Sunday, January 25, 2015

Avoiding the bonk? I'm now on Carbo-pro....

Has anyone reading this, NEVER ever hit the wall or bonk royally during a quick-paced long ride (or even during a marathon)??


Yeah...I thought so too.

Physiologically, the mainstay fuel that the body relies on during your swim/bike/run is glucose and the body stores it as glycogen (in your muscle and liver) or if in excess, as fat, unfortunately.

Once it depletes itself of the stored glycogen and the body starts needing to convert fat into fuel (it's not very efficient), you "hit-the-wall" or in cycling term, "bonk".

Of course, one may try to train the body to rely on fat as fuel (there is ample supply of fat in your body but limited glycogen....the unfair facts of life) when one "trains on empty" but I shall withhold my opinion on that notion but if you're keen to know more, do pop by Tristupe's blog for more info. 

I'm not saying it doesn't work (the science behind it is pretty solid, and the idea is doable).....I'm just not a fan.

But coming back to "hitting-the-wall" or "bonk".

I've bonked many times.
So often during my Ironman training last year that it no longer is funny.

But when you're on the saddle for 6 hours-plus trying to keep up with the boys (which ultimately always led to the demise of a good and enjoyable ride), you tend to bonk.
And once you get to the point of no return and the body starts needing to rely on your fat storage, it is superbly difficult to get back on track. Which means you're left with 40-50km of riding back to the car (or wherever the end destination is) feeling like the cement truck just ran you over, multiple times.
It's never a good feeling. can prevent the bonk....or in my case prolong it before it hits me.

The only way around it is to have constant intake of glucose/carbohydrate from the get go.
My aim is always to only inch near the danger zone with the end-point of ride destination less than 10km to go.
(Everyone has to have their personal ride KPIs.....this is multiple selfies....but that's another story)

The 6 months leading up to the Ironman....I've tried many modalities that I can stomach.
After all, nobody likes waiting for you that long when you're holed up in some God-forsaken petrol station's toilet with stomach upset, somewhere between Bukit Jalil and Lukut (although that does happen on off....not that I'm saying it happened to me).
So 'tolerability' of your GI system is bloody important.
Besides GI tolerability....palatability is also next in the list of important things to consider. If it taste like won't be downing it that much over the next 5-6 hours so that's not gonna help much.

So in my case...I'd started with the Malaysian all-time favourite....100 plus.
1 can provides 89 calories with 22g of sugar. Not too bad. But not quite enough. And after a while the taste gets to you....or at least to me.
(So I tend to mix it with Redbull. I love love LOVE Redbull...especially when it's 3-plus hours into a ride and you're tired and you're praying someone else in the group gets a flat so you can all stop and take a breather)

I've also done Gatorade...multiple artificial flavours and colourings to choose from.
1 bottle gives you 120 calories with 30g of carbs. 

Another favourite of mine was Accelerade in Fruit Punch. 1 scoop provides 60 calories but only 10g of carbs. Not adequate despite me really liking how it taste. And it's really pricey in my opinion for so little carbohydrate (and then Alp started calling it my night-cap drink...ish).

Don't get me started on Hammer's Heed. Aside from their electrolyte tabs, I tend to shy away from Hammer due to "palatability issues"....but thats really a personal taste.

My personal favourite leading into Ironman was High 5 Energy Source Plus 2:1. It came pre-packed and I just stuffed them into my bike jersey during the race. Each packet provided 177 calories and 44g of carbs with the perk of 28mg of caffeine. And I like the taste, surprisingly.
For your local supply of High 5 energy-whatever, head on over to Hobbies Sportswear website.

Alternatively....the mainstay of getting in lots of extra calories would be popping energy gels. But like everyone who rides with me on a regular basis would bike handling skills suck. Which means I do need to stop the bike to consume the gels. Unless I was looking for an excuse to have a rest from the continuous sufferfest of a bike ride, I would rather just keep going.
That's why I like my calories and carbohydrate in my water bottles.

Recently, I got my hands on this new product called Carbo-pro.
It is a tasteless powdered form of complex carbohydrate that is suppose to mix well in water and will provide the necessary fuel source during my long rides.
The label states that 2 scoops of Carbo-pro has 200 calories and provides 50g of carbohydrate.
Considering what I've just told you right up till now...50g is quite a bit comparatively.

So I test-tasted it on a few of my regular weekend rides.
(which reminds me, I need to cut back on Saturday AND Sunday rides, and return to running one of the weekends)

And you know what....I love it!!!! mixes alright in the water (you might need to shake the bottle a bit more vigorously) and it doesn't taste of anything.
So these days, I have it with Redbull (for the added oomph and extra I really like the taste) or High 5 ZERO effervescent salt tabs (which also does contain some caffeine but zero calories).

Despite 2 scoops being the recommended minimum, I've tried 3 scoops per water bottle (that would be 75g of carbs per bottle) on one of the longer torture sessions and it amazed me that I could still climb the last shitty hill on big crank whereas previously I would have spin all the way up like a wuss 
(or at least that was what I was told).

I'd looked through the info section at their official website...and they even recommended (of course they's good for sales!) it as pre-workout (if you're not the breakfast sort of person) AND post-workout drink (to top up the glycogen stores within 1 hour of cessation of activity). So it's kinda an all-in-one sort of drink....
(but I'm sticking to Endurox post ride....I just really like the taste)

Anyway if you're keen to try's now being sold at these centres:
Meng Thai Bicycle Center 

The NEXT time I'm being subjected to the sufferfest of chasing the boys along MEX highway, I'm gonna go 4-scoops Carbo-pro (100g of carbs, y'all!!!)......coz y'know....I don't want to be the last idiot to get back. Just saying.

Happy training.....and may you avoid the bonk as long as it is legally possible :)


Monday, January 12, 2015

Beer Mile Run 2014

The last Sunday of 2014.

What better way to end it on a 'high' note, than to participate in a (hush hush, its "underground") Beer Mile Run?!?!?!

The inaugural Beer Mile Run 2014 was held at some god-forsaken place in Taman Botani, Klang. 
(we got lost getting there...and we were following Waze!!)

The concept was simple.

Down one can of 400m (around some unoccupied shop lots), down another can of another 400m....down 3rd can of beer....stumble along another 400m and trying your darnest not to throw up.....forcefully will yourself to down the final can of beer....and crawl back the remaining 400m.

Ladies have it slightly easier. I got to pick a partner...and we're drinking Somersby.

Yes...I was told repeatedly that it was a girly drink. don't have to be a girly girl to like a girly drink. may disagree with me.
No...I have no qualms of introducing your nose to my fist.

* All pics were obtained from Yim's and BKLTL's Beer Mile 2014 Albums*

My 'relay-team' of two. Can always depend on PT for helping me down more 'fruit juices'. 

My 'girly-drink' was a little difficult to down. And having that much fluid in the stomach made running very very difficult. 400m of nauseated discomfort.

Trying my hardest not to regurgitate. Burping seemed to help. 

PT was super fast!!! (both in the drinking and in the running bit)
Of course, we won the female relay :)

Alvin...the organiser of this awesome 'race'.

I think everyone was having trouble finishing the 3rd and 4th can of beer. 
Taking a breather, boys?

Champion drinker and runner, Luis!
He downed all 4 cans like it was H-two-O!

Lydia was the only female who didn't do a relay. And she finished the run ahead of most guys. Awesome possum, Lydia!!!

Apparently drinking and running simultaneously can cause cramping of one's hamstring. 
I did offer medical aid (we had free-flow of 'itchy-powder') but was declined.

The prize-giving ceremony. Thanks Alvin!!!!

Thanks Yimster for the awesome pics!!!!

Last 'race' of 2014....not too shabby at all!!!!

So....Alvin.....we will see you in 2015??
(I figured we need to defend our winning relay team title)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell 2014....Hello 2015

As I was sieving through my (bare minimal) blog entries for the year of 2014, I realised that I didn't make my regular New Year resolution list.

I thought perhaps I didn't want to make my list public but as I flipped through all my pretty notebooks, I realised I didn't jot anything down at the start of 2014.

No resolutions.

And y'know what?
2014 turned out to be pretty swell despite not having any pre-set expectation of it.

But lets briefly run through my 2014 as I remembered...coz I wasn't exactly diligent enough to blog every single "milestone" down this year.

So here are the few stuff that I shall remember 2014 as:

* The year I cut down on my running races to an absolute zero...(at least the ones I actually turned up for)
* The year I only did triathlons and cycling events
* The year I finally got a cycling trainer and learnt to love being on it for hours on end
* The year I converted into a full-out ISM saddle rider (no more regular saddles for me, thank you)
* The year I DNF a triathlon race
* The year I gave up Brooks running shoes for good (I'm not all for Hokas for longer runs and Sketchers for my shorter runs)
* The year I fell in love with Ribena mixed with Malibu
* The year I learnt to swim freestyle (but still breaststroked the 3.8km at Langkawi)
* The year I finally became an Ironman
* The year that my weight steadfastly remained at 63kg year round (with or without Ironman training)

Now with less than 3 hours to go before we usher in the new year of 2015, I reassure myself that its not too late to come up with my New Year resolution.
And I'm gonna keep it short and sweet.

2015 is going to be the year that:

* I maintain my weight year round at 62kg (weight loss is probably the number 1 item on the resolution list for the majority of the female population and dare I say male population in this country. And being realistic, I'm just gonna get myself 1kg lighter than I was in 2014)
* I shall learn the proper techniques of applying the bloody eye liner (ditzy but true)
* I will run a sub-2 half marathon
* I will podium at a century ride event
* I will get through my final exam
* I will better my 2014 IM Langkawi timing (and I did promise myself to get my timing as close to Lini's 2014 timing as possible)
* I shall stop treating coffee as a necessity

Yeah.....that'll do for the moment.

Now you'll excuse me as I need to sleep early for tomorrow's 120km ride. Coz y'know...I need to start working on my first item resolution of maintaining weight at 62kg year round. 2015, after all, starts tomorrow!

Happy new year peeps!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Team Bunanamo Rides to Melaka - 20th December 2014

Once upon a time (perhaps some time back in early November), there was a group of overly enthusiastic triathletes who were undoubtedly bored post-Ironman and looking for a good adventure, and decided that they were going to arrange their very own interstate ride.

Yup...they wanted to ride into Melaka for the glorious food.

And since they were going to ride that far, might as well make it a century distance.

Well....since it was their "off-season" (I don't know about you but I don't really feel "off-season" regardless), they didn't want to ride back to KL. 
Coz...y'know....that would be too much the fact its "off-season".

Thus started the planning for an epic ride cum holiday with full gusto and enthusiasm. 

So on the 20th December 2014 morning, the group of us gathered at Kajang to start the inaugural (as the planning for the next epic ride is on the way, but not anytime soon....coz we're still "off-season") Team Bunanamo ride. 
Planned distance....158km.
Three support cars.
Three very awesome support car drivers.
The grand launch of team cycling jerseys.
Printed team banners (plus banners of related sponsors).
The promise of a damn good time.

Pre-ride briefing went something like this:
"....bla bla...fellowship ride..."
"....bla bla...ride slow and ride together...."
"....bla bla...will take this ride easy..."
"....bla bla....king of mountain..."
"....bla bla....race hard to win KOM jersey..."
"....bla bla....follow distance markers as set..."
"....bla bla....please refer to map if in doubt or lost..."

So at 8am (the pre-ride briefing and photo sessions took longer than anticipated....that's because one can never have enough photos of themselves taken), we set off from Jade Hill, Kajang and onto Lekas Highway with first pitstop at Seremban before heading to Senawang onwards through trunk roads.

*New team jersey and Dylan-the-awesome!!! Photo courtesy of Fendy

Once we hit the highway....there was no "taking it easy", no "fellowship ride" (unless ur in the front peloton, then yes it was indeed a pleasurable fellowship ride) and definitely no "ride slow, ride together".

There was however, the "king of mountain" which was the 3km mild incline of a hill just before the exit to Seremban town.

And since there were only three female riders in contention, yours truly "won" the title of Queen of Mountain (QOM). It wasn't much of a win if you only manage to drop a few guys on the climb. But since there was a free jersey involved, I was quite happy about it. 
I like free stuff. 
A lot.

Before reaching the top of the hill at the toll exit for Seremban, we had accumulated 2 punctures. One, a tubular....the other a clincher.

* we-fie just before Seremban exit. Pic courtesy of PT

At Seremban,  we rode into town and had a quick refuel before heading off onto the trunk roads heading south to Melaka. If I ever thought driving around Seremban town on a busy weekend was bad, riding through that traffic on two wheels was worse. And I only say such as I've yet to discover how bad riding through traffic would be when in Melaka.

The ride on the trunk roads were not too bad. Traffic was decent and road conditions were surprisingly on the good side. However the headwind was punishing. At least the weather held up. At 90km in (I think we were just entering Rembau), the sky was starting to look very grey and with distant sounds of thunder heard. 
High possibility of rain. And from the looks of things, it would be a pretty heavy downpour.

Decided for a reroute from there for a shorter distance. Main aim was to get to Melaka ASAP. No fun getting caught in heavy rain when riding through trunk/coastal roads. Malaysians as a whole, do not have good eyesights despite how fluorescent one's jersey is or how bright one's blinkers can get. 

(In the end, we achieved 145km...just 15km short of a century)

* re-fuel at Seremban. Pic by PT

After riding for another 10-15km in, it started to drizzle. Then the tiny occasional droplets became moderately heavy pelting rain. Thankfully it was only for a short duration before it returned to the docile drizzle. 

Refueled at some random Petronas station.

At that point, it was only 30km more to hit Melaka town. my delight (ok perhaps I'd twisted a few arms and pouted in utter defiance for it), we stopped at McDonald's for late lunch.

Chicken fold-over never tasted this good!!!!

* Finally at McD's. Pic by PT

With our tummies filled, we rode on to A'Famosa fort.
We had planned to have a group photo with our banner in front of this popular monument in Melaka.

Traffic was shitty leading there. 
Cars were bumper to bumper. Motorcyclists swerving in and out of lane. A bunch of pink-clad cyclists trying not to get massacred while riding.

Had never prayed that fervently while riding as I had while riding through that weekend-school-holiday traffic. And also realised that I forgot to renew my travel insurance. Nor did I update my will. 
Never had I been that grateful that I reached A'Famosa alive...(and never had I been this happy to see the remnants of that fort!!!)

Once reached, it was the mandatory we-fie and group photos.

* we-fie. Pic courtesy of Steve-the iPhone

* group pic with team banner. Pic courtesy of Rupert's phone

* Happy campers finally reached the hotel. Steve-the iPhone

After photo session, a short ride to the hotel for a quick shower and rest before dinner.

Post-dinner, we had prize giving for the KOM/QOM (free jersey!!!) and lucky draw. I'd gotten myself a pair of Compressport socks....which were 2 sizes too big for me. So if you receive a pair of awesome socks for your birthday, do me a favour and just graciously accept it. 

* prize giving ceremony. My QOM jersey. Pic by Fendy

The night was still young and we headed to Movida for drinks. I was (and still am) a sissypuss when it comes to alcohol. Only Somersby for me, thank you very much. And as always, it was good fun to watch grown men misbehaving and going all weird while being incredibly drunk.

* Pic by PT (or rather PT's camera)

We were at Movida until wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, I was severely sleep deprived. Thankfully we hired a bus for the journey back. I can't imagine riding back in that condition. 
Almost everyone was knocked out on the bus ride home. 

I can't remember a better sleep than the one I had on that bus. Totally knackered.

* let's go home. Pic by Fendy

Before ending this blog post, allow me (without sounding like I just won't the freakin Emmy award for the most melodramatic scene) to thank these people below:

Big thanks to the Bunanamo Ride planning committee (you guys know who you are) for the weeks of planning the route, logistics, transport, prizes and sponsorships etc etc. Without the hard work of these few men and women, this ride would not have come to fruition. 

Big thanks to Kathy, Lydia and Mohan for being the ever patient support car drivers. It ain't easy to drive a car at 25km/hr for 6-7 hours straight. Oh and more gratitude to Mohan for being the designated driver post-Movida. Thank all-high-powers that we didn't get pulled over by the cops!

Big thanks to Alvin (and big pat on the this was his longest ride mileage to date) and Yip for sponsoring the drinks at Movida.

Big thanks to Siew for sweeping the last rider.

Big thanks to Fendy and PT for all the pics. 

And FINALLY....big thank YOU to every single member of the team that went. This ride wouldn't have been this epic without every single one of you.

* cheers to an awesome upcoming 2015!!!!

Apparently talks of cycling to Ipoh are currently in the works. Fingers crossed we'll get that ride done before the second half of 2015.

Cheers and Happy-ushering-in-2015!!!!!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hatyai Century Ride - 9th November 2014

One of those training days a couple of weeks before jetting off to Langkawi for the Ironman, Yip brought up his plans post-Ironman.

Apparently plenty had been pondering ways to counter their post Ironman-blues.
Yip, among many other things had signed up for Hatyai Century Ride about 6 weeks after. With full gusto, the group of us agreed to go as well.

So fast forward 6 weeks later, on a wet and drizzly Sunday morning, we cycled from our hotel in Hatyai to the start of what was going to be one of the smallest century rides ever.
A total of 140 participants.

I guess I was so used to plenty of other cyclists at  century many that while gathering at the start line, you can barely see the front arch or the last cyclist at the very back.
But here I was…the LAST cyclist at the very back, with full view of the start arch right infront of me.

I thought to myself….this was going to be one hell of a ride.

The boys had already mapped out a sort-of plan (which in actual fact besides the plan to podium, it wasn’t much of a plan) and they were gonna gun off from the very start to take a lead and to latch on to the front peloton. If only they knew they WERE the peloton.

Phuitin and I just wanted to find someone to follow along until the very end. 160km without a peloton was just too huge a reminder of Ironman bike route. But judging from the turn out at the start of that race, we would have been bloody lucky to find anyone to latch on to.

And then….we started.

Within 5 minutes we could no longer see the guys.

* Photo courtesy of We See :)

I cycled with Phuitin the first 30km. We sorta stuck to these few dudes who were doing pretty consistent pace. And then we hit the hills. 

I was use to pedalling up hills fast (need momentum!!!) to enjoy the downhills so I took off quickly when I saw it infront of me. After several uphills and down, I lost Phuitin. I figured she’d catch up soon so I continued pedalling. 

A 100m infront of me was this guy in purple compression calve sleeves (it was bright enough to be difficult to ignore) and so I followed him from then on. He was doing a pretty decent pace and I was intrigued at how good his bike handling was that he was able to refill both his bike bottles all while cycling…take mineral water from passing car or from volunteers….put in back pocket….unscrew cap of bike bottle in bottle cage….fill in with water from bottle at back pocket….toss empty mineral bottle away….cap back bike bottle….take filled bike bottle and placed it in back pocket….take back bottle cage bottle and placed in front….take another mineral water bottle from passing car (we seem to have a lot of cars handing out water!!!!)….repeat whole series of action. 

I was so captivated by his whole filling of water bottles that I forgot that I too needed to drink.

I wished I could have continue following him behind except that I have terrible bike handling skills and I really would like to refill my own water bottles. And maybe pop down some High5 gels. So reluctantly, I stopped to do the needful and hope like hell someone else was gonna come by so I could draft. 

No one came.

Cycling alone wasn’t too bad. 

However, cycling alone in an unknown part of our Northern neighbour where the majority of people speak a different language and all you can muster at that point in time in local tongue was hello and thank you, well now THAT was bad.

Couple that fact with poor signage (signage? what signage!?!?!) along the route and plenty of major intersections….it was about to get even worse.
Most part of the ride, I was riding on faith (‘yeah I think going straight is the correct way’ sorta faith) and was banking a lot of my choices on luck (I’d still like to think of myself as an extremely lucky person….who just needs to channel that luck into buying lotteries). 

Some mild inclines and subsequent downhills….puddles of mud and ponding along the roads (I’m starting to really like the word “ponding”)…..I looked down at my Garmin watch and it said 80km. Half way mark. 

Then I heard the worst sound one can hear while cycling. The hissing of a punctured tire.

Stopped and started with the fixing then a local cyclist came and helped. Then Ka Chin came and helped too. The local cyclist said I was the first woman in this ride. I was doubtful…but while fixing, I saw Kellie zoomed past me…I knew that 5 minutes ago, he was absolutely right.
Oh well….

Soon we were back on the saddle and off we went. Ka Chin was very nice to offer to let me draft….but I could tell he was suffering and looked a whole lot worse off than I did. 
I just looked dirty. 

We were winding through some narrow kampung roads with plenty of potholes and uneven roads. The local guy was awesome. He told us which road to take and which sign said what which will lead us to where. Before we knew it, it was the next water station. Ka Chin told me to go ahead. I did offer to let him draft me but he declined as he wanted to rest longer. So the local guy went ahead with me. After some prepping on which roads to take ahead, he too bid farewell. I think he was waiting for someone who was actually in the race. 

It was already 120km. Another 40km more to go. It was like one classic GCE loop distance. I don’t think I have an issue with the distance. I just didn’t want to get lost…or worse, another puncture!!!!
Did I mention I was out of spares?

The sun was out with a vengeance by that time. I was hoping that the dirt I was covered in was going to give me some sort of sun protection. I too sometimes marvel at my own optimism. 

There were a few turnings that I wasn’t quite sure of but every time I slowed down at intersections, someone (passerby or local person or another rider from the back) would yell out to me which way to take. There were also a few times that I wondered if I trusted their given directions. But not that I had much of a choice. So I just continued pedalling. 

Finally with less than 20km more to go, we hit the highway that was just up and down for the longest of time. Was still feeling pretty good at that point despite having slowed down quite a bit. And I knew I was on the right route as I overtook 3 cyclists on the uphill bit of the highway. This was starting to feel like cycling to Lukut during our Ironman trainings. 

At the end of that highway, there was a small piece of paper with a red bold arrow on it (the kind of flyer sized paper where people advertised their lost cat or dog and stuck them on lamp post or similar vertical objects that you typically find flyers being stuck on) directing me to turn left. I thought, how ironic it was that I was placing my faith on a small red arrow coz for all I know I could be cycling back to Malaysia at that point!

After that turning, it led me onto another highway…this time, pancake flat….very hot…lotsa cars…..and even more vague signage along the way. I cycled slowly for 3-5km. Didn’t see a cyclist infront of me. Neither did I see one behind me. I stopped and hailed down some random dude and his girlfriend on a motorbike. 

I gestured to them….cycling, ahead? Blank stares. I gestured to the bib I'd attached to the front of my handle bar. More blank stares. I stared at them….they stared back at me. Then I pointed to my bike….and pointed behind. Oooh yes yes, nod nod…..more bikes behind.
I thanked them. It was the only other Thai word that I knew. They were back on their jolly way and I was relieved with knowing that there were more idiots behind me on bicycles, likely to be participants of this same century ride. If I was lost….I took great comfort in knowing I wasn’t lost alone. Misery loves company, eh?

I continued pedalling. 

Then at a traffic light to turn right, I saw on the traffic light post another red arrow pointing right.
I went closer just to make sure it wasn’t someone advertising for a lost cockatoo that looked like a red arrow from afar. 

It wasn’t (phew). 
I turned right and continued pedalling. I was finally back in town!!!! 
Praise all higher powers in this universe!!! I wasn’t lost after all!!!!!

The traffic heading into town was awful.
(mental note to self: your travel insurance expired last month)
Slowed down tremendously. No fun getting hit by random vehicle in foreign land...not that I'd ever tried.
Then infront of me, a traffic police and he was gesturing me to cycle into a pseudo left lane created with yellow cones.
I did as ordered….and just ahead of me…the finishing gantry!!!!!!

And I saw Phuitin there and I was like…either she was on stealth mode and overtook me while I was nursing the puncture, or one of use got severely lost.
(turns out she got lost at the first major intersection and she used waze to cycle back to the hotel)

And….more people got lost so in the end, I was the women champion of this race!!!!!
(I wasn’t too proud of the fact that I won due to other people getting lost)

Anyway….I cycled 165km in 5:45. Would have preferred sub 5:30 but it’ll do.