Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Fourth Comrades...

By Frank

Leaving in a less than half a day's time, 2AM later on board an Emirates flight to Dubai for transit before off to Durban to be precise, this will be my fifth and final report card on my build-up to my fourth Comrades Marathon, which is also the 90th edition in history happening this Sunday on 31 May 2015. After 3 years of experience and with this year's training of 1,618KM log by my beloved legs through about 180 plus odd hours from the beginning of the year till today, I guess I got no choice but to say I am ready for the challenge once again. At least the mind games in terms of training mileage will certainly be helpful.

Besides myself and Chee Kong going for our fourth, this year will also see some of my friends gunning for their back to back. Selva, Shanaz, Dr.Jagjit and Kai Yuan will be 4 of them. Besides, 2 novices from Malaysia, Zijill and Dr. Yani will join in the ranks too.

My journey to my fourth Comrades.

Training this year despite the usual time consuming and tiring process has been everything smooth sailing except for a bee sting back in April. And as per previous years, training for the Comrades Marathon though involves mostly running, does include weight and resistance training too, well at least for me but not exactly too hardcore on it.  A look back in training where it all started in January which normally is the easy month of base building. However, with the fitness and momentum gained from the end of last year, I pushed forward and tackled my first 100KM trail at the Hong Kong 100 as part of my "Bucket List To Do" and also training. Despite suffering from migraine mid way through the race, I nevertheless completed it without any further mishaps nor injury and carried on training for the month easy. And in that, January gave me 300KM worth of running. Off to a good start!

February came later where the shorter and also festive month poses a challenge. WIth Chee Kong back for Chinese New Year, some runs with him helps to keep the momentum going. And is also that this month started the speed training which involves interval, time trial, fartlek and also hill training which made me starting to hate every Tuesday of the week! But all in all, the target of the month was achieved with 260KM ran.

March otherwise known as "Hell March" is where the mileage increased. As like previous years, my highest distance will come from this month and with Gunung Nuang Ultra at the beginning of the month and Twilight Ultra Challenge at the end, it made things easier. 2 long runs sandwiching my other forms of training in between is certainly working for me this time and that gave me 453KM worth of running. And its also beginning this month that I joined up with Zijill who will be running her first Comrades in training together. We supported and back each other through the tough times on the road on Saturdays and Sundays, and I was really amazed on her performance. She will be one of the novice runner to watch out for this month end. We also got the Gold Coast Malaysia training group to assist us in training. With Jamie, Nick, Choon Yuen, Julia, Kew and few other new faces, it made the training more fun.

April saw me continuing my momentum from last month. And knowing that I've fallen sick in this month the previous years, I took extra precautions this time. I continued to work on speed on the weekdays and long runs on the weekend before ending the month with the Bukit Larut 26KM run to train for hills, in conjunction with my final long run too. And with that, the hard training was done with 328KM covered this month.

My life in words.

And quickly enough, May came. After all the hard work, this month can be pretty frustrating due to tapering. The urge to run but the need to slow down to recover was what was required for this month. And this month was a little stretched as I was launching my biography in conjunction with this year's Be Frank campaign. And not only that, as usual some people down in head office just do not understand the the term staff welfare! But in all, I made it through together the usual suspects with Zijill and the Gold Coast group, and I rounded up my training yesterday with an easy run. But of course there will be a couple of very easy runs more at Durban before race day just to keep the legs fresh.

Live tracking for Comrades runners.

This is also my second year under the guidance of a coach. And for the first time too, this year's Comrades is trained using the MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) or more commonly known as the Maffetone method. Besides, I was partially following the Low Carbs High Fat diet rules, where one of the most important element I followed was the massive reduction of sugar and lactose from my diet. And judging from the work done and also effort, and the "Up' run being my stronger direction, it looks pretty sure that I will excel in this year's race. However, I shall just remain realistic as anything can happen on race day. Anything from body condition to weather will have an effect on the overall results. Besides, due to road works, there will be an extra 877M to this year's route totaling to 87.72KM in total distance making it one of the longest "Up' run in Comrades history. The bar is raised pretty high for me but I will be happy to just better my time. And whether will the body be able to take the punishment will be a totally different story.

The list is long but I sincerely would like to thank those who have played a part in my buildup this year whether in support, donations and also the long training together. The pain, sweat, tears, laughter and blood for some, you all have my biggest THANK!

And reality sets in now. My fourth Comrades Marathon is on the horizon and here's to the hills! Let's Bamba Iqhaza! And yes, I am so gonna miss the pooch back home.

Come home quick to play with me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Comrades 2015 Travel Plan...

By Frank

As my fourth Comrades Marathon is fast approaching, it's time to have the luggage bags sorted out for. Though the packing has started last week, the planning started months ago. Nothing much especially in numbers has changed from last year, with the exception of adding in some hiking essentials this time round as the holiday seekers will be heading towards Namibia post Comrades.

Usual packing list.

What's new tagging along this time will be the new Osprey Shuttle duffle wheel bag that's replacing the aging and slightly damaged Hush Puppies version. Damn... I got to stop buying bags! And with winter now in South Africa, the under privilege will be in need for some clothing and hence like last year, I will be bringing along some unwanted but still new shirts I've gotten from races. I will also be donating off my trustworthy Saucony Ride 7 that has served me so well to a lucky but needy fellow there.

The trip will officially begin on the wee hours of Wednesday, 27 May 2015. I will once again be flying on board Emirates heading to Dubai for transit before heading into Durban. Pretty similar flight path as last year but I will miss the company of my friend as I will be flying alone. Once arriving at Durban, I will pick up my ride for one night, the Hyundai i10 before heading to check in at Belaire Suites.

First ride, Hyundai i10.

Zijill, Chee Kong, Mei-Ee and Selva will arrive the next evening and hence I got the whole day to myself for some light running on the beach side in the morning before heading to the Comrades expo. Will be returning my ride in the evening before welcoming Zijill for her first trip to South Africa. Will wait for Selva and Chee Kong's arrival too before heading back to the hotel on board our next ride, the trustworthy Nissan NV200 from last year. Yeap, it's a van again for Team Malaysia!

Nissan NV200 for Team Malaysia!

Next day will be a short morning run with Team Malaysia before the usual expo and route tour towards the Comrades house at Pietermaritzburg. And in the evening, it's the Runner's World pasta party again for some loading up and last minute tips from Lindsey Parry, the official Comrades Marathon coach. And on the race day eve, it will be free and easy for all though I guess everyone will end up at the expo again before a light lunch, rest and an early dinner as per previous years. Won't be participating in the morning's youth run though but may just be a spectator there or at the nearby Park Run.

Hope the race will go well for everyone as the usual post race dinner will be at Jiran Cafe before a well deserved rest as I will be leaving early the next morning for Windhoek, Namibia with Chee Kong and family.

A Ford Ranger camper.

Upon arrival at Windhoek, we will pick up our vehicles, mine and Chee Kong being the Ford Ranger together with the highlight, the camper which is our moving "house" for this part of the trip. A night at Windhoek before a long drive to Sossusvlei where we will stay put at Sesriem campsite for 2 nights there. And this is also where we will rendezvous with Jack and Chun Hock and family who will be driving in from Cape Town on their very own adventure.

From Sossusvlei, it will be another over 400KM drive the next day to Swakopmund where we will rest in the caravan for the night before resuming the journey to Damaraland the next day, a close to 500KM drive.

At Damaraland, we will visit Mount Branberg before driving to Etosha National Park, about 260KM away where we will camp Gondwana Etosha campsite for 2 nights. And from there, it's back to Windhoek for a night there before our flight to Johannesburg the next morning.

We will part with Jack, Chun Hock and family there before continuing to stay at Johannesburg for one more night. Flight back home is scheduled on the next evening which leaves me and Chee Kong plenty of time to catch up with friends there!

It will be a truly different trip this time especially the post Comrades part. Still safari themed, but a more adventure like one. But certainly for sure, this trip will certainly be missing someone.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comrades 2015 Race Gear...

By Frank

20 days till my fourth Comrades Marathon. And yes, it's tapering month which so far despite a little frustrating is going pretty smoothly. And after wrapping up the testing of this year's race gear, here by tradition again unveiling it.

The Saucony Kinvara since I started wearing them beginning from the 3rd edition has changed the way I run (it also changed the way I looked at Saucony as I wasn't a fan of them 4 years ago). An awesome shoe that moves the way the feet does and at the same time providing enough protection, it has protected and improved my performance and timing since my second Comrades Marathon in year 2013. The fourth had came a long way with me too though it skipped the Comrades Marathon as I was introduced to the fifth in time. It was the introduction of the Kinvara 5, the game changer that met and surpasses all my expectations and had given me a fantastic running season since I first received it last April till today.

The army of Kinvara 6.

And thus for this year, the Kinvara which had been code-named "Fast" will once again take on the duty of driving my 4th Comrades. The sixth generation of it, the Kinvara 6 thanks to Saucony Malaysia was first received in mid April 2015 and as usual I had been testing it indoor before moving on to the roads. And I am glad that the DNA of the shoe stood very closely with the fifth with only some adjustments to the FlexFilm making the shoe slightly more natural and flexible. I have faith in the shoe and I am sure it will deliver on race day. And coincidentally, I will be racing them in bright ViziOrange colour which is the same as my qualifier shoe the Saucony Type A6 and also 2 of my workhorse for this year's training, the Saucony Ride 7 and Zealot ISO.

From the qualifier, workhouse to race shoe, orange was the colour to the buildup of my 4th Comrades.

As for my socks, for my first time, I will move away from Drymax as I put my faith either on SwiftWick or Balega this year. Judging from the material used, both are pretty similar to Drymax and on the plus point, it has some added compression for SwiftWick and support for Balega to the necessary area such as arch and Achilles.

As for my apparels, moving away from SKINS, this year's duty will be on CompresSport Trail Tank Top and Trail Shorts, a new set I purchased myself. The top will be white this year which I hope will help with the heat as I remember the weather incident from 2 years ago when the heat wave struck. However for my calf sleeve, I am still undecided on the BV Sport Booster Elite or the CompresSport Calf R2 which the latter I felt over rated. Both will travel with me and I will decide on the morning itself I guess.

The super light Rudy Project Rydon will protect my eyes with my Suunto Ambit 3 Sapphire tracking and giving me the info as I tackle the race.

The only piece of gear which failed me  this time was the Mont Bell Zero Line race brief which sadly was not fitting due to my waist line. Therefore, I had to revert back to the trusty Renoma sport boxer trunks which I have trusted over the months.

My gears will be in a pretty neutral colour this year with the exception of the Kinvara 6. But what's important is they perform to my expectations in being functional and comfortable. And many thanks to Saucony Malaysia again for proving me and the team with the Saucony Kinvara 6 as our race shoe. Like the tagline for it, it will be a fast ride. Seek And You Shall Fly!