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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Whichever Comes Later

Initially I had an idea to do a recovery run on Monday evening. But with the thoughts of giving my slightly sore and tired legs a day rest, I went to the pool instead. And this time, I went to the pool with another one-step-up target to beat my own self.

And my target was, to beat the longest distance I’ve swam before, which was 3.3km that I did last week. I know my body was still tired from the 30km run and the travelling by bus in the wee hours, so speed or timing was not part of my target particularly.

So, at 5.30pm I started my swim slowly and steadily. The weather was nice though a bit overcast, and the pool water was crystal clear. And I have the whole diving pool to myself, with no other swimmers around.

Having done more than 1km swims few times before, I was happy that my first km swim yesterday was very smooth, and the timing was quite consistent with my previous timings. Continuing after that 1km, I broke down my target into two; either to swim 4km, or to clock 1.5hrs, whichever comes later.

Yes, whichever comes later.

Passing 1.5km, I noticed my time was few minutes slower than before. I felt a bit down with that, but I quickly tell myself that the aim this time was to get the mileage, not timing.

So, I soldiered on until 2km with even slower timing than before. Then, I started to feel the fatigue in my upper body even though my breathing was still under control. The thoughts of giving it a quit surfaced right away as I completed the 25th loop (i.e. 2.75km).

Now, the mental game has started. I know I’ve done 30 loops (3.3km) before, but that was with a considerably fresh body as compared to yesterday. And as I simultaneously doubt whether I could go further than 3.3km or swim for 1.5hrs, I also told myself not to waste the opportunity to break another personal record. I was also eager to know how it feels to be swimming the same distance as those doing Ironman triathlon, a 3.86km distance.

So, I continued my swim, slightly slower. I noticed that both my stroke efficiency and stroke-per-minute count have reduced considerably due to the fatigue I was feeling.

As I completed my 30th loop with the time of 1hr14min, I did some quick calculation on top of my head and just realized that if I could go another 5 loops, the total distance would be 3.85km, just about the same distance for Ironman swimming. Ok, now it’s time to see if I can break my own personal record.

I was already so physically and mentally tired that sometimes I thought I’ve lost count of how many loops I’ve done. It was like breathe-stroke-breathe-stroke-breathe-stroke all the way and I was glad that I did my 35th loop in 1hr26mins.

Another quick calculation would say that I can do another 2 loops to make it 4km in the 4 remaining minutes I have left.

I tried my best to beat the time with my tired arms and that 2 final loops felt like a very long distance to swim. I touched the pool wall, the same spot where I started my swim and looked at my stopwatch as I completed the total of 37 loops (i.e. 4.07km). My stopwatch showed the time of 1hr31mins.

I was happy to know that I’ve achieved my target. But I was so tired that I can’t even put a smile on my face. I was shivering and my hands skin has shrunk. As I sat by the pool to ease off my dizziness (I’m a single sided breather, only could breathe at one side, therefore cepat pening), I was wondering how would it be if I still have 180km distance to cycle, and to continue that with a marathon distance run.

[Training Log]
Swim, 4km, 1hr31min, easy

Monday, January 18, 2010

NB Pacesetters 30km Run

[Updated with photos]

“So Nik, did you win?”, “What is your position or number?”

Well, I still got this kind of questions from colleagues at work upon knowing I just completed a running race. I just smiled back at them, not knowing exactly how to answer.

OK, let me try to make this one as brief as possible. With a busy mind at work entertaining so many urgent inquiries, I got this little writer’s block. So, I’ll just jot down something before the memories of that beautiful Sunday morning run faded away.

One good thing was that, I had a good and peaceful sleep the night before the race, and had enough time to squeeze ‘out’ some of my stomach contents before making my way to the race venue. This was done based on what I learnt during the previous Malakoff run. Having to run with an unsettled tummy is seriously no fun at all.

Upon arrival at Bukit Aman car park around 4.40am, we saw some familiar faces and made our way to Padang Merbok. I was feeling very calm that Sunday morning as if I was just about to venture into another LSD training with many other runners. No butterflies in the tummy at all this time.

Meeting up with the usual running buddies.

A group photo is a must.
L-R (Back): Nizam, Ian, Shaqi, Kash, Syah, Saiful, Shakhir, Hanchik, Luvis
L-R (Front): Shuk, EnAikAY, Upiq, Fadhil

Did a little warm up run just to break open some sweat on the skin. We gathered closely to each other at the start line and while busy chatting along, the horn was blown. We had to walk few meters before stepping on the timing mat to initiate the timing chip, and as soon as I started my stopwatch, I started pounding the tarmac in the darkness.

At the starting line.

I thought they all wanted to run along together, but as soon as I saw Ian making his way forwards very fast, I can’t resist the temptation and I broke loose to follow Ian’s footsteps. Of course I can never be pacing Ian, so I was left running alone, knowing few of the guys were somewhere at the back. I guess that will be a good indicator for me as I can sense that sooner or later, some of them will overtake me.

Talking about pacing in a long distance run race, comparing to my first marathon I did last year, I could say that I was running slightly faster this time to start with. I’m not sure whether I could carry on with this pace (I wish I could though), but I was feeling good and comfy that at least for the first half an hour or so, the running legs were still with me.

I randomly took this shot over my shoulder and it happened to be Doc Julin!
(Sorry doc, I didn't recognize it was you, or else I'll definitely say Hi)

Yeah, me too!

Perhaps this is Cap Ayam Runner's mascot?

Some portion of the area we ran was still in pitch dark. You can’t even see the next 5 runners in front of you. Somewhere there in Bukit Tunku, I was joined by AJ which I heard is a very strong runner and triathlete. We ran along for quite sometimes. He told me that the pace we were doing was quite fast for a 30km distance as normally he would be taking it more relax-ly. He continued running quite fast and I lost sight of him just before I made a pit stop at Masjid Wilayah. I spent about 4 or 5 minutes there, doing the obligatory deeds.

Managed to get this shot before I left.

Once getting at the Hartamas Condominium junction, we could already see the top runners on their way back. From then on, alongside the Hartamas area, Plaza Damas until Petronas, I was so impressed with our local runners who judging from the pace they were making on the opposing side of the road, it was as if they were sprinting in a 400m race. I wanted to shoot some photos of them but in the darkness, and them being quite far away from me, I’m sure the result of my photoshoot will only result in a blank black image like below.

It's difficult to get good images in the dark, especially when I was running (Duh!Obviously lah)

Now, this was one point where I felt weird. I guess it is already a norm for us to be getting some kind or ribbon to indicate that we’ve gone through the u-turn point in the races we do. But surprisingly, not this time. Roughly remembering the route, the run behind Petronas Hartamas (or somewhere there) should be a strategic place to collect a ‘u-turn’ band, or ribbon. But this time, we get nothing. I was even wondering where would the marshals be standing in the dark and giving out bands or ribbons, as I don’t want to be claimed as not doing the full route by not collecting any.

Ok, what if a runner stopped by at a water station in front of Plaza Damas (on their way to Petronas Hartamas), and directly make a u-turn there without even going to run behind the Petronas? No body will notice that, right? And what if there was a runner who took a chicken route and crossed any of the many junctions nearby the Petronas, saving them a kilo or two by not running the full course?

Well, I don’t mean to complain. Just jotting down some (weird) observations here. Oh ya, another thing, although the organizer said that there will be distance markers starting from 5km onwards, I didn’t notice a single one of them. Maybe the markers were there but I didn’t notice, or maybe there weren’t any. I don’t know. So, I can’t really gauge my pace as I ran along.

Anyway, I was glad that my legs still felt strong as I made my way back towards Jalan Duta. Seeing the many incoming runners on the opposite side of the road, gave me some kind of boost to keep on moving. The morning sun has also started to light the atmosphere up. Better chance for me to start shooting.

Bumping into the 20km runners gave me a little bit of extra boost to stride further.

After making the round behind Hartamas Condo and Government offices, I started to notice runners with green running bibs, indicating the 20km runners. I can’t remember exactly what time it was but most of them were seen to be running in very good form, they still looked fresh. With the camera in my hand, I was ready to do some shooting in case I bumped into any of them that I get to know from blogs.

Who doesn't know her, right? The very famous running-mom Haza.

Dia sangat SENANG!

We continued running a little bit more into Bukit Tunku and to my delight, I still managed to overtake more people than people overtaking me. I noticed my pace has dropped a little bit as I started to feel some fatigue in the legs, and that was before we get into Double Hills.

OK, I think I had the advantage this time as even though I’ve heard about the torturous Double Hills so many times since last two years through blogs I follow, this was the first time for me to be running on it. I saw one marshal holding a diversion marker, and as we made the right turn, one lady runner besides me said “Oh no, the Double Hill!”. Gulp!

First 'saiko' point. Where 20km runners can go straight for home run, we the 30km runners still need to make a hilly detour.

A little glance of the start of the Double Hills.

Yes, the Double Hills did look a bit scary, but fortunately with a little torturous trail running experience I’ve done, nothing can really beat the deadly climbs in the trails. I slowed down my pace as not to overshoot my heart rate and I soldiered up the Double Hills one step at a time, running. Yes it was painstaking, but it was also what made us feel strong when we managed to conquer the hills, right?

As there were no distance markers noticeable anywhere, I only remember that I started to feel really fatigue after 2.5 hours running. I even started to feel the cramp onset on my calves. I chose to be stubborn this time and I proceeded my run without stopping, walking or stretching. I only gulped more of the Nuun-infused Gatorade drinks I carried on my fuel belt, wishing the cramp won’t attack me.

My pace dropped further down, and more people started to overtake me, including Shakhir and Shuk. I really wanted to know how much further we should go so that I can strategize whether to start some walk breaks or to brave through the remaining distance running slowly, but I can't see any distance markers. I got the first cramp on my left calf as soon as I took Shuk’s photo when he overtook me, but luckily the cramp went away minutes later.

Shakhir: "OK, kali ni aku tak sesat, confirm!"

Shuk: "Nik, nah ambik sikit asap aku ni, rasakan! Hahaha..."

At this point where the fatigue in the legs was already high even before reaching 30km, my thought of chickening out from the Putrajaya Night marathon also came to mind. There’ll be only two more weekends left to squeeze in LSD training, and honestly speaking, I won’t be able to peak for the marathon.

Muka orang penat yang hampir-hampir rasa nak give up.

Anyway, yang paling sakit hati was when we had to continue running further and making another loop behind Padang Merbok as we see the 20km runners turned left into Padang Merbok to finish their run. Memang sakit hati, dan sakit kaki. Soon, I looked at my stopwatch and 3 hours time was about to come around the corner.

"Ok, 20km runners turn left to finish. 30km runners please go straight and make one more loop ok!", said the marshall.
Adoi, sakit mental betul!!!

Too close, but yet still too far.
We had to run passing in front of Padang Merbok, make another hilly round behind it before we can go for our home run.
Tak 'saiko' ke macam tu?

Ok la, what to do, just continue running until the finishing line lah kan. About 20 more meters before the finishing line, both my calves cramped up and not wanting to lose my face to the many photographers ready to shoot me, I opened up my stride with the hope that my finishing photos will look like I was sprinting to the finish line. I forgot whether I smiled or not, maybe I did.

As I snapped this photo, both my calves cramped like crazy. I was running in a massive pain.

I stopped my stopwatch as I stepped on the timing mat, and directly went to the first aid tent to get some relief spray on my cramped calves. I was limping until they sprayed me, to which indicating that I still need to train more if I want to smile when crossing a marathon finish line.

As a summary, it was a good run. A good start when the legs were still fresh and strong, but I definitely need to train more, especially to survive what comes beyond 2.5hours of running. It was also a good time to meet old and new friends, and I remember saying hi or hello to all those that I know, before, during and after the run.

Both are Corporate Athletes power!
On the right is Daud a.k.a CheRaMiChe

The TEGAR-ians. They run, they blog, and they are good at both!.
L-R: Haza, Ian, Syah & Shuk.

Julie also came to support and cheer for friends.
Check out the photos she took here.

Another set of TEGAR-ians. Shuk, Shaqi & Shakhir, sharing their running stories.

Dr. Mafeitz, TSB, Ian and Dr. Din

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. For my own training record purpose, my time was 3hr 6mins.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If You Still Can't See It

Even for me, it's not easy to understand and digest what's being written on the nutrition label of the foods or drinks we buy. Anyway, I got an email from a friend yesterday, a very clear 'visual' of how many sugar we might be consuming if we wrongly choose what goes through our mouth. Not that I can verify the originality or the source or whether these images are valid and accurate, but nevertheless, I just want to share with you all.