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Monday, December 29, 2014

Skechers GOmeb Speed 3: Initial Review

This review has been long overdue. The GOmeb Speed 3 review unit came into my possession a little late due to the initial wrong sizing and when I finally got my feet on them, I was already in preps for the Chiang Mai marathon. Though I did get the chance to test them during my taper week but never really had the chance to actually put my thoughts to words.

Now with a little time on my hands, here's my take on the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 (GS3). The GS3 is the very same shoe that my idol, Meb Keflezighi had on when he won the Boston Marathon earlier this year though his was custom made for his feet.

I've run in both the original GOspeed and the GOspeed 2 and the first thing I noticed was that the GS3 has a slightly wider feel that its two predecessors. Both the GS1 and 2 were narrow shoes. This one however feels a lot less restrictive. The GS3 is built on the same basic platform of the GS2. The overall shape remains the same but with a much smaller and newer DuPont Delrin™ stability plate situated in the midsole to enhance midfoot rigidity. The previous versions had a DuPont Hytrel™ Plate.

Weighing in at a still lightweight of 6.9 oz for the men's size 9, the GS3, though increased in weight a little still remains a pretty lightweight shoe. With a new refreshed and bolder Skechers logo coupled with its angular styling of soft overlays and subtle textures fused over the upper, the shoe looks downright fast! The GS3 is a minimal racer and its construction is kept simple and lightweight with no added material or weight.

The upper of the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 is made of a seamless mesh fabric that is flexible and breathable. The pores allow reasonably good air to flow through from the outside for air circulation though I do personally find it being more cooler in the forefoot than the rest of the shoe. The interior of the shoe consists of a seamless micro-fibre lining with hardly any rough seams or stitching that can be felt to maximize comfort.

The fit of the upper is typical with most road racing shoes out there. A snug form fitting fit though the forefoot is a little wider this time round. Taking the shoe out for a spin on the road gives you superb forefoot lock-down, which will work nicely for those speedwork track sessions. The GS3 feels a lot more snappier with the foot being pinned closer to the midsole, increasing ground contact with an enhanced push off. The GS3 is not a shoe you would consider doing an easy run with.

A much more improved tongue consisting of a thin fabric with a layer of thin foam over a smooth lining and closed using flat lock stitching gives the tongue a slight elastic feel that covers the foot without any bunching up or folds. In all my runs in the shoe, the tongue stayed in place just nicely. The heel has a micro-fibre lining backed with foam and a counter stiffener that gives it shape and rigidity. I found it nice and snug and posed no issues whatsoever as I initially thought it would be a little too stiff.

The midsole uses the same Resalyte™ compound found on the previous two versions that helps with impact absorption. It's as low profile as it would get with a stack height of 14mm at the forefoot and 18mm at the heel making it a 4mm drop shoe. The material feels much softer than the previous version yet retains enough firmness for a fast push off. The outsole look remains more or less the same with the same number of circular rubber pods in almost the same position with the exception of two which has now been pushed much closer to the heel.

The Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 comes with an extra pair of laces, somewhat more rounded than the default stretchy ribbon laces. I personally think the rounded extra laces will probably come loose much easier than the ribbon ones provided. I'm not sure why Skechers just didn't give the same ribbon type of extra laces instead.

I'm still testing it out further but from what I've experienced so far, the Skechers GOmeb Speed is a super upgrade from the GOmeb Speed 2. I like the wider and roomier feel it gives up front yet is snug enough around the mid section, just the way a minimalist racer should be, in my humble opinion. I like the direction Skechers Performance is taking with the new range of all its GOseries.

With the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 now in my possession, along with the Skechers GOrun 4 and the GOrun Ride 4, I now have a completed set of shoes to fit each of my training sessions. The GOmeb Speed 3 for my speedwork, the GOrun Ride 4 for my long runs and the GOrun 4 for my races. 2015 looks set to already be a good year.

The Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 will be seen on the shelves of Skechers Malaysia outlets here in January 2015.

The GOspeed 1, 2, and 3
Note: The pair of Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 used for this review were kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia for wear testing purposes. This review is based on my own personal experience with the shoe and is in no way influenced by Skechers Malaysia whatsoever.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Charming Chiang Mai

** Long post ahead, don't say I didn't warn you!

Thailand was never really on my list of places to visit or even run but there I was on a cool Friday morning with the wife as we got off the plane to get our first taste of Thai hospitality, more specifically Chiang Mai hospitality.

Both the wife and me planned our Chiang Mai trip around the Chiang Mai marathon. Most of our holidays are normally planned around runs, obviously. We try to kill two birds with one stone and get the best of both worlds, running and a holiday at the same time.

Thapae Gate
We signed up for this holiday cum race pretty early, way back in July this year. We managed to get a pretty good flight deal and found a nice and reasonable hotel, the Top North hotel, that was located a mere 100m away from the original race start location, the Thapae Gate. The start location was later changed at the last minute due to the numerous street vendors occupying the open space there or at least I think that was the reason. 

The vendors setting up for business. The size of the durians were as big as jack-fruits!
Since I was due for my much needed Christmas leave anyway, we decided to go two days prior to race day to have some time for sightseeing as well. It was a very early morning flight, all the better to maximize our stay. We reached Chiang Mai around 8.30am, took a cab and made our way into the old city. The cab driver was no different than our cab drivers back here in the sense that he was under the illusion he was a clone of Lewis Hamilton or something.

After a 15 minute or so formula 1 simulation of a ride, we reached our hotel. Seeing as how it was still too early for check in, we stored our luggage at the hotel and opted to check out the surrounding area. We had quite a bit of time to spare and I was feeling hungry as well. 

The bustling streets just outside the gate
To be absolutely truthful, prior to arriving in Chiang Mai, I was pretty skeptical of the place and wasn't really looking forward to it. I looked up Google maps and used their street view to 'walk' around the place just to get a feel of it and wasn't at all impressed. God, it looks just like home, maybe somewhere in Jalan Ipoh. 

The long canals of water separating the old and new city
How sadly mistaken I was! Google street view is not something one should use to judge a place cos Chiang Mai is nothing like back home! From the moment I left the hotel, I was awe struck by the place. I could hardly wait to drag the wife down every nook and cranny. The simplistic and old charm feel of the place was truly amazing.

The amount of details on the walls were simply phenomenal!
With the weather being pleasant, cool, even with the sun, we took our time walking around and enjoying the place. The first place we headed to was the famous Thapae Gate, being one of the four gates surrounding the perimeter of the old city. The street vendors were already in the process of setting up their stalls for business and we made a mental note to come back later at night to check out the fares they had on offer.

One thing about Chiang Mai is that there isn't any shortage of temples. And most of these temples are really works of art. Naturally, we just had to visit all the temples that were in our path. The first temple we visited was just 200 metres away from Thapae Gate, unfortunately I didn't get its name. It was huge and had exquisitely intricate carvings on its walls and surroundings. This was where I had the opportunity to make a donation and paste some gold stickers on the statue of Buddha seeking some divine intervention for my race on Sunday.

Seeking some divine intervention ...
We explored the place in silence enjoying the serenity of the temple and checked out the food stalls in the temple grounds that was in the process of setting up for business. We next made our way towards the Three Kings Monument but not before stopping every 100 metres or so to admire the surroundings which caught our eye. Of cos, being the vain pot that I am, photo ops were aplenty with the wife always saying to me, 'You're not going to post this again, are you?' LOL!

Seeking help to find my way around ... LOL!
After finally making our way to the Three Kings Monument, we took stock of the race venue, familiarizing ourselves with the place, spoke to the race officials to glean some info about the race on Sunday and headed back to the hotel to check in. We decided to first get some stock of tidbits and drinks from 7-11 before checking in and were amazed at how cheap things were. We walked around wide eyed buying stuff before finally checking in.

The view from right outside our hotel room door
Our hotel, a four storey building was more motel like, the kind you see in those b-grade private eye movies. It wasn't one of those 5-star hotels but I liked the ambiance and feel of the place. The rooms were all facing the pool and the place was clean and decent. We requested a ground floor room as I wasn't looking forward to having to hike up the stairs after a 42k run on Sunday. The room was clean but had furniture and fixtures that were from the 80's, literally! Checked out the bathroom immediately to see if there was hot water cos I read some reviews prior to this about no hot water in the rooms. Was glad that there was hot water in our room.

Emulating Simba!
What we didn't have though was a kettle for coffee or tea making. I wasn't too happy with that and went out and checked with the reception and was told that they didn't provide coffee/tea making facilities. Bloody helll! I need my coffee. But I can't really complain, you get what you pay for and truthfully, it wasn't all that bad. Aside from that I liked the place. We decided to rest cos we had plans for a shake down run along the perimeter of the city a little later in the evening.

A different section of the gate
After a short rest, we laced up and headed out for our run cum sightseeing tour. The sun was still out but the cool wind made the weather just right for an evening run. We had to be careful during our run cos we had numerous junctions to cross along the way and the drivers here are really frightening so much so that we witnessed two accidents during our run with one that saw a pick up ram into a motorcyclist that I was amazed that the rider got up and walked away with only a limp!

The roads are simply so clean!
We weren't the only ones running, loads of other runners were out running as well cos seriously it would be a sin not to run here. The city was lined by a 'waterway' (for want of a better word) with rock solid brick walls at the corners dividing the old city from the new. The entire run provided lots of opportunities for photo taking and I took full advantage of it. This is the only time you will see me taking silly photos of myself and fooling around. During a race, it's strictly a no-no for selfies, holding hands and all those kind of stuff. A race is serious business for me.

With Leong at the race venue
After a nice slow and easy run, we headed to the stalls by the main Thapae gate to look around and grab some food before heading back to the hotel. We decided to call it an early night as it had been a long day and we were up since 2am. A new day of exploring beckoned the next day. The night air got so cold that we ended up switching off the air conditioning and just sleeping with the fan on and even then it was still bloody cold. The bed was too firm to my liking and we both found it a little difficult to fall asleep but exhaustion got the better of us eventually.

The new race start venue, The Three Kings Monument
The next day saw us up bright and early. We took up the hotel buffet breakfast at only 100baht a person, which was really cheap for a western styled breakfast before heading out to pick up our race kit and then explore more of the place, especially the back lanes which we soon found to have tons of hidden treasures to see.

It was still early and the race venue wasn't packed yet. I was surprised when someone called my name and saw that it was Leong, a long time volunteer/runner. Didn't think I'd see anyone that I knew over here but was glad for the familiar face. After some chit chat and photo taking, we said our goodbyes for now and headed out to explore the back lanes and wait for Jamie, who would be arriving later in the afternoon. Just as we were heading out, I heard someone calling out 'Bro! Bro!' and looked to see that it was Mohd Fuad. Another familiar face :D A short hello and chit chat and we were off again.

The wife looking in awe at her dream cottage!
Now the back lanes here threw up a host of hidden gems. Unlike the back lanes back home, we found more beautiful temples, cozy dwellings, yummy food shops and much more. The back lanes were really clean and we had a fun time taking pictures of just about everything. My entire initial perspective of Chiang Mai took a 180 degree turn and I was simply loving the place. I was beginning to wish I had planned for an even longer stay. 

Hidden back lane restaurants offering authentic Thai cuisine. 
I have no idea why the wife is looking at banana trees!
After nearly two hours of exploring the back roads, a quick lunch, then back to the hotel for a short rest before meeting up with Jamie to hand him his race kit and making plans to meet up again later for the welcome dinner at the race venue. After mingling around and spotting a lot more Malaysians present, we wanted to grab the free dinner but the long queue discouraged us. We ended up eating elsewhere for something safer since it was race day the next day and we didn't want to end up with stomach issues. Said our goodbyes early and called it a night.

Extremely life like statues of monks in prayer
A short note if you ever put up at the Top North hotel is that the centralized water heating doesn't come on in the wee hours of the morning. I was up at 2.45am to get ready for the race and wanted to take a shower to wash the sleep off my cloudy mind. Turned the faucet and the bloody water was freezing cold. Left it to run for a little while thinking it would heat up but no such luck, the water remained as cold as ice. I have no qualms taking cold showers back home but it was just too chilly to attempt it here. So, it was just a quick splash of cold water on the face to shake the sleep off. We found out later that the hot water supply comes on around 7am or so.

Even more life like statue wannabes  ...
Sunday was our final night in Chiang Mai and even though we were tired, we weren't going to let it go to waste. Right after the race and a short rest later, Jamie and me met up to sample some of the more authentic Thai cuisine. Now that the race was over and done with, we could eat whatever we wanted. The wife wanted to rest for a little more and didn't join us. A short walk looking around for a place to eat, we found a shop offering just what we needed. After a yummy and relaxed meal discussing the race we parted ways.

The wife was awake by the time I got back. She was hungry and I joined her for a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant by the pool. This was where I met more Malaysians who were also putting up in the same hotel. Chit chatted with a few of them for a bit, with one fellow, who ran the 10k asking me if I had won! Hahaha! In my dreams maybe.

A dog meditating in the temple compound, well more like sun bathing!
Later in the evening, Jamie messaged me saying that the Sunday night market was up and running. I knew there was a night market but didn't know it started right at the Thapae Gate. The wife and me made a beeline for it and found the entire road closed to traffic with stalls selling just about anything and everything as far as the eye could see.

The bustling night market
The Sunday night market was sort of like Jonker Street in Melaka but a heck of a lot cleaner and what I really liked about it was that it was a no smoking zone and everyone actually followed the rule. It was bliss walking in clean, fresh air. Anyone walking through Jonker Street or any night market back home would know how bad the air can be with people puffing away. It was also very clean for a night market.

Some of the items at the market
Walking stall by stall, the wife especially was intrigued by everything on offer. We didn't opt for luggage check in and only came with a carry on so buying too many things was a no go. Maybe the next time we visit the place. We had our dinner in one of the temples which had a host of food stuff on offer. We also had a little surprise when suddenly during dinner, everyone stood up at attention and the national anthem (or at least I think it was) blared from the speakers. Of course we and all the foreigners all stood up along with them. Both of us were a little taken aback cos of the abruptness of it all.

A street performer strutting some traditional Thai tunes ...
After the delicious and tasty dinner, we continued exploring the night market, bought some snacks for later, a few mementos for home and finally with tired legs, we headed back to the hotel. It had been a long day and we were both exhausted but satisfied. We called it an early night as we had a morning flight to catch and the taxi we booked was due at 6am. This time though, hard mattress or not, we fell instantly asleep.

A night view of the hotel from outside our room
As I left the airport on the plane back home, I was thinking of how many more places and things we had yet to see but for now, the experience would last a lifetime. Chiang Mai had given us a great time, the people were friendly and warm and I got my personal best marathon time here. How very small of me to initially think that Chiang Mai had nothing to offer and I stand totally humbled by the experience. I will be back, not to race this time but just to enjoy the place, the people, the food and all it has to offer.

Till then, thank you Chiang Mai for the memories!

My race review here

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Muang Thai Chiang Mai Marathon 2014: Race Review

The Chiang Mai Marathon was a race signed up on a whim right after the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. The wife mentioned about it in passing and Jamie also suggested the Chiang Mai marathon, I jumped right on board. Being the co-founder of the 'zero elevation club', it was an obvious choice with the route being nice and flat, a cool 15°C weather and reasonable rates. It was really a no brainer. Besides, I had 6 months to train for it, at least that was my plan.

As the months, weeks and finally days to the event drew nearer, I was giving up all hope of actually putting in a decent show. With the training I was putting in, I would have been happy just to finish. But with the euphoria of the GCAM still lingering, it was hard to get into a real training plan. Whatever training I was doing was sporadic at best.

Yeah, I was putting in the mileage, almost every day at that but with no proper direction or plan, it was just put on my shoe and run, see what happens from there. Whatever marathon training plan I drew up, I didn't follow. So as the days to the race grew nearer, I had to revise my initial time goal and hope for the best.

Come Friday, bright and early, the wife and me headed to the airport for our 6.55am flight. After a harrowing experience of being driven to the airport by a taxi driver that was almost falling asleep at the wheel and in the process almost making me puke, I was glad to finally get in the air. It was much safer up there! After a 2 plus hour flight, we landed to a nice cool 17°C weather. I've so much to write about Chiang Mai, but I'll leave that for another post. This post will purely be on the race itself.

Three rather camera shy volunteers ...
We were too early for check in but decided to head to our hotel to see if we could drop our bags there and maybe check out the place on foot until our check in time. We put up a night at the Top North Hotel, which was just a 100 metres away from the start line at the Thapae Gate area. At least it was until a day or two before the event when the wife received an email stating that the start location would be moved further away. Drats, the reason I booked the hotel was because of it's proximity to the start/finish. The new start was 800 metres away, not that far really but I was still annoyed. That's just me, I get annoyed easily.

Race kit collection wasn't until the next day but both of us decided to check out the new start location, which was now at the Three Kings Monument to familiarize ourselves with the layout. The place was already bustling with workers setting up the place for the event. Mingled around, spoke to the organizers to get a better understanding of the route, how many drink stations were on hand, etc. With some additional knowledge in hand we headed to finally check in and get some rest since we planned for an easy shakedown run around the Thapae gate borders. The weather was pretty cool for 5pm and we had a lot of photo opportunities along the 6k plus route which I took to post vain pictures of myself on Facebook. Yes, yes, I'm shameless!

The Three Kings Monument, the new race start location.
We headed to the race kit collection the next day to get our bibs and stuff really early to avoid the later crowd. It was a breeze and I was in and out in 5 minutes. We headed back to the hotel to wait for Jamie who flew in later in the afternoon and the three of us headed back to the race village to get a taste of the welcome dinner and catch up on any last minute additional information. We decided to eat elsewhere cos we were all particular to what we eat prior to race day. It was a quick dinner at Black Canyon Coffee and back to our respective hotels for lights out.

Race day saw me meeting up with Jamie just outside the Thapae gate and a slow jog to the race start location which was already bustling with runners. The weather wasn't as cold as I'd expected and was actually just nice for race conditions. My gear was kept really simple and minimal. I opted for my Columbia short sleeved top which offered some protection from the cold start and would keep me cool when things got heated up later along with my Nike shorts and my trusty Skechers GOrun 4 as my shoe of choice. No compression as I'm weaning myself away from them. Armed with 6 gels, I was ready for race start.

The early birds at the race kit collection ...
At exactly 4am on the dot, we were flagged off. Jamie, who was a little under the weather and on meds told me to go ahead if I had the pace cos he as going to take it easy. Wasn't happy about losing a running partner but heck, I salute him for even starting under the circumstances he was in. So, off I went. It was a slow start with the roads being a little narrow and everyone was jostling for place. Kept with the crowd as we headed past the original start point, the Thapae gate and the roads finally got wider and I was able to increase the pace a little just to test the legs which was still a little tight from the cold air.

Somewhere around the 2k mark we made the u-turn that would take us out of the old city and into the outskirts of town. There were a lot of cars even at this ungodly hour and after hearing tales of the crazy drivers here, I was a lot more alert with looking out for speeding tuk tuks! Strangely I was feeling pretty good, the legs had loosened up considerably and I was cruising at a comfortable pace of 5:45. A touch of worry did cross my mind on whether I could maintain this pace for long but I decided to give it a go.

A traditional performance during the welcome dinner.
The drink stations which served only water safe for 3 stations that served energy drinks or sports drinks as the Thai's called it was spaced out more or less where there were indicated. I had a small bottle of water with me so I skipped all the stations for the first 14k to save time. After I finished the water in my bottle, I stopped at every station for drinks. One valuable thing I learned about cold weather running during GCAM from Digger himself is not to let the cold fool you into thinking you don't need to drink. The sports drink they served though was not something we get over here. It was soooooooo sweet and thick that I didn't have any need for my gels. It was an eye opener literally!

I hit the 10k mark around 57 minutes, a whole 3 minutes off my earlier planned target. I evaluated my condition and since I was still feeling good, I increased the pace ever so slightly. It got pretty mental from this point with the route taking you out of the city completely along a mentally challenging path of the highway which involved at least 4 u-turns through a mind numbingly flat and boring stretch. It was also at this point that things got really cold and chilly.

Being away from the old city, this stretch had the freshest of air but was really, really chilly. My body was beginning to cool down rapidly and my breath was misting (is that the correct word?). At this point I was glad I chose a short sleeved tee instead of a vest. I stepped up the pace a little more to try to work up more heat. I wasn't sweating buckets like I normally do.

The route map on display.
The next 10k was done in the same average pace of 5:45 and I was surprised but secretly happy to get a 20k split time of 1:53. I had planned a 2:10 which meant I had 17 minutes in the bag to spare and the best thing was I was still feeling good! Things were looking good. I was feeling a little hopeful for a good showing. The next 10k would give a clearer indication of things. 'Keep cool, Nick, don't get your hopes up too soon. There's still a long way to go', I thought to myself.

When I hit the 30K split with a time of 2:50 and with legs that was still feeling pretty good, I knew that I had a good chance in hell to get a PR. Though the legs were a little tired, there was hardly much fatigue, no indications of cramping, no pains, everything was chugging along nicely. My average pace up to that point after some rudimentary calculation was somewhere around 5:35. I could hardly believe that my legs weren't protesting and spewing vulgarities at me for running at that pace. Piew, I tried to get a cramp at the 27k mark but it just wouldn't happen ... LOL! (Sorry, this is an inside joke between the GCAM gang).

Always on the lookout during race setups for tips I could use back home.
I kept my hopes up but not being too over confident though. All the mind numbing u-turns were done and it was time to head back into the old city walls. I was glad that this mental stretch was going to end soon. The city was a lot more crowded with cars and folks going about their Sunday chores but at least it wasn't boring. With 4K to go and with the Garmin showing me a time of 3:30, that was when I knew there was a very good possibility of hitting a sub 4, if not at least a 4:00 which would still be a PR for me.

I was already tiring considerably by this point. Keeping to a 5:35 or so average pace was finally taking its toll on me. The pace was dropping. I drew every bit energy and determination I had left in me and kept pushing hard. I drew strength from the wife who never failed to believe that I could do this and who for the first time ever I could actually high five while on the run as we crossed paths. As much as I wanted a sub 4 for myself, this was all going to be for her. I wasn't going to let this moment slip from within my grasp.

My well deserved rather garish medal.
I picked up my faltering pace, gritted my teeth and ran with nothing but my heart, ok, maybe that was overly dramatic but heck, that was how it felt. When I finally saw a glimpse of the finish, I was overjoyed. A sub 4 beckoned. I had 500 metres or so and it showed 3:51 on my Garmin. I ran with every last ounce of breath in me for this final stretch and crossed the finish in a time of 3:52:28 (chip time). My sub 4 was in the bag! An extremely unexpected result. No, I didn't cry or anything but was still extremely emotional. It was a sweet way to end the year on my final race for the year.

After picking up my rather garish medal and finisher tee, I made my way to our pre-arranged spot to wait for the wife who was still running her half and also for Jamie. I had time to think of this rather unexpected result. I honestly came here just hoping to break my 4:23 PR by just a few minutes. I was never confident of or even contemplated going for a sub 4 but I'm not complaining. I'll just bask in the moment for now :D

Tired but happy with my free McDonald's burger!
Overall, I thought it was a pretty decently organized race. A few improvements could be looked into for next year such as providing some mobile toilets along the route. There was really not a single one and I feel for the women. The guys could just pull up behind a tree or something but not the women. The 'sports drink' could have been diluted a little more. It was so sweet that I had two gels left cos I opted not to take my gels after a taste of the 'sports drink'.

The route could have also been plotted a little differently at certain points cos there were some stretches where you had to cross through traffic and the drivers here don't really care about pedestrians if you ask me. Witnessed an incident where a pick up just decided to ram through the cones and barricade instead of waiting. That put the fear of God in me.

Aside from that I thought everything else was pretty good. If you're looking for a nice and cool year end race to attempt a PR, I'd recommend this to you. A nice flat route with hardly any elevation save for a few small ones on the highway. Weather is simply perfect for running and the old city sights and food are equally good. Makes a nice holiday too :D

A good job to the wife (who had her nationality changed to Thai ... LOL!) on her half marathon, not a PR for her but she bettered her PNM half timing. Kudos babe! And also to Jamie for the determination he put in to complete the race considering he was under meds! And a good time at that too.

Not too long to go.
Pic courtesy of Refill.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Allianz Pacesetters 4 x 3km 2014 : Race Report

The Allianz Pacesetters 4 x 3km run was not something I initially planned to run. An invite by Wan Yew Leong, the race director, looking for runners to run for a few corporate entries under the Kiwanis Corporate Challenge category saw me signing up for it.

What? No medal this time?
It was after all for charity and Christmas is just around the corner, I'd better do something nice or it'll be coals in my stockings for sure. With Zane, Evelyn and Julie also taking up the offer, team 'No Worries' was formed. The team name wasn't coined up by us, mind you. If it was up to us we would have labeled ourselves team Makanthon, cos all that we had running through our minds prior to race day was nasi lemak!

Team No worries
Before I go any further, I'd like to thank the Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation for graciously letting us run for one of their corporate donors. We were glad to play a little part in helping your organization in what little way we could.

Come race day, we were there bright and early at 6am. Actually I conned the rest of my team members to be there bright and early though. Since I was team captain, I had to be there to pick up the team baton but heck, since I had to be there early, I might as well make everyone else join me ... hahaha!

Where's the finish?
The wife and me arrived at Padang Merbuk to find Julie already there with her two adorable twin bodyguards. Zane and Evelyn came along shortly. The wife decided to tag along and ended up being our personal luggage and storage person cum photographer :D  We were all in good spirits even though it was a short distanced relay race. Our topic mainly centred around nasi lemak, nasi lemak and more nasi lemak.

The crowd was a nice manageable number. I like small events like these cos everyone seemed to know everyone else. Even for a small charitable event like this, there were quite a few elites present. Of course, it was quite clear cut on which team would be the champions. The elites started their warm ups while we looked on in awe. Even for a short distanced run like this, they were so committed whereas we were just hanging around looking sleepy!

Surprised but happy to get this.
Pic courtesy of Evelyn
Soon it was time for race start. Julie took the first leg, followed by Evelyn, Zane and me anchoring the team for the final leg. I wasn't exactly happy that we would be running uphill for the start. It would have to be a fast start and the inline wasn't an ideal way to do it on. But it had to be done, no amount of whining was going to change that.

Having run that route practically every weekend during the MPIB clinic sessions, I was all too familiar with every inch of the route. Everyone did a great job with their respective legs, no doubts about it and soon enough I spotted Zane on the downhill stretch heading to the baton hand off area. Got into position for the exchange and it was time for work.

Even with an initial plan of taking the start slower, the legs decided to rebel on my earlier agreements with it and went into full speed. Speeding up an incline is normally suicidal but heck, this was just 3k so I should be able to recoup some rest at the top. Just as I headed into the turn towards the istana section, I took a 150 metre breather before continuing as quick as my legs would allow. Keeping the pace under 5 minutes, I was soon enough heading back into Padang Merbuk. 

Our claim to fame!
I was bushed from the effort but when the officials put a placing tag over my head I was bloody surprised and all the tiredness disappeared. Damn, we had just made it to 5th place, the final placing for a prize! We ran our hearts out but none of us expected a placing. I was grinning from ear to ear looking for the rest of the team. They had done a great job in their earlier legs for this. Kudos guys!

None of us could actually believe we got 5th place. Even ET Tey could hardly believe it and said 'What? Got only 5 teams taking part, ah?' ... hahaha! In true fact, we couldn't believe it ourselves either. But we were happy and weren't going to let anything dampen our short moment of fame. 

I couldn't join the rest of the team after the prize giving for the nasi lemak session as the wife and me had to head back cos we had a lot of stuff that needed to be done for the day. I hope you guys ate an extra plate or two of nasi lemak for me. With that, it's time to taper before I head off to tackle my final 42km for the year next week.

Once again, thank you Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation for the opportunity to run for you guys. This one's for you and the No Worries corporate team we ran for!