Yesterday (15th Apri 2017) , I had the honour to give a talk to runners who are planning to attempt their first full marathon in the Cat City Marathon scheduled on 23July 2017. The talk was organised by CJC running club, supported by Rehab Concept and Revolution Run Borneo.
The PowerPoint material, which was used yesterday could be found in the link below:
What can I say, the name of the race says it all. Putrajaya 100Miles (160km). It was a journey that I never thought I would embark. Same as my 100km. To me 42.195km was already hell. Now to go ~4X the marathon distance without rest? That’s insane! I even have friends who cycles, and they told me that they don’t even cycle that far. Hahaha. But, as times goes by, I soon realised (as a runner), i wanted to push my limits and stand out among runners back in Sarawak. For that to happen, I need to be different. Running marathons and 1/2 marathon in costumes just doesn’t make you stand out. You need to be extreme. Thus, this race came into play. I had originally signed up for 100km putrajaya (Bib:#A04) and not 100miles. But, soon after completing TMBT. I ask God for wisdom and discussed with my family. If I do not try 100 miles now, when will I ever?
Unfortunately, after TMBT the registration and upgrade for Putrajaya 100miles was closed. Lucky for me, I contacted Jerry Young (a fellow runner who inspired me to do 100km when i met him last year in Putrajaya 100miles- 78km category). He told me that he was running the 100miles and he had a friend; LaiKin who was letting go of his bib (Bib: #A13). To my delight, Laikin was willing to sell of his bib and I managed to get it transferred to my name. In parallel, I transferred by 100km bib to Davy Woon, who was my dorm mate in Putrajaya.
The weeks and days leading to the event waws really torture for me. I had done my training, but was not sure if it was sufficient. The elevation was not the major concern, but rather the familiarity of the route and heat. Last year (2015), there were zero finishers. Hence, this is a race distance not to be take too lightly. All that could be done was to download the maps (gpx file) into my garmin and phone.
The course was 80km to and fro. CP1 was still similar from last years route. But CP2 was amended. Instead of 5km return, we where required to perform an island loop. (I guess this was due to several runners who short-cut last year.)
CP3, Taman Cabaran was still the same. CP4 had some light changes due to the field used last year was already fenced up. To me, CP5 (Taman wetlands) – CP8 (Promenad Precint 7) was all new. Hence, the fear of getting lost. This ultra event, specifically requires you to be tentative while on route, since the markers are placed very far apart (~> 4km) from each other. It would be advice-able if you had a buddy to run with. Some runners were lucky to join the route familiarization runs, prior to the event, which was organised by teampacat. While other like me, we had to rely on what we had and prayed that all goes well.
We flag off at 7am. Unfortunately, due to some technical errors, we didn’t have an individual timing chip. But rather old school manual timing records. Well, guess that is why I have my Garmin Fenix 3. The run from start to CP1, Nusa Perdana was comfortable. I was trying to gain as much distance as possible before the mid-day heat. Sadly, there was no marker for the CP1 mid-way U-turn, (last year was available). It was replaced by 2 marshals. We soon reached CP 1, refuel and headed for the core Island loop (CP2). Since this route was amended, it was considered a scenic route for me. Manage to enjoy the trees and morning air.
As I completed the CP2 route and headed out for CP3 Taman Cabaran, I could start to feel the heat. And that was only 9:10am. The initial weather forecast for Saturday 11am to 6pm was supposed to be raining. But, as usual, the rain never came. Instead, the sun was shining down on us. While we were on the highway heading for CP4, Taman Rimba Alam, the heat registered on my Garmin was ranging from 34-37degC. That is with me all covered up. So, I’m guessing the actual temperature was probably ~ 40degC. As i was walking/ running along the highway, i was telling myself “lang ho ho chomik I ki cho 160km?” (translation from Hokkien would be; life so good why go run 160km ). Well, then again that has always happen while I’m running and scolding myself for the self torture. I was even thinking, why isn’t there any peddlers selling drinks by the highway for us? I’m sure even if they charge RM3/can of cold drinks, people would buy. Hmmmm. Maybe next time I should do that. Hahaha! A cold ice beer would be great under the hot sun.
I was so delighted as i reached CP4. The watermelon and toilet break was a delight. You can see the smile on my face when i reached the CP4 in the photo below. The volunteers at CP4 asked me if I wanted any drinks or food. I told them that someone should start selling at the highway. Unfortunately, no one was business minded enough to take the hint. After stocking up, I left CP4.
Thank goodness that CP4 to CP5 Taman Wetlands was partially among the trees with some roads. I manage to take some shelter, while heading to the wetlands at CP5 for lunch break @ 2pm. I sure am glad that i decided to wear my Ahon gaiters. Going through the highway and Taman Wetlands, there were areas where it was very dusty and had many loose pebbles. I am happy to say, the Ahon gaiters did its job well. Hence, I was not an idiot for wearing them. I have had similar issue while running Titi100 this year with the stupid pebbles. The last thing you need while tackling your run under the hot sun, are blisters or cuts on your toes.
CP5 (50km) Taman Wetlands was a rest well needed. I recharged my ipod, my garmin and replenished my hydration at that point. I started to stock pile my TZactive gels and UB bars for the next 110km. It was also here, that I reapply my 2Toms sports shield. Although the instructions says reapply after 24 hours, I did not want to add an additional suffering for this run. You can imagine the chaffing and heat torture? That will be just too much to endure. After spending about 30-45 at CP5, I decided to depart. Next was CP6 Taman Warisan. Although it was just an additional 8km away, I could not run any further for now. Hence, I decided to increase my walking stride.The funny things was that, each time I was going downhill, I would try o run. But, each time I run, I would over shoot the route and ended being off course. There where portions where i was even off course for> 2km. So, silly of me. There was a point that i decided to take it slower and safer. Lucky for me Chandru caught-up. That was when I decided it would be more efficient of me, if i would buddy with him rather than being to smart and run by myself. We made our way to CP6 and soon after that to CP7 Taman Saujana Hijau.
As we reach CP7, it started to turn dark. It was essential that we completed the 2.5km loop round the Taman Saujana Hijau before it became too dark. We manage to catch a glimpse of several wedding couples having their photo taken. Even at the Taman, we manage to get lost. Hahaha. Maybe too engross at the wedding couples.
We quickly depart from CP7 and made our way to CP8 Promenad Precint 7, also known as half way point (80km). Yahoo!!!! While making our way there, Chandru and I were talking about hot cup noddles and coffee to keep us awake for the 2nd leg of the race. We even passed 7 eleven and marked it as a go too place in case of emergency. But CP8 was not as close as I had hoped. the 13km distance was never ending. The words “are we there yet?” kept circling in my head every several kilometers. You can tell when fatigue have kicked in. Previous 100km ultra runs didn’t make me feel this way. The pedestrian walkway towards cyberjaya was bad. You can clearly see the effectiveness of our development and planning. We build but we do not maintain. The walkways where uneven, due to underground roots from the trees which have been planted but not maintained. The “road ultra” soon turned to be trail ultra as i was tripping over roots. I was like a child in a glass store. Need to bee very careful not to fall and break anything. Hahaha.
We met the top 3 runners (Jeff, Yimister, and Odef), making their return route. There where going strong. “It must be CP8 halfway point cup noodles and cold beverages”, I thought to myself. We soon reached the last stretch to CP8. It was dark, the lamp post where there. But as i mentioned about our efficiency, we build but we do not maintain. We spotted several people where dating there. I do hope our super bright headlamps did not spoil their romantic date night. Hahaha. I’m pretty sure they where cursing at us as we passed by. Both of us were in sheer delight as we arrive. Finally, the hot coffee and cup noddles for dinner. Much to our disappointment, there was no hot water. Neither was there any ice. OMG! I was like $#*@ in my head. But, I guess that is Ultra, (need to be self sufficient). Lucky for me i had my UB energy bars. Gave one to Chandru and had one myself. It was my fuel till we reached CP5 again.
As we were leaving, we met several runners coming in. It was a good sign, that there will be more finishers this year. I’m sure they were also disappointed to know that there was no ice and cup noddles. The journey back from CP8 to CP7 and CP6 was pretty fast as we where hungry. We managed to stop by at 7-11 on the way to CP7 to get a can of cold coconut juice and cold mineral water for a quick cold shower. The shower was great and refreshing. We started to pick up our pace and ran for several km before we overshot and missed a turning. We ended headed the wrong way for about 1km until i notice my watch was saying that we where off course. Hahaha, guess i need a talking GPS rather than the watch. We back tracked and was back in the game. Soon we reached CP6, where we had some cold drinks and watermelons.after replenishing our hydration, it was off we go to CP5 Taman wetlands for the maggi and hot coffee. It was almost 9pm when we reach CP5 Wetlands. Nevertheless, the key was that we arrived. The maggi was the best maggi I have had in weeks. Manage to have my 3in1 tongkat ali coffee to keep me awake for the last 50km stretch. We spend about 30mins at CP5 before we departed.
It seems that our previous cut-off time buffer was depleting. As we left CP5 we had 1hr 30mins buffer till the cut-off. By the time we have reached CP4 Taman Rimba Alam, the remaining time before the cut off was only 50mins. That meant that based on our current pace, we would reach CP3 Taman Cabaran with less then 30mins on the cut-off clock. I didn’t want to risk that, especially that we have gone so far with the soreness and blisters. Along the highway from CP4 to CP3, we tried to gain momentum, but exhaustion have finally kicked in. Both Chandru and I were actually zig-zaging along the motorcycle path at the highway. I could barely keep my eyes open.Only thing kept me awake was the occasional praying of the Rosary.(Yes, i do pray and i do bring my Rosary during my ultras).
I regained my awareness once i was done. I soon asked Chandru if he could run, because we had to chase after the cut-off time. He told me to go ahead, I then bid my farewell and prayed that we will meet each other at the finishing line. I took a sachet of the TZ active gel and a gulp of water. Then, within minutes, I started to pick up my pace and ran. By the time I reached CP3, I had 30-40mins on the clock before they close that checkpoint. I prayed that all fellow 100 milers manage to meet the cut-off. I quickly refuel and proceeded to CP2. Upon reaching CP2, I had regain the buffer to cut-off by 1 hour. That was a good sign for me, as the fear of getting lost may occur. The next task ahead was the CP2 core island run and CP1 home stretch. The CP2 core island run was where i bumped in to several 50km and 78km runners. Everyone was going strong. I only had one goal in mind. That goal was to complete the 160km. I was so happy to return back to CP1 and only have last 10km to go.
By then the sun had already come out and the heat was staring to come back.I knew this would be the longest 10km for me. The stretch to the U-turn (after dataran putrajaya) was not far, but from there to Taman Seri Empangan was another story. The Persiaran Putrajaya was never ending. I was just going at one step at a time. By this time I could not run and more, but should have more then ample time to complete. Finally, I reach the left turn to the bridge as we approach Taman Seri Empangan. This was where, I felt tears of joy. I bumped into Low KahWai, who asked me to pose for pictures as i reached the final 500 meters. Thanks to his motivation, I some how manage to gather the final burst of energy in me, and dash to the finish line. Unfortunately, the organizers did not hold the finisher banner for me at the finish line. Hence, my finish was not epic enough. Hahaha.
I would like to thank Team Pacat for organizing this event. There were several areas for improvement, such as CP8 food, ice and beverages. The wonderful volunteers and medic, thank you for being so helpful. Your support is greatly appreciated. Not forgetting Renee and Chuan, although we just met, kind souls like both of you, is what pushes us to finish the race.And of course a huge hug and THANKS to all runners, friends and family that supported me.
If you are interested to purchase the attire I was wearing, please contact the following links:
I recently had the opportunity to test out both Hoka Challenger 2 ATR and Hoka Speed Instinct during TMBT2016. Both are trail shoes by Hoka One One. For those who are unfamiliar with Hoka One One trail products, they have 4 trail shoes.
Hoka Stinson 3 ATR
Hoka Challenger 2 ATR
Hoka Speed Instinct
In this blog, I will review both Hoka Challenger 2 ATR vs Hoka Speed Instinct. I had bought these shoes specially for my first trail ultra. Both shoes undergo brutal trail and road challenges for 50+km.
Hoka Challenger ATR 2
The Challenger ATR 2 is trail version of Clifton 2. the shoe have a great feel on both road and trail. However, it does not perform very well on muddy surfaces or rocks with moss. The shoe is designed with Early stage Meta-Rocker (explained in my earlier blog) meant to focus on the transition zone behind the metatarsal head. It is to create a smoother ride and faster transition to the forefoot.
The downside of this shoe is similar to the Clifton 2. Some runners may complain on its small toe box. But, for me it fits just fine. I used this shoe during the Permai Hybrid trail challenge, which consist of 3km road and 10km permai trail (included wet moss rocks and semi wet trail road). I found the shoe performed well on tarmac. It had similar cushioning feel, like its full road shoe (Clifton 2). The 4mm lugs did feel a bit stiff on tarmac. But on wet roads, traction was impressive up and downhill.
In trail, the shoe had acceptable traction going downhills. But, on wet moss rocks, the shoe was impossible. There was practically no grip. (But, i found out that this was the same for other brand trail shoes too. Hence, nothing to be really disappointed about). Landing on hard edge of rocks, proved to be manageable. I remember flying downhill during Hybrid challenge and TMBT (2nd half of course). But, the durability of the shoe side can be further improved. I rip my Challenger 2 ATR on a tree branch. Luckily for me, it was just the first layer of the shoe. My toes where still protected. The shoe have very good drainage. Manage to keep my feet damp, rather than soaking wet during heavy downpour and river crossings in trails.”What goes in, must come out”.
Unfortunately, the shoe does feel slightly bulky, clumsy in trails. Maybe this was due to size US11 that I was wearing. I seem to be tripping on roots. I think, Hoka can improve further on the toe box protection, especially if you plan to be flying in Asian Trails, where you may trip over roots.
Hoka Speed Instinct
This shoe was just launched in April 2016. The latest addition to the Hoka One One trail shoe family. You can see that the shoe design and base is very different from the conventional challenger ATR. The speed instinct comes with multi directional lugs, which allows the shoe to have better traction in trail terrain. The shoe base is designed with PRO2Litetechnology. What does Pro 2 Lite means? It basically means the transition of a softer and lighter heel support, to a firmer and more responsive forefoot. That allows better propulsion when running. You can clearly see from the picture above, the heel has an added cushioning in black compared to the forefoot, which is more of a firmer material. The speed instinct basically feels like your feed fits in a cradle, snug and well protected.
On tarmac, this shoe performed superbly in wet (raining) and dry weather. Due to the Pro2Lite technology, the shoe actually feels great. I tried the shoe while doing my weekly LSD. I assure you, the shoe feels like a well cushion road shoe.
On trail terrain, the shoe was very nibble. Just like a ballerina, you could be dancing in the woods. I used the speed instinct for the first half of TMBT, as i wanted a fast response shoe up and downhill, without compromising the cushioning and support. And I am glad that I made that decision. The shoe responded better than the Challenger 2 ATR going down muddy terrain. I recalled climbing uphill using this shoe without taking out my trekking pole. The grip was excellent. Even running downhill, did not pose a threat.
River crossings and wet surface rocks did not bother the speed instinct. This was due to the multi-directional lugs design and Seamless Air Mesh concept by Hoka One One. The seamless air mesh allows the shoe to be lightweight and highly breathable.
To be honest, for me, the speed instinct would be my next trail go to shoe, when comparing to the Hoka Challenger 2 ATR . Unfortunately, for the Hoka speed instinct, I had to get 1/2 size larger (US11.5) compared to the Hoka Challenger 2 ATR, to allow more space for my toes.
If you are interested in owning a pair of Hoka Speed Instinct, please visit the following locations:
With the blessing from the Almighty, i manage to complete my 3rd 100km Ultra marathon for the year. In fact, 1 year ago (2015), a group of us runners from Hornbill pacesetters running club Kuching came to Penang to do our first 50km ultra marathon. It was our first experience of an ultra running event. After one year, only 2 out of the group of 9 (George Chapman and I), decided to come back and challenge ourselves to the 100km route.
We arrived on 16th Sept (Malaysia day) and stayed in Chulia Mansion, which was a superb accommodation. I would say value for money for its location and facilities. The staff are super friendly and the breakfast was great.
We collected our race pack at the famous Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama). This year, the organizers outdid themselves by getting more exhibitors compared to last year. This was good, as you can do some last minute purchasing of needed items in case you forgotten. They also had the mandatory race items check when you collect your race pack, which I thought was a good move to prevent any last minute mishap by the participants.
The race this year was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang; Lim Guang Eng. We manage to have a quick photo with him before we started the race. I have to say, the CM is a very punctual person.
The race flag off was right on the dot at 9pm. There was a total of 160 participants who registered for the 100km challenge. Traffic control by the Rela, PRDM and volunteers was good. All runners safety were well taken care of. The weather was slightly humid. You can see from the island route attached on the actual route. It is exactly the same as the 84km route, except for the Penang hill addition at CP08.
The signage for the route was good except for some locations, which was not very visible (suggest to use reflective arrows for future runs). The run from CP0 to CP01 was a bit of a tussle between runners, as you try to break free from the crowd. I manage to break away from the large pack, ~2km into the race. As they mentioned, this 15.9km distance had a mixture of tarmac and concrete. For me, this was a good flat path to build your buffer for checkpoint cut-offs. The first CP was set by the roadside. From CP01 to CP02, I found it a bit of a challenge, as i got lost for about 500m,(this was my own fault for not studying the map properly before the run). Lucky for me, i found the correct path and the runners behind me didn’t get lost. Else it would have been,” the blind leading the blind”.
As we headed into the construction area, i felt sleepy and started to feel really drain. My aim at that time, was to reach CP2 for some isotonic drinks and maybe some food. Situation improved after the nice short break. Then, it was off to CP03. it started with a 6.5km flat road run followed by a challenging 2.8km uphill run along genting hill. The view from the top of the hill was magnificent. You could see the night light of balik pulau. Apart from that, the beauty of any uphill was, “what goes up, must come down”. The run down hill was good and relaxing, thanks to a fellow runner i met during Langkawi Ultra (Nazri). He kept me company. Upon reaching CP03, there was a sense of joy in me. I knew, this was where i could refuel before going through the daunting half way point of a 14.3km run (towards CP04 – 49.2km), with nothing to see. Nazri wanted to take a break and asked me to proceed. I refueled with my TinZaitun energy bar and off i went.The gap between me and other runners in front of me was about 3-4 minutes. I tried to mantain a steady pace of 6:30min/km. I managed to pass several runners along the way. At this time, the weather was changing from humid to windy with lightning and thunder. Yes, it looks like it was going to rain. You could see the drains along Jalan Balik Pulau was filling up. I was so pre-occupied in looking at the drain that i over shoot and ran pass the turning in to Jalan Bahru. Luckily, the marshall on motorcycle (Eric Lim) saw me and told me that i was way off. Hahaha. That would have been really stupid of me (I actually went an extra 2km). At this point, all the runners that I have passed earlier, have already caught up with me. (note to self, “study route properly before going for you run”). So, Jalan Bahru was a catching up game for me. Just when I was bout to pass the housing area at Jalan Kampung air Putih, it rained. I was happy at first, cause it was cooling. But, then the rain turned to a storm. This was the point that i was really looking forward to quickly reach CP04 and grab my windbreaker.
The warm coffee was good at CP04 with some dates and or course my energy bar (TinZaitun). Manage to change from my Hornbill Pacesetter Running Tee to a dry pair of O-run Utan Running Tee. Applied vaseline on my feet, changed my socks and shoes. As this next half of the route will be more hilly, I wanted my dry Hoka Clifton 2, to do the work of climbing up and running downhill. It was here, that I met Jeff Ooi and Linda Then. I remember, the volunteers at this CP04 were all talking about the 100km race leader; Kho Khoon Hiong from Bintulu, Sarawak. He was leading the entire race and was running at a marathon pace. As I just reached CP04, he had already left CP06, which was 23km away. OMG!!!
I got my hydration filled and i was ready to go, but no before putting on my windbreaker as the rain was still pouring. Unfortunately, I left the darn windbreaker in the room. Stupid me again! hahaha. Just had to endure the rain without the jacket. Here, I decide to switch my headlamp for my handheld flashlight. Reason was, CP04-CP05 will be going up Titikerawang, and down towards Teluk Bahang (thanks Anddrew for the correction). It is always good to have a handheld flash light with a longer beam distance, especially if the road is dark and there maybe incoming traffic. 7/8 of the way up, I met 2 runners; Ooi Siam Meng from Penang, and Elvina Jimin from Sabah (who won 2nd for the womens category). Running alone at Teluk Bahang would be considered dangerous, especially if you are a female. Certain area had faulty street lighting, thus making it very dark.
We reached CP05 at Dewan MPBB with delight. I decided to go to the wash room. While Elvina decided to push-on after her brief break.(Hence, she got 2nd). CP05 to CP06 was practically rolling hills with heavy traffic moving along a single lane road in both directions. The view was nice, but running or walking at this stretch requires alertness. Slowly, but surely, I soon reached CP06. It was good to have the company of Ooi Siam Meng to keep me entertained all the way. We met Shannon Ong from Penang along the way to CP07. It was like “Do Re Me bujang lapok”. He had our laughs even making our way towards Penang Hill in the heavy rain where partial road was flooded. It was a good thing that I had my Hoka Clifton 2 on, the water gushed in, but it also flow out as fast, ensuring that my feet stays fairly dry (slightly damp).
We manage to bump into the top 10 runners for 100km men. Some seemed drain, others seemed pretty pumped. I knew i had to have my game on for Penang hill. Shannon Ong and Ooi Siam Meng told me that Penang hill elevation is a challenge when going up and coming down. They were right !
I have never hike up hill with that kind of elevation in my life. Thanks goodness that the distance was only 5.2km. Prayer and the FREE coconut juice was the 2 things that kept me going. In Kuching, we normally get our coconuts by climbing coconut trees. But in Penang apparently, you have to climb Penang hill to get your coconuts. Hahaha! Hence, the coconut juice at the top of Penang hill was the best coconut juice I had ever have.
I tried to make up for lost time by running down Penang hill. I tried running sideways as the road was wet and i had to be careful. I met some participants coming up hill, but they were well prepared with their hiking stick. Smart! Unfortunately, due to my unpreparedness, I sprained my ankle coming downhill. Yes, my own fault again. Just had to do another 5km from Gurney then, I would be done.
My ankle didn’t bother me until I took of my shoes after passing the finishing line.That was when I saw how swollen it had become. My left feet looked like it came from Frodo Baggins. Hahaha. But, I have something that Frodo doesn’t have… The finisher Medal of Penang Ultra.
At the end of it, even though this was my 3rd 100km run, I still think there are plenty of rooms for improvements.
need to do more hills training. (hills repeat and heart break hills)
run in all weather. (early morning, hot afternoon, rain, mid-night)
study the route before your run
pack hiking stick and jacket
“Stretch you legs as wide as you can on your last 2km”, wise words from Kho Khoon Hiong.
Nevertheless, I would like to say a special thanks once again to the race director Anddrew Loh and his team (including Rela, PDRM, St John ambulance, volunteers and sponsors), for ensuring our safety. Even during the heavy downpour, you all were there to direct the traffic for us. Thanks !
If you are interested to join the Penang Ultra in 2017, please follow their FB website (Penang Ultra 100).
Chafing and blisters are 2 common words that every runner fears. It does not bother you at first. But once you start having it. You will continue to have it. In this blog, I will share with you on my cheats to prevent these phenomena.
What is chafing?
Chafing refers to the irritation of skin caused by repetitivefriction, usually generated through skin to skin contact of multiple body parts. Chafing is usually contracted in the inner thighs and inner glutes. Nipples can also develop chafing, this common when you run a full marathon and more. Of cause the material (shirt) you wear plays an important role. However, even our best cotton shirt may some times cause nipple chaffing. If you are unaware of how nipple chafing looks like, please take a look at the photos below obtain from the web.
Trust me, you do not want to experience this when you are just hitting 28KM and u have another 24 KM to go. it really hurts. Not forgetting the phrase, “a picture paints a thousand words”. Especially, when the photographer takes a photo and everyone sees it.
How to prevent chafing?
For me, my preference have always been surgical tape. Why don’t I use sports shield products (eg: glide, 2 toms, run guard), petroleum jelly (eg: vaseline) or nip guard?
Nip guard has the same affect as surgical tape, except the cost is cheaper for surgical tape. Sports shield products and petroleum jelly however, wears off after prolong runs, unless you re-apply after intense sweating. This does make a lot of difference when you are running an Ultra events.The last thing you would want, are bloody nipples. I have many runners who keeps telling me that they do not have this problem. Unfortunately, their happiness are short lived. Thus, I like to be always ready. Like the scout motto,”Always be prepared”. You can get your surgical tape from any pharmacy.
To prevent chaffing on the inner thighs and groin area, especially during ultra marathons. My choice of preference is 2 Toms Sport Shield. I have tried several other off-self products available in the market. However, only 2 Toms sport shield, can last for 12 hours. Even after a shower with soap, you can still feel the lubrication on your skin. I actually swear by this product. Even the manufacturer guarantees 100% anti chafing.
What is blister?
Blister is a small pocket of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by forceful rubbing of your feet to your shoe or socks. There are several causes:
Your shoes are not of the right size (fit) or comfort
The suitability of socks material (assuming that you wear socks to run)
The moisture on your feet over prolong runs
Your shoes are not of the right size (fit) or comfort
How do you pick your running shoe? Do you buy your shoes based on peer pressure? Do you buy based on looks? Price? Weight? Comfort? or Function? Here are simple guides. Know your feet arch. (Neutral, Stability or Motioned Controlled)
This is how to check.
STEP1: Wet the bottom of your feet.
STEP2: Step on a piece of brown paper.
STEP3: Look at the imprint.
You should see the imprint matches one of these 3 imprints. 80% of human are average arch(stable), while 10% are high arch (neutral), and another 10% are low arch (flat foot). People with high, stiff arches are probably more susceptible to bony injuries on the outside of their foot, ankle, and leg, while people with flat and flexible arches are more likely to get soft tissue injuries and problems on the inside of their lower body.
After knowing what feet type you belong to, you can start to pick the type of sports shoe that meets your running needs; speed or long distance running. If you are a person > 80kg (men )/ 68kg (women), or if you run more then 50km per run, you will need to look at high cushioning shoes. Examples of high cushioning shoes are Hoka One One Clifton (neutral), Hoka One One Bondi (neutral), Hoka One One Odyssey (stability), Hoka One One Infinite (stability), Asics Kayano (stability), Ascis Gel Nimbus (neutral), Brooks Glycerin (neutral), Brooks Transcend(stability), Mizuno Wave Paradox (stability), Mizuno Wave Creation (neutral) andMizuno Enigma(neutral).
If you are <80kg (men)/ 68kg (women), then you can look at normal running shoes. Examples of these are Hoka One One Clayton (neutral), Hoka One One Tracer (neutral), Brooks Launch(neutral), Brooks Ghost (neutral), Mizuno Sayonara (neutral), Mizuno Wave Rider (neutral), Mizuno Wave Inspire (stability), Zoot Ultra Tempo (stability), Zoot Ultra TT (neutral), Ascis GT2000 (stability), Ascis GT Trainer (stability).
For me, my choice for Ultra Marathon are HokaOneOne, due to its great cushioning and weight. As for runs < 42km, I would use my Zoot Ultra Tempo (discontinued) and HokaOneOne Tracer and ON Could.
The suitability of socks material
I tired several socks, but the best fit for my feet would still be the Injinji five-fingers ultra thin no show socks. As you can see in the image below, it has very good breath-ability allowing your feet to stay snug and dry. It also helps your toes to splay naturally. Thus, preventing them from rubbing against each other, causing blisters. The best part, it comes in various colour. To add an additional; layer of protection, I normal apply a layer of Vaseline on my forefoot too.
Disclaimer: These are my tips on how I keep my body free from chafing and blisters during my LSD, marathons and ultra runs. It works for me, and I hope it does for you to0.
Actually, this is a long overdue race report for Tokyo marathon. This year was my 2nd lucky year in getting a ballot slot for the Tokyo Marathon. 2015 was my first year running Tokyo (2nd time in Japan for a marathon event, first time was Osaka – please see my other race report on Osaka Marathon 2014). From Kuching, they were only 2 of us (Melissa Wong and myself), who got the slots. The weather in February was slightly cold, from 2degC to 10degC. Hence, you may need to run with gloves and winter running attire. Both years I was in Tokyo, it as chilly. Not to bad as compared to 2014, where the runners experienced snow during the race.
In case you may not be aware, Tokyo Marathon is considered one of the six Abbott World Major Marathons (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York, London and Tokyo). Thus, it was any marathon runner’s dream to be able to participate in such a prestigious marathon event.
The planning for the trip began in early October, when the ballot results were out. The race start point was at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, while the end was at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Centre in Odaiba. We planned to stay fairly near Shinjuku area (where they filmed the famous Tokyo Drift car chase), while keeping cost and comfort as one of our key criteria. We ended up at Hotel Princess Garden, Tokyo. We paid approximately MYR760 for 3 nights/ room. Back in 2014, my family and I stayed at a cosy nice near Shin Okubo JR-station called Shin Okubo Sekitei. Unfortunately, that place was fully booked. Another key item to have readily available with you prior to your trip is a travel pocket wifi (prices starts from as low as MYR19/day in Japan).
To fly to Narita (NRT) airport from Kuching (KCH), you have several options. You can either take AirAsia or MAS from KCH-KUL-NRT. Or you could take KCH-KL via AAsia/ MAS and take ANA (All Nippon Airways). Ticket cost, can range from MYR1100 to MYR3200 for a return flight. Thus, if you are planning to go for this marathon, it is best to book your tickets during promotional offer. This year, the Marathon was scheduled on 28th Feb 2016. Typically, it is one week after Kyoto Marathon/ Senshu International City Marathon. Thus, if you really want to make full use of your annual leave/ holidays and your trip to Japan. I would recommend you to do the back to back event. It is an experience that you will not regret. You will be surprise how fast your body recovers after the race.
I arrive Tokyo on Friday, 26th Feb 2016 after flying back after my Kyoto Marathon event the week before. The reason for me to do that, rather than stayed on was due to lack of annual leave (something which is not an issue for me now J). Melissa was making her way touring the entire Japan from Kyoto down towards Tokyo. We met at the Tokyo Marathon Expo held at Tokyo Big Sight Convention centre. If you have only been to KL, KK, Penang, Thailand and Singapore marathon events, you will be shocked. Tokyo Marathon has the largest expo with hundreds of retailers. The only problem you will have are wondering what to buy, and how to bring back. You would probably need to buy an additional suitcase. Hahaha. Do not worry, everyone speaks English at the expo. If you can read mandarin, it is even easier for you to move around in Japan.
After the expo, you can head towards Odaiba city to enjoy the food and scenery by the seaside. But, if you are a child at heart. You would better off go to Tokyo Teleport, where they have the large Gundam statue. I remember how my kids just love the statue.
Going around in Tokyo is fairly simple. All you need is a your wifi, google map and your SUICA or ICOCA card. This card allows you to get on public transport; bus, trains, subway and even buy beverages from vending machines. All the signage is in Japanese and English. Hence, no worries.
For Tokyo Marathon, the runners are divided into different flag-off time, depending on your best marathon time. I was at the 4:00-4:30 hrs group. You will be surprise seeing many runners in costume at this flag-off group. The serious runners are typically at the <3:30 hrs group. I saw many spiderman, Mario, Godzilla, and many more Japanese Anime that I am not aware off. I wore my spidey costume and Hoka clifton 2 (my first marathon with my Hoka).
Melissa and I
The starting pen will be close 30mins before the flag-off. Hence, it is advisable to go at least an hour early to the baggage drop area. Trust me, it is huge. You can actually get lost. Upon entering the baggage drop zone, all liquid > 500ml and umbrella are prohibited. There is also a strict security check with metal scanners to ensure you comply with the regulations. If you are a person who prefers to carry your own hydration during marathons, please ensure your bottle is empty when entering the drop bag area. Do not worry, they have plenty of water and bananas for participants at this area. Apart from that, the water stations for Japan Marathons are typically 3km apart with water, pocari and fruits. Hence, not to worry. There will also be many spectators who will be handing out sushi, chocolates, and sweets along the way. Feel free to help yourself and say “Arigatho” or “Domo-Arigatho”.
Medic stations are typically available through-out the course. It is normally 100m before the water stations. Medical doctors with different pace, will be running the entire marathon event. They are clearly seen with their red vest marked “Doctor”. They will also be police personal running. Basically, you have nothing to worry about during the marathon except, just to enjoy your run. Attached below was the race course for 2015 & 2016. You will experience the spectators cheering you on for the entire 42km distance, with special performances every 10km. It is an experience that is not to be missed. The spectators will keep cheering you on, saying, “Gambathe”& “Fighto, Fighto, Fighto”. The energy from them is so motivating and encouraging, that it will push you to run faster. As you approach the finish line, you can hear the cheers even louder. The finish line itself is like a 1km walk from where you cross the finish line, to where you get your finisher medal and towel, to your drop bag area. You will not feel the distance due to the joy.
Starting 2017, the organizers have decided to change the routes. The new route change is depicted below:
New Marathon Course (provisional)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building -> Iidabashi -> Kanda -> Nihonbashi -> Asakusa Kaminari-mon -> Ryogoku -> Monzen-nakacho -> Ginza -> Takanawa -> Hibiya -> Tokyo Station & Gyoko-dori
Tokyo Marathon 2016 Course
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building -> Iidabashi -> Imperial Palace -> Hibiya -> Shinagawa -> Ginza -> Nihombashi -> Asakusa Kaminari-mon -> Tsukiji -> Toyosu -> Tokyo Big Sight
Nevertheless, if you are interested to join the 2017 tokyo marathon ballot, it is now open till 31st Aug 2016. Please follow the link below: Tokyo Marathon.
1st edition of Langkawi Ultra Marathon was held on 17th July 2016. This event was well organized by Malaysia Ultra Running. The format of race was a road ultra, that covered 2 distance; 50km and 100km. Last year, the organizers had a trial run for the race course, with selected runners. Hence, this year was an exciting year for the organizers and participants alike. The race director was Jeff Ooi, who is also an active ultra runner, sportsman and Hoka One One ambassador. The race pack collection was held at Resort World Langkawi, which was also the start and finish point.
We (8 of us) arrived in Langkawi 2 days before. For me, it is always good practice to arrive at least 2 days before an ultra event to ensure our body gets sufficient rest, accustomed to the weather and humidity. There were a total of 160 participants registered for this event, of which, 60 participants were doing 100km. While the remaining 100 participants where doing 50km.
The race course routes for both distances are attached below.
If you wish to have a scenic view of Langkawi, I would suggest going for the 100km.
After collecting our race pack, we headed out to view the race course on car. The elevation map attached was no joke.
It was really filled with rolling hills 80-90% of the way. Apart from that, there were also wild monkeys basking in the afternoon sun. This was when, I took note of 2 things in my head:
OMG the hills
Will the monkeys bother me during my run?
Lucky for us, during the race period, the monkeys were fast asleep. Hahaha.
The 100km started at 12 midnight, while the 50km was at 1 am. There were several familiar faces before the start of the race. Manage to meet Tan Tick Hock( music man – my inspiration for my first Putrajaya 78km last year), Yim Heng Fatt (superb tri-athlete, iron man, fast marathoner and ultra marathoner), and not for getting Susan Swier (fastest female ultra marathoner that i know of) and Willie David Christopher (fast male ultra marathoner). These people are of different league compared to us beginners. I just try to learn as much as I can from them. There were 4 of us, whom were running 100km from Kuching; George Chapman, Davy Woon, Dzul Mambo and myself.
As for the 50km, there were 7 people; Linda Then, Melissa Wong, Charity Sim, Josh KM T, Tony Liew, Brandon Lim and Joanna Chung.
As usual, for ultra events, there are several mandatory items; (whistle, headlamp, hydration, reflective vest, emergency blanket, hand phone ). I normally bring additional stuff.
Why? Well, I will share that in my other post. As the countdown begun, butterflies and the jitters starts to kick in. This was my 2nd 100km road ultra event,(Titi100 was my first). No matter how well, you think you have prepared, it is never enough.
As we started running, we already came across our first hill at the entrance of Resort World. At that time, I could not help myself but to think, “Darn!!! We will see this hill again as we finish.” But, the good thing is that you know what to expect for the last 3-5km towards the finish line. Apart from that initial hill, the first 10-16k was fairly flat. However, certain parts of the road was still under construction, while other parts where pitch black, (especially along the airport runway). That is why the headlamp is vital.
Lucky for me, I came across a runner from Johor; Faridzul Anwar Saipon (seasoned trail ultra runner), who was running about the same pace as me. We used our time to chit chat and made the time fly-by faster. He gave me many pointers on ultra trail runs, and also what to prepare in your training. As we approach AP2 (check point 2 at Telaga-Petronas), I knew it was the end of my “delightful” minor rolling hills, but the beginning of the rolling up hills leading towards AP3-crocodile farm 25km (nothing like Jong Croc Farm in Kuching, guess the crocs in langkawi stay uphill versus the ones in Kuching) and AP4- Jalan Datai Golf club 34.5km mark. The rolling hills were never ending. I remember at AP3, the volunteers told me that langkawi Ultra is not as hard as Titi100. Hahaha!!! Very funny…lucky for us the water station was sufficient for us to replenish.
I quickly filled up my hydration bladder and headed out to AP4, in the hope that I can get back in time to AP5-Crocodile farm to meet the 50km participants (AP3-crocodile farm 25km was their U-turn point). Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the rolling hills of 9.5km would take > 1hr. It was harsh for me. Not forgetting the sudden heavy rain. My shoes and socks were all wet. The only consolation was that they had watermelons, marshmallows, and drinks (water, cola and beer) at AP4. Yes, you heard me right. BEER!!! Yahoo!. I was so happy when they asked me if I wanted beer. As expected, I said,”YES please”. I gulped down that can of beer, as if I was doing a beer mile event. I soon felt re-energized. Picked up my pace and push towards AP5. Upon reaching AP5 (croc farm-44km), I took my time to change my Injinji socks, Hoka Clifton 2 shoes, batteries for my headlamp, replenish my TinZaitun Madu Kelulut gels, filled my hydration and apply 2Toms Sport shield. I was certain, that due to the heavy rain and sweat, all that Vaseline and 2Toms sports shield applied earlier before race would soon wear off, and I would have to suffer the chaffing for next 56km. I am glad that I made that decision. It was well worth the additional 5 mins. Within 30mins, I was off from AP5 going towards AP6-Jalan Teluk Yu. All I can say was that, from AP6 to AP7 (61km- Jalan Ayer Hangat), it was the point for me to push on, or take my sweet time. I decided not to stop for the fried Noodles/ Kueh tiaw. I only refuel with my TinZaitun energy bar and Madu Kelulut for the entire race. It was sufficient fuel for me, thanks to Jetson Hoo at Serapi Bayu for the great product.
The remaining 39KM, although less then a full marathon distance was a torture. As it was about 7:30am (breakfast time). I knew i had to go on before the scorching sun from 12noon onwards. Lucky for me, I had decided to replace my suunto ambit 3 with a Garmin Fenix 3 a year ago. The app that I used on my watch allowed me to predict my completed time. Hence, I was able to pace myself properly. This final 39km gave me plenty of time to pray and reflect on life. It was a time for me and God. Trust me when I say, God and I have been very close ever since I started running. This was due to the amount of time i have to reflect and pray, each time I am on the road. I know my mom would be proud. (Hahaha, the black sheep have finally found the Shepard).
AP8 – 74.5km, was a happy milestone for me. Because I got to enjoy my can of Sapporo beer again (thanks to the volunteers at AP8). The beer made the uphill climb seemed manageable. Maybe I was intoxicated, or dehydrated due to the hot scorching sun. I knew I could not run up the steep hill. I will sure burn out, as my training never covered such elevation. I was prepared to paced myself at 10min/km all the way up, with the intent to run down hill on the other side. Approaching AP9 also had a huge climb up to the Navy base and Langkawi Port. The view was marvelous. Unfortunately, I did not take out my phone and snap pictures. The only thought that came to mind was, “less then 1/2 marathon distance, you can do it”.
As I approach the entrance gate of Resort World towards the finish line, I felt a sudden boost of energy. I knew my fellow kuching runners who did the 50km ultra would be there to cheer and welcome me. I push on with whatever energy I had left and came in at 14:00:12hrs placed 11th overall, and 10th in the mens category.This was a milestone for me. I could not have done it without the support from God, my family, friends and of course my Hoka Clifton, TinZaitun and 2Toms shield.
During my childhood years, I was never a sportsman, nor was I any good in any games. Yes, I did play games, such as basketball, badminton and video games. But, was never good enough to represent my school. I had many friends who represented school, state and even country. They were always an inspiration to me.
Thus, for me to pick up running. It was a challenge.
I started running back in 2012, 2 weeks after my 36th birthday. Why did I suddenly start running? I fell sick for 1 week, on my 36th birthday. It was an indication that I was not living a healthy lifestyle. I was overweight (based on my BMI), stressed with work, and I love to eat and drink. It was an eye opener that I need to do something about my health, especially when you have kids and wife. I would make it a point to jog daily after work. It was really a short jog; 1-2km. Even then, that was very far for me. I would meet familiar faces at the park. They were people 10-15 years older than me that who could run faster and further than me. I remembered how embarrassed I felt.
Then came the first year Spring Live Active Run 2012. I did not join that event. But many of my ex-colleagues did. I would hear their joy and achievements the following week on their 5km run. I thought,” if they can, so can I”. Thus, I started to train. My first Fun Run (5km) was 7th July 2012 Night Run at Le Park. I finished the race, but I felt I could do better. Thus, I started to trained for 10km. I remember the feeling each time I reached 5km, I would ask myself, “Why are you torturing yourself? You could do 5km and be done with it. You fool!”. But, the feeling when you completed the 10km race is totally different. Same goes for when I progressed from 10km to 21km.
What inspired me to move to 42km (full marathon)? Imagine that you run 10km in 1hour, 21km in 2.5 hours, 42km would be 5- 6hours. Oh my! That is very long. But, when I saw the finisher tee for 42km runners during Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2012 (when I did 10km). I told myself, that tee is mine next year. However, the journey to running full a marathon (42km) within 1 year of start running was tough. I did not know what shoe was suitable, how to prepare for long runs, what training program to follow, how to prevent chafing. There were many questions that needed answer. Lucky for me, Kuching have a very good running community. I started to join fellow experience runners who have done several full marathons, and were willing to share their knowledge. My first full marathon was Aug 2013, during Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM). The run was an eye opener for me, as I had very bad cramps during my 28km mark. But, with blessing from God, support from spectators and friends, I manage to complete my first 42km below 5hours. The time was not impressive at all. In the full marathon running community, a timing of 4:30-5hrs is considered to be average. Nevertheless, the feeling was beyond words could ever described. Yes, it was hot and painful, but the sense of achievement was enough to overshadow the pain.
Since then, I have been blessed to completed 26 full marathons and 4 ultra-marathons all over. These places include Malaysia, Singapore, Phuket, Hong Kong, Gold Coast, Edinburgh, Paris, Orlando, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo. Many who do not run have asked me, “Is it worth it, flying all the way just to get a finisher medal and Tee?” I would tell them yes; “it is absolutely with it”. Especially, when you plan for your family holidays to coincide with the marathons. It is a good time to meet new people, share knowledge, enjoy the culture and food. I have met many runners from Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world who have ran more than 100 marathons and ultra-marathon races. These people inspire me each time we meet up. In fact, they are the ones who inspired me to run ultra-marathons. Ultra-marathons are any distance which is over 43km. The typical Ultra marathon distance are 50km, 84km & 100km. To run Ultra-marathon, it requires a lot of dedication, reading, patience and alone time.
Dedication, because for you to run a 100km race (with cut off time 18 hours), you will need to build up your weekly running mileage to > 90km/week with Long Slow Distance (LSD) at least 30km. As compared to preparing for full marathon, you only need 60km/week to finish at 4:30-5hrs range. Your training program will require interval work outs and hills training to finish comfortable for ultra-marathons.
Reading articles and write-ups in blogs from experiences ultra-runners are good sources, to prepare yourself for races. Here are some key essentials that I use for marathon and ultra-race preparations:
Always stay hydrated, especially the week leading to your race. Drink at least 3 L water/ day.
Warm up and cool down during each run, including training. This is to help prepare our muscle for workout.
Get sufficient rest. Our body and muscles needs 6-8 hours of rest daily to repair itself.
Increase your protein intake, from supplements or food. Such as beef, fish or soya.
Wear proper shoes for your run. Our feet need good cushioning and care to prevent injuries; plantar fasciitis (heel pain – inflammation of the fascia of a muscle), blister, fallen toe nails. (I personally recommends Hoka One One for long runs)
Use protection shields to prevent chaffing. (eg: 2 Tom’s sport shield, Glide, Vaseline, surgical tape)
Get use to the electrolytes/ gels that you plan to consume during race day.(My personal preferences are TinZaitun Madu Kelulut , Hammer gels and Amino Vital
Have a good training program and follow it. Train smart not hard.
Patience and alone time are key essential, as we will be by ourselves during our long training runs early in the mornings or late at night. Some may find this hard or boring, but for me, I find this as a good time to reflect on many things. When I am alone running, I could hear my own thoughts. I could talk to God. I could search myself. I have found that I could relate better in life. I could apply the tools that I have learned in running to our day to day life. It teaches us that in life, there are many challenges, we need time to figure it out and work smart on the matter. As long as we are dedicated and committed, the result will show in the end.
The intent for this article is to share with everyone who is finding it hard to pick up running or finding it hard to improve. It is possible. If I can, so can you. The important thing to keep in mind, is to have fun doing it. That is why you see me in costumes when I run.
Tokyo Marathon 2016
Spring Live Active 2016
Kuching Marathon 2015
Penang Ultra 2015
“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and the journey, not in the destination.” – John Bingham.