The One Where I Admit That I’ve been Foolish

One of the many things I love about running is how strong and powerful it makes me feel, and the fact that that I always feel better after a run than before one. Or nearly always. Today, for the first time running since my Angkor Wat Half Marathon on Dec 1, I neither felt strong nor powerful, and I finished my run 1km short of my 21 km target feeling sore, worried and annoyed. Annoyed with myself because over the past week I had pushed my pace so hard on three 13, 10 and 10km runs that not only are my legs tired even after a rest day, my foot hurts at the site of my PTT (Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis) injury. Annoyed that I may have been a bit foolhardy. This isn’t good news two weeks before my first Half Marathon of the year, the Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM).

My training program has been flexible to say the least though I do try to alternate easy and hard days and run no more than 60km a week. I love to run every day, and rarely think of it in terms of race preparation but rather as a wonderful experience in itself. The trouble is that in the past two weeks I’ve developed a taste for pushing my pace far more than I ever dreamed possible and this need for speed has become addictive. It’s hubris really, and a desire to feel good about myself, that pushes me to run faster – and of course those little crowns on Strava are also very addictive! And to be honest running fast (for me) felt good!

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But my foot is complaining now so my ego has to take a back seat and I have to rest. I had physio on Friday and though my hamstrings were soft, the muscles in my calves, ankles and shins were very tight and my left Achilles Tendon was screaming (actually it was I who screamed when my PT touched it). The Achilles feels ok today but the right Posterior Tibialis is sore to walk on.

I didn’t write this post to bore you with my injury niggles, nor to entertain foot fetishists, but to serve as a warning against doing too much, too fast. I hated the way I felt running this morning – heavy legged, and ultimately sore footed – and it means I can’t run tomorrow unless my foot feels significantly better in the morning and even then it can only be a short, slow recovery run. I know, I know, I probably shouldn’t run, even if it does feel better.

Exactly four weeks ago, I ran a personal best 21km which inspired hope of repeating the effort at MWM. After today, I am concerned that I may not be able to run the race at all. Another of the great things about running is that you learn a lot of things  – humility, resilience, respect for your body’s power and limitations, and how sometimes if you get carried away, as I have done (a few times!), that a price must be paid. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Tips:

  • So, runners, remember rest days are very, very important so find some low-impact activity to do on these days if you can’t bear not doing any exercise at all.
  • Alternate easy and hard workouts. Hard workouts would be tempo runs, long runs, interval training, hills etc.
  • Strength and stability training of ankles, calves, quads, and glutes is a no-brainer (yeah, I’ve been lax on that one too). The core and upper body should not be neglected either.
  • Stretching out those tight leg muscles after a run is essential to aid recovery and prepare your body for your next run. Not doing so will lead to the formation of adhesions and scar tissue which will ultimately lead to pain. I’ve got into the habit of stretching my calves while I’m waiting for the coffee machine, microwave and brushing my teeth. I assume I’d be even worse off today if I hadn’t.
  • Listen to your body, preferably before it starts shouting abuse at you as mine is doing now.
  • No matter what your race goals are, if any, ultimate responsibility for your health lies with self. Running isn’t bad for you (it’s the best thing evva!), running irresponsibly, as I have done recently, can be.
  • Do as I say, and not as I have done.

Philomena

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In the opening scene of the movie ‘Philomena’, a doctor prescribes running as the antidote to the main character, Martin’s, depression. It’s not of course a movie about running and a few years ago I probably wouldn’t have noticed Martin’s poor, lumbering gate in the first running snippet, nor his improved running technique as the movie progresses and Martin’s life takes on new meaning through his search for a woman’s long lost son. But as they say, you can take a runner to the cinema but they’re still a runner. OK, I just made that up.

51yGmIlcxJL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_Philomena is a human interest story which, according to cynical, depressed, novice runner, Martin (played fabulously by Steve Coogan), is “a euphemism for stories about vulnerable, ignorant, weak-minded people.” Of course this is tosh, though there is certainly vulnerability aplenty in the story of Philomena Lee (played by Judi Dench) who was forced in the 1950s by “evil nuns” to surrender her son for adoption when he was three years old because she was unmarried and Irish. His name changed, her son was shipped off to a family in the US, and she was never to meet him again despite efforts made by both Philomena and her son, who became Micahel Hess, to find each other. Even as late as the 1990s the “evil nuns” thwarted attempts at a reunion.

The heartbreaking efforts Michael made to find his birth mother are glossed over in the movie to make the story more palatable, and to avoid public incidences of uncontrollable sobbing. In the movie, the banter between Martin and Philomena is often very funny so that there are laughs and tears in equal measure. It was a smart move on the producers part to go for this middle ground rather than hammering the audience over the head with the true facts behind the story, specifically the consequences his estrangement from his mother and Ireland ultimately had for Micahel Hess. This version of the story is available in Martin Sixsmith’s 2011 book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ which has now been reissued as ‘Philomena’ to tie in with the movie.

The convent attached to what was once the Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, where Philomena Lee lived with her son before he was adopted.
The convent attached to what was once the Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, where Philomena Lee lived with her son before he was adopted.

I read the book a couple of years ago as research for my novel (working title, Born Irish) which has at its core a story similar to Philomena’s – a single mother forced to give her child up for adoption in 1960s Ireland and the repercussions that event has on the rest of her life. In 2012, I visited the site of the mother and baby home at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea and felt very maudlin at the thought of all the poor girls – and most of them were mere girls – incarcerated in the place because of Catholic society’s tough stance on pregnancy out of wedlock. It’s estimated that over 2000 babies were exported from Ireland to the US between 1949 and 1973* with many others being sent to 16 other countries. There were of course also domestic adoptions. It was hard not to think that if I’d been born a few decades earlier, I might have passed through its doors. Sex education was non-existent at the time so many girls got pregnant as a result of ignorance combined with a few lustful moments, or worse, rape. Treated as sinners, unworthy of motherhood, the majority were left with no choice but to surrender their children, with many looking after their babies until toddlerhood before being coerced into signing them away, promising never to seek contact with them again.

Statue at Sean Ross Abbey.
Statue at Sean Ross Abbey.

As an Irish woman and a mother, I am happy that the movie ‘Philomena’ is reaching an international audience, and helping to highlight the recent past that must not be forgotten. As a runner, I’m happy to have a movie advertise the psychological benefits of taking up running though of course there is no guarantee that doing so will, as happened to the Martin character in the movie, enable one to write a best-selling book that will one day be turned into a Hollywood movie. But hey, one can dream 🙂

* Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland’s Baby Export Business by Mike Milotte.

NM Galaxy Race 12km- Secret Results & Phantom Prizes

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Apology posted on Facebook by the organisers of the NM Galaxy Race Series 12km run which took place this past Sunday at Lake Titiwangsa.

If you ran the race, you’re very much aware of the NM Galaxy 12km run’s deficiencies – lighting, toilets, loudspeaker, legible distance markers, inaccurate route distance, not to mention the endurance event that was race bib collection! Plenty of people have been voicing complaints and suggestions on these issues, an others, on the NM Galaxy Facebook page so if you didn’t run, but are considering joining the next NM Galaxy race in May – there is a planned series of four races with interconnecting medals – or you’re just curious with some time on your hands, pop over there and have a look. (By the way, I’m sick to death of people going on Facebook after races – not just yesterday’s event, it seems to happen after every race here – complaining about goody bags. You sign up for a race to run for goodness sake, not to get free mouthwash samples and cartons of Milo.) That said, most of the online complaints have been very valid. And to give credit where it’s due, the organisers have not been defensive in their response. In fact, they’ve been downright apologetic promising to do better next time (very like a child who knows they’ve done wrong).

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NM Galaxy 12 km (11.5km) route recorded on my Garmin watch.

My biggest reservation in signing up for this race was the route along a very busy highway, Jalan Tun Razak, in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. However, thanks to traffic police and placement of cones, I felt pretty safe throughout the race on a route that proved to be very pleasant with only a few small inclines. I imagine though that as traffic got heavier, this was not the case for all runners. The route doubled back on itself twice which meant that there were runners running on either side of the central reservation which was actually nice as people could cheer friends along when they passed in opposite directions. (And thank you to the people who shouted ‘Go Expat Runner’ – you really spurred me on to keep going).

Now, cheating is unacceptable but a route with two u-turns does lend itself to such behaviour for the deviants who engage in it. At the first u-turn there were volunteers writing down bib numbers of the leading runners, and at the second there was a timing mat. I really hope there weren’t any participants taking shortcuts and then collecting Finisher Medals. At the end of the day, such people are cheating themselves as much as undermining the efforts of the folk who push their limits to complete a race. And to the person on Strava who only ran 8km of the route? Maybe you weren’t registered and just went along for the ride. Hopefully you didn’t collect medal. I’m looking forward to your response 🙂

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Is this the finish line? Confidence in the organisation being a bit low, and my watch being 500m short of 12km, I had to ask.

Back to me. Since coming back from my PTT injury, I’ve aspired to run a 10 or 12 km race at 5 min/km pace and on Sunday I managed 4.58min/km so I am really, really pleased. I’ve come a long way from the person who moaned and complained and cursed their way around a route as I’ve realised that a positive mental attitude when you’re hurting is everything. I can’t blame the shin splints I suffered for the first 3 km or the side stitch I had for the final 8km on the organiser unfortunately; these were all my own fault, but I managed to run through them thankfully. However, the debacle at the finish certainly was the organisers’ fault, and as no one has yet to mention it on Facebook, I would like to suggest improvements here.

Now I know it took a bit of effort to figure out the event rules, regulations and prize details, as no handbook was provided at bib collection, but being a pedant, I had searched out this information on the event’s Facebook page. Clearly, the lady operating the laptop with the timing information at the finish line had not read the handbook. Or maybe she didn’t like the look of me, or perhaps she’s always rude. Whatever. It is the norm here to place tags around the necks of the placed athletes who cross the line. It hasn’t happened to me often, but when it does, I tend to cry. There were no tears this time, because there were no tags. I knew that there weren’t a lot of women in front of me so I thought I might have been placed but I was only guessing. So I approached the laptop lady to politely ask if she could check my placing. I suggested that place tags at the finish line would be useful but was told quite definitively that this is too confusing. Huh? I was certainly confused.

Laptop lady initially refused to check my placing but I explained that I wanted to know whether I could go home or not, so she relented and tapped her keyboard to check. She showed me four fingers. ‘Fourth?’ I clarified. ‘Yes, but I don’t know how many prizes there are,’ she said dismissively. Thanks to the fact that there were several races on Sunday, and some of the ladies who are faster than me took their chances with other events, I had come 4th place in the Women’s Veteran Category. I’d read the information so I knew this meant some sort of prize. I think I came 5th or 6th overall, but as the organiser is so secretive about the results, I can’t tell you that for a fact. Again, I’m only guessing.

Mea Culpa picture posted on Facebook by the NM Galaxy Race Series organisers.
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Two hours after I crossed the finish line, two hours in which no information was provided to participants and no placings were posted, two hours of listening to dodgy music and the results of some prize draw (in Malay so I can’t tell you if I won anything or not, or indeed whether I had even entered), and five hours after I’d got out of bed to come to the event, I was called to the stage to collect my Rm150 prize.

Except it wasn’t my prize; it was a letter telling me to go to some other part of KL to collect my prize! Yes, I ran for 57 minutes on Sunday, faster than it took to collect my bib, way, way faster than it took to not collect my prize, and no doubt faster than it will take me to drive across town and back to find the organisers office to get 150 Rm. God help me but if they give me a cheque that requires that I queue up in the bank, I will lose my cool altogether.

Having started this post endeavouring to keep calm and carry on as they say, I’ve ended up ranting after all. And only because I won something. I know, poor me! Time for a run.

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On the home stretch, running, which is what it is all about.

At the end of the day, no one was hurt that I know of, and the NM Galaxy race series is a welcome addition to the local racing scene. The more people who are encouraged to run and train, the healthier, stronger (and happier) this nation will become. Yes folks, I really do believe that running is that powerful! I personally had a great run and am grateful to the volunteers as always who gave up their time to facilitate that. I’m sure the lighting, toilets, distance markers, start-line loudspeaker, start-line chaos, protracted bib collection, over-sized t-shirts, finish-line logistics, and unpleasant demeanour of stressed personnel at the start and finish line, and other issues now being aired online, will be improved for the next race, a 15km, on May 18. They had better be, as I’ve already signed up!

Race photo links:

Maszuari Muhamad

Running Malaysia Magazine

RFF Team

UPDATE: Tuesday evening: The results of the NM Galaxy 12km Run are now on the event’s Facebook page here.

D-Day Minus 4 months

Moving sucks. And it doesn’t get easier emotionally (nor practically). And even when you know from experience that things usually work out, that children adjust to new schools, that new houses can be turned into new homes, that the nuances of every traffic system/shopping mall/currency/phone/culture/kitchen can be learned, and even new friends (and in this instance old friends too) await, it is done with a heavy heart. And tears. As a chronic weeper, there will, over the next few months, be lots of tears. 

The trick is to stay positive, look forward not back, though not too far forward as that can be scary when you think about the fact that you’ve no clue of what your address will be in six months, and embrace change. And cry in private. Yes, wish me luck with that. We haven’t in fact got confirmed places for the children in school in Perth, so as yet no flights will be booked. Still, I have to start conceding to myself at least that our time in Malaysia is coming to a close. Yep, tears. We’ve only got four months left.

For months I’ve been convinced that my running habit, picked up in Malaysia, would make moving easier, as it would allow me not only to keep exercising while between gym memberships, but it would also give me a tool for meeting new people in Perth. And as lots of people tell me, Perth is a fabulous place for running, so I know I’m fortunate that it’s there we’re going and not back to Manila (or Jakarta or umpteen other cities where running could be a challenge).

What I’m now realizing though is that my love of running developed here and the fabulous sense of community it offers will make the leave-taking harder. There is the list too of races that I can only see through until June. The familiar routes that I love and hate with equal passion. The familiar faces whose names I will never know but with whom I always exchange greetings on those weekend LSDs.

I have three half marathons, a 12km and a 15km to do before we go. If the Mizuno Wave Run is before June 13, I will sign up for that too. I need to stay injury-free, so having been lax with my physio since my parents arrived for a visit, I head back to rehab on Friday with a new ache in my knee (which might be due to a very high mileage week last week, or a need for new shoes). My PTT foot is complaining a little too so hopefully Akmal can knead the scar tissue out of it. I’m going to try not let nerves get the better of me at any of these races – the first, the NW Galaxy 12km, is this weekend – and do my best to enjoy the opportunity to race amongst friends (and within sight of those icons of the KL cityscape, the Petronas Towers).

Moving sucks but our nomadic lifestyle also brings privilege. I’m very aware of that. Leaving Norway four years ago was very painful, but I would never have missed out on the experience we’ve had in Malaysia, and I can’t have it both ways. So bear with me over the coming months. Keep moving forward, with no more than the odd glance over your shoulder, acknowledge the places you’ve been, without losing touch with where you have come from, stay strong mentally, talk to yourself if need be, push through the pain, and savour every moment. Running? Living? For the next few months, the same rules will apply.

I’m going to Run this Year

Being a European, raised predominantly after the advent of metrification, I have no concept of miles. Whereas I have a pretty good feel for pace if someone tells me that they run a 6min kilometer, I am clueless about whether this is faster or slower than an 8min mile. I mean I could figure it out I guess but I haven’t got an automatic feel for miles.

However, thanks to the Run This Year website, I now know that I ran 150.84 miles in January.

Run This Year is ‘an online community focused on a year-long challenge to run a lot of miles’. I’m all for moral support and encouragement, and am a big fan of tangible goals, so I signed up to run 2014 miles in 2014. That’s an average of 168 miles a month so I’m already behind but hey it’s early days. Logically, as long as I stay healthy, I expect to get stronger and clock up more miles per week as the year progresses. To be honest, I was only initially aiming for 2014 kilometers this year but now I think, what the heck, why not change the goal to miles instead. It will mean making my week day runs longer but given my need for endurance training, I should be doing this anyway. And of course, there’s that planned mid-year move to Australia to think about. Having a mileage goal while in transition when I don’t expect to be able to sign up for any races will be very important.

Run This Year is organised by a lady in the US called Tiffany Henness who goes by the pseudonym Hutch, or @RunningHutch. She invites runners to log their mileage (or kilometerage), which she very kindly collates, with the intention of publishing a monthly mileage report. The monthly report for January has just been uploaded here.

It’s not too late to join. And there is no pressure to clock up 2014 kilometres or miles this year. Just set a goal that works for you and, excuse the pun, run with it.

When an LSD turns into a PB

Smothering with a head cold, and cursing the loss of my MacBook Pro which simply went to sleep last night and couldn’t be awoken this morning, it seems like the best thing to do between vicious sneezes and nose blowing is dwell on the past. The immediate past that is. Before my nose started to run, I had my best long run ever. Perhaps the two are connected. One was certainly more fun than the other.

laptopYesterday I ran 21km, for the first time since Dec 1, with only a brief stop at 7- Eleven to buy Gatorade, on a very hilly route, in just under 1:52. Yep my LSD was faster than any of the three half marathons I’ve run despite the route being much hillier than each of the race routes. So, why?!

Firstly, my husband ran with me for the first 10 km. At 6’4”, he’s just a bit taller than me, and his legs are at least a foot longer than mine, so he can run faster without having run more than a few kilometres in the past few weeks. It’s not fair I know, but it was helpful for keeping me paced around the dodgy 7-10km mark when there is still a LONG way to go.

The temperature was only a chilly  22˚C, the humidity a mere 88%, so the weather probably had a positive effect on performance.

I didn’t feel nauseous, nor did my stomach lurch as if a small animal had just awoken from hibernation in my stomach. This is excellent news as anyone who has spoken to me about running in the past few weeks has heard ad nauseum how mid-race nausea/stomach upset is my biggest concern.

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I had a cup of coffee and a few glasses of water, and munched on three thin gingersnap cookies before running. I ran with two 8oz bottles of Accelerade, slightly more diluted than manufacturer’s instructions, in a fuel belt, then refilled the bottles with Gatorade at 15.5km. I know the fuel stop of 2-3 minutes did allow some recovery but I couldn’t risk continuing another 6km without anything to drink. It may only have been 22˚C when I started running at 7:30am, but the temperature and sun were certainly edging up by 9:00am.

As it was Chinese New Year there was very little traffic and I did not have to stop at any road junctions; this is extremely rare and offered a great endurance training opportunity. I had a run-free day on Friday so my legs were rested. I guess this helped.

I ate two large pasta meals on Friday as it was a holiday so we ate out for lunch which I rarely do. I’m a lazy cook so lunch is often a bagel with peanut butter or if I’m feeling very culinary, I microwave two poached eggs and stick them between some toast. I’m sure Friday’s carb-rich combined with fish protein meals helped me on Saturday morning.

I drank no water during the run. I think this may be important as often I drink out of fear of getting dehydrated. I think though that too much water in the digestive system can be bad news.

What’s more, until this stinking head cold hit last night, I felt great for the rest of the day. I sprinted the last 500m of the run which means there was still something left in  my legs. All in all, yesterday’s LnotsoSD was a great confidence booster, and a worry queller, that I will dredge up from memory the next time I try race a Half Marathon (on March 16th if all goes to plan) to convince myself that yes, I can in fact do it – as long as my husband runs with me, I carry three bottles of Accelerade and Gatorade, drink no water at all, the weather is cooler than at any other time in the previous 50 years, I stuff my face with carbs, shrimp and spinach the day before, and run not too fast, on rested legs, after eating three cookies and a strong coffee for breakfast.

So that’s the post-mortem on the best run evva.

I’m hoping that a visit to a Mac store tomorrow will enable an equally essential post-mortem and file retrieval on the MacBook. I had just discovered some hilarious videos the kids had made while we lived in Norway, and was in the process of organising them to back them up, when the grim reaper from Apple heaven struck. I’ll be very upset if I’ve lost them. At least I had backed up my novel-in-progress though it was sobering to discover that in the past year, I added a mere 10,000 words to the draft. Yes, I’ve been 80% (and now 90%) finished the first draft for the past 12 months. Yikes! I blame this running lark for making me care much less about this fact than I should. Or maybe it’s the damn head cold that’s dulling my senses. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

P.S. In the very unlikely event that anyone from Accelerade or Gatorade’s distributor in Malaysia is reading, please don’t feel obliged to send me any freebies or testers. No, there’s no obligation at all. However, it is my birthday next month. Just sayin’. 

UPDATE Feb3: The mother board on my laptop is dead which means that effectively my MacBook Pro has gone to Apple Heaven after 5.5 years of service. The hard disk is however thankfully intact so I should be able to transfer its contents to another computer which I will fastidiously back up. I still have a wretched cold.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

 

A rare sight in KL, a cloudless sky (no filter). The dead tree is probably less rare!
A rare sight in KL, a cloudless sky (no filter). The dead tree is probably less rare!

There has been much talk of it being the coldest Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur in decades. There’s no denying that the weather is unusually balmy, and for the past couple of days we’ve had clear blue skies and noticeably lower humidity, topped off by a light breeze. Apparently this ‘cold’ weather is being sent over from China. Well thank you China. Let’s just hope that you’re not sending anything else with the wind. Yesterday, the thermometer in my car never went above 26 °C which is really, really unusual. So it’s perfect running weather. Which is why I haven’t run today. Too much wine last night – it was Chinese New Year’s Eve – makes today seem like an ideal rest day. Tomorrow I’ll do my LSD and properly welcome in the Year of the Horse. Let’s hope this ‘chilly’ weather sent from China holds 🙂

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Happy New Year!

An art installation in Publika shopping centre to mark the start of the Year of the Horse.
An art installation in Publika shopping centre to mark the start of the Year of the Horse.

Chinatown

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I don’t often tread the tourist path in KL, but my parents are in town, so a trip to Chinatown was in order. I hadn’t been in a couple of years and as this was the first time since I started running, it was the first time I noticed all the running gear for sale. Now, I’d personally never risk my arches nor my ankles with counterfeit running shoes, even if there were fake Brooks on offer which I don’t think there was, but I thought I’d share photos of the apparel on display for which presumably there is some sort of market. ( I have on occasion risked my shoulder with a Mulberry tote but shh don’t tell anyone I’m carrying a genuine fake).

Every time I’ve wandered along the streets of stalls hawking genuine fake handbags, soccer strips and beats by Dr. Dre headphones, I’ve been struck by how friendly the sellers are. Sure they try and lure you into their little stall to show the latest in top quality genuine fake handbags, and they insist then on putting a cigarette lighter flame to the surface of their wares to ‘prove’ that what they are selling is ‘real leather’ – and saying ‘no thank you’ ten times in 20 seconds gets a bit tedious – but these guys and gals are good-natured about polite refusals. As the daughter of a shopkeeper I know this is a tough way to make a living. If you’re in KL, head to Chinatown before 11.00, bargain hard and take all claims of authenticity with a boulder of salt. And if you’re a runner, don’t risk the running shoes. I really don’t think it could be worth it. The handbags on the other hand, well be my guest.

Mr Tng sells an array of sports caps, every colour, every brand.
Mr Tng sells an array of sports caps, every colour, every brand.

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MWM Training Session 4

I must be getting used to this early morning running lark. Today, I woke at 4:30AM, twenty minutes before my alarm. Only a special occasion will get me out of bed that insanely early and today’s event was the Malaysia Women Marathon training clinic at Universiti Malaya.

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The plan was to run and discuss pace management under the guidance of Race Director Karen Loh  and guest speaker, Ironman Richard Tang. The plan was to run two 5 km loops, one as a warm-up and one as a time trial. As often happens, we deviated from the plan. I wasn’t going to do the time trial as I’d already put in a lot of miles this week and my legs certainly felt it. My body was saying ‘no’, so I replied ‘That’s ok, I’m exhausted too. You’ve done the warm-up so why don’t you sit your weary self down on the kerb and watch everyone else running their asses off’.
After the 5 km loop in the dark, which I and two others stretched to 6 km by getting lost, Richard and MWM mentor Lorna Wong, led some interval training work on a hill. The hill, which had featured in the 5 (6!) km loop, was over 1 km long with a gradient that went as high as 15 %. I think most runners did three intervals up and down. On the final interval, Richard allowed the slower runners to start off up the hill first, then the faster paced, and he followed behind. The idea, he explained, was that all should reach the top at the same time as they maximized their efforts to try to catch up on the person in front of them.
Now Race Director Karen always sports very pretty running skirts and the Full Marathon finishers at MWM will receive a finisher skirt, so the skirt has become an emblem of the MWM event. We bet Richard that if he didn’t make it to the top of the hill with or before Lorna Wong, the second last runner to head up, he had to wear a skirt. Here is Richard being very sporting and rather fetching in said skirt. (He’s the one with the Ironman tattoo on his left leg in case you can’t tell).
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I met several new runners today. The first question from one was ‘How old are you?’ I will never get used to such direct questions no matter how long I live in Asia! Since turning 40, I haven’t got used to the answer either; I feel like I’m speaking about someone else when I say ‘almost 43’. Another lady asked me if I was The Expat Runner. That’s the kind of direct question I’d love to hear more of. Lisa, you made my day.
Participants at the third MWM Training Clinic
Participants at the third MWM Training Clinic
ImageFinally, as unexpectedly I didn’t get lost on the way to Universiti Malaya this morning – I did get lost going home though – I turned up early enough to receive this lovely MWM notebook, which Karen offered to first arrivals at the clinic. They say the early bird catches the worm; this morning I didn’t see any worms (nor snakes nor monkeys thankfully), but I did what I am now calling a ‘lazy girl’s recovery run’, I encouraged a man to wear a skirt AND I got a notebook 😉
The next MWM clinic is scheduled to take place at Stadium Universiti Malaya. However, the venue has been booked for another event, so MWM will run the training clinic at an alternative location, yet to be decided.
All photos courtesy of Karen Loh.

The Beach – on the tourist treadmill in Thailand

Back in 2000, Leonardo Di Caprio starred in ‘The Beach’, a movie based on the book of the same name by Alex Garland. Much of the movie was filmed on Maya Beach, Ko Phi Phi Lee Island.
This is the ‘The Beach’ today, or more accurately, this was it yesterday. I haven’t seen a stretch of sand this crowded since a trip to the Canary Islands in 2007 when Norwegians lay jowl to jowl, saddle bag to saddle bag, soaking up the winter sun.
But there was no sun bathing on Maya Beach yesterday.

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We landed on the strand, our boat parking alongside at least 30 more tourist-laden vessels, as part of an island tour. We were like tourists on a treadmill, with water and cola included in the deal, except of course there was no actual running done because on Maya Beach there was barely space to walk. The sand was silken, and if you could photoshop the boats and people out of the experience as easily as a newspaper can for a photo, it would certainly feel like paradise. But yesterday, paradise was reduced to a photo bombing opportunity. I envisage hundreds of Facebook profile photos updated last night with images of tourists against a backdrop of, well, hundreds of other tourists taking new Facebook profile shots.

Years from now, anthropologists viewing these scenes, will be able to examine the aspirations and behaviour of middle-class travellers in 2014. Today, ecologists must be crying. Yesterday, I almost was.

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