p pol The Adventures of Carboman: July 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rehab Started

My blogging has been rather slow as my attention is presently diverted to a few other areas outside my regular work. I've also started on my rehab program, trying to string together a series of short runs. This is an opportune time as both my kids are back in Penang for 2 weeks as my Mom has to attend to my brother's recovery from a mild infection of his recent surgical wound.  Plus with the regional auditors in town, we're encouraged to leave the office early. The house has been quiet with the kids gone and it's somehow different. While we gain back our freedom and privacy, we miss having the kids around. Working life takes so much out of us - rushing here and there, commuting to work, and when there's a sliver of time, it's time for bed. We have no time for each other so much so a simple act of watching TV together is quite impossible. So these couple of weeks will see us getting back to basics, maybe go for a massage together, catch a movie (thinking of The Simpsons) and try out one or two restaurants out there. And of course there's some running to get back to as you never know when you need to call upon those miles logged.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What's Happening Lately

Die Hard 4.0
Though disappointed with the 3rd installment, I've always been a fan of the Die Hard series. The 2nd part to me was the best with McClane's witty one-liners. The 4th, which I watched yesterday, wasn't too bad either, if you can suspend belief for 2 hours. I usually don't bother remembering or writing down such details. When we go for such movies, they should largely just be taken as entertainment. Don't think too much and just enjoy the mayhem and body count. *Spoilers ahead*
1) McClane doesn't run out of spare magazines
2) McClane is shrapnel-resistant, have bones and regenerative properties like the Wolverine's
3) It's normal protocol for fighters to fly CAP (combat air patrol) without at least another wingman
4) No secondary authentication is needed to go weapons-free, even if it means firing at a vehicle in a crowded expressway
5) The FBI, CIA, NSA, etc... fellas are pretty dumb and spend their time looking perplexed with bunched up eyebrows
6) Everyone believes that the Capitol Building is blown up on TV even though they're just nearby the building and there's no sound of a mega-explosion
7) McClane is proficient in all modes of transportation - he can drive rig trailers, fly choppers. If situation calls for it, he can probably take off on a nuclear sub too. And launch an ICBM or Tomahawk missile in the process.
8) Men can fall 20 feet and not break a single bone
9) The F-35B (vertical take-off version) are already in active duty. Sidenote: The F-35B is slated to replace the ageing Harrier and only in pre-Production phase.
But as with the Transformers, I enjoyed the movie nevertheless!
Nothing much happening in this area. Which can only mean 1 thing, I'm getting weaker by the day! As a matter of fact, I'm battling a sinus infection at this moment. The whole family was down and while the rest are nearly recovered, I'm getting it big time. It's like everyone's virus have attacked me in one go. The daily wet weather isn't helping either as it's making recovery longer. This is what happens when I'm off-training. I've made a mental note to speak to my office and home bosses that there's no way I'm not maintaining a consistent low-key training plan going forward. It's for my health dammit! Either that or get used to seeing more of a sick me! Incidentally a few colleagues are also hit pretty badly with similar afflictions. Things will change as soon as I get over this dang sickness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reading Now...

"Racing is the lovemaking of the runner. It's hard to pass up. A runner has few friends, and they are always other runners. The place to meet them is at the races."
George Sheehan, runner & philosopher.
After finally wrapping up John Bryant's simply excellent London Marathon, I'm now belatedly reading Dr George Sheehan's "Running & Being: The Total Experience". Widely acknowledged to be the Bible in running philosophy and the instigator to many's decision to take up the sport, I chanced upon this used copy by way of my friend. Thankfully he let me buy off him. So everynight I find myself immersed in his writing - ever so deep, yet perfectly lucid. I'm astonished by the fact that I'm only reading this after taking up the sport for more than 20 years. But like they say, better late than never, and I hope to get more wisdom off this book to complement the ones I picked up from reading his "Going the Distance: One Man's Journey to the End of His Life". Oh yeah, if you think the man on the cover is just another old geezer you can pass in a road race, you'd be interested to know that he ran a 3:01 marathon at the age of 61.  
Related sites: Running with Doc Sheehan | Steve Runner's Podcast dedicated Dr Sheehan (MP3, right click and select "Save Target As") explaining the impact the book has on him as a person - highly recommended listening.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Carbokid 1: Sports Day Report

This morning was my first sports day - my G7 event. There weren't many kids - infact there were more adults (parents, duh!) than us kids. I dunno - it could've very well been a Parents' Day. I really looked forward to this morning. After knocking off early, partly a result of the flu meds that I was on, I woke up, cinya (very) fresh mind you. I showered and soon we left home without breakfast. It was a pretty rush affair since we had to be there by 8am. While Mommy and Grandma were at the nearby market, Daddy brought me into the air-cond hall.

After registering, I collected my Goodie Bag (insert happy feeling) containing toothpaste, shampoo and milkpowder samples, a jigsaw puzzle and some sweets, the teachers tied a ribbon to my wrist and pasted a sticker on my shirt. Then we were off into the hall. The first thing was the singing of the National Anthem which I couldn't keep up. The tempo was too fast. Then it was the school song. "At 3Q MRC, Learning is fun and easy. A-B-C, 1-2-3, We love 3Q MRC!" We literally shouted the lyrics - what fun!

Finally it was time for the events. Firstly it was the Pom-Pom Dance on stage, which Daddy, Mommy and Grandma said I did very well. I thought so too - we had been practising for the past 1 week. Some kids were knocking into each other though. Everyone had a good laugh.

Next was Cross-The-Wooden-Bridge-And-Chuck-The-Ball-Into-The-Basket game. That was one tricky game. I only managed to keep a foot on the narrow plank. But I scored with a SINGLE throw (insert message to Uncle PM1, "Got bonus points bo?")

After which I was off to the Run-To-The-End-And-Pour-The-Water-Into-The-Bottle game. I nailed that easily too. Steady hands or not? Huh? Huh? Again, I should be awarded bonus points for this. Then I rehydrated while waiting for my next event. Daddy was wise enough to bring along a bottle of chilled isotonic drink. Mmmm....refreshing. A few swigs replenished the lost electrolytes. I also had some photos taken with my friends.

Then it was a game with Daddy. What I needed to do was peel a carb, phosphorus and potassium rich banana and feed it to Daddy. We were lined up as the 3rd pair but after a slow start, I got the hang of getting the skin off. Daddy took but a single mouthful to decimate the fruit. Then we collected our trophy and other prizes.

Eat your heart out Flying Pig aka Medal-Faced Maniac!
Sui bo (nice or not) my trophy?


Daddy's Notes:
There's nothing more rewarding than watching your kid in action. He needn't win, nor stand out from the crowd. All he needed to do was to be there participating with the other kids, dancing on the stage, jumping and running with the other kids. When I saw him on stage doing the pom-pom dance, I know for a fact that there wasn't a dry eye for the 3 of us (wife and Mom). The thought than ran through my mind (as I believe through other parents' as well) was "Look at how big my kid has grown!". In that instant, all the challenges and difficulty in bringing up a kid was overwritten. I think it is Nature's intent that bringing up a child will never be easy, just so that events and moments like what I witnessed today will always be sweeter and treasured. Just like running a marathon adds colour to your running life, experiencing these events with your kid make a parent's life richer. I'm so proud of my kid.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NYC Marathon Course Video

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NYC Marathon Bib Collection

I've been trawling the web for anything and everything to do with the NYC Marathon. Chanced upon this shaky video following a Japanese entrant's bib collection at the Jacob Javits Center. From the visuals, these are the sequence of events:
1. Get an entry coupon

2. Proceed to the international runners table just by the entrance

3. Race number confirmation counter

4. Proceed to collect bib

5. Be sure to do a chip check to ensure correct ID

6. Proceed to goodie bag collection

7. Optional: Change into their souvenier tshirt on the spot

8. Don your Spongebob cap

9. Proceed to the Health & Fitness Expo and collect tons of freebies (postcard stacks, autographs, product sampling), check out new products, and make new friends. I'd suggest bringing along a stack of name cards to exchange!

What I noticed are the presence of very very polite volunteers at every stage. They take pride in their City and main event. The Jacob Javits Convention Center is super huge - larger than the Suntec City Convention Center (although the roofing looks similar)

It's a good idea to have a videocam handy! On to the video!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

NYC Marathon - Wanna Run?

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Some Thoughts On Crowd Control

There have been lots of debate (see here) regarding the crowd issue in the recent Penang Bridge Marathon. These exchanges are healthy and should be encouraged, provided they take a proactive stance and no personal jabs. I'd like to add my personal take.

Established marathons employ different ways to counter crowd. They can be:
1) limiting the number of entries
2) stagger start
3) different start/end points
4) enforcement

In the context of the recent PBM, from what I can see, there wasn't any complains pertaining to the actual start, except the long-standing issue of entry to the USM gate, which is a classic case of the organizers unwilling to sit down and reengineer the registration process. As for runners being caught by the road closures, I think this is not the case of the organizers erring but the lack of preps on the part the runners in finding out about the road closures and getting there earlier.

So let's take a look at the above 4 crowd countermeasures.

1) Limiting the number of entries
This should be considered by the PBM organizers. Major
marathons have this restriction enforced. NYC Marathon cap their entries at around 40,000, Boston via stringent qualifying times and 31,000 or so, Singapore at 22,000... Those that have qualifying times are more elite in nature and these are steeped in history and tradition and nearly as glamorous as the Olympics Marathon. So this is a viable option for Penang as well - the capping part, and not the qualifying part.

2) Stagger Start
I don't think this is an issue since the marathoners set
off at an insane 3am, half at 4:30am, followed by the rest. Having said that, the organizers need to rethink the gate entry.

3) Different start/end points
NYC marathon with 40,000 participants, have runners segregated not only by Pace Groups but also starting locations. How many start points? Not 2 but 3! The runners are differentiated by bib colours. They're only merged at around the 10K mark. The logistics and thought-process that went into the planning are stupendous and can only mean that these guys are passionate and take pride in what they do. For PBM,
there wasn't any starting problems, nor will it ever reach the numbers of the Big 5 Marathons (NYC, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London) so let's look at the finishing problems.

What they could've have done would be to let the marathoners continue along the coastal road past the marine police building. Then they can take the same loop around RECSAM back to the starting line. To reduce the distance to compensate the extra run, they don't have to run until Seagate but instead U-turn around the Queensbay Mall area (either just cut across the divider or use a ramp). Since the main road is already closed both ways, they should make use of it. The marathon finish will be the same spot as the start. The rest can finish on the other side of the road but not on the field. The field is strictly for crowd holding and relaxing. Erect 1 gantry for marathon finish and 1 for 21K and below. No budget for gantries? Use banners then.

In the case if NYC marathon, Central Park is definitely more than adequate to handle the crowd. For a fantastic NYC Marathon photo report see here http://www.uli-sauer.de/laufen/stories/2005newyork/2005newyork-marathon_e.htm

Which brings me to the last point below.

4) Enforcement
This is where all the volunteer and uniform bodies come
into play, ensuring the runners are channeled into the correct lanes, don't cut queue at the finish gantry, don't block the gates, continue walking towards the field. Take the crowd and channel them quickly to the field. The uniform persons should also enforce queues at the refreshment stations (which should have been more strategically placed). I don't see any semblence of crowd control in Penang. Neither were there barricades, A-boards, etc...

There are many ways to make a runner feel welcomed at a roadrace. While PBM was tied in with the VMY2007, there was hardly anything that linked it to the tourism extravaganza. In fact I heard news that the local residents there were not very supportive and because of that the marathon category will be scrapped next year. In NYC, over 2 million supporters, majority of them residents, line up the route to cheer the runners. Many run NYC not to do their best times but to EXPERIENCE the city. That single race day was also regarded as the best way to see NYC on foot. Regardless of the multi-ethnicity and notoriety of NYC, that few days in November are when everyone comes together (talk about running bringing people together!). NYC need not channel advertising money into tourism to bring people in. The marathon can do the job.

Penang has so much more potential to draw loyal runners but their repeated mistakes combined with the evident lack of experience (at least they should seek experience voices out there) make KLIM look like a 6-star event. Which is really a shame. Before you say that if I'm complaining so much, I might as well don't run PBM and just travel to overseas races. But that would be missing the point. Not everyone can afford to participate in overseas races. The point I'm trying to make here is not to ridicule the organizers and most certainly not trumpeting the notion that West is best. We can certainly do as well, if not better. We live here and if we don't seek to improve - in the case of this article, to generate awareness and offer suggestions - then what's the point of just complaining?

We really need to compile these valuable feedback and send to the organizers be they in Penang, KL or Ipoh, copy The Sun, Footloose and high traffic web community like
Kennysia.com. Do what we can to better things because like it or not, we live here in this country and if the organizers are not willing to change, we runners have to take up the role as agents of change. If you think this article serves a purpose, please feel free to also post it on your blogs.

Some other articles on the NYC marathon: Chip timing A runner's experience Spectator's Guide NYC Marathon Official Site

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Currently Listening To These Podcasts

Besides the entertaining and informative Phedippidations podcast, I've been a fan of Endurance Planet for an equally long time. Though This site deals primarily with triathlons, there are segments devoted to running and books, a combination that I really dig! If you're new to Endurance Planet, there's an episode that I fully recommend you start with. You can right click on the logo below and select "Save Target As" to download the MP3 program.

There's another new running podcast on the scene called The Extra Mile Podcast. Set up primarily to compliment the Phedippidations Worldwide Half Marathon, this neat cast features the stories of runners as they train for the Worldwide Half. If you're one of them, you may want to contribute a 2-minute audio to these guys for their next show. To get to the podcasts, just click on the banner below. And if you haven't registered for the Worldwide Half, perhaps you'd want to do so and join hundreds of runners all over the world. So far, Ronnie, Choi, Chin and another runner in Sarawak have also registered. Registration is free!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

My Toenail

I decided to trim more off the problematic big toenail on my right foot. There was little or no pain left hence my elevated sense of "adventure". A snip here and another there and lo and behold, clear fluid mixed with some blood oozed from beneath the nail. "That's great!", I thought because that would mean ridding whatever that was contributing to the discolouration of the toenail. I quickly grabbed a few tissue papers to clean up the area. I then pressed down on the nail and some more reddish fluid were expelled together with some bubbles. I think all these were because of a blister underneath that toenail. The nail looks much better now, no more that blackened look. This couldn't have come at a better time as I plan to get back to some running from tomorrow.

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