Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Wishes, President Nathan's, Ministers', Celebritys' and Mine

I wish peace, prosperity and success to all readers from Singapore, United States of America, Georgia, Mexico, Brazil, Croatia, Ukraine, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, Moldova, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom, Iceland, Israel, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Greece, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Canada.  United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Guyana and South Korea, South Africa, Egypt, Fiji, Chile, Jamaica, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Belgium, Boiivia, Bulgaria, Peurto Rico, Peru, Venezuela, Pakistan, Macedonia, Turkey,Belize, China and Morocco.

New Year Wishes, President's, Ministers and Celebrity's and Mine for Singapore in 2011 Video Dedication, Part 1)

2011 Esplanade Countdown
I felt honoured when Elizabeth Wong, Lim Thow Wee's wife, requested me, since I am the national record holder of marathon (Singapore), 2hr 24min 22sec, to make my wishes for Singapore.

Picture 2 - Lim Thow Wee with his wife Elizabeth Wong at the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010

In my wish, I felt that long distance races like Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon races generate funds. A lot of the long distance runners would like to see long distance timing to get better. However, here in Singapore, the organisers, I feel, focus a bit more attention on shorter distances as compared to long distances. Since long distance running generate a lot of funds, money chanelling to long distance development would be a good idea with the funds.

Picture 3 - Singapore President Nathan's wishes are included in the Esplanade Countdown 2011  (In/Video/dedication,Part1)

Pic 4- A smiling Mr Teo Chee Hian (Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister) says his wishes for 2011

Picture 5- Dr Ng Eng Hen (Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence) has his own wish for Singapore


In the past, we have got gold medals in the SEA Games and now it is no more like this.

Picture 6 - My wife Sumathy, myself, Lim Thow Wee and Elizabeth Wong saw a jam packed crowd around 11pm onwards at the Esplanade for the 'Countdown 2011'

Hence, I decided to say my wishes, alongside President Nathan, Mr Teo Chee Hian (Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister), Dr Ng Eng Hen (Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence) and other celebrities. I felt that, in Singapore, not only we should develop sprints but we should also keep improving on our long distance events, which seems to stagnate for so many years.

Picture 7 - My wife Sumathy and I at the Esplanade.  Elizabeth Wong (Lim Thow Wee's wife on the right)

In the west, countries like Germany, UK, Uuited States, Holland plus other countries which are not mentioned here, and in eastern countries like Japan, Korea and China, and African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya etc, we see that the long distance events are well developed, according to my perception.

Recently, in the Asian Games there is a vast improvement in long distance athletics in India and Middle Eastern countries. South East Countries like Phillipines, Indonesia and Malaysia are still leading us and developing their long distance well. As for our country, Singapore, it will be good to support long distance athletes to excel. With Sports Council support, we should be able to achieve this goal.

Picture 8 - The running craze is now in Singapore, especially when we see the registration closed prematurely. However, we still need to buck up on performance. In the past, 20 years back, we were faster in national schools' cross-country timing, average by a minute. Now, we are a minute slower.

There are very talented athletes in Singapore. Hopefully, Singapore is able to nurture this talented pool of runners. Happy New Year Singapore and to one and all from other countries as well.

Picture  9 - Part Of The Making of The New Year Wishes (2011) (Courtesy of Lim Thow Wee)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dr Benny Goh - 7th in Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010 and Fastest Local Ultra-Marathon Runner

Dr Benny Goh - Fastest local on the road for ultra-marathon

Picture 1- Sheryl Loh, Wong Kang Yan, Brendan Lee, Dr Benny Goh, Dr Ben Tan (3 times Sportsman of the Year Singapore, Sailing) and Ashley Liew

Dr Benny Goh and I met in the year 2008, where he did Berlin marathon with training partner Dr Benedict Tan. Dr Benny Goh did 3hr 15min, which became his personal best time. To this. Dr Ben told me that Benny is talented. That year, I came in first in 2008 SSCM marathon, coming second and third was Daniel Ling and Dr Ben Tan, respectively in the local men open section. The three of us did sub - 3hrs. Benny was envious over this. He was carrying a balloon and informing people that if they want to run a certain pace, they can follow him. I told him that he should have run the race and do sub -3hrs. Dr Benny decided to train very hard for this with us, especially for workouts. He now has 4 sub - 3hr in his belt, something to be proud of. He has a personal best time currently, doing 2hr 50min in Boston Marathon 2009.

In Sundown, Ultra-Marathon he has the best local time in Singapore 7hr 27min. He told me that he is probably not doing the Sundown Ultra-Marathon 2011 as New York City Marathon 2011 is around that period, which is around November time.

He shared with me that his target for the upcoming Tokyo Marathon,  Feb 27 2011, is to do 2hr 45min and is confident of doing it. He is now planning with me on how to go about in getting it. I felt that his chances of getting sub-2hr 50min is 90%  and to do 2hr 45min is 60%. His minimum target is to at least getting the sub-2hr 50min.

As a dentist, it is something that we can learn that a person like Dr Benny can run and work and balance well in life. I find him a person who gives a lot of respect to me when he talks to me. Usually adults do not call me sir, but he calls me with the word 'sir' at the start of sentence, which is not necessary. I find him a humble person and I have not seen him brag once. As such, let us find out more of this fine gentleman on his experience in Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010, where he came in 7th, in the form of an interview.

Picture 2 - Perfect training partners Dr Benny Goh and Dr Ben Tan (right)

Picture 2 -Dr Benny Goh posting fastest local time on road

An Interview With Dr Benny Goh 

In the coming marathon Tokyo Marathon, he is just hoping to do around

1. Did you achieve your target?
My target was this year's marathon is about 2.50. I wanted to repeat my Boston's timing which may show that Singapore's weather may not affect race time.

I did about 2.56.04, about 6 minutes off my target. I am a bit disappointed with my timing, as I believe that I can achieve better. Nevertheless, I am glad I managed to maintain Sub 3 on my slate board. I will use this race as a learning experience and modify my training and race strategy for my future marathons.

2. How did you find the route?
The overall race course this year certainly has it's uniqueness and credit should be given to the organiser.

However, the route itself had many acute sharp turns, which required a lot of braking and disruption of running strides. And the turns are really horrible when you were having fatigue and cramps towards the end of the race.

The stretch of the route after Fort Road towards the golf course and the Marina Bay Garden was poorly covered by the marshals. It left me wondering at times if I was on the right route. There were in fact more construction workers walking on the road that marshals and route markers!

I took the slope up the Sheare's Bridge pretty well as I had mentally prepared myself for this uphill task like what I did for Heartbreak Hill in Boston. The only problem was the sharp right turn at the down slope. It triggered the cramp in my calves again.

Crowd control was also lacking especially at the Esplanade area towards the finishing line. There were so many jay walkers (think the 10km runners) crossing the roads and cross junction. Alert and Active marshals should be placed to keep the race course clear of OBSTACLES!

What strategy did you employ during the race?

I planned to maintain my race pace at about 4mins 10secs per KM and pick up pace towards the end. But I went faster at the first half of the race. I was feeling good and was able to maintain the pace comfortably. I was pretty happy during this stretch. However I was attacked my the irritating CRAMP in my calves at about 32km; first my left then my right! I got to slow down as I worried it will go full scale and stopped me from running totally. It was worsened by the sharp turns and the crowded roads towards the end point.

Picture 3 - The best time posted for Sundown Ultra-marathon by Dr Benny Goh.


What are your future plans?
Definitely continue running and better my timing!

I wanted to complete the 5 world majors. With Berlin and Boston in my pocket, I am left with New York, London and Chicago. I am also setting running the Fukuoka International Marathon as my marathon goal. It's a qualification race and it's even more challenging than the famous Boston. There slowest timing for qualification (Group B) is under 2.42 hours irregardless of age!

I also planned to improve my timing for 21km.

Picture 4 - A dinner treat by Ashley Liew and Dr Benny Goh for doing well in SSCM 2010 at Gokul, Indian Vegetarian Restaurant at Upper Dickson Road, off Serangoon Road.

Monday, December 27, 2010

S'pore International Marathon - 2h 34m 02s (Part 2),1994

Singapore International Marathon - 1994

Men's Local Open Position
1. 2hr 34min 02sec Murugiah Rameshon 
(PB is 2hr 24min 22sec, 1995), SEA Games) 
2. 2hr 44min 46sec Khoo Chin Poo 
3. 2hr 46min 10sec Tan Choon Ghee 

Appreciation and Gratitude
This post is dedicated to my supervisor Dave Williams, a dedicated triathlete himself, who has, few years back, had his passing. It is also dedicated to Sir George Gandy, my Athletics Lecturer and Loughborough Athletics Club (University) coach, the maestro of coaching, and to Alan Guilder who coached me during my days in England. This post is dedicated to my two great friends, Tim Dickinson, who introduced me to Alan Guilder and to Tony Bignell, who helped me attain 2hr 29min for London Marathon by bringing me to the startline, the former Vice-captain of Lourghborough Athletics Club (LAC). Not to forget, Len Almond, Lecturer of PE in Contemporary Education and the charismatic Professor Clyde Williams, whose books on Biochemistry and Sports Science research, I became facinated with.

Picture 1 - This photo is memorable because I won the 1994 Singapore International Marathon (local) with a time of 2hr 34min 02sec.

A report by a reporter

Developing My Passion In Running Further In Loughborough, England

When I was there as a second year student in Loughborough, the Mecca of running, I saw Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder of marathon, as a year 1 student there. I used to see her in the Loughborough Athletics Club, most of the times training, using her coach program. My friend Tim Dickinson told me that he used to do some workout sessions with Paula along and used to tell our group admirable things about her - namely; her mental strength and dedication.

Picture 2 - Paula Radcliffe is not only  the pride of England, but also Loughbrough University as well.

I myself saw her running super fast in one of the steady, where I was going in the opposite direction. In fact, I felt honoured when I was featured by the British Council Singapore, in a newsletter. Yuki Chow, the interviewer from British Council Singapore found that Paula was already featured in it.

Coming back to the Loughborough Athletics Club (LAC), we were coached by Sir George Gandy, who is one of the world best coach I have ever come across. He has coached runners like Jack Buckner 13min 10sec for the World Cup around that time. Sir George has trained many as well like Chris McGeorge (3m 36sec) etc. It was from the LAC that I picked up on training well. Furthermore, I was doing Physical Education and Sports Science.

I felt honoured when in the last run of the league, when I got disqualified, for wearing non-university singlet, my team-mates especially the captain of LAC, Gordon Reid from Scotland, kept arguing for me, where it went to the point of near shouting. After a while, I told Gordon that it is ok to be disqualified since I was the one in the wrong. To this he told that my points are important for them to secure the league group competition, so that they don't fall to league 2. I really did not know about the singlet rule and I find this stringent. Any way, I was disqualified finally but LAC was still in the first league. Thank God for this, else blame will come to me.

George Gandy told me how to train using the 5 pace theory. Alan Guilder, at that time 30 years of age, a former runner of LAC trained by George Gandy, was always there not only as a coach but also as a training partner to me as well. Alan, an upright and a happily married with 2 children, has a personal best time of 2hr 21min done in the Robin Hood Marathon 1993. Finally, it was Dave Williams who imparted to me, outside curriculum time on thermoregulation and aerobic power (VO2 max) and aerobic capacity and made an informed person.

Training in Singapore

When I came to Singapore, I trained under Paul Rainer, a former East Germany coach. After coming in 16th in one of the Sheares Bridge race, I thought to myself that this may work for others but not for me. Hence, after 4 months of training with Paul Rainer, the next 2 months I did self-training using Alan Guilder's training method.

In the Singapore International Marathon 1994, I trained hard using my own monitoring . A week before the marathon, I was interviewed in the television by The World of Sports on the upcoming marathon race.

On the day of the race, I was worried whether I have gained back the fitness or not. The race was a testing ground. I was thinking whether the 2 months training using Alan Guilder method will help me or not. I ran the race, In the race, I had two people running also, Tan Choon Ghee and Khoo Chin Poo. To do well in the race, I told myself that I am going to go solo. 

From the start I went solo. At that time, I was not used to looking at the watch while I run. I found that wearing watch has one disadvantage, blood flow restriction. In Yoga, they say that pranic flow should not be restricted. The Chinese say that the Qi (life-force) should flow continuously. It is the same thing. Good news of wearing is that you can monitor whether you are going fast of slow and running steady or not. There are pros and cons. Hence, nobody needs to take my advice on this.

At the half-way mark, I hit around 1hr 17min. At that time, the route had small steep hills, a number of them around. However, I felt the small steep hills should be taken out. In Berlin Marathon and London Marathon, the route is mostly flat.

However, after the half-way mark, I felt very strong and went for my timing, While giving all I have got at the last 10km, I realised that my calf muscles on one of the leg, I cannot remember which, was getting very tight. I had the stamina and energy to run faster and go for it but the calf tightness was stopping me from running fast. Cramps were coming there as well. However, I endured and kept pushing and kept my focus all the way until I saw the national stadium.

Once inside the stadium, I saw a number of people cheering for me at the finish and I sprinted towards the finish putting my hands up. The above photo is the photo of the 1994 race where I did 2hr 34min 02sec. I was telling myself that in 1987, when Kevin Ryan, a top world class runner from overseas, came in first with a time of 2hr 32min, I used to admire him. Another 02sec and I could have done 2hr 33min.

Right now, I am still happy now because over time, I realised that the 2hrs 34min 02sec has stood as the fastest Singaporean running the Singapore route, until now. After the finish of the race, I used to think that the timing was slow.

I am happy now that all the effort of sacrificing time, money and effort has brought me this result. Now, at least I can inspire others to go for it.

I can see that over time Mok Ying Ren and Ashley Liew are capable of posting better times with continuity. What they really need is the support of SAA and SSC and this is very important. The past management may have done some mistakes but in terms of marathon there was very good support for me in the past. I hope this support will continue with the new management. Only time will tell. Until then, I have to reserve all my comments.

Official Results MR25 Ultra - Marathon and George Chong

Section 1  - Official Result of MR 25 Ultra - Marathon 2010

Picture 1 - (Right to left) top 10 placing in order, with extreme right Sumiko Tan, first.

Women - (Courtesy of MR25 Club)

Pos Rounds  Distance Total Timing  Name

(01) 9rounds 91.8 km 10h59m17sec Sumiko Tan

(02) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h40m49sec Yong Lai Chee

(03) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h44m56sec Pauline Nadia

(04) 8rounds 81.6 km 11h16m38sec Joyce Low

(05) 7rounds 71.4 km 10h09m20sec Neo Lay Peng

(06) 7rounds 71.4 km 10h35m56sec Mike Kume

(07) 7rounds 71.4 km 10h58m26sec Charlotte Teoh

(08) 7rounds 71.4 km 11h14m23sec Jacqueline Tan

(09) 7rounds 71.4 km 11h19m24sec Yrannath Ng

(10) 7rounds 71.4 km 11h34m54sec Fia Parmadi

Picture 2 - (Right to left) top 10 placing in order, with extreme right Sia Chuan Han, first.

Pos  Rounds Distance Total Timing   Name 

(01) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h01m57sec Sia Chuan Han

(02) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h10m31sec Freddy Yeoh

(03) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h26m10sec Arnaud Courtin

(04) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h27m20sec David Liu

(05) 9rounds 91.8 km 11h51m36sec Swee Hsien Ming

(06) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h14m02sec Evan Chee

(07) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h23m53sec Henry Yang

(08) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h26m54sec Doekle Wielanga

(09) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h27m00sec Dmitry Lysenko

(10) 8rounds 81.6 km 10h27m54sec Khoo Chin Poo

Note:Khoo Chin Poo
MR 25 Ultra-Marathon record holder -11 rounds

Section 2 - George Chong (Fitness Is For Life)
Picture 1- George Chong is running and swimming frequently

I met George Chong, 40, an ex-Hwa Chong College Physical Education teacher, who later became the assistant sports secretary of PE Department there. At that time, year 2000, I was teaching Physical Education in the then Chinese High School. Due to Integrated Programme, it is currently called Hwa Chong Institution, the merger of high school and the college.

George Chong was training a group of cross- country girls and in the year 2001, Hwa Chong came in champions in the National Schools’ Cross-Country Championships. Thanks to him. When he left the school, I was training the High School. After that, I was asked to help the college girls and boys that he was training when he left. In year 2002, the girls came in first, second, third and fifth in the individual positions for the National Schools’ Cross-Country Championships 2002 and brought pride to the school. In that year, Hwa Chong won all the Division Title for ‘A’ Division boys and girls and the ‘C’ Division and ‘B’ Division National Schools’ Track and Field Championships 2002. I found that the reason the girls did very well was because of the tireless effort of George Chong, who was there earlier.

Later on, George left to teach in Zheng Hua Secondary, subsequently going to NUS High and for the next 5 years he has been teaching Chemistry in ACS Independent School. He said that teaching Chemistry is now his passion, running is next. During his stay in Hwa Chong JC, he took part in several triathlon World Ironman races, in total 3. He has a personal best time of 13hrs 10min. Several times I have seen George running and training and George believes in fitness for life.

Hence I felt that it would be good idea for others to know about this friendly gentleman who always mix work with sports, even until now. I gave him an interview. He was also very glad in answering the questions.

An Interview With George Chong

How was your training for this ultra-marathon race?
I feel that the training is still not enough. During holidays I have been using my time for family. I ran less than 30km per week.

What made you to run this event with a low mileage?
I would like to do the upcoming 100km Sundown marathon, with the usual 84km taken out of the picture. This year I ran the NorthFace 50km Run in 6hr 50min and came in 20th position. I am happy with this. Hence, my next target is the Sundown and I am preparing for it.

Can you tell the route of the NorthFace Run that you ran?
We started from MacRitchie Reservoir and run to Mandai, it was about 19km to and fro. When we ran to Mandai, we have to do a loop of another 12km. Total is 50km. Those running 100km do twice of this.

How do you find the organization of MR 25 and NorthFace 100km run?
Both are very well organized in terms of my perception.

How do you find the NorthFace 50/100km route and MR 25 Ultra-Marathon route?
Both are challenging but NorthFace Run which includes Mandai section with steep slopes are more challenging. MR 25 route was good because of more shade during the run this year. However, my previous ankle and toe problems came when I had to do a number of downhill running during the run.

How was the atmosphere during the MR 25 run?
This is my first run. The people are vibrant and very helpful. When I stopped to attend to something, one guy wanted to help me immediately.

Earlier the drop out rate was high. Some who were standing actually later on decided to run few more rounds to get the goodie bag. Hence, this shows that extrinsic motivation does help in running. The good thing about this run is some ran with Santa Claus hat and took the run for fun. The atmosphere was really great here. I like this run.

What are you training goals?
No more for performance but now I am structuring my training to keep myself fit. In the past, I gave structured program to students and not to myself. It is about time that I do structured program and I am starting to do now. Right now, I am 40 years of age. During my younger days I should have training more professionally and done structured programs. It is just a regret now that I have and I could have bettered my time in the past.

Even though, my youth is gone, I am doing my best at 40 onwards.

Due to my accident in Anglo Chinese School, five years ago, in cycling, falling down because of going through a pot hole, right now, I just do running and swimming, not much of cycling.

What exercises do you do for fitness?
I feel that my fitness is still there as ever and I will not let it go down. However, I only have time to do pull-up and dips. These exercises really help me a lot to stay fit to a certain extent. For me I will always keep myself fit as fitness is for life. It will never stop as long as I live.

We wish George Chong all the best in his 'Fitness For Life'.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sia Chuan Han - MR 25 Ultra - Marathon Champion, Men (Part 3)

MR 25 - Ultra - Marathon 2010, on 26th Dec.

Picture 1 - About 2min into the start of the MR 25 Ultra - Marathon race, you the runners would have seen this luscious and beautiful forest.

Yesterday, I was asking Donald Ng, an active MR 25 member on who was the champion for the men so that I can interview. He told me that it was Sia Chuan Han, 34, who ran and did 3hr 25min for the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon (SSCM 2010). This shows that perhaps Chuan Han is a person who can run for very long and is tireless as compared to a marathon where he needs speed. Quickly, I gave him an interview on the race.

Sia Chuan, according to Donald Ng, trains on a weekly basis with Mok Ying Ren. He is self-made man, doing self-training, who told me that at times Donald came forward to discuss on how to go about in training and improve in aerobic fitness. He was appreciative and have gratitude to Donald Ng, a 6 Division Army coach, for this.

When I interviewed Chaun Han, he did not look tired at all. He was most of the time smiling to me when he talked.

Before the interview, I realised that Khoo Chin Poo, having a personal best of  2hrs 34min for marathon), also the cross-country record holder for MacRitchie Reservoir, did 8 rounds of the run, within the 12 hours given to run. Khoo Chin Poo has run 10. 55 rounds 11 time around MacRithchie Reservoir and is still holding this record.

An Interview With Sia Chuan Han, The New Champion

Picture 1 - Sia Chuan Han, running in the green forest, Northern Route in MacRitchie Reservoir.

What secondary and college were you from?
I studied in Bedok View Secondary School and did my studies at Temasek Polytechnic later on.

Compared to this route today and the route in the past, which was better?
I prefer the previous route which was more flat. This course is more hilly and the coming down gave me hamstring strains after about 5 round of 10. 2km.

What were your position in the past?
In 2008, I came in 3rd, running 8 rounds. In 2009, I came in 2nd, running 9 rounds. Finally, this year I ran the same 9 rounds in 11hrs 01min, I am now the champion of today's race.

What was your mileage like when you trained for this?
I did 10km daily and once a week of 15km.

How was the water point?
During the run we have two points to drink.We had isotonic drinks and water for hydration.

Did you feel pressured by the competitors?
Didn't really bother about them. I knew that there were some elite MR 25 club elite runners whom I can lose.

Were you having any form of fear of cramps, dehydration etc ?
There was no fear in me and I was looking forward to this.

Are you intending to run 10 round next year?
One step at a time, next step is I want to see whether I can run 10rounds. I have done 100km in last year's NorthFace run.

MR25 Ultra Marathon 2010 (Part 2)

MR25 - Expansion in the number of runners taking part

MR25, as the most successful club, was able to attracted many runners for the Ultra-Marathon race this year. The race started from 7am and ended at 7pm. It was free for members and a nominal $30 fee for non-members. The start was at MacRitchie Canteen and the runners had to run to a place which is between the Ranger Station and Jelutong tower and make a u-turn to come back.

Once the event was over, we had two champions - Sumiko Tan for women open and Sia Chuan Han for men open. Both did 9 rounds of about 10.2km.

A number of runners, running in the cool weather of the race had to brave heavy rain and continue while they run. The men runners found Devathas, 6th in 2010 SSCM race, running fast, not realising that Devathas was actually aiming to do 5 rounds of the Ultra Marathon Race. Mun Yong Liang and Jeevanesh saw Devathas running.

I saw Donald Ng, as an active MR25 member, who described the race to me. I told him to answer me on the event in an interview.

Pictrue 1- Donald Ng, so many years of experience running in MacRitchie Reservoir.

How many rounds did you do?
I did 5rounds in 6hr 53min.

How was the route and terrain?
The route is different. It was more shady with more uphills and downhills. I found coming back easier.

How many runners turned up for this race?
About 300 people over.

How did you find the run and the route.
Because we had to go to and fro, we found the route too narrow, especially at the northern route. We had some public coming for walk obstructing our run. This took away the time. The gantry somewhere around the 4km was not up. There was some miscommunication although permission was already granted. We had to bring our body down the gantry and it was tiring us, affecting us in our performance.

After interviewing Donald Ng, I met Evan Chee who was leading the table and finished 8 rounds with 2hours in his hand still. As a former Maris Stella Secondary student he took up running and like ultra-marathon and it was the first time running. He stopped, hoping that he will get second. After the run, he realised that a number of people pushed his position from 1st to 6th. Evan Chee, actually has regrets for his action of being complacent and not continue the run.

By tonight the result will be up and we have an interview from Sia Chuan Han, who finished first in men open section.

Picture 2 - Sia Chuan Han, winning the ultramarathon in the men section.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Latest News - MR25 Ultra- marathon run (26/12/2010) Part 1

MR25 Ultra - Marathon Run - 7am to 7pm

Picture 1 - The ultra-marathon has invited Malaysian and Singaporeans and people from other countries, young and old, and women and men.

Today, I reached MacRitchie Reservoir at 6:45am to see the start of MR25 Ultra-Marathon. Immediately, after parking my car, I met an MR 25 Club runner by the name of Evelyn Chong, a veteran female runner. I asked her whether she is running. She told me yes. She also made my day by saying, " I always read your Blog". "The post are interesting to read and I keep track of your post". I felt honoured by this lady.

Picture 2 - MR25 is giving away many attractive prizes this year.

Then, I met George Chong, a former Hwa Chong Institution teacher, having camo-pouch around the body, for hydration during the ultra-marathon. George Chong has done several World Iron man races. It was his batch of girls that I took and trained that came in 1st Pamela Chia (not trained by me), 2nd Angela Tan, 3rd Debi and 5th Evelyn Tang, four top runners to count where Hwa Chong came in National Schools' Cross-Country Champions 2002. It was the year where we got the lowest points for the race. Other runners, if I remember, consist of Gek Han and Serene.

Picture 3 - Runners prepared to run the race of their life.

Coming back to the ultra-marathon, I was told that the route has changed from running one round to start running from canteen and go through the northern route of MacRitchie Reservoir and make u-turn at the Ranger Station, 5km away from canteen. I told that the ranger station is 5km.

Picture 4 - The start looks like this running towards the canoe shed.

The record holder for this course is Khoo Chin Poo (2hrs 34min, pb for marathon) who has done 11 times of running around around the 10.55km of the MacRitchie Loop. Tan Choon Ghee (2hr 34min pb for marathon), is the second best runner who has covered 10 rounds.

Picture 5 - Runners will run the northern route, which has very scenic.

I also saw Mr Chan Meng Hui who was putting on a number tag and he looked busy. As soon as I have finished talking to George Chong, I realised that Mr Chan was missing from sight, missing in action. He must have gone to the start.

In the past, there was only a small group running. Right now, the group has increased. More than 100 odd, perhaps 200 people, young and old, women and men, were running.

Picture 6 - Northern Route of MacRitchie Forest is a thick luscious forest

I also met Devathas Satianathan there. Instantly, he smiled when he saw me. I shook his hands and told him all the best. I asked him how many rounds he was aiming for. To this, he told, " I am aiming for 5 rounds only".
Picture 7 - Somewhere at the mid-point, you will meet the Ranger Station

After that, I spoke to Donald Ng, Welfare Committee Chairman of MR 25. He told me that as a committee member, he wants to set example for young people that even at 50 a person can run ultra-marathon. Donald Ng, was eating some energy food to survive the run that he was about to do.

Then, suddenly, the runners were called to the start line. At the start line, many lined up and then the race started. The runners were off and the morning looks cool.

Picture 8 - Hopefully, the ultra-marathoners will enjoy some of the scenic sight

Elaine Lim - 2nd local in Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010

Merry Christmas to all

Picture 1 - Coach Dr Goh Chor Boon, who uses Oregon University training method, was my History lecturer in the NIE, in the past, (center) and Elaine Lim (right)

Elaine Lim - 2nd local in Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010

1st - 3hr 12min 24sec Anne Date
2nd - 3hr 23min 21sec Elaine Lim
3rd - 3hr 24min 19sec  Jeradine Collettin

I realised that tomorrow is the MR25 Ultra Marathon Race (26/12/2010). I thought of interviewing Elaine Lim since she was available before I could interview Dr Benny Goh. Dr Benny Goh is aiming for a sub-2hr 50min in the coming marathon Feb/Mar that he has targeted. As a partner of Dr Ben Tan, he comes down for Hwa Chong Cross-Country workouts. This year, there was alot of disruptions. He still has the fitness to do sub -2hr 50min which he is still gunning for. As tomorrow is the ultra marathon race, since he is the fastest local time in Sundown Marathon 2010 runner, tomorrow's coverage or the day after will be on his experience of SSCM 2010. However, please take note that Dr Benny Goh will not be taking part in the Ultra Marathon race tomorrow. He will be doing his long run.

Until then, let's find out in detail from a women's perspective on race route and experience. Elaine gave me an indepth detail on the race.

Picture 2 - Elaine Lim, with the medal on the left, is second local in SSCM 2010 in women marathon. In red t-shirt is Anne Date, the champion, local women.

Did you achieve your target?
No I did not. I was aiming for an even paced run of about 4:35-4:40 pace but did not manage to achieve it. Somehow I lost focus at about 30-35 km. This was where I slowed down too much.

How did you find the route?
The route was generally okay till about 30-35km where we had to run through some construction area. The 30-35 km part of the race is the toughest for me hence it didn’t help me at that portion of the race as it was unfamiliar.

Of course, there was also the Sheares bridge bit that wasn’t easy at all! Thank goodness it was a short climb.

What strategy did you employ during the race?
I tried to stick to an even paced run throughout the race by checking on my pace every 2-3km. From about 18 – 30 km, I ran with 2 guys whom were going at the same pace as me. I felt that we were silently working together to keep the pace which benefitted me.

What are your future plans?
Never stop running for sure, but as for my next planned race, I have yet to sort it out.

How did your coach feel about your timing and the 2nd placing in SSCM 2010?
Though the lack of a PB, my coach is satisfied and happy with my run. He is always supportive of me no matter what.

How do you find the competition this year?
This year’s results are much better than 2009’s marathon (not considering mine :P). I think there are many very potential long distance female athletes out there!
How was the weather out there?
Weather was good this year. Considering Singapore’s weather, the weather at this year’s marathon was manageable.

How did your family and friends react to your fine result?
My family and friends will always be happy and proud of me no matter the results. We celebrated together with the many many treats.

Picture 3. - Even Hwa Chong Institution girls have to run for the money with Elaine Lim around training Catholic Junior College

When did you picked up running?
I am not sure if I can accurately mark when I actually picked up running. For as long as I remember, PE was my favorite subject (haha!) and I always had a positive relationship with running. I always enjoyed it.

As to when i started running a little more... it would be in the second year of my University. I love to just run..! anywhere..just to check out new places, new routes and getting lost. It was very easy to do that as I studied abroad in Sydney (UNSW) and it was easy for me to explore over there.

Any teacher, coach or instructor who found that you have potential?
My Dad. Not so much of seeing the potential in me or anything but he had the strongest influence on me with regards to why I enjoy running so much. He loves to run too and I remember him sharing with me that running allows him to clear his mind, sort out his thoughts and of course balances his life. That was the basis to how I started jogging more in Australia.

I joined standard chartered run 2004 (or 2003, can’t remember) with my dad and won something in the 10km race. It was also then that I met Trina and she introduced me to her coach, Dr Goh Chor Boon. Since then Dr Goh has been the coach and mentor in my life. He journeys with me through and of course brought out the ‘runner’ (not just a ‘jogger’) in me.

Other individuals who helped me in running is Mr Melvin Tan, Remy Gan and Robin, to name a few.

How running benefits your life?
Apart from the health benefits that running has, running has also widened my social circle with fellow runners becoming wonderful friends.

Most importantly though, Running is like my antidote. It gives me time to myself and quiet time with God.

We wish Elaine Lim all the best in her chosen pursuit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ashley Liew's Weight Loss Program and Interview.(Part 3)

Ashley Liew - From Fat to Fit to Fantastic.

Picture 1 - Ashley on the right is fat and Ashley on the left, now, is fit as ever (Courtesy of Eugene Lim)

Today, after Ashley's workout run, he shared with me on few things. At the same time, I realised that from the analysis of my own blog, a large number of people have read his weight loss program. For people who are overweight, for people who want to keep themselves fit, and the group of people who want to improve on running should watch their diet. In Kenya, the staple food is ugali. Ugali, a nutritious staple food gives the runner a lot of nutrients - vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Hence, in this post, I told Ashley to draft out for me the diet that he eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner and he answered me without any form of reservation for the benefit of people who are interested in health, fitness and performance.

A day in the life of Ashley Liew - On Food
Usually he takes brown bread with peanut butter. He drinks hot milo.
Sometimes he takes yogurt and always eats fruits

Mixed vegetables rice with less fish or meat and a wide variety of vegetables.
1 Fruit juice per day/lunch

Mixed vegetable rice
Usually he does not take rice.

Psychological impact of being overweight.
He also told me something that was important for all readers to know. He told me that, in the past, with a weight of 80kg, he had no confidence in many things. When talking to people, he used to forcefully pull his stomach in. When people poke fun on his obese physique, he felt foolish about himself. All this, that he described to me, changed for the good when he became slim over a long period of time. He told me that there is no short cut to weight loss program. Weight loss should be a long term thing. He also told me in this blog to inform people not to give up. This was a good gesture from him.

Post Marathon Race Interview

Did you achieve the target you were aiming for?
No. I was aiming for a sub 2h 41m marathon time: an average pace of 3m 38s per km. Once the gun went off, I started at too fast a pace. I had been nursing an unfortunate last-minute ITB injury even up to a day before the race. I realized my pace was too fast at the 1 km mark but I made the wrong judgment call of believing that my legs were completely injury free and that they could sustain the pace. Thereafter I made the mistake of not slowing down enough. Until halfway, I was still somewhat on track for my timing, achieving a half-marathon PB of 1h20m18s, improving my previous PB by almost 3 minutes. However I paid the price for starting too hard. My legs completely failed in the last 10km and my injury started acting up as well. Hence, the struggle to the finish with almost a 12 minute positive half-marathon split which was supposed to be an even split.

How do you find the route? Can you explain in detail?
Overall the majority of it was fast and flat until the 29km mark. The Sheares Bridge around the 37 km mark, the only climb, was not very easy but clearly anticipated from looking at the route map.

I have two suggestions on improvement on the route. Firstly, some distance markers were definitely not measured accurately, especially the 12km to 13km mark which was only about 800m apart when I measured pre-race. So I was not too surprised with the slightly weird splits during the race at that point. Moreover on the late afternoon just a day before the race during my final route recce, I noticed organizers were just setting up some distance markers, for example the 35 km mark. Perhaps organizers in future could not only place the markers more accurately but earlier as well to allow for mental visualization.

Secondly, the 30 to 35 km part of the route was almost totally unfamiliar. It was windy and the surface was not even, so it would have greatly helped if this route had been open for running. It had always been closed for construction even the day before the race. Thus, I suggest future new routes be opened earlier.
What was your strategy during the run?
My strategy was to stick to even pacing throughout, which I failed to adhere to at the start. Once the elite women overtook me, it felt good to stay with them but I knew their pace would be higher than my target 3m38s per km so I dropped back. Once Mok and Jason caught up with me at 10km I calmly reminded myself not to get distracted or panic, so I remained focused on hitting my target split at 21km (it helped that I was pacing an elite woman from 11 km to 19 km). For the return leg of East Coast Park, I was running alone and sticking to race pace was tougher. The last part of the race was really about gutting it out mentally until the finish, since my legs had nothing left. I had severe cramps before Sheares Bridge but I firmly told myself to fight on so I would not let all my supporters and myself down.

Are you satisfied with the timing of your race?
No. My 2010 timing of 2h52m29s was actually slower than my 2009 PB of 2h51m22s. This was initially difficult to accept because I was definitely fitter and more well-trained than last year. However, I am still glad for a runner-up finish considering the circumstances: too hard a starting pace which messed up the last 12km, three ridiculously serious injuries in this year alone which affected fitness and confidence, and dealing with my mother passing away since March.

What is your next plan/target in the future?
My next race will be the Hong Kong marathon in February 2011 which I am looking forward to redeem myself in terms of time: I want to hit sub 2h50m badly. I will also be making a comeback into triathlon with the Singapore Ironman 70.3 in March. After that, I will be focused on qualifying for SEA Games Marathon: be it in 2011 or the future.

All the best to Ashley Liew in his pursuit of becoming an elite marathon runner.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ashley Liew 's Weight Loss Program. and His Marathon Strategy. (Part 2)

Ashley Liew - From 80kg overweight dude to 56kg Hot Bod

Marathon performance time.
ACJC Year 2 - Before enlistment in the Army - 4hr 29min
2009 SSCM - 2nd in men open (local section) - 2hr 51min
2010 SSCM - 2nd in men open (local section) - 2hr 52min

Picture 1 - 80kg Ashley in Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2004 at 18, 4hrs 29min(Courtesy of Lim Thow Wee)

Ashley Liew told me that when he was 80kg, and overweight, he used to keep doing sports actively. I asked him on how many days per week does he play games. He told me that he does it for 5 times per week.  Even then, he found that he was still overweight. At that time, he found that he was not particular about food.

I always have this notion that training is 50% and diet is 50% in sports performance. In Loughborough University of Technology, I have done sports science. One of the module that I did was Nutrition. No matter how hard a person trains, if the diet is not good, filled with kuay teow mee, roti prata, laksa, deep fried food, chicken rice, nasi lemak, french fries etc. one cannot progress in running performance. May be, the person will be fit with training with a poor diet. Hence, I decided that it will a good idea to ask Ashley on his battle against the bulge that he had endures for long and had achieved great seccess to surmount this hurdle.

Ashley told me that he used to eat very late at night. His food habits were not that good. Over a period of time, he start eating more fruits. In his food, he used to take a lot of vegetables. It is good to take note that fruits and vegetables are usually low in glycemic index and has abundant complex carbohydrates. He took only some poultry and meat products. In terms of eating chocolates, Ashley eats less and not more, even though he likes them. He hydrates himself well throughout the day with water. If he trains, he drinks more water. He cuts down a lot on eating carbohydrates that have simple sugar.

Marathon Strategy during Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 2010

Picture 2 - Ashley Liew, with an admirable 56kg sculptered body

Ashley's marathon strategy was to run 3min 48sec per kilometer to attain a time of about 2hr 40min. While on the run, he saw the 1km distance marker. He did 3min 40sec for the first kilometer. At the two km mark, he could not find the marker and did not know what pace he was going. I told him that he could have seen this a day before. To this he said that he came down a day before to see the distance marker but the organisers were putting it late in the evening and he had to focus on his sleep. He told me that putting the kilometres in the afternoon would be a good idea for the organisers or allow the elite Singaporeans to go for a tour around the route.

Around the 3km mark, Galen Ruben told me that he saw a footage, courtesy of Donald Ng, showing that Ashley was the one running just behind the elite men runners from Africa. After that, there were elite female runners running just behind Ashley. In actual fact, the runner behind Ashley was none other then the Commomwealth women champion,  Irene Jerotich (see below). At the 4km mark, the same thing happened. I saw the watch and found that Ashley was doing 3min 25sec to 3min 30sec per km pace. He could have slowed down and recover more but was keeping at this pace until he was overtaken by Mok Ying Ren at the 10km mark. At 5km, Ashley did 17min 40sec as opposed to 18min 30sec and he is supposed to control himself on pace judgement. At 10km mark, the time was 37min 15sec.

After the 10km mark, Ashley felt that he was getting tired. However, he reached the half-marathon mark at 1hr 20min 18sec. He told me that he was doing his personal best time while running this year's marathon. At the last 13km mark, Ruben Galen and I went down to support Ashley, after seeing several road blocks. At that point, he was still on target for a 2hr 45min. However, judging from his mistake of the first 5km, I predicted that he will come in second but he may hit around 2hr 45-2hr 50min.

At the last 12km mark, Ashley was doing about 1hr 58min and he felt very tired. Towards the end, Ashley was extremely tired and missed his personal best and did 2hr 52min. He stopped 5 times during the race. Towards the finish Ramesh was coming very near but Ashley was able to hold Ramesh off and win the second placing.

As of now, he has been selected by Singapore Athletics Association to fly to Hong Kong and represent Singapore in  the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon 2011 in Feb 20 . It was suggested by me that I don't mind going over as a coach/manager. Ashley was appreciative that I was willing to come forward and he thank me for this gesture. The SAA has told me and him that they will consider this appeal. We hope to hear some good news from SAA.

After giving us a treat at Gokul, an Indian vegetarian shop, Ashley told me that he will tell in the interview on his experience and running along the route in the next page of the blog. He told me that this may benefit the runners of Singapore, young and old.

Ashley told me that he does not want to go back to the horror of 80kg where it was cumbersome to run and play and also leave some space for people sitting next to you in bus. With the weight of 56kg, he feel that it is easy to move about, work, train and study. I recounted my bringing down of weight from 73kg to 55kg in the past and I told him that overweight is never my option in life.

Picture 3 - A treat given by Ashley and Dr Benny Goh for their good result in the SSCM 2010