Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Powerman 2011: Hot Race


After a week from TMBT, I don't have much confidence in pulling off this one. Finishing yes, but racing at peak ffitness is another matter. I just managed to do 2 short runs, and one cycling course for preparation. Running an ultra drains you for a few days.

Weather was predicted to be hot. Odd thing was, in rained buckets the day before. After looking at the winners list last year, I found out a surprise. Not only Danny Feng was a strong cyclist in P2k, he also won 2nd last year. That shows he's a pretty fast runner as well.

Race day. I stood at the front while waiting for the flag off. When the gun started, I quickly went up. I wasn't that fast. I didn't think my legs were there. So I tried the faster cadence method instead with lower cardio holding. What was surprising, Chan Jun Sen from UPNM was running alongside me. With the pace we were running, it's pretty fast. Another guy wearing black from singapore was fast too. At times I was chasing him, and at times I passed him. Somehow when I passed him, he would try to attack. I tried to keep my ego down. This wasn't the time to push all out. There's still the cycling leg and another running leg. Eventually I would learned that he was the winner for aged 20-29. The first run was completed in 0:40:28.

Time for the bike. The first few km was trying to set the speed up to 40kmh. Then somehow, more and more guys bunched up in what I could say was the first non pro leading group. Chan Jun Sen was with us as well, and we're both wondering why some guys in front were obviously drafting. I did my best not to draft by staying on the sideways or some lengths behind the cyclist in front.

When we reached a small bridge, there was a slight slope that caused my bike to dipped and shoke. My water bottle fell off. I just had one. In that moment I slowed down. I was wondering if I should pick it up, or continue. That aero bottle cost 120 per piece, but I decided that I could probably win back some cash to cover it up. If I had stopped, I would have lost the leading edge.

Problem was that was my electrolyte drink as well. I didn't brought any gels, so I thought that would suffice. I resorted to slowing down at water checkpoints to get water, but I ended up with gatorade. Something that doesn't sit easily with my stomach.

On the 2nd loop, we caught up with Shahrom. He stayed until the end. I could see that he was too trying to avoid drafting. There was a marshall beside us that warned some of us who were drafting. But on the 2nd loop, things were harder. We were passing slower guys, and some parts of the lane became smaller.

I do remember on the way back, a marshall standing beside the road, yelling at us asking us to break up.

2nd run. Things were tougher. I had twice of gatorade on the bike and it wasn't sitting well. Besides, the sun was up. Luckily I got my shades and cap. Without both I would have slowed down considerably. At water stations I was walking and pouring water on my head just to cool off. The heat always slows you down. And doing a fast pace is pretty hard.

I finished with a time of 3:12:37. Given the circumstances after 100k TMBT, I was pretty ok with the timing. Then I saw Richard Tang stumbled into the tent. He was drenched in sweat and looked like he had a bloody tough race. Then to my surprise I saw Danny Feng came in later.

After some hours the race, I was glad to make it 3rd. But such was the toll of the race on my body, that I wasn't pretty coherent during prize giving. I think the heat and gatarode might be the problem. But finishing with a better time margin than last year 3:34:24 proves that all the hard work in speed has paid off. I had a better cardio engine now. It's a matter of tweaking it to any races, given the adequate time to train, to perform at peak.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sabah TMBT: The Most Beautiful (Brutal) Thing 100km

The 100km route...
At the start...
After CP1
Running back to CP 7, among the padi plantation...

I've done quite a number of ultra runs on the road. But not many on trails.

100K's are always tough even on road. Put trails in, and it becomes a few times tougher. Put in the elevation and it adds up even more.

To date, I've only attempted one 100k trail which was the TNF sg last year. I DNFed at 60k after puking, which I believe was caused by gulping 2 power gels.

Sabah's TMBT was my next attempt at 100k trails. After 2 day SAC ultra run in the middle of the year, I knew before hand, the ups and downs can be horrendous.

Race day. I was bumped in with Tony Quay and Mr Chong. We woke up just after 3am. With a hazy mind we packed, then went down for the bus which will take us to Kota Belud. I seated beside Vincent Casanova, whom I had met at SAC ultra run as well. We chatted, and as the morning lights came out, the beauty of Sabah captivates us. The crocker range was clouded in mist, with hills poking up everywhere.

Finally we reached our destination. The first thing that struck me was Mount Kinabalu. I have actually forgottten the fact that this mountain is the most obvious towering object on the horizon. The view was just beautiful.

After some photo sessions, it's time for the start. We're let off the hook, and slowly I started up my pace. Jimmy Tee ran alongside, and we both made up a good pace. From the start, we both agreed on a quick pace. He was doing 50k, but I didn't mind.

There was a caucassion dude was trying to follow us, but soon lost it. I think he was the winner later.  The first check point (CP1 9.5km) was reached without much hassle in 0:51:39. I took some water, and then we both shoot off.

Then Dino came from behind. I guess he's into racing mode. All 3 of us just tried our best to keep  up with each other. The pace was as quick as possible. Most of the steep inclines, we just ran regardless.

Then we reached CP 2 19.5km at 1:55:35. But somehow after that, I just slowed down. Jimmy was trying to coax me to run faster. But I was wearing the NB minimus which was low profile, and slowed me down at the gravel roads, which was aplenty. Actually most of sabah road trails are made up of gravels, as they are used for 4WDs to go through. And of course, another thing is I didn't want to push the pace now. 100k is too far a distance to know if you can even survive that.

At CP3 27.5km, I could still see them from behind, but then I lost them afterwards. Reached CP 3 in 2:34:49. The locals put up some music with gongs. I thought that was nice.

There was a bridge that I had to crossed to reach (CP 3a) 3:17:01. The river passing beneath was just beautiful with crystal clear rapids. If I could have more time, I would have gone for a dip.

 After CP3a, was another hanging bridge. The condition was so bad I thought any moment the planks might break. Then there was a very steep incline uphill. Luckily it wasnt too high. That descended into a river that we have to cross waist deep, but it was a very slow moving and crystal clear as well. It almost begs me to stop for a relaxing dip, but this is a race, and I've got to move on.

After more villages, and crossing a final bridge, then that's when things become tougher. I've anticipated from the map, that things will go uphill after CP3a. In fact the previous entire route is pretty flattish. I went uphills, downhills, crossing into single track trails, small streams, and then finally reaching an opening which I thought was CP 4, but wasn't. There was some drinks provided though.

A caucassion guy who was doing 50km distance passed me at this point. Then I reached a major bridge, which lead uphill for almost a few km! Had to walk that one, cause it was just mind boggling steep. It started to rain as well, so I took off my poncho and tried it on vainly. Didn't bother with it later as it stopped.

Finally reach CP4 41.5km at 4:59:46. Overall my ranking was still 2nd. Dino was first, and he had left. The call for muslim prayer had started, so I thought I might as well do the combine prayers at the nearby surau. I think that took me 10 minutes. Soon after I finished, I was surprised to see the Czech guy and Khaliq Samat came in together. Uh oh, time to shoot off again.

So I put on a descent pace, and get my legs running up to CP5. The route was indeed getting exponentially steeper with very long stretches of 30 to 45 degrees inclination. The skies was getting darker as well. I just managed to reached CP5 49.8km just before it rained very heavily. Time taken was 6:10:09. Considering the terrain, I think the timing was pretty good. There was lunch provided nearby, so I digged in. Dino has already left for the next checkpoint. With another 50km to go, one will have to eat. I remember seeing the czech guy came in and left. Then Khaliq came afterwards as I was just finishing my lunch. Ahmadul, who is quite a seasoned athlete in triathlon and adventure races, came in as well.

I think I spent around 20 minutes for lunch. As I was leaving, Ahmadul followed suit. I was determined to create a gap, so I started jogging towards the steep slope up to CP6. Then it was climbing stair case most of the way, and boy was it long. It took forever to reach the village, and finally CP6 (7:01:48).

Then it was going through a rubber plantation, hill rice fields, and reaching a dense forest that we have to loop to get through CP6a. I remember the view here was just spectacular, especially the high padi fields. At first I thought it was the usual "lalang" (tall grass), but on closer observation I could see green grains.

Running past 50km wasn't easy. So I coax my mind, saying that running 100km is a privilege as you get to see more of Sabah.

I reached CP6a at 8:03:15 after much slipping on uneven mud and undergrowth. At this point, I just regard the slipping as necessary movement, and tried the best to get fast over it.  Met with Puzi and Shine coming in. I told them they have another hour to go.

When I finally reached CP7, I looked at the sheet; the leader was 40 minutes ahead. Strangely, I heard someone calling my name, asking me to sit down and have food. I didn't really cared, until I realized it was Dino. He said he was resting (due to his knee problem) and the czech guy has left a long time ago. I didn't want to delay further, so I said I'll go. He followed, but not for long. So, I just ran downhill all the way up to CP8 (same as CP 4) clocking 9:33:28.

At the rest point, I took out one sachet of electrolyte, and poured it into the bottle. Took a few sips, and I am off again. It's back to the major bridge, and then turning left for a long 4km climb! Saw Tony on his way up to CP4. He's doing 50km, so I guess he's well into target to reach CP5. At the bridge I hesitated with the direction until a british guy from HK (doing 100k) confirmed the route. So we went uphill together. The route wasn't easy as it took us more than 30min to reached the top. From some chat, he said he had done HK 100, and it's more steeper. He was carrying a Salomon bag, which I though was cool looking.

Then I felt something unwell, and I puked for the first time. Uh oh, not a good sign. But I kept going on. I have puked on too many occasions, so this time it wasn't s surprise. I was trying to pinpoint what went wrong and it could be the electrolyte I had drank at CP8. It was the same brand but different flavouring (orange).

By the time I reached CP 9 at 10:43:43, I wasn't in good shape. Dino and Ahmadul had caught up. I signed in at 3rd for 100k, but then I knew my race was over. I couldn't keep up with the duo, and it was getting darker. Dino mentioned the hills here were tough, and judging by all the past terrain, there's some truth in it. But the truth was we were running on a ridge, and it wasn't so bad. The thing that was, I was getting delirious from the purging. I purged 3 times, and ran out of water.

It was really walking & running afterwards. I stopped by at a side hut and lay there for 10 minutes, staring at the night sky, pondering how much more to go. With a tired body and mind, I pushed on further until I reached a house. I had ran out of water so I though I could get some. Turns out I was too messed up to even continute. The problem with me, was, if I puked, that's it. It's white flag. It has been at TNF sg, & MR25 last year.

The house owner, a local Dusun guy invited me to go upstairs. He was very nice to let me sleep on the sofa. His wife cooked a plate of rice and fried an omelette, and made some tea. I said I'll need to rest for the night, and they were ok with that. I tried calling Aman Avtar (organiser) to tell him where I was, but couldn't reached him. Then I messaged Raymong Ng & Tony saying I was in some house at a village. I did told them I was considering DNF, but Tony said something like it will be wasted since I wasn't too far from the fiinish. After my head cleared up a little, I recalled the cut off time was 36 hours. That means I still have 7pm the next day to reach.

I knew I couldn't run at this point, so I opted to sleep till 6am the next day. The house owner has a few dogs, and they barked whenever the runners ran past. Aman, himself came by at 12 mignight to check up on me. I was so surprised to see him. I guess he must have got the message from Tony. He thanked the house owner for letting me rest there.

Morning came, and after a good rest, I was feeling pretty good again. My gut wasn't protesting so I ate the rice and omelette, thanked the host, and left. I guess there's some good thing after all. I could now see more of Sabah's trails, instead of darkness if I had continued.

Some more steep downhills and I reached CP 10 after 23:34:37. I have rested more than 10 hours. From here on, it's running all the way down to the finishing. I passed some guys who were walking the trails. They had it rougher, as they had been up all night.

Just before reaching into Kg Pukak, I met a singaporean couple. I thought the ending was near, but we still have to go through some single track trails before crossing the last hanging bridge to the finishing.

The ending was just beautiful, with a river flowing beside a cliff, and an open field. I was just happy to see the ending. Finally it's over. Time taken was 25:13:50

This is an indeed a very well organised race. I have enjoyed most of it, and the view is just worth it. There's also 2 points to qualify for UTMB (Ultra Trail Mount Blanc), which is the top ultra trail race in France.

Another thing which I was satisfied, is that I have managed to read the entire route pretty well. After watching Kilian poured over maps in youtube, I now understand the importance of studying the map, and knowing which are the hard sections, and which are not. It's the same as Lance Armstrong, who does a rekkie of the current tour's route.

Personally I have finally finished a 100km ultra trail run. This one wasn't easy. I've done FRIM runs and the climb just pales in comparison. Total elevation given was 3450m. But I could stomach the hills. I've set my mind to overcome that. You can give me as many hills as possible, and I'll climb every single one of them. But I couldn't overcome my gut. I will still need to figure that out.

My next trail run will be MR25, then Nepal Annapurna 100km, and HK Vibrams 100km. I coudn't wait.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PJ Half marathon 2011: Tough Fight

There was an absence of strong runners in this race. Later I found out the reason was there was quite a huge number of kenyans in the field.

I haven't been running long distance races. And it had been a long time since I raced for 21km, so the question is if I could mantain a sub 4 pace for that long. I did do a fast time in bkt aman run, with a time of 1:22, so perhaps I could last for that long.

The race started, and the kenyans went off in a group. I tried chasing them, vainly, for the first 1km. Then Peter and Shaharuddin came passing by. Peter the french guy, commented I was too fast out from the start.

Anyway, we ran into the adjoining Federay Highway, and I soon lose the duo. As we ran the u-turn, and back down, I was shocked the see a japanese runner in orange, ran past me with ease. He was kicking in at a higher cadence. I was dumbfounded how easily he could past me.

Then an indian runner came by. We ran side by side for almost the entire way up to the u-turn near the subang airport, but I soon lose him. He said he was just training for PBIM.

I could see an kenyan lady runner ahead. So that became my carrot. Without knowing if I could really pass her, I just kept on chasing. At one point, she slowed down, and that was when I passed her. At least I could say I passed a kenyan.

The run back was a lonely one. I didn't feel I pushed too hard on the cardio, but just trying to get the pace correct.

Came back in 12th position in 1:22:20. Was pretty happy with the sub 4 pace. At least I know I could maintain it for that long. The top 9 position was taken by kenyans. Shaharuddin was in 10th place, clocking 1:16. That was an awesome 3.5m/km pace.

But I had sharp shoulder pain. It was bad enough to the point I couldn't lift things up.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Running with Kilian Journet

Kilian Journet is now considered the best trail & sky runner, with impressive wins in the Western States 100m, UTMB, and with his final win in Mount Kinabalu Climbathon this year (last circuit of the sky running series).

World of Sports was gracious to host Kilian and Gregory. Both of them gave talks & shown videos on the design, and manufacturing process of their products. Makes you want to splurge on their stuff.

Then, the highlight of the day, was having a short trail run in Kiara, which was something I was waiting for.

We started cruising slowly. After awhile I ended up running behind him. I was trying to observe his running gait. I noticed lots of forefoot landing, and he's always like leaning forward during the run. He wasn't running fast, but I bet that he's just taking it easy.

We came out of the trails section to take a breather. Then it was back in for the last 2k or so. Suddenly I found myself chasing the Malaysian elites, who were chasing Gregory. We were going like 3.5min/km pace up and down the slopes. The final section has us jumping 7 feet downhill. I woudn't have done that if I were alone.

He was wearing the Salomon S-Lab Fellcross, one of the shoe that is in my list, but not out yet here.

Kilian was wearing the Salomon prototype, which he wore for UTMB as well. Between the two, I would have got Kilian's.
It's so much lower profile, and lighter.

Met with Jimmy Tee, who I mistaken was a Singaporean. Apparently, I wasn't far off. He studied most of his life there, hence his accent. He was going to do the TMBT (The Most Beautiful Thing) 50 as well. Judging from his 50k time in TNF SG, he's a pretty fast runner.

We ended the session with more photo sessions. It had been a great experience running with the God of trails. If only I could run as fast as him up mountains.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perhentian Island Challenge 2011: I survived

 At the start of the elite
 Perhentian Island Kecil (small)
 Arriving at the big island camp site
At the finishing.

Perhentian Island Challenge is one of those race that has intrigued me for eons. It seems like you not only do running, but swimming, kayaking and some obstacles. But then that was years back. Since it was taken by a new management, the format has been slightly less complicated, but tough nevertheless.

Another reason to do this is because I haven't step foot on that place before. So, it's more or less like a holiday.

I joined the elite category, which comprised of running 9k on the big island, then swimming across 1.2k to the small island, and finally running 14km to the finishing. Novice were only required to run 14km on the small island.

The problem with this race is you've got to put on or carry the life jacket plus your gears during the swim. How you do that is up to you. Prior to the race, I was trying to figure out the best way to minimize drag. I tried swimming in a life jacket and it was really slow. Andrew Loh gave an idea of getting a trash bag, then putting in everything including the life jacket, then tie it to your waist during the swim. He got that idea from a participant who did the same last year.

Race day. The elites have to be ferried to the small island for the opening ceremony. Then back to the big island for the start. Kind of unnecessary I think. When the race started, the strong guys rushed to the front. I was just trying to get into a good pace. I didn't know the route well, and don't want to push too hard. We started at 10:15am, and it was already hot. We ran some sandy beaches section before heading into the woods.

Then things got harder. The elevation went up and down steeply, but it was something I could handle. After the worst of Tioman Eco Challenge, I could stomach this. But still I was too cautious on the footing on downhill slopes. I didn't want to risk it. One mistake and you could easily get injured.

I caught up with Razani, who was wearing the S-Lab4. We ran some sections together before getting out onto the final stretches back to the start, where we had to embark on the swim. It took me 1:06 to finish the loop.

I had put the trash bag in my back pack. I took it out, then proceeded to dump everything into it including the life jacket. Then made a knot with a string. Unfortunately I forgot to dump in the race vest and my cap. While doing all this, Cheah Mei Mei was beside observing. I didn't realized until she offered to keep my cap.

So it's off to swim! A few strokes and it wasn't easy to adjust to the awkwardness. Found it kind of hard to kick because i could tangle my legs with the string. In the end I resorted to hand pedalling more than kicking. Also I realized that the current was pushing me northwards, so I adjusted my bearings.

The swim took 40 minutes, and boy I was glad to land. I tore open the bag, then wore back the shoes & hydration bag. Cheah Mei Mei was there to returned my cap. I was really thankful for that cause I wouldn't survive without it on the next run.

The smaller island route was pretty easy on certain sections. But the open hot sandy beaches were torturous. Reminded me NOT to do desert runs like MDS. I met 2 guys without enough water, so I gave them mine.

Certain parts really had me down. I think it was due to the heat & humidity. When in the jungle, it can get pretty stuffy & humid. I was reduced to walking certain stretches.

The last stretch at the staircase gave us a beautiful view. We have to go to the bottom to get to the checkpoint, then up again to descend to the finishing. Sweetest thing about this part is I managed to pass 3 navy guys on the way up.

Then ran down as fast as possible to finish in 8th with the time of 4:22. But I was truly knocked out from the heat, trails and swim. Sitting there at the finishing, and looking back at the other island really made me wonder that I survived this.

Great thing about this race is you get to camp with the participants. Be ready to stay in tents for 2 nights. But it was fun meeting so many new friends, and not to mention swimming among the reefs nearby. I would come back again for this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

KOM UCI 2011: Stuck at 2nd gear

Lots of thoughts in my head...

2nd major ascent

I didn't realise I was pulling so many...

Mark Cheong going for the attack, and I gave chase.

Gear was stuck at 5th from bottom at RD.

Finished in 5th. With only one gear, nothing much I could do.

Damn proud of this bike

Cable snapped at the front shifter.

Gear stuck at 5th

To my dad.

With only 2 rides up to hulu langat the same week, I wasn't really hoping much from this ride.
I did, however, went to Edwin's shop to get racing tubulars, which cost quite a lot. But it was necessary, as the only pair of racing wheels light enough, was my Mavic Kysirium, and that was tubular.

Mich's aunt was gracious to host us at her place in Ipoh.

Race day. Morning came, and the rain was still pouring outside. I thought it would be cold, so I brought the 2XU compression top. Loaded the bike in the car, and we went off to the starting point.

When I unloaded the bike off the boot, I was horrified to find out the gear cable to the rear derailleur had snapped. Raymond Ng and I was trying to figure out how to connect the braided steel wires, but we coudn't figure that out. Time was only 20 minutes to the start. So he suggested I go find Kenny to see if he could fix it.

I quickly pumped up the tires, then cycled to the arch. Stopped to ask a guy at the van nearby if he knows anyone who could fix that. Answer was negative. Found Kenny, and he suggested that the high gear screw be adjusted to move the chain up. With a screwdriver, I managed to set it higher. Adzim helped took off the broken wiring.

At that point, I didn't even know if I could ride this. If it's flats, it might be ok, but we are riding up to almost 1500 meters, with some steep climbs. I actually had thought this ride is gone. I stood there, waiting for the marshalls, to let us go, and thinking if the ride was even possible. Safety issue came to mind firstly. It's just a ride, and there's no point continuing if there's
probable risk I could harm myself & others. As I stood there listening to the fireman, reading the prayer for our safety, I prayed earnestly.

Then they let us off. 5km to the flagoff. I tried riding as cautiously as possible, still trying to feel, if I could still ride this semi-fixie bike. Only the front derailleur is working. That's all I could play with.

After the flag off, the speed picked up, and we were soon heading towards the first major climb. I've actually cycled this route twice before. So, I roughly know the major points of attack. The first steep climb is a 2km, bukit hantu kind of gradient. Anticipating an attack,
I moved my way leftwards and surged ahead. I looked back. No one followed. Odd. So, I kept pedalling. Surprisingly, I could put the power instead of cadence. I wasn't dying so I just kept pedalling until the flats alone, in front. Saw Lydia Yeow, and was quite happy to see her there.

I thought at least, I won this first major climb. But I will be swamped by the riders soon. Or so I thought. I looked back and the peloton is still hanging in one bunch behind. Funny. No one wants to reel me in. I slowed down a little, to join them. There's no point riding this fast,
at this speed. So I stayed there for some time.

Then we encounter another steep slope, that marks the beginning of some very winding & relatively steep hills. There were some attacks by others, but
the momentum didn't sustain. The peloton managed to reel them in.

With only 2 gears, I needed a different strategy. I know I wouldn't be able to follow their attack, so I will have to attack early, and be ahead, rather than staying in a group.

Then we passed the bridge, and it was a smoother climb uphill.

I stood up, snapped the pedals, and sprint ahead, hoping someone would follow. None did. So, I continue riding in front, and was feeling quite comfortable, almost at home. Used to riding solo, I preferred that to a group. My mind wasn't with the ride. My father has passed away suddenly
last week tuesday. Watching him with all the life supporting machine hooking up, with the heart rate monitor kept on blinking, was really heart breaking to watch. For someone who wasn't active & he was a bit obese, his high heart rate at 190 & 180 was just incomprehensible.
I had ran uphills for training and 170 feels like dying.

The peloton came by again. Somehow everyone was riding safely. I urgently need to pushed to pace. I attacked again, signalling to Kelvin Tan, riding a blue Trek, wearing the P2K jersey to follow me. He did. We went off in front, and did some work together. I chuckled when he said "This is your day Steve". How do you ride a race using only this? He did warned me that's it's only 30km, and there's still some distance to go.

Then the peloton reeled us back again. This time, a rider wearing orange riding an Orbea, attacked. I stood up, and gave chase. He went at a furious speed, and drafted behind a support motorcycle carrying 2 extra wheels. Was that legal? Anyway, I managed to reel him back,
and his words were "Kat depan ada 6 lagi rider.(In front there's 6 more riders)". That's odd, I thought we are the only ones in front.

I remember another attack by Mark Cheong, riding an awesome Look bike. I gave chase as well.

Finally the whole group decided to attack. I tried to follow, but with only 1 light gear, I couldn't do much. I was left behind and all I could
do was watch the whole peloton moved past, as they snaked up the hills. Mark had an issue with his chain, and he stopped. I just kept on pedaling.

After awhile, I looked back at my meter, and it's 37km. I was still behind. I realised if I don't chase the front pack, I will lose them once they hit the flats after 44km. So, I tried to go faster, and managed to catch up with the group after the wooden hut at the right side of the road.

Then I went all out on attack again. I wanted to get to the flats first. It was kind of rolling, and the speed was intoxicating. As I entered the Welcome to Cameron huge words cliff, I saw Shahrin Amir, wearing a Malaysia white jersey, riding impressively on a MTB. Wow, could this guy win this whole race?

As we reached the flats, he let me move to the front, and urged me to go faster. I had only one high gear, and that's all I could go, and it was
60kmh. Then the rest of the front pack attacked again, this time leaving me a bit far off.

As we reached the second last climb, they slowed down. I looked at my meter ant it was 51km plus. Not much distance left.
I went for an attack again, and surged back to the front. This is now all out. I just hope they won't catch up with me.

With one last climb to go, the marshal on the bike said there's only 800m left. Could I really win this? We finally reached the last turn up the hill,
and that's when everyone attacks. With only 1 gear, I could do nothing. I tried my best to follow. With less than 100m left, it's time to die.
I pedaled furiously and managed to fend off some guys. When I passed the finishing, I still have something in the tank. I still could breath
easily, and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to attack with the right gear. I got 5th placing.

Looking back, it was a good race. I was able to chase some guys, and lead, despite using one gear. I had wanted to ride this for my dad.
He struggled after his watch business went sour, and we all in the family did. Despite all this, he finally managed to set up his beloved
business again during his last 5 years. He worked until the last day he passed on. I will always remember him as a watch repairer, which one
has to have lots of patience tinkering minute dials & screws.

I started this ride with the thought:

"Shit, I can't ride this race." to

"Maybe, I will just ride for fun." to

"Maybe, if I attack, I could win this."

This ride will be my most memorable one.

Siemens run: Hazy skies

My sis & I went for this run. We arrived early by 30 minutes. By then, they have opened the gantry for runners to go in. So we quickly went to fill the front slots. If you were to gun for position, being in front will be advantageous.

From the start, Peter, with this tall built was sprinting out. I passed the usual suspects early in the beginning. Then I noticed Mark Williams, with shoulders hunched ran past me. He really look like hammering it. I just stuck to my own pace.

All of a sudden, a kenyan ran past at such high speed, relatively, I thought he was sprinting and I was just walking. But the reality was, I was putting my maximum speed allowed. That was an eye opener.

Around half way point, my shoelace came off, and I spent a few secs tying them up. It proved futile as it came off anyway. Good thing was I tied a first dead knot, so that wouldn't be a problem.

I was trailing this indian veteran. Try as much as I can, I was never able to beat him, even to the end. His running style seem so effortless, but yet was able to keep me at bay.

I ended up at 10th position. The top 4 were kenyans, and Ahmad Lamchannak, a Moroccan, who works here, was in 9th. My sister however missed the prize at 23th.

The weather was hazy, and I didn't really enjoyed the run. Somehow the gloomy skies, signifies an uneasiness that I would only found out later that night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

KLIUC Unity Run 2011: Half Asleep

Michelle, my sis, and my youngest brother.

This run, wasn't ran in the best of mind. I had been working since yesterday on some technical issues with some lack of sleep, and that was right after BJCC ride to Bentong 110km in race mode. Now just a bit on the cycling ride. Leonard Lim is one tough nut to crack. It was either me chasing him, or he was hanging on my back. And all the way up Genting Sempah. And we aren't riding in leisure mode. On the way back up to Sempah, it's the same scenario. Regardless of uneven tarmac, heat, wind, it was race mode.

So, I found myself on the starting line, quite not in the mind to race. My sister is joining as well in the B category. They let us off at first for the A, B, C category.

As usual, hordes of sprinters in the first few hundred meters. Noticeably I saw a malay chap (Syahidan) in yellow Adidas jersey at the front. Then 2 indian guys went off with him. An african dude was hanging with them, but he soon dropped off.

The route wasn't flat all the way. There's some hilly sections as well. I was just trying to stave off the back guys. It was quite a fast pace.

I only started to 'wake' up after like 5km. Then at the last 3km, the winner of C (junior vet), passed me as we entered the college. I tried chasing him, but never did pass him until the end.

Time at the finish was 38:05 in 4th position. Kind of happy, given the circumstances. My sis got 9th, which is not bad. She hardly sweat, so I told her to run faster next time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Salomon X-trail: Fun in the mud

Chasing Jasni...

The last downhill section...

Sprinting for the finish...

I think they gave us too much stuff...

This would be the first race after ramadhan. I had been doing training during fasting, but just for maintenance, rather than pushing the body. Training after break of fast, is very tough, so I opted in the morning instead. Hydration is a problem, so I figured out if I over hydrate, I could go through the rest of the day.

As for this race, I didn't thought it would be rather technical. So I didn't opt for trail shoes. Instead I used my usual NB racer.

At the starting line, I looked down at my chest, and my heart was beating too hard. Maybe a little nervous. The gun went off, and Jasni raced to the front. I followed suit. He wasn't going too fast at the beginning, but once out of the stadium into the main road, he attacked.

I tried to follow. The first obstacle was the puddle of mud water. I didn't want to go in, but Jasni just zoomed it through. Oh well then...

Certain sections were puddled from yesterday's rain, and slippery. At times I find that I had to balance before proceeding for the next step. Jasni was slowly slipping away, and then came Don Khor.

We ran side by side for most of the trails. Then at one section of hills, he raced uphill, left me, but then turned right. He followed a person (actually a lady going in the wrong direction). At that point I had doubts, so I slowed down, looked back & forth.

When he did finally made a u-turn, I turned back, yelled at the ladies runners to turn. I could hear Don spewing expletives at the marshall. But there was not a time to waste. I readjusted my mind instead on figuring out if some damage had been done. Actually there was. Dino was ahead by 10 meters, so I quickly chased him down.

We went downhill at an atrocious speed. But he was breathing heavily, and I figured out I still have the final card. Once the tarmac section came, I knew I could outrun him.

Finished in 44m24sec for 10km in 2nd placing. I think the getting lost part cost 1 minute.


It was a good race organised. The route is pretty scenic. The part I remember was a dark horse ran alongside us, when it saw we were running.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Shape Run Pirate

Now, I have no idea about this run, until a friend told me. I guess with the fasting month nearing, I thought this could be the last event (PD tri is supposed to be the last..).

The pre-race atmosphere was happening with many booths & runners all around waiting for the start. "Skins" was there as well. Thought of getting one but then I couldn't find any need for it.

Before the start, the full 12.3km runners had to bundle up before the line. The MCs was trying their best to raise the atmosphere to party level, but I guess the runners aren't that interested. I stood a few meters ahead of the start line, waiting. Since PD, I haven't had any runs, except hills. And that morning, I cycled the usual Hulu Langat in high intensity going uphills. I have no idea how would I fare in this race.

The gun went off, and hordes of runners were let loose. I waited for a few moments before joining the crowd. For the first few km, I was moving up. Saw the elites as usual bunched up in front. Then I saw Don Khor slightly behind. Now Don's a really fast runner. Despite his age of 50+, most of us had problem keeping up with him in races, myself included. He'll start a bit slow, but would be able to maintain a negative split at the end.

I haven't been able to beat him. So, my objective then, was to keep as close as possible.

I trailed him for some time, but found myself comfortable going faster, so I went off. But I know he won't be far behind. I set my guns on the guys in front. One thing about running racing at the top group is, everyone is bloody fast. So you can't go all out. That would be suicidal. I kept a constant but high intensity pace without killing myself, yet.

The only guy I caught up with was Casey, and that was because he walked abit. Then he ran again, and we ran together. I looked back and sure enough Don was there with 2 other guys not far.

I decided to slow down to join them. We ran together until Casey and the 2 other guys shoot off. But I decided to just run with Don. So we ran almost together until the last 3km heading back, then I decided to go for it. Now it was all guns ablaze. The 2 guys in front were still far ahead, and I guess I won't be able to better them. Now it's just keeping Don at bay.

There was one last hill up, and then the final turn right into the finishing. I looked back. He was 50 meters back, so I knew I finally beat him. I think Tey, who taking photos, was a bit skeptical caused I wasn't wearing any bib. Anyway, I didn't go into the finishing line as the marshall diverted.

Finished in 49min for 12.3km. I think it's 48ish, but I'll just put up 49 for some margins. I could have won 8th in mens open.

Anyway, it's been one of the best 'pirate' race I have been. Couldn't ask for more.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Port Dickson Triathlon 2011

Port Dickson triathlon is one of those events that you must do. It's near to KL, and most importantly, hordes of athletes will be there.

As much for preparation, it's really not that much that I had hoped for. For swimming, I think I've gained ground. Problem was, I don't wear a watch in the water these days, so I have no idea how fast I was going. Reassuringly, I could pace with the regulars in the pool. Bike, I've done a lot of distance, but for tri position, it would just be enough. Running, I don't have much doubt. I could still put on the speed if needed.

Another different approach to training these days, is to put more emphasis on cardio intensity. I think it does pays off. I've been doing times that I thought was impossible years back. I did a test run at bkt aman, and did the whole thing in record time 1:21. The prior best time was 1:33.

Race Day:
Swim: We had to run like 50 meters into the water as it's knee deep, before we can swim. I did push but tried to stay within a comfortable range. As long as I could feel I am moving fast enough that's ok. On the way back, I had to stand up, wade through the water, then only start running back to transition.

I heard Shahrom & Hafiz Wong names being mentioned by the MC. I couldn't be too far off then. Now, problem was I was sitting on the floor trying to get socks on. Yes, I am still not comfortable with no socks. So that took some seconds.

Hooped onto the bike and it was time to test the new Transition bike. The early parts of the bike, I was passing everyone. I was trying to see who could make a good drafting team. The odd feeling was, where is everyone?

After turning right from the traffics after 5km, it's another 15km to the u-turn. I did work with one guy in blue, for some time, but then he dropped off after some time. After the u-turn, I did managed to catch another dude in powerbar bib 1101. He was pretty strong, so both of us took turns to race back to the finishing. Noticed big packs of peloton was coming in the other direction.

Now the bike was pretty fast. It's not that light with tri-spokes, but when you get it going, it does go.

Run: Back into transition, put on the shoes, and started to run. I noticed Allan Lee just beside on the start. The first few hundred meters wasn't well adjusted, as usual. I kept a high cadence and that did the work. But weird thing is, I wasn't really pushing it, or don't feel like pushing it. I could pass most of the guys, except on the way back after the u-turn, one guy in the younger age group ran quite fast ahead. Oddly, I didn't feel like chasing. But I did kept a fast pace, but not into the bonking zone.

Came back with the clock 2:12. Then I remembered it's minus 5, so that makes it 2:07.

Anyway, that time wasn't good enough to be in the top 10 age grouper. Position is 12th in 30-39 mens. So I was just happy I did a good time.


Summary: Training on intensity has paid off. I could push harder & longer. But one thing that irks me, was taking too much time on the bike trying to work with other guys. That fast & slow pace really did disturb the rhythm. Maybe I should have just sit in aero, and gone all out. That could have saved more time.

I didn't pushed on the run too much. Maybe I was feeling too comfortable. Another reason was there wasn't anyone in front I could see in my age group. I think I should have raced harder instead of being happy with running just fast.

Swim, being the most technical of all, remains a hard discipline to master. Will need to focus harder on how to swim 1.5k fast.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ultra Ride: KL-Gohtong-Fraser Peak-Tapah-Brinchang

Cameron is very far...
Route up Fraser
The bike looks pretty here...
Descending from Fraser Peak
It's pretty dangerous...route towards Gap

Lata Iskandar...
The bike has to rest too...
It's time to go home..
Route from Ringlet downwards...pretty scenic...

"What's the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it."...Inception

The idea was to climb all 3 peaks Genting, Fraser & Cameron Highlands in one day. But due to the restricted access up Genting, I had to be happy with just climbing up Gohtong. Still, the idea is too big to fit into the daylights of a single day. No matter how you put it, you'll have to ride parts of it, either early in the morning or after the sun sets.

Part of the earlier problem was there's only odd hours traffic up Fraser Peak, and even hours coming down. That adds to the time needed to finish the whole thing. Then, as I found out last week, the other route down from Fraser peak has reopened, and thus one is able to go up anytime.

In my earlier calculations, one would need to start at 4am from KL. Since the Genting peak is a pass, and Fraser situation has ease, I thought starting just around near 6am from home, with some night climbs up Cameron, would be doable.

I started at 5:53am, sped along MRR2 highway heading nortwards into gombak, reached HOA just shy of one hour, then started the climb up Sempah as the morning rays lighted up the sky.
Then it was up Gohtong, rest & eat, and then it was going downhill towards Batang Kali, KKB.

At KKB, I refilled the front bottle, as I knew this would be at least 1hr 45 minutes up to Gap. It's a good 30km climb, which is kinda monotonous, though scenic. Stopped by for nasi lemak and drinks at Gap. A bunch of MTBers were also there. There was something strange about their group name. It's called "Strange" MTBers from Rawang, if I can recall correctly.

I didn't stopped long. Then I proceeded to do the final 8km climb up Fraser peak, which wasn't too hard. But the downhill part was pretty dangerous. With sharp turns and certain sections strewn with pebbles, I had to be extra careful. Once as I ascended up the slope, I switched a few gears and the chain fell off. The bike stalled. There wasn't anything I could do except embrace for impact. Luckily nothing serious. I was more concerned about bike damage, which turned out ok.

After Gap, it was speeding towards KKB, then joining the main road, heading northwards towards Tapah. My front rim was giving me problems again. There's an occasional screeching sound from the hub. I swear after this I'll get a fulcrum zero with ceramic bearings.

Up till now, my meter was 164km. I knew Tapah is around 90km, The problem with this route is, Cameron is darn far. From Tapah, it's another 64km up Brinchang. That means half of the difficulty has just started.

From now on, it's a whole new guessing game. I've done Gohtong & Fraser, so there's not much doubt, but timing. The time is now 1:50pm

The ride towards Tapah was pretty warm & windy. Stopped a few times for refill. I had wanted to reached Tapah at 5pm. Instead I only reached 5:35pm. The cyclometer is now at 252km

As I head rightwards towards the route up Cameron, I knew this would take more than 4 hours. I've done this route once, and it took exactly 4 hours up Brinchang. Climbing after such a long distance, plus with a bag pack, would only mean more time.

I was tired, fatigue. My butt is in pain. And my speed ain't that fast. All I knew is I had to keep on pedalling. The last real meal I had was nasi lemak at Gap. After 20km, I stopped by Lata Iskandar, which is a waterfall tourist area, for iced milo & a cereal bar.

Time was running out. I hopped onto the bike again, and continued. By 7:30pm, with 15km left up Ringlet, climbing up this route would need to be done in the dark. There's no street lamps at this area.

It didn't get totally dark until 7:50pm. I turned on the front LED light. By then I couldn't read the cyclometer, and I didn't know how far was left. A bat struck me once, which is odd considering that they have sonar capabilities, and I was such a big target.

It was now a question "Are we there yet?" over & over again. The route has lots of turns, and uneven. Once in awhile cars passed by, providing ample lighting. I had to be extra careful at where to put the front wheel. I didn't want to get the tyre puncture at this point.

All around is darkness with silhouettes of trees & the night sky. It's not a place to be cycling. But I had no choice. When you have no choice, you take the only option, and keep on pedaling.

The LED light wasn't getting dimmer. Must be the darn batteries. Finally I saw orange light from streetlamps that goes into Ringlet. Yes, I finally reached the big strawberry at Ringlet, and out of this darkness. It's now 8:30pm.

I stopped for food at Ringlet, with mee that taste so bland, I thought it's uneatable. I was so tired I could have plonked my face into the plate. I knew I had to eat, as there's another 15km up Brinchang.

I've done this part in the dark before, so I knew it's doable. Restarted at 9pm. It was chillingly cold. I pedalled just because I wanted to get the heat up.

It was now a matter of calculating the KM left. After Tanah Rata, there's another 2km of climb, and that's it.

When I reached Brinchang at 10:10pm, I couldn't decide what to feel. It had took months of training & work, and it's finally done. There was doubts, and now that's erased. I finally got the idea off my head, so now I could go on with my life.

Although I didn't went up Genting Peak, this is still a very tough ride. But at least, it could give some future framework on how all 3 peaks can be achieved in one day.

Surprisingly, I didn't feel too bonked like the last ride from KL. Checked into Brinchang Hotel. I still have to cycle back to KL the next day. Distance is 313km.

Ride back KL was uneventful. Pretty hot, some rain at KKB. Took longer, but that's expected after such a ride prior. Distance is 218.5km, reached home at 8pm plus.

Some thoughts. It would be nice to get a support car the next time. I had butt pain, due to the bag. Cringed every time I had to go over bumps.

Time taken for the route is 16hr 20minutes from KL. This is the longest ride time I have done in a single day. Rough estimate for total distance climbing is 125km:

HOA-Gohtong: 25km
KKB-Fraser Peak: 40km
Tapah-Brinchang: 65km

The idea is now no longer an idea. It's real.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putrajaya Ekiden Relay

Our team:

1) Jason Loh
2) Ronnie See
3) Steven Yip
4) Michele tan
5) Chen

As you see, we aren't the fastest group. I had a great time chasing Wong Kei Ming as he slowed down after half way point.
That brought us to 3rd position. Then Michele Tan (very fast girl) put us at 2nd, but in the end we ended 3rd overall.

Not bad, considering we're eyeing top 5 position.

Now, oddly, I missed the prize giving ceremony, so basically no pictures.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Devil II Reincarnated

Sexiest seat ever...

For the past few months I've been scouting for a new TT bike. I had been riding the Argon 18 Mercury for the past 3 years, and the front bar is having some corrosion. So I guess it's time to break the bank for a new bike, or the frame will accidentally break? (Actually very unlikely, but that's just some excuse).

I finally settled for the Specialized Transition. Now, it's actually not the most aero bike, but it looks gorgeous with aerofoil design in almost every part of the geometry. I bought the standard complete package, and then replaced the seat with the sexiest one I could find, red tape for the default white tap, and added an aero bottlecage.

Daniel helped with some tips on the bike fitting, did the final assembly, and the result was promising.

I've done 2 rides. The first was in Putrajaya, and the second using the usual hulu langat route. I noticed climbing is a bit sluggish, but perhaps that's because the back wheels is placed too near to the frame. It has ajustable back wheel position, which is great as sometimes you might have larger tyres.

But on the flats & downhill, it's totally a different riding experience.

On the flats, with the trispokes, cruising at 40kmh was made easier.

It goes downhill so silent as if you're in stealth mode. And handling is pretty stable, so assured, that there's total confidence in cornering.

But, the bike is not everything, and one still has to train. Only thing if I ride too slow, then style would be a consolation.