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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Running Has Gone To The Dogs!

I guess it's not just humans that enjoy running half-marathons cos here's a story about Dozer the dog that ran almost a half-marathon and even got a medal for it by the organizers for crossing the finish line! LOL!

Dozer, a 3-year-old goldendoodle from Maryland ran from his home on May 15 and decided to join the Maryland half-marathon. He is reported to have snuck in at mile five and was seen at various points of the race by several runners. Here’s a video of him crossing the finish line at 2 hours and 14 minutes (and what a great time too):

Guess running these days has gone to the dogs. LOL! But kudos and congratulations goes out to Dozer. He even has his own facebook, go over to his facebook page and like the lil runner already :D

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2011 Race Review

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is finally over for me and I must say that I enjoyed myself thoroughly for the half marathon event which I participated in. I've been looking forward to this race for quite a while. All the training I've put in and all the mileage I've covered throughout the months came to fruition today as I did my personal best 21K race event crossing the finish line in a time of 1:53:00 :D Kudos also goes to wifey for completing her 10K in her personal best time :D That woman is getting faster by the day!

Overall the race was pretty well organized with proper signages and announcements and I don't think anyone has a reason to complain about the race organization. Water and sponging stations were where they were indicated to be and there were enough race marshals to guide the runners to the proper routes and turns. The finisher medals were given out properly after the race without any hassles and everyone seemed to be in high spirits after the race. The volunteers and organizers deserve a big pat on the back (as far as I'm concerned anyway).

Wifey and me checked-in to a hotel near the race venue the night before cos we weren't looking forward to getting up so early just to drive there and then search for a parking and wait hours for race start. Looking back it was the best idea we came up with cos we got to sleep in an extra two hours which was much welcomed :D I guess loads of other runners had the same idea cos the hotel we stayed in was practically crawling with runners too.

On race day we got there just in time for the start of the marathon and then headed off our separate ways cos wifey started her run in a different race location than mine. Poor girl had to wait an hour longer than me for her race start.

The 21k started off exactly on time and as with all races, the start was a crawl with more than 4,800 plus half marathoners starting off. The first 3k for me was more like a brisk jog trying to squeeze my way past all those other runners. The small roadway along the Dayabumi complex and the road leading to the KTM station was pretty tight and it made negotiating past all those other runners a chore. I decided to bide my time and wait till kilometer 3 where the roads opened up a little before increasing my pace.

Once I got to that point, the run was pretty smooth cos the runners started spreading out a little and there was more space to overtake. I increased my pace a little just to make up lost time but overall kept to an even speed since I still had a good ways to go. The route was relatively flat with a few small inclines at certain stretches which made it a pretty fast route.

The legs were holding up so I upped my pace a little more just as I got to the Loke Yew stretch all the way to Cheras. Though it was a flat stretch, I simply hated that section of the race (I have no idea why though) and just wanted to get through it as fast as I could. I was feeling the effects of upping the pace and swallowed my GU energy gel at this point to recover a little. Timed it just right with the advent of a water station just down the road to help clear that sweet tasting sensation from my mouth.

Once I was through the Cochrane stretch and headed back to town, I was feeling much more refreshed and put in a little faster pacing all the way to the finish line. To keep my mind from telling me that I'm actually tired, I kept myself entertained from this stretch onwards by waving at all the spectators and those countless cheerleaders with pompoms, good thing wifey was doing the 10K, otherwise she would have bopped me on the head ... hahaha!

Felt the onset of cramps on the calves at the last kilometer and was worried that I would have to walk to the finish line but I managed to somehow block it out and crossed the finish line with a smile (more like gritting my teeth in pain ... LOL!). Hobbled all the way to the 21K medal collection area and then waited for wifey who came in not long after.

Overall, the race was an enjoyable one, even though I've got blisters on the toes of both my feet and a chaffed nipple that was trailing blood, I have not a single complaint (and god knows I complain a heck of a lot!) about the event. I'll definitely be back for this next year but this time I'm going to try my luck with the marathon!

To everyone who took part, whether you ran, jogged, walked, crawled, bounced or even rolled to the finish line, you're all champions in my book. Congrats to all of you :D

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The SCKLM 2011

I'm on a short running break to completely heal my achy ankle injury that is still plaguing me. While it's just an annoying ache which is slowly subsiding, I'm not taking any chances with it seeing as how the Standard Chartered KL Marathon is just a few days away. I'll just be doing some light training of my own at home until race day.

I'm actually looking forward to the race. It's gonna be a huge turnout with an estimated 22,000 participants from what I've read on the StandChart website. I just hope it'll be better organized than the nightmare race a few months back.

Unfortunately wifey will be flagged off at a different location than me since she's signed up for the 10K which will be flagged off near the parliament building while I'll start at dataran merdeka, though we'll both finish at the same location. We'll also be starting at different times so we won't be seeing each other until way after the race. We've got our pre-arranged secret (LOL!) rendezvous location but with 22,000 people, it'll still be a stretch looking for her.

Another thing would be the parking. They start closing the roads at 4am and that means I've got to be there way before 4am which in turns means I have to wake up at around 2.30-3.00am just to get there and then wait for 2-3 hours more for the race start. It is not something I'm looking forward to.

To sort that out, wifey suggested we check into a hotel nearby and just walk to the race location which is a bloody good idea and is what I'm intending to do. That way, I can sleep longer and not worry about parking and then after the race, we can just walk back to the hotel, shower and nap for a few more hours before heading home :D Now to just look for a decent hotel nearby.

I've never run a 21K in KL (all my 21K's have been in PJ) before so after picking up the race kit tomorrow, wifey and me will recce the route first. I always like to be prepared and know my race route properly before a race. It can't hurt, can it :D

Here's wishing all of you taking part in the SCKLM this weekend the best of luck and have a great race :D Next year I intend to take part in the full marathon and that's a promise :D

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Camel On My Back

A month or so ago, wifey got herself a Camelbak Fairfax hydration bag from the Marathon shop cos she didn't want to jostle with other runners at the water stations during a race. After she bought her unit, it looked kinda cool and I decided to buy one for myself, I mean how could she have a Camelbak hydration unit without me having one too, right? LOL!

So I went to the Marathon shop the next day and got one for myself too. The thing is, I don't even know why I bought it cos I'm not the kind of person who likes running with things strapped to my body. The only thing I have around my body during races is a Spibelt to fasten my bib number and hold my identification card, some cash and my car keys.

The Camelbak has been unopened and collecting dust in my wardrobe since the day I bought it. Wifey wanted me to pace her a little today during our run session so I decided to take my Camelbak for a test drive. I've run with a Camelbak before, almost 15 years ago, a fanny pack version of it and found it more or less decent to run with. I just didn't like the weight around my hips but it did wonders for me on my long runs.

Then the lull in my running came and I can't remember what happened to it. Well, the current Camelbak I have is a backpack version, something I've never run with before and while it did serve its purpose of hydrating me during my run this really hot evening, I found it a little bothersome and was fiddling with it almost all the way through the run. It kept slipping off and the sloshing of water at the back was a distraction. It took me a while of fiddling with it on the run to finally get it nice and snug behind me and slowly drown out the sloshing sound. I was grateful for the ice cool water (it was an insulated unit) but I'm in two minds about using it.

Initially I was intending to use it for my 21K run during the Standard Chartered Marathon cos I didn't want to slow down at the water stations but now I'm not so sure I want to have that distraction on my back. Maybe I need a little time getting used to it, I don't know. I know wifey is quite happy with hers and she's definitely using it during the SCKLM. The chances are I won't be using it, maybe when I do my first ever marathon someday, I'll pack that unit with me :D

But even though it was slightly distracting for me during my run today, I must say I enjoyed having ice cool piped water on demand, especially on a hot evening like today :D

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Warming Up : Yes Or No?

Sitting in the office all day can be pretty boring and is of absolutely no help for my feet and body which oftentimes start getting all tight. I don't think I could sit in the office all day. While sitting here and my desk can be good to rest my feet for my evening run later, it can also have the exact opposite effect where it gets my muscles all tight and achy and I'd have to put in more effort for my warm-ups.

Fortunately this is not something I do everyday. I run my own large format inkjet printing company and most of the time I'm always on my feet outside meeting clients, attending and participating in installations and helping out with production work. I'm the kind of person who takes a hands on approach to things. My work motto is 'If you wanna get something done right, do it yourself'.

I like being out and about on my feet doing stuff cos then when I get home in the evening, I'm all pumped up for my run and my body (and especially my feet) are all nice and warmed up already. A simple 5-10 minutes of stretches will suffice unlike days like today when things are so bloody quiet in the office and no client wants to see me which leads me to sitting at my desk all day and getting my legs all tight and achy which will take me a heck longer to warm up. Not to mention that it makes me feel all lazy as well!

I take warming up seriously seeing as how injuries are easily obtainable at my age. I love running but it's an entirely different thing to run with pains in your legs ... not nice at all, I'm sure you guys who run know what I'm talking about.

But  I've read that the camp is divided on the issue of warming up and stretching, with some people saying you don't need to warm up and some saying that you do. Which camp do you subscribe to? I'm all for warming up, like I said at my age, I'm all that much LESS flexible and loosening and warming the muscles prior to a run is pretty important for me.

What do you think? Is warming up and stretching before any exercise a must for you or do you think it's just a waste of time?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Low Mileage

My mileage this week has been pretty crappy. I've been off from running for the past three days to give a nagging and worrisome ankle pain a little rest. The pain has subsided but not completely and I still can feel a little twitch when I put way too much pressure on it but otherwise its okay. Yes, yes, I'm in a state of self denial ... hahaha!

I'll be taking the legs out for a test run this evening, can't sit still anymore and see if the pain is still there. The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is just around the corner and though I'm only taking part in the half marathon event, I still need to put in the mileage. Sitting at home and watching the mileage NOT go by can be a pain!

Besides, logging on to my Nike and Daily Mile sites and seeing all you guys piling on the mileage and here I am this week with a measly 25K so far can be so frustrating. Ever since I took up my running again, I've been addicted to it. I work, eat, sleep, talk nothing but running these days. It also helps when you have a wife who is equally addicted to running as well :D

But one thing I've learned about running, especially at my age is to take things a little easy. Injuries can happen so easily if I push myself too hard and I do push myself pretty hard at times. It's a good thing I have wifey there to constantly remind me that I have nothing to prove to anyone and to go easy on myself. If it wasn't for her, I'd probably be out with injuries more than I am running. Besides, her killer stare can stop a speeding train dead in its tracks let alone me running out the door with an injured leg ... LOL!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Running With A Cotton Plantation Around Your Feet!

Socks, one of the basic needs for a runner, unless of course you like running without socks, which is something I really cannot do. I've always had problems finding a pair of socks that suited me best without giving me blisters or being totally uncomfortable during a run or a race.

I've tried out countless pairs and brands, from various sizes starting from the really cheap cotton socks to the more branded Nike's and Adidas' but somehow they all don't rise up to my specifications. I still end up with blisters and sore feet at times and it can make a nice long run totally uncomfortable. Running without sock is not an option for me cos I've tried running without socks and it's so not for me.

I currently own a simple Line 7 generic sports sock that somehow was pretty decent to run in and also have a few Nike Dri-Fit cushioned running socks but I ended up more than a few times with blisters on many of my long run sessions. I know for a fact it's not the shoe cos I have three different pairs of shoes and they're all perfectly suited for my feet. I was resigned to the fact that I'll have to face these blisters and sore feet issues for as long as I run.

Wifey also has this same problem with socks but that was until she bought a pair of Thorlo (or sometimes referred to as Thorlos) Experia micro mini crew running socks and said that they were the next best thing to running with a cotton plantation wrapped around your feet. Her blisters and sore feet problems disappeared over night and she said the things felt so light that she could hardly feel them.

Now, I'm a skeptical fellow. I didn't really think they were all that great and to be honest, I have not heard of Thorlo until then. I let her trial run the socks for a month to see if it indeed was as good as she claimed it to be. After all, at RM69.00 a pair they're not at all cheap and I didn't want to spend any unnecessary cash to try them out and find out they don't help one bit.

But she kept on harping and showing off (LOL!) to me how good her feet feels after a run session with these socks on that I just had to go get one for myself and try them on. Of course, since the socks was so good, she bought another one too. And after using the socks for the recently concluded New Balance Pacesetters 15K run yesterday, I'm a 100% believer in the Thorlos Experia running socks!

The socks was everything she said it was and throughout the run, my feet felt so relaxed that I was smiling all through my run, well except when I reached that darned uphill stretch behind PICC anyway!

It really felt as if I had a whole plantation of cotton wrapped all around my feet and the blisters and sore feet never showed up. It's still too early for me to be really convinced seeing as I've only used it once. I'll keep my final judgement for it reserved until I run long distances in it a few more times but the early results look darned promising.

Though the price of a pair is pretty steep, that isn't the worse thing about it. The numerous 'I told you so' from wifey is so much worse ... hahaha!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Balance Pacesetters 15K Run Putrajaya

The new Balance Pacesetters 15k concluded about 5 hours ago and I have nothing but good things to say about it :D I thoroughly enjoyed the run. Though there were signs of rain, the early morning weather at Putrajaya was simply beautiful for running.

Everything from legs to lungs held up nicely and I managed to cross the line in a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes. It was one of the better organized races I've been to in a while and things went pretty well but then, that's what you get when people who actually run organize runs :D

The only complaint I have was with my Nike+ Sports band giving me the wrong distance reading which kinda affected my pace. I can't wait for the Nike+ GPS watch to hit these shores cos I'll be the first one outside the door waiting to purchase it!

A big thumbs up goes to wifey who managed to complete her first ever 15K run in a pretty respectable time. I'm so darned proud and happy for her :D So now you gonna do the 21K next honey? LOL!

A big thank you goes out to this unnamed malay lad who kept me company and paced me for about 7K of the race till then end. It's always nice having someone to run along with you. I also managed to finally catch up with Jamie Pang after the race for a bit.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

MPSJ 10K Run 2011

I may not be talking part in this year's MPSJ run due to certain reasons but it doesn't mean I can't promote it :D Besides, you never know, I just might be mad enough to take part ... hahaha ...

If you're living in the Subang, USJ area (or even if you're not) and if you're into running, the MPSJ 10k run is a pretty cool race event to take part in and it's decently organized too. The categories are divided into 3 categories, the 3K, 7K and 10K events. The race this year is being held in the evening and flags off at 5.30pm, a little too early I would think as the sun would still be blazing in this part of the world.

I'm actually a little surprised to learn that they're running this race in the early evening cos the traffic along the race route, which I've run before, is pretty heavy and I know they're not closing down the roads for this event so be prepared to run along with all those exhaust fumes, especially on the stretch before the Summit shopping complex main road turning towards USJ 5. That road is usually choked with weekend traffic.

But based in last year, they did handle traffic pretty well though it was held in the morning then. Overall, it'll be a nice fun 'home' run and I'm sad to not be taking part. Maybe I can volunteer to help out during the race or something ... hmmm ... now that's a plan :D

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Time To Heal

I've been taking a self restrained rest from running for the past three days and will only resume running this Sunday for the New Balance Pacesetters 15K run and trust me, it's never easy forcing yourself to rest from running especially when you're driving around in the evening and see someone out there pounding the roads. It makes me feel like running them down ... LOL!

Truth be told, the break is much welcomed and gives these old tired leg a chance to rest, besides I've been nursing a stupid work related injury that has my right heel inflamed. I'm hoping it heals in time for the NB 15K run this Sunday. At least the swelling has gone down and it is showing signs of getting better. I will probably (a big probably here) be taking it easy during the run this Sunday.

I'm also slightly peeved as well cos I found out the MPSJ 10K has been slated for the 9th of July, a day before the Siemens 10K is slated to start which practically ruins my chance of doing the MPSJ run. I've been looking forward to running the MPSJ 10K but I've also signed up for the Siemens run and I really don't want to be doing two back to back runs. The MPSJ run kicks off at 5pm on a Saturday evening and the Siemens is the very next morning.

While they're only 10K runs each and running it should not be too much of a trouble, I don't really fancy doing both of them so it looks like the MPSJ run is out of the question. Maybe next year I guess. I'm on a two day break from work and will only head back to work next Wednesday so it's a nice long break for me from tomorrow, which will probably be spent running :D

To all those running the New Balance Pacesetters 15K this Sunday, all the best.