Friday, July 10, 2015

Vegan Chin Peng, 52, Does Personal Best Time 1hr 53min 55sec in Sundown Half -Marathon 2015.


Vegan Chin Peng, 52, Does Personal Best Time 1hr 53min 55sec in Sundown Half -Marathon 2015.

Flexifitness - Mr Chin Peng, a vegan and an examplary of healthy living through running

By Saranniya

Picture 1 - Mr Chin Peng in SAA Cross Country 2015 Race. (left to right standing) Andy Liew (Ashley Liew's dad), Dr Ansgar (Team B Captain), Mr Chin Peng, Vijayaraj, Coach Rameshon, Andy Wenger, Benjamin Fan, Lee Nguan, Selvan, Lim Thow Wee (Team A Captain), (left to right) Brian, Rueben, Saranniya (myself), Anja Tan, Emma Oh, Moonlake

One such person who does not miss any form of training and who is very consistent in training always, in our group, is Mr Chin Peng. He is a vegan. It is because he is vegan and he supports animal non killing for food. I have turned myself more of a vegetarian recently because of the feeling compassion towards animals, birds, etc. There are plant based product food that we can actually eat and it can be delicious. It is just about how you cook our food.

Picture 2 - Mr Chin Peng is unfazed by the competition, his focus was on improvement

I have seen Mr Chin Peng joining us at the same time when Professor Ansgar joined us about 6 months back in our group. From day one, I realised that Mr Chin Peng was very meticulous in his running and he was keen in running with a good technique and form. I have seen him paying particular attention on strategies and tactics in running, as well, when there is briefing going on. "As far as I know him, he has not missed any form of training, except for one or two days from the past till now," So said Coach Rameshon on Mr Chin Peng. 

Mr Chin Peng is a running enthusiast and does his best to finish up the training, moderate intensity or hard sessions. He helps us to keep our bags in his car, and he also has shown several times that he is very caring for other runners and even outside our group as well. He is a civic minded and a considerate person. 

To put it in a nutshell, what I like about him is that he is very consistent in training. His progress is very gradual and slow but it is always on a upward trend. He is also a very good role model for us as he has good values for us to follow. Recently, Mr Chin Peng has done a fantastic  time of 1hr 53min 55sec in Sundown Marathon's Half-Marathon. As he has done a good personal best time, I would like to share his thoughts by my giving of interview questions to him.
An Interview With Mr Chin Peng

1. What did time did your race start? - How was the weather during the race?

The race for the Sundown Half Marathon flagged off at about 15mins after midnight.  Weather was good but as usual in Singapore, it was humid.

1. What was your target for the race? (Is it your personal best timing? If yes please include your previous personal best and the race you achieved it in).

I was targeting to do below 1hr 55min and I did it in 1hr 53min 52sec (came in at position 188 out of 7195 runners).  My previous PB was 1hr 56min 56sec.

2. Are you happy about your performance?

Yes of course.  Since joining Flexifitness last year, I am extremely pleased that I was able to improve my timings for the Half marathon from 2h 7m (Sep 2014 Army HM), 2h 5m (Dec 2014 Stanchart), 1h57m (Feb 2015 Marina Bay run) to now 1h54m at Sundown 2015.

3.How was the organisation of the race?
    - Hydration station?
    - Were the distance marker accurate? 
    - Was the route given to run to cramp?

The organiser did a great job.  The route was smooth with no bottleneck. Hydration stations were adequate and meaningful spaced out.  There was distance marker at every km and I believe it was accurate as it was quite in line with my GPS watch lap distance alert.  Overall the race and atmosphere was good.  I think it would have been better if the race started earlier at 10pm so as to finish the run at around midnight.

4.  How did you feel during the race? 

I started strong despite the initial upslope in the first 2km at Sheares Bridge and was able to consistently maintain my target pace for most of the run.  Fatigue set in at after about 18km but nevertheless persevered and did a PB time.

5. What age did you start running? What inspired you to pick up running?

I always enjoy running and all along I was an avid but casual runner.  I got serious into running last year at age 52 as I wanted to improve my running timings.

6. What is your next goal and target?

My next goal is to do a Full Marathon in December and aiming for a marathon PB of under 4hours.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ashley does 16m 06sec in 2015 Greenville Track Club's Red, White and Blue Shoes 5km

By Saranniya.

Recently, Ashley took part in the Greenville Track Club's Red, White and Blue Shoes 5k on Mon, 4th of July 2015. He crossed the finish line with a time of 16Min 06sec coming in first for his age category and 7th position overall. This race is the first race immediately after the SEA GAMES Marathon 2015, after weeks of rest and recuperation. Ashley has a personal best this year with a time of 15min 43sec, which was attained at A Hero's 5k in February early this year.
He has given us an interview and I will share this in this blog.

Interview with Ashley Liew on his race experience:
1. What was your target for the race?
My plan was to take this 5k as the first hard work out of the next training season, so there was no specific time goal. I ended up setting a 5k season's best of 16m06s

2. Are you happy about your performance?
Yes. Being less than a month out from the gruelling SEA Games marathon in Singapore, I did not set expectations for this race. It is races like these when there is no pressure that you can sometimes perform surprisingly well. To set my 3rd fastest 5k time and to be in front of the some fast guys I have not overtaken before on such an occasion was satisfying.

3. How was the organisation of the race?
Greenville Track Club always does a stellar job with their organization, no matter how big or small scale the race. The map was clearly put up on the website in advance, the volunteers were on the ball and enthusiastic, and the carnival atmosphere in line with the 4th of July celebration ensured fun for the whole family post-race.
Hydration station?
There was one drink station that was manned well, although hardly any of us in the front pack paused for a drink in this 5k.
Were the distance markers accurate?
I do not wear my GPS watch for races, but when I asked my friends who did they told me it was spot on.

4.  How did you feel during the race?
I felt strong and swift on my feet. When we started the lead runner took advantage of the starting downhill elevation by running out hard, but to our surprise he promptly dropped out after the first mile. As expected, the rest of us in the front pack covered the first mile fast; I was hanging in the back of the pack and hit that split around 4m45s comfortably. The second mile was slightly slower but still quick as the course took us around the lake. In the last mile I felt the legs gradually slowing but I made sure the cadence remained quick. I did not lose any positions which was a good sign. The final challenge was the last upslope where a guy from behind was quickly gaining on me. However, my friend was cheering for me at that point so I ran to the finish inspired, outkicking the competitor close behind.

5. What is your next goal and target?
To set a PB at the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on 5 September 2015.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Singapore Athletics Walk Series Competition 2015 - At East Coast (05/07/2015)

Flexifitness Athletes achieve commendable results in Walking Competition

Picture 1 -  A joyful day out with Family of Flexiftiness, competitors and supporters

The day started with rain at about 7 45am on 5th July, 2015, Sunday. We were waiting for the rain to stop, and at about 7 45am, the race started. The race is supposed to start at 7am. There was a delay in the race and some athletes were waiting for instructions. We were wondering whether to stretch or not. We did not want to stretch too early. Finally, we were only given 10min only to start off the race, as the rain was, from heavy, was starting to drizzle.The weather was a bit unpredictable.

I was surprised to see a crowd in this race, as the race walk was never taken that seriously in Singapore. I have put down the results of Flexifitness athletes. 

The first race that started off was the 2km boys/girls for junior. After some time the 4km for Men/Women open and veteran started. Overall, we were happy with the result. 

Summary of our results.
In Singapore Athletics 2k/4km Walk Series Competition, in the under 15 boys Wei Shen came in 3rd and Jia Wei came in 4th position. They did the 2km race.

As for the 4km competition, Divya and Tan Anja came in 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the Women Open Category (above 15 and under 50 years old). Sumathy came in 6th position in the same category as well. She would have been top 3 if it was 40 years and above. Coach Tan came in 2nd overall in the Men Veteran,  for under 50 years old. Suh Hyeong our female walker, walked and came in 4th in the under 15 year old race.

Picture 2 - Tan Anja, Divya, Felicia, Sumathy and Tan Eng Howe.

New Achievements by Flexifitness Athletes.

Good News during track and Field Championships and in SEA Games and Post SEA Games 2015

We have a number of good news during the National Track and Field and in the SEA Games and Post SEA Games as well.

1. Andreas Wenger, one of our fastest runner in Flexifitness, did 2hr 54min 54sec in Kona Marathon 2015 on 28th of June. What was making us to feel on top of the world was the fact that he came in as the Overall winner for the race itself for Men's Open Category. This is a feather in our cap.

2. Ashley Liew came in 8th in the SEA Games 2015, as he got cramps in both hamstrings and he had to stop twice. Although, he stopped twice, he ran and completed the race in a time of 2hr 44min, a personal best time for running in Singapore weather. We found that somewhere before the 5/6km mark, the front running group, ran the wrong route. Rui Yong, also ran the wrong route. Ashley, when he saw this, actually did not like what was going on. To correct this, he waited for the running group to join back so that the race was fair, in order not to win by having an unfair advantage. He got a Sportsmanship Award for this courageous act by Media Corp Channel 5. Ashley Liew was mentioned by Lee Hsien Loong for his gracious act of wanting fairness in competition, when winning is every athletes mind.

Also, it is good to note that the winning time was 2hr 34min 56sec in the SEA Games. Ashley has a personal best time of 2hr 32min 12sec done in New Orleans Marathon.Ashley's New Orleans time would have fetched him a gold. We hope that he has better luck the next time round as the SEA Games will be held in Malaysia.

3. Hamish Archibold, a 5 year old kid, who is doing our young athletes mid-distance programme, came in second in the recent Biathlon race for 5 year old age group category, when we analysed his results. His time for 200m swim was 5min 32sec, while he did a 1km in 5min 37sec.

4. Armand, one of our pioneer athlete, in the past, and was in our Young Champions' Programme, came in first in 3000m in National Schools Track and Field Championships. In the past, while in our programme, he came in first in Milk Run 2015 for kids, before he was accepted to Raffles Institution by Direct Schools Admission. In the Nationals Schools' Cross - Country race, he was leading all the way until he went wrong route during the race, around the 2km mark, as there were no officials around to guide him to the correct route. His opponents athletes, seeing this opportunity sped away from him, with an unfair advantage. Hence, he lost some grounds and he came back, losing some 60 to 70metres of distance, and came in sixth overall in the race, instead. Anyway, he corrected this fact as who is the under 14 boys longest fastest runner by coming in the 3000m race by emerging the champion in the Nationals Track and Field race. 

5. Just behind Armand, it was our own Loganathan Ruben who has never won any race in the past, before joining Flexifitness. He came in 7th in the Nationals Schools' Cross Country Race. Ruben father was a past middle distance runner himself and is a close friend of Coach Rameshon. Many Flexifitness athletes came in top 30, at least 10 of them, and two athletes came in top four in the girls race.

6. Chin Peng, a 52 year old male vegan, did a surprising personal best time of 2hr 53min 55sec in the Sundown Half-Marathon 2015. Finally, with a lot of persistent training and consistent training, Chin Peng has done, not just us proud, but also to the vegan group as well. 

7. In Singapore Athletics 2k/4km Walk Series Competition, in the under 15 boys Wei Shen came in 3rd and Jia Wei came in 4th position. They did the 2km race. 

8. As for the 4km competition, Divya and Tan Anja came in 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the Women Open Category (above 15 and under 50 years old). Sumathy came in 6th position in the same category as well. She would have been top 3 if it was 40 years and above. Coach Tan came in 2nd overall in the Men Veteran,  for under 50 years old. Suh Hyeong our female walker, walked and came in 4th in the under 15 year old race.

9. Gina, our under 12 girl, has made it to the play for Singapore in an International competion which will be held in Sweden to play in tournament. She is leaving few days from now and she will be having two weeks game there. We our proud her and wish her all the best.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ashley's Sharing with Flexifitness Athlete and Parents

Ashley's Sharing Session
Ashley Liew has a personal best time of 2hr 32min 12sec, second overall in Men Open Category for New Orleans Marathon 2015. 

By Saranniya

On 20th of June 2015, during our Young Champions Programme session, Ashley Liew, 28, shared with our  young athletes and parents about his 42 day experience in Kenya. He also spoke in summary on the importance of showing good sportsmanship in competition. 

The experiences, especially in Kenya, shared by Ashley was truly an eye opener for all of us on how dedicated athletes train and achieve excellence.

I hope that, after reading the article, athletes will choose the right path to success and also remember that winning should be coupled with values, such as honesty, gratitude, humility and most importantly your character. Character is will and I believe that with will we can achieve anything.

 8 Lessons shared by Ashley

Lesson No 1: Respect

No matter how remarkable a runner you may be when we converse with others we should never have an air. Ashley said that before they start their training in Kenya that they would have a handshake with their fellow runners and would ask each other how are they.

Ashley also shared with us, "Kenyans also have many role models, from regional champions to world champions that they continually respect and look up to. Kids there grow up aspiring to be like them."

Lesson No 2: Self Belief
Believe you can be the best and nothing but the best you can be.

Ashley shared with us that we should always believe that one day we can be the best but to also remain humble no matter how much we achieve. Sometimes when we do not meet our time trial targets or having an injury we should not be downhearted but instead just keep the spirits high and continue with a positive attitude.

When a record holder meets up with a progressing elite runner he would just say, “Do not worry, I believe one day you can be the best too.” Most of the times these world record holders were also once at the bottom and slowly made their way up.

Lesson No 3: Commitment
Giving all our best

Being committed meaning coming down for all training and doing everything which is given to you even if it is going at a pace of 7 minutes per kilometer.

Kenyans are even committed to taking full rest and recovery. They take naps and sleep very seriously, a handful even going the extreme of sleeping more than 10 hours a day in total !”

Lesson No 4: Sacrifices

In the town of Iten where Ashley had trained, it had a total population of only 5,000 people but the amazing thing is 3,000 of them are full time runners. Which means out of every 5 people 3 of them are professional athletes. Most of these runners have no other source of income, their income is solely based on the prize money they win in the races they run internationally. They relinquish their loved ones and family members and spend their time training in a camp with a certain number of months committed for running. As these runners have no other source of income.

Lesson No 5: Humility
No Ego
Running is about growth, there is always room for improvement.

No successful athlete will walk around with thoughts such as “I am a Champion” or “I am the best”. When one walks around with such a pride and ego, you are limiting yourself as you always think you are the best. Only when you are humble you will realise that you still have a lot to learn and many more areas you could improve in to reach greater heights.

Lesson No 6: Integrity

Athletes taking drugs to enhance sporting performance is on an upward trend. Even high profiled Kenyan athletes who are looking for a quick fix start to consume drugs.  As this is illegal when athletes are caught positive for drugs through the doping test they will be banned from taking part in any competition for several years. Taking drugs not only affects you and your loved ones but also your health intensely. Most importantly in tarnishes the name of the country and family.

Lesson No 7: Focus
Being Focused- Sounds simpler, easier said

Starting school 8 am in the morning and finishing at 6pm and also doing my morning and evening run every single day without fail is not easy task. As Ashley has very limited hours to study he makes sure he is really focused and not get distracted by things such as smartphones, Facebook and television. Ashley also strongly believes the number of hours spent studying is important however what’s more crucial the quality of how he spent his time studying.

Lesson No 8: Sportsmanship

During the SEA GAMES held on the 7th of June 2015, Ashley Liew took part in the Men's Marathon Race.

During the race at one point when the runners had to make a U-Turn they ended up going straight but Ashley was the only one who made the right turn. At this point of time Ashley had a 50 Meters lead which may have given him a chance of a podium finish, a dream every runner that takes will have.

At the end of the day, no matter what the results are, the most important thing a sportsman should never lose is the values. 

Next Issue - Flexifitness Athlete Andreas Wenger wins Kona Marathon 2015 in Hawaii.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Effects of Drugs (Part 3)

Helen Gilby and Alan Guilder (Coach)
I dedicate this topic to my former lecturer of the then College of Physical Education, Helen Gilby, who showed me the truth about drugs.She and my coach, later on, by the name of Alan Guilder were instrumental in enabling me to do well in marathon (Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 1994, 2hr 34min 02sec, and in Chiengmai SEA Games marathon 2hr 24min 22sec, 1995)

What you need to know about drugs to improve sports performance.

An Introduction - Simple writing as opposed to scientific writing.
I will not write this scientifically as it will be difficult for a layman to understand the effects of drugs like anabolic steroids etc. For a detailed knowledge and understanding, I am hoping to write more scientifically so that people are well informed, as they may want to know more.

Effects of drugs - Long term negative health effects and Cheating
When somebody says,"Good job on your performance", and if you have taken drugs to improve, it simply means,"Good job on your cheating". One should be ashamed about oneself rather than being happy about it. 

If one says,"The other runner cheated, so I cheated." This calls for the authorities to make the race as fair as possible by doing random testing, on any athlete when they want to test for drugs. If you are innocent, there is nothing to worry at all. When you are innocent, you can sleep peacefully and smile throughout your life. When you are guilty, your own conscience will prick you. This is my believe.

Usually, people, in the pursuit of excellence, especially when they are young, are very interested to improve on one's sports performance. They overlook the fact of the effects of what the drug can do in the long term, as in the short term they are usually happy going through a period of success, success and more success. 

However, in the mid-term due to the effects of the muscles becoming much stronger, with the tendons and ligaments, not having the corresponding ability to withstand the force of speed generated by the muscular contraction of the runner, especially at the lower limb, one ends up, usually getting permanent injury. 

I have heard of a number of runners who ran fast, in the past, but are no more running now, for performance or even for health currently.  Some I believe that it is due to usual performance injury etc. As for some, one of my friend told me that it could have been due to drugs. 

East Germany and drugs

It was in the East Germany that anabolic steroid drugs and testosterones were used for performance enhancement by the authorities themselves for enhancing their performance in the 1970s Olympics. The authorities wanted to show that their country was very successful in sports to mask the economic problems that were going on in the country. They had huge success, in the world, with the project, especially in the women competitions. The world were looking towards East Germany for sporting success.

However, earlier on athletes in East Germany were, in the name of health supplements, were given anabolic steroids, instead. As it was a communist country, in the past, the authorities kept the project a well guarded secret from the athletes themselves. Documents were, however, written when the effects of drugs were found during the drug taking over time, like sickness, allergies and other side-effects of the drugs. Everything was documented so that the scientist were also trying to find the cure for this, while the training was going on smooth. 

Parents were not able to see their children, after talent identification and selection process done by the authorities. 

A number of gold medals and world records were broken by the then East Germany. At that time, the authorities ensured that 2 weeks before the major competition, all traces of steroid drug was cleared in the body and the cellular level, so the with the drug testing nothing can be found to label the country a cheat. There was unfair advantage going on with the usage of drugs. Women became more muscular and stronger.

When East Germany and West Germany merged, with the destroying of the man-made Berlin Wall, the truth that was documented in Liepzig, East Germany, was revealed. That is why, even now, when one comes from East Germany, some people are uncomfortable to take them as coaches, as their training methods have involved the banned substance steroid. 

Drugs usage in sports, although has been used in the west also, as in the east, was more prevalent in the Eastern bloc countries of the past. 

Effects of Drugs

From the records of the athletes, negative effects were found in Germany. 

Drowning in the pool - In The Then East Germany
As a 16 year old swimmer was swimming in the pool, after having a lot of improvement in swimming speed the teenager was not able to take the demand of the training that was going on and he just was found dead in the pool. The authorities, just for the sake of continuing the project, did not tell the truth to the public that it was because of intensive use of steroid. The central system of the swimmer, involving the heart, was not able to take the punishment of the training. 

Hair Growth - Female to Male
Girls were found to have hair grown and the face started to change. A women literally began to look and behaviour like a man, having male voice and features. In an interview, she said that it was very hard for her to go to supermarket etc as people called her homosexual etc. Because of this the athlete could not mix with the society and lived like a recluse. She ultimately married a fellow female athlete in the East Germany team.   The reason for this can be traced to the hormonal imbalance caused by the banned substance anabolic steroid.

Men have the hormone called testosterone which makes man manly. As for female, naturally, the hormone called estrogen is produced to make them feminine, by gestures, voice, body shape etc. Due to the imbalance caused by the steroid, men are found to have breast later on, with other female characteristics coming in along the way.  A female starting to look like a male takes place over a long period of time, due to intense taking of drugs. 

East German parents who saw their daughters doing well in the sports, after some years, found that their child having hoarse voice, and were found to have male characteristics like aggressive behaviour bodily hair and so on. 

There are several cause for balding. Some is old age and some is due to genetics and other factors as well. It is however shown by scientific evidence that too much taking of drugs will lead one to balding. This has been documented in several studies.

High Density Lipo-protein fats are known to be good fats. It helps in lowering bad fats, called Low Density Lipo - protein in our body. By doing sports, studies show that HDL fats will increase over time. However, due to drugs intake, one may lowered HDL fats in the body due to steroid or banned substance intake. I have heard of people dying from lever dyfunction. 

A friend that I met a few years ago told me that he took drugs to improve performance. Now, after hearing from a doctor he has fatty lever. My friend is all the time worried what is going to happen next. He told me that he was so foolish to take drug when he was young. He told me that he was rash to make the decision and he is regretful of his mistake. He is now worried about his loved ones - his son and his wife. 

Attitudinal changes
Female who took drugs in the then East Germany saw themselves to have aggressive behaviour in themselves. There were mood swing etc from drug taking. They also suffered from depression.

In the long term, one will age earlier. Hence, that means that the people that ingest the banned substances like drugs etc will be weaker earlier on in life.  

The the above-mentioned effects are some of the negative results of taking banned substance like anabolic steroid etc. Just for a short period of glory, a young athlete is attracted to improve one's performance to a greater extent. It is in the hope that one knows about the effects of drugs that one think about themselves and family and choose the righteous path to do well in sports.

Paula Radcliffe, the world record holder of marathon, currently, have written in her book that every athlete should go for drug testing, in order to bring fairness and to stop doping practices. I support Paula in this quest as she wants to press on on this believe that athletes should not run with banned substance, steroid, testosterone etc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Drugs and Cheating (Part 2)

Fall From Grace - Ben Johnson

In the past, my friend told me after the 1988 Seoul Olympic's 100m race that Carl Lewis was a sore loser for coming second to Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson won Carl Lewis. However, after failing the doping test, Ben Johnson was disqualified and he fell from grace. It was a big fall for him. The world will remember this for a long, long time. I think that it was a humiliation to him and the family, as a whole.

It was also not fair to other competitors that he had competed against. A few years back, this thing happened again when Lance Armstrong, a multiple Tour de France winner, who was denying about drug taking, finally admitted to taking it. Armstrong had a huge gathering of fans globally, and he lost all of them by his foolish act, which he thought will remain hidden.

In Rocky 4 movie, we could see the Russian boxer taking drugs, after training hard, having good nutrition, having sports physiological support etc. The last thing before the boxer fought the match with Rocky Balboa was to get an injection, steroid, for unfair advantage. This is nothing but a show of no sportsmanship.

Similar kinds of injection needles were found in Alberto Salazar's house. We were his fans, in the past, admiring his running feats, especially in New York City Marathon races. He was floating when he was running and winning the race. 

Seventeen accusations from different individuals were reported against Alberto Salazar. The fact is that these are individuals who spoke against were earlier on taking him as a hero. 

I believe that if a person who want to win by using banned substance etc, it is wise that they give up sports, as they may affect their health in the long run and it is not good for them. They are poor role models for our youth to follow. Random testing is important to be given by the authorities so that performance enhancing drug taking do not become rampant. It bring chaos to a society.

Before one take drugs, it is important to think about oneself and the family, especially not to defame the family.