to stop once at Jelutong Hut to had it massage before I carry on.

After a total time of 7:39 hours, I completed my fifth loop and waited on for Susanah anxiously at the start/finish site catching up with David, Kai Wei, Ben and some other friends. And when she finally returned with Eugene, I was relieved that she was hanging on. However, she wanted to push for another loop and hence I went with her walking the entire sixth loop keeping her company. This time, we chatted along the way, hoping to keep her mind off negative thoughts. It was like a bonding session where we get to know more about each other. And finally after 11:05 hours, we completed our sixth loop with a total distance of 63.5KM. Bravo to her!

The finisher medal and certificate.

Overall, the event was well organised with the exception of water being delivered just a little slow to the refreshment stations. We were also blessed with good weather and I certainly enjoyed this more scenic route But whether did I accomplish my mission that I set out to do was another story all together. I felt I failed again but at the same time, thought to myself that it may be the better option at that time to oblige to a request.

A group photo before leaving for the airport.

And with the MR25, my running event calendar comes to a close as the next focus will be to get the "engine" fine tune for Comrades Marathon 2014. January 2014 is where it all begins...

All photos here credited to respective photographers. Many thanks to them.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

7 Things Cancer Patients Should Know About Their Health Insurance...

If you or your loved ones have been burdened by the horrific news of cancer, it’s best to take some time to step back, and don’t lose hope. Don’t let the fear of financial hardships bring you down -- that’s what your insurance is for. It’s going to be a challenging journey ahead, so it’s best to equip yourself with knowledge: here are a few things cancer patients should knowabout their medical insurance.

When your insurance claim is denied or dropped, worry not—you can make an appeal. You need not suffer in silence and deal with the consequences on your own. To increase your chances of being heard, you can ask your doctor to help you. Furthermore, your doctor and hospital should know that they can’t bill you at least until after you’ve fixed things with your insurance company.

Annual Deductible
This is basically the first thing you have to check in your insurance because this will determine how much the insurance company needs you to spend first before they start paying for your medical expenses.

Annual Limit
It’s important to know the total amount of coverage your insurance will give you in a year, so be fully aware if you can make the most out of your benefits.

Extra Billing
If you haven’t heard of balance billing yet, it’s when the insurance company pays only a part of your bill because they think that you’re able to pay for the rest.

Coinsurance versus Copayment
Coinsurance is simply the percentage of your payment in the health care service. For example, your care states that your coinsurance payment is 30%, then you pay for that and the plan pays for the rest. Copayments are payments made for services preset by the insurance policy, and is billed to you every time you avail of these services.

Stop Loss or Out of Pocket Feature
This is a definite must-have feature in your insurance policy. The stop loss or out of pocket feature ensures that after you have personally paid for a specific limit your insurance providers have set, they will cover the rest of your expenses, 100%. Insured payables include annual deductibles, coinsurance, and copayment.

Always Look for a Plan B
If your current health insurance drops you and your appeal is denied a second time, it’s best to ask for help—you can ask for government aid or ask professionals who know the right people or insurance companies to talk to during for such situations. These people will help you understand policies better and offer you other options.

As a final reminder, make sure that you, your friends and family keep a good record of all transactions and visits both to the hospital and your insurance provider. Of course, it is also vital to be fully aware of your policy’s coverage. Read it over and over again to make sure you are not missing out on any specific help you could still be getting. Your insurance policy is supposed to make things better for you, not make things worse, so keep hoping for the best and you will definitely see things through.

Photo sources:



Disclaimer: The above article is for education purposes and raising awareness for cancer and medical insurance and is provided by Compare Hero.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Terry Fox Run KL 2013...

By Frank

It's the time of the year again, at least for cancer activist like myself, volunteers and the folks from Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF), the beneficiary for the Terry Fox Run KL. The Terry Fox Run KL 2013 was successfully held this morning (1 December 2013) at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.

My message of hope.

A little about Terry Fox before I elaborate further on my experience with this year's run. The late Terry Fox is a Canadian who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on his right leg where it had to be amputated. After undergoing treatment, he went on to run the Marathon of Hope hoping to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He ran a marathon distance of 42KM each day for 143 consecutive days totalling to 5,373KM before he had to stop when he found out that the cancer had returned. The cancer spread and he soon passed away a few days before his 23rd birthday.

I hold the Terry Fox Run very dear to my heart due not only to my history of cancer, but also the role and purpose of the run it self, to create cancer awareness, research and to promote healthy living. I been supporting the run since don't know when and participated in it when I first found out about the KL edition back in year 2006. And this year marks my second year as part of the committee.

The committee with old and new faces had our first and only meeting at our usual meeting spot at Marmalade, Bangsar Village 2 some couple of months back. A little brainstorming and we are all good to go.

And thus, I am once again selling this year's awesome looking t-shirt over at my place. We had only about 3 weeks to sell the t-shirts before run days itself but thanks to the enthusiasm of the public, sales were good where I managed to outsell my previous years number by selling close to 1,000 t-shirts! WOOOTSSS! Sizes availability was much better this year and I worked very closely especially with Peter. For the past years, Peter who is a scientist by profession over at CARIF, was the one who will deliver the shirts to me. This year however, saw me travelling a bit to help ease his role. As a reward, I get free lunch from him! *grin... After all, he has a more noble and important job to deal with rather to delivering t-shirts. So yeah, I was in and out of CARIF for most of November 2013.

With the dedication board.

Anyway, to run day itself. Unlike last year, I couldn't attend the pre-run briefing the day before this time as I had too much work to do as it was month end. Hence, I arrived a little early at about 6am and the weather held up and it was a not too sunny morning which was really good as the action started almost immediately. I directed the water boys to somewhere 1KM from the start along the run route for unloading before I ran back to help out with the t-shirt sales which was packed with people. Wore proudly my red Team Terry's t-shirt (although I do not want anyone to suffer to actually own it) and was together with Mrs Kang, Myrt, Taty and Edwin while Professor Teo's kids helped out with the receipts. Great teamwork there where we tried to get everyone's desired t-shirt sizes. Met up with some friends too who came to support the cause of the run.

T-shirt tents.

The run itself started at around 8.30am and that was when we get our precious little rest time. However, the action did not stop at the other end where t-shirts from the previous years were selling like hot cakes at a very attractive price.

Family and advanced route.

By 10.30am, the event came to a close and crowd started to settle down and we started with cleaning and packing. Everyone helped out from young to old. Great teamwork among the volunteers!

Overall, once again I had a very rewarding time this year at the Terry Fox Run KL, a 100% driven by volunteers event where all donations collected will be channelled to cancer research. A shout-out to everyone whether committees, volunteers and participants of this truly remarkable and inspiring event as we wrap things up for 2013! Till 2014's edition!

It'sa wrap!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013
Venue: Quuensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 17 November 2013
Time: 2.00am
Distance 42.195KM (42.9KM by Suunto Ambit 2 Sapphire)
Shoe: Saucony Type A5
By Frank

The chance of running on the new second Penang Bridge for this year's bridge run was dashed when a small part of the bridge collapsed a few months back. Nevertheless, I am still happy (at least I am) that this year will bring runners back to the current bridge as I will know what to expect during the run. It's after all as mentioned in my previous entry, my qualifier and seeding race for Comrades Marathon.

And so, I became the driver this year driving up north together with Roy, Jason, Susanah and Lai Leng. We started our journey from Subang after breakfast at about 9am. Traffic was smooth until we arrived at Juru some slightly more than 3 hours later where we drop Jason off. From there, it was to Queensbay Mall to pick up the race pack. I actually had mine couriered to me so I saved the hassle from queueing up with the crowd under the hot sun. Instead, I hung out with my friends from CARIF who had a booth there to promote cancer awareness.

A simple lunch at Queensbay Mall before heading off to our hotel at Cozy Inn at the heritage site. Unpack, rest up and early dinner before it was lights off trying to sleep.

I only managed 2 hours of sleep. And unlike the recent previous races, I did not feel good. I even had trouble with my post run ritual. My left trapezius was a little sore probably from the long drive yesterday. I know my chance to qualify for F seeding for next year's Comrades Marathon is in doubts. Nevertheless, the show must go on and so we left the hotel at 12.30am to pick up Si Main at Tune Hotel before heading off to the race site. It was raining but luckily I had my Buff to prevent sweat from entering my eyes during the run later.

We were parked at Sungai Nibong or was it Telok Bayan site, some 2KM away from the race site due to road block. Luckily, the rain has stop as we walked to Queensbay Mall. My tummy wasn't feeling good and I needed the toilet. Sadly I could not find a proper one to make my deposit and hence decided to hold on. And hold on I did as the feeling subsided. Caught up with some friends before entering the start pent with Roy and Si Main while Lai Leng made her way to the front.

At 2am sharp after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's speech, runners of the full marathon category was flagged off. As usual, the starting stretch was tough to overtake and with the increase number for this year, it made things even tougher. I thought it was fine as we enter the Jelutong Expressway, but it wasn't to be for this year. The entire expressway was filled up and I had trouble. And after the u-turn, things got worse as the running lane was reduce to one or sometimes 2. Lost time here but managed to gain some back through some fast kicks.

From 4KM onwards, I was free from the crowd and started to make haste. My target at that time was to pass the 4:30 pacer which was Yim and Karen, and to build a buffer, staying ahead of them for at least 10 minutes or so for I know they will probably hit their time allocated! And so I did passed them at 6KM.

Fast forwarding to 9KM where I entered the bridge, I was still feeling all right. The moodiness from the morning was gone as I pushed on. I was on time for a 4 hour finishing at quarter of the journey in but I knew it was still too early to tell. I must hang on to the current pace to achieve it, a task which I've failed for the past 3 years or more. But the shoe I had on, the Saucony Type A5 is certainly helping with my pace here.

14KM, a slight drizzle came and the wind was pushing us back. Yeap, it was head wind! I was lucky I had my Buff on as the drizzle got a bit heavier and vision was affected at least a little. As I conquered the climb up the bridge, I could already see the elites returning on the opposite side. I pushed on till the turning point at 19KM where Neal was with me. We ran together and my pace was still on time.

Disaster struck at 24KM when my tummy felt unwell. I told Neal to go ahead without me. The morning feeling return and I needed to go. I took my water bottle starting to knock it against my head hoping the tummy discomfort can be diverted. I looked back to try spot the 4:30 pacer balloon and they were no where to be seen. I hung on and tried to build more buffer as I hunted for the potty. The agony was horrible as I held on. ARGHHH...

26KM, I spotted the potty and ran towards into it. I spent at least 7 minutes in it, at least 1KM wasted. But it had to be done else it could have been "messy". And here's a little about the potty before I carry on. It was reasonably clean, squatting type with toilet paper! It was also littering shaking like on the plane and the refreshment station was playing PSY's Gentleman while I was inside. How I hate that song right now!

Once out, I spotted Roy and chased him down. I need to up my pace for the time wasted but the legs stiffen. Both my glutes were feeling cranky. I finally caught up beside Roy and asked if the 4:30 pacers already passed. To my relieve, they were still behind as I push forward with the uncomfortable feeling of both glutes. I know I was loosing time but I just had to hammer it for as hard as I could.

Into Jelutong Expressway again, the mentally torturing long stretch. I just tried to focus. I took a few walks but also managed a few blistering pace. The problem I had besides the glutes was that I could not hold on to the pace. But I was really glad the tummy was fine. Steven caught up and we were pacing together till the u-turn at 33KM where I told him to carry on for my glutes were acting up again.

As I headed back, I spotted the 4:30 pacers. Neither near nor too far away. I had to take my chances to hammer, hold on and to look after the glutes. As I arrived at 37KM, to my horror, Yim called out to me to push me forward. The 4:30 pacers caught up! Soon after, Soon Chung from the opposite side asked me to "F" it! It was a wake-up call as hammer even harder hoping that some magic will hold my glutes together. Sadly unlike KL Marathon, the magic did not happen this time.

Shortly in front, I spotted Susanah icing her legs. I told her to jog it off. She started with me, but the mistake I made here was that I did not look back if she had continue to follow me. My time here was either a do or die. My buffer for a 4:20 hours "F" seeding was already gone and I needed a 6 minutes per Kilometer pace to achieve it.

The final 3KM, the human barrier where the half marathon runners combined together. There was no clear running path as I had to zig zag through them. I spotted Selva and we ran together for a while but the zig zagging caused my glutes to flare up as I told Selva to go ahead without me.

Literally, my time slowly disappeared and with 1.3KM to go at the turning into the Gold Coast Apartment roundabout, my quest for "F" seeding ended when my chrono showed 4:20 hours on the dot. But, the journey must continue as I headed down the home stretch to finally cross the finish line in 4:25:57 hours, finally a sub 4:30 hours time since don't know when. And my first PBIM under the state government that I completed before the sun rises and also my first marathon into the potty!

On to the red carpet towards the finish.

Saucony Type A5 and the finisher medal.

I waited for my friends at the finish before adjourning to the rest area for some snacks. Bumped into Zijill too where she completed her run in one of her best timing and in top Malaysian honours! Well done Zijill! Then its back to the hotel for some rest before the lunch and the tiring journey back home.

Zijill with her "catch" at PBIM. CONGRATULATIONS!

Though a little disappointed as I did not improve on my Comrades Marathon seeding for next year, I am still delighted with my time as it has certainly been a while since a sub 4:30 hours time. Its indeed a positive sign. And the problems I had to go through before in the morning of the race start do at least help me to justify my thoughts. I had no proper breakfast and I messed up my nutrition plan on the run due to my tummy issues. But these are just part of the game as not all the days or runs are meant to be good, not even perfect. To me, this is just one of them. And the "What if" thingy is just something illusive. "What if" I did not stop for the potty? "What if" I didn't drive to Penang?  These are all unanswered questions. I am just glad I am not injured from this run as I prepare for the official training for Comrades Marathon to kick off in a month's time! My only regret now, is not looking back when I had to when a friend needed assistance. :(

My split timing.

All photos here credited to the respective photographers. Thanks a lot to them!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"F" Hopeful...

By Frank

It's the time of the year again, or shall I say race of the year again. Probably my second most important race of the year after the Comrades Marathon, the Penang Bridge International Marathon is important as I've always use it as my qualifying race. Not that I've not qualify for Comrades Marathon, but it is my chance to better my seeding.

I've always wanted to be seeded F at the Comrades Marathon. 2 main reason will be it represents my name and also it represents my marathon timing which has been constant during my good old days. After having seeded H for my past 2 Comrades Marathon, I've finally managed to better it to G, from a result achieved at this year's KL Marathon. I was actually satisfied but with the "feel good feeling" and momentum still rolling strong, I've planned to actually to attempt a sub 4:20 marathon once again this weekend although I can't actually remember when did I achieved a sub 4:30 hours marathon cause it has just been so long. Therefore, this is really one really tough task for me.

Will be travelling up with Roy, Susanah, Lai Leng and Gary with me driving. Now this is the worrying part. Long distance driving couple with long distance running. Not  a good combo but it just had to be done. Have to manage my rest and nutrition well from Friday onwards.

As for my shoe of choice, it will be the Saucony Grid Type A5, a shoe I've purchased at Johannesburg late last year to be used for the Year to Year Circuit Race back then. But it was not utilized hence it is time to unleash it. One of my lightest racing flats I have to date, preliminary runs with it has been absolutely positive indeed, fast and responsive.

The Type A5 backed by my army of strong.

Swaying a little of course from the above topic will be a celebration with Saucony where I renewed and extended my sponsorship with them earlier today, and this time with 2 new brand ambassadors; Jason and Zijill. Almost exactly a year ago, I received my very first pair of Saucony Kinvara 3 from Saucony Malaysia and ran the Penang Bridge International Marathon back then with it. I came very close in improving my seeding at that time but bonk out at the final 10KM. Hopefully, it will not be the case this year. Anyhow, it has been an exciting and fruitful first year with Saucony where I truly enjoy partnering with them and hence will be looking for more "strong" on the road ahead.

Together we are "STRONG".

Till my exam at the bridge this weekend! Stay focus and perhaps I can start dreaming of "F"...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saucony PowerGrid Kinvara 4...

By Frank

Sorry that my review for the Saucony Kinvara 4 (K4) took this long. I had my reasons you see. Besides being busy as usual, I was trying to figure out the difference it has as compared to its predecessor, the K3. And after having to run at different pace in numerous distance with a max single run of 72KM from a DNF at the Craze Ultra 2013, I guess I've spotted at least a few upgrades to the K4 which is rather noticeable.  But before I continue on, you may want to re-read my review on the K3 (here) back then to have a slight recap on it as I will just keep it short on the K4 since I will only be highlighting the major changes. Another read will be my first impression of the K4 (here). So yeah, let's go...

The Saucony PowerGrid Kinvara 4

The K4 was launch on back in May 2013 during the Boston Marathon but only arrived on Malaysian shores early September 2013. Together with RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and together with new ambassadors Jason and Zijill, we had a successful launch for the highly anticipated shoe.

The official unveiling of the Kinvara 4 during its launch day

The K4 shares most its DNA from all its past 3 predecessor. At 4mm off set with a 22mm heel stack height and 18mm forefoot height, it hits the sweet spot for those who are looking a natural running shoes combined with reasonable cushioning. It looks pretty much the same since the first version was released and weights in at about 216 Grams for a size men US8.5, the same weight as compared with the K3. Every generation, small changes were made based on feedback gathered and I am pleased to know (and feel) that most of the changes made to the 4th generation has been a positive one, at least for me.

Let's start with the upper. The most obvious change here at least to our eyes will be the re-positioning of the FlexFilm layers. Gone are the "zebra stripes" at the front which resulted in lesser films hence allowing a slightly more flex and also air intake. Try putting the shoe on without socks and swing them in an air-condition room. You will feel a slight increase gush of of air entering the shoes compared to the K3. As for flex, it was not really noticeable until you really pay attention to it.  However, with the "zebra stripes" gone, I felt less secure on the toe box which resulted some swaying of my feet. A slightly thicker socks solved my problem though.

Repositioned FlexFilm on the toebox

FlexFilm pattern on the toe box as seen on the Virrata (left), Kinvara 4 (middle) and Kinvara 3 (right)

Moving to the rear of the shoe where the collar is, is where the"zebra stripes" new home is. The FlexFilm layers are now concentrated around the collar which gives the ankle a very secure fit. I really adore this new change as it held up my ankle securely especially when I take sharp turns during my runs. And with the HydraMax foam within the collar and a new improve collar which is said to be a bit softer and less irritating on the Achilles region (not that I can feel over the K3), my ankle felt great!

FlexFilm "zebra stripes" around the collar region

The next major change will be the midsole, an upgrade from ProGrid to PowerGrid, a lighter, bouncier and more durable foam. Honestly speaking, this is rather a protection feature for those who strikes the ground on the heel. A 4mm heel to toe offset encourages mid to forefoot striking but do not forget that one does loose concentration at times especially when fatigue sets in. And that is when heel striking will generally come at times. With a cushy rear, it may just help with it. Personally for me, I didn't find this upgrade useful for me as I weight pretty light. However, it may come in handy for those who weight heavier. So yes, it's a positive upgrade here.

Midsole upgraded to PowerGrid

Same outsole pattern from the K3

So there you have it. Only some slight upgrades to a already magnificent shoe, a legend of its class in Saucony's stable. Nothing much has changed from the K3 and I certainly hope the successor K5 will retain most is DNA from here, perhaps securing the toe box a little.

I've used the K3 for my Comrades Marathon 2013 which fared really well and the K4 will most likely be my shoe of choice for the 2014 "Down" run edition. Just hope that next year's colourway which I've targeted will arrive just in time. *grin...

The Saucony Kinvara 4 is now available at all Saucony authorized dealers such as  Running Lab - Tropicana City Mall, selected RSH, Studio R  and Stadium stores nationwide retailing a recommended selling price of RM399.00.

This review pair of Saucony Kinvara 4 is given complimentary to me by RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd as part of my sponsorship program with Saucony.

Monday, November 04, 2013

How Early Detection Can Save...

By Frank

With Terry Fox Run (Marathon of Hope) into its 33rd edition this year and with the KL run just under a month away, here's a short recap on how I discovered Rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the connective tissue that affected me.

When I first discovered a swelling on my left wrist back in early year 1992, I didn't know what was it. Maybe it was just a typical swelling when I rested by wrist on the table or perhaps due to sports (played handball and football during those days). A check with the family doctor, Dr. Tan didn't reveal much and thus thinking it was gangrene. However, after having second thoughts, Dr. Tan called up the next day to arrange for a scan at Maria Specialist Hospital with Dr. Chiew. And thus from there, my first encounter with cancer started.

The scan revealed a lump embed within my left wrist and surgery was needed to remove it. And so in March 1992, surgery was performed by Dr. Chiew and the marble sized whitish lump was removed and sent to Mount Elizabeth Hospital for lab testing. The result returned a couple of weeks later while I was having my first high school semester exam. The result was a negative one and treatment was needed immediately.

Being a 12 year old back then and considered a growing teenager, I was unique as Rhadbomyosarcoma generally affects children aged 5 to 7 years old. Chemotheraphy was administered at Singapore National University Hospital (SNUH) under the care of Dr. Quah TC. After a 6 months cycle period, I was transferred to Singapore General Hospital (SGH)  for Radiotheraphy under the care of Dr. Yang TL . It was for a one month period. Finally, it was back to SNUH again for to continue with Chemotherapy and ending again with Chemotherapy, this time on a stronger more potent dosage.

One particular chemo drug that was administered on me that I remembered clearly till today for its potency is Adriamycin, a clear red liquid that does most what other chemo drugs does but with an extra, potential damage to the heart cells. This was the same drug that was administered for my hero, Canada's late Terry Fox too when he battled Osteosarcoma, a pretty similar cancer to what I battled.

2 years down the road, I successfully overcame my sickness, just in time for my PMR exam though not doing very well in it. The next 10 years was to watch for any symptoms of relapse and I was glad I live through it healthily. And during that 10 years, I managed to pick myself up performing pretty well in both studies and sports. And today, here is where I am, doing that I do best in endurance sports, long distance running and in the meantime helping to raise awareness about cancer together with CARIF and the outreach program Be Frank.

Before this post gets too long as the above is basically just a recap, what I am trying to share is that cancer is not a death sentence. Early detection of cancer is the far most important in survival rate and it all lies within no other than our ownself. Never to afraid to stand up to it, to ask around  and to fight it. A small growth, lump, pain or anything abnormal you are feeling anywhere on your body, quickly have it check. It may not be 100% cancer, but it's always good to know. I may have taken 2 years of treatment to battle it and although it does sound pretty long and obviously a painful journey, I may not be here to blog about it should I chose to let the swelling be. And besides, with medical advancement nowadays, treatment may be even more "friendly" and less painful. Just remember, be bold, be brave and most importantly Be Frank about cancer.

If you have any doubts about something suspicious happening to your body, do plan a quick visit to your friendly neighbourhood doctor to have it check out. And with many plans out there which includes AXA110 Cancer Care, cancer treatment has never been easier.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lyn Kong's Guide to Fitness for Busy People...

By Frank

Earlier today (31 October 2013), I attend the launch of Lyn's book titled Lyn Kong's Guide to Fitness by Busy People at Kitchen Creatures at Centrepoint, Bandar Utama. Just for a brief intro, I've known Lyn for about 8 years or so since my days of membership with Fitness First and then becoming colleagues when I joined as a Fitness Instructor. She was back then a Group Exercise instructor and has now grown into a certified CrossFit Instructor, ACE certified instructor, co-partner at Pushmore Fitness and certification to many many more qualifications. She has certainly come a long way.

The launch of the book was a simple affair between guest of media, sponsors, family and friends. It was a very "home-feel" event. Some of the familiar faces there were Stupe, Aileen, Maresa and Oon. Roy at the last minute wanted to join in too, but for somehow, he ended up at Tropicana City Mall instead. Hahaha...

I am sure Lyn know's how busy I am with my retail job at Running Lab and hence I guess the reason I was one of her guest. Hahaha... Just kidding Lyn but am sure it the truth eh. So if you are one of my kind that get stuck with work and am not able to find time to exercise, this book is for you. But not forgetting to everyone else, this book may just inspire to g further or even to try something new. Anyway, here's the official press release of the book giving you an idea on what is it all about.

Lyn Kong’s Guide to Fitness for Busy People is the fifth title in the MPH Masterclass Series, a new line of “how to” books by local experts sharing their knowledge and experience in their areas of speciality.

This is a detailed guidebook filled with practical instructions and tips from professional physical fitness trainer Lyn Kong on how to keep fit despite a busy schedule. It’s the ideal fitness book for those who hardly have time to hit the gym or jog in the park after work.

“What I’ve done is create a concise book that has all the information and advice you need to kickstart your journey towards a better lifestyle,” Kong says. “It’s comprehensive, practical, simple to execute and, most importantly, it doesn’t take a lot of time.”

 This book consists of ten chapters, each layered with useful tips for all those who aspire to lead a healthy lifestyle. Topics covered include nutrition, equipment, how to plan your training program, as well as some simple daily exercises for burning calories and building muscles.

“What makes me happiest of all is that I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do, which is to help people live better lives. I’ve learned so much about fitness over the years and just as I’ve shared this wealth of information with my clients, I’d know like to share them with you through this book,” says Kong a certified CrossFit instructor with over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry.

She knows how, with as little at 10 minutes of intensive training, our body is able to burn fat even after an exercise routine has ended. It’s how it works but you need to do specific kinds of exercises to help it work that way. In addition to step-by-step instructions on these exercises, Kong also provides tips on practical healthy eating, an essential element in staying fit and healthy.

Lyn Kong’s Guide to Fitness for Busy People is published by MPH Group Publishing and is available at all major bookstores at RM35.90. It will be also be available as an e-book soon.

For enquirier and interview opportunities, kindly contact:
Ms Lilian Ng (T) 03 7960 7334 ext 119 (E) lilianng@mph.com.my
Ms Juan Margrita (T) 03 7960 7334 ext 116 (E) juan.margrita@mph.com.my

With Lyn autographing my copy.

So yeah, there you have it. What are you waiting for? Go grab yourself a copy now at your nearest bookstore. Cause I know I did.

Thanks Lyn!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Powerman Asian Championships Malaysia 2013...

Event: Powerman Asian Championships Malaysia 2013
Venue: Putrajaya
Date: 27 October 2013
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 11KM run, 64KM bike, 11KM run
Shoe: Sauvony Virrata
Bike: Ceepo Katana
By Frank

My first Powerman back in year 2009 in Lumut till missing it last year due to Terry Fox Run KL and also some personal issues, my 4th Powerman shifted it's venue to Putrajaya this year and boy it was filled with drama at the start itself. Upon arriving at the race site with Roy and Jason at 4.30am, I only noticed that I've forgotten by race bib!

After trying to call dad but to no avail and decided to drive back home to pick it up at 5am. During my exit from Putrajaya, dad called up and confirm the bib was still back home. We made an appointment to meet halfway at the Petron station near to the LDP cable bridge. I arrived at 5.30am after zooming at top speed of 150KM/H and soon dad was there too. The return to Putrajaya was a fast one too, so fast till I notice a bright flash at SKVE which I assume was from the AES! Not wanting to think too much of it since I was already captured, I just zoom back to Putrajaya and am glad to be able to still find a parking lot near to the race site.

First time duathletes, Roy and Alvin.

Roy has proceeded to check in his bike with Jason waiting for me. Was glad my bike was at set-up right before I left and hence I proceeded to check myself in too. With my race bib of 699, I was parked at the centre of the transition area. Everything was settled in a matter of minutes and soon, I found some of my friends like Alvin, Kok Aik, Chua, Tony, Angie and others to linger with while we waited for the start at 7am.

With Tony at the start line.

Fast forwarding to 7am, the start was out of no where. While most were still chatting away, the air horn just went off. My strategy was similar like previous years, to run faster on the first loop and then to go easy on the second to save the legs for the bike leg. I settled into my zone after 1KM and conetranted. The run route this time isn't easier compared to Lumut. A variety of small hills made it a bit tougher but it gave us varieties which I actually welcome. It was much more interesting. And there were 5 refreshment stations along the entire 5.5KM loop. It was a water festival!

Towards the the final Kilometer of the run loop, we were taken a ride behind the Ministry of Finance. A pretty long but mild climb follow by a steeper one at the end before we make our way back to where we started. Immediately after starting my second loop, I slowed my pace down. I needed my beloved legs to spin later. I went easy, too easy at certain point that I decide to increase it again. But all in all, I lost time compared to the first loop which was intentional as I was comfy towards the end of the first run leg which I completed in 59:07 minutes.

Completing my first run leg and into the transition area.

Into the transition area for the bike leg and I noticed I've forgotten to press on my Suunto Ambit 2S. Therefore, no timing captured. Sob sob... Nevertheless, I left the GPS on just in case I want to take a peek on my running pace and bike speed. I am still clumsy and forgetful during my transition which I spent a 4:33 minutes. Upon pushing my bike off the rack, one side of my glove fell to the ground and my right side shoe wasn't buckle tight. Argh... Waste of time indeed. And it was a bottle neck out of the transition area with some many bikes. But once I got onto my bike, it was "slicing" time, as most of you will know the reason why. My bike's name is Sword as named after its model name Katana.

Heard someone calling as I exited for the bike.

The start of the bike leg at Lebuh Wawasan was a little bumpy due to road joints and uneven pavements. I started with small gear sets to get my legs up spinning but once into Lebih Sentosa which was a long rolling expressway, I shifted to big gears. Legs has warmed up and felt really good and I settled down in my favourite aero position. And as per mentioned, the bike route is a rolling one hence I am not so gungho like previous my Powerman and started to shift my gears around. Not to shy to use small sets to climb.

Towards Persiaran Utara, I noticed a squirrel trying to cross the road but only to turn back and getting hit by a car. It flew around and landed motionless next to the road side. I assume it was already dead though lucky it didn't get squashed. RIP squirrel. Am not so sure about my average speed but am proud to disclose that I went up to max speed of 54KM/H at one point (at least that's when I took a peek on my watch) on a flat road. Absolutely flying and feeling good. Conquered Persiaran Timur next and into Lebuh Wadi Ehsan where the first refreshment station was, I grabbed a bottle of water to refill my tumbler before heading on.

Persiaran Selatan was a killer stretch. Lot of rolling here and the climb towards the u-turn point was tough. The return was smooth though and I managed to keep to a healthy speed before finally conquering it, at least for the first loop with one final climb into the Putrajaya International Convention Centre stretch. Spotted a lady participant just getting up from the road cursing at a car. The driver must have cut into her lane causing her to fall off the bike. What was the marshall doing there, I was thinking. The main climb of the bike leg came shortly and this was certainly the steepest. To climb to the top of the convention centre and I was almost on the smallest gear. But once conquering it, it was a fast zoom down towards the Seri Gemilang Bridge and into the final stretch at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. 3 humps along the road here slowed things down as I arrived back at the race site. But not into the transition area yet for the distance covered thus far is only 32KM. I have another loops to go.

Second loop was a tiring affair. My bike speed began to slow and both my quads were screaming. Change of gear became more frequent as I am not able to attack. The weather became hotter too and my level of water in tumbler is depleting. I quickly took my energy gel before my water supply runs out. And to my horror, my sachet of GU Roctane burst in my bento box. What a mess as I salvaged what was leftover. My palms were sticky as I suck water into my mouth before spitting onto my palm to clean it. That's cleaning on the go!

The same expressway I cycled pass earlier, and all I wanted was just go over with it and go on to the run leg. I know it's not easy to run either but to get back my legs onto the ground means I am close to the finish. As I arrived at the refreshment station at Lebuh Wadi Ehsan, I was just relieved to grab a bottle of isotonic to refill my tumbler. And it was cold too!

As I near the u-turn point at the end of Persiaran Selatan, there is this participant with bib number 552. He was spinning, letting go, spinning and letting do and all his action is coming form the fast lane and thus blocking the road. What a selfish participant as faster participants including yours truly had trouble overtaking. He was really slow at the climb at the u-turn too and had caused a "train" behind him. Once the climb was conquered and was back at the flat road on the return, I finally spotted a gap and made my move. And while passing him, I gave him a piece of me asking him to keep to the left lane if he maintains at his speed. Am sure he did not like it but hey, sorry, that's the way it is cause when I made my move, I noticed lots of shadow following me. Am sure the "train" behind started to break apart since then. And finally I am pedalling freely again.

Finally into the convention centre stretch, conquered it with my smallest gear and into the Seri Gemilang Bridge where I spotted Cham taking photos. And at the final stretch, I was just keeping my cadence high to make sure my legs are moving to prepare it for the final run leg. I completed my bike leg in 2:07:36 hours.

Clumsily putting on my running shoes.

Into the transition area and as usual, clumsy again. Quickly put on my running shoes and off I went after spending 3:25 minutes transiting. The legs were really "jellyfied" but from experience, it will only get better if I keep running. All I have to do is to avoid cramps. 500M into the run, I took my first short walk to ease up before resuming. Arriving at the water station to rehydrate and cool myself down by pouring water all over my head, I walk a little again only to resume at the start of a mild climb at Jalan P18.

I spotted Matt at around 2KM and ran to him. Spent a little time chatting before we resume our run together. And it's here, we helped each other. Whenever he slowed down, I waited for him hoping to pull him along. Saw lots of determination coming from him to try to follow me but am glad he did. Besides, he was overheating in under the scorching sun. First loop completed, and off we went on our second together with Jason who help pace us. He was zooming towards the refreshment station to grab water for us keeping us entertained. Matt was keeping up and soon, it was the final home stretch behind the Ministry of Finance. The climb here did not stop us for we know the finish is near.

"Happily" starting my 2nd running loop.

With Jason and Matt during the 2nd run loop.

As we approached the straight leading to the finish, Jason detoured off to the side as I ran together with Matt towards the finish gantry for a job well done as I completed my 2nd run leg in a time of 1:13:57 hours and completing my 4th Powerman in a total time of 4:27:57 hours.

Approaching the finish with Matt.

A look back at this year's Powerman. It was certainly tougher than the one at Lumut and those who did it last year at Putrajaya too, also mentioned a slightly tougher run route. Have a few friends dropping out of the race due to the heat and also mechanical failure but am glad they were ok. Both Roy and Yen Erl completed their maiden Powerman too. Overall, though a very tough event, I enjoyed it very much. Although it requires more physical demand of the body, it is actually fun. Just make sure we train for it. And as for me, I only had a few super short brick session on the stationary bike and trainer a couple of weeks leading to the event. It was certainly not enough but am glad some experience help pulled me through.

The finisher medal with Sword at the background.

As for now, I am just glad I completed Powerman 2013 without any injuries as I continue my form and momentum into my very important Comrades qualifier race at the Penang Bridge International Marathon in slightly less than 2 weeks time. Will I be able to "F" it?

* All photos here credited to respective photographers. Thanks a lot to them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

King Of The Road 2013...

Event: King Of The Road 2013
Venue: New Pantai Expressway, Sunway Pyramid
Date: 20 October 2013
Time: 6.45am
Distance: 16.8KM (16.58KM by Suunto Ambit)
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 4
By Frank

My last King Of The Road (KOTR) was back in the year 2009. Ever since that, I've boycotted the event due to some personal grudge I have with them. 4 years later, I registered the event as I saw Jason registering for it too. I though of just joining friends to have fun together. However, things took a turn as the event approach and I decided to use it as part of my speed training, hoping to run a 1:20 hour race. And this will also play a key role in my soon review of the Saucony Kinvara 4 as this is one aspect I've not tested yet.

There were some who ran the Putrajaya Night Marathon the night before running KOTR. Don't worry, I wasn't one of them. I am still very focused on my Comrades training and I shall not do anything that may jeopardized it. Jason pulled out of KOTR as he ran the full marathon the night before and I though it was a absolutely wise decision from him.

Anyway, let's start from the moment I woke up with barely 2 hours of sleep. Oddly again, I felt good. 2 buns and a cup of coffee was all I had. As I arrived at Kewajipan Roundabout, Subang at about 4.15am, the road was already blocked as expected. However as per the race guide, it can be access by runners so that we can park inside Sunway Pyramid. This wasn't the case and the traffic police diverted us away and in the process, I witness some high speed Mat Rempit and police chase. Upon arriving just next to Sunway Pyramid, we were again diverted away. Seriously, what is the point of setting traffic guidelines if organisers and traffic police are not following it. Lack of communication? I am not interested to know and it isn't our runners problem. To no avail, I gave up and tried my luck to park at the open-air carpark opposite the police beat base. I was lucky there was a spot there and with the beat base just in front, I am pretty sure it's safe. Immediately after parking my car, I went into the shopping mall to relieve myself as I was circling Bandar Sunway with agony earlier. AHH... The relieve afterwards.

After gearing up, I bumped into Pueh Tian and we linger at Starbucks Coffee for some gossiping. Soon enough, it was 6am and I made my way across to the starting site. Did my warm up and stretching before finding a spot to start somewhere just slightly from the middle of the pack. I was with Yim who just ran a full marathon the night before. And sharp at 6.45am, runners from the 16.8KM were flagged off.

I started well navigating through the crowd as we head towards the u-turn point at Kuchai Lama toll plaza. I managed to break myself free from the crowd as we near the underpass and that was where I started to increase my pace. Spotted Azrul whom I finished KL Marathon with and we ran together for a fair bit. We had the entire expressway to us and what makes things interesting at least for me, is that it isn't flat at all. There were multiple flyovers that runners need to tackle and this will work into favour for me.

As the sun began to rise, I put on my sunglasses. However, sweat flowing into my eyes isn't helping at all. However, that did not slow me down and was glad that it dried up a while later. Passed Raymond and Michelle who was pacing the 1.20 hour group. I did not pace them though as I wanted to try to achieve my target on my own capabilities. After all, it was my training.

Fast forwarding to the u-turn point at the Kuchai Lama toll plaza which is around 9KM, my time was good. And on the return, I spotted many familiar faces on the opposite side. I may have missed some calling me and I apologise for it. At 10KM, I was at about 50 minutes into the race. It was certainly a good time, something which I have not achieve for a very long time already. Now the problem was to sustain my pace. But that is something I failed to do. I felt my right piriformis irritated and my energy level was running low. I bear the the discomfort and took a GU Energy Gel hoping for some energy boost. Sadly, it did not come as I push on.

Next came a very irritating 10KM runner who kept cutting ahead of me and slowing down whenever I tried to shake him off. I was like, if he wants to play mind games, he pick the wrong guy (some battle roar to myself). Then came a reasonably steep climb at about 14KM and knowing my strength, I attacked the climb and finally managed to let him eat my dust (pun intended with the dust thingy). What an irritating guy indeed and he should be lucky I did not get his bib number and name else it will be posted here.

Managed to find a bit of strength back and hasten my pace a little. I felt sweat flowing down my legs and I know I was loosing much electrolytes due to the surprisingly high humidity this morning. Cramps should not come as I've just replenished with an energy gel, unless my right piriformis decides to give way. Lucky it did not as I entered the underpass and approach the finish line located just in front of the Sunway Pyramid's lion head. I crossed the finish line in 1:24:31 hours, which is off my target. I was disappointed that I could not sustain my pace but overall, it was still a satisfying and fruitful run. I will take my result happily.

Conquered New Pantai Expressway with my Kinvara 4. 
Anyone can spot what is wrong with this photo? *grin...

I tried to locate Zijill who ran a full marathon the night before and 10KM this morning but to no avail. I later linger around with CP, Wei Min and some other friends before leaving the site and back to work. Overall, the race was well organised with important elements like sufficient refreshments, distance markers, medics and lots of volunteers being well executed. However, here are some key points I would like to highlight out:

1) Road closure and traffic guidelines I mentioned earlier in this entry. Please execute as what was printed on the runners guide and not bringing us to some merry go round in the morning.

2) Emcee who likes to "Syiok" ownself and not able to get the attention of the participants. 

3) Cheerleaders along the route who were screaming their lungs out and behaving like hoooligans or rempits. Kindly cheer runners in a proper manner.

4) The drama behind the running vest where the size was extremely large. Not that I care of as the vest is going to some under privilege people but it affected lots of others.

Will I return next year should the event be still on? Sadly to say, I'm all OUT hence I don't think so unless like this year, it's for training purposes. It may be well organised this year, but after all, it's still 3 Stripes.