Monday, December 30, 2013

3 Weeks in Canada—Things I've Noticed About Them

I've just arrived home from a 3-week vacation in Canada. Well to be specific, Langdale, Gibsons, which is about a 40-minute ride by ferry from Vancouver. Apart from the cold weather in the winter, I've noticed some interesting things about the Canadians in general. Although I'm still very exhausted from the ravages of the long journey home (I arrived in KK this morning), and before my old brain forgets what I want to say, I'd like to share with my readers some of the things that stood out from the rest while I was there.

Display of Huge Cars

I've had the opportunity to swim in an indoor pool. It was a small 20-metre pool which was OK for a lousy swimmer like me. But the thing that was something of a culture shock to me was the fact that the men were going around totally in the nude in the changing room. Let me tell you that these white men were huge, and I'm not even talking about the size of their bodies!

Some friends had suggested that I join the party by taking everything off too—so as not to be the odd one out, if you know what I mean—but although I'm not exactly shy to be seen by other nude men, I was rather concerned that I would be the main attraction by being the smallest of the lot. And again, I'm not talking about the size of my body. Think of it as attempting to display my Austin Mini or Proton Saga kelabu car when in the company of those who drive the likes of huge Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Size of the Population

I'm not talking about the number of people in the country. Rather, I'm talking about the size of their bodies. Although Malaysians are very quickly getting fat and obese, I've noticed that a very high proportion of the Canadian population are made of fat to obese people. I'm not sure if it has something to do with their diet or lack of physical exercise (or even both), but I have the impression that a random toss of a stone in the street could land on a fat Canadian somehow!


I suppose all the countries in the world have their shares of rude and bad-manners people, but when considered from the general point of view, the Canadians are certainly friendlier than the Malaysians. Total strangers smile and greet you with "Hi" or "Good morning" in the street. Their shop assistants are more than willing to help you when you enter their stores; and everybody is equal regardless of gender, race and religious beliefs.

Disabled People

When walking in the streets, you are more likely to bump into people with walking aids or sitting in a wheelchair; the latter may be electronically-motorized. You see them even during the winter. It's quite an eye opener as we don't have very many of these people in the streets of Malaysia. But that is quite expected because our country is just not as friendly as Canada in terms of facilities for disabled folks. Practically everywhere in Canada you see special facilities for disabled people—you have special seats for them in buses; public toilets specifically constructed for the disabled in mind; entrances and exits in public places can be opened and closed by the press of a button (apart from door knobs); pavements and pedestrian walkways built with ramps for wheelchairs etc.

These are some of the interesting things I've noticed during my 3-week survival in the frozen world up north. 20 years ago when I last visited Langdale, I said my next visit would be during the summer. But as fate would have it I ended up visiting during the winter again! Thinking of the dreadful long journey, sitting for mind-boggling eternity in the planes, I'm not sure when is my next visit, if ever again! But if indeed there is another visit, I will try much harder to make in during the summer; and this time maybe cover more parts of Canada too.

Oh I'm so tired now. I need sleep! Will sort out the photos taken during the trip, but to some of the ladies out there, I'm afraid I don't have any shots of the changing room at the swimming pool. I'm so sorry.

Good night, folks!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Post For Men—Surviving The Laundry

Mia and JJ had just departed for Vancouver yesterday evening for a month-long holiday. I will join them next Friday. Come to think of it, I should have arranged to fly together with them yesterday. Now I will have to make that long journey to Vancouver alone next Friday. 

After I sent them off to the airport, I decided to catch a movie, and of all the movies, I ended up watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm not really a big fan of that movie though, just as much as I'm not a big fan of the Twilight flick (to me, Edward Cullen is just too sissy). I suppose these movies are good merely for killing time. But it's beyond me how Katniss Everdeen can never run out of arrows no matter how many she'd used.

Anyway, there's a strange feeling of liberation now that Mia and JJ are not around. It's as if I suddenly have so much space at home; I can do as I please. But then loneliness soon crept in, and in less than 24 hours, I'm already missing them both! 

That's not all—it suddenly occurred to me that now that I'm on my own, I will have to deal with the laundry, and wash all those dishes in the kitchen sink! They're piling up fairly quickly, by the way. Unfortunately, I still need to go to work next week, so this morning after I came home from cycling I somehow, miraculously, mustered enough courage to check out the washing machine behind the kitchen. 

Now it's been years ago since the last time I used a washing machine. In the good old days, I could only afford the most basic of washing machines. It used to cost a few hundred bucks and was able to do the job very well for years. It hadn't very many functions on it, just the good old-fashioned type; you just throw in your dirty clothes, pour in some detergent, close the lid, and leave it alone to do its job. Then about half an hour later, the clothes were ready to be hanged for drying.

Little did I know the washing machine that I have at home now is the more modern type. The first thing that I noticed was the many, many buttons to press. I spent some minutes trying to figure out which button was for which function; and apparently there are many functions. Gone are the days when the machine simply turned the clothes round and round clockwise and anti-clockwise, drained the water, rinsed and then spin-dried. No, it's not that simple these days. They are many options available. There are options for woolen clothes, silk and some others; water temperature, and even the spinning speed can be controlled too. There are several other buttons on that forsaken machine which I haven't quite figured out yet, but maybe if I'm lucky, I might learn a thing or two more in the coming days before next Friday. 

A chore that usually takes about an hour for Mia to accomplish, I struggled and spent almost 5 hours today. I think I would have finished the job within half the time at leisure if I were to have used my own hands to wash the clothes. I spent a good 15 minutes just trying to figure out how to open the lid after the machine had stopped. But later on, I realised that it will automatically unlock itself a few minutes after it had finished washing. I think Mia would be pleased to know that I did not damage the lid.

I'm quite happy with my accomplishment for today, until I suddenly remembered that I will have to iron my own office clothes too! Horror upon horror. Let's see if I can do it without burning my shirts and pants. Damn! I really should be in the plane with Mia and JJ now—they should be arriving in Vancouver in a few hours' time.

Oh well, it's time to start checking out the iron. Let's see how many buttons are found on it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Modern Music

It's been like a hundred years ago when music was still music, and songs were still songs. Those were the good old days...

Last Saturday I clerked a closed treasure hunt for a bank. It was organised in conjunction with their annual family day, and the hunt was one of the team-building events that they had for the day. It was a whole day event, and it culminated into a grand dinner party in the evening which was attended by the VIPs of the bank. Ordinarily, the answer presentation would be held shortly after the hunt, but in my case, the presentation was scheduled during the dinner at about 8pm.

Now as you'd probably know, it is customary here in Malaysia that the VIPs are hardly ever on time when attending such events, and as the result the programme for the night had to be adjusted to fit into the now limited timeframe.

After the several speeches by the VIPs, I thought I would be up next, as it was already approaching 8:30pm. But that was wishful thinking, as next in line for the evening's programme was a life band performance. I was given to understand that this particular band performs regularly in a local club, and apparently they're quite good.

The ladies had extremely tiny dress; it made me wonder why bother with the clothes at all. I can't remember when was the last time I saw a life band performance. I sat there waiting for my turn, and when the music started, it was horrifyingly loud—I thought my eardrums would burst. Several musical instruments all seemingly vying to be louder than each other. Then when the singers started their songs, I couldn't make out a single word; I had no clue what the heck were they shouting about. And these people were supposed to be one of the best in the market. I can't imagine what the lousy ones are like. Seriously now, can the audience really enjoy these performances?...I mean, really?

Well, it was already past 9pm by the time I was up for my presentation because the singers had to stop for a short break. I rushed through my presentation, and wrapped things up in 15minutes I think. After that, I was happy to leave the venue before the band continued its performance. I arrived home at about 10pm and was in bed by 11pm. I managed to catch a few hours' sleep, but had to be up again at 4am for my 25km run starting at 4:45am.

I'm thinking perhaps if I consumed a few shots of strong liquor and became drunk, maybe the loud meaningless noises can sound good, I don't know. Hell, maybe the ladies can appear like they're without clothes too; not that there is much difference with that little piece of clothes they had on anyway.

Modern music—if that's what it's called—is an almost impossible thing to enjoy; yet so many people enjoy it! It's one of those big mysteries that can't be explained. Thankfully, however, my eardrums are still intact.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Malakoff Powerman Duathlon Asian Championship 2013

Perhaps this comes a little late, but I’m presently up against a bit of laziness in blogging. I was trying to search for some of my photos during the event, and then when I eventually found some, I somehow did not have the mood to blog. Instead, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time surfing the net, playing online games, as well as trying very hard to keep up with my training!

Anyway, I returned to the Powerman this year with some of my friends, including Teo Chen Lung, Paul Lee, John Chin, Hana Harun and Judy Liew. Anslem and Amy also joined again this year. Another friend, Aldillah from Labuan, also joined. Douglas was supposed to have joined too, but he had to withdraw at the last minute. A few days before the event, I was told that Doug had arranged with the organizer to give his slot to Ahmadul Tahir. Of course Ahmadul doesn’t need any introduction; most endurance athletes in Malaysia would have heard of him. He’s been in the business of endurance sports like forever. Although he’s racing the veteran category, and not training as hard as he used to, he’s still an athlete to be reckoned with!

After setting up our bikes on the eve of the event, we had a short ride to the race venue. On the way back to the hotel, however, Hana had a puncture in her rear wheel. Teo had to offer his spare tube and Ahmadul helped with the chores. The rest of us took turns helping to pump the tyre. That night, there was some excitement as they tried so hard to search for spare tubes for the race. Hana and Judy had spare tubes for the race too, although I don’t know why. I mean, Hana didn’t even know how to detach her rear wheel, let alone change the tube which was inside that wheel. And even if she did know how to, she did not have a CO2 or hand pump to inflate the tyre anyway. But of course women are not meant to be understood anyway, so I’ll leave it at that lah!

Well, it was still dark when we started from the hotel to the race venue the next day, arriving there with about half an hour to spare. We duly pushed our bikes to the respective spots within the transition area and prepared our stuff for the transitions. Then, since I had a few minutes left before the flag off, I decided to visit the toilet. To my horror, there were long queues at the toilets. A number of them in my group were also there in the queues, especially Hana who’s cursed with that curious bouts of diarrhea when excited. I sometimes wonder if she’d get that same reaction when sexually excited, but there was no time to think of all those—as I emerged from the portable toilet, it was already countdown for the flag off. As I was rushing to the starting line, and Hana was still daydreaming in the toilet, the start horn went off, and a huge procession of excited athletes passed the starting arch. 

My friend Teo, who’s training for an Ironman race next year, was supposed to be in the crowd, but I did not see him. For the benefit of those who’re new to this blog, Teo has a special talent in conjuring up killer face expressions during his races. Check out his half marathon finish in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon earlier this year as reported here. And here are some shots of him in the recent RHB 10km run in KK. 

However, for Powerman, he’s determined to start slower—a strategy which he had hoped could stretch him long enough to survive the last running leg without walking. You see, he raced the Desaru Half Ironman distance last year, and had to walk almost the entire half marathon at the end. He wanted it to be different this time! 

 I started the run with what I felt was a decent pace of about 5min/km, but about 3km into the race, I realized that I was running a little too fast. Accordingly, I slowed down slightly. It was a humid morning and it didn’t take very long for my sweat to drip like a leaking tap! The following photo was taken just as I completed the first loop (thanks Mohan), and I was still feeling fresh then. 

 I eventually finished the 11km run in about 56 minutes, and was still feeling fine. 

While in the transition area, I saw Amy finishing her run. I took my time changing my shoes, putting on my helmet and ate an energy gel, before pushing my bike out of the transition area. But once I was on my bike, I swiftly built up speed. The plan was to maintain an average of about 31-32kph for the bike leg. But in order to achieve that average, I would have to hit approximately 35-37kph on flat roads as I was expecting to slow down substantially when climbing some hills. However, my calves seized up on one of the climbs about 20 mins into the bike leg, and I had to slow down a bit. But later I increased my speed again to achieve my 31-32 kph target. 

Unfortunately, when I dismounted my bike at the end of the 64km ride, both my quads suddenly froze, and I had to spend some minutes to rest them while I changed my shoes at the transition area. I tried to run anyway, but only to stop again after about 50m. The nightmare of cramps that I dreaded so much had become a reality after all. De javu—It was as painful as the tail end of last year’s Powerman, and I knew that I’d be walking a great deal during this final run of the race. At about 3km into that final 11km run, Amy caught up and finally overtook me! But my main concern then was to survive the cramps and blistering hot sun. 

In the end, I took a horrifying 1:23 minutes to finish the 11km. What a big relief! My total time for the race was 4:30, and I’m happy to say that at least I’ve improved over last year’s time by about 3 minutes. A very small improvement, but PB nonetheless! 

Paul finished a few minutes after me, followed by Anslem and Judy. We waited a little longer, wondering what has happened to Teo and Hana. Well, Teo’s strategy did not quite work out as planned—he ran a cautious race, but about halfway into the final 11km run, both his quads seized up and he was reduced to a walk anyway! Eventually, he had to stop to seek help from the volunteers. Two women helped him by applying sprays and some ointment. Teo was on cloud nine, enjoying the moment with two women massaging his quads. I can only imagine the smile on his face, probably trying very hard to suppress the dreaded killer face from manifesting, much the same way Dr Bruce Banner tries hard to suppress the hulk. In fact, I fancy that Teo was even at the verge of getting sexually aroused, when suddenly Hana came passing by. That must have been a rude shock for Teo, and he had to cut short his pleasant godsend moment. He resumed the race again, but Hana, having gotten over her diarrhea problem, was just too strong on the small hills approaching the finish line. In the end, Teo had to content finishing after Hana; and this time, with a rarely-seen normal smile instead of his intimidating killer face.

Ahmadul had finished much earlier than us, and got 5th in his category. 

John Chin finished a little slower than last year, but still way faster than the rest of us anyway. Aldillah escaped the 5:30 cutoff by a few minutes, having suffered cramps during the last running leg of the race. 

Overall, it was a fun-filled event. It’s also the last race for me this year as I embark on serious training for a major challenge next year. The good news about having no race around the corner is that I can focus more on a proper training programme. But the bad news is that there’s sometimes the tendency to become lazy to train. Besides, I’m going for a long holiday to Vancouver for almost a month in December, so I’m not sure if I can find the time to slot in my training. In any case, I will just have to train whatever I can, however little. Bring it on!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Struggle For A Fairytale

The house next door has finally found new occupants recently. It didn't take very long for the rest of us living in the vicinity to notice a peculiar thing about the new comers though—they quarrel all too frequently. At times, there will be loud screams at odd hours of the night, doors banging and all. We have had visits by a couple of policemen on those little funny motorbikes too. I'm not sure what those policemen thought they could achieve. I arrived home from work one evening, and two policemen were there; and the woman was crying loudly. She was eventually escorted away by the policemen to who-knows-where, but the next day there she was again. This evening, we heard loud quarrels again—I'm not sure if somebody will end up dead sooner or later.

It reminds me of my parents when I was still a very young boy all those years ago. It's strange that I have the tendency to forget some events as recently as just a few weeks ago, yet I can remember quite clearly the trauma of seeing my parents fighting all the time. At the height of it all, mom grabbed a knife to defend herself. Or was it for the purpose of stabbing dad? After all, I'm guessing he might have deserved it anyway. I can't remember the exact details, but I can still remember the pain of seeing my parents like that.

It wasn't until many more years later before my parents' divorce became a reality. I felt very sad for a long time. But as the years passed, I had a strange change of mind; I started feeling happy for my parents—especially my mom—that they decided to go their separate ways when it was still not too late to do so. Mom was eventually able to find love again and remarried a few years later. And dad, well what can I say, he remarried too, although I can't vouchsafe that it had much to do with love. Seeing my parents today, I really can't imagine how the heck did two very different people end up getting married in the first place!

Some people fall victims to infatuation and mistake it for love. The fairytale idea of "love at first sight". And then they take the big plunge; they get married. But eventually they realise that the marriage is nothing like the fairytale love story that they had imagined after all. I once wrote about a similar topic as posted here.

We are just human; we all make mistakes. But how should one deal with the mistake of marrying the wrong person? How many people actually have the guts to admit his or her mistake and call it quits while it's still not too late? So in the end, he endures the miserable relationship; or rather whatever's left of it. He struggles to keep it going in the hope that somehow some sort of miracle will happen and make it work again eventually. 

The never-ending quarrels for years and years, and still the struggle to keep it going. And then one of these days about 30 or 40 years down the road, when he looks back at his life, he is suddenly haunted by the question: Was it really worth it to endure for that long to live up to the fairytale love story?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Most Beautiful Thing 2013

It's unfortunate that I was unable to join The Most Beautiful Thing 2013 (TMBT) as it clashed with the Sundown Ultra that I've registered for. I am, however, able to invite my friend, Hana Sue Harun (pic) to contribute an article, seeing the race through her eyes. To the guys who're wondering—yes, Hana is hot...and still single!

Below is her article, in verbatim. Photos are from numerous sources and duly credited to the respective photographers. Enjoy!


How To Earn A Holiday by Hana Sue Harun

 Photo credit: Shamsul Adzrin

I spoke about the TMBT Ultra in a certain video and its scenic views like running through vegetable farms and seeing our mountain up close based on last year’s race, my first 100k. For this year’s TMBT I was expecting to experience the same but in true brutal style, the organizers decided to redesign the course, reduce the cut off time from 33 to 30 hours, and best yet, increase 1000m in elevation. TMBT 2013 was going to be an epic adventure in the making.

Prior to race day, I listed blisters and walking in the dark alone (I have a wild imagination) as my two deal breakers. My race plans consisted more on food management and ‘waste prevention’. And by ‘waste’, I don’t mean empty gel wrappers. We were going to be in the jungle I had to know if I was going to be ‘animal-like’ about my bio breaks…

With all the food I was bringing my bag weighed 6-7kgs that morning. I was a walking buffet spread. Felice also brought a stuffed turkey, in the form of Scott Jurek’s Ultimate Direction vest. At the start at Kg Lingkubang while our group posed for the usual photo taking, few people were warming up. Maybe they were elite runners I’m not sure, or probably very nervous too.
Photo credit: Sajirin Sahimin

After some delays, we were flagged off at 8am. Felice, Christy and I were together. Koh began his race by singing the song, “The road is long…” but not even 1km into the race our road was blocked. The hanging bridge for crossing over could only allow six to go at one time. There were 800 of us. We were stuck for 45 minutes (some even longer), so Felice made full use of the wait and bought power coffee from the tuck shop and we posed for this picture.

Photo credit: Annette Jannette Hiu

Then, we were off again, for real this time. We crossed a river waist deep, water was refreshingly cool but we knew it was only the ‘warm up’ section. As we hit a rubber plantation, space was building up between Felice, Christy and I. At WS1 I drank a 500ml bottle of water as planned, waited for a bit, then Felice told me to go ahead and wished me all the best so I was running alone from then on.

 Photo credit: Shamsul Adzrin

Next was Tambatuon, a nice place where you can see two mountains together, Kinabalu and Nambayukon. With perfect lighting, it makes a good scenic picture. I caught up with Kairi then Koh and Frankie who did a detour somewhere so I stuck with the two. Walking down a ridge Koh said to me “Don’t fall down, ah,” soon after he slipped and almost ended up in the murky river himself! I could only grab his t-shirt lightly, worried I was going rip it because I’m sure it was an expensive Salomon top. He climbed up and said he was okay so I left him behind. Then I was alone again.

It was the introduction of many muddy and wet surfaces for this race I was actually beginning to enjoy it. At WS2 at Lobong Lobong I met Jai and Pg Rosli I told the Pg, “We meet once a year,” I could never forget him for his classy Louis Vuitton drop bag on the first TMBT in 2011. He told me he was going for Vietnam Mountain Marathon next month and off he went.

I filled up my Hammer Perpetuem before leaving WS2 and I saw Jai drink a can of Coke and he hurried down. I got to CP1 within 4 hours I saw Rodney standing with the radio guys watching the competitors come in.

A million hills later, I finally got to pineapple hill, I knew Miki camp was next. The pineapple hill was nice especially at the ridge because it was quite airy. The bamboo windmills made interesting chant-like noises to scare aliens away. As I got to the somewhat top, I saw Boyd sitting under the windmill. I didn’t see that he had a pineapple with him or I would’ve asked to share some if he did.

 Photo credit: Leong Kwan Weng

At Miki camp, I remembered Coach Corny saying (in a wise Yoda way) “try to finish Miki before it gets dark,” so I kept that in mind. Miki was a loop so there would be a two-way traffic, it’s a good chance to see the others. Halfway in I crossed ways with Erwan and posed for picture. Then I met Jonas at the hanging bridge who wanted to throw me into the river (what? bridges not two-way traffic? Sorry Jonas). It was in Miki that I suddenly felt muscle cramps building up on my legs and I began to panic a little because I was alone and wouldn’t know what to do in case the cramp really hits. Then it started to rain and it got darker in that dense jungle, my imagination went wild. Nothing to do with leeches but if it was a different blood-sucking creature chasing after me for a meal I’d be dead meat.

Photo credit: Erwan Kassim

Heading out I saw Brian, Kairi, then Eric S. Soon after more familiar faces hiding in their ponchos, Yoke Lee, Mary, Justine and Christy.  That’s when Christy told me Felice decided to DNF. But two seconds later, there was Felice! She decided to continue after all.

At WS3 I met with Victoria J and her husband Alex Q. She happily told me she killed a leech and blood was all over the floor. I’m sure the leech died happy anyway. We were already 7 hours into the race. It was angry rain at this point which actually helped with the hike up the very steep road to Kiau Toburi. But the angry rain continued I was worried about getting fever so I popped some panadol at WS4, which was also the 25k finish.

Rodney appeared out of nowhere before we hit Bundu Tuhan so we decided to keep together – phew! It took us a lifetime to reach halfway point which brought us to the most slippery part of a privately-owned vegetable farm. It was premium, gold standard, beautiful mud, so slippery going downhill that I fell a few times.  

We finally reached halfway point in 13 hours, within the cut off time. Spent an hour there ate a decent dinner and reorganized our packs and off we went. I saw Boyd from a distance and gave him the thumbs up to say we were going ahead (to get ourselves hammered again). On our way out, Jai was coming in medal around his neck, looking beautifully beat, and Jumat and Odry who were already cleaned up. Second place and last year’s champion Jimmy Tee ran pass us and wished us good luck.

We went up a ridiculous hill called Kauluan to WS7 by this time it was Rodney, Boyd and I. We overcame the ‘Rock Garden’ and about 3am we did the notorious cabbage farm loop and played with more mud till the sun came up. Here Boyd had already split and gone ahead. I also received a sad text from Claire A to say that both Felice and Christy had DNF due to bad weather.

The next section was a 13km downhill and more mud tracks we were wearing bricks on our shoes. My shin was beginning to hurt. We were beginning to think of other ways to go downhill like rolling down while being inside a drum and sliding down while sitting on a coconut frond. It was obvious that our brains were affected by then. Rodney pointed out Kibbas where WS10 was located. It was an uphill road and looked far. Very far. Then I saw where Perkasa/finishing point was, way up on a hill, in my head I was slowly going down. I couldn’t imagine my legs taking me there but it seemed like my only aim in life.

At 8am under the hot sun we reached CP4/Kibbas, I knew how it felt like being in an oven. The officials said it is the final 12km. It was a sickening 12km, both of us were running low on water and I was feeling light-headed as the elevation went back up 820m. Did we need another hill reminder? I kept looking at the Garmin and started counting the kms, I moved like a snail stopping every 10m. I couldn’t stomach anymore gel nor perpetuem. We were already 26 hours into the race, Perkasa was still up there and I was struggling physically and mentally.

Suddenly I remembered that I had planned a post-race holiday and slowly came some energy reserves. I found my pace back and for the first time during that race I was sure I can finish. With less than 500m to go we were reunited with Boyd. We synchronised our leg work and headed to the finish to the company of a very supportive crowd.

Photo credit: Leong Kwan Weng

It was dead in the afternoon when we finished. I had no blisters. I thought it was an unforgiving course in the worse ever conditions, I was so relieved that the nightmare was over, I couldn’t care for my time all I knew was that we finished the 100k.

Photo credit: Leong Kwan Weng

People ask me why? I say I do it because I love how it feels, in the end.

The question is, will I do it again?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Sundown Ultra Marathon—My First 100km Road Ultra

When my running buddy, Dr Peter Ong, registered for the 2013 Sundown Ultra Marathon, I decided to join too. Then later, I found out that Dr Liaw Yun Haw and Lim Young Peing had also registered for the race.

Both Peter and Liaw are prone to bouts of cramps, some of which are severe, whenever they run marathons. Liaw was vulnerable to cramps even if he ran his race slow from the beginning. But my belief was that the problem lies in the long runs during training. Both of them had the habit of running their long runs fast. As a general policy, I run my long runs slow and steady, and often with walking breaks too. In fact, running the long run too fast is almost a universal problem. Most people just can't control their pace when running long runs!

But this time Peter and Liaw decided to heed my advice. They ran the long runs slow in the months leading up to the race. That in itself is already a great achievement for Peter, because in the past, when we trained for races, we would start running together but he'd always finish at least a few kilometres ahead of me. This time, he had a lot of patience. He tagged along with me; and when I had my walking breaks, he'd follow suit.

Unfortunately, about a week before the race, Lim Young Peing decided to withdraw due to fatigue. He said he'd rather focus on the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. Peter reacted philosophically; he said, "From 4 Musketeers to 3 Stooges, I could almost predict how the story would play out...". I was curious to know more about his prediction, but I carefully refrained from asking him.

Well, after a few months of roller-coaster training, we saw ourselves at the starting line of the Sundown Ultra Marathon in Singapore on 14 September. Liaw and I arrived a little earlier. But Peter, having taken a noon flight from KK and landed in Singapore a little after 2pm, arrived much later at the race venue. At almost 4:30pm, he finally made his grand entrance. Later we found out that he had quite an adventure losing his way for a bit, riding the train to a fro between the airport and the city. That, of course, is his trademark—he has a curious habit of losing his way almost deliberately!

While waiting for the race to start, we sat under the tent. The sun was still very hot.

In the months leading up to this race, we decided that the mission was, first and foremost, to finish the 100km; but we also wanted to finish it in under 16 hours. I devised a game plan of running an average of 6:30-7:00 min/km, and throwing in walking breaks every 20 mins or so. That should comfortably put us on target for a sub-16 finish.

Time seemed to pass quickly, and we were duly flagged off at 6pm. It was still very bright at that hour. We made our way down the long curved ramp and then crossed a long bridge. Then we had to make a short detour of about 2km before making a U-turn. As we were trotting down that stretch, we saw some runners already on their return leg, running like they were trying to beat Usain Bolt's sprint record.

It was a very relaxed run for us as planned, and I was fairly surprised that Liaw was able to contain himself and remained with us throughout. There were several hydration stations along the way, but the first pitstop was about 14.5km away into the race. It was already dark when we reached there, and we spent some minutes consuming gels, biscuits etc before proceeding with the race. We were doing well so far. Along the way, there were many volunteers shouting famous lines like, "Don't Stop!" and "Keep Going!" and "You Can Do It!". We kept going with our game plan of running with walking breaks, and was fairly happy with the race so far.

However, as strange as it may be, despite our supposedly fool-proof game plan, we began to feel a little tired even before arriving at the 25km turning point. After the East Coast Park section, we made our way through some other secondary roads before finally finding ourselves on a seemingly unending long stretch of road towards the Changi turning point. It was in fact only a few kilometres long, but it seemed like eternity! Eventually, the 3 stooges arrived at the 25km turning point.

We turned in to the pitstop and found glorious variety of food. I can remember hot soup, an assortment of biscuits, bananas, energy gels and isotonic drinks. All in all, we spent probably 20 minutes there before embarking on our return journey to Marina Barrage. Then the dreadful thing happened; exhaustion began to set in gradually, although it was still fairly bearable. It was, however, a signal that we needed to be extra careful with our pace. More walking breaks every now and then.

We reached the midway pitstop again for the second time; distance covered so far was about 35km. It was getting late and apart from exhaustion, I began to feel sleepy too. I went to the toilet, and to my horror, I was peeing blood! I remained calm, however, and drew Peter aside, informing him of my predicament. I have read of hematuria before, but I wasn't sure if I should quit then. Both Peter and Liaw gave the green light to proceed with the race, but suggested that I should drink more. I decided to continue up to Marina Barrage which was the halfway point of the race before deciding what to do next.

I'm not sure if I was psychologically affected or I was really tired, but the journey back to Marina Barrage seemed increasingly tough for me. In the end we arrived at the halfway point (which was the flag-off point) in about 6.5 hours. We rested a little longer. I grabbed an apple, ate half of it, and then couldn't finish it. Then I took an ice cream and finished it in a jiffy. Finally a biscuit. The plan was to consume a few hundred calories more than that, but I was too tired to eat more. Accordingly, I made a big round along the curved ramp where Peter changed his singlet and socks. Liaw, too, had already changed his singlet earlier. I made another visit to the toilet and my urine was still made of blood! I told Liaw I was gonna take it easy over the next 25km. We started out along the bridge again, this time walking much, much more than running. In the end it became fully walking throughout.

Peter caught up a while later and all three of us decided to continue the race walking instead of running. Somehow my knee began to show tantrum, my exhaustion mounting, sleepiness building up, and the chafing in my groin had also begun to annoy me. We kept it going, and then Peter suddenly broke the silence by asking, "I wonder what Lim Young Peing is doing right now...", and I burst out laughing.

But the truth was that I was fighting to keep myself awake. Liaw and I became slower and slower, while Peter drifted farther and father ahead until finally we lost sight of him. At about 5km before approaching the Changi turning point for the second time, it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to meet the sub-16hr target. From an original prediction of 13-14hours to finish, to a modest 15hours, and now beyond 16hours, Liaw and I were already making contingency plans on how to make the cutoff time of 18 hours. Making rough calculations in our heads, it seemed we would make it to the finish line in just the nick of time. But that wasn't satisfactory to me. I said to Liaw we should move a gear up on our final 25km to the finish line. Liaw was doubtful; he said I could go ahead, but he might not be able to keep up.

Just as we were approaching the Changi turning point, we saw Peter already on his return leg. As if we didn't already realise it, he reminded us that time was a little tight, and we had to hurry up a bit. I was feeling awfully tired; no more smiles...

Yet Liaw was still able to smile.

We checked in at the pitstop, and in my desperate need for a shot of caffeine, I was told that they had run out of hot water to make coffee! I had a round of hot soup though. A biscuit and an energy gel. Then Liaw suggested that we should rest for about 15 mins before starting on the final 25km of the race. But I had a better idea. I said instead of sitting idle for 15 minutes, why don't we just walk slowly. At least that would save us a bit of time. I took a painkiller for my knee just as we set out from the pitstop. We walked for a bit, and then Liaw started alternating running and walking. I decided to keep walking a little longer. It took a while before the painkiller took its effect, and I finally started running too, while still keeping an eye on the precious time that was slipping by.

Soon I caught up with Liaw again; and together we continued running and walking. I told liaw I'd like to gain time by counting steps, i.e. running 100 steps followed by a reward of walking 50 steps. It's a neat little trick I've been using all the while as discussed here.

Liaw was also equally exhausted; he told me to just do it, and he will follow. Accordingly, I took the lead. We kept going that way for several kilometres. At about 17km to go to the finish line, we were pleasantly surprised to catch up with Peter again. My body clock had past the sleeping hours. It was fast getting bright on a beautiful Sunday morning. I became more awake and alert again. We invited Peter to join us, but he said he'd rather walk all the way to the finish.

Liaw kept up for a little further, but he, too, eventually lagged behind. My running count began increasing, while my walking reducing. I ran a solitary journey through East Coast Park until I merged with another running event. It wasn't exactly a fast pace, but at least I could maintain a decent consistent jog, still focused on counting my steps. 

 As I said, it was a beautiful morning, but I didn't really enjoy the view; I was occupied in my count. I wanted so much to achieve the sub-16hr target.

The final few kilometres were the toughest. I had to dig deep into my reserves. My right glutes was also beginning to seize up, but there was no time to slow down. As I made that final turn of about 2km detour, I was happy to see a time about 14hours 30mins on my Garmin. And then it occurred to me that I might just make it in under 15 hours! So I ran a little faster, and as I did so, my glutes began to act up. So much pain, but for the want of a sub-15hr finish.

I crossed the bridge for one final time. From afar, people were cheering. I ran fast, clutching my glutes. Then up that forsaken ramp. Up and up and up with so much pain. And this was how I finished the race (click on photo for better view).

 I finish in a net time of 14:57:14. Liaw finished in 15:21:19; and Peter did it in 15:41:26. Oh! what a race. It wasn't as easy as I thought. All the hard work for this medal!

I literally had to lose sleep, sweat and blood for this medal. If the doctors were not there to give me the green light, I'm sure I would have thrown in the towel at Km35, because there's just no way I'd continue after seeing blood in my urine!

Well, a few days' rest to allow my body to recover...and I'll be back!

Friday, August 30, 2013

TSH Walk Hunt—City Mall (Leg 3)

Last Sunday I ran a full marathon starting at 3am in the morning, and by the time I finished the run, had a bath and went out for brunch, it was close to noon when I arrived home again. The night before, I had about 2 hours’ sleep, so I was very tired. I then had an hour's nap, but had to wake up again for a quick bite before going to City Mall for a walk hunt organized by Treasure Hunt Society of Malaysia (THS). My knee was still aching from the marathon that morning, and I had to take Celebrex to numb the pain. 

The hunt was for a duration of 3 hours comprising 25 route questions and 3 treasure questions. 5 of those route questions were “cryptures”, i.e. clues made of pictures, while the rest were the usual cryptic type. Unfortunately, the CoC had to cancel 2 route questions because the signboards were no longer there. Of the 3 treasures, T2 was unavailable in City Mall. Although the questions were mostly related to the movies, in essence it still required a lot of cryptic-solving abilities rather than mere general knowledge. I shall not go into detailed discussion of every question of the hunt, but there are three questions worth discussing here. 

Let’s have a look at them. 

Q1) Some lighting is required to produce a movie regarding food. 

A typical cryptic question where that word “some” is an indicator that tells the solver we need to take only some of the letters in “lighting”. Those letters are then to be combined with letters found on a signboard within the sector, and then rearranged on account of the anagram indicator “produce” to form a new word that agrees with “a movie regarding food”.   

That was my position when reading the clue. That seemed simple enough, but it took me a long time to solve the question. In fact, it took me up to the dying minutes of the hunt when it suddenly occurred to me to look up for the synonyms of “movie”. Once I found FLICK, I immediately zoomed in on KFC, because I could combine “L+I” (taking only 2 letters from “lighting”) with “KFC” to make FLICK. The solution is sound, of course, but I don't really like this type of clue for the simple reason that the scope of search is quite wide in terms of uncertainty of that indicator “some”. I mean, “some” like how many letters from the word “lighting”? The only reason why I wasn't grumbling about this question was because that was the only “food” business within that sector, having shortened the sector based on the answer of the next question. 

Q6) At the start to find her height, take four steps left and you just might. 

A seemingly intimidating question which caused a bit of anxiety, because quite honestly, I was totally lost when I read it the first few times! Ordinarily, there is a simple and literal meaning to the surface reading of the clue. But here, even the surface reading is hard to make sense! Not knowing where exactly to start searching, I focused on that word “her” in the clue and then tried to scan the sector for any signboard that had anything to do with women in general. 

This signboard stood out from the rest because of “her”:

But I somehow couldn’t make the connection. It’s kinda embarrassing to have that so-called “Master Hunter” title, but couldn’t see the connection in this case. I stored it in my mind, however, and while I was dealing with the other questions, I kept turning the riddle in my mind. It wasn’t until the last few minutes that I revisited this question again; and somehow this time I saw that word “height” as “h8”, and the answer leapt to my eyes immediately! 

But the most "controversial" question of the day was this:

Q8) Where men and women are from according to Gray?

I think it's quite safe to assume that most people have heard of the book entitled Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray. But even if they haven't heard of the book, a googling exercise can yield the answer very quickly. So that's the easy part of the riddle. The problem, however, was that nowhere within that sector was there a signboard containing that answer. Instead, there was this:

And a different signboard located a few shops away:

Which of these two signboards should be taken as the answer? Each one is only half correct, and we all know that there is no half-correct business. It's either wrong or correct. The first thing we did was to search the sector thoroughly to ensure that there's no Mars & Venus on a single signboard. Once that's ruled out, I told Vivian to write down both those business names, as it was obvious to me that the CoC had intended to combine both signboards to form a single answer to the question! Vivian appeared unconvinced and seemed to doubt my decision, but eventually she wrote the answer anyway. After all, she couldn't come up with anything better!

In the end, it was indeed the intention of the CoC to use both signboards. But my two strong rival teams did not know that this was possible, and therefore did not use both signboards. Using two different signboards to form one answer is a new thing for the local hunting scene; an idea which I myself had been planning to use in my future hunts. In that sense it is a novelty, but of course this had been done in the west. 

Although I haven't posted thorough discussions about hunt questions for a long time now, I have committed to contribute an article (with the consent of the relevant parties) for the next edition of the THS Tulip Newsletter, where I can give proper analysis that this question deserves. Therefore, I will spare my non-hunter readers from long and boring discussions here.

Well, in the end, Vivian and I won the hunt. The top 3 teams were like this:

Champions: Vivian Cham & Cornelius Koh (77/90)
Second: Alvin Wong & Audrey Chin (64/90)
Third: Bernard Liew & Christine Netto (56/90)

My legs were so tired, and my knee was killing me. But in the end, it was all well worth it! Special thanks to the CoC, VK Chong, for organizing an enjoyable hunt. A good blend of trickery and amusing twists including a singing baboon! I'm sure my fellow hunters in KK are looking forward to the next hunt already!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Borneo International Marathon 2013—Take 2

The Borneo International Marathon 2013 (BIM) was supposed to have been held on 05 May, but it was postponed to 25 August. A few months ago, I signed up for the Sundown Ultra Marathon in Singapore, and all along I've been preparing for that race. Since I've achieved my PB for a full marathon in Hong Kong earlier this year, I decided to use BIM as my LSD training run, and not for PB hunting. My running buddy, Dr Peter, who'll also be running the Sundown Ultra in mid September, agreed that we shouldn't race BIM. Instead, we would try to stretch the run as much as we can to reach a target workout time of 5 hours. Accordingly, I made the announcement of 5 hours marathon in our Kota Kinabalu Running Club, and invited some of our members to tag along on the race day.

A number of our members were running the full marathon for the first time this year, so you can imagine the excitement in the days prior to the event. Some of them were trying to achieve a sub-5hrs marathon, so they had planned to run with us. There were discussions on racing strategy, pacing, race attire etc.

Mia was also trying to achieve a PB. Her PB for a full marathon in several races so far was 5:50. It made no sense to me as her PB for half marathon stands at 2:30. On paper, she should be able to achieve 5:20-5:30. Her main problem has always been starting out too fast as most people do. For this race, however, because I was not in time to buy her a Garmin running watch, she had to rely on her Fenix, which isn't really a road running watch. But at least it could help to check her pace.

Anyway, we found ourselves at the Likas Stadium at about 2am last Sunday morning, and mingled around till the flag off a few minutes before 3am. As we passed the starting arch, I turned to Peter, saying that we've been flagged off about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Peter replied thoughtfully, reminding me that actually we've been flagged off over three months late!

We duly made our way out to the road outside the stadium and then head for Tanjung Lipat. We started at a pace of 7:30mins, and then gradually eased to about 6:50mins when we hit the highway. A bunch of those who said that they'd tag along had already gone ahead as expected. As I've always been saying, running too fast at the beginning is almost everybody's weakness in a marathon.

It was a warm and humid morning, and I was rather concerned that the first water station was about 5km from the start. I'd imagine that some of the new runners in the 10km category would suffer a bit of thirst to reach that water station. Peter and I weren't really thirsty at that first water station, but we had a sip anyway. While we were at it, Boyd came passing by.

We started climbing up to Bulatan Nenas and then down to Jalan Tuaran. Shortly after we passed Sunny Garden, we caught up with Mohan. At that stage of the race, running at 6:53 average pace, it felt like we could run forever! Soon after that we were already approaching the Likas stadium once again, and making our way to the highway for the second time. However, this time we turned north, passing the bridge and then heading to the direction of UMS. 

I was fairly surprised to see Christy Kong, my team mate in treasure hunt, running ahead. She had started her race too fast, but at that point she seemed to be holding a steady pace. At the drink station in front of the Government offices, I took an energy gel in anticipation of the coming "hill challenge". About 10 mins later, we arrived at the famous UMS hill. The climb was perhaps 700m or 800m only, but we saw many people reduced to a walk. That was about 20km into the race, and we finally caught up with Lim Young Peing, Dr Din, Douglas, Theo and some others. One of these days, I'm sure they will learn not to start their race too fast.

It was then that I caught a glimpse of Jiki running from the other side, and Judy hot on her heels. But I told Peter that Jiki will beat Judy this year. Shortly later a long pleasant downhill slope on the other side. I was happy to arrive at the midway point in almost 2:30. We were still on target for a sub-5hour finish, but I didn't know how much longer I could keep my cool running that slow! Volunteers were distributing bananas and after I took one, we had to climb the hill again. Slow and steady up and up and up, and then all the way down again to the main road.

It wasn't long after we were back on the highway that we caught up with Bryan. He had said that he wanted to achieve a sub-5hour marathon, and I had told him to run with us. But somehow during the race, as usual all the pre-race plans would disappear; he started fast, and obviously he's gonna finish slow. We overtook him and then proceeded with our consistent pace towards the turning point near Indah Permai. Along the way, we saw Kevin, Ahmadul, Erwan. Then a little later, we saw Jiki. I had expected Judy to be close behind Jiki, but she was quite far behind. I knew then she was in trouble.

It was just about daylight when we reached the turning point, and on our way back, we met some of the familiar faces once again. I thought it was still possible for some of them to make the sub-5 target, but by then it was quite an uphill task. 

Here's Douglas on his way back from the final turning point.

I find it rather amusing to see his running style with both his hands dangling all the way down like that. It's an interesting style indeed!

Boyd was becoming slower, but was still able to offer a brave smile.

Jennifer did not want to waste the opportunity for a fantastic pose. So this was what she did upon seeing Tey approaching.

Jumat ran a cautious race, staying true to his game plan. But I don't think that's how he's supposed to carry that water bottle. I think he got that (wrong) idea from Audrey.

When we reached the traffic lights at UMS, we merged with the half marathon runners, although it was still not too crowded. We were approaching the Kingfisher roundabout when I realised that we were a bit too much ahead target. Accordingly, I told Peter that we might as well walk a little to waste a bit of time. So we walked, and then we ran, and when we reached the bridge we walked some more.

After crossing the bridge, we had a little over half an hour left for our 5-hour target. I said to Peter we should be able to make a sub-5 finish very comfortably, but just to be sure, why not we run a bit faster? So we ran an approximate 6 mins pace until we reach around Taman Awam. About 2.5km to go, and we had about 20 minutes left. We walked again to waste some time. Until Peter reminded me that none of our friends were following us anyway, so it's OK to finish a little faster. Well, we made our way back to the stadium and eventually finish in 4:52. I suppose that's close enough to our target. Of all the marathons I've run so far, this one is easily the most relaxed one of them all. Such a pleasant morning run!

A few minutes later, Jumat arrived at the finish line, obviously very happy to achieve 4:55 in his debut full marathon. But I'm still unimpressed with the way he carried his water bottle.

Unfortunately, the rest of them who had wanted to do the sub-5 failed by just a few minutes. Dr Izzuddin missed the 5-hour target by a mere minute or two, but it was still a PB for him.

Theo fought hard to the finish line, but missed the 5-hour mark by about 5 minutes.

One by one the rest arrived at the finish line, all too painfully close to the 5-hour mark! Georgina had time to arrange her hair, of course, for the photographers. If all else fail, the hair must be dealt with!
Bryan finished strong, but missed the 5-hour target by about 8 minutes.

Boyd finished in 5:10. It's so close to his sub-5 target.

I guess he will have to go back to the drawing board, because obviously his game plan didn't quite work out as he had hoped. See for yourself! (Click on photo to get a clearer view)

 Jennifer did it in a decent 5:14. By the way, I'm impressed with the fact that Jen and Georgina actually ran in uniforms!

Tony did it in 5:19, obviously in a lot of pain.

And then the biggest surprise of all. Mia arrived at the finish line in about 5:23, an improvement of almost half an hour from her previous PB; no cramps. So remember, folks, don't go all out at the start of your marathon!

Douglas arrived shortly after in 5:25, still with his hands dangling down.

In all this, I'm not forgetting my friend, Teo Chen Lung, who decided not to push himself in this race, opting instead to run the half marathon in style, accompanied by sexy legs, Claire. He put on an intimidating outfit as if he were in a modelling job, and then finished with a subdued smile. 

This was of course a complete U-turn of his trademark killer face which he demonstrated when he achieved his half marathon PB in Hong Kong earlier this year.

To me, the Borneo International Marathon had raised the bar a notch higher. A lot of improvements, and I like the new routes much more than the previous years. I'm confident that it can only get even better in the years to come!

* Photos courtesy of Tey Eng Tiong & Deo Runner

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surviving Heart Attacks (The Story Continues)

On a peaceful evening a few weeks ago, while I was surfing the net at home, Mia dropped a bombshell—she said that she's bringing our 11-year-old daughter, JJ, to shop for bras. I almost fell off my chair; I didn't even realise that JJ had breasts. I mean, I've been waiting for over 20 years for mommy to grow a pair of breasts, and now JJ beat her to it? When did it happen, for heaven's sake!

I'm not sure how much longer my heart can take all these shocks. The last time I survived a heart attack was almost a year ago as reported here. Now if I'm not careful, my heart is bound to fail one of these days, and then that's it—this world would suffer that loss of a mischievous chap!

Yesterday morning, I went for my annual stress test at BP Lab. Because of the kind of sports I indulge in, I make it a habit to check my heart for signs of troubles, if any, but thankfully I always get a clean bill of health from the doctor so far.

But this morning, while I was busy playing online sudoku and Candy Crush Saga, Mia did her thing with updating me about JJ again. The way she stood at the doorway, I knew it was gonna be another heart attack report. I braced up for the news; I thought if I prepared myself for it, it wouldn't be such a big blow; whatever it is.

"JJ received a note from her classmate," she started. And I could already feel my heart racing. "I love you, Jamie...," she read it out to me. I almost collapsed to the ground in an epileptic fit, but I somehow managed to fight it off. I thought that was all that's written in the note. After picking up my jaw from the ground, Mia finished reading with: " you accept?"

For a moment, I wasn't sure if those last few words were actually a question directed to me. But after a split second, I realised that it was a question for JJ. Mia left the report hanging just like that, but I wasn't gonna ask what was JJ's answer to that question. I think I would have fainted with whatever answer she'd given.

I suspect it must have been the modern day diet that's causing some sort of hormonal imbalance in boys these days, thus resulting in the small head developing much faster than the big head. It gives me the creeps, but I'm willing to revise my plan a bit—I think I will allow JJ to start dating when she's 30, instead of 35. In any case, I will try to make sure the guy is not from Terengganu.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Extended Adieu

It is quite common that a contestant sings a particular song in a singing contest, and then when he eventually wins it, he gives a repeat performance—an encore, usually on popular request—of the same song at the end of the show.

If the performance is great and well-received, at the end of the show when the curtain falls, the performer sometimes reemerge on stage despite having said his goodbyes earlier. But repeat performances, as are many other things in life, will quickly become stale.

Such is the case of Datuk Lee Chong Wei, the badminton hero of Malaysia. He is the most decorated Olympian of Malaysia, and I'm convinced that it will probably take a long time before there is any other Malaysian who can measure up to his achievements. He had a wonderful run in the sport of badminton for so many years, and there is little doubt that he deserves to be within the category of a badminton legend. He has been, and still is, a class of his own.

The biggest tragedy, however, is that Lee is born in the era of Lin Dan, the giant of an opponent. On paper, Lee is the No. 1 badminton player of the world, but it takes a brave Malaysian to admit that in reality, Lin Dan is obviously a better badminton player. 

During their last encounter, Lee had to retire due to severe cramps. But he was trailing in that rubber set; and against a formidable opponent like Lin Dan, I didn't think the result of that game would be any different had Lee been able to continue playing anyway. Too many people have since spoken of a purported conspiracy in the switching off of the air-conditioner during that game, which eventually affected Lee's game negatively. Much have been said about people behind the scene who planned an evil strategy against Lee. I don't know if there is any truth in that theory. All I can say is that when looking at the record of encounters between these two badminton greats, it is clear that the results lean overwhelmingly in favour of Lin Dan. It is based on that that I say Lin Dan is obviously a better player.

In the sport of badminton, 30 years of age is considered "veteran", i.e. time for retirement from competitive games. Lee, of course, had collected way too many titles, but because of Lin Dan, the World and Olympic titles have been elusive. He's been trying for many years now, but always ended up playing second fiddle to Lin Dan. He planned for, and said his goodbyes, but being the fighter, he craves for the World and Olympic titles.

Despite all that's been said and publicized, I thought the London Olympic Games would be the last I'd see of Lee. I think it would have been still an admirable close to his career. And then the itch for the World title, since Lin Dan had apparently gone into retirement. I thought Lee would eventually get that elusive World title this year. Unfortunately, Lin Dan came back for that title too! 

Shortly after the Olympics, it was announced once again that Lee may want to give it another shot in the next Olympic! The goodbyes that never ends, and he is fast running out of time.

I'm proud of the good Datuk; he has done very well for Malaysia, but some things are not meant to be. I just wonder how much more can he extend his adieu.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Signature For A Cause

I was enjoying my dinner while engrossed in Level 350 of Candy Crush Saga this evening, when a woman walked up to me, seeking my signature for a petition document. I couldn't quite make out what she was saying, but I saw the word LYNAS on the piece of paper she was holding. I have of course heard of that word LYNAS many times before, but I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't have a sound knowledge of what it's really about. I just know that it's something that many people are convinced may be harmful in the long run, but I don't know the scientific explanation of it. I suspect that the majority of those who're against it don't really know why they're against it anyway. Someone said it's bad; and so it must be bad, the truth of it regardless!

Incidentally, just a week or two ago, I received a text message from a close friend, asking me to vote for a beauty pageant contestant from Sabah in the hope that she could win the contest eventually and then represent Malaysia. But, you see, as a matter of principle, a beauty pageant is about who is the most beautiful of 'em all. Well, OK, I suppose there's some credit for brains too. To vote for this Sabahan lass just because she's a Sabahan, or because she's a friend of a friend, isn't really about being beautiful or intelligent. What's more, I didn't even know who were the other contestants—apparently from west Malaysia—I would be voting against. If the other contestants were indeed more beautiful and intelligent than our Sabahan representative, is it fair that they lose because they failed to accumulate the highest number of votes?

I have in fact posted an article a few years ago when our Sipadan Island was nominated for "7 Wonders of Nature", as can be found here. Now this may be surprising to some of you, but I haven't been to Sipadan myself! I'm sure it's a beautiful island based on what I've heard from many people, but I did not see it with my own eyes. Moreover, I couldn't bring myself to vote for Sipadan against the other nominated places because what if those other places were more deserving of the title?

This reminds me of a time some years ago when I was walking the Gaya Street Fair one fine Sunday morning. There was a group of people conducting a signature drive to petition a court verdict that found someone guilty of the crime he was accused of. I saw many people signed the petition document because "a signature doesn't really cost anything anyway". But I did not sign. I'm thinking; I did not even know anything about that accused person; absolutely zero knowledge of the case, and for all I know he might have been guilty as charged! I couldn't bear the thought of freeing the accused, however remote that possibility was, on account of my signature which was foolishly given without knowing anything about the case.

Many people would readily sign petition documents or vote for a cause for the sake of making the numbers, but don't really know what they're signing or voting for. As you have probably guessed by now, I did not sign that petition document this evening. Not that I think my signature has a profound effect on the total number of signatures they're gonna get anyway. 

But the good news is that, after at least 50 tries, I finally conquered Level 350 of Candy Crush Saga! So those of you who've received a Candy Crush request from me, send me a ticket please!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Activity Report

Yesterday morning, Mia went to Tun Fuad Park at about 6am for her final long run prior to the Borneo International Marathon (BIM), but she gave up after wasting a long time trying to get a parking space. The  BIM is of course on next Sunday, having been postponed from the first weekend of May. It's a strange reality, but many people had just realised that the race is next week, and then suddenly were inspired to run this week in the hope of achieving a major breakthrough during the race.

Yesterday evening, Judy texted me to post a run for this morning on KKRC facebook page. But I told her there's no need, as I was sure that many people will run anyway. As I had expected, there was a big crowd of runners this morning for the so-called final long run prior to the race. I ran with Lim starting at about 5am since we're running 21km. Most of the rest ran short distances. My legs were still very tired from yesterday's cycling, but after a while, it felt not too bad. We decided not to do the UMS loop today, opting to turn at Orange at Sulaman instead.

On our return leg, just as we were approaching 1Borneo, we saw Sarah on the other side of the road. We overtook a few other runners within the last few kilometres of the run. It was a surprisingly hot morning. When we finally finished the run, there were many familiar faces at the car park.

Of course everyone was all out to outdo each other with their bombastic stretching routines. John was there again with his favourite stretch.

But let me say to my readers that this stunt is not for the faint-hearted; please don't to try this at home.

Then, Jiki, not to be outdone by John, did her favourite "lipat kaki" stretching thing, assisted by her sister, Marilyn, as usual.

But that's not the only routine; she did other styles too!

Marilyn would normally stretch after her runs too, but I don't like her routines very much. I mean, they're all very common stuff, you see. Besides, there's no clear shots of her. It doesn't really matter, of course, as their parents were really good at what they did, so these sisters obviously look like they came from the same oven. But I searched the net anyway in my hope to let my readers have a better idea what Marilyn looks like in person, and the best that I've found is this one, which I reckon what she'd look like while taking a bath.

I was just chit-chatting with the other runners, when I suddenly realised that Jiki was walking around with an intimidating plastic knife. I thought she wanted to expand on her idea of that murderous stretching routine of hers by stabbing somebody with that knife. It was quite a frightful experience seeing her like that. Little did I know, actually they had a surprise birthday party for Alice. Just as Alice arrived, everyone started singing Happy Birthday, and John was the most enthusiastic singer of 'em all. They had a cake ready too! And then they continued a second time with the Happy Birthday song for Peter whose birthday also falls on the same day.

These are the happy faces who're now 18 years plus, obviously still very young. Just don't ask about that plus. For a moment, everyone seemed to forget about the morning run and BIM. The birthday party was the main focus. 

I don't know if they will expand the idea for future birthdays to include life band or some sort of fancy stretching demonstrations by our very own special guest stars John and Jiki. Gives me the creeps just thinking about it!

Well, folks, the countdown has begun; one week to the Borneo International Marathon. Here's to breaking new records and new frontiers!