Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Run

Sometimes all you need is a rest.

Monday was a complete rest day. For once, my whole being didn't complain about the lack of exertion. My body gratefully accepted the chance of a rest, and my mind didn't seem to mind hanging out at home watching downloaded movies.

By Tuesday I was raring for a run. So that's what I did, grabbed my knee guards, keys, etc and headed out. This time around I was happy and energetic. I couldn't wait to run. I felt like I could cover all the roads - I wanted to cover all the roads. I wanted to run faster. I wanted to go to the other neighbourhoods. I wore my favorite grey t-shirts because I love to see how much I'm sweating and was smiling to myself as I headed out.

The start of the run was already going up a false flat. I like it because it warms my legs up even more. After 1km of the flat comes the downhill. I went really slow for this. I smiled to the other uncles and aunties passing me, waved to kids stuck with their tricycles inside their gates. I was in a good mood, really! I'm running, my legs making quick effortless steps and I'm loving the feel of the road and the constant motion of my body. I stepped on fallen leaves and rotting branches, chocolate wrappers, all the decorations of the road. I ran on the wet grass for the sake of it.

Then it was the killer incline, except, right then, it wasn't killer at all. I needed more hills. No, I WANTED more hills. I wanted to be scared so badly, I wanted to froth at the mouth climbing up the hills with my legs. I am tired of tackling hills using wheels, be it bicycles or in-line skates. With that thought, my pace picked up. I guess I was grateful for being able to run up the hills. My breath started to come out in labored gasp. My chest started to to tighten. I'm just at the top and it felt so short. Just as I thought it, I've reached the peak. I was sorry that it was over. I felt like doing it again, except going downhill is NOT an option.

Just like that, my quick tune up run is over. I wanted more, faster, but this isn't a race. I just needed to lube the machine. My ankles hurt, and I could feel blisters forming at the arch of my left foot. All these could be mental downers in the upcoming race, when I will attempt to complete a half marathon. I haven't been running long in ages. To be honest, the thought of it sounds boring. Who cares? Right? Damnmit, I could be crying in pain throughout the race, and I would not care. I am running, I could be by the roadside eating gum, I could be doing anything, but I am running. I don't care for trainings or tapering.

I don't have a plan. I never did. And I suck with my ankles, and my knees and my nutrition is out of whack but you know what? I'm still running, because it's just about doing it. Life is too short to worry. Especially after a nice 10k run.

I want more hills.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Three Things.

3 things I love while working out:

1) The hot glaring sun
2) Rain
3) Hills (uphills, that is)

1) There's nothing more challenging than running or doing the distance while the sun bakes a brownie and potato pie on your head and back. I love it because I was born an amphibian. I'm cold even when the heat swirls around your head. Running with the sun clinging on my face, the back of my neck, and my legs makes me feel like I'm in the biggest, hardest race in the world and everyone else is dropping like flies but I persevered. I also like the fact that I sweat buckets and come back home with a drenched t-shirt and all other people just look by trying not to choke while holding their breath. Plus, Malaysia will always be hot and humid. There's absolutely no sense to try to escape it. The sooner you embrace the heat, the better it is for you.

2) What running in hot weather does to my charged up excitement, rain does the opposite. Working out in the rain calms me down tremendously. The whole setting feels totally romantic to me. It's just yourself and the world, cocooned by the trapped heat the falling rain produced. It's like you're thrown into some universe where it's exactly like Earth but there's no other human beings except cats skulking around the trees or birds flitting about. I also look like some heroine putus cinta wearing knee guards.

3) There are 2 types of athletes: One who trembles at the bottom of the hill, and one who drools at the sight of the peak. I am the latter. I love uphill like a fat kid loves cake. Why I love them, because they are HARD, and therefore you feel so much better when you got it through. I am the weakest person in the whole wide world. I give up as easily as a baby falls asleep. But hills are one area where I sternly tell myself, "It's either your make it OR YOU MAKE IT!" There's no other way. I would conquer the hills whimpering, blabbering and crying if I have to. As a defense, I'd have to say that just because you love it doesn't mean you're fast going uphil *cough cough* I mean, you know, I just said I enjoyed uphills.... I didn't say I'd zip up to the peak like a fart.

Workwise, I'm being transferred to a full-blown project and the work hours are a killer. Damnit. I love what I do but I hate the time wasted by commuting. It's not like I could run in the train. Oh wait, I probably could, but at age 26 I think I'm too young to look like I'm having a mid-life crisis.

bad weekend

One of these days it's bound to happen and when it does there's nothing you can do except just go along with it.

I haven't had a bad day/week for a long while now. Thank God for my workouts to keep me calm and focused.

Saturday, a long workout. It rained after the first half and hour, and I enjoyed it eventhough I practically looked miserable trying to keep my eyes open against the pelting droplets. Everybody took it easy and were going at it at their own pace, which both calmed and stressed me out. My competitive streak came out once in a while. There's another girl whom I've always been targetting and she's fast and strong and she was way ahead in the pack and I NEEDED to catch up with her. How does she do it? I found myself wondering as I slowly made my way forward. I'm practically trying to keep my breathing even and she's pummeling the road like a bulldozer. I'm FIT, aren't I? Urgh... mindgames. I went back and forth between forcing myself to speed up and catch up with her, telling myself it's a good motivation, and telling myself that it's ok to take it at my own pace. I told myself maybe this is something she's just naturally good at, and there's nothing I could do about it.

I watched my water intake. Every 5km, and I drank them like an ill-mannered swashbuckling pirate who hasn't seen waterin years. After the second stop, I stuck to these 2 girls who were more or less my pace. One was stronger but I was stronger than the other. Together we made a great team. I spent the whole of the journey either mesmerized by her calf muscles or reading the brandname, Saucony, on the back of her tshirt over and over again like a mantra. I felt numb, and at peace. We were all alone, but together. I could do this forever.

I didn't realize we've reached the destination until the sound of the waves reached my ears. It was a beautiful sight, even if the shore was piled up with garbage and stray plastic bottles, even if the water was a murky shade of teh tarik.

The way back was longer due to the sun. During one long stretch where I was mostly alone, I succumbed to my thoughts. Everything flew through my mind, bad, good, mostly bad, sometimes good. I had fun hanging out there in the middle of nowhere, avoiding potholes and swerving roadkills, with only my thoughts. I was glad for the absence of company and the companionship of silence until the first few of the 'rolling hills' started. As I was gasping and attacking them, Paris came to my side. He giggled when I turned to look at him and I went, "what? What you laughing at?" I could bet it was because I looked so miserable and panting like an ugly bloodhound. He stayed with me through the whole rolling hills phase and to be honest I was GLAD for his company. It made me forget the fact that I wanted to stop and take a nice deep nap. We talked about our work, why foreign men - matsallehs especially - aren't really that hot, running, computer nerds, everything under the sun (pun intended). He was strong, kept at it with an ease of a cat napping, at one point I told him, "If I'm not answering you it's not because I am rude, I'm just figuring out a way to tackle this hill."

A good 2 hours, I arrived at the place, angry and tired and THIRSTY. I got lost halfway following this &*^$# uncle who acted like it's a normal thing to get lost after you've spent more than 3 hours under the sun.

Sunday : short workout with TSB. It was nice and we went at an easy pace. we talked about a lot of things, and I saw a part of the neighbourhood I didn't know existed. The sun was blazing hot at 5pm so we decided to start at 530pm, which later only started at nearly 6pm. Didn't manage to cover 10k, since we went slow, but we discussed everything about running and the thing leading to it being awesome. One thing I realized is that I'm starting to like the taste of Gatorade. I've never had any isotonic/sports/electrolyte induced drinks before and now I'm guzzling them like a pro. But as always, my pit stop refuel would always be Milo ais and a banana.

Ode to Running

 Did not run at all this week. Excuses: it was raining on Thursday and Tuesday (my running days) and also I've been feeling quite lethargic lately. The real reason: I just didn't feel like it. 

 Running has, for more than a month now, been taking the backseat in favor of all the other sports of choice. My mind was trying hard to reject the idea - I HAVE BEEN RUNNING SINCE I WAS 12! I AM A RUNNER DAMN YOU! I HAD A PB OF 43' 44" FOR A 10K - but my heart's just not in it anymore. 

 The thing with me and running is that, well, it's like a first relationship-love kind of thing. I've always been someone who is bad with endings and goodbyes, always terrible with letting go. I am still the same person who said that if my house was caught on fire, the first thing I would save is the box filled with my journals I've been keeping since I was 12. I'm a memory junk whore. I always have a hard time moving on.

 Running is the same thing. My good, dependable, stable lover. The first choice I'd go to if I needed a pick me up. So easy and accommodating, no fuss or hassles involved. Always unconditional, never pushy. Remember all the good old times we had? You've seen me without makeup, smelled me without deodorant, gone through my stinky socks, my unladylike gasping sound, and you still think I was cool. Who cares about sucky boyfriends of my failing Chemistry tests? You waved them away, with a stiff 5k lope around the park. You always think I was pretty too, and you kept me company, since I was 12, then 14, then 16, then 18, 20, 22, 24, 26. 

 Thank you.

 Best running memories:

1) Emotional Hyde Park run, London 2007: I will always remember this run. Even though it was summer it was still cold by my Malaysian standard. I was lonely and heartbroken and far away from home. On the fourth loop of the park I started to cry and sped up. I always speed up when I started to cry don't I? Thank you for never judging me eventhough everyone thinks I'm crazy. I remember the moments when I ran: people playing frisbees, someone grilling barbecue, a brown large eyed dog looking at me with pure empathy.

2) UTP Early Morning Runs 2002-2004: What possessed me to run in the dark I don't know. Felt embarrassed when I ran past Rakan Masjid guys finishing their Subuh prayers. The Pak Guards cheered on me when I did a third loop. Finished my run as the whole world began to wake up. I felt better immediately.

3) Angry Melbourne Run, 2003: A fight with my then boyfriend led to an explosive run all the way up and down past the overhead at his South Yarra's student flat. I was covered from head to toe - beanie, scarves, jumpers, socks, etc - and running so hard but I was still not sweaty. It was dark at 5 pm and made me feel even more emotional. He caught up with me after a while and we made up with ice-cream hehehe. Good times.

4) Tempo Run with Cutie, 2005: When I was 17, I ran at the lake and saw a cute guy running as well. We checked each other out but nothing happened. Four years later, I was running at the same lake and saw the same guy running in the opposite direction. Silently, the both of us started to do 'tempo' runs to see who could loop one lake faster. We finished after 4 loops, to which he joined me gasping under the tree and said, "That, was the most tiring come-on I've ever done in my life." He had such great calves definition! Damn.

5) Field Hockey Stamina Run, 1999: Me and 2 girls from the team would walk to the lake, run and walk back. It was a nice nice routine, and we did it for many many months. The highlight of the run would be the gossip to and back from the lake. No, I did not know that Niza stuffed her bra! Oh to be 15 again.

6) Lari Dengan Ayah, 2001: This was the year I was free to study on my own for SPM. We would wake up , do our prayers, and drove to the lake to run. Ayah would always be a tad faster. He would never NEVER allow me to beat him, the moment he heard me coming from behind. He likes the flat route, I love the rolling hills. After one hour, we would stretch lazily at the carpark, and then head out for Roti Canai. I love you Ayah.

 So many memories. 
 Now off for a recreational run.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Social Loner

I'm never a team player, therefore I thought I'd do extremely bad in group training. But I adapted well to it, surprisingly.

I think there's a different feel to training alone and training with a group of people. I've been a solitary runner for many years, with the other person being my dad sometimes, and I love solo running. Firstly, it's relaxing. Totally relaxing. I could go on and on without having a care in the world. Secondly, it's mentally rewarding. I love knowing that I have conquered a tough distance all by my lonesome, as we all know how low our motivation gets when you're not running with a partner in tackling tough workouts. Thirdly, it's super relaxing. There I've said it. I love running solo because there's no one to pressure you.

On the other hand, when I first started to train in groups, I realized the benefits of it as well. It's a GREAT push factor. When you train solo, you need to have the discipline to stick to the planned speed, distance or intensity. Sometimes, it's easy to stop voluntarily, since there's no one pushing you anyway! Training in a group pushes me to points I never thought I could do. I've experienced it many times. I would be dying to stop and the reason I didn't was because the others were going at it as well. Ego feeds. But this is good, social ego.

I also enjoy the camarederie of other like minded people. You never get tired of talking about the same sports you've just been exerting yourself into, looping the stories again and again. we moan and sigh about the same bruises and cramps and ugly toenails and tan lines and nobody else understands. Ever since my circle of friends grew bigger through sports, I feel like I've just joined a society where everybody else is seeing the world in colors when I was seeing them in black and white. It's a whole new discovery.

So, in order to introduce more push, more meat into my workouts, I would try to do these group training at least once a week, or when I feel like I needed the company and push. I still like training solo because I know I would enjoy the pace and the moment more when I have no one to distract me, or to spur my competitive mode on. These solitary workouts would be done completely for enjoyment and relaxation. And when I need the time to pass by faster through a boring workout, I'll definitely be doing them with friends.

What's your weekend menu? I have so many tempting ones offered to me... so many runs to try to join! I need to run this weekend. I only did 15k last week! oops.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Update

My hope of making it a 'perfect week' for three times in a row this week was dashed when my parents dropped by to Subang yesterday. As I cancelled my class my mind began shifting my timetables in order to fit in the replacement classes for the next few days. I hate missing a workout. But then again, I could use the time off. Been getting a bad cough and sore throat and I'm not going to fall into the trap of the fever again. Read a nice journal article about the relation of declining immunity with continuous exercise and I was like, "That couldn't be me?" Whatever it is, if you're exercising more, you should be taking extra precaution with your health. Keep good care of your sleep patterns, your food intake, yadda yadda yadda.

I realized that I've been sort of obsessive with playing sports lately. There is nothing else in my mind except doing them and feeling the burn and the high after. This is sort of crazy come to think about it. Everyday I'm looking at race calendars, and planning out my workout routines. When there's a public holiday I think, "Yeay! more time for me to *slot in any activity here*" I don't think I have time for outings anymore. I am spending everything I have - time, money, attention - to my sports. I think If I keep this up I'll end up a) broke, b) dumped, and c) lonely. I just bought my own studio unit and there's just so many things to buy like a washing machine or to fix the grille or a mattress but I'm thinking that it'll be more useful to buy a new swimsuit, or Garmin Forerunner, etc.

I know I need to find a balance. But doing this makes me feel so happy. And I think it's harder for women than it is for men. Women have other things to shoulder as well and already my parents are telling me to 'cut down' when I get married. YELP. Why do most people think active women in this society is WRONG? Can't a wife or a mother have fun? Or do we need to be your number one fan, tagging along for your races, cooking your carboloading meal, cheering you by the roadside and nothing else?

Nevermind that. Anyway, had a great hard workout last Tuesday which left me so sore and happy and beat. Looking forward for another hard day today. After my run, of course!

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Go Girl

I noticed that I have sort of left my life behind. Went to the mall yesterday and saw all these shops on sales, shops that I used to frequent and maybe buy things from. I fingered the skirts and tops and realized that it has been a long time since I actually shopped. And dressed like a girl. My body has tan lines you wouldn't believe, I have turned ten shades darker and well, I always look like I got out of the gym, which just shampooed hair, large tshirts and flip-flops.

To make matters worse I came across this word in the dictionary:

muliebrity: the state of being a woman. (noun)

I lack that.

But then I realized that doing all this does not make me less of a girl. I am proud of what I could do, how far I could go, and how long I could withstand pain. I realize many things from doing sports:

1) I am not scared of the rain. It's merely water. I don't worry about the rain turning my hair into a frizz, because I am working hard improving my cadence and speed. The rain and I - to borrow a phrase from a book - we're old friends.

2) I am not afraid of the sun. Or looking like the Malaysian Grace Jones. In fact, I don't have to care at all since I don't think it can go any darker than this. This sun strengthens your ability to hold on, because humidity kills. You think walking to the parking lot in the mid-day sun is awful? Try running under it. Without water.

3) I don't care how I look. Being a girl growing up with all these Gossip Girl and what have yous, beauty is paramount. Body flabs - muffin tops, bra bulge, thunder thighs - were a thing of the past. Even jiggling breasts or dancing thighs. I used to be self concious when I ran and there would be guys. And now I don't give a damn. You want to whistle at me? Why don't we race uphill, in a bike baby, or in your Rollerblades, or just using your legs, and let see you make it OVER the crest without puking.

It's not about how I look. It's about what I have achieved, and can do, with vigour and, ehem muliebrity.

Reminds me of this awesome Nike Ad in 2005 which features various body parts of a woman with their catchy slogans. My favorite would be this:

The ad says -
I have Thunder Thighs
and that's a compliment
because they are strong
and toned
and muscular
and though the are unwelcome
in the petite section
they are cheered on in marathons
fifty years from now
i'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs
and then i'll go out for a run
Just do it

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Last week was the second week where my workouts have been pretty solid, after the long lay off due to my fever and many pesky injuries. I think I probably did too much too fast, either that, or I did not have enough recovery.

Recovery is important, period. Especially sleep, which I have trouble adhering to the schedule. And that left me feeling very lethargic last Saturday which lead me to have a total bonkfest during my morning workout. The 57km which was supposedly easy for me over the months, felt like torture. I canceled my karate drills class afterwards and slept like a log. There is no way I'm going to endure another 2 hours of hard cardio afer that.

The same thing goes for Sunday. Woke up still feeling very sluggish for a long run, so opted for a slow easy workout. But the whole thing was eventful from the start; someone was late, then another someone got lost, and got mechanical problems, the sun was already hot it burned the front of our tshirt and warmed the just bought bottles of Gatorade in minutes. We scrapped our initial plan to go far and did a u-turn instead. I think in total I downed 3 Gatorades, 2 100+, 1 watermelon juice and 2 Ice Milos. Not to mention countless of water bottles.

And then, for no real reason other than I felt like I wanted to, I did a 10km run in the evening. Usually would complain about the lack of hot sun when I run, but this time I kind of welcome the cool change. I was still thirsty from the hard morning workout so the cool weather was a nice one for me to complete the 10k. It was a simple loop of 2.5km complete with little hills and false flats, and I did 4 boring rounds of it. Still it was a nice run, especially when the little dogs and cats were there at their same place to cheer at me (or bark) every time I pass them by. One of the dogs stopped barking on my third round and just stared at me, head cocked to the side. So cute! One cat maintained her downright relaxed pose the whole 4 times I passed her by. Our eyes met and she was like, "Yo, more power to you."

So Sunday was a great, tiring day. I went to bed real early, and today I shall be resting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

You'd better be running

One of the best thing that I like about running, is that there is no luck involved in the outcome. Unless a race did not start due to the rain, when the race begins, it will be just you against the whole wide world. There's something terribly romantic with the sport of running, something passionate about holding on to that final stop. Nothing or no one would or could ruin this for you unless you let them to.

 I was thinking just that as I was watching the final game between Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat. There's no doubt about it, Lin Dan is a skillful player. But badminton is a game where luck is 40% part of the match. You could be the world number one but if your shuttlecock keeps on hitting the net, or worse, goes out of the line, you're dead.

 I realized that that is the reason why running was my favorite sport growing up. I was in field hockey but I was a bad team player. In running, there's simply no one or nothing to blame on your loss. It's all you, whether you win or lose. The only thing you have to beat is the mental downer. 

 When I discovered long distance running, I was more hooked on running. Sprinting, or anything below 1500m in high school was just too stressful for me. Too short of a time to slog through the pain, not enough time to torture yourself. Also, I like taking over a fellow competitor through mental strength. I remember every moment before overtaking someone - the person would dwindle to the right or left, or waver, a sign of tiredness in sustaining the same speed over a long while. Aaah, I would think to myself gleefully, mental fatigue. And just like that, it was like someone shot adrenaline to my legs. I would move in for the kill.

 I would think of my dad everytime. He would always become my target when we run together.

  I always like who I have become everytime I crossed the finish line, regardless of time. I felt like I could take in anything. And I bet this is why we all do this too.

 I tell myself this everytime I think about closing the book on my running. And I would feel the old itch to love it again, give it one more chance. One of these days I know I have to stop doing it, for the sake of my legs and my future capability. But it doesn't have to be today, or tomorrow just yet.

 "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Yesterday night, from Subang Jaya to Shah Alam and back, I caught sight of 6 runners. The first one was a lady running on her own, in the deep phase of her running I might say, eyes focused, breathing slightly laboured, confident, determined stride.

"Look at her! She's running at night. Great! And I'm in my caftan nightgown." I thought to myself.

I remember this running shoe ad in a running magazine that showed a woman in a car stuck in traffic and a runner was running across the road. The tagline says, "Have you ever wondered why you see everybody running only when you're doing anything but?" I felt exactly like that woman. I felt it all the time when I see someone running andI'm in the car driving. Once, I sent my boyfriend off to work and saw a lady running hard in the sun and I felt like leaping out of the car and joining her.

More runners sighted. But instead of feeling more down, I felt inspired and happy. I love the dedication that mirrors (or would have mirrored) my own. Runners are an exclusive group. Only we know why we're crazy enough to feed this addiction.

The last pair of runners I saw last night was these 2 uncles, running in a very old fashioned gear - meaning headbands, worn out Jogathon-designed tshirt, flourescent strips on muted jogging shorts - and the sight of them was awesome only because they looked every bit the part of dedicated weekend warriors that in my eyes, should be honored more than pro athletes. Nobody paid them to do this and they're doing this even at their age. Without thinking I lowered my car window.

"Hi uncles! Running for Sundown?" I hollered.
"Hi yes yes!" they answered enthusiastically. "You too?"
"Yes. See you!"
"Come join us," the Indian uncle said.
"But I'm wearing caftan," I laughed. By this time I have slowed down my car in order to be beside them.
"Nevermind, running need only shoes. Barefoot also can," the Chinese uncle cajoled me.
"Next time ok? Keep running," I said as they waved me off with a smile.

And then I did something cheesy - I yelled out a parting remark - "Go Subang runners!"

WHY DID I SAY THAT? I burned in shame all the way back. Goes to show when you're high up your brain can't think properly. This is worse than me meeting any celebrities. I remember bumping into George Clooney at the airport when I was 20 and even then I was in check. But if I were to bump into George Clooney training hard for a marathon??? I'd probably bite my tongue, choke in excitement, and babble like a dolt.

Happy weekends lovelies. My menu for the weekend is all planned out, amazing workouts with great company. I promise to squeeze in an LSD this week. I PROMISE.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Finish Strong

"We told our guys to hold on for 30 minutes of agony for 12 months of glory." -
Coach John McDonnell, after Arkansas won the 1993 Ncaa Cross Country title

I like the quote the first time I read it. I think it's an awesome motivation for holding out and in for a little short while before the sweet release. I always have a bad finish for my race - I tend to struggle a little bit at the last 1km when I run with a higher pace. I think it was KOTR 2009 when I was huffing and puffing sprinting to the end and I went, "Alright now I know why you need speedwork!" I incorporated GP (gentle pickup) everytime I run after that, and they really did come handy. But well, unlike everyone else, I never really enjoyed the last few moments before a race ends. It was so high pressure - you either have to run really fast or not at all.

Maybe if I could run still for the next year I would try to Finish Strong like this one lady I remembered running behind for Mizuno Wave run. I was following her steadily when she suddenly bucked up like a horse and sped off the last 1km. Where did she get the second wind? It was awesome and I bet felt great to give it your all until the end.

Anyway I repeated the quote a couple of times in my yoga class yesterday just to make me hold on in a few particularly challenging poses. Yesterday was TOUGH. The session kicked my ass. I went, "Just a minute, just a minute, just a minute more for my moment of glory!" What glory? I asked myself. Oh well, the glory of not giving up. Balancing poses are hardcore than your mother!

Just a random question but for guys out there - can you squat? Most men in the yoga classes can't squat which left my yoga instructor baffled. It's common for foreigners to not be able to squat but yesterday 3 Malaysian males couldn't. She asked, "Wow you can't squat? I thought it's an Asian thing?"

Anyway turned out that squatting is one of the most efficient and easiest workouts to strengthen your ankle and keep your reproductive system healthy. The pose gently massages your internal organs and also provides just enough resistance workout to your ankle. Maybe we need to spend more time in the loo. Maybe that's why in the olden days people had so many kids. Heheh.

I want to run. Right this second. Miss running in the early morning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rabid Runners

"Running is like mouthwash; if you can feel the burn, it's working." Brian Tackett

I've never really considered myself a rabid runner until a friend told me I'm crazy for having more than one running shoes. Honestly, after hanging out with like minded runners for nearly a year online and offline having 3 or even 4 shoes is a natural thing for me. I definitely do not think of the habit as being crazy.

But then I recalled a time when I went to this cyclist's house and he has - wait for it - about 6 bikes in his house, hanging from the walls in his living room. "There's more, in the back room, " he told me amusedly, as my mouth gaped open at the beautiful (and expensive) mess that is his house. I never knew why you needed more than one bicycle.

The same thing goes to running. For a normal runner, one shoe is enough. That's all you need. But over the period of time you sort of know what your feet needs, and what your body wants. and if you like one shoe and like to run, you want to have at least another identical pair.

As for me, I have been running in the same one shoe all throughout uni. It was also the one pair I used for all other sports - which was a killer now when I think about it. Currently I have 3 pairs of running shoes. One is in my parent's house in Nilai, another one is in my sister's house where I live now, and another pair is in my car. Other than for the different location, I also have 3 pairs because:

a) I don't want to wear them out fast.
b) One pair is my favorite for big races.

I also have a pair of trail running shoe, and various pairs of running socks. I'm not sure whether I've used them all. I think I went crazy during one sporting house sale and got suckered into buying all these socks. I usually wear mismatched socks anyway.

Last year when I was really into running, I would just buy a whole running ensemble (t-shirt, sports bra, running pants, socks) WITH shoes if I felt the urge to run and didn't pack my bags. Yes. It was bad enough that I work in the same place as KLCC, where going shopping is as easy as just punching in the elevator button to which level. The sales person there were all too familliar with me at one time. I was DEFINITELY crazy at that time.

Anyway, went for a run yesterday. Just a simple 6k, with both my ankles feeling sore. I was diagnosing them as I completed my run - shin splits? PF? Tendonitis? - and actually had fun doing it. Who am I kidding I'll always feel the pain when I run now so I figured might as well just bear with it and run within my limits. It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one who pushes through their running disability. In an interview Bart Yasso - the famous person behind Runner's World and the creator of the Yasso 800 marathon method - talked about his Lyme disease and how it has damaged one side of his body - the ankle, the hip joints and knees. He said that his, "right leg is always in pain. It's kind of like if I get out there and get in a groove, I forget about the pain and enjoy hanging out with the runners."

Also another good point from him, when asked what advice he has for runners - newbie, aspiring, competitive:

"First off, just commit to and go for it. Don’t be afraid. Everyone is scared at first. Second, you’re in control. Run within yourself. Be your own person. Don’t let the big picture get in your way. Someone’s always last and someone’s always going to beat you no matter your level. It’s going to happen. Just enjoy it. When I stood at the start of Badwater and the race director said, “1 minute until the start!” I suddenly realized I had never run past 26.2 miles ever. This race is 146 miles! At first I thought, “Whoa! This is pretty scary!” But then I chilled and told myself, “You can do this. Just keep it fun. If you enjoy it, it will come to you. Pace yourself and enjoy every step.” And, that’s what I did. It’s hard to image that running 146 miles, every step can be enjoyable, but it really was, and I think it was because that’s the attitude I started the race with. The mental side of our sport it a huge part of it. When you’re able to control the mental side, you can do great things. One thing about running is that there are no short cuts. It’s an arduous sport. You’ve got to be happy with little gains along the way and just keep working at it. If you can do that, you’ll be around a long time."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week Recap

I've had an amazing week in exercising last week, albeit my pitiful post yesterday. Immediately after posting it, I had a light nap, woke up refreshed, and headed to my boyfriend's house in USJ for a run.

I wanted to do at least a 10k, and I didn't get to achieve it. But I was happy with the run, because despite the twinging pain in my ankle I had a nice time. I love running without knowing the route. I love simply going in any streets or corners and looking at houses and people.

We started from USJ 2 where my boyfriend said that there'll be a hill to warm up our legs. I almost laughed out loud when I found out that his 'hill' is nothing but a very very very slight incline - it's practically a flat road. I knew better than to trust someone who trains on a flat ground (he's a footballer) and never heard of hill repeats (I know I'm being cocky... takper lah).

We crossed over the bridge to SS18 and that's when and where the run got interesting. SS18 is an attack of the sight and senses compared to anywhere else in my neighbourhood. The roads are large, less cars, and they have an abundance of parks, shophouses, and street vendors to spoil my eyes (and tastebuds). It is also the route for my high school's cross country race (which I found out was a measly 5km - cross country la sgt!) and running at the same route brings so many memories. It was mostly a flat course with one slight incline that stretches for a nice 1 km - what in cycling they would call a 'false flat'. Other than that I was really enjoying the run. I love running!

Also I realized that form, posture and technique play an important part. I've been on a bender lately trying to experiments the right form for me as I swim, cycle, run, skate, twist and bend. If it doesn't hurt after you tweak them, then it's the right form. I tried it on my legs yesterday, shifting the weight slightly left, or right, applying pressures to different spots. For the most part, correcting your form really does work, but I'm also skeptical if I'm just wearing out another part of muscle that has not been worn out yet.

A good one hour later we finished the run since dusk is about to be near, but not before I sebat another plate of Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Telur Mata Goyang2. Thank God this time around I did not get the Magnum Almond.

On another note, this week I've achieved 100km++ too, but with a combination of so many activities hahahaha. This is the first time I've done a 135km of cross training and workouts. Yeah!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bad Decision

but not the one that I regretted completely.

 Planned to do a long run this Sunday. In fact, I've promised myself that after all the hooplas early May that I would focus back on my first and primary sport which is running. Planned to chuck out anything else and have Sunday morning for my legs and me. But like Outkast's song goes, "You can a pretty picnic but you can't predict the weather," things did not go as planned.

 Instead I conquered Genting Sempah. This was my second time and it was better. I love the feeling so much it is beyond words. So I'm going to stop here about it.

 Came back after shoveling a plate of Nasi Lemak, ayam goreng and telur mata goyang2 feeling the weight of my 'bad' decision. The weather was cold early in the morning and I didn't like it but at 1130 I think it would be great to go out for the run I bailed on. Was getting ready to park at the lake but then that plan also got foiled because I remembered a commitment I made to my sister. Dang!

 So the option is to run this evening. I desperately need this in order to reconnect again with running. I have so many excuses - bad knees, painful ankle, that I'm just trying to be as conservative as I could with this running - and I keep on looking for more.

 My issue is actually not about Sundown. It's actually something that's been sort of bugging me for a while. I am starting to believe that I do not have the heart to run anymore. I don't know why it happens. All I know is that running has given me crap and medical bills and pills to pop and painful nights and early morning, inability to fold my legs, etc etc that I am ready to throw the towel. 
 I don't really enjoy running as much now like I did before. Everytime I go for a run, I'm just worrying and waiting for the first twinge of pain. I'm not uninhibited, not free to just let it rip. I have to slow down on downhills which always make me feel doubly tired. I am conscious every single step.

 I plan to power walk the whole 21k if I failed to do any LSD. That is, if I am able to book the bus ticket to Singapore.

Friday, May 7, 2010

LSD Woes

I'm planning to do my first LSD this weekend. Nothing much, just maybe a 10k. Hey, it's a Long Slow Distance if you've only been running 5ks. And I don't want to push my knees just yet.

 I am very eager to join the runners at Putrajaya only because I could fit in another activity Sunday morning. Originally I wanted to do my LSD on Sunday but my weekends are mostly for wheels and they have top priorities. But Sunday I might be running with a running partner about my pace and after all the group swim, etc etc I kinda like training with somebody. So I went back and forth and back and forth with my choices. The only viable one is to shift my usual Sunday activity and focus on running, since I'd be tackling a 21k in less than a month but I... don't want to.

 I guess I'll just run today later in the evening. And tomorrow evening would be the LSD yay! I prefer morning runs but I'm ok with evening runs as well. Well, beggars can't be choosers right?

 Anyway, today I had an awesome time meeting up with friends and working up a sweat. The strenuous  yoga session on Wednesday still left me feeling quite tired and spent so I thought I would skip it. But I forced myself only because of the company and I am a convert to the sport. Finished the whole thing with a nice chocolate milk and - what else - Magnum Almond. Oh the joy of burning calories (not that I need to, I need to collect more!!)

 On a different note, my office had a small 5k run today at the Lake Gardens. My friend went and she told me about this white haired lady who was one of the top runners. I immediately knew who she was talking about - the lady is on the same floor as me and always had a feast for breakfast. She is very skinny for a middle aged woman, but more than one time I see her savoring roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik, sometimes all three in one go. A few times I was thinking, 'Damn, just because you're skinny and you think you could shovel all these food. I bet you never exercise.'and only today found out that she's done countless marathons. HAHA. I got my taste of the humble pie. Never judge a book by its cover... or what he/she eats.

 Happy running! Oh I have yet to book my bus ticket... damn!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pink Of Health

I'm feeling so much better lately, compared to the previous months. There is a difference between being totally well and suffering from a light sniffle or going through the last excess of fever. I feel like I could run for hours and then do another 3 hours of karate!

Syukur Alhamdulillah.

Yesterday in my yoga class the teacher said something interesting. She said that sweating is the most effective way of detoxification. Skin is the largest's organ and when the skin sweats, it means that the internal organs are all heated up as well, and that is the main key in the detox process, which more or less means you are getting rid of the toxins. I sweated buckets in the class yesterday, it was so embarassing. Sweat puddles formed around the mat as we twisted and stretched.

One interesting pose that I think is useful for runners that we did yesterday was called the Fire Hydrant. It is aptly named since the post requires us to get on all fours, lift one bent leg up to the side, just like a dog peeing at a fire hydrant:
Make sure that your arms are straight throughout, bending them just counteracts the effectiveness of this position. For added challenge, straighten the lifted bent leg and bring the feet closer to your face. This really opens up your hip flexors and also strengthen your thigh and butt muscles.

Another explanation and variations of Hydrant pose taken from Unrefined Athlete website, which has a lot of useful tips on stretching and strengthening our body parts (click at the link to see the video included):

Daily Pose: Help for Hips, Back, and Core

The Fire Hydrant: I have used this pose many times for warming up my hips before running as well as basic hip, back, and core strengthening. In the video below, our model gets on all fours, lifts the right, and then the left leg up and down while keeping a bent knee.
I recommend some other variations, such as lifting your leg and holding it (envision dog peeing on fire hydrant here). Or lifting your leg, straightening it, and then holding it. You can also left the opposite arm and reach in front of you or out to the side to add additional back/ core strength and balance.
Fire Hydrant Kicks: Get on all fours, lift right leg, keeping knee bent, and kick leg out to the right and then as far back behind you as you can, almost as if you're kicking towards your left butt cheek. When you kick out to the right you have the option of straightening your leg, but keep it bent as you kick it behind you. I perform about 10-15 reps and then I switch sides. This is one of my favorite pre-run warmups because it is a dynamic stretch and gets circulation into the hips.

Well, that's about it from me today. Maybe I'm going for a run this evening. Happy stretching weekend warriors!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I might come across as being quite sedentary in this blog but it's just because I'm a lousy minute by minute updater. I have been doing some activities, albeit way low key than if I was gearing up for a race that I want to run really well in.

 But first, Sundown updates:
1) I think I'll probably stay at the hostel in Joo Chiat Rd since it's reallllly cheap (RM 36) eventhough the MRT is quite far and the area is a bit rowdy. I'm quite spent this month so can't really splurge on a decent hotel.
2) I'm left to figure out the transportation. Where would the race kit pickup place be again? Need to figure out transportation from bus stop-race kit place-hostel-race venue-hotel. Hoping that the taxis are in abundance after midnight. (I think I'd probably finish in 3hrs)

 Today I went for a recovery run. Wanted to run a normal 5k loop but since ankle is still painful and calves are sore I figured a slow relaxing short run would be more beneficial. So I forgo my normal 5k route and decided to explore my neighbourhood. For areas that are gated, I cheerfully asked the guards if I could pass through and run inside and all of them were okay with it, even passed me the thumbs up as if I'm running in a race! 

 It was a nice run. I think I ran for 30 minutes, distance not measured, but roughly around 5k, not more. Came back and stretched for a long period, concentrating on my legs and calves. Ankle still is painful and I have no idea why. Oh well.

 I really miss the passion I have for running. It used to be the sole reason I was totally grounded and happy, and I felt strong and healthy and invincible after a nice run. Now I seem to rely on something else. I was glad that I enjoyed this run, however short, for the awesome feeling, o pressure, just me, my feet, my breathing, and the nice view.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sundown Meltdown

I might be staying at one of the hostels in Joo Chiat Road as they are the nearest hostels Changi Airport. Now transportation: if some of us are meeting somewhere beforehand then it would be great since we can go to the race venue together. If that is the case, I could book hostels near the town since MRT would be in abundance (the one in Joo Chiat road requires me to walk a bit and coming back at 1am like that... i dont think so)

I have a slight problem.

 Last year, in a haste and caught up with all the hype and excitement, I registered for Sundown. I checked the 21k box. I like 21k. Just as I like 10k. And I want to do another 21k because I thought back then that I would be ready. I mean, I was in the midst of 'recovery and resting' and my next race was only 2 months away (ENR) you know, you know...

 Forgetting about my knees, which is more to paranoia than actual pain (I hope so, but I am being very very careful with them still), I have lost the mental ability to cope with longer runs. Some parts of it were due to lack of training - my legs and body feel uncomfortable at 10k mark now - and of course the big part is that I have forgotten what it felt like to run for longer distances. All I could think about is how tiring it would be, since I was struggling to complete a 10k. And since I've been doing a lot more of something else other than running my mindset has somewhat changed. I think running in general is tiring. Maybe I'm just ridiculously scared for my knees but it is - gasp - dangerous too. Oh God help me I've been rudely converted! Now I know why non runners think runners are crazy.

 So my next race would be the Sundown and I'm seriously considering not to go. So many excuses come to my mind now - the exact opposite when I was dying to enter races, so many reasons I give to myself - the trip is expensive, haven't booked for transportation, hotel, don't know who to bring along, etc etc.

 I have 3 more weeks to get ready for a 21k. So far I've only managed to do about 4 5ks and that's it. 

 Plan A:
 - Run on Tuesdays. (5-6ks)
- Do a longer run on Sunday.  But this could be hard since I have reserved my weekends for activities other than running. Unless I run later, say at 10am. Or maybe I could run in the evening. Running has no rules right? But I'm looking forward to run with friends who are going to attempt all the same races I would. Hmmm.
- Maybe run on Thursdays too. But this is optional since I don't want to overdo the running.

Plan B
- have someone pick up my bib since I'm not going.

 To other Sundown runners: how are you guys going to Singapore? By bus, driving there, or by plane? And what's the nearest hotel/hostel there? Need to figure out my budget and what to say/explain to parents since I just got back from Singapore.