Friday, January 10, 2014

Going The Distance

It's already ten days into the new year and for the life of me, I can't really remember what I did. All I'm definitely sure of was that almost all of the ten days had some aspect of running involved.

The now long gone 2013 was basically a decent year for me. I managed to see a slow but steady improvement in my running which I put down to the training I've been doing. It has not been easy, I'll be the first to admit. There has been some bad days, some extremely horrible days, days when I felt like throwing in the towel and becoming a fat slob, to hell with all this running. But then, there's been the good days which more than makes up for all the bad.

Contemplating just why I torture myself day in and day out.
Pix courtesy of Jamie Pang.
What I'm grateful and really thankful for is that throughout the entire year, I've managed to remain injury free. Sure, there's the usual aches and pains you get after a run, who doesn't have those but nothing serious enough to do damage. The only times when my training is really hampered is when I fall sick. That is something I have no control over. I'm hoping the good fortune will carry through for 2014 which is going to see me stepping out of that comfortable running shell and pushing my limits a lot more.

The first race of the year for me was the MPIB run, a race I didn't really run at all. It was an event where I saw marshaling duties as a route marshal. It was a nice change to see other runners slogging it out for once instead of me. Aside from the mosquitoes that had a field day feasting on me, I had fun seeing many familiar faces running past and being the boss of that stretch.

MPIB marshaling duties.
Pix courtesy of Kahwai Low
It'll be at least another month or so before I see my first race for this year, the TITI 50/100K in which I've signed up for the 50K event. It looks to be a daunting event that's going to see me and a host of others starting our run at the stroke of midnight and trudging along in almost pitch darkness save for whatever artificial lighting we have.

While I'm told the route itself is pretty tough, it's the sleep aspect of things that I'm worried about. I'm a sleepy head, the wife will vouch for that and running a mindless road race at such ungodly hours is bound to be a struggle for me. I'm hoping the resident GC clown will be providing the entertainment to keep me and the rest of us awake :D

The relief of completing the P50K in the blazing noon day heat!
Pix courtesy of Pacat Adventure Team.
But as crazy as it may seem, I'm actually looking forward to it. My entire running plans for the year has taken a little shift towards longer distances and this marks a nice starting point to gauge if I have what it takes to go further than my current limits. The previous year saw me experimenting with pushing my limits further by taking part in two longer distance events and was found badly wanting. A lot more was needed to be done to go down that road. I was far from ready.

I sat down, looked at my training plan and threw my Hansons method out the window. While it worked wonders for my marathon training, it simply wouldn't be effective for anything above marathon distances. I needed a new plan. And what a plan it would have to be. Being a working family man, I would need a plan that would fit right around family and work.

The pain of a night marathon ...
Pix courtesy of Kelvin Tan.
There's loads of training plans online but heck, I think it doesn't take into consideration real life. I still don't have a proper training plan per se yet but at least I've worked out something that works (more or less) for me which I tweak as the weeks go by. It's safe to say that the plan involves loads of consistent running for the week. I'm just hoping I'll be able to keep up with it and remain injury free (touch wood!).

Aside from the TITI 50/100K, there's the Nuang Challenge two weeks later which is also another equally if not tougher nut to crack. A 12 hour trail run that requires a minimum of 50k to be eligible for a medal. I've never run Nuang before, not even in training and for me it'll be a whole new experience. But I'm going to place all my trust in my training and hopefully I'll come through unscathed. At least I'll have the company of a few familiar faces struggling along with me.

My first 'trail' race with slave driver Yvonne and fellow minion Choon Yuen at the Deuter Trail Fun Run.
I can't remember if this pix is courtesy of Yvonne or Choon Yuen :D
The past year has also seen some fun times, with the forming of the GCAM Training Group, led by Jamie, who have come to be very good running buddies who joke, insult and motivate each other during training and races. Almost everyone has seen remarkable improvements in their performances and are only getting stronger with each run. Aside from the regular podiumers in the group like Khay Ann and Julia, I'm betting this year will see one or two more from the group going up the podium as well :D

This year will also see the wife coming back stronger into running. She's been sidelined quite a bit the previous year with some persistently nagging injuries that saw her missing lots of training for months. She was totally demotivated and disheartened for months. She was on the verge of completely giving up running altogether but then, thankfully, she realized that it would be a complete waste to throw away all the hard work she's done in the past.

The GC group post Shape Run with Foo's legendary Ah Teng.
Pix courtesy of Jamie Pang
She's slowly working her way back to fitness and though it may require me doing two run sessions on weekends, I'm more than happy to be taking time from my training to help her back into shape. She's slowly but steadily finding her running legs again. It's only time that she'll be back to running races again.

As I mentioned earlier, this year will see me pushing my limits further, or at least try to. I'm not even sure if these old legs are going to be able to hack it but I'm more than game to give it all I've got. I've set some personal goals for the year, nothing lofty, run at least one 100K event, a better marathon timing, a faster half marathon, dip below 50 for a 10K and even a 23 minute 5K. I might not achieve all of it but it won't be for want of trying.

The longest ever distance run at the Back 2 Endurance
Pix courtesy of Hong Lan Tan
The year will see me running very selective races. I can't really afford to be signing up for too many races. One or two of the races I'm signing up for is going to already cost an arm and a leg and that's about all I can afford for the year. There are more important things that I need my money for. Things are not cheap out there and even race fees are not as cheap as the old days. In fact running itself is no longer like the old days.

I could list a hundred things that I find disheartening about running these days but then I'd risk making people angry and get pissed off at me, not that I really care but as my mama once used to say 'if you've got nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all' ... well, my mama never really said that but it makes me sound intelligent :D

My only 'win' for the year, a sleeping owl.
Pix courtesy of  Yvonne Teo.
On the bright side, the two boys are now showing itsy bitsy interest in running. The wife and me have got them a pair of running shoes each, a Skechers GOrun Ride 2 (but of course) for the younger fellow and a Brooks Ghost 5 or 6, I can't remember, for the older one due to their very different builds and running styles. They're taking turns going out with the wife on her runs when I'm not around. I'm hoping it's not just a phase and that they'll actually really get into it. It warms the heart sometimes to hear them talk shop about running with the wife. Once they're ready I'll sign them up for a 5k race or something to see how they do.

Barring any injury or the world coming to an end, I plan to put every bit of effort into my training. Let's hope I'll see some good come out of it. Here's to a great 2014!

My bandit in crime, Choon Yuen at our very own race that was 'bandited' by all those Newton runners ... LOL!
Pix courtesy of Yum Kin Kok 

8 comments:

  1. nicely written. will 'drop' by here more often . .. .

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  2. Great plan for 2014 and all the best to achieve your goal.

    I will properly stick to 42k and push hard for few more year to see where my limit is. Btw, as all Malaysia marathon was jammed up at Sept-Nov 2014, I will take part and have fun with few ultra (Titi50, Back to Endurance and perhaps Penang 50k too).

    Have fun and keep running :)

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    1. You've been doing great, Neoh. It's getting too crowded over here with loads of races. See you at TITI next month.

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  3. Great job Captain Skerchers.

    Good luck with both TITI100 and Nuang Ultra, you will do great Nick..especially those final 500 meters :)

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    1. Thanks Ray. Are you running those two events?

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  4. sheeeeeet!
    i didn't realise that you and Ah Onz were "holding hands" in your bandit pic. hahahahahahah!

    it's been a crazy year eh? each time i look back and recall the events we took part in, the casual runs/trainings and stupid antics still takes the cake! :)

    anyways, all the best for the new year and challenges! most importantly, keep the family happy and you'll be a happy man, too. :D

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    1. Urmmm, we were not holding hands la ... hahahaha! we're both happily married men, ok!

      It has been quite a year. The fooling around during training was the fun part, oh and not forgetting getting lost at Batu Dam ... hahaha!

      Thanks, I'm going to need all the luck I can get for the things I have planned.

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