p pol The Adventures of Carboman: August 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are Human Beings Beyond Redemption?

This isn't a theological posting. I'm not going to pretend that I'm a pious person nor claim to be lofty enough nor understand the issues of the world. There are going to be lots more questions asked and there won't be any answers. I was reading the newspaper over breakfast and was "assaulted" with so many sad and disturbing news.

It's either some unethical politicians, some "oversight" by some authorities, some knee-jerk reaction towards current issues plaguing the country, natural disasters (like the coal mine cave-ins in the US and China, and the fires that are consuming Greece), villagers in Papua New Guinea who buried AIDS sufferers alive, global warming, the death of an abused toddler, the continuing ravage of Africa, murders, assassinations...

The world we're living in today is pretty messed up. What kind of world will my kids grow up in? Will they be resourceful and tough enough to survive? Will they get opportunities to be the best they can be? Will they be safe? Will there be greater responsibility practiced towards fellow human beings and the environment we live in? We're not going to be around for long in this world but our children's lives have just started. Whatever we plan on doing to rectify the situation, we had better start doing now. Be it be more environmentally conscious, educating our children to be forthright, honest, unswayed, or simply be kinder and patient towards fellow human beings.

At that point I suddenly felt like going home and hug my kids.

I think it was Thoreau who said something like (can't remember the exact phrase) "Stubborn people don't want to be told to change because they want to see. Let them see!"

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

I'm not a smart person but the message seems to be, it's up to us to turn things around. We have to be Agents of Change. And I'm assuming that's the message, as I've said I don't have answers.

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IAAF Athletics World Championships In Osaka

The Athletics World Champs are happening and I don't have cable! Nevertheless I've been keeping tabs on the proceedings on the official website as well as the Runner's World Osaka Blog.

Congrats to Kara Goucher for winning bronze in the women's 10,000m and Kenenisa Bekele who won his third consecutive World 10,000m title! I'm only interested in the distance events.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Day's Worth Of Runner's Lifestyle

Ahhh....to live a runner's lifestyle! And to achieve it without compromising your quality time with the family - that would be nice won't it? Well I experienced it all last weekend at Bukit Tinggi. Lest the last sentence becomes a tagline for some unscrupulous marketer, let me qualify it by saying that it's only possible if there's no household chores to do (we stayed in a hotel) and there's no need to cook (eat at the restaurant), there's a pool next door (our room was just next to the pool and finally conducive environment for training (we were 2,300 feet above sea level).

It all began with my 7am run and with the kind of terrain it never would be easy. At that time, the kids had just woken up but since there were no rush anywhere, I could afford to run at that time. Having the 205 took guessing out of my workouts.

Following the run, I went back to the room to soak in a tub of cold water - boy the initial feeling was terrible! It was so uncomfortable but I knew I had to get those muscles healed for next week. Cool or ice baths are favourite post-workout recovery activities for many runners and let me tell you that without a doubt, that it works. As I'm writing this the next day following 2 back to back hard sessions on the hills, my legs felt like they can take another tempo run. The logic behind the cool soak is to reduce the muscle inflammation following hard races and workouts. The capillaries will shrink as a result of the cold water and therefore reduce/prevent swelling. Some school of thought recommend alternating cold and hot water treatment, which I think will work too. Once the inflammation is minimized, blood flow will become more efficient when temps return to normal promoting muscle healing and recovery. Blood afterall carry nutrients and help in flushing out toxins from the body. After the cold soak, I took the normal shower, followed by some stretching.

I met the family at the coffee house for the complimentary buffet breakfast. Nothing great but I took a bit of nasi lemak to get in some needed calories for the hard workouts completed last week. I added 3 hardboiled eggs with the yolks removed into the digestive system. I also swiped a bowl of cereal with milk and a plate of cut fruits. 3 glasses of pink guava juice and a cup of coffee completed a satisfying meal.

Then came my duty to take my Mom and kids sightseeing. As you may already know many of those spots are hilly especially the beautiful Japanese forest. But even at that time, my legs were fine. After 3 hours of walking and climbing we were back at the hotel and I took C1 and C2 to the pool. C2 returned to the room after 10mins but I continued with C1 who was having a blast. I took the opportunity to continue stretching in the water while simulating the running movement for my legs. I believe the routine loosened up the legs even more.

Returning home brought me back to reality. But there's still a way to get in the cold treatment. You can ice the legs or take cold showers. At least aim the cold water at the legs and keep the water running for a couple of minutes. Try it. Oh, check this link too!.

Our deluxe suite with a hall, 2 TVs, 2 airconds, 2 fridges. too bad no wi-fi!

View from our window

No housechores! We can be as untidy as we like!

Yup, my own high altitude "training". I was fantasizing training for the on-going Osaka World Champs!

Post run. I wasn't as tired as I looked, OK?

Uncomfortable but necessary. Brrrrr....

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Photos From Bukit Tinggi

One of the highlights was the visit to the Japanese Garden (apparently the only one in the world to be set up within a tropical jungle)

Just like it's taken out of an European photo album

View of the mountains from Colmar

Look at my teeth, fellas!

For more photos, visit the Photo Album.

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2 Days Of Intense Workouts

It all started with the usual Saturday Double Hill Run with Geraldine and Kenneth. With an average of 4 runs a week, all of these opportunities are quality workouts. Below is the route covered seen from top-down. Once cleared of the hills, I finished off the run at LT pace. LT = comfortably hard. Click to view larger picture.
Analyses of the run
Then it was the warmdown routine around the lake. But for variety, we ended the run via the Deer Park way.
You can see that the pace was easy in anticipation of Sunday's run. See below.

We left for Bukit Tinggi (some 2,230 feet above sea level) for a getaway the moment I got home from the Saturday run, in conjunction with Carbo Woman's department team building activity. We decided to tag along since we've not been there and thought a visit to the Colmar Tropicale (French themed show village) should be able to provide a refreshing change of environs. As it turned out, it wasn't really cold but the air was fresh - ideal to put in a high altitude, hill run. It's just 5K but it was one tough run. Think twice more difficult than Double Hill with several stretches at 10 percent gradient. There was just a short 40m flat, there rest a quad-busting climb up. The 5K was the out and back distance from the golf resort to the guard house of Colmar.

The highest point I climbed to was close to 760m above sea level. Of course that was still way way off what this amazing chap achieved. But it was a great running weekend! Will post some photos soon!

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Friday, August 24, 2007

On A High

The Thursday was great. Even as I laced up my shoes, I felt the pent up energy inside. It was going to be a good run. The skies were grey and tracks wet from the earlier downpour and it didn't seem that the sun will reappear. After starting up the 205, I turned off the pace alerts as I didn't want to be locked into an unrealistic pace. I felt that I didn't need to be too confined to so many parameters, at least not yet. All the laps were at LT pace and I was cruising quite comfortably until the section of the bridge when I realized that I was being tailed. The Caucasian pulled up next to me and I thought he hung next to me for a few seconds as if to invite me to catch him, and then took off. I was running negative splits with every K and all I needed to do was to increase my pace slightly to try to draw close. After 100m, I realized I won't be able to pass or even draw near this fellow. Even when he slowed down at the top of the climb, and my legs were cycling furiously and climbing quickly, I wasn't able to. He was going at a very brisk pace. I noticed he was wearing a nice white Under Armour long top (like the one below), a brown cap with an iPod Shuffle clipped to its back, a worned out Pegasus Trail and a green-yellow shorts like the one Lance Armstrong wore. Anyways I covered the final K below 5 minutes and when I finished, I was on a high. Hadn't felt that in a long while. Am looking forward to the Saturday Double Hill and Sunday's exploratory run.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 205

I was a little late getting to the park this evening. Was supposed to have left at 5:20pm but somehow by the time I was changed, it was close to 6pm. I fired up the 205 anxiously as I walked to the usual starting point next to the mosque. Within a minute, the 205 acquired a total of 8 satellites and I was ready to go. Hold on!

Before that, a last minute check on the settings. I've set the autolapping by every K, adopted the 4 panel display, set the pace alerts. Everything was in order and off I went. It was an easy pace and I greeted Rohaizad just after the bridge. The first lap was spent scrutinizing the display just to check on the functions. Amongst those were the satellite signal strength (which was good), the return to start (amazing directional assistance especially in unfamiliar routes), toggling the 2 pages of display, verifying the lap distance (accurate to 0.02m!) etc... I almost forgot that I was running.

Then I just got back to focusing on enjoying my run for the 2nd lap. The autolapping function was excellent without me having to press the lap button. All in all, it was a great run although it was cut short by a sudden thunderstorm. Rohaizad and I sought shelter and chatted a bit. I could've gone 10K today if not for the weather. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow. Below is the map overlay of my run at the KLCC Park.

Below is the SportsTracks screen cap. I think SportsTracks is one of the best GPS logger out there.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Saturdays Are Best

Since I'm currently not in training for any race, my weekly mileage has been quite pathetic. Having said that, I've been ensuring that whatever runs I get in are of some quality. They're a mix of easy runs, 5K tempos on weekdays and longer steady-to-tempo runs on Saturdays. On the Saturday runs, I usually throw in a couple of surges for a good mix and I nearly always end my runs on a fast pace.

The KLCC Park is seeing a good crowd these days. There are still some regulars, walkers and joggers. The new joggers, I suspect, are part of a company's weekly fitness program. While their intentions are laudable, I hope they will sustain their healthy activity by jogging 3 times a week, and extend their newly acquired interest to other aspects of their lives such as quit smoking and eat healthily.

On a side note, I will certainly be doing some mucho eating tomorrow. Our department will be hosting a farewell lunch for one of our colleague and one of our bosses, and this time we will be hitting the Saisaki Japanese Restaurant to partake in their spread of sashimi, teriyaki, teppanyaki and sushi. Yup, it's a buffet lunch and I shall eat a light breakfast tomorrow. Hopefully we won't be experiencing the bad service that some reviewers have written about. [check this site for a food review]. We should be done by 2:15pm and that's not all. The same evening will see a party at the Corus Hotel where we send off (with glee??) 2 senior managers of the bank. 1 is retiring while the other is the same boss we will be treating the Jap lunch to. Plenty of eating but I think I will skip the party-dinner. There's only so much my stomach can take.

It should be an interesting Tuesday with these diversions from the usual stress at work. I can't even write coherently these days!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Go Out And Play!

Below is an excerpt from an email I received this morning. What timing! In his books, Dr George Sheehan always expounded the need to get in touch with our childhood through play. Play is simple. Play injects fun into a seemingly trivial undertaking. Play balances the soul and smoothes the edges of Life. Which is why I'm such a difficult person to live with if I don't get my playtime. You wouldn't want to get near me. I'd understand if I'm out there for hours but are 30 minutes too much to ask? It's not that I sneaked off to the pub or something. I need my playtime and I will claim my playtime. If you want to understand me better, go out and play!

First, we survived with mothers who had no maids. They cooked /cleaned while taking care of us at the same time. They took aspirin, candy floss, fizzy drinks, shaved ice with syrup and diabetes was rare. Salt added to Pepsi or Coke was remedy for fever. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. As children, we would ride with our parents on bicycles/ motorcycles for 2 or 3. Richer ones in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a private taxi was a special treat. We drank water from the tap and NOT from a bottle. We would spend hours on the fields under bright sunlight flying our kites, without worrying about UV rays which never seem to affect us. We go into the jungle to catch spiders without worries of Aedes mosquitoes.
With mere 5 pebbles (stones) would be a endless game. With a ball (tennis ball best) we boys would ran like crazy for hours. We caught guppy in drains / canals and when it rained we swam there. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually worry about being unhygenic. We ate salty, very sweet & oily food, candies,bread and real butter and drank very sweet soft drinks, sweet coffee/ tea, ice kachang, but we weren't overweight because......
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, till streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K. We would spend hours repairing our old bicycles and wooden scooters out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, multiple channels on cable TV, DVD movies, no surround sound, no phones, no personal computers, no Internet.WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and we still continued the stunts. We never had birthday parties till we were 21. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and just yelled for them! The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! Yet this generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 40 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Types of Massages

My quest for more information about the types of massages led me to About.com. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of massage to help you figure out which massage style is right for you. The article is certainly right. My recent tangles with the deep tissue variety certainly resulted in post-massage soreness while I remember being very rejuvenated after my sessions (lots of snaps, crackles and pops on the joints!) of Thai massages. I've tried a Shiatsu session which was good as well. I'd be interested to try the Swedish and Sports methods. Any idea where I can find those?

1) Swedish Massage Therapy
This is the most common type of massage in the United States. It is also known as Swedish massage or simply massage therapy. Massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Swedish massage therapy can be very gentle and relaxing. If you've never had massage before, this is a good one to try first.

2) Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc.) One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component. More about
aromatherapy massage.

3) Hot Stone Massage
Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body.
The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage. More about hot stone massage.

4) Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle.
Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, or recovery from injury. People often feel sore for one to two days after deep tissue massage. More about deep tissue massage.

5) Shiatsu
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for for 2 to 8 seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. People are normally pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time. It is relaxing yet the pressure is firm, and there is usually no soreness afterwards. More about

6) Thai Massage

Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches.

You don't just lie there--the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It's like yoga without doing any work. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It is also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion. More about thai massage.

7) Pregnancy Massage
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman's body during the massage, and how to modify techniques. Pregnancy massage helps to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. The massage is customized to a woman's individual needs. More about
pregnancy massage.

8) Reflexology
Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet. More about

9) Sports Massage
Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don't have to be a professional athlete to have one-it's also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn't on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.

10) Back Massage
Some massage clinics and spas offer 30-minute back massages. If a back massage is not expressly advertised, you can also book a 30- or 40-minute massage and ask that the massage therapist to focus on your back.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Bruised Butt Cheeks

My butt cheeks are sore and bruised. I inspected them in the mirror this morning and saw a small bruise mark on each of the cheek. Before you think that I had participated in some S&M session, let me clarify. I went through a 2-hour WWF-inspired massage. With the kids still away, my wife thought it was a good opportunity to use up some of the credit hours she purchased for massage sessions. After being suitably impressed with the setup of the place in Casa Tropicana (where it moved to from our old apartment block). Had both feet scrubbed and washed, then changed into disposable briefs. While the rooms were very cozy I didn't quite like the laying on the wooden stripped floor as I found it difficult to place my head causing some discomfort to my shoulders. Anyway, all the good vibes disappeared as the masseuse set to work. Pain is assured in any deep tissue massage but this masseuse seemed to have graduated from "Helga's House Of Pain", to quote Hound Dog, the character played by Steve Buscemi in "Armageddon". She worked me with gusto and seemingly (I didn't peep) executed WWF elbow routines on my shoulders and butts repeatedly. I very nearly wanted to ask for a bite stick and bang the floor to ease the pain. After more than an hour, she moved on to the legs but after the pain inflicted on the upper body, what she did to the legs were . I've to remind myself to seek out other forms of massage - I prefer those sensual and relaxing ones over these deep tissue types. Perhaps a sports massage just before do-or-die races. Anyone experienced Swedish massage before?

On another note, I was published on the local edition of August Men's Health magazine. Click on the images below to read the article.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday Ritual

In what's fast becoming a Saturday morning ritual when I'm not strapped to a marathon training program, Geraldine, Kenneth and I took on the Double Hill route this morning. While it was Geraldine's first return to the dreaded route in half a year, this was Kenneth and my 2nd run there in 4 Saturdays (I think). We attacked the hills with some vigour and was rewarded with a great workout. I believe the Double Hill route offers as good a workout as the Hartamas route, if ran at a steady to progressive paced effort.

Indeed many good hill runners in the Pacesetters club honed their strengths by making Double Hill their weekly training ground. As we all know incorporating hill training into a training program improves running economy besides the obvious improvements to strength. Mastering hill running will provide unparallel advantage as you'll be maintaining your effort going up when others are struggling. Blended into your racing strategy, hills can also be the times when you put in surges to drop your competitors.

I looked forward to this morning's run for another reason - the chance to test out the Brooks Nightlife long running tights. Recently purchased at a good discount, I wanted to experience the benefits of wearing compression tights. Of secondary interest would be on the thermal properties of the tights. Compression gear has a loyal following among a small group of athletes out there. The concept of compression gear is simple - provide support to the working muscles, making them less susceptible to fatigue. Strategically placed compression spots can sequentially target muscles much like a massage. This increases blood flow to the muscles while ridding the accummulated lactacte. This is the philosophy behind asics' Biomorphic Compression. Nike too have their own Nike Pro line (read review here). Under Armour also is a popular choice while CW-X's Conditioning Web technology (sexy gear, view the video in the website) are some pretty hitech stuff. Since these brands (except Nike's) are non-existent here, I settled for Brooks'. And I'm glad to say they're not shabby at all.

Incidentally the tights I bought complement the shirt which Ronnie bought for me for a mere RM15 at a warehouse sale. The Nightlife series are designed for early morning/night runs and incorporate many reflective detailing. I don't have to say that putting on and taking off a pair of tights require slightly more time than the conventional shorts. But I immediately felt comfortable in them and with the exception of the knee support, didn't notice that I was wearing them at all. Both the top and tights were light with the tights offering a little warmth to the legs. This is certainly an ideal gear to wear to a race where the temps are below 15C. And get this: I DIDN'T FEEL ANY MUSCLE FATIGUE following my workout. I'm a convert to tights! This doesn't mean that I will discard my airy shorts. I'm saying that tights has its place in a runner's wardrobe. And guys, you shouldn't be too self-conscious about wearing one. In fact with our tight rears, we should be proud to wear it :)

Check out Brooks tights at their boutique in The Curve or Berjaya Star City. They stock some good stuff there - gear and accessories that you can't find anywhere else in this country such as compression tights, Waterboy tumblers, blinkers and more.