Wednesday, 22 April 2015


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.
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!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Janda Baik International Run 2015 Race Report - Deo

Deo's Janda Baik Rainforest Run. Looking at the photos, I believed he has more fun running it as much as writing the race report for us to read. Thank you for sharing Deo and congrats on the finishing.

After the completion of the Salomon Otterbox Trail Run in Janda Baik last year, I sort of fell in love with the trail there. As mentioned in my race report, it was like a mini version of the trail that I had experience in Sabah while taking part in the Sabah Adventure Challenge and TMBT100. With all mixtures of uphill and downhills, over tarmac and red clay sections, that took us crossing rivers, running at the side of vegetable farms, it was a great running course away from the city. So, naturally when the registration for this event opened, I did not hesitate to sign up for it and since it will be longer in distance (21km against 18km during the Salomon Otterbox Run), I thought it will give a greater challenge and will take a longer time to complete. 

After a long anticipation between the date I signed up for the race and the race day, the day itself arrived last Sunday. As my race bib has been collected a day earlier by Ijoy, I didn't have to drive to Janda Baik really early in the morning (as the race number pick-up on race day was to be done before 5am). It was a casual move to R&R Genting Sempah to meet up with few other friends before we made our move to the race site. We actually underestimated the time taken to the race site and arrived with just about ten minutes to spare before the flag off at 7.30am. With not much to time to spare, we hastily headed to the start line while bumping into familiar faces along the way. It was a small crowd at the start line - very much to my liking, around 500 of runners, according to my estimation. 

Panicking a bit as I arrived at the race site with just few minutes to spare from the start. For the race, I put on Skechers GOrun Ultra 2, a hybrid shoes that gives good traction on the trail while comfort and cushioning for road runs.
[photo by Ezamidola]

While I tried to move up to the front pack at the start, alongside Ezam and Ijoy, we were flagged off and the front runners were dashing out from the field towards the tarmac section. And I was one of them. It was really a fast start, just like in a 10km race and soon after I caught up with Ezam while trailing Ijoy. I glanced behind to Khairul to get him to tag along me but he stayed with his moderate pace. Upon checking the time splits later after the race, the first 2km that was done on tarmac section was done in 5:05 and 4:51 pace. Then the race went into the trail section.

It was uphill trail that we had to deal with, right away after we entered the trail section and it was already tough for me to continue running especially after running all my heart out during the first 2km earlier. Anyway, I told myself to keep going, even if I need to walk it has to be a very fast walk. There were not that many runners around me, the front bunch had sped away and disappeared from my sight while those behind me were sparsely following me from behind, closing in on me when I walked uphill while I distanced myself from them again during downhill and flat sections. 

The second climb was really badass! It was on concrete and was so steep! I wonder if anyone could run up this section? It was so steep that you can't stand up straight, otherwise you could fall behind and roll down the slope. I think it was about 17 degrees of climb. Luckily it wasn't too long of a climb, maybe around 500m. And once you've reached the peak, it was equivalently steep going downhill, also on concrete. It wasn't easy, either. But the momentum gained from running downhill really fast was that it pushed you up (at least halfway) to the next climbing section. 

Going up the badass concrete section.
[photo by CH Leong}
...and going downhill of the same section which looks like a roller coaster track to me...
[photo by Warren Mak]
I did not notice any similarities between the route of this race and the Salomon Otterbox Run. But after the race when I checked the map on Garmin Connect, I noticed that there were five kilometers of similar route between the two races (KM10.5 to KM15.5) except that it was done on reverse direction.
The trail wasn't as bad and slippery as during the Salomon Otterbox Run, although I was told that it was raining heavily a day earlier. So, dashing downhill was pleasurable without worrying of slipping down the slope (or fell on my butt like what happened to me during the Salomon Otterbox Run). So, I got to recover my lost time going slow or walking uphill but running strongly downhill and along the flat sections. I got better traction this time and better cushioning for running on flat trail and road sections since I was wearing Skechers GOrun Ultra 2, that is suitable for both trail and road runs. 
The first of two river crossings. Cold, clear and refreshing water but I smiled when seeing photos of some runners taking off their shoes while crossing the river. C'mon, this is trail running, you don't want to keep your 4WD vehicle clean just like on the road...

I love the two river crossings, especially the first one that was about knee high deep. The current was quite strong coupled with the slippery rocks underneath the water. One has to be very careful to cross the river and I was lucky that when I arrived there, there were only me and one other runners so we didn't have to worry about human traffic jam during the river crossing. 
The route elevation profile. Nothing that was too hard, actually.

It was uphill and downhill all the way, except for the stretch between KM7 to KM10, and between KM15.5 to KM18.3 (finish line), where there were flat sections and mostly ran on tarmac. And I took advantage of these flat sections where I sped up and ran at below 5:30 pace. At the final stretch before the finish line, I even managed to overtake three other runners in front of me to finish in 12th position in 21km category for male. The race however was under-distance, my Garmin just managed to get around 18.3km, which is about 1km longer than the Salomon Otterbox Run. However, my timing was a lot better this time, 1:54:28, as compared to 2:11:12, thanks to the not-so-slippery trail condition and 30% of tarmac section that I could run my marathon pace.

Organizational wise, it was a brave effort put up by the organizer (known better from mountain biking events) to organize this race, with lots of logistics consideration to think of. I really commend the five (or was it six?) water stations along the route that served icy cold water and 100 Plus. It was so refreshing to get to gulp cold water and poured some onto the head. The route was awesome, great for hillworks and speedworks. Volunteers were very helpful and friendly, race start/finish location was suitable for the size of the event. There were also packed foods served at the finish line. But there were definitely some minus points. Firstly, the unavailability of water after the finish line. Bottled mineral water were just for VVIP tables, while runners were served with air sirap. Then, there were no toilets provided at the finish line and some runners had to use the facility at the nearby mosque which I think quite inappropriate. Then the finisher's t-shirt were not prepared as per the indicated sizes during the registration, they only have M and L sizes. 

With the happy faces of QMR Runners after the event

Overall, it was an event you have to try if you want something different from what was normally offered by other events around Klang Valley. As for myself, I would love to run this route (and race) again and I hope someone can organize a longer distance event on this route. 

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.
For official result of the Men's Open 21km (18km in actual) category, click here.