Monday, November 30, 2009

Off the beaten track

Didn't find the tunnel, only the toll plaza

It was rather an uncertain morning climate as we rendevouzed at Kiara Park that morning. The previous night was full of doubtness from the weather forecast, especially after the torrential thunderstorm that hit Klang Valley on hari raya evening. I had to abandon my ride on Saturday morning due to qorban's commitment. My whole week without any run will pretty much sure pay my body some upshots.

Turn up was quite encouraging. From what supposed to be only a party of 3, there was an additional of 6 more! Wowzy! Words of mouth & some networking managed to gather a powerful group this morning. The trail was ready to be thomped for the next hours.

Of course our main plan was to run the whole Salomon race route but as usual & as before, we were kind of deviated from the map. Kiara trails were no longer a holy grail after it was ripped apart by metal clunkers few years back, making way for horse trails...konon! Horses won't need a trail 3 meters apart! Mountainbike trails were cut-off, making our journey tracing it from the map a bit thorny. Making our way from Lower Carnival up to Flintstone's Playground was kinda straight forward with some awkward moments here and there. Swerving onto Janie's Addiction (dulu ni la the mother of fast holy grail up to kampung road) which is perhaps now Janie "the horse trail", we were halted by some major deviation from finding Bar-a-kuda. Of course I had to go for Plan B which was enrouting the party towards the mansion on the hill & climbing the cut hill towards the peak.

Acap attempting a trail runner model post

We didn't head off towards Twin Peaks this time but continued into Snake and Ladders (the mountainbike trail). Gosh! It was total fun! I kept saying to Alwin & Saiful how awesome it was & remembering all those moments riding it. It was definite snaking & laddering around those rubber trees while balancing oneself from sliding down the steep terraces. We missed those great days. Hmmm...2004 or 2005 that was? Now running on it gave the same feeling but with a slightly different vision.

Dark skies on our right creeping in

As we came to the 4 cross junction where the normal hang-outs for fellow mountainbikers, we were almost completing the agenda. There lays 2K & 4K for us to connect the puzzle. Down 2K, Apollo & up dragging ourselves onto The Mission. Constant trail pounding & undulating courses started to zapp our oomph! We were already looking forward for a discount. As soon as we reached the tarmac by the water tank, we were frenzy enough to whack through the carnival course back to carpark. Perhaps everyone had to call it a day & had enough of the beating. However we still managed to strike a post with smiles & chats before feasting with carbos.

L-R: Azmar, Ling, Fong, Ajeep, Saiful, Bacin, Acap, Alwin & me

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trails! Trails! Trails!

Completing two trail runs in a row was demanding for my maiden adventure. Dengan berbekalkan semangat kasut baru & the urge to be back on the nature's trail, I traded my weekend mornings with two trail runs into Bukit Kiara & Pangsoon.

On Saturday morning, about 9 of us gathered at Kiara Park. I've decided to join some new friends whom apparently are avid bloggers which I discovered the run from. Names I can recall were Ian, Syah, Shaq, Doris, Shuk, Shukran & wife & of course Kash, Nik & Cheramiche. Semua kenal through blogs. Hebat dunia sekarang.

The menu was to attempt the Salomon xtrail route. Cheramiche guided us via Pat's only established Kiara map (mountainbike's map actually). Nik was all over the place taking photos of the run. We waded through steep technical climbs of Flintstone's Playground & found ourselves on top of Penchala Link's tunnel. It was everybody's dream to be there. That was the spot that I wondered years back whether mountaibike trails passed that route as I drove into the tunnel every now & then. Trails around the area were a bit vague since mountainbikers seldom used these technical routes unless those with 6 inches droppies. Some singletracks were gone replaced by horse trails.

We made our way back to Bar-a-kuda & Snakes & ladders. Twin Peaks remained as before with all those ferns but the view of Pusat Sains Negara were covered by rubber trees. We burst down Twin Peaks towards Simpang Empat. I was enjoying every bit of the descent as though I was on my bike only without tapping on the brake levers. It felt so free & most importantly my knees didn't give up on me. Alhamdullillah.

Above the Penchala Link's tunnel. Akhirnya our curiosity terjawab

Our last stretch were 2K and part of the race track. Stumbled upon some mountainbiker friends & chatted away. Macam biasa, kalau berjumpa mesti mau sembang. It felt like reunion pulak. Hahaha. Apa taknya, Kiara trails used to be our weekend warrior battleground. I think my last ride here was 2 years which was only kept near to 2K & race track. During prime time, we often whacked our way towards Sg. Penchala & Segambut.

The run clocked almost 2 hours. We were awarded with an awesome weather before we wrapped up our post run meals (cokodok, salad, watermelon, 100+ : thanks to fellow sponsors). It started to drizzle as we hopped into our cars & left with smiles.

Senyum selagi boleh sebelum cekak pinggang kejap lagi

Come Sunday, I attempted the gruelling Pangsoon trail with fellow Camdekians. Semua nak test kasut baru. 6 of us. Though with some pains from Kiara's run, a promise is still a promise. We started a bit late at 10.00 allowing oneselves to secure domestic errands. My previous attempts up Gunung Nuang way back 20 years ago was nothing close to this method. Those years were either with a 10kg backpack or a day trip up to the peak hiking. The peak was always the objective upon setting foot at Pangsoon. But this time, we only attempted up to Kem Lolo...running! Peak of Nuang not in the menu.

Yes, the trail condition & elevation didn't change much. The continuing torment from the beginning to the end of the road was horrifying. The elevation gained in less than 5km was taxing every bit of our muscles. Giler kentang! Pom! Pom! Pom! Pakai ekzos besi pun takde makna. Hahaha! We were making small tiny running steps climbing those giant killer climbs. Walking with hands on our waists was not a good option. It will only strain more muscle & fatigue.

Kasut aneka rasa

Masih mampu berlari uphill

We managed to reach Kem Lolo an hour later feeling challenged & satisfied. The sight of descending back all those elevations was worrying. Can our knees survive? We stopped for a breather & some nonsense talks at Kem Lolo for 15 minutes before dashing off back down to Pangsoon. Suprisingly the agony was quick as we managed to constantly ran downhills, still with tiny steps without stopping too much.

Our last vertical before Lolo
Now, after two straight days of body banging, every point aches but it felt good. With these momentums, pursuing more workouts is not an option anymore. Do it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Top Twelve Trail Tips!

Well, what do you know? I know nothing. Nothing about trail running but it's time for me to find out. I need to add variations to my workouts especially working out those quads & calfs. Pounding oneself on the tarmac can be a bit monotonous at times. Perhaps it's about time to indulge myself back to nature as I used to be. I don't know whether my trekking & running downhills in Nuang ages ago can be defined as trail running.

I've been hyped by the shoe shopping affair. Been amazed by those spectacular photos from mags & webs. Perhaps some fundamental could be useful for a start. Adopted from Buzz Burrell's tips at

1) The longer the race, the longer the taper, and the shorter the warmup. The shorter the race the shorter the taper, and the longer the warmup.

2) You can only train as hard as you can rest. Running doesn’t actually make you better; it’s during the resting phase afterward that your body adapts and improves.

3) In a race, whoever takes the most steps, wins. Clever thought, eh? It might not be true, but it’s a good thought to keep in mind.

4) Periodization is key. Because nature goes in cycles, so should we. Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual cycles of effort and rest are good.

5) The older you get: The more you need to rest, but the less time you should take off. Make sense? Masters runners can’t do hard days in a row w/o risking injury, but neither can they take a month off in the winter and come back readily.

6) Don’t be shy of roads, especially during the offseason. Running on cold, hard pavement will quicken your turnover and improve your form. And running on a treadmill during the offseason does wonders for your form.
7) Running uphill could be easy. There is no impact, thus minimal risk of injury, so many older runners specialize in uphill races. Don’t get psyched out – uphill is work for everyone; concentrate (as in all running) on quick turnover rather than strength; breathe more than you ever thought possible, and go for it.

8) Downhill running can be tricky. Really concentrate on quick turnover to maintain proper form and not over-stride. On technical descents: relax, pay close attention, and go for it.

9) Running is actually an injury prevention game. All the training plans you hear about are secondary; anyone can train, most people can race, and if you’re reading this you are motivated to learn. But can you keep from being injured?

10) American trail runners don’t aspire to run faster; they aspire to run longer. This is odd. Few people are capable of effectively running a Marathon let alone longer than that; first learn to run period, before trying to go ultra distances.

11) If you’re not happy, you’re blowing it. Better take a look at that, and make the appropriate choices. Happiness is your choice.

12) There is a great diet that is perfect for long-distance runners. Unfortunately, no one knows what it is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seri Manjung...hmmm alahai

Sedap sungguh nama tu. Seri Manjung. Nama yang aku langsung tak kenal until Powerman was introduced. Yang aku pernah dengar cuma Kampung Manjoi & Manjung powerplant. After my visit there in 2007, rupa-rupanya kerap pulak aku ke sana & hovering around nearby Lumut town.

Ok, this year I came back with a big mission. The Individual Distance. Something that I expected to be gruelling like running a 26 miler but without a bag of training. Only with the courage & confident from last SCKLM & some tiny trainings, I gave it a shot. Perhaps the shot wasn't much of a bang as I continue with this :)

8-November 2009. Powerman Malaysia.
Seven of us made the trip to Seri Manjung after quite a thorough planning. Saiful, Nizam, Hanchik, Azahari & me in the individual age category, Alwin in mix relay cat & Bahri in the sprint. Two cars fitted with 7 bikes & 7 souls. More like a can of sardines. Trust me, the journey was not a back-friendly one.

Weather was pretty warm & humid as we were flagged off at 7.30am. I can say about 500 athletes swarmed the Seri Manjung road attempting our first 11km run. My first run was kept at steady pace but noticeably sweat & HR was a bit on the threshold level. First gel was consumed at the water station about 1km before transition. I was careful while transitting, putting on my cycling shoes trying to avoid any movement that can invite cramps. In 2 minutes I was out of the transition & humping away into the bike course.

Speed & anxiety was awesome. I was maintaining a comfortable 30kph for the first 10km when suddenly disaster strike. Left calf cramped! Aiyo! So early eh? Trying not to panic, I slowly reduced my cadence & assessed the condition. Within the next 3 minutes, the right calf pulak! Ammmah! Well at least I was prepared for it. Memang dah jangka benda ni akan berlaku berpasangan. Hahaha! Just before the 15km U-turn, I stopped for a calf spray at the first aid station. Tapi macam tak rasa apa2 spray tu. Air sejuk agaknya.

The cramps came and left a few times especially when cadence varies & during any bridge humps. Maybe muscle twitched & vibration triggered it. Aku layan aje sampai la ke stadium semula untuk bike second lap. Another gel was scoffed. During this second lap that I stopped to lend Mohd. Zaki from CAR my tools. From the look of it, he was in a state of suffer. Saiful, Nizam & Hanchik rode pass. We played cat & mouse at the remaining distance as head wind & scortching sun added to the suffering pleasure. Hanchik banged his saddle while Nizam can't survive any further than 24kph. We came across Alwin at his prime speed a few times. Another gel. Saiful & me entered the transition together. He suffered cramps while dislodging from the bike & was "forced" to standstill while medic came.

Time was about 10.53am as I started to run leaving the stadium. Initial running condition was ok but not until the next 10 minutes. My slow & tiny pace can't survive longer. I walked & jogged for the remaining 10km. Luckily Saiful & another guy caught up & we chatted away over our run all the way to the finish line for which seemed so demanding. We walked under tree shades & ran when the sky opened. We burned like pisang salai.

We were awarded with medals & finisher t-shirt. Best of all was the freezing cold towel layed on our backs & non-stop orange & watermelon fiesta. I was sitting by the tent gulping loads of it. The lunch award menu was awesome. Pasta, cream soup, salad, fried chicken & rice. But I was already hungry within an hour. Hahaha. Body was burning calories like a boiler.

For my first time multi-sport event doing this distance, I was quite satisfied & thankful that I survived the milage & temperature. Crossing the finish line although barely 9 minutes before cut-off time was a bonus. The fundamental of it, kena train more la dude.

We arranged our award lunch ourselves. After checking out, we left straight to Ipoh for a feast at the legendary Nasi Vanggey! Ammmah! Thanks to Alwin for the sponsorship from his victory in mix relay. Lepas tu tapau Laksa Padang Polo pulak. Hahaha! Nothing more exciting besides the race than a road trip with friends.

Total time : 4:51:26
Run 1 : 00:58:54
Transition 1 : 00:02:04
Bike : 02:19:21
Transition 2 : 00:02:12
Run 2 : 01:28:54

Thursday, November 5, 2009


With the remaining days to go, the pre-race anxiety started to bug me. The inclement weather condition added to the blues. As I sat safely in my car, avoiding all necessary risk from being a motorist approaching the race day, in the cold morning and evening traffic, the doubt, the dilemma, the curiosity & worriness engulfed at one time into once mind. Day came, day go. Two more days dude!

Comparing my recent SCKLM with this upcoming Seri Manjung trip, it is obvious that preparation was a huge different. Unscheduled trainings. Lack of discipline. Tonnes of laziness. Training buddies. Holidays. Duties. Or whatever lame excuses I can grip at. What have I done? I wish I don't deserve the consequences. I wish that every moment of my Seri Manjung trip will be a sweet & motivational adventure.

Be strong. Be confident. Run strong. Cycle smart. Enjoy the trip. Breath in the nice ambient. It should be an awesome outing. Anchor yourself dude!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Senaman batu bata

Due to work fatigue, drive fatigue & inconsistent weather pattern my week was jumbled up between languor, interval & taper (if I define it right...hehe). It's just a matter of getting more rest during taperring or is it I still have the hunch that I am undertrained. No need to worry la bro. It should be ok. Hopefully. Just enjoy the trip & the race. Despite the 50-50 feeling of undertrained, I am convinced that it would be a great race. Insyallah.

So, as the days passed by filled with lots of stuff, cold & wet, hot & dry, I approached the weekend with some high hopes for a final brick workout. Saturday morning came with a thunderstorm all over Klang Valley. I'm assuming that most workouts were abandoned that morning. I adapted to the climate although getting stuck in bed was preferable. Although I had some workout plans up my sleeve but it was nothing obligatory. All things outdoors were KIVed. I ended up tutoring my daughter for her exam with a cup of hot nescafe & the Star by the sliding door enjoying every second of the cold & wet morning. Yes, it rained throughout the day. Drizzled & sprinkled now and then.

By 11.30am it was guys time out. New word I got from Julie..."bromantic time". Hahaha. Almost sounded like Brokeback Mountain. Det & me went to Armada Hotel for our Powerman race kit collection. We met up with Hanchik & Alwin & some other friends i.e. Laif & Julie. Some jokes with Jashrul of Total Field Powerbar. We left for Mines for lunch & window shopped. Something for Salomon Xtrail Run prep. Saiful & me are eyeing a pair of Kanadia TR2.
Come Sunday, I left home as early as 6.15am to meet up with the rest of kaum Camdek at Putrajaya pool for our planned brickwork. Weather was perfect. 6 of us & we saw some others were doing the same. Perhaps the rest of Klang Valley athletes were running the Terry Fox run in KL. Menu was 1 loop of IM bike route & 1 loop of PICC great climb for run. Workout went well & we had some great laughs while cooling down by the lake. Biasa la kaum Camdek, kalau tak merapu tak sah. One week to go or is it 6 days la! Perhaps I could squeeze in some mini workouts to straigten my tight nerves.