Friday, 12 June 2015

Alor Setar Jogging Club 21KM Race Report - Jun Shen

Our teammate Jun Shen has moved to northern part of Malaysia in his new assignment as a Naval Officer. Being closer to land (no pun intended) meaning he has more time for some local races nearby. He did not waste time and went on to run the ASJC 21KM. Enjoy the wonderful Paddy Field Run.

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Alor Setar Jogging Club Half Marathon 2015 Race Report

Last week I started racing again by completing the Larian Bendang 11km under the extreme Kedah weather. This week is my second race of the month, most likely will be the last one for this month to restructure my training programme. I’m currently based in Alor Setar Airforce College, nothing much triathlon related stuff that I can do due to the road condition and my tight schedule. I could hardly run because the sport period in the college is allocated for group sports. Unless I choose to be anti social, I have no choice but to join all the ball sports that I really suck in.
My left knee injury started few months ago when I was triggered to do my ultra marathon this year inspired by my teammate Deo and Roy. I went through a tough time looking for remedies, doing self physio and stretches, strapped up my knee with kinesio tape in all races and greatly reduced my training mileage. None of that worked, ultra marathon became an abandoned plan. While driving long hours when my knee flexes, the sharp pain starts to torture me. Finally, I went to I-Sihat pharmacy at Manjung and bought myself glucosamine.

Surprisingly, the pain was gone. With just glucosamine?? I should have swallowed it long time ago! Better late than never =) Upon competing Larian Bendang (30 May15), I was quite positive with my left knee’s progression. Larian Bendang was a fun run actually, it was not organized mainly for runners. I mean the run was intended to make the carnival merrier; too many VIPs attended the run. Long story short, race start was delayed almost two hours. I managed to finish the 11km run in 47mins, pace was around 4.16mins/km.

Completed the run with my fellow future aircraft engineer. =)

Pre-Race Drama


I signed up for ASJC Half Marathon which is one week after Larian Bendang. I did a bit of homework studying the route from Garmin Connect, trying to remember some turnings and landmarks. The manual registration is similar to Larian Bendang, fill up forms and be present at certain location to pick up race kits. So the direction given on registration form was 1073, Bee Bee Park, Alor Setar which could not be found in GPS, Google Map or whatsoever. I drove towards the huge maze of Bee Bee Park, stuck inside the housing area asking everyone I saw, “Where is this ASJC (Alor Setar Jogging Club)” before I found the mysterious race kit collection center at one of the corner lot.


My name was missing in the Men Open starting list. =p I stayed calm and once again told the elderly uncles, my name is “Chan Jun Shen, 22km Men Open A category”. When they finally found my name in the veteran category, I was sure that I will be in the podium tomorrow because there were only two participants! That will be one veteran uncle against me, fighting for the RM500 cash prize and trophy=p Anyway, a lot of participants registered at the very last minute so I changed my bib number to A category. 

This ASJC has been around for over 32 years but this is the first time I’ve heard of it.


The registration costs only RM40, I was provided with a collar cotton tee and a cotton race number.=)

The Race
I was ambitious to target 4.15mins/km pace throughout the course. I felt that I could do it so I set Garmins 920xt alerts to beep me at slowest pace of 4.30mins/km. Once flagged off, I just wanted to maintain my pace and not to be bothered with the race field. The first 5km was manageable with 4.15mins/km although I was still synchronizing my breathing and running rhythm. I tried to maintain one inhale and two exhales to make sure the double exhales puff out all the “used” air. The course was “pancake flat” along the “ruler straight” Kuala Kedah road, but I could not see the race leader (just to give you an idea how fast they were going). In my group was Wong Jin Ji, and two Thai runners. I had no intention to drop anybody or chase after the front runners because I feel safer to run at my own planned pace since I don’t think I have much endurance or speed with my current tight schedule. My alerts were to remind me my every 2km pace and slowest pace beeps at 4.30mins/km, so my Garmin 920xt was my pacer.


I wasn’t feeling comfortable with 4.15mins/km pace when I almost reached the turning point at Jambatan Tok Pasai. My breathing rhythm went haywire as I tried to synchronize my steps, my upper posture started to slouch and too much of sideward arm swing motion. Obviously, it is a sign of fatigue. I switched to one inhale and one exhale, grabbed water at all water stations and suck in one caffeinated energy gel. The race course was very well marked and marshalled at every corner, we were provided with 8 water stations (if I am not wrong). The local communities were really committed to organize this race, most of the marshalls were old uncles and MTB escorts were plenty. Garmin non stop alerting me since the 10th kilometre, I dug really deep to shut it up but my pace was fluctuating between 4.25mins/km to 4.35mins/km. In order to be a good distance runner, consistency is the key to a strong finish. I believe in amateur level, there’s not much tactic involved so just stay focus on pace, nutrition and gears.

Out of form =p

Later on, I saw the silhouette of a runner few hundred meters in front; I tried really hard to reel him back since the 16thkilometre. It became more like a mental game already as I struggled to focus on my rhythm and dig as deep as possible. “I have 2ndskin Vaporlite Team Tee, Skechers GoSpeed2 and Garmin 920xt! All are the best gears in the market! If I couldn’t get top 5 I should at least push myself to the maximum possible effort”. I gave 100% to catch him because I am confident to finish this race in top 8 position. I needed three kilometres to overtake him! I did not slow down so that I could get break him mentally and get a comfortable margin just in case I bonk for the final 2km. It was such a battle because I did not have the speed! Moral of the story, “The best medicine always taste the worse, so the medicine for a slow runner is the much hated speed work!”. 


Come the final kilometre, I saw another runner! Haha. My last 400m sprint put me one ranking up but I was about to pass out at the finishing line. After more than 10 slices of watermelon and few cups of 100 plus, I felt much better. 

Met new friends=) 
Kota Kemuning Pacers, they all know Eugene Teoh and Roy Yeow =p
All pictures courtesy Soon Hoe Hin Tak=)



6th place Men Open finish for a 21.32km ASJC Half Marathon. I feel really happy that my knee did well and my timing was an acceptable 1 hour 33 minutes. Frankly, I am coming back and will train harder to shave off a few minutes from my PB by the end of this year.   


Monday, 8 June 2015

Melawati 10km Race Report - Deo

Admin has been lazy the past few weeks (no excuses) and we are back again! Kicking it off, or rather catching up with more regular posting, we are sharing Deo's Melawati 10km race report. A bit overdue - but better late than never.
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Awesome Medal
This event has been around for the past two or three years, I can't really remember. But what I can remember is that each year, there was complaints about the route being under distance than the 10km as advertised. But when the event was out for registration, I was not hesitate to register early for some reasons. First of all, the event t-shirt is supplied by my sponsor, 2ndskin. Obviously, it is great to support my sponsor in any way I could, apart from it being of high quality with nice design. And secondly, 10km race would be something more logical to do (than a marathon in Hatyai held on the same weekend), after a three-week marriage leave (from running and any form of exercise). At least I can test my fitness level and how my body cope with racing after a long break. Between my marriage leave and the race, I could only do a few run with the longest one being the 16K. Even so, I could not get to the speed I desire over shorter distance runs. So, when the race day arrived, I told myself to take it easy, just see how the body works.

I arrived at the race site quite early, managed to doze off for a good 15 minutes at the nearby designated parking area. And anticipating that there won't be a big crowd, I took my sweet time to walk to the start/finish venue with some fifteen minutes from the flagoff. True enough, the crowd was rather small and I could right away line up at the very front of the pack if I wanted to. But I decided to walk to the back and look for familiar faces and found my team mate, Roy, and some others. As it got closer to 7am (scheduled time for flagoff), the crowd of runners mostly clad in the bright orange 2ndskin t-shirt started to flock the start pen. But it was still a small crowd of some, maybe, 600 runners, and I could see the tail of the crowd from the first few rows at the front. I slowly made myself to almost the front of the pack and glancing the front rows, I don't recognise any familiar podium faces and wonder why and where are they? Later I realised that maybe the prizes offered were not attractive enough with only top three winners in each of the four categories were awarded with cash prizes. 

The flag off was delayed by 10 minutes but luckily we were saved by the weather that remained cloudy throughout the race. And right from the beginning I was trapped in between the front runners and had to speed up so that I won't got pushed or maybe tramped by faster runners behind me. Right away, a famous Malay proverb came through my mind,"kalau takut dilambung ombak, jangan berumah di tepi pantai" where in this case it literally means, if I can't run fast enough, don't stand near the front pack." Glancing at my Garmin watch, I saw myself doing sub 4-minute pace in the first 500m of the race which is quite a mind boggling for me. Knowing my lack of training, I was wary if the fast pace would not be for long and I would succumb to it. Nevertheless, the body felt good and I thrive to run fast as long as I could. The Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 worked wonders too, kept propelling me for my next stride. The first kilometer was done slightly under four minutes. I could see there were about ten runners in front of me. Not bad, I told myself. I found another motivation to keep running fast - not to let runners behind to overtake me, as much as I could, which in the and only about three or four runners overtook me. 

The route was flat in the first kilometer - maybe that explains the fast pace, before gradually goes up in elevation (although by not much) in the second kilometer hence, my pace dropped to 4:15-minute, which is still fast to my standard. The route went up and down and that correlates with my pace too, around 4:30-ish minute when it goes downhill and 4:50-ish minute when it goes uphill. I tried very hard to run under 5:00-minute pace and that was what I did. Besides some rolling elevation, the route was really nice, going through Melawati neighborhood, running near Bukit Tabur and Klang Gate Dam. The route was also shaded and at one stretch it reminds me the Bukit Tunku stretch near the Arabic School as we ran towards Dataran Merdeka. There were three water stations which I think is adequate. All of them served Revive isotonic drinks and mineral water but the mineral water was dished out in 500ml bottle which I think was a waste when I just consumed a few gulps, poured some on my head and threw it away only half-empty. 

The killer elevation came at KM7.5 and I thought that almost killed me, especially when I felt the urge to pass motion. I knew my heart rate has reached its maximum but I trudged on, kept reminding myself that it would be just less than 2km to go, with anticipation that the race would be about 500m under distance. By that time, I lost count of my placing and how many runners had passed me. The killer incline reached the peak at KM7.9 and it was all the way downhill and soon I arrived at the final turn towards the finish line. The race was only 8.9km in distance, a lot less than what I had anticipated earlier. Nevertheless, it didn't dampen my mood to celebrate my time of 41 minutes and 34 seconds for the 8.9km run (4:40-minute average pace). I was happy with the way I ran the race especially when was only expecting to run at 5:30-minute average. I was elated! It was a great speedwork, I told myself. I later found out that the timing puts me in the 10th position in Men's Open and 14th overall.

With 2ndskin teammate, Roy.

Overall about the event, I think it was well-managed, if you don't mind the under distance. The route was nice, traffic control and marshaling at junctions were adequate. Three water stations should be sufficient for a 9km race. The race venue was an acceptable one, with adequate parking space for this size of crowd. However, I still overheard a runner talking about absence of goodies bag where runners were only given the finisher's medal upon completing the race besides the cereal in cup from Nestle and Milo. Well, the entitlements have been clearly specified in the race information which runners should have read before signing up for the event. Today, runners are spoilt with abundance of race options every weekend so, read the race information carefully. If you like what you read and you feel it compensates the fee you're paying, then go for it. If not, choose other race. Simple. And oh yeah, the event t-shirt by 2ndskin is very nice, receiving many compliments from the runners and so does the medal.

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.
For official result (overall), click here.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Tip Of The Month : Making your Own Race Belt - Jun Shen

Ever went to a race only to realised you left your race belt? Have something spare, like a set of shoelaces (from a shoe laying inside the car?) or a loose piece of string? This month, Jun Shen share how he transform what he has extra into a set of good race belt that can be used and reused - at almost no cost.
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Making your own Race Belt


Being a Boy Scout in St John’s Institution at the age of 13, I have learned to make knots as it was part of the task need to be mastered I get my “Usaha” badge. The skills of making knots have helped me in so many ways, give me any string and I can make something. Tip for this month, I’m gonna share with our blog readers how to make your own race belt. Either you are gonna use this as your real race belt or emergency survival race belt, it is all up to u. One thing for sure, it is lighter than the race belt you bought for over 50 ringgit. Before that, you need to master two knots, The Fisherman’s Bend and Alpine Butterfly. 
The Fisherman’s Bend is a knot used to join two lines. However, this knot doesn’t work well with slippery nylon strings. 
The Alpine Butterfly forms a loop in the middle of the rope, giving you flexibility to create a loop anywhere you wish. You will need a shoe lace to make this ultralight race belt.
 The self made race belt looks like this =) Much lighter than any race belt in the market.
I have raced Mount Telapak Burok with this self made race belt, and also the recent Shape Run.
Once you have mastered this, no race belt no problem. =)

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

GARMIN - TEAM 2NDSKIN RUNNING CLINIC EXPERIENCE - RYAN CHIEW

Ryan was awarded the Top Performer mantle during the recently concluded first batch of Garmin - Team 2ndskin running clinic. We had a word with Ryan to see what he had to say about his experience and take-away from participating in the Running Clinic.
Ryan (left) with Anson, AECO Technologies (Garmin Distributor Malaysia) Marketing Manager
"Firstly thanks for the opportunity to join Garmin Team2ndskin Running Clinic and special thanks to Stupe, Roy and Deo for sharing their knowledge and experience. Most importantly we had fun which makes the training more enjoyable beside managed to try different models of Garmin GPS running watches that suits different runners. My main objective of signing up is how to maximise my short hour of workout due to busy work schedule beside  knowledge and tips shared by trainers helps to improve on running techniques in order to stay injury free 

17th Jan 2015 Sat 7am Bukit Jalil Park: First running clinic topic on "Tempo Run" is something new coz all this while I had been doing it wrongly. For example my 10km PB is averaging btwn 48-50 min and had been doing my tempo run below 5 min pace which is wrong. It is suppose to be 5.10-5.30  min pace as advised by our trainers. 

28th Feb 2015 Sat 5pm Kg. Pandan Sports Complex: "High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T)" can be fun and done in different ways as shown by the trainers in order to make running more interesting. It's not necessary need to be a run but different exercise too. It helps improve max vo2 whether doing a run or exercise

21st Mac 2015 Sat 7am Bukit Kiara Park: Hillwork and speedwork conducted here help builds strength. Suitable training venue also play important role to improve performance as different venue serve different purposes for training which is good for runners whom want to improve constantly. Short introduction done before did some trail running which was exciting to explore the hidden nature before ending the sessions. 

Glad to meet other runners by making new friends during the clinic and sad when the last session ends. Till we meet at some other time"

Monday, 20 April 2015

Running On The Other Side

Team 2ndskin Principal, Eugene decided on a life-changing move with his family late last year and he has been living in Melbourne, Australia for the last 5 months. The team caught up with him when he was back recently for some work, and he regaled us with his experience of the running culture Down Under. We're sharing here, what he said with all of you.
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Running On The Other Side
15km Done!
Having been in the Malaysian running scene since 2007, I've had my fair share of seeing races and events sprouting every weekend, more and more of the mass community taking up the sport and engaging in a healthier lifestyle. Its inspiring and motivating to see people from all walks of life and age, lace up their shoes and head out for a jaunt. I truly believe that running in Malaysia will become bigger and the response will be greater, which bodes well for the lifestyle of the future generation.

Fast forward from 2007 to December 2014. Landing on new shores and taking time to settle in, i only gradually started running again in Melbourne in January 2015, with some easy short runs to get back in the groove.
Settling down in one of the Eastern suburbs located midway between the City Centre and the mountain ranges, every direction I look outside my door, i see rolling terrain. And it is because of the terrain that I believe I have somewhat improved in my running performance. One of 2ndskin's best selling shirts has the saying "Hills are speedwork in disguise" emblazoned across the chest, and that's a fact. I say, if you want to improve on your speed and strength, take to the hills, and take them on! The harder you go, the flatter they seem after a while.

What about the running culture you ask? From my opinion, running as a lifestyle seems to have been ingrained in the community for many many years. Its a different sort of environment, where local events don't offer shirts, finisher medals or goodie bags, but runners sign up with a fee just to push themselves against their own timing and other competitors and feel good about it.

I wanted to experience first hand what "small scale" running events were like, so I signed up for a 15km challenge in February. A simple straightforward run of 3 laps of 5km with timing results and hot pancakes at the finish line pulled some 450 odd runners to the start line for 3 categories of 5km, 10km and 15km. No medal to show for it, no shirt to wear after the run, just me against my watch and the guy who would be racing me down the last straight.

My takeaway from the race? Wide-open eyes.
I started the race with a 5:15/km pace. Within 300m, I was close to the back of the pack. I thought, ok its normal for runners to go out fast due to adrenaline and then gradually slow down. Minutes ticked past and I was making no ground on anybody. I started getting a bit worried inside. I mean, at the recent SCKLM 2014, I did the 10km run in 52 mins (5:12/km pace) and ended up in the top 30 of my category. In an event like this, where there's no prize money and no medal and no goodie bag, we're talking the "non-elite" runners, right?? I couldn't comprehend the pace. I decided to push the effort a little bit more, and started doing 5:00 min clicks. I managed to pull myself further up the crowd but in general hovered around midpack.

Since we were running loops of 5km, I could see the lead runners on the opposite side of the road throughout the 3 loops and based on my calculation, if we had gone another loop, I'd probably be lapped by the first 5 leaders! So how did the outcome go? I ended up in 38th position overall, out of 103 finishers in the 15km category with an average pace of 4:52/km. 6 runners aged 50 and above finished ahead of me, with one of them doing a 4:16/km pace.
To have a better understanding of the level of running, the top 20 runners in the 10km category came in under 40 minutes. It made me wonder, is that the average performance here in Melbourne? I mean, there's nothing but PB's and fresher pancakes at stake. No limited medals, no prize cheques, nothing but old-fashioned running for the sake of running. I was pretty sure the top guns didn't show up.

So, I started being a little bit more observant. I don't believe its the food or the weather that makes them stronger runners; it has to be more than that. Little by little, I find things that probably play a part in the difference in performance.

I was at my daughter's school athletics day, when seated comfortably at the stands alongside the running track and field, I heard the announcer ask the Grade 3 students to line up at the start line for the 800m event. My ears perked up. 800 meters? 9 year olds? I thought i heard wrongly, but when the kids raced around the track TWICE, i realized that the grassroots were different. Could that be the reason why as adults, the athletes are stronger? Is it because most of them started young, and are encouraged to start young?
I realized that my daughter's school allows them 2 breaks between 9am and 3:30pm. A 40 minute mid morning break and an hour lunch break. Both times, the children are ushered out of the classrooms, and the class doors locked. Everyone is "forced" to be outdoors (if the weather permits of course) and with 2 big fields, 3 sets of play areas (monkey bars, slide, spider ropes, etc) and a very large compound, the children are allowed to develop physically, from a young age.
And maybe that's the reason. Physical activities are a lifestyle, from a very young age. 

When physical activity IS a part of your life, it becomes routine. You don't need external factors to motivate you to get moving, stay healthy, improve your performance. You don't need a collection of medals, or certificates or bragging rights. You just do it because it has become second nature. Maybe that's the reason.

I am truly enjoying my runs over here in Melbourne. The traffic is good, the motorists respect us runners and cyclists, the pavements are wide and never-ending, most if not all suburbs have nature reserves and the neighborhood streets are generally safe from petty criminals and muggers.
Let me share more stories after my next event in May. Till then, keep running strong!