p pol The Adventures of Carboman: October 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Typical Marathon Cycle

The start of Marathon training - typical enthusiasm

The drudge of training and waking up early on weekends

Hitting The Wall

The triumphant crossing of the finish line, hopefully with a PR

Post-Marathon Blues & Recovery. Whole body soreness, general sense of lethargy, etc...

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Base Training Starts This Week

I've had good workouts this month even though the frequencies have been sporadic. That being the case I hadn't considered Oct to be the start of my base phase. But my runs had been very enjoyable recently that I've decided that this week be the start of my marathon training for the KL Marathon next Mar 30th.

Now comes the interesting part which is crafting the training program. There's not too much hurry in coming out with the program (even though I have an idea of what I want to do) this as base phase involves mostly aerobic enhancing Easy to Steady paced runs with a smattering of tempos and hillwork. No particular need for Tempo Intervals for now. I also want to establish a more consistent weekly mileage with lesser dips and rises but I'm also aware of life's uncertainties. With the 205, I think I will get a more accurate picture of my progress this time around.

The workout just now consisted of Steady to LT paced laps. Drizzly at the start but went off suddenly. The sun came out and it turned warmish. Since I'd lost 30 minutes to work, it was nearly 6pm when I started - not enough time for a long one. KM Splits: 6:02 > 6:01 > 5:58 > 5:47 > 5:53 > 5:53 > 5:39 > 5:28. Was a little tired, no doubt due to the pace.

During our run yesterday, Ben and I got down to talking about what kind of race strategies to run a good marathon race. Ben is always adamant about going out as fast as you can to compensate for the later stages. His thought was that you can afford to lose some of the time gained in the fast early stage even if you walk a bit.

I'm of the stand that the race should be run at even pace or if stronger, at negative splits. And that's not because I've read enough race reports to know that it's the way to go. Every marathon training coaches out there from Higdon to Daniels and from Galloway to Pfitzinger advocates a conservative start. Even if I haven't read the philosophies of present high-profile coaches such as Steve Jones, Terrence Mahon, Bob Larsen and Alberto Salazar (being the exception that I've read), all of whom have marathoners vying for the top 3 spots to the Beijing Olympics this Saturday I believe they're of the same thoughts as well [The Trials will be streamed LIVE on the Internet via the
NBC website]. Consider also the statement below.

"Every recent world best in the marathon was set by athletes who ran at an even pace or ran negative splits", so said Kevin Hanson, one half of the Hanson siblings, coaches to the 13 Hansons-Brooks runners toeing the line at Central Park this Saturday. [
Article in the NYT]

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SC6 Vs Axiom2 Vs 2120

I raked up a totally unexpected double workout today. Thanks to my wife would you believe it? There I was at the park at 6:27pm just feeling lucky just to get 30 minutes of workout - I needed to work the caffeine I ingested at 2pm out. Sidetrack: I'm unable to tolerate any caffeine after 12pm, must be an age thing. So I really need to run if I wanted to sleep at all tonight!

The weather was fine and not as warm as Monday. The park was quite crowded with kids from some school or orphanage, indication of the impending school holidays. I set off on a relaxed pace, not wanting to check the 205 and just running based on comfort level. Saw Ben on my 2nd lap and he joined in a short while later. This person can't run slow but I controlled the pace allowing only for a little faster split gradually. All the time keeping it quite comfortable. I felt really relaxed. When Loke joined in, it got even more fun with 3 of us.

Round about 7:05pm my wife still hadn't call but I figured it'll come at any time. SO I wrapped things up and headed to the car park to call her instead after doing some stretches. But she told me that she was stuck at work and would need a bit more time. What more incentive does a runner need than to continue the workout.

I reset the 205 and jogged back to the park. Ben and Loke were just up ahead but I didn't want to call out to them as I thought I'd just do some slow jogging. But they suddenly stopped and headed back towards my direction and were surprised to see me. The 3 of us then continued the other direction and the pace decidedly got faster but I was still very much on aerobic terms. Managed another 4 odd Ks before the wife finally called.

As I'm typing this I'd just munch down 2 slices of peanut butter sandwich - that's after my dinner. I can now tell you that all the caffeine are out of my system - I'm ready to hit the sack. A peep at the Buckeye shoe mileage tracker shows that the Axiom, adidas and 2120 are going neck to neck in mileage logged! I'll be wearing the 2120 for tomorrow's run. G'nite!


From The New York Times


Pacesetters 30km Practice Run

Following is an mail received from Pacesetters on the upcoming organized 30K practice run.

Fellow runners,
Pacesetters 30km Practice Run
Objective : For those taking part in the Singapore marathon.
Nominal Charge : RM5.00 per runner, open to members and non-members same charge.
Date : 11th November 2008
Time : 5.30am
Place : Bukit Aman Car Park
Route : Car Park to Hartamas (Petronas Station), turn back to Goverment offices Jalan Duta, turn around and back to Petronas Station Hartamas, and then the same way back to car park.

Water Station : One at bus stop, near government offices Jalan Duta, and one at Petronas Station.
Sponsor : PowerBar for Endurance drinks at the water stations. Water by PACM (free flow water at the stations and one 500ml bottle of mineral water at the end).

Note : No prior registration is required. Just show up and pay the person in charge and you will be given an identification to signify you are a participant. Those without the identification will not be provided with any drinks.

.. on behalf of Pacesetters Athletics Club Malaysia President
Chou Chueng Wee
PACM# 3827

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Monday, October 29, 2007

A Discovery & A Concealed Relationship

After clearing some work at the office last Saturday, my wife, C1 and I popped by to the newly opened mall, The Pavillion. While it's large - I figured larger than the equally upmarket Starhill Gallery located just a stone's throw away, it's definitely smaller than the 1U behemoth and the madness that's MidValley City. It was only to kill some time before picking up my brother at the bus terminal that I agreed to go there, not being a fan of the Bukit Bintang area on Saturdays or any other days. One has to be careful of the parking rates at these spots so I made a few calls to find out and as it turned out some colleagues who were there before informed us that for the 2 hours they were there, they were charged RM7. I figured since it will only be about 1.5 hours, the fee would be something we can tolerate, if barely.

So off we went. Parking spots were quite easily found. Plenty of traffic attendants, although seemingly clueless one, at every corner in the basement car park. The car park was well lit and didn't have the cramped feeling. Through sheer luck, we found a spot just next to the entrance. The lower ground floor was really happening. This floor is where the crowd is. Not surprising, since the eateries are all there. Most are on the expensive side and I was on the verge of giving up finding a reasonable place to eat until I found
Pastamania! If you've followed my Singapore adventures the last few years, you'd know that this Pizza and Pasta chain is my favourite - food is OK, not spectacular but the price is very reasonable. I found their business concept very appealing and wondered at that time if it was possible to bring the franchise to Malaysia. Now they're here but nope, I'm not holding the local franchise, which was too bad. I'd have like to operate a running shop and a pasta shop - wouldn't that be great for a distance runner?

As I've mentioned Pastamania offers value for money meals with a personal thin-crust pizza from RM9.90 and a pasta (you can choose from 4 different types of pasta) from RM6.90. If you want drinks, soup and garlic bread, select from a set. The drinks come in slightly larger paper cups than the usual, so it's quite enough to share unless you're a soft drink guzzler. If you're there, remember to pick up the pocket menu, which will help you decide earlier on your next visit less you hold up the queue while thinking what to order from its extensive menu.

After that we popped by Tang's (although I wouldn't buy anything - correction "can't afford to buy anything there") and then Parkson where I bought 2 boxes of briefs. Now these are no ordinary Byfords. These are microfiber, butt-cheek holding Renomas. In my humble opinion, Renoma makes one of the best briefs and with these 2 boxes (2 in a box), the number of Renomas in my wardrobe is now 8. They're certainly better than the typical cotton ones or even the East India ones that I have. The reason for my enthusiasm for something that you won't see me with is because of the microfiber that they're made of. Coupled with runner-friendly designs, they're really comfortable. Runners typically have fantastic heinies (I kid you not. By the way, run more and see those toned and well-formed butts) that need form fitting underwear to support. We also need materials that won't chafe and will be breathable over the distances we covered. The last thing we need are soggy cotton ones. Check out the image below - I scanned the box here to show you the design. See the front and back? That isn't my butt and crotch of course, but that's not the point, but the grey areas on the brief are actually made of mesh. Not those big open-mesh that you find on your running shoes but the pin-holed type. So you don't have to worry about allowing too much draft in. In the front-center area where your, well, jewels are, is another thin piece of cloth underneath the mesh. I wore it for a test run yesterday and I didn't notice it at all, which is a good thing. If you start noticing your underwear, they're either too tight and are limiting the chances of (ouch!) or too loose. Or worse, they could be chafing you up.

Remember, in this part of the world, we don't find briefs and underwear made specially for running such as the ones by NB, UnderArmor or even asics, so finding something like Renoma is something like a heaven-sent. If you're interested, a box of 2 sells for RM27.90 but Parkson is offering a 10% discount right

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Base Phase Is Approaching

I'm slowly easing into the base phase of my marathon training. There's no pressure and I'm keeping it loose in terms of program. I run when I want and I don't beat myself up (nor was there any guilt) when missing any of the runs. I'm taking the chance to sleep more - OK just a wee bit more. Whenever I run, the sessions have been great. Only in November will I start the base phase proper. With the availability of the Garmin, my training approach can now be more precise. I'll be basing my workouts on the McMillan Pace Calculator to ensure that I'm working out effectively.

Another good run just now and here are the KM splits: 6:27 > 6:24 > 6:23 > 6:19 > 6:22 > 5:54 > 5:45 > 5:20 > 5:05 > 0:16 for an average of 5:59 pace. Faster than I intended in the later stage, slower than intended in the starting stage. Oh well, as long as it felt great!

I received quite a few feedback on the Kuantan Race Report done the Google Earth way and thought you might like this map I exported. Yup, this shows the typical KLCC Park route that I do on weekdays. Amazing huh? It's been a long day. Going to bed now. G'nite!

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C1's School Concert

C1's pre-school had a year-end concert this morning at PJ's Armada Hotel. Dressed up as a Piglet-like rabbit (looked like a cross anyway to me), he looked positively cute, as with the other kids in costumes ranging from Spiderman to the Fireman. There were also a few kid-cops, kids as trees, flowers, angels, and tots in Chinese, Malay and Indian traditional wear. Certainly not Dri-FIT materials all these!

For more photos, check out the concert photo album.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

About Shoes

I had a great run yesterday evening. The rain had just stopped when I stepped out. The skies remained dark and overcast with a slight breeze. Perfect weather for a run, yes? Even as the workout progressed and with the pace quickening, I felt very comfortable and as if I can go on and on. The overall average pace was 5:56 which meant that my workout is lodged right in between the Steady-State (stamina building) and the Easy Run (endurance building) workouts. I used the 205 primarily to measure the distance and not to monitor the pace. It was a run-by-feel workout.

Distance: 11.64K

Splits: 6:07 > 6:19 > 6:18 > 6:12 > 6:16 > 6:14 > 6:08 > 5:45 > 5:46 > 5:36 > 5:14 > 5:10

Time: 1:09

A friend remarked at the number of running shoes that I have. I admit that the number I have stashed in the shoe cabinet is more than what the average runner has (or is it, since runners are shoe hoggers?!) but all of these shoes are on active duty. I've been rotating my shoes more than ever, which is good thing. Besides training your legs and feet to adapt to different shoe feel, the rotation policy also allows the shoes to recover from the previous use.

Rotating the shoes, unlike Rafa Benitez's Liverfool (typo fully intended!) squad rotation, will also allow the extension of the shoes' durability. Research shows that the midsole foam requires 24 hours before it's supportive and cushioning properties are restored.

The selection of running shoes available in Malaysia has improved over the years but we're still behind Singapore where the buying power is. Needless to say, the number of runners in Singapore is also larger. Due to the limited market here, we don't see many niche models such as racers. Regardless, we've seen the re-emergence of brands like asics and Saucony (thanks to the good work by CCube in promoting it), while Mizuno and NB (traditionally conservative brands) have setup impressive full-fledge boutiques in the newly Gardens mall. See here on the feature on the NB Boutique.

On the pricing side of things, NB and Saucony present the best in value for their shoes. While I've more or less done away with NB - purely a personal preference thing, though their 902 looks impressive - Saucony have done well to bring in their new models such as Sinister, Trigon 5 and Triumph 4 (the high-end Paramount is coming too) quickly. We've also been seeing lots of good buys at the Studio R, World of Sport and Isetan. Many of last year's top-end Nike, adidas and asics models were at 50% off while we saw a few racing models brought in here to be "disposed".

Nike running shoes have not done well in Malaysia the last 5 to 8 years. Thanks to the build quality, durablity and pricing, Nike buyers are typically gym and general fitness folks who go for fashion and hipness in their purchases. The Pegasus, Structure, Free are the exceptions. However, I've seen a shift in Nike since late last year. They've brought back some iterations like the Pegasus '07, Vomero 2, Zoom Elite 3 are good models and worthy of trying out. If I can get a good discount, I may get the Vomero 2 in place of the very expensive Gel Nimbus 9, when my 2120 or Supernova expires.

Oh yes, my rubbers are as follows - favourites in asterisks:

Trainers/Races up to the Full Marathon (KM used/max mileage)

*2120 - 542/800. This is my favourite and I've been using it less so that it will still be available going into my marathon base training next month.

Supernova Cushion 6 - 255/750. After the initial misgivings, this is turning out into a value buy (RM240 after discount). The cushioning is soft yet responsive if you need to be going faster. This model has a wider fit unlike nearly all other adidas models. A review is forthcoming.

Pegasus '05 - 234/700. A good year but this second pair seems to be much firmer hence I've relegated it to backup duties. I believe it still has a role to play.

Speedwork/Races up to the Half Marathon

Axiom 2 - 223/600. Brooks shoes are always firm, which makes it an acquired taste. This pair is no different. In my attempts to "train" my legs to adapt to lightweight trainers, the Axioms have been used quite extensively. The midsole is still the old Substance 257 compound instead of the new MoGo. Wear and tear not that good. I also hope to write a review soon.

*Forster - 39/500. In all of the 3 races I wore them, I ran great times, though not PRs given my level of fitness. Absolutely no complaints and it will have no problems up to the Half. I'll be able to experiment with it for distances up to 30K to gauge its qualities for the longer distances.

I still have a new secret pair that I'm saving up for the GE 30K and KLIM. I smell potential in this pair - possibly a PR shoe for the marathon. That's a story for another day.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


That would be "No-Go for New York". Many of you would have received an email from me about the feature in Star Metro (article) today. Well, the trip is not on. Since harbouring dreams of running in NYC for the longest time, I've been talking about it more openly and sometime July/August this year, I was offered a chance to do the race with a sponsorship! Despite a clash of date with an event that we're organizing, my partner, Wan, graciously told me to go ahead as that was indeed a chance in a lifetime. The arrangement was an expense-paid trip to participate in the race and meet the sponsor's elite team which will be participating in the Olympic Trials the day before.

I kept the offer quiet but excited is hardly the word to use to describe my feelings. I immediately started to gather tons and tons of information about the place, the race, the people - everything. I put all these in my Road To New York City blog. In a way, I was already there. It was September before I next heard from the sponsor and that the trip is a go. There are lots of things to do - the visa, finding from friends whether I can loan their stuff from camera to jackets - and many offered, which I'm very grateful for. I also started to participate in NYCM forums in RunnerWorld Online and Phedippidations Board to learn more from experienced runners. I sought and received advice on cold weather running from many, including Waterman and in the process made many new friends from abroard (without leaving the computer!).

Then in early October, I knew I needed to tie things up. Lodging is very very expensive in NYC and through my forum friend Scott who was ever so helpful with juicy tidbits from his NYC experiences, managed to secure me a bunk at the International Hostel. The IH is to me the best place to stay in NYC - cheap at USD37 with an excellent customer service which never fails to respond quickly to my emails and calls. To know what's in store for me, I started pressing the sponsor for more details such as what's my itinerary, when will I be sent my race bibs, who to meet, where to meet, what's their plans for me (as I needed to report on my experiences) and so on. I also thought that since running NYCM is a big deal (only 30 odd percent chance of a successful lottery bid ie only 38,000 accepted out of 100,000+ entries received), and that I've committed to the sponsor that they will get their feature in a local daily, I arranged for Star to have an interview. I brought along Francis Cheng a fellow PACM member who will also be running NYCM. It's too bad that I can't pull more Malaysian participants into the interview - it would've been great. The interview took place at the Bkt Jalil park but since I've yet to hear from the sponsor about the finalization, I informed the daily to hold the article.

After pressing for some news, I finally got in touch with the company's Director in the US and from email exchanges, I began suspecting that the race entry deal isn't part of the package. My fears was confirmed by the local office who said that the allocation had been reduced and that the news wasn't cascaded down to the countries. I was asked whether I still wanted to go if I hadn't a race entry to which I said there's really no point in going - a runner has to run! But I held on to hopes that some last minute arrangements can still be made. Flight tickets have also been booked by the local office and in late September I'd even bought a pass to the Empire State Building. At that point, I'd yet to apply for the visa since it's very expensive and I wanted a concrete proof before proceeding. I even emailed the NYRRC to check on my entry but they replied in negative. After the expiration of the deadline to revert to me, I made the decision to pull the plug on operations - contacted The Star to pull out the article and cancelled my lodging.

Then another forum friend stepped up to try to help as recent as just last night by checking with the NYRRC but it was already a little too late. I'm looking forward to next year's lottery opening. Meanwhile I've got to inform the other Malaysians who will be in NYC that I won't be making the trip. We had made plans to meet up to party there!


Monday, October 22, 2007

PACM Kuantan TC Run 2007

Distance: 9.71K, Timing: 48:54, Average Pace: 5:02, Position: 41

KM Splits: 4:50 > 4:49 > 4:56 > 5:03 > 5:09 > 5:12 > 5:10 > 5:04 > 5:09 > 4:52

Click here to read the race report that's, well, a little different. Let me know what you think. For more photos, visit my Flickr photo album.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teluk Chempedak Kuantan


Friday, October 19, 2007

My Other Blog

I've had this blog for a few months but wanted to keep it under wraps. But I thought it's always good to share a good thing and not let all the info go to waste or remain unused. So here it is and hope you're inspired as well to make running the NYCM your dream. Click here to get to the Road To New York City blog.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Me, Myself & My Garmin

Part of successful training means employing correct pacing for each of the workouts. In simple terms, run slow when you're supposed to go slow, fast when the session calls for speed. One can't improve training at the same pace (be it consistently/always fast or always slow). There's a time for everything. Even in a distance race (Half Marathon and above), you don't go out at top speed - even an elite will settle back into a steady pace after the initial surge to get a head start.
I've been largely adept at keeping to the pace but in order to reap the rewards of the workouts I need to know the RIGHT pace in which to run the different workouts. For this, I turn to a running calculator widely acknowledged to be the best available - The McMillan Running Calculator. Developed by Greg McMillan (now also a columnist with Running Times), this tool allows me to use my best recent timings to come up with an optimum pace chart for all your workouts. There's one for Endurance, another for Stamina, one for Speed and one for Sprint. The Stamina section is broken down to Steady State, Tempo, Tempo Intervals and Cruise Intervals. Endurance section differentiates the Long Run pace versus Easy and Recovery paces. This calculator is printable and I've one stuck on my office cubicle wall and another at home. I highly recommend this tool.
What's the downside of not running to the correct pace? Injuries for one. Press too hard and you'll end up with overuse injuries. Then there's the plateau. Running at a slow pace (unless you're just running for health and fitness) all the time won't get you to the next level. Finally, there's the burnout, and this can happen mentally and physically when you're unable to recover from previous workouts yet you continue to hammer your next ones. Former elite Ironman, Coach Troy Jacobson has an excellent take on burnout and the often misleading signs of initial improvements. Click here to listen to the MP3 (to download right click and select Save Target As). The Endurance Planet website has loads of great advice and comes highly recommended.
Yesterday I put the Garmin's Interval features to work. I set 6 x 1,000m with 1 minute recoveries in between. I also included warmup and warmdown laps. As I've not familiarized myself with setting the target pace for each interval, I just ran according to gut feel. The workout was to be a Tempo Interval with target pace between 5:13 to 5:23. The weather was great, just after a heavy shower. After a 6:56 warmup, I hit the following splits: 5:13 > 5:02 > 4:57 > 5:06 > 4:56 > 4:46. I brisk walked during the 1 minute breaks. Total workout time including the walkbreaks was 53:29 covering 9.16K. The downside was I didn't have time for a cooldown lap. Did some stretching immediately after the last repeat and again on the bed before I slept. I don't have any soreness in my legs this morning and will do a light recovery jog at 6:50 pace and an easy run of 6:10 pace on Friday before heading to Kuantan on Saturday. Looking at the interval splits I hit, I ran a little fast, but I always felt in control - maybe it was due to being the first ever intervals but will try to readjust to slightly slower the next time.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Back On Track

I've been slowly getting back into the establishing some semblence of training program and the past 2 weeks have been quite taxing. Physically tough, coaxing myself to wake up early only to put it through the grind of long runs. It's been mentally draining as well - but I'll save that for another post. The first 2 weeks have seen me log 46K each week. I reckon this week will be the same as well with the Kuantan TC 10K race on Sunday. Nov 24th will see me return to Penang for my 2nd 12-Hour Walk. Hopefully I'll be able to cover more than 36K. There won't be any racing for me in December which will allow me to get into some serious work for the Jan 20th Great Eastern Pacesetters 30K. After that will probably be a 10K and a Half Marathon as tune-ups for the March KL Marathon (still unannounced).

I've been training more in the Axiom 2s lately and though I still prefer a stable-cushioned trainer, like the 2120 or Kayano, I will continue to run half of my sessions in these lightweight trainers. The Forsters will remain my racing shoes, while the Supernova Cushion and 2120 will be rotated to supplement the Axioms. I plan to break in the Nike Zoom Elite 3 in time for the GE 30K as well the KL Marathon. Which reminds me that my review of the Axioms and the Supernova Cushion are long outstanding. Looks like I will be quite engaged in training huh?


The 2nd Pheddipidations WWHM Challenge

I was quite unfit going into this run. The intention was to do a 30K and take the first 21K as the WWHM timing. Geraldine, Lai, Kenny and I started off around 5:45am. Kenny and Lai are both in training for the Singapore Marathon. The others started later with Ronnie at 6:30am. Things got tougher for me after the 17K mark and I made the 21K point barely. Things started to go downhill after that. I walked on 3-4 occasions - basically I was more out of breath than anything to do with the legs. Indications of poor aerobic conditioning. I shouldn't have been so harsh on myself as this 28K (didn't make it to 30K!) is a sudden bump out of nowhere in my just restarted training program. As I'm typing this belated report, I'm already 30% back on my fitness. It'll come, it'll come.

It's only right that I record my heartfelt thanks to the WWHM race directors, John Ellis, Mal James, Terry Higgins, Ben Deutschle and Steve Walker (who nailed his marathon PR last weekend - woo hooo!), for doing such a great job with the site and organizing all the race logistics. The number of registrants says it all. It's the first global race I know of which takes place simultaneously (almost!), that has it's own bib, podcast, goodie bag and best of all FREE! We runners come together last weekend and proved to the world besetted by war, corruption, selfishness that when it comes down to coming together for something, runners just do it! No hidden agendas, no greed. Fellow runners, I bow to all of you! Run long and strong!

With Ronnie Der_Pacemaker (bib 0210)
With Geraldine


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where Will You Be This Nov 4?

  • ...WITH LANCE ARMSTRONG, PAULA RADCLIFFE (ok, they'll be waaaay in front and lost in the crowd)!
Running the NYCM has been my dreams for the longest time (since the '80s!) and I've started to think more about the race early this year. It's quite impossible to visualize the NYCM without the images of Salazar and Waitz blazing through the 5 boroughs. Who can forget the dramatic finishing of Rod Dixon who victoriously fell to his knees and the many neck-to-neck battles that have taken place? On the experiential part, I often wondered how it feels like to be cheered by 2 million spectators, running in a multi-national crowd of 38,000, peeing (!) off the Verrazano Bridge. As corny as it may sound, all these captured my imagination. I felt very strongly that I will run it one day, not knowing that the day will be sooner rather than later. The 1st NYCM is as young as I am - 37 years young. Even with the entry fee of $1, only 127 participated then. Legendary race director Fred Lebow turned it into an inclusive event in 1976 covering NYC's 5-boroughs. Get this, Oct 24 1976 - my birthdate.
When you dream of something, you visualize, you research, you talk about it. That's what I did. I bought travel guides, read through reviews and race reports, researching budget lodgings, posted questions on RW forums - basically doing everything as if I was already going. I received a call early this morning confirming my participation and joining 5 other Malaysians (who all applied via the lottery) making the 21-hour flight to the city.
This year's event will be extra special as the US Olympic Marathon Trials will be held the day before the marathon. And trust it to the Americans to hype it all up as The Marathon Weekend. With only 1 month's regular running (last week's mileage 46K, this week, I will hit 56K), I don't have any time expectations. Even with proper training, running a PR in NYC is very tough given the huge crowd. It has the toughest route of the 5 Majors, with 5 bridges (though I think they all pale in comparison to our favourite Hartamas-Double Hill combo). I'm going to be running-walking with a camera and just soak in the atmosphere and pain.
Thanks for Brooks USA for making my dreams possible! I'm so very fortunate especially when only 40,000 out of 93,000 entry submissions are accepted. As some of you know, Brooks is a major sponsor of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Running Project and they have more than a handful elites vying for the US Olympic Marathon team on Nov 3rd. So they're inviting a selected group of runners from the world over to join them in NYC. I've so many of my favorite athletes in the Trials - Ritzenhein, Abdi, Meb, Culpepper, Browne. This Trials are going to have the deepest field ever assembled. But I'm going to be rooting for Brian Sell and other working class elites.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Carbokid 2 Turns 9 Months

The little fella turned 2 yesterday. Here are some shots of him - this fella is a real dynamite. Very hyper, fast learner, oodles of energy. Smaller compared to C1 when he was 9 months old, he's definitely not a push-over. Because of that I'm getting a free workout for my arms (it's buffing up nicely!)

Check the video out and see how cheeky he is. Somehow, he picked up this "skill" of creating and blowing bubbles. Nobody taught him that and we're really scratching our heads how he figured that out.


Even The Big Names Get It Wrong

The Chicago race this year incidentally witnessed a death of a 35-year old man after the 28K mark Runners who have yet to reach the halfway mark were stopped and ushered into air-cond buses for transportation to the finish area. and about 9,000 of the 45,000 plus registrants did not start the race. Temps of 31C coupled with high humidity did many in.

The Chicago Marathon ended quite disastrously despite the finishing drama for the Mens and Womens categories where it came down to a sprint finish (see my last post). Tragically 1 runner died (collapsed after the 28K mark) in the 31C heat and humidity (over 250 runners were hospitalized) and there were lots of complain about inadequate cups, water and Gatorade (something the organizers should've been prepared for since the weather had been consistently high the whole week). Taking into account nearly 10,000 registrants who didn't even start, one would think there would be sufficient supplies. But the slower runners were forced to crowd around water fountains, and stations which still have whatever little water left. Many had to queue at gas stations and shops, while many spectators lend assistance by providing much needed fluids and ice.

The conditions prompted the race organizers to kick in the contingency plans. Many who didn't reach the halfway mark were asked to board the air-cond sweeper buses and transported to the finish area, even though they were good to finish. They were given medals which were received reluctantly - many chose not to wear them.

Naturally, there were plenty of heated discussions about this in the forums and
here's just one of them. To read more go to the Chicago Marathon 2007 Forum. Which is a shame as Chicago is one of the Big 5 in the Marathon Majors. There was even a feature on this unfortunate drama in the Mandarin news just now. Having said that, this incident shouldn't be used by local race organizers to justify their sub-standard preparations. I strongly feel that runners should be prepared the best they can, in training and for the weather. In today's world, where commercialism is the order of the day, major marathons sometimes over-market their event to the point that complete beginners or newcomers to the sport may be misled to think that running a marathon is an easy task. Hardly so. I can only hope that the recent focus on deaths (including Alberto Salazar's recent heart attack) are not construed to be risks associated with running, and that underlying factors be taken into consideration before arriving at the conclusion.

Back to the race:
If you think only the men had all the action, you're wrong. The women too were at it with the champion
Berhane Adere of Ethiopia storming past a celebrating Adriana Pirtea of Romania in the final meters of to win by three seconds in a time of 2:33:59. Adere apparently "changed into track racing" in the final meters to nip a disappointed Pirtea. Who wouldn't be disappointed? I'd be banging my head to have lost the race as a result of carelessness of failing to check your six.


The Marathon Is Turning Out To Be Sprint Events For These Fellas

There's been no shortage of dramatic marathon finishes. Remember Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley's Duel In The Sun in the 1982 Boston? Then there was German Silva who veered off course in the final half mile but somehow had the kick to rope in his fellow countryman Benjamin Parades in 1995's New York City Marathon? Not enough drama? How about Robert Cheruiyot's sprint and stumble combo in the 2006 Chicago? The 2005 NYCM had another "incident" involving Paul Tergat and Hendrik Ramaala's who battled neck to neck in the climb towards to the finish at the Tavern On The Green.

Chicago Marathon presented yet another episode when Patrick Ivuti of Kenya edged Jaouad Gharib of Morocco at the finishing tape after the two had staged an all-out sprint over the final 400 meters. Ivuti won in 2:11:11.00 to Gharib’s 2:11:11.05. Take a look at the photo below and see how close the 2 were. They might as well hold hands and cross the line together.

I wonder what went through the minds of these machines as they head toward the finish line. Let me hasten a few guesses:

- "Where the did he come from?!"

- "Oh no, you're not getting away with that. I didn't hustle my @ss over 42K to get beat by you!"

- "C'mon, let's give 'em a photo finish!"


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Second Annual "Phedippidations" World Wide Half Marathon Challenge: Official Press Release

Next weekend is the "race day" and you still have time to register. For those in KL, we will start at the Bkt Aman car park over 2 waves. First wave is for marathoners who want to put in extra miles and we will take off at 6am heading towards Hartamas plus 1 loop around the Petronas station before heading back. After you get back and want to do extra, just stop your watch and record your timing. You can then submit your timing at www.worldwidehalf.com with photos and reports. Second wave starts at 6:30am. In case you didn't know there are 21 of us who registered from all over Malaysia. Outstanding! If 13th or 14th are not viable dates for you, you can also run it anytime between today and then. And as long as your route is 21K, you can run practically anywhere.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4th, 2007

Contacts: London, UK : Mal James. mal.james@worldwidehalf.com Knoxville, TN: Terry Higgins planet3rry@gmail.com Columbus, OH : Ben Deutschle ben@buckeyeoutdoors.com Boston, MA : John Ellis john_j_ellis@hotmail.com, Worcester, MA : Steve Walker steve@steverunner.com

World Wide Half Marathon
1000 Runners from 45 countries "Think Global, Run Local" in global race.

Boston, MA. - Over 1000 runners in 45 countries across 6 continents will be running together on the weekend of October 13th and 14th for the Second Annual "Phedippidations" World Wide Half Marathon Challenge, and "Kick the Couch 5K".

Co-race director John Ellis, from Boston, Massachusetts, said "This is a unique race that embraces the spirit of the running community across the entire world."

The "Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon Challenge" (www.worldwidehalf.com) is an open invitational event where runners from around the globe will run either 13.1 mile (21 km) or 3.1 mile (5km) course on their own or as part of a local race in their region.

Teams of athletes around the globe have come together, in countries such as Austria, Bahrain, Columbia, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.

Co-race director, Mal James, trained for the vent in both Israel and Australia, and will be running locally on race day in the Munich Germany Marathon. "This has truly become a global event", said James, "runners from all over the planet have been training together for the past four months and encouraging each other to go the distance on race day."

Co-race director from Knoxville, Tennessee, Terry Higgins, is impressed with the new runners who have accepted the challenge of running the race. "It's awesome to hear that this will be the very first race for some runners, or that this challenge has rekindled someone's passion for running", said Higgins, "We joke about the 'Couch of Doom' that too many sedentary people spend too much time upon, and we are very please to know that people all over the world are getting off that couch!"

"We've more than doubled the number of entrants we had last year" said Co-race director Steve Walker, from Central Massachusetts, "we've made friends across 44 countries, and now we'll be able to share our race reports, photos and audio recordings about our race experiences!"

The event is completely free and is being organized online at
www.worldwidehalf.com .

Entrants who run the race will record their finish times, and have the option of uploading a written race report, a photo and audio recording to share a description of their experiences of the day for posting on several online blogs and Internet radio "podcasts".

Co-Race director Ben Deutschle, from Columbus Ohio, says the event's motto ""Think Global, Run Local", best describes that goal of the race. "We run in our own home towns all over the world, but are aware that at the very same time we have friends who are out there running with us" said Deutschle, "Runners aren't limited by geographical or cultural differences...we celebrate what makes us unique and share this common passion for running".

Further information about the First Annual Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon can be found at www.worldwidehalf.com


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Loneliness of a Marathoner's Wife

I was pointed to this article by a forumite. It's a great read and since marathoning is not gender bias, just substitute the male references with female ones where applicable.

The Loneliness of a Marathoner's Wife

I could take the training and travelling and the ice-cold baths. It was the inspirational aphorisms that did me in..

VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN, September 25, 2007

I'm thinking of starting a support group for partners of runners called Coping with Your Loved One's Benign Addiction (The Endless Marathon).

We would meet monthly - perhaps biweekly during race season - to share our creeping losses: stimulating conversation giving way to mind-numbing race stories ("and then I put the other foot in front"); old friends losing ground to new running buddies; sleepy morning sex replaced by vigorous interval training.

My partner began his running career five years ago. It started innocently enough: Seeking a distraction from cigarettes, Roger volunteered to help out with the cross-country team at our son's elementary school.

A few mornings a week, the two of them would strap on their battered runners, jog down to the school and spend an hour with the other early risers. At the school bell, Roger would wave to his Grade 2 charges and run around the block a few times to get his heart and lungs pumping before work.

Then, on a day like any other, the M-word slipped from his tongue.

"I want to run a marathon before I turn 40."

Just one. To prove he could do it. I was all for it. I was his most enthusiastic supporter. I even bragged about him at the dog park.

"Did you know that Roger is in training for a marathon?" I asked one of the dog walkers who, judging by his lanky frame, might be a runner himself. Just uttering the M-word made me feel important, part of an elite club.

His answer took me by surprise.

"Oooooh, watch out," he said, wincing. "A friend's wife ran her first marathon a few years ago and now she's never around. She runs several a year - Boston, Chicago, New York, London. She spends all her free time either racing, training for a race, or travelling to or from a race. It's a dangerous sport that way."

"I'm not too worried about that," I replied confidently. "Roger's not the obsessive type."
Fast-forward five years. Roger trains six days a week and is in the top 2 per cent of Canadian marathoners. Last year, he placed 23rd in the masters division (over 40) of the Canada Running Series. He runs two sub-three-hour marathons per year and has a schedule of shorter races - 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, relays - that would put most of us in a wheelchair.

Sometimes, when it's very hot, he runs so fast he loses consciousness.

Other times, I've caught him - a shower man by nature - lazily soaking in a tub of ice cubes to sooth the inflammation in his legs.

He has gone the distance in Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Chicago, and along Cape Breton's Cabot Trail. Bibs from every race he ever ran are pinned to his office wall like tails on a donkey. Tacky wooden plaques line his bookshelf, reminiscent of the bedroom scene from one of those movies where the favourite son, the athlete, has met some tragic end.

His bedside table is a leaning tower of running how-to volumes, including the weighty Lore of Running, a 930-page tome that makes me laugh whenever Roger tries to balance it on his knees. That table was once stacked with his favourite literature: Barnes, Coetzee, Lessing, McEwan.

Among these bedside gospels is Personal Best by the late George Sheehan, who is described on the book jacket as the "foremost philosopher of fitness." Sheehan drew parallels between runners and alcoholics who overcome the drinking demon in four major ways: modifying behaviour, substituting dependencies, increasing religious involvement, and forming new relationships.

"The running body modifies its own behaviour," according to Sheehan. "Running then becomes a substitute dependency, an addiction that has positive rather than negative effects. It becomes a religious experience that gives renewed hope and self-esteem. And it bestows on each runner a new circle of similarly minded, non-judgmental friends."

Give me a break (the non-runner says, rather judgmentally). I liked Roger just the way he was and so, I thought, did he.

But it was the inspirational quotes that finally broke me. One afternoon, I wandered into Roger's office with his mail and there, flashing across his screensaver like urgent dispatches from heaven, were candy-coated mantras right out of a high-school year book: "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."

"Dedication and commitment are what transfer dreams into reality."

Not quite the same as finding a note from a lover, but almost as devastating for someone wary of pat answers to life's complexities. My husband had become a running fanatic. And there was nothing I could do about it.

We'd come a long way from that day in the dog park.

But take heart: There is a flip side.

Running has given Roger a new clarity of thought and purpose that has served him well in both his personal and professional life. Maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to trick genetics and outlive his father, who died of a heart attack at 50. And if his new-found passion represents a mid-life crisis, it sure beats buying a motorcycle and/or chasing younger women.

Not to mention the rock-hard body.

So, to anyone whose partner is discovering running religion, let me say this: Eventually - because there's no other choice if you want your relationship to survive - you'll learn to draw the ice baths, launder the sweaty socks and swallow the mantras. You may need therapy to get there but, one (training rest) day, you'll wake up, wrap your arms around your brand new man or woman and say to yourself: "My runner is fit, happy, passionate, fulfilled, loving, and still here.

What more, really, could anyone ask for?"

Virginia Heffernan lives in Toronto.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

All Hail Haile!

Are there any more doubts that this man is the greatest distance runner ever? 23 world records and now perhaps the sweetest one - 2:04.26. After knocking off 150-mile weeks, Haile shaved off 29 seconds off the previous best set on the same fast Berlin course by his long-time rival and friend Paul Tergat, to whom he apologised. Read about it here and here. I count myself fortunate to have lived in the same era of these 2 fantastic athletes. I'm lost for words and for fear of rambling and spoiling the occassion, I shall stop here (insert kow-tow action here).

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You Rock, Girl!

For someone who has never raced anything more than a 10K, Kara Goucher (she's got a supersweet girl-next-door look) ran a super impressive 1:06.57 at The Great North Run to erase previous American half marathon record set by Deena Kastor and as a bonus beat the returning Paula Radcliffe (who took 21 months off after delivering her first child). To her credit, Paula ran superbly but it was Goucher's race after 10 miles. Goucher who is coached by Alberto Salazar, a former marathon world record holder no less, has been hitting the highs this year and her most recent accomplishment was a bronze finishing in the 10,000m in Osaka. To watch videos of her and her husband - Adam Goucher - training, hit this
link. The videos provide a brief insight to the lifestyle of these elites.

Watch BBC's post-race interview here.

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