Thursday, February 16, 2012

Standard Chartered HK Marathon 2012

2nd Feb 2012

Its another year, and I am leaving for Hong Kong to run The Year Of The Dragon StanChart HK Marathon 2012.  As usual preferred CX over AA, as I managed to get a good deal again and allow me to fly in a much more comfy environment coupled with inflight pre-ordered Oriental Vege meal, a 2-hr personal in-flight movie to burn off the flight time and 20kg baggage (FOC).  And all for a price of less than RM800.

Met some familiar faces enroute to HK, and your guess is right.  All of them are runners heading to HK for the race.  Boarding was done in a smooth manner and in no time all passengers are inside the plane.  No delay and we are leaving on time.  Flight was smooth, watch  Puss In Boots, have my inflight meal and its landing time (3h 40mins)  I sensed that CX will always get first priority when landing in HK International Airport compare to others like AA (which circles around the airspace many many times before landing - my experience in my past trip to HK on AA)

Long Q at the Immigration counter but got cleared in less than 30mins and my baggage  oredi arrived when I reached the conveyor belt to pick up my bag.  Then head off to the Bus Terminus to board the Airport CityFlyer to Mongkok (the 6th stop from the airport)

It will be Dragon Hostel again for my 5 days stay in HK.  Cheap, clean and the rates are affordable.  Most important is the location is right in the heart of Mongkok, just less than 200m to Ladies Nite Market,  Mongkok MTR station is just less than 5mins walk, and surrounded by many food outlets.  If you are not into a posh hotel to stay, this hostel is just right for you.  Check into my small little tiny room and it will be my pigeon hole for the next 5 days.

After dropping my bags, headed down to the street of Mongkok for my favorite hot white porridge and Char Liong.  Its oredi past midnite and the only place to overcome my craving is a 24hr Siew Sik Tong (small eating store) down the streets man by an all women team. Anyone game for some Stinky Tau Foo after supper??

3rd Feb 2012

Went to my favorite Vege shop along Tung Choi Street (Ladies Nite Market) for my morning Dim Sum.

Today was spent walking around the streets of Kowloon, from Mongkok - Yau Ma Tei - Jordan - TST.  Certain area was by the MTR and cross over to Wan Chai (HK Island)  Buy all the things from the shopping list.  Visited some Outdoor Adventure stores, as I love them because these stores are equipped with so many different kind of things (from small to big items) that are very useful for outdoor activities.

Sincere House - Dragon Hostel is located inside the building

Lots of walking for the day, going in and coming out of the MTR stations before I adjourned back to the hostel for some rest.  Dinner appointment and meeting up with Dr Ray together with Michelle and Raymond Ng (who is in HK for the race cum vacation).  After dinner, I decided to call it a day and back to the hostel.  Tomorrow will be heading up to the Race Site collection center to pickup my race kit together with the rest of the runners who are arriving later tonite.

Streets along TST

Ladies Night Market - Mongkok

4th Feb 2012

Woke up,  had my breakfast and head to the Race Site Collection Centre at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.  The place was practically empty and getting the collection done in less than 15mins.  After this caught up with the gang who left for the collection centre much earlier in the morning.  They were still having their photo session around the race site which was slowing taking place.

Its Free & Easy for the day.. Followed Seow Ping to the Escapade sports store at Causeway Bay.  Some of the runners did some shopping there.  Sports goods are generally much cheaper compare to the same product that were sold in Malaysia.  After that its time for lunch, and while walking along the street we stumbled upon a noodle shop that was visited by Anthony Bourdain during his food trail when he was in Hong Kong.  The place is called Mak Noodle  

After a late lunch, decided to return to hostel and have a rest before going for a pre-race carbo load dinner with Terence Poon group at the Mongkok Market..

Dinner was just simple for most.  Light and nothing exotic, just in case it causes stomach upset before race day.

5th Feb 2012

Its Race Day.  My wave wont start until 7.15am so its alot of time to get ready.  Light drizzle in the morning but there is no cause for alarm as its not that wet.  Took to MTR together with Carol and Lawrence to Nathan Rd, TST where the start point is.  Deposited the baggage, visited the toilet twice and am all ready for the race.   As per weather forecast, the condition is not that cold probably in the range of 16C (not as cold as last year).  Walk towards the starting point and started to bump into familiar faces and friends all from Malaysia.  

All of a sudden there was a small commotion and just wandering whats happening.  Upon further checking was told by gege Tey (he was in HK to keipo and take pictures of the race) that Edison Chen was around to run the marathon.  He was seen walking towards the start point as well and runners started to take photos of him.  Some even post a picture with him as well.

After much waiting, its 7.15am and we are to start the race (the 1st wave starts at 6.45am).  Weather by now is just cooling, not very cold and ideal for the run.  As usual there was a big crowd running shoulder to shoulder in a very pack environment along Nathan Rd towards StoneCutters Bridge.  After running past the town area, the runners are on the ascend of StoneCutters Bridge.  The route is long and steep, and hence I was running at a very comfortable pace, more like between 6.45 to 7.00 min per km.  By this time, we are experiencing the morning sun hitting on us.  Temperature is rising up, but good thing there are still cool breeze to cool down our body..

Almost an hour of running, I had ran past StoneCutters Bridge and heading towards Tsing Ma Bridge.  Holding onto the same pace as I reached Tsing Ma Bridge, as I dont want to stress out my left heel (back) as the stinging pain is still there.  So more pressure will be on my right foot to adjust the landing and minimise the  impact on the left heel.  Cruising along well and soon  am making a U-turn at the bridge and running back on the opposite direction towards Ting Kau Bridge (21k U-Turn)  The sun continue to hit hard on my face and body but luckily the cool breeze helps alot in cooling down the temp, else lots of runners will start to encounter problems like over heated and dehydration..

Pacing well and time is also within target of sub5.  As after the U-Turn the elevation of the route is downhill and therefore I try to increase the pace a little to catch up for lost time.  Keeping running towards the 21k mark.  Felt abit tired on the legs as the elevation of the 2 bridges is taking a toll on me.  Slowed down abit and try to run with a smaller strike.  This goes on till I reached the U-Turn of Tin Kau Bridge (21Km point).  As I made the U-Turn, I tried pushing harder to try for a sub4.50 finishing.  I knew the route ahead will be pretty flat and there will be very little momentum.  Hence keeping a steady pace from 21k to 25k till passing the Cheung Tsing Tunnel.

By now the sun is really really hitting hard on my face with a strong glare.  Weather condition is rising but coupled with a continuous of cool breeze along the way to ease of the heat. At the 28k mark fatigue started to creeps in, and my right quads and hamstring are feeling the twitch and cramp threatening feeling.   Slow down my pace to ease off the tiredness and hardening of muscle at the quads/hamstring.  Fortunate it goes away and I began to increase my pace again.

Continue to run at a steady pace, and at around the 30k-32k mark, runners are starting to hit by cramps and tiredness.  The scene and environment are not very pleasing as I can see runners starting to walk and limping (hit by cramps).  This is very demotivating as one tends to follow them when you felt so tired and taking a slow walk is so tempting at that moment.

The route at the West Kowloon Highway had bits of ups and downs, hence do give me some momentum to run slightly faster on the downhill.  Although the tiredness on my legs were increasing, I continue to run at a pace which is still comfortable and not triggering a cramp.  By now the stinging pain on the back of my left heel is getting on me badly, and I hv no choice but to control my landing using my right foot to minimise the impact.  Poor quads and hamstring of my right foot that are holding my body force when landing.  I know under such situation, my quads will give way and cramps will come hitting me at any moment.  Timing is not my priority but a sub5 will be good, and I am maintaining that target despite the heel problem.

From afar, I can get the slightest view of approaching the Western Harbour Tunnel crossing over to HK Island.  Steps after steps and going at a much slower pace (just under 7mins per Km) I finally approach to the entrance of the tunnel.  This will probably be an acid test to see if my legs can hold on, as coming out of the tunnel will be the 37k -38k mark.  The approach was a slight downhill and if one is fit, this will give a good momentum to run through the tunnel before taking a dip of -30m in elevation and then a very very short steep climb up to 10m (from -30m to 10m).  Then followed by another steep ramp that joins part of the highway towards the HK CBD area.

Half way through the tunnel, the muscle of my right quad started to give me a slight pull indicating that the fatigue had built up and anytime from now on I will experience a cramp.  The right calf is also screaming for help by now and I am experiencing a slight muscle cramp.  I didnt want to stop but just slow down my pace and run past Western Harbour Tunnel, and finally climbing up the steep slop after exiting the tunnel.  The steep ramp that joins the highway finally took a toll on me, and I hv to walk and stretch both my legs to ease of the muscle contraction. 

Its 38k mark and 4k to the finishing.  Now is on the CBD and supporters are all over lining the streets and above some pedestrian walk.  They shouted "Chuen Mah Kah Yau" aka Full Marathoners, Dont Give Up. Their shouts and support motivate tired runners like me not to give up and continue running.  I dragged my tired body and feet slowly through the CBD area running pass some beautiful  skyscrapers.  I can still enjoy the view of the route and that shows I am not blur blur.  The stinging pain on my left heel continues to haunt me, and with fatigue really building up I continue to drag myself slowly but am still overtaking quite alot of runners who had already Hit The Wall.  Many are seen walking, maybe to conserve some energy for the final approach to the finishing chute.

39k, 40k and finally 41k distance marker was insight.  The most torturous part here is to climb and very steep bridge (abt 40 degree) and then an immediate downhill before turning into Causeway Bay for the final 800m approach to the finishing.  As usual the Causeway Bay support are AWESOME.  Continuous cheering really motivates you, and if you are first time running SCHKM the cheers will probably make u felt very emotional - The Emotion Of Joy, The Emotion of Accomplishment, The Emotion Of Crying out loud thanking all your friends and running buddies that help you to make it this far.

Hi-5 to some supporters along the streets and I even slow down and took half a mandarin orange (peeled) offer by a support.  Eating it was so refreshing and I thot this shud have come earlier.  My suggestion to organisers of future marathons to offer oranges along the 42k route. They are really refreshing indeed.  After turning the corner around the block, its the final approach into Victoria Park where the finishing point is.  Ran through the finishing chute where the ground was layered with Blue and Green mats (StanChart color).  Both hands held high up in the air to signify another marathon in the pocket, a great run although faced with some hiccups along the way and a sense of achievement.  Completed the race in 4h 42mins (net time)

Its my 63rd marathon in HK.

Mingled around at the runners waiting area to take a rest, share and listen to others race experience, photo session for memories.  Then packed up and head back to hostel for some rest before going out to fill up my empty stomach.

Post race nite activities was the usual get together of the Malaysian runners contingent to meet at the Avenue Of Stars for group pictures to signify each individual accomplishment in completing the marathon.  Although the Malaysian runners cant have their palm prints along the walk path of Avenue Of Stars, but we definitely left out footprints of memories there.

And so, the much talked about SCHKM 2012  is over.  We ran it, experienced it and each of us completed it in our very our style.  Targets are met and PBs are broken. The next question for me is Will I run next year SCHKM 2013 after running it for the past 3 years (2010, 2011 and 2012).  Well its too early to commit and will think about it when the registration for the 2013 race opens in Nov 2012.  

Till then we meet again, and I think this trip will not be so enjoyable without the presence of all running friends getting together, traveling together and running the race together.

Supplement intake for the race:

1) Weider Energy Jelly - till 15k
2) Nathan Catalyst Salt Tabs - at 15k, 30k and 38k
3) 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel - at 25k, 32k and 38k
4) Watson Isotonic

Note: Pictures courtesy from Tey Eng Tiong, Yum Kin Kok, Kelvin Yew, Chooi Wan

Monday, February 13, 2012

Superstar singer Whitney Houston dies at 48

You will be badly missed.  I grew up with all her songs.

Updated Feb. 12, 2012, 1:56 AM ET

Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until  her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic  behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday.  She was 48.
Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told  reporters outside the Beverly Hilton that Houston was pronounced dead at  3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the hotel. Her body  remained there and Beverly Hills detectives were investigating.

"There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent at this time," Rosen said.
Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the cause of her death was unknown.
Rosen  said police received a 911 call from hotel security about Houston at  3:43 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a  Grammy party unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer, he said.

Beverly  Hills Police Department later issued a statement:""Whitney Houston was  pronounced dead that the scene by members of her entourage which  included friends, co-workers, and family. Ms. Houston's daughter and  mother were notified of here death."
The statement also  added that "the investigation is currently being conducted" and that  "there is no additional information at this time."

"The actual cause of death will be determined by the L.A. Co. Coroner's Office," it said.
Video: Whitney Houston's ups and downs
Whitney Houston died in Beverly Hills hotel room
Whitney Houston's voice will never be forgotten
Mariah Carey on Twitter: "Heartbroken"; Others react

Houston's  death came on the eve of music's biggest night -- the Grammy Awards.  It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to cast a  heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony.
Her longtime mentor  Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday, and a  representative of the show said it would proceed.

Houston  was supposed to appear at the gala, and Davis had told The Associated  Press that she would perhaps perform: "It's her favorite night of the  year ... (so) who knows by the end of the evening," he said.
Producer  Jimmy Jam, who had worked with Houston, said he anticipated the evening  would become a tribute to her, and he expected there to be one at the  Grammys as well.