Sunday, November 23, 2014

Putrajaya 100 Miles: Race Review

Don't let the title mislead you. Although officially called the Putrajaya 100 miles (P100), my part in the race was confined to the 'easier' 52km category. Even with my life on the line, I wouldn't be signing up for the 100 mile category, not in such an unforgiving place as Putrajaya anyway.

The sanest decision I made months ago prior to this event was downgrading my entry from the 100k category. It was one of the best and wisest decisions I made in a long time. I'm not ready for ultras and 52k sounded like something I could do.


Come race day, I was as prepared as I could be leading up to the P100. I was toying with the idea of either running with full complete ultra gear or just going light. In the end I opted to treat this as my marathon training with an extra 10k thrown in and go light. My gear consisted of just a handheld bottle, a short sleeved top with arm coolers, a loose shorts, a cap and shades. My rubbers for the day were the Skechers Nite Owl GOrun Ride 3. I also opted not to wear any sort of compression for the legs.

The check points weren't too far apart and with proper planning my handheld would see me through just nice for each check point. Even my fueling was kept simple. No gels, just some sliced bakkwa strips (a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky), cut into small strips. It proved effective during the Penang 84k ultra so it should work here, at least I was hoping it would.

Don't let the beautiful early morning scene fool you about the brutality of Putrajaya ...
The wife, whom I thought was insane decided to tag along when she could have been sleeping blissfully in bed. Not that I was complaining, I was happy she was there, it would spur me on to run faster so she wouldn't have to wait too long. We got to the race location early to grab the limited parking slots. I was lucky enough to find the last empty spot for the day.

Picked up my bib, mingled around to get my mind off the daunting task ahead. Soon enough, it was show time. The 100 miler participants were flagged off first followed by the 100k, 78k and finally the 52K runners. It was only around 7 plus in the morning but the sun was already out and the skies were clear and blue, indicating we were in for a hot time.

I have no idea what Frank is trying to do  .. LOL!
Jamie and me got into an easy stride along with the rest. The plan was to keep the pace easy and last the distance. Barely 3 kilometres into the run, the sun was already beginning to get uncomfortably hot. The first 10k of the run wouldn't be too bad cos the route was shady. We've run this section before so we knew what to expect. Though there was a pedestrian path, we opted to keep to the road as much as possible to spare the legs the hard pounding the pavement was sure to dish out.

Reached the first CP with no issues. Things were looking good, the legs were in great condition and we 'only' had 42k to go. Spent about 5 minutes max before checking out. This was where things got dicey and put a huge damper on our spirits. We reached the stairs of the Gemilang bridge and seeing an arrow that looked like it was pointing up the stairs, we took the stairs to cross over to the other side.

Runners still collecting their bibs ...
At this point, there was some confusion whether we were heading in the right direction or not. We assumed we were with the markers we saw. We kept on going, still pretty strong, even though the sun was already blazing, towards the Pullman section, along the lake, Just as we reached the intersection near Pullman, we saw a 100k runner who told us that we were heading to CP3 and not CP2!

Damn, we would have to double back a long way to cover the CP2 distance. My spirits deflated considerably. Judging by what we knew, it would cost us to be behind by a minimum of 6 kilometers. Jamie and me looked at each other and silently cursed, cos there were a few who knew we were heading the wrong way and chose to be quiet.

Time to get ready!
Never mind, this is an ultra after all and you roll with the crap it dishes out and move on. Though I must admit, I felt like just giving up. We toyed with the idea of just heading straight to CP2 since we had already covered quite a distance, albeit the wrong way but in the end we decided that it would be wrong and doubled back to the actual route even though it would cost us a lot of time.

This was where my planning all went down the drain. This section was tough, extremely tough. You had to run on rock hard pavement. I dubbed this section, the pathway to hell! The sun was out in full force. My water bottle was drained and I had at least 7-8k before I would see CP2 again. Drained and with a parched throat I slowed to a trot. I told Jamie to head off and not wait for me. I had to conserve whatever strength I had till I reached CP2. With no water and the sun beating down on you, I was afraid I'd just faint.

Last minute checks
Eventually I made my way into CP2 (which would also double up as CP4 and CP5 later) and like a dry sponge, I took swigs of refreshingly cool coke. Jamie was happily digging into a cup of instant noodles. I wasn't hungry, more thirsty but decided to gobble down some sandwiches to keep my strength up. The wife called to check on me at this point and said she was heading into CP2 and would wait at the opposite end with some drinks. I told Jamie I was heading off to see her and would see him later along the route.

After catching up with the wife and taking another swig of cold 100 plus which she had it was time to carry on with the show. Strangely enough, though I was still deflated from the lost route incident, my legs were fine. The stretch to CP3 was once again road runnable. The earlier pavements, which I would have to go through again later, were really hard on the legs. I was even able to start catching up and overtaking quite a few runners at this point.

The PICC section just before CP3 was a mess with a horrible traffic gridlock of cars due to the Formula E event happening nearby. I had to be a lot more cautious. Some of these car drivers were just plain idiots. Reached CP3, which was the halfway point for the 52k participants. I decided I'd rest here a little longer before making my way back. Topped up my bottle and headed out. It was getting close to noon and the Putrajaya sun was hell bound on trying to fry me silly. I made my one and only pee break behind some bushes and continued my journey towards CP4.

Showtime!
I wasn't looking forward to the path to CP4. I would have to take the pathway to hell again one more time after that and the full force of the sun would be out to get me. Kept to a slow run/walk pace and caught up with a fellow runner around the Marina Putrajaya stretch. Badly in need of some company to keep from hallucinating under the blistering heat, I decided to join him. We chatted and made our way slowly to CP4.

There weren't many runners here and we basically had the place to ourselves. Rested for about 5 minutes, ate some watermelons and sandwiches, filled my bottle again and braced myself to take the path to hell again. It was slow going. The heat was relentless. The pavement was throwing back the searing heat that it felt like I was slowly being roasted over a barbecue pit. The hallucinations set in, I was talking to myself. I even waved and said hello to all the cleaners and random people I met to keep my sanity. The u-turn point was only 5km away but the way I was feeling, it felt like 500km away.

Looks like Hawaii, not that I've been there ...
Finally after what seemed like centuries, I completed the path to hell for the final time and made it to CP5. I was ecstatic. The last 10k was a much easier stretch to negotiate. The gods were finally throwing in some help. The skies were darkening and thunder was heard in the distance. Rain was finally on the way. I said my goodbyes for the final time to the volunteers and made my way to the finish.

I was feeling strong again. I told the wife to give me 2 hours max to get back but I managed to cover that stretch in 1 hour 30 minutes or thereabouts cos my Garmin was already dead. Aside from the start, it was the strongest I had felt throughout the race. The cool, rain like weather (though I never got the rain) helped considerably. Climbing down the stairs and seeing the finish about 200 metres away was the sweetest thing I had seen in a long time.

The finish in sight .
Pic courtesy of Lim Soon Chung.
The wife was waiting for me and I was so happy to finish, I even missed her high five ... LOL! The suffering was finally over. I can now go home and sleep. I was proud that I kept on going in such incredibly tough conditions and even with the route setback. The total distance covered is approximately 57km. Is that all you have to throw at me Putrajaya? Well, bring it on, man, bring it on!

The event was organized pretty decently. The crew and volunteers were simply first class. They worked just as hard in trying conditions to make sure the participants had it as easy as possible. Kudos to you guys, especially the crew at the check points, you guys were simply remarkable and I was always looking forward to seeing you every time I checked in. Great job in seeing me through this guys.

And to my insane and crazy wife who waited hours for this crazy fellow to run around the streets of Putrajaya, your undying support is truly appreciated! You're the best! To the rest of you guys who toiled in the sun at even greater distances, you guys are out of this world. Congrats!

Jamie this is for you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ready Or Not ...

With slightly around 5 days to go before embarking on a 52km challenge this weekend, I'm having some doubts about my current state of readiness. In fact, I am so unprepared for it that I have no idea what the route actually looks like and just how many CP's there'll be! But with a 30 hour cut off, I should have nothing to worry about though. I could stop by Alamanda, catch a movie and still be able to crawl back before the cutoff!

I really shouldn't be joking about this but a 30 hour cut off is extremely generous if you ask me but there's also the more challenging 78km, 100km and 160km event that share the same 30 hour cut off too. The only good decision I made about this race is downgrading myself from the 100km category to the 52km category. I'd classify that as pure genius on my part ... hahaha!

Of course I don't intend to take 30 hours to finish it though, that would be ridiculous of me but with an inconsistent training plan that's only just seeing me add some consistency to it, I can't even give myself a realistic and proper goal to aim for as my finishing target. I guess I'll just have to wing it on race day and see how things pan out. Besides, the wife told me not to make such a big drama about it and just get the job done! Good advise that I shall heed.

Contemplating my foolhardiness in signing up for races ...
The short weekend break I took with the family away from town was a nice break from things to take the mind away from the stress of work and life. I had a good time and came back mentally refreshed. Though the rain ruined some of our evening plans, we still made the most of it. The wife and me even managed to squeeze in some running time, which is always fun.

I've still got three races left to complete for the year, including this weekend's 52km followed by a 10km race next week and a marathon in December before wrapping up my race calendar for the year. My race calendar for next year is still a work in progress but my main race for the year has been penned in and all my training will be geared mainly for that. I don't really intend to sign up for too many races mainly because I can't afford them at the going rate of races these days.

The training, whether I sign up for races or not, doesn't really stop, at least not if I don't want to be left behind by my ever improving GC group buddies. It's becoming a real challenge to keep up with them these days. I'll be concentrating a lot more on training and hopefully achieve some of what I set out to accomplish in 2015.

At least my morning run sessions are not that lonely these days since the wife has incorporated her training to parallel mine every other day. Though we train at a different pace and follow different plans, it's always good to see her on the road with me every time our paths crisscross, takes away the monotony from the run. She's been improving at a steady rate and I'm really happy for her.

That said, here's to more training!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Run For A Healthy Start To 2015


The 1st Sunday Run of 2015 sees good response with not many slots left.

Kuala Lumpur, 06 November 2014 – With the festive season in the air, many of us are looking forward to delicious festive spreads and holiday indulgence but a big number is planning ahead to run off excessweight to be gained from the festive indulgence.

Ms Jayne Liew, the Project Leader said ‘Registration started very well with many taking up the early bird offer when registration commenced in August but it slowed a bit during the Hari Raya Adilfitri and Deepavali holidays. However, we are seeing an increased no. of registrations these 2 weeks after the launch of our My First Run Clinic in mid-October. There are not many slots left now and we are certainly happy to observe that many registrants are new runners joining our Run for the 1st time. Another factor could be the year is fast coming to a close and many are signing up to begin 2015 with health on their minds.”

Multi-Purpose Insurans Run (MPIB Run), a community run in its 4th year is the 1st Sunday Run of Year and will be happening on 4 January 2015 at the Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur. It hopes to gather 5,000 new and interested runners to take up running as a healthy recreational activity and to kick-start the year on a healthy note.

My First Run Clinics anchored by MPIB is to help individuals who are now not running to take up running as a sustainable healthy recreational activity. Runners Malaysia is conducting the 2-month programme which commenced on 18th October and will end with a fellowship and trial run on 20 December 2014. All the Clinics are held on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and on certain Saturdays after the run, invited speakers and among them, Mr. Mark Williams, Standard Chartered KL Marathon Official Running Coach will share running tips, strength training, running gait, correct running shoes, fitness & performance.

MPIB is expecting 5,000 runners for this 4th Run which will again be held at the Padang Merbuk with 6 competitive categories i.e. 4 categories for the 12KM and 2 categories for the 9KM; a stretched distance from 8KM in the previous Run. There will be 2 Fun Run categories of 5KM and a 3 KM walk is being planned for the Runners’ family members who wish to join in. MPIB Run 2015 is supported by New Balance, Revive Isotonic as Official Apparel and Official Isotonic respectively together with a Running Malaysia as Media Partner (Magazine), Pacific Regency Hotel as Hotel Partner and a host of sponsors, partners and supporters.

For further information, please contact: 
Multi-Purpose Insurans Berhad Jayne Liew, Marketing & Corporate Communications
+6018 201 8818 | +603 2034 9859 | jayne_liew@mpib.com.my 

MPIB Run technical information / assistance please contact: 
Wan Yew Leong, Runners Malaysia 
+6019 35609031 | wanyewleong@gmail.com

For more information on the MPIB Run 2014, please refer to: http://www.mpibrun.com.my/ and http://www.facebook.com/MPIBRun.

About Multi-Purpose Insurans Bhd 
Multi-Purpose Insurans Bhd (MPIB), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Multi-Purpose Capital Holdings Bhd, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MPHB Capital Berhad ("MPHB Capital"), a public listed company. MPHB Capital was incorporated in 2012 and listed on the Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad on 28 June 2013.

MPIB is licensed by Bank Negara Malaysia under the Insurance Act 1996. Our core business is underwriting of general insurance business offering innovative insurance products and services which can be customized to the specified needs of our individual and corporate clients. Established locally in 1973, MPIB has more than 40 years’ of experience in serving commercial, institutional and individual customers from across Malaysia.

About MPIB Run 
Back for the 4th year, the MPIB Run 2015 kicks start the Malaysian running calendar on the 1st Sunday of the year and for 2015, it is scheduled to take place on 4 January 2015. This community run will host 5,000 participants at the Padang Merbuk, Jalan Parlimen.

MPIB is proud to position itself as the pioneer general insurer in organising a community based public run in Malaysia in 2012. The inaugural event successfully gathered 3,750 runners and for the 2nd and 3rd year in 2013 and 2014 respectively, 5,000 runners participated; an increase of 33% from 2012 inaugural run. MPIB hopes this is reflective of a growing community adopting a healthy lifestyle and, hence, the event is themed “Healthy Lifestyle – Work Life Balance”, aiming to suit to the community from all walks of life.

During the weeks leading up to the Run on 4 January 2015, MPIB have scheduled 8 “My First Run Clinics” for new and interested runners taking baby steps to the world of running. The clinic also includes health and fitness related talks to furnish runners with fitness knowledge and to prepare them for the Run on Sunday, 4 January 2015.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Inov-8 Pacesetters 3030: Race Review

Once again, as is always the case with me, I really don't know why I signed for a 30k run on one of the most toughest routes known to mankind. I really should learn from previous mistakes and spare myself some pain.

The Inov-8 Pacesetters 3030 run, a 30k race taking you through Bukit Tunku, Hartamas and back is easily a tough nut to crack. Littered with an undulating terrain of hills, hills and more hills, it's a nightmare of a route to race on.

While I've run races at distances longer than this before, the Pacesetters 3030 would mark my first ever 30k race. It was basically one of the contributing factors why I signed on for this besides being of unsound mind. The wife made a much wiser decision by only opting for the shorter but equally demanding 10k category.


Waking up at the ungodly hour of 2.50am to get ready and take that drive down to Padang Merbuk, the race location, just to get decent parking was actually quite a challenge already. Jamie was already there, snoozing in his car by the time I got there and CY turned up a few minutes later. After getting whatever shuteye we could for a little while, it was time to head to the start area.

Julia, her boy friend and YeeHoo were already there as we met up at the earlier prearranged spot. Soon enough, Piew arrived to complete the GC group who would be running the event. After the usual chit chats, it was time to head to the start line, the moment I was dreading. I was a little concerned for the wife though cos she had a one and a half hour wait till her event was flagged off. She told me not to worry and that she would just ogle tall, dark and handsome men to while the hours away!

My entire plan was to keep it simple and treat this like any normal training session. I wasn't about to take on those hills at my usual race pace. I've had a few tough half marathons the past two weeks and with a lack of weekly mileage, attacking those inclines would have been suicidal. I latched on to CY who on his Nara Marathon training.

The three of us Jamie, CY and me started off at an easy trot. The air was cool and I found it a little hard to get the legs working. My entire lower legs felt extremely tight and it wasn't even 3km into the race! As the legs finally flushed out the tightness, the first 10k turned out to be pretty decent even with the inclines. But the route was to have us do two loops around the Solaris and Hartamas area which was really a mental thing, especially when you see the faster runners already on their second loop and you were still trudging along on your first.

Photo credit  QQ's snap
The water stations were well placed and nicely managed. Drinks were aplenty and they even had salt water and bananas thrown in at some of these stations. Nice touch. I had four gels with me so I opted not to touch the bananas but took on the salt water to stave off the cramps. I was toying with the idea of running in full compression gear the day before but opted out since I wanted to see if I could manage without it and not get cramps.

The wife gave me an earful the night before about buying tons of compression gear and then just keeping them in the wardrobe without using them. But honey, all runners do that ... hahaha! Besides, you know just how long it takes to put one on? I could get an extra 3-4 minutes sleep la!

Anyways, back to the run. I saw quite a bit of familiar and friendly faces along the way. The second loop was kinda tough but things were still within my capabilities. Both CY and me walked when we needed to and ran when we could. Of course, when there were cameras we most definitely ran ... LOL!

With a quick stop for a toilet break at the Hartamas Petronas station, we also took the opportunity to get us a bottle of iced cold sugary drinks. CY grabbed his favored red tea and I picked up a Ribena and off we went. By this time, somewhere around the 20k mark, his legs were giving him some issues and not wanting to hold me back, he prompted me to head off on my own. While I was sad to lose his company, my legs were feeling fine so I headed off on my own.

Ironman, this one's for you, buddy!
Photo credit QQ's snap
By this time, the 3:30 pacers were long gone and after doing some quick mental calculations, I decided that I still had some fuel in the tank to chase them down. I upped the pace and the chase was on. I was a little surprised that I could still kick up a 5:20 pace but was cautious cos I still had that blasted double hills stretch to take on just before the finish.

I downed my third gel just before I hit the double hills stretch, took on some salt water, doused my head with cold water and actually ran up 90% of double hills! I was huffing and puffing by the time I hit the top and thought of a certain good friend who could take on this hills with no effort. You were with me on this stretch, buddy!

I finally caught up with the 3:30 pacer about a kilometer from the finish and was happy that my personal targets were achieved. Strangely enough I kinda enjoyed the hard last 10k effort that I put in. The finish line was a sight to behold though. I crossed the finish in a time of 3:27 with 3 minutes to spare from my projected target.

The wife was there to greet me at the finish, having completed her 10k earlier. It was her 10k personal best and I'm very happy for her. All those early mornings of hard work you've put in are showing its benefits. Good job hon, especially on a course that was pretty tough. Keep it up!

After picking up my medal, goodies and stuff, met up with the GC gang who had finished earlier. A big congrats goes out to Julia for her win. Great job, Julia! And you got your shades in the process too :D A shout out to YeeHoo as well on a very strong run! The suffering and pain was finally over and we headed back to the car just as CY came in. Overall, it was a pretty good and well organized race but I'll be shying away from next year's edition if it was held here again. Then again, who knows, ask me next year and I might be silly enough to do it again!



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Puma Night Run 2014

I wasn't intending to write anything about the Puma Night Run since I didn't run the event and instead volunteered for it but heck, it was such a lively and really well organized event that it deserves mention.


The registration for the event was kept to a small number and the slots filled up fast. In fact, I totally forgot about this event until I received an email seeking for volunteers. Since it was a night run and I have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, both the wife and me took up the volunteer slots. She opted for the food and medals bit and I opted for the road marshal job.


That soon changed when a few days before the event, I received another email from Wan Yew Leong looking for 5 individuals to be a mobile info person. It was something new and hasn't been seen in events here and I jumped at the chance. So my job description was switched from road marshal to mobile info man. I was looking forward to it.


The morning before the event was a pretty hectic one. A tough and hard interval session at the MPSJ track with the wife, followed by haircuts for the boys and then grocery shopping. By the time all that and the housework were done, we both had time for only for a short nap before having to get ready to report in at the race location.

The Puma Night Run had its venue in the park/field beside Setia City Mall, a very nice location for an event if you asked me, though it was a little bit out of the way for us. We reached there early like we do for all events, running or otherwise and headed straight the race secretariat.

The nicely done start/finish gantry
The field was already buzzing with activity and people, both shoppers from the mall out to enjoy the event fares and also participants who came early. I was impressed. I've seen race setups and even been involved in them but this was looking good, really good.


After picking up our volunteer tee and waiting for Zane and Foo, who also volunteered, we all headed to the field for reporting of our respective duties. Everyone was briefed on what we needed to do and I was finally given my orange helium balloon with the Puma logo and 'Ask Me' words boldly emblazoned on it. It was time for work.

The medal givers all ready for the first runner
Ok, a little confession here. I hardly studied the runners guide and venue layout and just played by ear. A quick check around so I was familiar with the surroundings and I was ready for questions, as long as it wasn't questions about the meaning of life, I could probably wing it :D

By this time, the venue was filling up nicely with a multitude of runners. The atmosphere was simply electrifying. The stage was a hive of activity with Phat Fabes doing a good job of working the crowd up. At least a professional MC was on hand unlike a particular annoying one at a previous event. A couple of really nice performances were on hand to entertain the crowd before race start.

The mall acts as a beautiful lighted backdrop ...
The crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves and so did I. Being a mobile info person, your job description has you 'patrolling' the venue and you get to take in everything. Puma did a good job with the entertainment at the race venue and interaction with the runners. A huge bit was probably spent by them to make the event what it was. One of the best I've seen so far, kudos to them.

I believe that keeping the entry numbers low was a very good call by them. Too many other brands have this fetish of chasing the numbers but hardly providing a satisfying race experience. The bigger the number of participants doesn't always mean the better the event is. Even as a volunteer I was enjoying myself. The crowd was a mixed of young and old, mainly young which is what the brand philosophy was all about but at least they weren't obvious about it. Again, kudos to them.


As for me, I was having it easy so far. All the questions shot at me were pretty easy ones, 'Where's the start location?, Where the baggage counter?, Do I need to report in? Are you married? (okay, okay, that was a joke)', which was a relief really. Some of them also just wanted pictures with the balloon which I gladly obliged, after all, how often does one get the chance of attracting this much attention. My small, short attempt at fame ... hahaha!

During my rounds, I caught up with lots of familiar faces enjoying the hospitality provided by Puma. Slightly after race start, there was a slight confusion with the medals and banana location which saw my fellow poor volunteers having to lug around the medals and bananas in and out from the start to the secretariat tent and back.


Since the runners were already flagged off and I had nothing to do till they came back, I decided to help out. It was back breaking for them, the medals and bananas weren't exactly light and they were mostly women lugging it around. We managed to get the medals and bananas back out to the start just in time before the first runner crossed the line in 32 minutes or so.


After watching the first three male and female runners come in, I headed back to my duty station cos I had a feeling everyone was going to be asking for drinks which was located way back the at the race village which I thought was slightly odd. I parked myself at the entrance to the village and true enough, lots of dazed runners were asking me where the drink station was located. I really earned my volunteer fees here directing everyone to the proper refreshment tent.


Now, the show wasn't over yet. Like I said earlier, the event was well planned. The moment the place started filling up with runners again, the entertainment resumed. Live bands started belting out catchy tunes that had even me moving along to the beat. Phat Fabes was still working his magic keeping everyone entertained. It was a party like atmosphere once again with the shoppers and participants soaking up the music.


Finally the last of the runners came in and the volunteers all adjourned to the secretariat to wait for the race to officially end. Just before the official end, we were all entertained to a stunning fireworks show, which had me mesmerized. A fitting end to a well run event! After getting paid for our 6 hours work, we finally headed home. My feet were killing me, what with not sitting down for close to 6 hours. I was totally exhausted but happy.

Ask me ...
Overall, a good job by the Puma Night Run 2014 organizers for a race well done. Intentional or not, you gave all those present an engaging time. I do believe those who ran the race were more than satisfied with the race experience and things like these do make a lot of difference in brand loyalty if you ask me. I for one, even just a lowly volunteer, love your tee (comfort wise) so much that I'll be visiting your stores for some retail therapy soon :D

My 'medal' for the night :D
If you keep to the same concept for next year and not let the success of this year get to your heads, I'm betting my one month's wage you'll have another whopping success of a run. As for my balloon man job, I simply loved it and if you do have an info man post in your MPIB run, Wan and Jamie, make sure I get first pickings, after all, I'm experienced now ... hahaha!