Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mr Lim Thow Wee's Osaka Marathon 2014 - 2hr 51min Interview

By Saranniya

A happy p
ost Marathon Dinner with (From left to right) Mr Lim Thow Wee,Coach Rameshon, Mr Desmond,Mr kenneth,Jennifer,Mable, Eliz (Mr Thow Wee's wife)

Mr Lim Thow Wee ran the Osaka Marathon 2014 and clocked a time of 2hr 51min despite the sun, the heat and humid weather. Initially, Mr Thow Wee was feeling a little disappointed as his target for this marathon was to attain a personal best time. (Just like our fellow athlete Ashley Liew, who ran the Chicago Marathon 2014 and finished it with a time of 2hr 35min 39sec). However, he felt relieved after hearing from Coach Rameshon, his wife and the rest of them that his timing wasn't that bad after all as the sun was out from the start glaring. In Singapore, the sun is out around 7am. Also, Mr Thow Wee was just 3 min away from his personal best time.

During the training session last evening, Coach Rameshon shared with us that if he was in Mr Thow Wee's shoes he would have gone all out for the half-marathon or the 30km mark and pull out of the race, so that another race can be run even within a month's time. When one finish a marathon, ideally the next marathon should be about 6 months away.

He also shared his experience where in the year of 2007, where he ran the London Marathon and completed it in a time of 3hrs 05mins as the sun was too glaring on that day, and the temperature was about 23 degrees centigrade right from the start.  In fact, with a weather like that a runner collapsed and was pronounced dead on that day of the race. One's safety is important on that day.

A point to note is that Coach Rameshon has done a time of 2hrs 34mins 02sec in the year of 1994, in Singapore, the fastest ever by a local. In Osaka Marathon situation, he would have found it very difficult to do even a 3hr.  He also felt that the other runners like Dr Benny Goh, Desmond Soh, Kenneth Lai, Mabel had in fact done well and have to alter the timing.

What about our fellow athlete by the name of Jennifer Quek, as she has attained a personal best time of 3hr 45min 27sec. Coach Rameshon said that if only the weather had been much cooler she would have been able to clock in a much faster time, between 3hr 30mins to 3hr 34min, good enough to qualify for Boston Marathon. Her hope of going Boston is slowly manifest, in time to come, hence.

Having said this lets return and hear from Mr Lim Thow Wee for  running a brave race and achieving a respectable time of 2hrs 51min, despite the odds against him during the race.

An Interview With Lim Thow Wee

Are you satisfied with the timing you attained? 
Initially, I wasn't satisfied. I was very disappointed during the run itself after 25k. I was shocked at how tired I was at 25k with a massive 17k more to go. It was very demoralizing. Just 1 week before the race, I listened to a sermon called "Defy the urge to quit". Ha! Thus, I decided to struggle on and simply shuffle my feet at 4m15s to 4m20s pace to the finish from then on. It was still very difficult! After the race, Coach Ram and the rest turned my perspective around, saying that it was just 3 minutes from my previous PB. So it didn't sound too bad after all! Haha.


How did you find the organisation of the race?
From the race expo, starting pen and distance markers, the Japanese organizer were perfect. They were so efficient and detailed in everything. The distance markers were dead accurate. Getting into the start pen was the easy. The baggage collection were very organized. The after-race reception were very honoring. Hundreds of volunteers gave all the finishers a rousing applause and were segmented to give out bananas, water, ice-sprays, buns, medals and towels.


How was the hydration points in the race?  
The hydration points were superb. They served isotonic drinks every 5k n plain water every 2.5k. Each hydration point was so long that I could have enough time to grab and drink 5-8 cups while drinking. It felt a bit warm with the sun glaring even before the race while we were walking to the start pen. But I thought it was fine as we have trained in Singapore weather. I underestimated it.


How was the route? 
There were some uphills and downhills along the way. Probably 3-4. The longest one was at 37k, similar to Sheares Bridge in SCMS. But I still feel that it is a personal best  course.


What's your next race and your target for it?
I am planning for a Feb-Mar marathon in 2015. I am definitely trying to go near 2hr 40min!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Jennifer Quek - New Personal Best of 3hr 45min 27sec, and an Interview

By Saranniya Rajendran

In Paris Marathon 2014, Mr Lim Thow Wee did 2hr 48min while running with a belt that had 5 gel on it. It was Mr Thow Wee's personal best time. As for this year, he is ranked 4th so far  in Singapore for the year 2014, as at date 27th Oct 2014. Jennifer Quek, on the other hand, was not able to do any personal best in Paris.

However, she did it in Osaka Marathon 2014. Her time was 3hr 45min 27sec. I found out from Coach Rameshon, who just came back from Osaka today at 7pm. He told me that, right from the start, the sun was blazing on the face of the runners. The expected weather of between 8 degrees and 20 degrees centigrade ended with a 25 degrees centigrade finally. Even Eliz, Mr Lim Thow Wee's wife, who came to support and cheer, found  the weather hot. Coach Rameshon was perspiring and had to go to the shade and return back to support later on.

We are pleased to hear that at least one of our runners had done it. In Paris, it was Mr Lim Thow Wee who rose to occasion for Flexifitness. Here in Osaka, it was Jennifer's turn. Despite all difficulties that she had to go through in the weather, with iron determination she was confident of doing her personal best in this race. Well Done, Jennifer!

An Interview With Jennifer Quek

Why did you choose Osaka Marathon 2014.
I was not able to do a personal best time in this year's Paris Marathon. So, I decided to run here to do it. I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon 2015/2016.

What kind of time were expecting for this race?
I badly wanted to do a time 3hr 30min and 3hr 34min.

Are you happy with your time?
Definitely, with all the problems that we had to go through braving the hot sun. Our Flexifitness fellow runners were severely affected by the weather. After the run, traces of salts was found all over my face.

I was really happy that I have finally done a personal best this year. When Coach Rameshon told me that I was the only one who has done a personal best time, I was praised for achieving my personal best times despite the odds out there.

Can you share with us on the race time as a whole?
In short, I was following the 5min per kilometre pace all the way till the 25km mark, where I started slow down a bit. At the 30km, I realised that it was getting more difficult to get the 3hr 35min time.
However, all the way throughout, I was confident of doing a sub-3hr 48min. At the end of the race, I realised that I did a 3min personal best time.

How was the organisation of the race?
The organisation of the race was very good. The water point and isotonic point was done well.  The crowd was great. Many people were cheering for us. The runners were of good quality and I had people who were able to run my pace. I don't have any negative thing to say about this race.

How was the hydration strategy?
I was able to follow Coach Rameshon's advice of the hydration strategy and not to miss any of my drink at any point. I was very careful with the amount of the drink that I have to drink during the race. The drink strategy has helped me a lot in the race?

How was the route?
People say that the route is flat. For me, it was flat but there were some gradual upslope and gradual down slopes that we had to negotiate. There were some U- turn that we had to negotiate. Around 2 to 3 parts we had to face uphills and downhills. However, overall, I am very happy with this route.

What is your next race that you will like to participate in?
I am thinking of going to Tokyo Marathon. Nothing is confirmed yet.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Osaka Marathon 2014 - Results

Osaka Marathon - Sweltering Sun came up in  the morning of the race

Today, at 6 30am, I woke up at Hearton Hotel. Eliz, Lim Thow Wee and I met before the race and we went to the start point at 7 15am. The weather was fine at first and then just before the start of the race, the temperature was going up instead of going down. 

Lim Thow Wee and I took a photo at the train station

We reached the start area, and at a point, only the runners were allowed to report in the area. As such, Eliz and I went to the 600m of the start line to support Thow Wee, Desmond Soh, Kenneth Lai, Dr Benny Goh, Mabel and Jennifer Quek. We were only able to see Thow Wee as he passed us. The pace, according to him when he crossed us was about 3min 50sec. 

Inside the train discussing the strategy. 

At that point, Eliz and I found that the weather was becoming very hot. The sun started to blaze at us and we were looking for shade. When the weather went up to 25 degrees centigrade, instead of 15 degress centigrade or so that we were hoping for, we became worried of their safety and timing of their personal best time. I knew that for even one person to get a personal best time, it is going to be very difficult 

Eliz, Thow Wee and I took some shots 

We were doing our best to go to the 10km mark to support. However, we could not cross the road as the runners were running and the official told us that after the runners have passed the road will be opened. This took about 30min. We had to decide to go to the half-way mark of the Osaka Marathon. 

I was surprised to hear that Thow Wee did 2hr 51min in this hot sun

Using the subway train, we arrived at the 20km mark. We saw Thow Wee passing us. He did a time of 1hr 22min at the 21km. We waited for some of the runners but we could not see. 

Jennifer Quek, the wonderwoman who made our day

Seeing that time was running out and it will take about 40 to 50min to reach the finish point using the subway train, both Eliz and I decided to go the finish point. An official at the train station told us to go to one of the spot and we decided to go. It was the 41.6km mark. 

Thow Wee and I are gesture on Jennifer's feat on doing her personal best time

We saw Thow Wee passing at that point at 2hr 49min plus and we cheered for him. Then, we saw Dr Benny Goh passing us. We were cheering for him. It was very hard for us to see the rest as the runners were coming in to the finish point in big bunch and it was very hard to identify them.

Eliz and I, decided to see Dr Benny Goh and Thow Wee at the finish point near the prize giving area. At the area, the organisers were giving out prizes for the top women runners. I believe that the men winners were given their prizes. 

We met most of our runners there. Desmond Soh told me that he did a near 4hrs. Thow Wee told us that he did 2hr 51min plus. 

We were at this point saddened by what the weather had done to our team runners' timing. We ourselves, as supporters were feeling sweaty throughout the race. 

Over time, Jennifer Quek came over to meet us. I was asking about her finish time. Everyone in our group know that they had missed the personal best and season best. Only Jennifer was left. To our amazement it was found that Jennifer did a personal best time of 3hr 45min. It was indeed her personal best time. In Berlin Marathon 2013, she did 3hr 48min. This year, she ran the Paris Marathon 2014 and did a time of 3hr 53min, in April. 

In this marathon, finally she did her personal best time and she made our day as the only one to do it in a race, where the sun was out all the way from the start till the end, bringing the temperature up at the same time. I took a photo with Jennifer before the group took a group picture with her as well to commemorate at least one success that we had. 

We left the place around 2pm and reached our hotel. We rested and we are about to go for our dinner, post marathon dinner. 

I will be putting up an interview of Lim Thow Wee on their race in the Osaka Marathon soon, please look up for it!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Team Flexifitness, in Osaka for Osaka Marathon 2014

Osaka Marathon - United as a team

Left to Right - Lim Thow Wee, Dr Benny Goh, Coach Rameshon, Desmond Soh, Kenneth Lai, Jennifer Quek, Eliz 
I flew here on 24th of Oct 2014 and reached Osaka/Hansai Airport at 9 10pm. Lim Thow Wee helped me in getting the airline tickets. He was supposed to meet at 9 30pm, as his flight was a different one on Friday itself. Somehow, we met at a meeting point, at McDonalds at about 10 pm, which was at second floor, after our customs clearance. Lim Thow Wee was accompanied by his wife, Eliz, who came here to support him and Team Flexfitness athletes in the marathon race.

Lim Thow Wee had dinner yesterday

Today, we had our breakfast at one of the restaurant near our hotel, Hotel Hearton, which is nearly 3km away from the start point of the Osaka Marathon 2014. We met Dr Benny Goh, Kenneth Lai, Jennifer Quek and Desmond Soh. We were, however, not able to meet Mabel Low, during the meeting, as it was a bit late to meet her in Japan. Yesterday, we reached the hotel at nearly 11pm, in fact. There was not much time to communicate and we were feeling sleepy also. Thow Wee was hungry and I told him to eat as carboloading is very important for his race.  He was told not to miss food, even though it was late at night. He did not get enough food. We took our breakfast in a Japanese restaurant and discussed on hydration strategies, the route, the problems, the goals etc.

Banner to state that we will be CHEERING ALL THE WAY!

Basically, the runners told me that they just want to improve their time, just like how Ashley Liew did in Chicago Marathon 2014, 2hr 35min 39sec> Hence the aim was to at least do a personal best time. Kenneth Lai, as he just came out of injury, has planned to do a 6min per km run for the whole marathon here. He is doing this as a training run, I guess, more to condition himself for his future race.

Photo taken to show that road signs on Osaka Marathon are up

As Dr Benny Goh, Kenneth Lai, Jennifer Quek and Desmond Soh have collected, Lim Thow Wee and his wife decided to go to the fair to collect the number tag for Thow Wee.

Osaka Marathon - After running Paris Marathon, Thow Wee has chosen this marathon carefully.

We collected our number tag of Thow Wee and bought some running products as well. After that we proceeded for lunch. After lunch, we proceeded to our hotel to take a nap.

Photo taken near our hotel

We are taking our dinner and we are about to sleep at about 10pm, I guess. Tomorrow, we will be writing a blog post on the race.

We wish all the runners running tomorrow and to our Flexifitness runners all the best in this race. Let us hope that they do their personal best times tomorrow.

30000 runners will be running in this race. The weather is expected to be 12 to 20 degrees centigrade. The course is generally flat as seen in the video during the fair.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flexifitness Wishes Osaka Marathon Athletes All The Best

Osaka Marathon  2014 - Five Flexifitness Athletes Participating in the event

There are five runners from Flexifitness who will be taking part in the Osaka Marathon 2014, on 26th of October. I have heard that the 42.195km marathon road running event will be held in the city of Japan. The first edition took place on October 30, 2011.
The men's best time is still 2hr 11min 54sec (2012) and the athlete who did it was Ser-Od Bad-Ochir from Mongolia,  while the women best time was 2hr 32min 48sec (2011) Lidia Simon from Romania.

Last year's winners, in the men's and women's race were both Kenyans by the name of Jackson Limo and Monica Jepkoech who won the race in 2hr 12min 06sec and 2hr 39min 33sec, respectively.

The weather, according to Lim Thow Wee, is predicted to be between 9 degrees and 18 degrees centigrade, with an average temperature of 15 degrees.

Meeting Pramod Kukanur - Passion from IT is moving to Sports.

Pramod Kukanur - 11kg down through an exercise programme and hoping to head Flexifitness in India in future

Pramod Kukanur - Suggesting me to bring Flexifitness to India, run by dedicated coaches there
My wife and I invited Pramod to our house today to commemorate Deepavali, celebration of good over evil.  We took some photos and decided to work on some projects.

I met Pramod Kukanur, 31, from Bangalore, about 4 years back. He was all along looking for a weight management programme. When he asked me, "Is there a swimming pool nearby?'. I told him that there was. That only told me that this guy is looking for a way to exercise. 

Within some months of training, Pramod finally lost about 11kg of weight. He was very happy about that. With enthusiasm, he told me to write my ideas on a blog. I told him that I do not know how to go about in setting up. Since, he was an IT expert, he started a blog for me, almost immediately, and told me to keep writing. Hence,  the advent of this blog became a reality. You can read this story of Pramod in this blog post.

After so long, Pramod finally met me in Singapore, today. One of his topic was to bring Flexifitness to India. As I have seen the success, he is now inviting me to go to India and start there and set the programme there, but run by other people. I was excited to hear this. I am confident on this as he is an IT expert and he has been on very high profile projects in the IT service. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meeting Dr Charles Kenya and Dr Amillia Kenya of Sherman College of Chiropractic

Dr Kenya -  A lecturer in Sherman College

I invited Dr Kenya for a stretching session during my last year's

Dr Charles Kenya (the real name, not the country Kenya) and his wife, Dr Amillia Kenya invited Ashley and I for dinner, a day before my departure, from USA to Singapore, which was on 14th of Oct, 2014, Tuesday. 

Last year, I was able to attend his lessons on application of x-ray to chiropractic and the lessons were very interesting to hear. I learnt a lot from his lessons.

Coming back to our dinner, we discussed a number of things plus running. He enquired about my marathon run time etc. He also told me how he has been running recently. As for me, I shared my thoughts that if a person cannot compete or run for time, it is good for one to at least do 5km runs three times per week to stay healthy. Dr Kenya was slim and trim to look at, and he told me that he trains 3 times per week and like to run on grass, as the impact is less as compared to tarmac track or pavement. I totally agreed with him on this. 

We discussed on Kenyan runners in Kenya, on why they are still the top in the world. Both of us agreed that may be the Kenyan runners do well because of the believe that they have that they can win. Even when other countries' world top runners win, the Kenyan has the believe that they can still win. This is something that the world athletes could learn from them. They do not cave in to any form of weakness and they transcend thoughts, I guess. 

We discussed on skeletal muscles of the Kenyan and compared with the world athletes as a whole. We realised that physique is a reason for the Kenyan runners to do well. Furthermore, Kenyans have 3% fats in the body as compared to the counterparts elite runners who have 4 to 5% body fats. It is extremely hard to have 3% fat in the body. Very high discipline is needed. Nourishment from food allows a person to recover from training and at the same time it prevents one to not fall sick, so that the training goes on smoothly. During injury, one gets healed faster. 

We also discussed on altitude training. I was discussing that it was not only the altitude that makes them number 1, but it is the attitude as well. Dr Kenya was inquisitive on Ashley's ability to balance in studies and training. Ashley mentioned that he was only an average student in secondary school in terms of obtaining academic scores. By training very hard in SMU and at Sherman College, he says that he stays focused by running. 

Many lecturers that I have met personally have told me that in their subjects they are impressed with his ability to score the highest for the subject. I was also very impressed to hear this. Dr Jennifer in actual fact told me that she marvels Ashley's humility to remain simple although he has a lot of talents in him. 

I have seen Ashley spending bulk of his time in charitable work as well, trying to raise funds in his specific project. Even near exam, Ashley trained for Chicago Marathon and kept doing his volunteer service in charity, ceaselessly. Perhaps, our young fellow Singaporeans and myself could learn from Ashley's discipline to balance a number of things. 

Later on, while consuming our food, I shared with Dr Kenya that it was only by running that I was consuming nutritious food. Earlier on in Secondary school, I used to fail many subjects. Over time, I started doing well and running helped me a lot. especially in finishing my Masters In Education from University of Western Australia, while teaching in Hwa Chong Institution (college section).