Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hardwork and hardwares for the month...

One of the great things about running as a sport is we get medals. Most of us. Every competition from that biggie KL International Marathon to a simple 5k World Asthma Run.
I know of some runners who gave theirs away, some stashed them in boxes together with bib numbers and race T-Shirts, while others hang them in showcases. A few wore them to shopping the very day or the next day (I could only witnessed that in Hawaii after the Honolulu Marathon)!
I kept mine where I can see them all the time because I like to remember what or how I did in last 24hour Walk or what fun I had running the World Disney Marathon in Florida. Yes, it took me back all the time to where I've been and motivates me.
Today, our medals are mostly mass-produced and some of them look as generic as some Mc.Donald's tokens. Below are the better designed hardwares from my hard work this month...

I guess to a runner, the quality of that piece of metal doesn't diminish their value. To me, every medal tells a story, even if I'm the only one who hear them...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

RMAF : Running in Memory and Absolute compassion For...

The air is really getting bad these days...
Given a hypersentitive body - it can detect the air, atmosphere, drugs and even food!! I haven't been well for the last couple of days. Running nose, watery eyes, itchy throat are all signalling to me the eruption of an allergy or flu anytime. The condition worsened yesterday with a headache and a cold.

Since RMAF (Royal Malaysian Air Force) run is one race which I had been looking forward to, I decided to race anyway. I last ran this race in 1996. Today after 12 years, they made a comeback. I had enjoyed this event especially at the starting where runners had a chance to run the 2km runway. Fireworks display, a decent race course, adequate water stations add up to making this event commendable.

Medals and cash awards aside, I believe that as I "moved on to maturity" - my priorities are different...I'd like to look for having a reason, a cause or a purpose to race. This, I guess will add meaning to an otherwise mundane competition. Therefore, as I stood there at the starting line this morning, I was not filled with anxiety, but with a purpose and that purpose was : I'm gonna Run in Memory n Absolute compassion For...victims whose lives and families that have perished in the recent disasters in Myanmar and Sichuan, China. Instead of focusing on the prize $$ that awaits me or lament about being unwell, I decided to spend the entire 21km remembering the less fortunate.

Sometimes unfortunate things happen beyond our control. Some pastors said it's the evil one working to destroy God's people, while feng shui masters said it's ancestral sin! I subscribed to believe that some things happen to build character and teach us important lessons. But 2 natural disasters in a month overwhelm, not only for the victims whose home were wrecked, but the hearts of bystanders like me. First, it was political injustice, then famine which resulted in skyrocketing prices. Global warming and now cyclones and earthquakes. "Just how much can one do to support?" Monetary support only play a small part. Kungfu superstar Jackie Chan suggested, "just by not spending lavishly - by being conscious about the food that we consume - by spending a little time in solitude each day dedicated to the victims; we are in a way showing our support to them."

As I made up my mind to focus my running for a higher purpose than self, I realized that my body was not as wrecked as it should to be (the fact that I was really unwell). In fact, when some runners were dropping off at the KL/Seremban Highway stretch, I increased my pace and moved forward. Today, I crossed the finishing line with a time of 1hr 48mins - completely exhausted, but with a sense of reverence and satisfaction in believing that I've achieved my goal of Running in Memory and Absolute compassion For the people I don't even know!

But this race has brought me closer to my concept of becoming an athlete and a whole sportsperson - one who is feeling and connected to others. Unfortunately, postrace ceremonies do not include any awards for achieving your own personal purpose for running or becoming the person you've always wanted to be.

To my surprise, I still managed to maintain my top ten standing and won a cash award and it will certainly benefit a charitable organization.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The forgotten lesson

The book and the movie...
Fresh from viewing the movie The Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian, I would like to share some of my own thoughts and lessons learned from this movie...
I recalled having enjoyed reading CS Lewis series on The Chronicles Of Narnia in my teens - and all the seven of them; from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe right to The Last Battle! Watching the movie brought to mind some spiritual lessons and deeper truths which I had learnt behind each of his books. And the one who taught me to look for these deeper meanings was none other than my dear old teacher - Ms. Moey. By now, the lessons are long forgotten and have completely diminished with time. What lessons?
In the begining...
In Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children felt out of touch with London and found it boring and difficult to adapt after their adventures in Narnia, where they were Kings and Queens. But before they knew it, they were magically transported to Narnia! But Narnia looks nothing like the way they left it. They came back expecting to relive it but Narnia has changed and they were forced to accept it.
Of letting go...
The children has grown too, therefore the transition from childhood and adulthood, they soon realized that there are things they need to let go of. Back in Narnia, they were still hanging on to their past experiences which in the end, they learned to let them go (esp. Susan, who was in love with the Prince then). This is what I learnt from this movie : the theme of letting go of past experiences and moving on.
Of having faith...
The story is also about faith. Aslan (being the God symbol) had disappeared for ages and everyone was losing faith after not having seen Aslan for a thousand years and then regaining that faith again when Aslan appears. In the movie, it was Lucy who saw Aslan - the rest did not. It was because she believed Aslan was there. And eventually, she found him! Likewise, it kinda reminds us that God is always there...somewhere or everywhere. Those who believe (have faith)in Him will see Him. Those who seek Him will find Him.
The question?
Now I question myself as I often do..."Just how much faith do I have? Do I have that faith strong enough to let go and let God?" Indeed, I have strived to learn much but accomplished little.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Balance Pacesetters 15k Run

I had been a volunteer for this event for the past 3 years. I intend to compete this year, I don't know why.
When Adam heard of my comeback, he volunteered to pace with me without any hesitation. In fact, he ran alongside with me twice in the previous New Balance 15km Race few years ago (both on different routes). I was fit and fabulous then (ahem!)! I wasn't sure about myself that instant but I knew more than anything else, I just wanted to perform well.
The refreshing thing about this NB15k is that the race course gets changed slightly every 2 years (I think), one gets to experience running a new route and not get bored with the same old boring race routes like in most competitions. Aha! This year the race promises to be challenging, period. Anyway, any race organized by Pacesetters has always been tough and never easy.
The minute Adam saw me in the morning, he vowed he would run with me but I guessed he must be in such top form that when the race began, he zoomed off. That mattered little to me. I was destined to run alone and at my own pace. At halfway, my pace was just right and comfortable, I felt confident as my legs were carrying me smoothly. Many runners were already ahead of me but that mattered little to me. What matter was I was moving at ease, breathing well and not struggling. And before I realized it, I had caught up with KK Oon before the double hills...I'd wanted to run with him but when he signaled to me that he was struggling - I moved ahead to tackle the hills.
When approaching the double hills, I anticipated many runners would slow down and I was right. I caught sight of Carmen, Siok Bee and Marianne at a distant and ran with absolute abandon to overtake them all. The challenging part of this race is that you arrived at a hill only to find the start of another hill in front..ha! ha! (Isn't that part of life? You achieved your target this month but there's always the next month's goal waiting there for you to work on and it's like never-ending!) After attacking the hills and passing my fellow runners, I smiled to myself...pleased.
Next, I finally saw Lee Woon Khau and my pal who was supposed to pace with me - Adam close by. I chased and passed them at Wisma Tani water station. Just as I expected it, Adam caught up with me not long after that and this time, he paced and ran alongside with me all the way. We increased our pace and managed to overtake many runners along the way. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to catch up with Ultra-marathoner Ngae who was just about 100 metres ahead of me. Overall, I ran a good race, pleased with my timimg of 1hr 17mins and secured 9th position in the Women's Veteran Category.
When I went to search for John, my instinct told me that he performed well too...he was busy savouring slices of juicy watermelon to even notice his wife!! The rest of the morning was spent in sharing the race experiences. Everyone agreed that it was nothing but tough. As usual, we compared results and performances based on our timing. To me, the rewards of racing can't be measured by a stopwatch alone. My physical efforts should not result in trophies or medals but in lessons learnt, friendships gained and another memorable moment to cherish.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekend Feats

I was caught up with so many things running at the same time and at different places last week...Mother's Day promotions, juggling my time between 3 Brands and not to leave out the endless staff problems etc.etc.
My decision to participate in the Larian Bomba was very last minute as I was feeling a bit blue and fed-up with myself. I thought I needed a competition (any competiton)just to give me that little perk! John registered me in the Women's Open 10k as he felt it's been once-upon-a-time since I competed in a 10k race. I agreed. Ever since I got upgraded to the Veteran Category, I hardly ran that 10k Jalan Duta route for ages! There were 5 Kenyan ladies in the Women's Open Category, therefore it was very obvious that they will dominate the top 5 positions and indeed they did. I was placed 8th position and I was pleased with that.
But I must not deny that I was struggling to keep up during my first 2 or 3km. Everyone else I that know had all surged ahead of me right from the beginning. Although I always prefer to start slow and later, stalk those who went out too fast - I was feeling miserable for lacking that 'pick-up' pace. In other words, I lack speed! However, soon after 3km I was relieved that I finally regained my rhythm...I managed to sneak on some ladies when they began to look over their shoulders. Ha! Ha! I felt like a wolf, and they were my preys and when I passed them, I pretended not be tired and never looked back (naughty! naughty!). Yeah, I arrived at Dataran Merdeka feeling energised and good. Good in knowing that I am still competition-fit for a 10k race again!
I won some cash prizes too! John and I headed for breakfast immediately after the prize presentation - went home for a quick shower - rushed to work - then, attended a wedding dinner that night.

As expected, there were not many Pacesetters at the Bukit Aman carpark that Sunday. A group of them went for the Asthma Run at Padang Merbok, while another group (my John included) went to do the Triathlon Relay at A'Farmosa. Initiated by Tony, about 75 Pacesetters gathered at Putrajaya since midnight to train and get themselves equipped for the Sundown Marathon that will take place in Singapore end of this month.
However, I was fortunate I still had my running buddies who agreed to run Hartamas with me. That morning, my feet were extremely heavy due to that 10k race the day before. Well, I guessed as one aged - the recovery rate tends to slow down - at least for me. Anyway, we were running at such a snail-pace that even Siew Cheng overtook us! After crossing the Duta road, I decided to move ahead irregardless and abandoned my buddies. Upon reaching the Petronas station, there was still no sight of anyone at all - so, I ran all the way back to Bukit Aman alone.
I realized that at times, it's good to run alone. The solitude appealed to me. I cleared my head, renewed my soul, pushed on down the road and embraced the quiet, out-of-breath feeling of exhilaration when I'm done!
Elsewhere at the A'Farmosa Triathlon, John and his team (comprising Dr. Raymond and a lady named Yit Thing) emerged 2nd Runner-Up in the mixed relay.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Mad Rush

The whole of last week could only be described with one word : Rush! Yes, I have been rushing...Rushing for my Che Che stocks to come in. Rushing to fulfil April's target. Rushing to Bidor, run and rush back on the same day.
I was thankful for Labour Day cos' I was able to squeeze in sometime that morning for a double hill run. But soon after that, we need to rush to Temerloh Hospital to visit my sister-in-law who's been admitted for acute pneumonia (so said the doctor). Then rush home the same day.
Yesterday, I was supposed to run the New Balance 15k route with my buddies : Gary, Ho, Wah Chai and their friends but as I was not paying much attention to the route direction, I took them to a shorter distance instead and got lectured by John. We had our usual long table breakfast at Tung Shin to chat and catch up. Then rushed home again to finish up some household chores before my next appointment for acupuncture.
Then more crazy rushes..
Rushed to EYS for acupuncture..
Rushed to visit my mom and my sister June..
Rushed to a Secret Recipe to get a cake for Ray Broughton's birthday..
Rushed to Teresa's mansion at Bukit Jelutong for a mini pacesetters do..

However, I had a ball of a time at Teresa's place. She has always been a good host. Good food and fine wine aside, there were so much merriment, laughter and happy chi circulating amongst us. We also celebrated Ray Broughton's (who is back for a short break from NZ) birthday but then decided to celebrate all the May birthdays since we had an extra cake from Young Ooi. Then we were happy to have that witty Richard Tan to entertain and amuse us with his creative jokes and I laughed unitl my jaw almost drop!
Both John and I were extremely weary, sleepy and drained as we had such a long day, almost everyday. As we were on our way home, I reflected and realized that despite all that rush, I was most relaxed that evening because I had laughed much. I then recalled a quote from George Gordon which said, "Always laugh when you can; it is a cheap medicine. Merriment is a philosophy not well understood. It is the sunny side of existence."
The habit of being happy enables one to be freed.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bidor Half Marathon ...and more.

There were 3 races that took place at the same time last Sunday : Power Run at Dataran Merdeka, New Balance / Klang Half Marathon in Klang and The Bidor Half Marathon. John and I chose Bidor as it has been sometime since we visited that town and this race is associated to nature. Bidor Half Marathon was timely because we were getting weary of running in the city.

We started our journey at 4.30am. So far, my husband's estimation of time has always been accurate - we reached Bidor at 6am sharp. Upon arrival, we were surprised to meet some 'kwai lohs' eg. Robert and Neil there. The response for the race was fairly good. Gary, Francis and friends were there the night before...for social bonding and some big feasts. He proudly showed off his protuding tummy to everyone!! The result of over-indulgence from the recent Full Moon Relay Run in Thailand and now, Bidor. Apparently, the whole gang ran only 10k and they were looking forward for a sumptuous 'Fatt Tew Cheong' (Buddha jump over the wall) lunch at Tanjung Malim that afternoon! Yes, we were there for the fun, food and friendship - weren't we?

Global Food Crisis
I gently reminded them of the Global Food Crisis...exactly what we (Gerard and I) briefly discussed over buffet at Eric Teo's last night. 'Act Now, Eat Later' Despite countless warnings in recent years about the need to address a looming energy crisis in poor countries and a looming energy crisis worldwide, world leaders failed to think ahead. The result is a global food crisis. Read more from Time mag. May 5th issue. If you are interested to make a donation and support the United Nation World Food Programme, please go to
Surely, we all need to be mindful of this.

The Race
Runners were given a colorful Adidas wristband to wear upon reporting. I got mine which wrote "BELIEVE IN MIRACLES". Is Someone trying to tell me something? How come I was the only one (I think) who receive it (amongst so many of my fellow runners)? Anyway, I like this.
The race started at 7am. As usual, I took my time to warm up and ran at an easy pace until two young runners Kim and Jessica (who call me Aunty Wai Mun) came, and suggested that we run together. While I welcomed this idea, I alerted them that I was there to enjoy the beauty of nature and therefore, will not push myself crazy. They were okay and we were talking most of the time, at least for the first 12km where Jessica broke away from me to attack the hills. Kim actually left us earlier at the 5km mark.
The race course took us through some palm estates, lakes, a park, rubber estates and kampung (squatter) area which reminded me of my childhood days with my nanny and her family. The ambience was rather quiet so that I could clearly hear the cock crew and birds chirping merrily in the air. Although the hills weren't tough, there were many to tackle and it felt like a roller-coaster ride!
Soon the marker said 1km to go and I gave myself a final push to pass more than one runner to reach the finishing line. Jessica was 1st and I was third. John ran an impressive time of 1hr39m and earned 4th placing in the Men Veteran category.
Overall, we enjoyed the run as it was well-managed and runner-friendly. Unlike some more serious races, I noticed a gathering of friendly runners here because mainly they were here not to fight for the prize but for friendship, fun and of course, good food. Yes, social bonding, that is.
No need the ridiculous coupon system, no need to queue up for food and drinks..there were food and drinks aplenty for everyone. The medal and trophy designs look good - one that I would proudly want to show it off and not chuck aside after the race. Thanks and tumbs up to the organizers of Bidor Half Marathon for a simple yet well-organized event.

Food, Glorious Food..
The prize giving ceremony took awhile with lucky draws in between. After that, all the Pacesetters went separate ways for their favourite and well-deserved meals. We met a group eating at Pun Chun Restaurant, a few groups gathered at Mee Wah for wantan mee, Mr Lee and the Ho brothers went to Sungkai for fish and of course, Gary and gang headed to Tanjung Malim for their 'Fatt Tew Cheong'. Apparently, Wan Yew Leong and friends went to eat their 'Choo Sau'(Pig's arm) at god knows where? Oh well, for the sake of food...people just travel anywhere in the name of Food! Eat, drink and be merry but again, let's not forget the hungry. Let's be responsible and aware of the World Food Crisis.