p pol The Adventures of Carboman: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

20-Minute Pace

The laborious drive to work the last 2 days had been made more melancholy by the gloomy and overcast skies. It even rained this morning. David Sanborn's brilliantly produced "Hearsay" album couldn't perk me up, not when "The Long Goodbye" track is so heartbreakingly...well, long. Thoughts shifted everywhere (and faraway) except to work and driving.

It's been awhile since I felt that I was in a grind. The days have been bland, meaningless and one-dimensional. The feeling of well-being and satisfaction that floods the body and mind after a nice long run has been rare and too far between.

I've made sure that I'm still in touch with that which enriches me but reading passages from Sheehan's philosophy tinged "Running and Being" only made the longing greater.

Yeah, I'm definitely in the "missing something" zone. And I know what they are. I need a mug of coffee now. It always seem to make things better.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Race Report: KL City Day Run

I signed up for last Sunday’s KL City Day Run despite knowing that I will suffer on the difficult course. To trace back to the last time I ran that route you’ll have to go back to 2005. Psychological reasons or otherwise, I’ve never broken 60 minutes on this challenging course, the closest I came to that barrier was a few seconds after an hour. This made the 56:50 I ran yesterday all the more surprising.

By the time I reached the car park behind the court building at 6:30am, all that was left was a single parking lot. Since I intended this as a social run, I didn’t spend any time warming up. I even had doubts whether I could run all the way and so adopted the “take-it-as-it-comes” approach. My only plan is to run lightly and stay relaxed, in breathing and in form. After I joined the other males in the ritual of discharging our bodily fluids into the Klang River, I felt that my left abdomen tightening up. The banks of the river wasn’t a nice place to be on race day morning. Lots of territorial marking by the males.

Flag off was on time. My form was fine from the start. I kept this up right to the killer climb at Jalan Duta. Then I started questioning my sanity and intelligence. Not only had I repeatedly fared badly over this course when I was younger, but now I was completely unconditioned and . At the 7th K, my arm swing, indeed, my whole body movement, went from relaxed to uncontrollable with arms flailing like a drowning person to the tail rotor of a helicopter. I felt a burning sensation in the rapidly warming air and my lips were parched.

There were still some distance to go after the Parliament stretch but at least it was all either downhill or flat, so I increased the churning of my rotor-arms and purged everything from my mind. Just think of the finish line, I told myself. When I got into the finishing chute, I was surprised that the FTAAA officials didn’t set their bib check and result tabulation way beyond the finish gate. Thus a queue had already formed even before we crossed the line. The FTAAA ought to set themselves further back after the gate so that the runners run past the finish line. I had my second surprise when I saw that my position was 189. Even more surprising was that I was given a finisher’s medal. Yes, I’m aware the top-300 finishers in my category will get medals but then you’ll never know about local races…

Before I left Dataran Merdeka to pick my wife up at the office, I spent some time catching up with friends. The day turned out rather productive – all the chores and week’s marketing was accomplished rather quickly since C1 and C2 were out at the mall with their Uncle and Grandma.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's All Engineered, Baby

I’ve mentioned before that through the years’ of experience and continuous improvement attitude of the NYRR, the entire NYCM experience you go through as a participant is engineered. Things don't happen by chance, especially key areas relating to runner welfare and experience. It's just too risky for a race like this to hedge its success on luck.

Take for example my experience. The race was last November – 2nd to be specific – but over the last 2 months, I’ve been receiving materials over the post. It started with the Brightroom pamphlet, then the congratulatory letter and certificate in January, and now the official results book. Twice the thickness of your typical Runners World magazine, with better paper quality and chockful of photos and reports and congratulatory messages by the sponsors, plus all the participants’ results, the timing in which this was sent out makes me wonder if this is yet another engineered experience item. Don’t believe me? Why wait till February to send us this book? ¾ of the results were already published in the New York Times’ special edition (granted, not all would have got a copy, nor everyone listed) on the Monday after the marathon, so it’s not for lack of timely data. All FA and reports would’ve been written and photos collated and DTP activities done. So why February? They could’ve sent this out in January itself. Here’s why: Applications are OPEN NOW.

The feeding over the past few months were to ensure that you’re reminded of the race and memories – sorta like keeping the interest and excitement alive. Then wham, February comes, with all the subtle messages you’ve been fed, you'll hopefully make that mouseclick to the official website and submit your lottery entry. If there's any year that may make the chances of your lottery more successful than usually does, this is the year. With the financial crises, less will be making that expensive trip to NYC. Like what the Millennium Group fellas say, "The Time Is Now". If you've the budget for it, go for it!

Here are some of the scanned pages of the book. Click to view the enlarged versions.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conceding Temporary Defeat

After working myself to a near point of exhaustion the past few weeks where it got to the worst point (so far) last night - had dinner at close to 11pm - I've to concede that I need to rest on weekends. The 62-hour weeks are sapping not only my energies but my wife's as well. The magnitude of the project meant that few key personnel are exempted from being involved.

With close to 10 months to go in a project of unprecedented scale and risks, there will not be let up in stress and pressure to deliver.

Naturally, we see less of the kids every weekday and my Mom has had to man the house with less contribution from us. So when I put up my list of priorities, it's obvious what comes first and what I need to catch up on (which are quality time with the kids). Running, however sacred I hold it to be in my life, has simply been crowded out.

With only 5 hours of sleep everyday, I reckon I'll be breaking down if I don't catch up on rest. Weekends are already packed as it is for a self-sustaining family as mine. There's no running away from chores, cooking and cleaning, and kids.

I've always been good at recognizing the signs and pre-empting burn-out be it when training for a marathon or now at work. And I think it's now time to drop my weekend run routine at the Lake Gardens. I've to accept that I can no longer put my runs on a fixed schedule. Whenever the 25 to 30 minutes of spare time comes up, I'll put in a Furious Five (tm) session. I find that it's more manageable that trying to hit a tenner or even an 8K. Just head out there without any expectations of distance and run hard.

Things come in cycles. The economy, good and bad times, and even in my running "career". There's absolutely no doubt that I will be running faster when I return. I'll have to work much harder when that time comes but then I've never shied away from hard work whether it's running or otherwise. So good luck to your training, and look out for my cameo appearances!

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Old Rubbers

I remember those days, okay decades actually - more than 20 years - when I used to hang out with some of my running mates back in the school days. One of our favourite haunts was KOMTAR. It wasn't like we had much choice. Back when megamalls were non-existent, the only place to be was the shopping mall which which formed the base to the tallest building on the island of Penang. The mall was multi-tenanted with Yaohan, then Super KOMTAR being the anchor tenant. Before McD, there was White Castle. The darker side of KOMTAR was the entertainment wing which housed tens of video arcades. I admit that I wasted quite a bit of my pocket money there trying to conquer Raiden, 1945 and Lode Runner (insert the guilty look here). Video arcades were the poor kid's entertainment. We didn't have Atari, Commodore or any of the cool consoles, so on days when we were not tearing down the backlanes of our government quarters in our bikes, my friends and I would be at KOMTAR. Needless to say some punishment rightfully meted out by my father put paid to my excursions.

There was another attraction at KOMTAR - shoe shops. Running shoe shops to be precise. Nike, Brooks and NB were big back then. NBs were way different from those you find today. They were made in the USA, ultra solid and indestructible and their racing series were fantastic - the M625 were my favourites. Nikes were the desire of nearly everyone. The hipsters were always drooling for Michael J Fox's high cut shoes (which he wore in the Back to The Future trilogies) but we runners were always eyeing the Pegasus, the Terra TCs, and the Internationalists. All out of our range of course. RM160 was considered high end back then!

It was only when we started to do some part time jobs during the long school holidays could we afford any of the lower end models. My first serious running shoe was the M625 as I don't count those basic Nike models which hurt my feet so much, which wasn't, to be fair, due to the shoes but the ignorance of the need to break them in before running in them.

So for those who were the '80s kids, this link will bring back some pleasant memories. Shoes back then weren't over-engineered unlike most of today's models. Like they say, oldies are goodies and I'm sure if they're still available today, they can still cut it on the feet of runners today. So on to the link!


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ultramarathon Video

Ultramarathon Video

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, February 06, 2009

Look What The Postman Delivered!

Even the envelope is nice

Congratulatory letter from Mary Wittenberg, President & CEO of the NYRR, Race Director of the NYCM (click to read)

Cert signed by Wittenberg and NYC Mayor Bloomberg


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Something You Don't See Happening in Malaysia

"I've got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes." President Obama

To know what brought about that piece of accountability, read the story here.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Points To Think About

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." Sir Ernest Benn

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." Hermann Goering

Just 2 quotes from the book, Beyond Terror - The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World. I picked this gem up from Borders' bargain bin for only RM14, after 50% discount.

Another recommended viewing is the documentary The 11th Hour narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. I bought this DVD when I was down in Singapore last year for the Nike Human Race. This is the lesser known environmental awareness program to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Now that I've watched both, I can say that they're both different in their message delivery and both are highly recommended. The 11th Hour is now available at our local Speedy and larger home video retailers. The messages delivered in the last 5 minutes alone are already worth the price of the DVD.