Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lim Thow Wee - Hungry to do well

Lim Thow Wee - He was the hero for us in Paris Marathon, April, 2014.

By Rameshon

After hearing the success of our fellow runner Ashley Liew, Thow Wee has decided to work hard to do well. He told me," I am more hungry", after going through the memory of stopping in the  the Asian Marathon Championships held in Hong Kong. We had discussion after the race and I told him that it is better to stop when he had stomach upset during the run. As the situation was getting worse, Thow Wee finally stopped the race. It was a wise decision to do.

Picture 1 - Winner John Brigham in the middle of the photo while Ashley is on the left

Lim Thow Wee will be aiming for Seoul Marathon 2015 in mid-March and is hoping to do well in the race. He finds the 3hr 27min improvement made by Ashley recently in Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon as significant and it has impacted him to work harder for do well the next time.

From 3hr 45min done in year 2007, for marathon, Thow Wee has done a 2hr 48min 49sec for the Paris Marathon 2014. We believe that in marathon there is ups and downs and we are glad that Thow Wee is taking it positively.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Anja Tan - Individual 1st in Under 17 Girls' Queensway Annual Cross Country Race.

Anja Tan - Flexifitness is proud of Anja Tan

By Saranniya

Anja Tan was second in last year's Queensway Annul Cross-Country Race. This year, she was determined to come in first and went for it. 

The race was held in Mac Ritchie Reservoir. She ran the girl's route. We believe that she had been training hard and this piece of good news came in handy after we were getting the news that Ashley Liew has done a 3min 27sec personal best in New Orleans Marathon race. Ashley was second with a time of 2hr 32min 12sec from his previous best time of 2hr 35min 39sec.

Well done, Anja! From here, we believe that you have the potential to succeed more in the future.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Celebration Dinner at Capri's (Spartanburg)

By Rameshon

Picture - We had great time celebrating the improvement in Ashley Liew's marathon time

This is a new milestone and we would like to thank the Singapore Athletics Association staff, in particular Mardiah, Yazeen, and most importantly president Mr Tang Weng Fei, for being instrumental in enabling Ashley to do 2hr 32min 12sec and create history in New Orleans. Ashley was the overall second position in the race. He is featured in some newspaper articles. I will share those links with others on another blogpost. Ashley has improved by 3min 27sec in the marathon since October 2014.

Picture 2 - One of the link showing Ashley running in New Orleans Marathon race
We ordered pasta and 2 rolls of French bread with butter. We just had water for our beverages. When we were sitting in Capri's, we were just enjoying the moment, being very happy with the result. Ashley has brought me to Capri's in total about 4 times already.

Picture 3 - Plaque congratulating Ashley for coming second for the marathon race.

After our meeting and dinner, shortly we were at Sherman College of Chiropractic for a while before we went headed home.

Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015 - My Own Experience

Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015 - My Own Experience

Post-Mortem of Chicago Marathon 2014
Ashley and I had earlier planned to register ourselves in the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015 on 25th Jan 2015. It would have been good for Ashley to do a good time for the race and for me to go for a long run and experience the marathon.

Ashley and I were excited when a personal best time of 2hr 35min 39sec was achieved (by Ashley) in Chicago Marathon 2014. Both of us celebrated our night by going out for dinner. We also discussed our future plans.

With marathons having earlier closing dates, we decided to choose the New Orleans Marathon 2015, prior to SEA Games selection. Ashley thoroughly went through many possible future marathons and he suggested to me on running the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015. After some discussion between ourselves, we decided to focus on this race. Ashley registered himself and myself in the race. I have to thank Ashley for taking the effort to register me as well.

I  have to thank my wife Sumathy for allowing me to run this as it fell on my wedding anniversary day. Without her support, it may not have been possible to come here to run.It is with her permission that I could come over here.

Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015

Ashley, during holidays, went to Kenya to train for a short training stint of 3 weeks during his December holidays. After arriving here in Spartanburg, and while having his holidays still, he trained hard in Spartanburg all alone, and did wonderful times in 10km and half-marathon steady state running. 

At first, he did a half-marathon steady run alone and did 1hr 11min 57sec, using his GPS. It was his personal best time by more than a minute. I knew that Ashley was moving forward from here when he did this time. Whether valid or not, I just believed it to be valid time as I know that Ashley is a man of integrity. Also, GPS, nowadays has precision in measuring the distance to 100% or near 100%.

He also did a 10km steady state run later in the week ahead of New Orleans marathon, doing a time of in 33min 14sec. It was nearly a minute faster than his season best time. I felt that in a 10km race situation he could do a time of between 32min 20sec and 32min 40sec. In the past, he was doing some sub- 34min 10secs. For me, I felt, earlier on, that if he does several sub - 34min 10sec, he will one day do 33min plus, using my experience.

Hence, on 21st Jan, 2015, when I took the flight to Spartanburg, where Ashley is residing currently, I know, more or less, that Ashley wouold do a new personal best time.

Preparation for New Orleans
On 22nd Jan, on Friday, we flew over from Spartanburg to New Orleans via Atlanta. Ashley made extra effort to book all the arrangements for me, from flight, transportation and accommodation. I was amazed by Ashley's energy and discipline in going the extra mile to get many things done here.

After our arrival at the Atlanta airport, I was wondering why Ashley was asking me to quickly do a brisk walk to take the next plane to New Orleans. In fact, it was faster than brisk walk, it was like speed walking. It took us about 10min and we took our flight such that if we were late by 5min, we would not be able to fly to New Orleans.

In New Orleans
We took a shuttle bus service from New Orleans airport to the our hotel, which was called Omni Riverfront Hotel. Our room was found to be spacious and comfortable. The room was nice, clean and tidy.

Once reaching our hotel. we decided to wash up and get our number tag and goodie bag. The New Orleans Convention Center, where the race expo was held, was just across the road from the hotel.  The moment we went in, the volunteers of the race gave us our goodie bag and number tag. We looked through the expo that was going on in the hall and later went back to our hotel to rest.

The next day we watched some movies in the room and did some stretching and at the same time did mental training. I had my bath in the bath tub and immersed myself in warm water which loosened my muscles.

The next day, I had to tell Ashley to do his best and told him that my knees were giving some sensation for few days. It was continuing for 3 days, just before the competion. I remember running two weeks back doing a steady state run and I stopped at the 8.5km mark of the 15km steady run. I had painful sensation at my calf muscles then.

Anyway, I told Ashley that if things don't go well, I will see him at the 12/13mile of the race, as it was very close to the finish point of the race. Ashley told me that I need to reach by 12noon, as we needed to check out of the hotel room. James, the front desk receptionist at the Omni Riverfront Hotel gave us a grace period of 1pm to check out of the hotel room.

The next day Ashley and I did our light stretching in our room before proceeding to the start line. We were stretching very close to the toilet area, in case we needed to go to toilet urgently. The weather was predicted to be between 7 to 15 degrees centigrade on the race day. The race time for the 10km was at 7am while the half-marathon and marathon races were fixed at 730am. About 20mins to start of the race, we entered corral 1 of the various corrals. Ashley and I saw that we could easily move to the front of the running pack at Coral 1.

After the US national anthem was played, the race started according to the planned race schedule. The race was organised very well such that I was also hoping that the race organisers of Standard Chartered Marathon of Singapore 2015 could learn something from. The race was organised very well such that everyone could do their best and get their good time.

While I was running, I did not see the 1km mark. At the 1mile point, I realised that I reached in 7min 00sec, according to my watch. It was a bit fast for me although my wish was to go slow during the race. I just wanted to do at best 3hr 20min, if I could.

At the 10mile, my time stood at 1hr 13min plus, according to my watch. However, from 11mile onwards I felt the pain increasing at my calf area. Hence, I slowed down my pace a lot and was observing the course.

I realised that the route was generally flat, except for the last few miles where there were some gentle up hills and down hills. The are parts where there was strong wind at the beach side. The route was very long especially from 18mile to 22mile, approximately.

According to the weather forecast, the temperature of the day was supposed to be between 7 degrees and 15 degrees centigrade. During the race, at the start, the temperature was about 7 degrees centigrade at first. I had my head gear on and other gears to protect me. However, during the run, after 10mile onwards, the weather was getting more warm. 

Hence, while running at the beach side area between miles 17 to 22, there was practically no cloud to prevent the sun from shining its rays on us. It was getting hotter as I was targeting a 4hr kind of run. I told Ashley earlier before the race, that most probably I will reach about 3hr 15min to 3hr 20min. However, if I don't, it is possible that I will reach in 4hr around there. However, during the run the calf some sensation that I told myself to reach at 4hr 10min. 

At the finish, I realised that I reached in 4hr 08min. Actually, I was going through some mild pain from half-marthon mark all the way till the finish. 

For me to share on the details on the race, I suggest the runners to be ready for the hills. Especially, when you are tired, going up the hill can be very difficult and exhausting. It is also a good idea to be ready for the cold and as well as for the heat. 

At the start of the race, I threw away a t-shirt that I was having and the scarf around my neck, just a minute before the race. At the last 10mile, around there, I threw away my headgear so that it would not hot for me, as the weather was turning hotter. 

As the last 10miles was approaching, I slowed down a lot and told myself to keep doing a very light jog throughout the run and not to stop during the run. I was very happy that eventually, like in Chicago Marathon 2014, I did not stop. The only problem was that the heat was affecting me. 

As for Ashley, he reached the finish point at 2hr 32min 12sec. I felt that the heat did not bother him that much. When I asked him about the weather, he told me that the weather was fine, although something slightly cooler would have been preferred. This is good to hear as I feel that Ashley can tolerate the cold and heat well. 

While I was running to the finish point, I also told myself that there were a few kilometres left. There was feeling of exuberance and happiness as my first 10km was about  45min 12sec. I told myself that it would be good not to stop and to take the other half of the marathon distance as a training run, and not to push. My first half-marathon distance time was 1hr 38min plus. I was elated to see myself cross at this time.

At the last 1mile, I was happy that I was about the get a finisher jacket for completing the race. As I finished the race, I walked straight to Ashley to hear his time. As I was reaching him, I felt that he has done about 2hr 32min plus. In fact, this was going through in mind during the race. I felt that plus minus the weather, he would have done a 2hr 32min, instead of 2hr 30min. If the weather had been cold, I believe that Ashley would have done a 2hr 25min to 2hr 28min, judging from his recent half- marathon and 10km steady state running. 

As soon as I reached the meeting place where I had to meet Ashley, he told me that he has done a 2hr 32min. It came as no surprise for me. Later on, he told me that he was overall second. I thought he meant second for the SEA Games criteria. He told me again about this and I understood what he meant. Only when I knew that he was second overall for Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015, I was feeling 'On Top Of the World'. I forgot about taking my belonging from the locker service volunteers and headed to the plaque that he had won. The plaque stated that he was second overall in the Men Open category of the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015. We took some photos there.

Ashley showed me that Singapore flag given by the organisers of the event. I felt that it was a very kind gesture of the organisers to do this. We took a photo together to celebrate the victory. We also felt that this good result, as a team, would cheer up Thow Wee, to give him encouragement to spur him to  greater heights the next time.

After the event, we travelled back in a free shuttle bus service to our nearby hotel. We earnestly requested the hotel's front desk to grant us some allowance to stay another 30min longer before we checked out, on top of our 1hr extension time that was already given earlier to us. 

We felt that we were going to rate the Omni Riverfront Hotel in our blogpost so that many people out there are aware of this service-oriented hotel and staff, so they may consider coming to stay in this hotel.

Later on, we took a shuttle and left New Orleans Airport to Greenville-Spartanburg via Atlanta Airport. As Ashley had done well, I told him that I was going to giving him a treat tonight, for doing more than 3min improvement and for achieving the second best time currently for the SEA Games under the criteria given by C Kunalan (SAA Training and Selection manager) for the SEA Games spots. Only time will tell. According to Mr C Kunalan, as he mentioned in a meeting to coaches and athletes, he said that 28th-29th March is the deadline for all athletes to qualify.

As a coach, I feel that Ashley could have done a 2hr 25min to 2hr 28min if the weather was the same as forecasted. 

After a discussion after the race and doing a reflection as a coach and athlete, we felt that so long as the time done is still the second best for the SEA Games criteria, Ashley would be glad to represent the country.

Ashley Liew - A Personal Best time of 2hr 32min 12sec in New Orleans Marathon 2015 - An Interview

An Interview With Ashley Liew

 By Saranniya

Picture - (left to right) Coach Rameshon and Ashley Liew, two hour before the race.

1.      How are you feeling about your timing? 
I am so grateful and blessed to be able to do a 2h32m12s, a 3m27s improvement from October’s Chicago Marathon 2014. I felt encouraged when Coach Rameshon was able to come together with me for the race to give me moral support. To emerge runner-up of a prestigious Rock ‘n’ Roll series race was a proud moment for Singapore and Flexifitness. To have the organizers present me a Singapore flag so I could drape it over during prize presentation was a beautiful moment.

Picture 2 - About to collect our number tags and goodie bag

2. What challenges did you face before and during the race, both physically and mentally? Despite all this, what kept you going till the end?

The challenges started 3 days before the race. What was supposed to be an easy confidence-boosting last run turned to worry when I had a sudden pain in my right 2nd toe joint, causing me to walk the last 1k. I suspected the sensation was due to jamming that joint during workouts on rocky terrain in Kenya, worsened by impact on hard road sustained during my two final workouts in USA.

Picture 3 - Warm up before the race

At the start line, I was not sure whether I should continue after halfway; our plan was to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach during the race to avoid any injury. The rest days had healed the sensation significantly which gave me confidence. More importantly, I had faith. I reflected on the Bible verse from Matthew 14:31: “…‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’” When the race started, I kept repeating to myself the phrase “grace and strength”. Thankfully, it was a calculated risk that paid off thanks to God’s grace. Only in the last third of the race did the sensation start kicking in from slight numbness to slight pain, so I had to back off in the last three miles to be cautious. The foot post-race was fine and no injury was sustained despite the pounding, so now complete rest would complete the recovery.

Picture 4 - Dynamic warm up before the race

There were other minor challenges out on course. Miles 17 to 22 was tougher than expected due to a strong wind, slight undulations, and lack of shade against the rising heat along the lake. I just stayed focused to get through that patch, also reminding myself 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir’s mantra: “be dumb and run”.

Picture 5 - The reward, second overall in Men Open category in Rock 'N' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015

3.      What was your target? Did you accomplish it? 
The target was a 2h30m. At the 20 mile mark, I was still running 25s faster than my planned split of 1h54m30s. With the toe issue, I had to back off in the last few miles to be cautious. Yet, I was not slowing down drastically and my movements were still smooth. So I came close to my target, but most importantly coach and I both knew that I was stronger than before.

Picture 6 - The finishers and crowd just after the race.

4.      How was the organization of the race?

It was well organized start to finish. It was on a smaller scale than my previous races but the Rock ‘n’ Roll branding kept it professional. The multiple wave starts kept the start area organized too. Racers I talked to post-race all had positive things to say about it.

5.      How was the route? 
It was flat with nice long stretches where I could focus on the pace car in the near distance in front of the lead runner, apart from slight undulations between miles 17 and 22. The winner, John Brigham who won in 2hr 28min 45sec, did a personal best. The 6th place finisher Jp Botti did around an 8 min improvement on his personal best. It can certainly be fast.

Picture 7 - The organisers gave a Singapore flag to Ashley

6.      How was the support? 
The crowd was fantastic and encouraging for key areas. Quite a few stretches where long and lonely, but thankfully I had a cyclist assigned to lead (and encourage) me throughout. I had visualized having my own lead cyclist before the race and it manifested. 

Picture 8 - Two ardent fans of Ashley who wanted to take picture when they congratulated him for coming in second position in the race.

7.      What is your next target? 
The hope is that my timing would be good enough to represent Singapore at June’s Southeast Asian Games marathon event. However, that part is in God’s hands. Until then, I might consider running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh half-marathon in early April.

Picture 9 - Our appreciation to Omni Riverfront Hotel and staff, Jennifer, Avery and James. It was a pleasant stay there. 

8. Are there any people you would like to thank?
I would not have done this without God's grace. In addition, running is a team effort so I am grateful for having the following in my team: Coach Rameshon for literally following me to the ends of the earth, the Singapore Athletic Association for financially supporting expenses for coach and I, chiropractors Dr Kelvin Ng and Dr Bill Decken for facilitating my body's functioning at optimum potential, schoolmates and instructors at Sherman College of Chiropractic for appreciating my sporting endeavors, my sponsor Asics Asia for shipping me fantastic shoes and apparel, my Flexifitness team back home for their constant encouragement, as well as Singaporean family and friends who believed in me. Last but not least, this was in honour of my mother who would be proud.

Ashley Liew ( 2hr 32min 12sec) - 1st Runner up in Overall Men Open New Orleans Marathon 2015, 25th Jan (Sunday) (Part 1)

By Saranniya

Ashley Liew - Mentally getting stronger over time, according to Coach Rameshon

Picture 1 - Ashley holding on to his second position plaque after the prize giving by the organisers. The Singapore flag was given to Ashley by the organisers for doing well.

Ashley Liew's previous personal best time of 2hr 35min 39sec was done in Chicago Marathon 2014. Mr Lim Thow Wee has a personal best time of 2hr 48min 49sec done in Paris Marathon 2014. While the latter ran in the Asian Marathon Championships in Hong Kong, the former ran in Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015 on 25th January. 

It was found that Mr Thow Wee some how ran into some problems during his race and  had to stop half-way of the running route of the marathon. In fact, he called up Coach Rameshon and told him sadly about not being able to complete the marathon. At that time, Coach Rameshon was conducting mental training to Ashley Liew in the room and it was in the middle of the session. The mental training carried on till the end. (Ashley told Coach Rameshon that he heard all the conversation with eyes closed and was aware what happened).

Mr Lim Thow Wee told Coach that he had to stop as he was having a stomach upset. Coach Rameshon answered that it was lucky that he stopped as the priority in any race, as he feels that safety of a runner is of utmost importance. Coach Rameshon told me that Mr Thow Wee sounded quite depressed over what happened. Coach felt that the latter had done the best and had taken a wise decision to stop the race which was the best decision. 

Picture 2 - Team Singapore in Hong Kong. Lim Thow Wee is standing on the extreme left.  SAA chaperon Mardiah is on the extreme left and Team Manager is in the center of the photo.

The next day, I was told by Coach Rameshon that Ashley was giving comforting words to Mr Thow Wee on not completing of the race. Ashley told Mr Lim Thow Wee, "There are more races to come, don't worry!" With that, I was told that Mr Thow Wee felt somehow relaxed.

As for the New Orleans Marathon, Coach Rameshon told me that he wants to do a write up on Ashley's performance and the race itself. From the conversation I had with Coach Rameshon, he told me that for the first time, Ashley was mentally ready to do 2hr 30min or even below for the marathon. Hence, the details will be out in the blog post soon, which will be written by him. 

Picture 3 - Based on Ashley's recent 10km and half-marathon self steady state run time, Coach Rameshon felt that that all Ashley needs to do is to just appear at the start line of the race to do his personal best time.

I am personally happy that both Team Singapore and Flexifitness runners - Ashley Liew and Mr Lim Thow Wee - has done us proud. However, it turned out to be a fortunate day for Ashley Liew as he did more than 3min personal best for the course. 

We, in Flexifitness have always been hoping for Ashley to do well all along. We feel glad that he has crossed a point that he is going to deliver more in other races as well, in the near future and in the long term. Even more proud we felt was when we found that Ashley got second position. This is wonderful news for us. We were having euphoria when we heard this. He has finally crossed the sub- 2hr 33min barrier. Coach Rameshon told me that he is the fastest person he has ever assisted to do well. In the past it was Bala, and now Ashley has  made it. Bala did 2hr 33min in California Marathon in year 1990. 

Picture 4 - The splits of Ashley's time for the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon 2015

I was also given the most current update that the recent time of 2hr 32min 12sec is just the start for Ashley. Things are getting exciting and Coach Rameshon feels that Ashley has a lot of potential in store to cross the 2hr 20min barrier in the long run. That is his belief he has on Ashley. Both are working on this in a step by step fashion.

Currently, he finds that Ashley's mind is getting stronger than the mental state of the past. This is a very good indication for greater achievements to come in the long run.

We also hope that individual  or company sponsors out there will come forward to assist Ashley in his quest to excellence in running, and they will be also assisted by him in any form to promote their company. Sponsors are to take note that Ashley has a long term plan in running, as one of his plan is to run in the 2020 Olympics.

For the benefits of the running audience, I will be posting the answers to the interview I had with Ashley in the next blogpost on the organisation of the race, goals, etc . Please keep a look out for it. 

Note : A special thanks that Ashley Liew and Coach Rameshon would like to give is to three receptionists of the Omni - Riverfront Hotel. Firstly, they had a pleasant stay there at the hotel as the race start was just about 10min walk away. After their race, both of them were given an extension of an extra 1 hour to stay in the hotel. When they came back late the three receptions acceded to the request of an additional half-an-hour as they did not have time to take their shower. The hotel was nice not to charge us, as they have been charged a fee for late check out in the past by other hotels elsewhere. They would like to thank Avery, James and Jennifer for their assistance in the hour of their need. Coach Rameshon would like to recommend this pleasant hotel to many if they are to race in New Orleans 10km/Half-marathon/Full-Marathon.

Friday, January 23, 2015

An Interview With Ashley Liew on his New Orleans Marathon on 25th Jan 2015.

Ashley Liew and Lim Thow Wee- The pride of Team Flexifitness
By Rameshon
On 25th Jan, Ashley Liew will be running in the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon while Lim Thow Wee will be running in the Asian Marathon Championships in Hong Kong. Lim Thow Wee has a personal best time of 2hr 48min 49sec done in Paris Marathon 2014, while Ashley Liew did 2hr 35min 39sec in Chicago Marathon 2014, just recently. As the time is approaching for both of them to run in their own respective races, I realised that it would be good to do an interview.
Right now, I am with Ashley Liew in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We will soon travel to New Orleans tomorrow to collect the number tag, etc. Ashley and Thow Wee are just excited to run for Team Singapore. Both of them were very happy with the running vest.
As time is approaching to run the upcoming New Orleans Marathon, I have decided to do an interview for Ashley for the benefit of many who are aspiring to be a marathon runner in the future.
I am also hoping to do an interview Lim Thow Wee on his upcoming run in Hong Kong. If time permits, this will take place.
An Interview With Ashley
Why did you pick Chicago Marathon in year 2014?
To go for a good time while experiencing a legendary course.
Were you happy with the race timing?
I felt blessed to still hit a personal best despite running on a nasty blister from 23km onwards. Coach and I knew my fitness back then was faster than 2h35m39s.
What made you choose the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2015?
The Rock 'n' Roll series has a good reputation for organizing races well so I wanted to take advantage of that again, after my experience at the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon 2014. When Coach and I searched for Rock 'n' Roll races around this time of year that were not too far away from Sherman College of Chiropractic, New Orleans happened to be the best option.
What is your goal for this race?
A personal best of 2h 30m.
Any problem that you foresee in this race?
Crowd support will not be as massive at this race compared to many of my previous races, so I will have to draw more upon internal focus and motivation.
How is the weather going to be in New Orleans on 25th Jan, 2015?
Between 6 and 11 degrees Celsius on race morning.