Thursday, December 30, 2010

TGIT!!!!!


Much to celebrate on today's Thursday especially after the Malaysian football team outscored the Indonesians in Jakarta, thus securing themselves (ourselves!!) the AFF Suzuki Cup!!!

And in all things 'self-professed greatness', the Prime Minister announced that tomorrow (FRIDAY...last day of 2010) will be a public holiday to commemorate the good job well done by the Malaysian team!!!!
Don't you just love it when the irony of the inner workings of this country, finally does work out to be of some usefulness for its citizens?!

Anyway....on a "heavier" note....I'm day 4 post MR25 Ultra...and feeling a whole lot better in the lower half department.

Went for my first "recovery run/walk" Day-3, on Tuesday...for about 2.6km.
And Day-4, again for a 7km run yesterday.
Did both in my Vibram KSO.....

Anyway....remember the toe-socks I got for cheap in several posts back?

Well....they were of the usual sock thickness and although they worked brilliantly with my Vibram Sprint model, I found it a tad difficult to stuff my foot into the KSO with the socks on.

KSO wearers (and also the Bikila wearers) would appreciate that the inlet to shove your foot in is tiny and takes time and, some moderate amount of difficulty, to get the foot in in place.
(it took quite a while to wear the KSO with the toe-socks....I can imagine how long it might take if I was wearing Bikila as I already take forever to get my naked feet into that model of VFF)

Then, I found THESE:


Toe stockings!!!
Really thin material...and it ends below the ankle.


I found them at SoxWorld....and they cost RM9.90......almost double of what I paid for the cheapo toe-socks from the 100-yen shop.


Since they were of the stocking material....they were really sheer, light, airy and thin.
And a little "worrying" to put on. I was careful not to yank them on as I was shit scared they would shear off at the edges.
But with a little dexterity, I got them on in one piece.


And because they come up below the ankle, once in the KSO....you can't really see that you're wearing any 'barrier'.
Also.....it was easier to slip into the KSO in the stockings compared with the socks.

I had some fear that they might slip off while running.....but after the 7km run, I was assured that they did the job of preventing the usual blisters at my arch...and they stay put on my feet!

I wondered if these were the same stockings that Amelia was recommending.

Anyway....tomorrow is the last day of 2010.
I've yet to make any real resolution for 2011.
Gosh I still can't believe 2010 is going to be done and gone once the clock strike 12 midnight tomorrow!!!

I really do need to reflect through my "achievements" for this year.
Oh...and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Later!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

MR25 Ultramarathon - 26/12/2010


The last race of the year....
What a way to end 2010!!!!

Anyway....this race was actually my back-up plan as I could not afford Plan-A (Chiangmai Marathon).
But I could afford the SGD35 entry fee and the no-frills flight to Singapore on Boxing Day!
What was even better was that I managed to convince Wendy into running it with me.
Nothing echoes of lasting meaningful friendship like 10 hours of suffering and pain in the trails of MacRitchie Reservoir.

We reached race site really really early.
Supposed to collect race kit at 6.30am before the flag off at 7.00am.

This race works like this.
One designated race loop is 10.2km.
Run 5 loops within 10 hours and you qualify, thus earning yourself the coveted (although in retrospect, not really as I wanted a finisher's SHIRT!) finisher's vest.....or aim for the stars and run till 8 loops or MORE within 12 hours.

The winner is the crazy-legged person who runs the MOST loops within the fastest amount of time.

I may be from the nuthouse, which marked me to be clinically insane....but I ain't stupid to be aiming that high....


Anyway.....we were all in high spirits prior to the race.
After all....we have 10 hours to complete 52km. How bad can it be?


We got to race site before 6am.
Lots of time to kill.
The organizers and volunteers only showed up after 6am, and the race kit collection started.

It was a small event.
Friendly, fun, personal....and SMALL!
I am already liking this race before it even started!!!!


They made really cool race bib. It has a satin-y feel sorta cloth material.
One that you can chuck into the washing machine and expect it to come out of the dryer looking immaculately pre-race.


The swag kit (or more commonly known as the goodie bag) has pretty decent stuff in it, considering this race only cost SGD35!!!!
In fact, it cost a fraction of what I paid for Singapore Marathon and I'm liking this swag kit more!!!
In it...an energy gel, a Soyjoy bar, some "muscle tape" (kinda like Rocktapes), some "instant energy cream", some anti-blister gel and the usual discount vouchers for stuff that I'd never buy!


We had a pretty strong Malaysian contingent at this race.
And Mr. Tey came down to show his support by being one of the unofficial photogs for the race!!!!
This guy is amazing and very generous with his time and photog services!!!!




If there's one lesson that I've learnt from Mo-maniac, it is to bring your country's flag with you to every race.
Comes in REALLY handy for photo ops.


More photogs....here with Uncle SC!

The race started on time.
Don't you just love punctuality?!

The route leads us past the lake and into the trails.
Once we hit the trail, it was TNF all over again.
Except this time I'm a little smarter with blister prevention...(keep removing those pesky tiny rocks in the shoes!!!)...and race, overall.

I started off pretty slow.....
Every uphill, I walked.
Every flat and downhill, I ran.
I ran slow and steady.
I gave way to all the fast runners aiming to over take the slow-poke in skirt.

I didn't want it to be TNF all over again.
It took me about 4km to get into rhythm of sort.

Once I was in rhythm.....the race officially became FUN!
I carried a bottle of water in one hand....and a camera in the other.
First 2 rounds, I took pictures.
The "trail" was still as rocky and gravel-y as I remembered it to be.
But unlike TNF, we didn't run so much in the open space....
We were very much under the shade of the trees.

Also...the weather was much more lovelier than TNF day.
There were occasional clouds overhead.

The water station served Pocari Sweat...(now my official FAVOURITE isotonic!)
Passed the water station twice during our loop.
And since I was also carrying my water bottle, I was sufficiently hydrated.

And because it was a loop.....I was always running by another runner coming the opposite direction.
At least I didn't feel like I'm running lost in some stupid jungle like I did during TNF!!!

Said hi and cheered for almost every single runner coming in the opposite direction.
That made the run even more FUN and ENJOYABLE!



During my first loop heading back to the starting line, I bumped into some Dailymiler friends!!!
I can't believe I'd meet Marshal and Agus there (running in their Vibram Bikilas, no less) and they were super excited to see me as well!!! (problem with us is that we're always super excited......)
Of course we stopped and took photos and stuff.
So typical of us! (super excited with photo taking!!!)


I keep bumping into the same people over and over again!
It really was like a huge running party and everyone is having fun!!!
(well, I can't speak for you but I AM having loads of fun!!!)


First loop heading back, bump into Uncle Sonny and Auntie Jenny!
They were in Singapore for Christmas and Uncle Sonny didn't want to run this race after the little incident of him tripping during a previous year's race and having a ugly laceration wound near his eye that needed to be stitched!
(Mo-maniac tells EVERYBODY this laceration story on behalf of Uncle Sonny....)


First loop was the fastest.....(no surprise there)
Then off I went to the ladies' room...did the necessary evacuations....then hung around and drank some Coke.
The starting area was filled with runners hanging around, whom just finished their first/second loop and just chilling, having fun!
Very relaxed atmosphere!!!!


Second loop.....I already know how the route would be.
So no surprises.
I knew where I'd do my walking...and where I'd run.....

But after a while, I got pretty sick of carrying a camera.
So when I bumped into Tey somewhere along the course....I passed him the camera and off I went.
It was really nice having Tey around!

After completing second loop...I was starving!

I got back to the starting area, and gorge myself on bread and more Coke!
Had a can of Naughty G as well......(another lesson taught by Mo-maniac)

Pumped up with caffeine and stomach filled, off I ran for my third round.
I had the company of Clifford during that loop and it was fun having someone to talk to.
I think I like that about these sorta races. Someone to chat with and laugh with....all while still running.

It was starting to get warm in the reservoir.....but running under the shade of the trees really helped.

Completed third loop.....and off for fourth loop after guzzling down more Coke.
(if you were wondering, we brought our own Coke, bread, chocolates, etc......yes, it did resemble an elaborate picnic of sort)

The fourth loop was tiring.
I could feel the fatigue setting in and the muscles were starting to get achy.
The heat didn't help.
But once you've started the loop...you really just had to finish it.

Also...cheering for the runnings in the opposite direction took my mind off my own suffering.
(another lesson from Mo-maniac....encourage and be encouraged)
I was looking out for all my friends running back.....yes, they were fast!

Through out fourth loop...all I was thinking about was LUNCH!!!!
(the race serves lunch which runners can eat whenever they want to)

By the time I was returning from my fourth loop....the sky was again cloudy.....and it started to drizzle on and off.
Brilliant weather!

Back at the starting area, they were serving two choices for lunch.....fried meehoon or nasi lemak.
I went for the noodles. Didn't think the digestive system would agree with the sambal from the nasi lemak.
Polished that off......washed it down with MORE Coke....
And decided to walk the entire fifth loop.

During the start of the fifth loop.....the drizzle became more persistent...
And eventually became a proper downpour.

And man....did it pour!!!!

I was surprised at the intensity of the rain.
And I was afraid.
The trails were mostly rocks and possibility of it being super slippery was very high.
And I didn't want it to get muddy either.

The rain kept on beating down on us....and when we were climbing the uphills, steam of water flowed down against us like a mini-waterfall!

Started running a bit despite promising my legs that I'd walk.
I didn't want to stay around to see when the mini-waterfall would progress into Niagara.

Many areas of the route became muddy and full of puddles of water.
At some parts, it was slightly flooded.
My shoes were soaking wet with muddy water.

The rain stopped as quickly as it started...and then drizzle on and off again.

Since my legs were starting to ached more and more, I decided to walk the returning loop back.
I was also walking with Florence and Azhar....and listening to their tales of running adventure.
Oh...and more photo ops as Azhar was carrying his waterproof camera with him.

I also found out that there were a lot of crazies out there who had signed up for the Sundown Ultra....and a week later planned to run the Gold Coast Marathon!!!!
(when the number of crazies around you go up.....you'd feel rather...NORMAL!!!!)

Anyway.....I completed 52km in 8:47!!!

Much better than my performance at TNF...
This time around....no vomiting, no wanting to give up, no crying at the finish line....
More fun...and less emotional....
Overall....FANTASTIC!!!


I'm also very excited for Wendy who completed her very first Ultramarathon!!!
(I'm hoping this marks the start of many more for her...)


The finisher's cert has the same satin-y cloth material like the bib...
Super-cool!!!!


I'm also very proud of my Brooks Launch.
Not only did it survive Mount KK Climbathon back in October.....
It survived 52km of MacRitchie Trails!!!


Even the soles stayed perfectly intact!
(unlike my Brooks Ghost which R.I.P. right after TNF....)

Now see why I like Brooks shoes?


The prizes for the top 10 runners...


Also congrats to Jeff and Dennis for completing 7 loops.




Everyone was in a happy mood post-race.

I'm so proud of everybody!!!
And thanks Tey for the pictures......(especially the ones I took for this blog)


This is one race everyone should go for.
It is a perfect way to end the year.
Not too pricey.....not too far away......not too short a distance.....and you decide how long you want to run it.
Super friendly......and it reeks of festive mood!!!!

So what's not to like about MR25?

I'm definitely coming back NEXT year.....what about YOU?



Later!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!

I can't believe it's that time of the year again!!!!
Dang...time really does past super fast when you're having a lot of events scattered throughout.

Anyway....this year, I didn't plan to celebrate Christmas back home.
But instead, I made up some elaborate plan to do midnight mass in Ipoh, then head to the KL airport the next morning (groggy and half awake) and catch the afternoon flight to Singapore, and to have an ultra run in Singapore on Boxing day.

Yup....this year I'm a wee bit ambitious.

I'm heading down Singapore (again) to run the MR25 Ultramarathon.
Click HERE for more info.

Yes it is at the (in)famous Macritchie Reservoir....and yes, I still remember how horrible it was back at TNF100....
Click HERE if you're feeling nostalgic.....

Anyways.....the MR25 Ultra is a 12 hour race, running around in a 10.5km loops in Macritchie Reservoir.
A minimum of 5 rounds to qualify as a legit finisher....and a maximum of 8 rounds for bragging rights.
Anything more than 8 rounds deserve an appointment with the psychiatrist at Woodbridge Hospital (the Singapore version of the cuckoo's nest).

My game plan for this is to HAVE FUN!!!!

I mean, c'mon...it's Boxing Day!!!
A day most people stay in, trying to get over that horrid hangover they are suffering from.
Of course will aim to reach the qualifying 5 rounds...and anything more after that is a bonus.
As long as I keep telling myself this is for training, I'll definitely have fun.
Remind me that it's a bloody race, I'll get too tense up and might throw up again like the last time.
(trying my darnest not to relive my past Macritchie Reservoir experience)

Anyway...I'm excited as well as shit scared as I've not logged much mileage since erm....SCSM?!
Terribly inconsistent with training, don't you agree?

ON the bright side, the MR25 Ultra will mark the start of my 100km race (Sundown) training as well.
I figured I might as well get a head start in it. Which is why I wanna end this year with a bang!! (hopefully that will not be the sound of my knees going kaput)

Considering tomorrow is Christmas, it is also terribly depressing (thank goodness for antidepressants) to NOT be home right now.
Come to think of it, I've not been home for quite a while.
In fact, I'm really looking forward to heading home to smoggy KL next weekend to celebrate the coming of 2011.
Of course, I'll be doing the New Year's countdown in my sleep.
(probably one of the side effects of getting old-er, is my need for extra zzz..)

Dannie and Carrie invited me to bandit a 7km race in Klang on the 1st of January 2011.
Bandit......because I'm undecided about going, thus not signing up, and it might just occur to me the night before that it would be a brilliant idea to run 7km in Klang....
Thus...bandit.

But I'm really hoping to run a little bit more than just 7km on the first day of 2011.
I was thinking more of 20-30km.
(no...I'm not being overly ambitious)

I better get back to packing before tonight's mass.
See whoever I'm suppose to see in Singapore tomorrow!!!


Later!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Vibram & Toe-socks Chronicles.....


Do you remember reading about my misadventure of running in my Vibram KSO back in Melbourne without any sort of barrier between the epidermis of my sole and the KSO....and the blisters that accompanied that "foolish" attempt...?

Well...if you don't remember, here's a picture of those blisters!


Anyway, when I was in Singapore pre-SCSM and met up with the likes of VFF-believers Mo-maniac and Amelia, and I mentioned about my little abraded foot problem, Amelia suggested that I seriously consider toe socks.

Well...this wasn't the first time I was advised to go toe-sock with my VFF.
My Dailymiler blister-aversive buddies have been urging me to sock-it with the VFF but I was too stubborn (as always..sigh) to heed such wisdom.

But coming from Amelia...having completed many (MANY!!!!) full marathons in those Vibrams of hers, an ultra and a trail race in them as well......while wearing toe-socks (and swears by them).....I don't think I can ignore such good advise any longer.

Currently the most famous of all toe-socks are the Injinji's:


They go for about RM50-ish per pair and most runners swear by it as it never gives blisters while running shoe-shod.
I never bothered with it as I am usually blister-less in my cheap Nike socks that I've bought at the sales rack at Al-Ikhsan.


Wise Amelia suggested not to bother with the pricy "designer toe-sock" and get some cheapo ones at Sox World....that goes for about RM15-20 per pair.

Still....I thought it was a little pricy for something experimental....(although forking out for a fake pair of Vibram Sprint costing over RM200 on the internet for experiment sake.....nah, didn't have a problem with that), I decided to try sourcing for the toe-socks at an even cheaper alternative stores.


Thus, in comes the 100 Yen Shop!!!!
With cheap goodies galore inside......you're guaranteed to find ALMOST anything you'd need.
Perhaps except weed and heroin.

And I was right.....I did find what I need!!!!

My RM4.90 toe-socks!!!!


So cheap, I bought two pairs!!!

Sure...it ain't Dri-Fit....and it doesn't have a fancy label attached to it.
And everyone I mentioned it to looked at my cheapo toe-socks with doubt etched on their face.



But I figured if these socks work in preventing those dreaded blisters, then MAYBE perhaps I'll upgrade later to the "designer" ones...(ie Injinji). MAYBE.....


So I took my VFF (the fake ones) and my el-cheapo toe-socks for a test run on the dreadmill on the gym for an 8km run.

No problem.



Then I took it out on the road for a 5km run.

No problem.

On Tuesday, I took it out for a 10km run with Wendy, sorta as a prep run for our MR25 this Sunday, and amazingly.....I found myself not only WITHOUT blisters and in comfort, I was also running a whole lot faster than I thought I could!!!

Of course, my calve muscles ache a little each time post-running in the VFF.
But I'm sure eventually, the feet and legs will get used to running "barefoot".



Currently, there are tons of supposed "Vibram"going for affordable on the internet.

The ones in Singapore sells for SGD180-ish which after converted to our humble Ringgit, it would be over RM400!!!
Not cheap at all.
The supposed "Vibram" are going for RM300-ish on Facebook (I've been tagged many times on someone's profile pic or photo catalog).
I doubt their authenticity......but honestly like the wise words of a crazy bald Singaporean dude who thinks he's occasionally Kenyan, it's just about the piece of rubber underneath.
So no biggie.
But if you're seriously considering getting a fake pair....get them online.
They are SO much cheaper!!!!
(I can't believe I'm pushing the sales of fake items online...gosh I hope I don't get sued)

And once you're convinced your feet are made for barefoot running, only then invest in an authentic pair.....or go au naturel and REALLY RUN BAREFOOT!!!!


By the way....a list of fake Vibram online....click HERE!


Later!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Penang Round Island Relay (PRIR) - a supporter's view!


The one weekend before my MR25 ultramarathon, I decided I wasn't going to be racing (or be doing much running, for that matter), and decided to take up the invitation offered by my running-lovebird friends, Dannie and Carrie....(yes, even their names rhyme!!!).....to head up to Penang to support the Pacemaker's 2-team participation in the annual Penang Round Island Relay (PRIR) on 19 December 2010.

The PRIR was organized by the Penang Amateur Athletic Association...click HERE for their blog.

This race, as the name denotes, runs all around the periphery of Penang Island....a race route distance of 72km. It's been going on for several years now and according to Dannie, this was Pacemaker's second time participating. Apparently the previous year's entry did not fare too well in results.
So I gather that this year around, they (or rather Ronnie See....click HERE for blog) came back for one thing and one thing only....
REVENGE!!!!
(revenge does wonders for the male ego, come to think of it)

Dannie enticed my supporter's participation by luring me with promise of Penang FOOD....free place to bunk.....guaranteed fun time in Penang....and you-know-who's participation in the same race.
I was pretty much sold before I click on reply in the email that he sent.
(I know...I'm pathetic)

So right after work (on-call again on Friday....sucked like hell!) on Saturday morning, headed up North to begin my weekend of supposed fun.

Photo-log to tell the story...or at least most of it.


* The entire Saturday was indeed all about food, food and MORE food!
I rationalized my excessive intake of unnecessary calories by the fact that I'm doing an ultra on Boxing Day, thus needing to carbo-load.

* All the runners in both teams had to meet up in the lobby of Cititel Hotel for a pre-race briefing, given by birthday girl, Ms Julie Wong.
It was during this briefing that I realized that I don't actually know many of the other runners aside from a measly handful.

* But as always, was and still am thankful Winnie was there as a supporter (for Bryan) and first-time race photographer.......someone to share gossip with makes the mediocre and mundane in-between-waiting-times go faster.

* With Team 2's captain, YKK...click HERE for his blog.
(yes..these days EVERYBODY has a blog....what d'ya mean you DON'T have one up and running yet?!)

* Dannie and his bib number.
He was extremely worried and stressed out prior to the race. He did not want to let his team down. Carrie was also extremely worried and stressed out prior to the race....because Dannie was.

* Bryan who drove Winnie and two others up to Penang...and showing off his Powerman finisher's T-shirt...
Oh the envy!!!!

* Winnie and the legendary Mr. Tey!!!
Winnie was getting a crash course in using Joe's camera for the race from Tey.

* The Pacemakers actually hired 2 buses to ferry the supporters and pick up runners along the entire 72km route. This was where I spent most of my time in.

The runners get dropped off at their designated pitstops along the route, depending on which segment you're running.
A total of 12 runners will cover the entire 72km route, each runner running a varying distant.

The idea of the bus was to drive along the route, and to get the supporters to the following pitstop along the route...wait for runner-1 to complete running his designated distance....pass the baton to runner-2......usher runner-1 onto the bus.....the head off to the next pitstop.....wait for runner-2 to do the same to runner-3.....and you get the idea.
The bus picks up runners along the way!

* On the bus, we're fully equipped with abundant isotonics, water and sandwiches.....oh, and camera-click-happy people!!!!

* One of the pitstop...where runner-2 passes baton to runner-3.
Simple.....

* This was where runner-3 (team 2's captain) pushed his lactic acid threshold!

* Carrie giving Dannie her unwavering support.

* Atmosphere at one of the pitstops.

* So basically...there was a lot of getting onto and out of the bus.
There was also a lot of waiting around...handing out drinks....handing out words of encouragement....and as you already know, a lot of picture taking!!!

* Carrie and I posing for the camera as often as opportunity presented itself.

* Met Uncle Sonny (yes, again!) and he was running the relay with his veteran friends.
No...that wasn't being sarcastic. They were registered under veteran category.

* A lot of times, the pitstops were under-manned and lack traffic control.
What it does NOT lack = SUPPORTERS!!!

* Bananas for sale at one of the pitstops.

* The race started in front of Eastern Oriental Hotel, which was in town.....and we travelled halfway around the island until Balik Pulau....

* Supporters aplenty...

* The ever supportive Mr. Tey!

* Anyway....Team 1 (the elite group) won 3rd placing in Men's Open Relay Team...which Team 2 (the group that I went along to support) won 8th placing....(but do correct me if I am wrong...coz someone said it was 8th...someone said 13th....and someone said even worse results!)

* The runners of Team 2!!!!
I had LOADS of fun for someone who did not run!!!

* Uncle Sonny's VETERAN team...

* The Elite Team 1 posing with their 3rd place medals.
By the way....there ain't any prize money for this race.

* More random group shots.

* Bryan did pretty well! Congratulations.

* Me and Winnie, whom I stole all these pictures from!!!!! Erm...please and thank you!!!!

Congratulations Pacemakers on your fantastic performance in PRIR.

Anyway...I heard next year the PAAA are gonna open up a Women's Open category.
Thank goodness I don't like running relays.
Give me distance over speed ANYTIME!!!

Oh...and regarding you-know-who.....I promise myself I am NOT going to post anything more about him....or even to mention about him....in this blog ever again.
I promise I promise I promise.
Why?
Erm.....no reason. Time to get over being silly about it. That's all.


Did I mention I'm on call again tomorrow?


Later!!!!