Monday, December 25, 2006

Made In Vietnam

My recent vacation to Vietnam ~ Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh aka Saigon city, was a great eye opener for myself and my family.

Vietnam is a country in South East Asia within the Indo-China regime, which borders the People's Republic of China to the north, Loas to the northwest and Cambodia to the southwest. The country's east lies towards the South China Sea. With a population of almost 83 million, it is one of the most densely populated nation in SEA. Coupled with approximately 20 million motorcycles within the country.

Give Vietnam 5 to 10 years and they are a force to reckon with from the perspectives of doing business globally, industrial activitivities and sports powerhouse.

One of the stores along the streets in Old Quarters, Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi

Boats anchored at Halong Bay

The streets of Vietnam

The Old Post Office of Saigon

A common site of ladies dressed very sexily (showing off their top assets) to attract male customers in Ben Thanh market, Saigon

A more detail report is on the way.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hit the Streets & Beat It

Thats the tagline for next year KL International Marathon 2007.

I am for it and will be signing up for another 42k race. My confidence level had progresses well after 2 marathons this year although my timing had nothing to shout about. Hopefully 2007 will push me further in improving my timing in all races that I run. Actually I have given myself 1 year to get acclimatize with the long distance running condition, and my target is to be more competitive in terms of timing for 2007.

Have a good week ahead and Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good Morning, Vietnam

I will be heading of to Vietnam today for my family vacation and will only be back on 21st Dec. And this trip reminds me of the 1987 movie by Robin Williams that talk about the Americans battling out the Vietnam war. I will be visiting Hanoi which will be cooling (in terms of climate) during this time of the year, and will then fly down south to HCM city aka Saigon which will be hot, humid and sticky.

But today Vietnam is a fast and upcoming developing country, where they are very prosperous and maybe to a certain extent ~ advanced in certain things that they are doing. Vietnam will be the next country that we should watch out for within this region. It will be another Asian Tiger that will come out from the cave. This trip will definitely be an eye-opener for myself and my family.

Take care everyone......

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Once in a life time

Eugene Lee was my travelling mate to the StanChart Singapore Marathon 2006. He said this will be his maiden and swansong full marathon. According to him, "You only live one life, and once in a life time you have to run a marathon"

He ran the first 21k in 2h20mins, and walk the rest of the 21k in 4h10mins. His determination and mental strength pull him thru crossing the finishing line in 6h30mins. My salute and hats of to you. After the race, I asked him whether he will run another marathon. His immediate answer was "My answer will be very biased if you asked me now, and it's a NO, but I reserved the right to change my mind later"

Eugene "I will see you again at the starting line of the next full marathon"


Monday, December 04, 2006

StanChart Singapore Marathon 2006 report

1 to 2 Dec, 2006

Its started on Dec 1 when Eugene and myself took a midnite bus from KL-Singapore. Was a very smooth ride since we are on an executive coach, very spacious and comfortable (you get what you pay). It took us only slightly more that 4.5hrs to reach Tuas checkpoint, and by the time we cleared the immigration of both countries, the bus reaches its destination at Copthorne Orchid Hotel at around 5.30am.

Have a quick washup and decided to wait till 6am (no midnite charge) to board a taxi to Peninsula Hotel where we are putting up a nite. After reaching Peninsula Hotel, went to the reception and try to check-in (which I think is too early but just trying our luck). Bumped into KC and his group who also boarded a bus from KL that leaves at midnite to Singapore. Told us we can only check-into our room earliest by 11am of the day. Being kiasu a bit, I went ahead to the reception just to make sure my name is on the booking list.

At that moment, Eugene received a call from his colleague saying that he will pick us up for breakfast and then drive us around the full marathon route. While waiting for him to show up, I have a chat with KC and group. We talk about the past years race in Singapore and then about one more person that was supposed to join their group. Last minute this person could not find her passport and don’t even remember where she placed it. Eventually time ran out on her and they left without her coming along.

Gerry (Eugene’s colleague) arrived and we went for breakfast. After that we reckee the marathon route to give a good perspective of how it looks like. Then we are back to hotel and walked to Marina Mandarin to collect our bibs and goodies bad. After that, walk around the area, and its time to check-in. Managed to check-in and got ourselves clean up. Took a nap and its time for our lunch. The rest of the day was just to ensure we have enuf rest. Lights off at 10:30pm.

3 Dec, 2006

Morning call came in at 4am sharp and we are getting up to ROCK Singapore marathon. Took a shower, do the morning business, dress up and I am ready to go. Fook was suppose to come by and put his barang-barang, so that he can take his bath after the race at our hotel room. Went down to the lobby at 5:10am, and Fook is already waiting there. While we was about to leave for the starting point, Fook heard Grace voice, and actually she is staying with her group of frens next to our room.

We (Eugene, Fook and Grace) then adjourned to the start point. At the hotel lobby, Fook bumped into a group of his frens which he introduced them to me. If I remembered correctly they are Chong Wah and Wan Lin.

As we reached the staring chute, there are seas of people waiting for the start of the race. We went to the area that were allocated for marathoners clocking within 5hrs and waited there. The atmosphere was great and with so many people standing shoulder to shoulder, waiting for the race to be gun off. The MC was pumping out all the encouragements that he can think of thru the loudspeakers, and eventually he did a countdown.

Its 6am sharp and off we go, and due the number of people, I actually took 2.5mins before reaching the starting point to begin the race. Heck, no big deal ~ I am here to enjoy the race, my timing is secondary although my aim is to clock a slow sub5. Fook and Grace was running together with me. The starting of the route took us into the CBD area of Singapore where we ran thru the business district. Sometimes we have to run in zigzag formation to avoid knocking onto those slower runners that blocking our way and while overtaking. This continues a good 15k and at this moment we saw the elite runners forming the front runner pack coming back the opposite side. The pack consists of all Africans, and the only Caucasian that was following closely was at least 50m-80m away. We are required to run a loop in this Marina Garden area and by the time we get out it’s the 20k mark. Water and 100Plus were widely available with no shortage of supply. I just keep drinking in smaller quantity at almost every station to avoid dehydration.

At the 21k mark, we are required to run into East Coast Park where the jogging/running trail are. At this stage I have lost track of Fook and Grace. This route will take us from 22k all the way to the 35k mark. We are required to run this loop and we also can get to see the faster runners on their way out (on the opposite side) after the completion of the loop. To me this is the most boring stretch where you keep on running along the beach to/fro. I heard a callout of my name out of a sudden, and it was Pelle ~ Swedish guy whom I met during the Putrajaya race. (We were supposed to start together but he got my SMS late) He told me his fitness is not too good and will not be able to do a sub5 today. And at this stage at the 26k mark I start to encounter a slight muscle pull/cramp on my thigh. Oh no, I told myself ~ so early in the race and I am getting this. I know it will hit me badly eventually, so therefore I slow down a bit and take it easily. Along this route, I helped up a runner that fell flat of the trail suffering severe cramp on both his legs. A few other runners join in to give aid (and I must said, runners are a bunch of helpful human beings), and in a short period he is back on his feet and asked us to go ahead.

I pressed on, the tireness and fatigue starts to come in. I have started to apply Deep Heat that was provided at certain sections of the route to ease of the pain and cramp on my right leg. I reached the end of the route which requires all runners to do the loop back and get out of the park. Here I saw Grace in front of me, and I asked her how she is feeling. She said she is suffering from a slight muscle pull/cramp but is OK to run ahead. I was trailing her for a while and we are about 5m apart. She stops once or twice to ease of the pain from the pull but eventually she race ahead and no way to be seen. At this point my cramp was getting worst, I have to keep applying Deep Heat in big quantity on both my legs now to numb the pain and massage the affected area to loosen up the muscle.

As I get out of the park, this stage was the 35k mark and 7km to finishing. The strain on the muscle pull on both my legs is slowing me down miserably and I just have to control my speed without aggravating it and making it worse. Slowly I ran, telling myself to focus on the distance, and telling myself 7km is just running 3 loops in my housing area where I live that I run every morning. Kilometer by kilometer passed and I tell you time passes so slowly here. It took ages to complete 1km from this point onwards. 36k, then 37k, then 38k, and I need to run under a tunnel up the slope to reach the 39k mark (I walk up the slope and so are a lot of runners at that point) Both my legs are feeling better from 36k to 39k. At this juncture I caught up with this guy who was motivating himself to continue running and crossing the finishing line. He was whispering loudly repeating to himself with words like “COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT” ; “DON’T GIVE OUT”, “ITS 2KM AWAY”; “I CAN DO A SUB5”……. I joined in to motivate myself too since I am also fighting for time to cross the line with a sub5 timing. At the 40k mark, the last 2km requires the runners to detour from the main road and run on a path facing the sea. The scenery around this area was beautiful but this is not the time to admire it. The most important thing on my mind now is to complete the race under 5 hours. I looked at my watch I know I can make it with the PIA SPIRIT. No stopping from now on but keep running. I surged ahead leaving that guy behind and the crowd was supporting the runners along this path saying its 600m away from finishing.

I passed thru the tunnel, this is the area where I did my warm up in the morning. Runners are required to run under it, pass the tunnel and out on the road. Had a slight left turn and straight on I saw the finishing arch. The official clock shows 4:57:47 from a far distance as I approaches the straight road. The MC was announcing that this group of runners coming in will make the sub5 mark and dashes thru I did, pumping my right fist up on the air 3 times, acknowledging to myself that I make it under 5 hours. As I crossed the finishing line, the official clock shows 4h58min28sec.

Took a rest at the runners finishing area and then went on to return the champion chip, collect my medal and finisher Tee. Have some refreshment before heading back to the hotel. At this moment it was drizzling and I am feeling a bit cold. Reached my room and I saw Pelle sitting in front of his room. Apparently his access card had some problem and his wife went down to the reception to change the card. We have a quick conversation asking each other how we did. He clocked 5h09min which is not too bad taken into consideration the little training that he had. Then I quickily get into my room and had a hot shower.

Later Grace called upon us at the room. At this time Fook is already back having his shower. Fook had cramps starting from the 18k mark onwards and he was badly affected by it. Grace happily told us that she did 4h49min, it was a good run for her and I am happy that she is able to pull it through although she did suffer cramps at one stage of the race. A lady runner to watch out for in the future. Fook finished the race in 5h35min, and I personally felt that both did very well in their maiden marathon and the experience both gained in running a marathon. I am very sure, they will be more prepared and able to clock a better time in their next marathon. All the best to both of you.

Eugene came back much later, and he clocked 6h30min, something that I must salute him for his mental strength in completing the race. Running the first 20k in 2h20min and walking for the rest of 21k in 4h10min.

I was satisfied on the timing although I was aiming for a faster time like 4h40min. I know the muscle pull that hits me from 26k onwards was too early in the race and slowed me down tremendously. Anyway I have completed my second marathon this year after running for the past 1 year (in a 15 years absence).

Now I am back in KL, waiting to go for my vacation in Vietnam. Hurray, Hurray it’s a Holi Holi Day !!!!!

Split timing (hh:min:sec)

10k - 1:04
20k - 2:08
30k - 3:22
40k - 4:44
42.195k – 4:58:28