Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hard Sprints

My oh my, tonight's track session was tough. After a long lay off due to previous weeks of tampering and races, Coach was back in form tonight. Back to the static drills and trackwork. I was so out of it, and ended the night aching all over.

Drills -

1 set = 30x jumping jacks, some numbers of one-legged squats, forward-backward lunges, leg raisers, plank with raised leg, and push-ups. ..... x 3 sets. Ouch. Lactic build-up was immediate.

High-knees, kick-butts, 2-legged zig-zag steps, shuffle feet..... x 6 sets.

Track -
8 x 400m @ 2:30min
1:35min, 1:40, 1:42, 1:46, 1:44, 1:45, 1:44, 1:42

Heart popping, shin burning, almost puking, almost died. Too old for this, oh my.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vigilante Run

Recovery 13km run for me today. New route around Canterbury - KR Park - Science Park - Vigilante (!!) - KR Park - Canterbury - Depot Rd back.

I started off running and chatting with Thomas. Once into KR Park, they went ahead. Nowadays the runners in our club are getting faster and faster! I was the last one, slowly trotting. Senior Chua and Sok Hwa were slightly in front, and kept turning around to see if I was still running. Ooops.

Total time: 1:34h. Uh... slow and steady? Not sure about 'steady', but definitely slow.

Chairman treated everyone to dinner after the run, in celebration of Melvin's successful 218km run.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Run Round Singapore 2010

Event: Run 218km Round Singapore, 27-28 March 2010, over 36h, to celebrate the 55th anniversary of NTU.

9 brave souls signed up for this unhuman undertaking. And I personally knew 5 of them (says a lot about the people I hang around with! Haha). I did a quick calculation, 218km was equivalent to me driving to-fro home to work 7 times. My gosh, I don't even drive or cycle that distance, let alone run!

On Saturday, I drove along the Upp Bt Timah and Woodlands stretch of the route and took some pictures of the runners. I saw Teck Hou, Chin KK and others, all going strong and steady. A familiar sight - traffic escort motorbikes, black support vehicle with the runners' names, and the runners with their pacers. Lai Chee, pacing for Teck Hou, saw me waiting from afar and waved. Henry was driving his support car. Then I saw Chin KK's group, with Ah-Ping running with him. I spotted Melvin's group ahead. Benjamin was pacing that stretch, and later handed over to Shirley, Eddy and Simon. I was to pace for Melvin on Sunday morning. He was going on so strong that he was 40min ahead of his schedule. By midnight, he was an hour ahead. All the pacers scrambled to get to their assigned checkpoints in time.

I did not sleep much that night, being awaken every hour by sms updates of his location. I had to coordinate with Yean on the time to be at F2 ECP. We were so worried that we would miss him, we woke up before 5am and arrived at 530am. But we waited until around 630am when Melvin, Jimmy, and Trevor arrived. Zhilei was in the suport vehicle. They had all stayed through the night. Ong, Jaime, and Henry had also run with him through the silent of the night.

The pacers before us had taken good care of Melvin. We hoped we could continue likewise! *Stress* The four of us (Jimmy, Trevor, Yean and myself) started on a slow pace, alternating between walking and jogging. The pacer's role was like a running-stewardess, constantly running to get things for the racer from the support vehicle. Sponge, run. Coke, run & open. Water, run & open. Melvin's brisk walking pace had us trotting along to keep up! Despite his tiredness, he could poke fun at Yean and asked why she was running when he was walking. No choice, we had shorter legs!

There was a pit-stop at Mountbatten Katong CC, where Melvin was weighed and given an ice-bath and massage. We were 1hr ahead of his plan. Freddy joined us there, and we headed off. Jimmy and Trevor left us at that point. Another pacer, Steven (who came all the way from KL to support the event), joined our group. Freddy knew him from several Malaysian triathlons and races, and we chatted along the way. Freddy set a good pace timing, keeping precise track of when to run, when to walk. I learnt quite a bit from Freddy, observing the pacing strategy today. Melvin was making good progress, 3rd in line.

Another Safra runner had joined in along Harbour Front. Yean and I stopped at Depot-Alexandra Road while the guys carried on. We ran about 25km in 4-5h, including the pit-stop. She sent me to F2 to collect my car. The runners' next pitstop would be the West Coast Mac, and I was trying to rejoin the group there. I hurriedly drove to NUS, gobbled a quick lunch, bought some drink supplies, and checked location status. Horrors, Melvin had left and was just moving away from Mac. I quickly drove over and thought I had missed them. Luckily I caught sight of some strolling runners and it was them! I left my car at West Coast park, dumped my bag into the support vehicle and ran alongside. The entire stretch would be another 30km to NTU.

The afternoon sun was hot. It was now the 3 of us (Freddy, Steven and I) keeping Melvin company. I kept passing cold sponge to Melvin to cool himself. Freddy forced him to eat some powergels and sweets as he needed the energy. Melvin bravely followed the pacing instructions set by Freddy, who was very experienced. Awesome! We counted down the rolling bridges along Jln Buroh - not unfamiliar as we cycled there several times. Then came the long, boring and exposed industrial stretch through Benoi Road and International Road. That was really really mental.

We ran in silence, sometimes breaking into jokes to keep the atmosphere light, and urging Melvin to hang on. We kept checking the checkpoints, counted down the kilometres, psychologically bringing down the distance. The support vehicles joined us in feeding us updates on the next checkpoints and distance markers. Less than 30km now, you can do it. 25km left, psychologically in the 20s. Last 20km. 18km now. Last bit now. 90% of the run down, just 10% more. Hang on....

Finally we reached civilization, Jln Boon Lay/ Jurong West area! Melvin was really tired, evident from his non-responsive face and wobbly stops, but he persevered. He kept up a steady and consistent pace. 8km, 6km, slowly we crossed the checkpoints. One Safra runner joined us near Jln Boon Lay, while Jimmy, Zhilei and Trevor joined along Jurong West. Last 5-6km, we were winding through the Yunnan housing estate, all the while checking our backs to see if Lim Nghee Huat's group had caught up. We were all ecstatic on clearing the last checkpoint with 3.6km to the end. That last 2-3km into NTU was particularly emotional. All the hard work was finally ending. We entered NTU, homeground now for Melvin. He crossed the finishing line at 33h. It was an emo moment, tears welling up, thankfully I had shades! All the pacers shook hands and congratulated one another. It was a magnificent display of sportsmanship, human endurance and perseverance.

A few of us decided to go back out and look for Teck Hou. Just slightly ahead, we saw Lim Nghee Huat's team, all dressed in blue tee, focusing on the finish. We did not have to look far, he was nearing NTU as well. So we thought we would give him some support, afterall long, how tough was it to run 3km right? Totally wrong! He upped his speed, and when he saw the NTU gates and LNH's pacing team ahead, he just sprinted off. Fast. Uphill. Uncatchable! His pacers had problems giving chase and started dropping off one-by-one! He closed the gap with LNH and made it back successfully as the 5th runner.

5 runners completed the ordeal, out of 9 who started. It was an awesome feat, totally super-human! *Salute*

I started off thinking I would simply run 20km on a Sunday morning and be done with. Afterall, I was on a low-mileage phase after Langkawi IM. Yet today, totally unplanned and unwittingly, I did almost 60km! Uhh.... But I was really glad I was part of this event and experienced it for myself with the runners. Truly Inspirational!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Canterbury-MF Run

Tonight's menu: 14km from Canterbury to Morse Rd up and back. I started off chatting with Melvin about this weekend's RRS event. Then he slowed down for a short jog, and I continued with the other runners.

We went into Canterbury, enjoying the fresh air. Then to Morse Rd, oh deja vu. I was going up and down the MF loop in my past 2 runs. Knee was somewhat acting up again. Sigh.

Made it back to the club. 1:21h. Oh well.

Was super tired and sleepy. My 3am sleeps were getting to me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

10 + 2

Club run was 2x Morse Rd. I did not want to run down Kg Bahru twice, nor go past clubhouse twice. So I did the 10km big loop, plus 2 small MF loops. Gosh, I think it was the one time I went up the entire length of Kg Bahru without stopping! Hadn't done that in a long while since long forgotten times. It felt like a decent ok run, until a slight discomfort in my right knee. Sigh... signs of age. :( Total: 1:24h, distance unknown, 13km?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Post-Aviva Swim Class

The class was smaller tonight, some of the Aviva racers took a break. Coach raced too, but he was standing outside the pool and did not need to swim. But it was still long.

Drills - 4 pulls 1 breath x 4 laps; 6 pulls 1 breath x 4 laps

Swim -
6x 50m easy: 1:17min, 1:15, 1:14, 1:13, 1:13, 1:13

5x 300m @ 9min (! we had not swum that kind of distance in a long while, but of course Coach shortened the time): 7:27min, 7:32, 7:56, 8:01, 7:36

2x 50m easy: 1:11min, 1:17

8x 50m hard @ 1:15 (Oh my! That was about my average, how to swim fast & recover? Or maybe that was the intention, no recovery...): 1:08min, 1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:14, 1:16, 1:15, 1:13
As evidenced by the timings, totally no rest, touch and go!

Coach told SL and I to go for extra Friday remedial classes. Ahhh.... for stroke correction. Haha, I guess I had a long way to go to figure out where my inefficiencies are. Looking forward to remedial. :)

Old airport road hawker centre was closed tonight, so we went to a nearby Punggol nasi lemak branch instead. Sort of unhealthy, but the rice was indeed moist and nice. Sinful!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trails & Aviva 70.3

A run in the trails is always uplifting and recharging. I was supposed to be cheering at the Aviva race this morning. But I need my run, desperately. I missed Friday and Saturday and did absolutely nothing. I woke up to a cool morning, and refused to get out of bed. The weather was fabulous! What a great day for a race, as I thought of all my friends attempting their iron-pursuits. :)

When I finally did, it was 9am! Oh bummer! A mad rush to MR and a mad dash around the 10km loop. Started off fast, cleared the SICC northern trail 5min ahead of my usual. SICC was certainly a very unfriendly neighbour to us public park users. They now had a guard along the tiny car park drive, and the guy shooed me back onto the trail path. It was barely 50m! Fuming....

I stopped for a drink at the ranger station water cooler and continued. The sun was slowly peeping from behind the clouds. I continued and tried to keep up the pace. But trails have a way of channeling out my energies and calming me. It was all about 'going with the flow'. Wow, so zen! 1:04min. Hmmm... not great. Don't think I would ever break the 1h barrier. To some, running is the means to a time achievement. But to me, running is the end in itself. Run for run's sake.

Done with the run, a quick shower, and I was off to ECP. It was fun to be on the other side of the racing fence for a change. :) The YF folks were there with a great support tentage. We shouted ourselves silly, cheered fellow trainees and strangers alike. It was a great atmosphere and I was enjoying myself immensely. There was a guy who really looked like Alber from afar, albeit shorter. So much so that the guys shouted Alber each time he ran past. Norris even offered beer, much to the guy's bewilderment! Hilarious!

Everyone completed the race safely and many in good timing too. Well done all! Now I'm inspired to race...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Test of MF Loops

Ong said the past weeks were base training and it was time to test our fitness. He reminded us that there was a difference between base training pace and recovery run pace. The former should be 1min slower than race pace, and not totally relaxed. Ahh... somehow I thought I had only one pace - race, recovery, base - all the same.

We headed for MF loops. 6x within 1hour.
9:41min; 9:54; 9:53; 9:53; 9:48; 8:54
Total: 58:07min

Whew, surprised that I could still manage to complete.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Quiet Self-time

Days of conference food and over-eating finally ended. Kilos piled on. :( And I was super tired after the past days. So I dragged myself to Safra and went for a solo run. A quiet run. A self-recharge run.

I took the Depot-Canterbury route. Slowly. Thinking and talking to myself. Then I did a repeat loop. And did more self-mumbling. It was a good mental break after the info-overload in the week. There was slight discomfort in both my knees and tightness in ITB. So I trotted back via Henderson. The quality of runs decreases exponentially with the lack of sleep and a junk diet

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pre-Aviva Swim Class

Coach promised we would have 1 hard set and then easy for the rest of the night. Somehow few people believed his promise.

6x 200m hard @ 5:30min -
4:41, 4:40, 4:43, 4:38, 4:46, 4:43

6x 200m easy @ 5:30 -
5:04, 5:07, 5:13, 5:09, 5:18, 5:25

6x 50m, taking turns to lead -
1:10, 1:12, 1:06, 1:14, 1:11, 1:09

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Yellowfish OWS for Aviva

A last open waters sea swim for the folks racing in Aviva next weekend. I had no race but turned up anyway. It was one of the official sea swim for Aviva participants, so there were several non-Yellowfish swimmers coming for the familiarization swim.

We started at the beach at Playground instead of F2, to simulate the actual race venue. Coach set up the loop, about 450m, complete with the Aviva and Powerbar banners and flags. He briefed everyone on the swim and set us off on a warm-up round. Then more instructions on the long distance swim, some tips on how to race, and off we went.

2 loops, run out to the beach, and in again for another 2 loops. Technically a total of 1.8km+. I think the distance was less after some time as the buoys floated off. Haha. In any case, my timing looked fast for my speed.

The problem with training at Playground was the lack of public showers. So I had to go over to B1 to wash up. Then we headed for nonya mee siam at Siglap. I had the tuna sandwich set instead which was a good value for money. We sat and chatted for such a long time, and kept ordering food. Oh my, better escape early or I would keep eating and wipe out the cafe!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nighthawk Night Run

Friday night, 12-Mar 2010

We were having the first night run at 9pm for the Sundowners, going along MR, Old Upp Thomson Road towards Mandai/ Seletar and back. Full-marathoners and ultra did 23km, and the half-marathoners ran 16km.

But before the run, dinner! I met up with Lynn, WY, GY etc etc at Brussels Sprouts for a surprise birthday gathering for WY. Mussels there never failed. And the free-flow of frites, oh my! Recipe for a burp-full run later.

So back to the run, we met at MR visitor lobby area. After a quick briefing, we were good to go. All the running guides had a light-stick each to denote the category we were in. Most runners had red blinkers on us. I started off slow and easy, making sure the runners around me were safe. Some of them started on a rather fast pace, or perhaps they were trying to follow the faster ones ahead and inevitably went a bit hard. I just followed along behind, within sight.

It was a new route to me, I was usually inside the MR trails rather than on the parallel roads. Traffic was heavy along Upp Thomson Rd, but eased up once we turned towards Lower Pierce and onto Old Upp Thomson Rd. There was a sense of deja vu as I ran past the Casuarina car park - reminders of ungodly early morning rides. It had been a while since I ran on Old Upp Thomson Rd, ever since they closed the SICC golf course connection between MR and Upper Pierce Reservoir. In the past, that was our MR long 20-30km training route, part trail, part tarmac, and .. part monkeys. Surprisingly the gentle rolling slopes on OUTR did not seem as strenous in the illusion of the night.

We then turned out towards Mandai Road and to the Seletar Executive Golf Course. Again, I used to run here on one of those crazy solo long runs. Ahhh.... By now, the runners had spaced out into groups of 2-4. Some that had started out too strong had slowed down. I trotted along at my constant pace, and observed how they ran. Some dragged, some felt/looked heavy, some big strides etc. I tried not to overtake the runners but followed their pace. At some sections, I tried to lead and set the pace. But on a few upslopes, it was difficult to go too slowly, so I ran ahead. Legs were fresh and light, just the way slopes should be tackled. Loved that feeling! If only it occured more often.

We u-turned inside the Executive Golf Course and retraced our route. 1:15min, rather decent. But somewhere about 1:45min, I felt soreness in my knees. Sigh. I would much rather be in the trails than tarmac. That monotonous pounding with no variation was of no help, I could not vary my steps. Thought to self, thank goodness I was not attempting Sundown. It was painful to recall my last 84km tarmac race, in the dark.

I stopped briefly at various junctions to make sure the runners behind followed. Then I managed to catch up with the ones in front shortly. I think their pace might have been a tad erratic if I could keep up soon? But they were mentally strong to endure and complete the training. We were soon back in MR, finally! Total: 23km, 2:28h, time 12:00midnight.

I drank a milo pack from my car, it was the best recovery drink. :) The shower waters at MR was cold in the night, shivers! A quick shower later, and I was feeling sleepy already. Yawn. A burpy run but nonetheless a good run. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Makeup Swim Class

The best time for a makeup swim class is before a race, for that is the time when Coach 'gives chance' and not tekkan us too much.

We did some drills, like 1-arm pull, 4 pull 1 breath sighting. I was late, and there was more before I arrived.

5x 200m @ 5:30min - 4:33, 4:35, 4:45, 4:48, 4:47
100m - 2:19
7x 100m @ 2:30 - 2:18, 2:28, 2:18, 2:26, 2:21... Hmm discounted? It was chaotic, we lost count.
50m easy swim - 1:11, 1:25, 1:11, 1:11

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strides Class

Tonight we did the reverse, run first then drills.

6x 800m at a pace faster than last week's. Coach asked if I could maintain 3:30min for each set. Huh, of course not. So my target was 3:40-3:45 per set.

3:23min (mis-gauged, too fast), 3:42, 3:38, 3:38, 3:43, 3:40

Drills - relatively easy tonight (according to Coach) because races were coming up these weekends. 6 sets with varying timings of:
1. push-ups
2. leg-raisers
3. basic planks
4. side planks

A few of us went for dinner, and had a lively discussion about packing bikes and bike boxes. So many races, undecided which to go for. GCM, Phuket 70.3, IMWA?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Meaning of Slowness

We tried a new route tonight. 3 slopes within a short 12km - Kg Bahru, MF, and Telok Blangah. Rather mental for that distance, I must say. But I enjoyed the run, chatting first with Heng, then Henry, and finally Lai Chee. Ahh, the joys of running without intent.

My lungs, however, were not used to the panting exertion from the slopes. How on earth did I ever manage 5x MF 50km years ago?! I stopped briefly at Lamp post #31 along Kg Bahru, and recalled Wee Haur's insightful words - Slowness takes on a new meaning after an IM. I did not understand those words last year. I do now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Smoky Swim Class

The air was so hazy and smoky, I could even smell the pollution while swimming! Yucks.

5-and-half sets of 200m. Supposedly fast 100m + moderate 100m:
4:27min, 4:35, 4:37, 4:38, 4:47, 2:22 (100m)

Repeat 200m, moderate: 4:49min, 4:51, 4:58, 4:48, 5:06

6x 100m: 2:22min, 2:18, 2:18, 2:22, 2:21, 2:16

Done. Time for dinner and catch up with the rest.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fatbird Nighthawk First Run

We joined Fatbird's Nighthawk operation first run this morning. This was the training for Sundowners, we were there as running guides. Aim: 21km @ ECP starting from Playground.

I started off chatting with Esther for 4km, had not seen her for almost a year, so lots of catching up to do. We were going at a slow conversational pace, possibly 8min or slower. Then I saw Angela and we ran along, exchanging IM race stories. By the time I reached the 21km u-turn point at NSRCC, it was already 1:30h. Oops. I ran the rest of the distance back to Playground. As it was the first time I was running with the Fatbird runners, I did not recognize them. And did not know who were the pacers/ pacees.

I managed to complete the return leg in about an hour. Along the way, I saw Coach's face on every alternate lamp post. He and Sarah were the poster stars for Aviva 70.3 and their banners were draped all along ECP. Gosh, I could almost hear "And... go!" all the way for 21km. Haha.

Total run: 21km, Time: 2:30h.
A nice LSD.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sluggish Swim

Went for class and dragged through waters. Try as hard as I could, my body would not glide and I was so slow, I kept merging lanes.

5x 200m @ 5:30min
4:49min, 5:03, 4:49 (merge), 4:49 (merge), 4:53 (merge)

8x 100m @ 2:45min
2:25, 2:44, 2:34, 2:34, 2:39, 2:33, 2:34 (skipped 1 set)

7x 50m @ 1:30min
1:21, 1:14, 1:12, 1:15, 1:14, 1:18, 1:14

7x 50m @ 1:30min
1:14, 1:13, 1:17, 1:13, 1:18, 1:16, mistimed 1

Too too way too sluggish tonight. Time for a break & recover. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

YF Strides Session 6

Back to class after missing for 2 weeks. Shem saw me, and asked WTH was I doing there on the track so soon after Langkawi. Oops.

Drills - 4 sets:
Jumping jacks x20, Knee lifts to/fro
Jumping jacks x20, Kick butts to/fro
Jumping jacks x20, Push-ups x10
Jumping jacks x20, Side twists to/fro

Tracks- 8x 800m tempo runs:
Legs were still heavy, I did not want to push hard tonight. Did not want to risk injuries. So I just took my leisurely pace. It was their second or third time doing 800m tempos. The idea was to maintain about the same pace for all sets, and then increase the speed each week.

Constant reminder to self, stay easy, save the legs. It was not really difficult because my legs had no way of bursting into speed anyway. Haha.

3:57min, 3:55, 3:58, 4:00, 3:58, 3:57, 3:52, 3:32

Good job! Ready to chill & recover. :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Easy Recovery

Went to Safra for a trot-a-recovery. There was no official club run tonight, but still, many of the regulars showed up for their own runs. Several of our runners were still in HK or just returned from Langkawi.

The guys went off for a 6km Morse Rd route. I could not keep pace, so I did a 5km MF-Harbourfront loop instead. 7min pace. Chill....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ironman Langkawi (Race)

27 Feb 2010

IM Langkawi lived up to its reputation of being "the toughest show on earth" (so-claimed the organizers). It was indeed challenging, made tougher by race support.

In addition to the heat and terrain, one had to be prepared for Malaysia-boleh style support. The traffic control and road marshals did an excellent job on race day, staying on until the last runners came through. The aid stations, however, were really on a low-budget this year. 2-3 stations ran out of water during the bike course. Overheard a caucasian competitor exclaiming, "Out of water again? What a joke!". Yes, even in an ironman race. Water and gatorade supply on the run course ran short of cups and were served up by the bottles, depleting the supply even faster. Food on the bike course was non-existent, as were portaloos. Food on the run course comprised cut up powerbars that had melted in the heat, oranges and bananas turned soggy together in ice-melted pool, and powergels that vanished after my first round.

The race flag-off for non-pro competitors was 7:45am. We reached the bike transition at 6am and set up our gear for the day. The swim was a deep-water start off a floating platform. We swam against the current going forward and took such a long time. The return swim was easier, but still, I took 2:12h to complete. I came out of the water to Kat, Rachel, Ronnie and several supporters cheering me on. We were so nervous at the impending cut-off time of 2:20h.

I spent about 11min in the transition tent, putting on my attire, sunblock and stuff. Oops. By the time I set off on my bike, there were very few left. Everytime I hopped on my bike after an IM swim, it was somehow an emo moment. Like I somehow survived yet another long swim and finally on my wheels.

My legs were fresh from the long break, and I might have pushed on too hard in the first loop. The weather today was relatively good compared to the previous days. There was a slight overcast and wind, so I tried to take advantage of the cooler weather while it lasted. Maintained at 30-33kmh on the average flat and caught up with several cyclists ahead. But I would pay the price later, for it was more than my usual training speed. Hit all the slopes and was on the lookout for the killer one after a shrimp farm, landmarked by 2 giant shrimps at its entrance. Voom! the slope rose ahead. I saw some cyclists pushing their bikes up and decided to do likewise. I was already down to my lightest gear and nowhere near half the slope. Some cyclists dug in deep and rode up beside me, but I eventually caught up with them again after the slope.

Supporters by the roadside were fun. Japanese/ Korean supporters thought I was one of them. Others thought I was a Malaysian Malay/Chinese. And then some of our Singaporean supporters kept shouting "Go Pinkie go!" because I was in a hot-pink long-sleeved top. (btw, loved my new UnderArmour top!)

Doing decent on the time-check for 2 laps. Then the clouds parted and the sun shone through. And people started to melt. My quads started aching and by the 3rd lap, cramps set in. There was a flat stretch along the airport and the continuous pedaling 'conditioned' my thighs to seize up when we hit the slopes thereafter. I dropped all my gears and went lightly at 18-20kmh on the flat, while sucking my Nuun salt tablets and stretching my legs. But to no avail. First the right abductors above the knee. So I transfered weight to the left leg. Then the left abductors above the knee, and it pulled all the way to the other end of the big muscle near the groin area. Ouch ouch. But I could not stop pedaling in the midst of an upslope, so I had to grit through the pain. Every pedal stroke tightened the cramp. Finally I dismounted and pushed. A media vehicle promptly pulled up alongside and snapped pictures, how totally unglamourous! I managed to get through the Lap3 interim cut-off, whew. Repeated the same cramp cycle for the 4th lap (can die!) before returning to the race transition area. Total push: 5 times. Total time: 7:27h.

I did not know how I held my bladder for so long since there was no portaloo along the bike route. Or maybe all the water I drank had vapourised in my sweat. I changed, used the toilets and started my run. It was exactly 10:00h into the race. Which meant that my marathon timing would determine my race time. I made the dumbest mistake of leaving behind my 2 powergels in my run bag, thinking that there would be gel supply along the way. I forgot this was Malaysia and not IMWA.

It was very demoralizing to see other competitors with multiple lap-wrist-bands while I had none. Sigh. My quads were better and did not cramp. I managed to run decently in the 1st lap. But I was low-sugar, low-energy. The food at the aid station was revolting. I had some cookies but their effect did not last long. My tongue was deadened by all the powerbars and Gatorade, I was craving for savoury snacks and iced-milo. The run was painfully humid and I nearly fell asleep. It took tremendous effort to force myself through. I walked so much, it turned out to be my longest marathon ever. The aim was to collect 4 wrist-bands, run 5 laps, and straight through to the Finish chute. The route had long gradual rolling slopes which during normal circumstances would be irrelevant to me. But today was not a normal day, and gradual took on a new meaning. I saw friends on the opposite side, but was too zoned out to wave and smile. I managed a couple of wrist-flick acknowledgements...

I had sugared cracker biscuits in my special needs bag. Six precious pieces of them (I should have packed more or threw in powergels and milo!) The sugar rush enabled me to run a couple of kms, and then I walked, like a wound-down toy. I saved 2 pieces for my last lap.

Finally my 5th and last lap! Munched 1 biscuit, hopefully to last me until the 4km u-turn point. I very carefully held on to the other piece and ran with it. I strolled a little, and a Korean competitor behind shouted my bib number, "491, keep going!" and nudged me along. We ended up pacing each other three-quarters of the way. Passed the u-turn mat, and gobbled my last biscuit with much happiness. Last stretch now. I tried to jog all the way and not stop. 1km more to go, I literally did a tempo-run to the finishing banner. Coming through, I remembered to raise my hands and look up for a good photo finish. Run time: 5:59h (exactly 1h slower than IMWA). Total race time: 15:59h.

Whew! What a day! One more IM medal earned. Pity there was no eagle medal this year.

Lesson learnt: messed up nutrition & failed my run.
Total-15:59:37; S-02:12:33; B-07:27:05; T2-00:08:59; R-05:59:58; 8th/9 category finishers