Tag Archives: malaysia

#AdeleWFOTM – Hui Xin

For the month of October (or whatever that’s left of it), we have Hui Xin!

Sorry for the delay this month. I got caught up with my research project and NEARLY missed this month’s feature.

Anyway! Back to Hui Xin – you might know her as the girl behind Run89. Indeed, she is one of the co-founders of the running group. Her fire and enthusiasm for running and just her overall outlook on living an active life continues to inspire me. Read on to find out more about her!

1. How long have you been running?

I started running since 2013.

2. How did you get into it?

Initially, I ran to lose weight.

When I heard that my favourite sports brand was organising a road race event, I registered! After signing up, I started to train for it. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with running!  It’s like a drug!

 3. You’re the co-founder of the Run89 crew. Tell us more about that!

Sure! Ru89 is more than just running and working out as a group, we are like a family with strong bonds! Besides running together, we travel together too and we will try our best to host a trip at least once a year! It is really fun to be with them.

We are also very grateful for all the support from Nike. We had a chance to attend many interesting events and meet other runners from different parts of the world! These are some of the best memories for the crew!

Our slogan is “Stronger with every stride” – which means in everything we do, every step that we take, will make us better and stronger!

4. Your profession/work:

Store Design & Construction Executive

5. How do you juggle work and running?

When I started my new job, it was a bit difficult to juggle both. But after a while, I managed to adapt. I will try to run at least 5km if there wasn’t any special activities going on that day.

6. Do you have a training schedule? What is it like?

My training schedule in a week looks something like this:

3 days of speed work

2 days of easy running/light workout/cross training/badminton

Race or LSD on weekends

7. Who do you usually train/run with?

My running buddies! This running community is huge and there will always be a familiar face whenever I go running! It’s great!

If we have similar running menu for that day, we will train together. Otherwise, we will catch up after training!

8. You also host weekly group core training on Tuesdays. Could you tell us more about that?

R89 Blastfit is hosted by Sabbie (Sabrina Lim) and myself. We both LOVE to workout! At first, we wanted to gather just a few of our BFFs for a group workout. We recognised that girls are quite shy to step out and we wanted to create a safe space to do just that.

We took this oppotunity to initiate the concept of “GIRL POWER”, where we can just be as strong as the boys. We are so blessed that the group has somehow grown into a big family!

 9. Which was your most memorable race event and why!

Definitely the Osaka Marathon! For now, it is my favourite running event! Everything is beautiful in Japan! The Osaka Marathon uses the rainbow as their theme color every year. Each color has a different meaning. The medals are also always beautifully designed. One of the main highlights that I really love is that there’s a whole row of Japanese food stalls at around the 30km mark.

The route is also always filled with passionate supporters, cheering for the runners and providing aids. You can also find cosplayers, which are fun to look out for!

Last but not least, the Osaka marathon’s route is totally flat with only one flyover incline at around the 37th km mark which makes it a totally perfect route to hit your PB!

 10. Favourite distance:

10km / 21km

 12. Other than running, what do you like to do?

I love working out in general and also Muay Thai!

13. Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

I would like to share how running has changed me to be a better person. Before running, I was shy and someone who didn’t like to share and talk to people.

But through running, I got to know people from different stages of life and got to learn a lot from them. Besides being able to help you destress and have a more positive outlook of your life, running does make you think and realise that there are better things that exist in this world.

Thank you so much for sharing Hui Xin! Running (especially in a group) CAN be SO FUN! If you’re interested to join them for running or for a workout on Tuesdays (for the ladies only!), check out their FB page and Instagram.

Typhoid Fever: Everything You Need To Know

*Science geek alert! This post is written purely out of interest. Microbiology was one of my favourite subjects back in University.*

With the recent typhoid fever outbreak in Malaysia, I thought I’d provide some totally useless information that might not save your life. Of course, I threw in some relevant info as well.

The Useless BUT Interesting typhoid-mary-1

Typhoid Mary

  • Mary Mallone AKA Typhoid Mary was the first person in the US to be identified as a healthy carrier of the bacteria
  • Between 1896-1906, she worked as a cook in 7 homes around NYC. During that time, there were 28 cases of typhoid fever in those homes
  • She was arrested and sent to a hospital for isolation purposes
  • She was found to be shedding large amounts of the bacteria
  • She was released and she pledged to never cook or serve food again
  • She BROKE her promise, changed her name, cooked and evaded capture for 5 years
  • Caught and imprisoned for 23 years until her death
  • TOTAL DAMAGE: She was responsible for 10 outbreaks, 53 cases and 3 deaths

The Not So Useless

Salmonella Typhi

Salmonella Typhi is the bacterium that causes typhoid fever. It is a Gram negative (reaction to Gram stain test to differentiate bacteria by their physical and chemical properties of their cell walls), rod shaped, non-sporing and motile bacterium.salmonella

The nomenclature for bacteria is such that it begins with the GENUS followed by the SPECIES. Both are italicised with the species beginning in lower case, ie: Lactobacillus acidophilus.

The exception exists for Salmonella Typhi because ‘Typhi’ is the serotype. There are many species, subspecies and serotypes for Salmonella that it took scientist a long time to come to a consensus.

Typhoid Fever

Transmission

  • Contaminated food or water with faecal particles (Basically, SHIT)

Prevention is always better than treatment. Knowing how the bacteria is transmitted can help you escape (at best) infection. Humans are the only known reservoir for the bacteria.

Unfortunately, there are healthy chronic carriers (10-15% of patients) in our midst. This means that although they have recovered from typhoid fever, they continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill and healthy carriers shed the bacteria in their faeces.

What you can do:

According to the CDC: “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it”

  • Drink BOILED water and consume COOKED (HOT) foodIMG_8727
  • Wash your hands, keep them clean
  • Get vaccinated (effective in 67% of cases)

What the authorities can do:

  • Ensure sewage systems are fully functioning
  • Chlorination of water
  • Find the SOURCE
  • Carriers under surveillance

Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Malaise (general body weakness)
  • Myalgia (pain in the muscles)
  • High Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal discomfort

Pathogenesis

  • The bacteria attaches to the intestinal lining
  • MULTIPLIES
  • Burrows through the intestinal wall
  • Enters bloodstream
  • Endotoxin released when the bacteria is lysed and can lead to shock and high fever
  • Incubation period can be long, between 1-3 weeks

Untreated mortality rate 15-20%

Early treatment reduces rate by 1%

Treatment

Drug of choice is Ceftriaxone although there are some resistance

Alternatives: Chloramphenicol and Ampicillin

 

2014 in a FLASH!

Is it just me or did 2014 passed by in two blinks? We have come to the last page of the last chapter of the year. To say that 2014 was an awesome year is an UNDERSTATEMENT!1620520_10153006265161388_8679834674850829399_nI don’t even know where to start! It has been a big year of experiences, learning, triumphs, celebration, failures, lessons, discoveries, realisation and such. I will try (YES, TRY!) to summarise the running/fitness related aspects of 2014.1620470_689034887876265_5509030869444227803_n

This year, my running life has taken a huge leap. What started out as a mere pass time evolved into one of the main players for much of 2014. I didn’t even know running was THIS big of a thing. I mean, look at the number of running groups and the number of people running! Before 2014, I knew nobody in the running community (I didn’t even know it existed!). Now, I am blessed with so many of them!

So, let’s see what I got up to!10885314_10153006293721388_3457171254213537215_nFirst win of the year!

A few note-worthy points (in no particular order):

– Became a Puma Pacer (and now one of the leaders of the Puma Running Club)

-Competed in 25 races

-Finished on the podium/within the prizes for 24/25 of them

-First year being up on ANY podium and finishing within the prizes (Never came close to winning before 2014)

-Managed 5 champion titles in a row

-Became a part of Team Dirigo

-Ran my first Half Marathon (2XU Compression Run 2014 – 3rd place)

-Ran my first Full Marathon (SCKLM 2014) and finished in 3rd place (BQ too!)

-Featured in a magazine and having my running/health related articles published on Healthworks.my

-Meeting a whole COMMUNITY of runners

-Being able to inspire other people

-One of the pacers for the Puma Night Run 2014

-Became a Puma Sponsored Athlete

-Ran my first trail run

-Took part in my first relay race followed by a few more (Mix team of 5 – ParX 2014, All-girls team – Allianz Pacesetters Relay 2014, 2-women team – Putrajaya Relay Trail Run 2014, Mix team of 2 – Serama Adventure Race 2014)

These are just a few of the many significant moments in my running life. I have much to be grateful and thankful for.10415655_10153006265271388_4515075272361293232_nLive with no regrets! I am truly humbled by all the experiences, both the good and the bad. Learn from your bad experiences. Your best stories stem from overcoming past failures.

KEEP LEARNING, STAND TALL & NEVER GIVE UP!

10888750_10153006300126388_4729946694401520071_n 10882284_10153006300131388_7424685058556949884_nOk, show and tell is over (teehee!). Now all I gotta’ do is find a place to stash my trophies and medals. It is important to not let your victories go to your head, or your failures to go to your heart. Try not to dwell in your wins and achievements. Yes, they are a form of motivation and it is okay to celebrate but remember to move on. Life is about continuous improvement and moving forward. Never settle for less when you can do SO MUCH MORE!

Ok… MOVING ON!10551723_10152188831976048_5235394676202937990_o

Running has been very rewarding. It works both ways. You can help yourself AND other people along the way.

This year, I realised how important it is to surround yourself with people who truly love, grow and respect you for who you are.

The Puma Running Club

1013612_10153006265136388_2505356129743788350_nI have blogged about this before but it deserves another mention!

This was where it ALL BEGAN (in Dec 2013). It was my first running club and also my first time running with a group of runners. Gone were the days where I ran alone and knew nobody whenever I took part in races. The Puma Family took me in and sucked me into the running world. From there, I came to know even MORE running groups (Cari Runners etc) as well as other runners. For the first time, I was exposed to specific training sessions (Intervals, hill sprints, tempo, etc.). I could see how these sessions were beneficial – I joined more races after taking running more seriously.

10418338_10153006266911388_5341767127642031668_nThe Puma Running Club has been a way for me to help other runners attain their running goals. This was why I agreed to be a part of the Puma Pacer team – to give back to the running community. I know what it takes to work hard for something and reaping the rewards. I want everyone to have that experience. I love to see people achieving their goals through pure blood, sweat and tears. Their expressions are almost always PRICELESS!

1458523_10205867507186460_7536537097201103768_nIn just one year, the Puma Running Club has grown from a few members to a group so big that we can barely handle!

10393881_10153006265451388_6187128639751867794_nThank you for the immense support. Look out for 2015! We have a lot in store for you. We promise to do our best to make every session a smashing one.10403650_10205625191848728_628064876195492104_n

We want to help YOU!

The Running Community

10897776_10153006266451388_3001890739474425903_nThe A TEAM!

The Puma Running Club was the stepping stone to a huge running community that I hadn’t known existed – the Cari Runners and all the friends that I have met along the way! 10882285_10153006265236388_3250072281001828173_nMy ultimate supporter! He wakes up at ungodly hours, drives me to races, waits for me, takes photos/videos and cheers me on! Who else does that? HAH! Thank you for always waiting at the finishing line and being there at my most difficult times! You’re the best! 10888760_10153006265361388_1417554876376447945_nMore than just my training partner. Thank you for teaching me a thing or two about running! I was always the blur one. I don’t know what I’d do without you! She’s an inspiration, a girl with a big heart and a strong mind. 1459303_10153006264936388_2416102104081054634_nFunny how we were all at the same race back in  2013 (we didn’t know each other back then) and look at where we are today!10385376_10152877422980798_8783970220212712765_n10846221_10205960870400482_1256925157986124445_n 1970551_10152773734976388_2562369935450847234_n 15903_10153006266406388_3024720723238382524_n10357513_4681225566059_1085154803915653212_nThe big brother when it comes to running. He knows what he’s talking about! Thank you for bringing me into the Puma Running Club (and then quitting at the end!). Also, for your advice and support!10644790_10153006300136388_1007695928296009072_nThe ever friendly ATM gang.10882309_10153006266866388_2063760121912757528_n 1940020_10152492822162146_6244093865986023529_nTraining and running with a bunch of people that I had just came to know is not something that I would normally do. The immense support, encouragement and motivation from this group made running that much more fun and exciting! THANK YOU!

Team Dirigo

This was probably THE BIGGEST thing that happened. 10881565_10153006266791388_8749098935376212435_n

The try-outs.10384194_10153006266556388_2144342878471011419_n

Trying out for Team Dirigo was something I did out of curiosity. I wanted to see where I stood, and what I was capable of with my new found dedication to the sport. I didn’t expect to be picked for the team! I initially signed up for the 21KM category for SCKLM 2014. That would have been my first 21KM, and my longest race ever. Little did I know that I was required to run the full marathon with Team Dirigo!

10892021_10153006265721388_5992085982191018718_nTraining alongside other professional athletes under a proper running coach was an experience of a lifetime. Any form of proper training was new to me. We had a structured training program to follow and many intense track sessions. Serious stuff! All the athletes displayed focus, dedication, discipline and determination. I was exposed to a whole new world of running. It was a different ball game and I had much to learn. Thankfully, Coach Mark and my Dirigo mates were with me at every step of the way.

10334328_10153006265806388_5552079757136952395_nBig thanks to Coach Mark and Team Dirigo for seeing me through my FIRST FULL MARATHON! I have always hated long distance running. Anything beyond 10KM was crazy far. I was actually looking forward to the day when I would actually run my first full marathon, which was probably somewhere in the distant future. I guess being a part of Team Dirigo accelerated that process!

10885023_10153006265501388_817482605669920992_n 10474454_10153006265556388_1592770420384951914_nI didn’t expect to complete, BQ AND be up on the podium for my first full marathon. Truly an experience to remember. I want to thank everyone that helped me get up there. Your support means the world to me. I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

1606392_10152272435546048_6098132874055233043_oStill, I wouldn’t consider myself as a long distance runner, far from it actually. But I am slowly learning what it takes to become one. I am truly honoured to be part of Team Dirigo and to be training under Coach Mark Williams. Thank you for not giving up on me.

10676247_10153006265981388_5709845855204752351_nThis year has taught me a lot on how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have never pushed myself so hard and so far before. I have achieved PBs that I never thought was possible. There really is no limit when it comes to running. Sometimes, it’s not about what you have. It’s about what you do with what you have.

10336688_10153006264781388_2870504447090831086_nWith the new-year upon us, take some time to reflect and to determine your next step. Take on challenges and new experiences. Head confidently into adventures that would take you to new horizons. Believe in yourself and keep an open mind.

10906284_10153006264796388_2984097916222741365_nI pray to God for a good 2015, giving all praise and glory to Him for whatever happened in 2014! 10603720_10153006266246388_3815644368845847000_nSo stoked for what is yet to come! THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

 

Post-race Report: Serama Adventure Race 2014

Warning: This is going to be a long read. Expect a relatively detailed report of the event

Muhaizar, fellow Dirigo mate, asked Chooi Fern, Daniel and I if we were interested in taking part in a mix team (1 male, 1 female) adventure race in Malacca. It was the first time I had ever heard of such an event.

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This event includes running AND completing several tasks along the way.

He commented that running alone can be boring and that this was something different to break away from the monotony of running. As Muhaizar explained further, we were intrigued! Although we displayed interest, we were still undecided until 1.5 weeks before race day! There were many things that we had to consider (transport, accommodation etc). Yep, the last minute heroes. HAH!

Logistics were easily sorted. Muhaizar offered his place and said that we need not worry about anything. He handled the registration and collected our race kits. Thankfully, we managed to purchase our bus tickets just 2 days before leaving to Malacca.

Pre-race Day

It is the holiday season and I was still very much in the holiday mood. I didn’t think much about preparing for this race. The whole week was filled with easy runs, some core workouts and swimming sessions coupled with A LOT OF FOOD! I had a lot of late nights too which was why I woke up at noon on Saturday. I had a few hours to pack and get some stuff sorted before leaving to the bus station.

I arrived just 10 minutes before the bus left! PHEW! As you read on, you will notice that we had a lot of “JUST IN TIME” moments. The bus left at 5pm sharp.

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We had a lot of time to kill.

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“Studying” for his exams. HAAAAAAAA!

Without much traffic, the journey took about 2 hours.

Muhaizar picked us up from Sentral Melaka at around 8pm.

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We went for dinner with a few of his friends who were also participating in the race the next day. We were supposed to head to the Serama camp site at 8.45pm for a short race day briefing. Of course, we were fashionably LATE!

The organizer held a separate briefing session specially for us. The race distance was 16 KM with 7 obstacles to complete along the way. It was 95% trail/gravel with 5% of road. After the briefing session, we left for Muhaizar’s crib at 10pm.

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His home was warm and comfy. Chooi Fern and I shared a room with a double bed.

Took a cold shower after a long day of being on the road. We chilled for a bit before finally deciding to sleep at 12.30am.

Race Day

Chooi Fern and I got up pretty early. We set the alarm at 4.55am. The whole house was dark and quiet. The boys were still sleeping soundly.

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Sleepy faces.

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Matching socks! These socks have the right amount of cushion to prevent blistering. I wear them for all my trail runs!

I took a cold shower and changed into my race outfit. I continued to roll around on the bed before finally deciding to get up to have breakfast. I had a slice of chocolate raisin bread, biscuits and a cold drink while reading a comic book. By then, it was already 5.50am and the boys WERE STILL SLEEPING!

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Muhaizar finally got up at around 6am. The race flag off was at 7am and we were a good 15-20 minutes’ drive away from the race venue. He seemed really cool, as though we had loads of time to kill. I thought he was joking when he mentioned (the day before) that we were going to leave his place at 6.30am.

We left at 6.35am (finally!). The rest of us were feeling very nervous that we would miss the flag off! Muhaizar was cutting it so close! We arrived at 6.55am (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Obviously, we missed the final briefing at 6.30am. HAH! As we got down from the car, Muhaizar said that these events wouldn’t usually start on time, sometimes even an hour later. I believed him and slowly strolled to queue for the toilet (which took forever!). While I was still in the toilet, the marshal announced that we were 5 minutes away from the flag off (WHAT?!).

I rushed to the starting line just seconds before the gun went off (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Muhaizar was nowhere in sight! I poked my head into the crowd, trying to locate him. I wasn’t all that concern because I knew that he would be able to catch up with me. As long as I made sure that I started with the pack, we will be fine.

I started off alone and ran ahead. I made my way to third place. Soon after, Muhaizar caught up with me and said that he had gone to the toilet. GASP! We had a pretty good start. About 1KM in, we made our way to second place.

1st Checkpoint

The first task was a modified version of the ring toss game. We had to toss 5 rubber bands into sticks that were placed on a log. We completed this task fairly quick and we were off to the second check point.

2nd Checkpoint

The male had to play some tunes with the bamboos provided while the female had to dance along to it. This task felt as though they had ran out of ideas. Didn’t spend 2 minutes on this and we were off.

Along the way, Muhaizar picked up a black belt from the road. He tied it onto the back of his water pouch which carried 2 bottles of electrolyte drink and told me to hold onto the other end of the belt. Holding onto it meant that I couldn’t swing my arms much. He was going really fast and I couldn’t keep up, I had to let go of the belt. I was tired and my legs felt like lead. By then, another group had overtaken us.

3rd Checkpoint

I slowed down to consume my gel. We were in 3rd place when we arrived at the 3rd check point. We were given two raffia strings and we were required to braid it in a certain way. Instructions and a model were given but we didn’t want to waste any time going through them. Muhaizar seemed like he knew what he was doing and I just followed his instructions. We had some trouble with this task and we took quite a while. Chooi Fern and Daniel caught up with us. Crazy fast! They were in the IPT category which flagged off after the Open category.

4 teams went ahead of us when we finally got the green light from the marshal. GAH! Muhaizar said that we could still make our way to top 3.

He left me for a while and told me to run ahead. I ran, without looking back. Soon after, he caught up with me. He had made this rubber band loop big enough to loop around my waist with the other end attached to his water pouch. I thought that it was rope that he had brought along but in actual fact, he made it from scratch! He was so resourceful. It helped quite a bit, especially when it came to going up the hills. I felt a forward thrust. All I had to do was make sure that my legs were still moving. He told me to relax and maintain proper running form.

4th Checkpoint

He was blazing away through the trails. We managed to overtake one or two groups (I cannot recall) before reaching the 4th check point. Here, the male was required to make a catapult for the female to use it to shoot one of the few cans that were hanging on strings. Muhaizar was pretty experienced and he made it with ease. I, on the other hand, took quite a bit of time trying to hit the hanging tin cans with it. WHOOOOPS!

3 teams took off ahead of us before I finally managed to hit one of the cans. As we were about to leave, Chooi Fern and Daniel arrived. They didn’t know what to do but we didn’t have time to stay back to help them. SORRY!

The rest of the tasks were back at the base where the race started. This was our last stretch of running before heading back to base. Muhaizar ran fast and I had to follow closely. Running downhill was a real killer because he was directly in front of me. I couldn’t see what was ahead and where my next step was. If either of us slipped, it would have been an ugly mess.

There were SO many times where I wanted to give up to slow down to a walk. My mind was blank and fuzzy, I was tired, I couldn’t feel my legs, I could barely breath and I was THIS close to puking. If I was running my own race, I wouldn’t have pushed myself THIS hard. Muhaizar kept throwing advice and motivational mantras at me. He told me to keep my mind focused and strong. There was no room for slack.

A few KMs in and we overtook our first target. Soon after, we spotted our next target. Muhaizar further increased his speed and said that we had to overtake them. All I could think of was: OHMYGOODNESSAREYOUKIDDINGME! I was dying, literally.

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Just a few hundred meters away from the base and we made our way back to 2nd place.

5th Checkpoint

There were 2 tasks to be completed simultaneously. I went to do the flying fox while Muhaizar went on to separate 5 different types of beans.

Having experience in climbing and having done the flying fox before, I geared up pretty quickly. The marshal told me to read the safety rules first but I totally ignored him. My brain was still too fuzzy to process anything and I already knew what I had to do.

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After collecting the ribbon for the flying fox task, I went to help Muhaizar.

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We spent close to 10 minutes sorting the beans before moving on to the last two tasks.

6th Checkpoint

We had 2 tasks to complete at this checkpoint.

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It was a mini obstacle course. We had to go over the wall, push down a barrel filled with water, roll it across the field, put it upright, commando crawl under the tape and ring the bell before going through the obstacle course again in the other direction.

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Lastly, we had to pick a tube, get into the water and paddle across the lake.

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We were still in 2nd place when we got into the water. I paddled relatively fast but the other team was even FASTER! Just a few meters before heading back to shore, they overtook us.

We collected our ribbons just seconds apart. The last stretch was about 200 meters of running to the finish line. We were THIS CLOSE to catching up to them. We finished in 3rd place, just seconds (and 5 meters away) from the team ahead of us. They did an AMAZING JOB! Hats off to them!

I couldn’t be happier to finally cross the finish line. I was totally drained of whatever energy I had left.

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Muhaizar and I were chilling at the café when we saw Chooi Fern getting onto the tube. She didn’t know how to get onto one. Instead of lying on her back, she went on her belly. She spent a good few minutes spinning around and not getting anywhere. The worse part was that Daniel was already halfway across the lake! HE DID NOT WAIT FOR HER (HAHA!)!

We ran down to the lake to give her some tips on what to do. After shouting our lungs out, she finally managed to paddle her way across the lake. At the same time, we were scolding Daniel to go back to drag her along (in the end, he did go back for her). We had a REALLY GOOD LAUGH!

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Had a nice icy cold shower before noming on our Subway sandwich that was provided. SO FAMISHED! Every bite was OH-SO-GOOD! Probably the best Subway sandwich ever!

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Team THUNDER TIGER (Muhaizar’s idea)!

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I was shocked to know that Chooi Fern and Daniel (Trade Hunter) came in 6th place (one team was disqualified). Later on, I found out that they had spent close to 20 minutes at the 4th checkpoint! They had a 5-10 min lead all the way to the 4th checkpoint! Gah! Wasted. This goes to show that speed alone wouldn’t guarantee a win. At least they can learn from this experience. Till the next race guys!

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DRENCHED!

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Free flow of food and drinks!

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After the prize giving ceremony, lucky draw and photo-taking session, we left for round 2 of food!

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The ATM (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) gang packed some grub and we headed to the famous coconut shake place!

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COCONUT SHAKE tasted so good, especially after a hard run!

It was 2.45pm and we had to leave to Muhaizar’s place, pack up our stuff and rush to the bus station before 4pm. Another “JUST-IN-TIME” moment when we arrived just 5 minutes before the bus left.

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I want to thank Muhaizar for this really fun experience! He was a really good teammate. Although I was pretty much a total blur case, there were no arguments involved (he was very patient!). He took good care of me throughout the race, making sure I had enough to drink and guiding me along the trails. He pushed me really hard and kept me motivated. If this were a road race, I think I would have hit a PB! Also, he made our stay pleasant and fuss free. Everything was taken cared of. All we had to do was show up and run!

It was a good catch up-run session. We haven’t met since the Standard Chartered KL Marathon!

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Terima Kasih Muhaizar, the ATM gang and the race organizers for this awesome experience! Great fun! We will be back for more!

 

Marathon Debut – Standard Chartered KL Marathon

Whoop! Completed my first full marathon recently at the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. It was an amazing, heart-stopping, mind-draining, tear jerking experience…… with an unexpected podium finish! This is a long one. Grab yourself some popcorn and read on!

How I got myself into this mess (joining the Full Marathon):

Dirigo Events held a 5KM speed trial to select athletes for the Dirigo Athlete Development Program. Trying out for Team Dirigo was something I did out of curiosity. I wanted to see where I stood, and what I was capable of. I didn’t expect to be picked for the team! Also, I didn’t know that I was required to run the full marathon with Team Dirigo. This was after I signed the contract. I only knew about it during our first training session with Coach Mark (back in July).

At that time, I still had mixed feelings towards running a marathon. I hadn’t plan on doing so until maybe a year or two later. But I went on with the program, thinking that if I wasn’t good enough they would pull me out anyway. I had nothing to lose.

All of our training sessions together were done on the track. From there, it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t a distance runner. I didn’t have that kind of endurance to run a marathon (at my goal time, at least). They expected all of us to finish on the podium and I knew that I was nowhere near it (I couldn’t even see myself in the Top10). Not just yet. I am glad that Coach Mark didn’t give up on me. He continued to encourage me and push me during our training sessions. It was really tough, but also very satisfying. The first time I ever felt like puking while running was during his training session.

The hardest part for me was putting in the mileage. That meant more time spent on the road and less time with family and friends. I thank them for being so understanding and putting up with my horrible schedule (you know who you are!). I had to make a lot of sacrifices, even time for myself.

10557313_10152828557911388_2548100072912235335_nThere were many ups and downs along the way, both mentally and physically. Physically, at the beginning of stamina phase, every part of me was hurting. Ankles, hamstrings, calves……EVERYTHING! There were the tough times when I was so frustrated and so drained of energy that I just wanted to give up on the whole thing. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be running under Team Dirigo and Coach Mark. Every time Coach Mark reminded me of my goal time, I can’t help but to think that he was out of his mind. I shunned his goal time for me by giving myself all sorts of excuses: never ran a marathon before, no experience etc (Sorry Coach! But this is the truth). Mentally, I wasn’t prepared to run a marathon.

1911604_10152828557956388_1905644860879136802_nWeek after week, I continued to press on. Run, run, run! Dragging my feet to put in the mileage. I got a slight confidence boost after my first Half Marathon followed by my 2nd Half Marathon 6 days later. That was 2 weeks out from race day and finally, I felt ready. I was mentally ready, if not physically. There was no better time to run a marathon. I told myself that the time was NOW. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from it. Anything between 3:45-4:00, that was my goal (I was being realistic).

Race Day:

10713002_10152828566741388_757989984552150196_nThe days leading up to race day were stressful. I was torn between enjoying my first full marathon experience and living up to expectations.

I had the usual pre-race jitters, except that it was magnified 10-fold. I was overwhelmed by the wave of emotions that I was feeling. Excited, worried, happy, anxious…… you name it, I felt it! I only managed to put in 2 hours of sleep the night before. I was also suffering from gastric the past few days leading up to race day, probably because I wasn’t used to the amount of carbohydrates that I was putting in (more on that in my next post!).

At 1.30am, my eyes were wide opened. I fuelled on a powerbar and a slice of bread. I didn’t want to eat anything more because I didn’t know what 42.2KM would do to my stomach.

Upon arrival at the race venue, I went to look for Coach Mark (because he asked us to but he was too busy with the pacers). Bumped into the sister (Chooi Fern) who apparently had gastric issues as well! Oh, the pain! I didn’t have time to do a proper warm up because I decided to change my shorts 20 minutes before the flag off. The shorts that I changed into had zippers and a bigger pocket to store my gels (3 packs). When you’re out there for 42.2KM, EVERYTHING MATTERS.

1470328_10152828557876388_5381660532147718019_nI was given the privilege to enter Pen A. I was right up front with all the pros. I certainly did not belong there (Haaaaaaaa!). Standing there, I couldn’t believe it. I was about to start my first FULL MARATHON! I was still unsure of my goals. My final mind-set was to DO MY BEST! And that was it.

We were off at 4.30am. I was running alongside the sister and Yu Fang. We started off at a pretty good pace, a bit too fast but still relaxed enough.

Once we hit the major highway (AKLEH), they sped off. I slowed down to the pace that I was supposed to be running at. After about 15KM, negative thoughts started to creep in. I was already thinking about the miles ahead and how it was never going to come to an end. I wasn’t even halfway through! It affected my performance and I felt extremely tired. I had to focus my energy on shutting out the negativity. I kept telling myself: “YOU GOT THIS!” And, it worked. Just like that.

10153041_10152828566676388_8090493810008577660_nThe whole event was really well organised. Dirigo Events nailed it! Volunteers were found at every major turn which made it impossible to lose your way. Water stations, sponges and toilets were placed at every 2/3KM. The only problem was that the other runners took Team Dirigo’s pre-prepared drinks. We were told that we had a separate drink station and that our specially prepared drinks were labelled with a black sticker. None of us managed to grab any.

I had to make-do with whatever that was provided. I made it a point to take a sip at every drink station. After what happened in Terengganu, skipping water stations was a big NONO! I didn’t think or plan which drink to consume (water or the isotonic drink). I grabbed whichever was convenient. And of course, THE SPONGES! Miracle sponges! I turned back twice just to get em’. Once was because Zi Shen took the sponge from the volunteer that I had planned to take it from (STEALER!) and the other was because the volunteer didn’t let it go! Oh, and when Zi Shen caught up with me all he could say was: “4.45 pace”. SPOT ON, i thought.

I was pretty much alone throughout the journey along the 2 major highways (AKLEH and DUKE). It was a long lonely run. Just me and my iPod. I kept talking to myself, smiling to myself, checking out the view, thinking about life, work, family, friends etc. I was also busy calculating my average pace whenever I came across the distance marker. Oh, the things you do when you don’t own a GPS. At least it kept my brain occupied! Sounds pretty crazy but this is what you have to do to keep yourself on track. Also, my mind was consumed by the fear of someone overtaking me along the way (thankfully, nobody did).

10704180_10152828625871388_2003672604511677509_nI think I nailed it pretty well, even without a GPS! I try not to rely too much on gadgets. Know your pace, feel it and lock it in. I was still on track (to hitting my goal time) all the way till about KM 40. And then it went downhill from there. Whoops!

I suffered side stitches (after 10KM) and signs of gastric pain along the way. I had to deal with the pain by not thinking about it. I consumed my gels at KM 15, KM 20 ish and KM 30 ish respectively. The gel taken at KM 30 ish had 1X caffeine. Thank God my body didn’t react to the caffeine in a bad way. Every time I drank or took my gel, I had this lingering fear that my stomach would reject it.

10502065_10152828558081388_3921605657549519550_nWhat’s your running mantra? I usually go with: “If not now, when?”

I expected to hit the wall at KM 30. Before this, I’ve been told countless of times that the real challenge begins after 30KM and that I WILL HIT THE WALL. Thankfully, I didn’t hit the wall (at least not until KM 35-36) or suffer any serious cramps (I was also expecting this to happen). I felt the onset of cramps whenever I slowed down to grab a drink. The solution? JUST KEEP RUNNING. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other, KM after KM. I held on to whatever that would keep me motivated: a smile from a volunteer, a wave, a cheer, the view, the sunrise…… anything! I also made it a point to acknowledge their presence (the volunteers). Thanks to Hui Xin, Cindy, Vic, Elaine and Yuki who cheered me on during the run! So much love!

By the time I hit the Bukit Tungku hill, I was tempted to start walking. But I knew that if I had started walking, it would be very hard to bounce back to the pace that I was at. Also, I wouldn’t forgive myself if someone were to overtake me at the last few KM!

At KM 38, we merged with the Half Marathon and the 10KM group. I knew that I was close to the finish line! SO CLOSE! Just 4 more miserable KMs! My toes were numb and my feet were burning. I wanted to speed up but I just couldn’t. I caught up with Yu Fang and I tried to stay as close to her as possible. But I was going REALLY SLOW. I couldn’t calculate my pace because the timer on my watch stopped at 3 hours and 12 minutes. I had a few seconds of happiness when I saw that my watch read 3:12 during the last 2KM (but in actual fact it had already stopped ticking). It did give me some motivation though. Chee Wai bumped into me at the last 500m. Thanks for cheering me on and partially wanting to wait for me. The last 500m felt like 5KM. KILLER!

10710568_10152828556906388_107453096785912263_nSpecial thanks to Victor and Elaine for the picture! They traded sleep to take pictures for both BSN and SCKLM!

I cannot quite describe how I felt running down that last stretch to the finish line. FINALLY! 42.2KM! My dad and brother called out to me as I ran pass. I did not expect to see them there and I was just so happy. Kevin recorded my finish and grabbed me by the side after I crossed the finish line. I could barely walk after running for over 3 hours. At the same time, I was choking up in tears and trying to catch my breath. Everything was blur and fuzzy. I was just too overwhelmed (and very relieved that it was over), exhausted too.

1899961_10152828557821388_2933958739922416704_nThe volunteers hung the 3rd placing badge over my head and I was immediately ushered to the winner’s tent. The next thing I remember was the sister screaming and running towards me to give me a hug. So happy to see her! She went straight for the gold! Awesome stuff! Coach Mark came to check on us and that smile on his face was priceless. I still couldn’t believe that I managed 3rd place!

10698470_10152828558166388_200532651006400873_nWe had to be quarantined in the winner’s tent until we went through the procedures for the doping test. They expected us to pee in a cup after running a marathon (at least 90ml). Seriously? We were already so dehydrated the last thing we could do is pee.

10629709_10152828557396388_1566355223043383765_n 1016573_10152828557481388_1261461103652750572_n 10690105_10152828557286388_2772804736156660894_nWhile waiting for the urge to pee, we hung around the area and chilled out. I pumped myself with 1.8L of water which my body rejected soon after. Purple-blue vomit! Probably due to the gel.

10671404_10152828557611388_5616199517383692030_n 10500443_10152828557731388_2439921601636654416_nWhen the adrenaline started to wear off, I suffered a major headache and felt so sick in the stomach. I felt a lot better after drinking the 100plus provided. The tent was filled with yummy food but I didn’t have the appetite for it. I didn’t have anything to eat until about 12pm. I was too caught up with everything that I was required to do. Filling up forms, getting my IC checked etc. I was very frustrated that I wasn’t allowed out of the tent. I couldn’t meet up with my friends who were there too!

1620460_10152828625891388_8236984567170413797_n3 minutes off my goal time but definitely not what I had in mind. 10703740_10152828557216388_7223643428478922369_nI remember what Coach Mark said to us in the car on the very first day of our training: “You guys will be up on the podium and I will be there with you. And you will remember this moment in my tiny little car where it all began. It is right there for you. You just have to believe in it.”

I never would have believed him, EVER!

Muhaizar! Team Dirigo’s Male Champ! Daniel and Uma did really well too. GO Team D!

After the prize giving ceremony, the sister and I stuck around for a good 2 hours before we could give them our urine sample. We left at about 1pm. Dropped Daniel off and headed home.

What a roller coaster ride! I still cannot put into words about how I feel about this whole experience. Too amazing. I am very grateful and very humbled by it. Hats off to everybody who has ever attempted to run a marathon. Standard Chartered KL Marathon was the perfect place for my Marathon debut. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Once again, thank you Dirigo Events (Rainer Biemens, Gloria Ng), Coach Mark Williams, Team Dirigo (Chooi Fern, Daniel, Muhairzar, Uma), Darnis, Maarof, Nik, Brooks, Powerbar…… Your support means the world to us.

10520600_10152828558126388_4378788326007986911_nI’m still new to this whole marathon thing. I wouldn’t consider myself as a long distance runner, far from it actually. But I am slowly learning what it takes to become one. I am truly honoured to be part of Team Dirigo and to be training under Coach Mark Williams. I have never pushed myself so hard and so far before. I have achieved PBs that I never thought was possible. There really is no limit when it comes to running. You just have to believe in yourself and see what you can do. If you put your heart into it, anything is possible.

I am very excited and anxious for what is yet to come.

This is just the beginning!

10670104_10152828556851388_7982515372125200644_nOh, and I own one of these things now. I’m officially a Marathoner!

When we remember that our STRENGTH is a result of God’s GRACE, we are kept humble.

All Glory, Honour and Power

belongs to You.