p pol The Adventures of Carboman: January 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Number Game

I'm not a superstitious person but check out the numbers that came into my life the week prior and during my hospitalization.

GE Race bib: A44

Race Position: 164

Hospital Ward/Bed: 5842

Like I said, I'm not a picky person. I've had so many "4"s and typically jinxed numbers I've encountered. My staff ID has "67" in it. My car registration number has "56" as part of the 4 digits. My old motorbike which was stolen some years back was "Wxx 434".

If I'm a superstitious Cantonese (I'm not a Cantonese), I'd be paranoid! Hahaha!


Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Series Of Unfortunate Events aka Temporary Setback Nia

In case you were not in the know, I was hospitalized from last Monday night till Wednesday morning. Actually I admitted myself at about 10pm after enduring severe stomach pain from 5:30pm. The pain was in the midsection and didn't go away after a visit to my regular doctor - who prescribed the usual charcoal tabs and some antacids. I've no history of gastritis and ulcers, so the pain was quite unusual. Sitting, lying down or walking offered no relief and it got progressively worst once I got home. It was after my shower that I sense it wasn't going to be better and I packed my bag and some essentials (which included a RW mag, my iPod and Palm and some apparels plus the meds I was taking).

The drive to the hospital couldn't be longer. At the Emergency section, I filled up the customary forms and was ushered to one of the beds. After a few minutes, an elderly doctor came by and I filled her up with the details - I'd no problems with the bowel movement, I'd ran a 30K race yesterday, no history of stomach problems. When she pressed down on a few spots on my abdomen to identify the spots of pain, it was excruciating. She ordered a blood and urine test. And a jab each on both my butt cheeks. Damn, I hate needles, but at that point anything to take the pain off.

I lost track of time and couldn't be bothered but the results came back showing no appendicitis. The blood results showed some concern and warranted further barrages of question about whether I've got chest pain. That got me pretty irritated and I replied my family had no history of heart problems and I AM A MARATHONER! WHO JUST COMPLETED A 30K YESTERDAY! OF COURSE MY HEART WOULD'VE SHOWN SOME STRESSED MARKERS!!! TNS!

Not satisfied, they extracted more blood and the doctor refused to believe that I still had pain despite the 2 jabs and further pressed my abdomen again asking questions with some degree of incredulity. Then she ordered an intravenal (correct term?) jab ie a jab directly into the vein for quick results. Didn't work either!! TNS!

Wrist tag. I'm officially an inmate of Sickville

Then she got on the phone with a heart specialist and then a GI specialist. I was wheeled into 3 X-Rays - one chest and two stomach. The radiologist was most kind and understanding. I still couldn't pass wind nor burp. The last bowel movement was just before I left my house and I had a BIG business post-race on Sunday, which in hindsight I think was caused by the bowl of cornflakes in milk (never again for me!). Now, I think that wind trapped in my gut could be residual buildup from that post-race snack. Coupled with the amount of food I took on Sunday and the protein I consumed, my gut could've given up. The pressure in the intestines could've been really bad. TNS!

Pain in the butt. The bruise.

After the X-Ray, my bed was moved and they said I need to be admitted. The heart specialist came over and told me the blood results was a false alarm (Hello lady, you're sweet but I needn't waste RM800,000 of my parents' money to tell me that!). I told her again what I told the other doctor. My wife took care of the papers - thankfully, the company insurance took care of the charges (close to RM2,000) and just before I was wheeled to a 2-bed ward, I was given another jab to the butt, making it a total of 4 jabs. Either my runner's butt is cute or they were really having a field day with the needles. But that 4th one was really potent. Not 10 minutes after that, the pain suddenly went off and I became quite drowsy - the mix definitely included some sedatives. Finally something worked.

I really hate it when they insert the IV needle.

And just as I was settled into the ward bed, I mumbled something and the lights went out. Though I was groggy, I didn't really sleep well. The next day saw a visit to a surgeon, who thought he'd earn some bucks out of me and then an ECG. They wanted yet another blood test to wrap things up but I firmly denied them. I told them that I was already weakened with no dinner and fluids the night before (due to the enforced fasting) and already being milked dry. No way! TNS! He didn't sign me out for another day.

The day after I was discharged I felt good enough to try to get a run in but lasted only 6K. Went home to a really bad sore throat and a slight fever. Don't tell me this time it's a throat infection??! I dug out some meds related to the throat and took the anti-inflammatories, 2 paracetamols, sucked 2 dequadins, downed 1 liter of water and went to bed. Through out the day I hydrated like I would be running a desert marathon and by the end of the day, the throat was OK. Somehow I got through that without antibiotics!

Saturday saw me return to the usual ritual albeit a 2K reduction from the usual 17K. I covered the double hill very comfortably. Cardio and leg wise, I saw no problems. I felt really good. Ran a 10K just now and the starting pace of 6:14 felt really really comfortable. A few months ago my base pace was 6:45. I held the pace going up a 1K climb before tapering off at 6:10ish or so. As it was getting dark on the village roads, I upped the pace a big after I u-turned and hit the hills at LT pace.

I think despite the measly 30K mileage week (hey, I lost 2 days of running), I can safely say that I'M BACK!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

GE PACM 30K Race Report

7:32 > 5:44 > 5:41 > 6:04 > 5:29 (5K - 30:30) > 5:38 > 6:07 > 5:50 > 5:27 > 5:47 (10K - 59:18) > 5:44 > 5:21 > 5:44 > 6:02 > 5:25 (15K - 1:27.34) > 5:36 > 5:57 > 5:38 > 5:40 > 5:39 (20K - 1:56.05) > 6:01 (21K -2:02.06) > 6:09 > 5:20 > 5:14 > 5:52 > 5:38 > 6:16 > 6:02 > 5:14 (2:47.50) > 6:00 > 4:36 (2:56.47)

Timing: 2:56.47
Position: 164
Average Page: 5:46

Read the full report for the 30.64K race.


Monday, January 14, 2008

What's Your Excuse?

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Snake, A Cow and Masala Tea

Started my run at 6:30am this morning. Everyone was already up but since it was early, I'll have some time to crank out the workout. The target was 12K which should be easy but doing it on a 2K loop with nary a flat stretch is tough. Tough on the pacing strategy, tough on the legs and tough on the lungs. So the decision was to do 2.5 laps of "The Dreaded Loop" and then head towards the flat village road. True enough the erratic pace gave way to a consistent one the moment I hit the alternative route. Suddenly I heard a plaintif moo but I thought I was hearing things. I looked around but can't find any cows. Then the moo again distracted my concentration. I'd already passed the spot so I kept going. Only on my return trip when I deviated from my run to find out the source of the sound did I discover a skinny calf at the bottom of a monsoon drain. It must've slipped past the drain railing before falling into the deep drain. There was no one around but the road has its fair share of motorcyclists, so it's a matter of time before it's discovered.

Beside the bovine episode, I also had to skip over a dead snake and ran into a bunch of cyclists on their long ride. A quick shower back home and the clan were out for breakfast. Later part of the evening, I finally had the chance to try out my hands at concocting the masala tea. The ingredients - cardamon, ginger, aniseed, cinnamon, clove, black tea - are easily available at the nearest hypermart and I went with gut feel in mixing the portions of the spices. The results came out fantastic I must say!

OK, my writing style is deserting me. Signs of tiredness. A few more days of running then will rest before doing the GE30K on Sunday. A tough race awaits.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Intriguing Deena Kastor

In her blog posting of Dec 31 2007, Deena Kastor wrote the following paragraphs:

"Beijing is only eight months away. Between now and then I will log over five thousand miles. I will go through 15 pair of DS Trainers. I will take 200 ice baths. I will log 600 hours of afternoon naps. I will get more than 200 massages and have a total of about 1000 acupuncture needles. All this in an effort to maintain health and get as strong as possible.

Along with training hard and intensely taking care of myself I hope to stay connected with the simple joys that have kept me running for the past 24 years. I hope to still hear my feet landing on pine needles. I hope to maintain playfulness as I toy around with a faster cadence. I hope to weave through the trees and feel the rhythm of my breath. I hope to notice the seasons changing. I hope I still jump at the chance to chase a leaf blowing down the street. I hope to be aware enough to feel sweat starting to gloss my neck. I hope to playfully hop over rocks and roots without breaking pace. The greatest thing I can ask for is to be joyfully running my way to Boston and Beijing. Greater still would be that our entire Running USA team will be together on that flight to China this summer."

It's evident how hard these pro athletes train (that's 530K per pair of performance trainers). It's wonderful that in the midst of all that running, she's not lost the gist of it all - why we run. It's about the simple things like having fun out there and I hope to take this approach in all my running. I believe that we over here take things too seriously. So many times have a greeting of "G'morn" or a simple wave not reciprocated. It's basic courtesy, even though I'm not hard up for it. After all running raises the endorphin levels and when you feel good, it shows - you wave hello, you greet fellow runners on the road, you smile. I do that nearly all the time when running the Hartamas route. While my greetings are returned most of the time, there are the usual suspects who find it so hard (or are they to shy?) to return the same. C'mon, lighten up! If it's not too fun getting out there, it can only mean it's a chore. And if that's the case what's the point of heading out right? Smile! If you're a fast runner, run slow sometimes. If you're a slow runner, run fast sometimes! Run in the mornings, run in the evenings, whatever! But have FUN AND SMILE!

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Be A Student Of Our Sport

Had a good 25K yesterday morning with GL. We started off with quite a few runners but with the exception of Cheang whom I met for the first time who did 30K, and the 2 of us, the others were probably hitting the 20K distance. I arrived a tad late due to the last minute toilet visit at home. My aim was to run at least 25K to get near to next week's 30, and to blood the new rubbers. I also wore the Brooks tights with intention to wear them for race day. In other words, except for the Nike Sphere Dry top, everything else were race oriented. The target pace was 6:20 for me and from the start it was already a challenge with the fast group. I was prepared to be left behind and so I was grateful to be able to have Adam for company at about 6:10 pace. Watching TPC fartleking was such a hoot. Went alone on the Petronas loop and made the last part of the journey with Adam and GL. Reached the car park in 2 hours flat for a hydration stop and continued another 5K using the Carcosa-Deer Park-Mosque route. I'm beginning to like this route and my future 30s could be built around this rather than looping around Hartamas.

My holidaying Aunt dropped by the house with her family yesterday around noon, joined by a couple more Uncles and their own families. The plan was to go to the Yong Tau Foo eatery in Serdang, apparently a famous one. If you're without a maid and living with 2 kids below 5, the result is an organized mess of a house. After a while you give up trying to clear up after the 2 tornadoes. But I digress. When they were given the tour of the house, they noticed the medals hanging from the wall and asked me about them - whether they were mine, for what events, how far is a marathon distance, whether the medals were winner medals and if any of them were made of precious metals! OK, some questions were in jest but in general most were made intelligently. And with that statement I hope I don't make it look as if my very successful relatives sounded naive. What I'm saying is that these are typical questions that we runners get and should make it a point to answer. No matter how trivial it is, it's our responsibility to explain as simply and concisely to non-runners as patiently as we can (not a great virtue of mine considering I'm one who handles sarcasm with more sarcasm) about our sport. Don't go into VO2Max or training concepts or any technical aspect of running - many runners don't even understand that, what more non-runners.

Simulated questions and answers I would use. Note: There are no correct/wrong answers, just remember to keep it simple.
Q: Why do you run?
A: It's fun, healthy, no monthly subscriptions, good stress relief

Q: So what do you do? Just go out and run?
A: Yup, as simple as that. Go real slow when starting out. Benefits are aplenty. Insert weight management benefits as it's easy to grasp.

Actual question asked yesterday:
Q: What's your longest distance covered
A: 50K though that's for a walking event. 42K in running.

Q: How long is a marathon?
A: 42K (which resulted in a wide eyed response)

Q: So which distance do you like the most?
A: 42K (which got me an admiring nod!)

Q: Are those winners' medals?
A: Some are positional (eg top 100) medals while most are finishers'.

I was lucky I didn't get the question many would've felt insulted: "If you didn't win, why continue to run/train so hard?". If I'd gotten that question, I'd have replied "Because it's an accomplishment just to finish" or "My competition is myself". If it gets stickier, I'd just flash a smile!

On the food side of things, the Yong Tau Foo was reasonably good. We were lucky the weather wasn't too hot, else we would've been fried under the zinc roofed shack. After lunch, it was back at home and while the whole household had their siesta, I managed to finish off James Mangold's excellent "3:10 to Yuma" headed by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. I'm lousy at movie reviews so I'll just ask you to seriously consider watching this movie not about running a 3:10 marathon to Yuma but about Bale's character to deliver Crowe's gangster onto the 3:10 train for a $200 reward. Underlining the adventure drama is the need for Bale's character to live up to his son's expectations, while trying to save his ranch. Very poignant, very exciting. The day wasn't over yet. We left for a colleague's new home at 6pm and dinner thereafter and only got home at 10pm. After putting the kids to bed, my wife and I watched the Farrelly Brothers' crazy comedy "The Heartbreak Kid". I knew the moment I hit the sack that I won't be able to wake up early today for the morning run. Whatever it is, I need to cover at least 6K of easy running this evening.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

More Photos From Carbokid 2's 1st Birthday

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Carbokid 2 Turns 1!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARBOKID 2!!! If you possess the same level of energy as you have today 15 years from now, you're in for loads of PR!

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Cousins' Visit To MY

Luckily I ran only 11.2K this morning as we were nearly out for 8 hours today, meeting up with my Aunt who was back from Melbourne for a holiday with her family. 1st photo above shows my mom with my cousins and Carbokids. I'm so pooped now, I think I'll just take a day off from running tomorrow. Big day at work tomorrow too, with several key meetings lined up. Yup, work has restarted in earnest!


Friday, January 04, 2008

Approach For The GE30K

The coming Jan 20th race is in the minds of many runners out there. Many are ramping up their long runs and I know of a handful who have even hit the actual route in training. Running 30K is no joke and it's a distance that certainly requires some preparation. My 2006 race time of 3:02 [report here] was achieved on the back of training for the 2005 Singapore Marathon and in the course of preparing for the 2006 KL Marathon. Since the GE race was smack in the middle of the 2 marathons, it wasn't surprising that my aerobic fitness level was high. I ran that race without much speed. The first Double Hill loop was done at a very relaxed pace and I only sped up on the return journey after the IRB complex. If I'd picked up pace a wee bit, I'd have dipped below 3 hours but I was very happy (still am!) with my timing. I ran without expectations, really.

When I plotted my training plan for this year's KL Marathon a couple of months back, I penned down the Jan 20th race as a 30K time trial. But my training program have changed since then and with it my race target. I've gone back to basics in my training, striking off the ambitious hill repeats and intervals in favour of base pace (for me that's between 6:20 to 6:35 conversational, fully aerobic pace) runs. I reckon I'll not be hitting the 30K training distance before GE but rather working my long runs up to 30K on race day. You got that right - the GE30K will just be my long training run, and it'll be the longest distance I'll be running since last year's Penang Marathon. I'll also take the opportunity to blood a new pair of marathon race rubbers. Am considering wearing the long tights too but it depends on my race morning juju.

My projection? Between 3:10 and 3:15 and bib A044 will go home a cinya happy fella!