Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas 25km Virtual Run

Challenge Series 2:  110km of 125km

Whoa look at my milage count! I sure am pretty pleased about it.

In preparation for my first full marathon (that is creeping closer, closer, closer.. eek), I planned for a long run on last Monday. Set a target of 25km under 4 hours. We planned the run early on with my training partner, so we had the week to prepare and time to recover after Christmas festivities. 

This will be the longest training run for us, after which I plan on shorter runs and more kettlebell workouts leading up to the big day. This is also our longest run to date, having completed many half-marathons but never more. And to do it in a hamster wheel route of laps around the same park maybe madness, but I told myself I will, and I did.

So happens there was a virtual run challenge that came up right around the time I was planning the long run. Virtual I Run U Run had a Christmas 25km Virtual Run, that can be run as a cumulative total. I decided to take up the challenge and do it at one go. This will at least push make me push myself if I felt like quitting at 23km. 

Monday came around, and we got a wonderful weather. The day was cloudy and almost rained mid-run, and sun only came out nearly at the end. Me and my training partner plodded round and round the park for 4 hours. People came, people went. Families came, families went. On and on we plodded, round and round. 

I had loaded up my music choices beforehand. College favourites Coldplay, Avril Lavigne and Eminem helped me through the hours. I had forgotten how funny Eminem is - I must have look like a madman laughing and running in circles. 

We finished under the targeted 4hrs. In a race proper that would translate to better time I hope, with the energy from the crowd, better fueling (isotonic water stations!) and interesting scenery. And having completed the run with energy to spare, I'm confident we can finish the Full Marathon. I'll probbaly need to walk the last few kilometers - but I WILL cross the finish line strong.

Surprisingly I also felt less sore after this run compared to the last few half-marathons we did. I hope this means all the training has the body better prepared. I'm really really excited for January 15 now - can't wait for it! 16days 11hours away!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Challenge Kilometers

Challenge Series 2:  60km of 125km

This time around I set a goal that all my runs should be minimum 5km (no more 3km runs, I should be way past that stage in my training now!) I had a also targeted for longer weekend runs, but alas kept getting thwarted by the rainy weather, the recurring ashtma from the weather, and the(sigh) female problems at inapproriate times.

After 3 weekend long runs cut short by 'stuff', I'm changing strategy to building mileage on my treadmill instead. Since my treadmill is a medium grade one not really great for running long, I'll aim to do daily 5km stints to pile on mileage while not ruining my back from the treadmill non-absorber track. Added to more regular kettlebell workouts for core training, I hope I'm ready for Twincity Marathon, my first full marathon coming soon in...

... 31 days, 12 hours, 35 minutes! 

Challenge 2 running log, so far

Nov 17: 4km
Nov 20: 11km
Nov 24: 5km
Nov 25: 5km
Nov 27: 8km
Nov Total: 33km

Dec 1: 5km
Dec 3: 8km
Dec 4: 5km
Dec 10: 9km
Dec Total: 27km

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book : Run The World by Becky Wade

Challenge Series 2:  51km of 125km

This book is fully titled Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe.

Becky Wade is US college runner (which is a big thing, its a whole career by itself) who, unsure what to do after college ends, takes up a Watson Scholarship. The scholarship grants recipients money to spend one year traveling in pursuit of their projects. Becky is not only very talented in running, she really does love running A LOT, so that's her project - travel the world to experience other running cultures.

The book is interesting, because
  1. The subject itself is interesting. Yes, I would like to know how athletes of different nationalities and continents train, eat, think.
  2. Becky writes beautifully. It's easy to get caught in her narration and get lost in her excitement.
  3. Becky is really nice! She writes about all the things she experinces, but underneath all that Becky comes across as a genuinely nice person. I would love her to have her be my girlfriend!
I enjoyed following her through all the running cultures she experienced. 3,500 miles through UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden and Finland. Becky stayed with hosts throughout her journey, and followed them on their training run, while telling us about the running cultures specific to each country.

At the end of the book Becky runs a local marathon (and wins). There's a mile by mile play on what she is thinking in that race. I found this fascinating - long-distance running is always a mental game and I love the peek into what goes through an elite runner's mind.

I think I really enjoyed this book also because it's a girl experience. A guy with the same project will have a different experience - the places he stays, the people he meets, and the training runs he goes to will all be vastly different.

I do hope Becky will write another book. Something more on herself and her training.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Run: SJMC Run [10km], 13 Nov 2016

Challenge Series 2:  20km of 125km

Right in my backyard! I've always been wanting to give this a try, since it's right here in my neighborhood. But then happen and instead I kept visiting SJMC for other reasons and yada yada yada..

So finally this year signed up and ran the SJMC run. Last year it was up to 7km only, this year they expanded the route to 10km, alongside a 3km fun run event.

Race summary:

  • Excellent management. Overall everything was carried out superbly. Great support from organisers and staff of SJMC.
  • Location. It's nice running along familiar roads, and knowing how far to estimate distance since we know the roads like the back of our hands.
  • Route and water. It was challenging with a lot of short uphills. Route was well managed with well-stockde water stations.
  • Goody bag. Wow. Actual things in goody bag was something from runs of yesteryears, there were no runs this year that had a bag that deserved to labelled 'goody'. This one was packed with sponsor items and vouchers. There was a gardenia sandwich voucher to redeem after run, from the gardenia truck stationed. Sandwich was YUMMY. 

  • No km markers at all. And this is the only con!

Monday, November 14, 2016

125km Challenge Virtual Run Series 1 - Completed!

Challenge Series 1:  126km of 125km

Hurrah! Finally completed the first leg of the 125km Challenge Virtual Run Series.

Took me longer than planned, but yeay I did it. Gives me more confidence to further pile on the mileage and complete the other 3 legs of the series (and get my marathon training done too). For the next challenge I hope to log longer runs and finish the challenge in a faster time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Challenge Kilometers

Challenge Series 1:  113km of 125km

Just 12km more to go! I had targetted to finish earlier, before the Deepavali holidays but alas laziness and excuses were creeping in. After the HSN21 in early October, my running mileage has been a little slow building up. Then came the festive season and holiday in Langkawi so just more excuses.

Not anymore! I'm back to putting in more kilometers. Reminder to self : Twincity Marathon (and my first attempt at a full marathon) is just 65 days away. Time to seriously pile up the mileage. And panic.

Challenge 1 running log, so far

Sep 20: 5km
Sep 22: 7km
Sep 24: 10km
Sep 26: 4km
Sep 28: 7km
Sep 29: 3.5km
Sep Total: 36.5km

Oct 1: 7.5km
Oct 3: 10km
Oct 5: 5km
Oct 8: 21.5km
oct 17: 5km
Oct 23: 11km
Oct Total: 60km

Nov 2: 3.5km
Nov 5: 8km

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Run: Jom Lari Run [11.5km], 23 Oct 2016

Challenge Series 1:  100km of 125km

In five years of running, this is the very first time I signed up for a race just for the medal design. The cute pokeball medals keep reappearing in my facebook feed until I finally caved in. So cute!

Also the 15km would add on nicely to my 125km virtual run challenge. Usually we avoid smaller runs (from experince!) and those that are not near enough to be convenient. But the medal! So cute! And so I signed up..

Ughh. Should have heeded past experience - no small runs!

Race summary:

  • Medal. The real thing it turned out as great looking as promo pictures. 
  • Event photographers that actually uploaded their photos somewhere we could see.

  • The race was cut to 11km 'due to safety reasons'. Bad!! We specifically drove out all the way to Setia Alam for a 15km run (and I really need those mileage for my virtual challenge). We would not have signed up for an 11km run, because this is what we normally run in our weekend training, in a nearer, better place.
  • Terrible running route. We ran past construction areas and what looks like a sand quarry/factory. There was a 2km stretch of DUST ROAD. So we're running and kicking up dust, while choking on the dust of runners in front of us. It was horrible, we could not breathe well in this stretch. And it gave us irritated nose and throats for the next couple of days. 
  • Hardly any water stations. I carry a water belt for this reason but my running partner suffered through the insufficient water stations. 
  • And no water at finish line! What!! Exhausted runners coming in looking for water, only to be told there's none. There was no water to buy either. Pity the small kids who turned out for the fun run.
  • Incorrect markers. Since the course distance was changed I had no idea how far actual finish line was. My gps watch was showing 750m short of km markers, and the race was supposed to be 11km (but turned out to be 11.5km). Which means at the 10km marker (9.25km on my watch) I guessed - wrongly - that there was 1km to go and did not take a chew blok. Which I should have, since it was 2km to the finish line and I would have been able to finish better, instead of walking, feeling pissed off and worn out the final km. 
  • Toilets. Only rely on existing ones in MBSA building, of which only 2 is not clogged and usable.
Overall it was a sucky experience.  Please remind me this when I get the itch to register for a small run in the future! 

Thanks to my running partner for joining me in this not great run.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Run: Hari Sukan Negara Run [21km], 8 Oct 2016

Challenge Series 1:  80.5km of 125km

I did it! Finished a half-marathon under 3 hours!

I'm elated with my timing. Considering I ran a 21km early this year in 4 hours, my 2 hr 55 m finishing time underscores the fact that if you really put in the work, you will get the results you want (and now I need to apply that lesson to all other aspects of my life, haha).

This run was also a lot less taxing than the last, because I'm more prepared. As Meb Keflezighi says, 'trust in your training'. I put in a lot of consistent training, then tapered in the week before the run. Actually I was somewhat doubtful of reaching the target time, because all my training runs did not hit the required goal pace. (But.. that was with the distraction of hatching Pokemon Go eggs, so...)

I aimed to start 3km with slow speed and pick up the pace a bit after that, when muscles have warmed up better. Maintain medium speed until km 12 or 15, wherever I get tired and run out of steam, and from there just slog it till the end.

But race day was great! All the training really does show up in race time. Managed to maintain a good pace from the beginning, and with great energy. Running along with many other runners is motivating. Also its easy to latch on to a runner doing a similar pace, and running mindlessly this way does make the distance go by faster.

I knew that by passing km15 at the 2 hour mark that yay! I've made it! I could fast walk the last 6 km and still manage to finish under 3 hours by a hair. But of course I want to try for a better time, and of course those last few kms get longer and harder. I'm happy that I was able to run more that walk those last few kms. I felt stronger physically and (more importantly) mentally that the last few km of the previous run.

Now I can't wait to further reduce my half-marathon personal best timing, but my next big run is the first attempt Full Marathon. This will be a goal for next year.

Race summary:


  • Race started right on time, 6am sharp
  • Good race management overall, especially considering it's a first race for the organizer (and government somemore, teehee)
  • Water stations were awesome. So many stations, and with ready water (not rushing about pouring while runners wait). Lucozade provided at every second water station, also in abundance.
  • Great route, physically. Not so hilly, easy to run. But only the physical route is great, see below in cons.
  • Finisher t-shirts. The race vest is nice, too.
  • The running crowd was good. Many strong runners to follow and run along. I do think it affects you to be stuck between walkers, then you will tend to walk too. Usually a problem for races with a bug number of participants. This race was great, there are many serious runners, and less crowd to maneuver through.

Oh.. the cons...

Traffic control was horrible. Running route was a closed lane with cones. Traffic was heavy as the race was on a Saturday. Since roads are only partially closed, we were running beside angry vehicles stuck in traffic, honking, revving engines. And those vehicles stuck on an inside road was suitably pissed - they can't move forward as the road is closed, and they can't turn back cos they're stuck at a junction.  

We had to run through traffic smog and so much of curses and negativity. Some runners said they were shouted at, curse words and all. One guy got knocked down by a biker disregarding the traffic cones (thankfully just a slow minor knock). 

Not a great route, traffic wise. We had to cross many big intersections. That means having to wait for some runners, and having to look out for vehicles (so tiring!). And cue more pissed off road users.

The slower runner in my running gang said she was constantly pressured (by polis, paramedics) to abandon the race, and give up. They offered her a ride back. 'Are you sure you can finish? You're taking so long.' This is really horrible. Later on found out that many other slower runners were harassed so, and many opted to take a ride back. So demotivating to not even be allowed to try. (For the record, my runner has completed many half-marathons, just not a fast runner.) She later took the 10km route at the split, although a race marshal did offer to follow her all the way on his bike if she wanted to do the 21km route.

Also they reopened a section of the route way before cutoff time, and redirected the runners to a shortcut that ended up with them doing 17km only, and DNF for the race. Terrible.

And I saw the traffic police removing the cones on the last stretch of the route before the finish line, and allowing vehicles to come in the lane. And there were STILL runners on it! The runners were squeezed onto the white line of the road side, faces so demotivated and defeated.   

So very dangerous!

Monday, October 3, 2016

First Full Marathon - Registered!

Challenge Series 1:  54km of 125km

Twincity Marathon 2017 is now open for registration!

This was my target run to try for my first Full Marathon. We ran the 21km half-marathon this year, and I was very impressed with the run overall. Good management, good route and great support throughout. Ice potong! Lots of water and isotonic drinks station! Even got roti canai enroute!

The Twincity Marathon has been announce for 15 January 2017, with registration just opening last week. And yes, I've signed up! Along with two others in my running group, we will all be attempting our first 42km run.

Let the training (and nerves) begin!
102 days to go, and counting down fast.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Challenge Kilometers

Challenge Series 1:  33km of 125km

I was a bit afraid that 125 kilometers is too big a goal to achieve. I'm doing about 15 to 20 km a week, 125 km will take ages!

But now that I've committed to train more to prepare for a Full Marathon, and have set aside regular running times and (most importantly) got off the couch, put on my shoes and RUN, the kilometers are building up. I am very excited to see the numbers climbing up.

Challenge running log, so far

Sep 20 : 5km
Sep 22 : 7km
Sep 24 : 10km
Sep 26 : 4km
Sep 28 : 7km

33km done, just another 92km to go!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Run: Compressport Run [21km], 18 Sept 2016

Challenge Series 1:  12km of 125km

We (me and my running gang) ran the Compressport 21km Run in Cyberjaya last weekend. I was aiming for an under 3hr finish, but didn't make that time.

My time of 3hr 02m is a personal best for this distance. My fastest time before this was a whooping 19m away! Hooray me. All that training is paying off.

Race summary:

  • Race day weather was great. Cloudy and slightly drizzly, its better than the heat otherwise
  • Race course is nice. Mostly flat with few hills. I prefer Cyberjaya/Putrajaya races to KL races cos of the feeling of space everywhere. Wide open spaces, wide lanes, less cars, less grimes.
  • Kilometer markers were spot on. And so is the course distance. Nothing worse than passing the 19km marker when your gps is showing 21km (yes, looking at you, SCKL 2016).
  • Coconut water! There was a coconut water station at KM9, and after the race we're handed a box of Cowa brand coconut water.. I love coconut water, this is a major bonus point. 
  • Ample water stations with ample water and isotonic drink (Monster brand). Do note in some races ample water stations do not mean ample water. This race has ample supply.
  • Nice running shirt and finisher shirt. Some races the shirt given is never used because it's just not nice size or cut or material. End of the year just collect all and donate. Both the shirts given are nice, and I'll definitely use them. 

  • Race kit collection nightmare. Waited in line for 1h 12m just to collect the kit. For perspective, that is the time it takes to run a 10km!
  • Toiletssssss. For an event with a medium crowd turnout, there's no portable toilets at all. Instead we had to queue up to use the measly 4 stalls in the MMU mini stadium. 
  • They closed the MMU gate early on, although there was still ample parking inside. We didn't park too far off still, but those that came later had to walk quite a bit. 

Overall it was a good run. Can't wait for the next 21km run next month, to try beat that 3hr mark!

Me and my running gang. I'm the fat whale in purple.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

125km Challenge Series 1 - Virtual Run

Challenge Series 1:  5km of 125km

Challenge accepted! 

A Sabahan friend of mine was asking me about any interesting virtual runs here, but so far my one and only virtual run was very disappointing. I gave him some links and and in return he gave some that were ran over there, with positive reviews.

The challenges are so interesting! So far I've only seen 5k, 10k, and very rarely 21k virtual runs. The virtual run he recommended that caught my interest is a series of 4 x 125km challenge, for a total of 500km. Daunting goals, but perfect for someone putting in the mileage for a marathon training. 

Instead of medals, each leg of the series earns you a medal hanger (so cool!). If you successfully complete all 4 series then you get a 500km medal and finisher t-shirt. There is no time limit for the accumulated mileage, but each series has a start date. You move on to the next stage after the date or after you complete your current stage, whichever comes later.

Too bad I just signed up for it, a day earlier and I could have counted in my 21km Compressport Run. But nevermind, challenge accepted! Already put in a 5km run today, looking forward to the next 120km (omg).

FB: Virtual I Run U Run
Event FB: 125Kkm Challenge Series

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book : Shut Up and Run by Robin Arzon


Love this book. It's a huge kick in the ass to just Shut Up and Run. Just get up and go run already!

This book is coffee-table style with lots of pictures and motivational quotes throughout. It's also packed with great running info and tips. From the basics - how to start, what you need to start, and the motivation to keep at it. To intermediate and advanced - training plans, fueling tips, warm ups and downs, running stronger, running faster, running longer, the mental game, and the motivation to keep keeping at it.

Yes, the previous paragraph is full of the word motivation, because that's what this book is! A solid brick of motivation. I read it while on a short weekend getaway and came back all fired up to build up my running again. Now I have a sort of training plan, am experimenting on my fueling strategy, and most importantly have my motivation tank filled up. Thank you Robin!

Robin's very New York and very 'street' (her fav songs are those that I switch channel away from, the word swagger makes me wince, and I had to google the definition of ethos), but underneath all that is a 5-star running guide, with a superb motivational kick.

I'm marking this to be re-read again in a few months time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Shout It Out Loud.. or not?


Some say when you set a big goal, shout it out loud. Tell your family, tell your friends, post it on social media. Telling people keeps you accountable and makes you more likely to strive for the goal. You can't back out now - you've told everyone!

On the other hand, the other school of thought (more asian, I feel) is to keep your goal to yourself. Don't shout it out, after naysayers will 'put the eye' on you. Don't tell people, as a caution against bad luck.

For weeks I've debated on putting up my goal, or doing it quietly. Here's my decision now!

I want to run a Full Marathon (42km!) in January 2017

Aiming for Twincities Marathon because I had a positive experience running the the 21km Half Marathon early this year. Five months is ample time to get ready, provided I put in the effort lah.

I've started tracking my kilometers since Aug 22. I have no xxx km goal in mind, just that counting up something will be fun! Of course I am to have run some good long runs to be race ready in time, but for now my goal is to increase my weekly mileage (km-age?). Build the habit of regular running first.

Still prefer writing things down, but I do use garmin connect and runkeeper to keep track of my running. Loving the cover of the notebook I'm using as my running journal.