Sunday, November 28, 2010

Running: The Best Of

Me and my whole family are all talking about this Malakoff run. This time around, few more of my cousins are joining and also my colleagues (upon my insistence).

Caught up in the excitement, sometimes I wondered if i should just forgo my 'retirement' plan and join them in the run too.

It seems that I'm retiring at the wrong moment - my sister (whom I have given up trying to make her run) has been asking me about running, and which race she should apply to.

For the millionth time after my knee injury, I wished I didn't have degenerative knee bones. Or that it's just some sort of an injury, that could get better in time. I look at other people running everyday and think, "How come they don't get any knee pain?" I regard other runners with some sort of an amazement - how could your knees take it but not mine?

Sometimes I feel like not giving a hoot and running through all the pain. But I want to be able to walk during my pregnancy (something women with bad knees like mine can't do). And I'm pretty sure there is a reason for everything, even if we can't see it yet.

So I am sticking through my promise - no running events anymore - at least, nothing that amounts to more than 3 per year. I would not completely stop running though, I think that is fairly impossible, but I would not run until I have to run. I'm pretty ok with that.

Thank You, feet, for keeping me company for 13 wonderful years. We had great moments.

Yesterday, while cleaning up my place, I found a box of things that belonged to me in high school. As is by pure coincidence, out came my sporting paraphernalia; hockey shin pads, tapes, squash balls, worn out badminton racquets, and most importantly, my running bibs.

1246 - my first ever running race number, when I was 13. It was a cross country, distance maybe 3km, and I think I finished it waaay after the event has finished. By the time I arrived, everybody was gone, and the tents were all cleared off the field. I was dumbfounded. I thought I was in Twilight Zone.

1355 - second race of the same distance, which I ran blindly without stopping trying to chase the top girl in school to no avail. My first ever trophy. I got number 13. Lucky number 13. This was the year when running started to make sense.

42:23 - my best 10km time. I was 15 and was also in field hockey. field hockey worked your endurance and speed like hell. Joining cross country was easy because we ran so much during field hockey. We had many different coaches and everyone was insane.

400m, 800m, 1500m, 4x400m - my favorite events. I HATED competing but not when I know I would win HAha! Out of the 4, 800m was the hardest because I always had a hard time pacing this distance. you burnt out going too fast too soon, but lose out when you started too slow. My winning 1500m time was 5:25. I was 16-17. My boyfriend then was the school's top runner but I had no idea I would be marrying that guy.

suicides and horses - my favorite running drills.

Bullet with Butterfly Wings (Smashing Pumpkins) - my all time favorite running song. the song started out slow but then explodes into magic. Great for tempo run.

Rancid (out come the wolves) - favorite running album. I then ran while holding a freaking discman.

Hyde Park - the best running place oversea.

After an emotional fight - the best time to do your tempo run.

Gentle Pickup - my favorite Runner's World term.

Reebok Premier Road - favorite running shoes. I have 2 of them!

5k - favorite running distance.

Writing this makes me want to run.

I spoke to one of the cyclists whom I cycle with, and he told me that he too used to run. In fact, "I used to run with the Pacesetters, even had me a running girlfriend too," he said. I asked him, "Don't you miss it?"

"You've just go find something else that hooks you the same way."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Halfhearted cardio

Getting back into the workout scene regularly is quite an effort.

I was caught up with work that I arrived home quite spent. All I did was read books until it's time to turn off the lights.

I did however spend Wednesday in a much resisted but beneficial cardio. I was SO LAZY and kept finding excuses in my head to bail out on the exercise. But one thing I realized is that the trick to continuously exercise is to not think about anything at all and go through the motion. Just change your clothes, grab the equipment, and head to the destination of your sport. Start. Get pumped up.

I worked myself good last Wednesday. But I really should be eating straight between the 30 minutes after the workout. My diet is out of whack.

Saturday was a bad cardio. I slept little the night before, fitfully. i didn't manage to have dinner and the only thing I ate was breakfast. I slept wrongly, woke up with a veryyyy sore and stiff neck. It hurts to do most stuff. But still I dragged myself to meet my friends because damn it if I was to miss out on a routine workout. In the middle of it I got my period. Cramps arrived. So it was a testing effort trying to finish, to keep up, all the while trying to ignore the cramps in my gut and my neck and the fact that I'm totally hungry.

I realized I'm sort of a mess lately. Today I slept in, mostly because I have an early wedding to attend to, and also both my cramps did not let up. I'm aching all over, joints and all. I'm a 90 yr old grandma.

The only good thing about my health lately is that when they did the whole measurement, etc, my body age amounted to 20 yrs old and my visceral body fat is 2%. I think my BMI is 18... but we all know BMI is horribly misjudged.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Retiring with a PB

Yes I got my Personal Best, thank you Penang Bridge.

I would never ever run the same long distance route twice (21km and above) but Penang bridge is something else. The route is never boring, never mentally challenging, and always feels SHORT. To me, that is the best kind of race ever. Of course, I've only done it twice but both times I finished it happy and elated.

7pm: Met my friends who went back to penang for a wedding. They took us out for cheese naan and butter chicken and nasi beriyani kambing. Tasty.

The only picture in this post and it's not even on running.

10pm: Went to sleep after carefully arranging my running outfit. Realized I forgot to bring my running pouch or whatever you call it where you can stuff your cellphone and counterpain. Damn it, I think, back to stuffing my sports bra again. I have decided to run in my vibrams. Forgot to bring my Vaseline to smear my feet with. I guess I'll have to bear the pain of blisters all over again like that Sundown nightmare. Well, at least it's for half the distance, I consoled myself.

When I woke up,it was already 236am. I rushed, forgetting to eat any breakfast at all. In the car managed to swallow half a banana and a swig of coffee. Left my car somewhere in front of Gold Coast Resort. It was 3.06, and the half marathon male were already running.

I realized I left my bottled water in the car. At the starting line I grabbed one of the bottles lying by the roadside. Thank God I'm not squeamish.

When we were flagged off, I quickly look for someone to pace on. My plan was to start fast so that even when I get tired I won't be too far behind (what a stupid strategy... but hey whatever works). I saw these 2 girls in the 'right' running gear - the Zensah calf thingies, beeping monitors, even the Running for Orang Asli sign. I am sure they are in the 'in' running crowd, therefore, would run a good proper race. I latched on.

They kept a quick and steady pace. Discussing about this and that, mostly about running and running events. One of them were faster than the other and she quickly left us. I was glad to follow the slower friend. In my heart I hoped she won't go any faster.... it's only the first km!

When we reached the bridge my spirits soared. It's near the end! Only a u-turn and back again. Already the blisters were forming and my Plantar fasciitis (sukahati la spelling macamana pon) started to rear. I dropped the Orang Asli friend (the only way to describe her) when we went up the bridge. I have to go faster here as I plan to walk all the way down. My knees, what else?

All the way running up there was this black lady - a foreigner - who grunts. She grunted so loud that the runners near us (I was running just beside her) would turn to look. I wondered why - to say that the incline was so bad it was just a fart of a hill. She didn't look too exhausted. Yet she grunted, until I started to feel embarrassed. It sounded like full fledge porn movie and I was the co-star... I mean I was standing next to her. I quickly dropped her. Nope, did not even grunt.

Walked all the way down, looking at all the other runners I passed charging past. I wistfully wished that my knees weren't such grandmas. Oh well, you do what you can, right? One lady ran smoothly down. Your knees, you idiot! I felt like shouting to her.

I was just jealous.

The rain started. First it danced softly on us, then it showered. And then it roared, pouring. Pelting. After the u-turn, everybody ran looking down at their feet, like shuffling zombies. But everybody was running at this point! I think somewhere between last year and this year more Malaysians have been running... nobody seemed to walk. Damnit.

I was secretly happy it was raining so hard because I won't be the only one suffering with blisters so great. I secretly laughed at those wearing shoes with socks... my condolence.

Everybody was soaked, whoever wanted to mandi wajib, would have gotten so. Not a single thing was spared. To my horror I realized that I was wearing white... and you can see my blue sportsbra as clear as day. I might as well be running without my t-shirt on! I only hoped you cannot see the outline of my underwear as well. They're all running looking down anyways right?


Going up the second incline, I ran beside an uncle who... grunted all the way up. What wrong with me? I thought. Why do I always get stuck with groaning uphill runners?

The buns were soaked. But I was hungry, plus, I needed something to down my actifast. Yes, I cheated. I took a painkiller to blur the blister pains away. My apologies.
The bun was very soggy, cold and tasted like wet paper. I swallowed them without thinking.

At the end of the second downhill a guy spoke to me. He was doing the full marathon, and asking me questions, trying to make a conversation. I didn't get the point; granted this is a social event but it's 5 am in the morning and I feel bad slowing you down. When he left me I hoped the reason he talked to me at all is NOT because of my transparent blue sports bra.

The U-turn back! yay, so near to the end. I started to feel cramps coming up in my leg. Of course, since the only thing I took was water, and bread. Couldn't find any shop in Penang that carries ORS. So I ran it drinking water and 100 plus, hoping 100plus is enough to keep cramps at bay.

600m to the finishing line, I saw this lady runner who looked like the younger version of Kak June. Short hairt, gorgeous body, the works. She kept a steady pace, and I still had it in me. Suddenly I felt like I wanted to show her what finishing in style means. I surged ahead, cutting her, speeding up. Huh, baru kau tau pentingnyer speedwork! I thought smugly.

Then the cramps hit. BAD. At my calves. I stopped abruptly and hobbled jerkily. The lady runner ran past me without even a glance. I was left eating my medicine and it is bitter! I bet she was mentally laughing her ass off.

I hobbled to the finishing line.

Result: 2 hours 35 minutes... a full 30 minutes off my average half-marathon timing. YAYYY terrenyer akuuuu.

Why I think it happened:
1) acupuncture?
2) painkiller? It helped to keep my knee pain in control.
3) good pacers - the orang asli and various other lady runners I wished I could beat.
4) butter cheese naan
5) i just enjoyed this race.
6) good fitness base? eventhough without any lari at all since september.

Anyway like the title said this will be my last half marathon race. I have decided to gantung kasut and only run in events with my dad instead. We'll see how it goes. I hope we will all still be friends. I would still be writing in here.

I would definitely be joining on all the weekend activities, so don't tak ajak!

how did you guys do?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I am here in Penang.

The last time I went here, I had no expectations and did not really know anyone. Just another person who was trying her luck with running 'events'. I survived my first half-marathon - no, I enjoyed it to be very honest. It was fun, calming, soothing, and sleepy at times.

I befriended an uncle named PK, who had scaled Annapurna and Everest 4 times.... or something.

I am back here again to scale the bridge in the middle. This time around, I came not as a runner, but as someone who enjoys running. I did not train, at all. The whole week I was caught up with work and house stuff and family I did not even do a single cardio.

I ate a lot and called it carbo loading. Nasi Lemak Village Park, Nasi Dagang ss19 kak jah, Dominos Pizza, Nasi Kandar Emak Nuh, etc.

I totally have no goals or vision, but of course, if I could actually finish in good timing... I wouldn't sabotage that chance either. It's just that I know what I will get with the kind of time and hours I put (or lack of) for this event. I am aiming to at least get the medal, failing which, I will unload my misery and shame on the various of penang food.

Good luck to all marathoners!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Penang: makan and lari!

I have not been sedentary. Only in this blog. Truth to be told I have been happy. And busy. Happily busy, or busily happy, however you want to see it.

Week days were spent with me doing karate, yoga, pilates, in-line skating, going to dance classes, kickboxing. Weekends, I usually play in the pool with my cousins. No distance measured, only pure exertion as we played 'water polo' and 'Tok Harimau'.

I will arrive home from work exactly at 535pm. From there, I would either grab my skates or my hand wraps and proceed. It is refreshing to be doing stuff that doesn't really feel like a workout. To not really care about time or anything at all. On good days I would be skating endlessly for three hours, coming back after it has turned dark. Would not realize how taxing it was until I woke up with sore thighs and abs the next day. Or I would be hitting the kickboxing gym for drills. It is more social than anything. If there was any good looking guys I found myself working extra hard.

I have DNSed 3 events. I never do this, three events back. And I realized that I seemed to have lost the will to be in a race. For the moment, I much rather wake up at 530am doing the things I love doing without parting money or putting on a bib.

But, come this Sunday I would be in Penang for the Penang Bridge Marathon baby! Doing a 21k, which I planned to hit it as eassssyyyyy as I could. I target to finish it arouns 3 or 3 hrs 20 minutes. The faster, the better, but not pushing. To tell you the truth, the last time I ran, it was on September 25th, for the 5k Big Fun Run.

I hope to meet the rest of you people that I have been missing. Who's going? (or to be more frank, still reading this blog?)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Due Update

I have been Internet-less for a few days now ever since moving into my own space. The office blocks out most pages I want to access, blogger included. Thank God for my trusty old manual cardio journal.


The distance got the best of me. I never liked this route, mostly because it messes up with my pacing. I am never good in pacing. If it's a loooong steady incline, I always get winded haflway up. If it's a flat road I lose steam after charging fast the first few kms. If it's downhill I get bored with all the going down. No, pacing is never my strong suit, and that is unfortunate.

The first few times where I paced correctly the result was sweet. I'm still trying to figure out at which point I should surge ahead and when I should hold back to accumulate potential energy (chewah!). I ended Saturday workout with a half-hearted joy. Maybe it is just the route.


Met my favourite girls and we got started. The pace was quick and easy, and I was caught by my own joy of empty highways and vast open space. The weather was good. I liked it, but I wish it was hotter. I would have enjoyed it more if the sun was scorching on my back. I like suffering during exercising... isn't it the whole point? Pushing to your limits when you 'train'?

A girl whose blog I frequently read writes about always trying to max out yourself when you train. You will never know how far you can go if you didn't try. Well, I'm not training for anything specific nor do I want to beat any of my (so-called) records but I am intrigued by the thought of just getting better, stronger, faster. I worked on my form. I emulated the better ones. I mimicked closely what they did. And I gave when I simply just couldn't push it anymore. That Sunday was a first for me, giving up and stopping. But instead of feeling deflated, I felt positive, knowing that there is a room for me to improve.

I like having benchmarks. I like knowing you've leaped further than you did before.

Monday was a much needed rest. I slept in late, had a good fest of a lunch, spent some quality time with my family and boyfriend, and then watched a movie. Idris Elba was so hot in Takers. I don't really like accents but I like the fact that he's tall. Harris says he walks like he has a tennis ball stuffed between his crotch and I was like, You don't say...


Fast cardio! But I took it easy, because I have promised a friend I would. We were always in it together, the same level, the same goals. One of the better, stronger ones, also stuck with us, kept at our pace. I can't believe she took it easy. She's a powerhorse. We slalomed all the ups and downs, curves and bends, laughing, making jokes, feeling like the night is ours. At the end of the workout the Powerhorse started to up the intensity, and I followed suit. Like I said, I just wanted to test myself, see if I could beat myself, and get a good workout while I'm at it. I hung on to her for a good 2 minutes, breathing hard, feeling dizzy.

It felt great however. I believe that I am slowly getting better. Inch by inch, my stamina is improving. Slowly but surely, I am able to cover more grounds. I am, more or less, back to where I was.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Long weekend!

I love long weekend like a fat kid loves cake.

Well, who am I kidding. Not only fat kids love cake - a lot of people does! I happen to LOVE cheesecake. Especially homemade cheesecake. The one where you can decide how much cream cheese gets to be in.


I did, cough cough, weights. That means gym, and that means boring. I was emailing my yoga teacher back and forth about having a strength training withdrawal. She is out of Malaysia for the moment and I don't think she will be back anytime soon. Now this lady, she gave me awesome strength training routine. I mean it. Everytime I was in her class I lost whatever confidence I have about my fitness. My arms shook like noodles softening in a pot of hot water, my legs quiver like I just met the love of my life, I kept on farting during stomach sets... that was how bad that lady tortured us.

I miss it. I miss walking out of the class feeling like I could pummel a beefy dude 50 pounds over me.

She suggested that I do weights. She gave me a detailed list of what I have to do, reps and sets you could find anywhere in fitness magazines. I looked at my book and it says Run on Thursdays but I wasn't in the mood to run. Or rather, my knees were not in the mood to run. You think you're a slave to your cats or kids every whims? Try having a dodgy pair of knees. THEY tell you when you should run, how long and how far. They DECIDE which shoes you're going to wear and on what surface you're going to pound them on. I believe I am able to take care of babies from now on.

Because it was a Run day which means cardio which means heart pumping, I jumped on the elliptical machine. This doesn't really hurt the knees that much and it's really a boring workout, but beggars can't be choosers. I selected Interval and spent the next 30 minutes figuring out what is it about the elliptical movements that made you sweat. Also I watched the trees swaying. And one dude picking up trash. Lovely. Uplifting.


I had fun. What's new today? I had more power. Also, I was faster. Yes. I think I was a tad speedier than I was 2 days back. Also, my legs felt strong, upper body not complaining. All in all, it was a good workout and I enjoyed the sun shining on my face and everywhere that was uncovered. The only bad thing was I didn't put on sunscreen and it ate me even until now. Keep it up and Harris is going to marry a wrinkled up leather handbag.

What I had: milo ice, 100 plus, 1/4 cliff bars (chocolate brownie), 3 chocolate chips cookies, 2 plates of Nasi Lemak.

I have to keep track of my food intake because I'm not healthy. So excuse me should this blog turns into a food journal of sorts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Unfit but getting there!


Those were the words screaming repeatedly in my ears Tuesday night as I did my much-sought-after-but-hardly-indulge cardio workout.

Let me just lay this on the floor: I knew where my fitness is, I knew I'm so far behind, and I knew I have to put in effort just to be where I was before (before what? I have no idea too).

But that night was a shock to my cardiovascular system. 2 minutes into starting, as always, I felt bile at the base of my throat, my chest tightened, and I fought to keep my breathing even. Classic signs of out-of-shape, too much rest, too much hours working, so-called weekend warrior.

I started to entertain the idea of giving up. I have a LOOONG way to go, and the route's not exactly easy anyway. I was left behind, alone, and the only thing that I could think of is a ghost attack. I hate night workouts.

But I hate giving up more. I COULD FINISH THIS, I told myself fiercely. Doggedly.

Thank God a friend came ambling along. He would accompany me, he said, plus, I'm not in the mood lately, burnt out I guess. I don't mind following your pace.

I'm so unfit, I gasped.
Don't worry, he said. You'll get back to it after a few more repeats.

1 hour and 40 minutes later, I finished it. The unforgiving, take no prisoners, no mercy kind of a workout even for seasoned athletes.

You know what I love? The fact that I loved the hardest, most difficult parts of the whole thing. The fact that instead of feeling like I have to slog through it dreadfully, I went at it head on and horns thrusted.

Sometimes I wonder where I find the motivation behind all these routine. I mean, look at me - I am no paid athlete. I do not have a race coming up soon, and even if I do I end up forgetting it or missing it out. But I still rely on these routines.

Big help for Wednesday was writing down exactly what I want to do with my workout time. Listing out the drills, the time and the RPE I expect to achieve makes it easier for me to just go ahead with the workout instead of worrying in the middle of it what to do next. It's like having a coach except that this coach knows you reallly well.

I also planned to push this workout hard. I want to be tired at the end.

For the first time in a decade, I also timed myself. Haven't been doing that because I didn't see a point of it.

The session went well. I did not cheat one bit, except to change one set because my knees were hurting (paranoia). I took my time to stretch and really stretch the muscles between sets. I made sure my heart was pounding furiously or else I'd give myself one more set just to piss me off even more.

I worked so hard that I had trouble keeping my eyes open during dinner.

And today I ate Nasi Lemak and 2 slices of Pepperoni Pizza.
additional: Dinner is nasi goreng! Damn tasty.

Monday, November 1, 2010


It was a nice Sunday.

I had a late night the day before. Hung out with my friends and boyfriend and it has been a long time since we all met up. Harris asked me if I was going to workout tomorrow. This is how it's like with the both of us. At the start of our night out we'd ask each other this question: Are you going to workout tomorrow? because then whether we stay out late or not depends highly on this question. I told him, I don't know, and to be honest, I really didn't. I wanted to work out, but I haven't hung out with my friends for a long time and felt like... being a carefree young trash and staying up late. Instead of clocking in early because I have to wake up at 5am.

I think I came back at around 230am. I told myself while stumbling to my bed, I'm NOT going to do anything but sleep tomorrow. There's no way.

I think about a few minutes later, I woke up to the sound of the alarm and it says 545am. And without thinking I sat up with a start, and tell myself, If you don't drag yourself out of the bed you'd regret it for the rest of your life. Yes, I was being dramatic but I really needed the push.

It was the best decision made. For the first time in my life I arrived early. I think I was the first one to arrive. Met the usual group of people - people I haven't seen for months! They all greeted me and I felt like, hey I miss this. It's not often I like doing social workouts but here I was, milking the attention of being out of the scene for quite some time.

So we started. And to be honest I have been gone so long I didn't care about time or pace or what have yous. All I know is that I just wanted to have fun and push myself the hardest I can push. I compare myself to no one except only me. I began assessing how I feel and how better it felt the hotter it gets, the harder it feels and the longer it goes. I left my friends at the back and quickly settled at the front. I knew nobody there - mostly males, a couple of females. I felt strangely elated pushing through the hardest of the routes, especially amidst the groans of other people, especially if they were males. I didn't care if in actuality we were all slow I was having the time of my life. I felt fine. I felt like I was in a race, racing. I still have it, I tell myself, elated at the thought of being able to sustain the pace and the position of being at the front.

I just needed proper nutrition, that is all. All throughout the whole thing I could feel the cramps slowly sneaking to my calves and my thighs and my stomach, thanks to my only water nutrition plan and only a bar of oats in the car on the way to the place. When we went uphill I was careful not to clench anything I shouldn't clench. I kept my breathing even.

I was so proud of myself that day.
And here I am, craving for more. The Sunday workout has awakened the fire in me, stirring up the kind of passion I have sidelined for other things in my life temporarily. The fact that I held on, pushed hard and could go as far as I did that is a preview of what I could do with proper training and nutrition.

I want to see that goal achieved.