Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hips dont lie

It's all in the hips. I recognize that all my running related injuries came from as a result of my weak hips.

Here are some exercise to strengthen the hips 

Stretch excercices for runners

I have not been running very often nowadays. Last night I ran 18km (the longest in 3 months) I had this pain at the top of my inner thigh. It's likely a groin pull after I forced the adductor muscles to work hard after slacking for a long time and my bad running form off course. Its time for hamstring pull and groin stretch. Hope the pain will go away as I have a 10k race in a 50km relay team in a week time.

Here are some useful stretches for runners I found
     

Thursday, 20 August 2015

TCS New York City Marathon 2014

2 November 2014

New York, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, so they say.

I was accepted and supposed to run the New York Marathon in 2012 as my first marathon (Read past entry Here). However fate got in a way and my plan has been postponed twice. I cannot postpone it anymore or I will lose my place in the ballot. I was lucky this year that my employer is willing to sponsor my trip to participate in the world's largest marathon in ORYX GTL's shirt.  

I was not actually 100% race ready for New York Marathon because my trainings were customized to prepare me for both the marathon and my first half ironman distance triathlon, Challenge Bahrain next month. I did not have enough running mileage coming into this race as I have to spend the bulk of my trainings for cycling and swimming, the two disciplines that are new to me. Having said that, a sub 3:45 should be a reasonable target. I was actually hoping to break the 3:30 barrier or at least go for a personal best. I have been warned by other runners that New York is deceptively hilly and a difficult course for a PB and all my past marathons experience were on flat-ish courses, but then again, success is sweeter when we have to work hard for it.   

It was a tough battle before it even started. The New York Marathon is a point to point race with the Start at Staten Island. The course covers all the five boroughs of New York with its iconic Finish line at Central Park Manhattan. Getting to Staten Island is a marathon in itself. I first took a subway at 72nd Street to South Ferry Terminal for 6.00 am ferry. The ferry ride was nice. The view of Lower Manhattan, Ellis Island and Lady Liberty from New York harbor make me pinched myself a few times. I still cannot believe that I was in New York, going to run The NY marathon. I cannot thank ORYX GTL enough for this. From ferry terminal, the runners then transported to the Start village at Fort Wadsworth in busses. The security was tight as expected but everything went smoothly. We were then had to wait for up to three hours before the start in a near arctic weather of 2 degree Celsius, made worse by the wind chill with speeds up to 64 kph. It was almost unbearable. I had my running shirt, a cotton tee from Dukhan Triathlon and a fleece jacket under a thick bin liner huddling myself into a curveball. 
 
Counter clockwise: At the race Expo; On the ferry to Staten Island; At the marathon village before the start 
 
I was in Wave 1 Corral B of the Green start, only one corral down from the elites and professional. It was not a true representation of my true ability but rather a strategic plan to avoid weaving through the course to overtake slower runners and walkers. Let others weave to overtake me while I am focusing on my pace and effort haha I can hear my evil laugh. We set off with a gun fired at the end of the Star Spangled Banner which was played on the loud speaker. I stayed in the middle of the road when we proceeded onto the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I was warned by my running buddy Tee Morgan who ran the marathon last year to stick to the middle of the road while running on the lower deck of the Verrazano if you do not wish to get drenched by the golden showers by the runners urinating from the top deck. It's a New York thing. The wind was so strong; all of us were struggling to run straight. The bridge was about 2km long. I was warmed enough by the time I entered Brooklyn and took off my throw away jumper.

The crowd in New York was something I have never seen before in my life. They lined up the streets the entire marathon course from Brooklyn to Central Park (except on the bridges) sometimes with 4-5 layers deep. They were very enthusiastic and loud. I’ve read about the New York’s crowd in past race reviews but you can only understand how it feels when you experience it yourself. Each borough was different. The mood and the feel vary from one borough to another. I tried not to get too carried away with the crowd and maintained my pace. I just put on a perpetual smile on my face to acknowledge them.

I was enjoying my run and cruising at 5:15 m/km pace until I got to Queensboro Bridge going into Manhattan from Queens when my right ITB decided to stop cooperating and stiffen up. Not again! Not here in New York! It was a familiar pain on my knee. My ITB was pulling my knee cap out from its socket with every step I made. It happened before when I raced in Munich, Edinburgh and Dubai. It was so painful and it forced me to slow down and took walk breaks every now and then. I was so frustrated. Not only it blew my race plan, but it turned my race into an ugly experience. Why here? Why now in New York? I felt ashamed to myself knowing my wife and friends were tracking my run from the other side of the globe. I have let them down. I have let myself down. I have given up. No words of encouragement from the crowd along First Avenue could help me. I was even angry every time I heard someone calling my name and said ‘Don’t give up, you can do it’. I was in so much pain I chose to ignore all those words of encouragement and took my walk of shame. I didn’t even remember running (read jogging) through The Bronx.  

The course re-entered Manhattan through Madison Avenue Bridge into Harlem. It was less than 8 km to go. I just cannot wait to cross the finish line and get this thing over with. The crowd was big on both sides of the Fifth Avenue. This helped me a bit. I was practically shuffling my way down into Central Park until Columbus Circle but I stop by the railing as soon as I re-entered the park. I was in so much pain I thought my legs were falling apart. I could see the finish line already but I couldn’t take another step forward. I must have stood there for a couple of minutes before continued on what must have been the slowest 2-300 meters of my life. I crossed the finish line in 4:28:06. One of the slowest marathons I ever ran and definitely the most painful. I hate marathon! A volunteer put on the medal around my neck and we were quickly ushered out of the park.
 
Running in pain, cant wait to get it over and done with
 
While walking away from the finish area, I kept thinking, maybe I was not not good enough. Maybe I don’t have the correct body to be a marathon runner. Maybe I don’t have a heart of a lion. My head was full of all the negative thoughts. Dejected, I took the long walk of shame out of the park shivering from the cold. I felt miserable. We were given a special poncho because we did not checked any baggage when we came out from the park. I just stood there frozen when an elderly lady volunteer put on a thick NY Marathon poncho on me. She was so kind and gentle. I said to her, ‘you are just like my mother’. Then she said ‘well dear I am your mother today’ and she hugged me. It felt really comforting. Tears streamed down my eyes. I forgot that she was a stranger. I stayed in her arms for a while, sobbing. I have never felt anything as beautiful as this in my previous races. She was like an angel. I can’t believe that all the pain, agony and anger were gone from one simple act of love, by a stranger.

 
Well done to all the graduates of NYCM Class of 2014

Reflecting on it, I may not have the best race or a personal best at New York Marathon, but the experience really humbling me not only as a marathon runner but as a person. Now, will I give up on my Boston dream? No way. Just as the opposite, it makes me want to work harder for it. The experience taught me to appreciate all the little things you may otherwise ignore in life. As a marathon runner, I can work hard to improve my speed and endurance but my ITB problem will never go away unless I strengthen my core which I’ve never bothered to do in the past. Same thing at work, you cannot excel in what you do if you ignore something that may sound intangible like discipline or attitude. 

I found my self in New York. The experience made me a tad wiser. Thank you ORYX GTL. 
 

Monday, 3 August 2015

FiT-Q Duathlon Summer Series 2015

I had an opportunity to participate in three duathlon races this summer. The races were part of the summer series organized by the Filipino International Triathlete Qatar (FiT-Q). Other than providing us with some motivation to keep on active during the summer months, it also provides the big contingent from FiT-Q to Ironman70.3 race in Cebu with race pace simulation trainings.

Few friends from PelariStyloYo and my wife were also took part in the races and thoroughly enjoyed it. The organization was outstanding and the support received from the participants and volunteers was amazing considering the scorching heat at this time of the year.

Being a weak swimmer, I can say I was totally hooked up with the Run-Bike-Run format of duathlon. Well the bike portion was harder in duathlon as the run was harder than a swim in a triathlon, but at least it works to my advantage. Maybe I should look into participating in a Powerman race in 2016 as part of my preparation for Ironman race at the end of the year.

Here are some of the pictures from the races. Thank You FiT-Q

1st race: 15 May 2015 (3r-60b-5r) Ranked 8th
2nd race : 12 June 2015 (3-60-6) Ranked 6th
 
3rd race: 19 July 2015 (5-40-10) Ranked 11th



Tuesday, 2 June 2015

GMC Triseries 2014/15 Race 3

25 April 2015

I was only able to participate in 1 of the races in this year's GMC Tri Series due to my hectic racing schedule. It was the Season finale race for us here in Qatar. Part of me was happy that the season is over so I can rest and do something else other than training and racing, but part of me was not ready to let go the best racing season I ever had. I did New York Marathon, Challenge Bahrain, Dubai Marathon, RAK Half Marathon, WTS Abu Dhabi, Nissan Triathlon Festival plus some local events this season. I was still recovering from a flu and was not feeling 100% , but I cannot afford to miss the last race of the season by sitting at home and feeling miserable. It was also a farewell race for my running buddy from DBRC, Alicia Mc Lennan who will be leaving Qatar for good the following day.

Swim

It is unique to the GMC tri series that the swim was held in a pool instead of open water.  I felt good during the swim. I just maintained a nice steady rhythm. I was still slow and need to work more on my technique, but I felt relaxed going into the bike.

500m Swim: 12:12 (Ranked 60/91)

OMG


Bike

The weather was nasty. We were riding in a sandstorm with 30kmh wind speed plus some gusty crosswinds. I made a mistake for not changing my Zipp 808 deep aero wheel for the race. I found it very difficult to control my bike and the wind kept pushing me off the course. It was difficult and almost scary for a novice cyclist/triathlete like me to ride in this condition. The course was also quite technical. It was all cobbles with speed humps, roundabouts and tight corners to navigate. I tried my best under the circumstances and never felt stronger on the bike in any triathlon events before. I hated the conditions but loved the experience.     

20km Bike 40:19 (Ranked 46/91)

Ride in a stormy weather was fun
Run

Fresh after the bike, I ran hard. It was hot and I started to feel sick but I was not going to take it easy. We ran four laps around the venue and close to the start/finish. Running in laps, we were always close to the crowd. It really helped me to push and I forgot about my sickness. I really enjoyed overtaking people. It was like the Pacman game. I was only being overtaken once, on my last lap, by a pro triathlete, Ryan Christian. I was imagining that I was in Elite Men’s race of a World Triathlon Series race when Ryan overtook me. His strides his speed and running form are typical to that of WTS pros. I huffed and puffed my way to finish the run. I was happy with my performance today and glad I did it. The race was very well organised and we also had awesome support from the volunteers, who are mostly the members of Triclub Doha. Now I cannot wait for the new season to start in October. 2016 will be a triathlon year for me.  

5km Run 22:24(Ranked 17/91)

Overall1:18:09 (Ranked 40/91)


Loving the pain
Ryan Christian, now a pro triathlete based in Girona, Spain

 
Cant wait for the new season
Farewell Alicia. Tom Whateley the GMC Triseries 2014/2015 Champion  
 
Qatar's top triathletes, Aday Alvarez (ESP) A.Shokarev (UKR) Tom (GBR) Ryan (AUS)
 
With PelariStyloYo 's Relay team. They finished 3rd. Congratulations 

With the ever happening guys fro FIT-Q
 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Nissan Triathlon Festival Dubai 2015

I was not planning to participate in this race. It was a last minute decision as a substitute for Rotterdam Marathon after my leave was not approved. The race was orrigionally scheduled on 3rd April but was postponed to 17th April following a massive sandstorm that engulfed the whole GCC region a day prior to the race. I was supposed to go with Dave Walsh and Alan Sawyer, my buddies from Triclub Doha but they weren't able to join the race on 17th as they all have made prior arrangements. So I was left 'Billy no mates' going to Dubai.

The event was held at The Atlantis resort Palm Jumeirah. I only realized how big the Palm was when I took a taxi ride on Thursday evening to check on the venue.

Swim

I put a lot of time in the last month to practice my swim with my coaches Ben Laferty and Michael Simpson from Hamilton Aquatics knowing it is my weakest sport. I have improved from 2:30/100m to around 2:05/100m average over a 1500m distance in a pool. So I was pretty confident to clock a better swim leg in Dubai.

The water was as calm as lake. It was a deep water start as it was low tide and the beach was full of sharp rocks. I started off well and managed to stay in the main pack until the second buoy. I thought the swim was longer than it should. I got tired and lost my swimming form. I did not feel supported by the water and by the second lap I was being dropped to the very tail of the swim pack. Only now I'd truly appreciate swimming in a wetsuit. The swim was also longer than it should. It was 1.65 km on my watch and all the people I talked to after the race agreed. 


Almost the last out of the water


Bike

Knowing I had a lot to catch up, I was determined to cycle at full throttle. The bike course was very technical and the most challenging I have ever raced on. The 42 km (again the course was longer) were littered with speed humps, yellow strips and tight corners at roundabouts and underground U-turn. It was also very hilly with tunnel, flyover and ramps. I pedaled hard and was really happy with my effort. Going down the tunnel was an experience when my top speed was 71.7km/h. It's not everyday that my bike was faster than the cars.  But I suffered going up the tunnel and the flyover every time. My bike was even stalled at one point. In the end my average speed was 30.5km/h and I could not have been happier given the circumstances.

Going to T2

Run

The thought of digging deep and mount the last attack in the run was not materialized. I limped and could barely run at all. It was already too hot then and I was already tired when I started the run. Well thanks to my awesome bike leg. I forgot that triathlon is not Swim+Bike+Run but 'Swimbikerun'. I was even being lapped by few Arab girls clad in their head scarf while running fully covered under the hot sun. I was so ashamed of myself. I just cannot wait to cross the finish line. The uninspiring running course certainly did not help. Good thing that they had plenty of volunteers and the support stations were adequate with plenty of cold water. I kept going with the aim just to finish. 

Personal Worst. Just glad it was over

I crossed the line with a time of 3:17:54. Officially my personal worst Olympic Distance triathlon, but I could not care less. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and rest.

Nice way to cool off after the race
I may not have the best of experience in this race, but I was happy that I have made a big improvement on the bike. That is exactly what I am planning to do next, to improve on my bike. Cycling takes the biggest chunk in a triathlon, so that's where I should be focusing on.  I will take up coaching and start riding with the big boys when I go back to Doha.

Monday, 13 April 2015

QCF/QCR Individual Time Trial

I was excited to participate in the ITT held yesterday to see how far have I improved since the last ITT in September last year. After some trainings and few upgrades done to my Roubaix I was expecting a good result. I was not alone this time, as Hani was also took part for the very first time. She just bought a Specialized Amira three days ago and rode just twice before the race.

The race was held around Losail sports complex and it was a better venue than Ceremonial road as it was flat and closed to traffic. I forgot my bike computer and without it I was clueless and just rode by feel and the windy condition was not helping either. When the result came out, I was a little disappointed to see myself ranked 20th of the 22 finishers in the Open Male category even though my average speed was 32.8km/h which was a lot better than my current record for that course segment in Strava which was 30.2km/h. Hani did very well finishing at 14th of 18 finishers in her category considering she only started riding less than a week and rode the bike in running shoes.

Hani with her new Specialized Amira. I think she will start training for triathlon soon too.

Loving my new Zipp 808 aero wheel
The event ended up on a high note when I finally got the chance to meet my triathlon idol, Ryan Christian who won the race in a mind boggling average speed of 46.4km/h. He just qualified for Ironman World Championship after finishing 4th in his division in the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship recently. That was his first Ironman too after making his mark among the world's top triathletes in 70.3 distance. So if I want to swim bike and ride like Ryan, I better start training like Ryan too.    
 
When I grow up I want to be like Ryan Christian
 

The Malaysian contingent, L-R, Najib, Me, Hani, Lolyta, David and Yusry. Congratulations to all especially Lolyta for finishing 10th in her category in her first ITT. 

My road to Boston

I took up running in July 2011 after my BMI rating shows Pre Obese. I was 10kg overweight. My doctor advised me to excercise for 30 min every day, quit smoking and eat healthy.I cannot even run a full 1km without taking walk breaks when I first started. But I can proudly call myself a marathon runner a year after. I joined Doha Bay Running Club in January 2012 and I am glad to be surrounded with like minded people around me. My goal is now to qualify for Boston Marathon.