Wednesday, December 29, 2010

KRI 12km Run: Killer Hills

Home run...

The next day after the Cameron's bike leg, was the KRI run which I had signed up. Starting course is exactly same as the KRI's century's ride, that I've participated last year.

Thanks to Lydia Yeow who had helped took my bib, albeit they put me in the wrong category. So a new one has to be written.

Ray Ng & Michelle where there too, which was a surprise cause I think they would lay off after Angkor Wat run.

Before the start, I didn't expect much. Just see if I could run as possibly fast as I could. I did hope that the previous cycling adventure haven't left me debilitated.

After the horn blew, and 2km into the run, it became apparent that hills will be a major hurdle. Now we are talking about elevation say 30-40% at certain stretch. All I could do is making sure running cadence goes up on uphills, then sprint like mad on the downhill.

In this manner I was able to hold 3 and 4th position throughout the race. But as always, I don't want to press the accelerator to the max, cause I don't know the route. I don't know if one downhill will lead to another uphill, so I had to stay safe.

But there's one guy behind whom I tried to keep a safe distance. I didn't knew that he (Wong Lip Soon) was in a different category.

Finished the race in 52 min on the dot, position 4th, much to the surprise of my younger brother.

Michelle managed to win the women's and she was even lucky to won the first lucky draw.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ride: Tapah - Brinchang

Weird name, considering this is in Perak state..
Lata Iskandar I think, water was crystal clear..

There's lots of FWD like these still ploughing the roads...

Tanah Rata...I do hope it has 'rata' terrain. Rata means flat...
Brinchang is terribly unscenic. I prefer the road up Tanah Rata from Ringlet.

This is where your tea comes from.
Alan Tan (2nd from right)

I've never done Cameron Highlands before. So, as part of the familiarization course, I decided to drive up to Tapah, to climb up to Brinchang.

The drive from KL took almost 2.5 hours. When I exited towards Tapah from the highway, it was drizzling lightly. I was thinking of actually not doing it. After some thoughts, I thought as long as it's not pouring cats & dogs, it's doable.

Parked at Kg Pahang, and started the long climb at 9:41am. At first it's a bit of flats. Then it gradually build up into an ever winding, twisty turning road, with an elevation steepness that doesn't wary much. Except for the few last km to Ringlet.

Now, I've brought a powerbar for this excursion. But when I stopped to consume it, it was actually already very old, apparently from the broken plastic cover. But being so famished from all the climbs, I took 2 bites. Then decided it's too unpalatable and threw it away.

Luckily Ringlet wasn't far. So I stopped for a hearty lunch and some drinks.

It was a bit cold as well. And I didn't actually know what the elevation was at this point.

Now Ringlet is a nice small town, and the roads aren't that steep either. I enjoyed the flats for a few km, before another long winding uphill road towards Tanah Rata. After that it's another few km to Brinchang and it's all done.

Total time up is 3:55 plus rest. Distance is 61km. So if you start from Tapah, it would be around 65km.

Then I proceeded the long trip downhill. I thought things would be great as it's mainly a downhill course. How wrong it was, when I was stuck to a fast-slow traffic headed by a bus which had to slow down to a halt while negotiating sharp turns. I couldn't find the room for overtaking as well, cause the road is terribly small without any extra emergency lane at the side.

On the way back, I met with Alan Tan, who had an unfortunate car broke down in their treasure hunt event.

After around 7 hours, I managed to reach back safely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carl Lewis The Legend

Through an invite from Jamie, Nike held a close up with the legendary Carl Lewis. He has 10 olympic gold medal to his record, with 9 of it gold.

Frankly, I've only heard about this guy. So I googled up, and was really surprised that he's in the ranks of the greats in track & field.

When he finally turned up, the audience was kind of awestruck by this big man.

There were some key important points in his talk.

1. Analyze your competition. He treats his races as a job, does alot of strategy, and analyzes his competitors strengths & weaknesses.

2 . He hardly goes to the gym to do strength training. Most of this is achieved through other methods on the field. He laments that younger sprinters are bulking up, which does not necessarily makes you faster cause you need to carry lots of bulk.

3. Before race, he trains his mind by getting in focus. This means no treating pre-race as a party.

4. You can only run your max speed for 10m. So in order to run a 100m, once you reach maximum velocity at 60m mark, the rest is maintaining posture while remaining calm. He noticed that most runners slows down considerably at the end of the 100m, so if he can maintain the speed plateau, he can pass them at the end.
*This is another aspect of sprinters which is revealing. You do push your body, but your mind has to be calm & relax to do it. Alexander Popov (olympic swimmer) does this as well. Maintaining speed efficiently is of paramount importance.

5. Get a good coach. He attributed his early success to his coaches who improved his time.

Well, he's still looking good. Although a little tummy is obvious. Finally all of us took turns to get a picture.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Long Ride: Elusive Genting

Descending to Batang Kali from Gohtong Jaya...
Fraser was hot!

Eating nasi lemak while my ride rests..

The peak finally...
It'll be another 90km over back to Gombak.

This ride is to see how long it would take to ride from Gombak, to Genting Peak and Fraser peak.

Started from Gombak (near some food stalls car park), at 8:09am. Met Vong who was waiting for a friend at the traffics, as I head up Sempah. As I passed a group of cyclist, one of them hook up behind me.

Now I tried to shake him off a few times. Well after a few KMs, managed to get him off. It's all for fun. Then it's up to Gohtong.

I was riding my roadie, and best thing is, it's compact crank. So going uphill is more pleasing. Reached Gohtong for some food.

Tried to go up the last 9km but the police won't allow. "Majikan punya arahan" according to person manning the station. Oh well, felt dejected, and headed down towards batang kali.

Now if there's cycling nirvana, this is it. I could easily go above 50kmh without doing a thing. Roads here are so steep you just zoom pass on furious speed. Some caution on the brakes will do.

Reaching the intersection to the main road is around 50km of distance. Now it's the long grinding up KKB, and Fraser peak. Nothing much to say, but the journey is exactly 96km up to gap.

Another 8km and it was 104km at the peak. I ascended using the 1pm slot. Actually reaching Gap around 12:45pm, and having nasi lemak beforehand.

2pm, and it was all the way back to KKB, Ulu yam and batu caves. I was abit cautious at the dam area. Previous mugging here made me paranoid at any motorcycle sound from behind. I had to hide my pouch bag under the shirt so as to be not that obvious.

After 9.5 hours and 197.5km, I was safely back.

Here's some interesting data:

To reach fraser gap from Genting peak, you'll need approx 3 hours. I think it was a blessing I wasn't let up, because if I did, I would have reach Gap around 1:45pm, given it'll add another hour just to ascend Genting Peak from Gohtong and coming down. By then, I'll have to wait for 3pm slot to go up.

Descending to KKB will bring the total distance to 143km. Now distance to Tapah from here will be 92.4km, and climb up to Brinchang is another 70km.

Therefore to cycle all 3 peaks should be around 320km. The insane part is more than 100km of climbs.

Now, if you could excuse me, let me jump off this building..

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Malakoff Powerman 2010

I did this race last year. However, then, it was just to replace Victor Loh, who had an unexpected injury.

So, this year, it was my first time seriously doing it. Therefore, no more cycling to Lumut like last year.

And we're kind of lucky, as it drizzled a bit before the race. Last year, it was terribly hot.

Now, the race format is to run 11km, then cycle 64km, and then run another 10km. Sounds easy compared to half Ironman,

First run. We're let off on the dot. I have no set timing for this. Just run as fast as possible. Surprisingly, I saw Don Khor and thought that I would try to match his pace. But perhaps due to my immaturity in pacing, I passed him early. Of course, he passed me soon at the path coming back for the first loop.

Finished in around 42 minutes.

Then it was bike time. Now, I have yet neglected training seriously for the bike, and it shows. Tried to gun for 40kmh but found 35, 36 to be my pace for the remainder. Now funny thing was, I thought it was only one loop, after finding out that one loop doesn't suffice for 64km. Got the better of it, and did 2 loops.

I had one powergel after the bridge.

Finally it was the last run leg. The first loop was still cool. I saw Shahrom passed me just right in front of the water station, and in his haste grab the whole water bottle as he sprinted beyond. I was beginning to get cramps on both quads. Had to get some spray on, and just hope my legs will bring me through.

2nd loop and I was just wanting to end it all.

Came back in 3:34

Congras to all who have finished it. Especially to Richard Tang who aced with 6th position in 3:20. Simon Cross would have a good nemesis coming into his age group soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cycling Genting Highlands: Riding the TT bike


Finally reaching the top...

Looks fun...don't wear a white shirt. Even the best detergent on earth won't work.

The next day after the 12km run, I was onto something else. Now it's time to see if I could ride a TT bike up there. I've been doing all my genting climb using a roadie, so this kind of intrigues. Another thing is, I've not been riding alot. Fitness was there, but riding on a bike seems so alien after months not being on one.

After parking at HOA, I departed at 8:49am, reached Genting Sempah after 50 mins. The p2k group was there as well, waiting for some other guys before their usual breakie jaunt at bkt tinggi. Then after some rest, I headed solo towards Gohtong.

Easy, it wasn't. Although I could climb, speed was really slow, but I kept at it, and standing up only if the inclination is too much to handle. After the 4km hard climb, it was an easy ride up to Gohtong.

Then comes the hard part. Riding up Genting is like going into a forbidden place. Only the staunch, experienced and hardy cyclist attempts this. And it doesn't matter how strong you are, the mountain mocks you by saying "Oh, so you've climb this far? wait till you go higher..."

Really. The hardest part of the whole route, is the last 4.4km marker. From my memory, nothing is more harder than the last 4.4km up. Cause it really is. Two very steep hairpins, and the final 300m to the arch at the top, is enough of a challenge for anyone dares to go up.

And on a TT bike, it's definitely harder. I find myself climbing in an awkward position. Trying to coax the bike up is like pulling a rock up. It won't respond. You just have to mash the pedals or pull harder to lift it up. At times, I almost cramped at the quads. But I made a promise to my bike and whispered "I'll put you up there, baby"..

The only view I was having is making sure my front tyre moves. And of course the top was enjoyable after 2:40 climbing from HOA. Met with a guy resting at the cafe (rode a superbike), who was impressed with cycling up.

Then, it was going down to Awana to meet some friends doing the fun 14km run. Shih Ming & San did well (got 2nd), and Ray & Mich too (4th).


Now here's the challenge that is in my mind, with some friends. I consider it the holy grail of cycling climb in Malaysia.

Ride Genting Peak, Fraser Peak, and reaching Cameroon Highlands in one day.

Could that be done? Go figure...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Genting Trailblazer 12km Run

Jamie & Jeff Ooi

This year, the organizers had set up 2 days with different course of run. I joined the Saturday 12km, as getting drenched in mud, wasn't I think, fun. Did some trails training prior, and I think I had the right fitness level to tackle it.

Met with some friends prior to race. Jeff Ooi, Lee & his wife, Major Kalam & his son, and Allan was there as well. And some African runners were there to try, wait, that's not a right word. Win, is more likely.

After some of the usual aerobics, we're let off at 8:30. Just after the start, the African's dazzling speed is no match for the local runners. They were so fast, that I lost them just after a few hundred meters. Mark williams passed me by, and he's off. Ahmad, the Moroccon runner (wasn't participating officially), went fast as well.

I was just trying to hang on. When the trails started, I was in my element. The shoes gripped well, and I was able to bounce off & leap easily. But when the uphill starts, that's when the walking started.

After the wooden staircase, there's even more rocky uphills to battle. Then it's back down for a 2nd loop.

Miro (this guy cycled up to Awana yesterday) caught up with me after the 2nd loop. But on the uphills, I couldn't caught up. Lungs were just going almost max. I was wondering if I could still push it.

Anyway, back to the finishing in 1:09:57 at 17th position. It was kind of fun, and that's what trails is.

Now if only I could figure out how to train to run faster.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The North Face 100km solo: TNF DNF

A group pic at the start..

Thanks Freddie for this pic...

Resting at the medic tent. Not all is well...

Hmm...that rhymes. Ok doesn't sound so bad after all.

Alright, as for this race, my preparation wasn't so much on covering distance. I focused more on upper body strength, core, and speed work. At the end of the whole training regime, I think I did achieve what I intended to be better at. Stronger legs, better cardio, and feet that can withstand repetitive pounding on the trails.

Another thing is lugging a hydration bag, which I wasn't so fancy of. But after awhile, I got used to it. Heck, it's better than carrying a pouch bag.

Race day. I woke up 2:30am after several hours of unfit-full sleep. Got the usual breakie in, then took a cab to the starting point.

As for the solo 100k runners, they gave us a table to put our bags. I'd recognize a few faces, namely Sallehan from Brunei, Mr Yong Yuen Cheng who did 218km, Sean Tan who won MR25 last year, and Jeri Collett. However Tobias was not here.

Before entering the starting line, they had to weigh our bags. I have no inkling what mine was, but was glad it's around 1.6kg. Yeah, another goal is not to run with a heavy load.

At first everyone was running pretty decent speed. I soon took off on the lead, but I am very assured that my speed wasn't fast. It's 100km anyway. After exiting the 4.1km trails, I proceeded a bit further up the road. But actually I was heading in the wrong direction. The right direction was actually barred by a metal pole, which leads back to the trails. There was a car there somehow, but no one to direct me.

As I ventured further, I found myself the opposite direction, as one runner came streaming blazingly fast. Curious, I tried asking him if he was one of the solo runner, and he said yes, as he continued on running. No one was following him, and I was confused. So I guess I might as well follow him and see where this leads to.

Yes, there are signs put up, but if you somehow missed that, it's hard to know where to go. It's dark, and the LED light can't possible scan all the possible options to take. At one path, I stood confused again which route to take. Is it left or right? Right looks like an open path, but after I found out, it was a small stream. Kinda bad choice cause I soak my shoes in it.

Another part where I got lost was at Bkt Timah Nature Reserve. I noticed a motorcycle parking area, and a tar road leading up. I thought I saw a TNF marshall, and gestured for direction, and he showed it was up the hill. So I ran up the pretty steep tar path until I met a fork with no directions. Darn, looks like I got lost again. I tried looking at the map near the hut, but couldn't make sense of it (yes, btw I didn't brought my own map, so partly this is my fault), so I took the right path, and after meeting an uncle, I concluded this is the wrong route.

So I backtracked down the hill, finally found the sign and ran up a small hill. I thought I was at last right, with some lads following behind, but then we're stuck at some lookout hut. One of us called the number, and tried to find the right direction, but I guess that didn't help. 7 of us were lost up there.

So, it's backtracking again, and soon enough, the error was we took the right path up, instead of left.

Soon, I was in front again, but I don't know my position. I didn't care much then, just hoping that I run at the right path.

Daylight came, and i soon reached Mandai. I've been running solo till now. After reaching another signage, I stopped to do dawn prayers, then continued on.

Now this is where the tough path, becomes tougher. There's tar road, gravel, sharp rocks, uneven concrete, you name it. If you're not wearing tails shoes, you're in for a big pain on the feet.

Upon reaching hill 265, I broke open a powerbar, then ran down. I think it's another 25km back.

I tried to run as much as possible, and soon I was passing all the front runners. But I wasn't speeding at all. It was just moving on as much as possible. If you're no running now when it's cold, it's going to be hard to run later.

On the way back, the 100km duo had started. The first runner I noticed had a 'F1 runner' emblazened on his bib. And yes, he was as fast as one too. Then met with Frank, jamie, and some other familliar faces.

For the last 10km, the path diverted, and soon, I was running the tar road back to Mac Ritchie. Then things look tougher. It was the increasing humidity as the sun came up. Breathing in it was like nothing getting enough air. Eventually I slowed down, and walk some parts of it.

Around 1km before the start, the 25km runners were let loose, so I had to walk back. Finish the first loop in 6:15.

I was hungry, eaten some food, and then went for the next loop. But things just got worse from here. My gut wasn't feeling well, so I walk most of the route, trying to keep the body moving. Now the heat is really getting higher.

Reached Bkt Timah again, when I started puking after drinking a can of tea. So that's it, I thought it'll be too dangerous to continue and decided to call it quits after 60km. An ambulance came and drove me back to the start.

Thanks to my buddies who was concerned. I kind of sad to disappoint some of you who had expected a completion, but I think it's best to err on the side of safety. I am pretty ok with DNF, and there's always next time.

I've been thinking what went wrong, and it's certainly got to do with my guts. I had puked at Ironman, Sundown, and finally TNF. Somehow it's just not working, or perhaps I've loaded on water. This could be one of the problem.

I think high humidity has also caused water retention in the guts, as it's pretty hard to for sweat to evaporate, thus causing most of the fluid to stay there.

Or it's basically something I ate which just doesn't gel well. Anyway, I'll need to sort this out by figuring what I can only eat during race rather than gulping down anything.

My legs were pretty ok, and not so bashed up as MR25 last year.

Would I do this next year? Maybe not. I think the route up north is too hard to run on. Some parts are really hard and sharp rocks, with uneven cement jagged out, ready to shred your feet to pieces. I wasn't even running on that parts. More like treading safely.

As for the organisation, I had wished some marshalls had directed us more. It's pretty hard to see in the dark. Yes, I understand we have to consult the map, but it would be nice not to stop and find your way around.

But overall, it's pretty well organised, only that I wished the route would be easier to run on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mount Nuang: Muddy trails

The peak..

It was muddy to the point of quick sand at certain sections after false peak..
some injury...

It's been ages since I've been up the peak. With TNF looming, I think it would be a good idea to do some runs up.

Arrived there around 8:30am before heading up at 8:40. There was KC's group going up as well, as part of their Kinabalu Climbathon, who had left 30min earlier.

With some consistent running uphills, I managed to reach the 1st waterfalls around 30min, then it's up to Camp Lolo, and soon it's heading up the muddy path towards Camp Pacat. Managed to reach Pacat at 1:20. KC and his earlier gang was there. I actually passed by Jason thiang before Pacat.

Then it was the almost vertical section where one have to use all fours to haul yourselves up. I found myself panting and really out of breath. Thank god I am not doing kinabalu, because the whole race up is basically pushing at what your heart can't tolerate for 2.5 hours!

Once i reached the false peak, I gulped down a powergel. I was abit worried, as I had only that for food. Just before reaching the real peak, bump with the Edwin (part of KC's gang) who was going downhill.

Reached the peak at 2:14. Sat down for awhile, then after 5 minutes it was back on the trails. Now the hard part is really the muddy and slippery path. I almost fell a few times. Scrapped my shin against some protruding root. The rocks were sharp and slippery, unlike clear trails like FRIM.

I tried to move fast enough, but my legs weren't working Running was reduced to jogging. Once i reached the first waterfall, it's another 4km. Tried running, but lack of energy is making me more delirious.

Finally reaching carpark after 3:46. It was my best PB from 4:15. But I think it wasn't the best of run. I could do faster if I had enough food, or fit enough to tackle the technicalities of moving fast. Instability was a major problem.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bukit Hatamas Trails

Entry point..
That's bukit ketumbar...another one of my favourite lung busting steep trail.
Nice petite waterfall...
Thank god for these...

Don't let Pak Mo (Mahmud Taib) near this log...
Really? How nice...
This is overlooking the MRR2

Yes...some parts is 70 degrees...
Glad to make it out...

I knew about this trails just around my backyard, but not really having the motivation to check it out. Since TNF singapore is near, trails is a must for training.

So last Sunday, I decided to see if there's anything exciting about it. Bukit Hatamas can be conjured up as a valley of houses nested in between hills, and has quite a view. The hills to the east is actually hutan simpanan selangor.

I didn't really know the entry point, so had to hike up an exposed slope, which then further connects into the main route. Now, the route really looks well established with some occassional hikers and lots of paper indicator thrown out by hashers. Since it's a hilly area, not all routes are runnable, but the downhill is exciting.

There seems to be checkpoints with tents where hikers gather for chat & rest. I decided to take the rightmost turn from these checkpoints and see where this leads to. Luckily I brought my HTC phone which has GPS. Once in awhile I would checkout my location just to know the directions.

After awhile I stumbled upon a clearing, apparently private property, and I soon realize i was looking at Venice Condo at the back. There were a pack of dogs guarding, so it's backtracking now. Then there's a small waterfall, and the route becomes wilder. All I was depending on was the old discarded hash markers.

Soon, I was at the top of a hill checkpoint, and then downwards, until I finally exited somewhere further north from my entry point.

I would say, it's a pretty nice place for some outdoor trail running/hiking. Further googling reveals there's another entry point (which is much popular) near Taman Cuepacs, which is not far from where I started. And this route actually goes much further in the north east direction.


I've finally got selected for TNF 100km solo. Now, actually I am not pretty daunted by the distance. The distance is doable, based on my past experience in MR 25 last year. Question is, how fast I could run this.

Here's some tips for trails. Focus on fore foot landing. If you notice, during trails running, forefoot landing provides the best balance and quick maneuver. Trails are filled with roots, rocks, soft mud, which requires quick reflexes and ability to hold a grip, while you transfer your movement foreward.

Now running uphill will be tough, so if you can't run, then powerwalk. Some parts are really just too steep to run.

Another main thing to train is your core and upper body. Note that road running is really just using the same set of running muscles but not much on the upper body, while trails force you to do things like jumping, docking and sometimes using your hands to pull your body up.

I can't really run for now, since fasting obligations. So, it's mainly trails for 20-30 minutes and upper body strength training.