Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PENANG BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL MARATHON 2013 : FULL MARATHON WOMEN'S OPEN

Last year, I made a commitment to run a full marathon. Here's a recap of my virgin FM experience at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013.

***

As many of you would have read, I publicly declared on this blog that I was done with endurance running. I don't think I'll ever go back to doing hours upon hours of cardio, several times a week. Nevertheless, I'll probably continue to do short runs around my neighbourhood and sign up for marathons every once in a while to give myself goals to work towards. Besides, marathons are fun! 

Outfit laid out, bib pinned on. Let's go!


Since the FM was flagging off at 2am, Yong Xiang and myself headed to Queensbay mall at 1am. The atmosphere was already vibrant and upbeat. The rain which had been pouring down in torrents a few hours prior had petered down to a weak drizzle, and the air was refreshingly cool.


We made our way towards the starting line 15 minutes before guntime. I stood there bouncing up and down on my toes as the clock ticked by.


The atmosphere rose to fervour as the minutes turned into seconds. And we were off! 

Here's a map of our route 


The first water station we passed.


Saw this man running while pushing a person in a wheelchair. There was another guy running with 3 adorable small dogs but I didn't manage to get a picture as he was in another category on an opposing route.


Hordes of runners swarming across the bridge.


I'd been running alone since the start, so I was fortunate to fall into step with an elderly indian man (he told me he was pushing 60) and chatted with him as we ran. He shared that he'd only started running in his 30s and consistently participated in races ever since.

I kept up a steady running pace until about 23km, which was when I started to feel some discomfort in my knees. Bade goodbye to Gunar and started to alternate between cycles of running and walking.

This picture was taken when we were returning from the mainland, heading towards the island.


Tried to do a jumpshot but failed.


28km : They were handing out Power Gels but I didn't take any. 


30km : asked two boys to help me snap a picture with the sign. Asked them if they wanted to get a picture too ; they very tiredly said "No need." Left them behind as I continued to run-walk. However, shortly after that the pain in my knees increased so I stopped running  altogether and started walking briskly. 


33 km : the sky was light and traffic was moving on roads.


I made sporadic attempts to resume running, but whenever I would do so my knees would act up again. Nevertheless I pressed on wholeheartedly and kept walking as fast as I could.


35 km : Gosh, has it been only 2 km since the last sign? Oh well, let's take a picture of it too.



Loving some random inspiration.


Time limit for the FM category was 7hours. I made it, just barely in 6:57! 

Justin very kindly came back for me after his HM. Congrats on your HM as well. :)


Clowning around taking pictures


Who cares what all these people think, I'll never see them again anyway.


The finisher tee and medal.


There goes another one off the bucket list.

Onward to the next adventure! 





                        

Saturday, November 23, 2013

RUNNING AWAY

Two weeks ago, I ran away from home. 

***


Why did I do it?



This year has been an exciting, refreshing, incredible roller coaster with me hanging tight through the ride. I look at the good and the bad, and am thankful for it all. The friends I've lost and gained, the things I've left behind and embraced, the places I've moved on from and ventured to. I've taken in so much this year ; this has caused me to develop dramatically in perspective and in person.

However, what good would it be if I were to shy away from the world? Yes, perhaps I would never know hurt nor pain. Then again neither would I experience the wonder and magic that is part and parcel of life.

I would far rather swing between agony and ecstasy than trudge through bleary monotony.

***

Me running away from home was not a pretty situation and not one I'm proud of. I uttered words I didn't mean and did things I shouldn't have. Nevertheless, I am amazed by the beauty which lay within the tragedy.

I thank God for surrounding me with wonderful people and wise counsel. I would never have known how kind people could be to a girl full of conflict and turmoil.

Felix, Luke, and Fong. The very night it happened, you guys were the first ones who were there for me. Thank you for the comfort and support you provided me with.

Felix, I especially appreciate you taking me in and caring for me. I shed so many tears and was so emotional during those days I stayed with you. Thank you for your patience and care, the inspiration and courage you bestowed me with.

Fong and Luke, thank you for telling me to hold on to what I believe in, for reminding me of what is important and where I came from.

Chai Chi, my best friend from high school. I am so incredibly touched that the friendship which was forged when we were kids sitting next to each other in the same classroom, still holds strong after all these years.

The Chai family, words fail to speak for how much you have done not just for me but also for my family. Thank for your guidance and encouragement, the patience and strength that you imparted.

Ian and Ivan, thank you for the concern you showed to my sister. I am truly grateful that you took upon yourselves to share in the situation.

Bing and Justin, the both of you took such good care of me when I was in Penang. Although we're apart most of the time, it's such a blessing to know I have friends like you.

Inti CF, specifically Samuel, David, Ben, and Isaac. Thank you for your help and concern.

***

My parents and I still have our differences to work through. However, I hope that in days to come we'll stand on much better grounds than we were before this.

As I type this out, I'm back home. I'm thankful for that.


                        

Friday, November 8, 2013

SO, WHY CROSSFIT?

   What is CrossFit?


About a year ago, I came across the term 'CrossFit.' I looked it up and discovered that it was a form of sport which covers a variety of aspects through the spectrum of fitness : speed, strength, stamina, cardio, flexibility, coordination, agility, power, and so on. 

   What attracted me to CrossFit?

As the name itself already implies, the rationale of CrossFit is that it is better to have a decent capacity for all aspects of fitness than to be the master of just one. 

That makes sense and is practical. If you were in school, would you rather
1) Get a decent grade for every subject, or 
2) Score flying colours in one subject while failing the rest? 

I'm sure you'd be smart enough to see which makes more sense. The same goes for CrossFit when it applies to fitness. I'd rather be generally capable in all aspects than be at the top in just one.

As I grew increasingly intrigued, I started following more articles, blogs and videos. It looked all sorts of intense, exciting, challenging, and fun. Should I also add, terrifying? I wanted to try it out as well, but a lot of the movements involve things like butterfly pull ups, muscle ups, handstand pushups, rope climbs - all which require immense amounts of strength.






Deadlift, snatch, press, clean, squat, jerk - strength is an integral part of CrossFit and this was what intimidated me most. I did not know much about strength training and weights were scary to me. Walking into the weight room alone and trying to do a deadlift? I'd rather be caught dead. (Me so punny hee hee.)

So I kept my distance as I observed in silent awe.

  How did I get involved in CrossFit?

Mid-2013, I signed up for The Viper Challenge. My friend Ian told me about it and encouraged me to join his team, the Honey Badgers. 

Initially, we had only one goal - to train for and conquer the 20km military style obstacle race. The workouts which our Founder and Team Captain Felix put together were designed to spur us on both physically and mentally. As we workout CrossFit style, it was with the Honey Badgers that I finally received the proper coaching for strength training.

What I also received was the powerful positivity, team spirit and camaraderie which can only occur when training alongside others. The fire and passion which everyone fuels each other with was indescribably addictive. After Viper, we signed up for the Reebok One Challenge.




Although Viper and Reebok have come and gone, we continue to train together up to this day because the stronger we are as a community, the more we gain as individuals. Apart from that, it's also much more fun! 

Hence, the Honey Badgers warmly welcome everyone and anyone who aspires to achieve a better version of themselves. 

We work out every Saturday at 7pm at a location in Sunway. Like us on Facebook to find out more and get our daily WODs! 






                     
   Who should CrossFit?

As CrossFit is scalable to all levels, anyone can do it. When I first began up til today, I do scaled down version for most of the standard workouts. You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. 

I can't compare myself to some of the other members in my group who can deadlift 150kgs for multiple sets (so far my deadlift PR is 70kgs x2reps x2sets) so no one should have the mentality that you need to 'measure up' to someone else's level. The only person you want to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

Everyone participates at their pace, on their level. Like I said, CrossFit is for everyone, across all levels of fitness. No kidding even your grandma can do it. 





   Why do I CrossFit?

CrossFit is about functional fitness. This means doing something which you would also practice in real life. For example, picking heavy something off the ground (grocery bags, your own body weight), being able to react quickly (running away from danger), jumping onto or over something. (way more useful than being able to run for 3hours, eh?)

The beauty of CrossFit is that anyone can start off with basic movements and progress on as they are able. If you're come in doing bodyweight squats, in a week or so you could add 10kgs to that, and so on.  I used to carry the misconception that CrossFit was a sport for elite athletes, which couldn't be more wrong. 

Here are a few more reasons as to why I CrossFit.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ENDURANCE RUNNING : I QUIT

The runner's high is a drug. I would describe it as seeing stars and being lightheaded, yet liberated and feeling removed from your physical body as your raw desire to push on pulses through and takes over you.

3 years ago, I made a commitment to my health. In doing so, running was something that I embraced. In the beginning, anywhere between 4-7km was a good target for me. Over time however, that benchmark I set for myself more than tripled. 

Consistently blocking out 2-3 hours to run upwards of 20-25km a time, a few days a week was the new norm for me. I've trained, lived this way for a year or so. And I think it's time to call it a day.

(Let me make it clear I am talking specifically about Endurance Running. While running is good, taking it to the very extreme that I was is not.)


Endurance Running : Why I'm Quitting

1. It isn't practical. 
Let's face it. In the real world, no one has hours upon hours to devote to putting one foot in front of the other. I realize now that I was living in a very comfortable and cushy environment. You think college and classes are tough? My young padawan, you have yet to set foot in the working world. When you're still studying, classes are optional and deadlines are negotiable. Just you try going missing without notice from work, or bailing out on a client's deadline. You'll be dead meat. DEAD MEAT.

2. It's a useless skill
Sure, I can run for 3-5hours nonstop. Indeed, I used to do so regularly, multiple times a week. But considering things from a more neutral perspective, I fail to see how the ability to run for 3-5hours gives me a realistic edge over your average Jane.

3. It's dangerous
Continually battering my joints for prolonged periods of time is detrimental to my physique. I've shared before how I suffered through microfractures and joint stress from doing too much. There's solid proof that running too much (you can research steady state cardio / chronic cardio) takes a huge toll on your physical being and messes up your body science. Testifying to this personally ; sometime in July, I was feeling very heavy and sluggish all the time. Initially I thought it was just a phase. When it didn't go away, I upped my cardio and cut my food consumption sharply. What resulted was me feeling even worse. I tolerated this for about 3 months, until I couldn't stand it any more and did an exhaustive research on my symptoms. What I discovered was a condition called 'Metabolic Damage', which is actually a real medical issue usually linked to those who have a regular regime of long distance running. 

*** 
There are a myriad of other reasons which you can ask me about in more detail if you're curious, but I suppose these would be the simplest and most easily understood. I will still run the easy 7-10kms, but for pure enjoyment and overall wellbeing. I will also probably run my half marathons for fun and to give myself goals to work towards.

That being said, I still need something to strive for and push myself both mentally and physically. I have been involved with a new sport for more than a month now, testing the waters and seeing if this was right for me. It's something I've always wanted to do but never had the resources or the guidance to start. I'm thankful that I have found them and we have kept each other well so far.