Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year That Was 2014...

By Frank

Year 2014 came and instantly in a blink of an eye, we are now just 1 day away from year 2015. Time certainly moves quickly especially when we age. Year 2014 has been filled with exceptionally full of surprises for me, both good and bad, memorable and forgettable. Here's a rewind of things...

"Why are you so slow?" and "How are you going to run Comrades like this?" are 2 messages I received from 2 different runners when the year started. So instead of sulking and retaliating, I stuff it up and moved on. Besides, it was still a long way into the year at that time. And no, I didn't take it as a wake up call for me, cause it wasn't nor did I care about what others thought. These 2 fellows are just not worth my time.

To start off the new year too, I renewed my sponsorship contract with Saucony, with them remaining as my one and only sole sponsor as it has been a very happy working relation and fruitful year with them. Thanks Saucony Malaysia and not forgetting friends I made at Saucony Netherlands and Saucony South Africa. As for the rest, sorry to say it has been an awful experience, not the brand but the people, hence I rejected any contract renewal as I do not intend to be their marketing tool nor puppet.

Then for the first time in my running career and after training many others, I've engaged a coach to guide me through especially for my third Comrades Marathon. To most believes, the third run at the Comrades Marathon will be the strongest and best for each of everyone and here is where my coach comes in to guide me through. Although not physically here with me, the online guidance and analysis provided is just as good.

As per the last 2 years, the first 5 months of the year will all be focused on the Comrades Marathon. And this is where both Saucony and my coach comes in. To provide me with the most suitable training and race gears, and also a training program that will suit my needs and targets with post monthly analysis.

January started off as base building, to prepare myself both physically and mentally for the tough months ahead. Despite the Chinese New Year celebration, training went well as per scheduled. Next was February and I had the opportunity to run my second 100KM alongside with Susanah at Titi100. We ran together from the start till finish and it was a memorable run together.

March was next and personal issues came. My mind was clouded and I was somewhere else. This month was also a scary one where Comrades runners begin to pile on their running distance. Dubbed as "Hell March" and with much strength gain over the past couple of months, I survived the training given despite going off course due to personal issues. And with the turn of things towards month end, I successfully for my first time, survived 16 hours at the Twilight Ultra Challenge conquering 90KM out of looping around East Coast Park, Singapore.

April was just as tough especially when there are no events to participate in, where I can use them as long distance training. Got through it and the final month came, May where I had the whole month to taper off. Tapering off isn't something easy but as  I slowly regain strength from all the training since the beginning of the year, I was soon ready for the big race at Comrades Marathon. And also in May was the launch of this year's Be Frank campaign and the good folks at CARIF went a step further creating the Frankathon event to support me and raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

The launch of the Frankathon.

I flew off to Durban, South Africa with Susanah in the wee hours of Monday, 26 May 2014 giving us about 6 days there to prepare and acclimatize. Met up with the rest of the contingent after a few days there and soon it was race day on 1 June 2014. With the guidance and support, I ran my my best Comrades finally scoring the Bronze medal completing it just under 11 hours. However, I failed in a certain department and like the previous year, this will continue to haunt me.

Upon returning from South Africa, my life was in a total mess. Despite looking like myself, I wasn't myself. To keep myself occupied, I signed up for Back 2 Endurance 12 hours run hoping to keep my mind off things. I push myself in the run and eventually scored third placing. But it wasn't a solution and hence I wanted to escape, and hence I started searching.

July was also the month I started with the Maffetone training methods. To turn things around and to return to my best shape in running, I thought this will also help me mentally. And based on this, I started my self theme "Trial By 4" to get back into running a sub 4 hours marathon, a rather difficult task for me at that time due to lack of speed. I didn't blog about this but it's basically 3 tries to run at least one sub 4 hours marathon before year end. And thus, everything changed here from training methods to diet. This was also the month that I found my "escape route" in a very hasty and secretive decision only to find out that the flight I was suppose to board went down 2 weeks after I purchased my tickets. I stood with my purchase and left it to fate.

August came and my first trial at the Kuching Marathon. And to my surprise, I scored my second sub 4 hours marathon after my first back in 2009 at Macau. And this eventually qualified me for next year's Comrades Marathon with a D seeding. It wasn't a dream as I received 2 very encouraging messages which reads, "Itulah YB yang berpotensi!" and "You are back!", from Chee Kong and Soon Chung respectively.

September saw me entering my third 100KM race and my third attempt at the 161KM distance. Penang Ultra was 3 weeks after Kuching Marathon. Was an enjoyable event where I ran the second half of the 100KM distance with Yen Erl and Zhen Qi. Though it was tough at Penang Hill, we all completed the run comfortably. And 2 weeks later, after 2 failed attempts, I finally managed to complete the 161KM at Craze Ultra.

October finally came. This was the month I was planing my escape. And I told almost no one about it. I sold off my KL Marathon registration telling those who asked about my reason, being I was simply tired which was not the exact case. I also almost did not make the trip only to come to a decision at the final moment due to personal reasons. But on 17 October 2014, I finally took flight en route to Amsterdam. When the news finally broke thanks to Chee Kong posting my flight path, I received many messages from my good friends which I did not reply. Sorry my friends about that and thanks for your concern. Some of you will have thought that I went over to complete off the book I was writing. Some thought I escape to run in races there. Some thought that I needed a break from work. And while some close friends thought I went to discover myself and to escape reality. While the fourth is really close, the exact reason I went was more than just that. It was a personal one, to find back my pieces.

My flight path to Amsterdam on board MH16.

The canal that flows my memories, Prinsengratch at Amsterdam.

My second "Trial By 4 " and also my most important at the Amsterdam Marathon did not go down well. Though still scoring a sub 4 hours run, I did not run well and was left utterly disappointed. And with this, also began my weekly back to back running events.

Dejected after the Amsterdam Marathon.

From Amsterdam, I flew over to Scotland where I stayed most of the time indoor at Chee Kong's house. It was peace and quiet there, and my mind was relax as I wrote my book. Yes, I am writing a book, a biography about myself to be published next year. A week after the Amsterdam Marathon, I found myself at the Jedburgh Three Peaks, a 63KM trail race, my longest trail run. Then it was followed by a road half marathon the next day. Both runs I completed safely and not too shabby for a skinny tropical guy.

A week rest before I was off to Killin for the Glen Ogle 33 Miles (53KM) race. More towards mountain roads in the valley's of Scotland, it was a run that I ran happily for there are turn of events in my life. And since that day, my life had been better as I finally return home safely in early November. And it's also through this trip, that my circle of friends or rather my running family has expanded, this time across to Scotland!

Back home in November, I continued with my weekly back to back runs with the Penang Bridge International Marathon being my third trial. Another successful sub 4 hours marathon, my "Trial By 4" came to a closure with a perfect score. And by this time, I know the Maffetone method was working and I had 2 more months to give myself a total makeover before the tough training for Comrades officially begins again.

December, the final month of the year is where I ended my 8 weeks of back to back runs with the PJ Half Marathon. As I continue to train and let my body recover from the adventure I had, my life too has regain some momentum. And though my current career path is all but going down south, a new chapter may begin soon.

This year, I also saw the many faces of people. The genuine and not so genuine. The friendly and not so friendly. Those that call you friends and treated you like one, and those who call you friends but backstab you at the back. But all in all, I know and am really glad that I had a "Porcupine" a "Fish" and a "Tan Sri" whom had stood by me through my journey. Believing in me, motivating me, listening to my problems and giving me a place to stay in were just some of the very kind gestures these more than friends provided. And I THANK you all 3 of you for these!

Running distances over the 12 months of 2014.

So there, my 2014 story. In terms of my running career, with 4 shoes thrashed and 1 being "immortalized" covering a total distance of 3,222KM ran (my longest and furthest a year to date), I scored a clean sheet in completing races and am glad I am ending year 2014 on a high note and injury free though I am still troubled by my left trapezius which has been bothering me on and off since the beginning of the year. It wasn't as smooth sailing as one will expect, with harsh comments received, fatigue, personal problems and so on, but it was certainly a learning process as I continue to move on. As for my personal life, it has been a roller coaster ride. I thought I will find my answer by escaping but that wasn't the solution. It did open me up and though I returned a more jovial person, deep within me, I know my life isn't complete.

2015 will be another challenging year ahead. In terms of running, my calendar for the first half of the year has been fixed. Am starting it off with my first ever 100KM trail race at Hong Kong 100 about 2 weeks into the year followed by the Gunung Nuang Ultra and Twilight Ultra Challenge in March. And all these will pave the way to my fourth Comrades where my target has been set by coach.

My training programme for my fourth Comrades. Thanks coach!

But most importantly and above everything else, I hope it will be great year for all and that I will be able to spend more time with my love one. After all, my life isn't all focus on running. Anyway, the new year begins tomorrow and hence with this ends my 2014 blog entries. HAPPY 2015 everyone and smooth sailing ahead!

That's all for 2014!

No comments: