Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jonathan Rourke - 37m 50s in NB Real Run 2012

Jonathan Rourke - Fastest progress by any Flexifitness Athlete within 4 months

Jonathan Rourke, in short we call Jon, joined us for our group training session about 4 months back. Jon, told me that he just would like to do a sub - 40min in life before end of November 2012. He had a personal best time of 42min plus for the 10km race in Singapore.

When he trained with us, I realised that he was very talented. He was improving very rapidly with improvement in gait over a period of time. He was facing some potential injuries to his leg. Over time, this problem vanished. In Civil Service race, he ran the in the 10km and did a big personal best time of 38min 50sec. It was a massive improvement from 42min to 38min 50sec. 

Over a period of time, with structured training, Jon did 37min 50sec in the New Balance Real Run 2012 race, which was held at Changi Exhibition Center a week back. Jon did an impressive time trial with Flexifitness a week back before the race. This is a good personal best time from the past 42min season best. As such, I found it prudent to interview Jon to spur many to improve in running.

An Interview With Jonathan Rourke. 
What was your 10km time in the past before you joined our Flexifitness running group?
In the UK, my personal best was around 40 minutes and 20 seconds, around 6 years ago. In Singapore, my personal best was 42 minutes 30 seconds, achieved shortly before I was introduced to the Flexifitness team

Can you share with us how you felt about your personal best time of the past?
I felt I should be able to run faster, certainly sub-40 minutes, but I never seemed to quite have the speed or stamina to break through the barrier, despite being fairly close many times.

What was your goal in the past, about 1 year back?
I was still hoping to be able to break 40 minutes, but was hesitant given the heat in Singapore and the fact I am not getting any younger...

How was your improvement in 10km race currently?
I have been fortunate to have improved my time very rapidly since joining Flexifitness. I ran 38 minutes 50 seconds in the Civil Service Run By The Bay and completed the Real Run in 37 minutes 50 seconds a couple of weeks ago. The latter was particularly pleasing as it included long beach and trail sections, which were tough as there had been a lot of rain.

Can you share with us on the improvement that you have been having recently?
I have been able to consistently train for the first time in quite a while, which I think has been the main driver of my improvements. I set a personal best for 5km time trial in the Flexifitness sessions of 18 minutes 50 seconds, but improved that by over a minute in little over a week, which was pleasing. Similarly, I managed 8km in 30 minutes and 30 seconds 3 weeks ago and last night improved that to 29 minutes 50 seconds. I think the key to this has been my ability to stay injury free and consistently put in some good mileage.

Will you taking part in any recent race?
I am hoping to run in the Run For Hope in the middle of November, provided my imminent new baby holds off until after the run.

Are you hoping for another personal best time?

I hope to be able to run a PB as it should be a fairly fast course compared to the Real Run. I believe I may be able to run sub-37 minutes 30 seconds if I can keep training hard for the next few weeks, we will see!

What is your long term goal?
I want to run a sub 37 minute 10km when I go back to the UK in the summer. Beyond that, I would like to eventually run a sub 3 hr marathon, but given I have never run further than a half marathon before and have not broken 1 hr 30 minutes yet for a half, I still have a lot of work to do!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thomas Ganzhorn Resilience led to 2hr 46m 55min in Frankfurt Marathon 2012

Thomas Ganzhorn - There is more in him

Before we discuss on Patrick Makau's winning of Frankfurt Marathon 2012, I would like to mention of a big improvement made by a very good athlete of ours by the name of Thomas Ganzhorn who also took part in the race as well. 

In year 2009, Thomas Ganzhorn joined the Singapore Management University (SMU), as an exchange programme student. He came from Germany. He was introduced to me by SMU triathletes. Within a short span of time, Thomas surprised everyone by improving his running time in a short span of time. His improvement in workout was rapid such that I told him that he could do a sub-2hr 50min for Stanchart Marathon 2009.
In that year, he did 2hr 56min while Ashley Liew did 2hr 51min. In that marathon, we were wondering on the reasons for him not to do well. Eventually, we found that his drink was contaminated and he did not do well because of this, although he was fighting fit that year. Even though, he did not do a sub - 2hr 50min, he was very happy with his 2hr 55min. He brought his parents to meet me after the race. 

After the event, I felt that we were going to miss a great pal from Germany who was about to leave Singapore for good. I had to suggest to him not to give up his improvement in marathon.

My advice to him was to continue running and keep training in Germany. I saw great potentials in him to do sub -2hr 30min in the future. He eventually decided to train very hard in Germany. This time around he had to train in Germany without the presence of us. Nevertheless, he still maintained very good contact with me and Ashley Liew, in facebook and e-mails. I told him that with modern communication facilities like facebook and e-mail, distance does not matter. Only a distracted person will lose track of their goal. Thomas was not distracted in any way. He was a focused person in terms of doing well in running even though earlier on things did not look good at first.

For few years, while in Germany, he was going through several injuries around the shin area which hampered his improvement a lot. He had to do optional training like doing alternative training methods like cycling etc. 

He ran some minor races and kept improving by his consistent training and eventually did the sub- 2hr 50min in Frankfurt Marathon. He worked very hard for this and I salute his resilience. 

This time, while Patrick Makau did 2hr 6min 08sec, Thomas Ganzhorn did 2hr 46min 55sec for the race. Thomas eventually proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. Ashley and I are very happy to hear this piece of good news! Congrats, Thomas! 

We hope that many can learn from him on taking the painful long-term approach to training which finally has led Thomas to be our special mention for this blogspot by his sub-2hr 50min performance in Frankfurt marathon. 

Frankfurt Marathon News
Patrick Makau, Kenya's world marathon record holder, won the BMW Frankfurt Marathon  in a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 08 seconds

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dr Benny Goh - 4TH SUB- 2HR 53MIN in Chicago Marathon 2012

Dr Benny Goh - 2hr 51min  in Chicago Marathon 2012

Picture 1 - (left to right) Benny Goh and Ben Tan

I remember Dr Benny Goh passing by me while running in the Berlin Marathon 2008. He did a time of 3hr 15min while I did 3hr 31min for the race. It was here that Dr Ben Tan did his closest time of 3hr 01min, before doing 2hr 56min few months later. 

While doing the 3hr 01min in Berlin Marathon, Dr Ben Tan told me that he was telling in his mind repeatedly ,"No pain, no pain", for the last 10km. 

Dr Ben Tan and I, on that night were having a discussion and the topic was on doing sub-3hrs. Daniel Ling and I invited him to train with us for the 2008 Stanchart marathon. At that time, Dr Benny Goh was not exactly training with us.

Dr Benny Goh ran the Stanchart 2008 guiding people who wants to do 3hr 30min timing with the help of a balloon. While this was going on, Daniel, Dr Ben Tan and I ran the race competitively. Finally, in the 2008 Stanchart marathon race, while I came in first, Daniel second, Dr Ben Tan came in third with a time of 2hr 56min, few seconds just in front the local women champion winner, Vivian Tang.

It was here that Dr Benny Goh told us that he was envious with our time and told us confidently that he wants to join us for future training sessions. We started training and in 2009 Stanchart Marathon race, Dr Benny Goh came in 3rd in the race. 

Currently, he has a local ultramarathon record done in Sundown 84km race, he has four sub-2hr 53min marathon timing under his belt. We wish to interview this runner who is a dentist by profession and who could tell us about his goals in future marathon races.

Next Issue - Dr Benny Goh - Four sub - 2hr 53min done within 4 years.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ashley Liew Interview on New Balance Run 2012

Ashley Liew - Frequent sub-34min 30sec will allow one to do sub -34min anytime. 

Before I put up the interview with Ashley Liew, I would like to say that this is the fourth time Ashley is doing 34min plus. About 4 years back, Ashley was doing 39min plus for his 10km run. Ashley has been consistently doing this kind of time this year, time and again.

Picture 1 -Ashley Liew (left) with Jonathan Kang (right) after Gold Coast Marathon 2012

Below are the 10 kilometres splits for 34m22s net time:
1k: 3m18s
2k: 3m29s (6.47) - muddy
3k: 3.14 (10.01)
4k: 3.13 (13.15)
5k: 3.27 (16.42) - upslope
6k: 3.14 (19.57)
7k: 4.10 (24.08) - 1+k beach sand
8-9k: 6.33 (30.41)
10k: 3.40 - longer?

An Interview With Ashley Liew
 How was your preparation for the race?
I decided to join this 10km race at the last-minute as my Flexifitness teammates were participating too. While I was well-rested on race week, I did not tone down my training the previous week. This was not a very important race to me, but I was still confident I could perform well with my almost fully recovered ankle.

What was your game plan?

To keep a steady pace for a 34min flat run, and to finish strong after the beach segment. Coach and I knew it was going to be a “fighters” course, so there was no pressure to hit a specified time.

How was your race time?

Can you share with us on the splits of the race and give us more details of the run?

1k 3m18s, 2k 3.29, 3k 3.14, 4k 3.13, 5k 3.27 (16.42 halfway), 6k 3.14m, 7k 4.10 (all on the beach), 8-9k 6.33, 10k 3.40.

When we started, a huge group of runners tried to keep up with the two Kenyans (who eventually led from start to finish). I “kept my head”, focused on my own pace, and settled into a rhythm on the trail while dodging mud spots. When we hit the road, my legs shifted to another gear, and I had moved up to 3rd position. I would go on to hold this position from about 3km (where Coach cheered us) to 7+km (immediately after the beach). During this time, one or two other runners kept working with me, while I psyched myself for the sand.

The Changi beach sand was tougher than I thought. The slope was such that our left and right foot landing was very destabilizing. The sand sank our feet, forcing me to adapt with lighter footsteps. One Kenyan ran in the water. I tried moving both closer and further from the water, but it made no difference. My work rate was so much higher, yet my 1km split slowed by almost a minute (see the above splits)! All you can do is focus and fight.

My legs found relief as we transited back onto the road, but in the midst of regaining rhythm I accidentally made too wide a left turn, instantly allowing a gap to two chasing runners. In the last 2km I expended all my energy finishing strong. Coach urged me to drive hard while I held off another runner 200m before the line.

Are you happy with the race time?
 Coach and I were definitely satisfied, given the muddy trail (from the overnight thunderstorm) and painfully tough beach. I also have no shame losing to two Kenyans and a Gurkha. Coach said this showed I already had the capability to go sub-34min, but that opportunity will have to wait. I was also very happy for teammate Jonathan Rourke who smashed his 10km PB!

Can you share with us on the terrain of the run?
2km trail, 6.5km of road, and 1.5km of beach sand.

What is your long term plan?
To focus on full marathons, like the next important one at Gold Coast 2013.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jonathan Kang - Chicago Marathon - 3hr 08min 51sec

Jonathan Kang - Nearing sub-3hr for marathon in the near future

For last year's Standard Chartered Marathon 2011, Jonathan Kang ran the race and was not able to finish the race. He was hospitalised as he fell victim of dehydration. As for this year's race, in the Chicago Marathon 2012, after much contemplation, he finally booked a ticket to US to run the race, recently. He took a gamble on running it. At the same time, he told himself that he wanted to run for the fun of it. 

He followed Dr Ben Tan (pb of 2hr 56min in 2008 Stanchart Marathon) and Dr Benny Goh (record for ultramarathon by a local) to Chicago. He ran the race despite the cold. Although it affected, his final time was 3hr 08min. Congrats to Jonathan Kang!

Picture 1 - (Left to Right) Jonathan Kang, Rameshon and Lim Thow Wee at Singapore General Hospital where Jonathan was admitted as he collapsed at the 35km mark of 2011 Stanchart race.

 An Interview With Jonathan Kang

What was your expectation for this race?
I was not expectating much. I had problem at my knee area and it affected my 2012 Gold Coast marathon race efforts. I did 3hr 22min in the race. The only training I did was long runs only. Before the Chicago race, I had an accident while crossing the zebra crossing, when I was doing a slow run.

How was your preparation for the race?
I did only long runs of about 70 to 80km per week because of my knee condition

How did you feel about the race?
Very happy. Unexpectedly I did 3hr 08min for the race.

How was the weather?
It was very cold, about 6 to 8 degrees centigrade on average.  At the last 10km mark, my knee was hurting. It definitely affected my race. I believe that I could have done better if I had run in temperature ranging from 6 to 8 degrees centigrade.

Can you share with us about the race?
At the 15km mark of the race, my knee pain condition was alright. At 21 to 25km mark the accident that I had with the motor bike in the past affected my left thigh. It was very hard to move. I told myself to breathe normally and focus 1km by 1km at the last portion of the race. I did not put any form of pressure on myself. When I reached the 38km mark. I told myself that it was possible to do a 3hr 15min. At 38km mark, I had no any mental goal. At 40km, I realised that it was possible to do a 3hr 10min and I went for it and achieved the 3hr 08min 51sec, which was a personal best for me.

How was the organisation of the race?
It was fantastic, especially the race expo. During the race, I was able to wear a disposable wind breaker, which was a good idea. The marshalls were good, food and drinks were available, the kilometre and mile distance markers were very accurate.

What is your next goal?
It is to run in the Stanchart race. I want to cross the barrier of 35km in this marathon and finish the race, as I was not able to do it last year. I will take precaution not to end in hospital as well. 

Next Issue - Ashley Liew's New Balance Real Run 2012 Interview

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ashley Liew 34min 22sec - Real Run 2012

New Balance Real Run - 4th time, Ashley is doing a sub - 35min

Picture 1 - Result of 10km race (Courtesy of Ashley Liew

Today, Ashley Liew ran the first kilometres in 3min 17sec. He did similar kind timing for the rest of the distance, with kilometer splits ranging between 3min 17 to 3min 25sec. As he hit the sand and trail sections, he did nearly 4min. Coach Rameshon's and Ashley's plan was to compromise on the time on the sand and focus on getting a good time at the last part rather than doing a sub-34min time in the race. As it rained yesterday, the game plan changed and doing a sub-34min was shelved.  

 Picture 2 - Flexifitness Athletes Jonathan Rourke (37min 50sec) and Ashley Liew 34min 22sec

Flexifitness runner, Jonathan Rourke, who is now capable of doing a sub-37min 30sec for 10km, told me of the difficulty of running in the wet sand, caused by yesterday's rain, which made him to slow down on average time taken, although he did a 37min 50sec for the 10km Men Open run eventually. It was a big personal best time for him. Another athlete Chen Ming Ming did well by doing a very good time of sub -51min for 10km race.

During the race, somewhere at the 4th kilometer of the race, I saw two Kenyans running in the race. They were having a lead of about 100metres. 

Picture 3 - (left to right) Ashley Liew, Coach Rameshon and Ming Ming (sub 51min for 10km)

As the first runner of the two inched towards the finished line, I saw the leading runner kicking at the home stretch of the race finishing in a time of 33min 04sec while the second runner doing a 33min 49sec. A Gurkha runner ran and came in third with a time of 33min 10sec around there. Finally, the first Singaporean to come in for the 10km race was Ashley Liew. After him, I saw several Gurkha runners running and finishing the race. After looking for about 1min after Ashley had finished, I was walking to see him to find out on the race. Ashley did a time of 34min 20 sec, according to my watch. Official time, I was told was 34min 22sec. 

Pic 4 - Flexifitness Group Photo (Left to Right) Murthy, Sara, Ashley Liew, Coach Rameshon, Jonathan Rourke, Divya and Brinda

As planned. we lowered mileage, Ashley was able to do his 4th sub-35min. Hence, it is becoming very promising that he will do a sub-34min in the near future. I decided to do an interview before Ashley goes for his doctorate in USA and prepare for the famous Gold Coast Marathon 2013.