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Friday, December 30, 2011

Malakoff 12Km-Last Race for 2011

I kept on delaying writing on this Malakoff 12km run which was held in Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort,Kuala Lumpur on 18th December 2011.

Finally,I decided to sacrifice some of my personal time to complete writing on this run before my next run which is The Newton 25km Run on New Year Day.

Lau,Heng,Teng and myself took part in this run.This is the first time I am taking part in Malakoff and I heard it was a tough run with many hills and slopes.

Immediately after the start,we have to run on a long steep slope before coming into Jalan Beringin where we have to do 2 rounds and finally back to the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Resort.

It was a short run but quite challenging because of many slopes along the route.

++Group photo after the run with our goodies bag.I met my former university roommate whom I have not seen since graduation after the run..Dr.Choo (the guy with green T shirt on the extreme right of this picture).He is now a successful cardiologist in Sime Darby Medical Center.++


Overall...it was a very well organised run.Everything was in an orderly manner from the finishing point up to collecting our medal,goodies bag and post run breakfast.


Will make an effort to take part again next year.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Hope

SIB Seremban Combined Christmas Celebration 25th December 2011.

When we look around us,sometimes it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the seeming hopelessness of everything that is happening.However Christmas gives us every reason to remain HOPEFUL!


++ Christmas message by Ps.Steven Lee and Ps David Goh.

JESUS WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS TO BRING US HOPE.

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those with whom he is pleased!"Luke 2:10-11,13-14

Jesus said "God's spirit is upon me, because He has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, to set free the oppressed,and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people"Luke 4:18-19



++ One of the performances on Christmas Day.Both my daughters took part in this dance.

JESUS GIVES US HOPE FOR TODAY,TOMORROW AND FOREVER

Who,then,can separate us from the love of Christ?Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below-there is nothing in all creation that will be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35,37-39

JESUS OFFERS HOPE FOR YOU


Jesus said,"I have come in order that you might have life-life in all its fullness."John 10:10


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011







S2 Runners:Lau,Lim,Teng,Heng,Teh and Francis.
Friends:Liau (Melaka),Chai (Shanghai).

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011 edition-a race which we promised not to take part in one year ago because we don't like running among the packed marathoners.This year there were 20,000 full marathoners!However we broke our promise and signed up for this 2011 edition.

Immediately after landed in Changi Airport,we went for our breakfast in the airport terminal before taking the MRT to Marina Bay to collect our running packs. Met up with Chai and Francis at Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands.




Race pack collection was fast except for some issue of incorrect vest size.I got my XL size vest but the rest didn't got the choice.Heng was extremely upset and decided to complain.He queued up to speak to the person in charge and yet he did not managed to get his vest size.At least he managed to voice out his dissatisfaction to the organiser.I wonder if the organiser do listen.

**Expo:plenty to see and to buy.We bought Asics running shoes.

This year we stayed in a budget hotel:the South East Asia Hotel in Bugis which is not far away from The Padang.Personally I don't like the location of this hotel and its surrounding which looks very "complicated".The old lady Chinese receptionist was not friendly.She don't greet you and the way she speaks was very rude.I wonder how this hotel can survive with this kind of staff.

When she saw me sitting in front of the reception while waiting for Lau,she called out at me..
Old lady:"Hello!!...hello!!...you waiting for who?"

When I inquired why it took so long for us to check in:
Old lady:"Room not ready.You want fast,you go up and ask the cleaner to hurry up!"

When I look in the room with such a small antique TV and the air conditioner with nonadjustable settings plus the attitude of the receptionist ,I will not recommend this hotel to my friends in the future.

Went out in the afternoon to explore Singapore:to the Casino in Marina Bay,Orchard Road for the Christmas light up and carbo loading session sponsored by Chai.


Woke up at 3:00am on Sunday morning.Surprisingly I managed to get 4 hours of sleep,probably because I was not too worry about the outcome of this run.Not much of pre-race stress.


We took the MRT to Orchard Station.There were many runners using the MRT too.On arrival in Orchard we headed to the baggage deposit area and were surprised to see such a long queue.Lau,Teng and I were separated from the rest of the group.We managed to deposit our bags after waiting for about 20 minutes.

By the time we reached the starting point,it was fully packed with runners.It was difficult to enter to the waiting area through the proper entrance.We decided to join other runners by climbing through the road barricades.

Race started at 5:00am.Lau and I were together for the first 3km before I lost him in the massive crowd.At the beginning,certain part of the road was very narrow where only one lane was opened for runners.We have to walk for a short distance near the Maxwell food court area as it was too congested to run.



I had a comfortable run for the first few km as it was very slow.Caught up with the 5:30 hour pacer at 6km mark and subsequently overtook the 5:15 hour pacer at 8km mark.




**The 5:15 hour pacers running through East Coast Park.Picture taken by Tey.I did not bring my camera but managed to get some pictures using my hand phone.


As I wasn't going for any PB target,I took it easy and maintained my usual slow LSD pace of 6:30 to 7:00min/km.There was no urge to catch up with any of the S2 runners.I was running my own race with my own target to finish it within 5 hours or at worst 5.5 hours.


**Saw the "power rangers"runners in ECP.I wonder how they can run in this full body costume.Must be very hot and not easy.


I caught up with Teh at the U turn in the East Coast Park.Had a brief chat with him.On the way out of ECP,I started to feel the effect from my lack of training.I started to feel tired and hungry despite swallowing 4 packets of Powergel.It was only 29 km into the run.








At the 30km mark,my pace started to slow and I gave in by starting to walk in between run.I tried not to walk for too long.

At 33km mark,somewhere near a construction site,I was very surprised to see Teng sitting by the road side.He told me his legs cramped.I asked him to walk and persuaded him to join me for a slow run but he declined.He was the one whom most of us expect to perform well in this run.Maybe he caved in to our pressure and expectation.



I was still in my run walk mode when I caught up with Liau at 35km.He was walking too!!When I caught a glimpse of him running strong behind the 4:30H pacers in ECP,I knew he will be hitting a PB.Too bad for him as his legs cramped too after 30km.



When I saw the 35km mark,I told myself not to walk too much....Only 7km more!!Shouldn't be difficult...just imagine the usual easy run from my house to S2 Park....don't give in....jog,jog all the way...don't walk!! It was about 4 hours in the run.Not bad!!I was just trying to motivate myself.


However my legs refused to run.I felt both my legs were "heavy".I had the similar feeling during my first few marathons and I am having it again.This was all due to lack of training.I joined the 10km crowd walking throughout the Shreares Bridge.Last year I complained that the 10km crowd was blocking the marathoners but this year I was among them blocking other runners by walking along the narrow bridge.Sorry guys...my legs refused to listen.Ha..ha..ha..



At 40km mark,I was still in my walk run mode....more of walking than running.That was embarrassing!!Finally at the last 1km,I forced myself to do a slow run when approaching the finishing line.Must looked good in front of the cheering crowds and the photographers.Ha..ha..ha..










**But the finishing picture didn't turned out to be nice.Look at my tired face and the posture.



My finishing time was 4h 55min 16 sec (chip time).Feel satisfied with my result as I was aiming for a 5 hour finishing.

**Together with Liau waiting for the rest of our group at The Padang.Can't see any of them so Liau,Lim and myself walked back to our hotel.



Overall we don't perform well in this race except for Francis.



Results:

1)Francis 3h 32min....good timing.His strategy was just to run at his LSD pace!


2)Lim 4h 52min...expected to perform better as he was training regularly and was following a training schedule.Don't worry Lim....try again in Borneo.


3)Heng 4h 53min...didn't walk at all throughout the race.Tough guy!


4)Myself 4h 55min...OK lah.What else to expect if one don't train properly.No easy way/short cut in life.


5)KK Liau 5h 02 min...if not for the cramps,this run might be his PB.


6)Teh 5h 16min...very good.He didn't do any long runs.Occasionally on Sunday,he ran for about 10km.Other days,busy with his business.


7)Teng 5h 40min...must be very disappointed.His first oversea run.Sub 4h will come soon for him.


8)Lau 5h 40min..few seconds behind Teng.They ran together for the last few km.Lau..Don't give up!He always declared he won't run any more marathons after each poor finishing.Don't worry...we all knew he will continue running.Ha..ha..ha..



Teng has already decided to return next year for a "revenge".Others have not decide but I am very sure I won't be returning for the 2012 edition due to another important commitment.




Overall it was a good run.The medal was nice.The finisher T looks almost the same every year.The was adequate water in all the water stations.Plenty of gels and bananas.



**Plenty of "unwanted gels".I don't like the taste.Almost vomiting after tasting it at the first gel station-about 23km mark.




The only let down was the crowd and the unavailability of requested vest and finisher T size.



"However we can't fully blame the crowd for slowing us down at the last few kilometres if ourselves are tired and can't run well.We can blame the crowd if we are still have plenty of energy to surge ahead but was unable to run because of the crowd."These words of wisdom from Yee when I spoken to him after our poor performance in SCSM.



See you again in Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2013....yes,it will be 2013 for me.I hope so.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 8

Day 8-today is our last day in New Zealand.Yeah...we are going home!At least I am looking forward to go back to Malaysia as I have some many things waiting for me at home while my wife and children are more keen to stay on.

We had about 6 hours before our afternoon flight back to Kuala Lumpur and we planned to have a good breakfast before leaving New Zealand.



I read about a place which claimed to have the best coffee in town – and maybe in all of Canterbury region in the lonely planet book and the place is in Lyttelton outskirt of Christchurch which was about 25 minutes drive from Christchurch city.


We drove all the way in the early morning to look for the best coffee in town but couldn't find the place despite using my GPS.Finally,I asked a local and she pointed to me a destroyed building (the picture above).That's where the famous Lyttelton Roasting Company once operated before the earthquake.It was total destroyed and has since been abandoned.The local suggested we try another coffee shop nearby operated by two youngsters.The coffee was just so so,nothing great but expensive.


After breakfast we drove around Lyttelton and took some pictures of the port and ships.Lyttelton is a port village that proudly proclaims itself as the gateway to Christchurch, has been devastated by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand's second largest city.Every second building on the town's main street has been severely damaged.

Then we made our way back to our motel,packed and check out before heading to the airport.

The last place we visited before flying home was the Antarctic Centre which is very near to the Christchurch Airport:http://www.iceberg.co.nz/ . The building looks very big from the outside but there are not many attractions in there.One only needs about 2 hours to complete the whole attractions.The Hagglund Ride (a rough ride in an amphibious vehicle which took us through some rough terrain and water) ,the Antarctic Storm Room (below) and the 4D Show (on penguins and Antarctic exploration) are recommended.


Freezing cold.....In the ice room where one can feel the real temperatures and winds of Antarctica, -30 degrees Celsius.We were the first to exit from the room.Just can't stand the cold,my fingers were numb and I decided not to wait until the end.(supposed to be a 10 minutes experience of Antarctica storm).


Finally...it was the end of our trip.We drove for about 1600km during our trip.I have never drive for such a distance in my life but driving in New Zealand wasn't stressful at all.Almost everyone followed the speed limit and I found most the the drivers are very courteous.They don't honked at you,they gave way to other motorists and they obeyed the laws.The speed limit in town/city areas is 50km/hour while the highways is 100km/h.I found it was difficult to drive at 50km/h and many times,I exceeded the speed limit.Luckily my GPS warned me to slow down.


We returned the car to Apex Car Rental:http://www.apexrentals.co.nz/default.aspx .They provided a shuttle service to send us back to the airport.Their service is good,the car is almost brand new and their rate is reasonable compared to others.I will definitely use them again if I will to visit New Zealand again.

This was a very enjoyable trip for the whole family.We have lots of fun in such a short period.I wished we have more time to spend.New Zealand is a very big country and one needs to take a much longer holidays to slowly explore it.


With this trip,we finally concluded our "holiday marathons" for the year 2011.We have visited Shanghai,Seoul,Mulu National Park and New Zealand during each school breaks in 2011.


Last but not least....Thank God for everything that went smoothly throughout our trip.I have no complaints except for the unfavourable currency exchange which makes visiting New Zealand an expensive affair.


We shall return in the future....maybe in 3 years?


Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 7


Day 7-our last day in Queenstown and we are flying to Christchurch in the afternoon.

This picture was taken at 7:09am and the sun was already up and bright.The moon was still visible in this picture.Got my family off to Queenstown Garden which situated about 300 metres from our motel.It was a nice peaceful garden along side the lake.Good place to snap pictures of the lake !!

My children admiring the ducks.I wonder if these ducks can survive in public lakes or gardens in Malaysia.I am sure these ducks will end up on someone's dinner table.
There were lovely, amazing trees and flowers. The view across the lake was great and one can walk in it - if he/she can bear the very cold water!

The last place we visited before flying out was the Queenstown gondola ride to the peak.http://www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/


The Ledge Bungy at the top of Queenstown gondola.It comes equipped with a 'runway' to launch you out 400 metres over Queenstown.

The views from the viewing deck were very impressive.We could see the whole of Queenstown and its surrounding lakes.

Reading the code of conduct before riding the Luge...once is never enough!!My children went three times and yet asking for more!

My children loves riding this...

A beautiful clear blue skied day. Such a spectacular view. There were a few paragliders hanging around.Hope one day I can ride this...less stressful than doing a bungee jump.

Riding the Luge...once is not enough!http://www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/luge/

**View during our fight from Queenstown to Christchurch using Air New Zealand.**

After spending the whole morning at the Queenstown gondola,we drove to Queenstown Airport to return our car and to catch a flight to Christchurch.http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/home

It was very easy to return our rented car.Just park it at a designated spot in Queenstown Airport parking area and drop off the key at the Apex Car Rental booth inside the airport.They didn't even check my car when I return the key.The wasn't any damage to the car except slight dented front rim and a very dirty interior because my children ate inside the car.

A last minute decision:we decided to rent a car when we arrived in Christchurch.So I made a booking at the Apex Car Rental in Queenstown Airport and told them I will collect the car in two hours on arrival in Christchurch.

This was where we stayed during our last night in New Zealand..The City Central Motel Apartment.They have nice big apartments but sad to say,they have the worst view of all the places I have stayed for the past few days.The view from my apartment was the badly destroyed buildings from earthquake.http://www.citycentral.co.nz/index.htm

***Christchurch gondola-closed after the earthquake.This place has been totally abandoned.Not a single soul there when we drove by.

We had 24 hours to spend in Christchurch before our flight back to Malaysia.The caretaker of the motel told me there wasn't much to do in Christchurch."Go bring your children to run around in the park".I told her we have done that earlier.

Then I told her I intended to venture out from Christchurch to see the surrounding towns.She said most of these town has been badly damaged by the earthquake.What?I thought only Christchurch city center was destroyed.I was wrong!!

We drove off to Sumner,a small town at the outskirt of Christchurch.Sumner has been hard hit by the earthquake.The areas on top and at the bottom of the cliffs have either crumbled, with houses crashing down the cliff or have been hit by huge rocks
.

They put rows of large containers along the road as a barricade against falling rocks or soil.The whole town was dead quiet.We found a local shop selling fish and chips operated by a young Chinese couple.We went in to have our dinner...the least we can do to help stimulate the local economy.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 6


Day 6-it is almost the end of our trip.We have seen the famous and frequently mentioned Milford Sound.Now it is time for us to go back to Queenstown.

The house which we rented in Te Anau.My wife was preparing breakfast.


Posing in front of the main office after checking out.We like this place very much.
After that we went to Manapouri which is a small town 20 minutes drive away from Te Anau. It is the gateway to both Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.It is also the starting point for many local walking tracks.This place is very much quieter than Milford Sound.

Scenery on the returning journey to Queentown.Sheep..



Colourful plants and trees..


Sad..sad...encounters.Seen many road kills along New Zealand roads.Many animals were killed by speeding vehicles.

Stopping next to a beautiful lake...


Another nice scenery...


Encounter another problem on our way back to Queenstown.The GPS was not functioning.I called the car rental hotline and they suggested I bring the GPS to their Queenstown office for checking.The staff was helpful.She just exchange the GPS without asking much.


The view of a main road in Queenstown.It is busier here compared to any other town which we have passed through.Queenstown is very much alive!!while Christchurch is "dead" .

http://www.bungy.co.nz/kawarau-bungy-centre/kawarau-bungy


Visited the famous bungy jumping site in Queenstown..The Kawarau Bridge Bungy - home to the original 43 metre Bungy Jump.


I did not dared to jump...I don't think my heart can take it.However there were many others lining up waiting to jump.Crazy...risking the life,giving tremendous amount of stress to self and on top of these,have to pay NZD 180 per jump.The one who dared to take the challenge and successfully jump will be given a T-shirt and a certificate.Reminds me of full marathon finisher T and certificate.Ha..ha..ha..

Found out that bungee jumping can cause different kinds of injuries and occasionally accidents do happen.

***Bungee jumping injuries may be divided into those that occur secondary to equipment mishap or tragic accident, and those that occur regardless of safety measures. In the first instance, injury can happen if the safety harness fails, the cord elasticity is miscalculated, or the cord is not properly connected to the jump platform

Injuries that occur despite safety measures generally relate to the abrupt rise in upper body intravascular pressure during bungee cord recoil. Eyesight damage is the most frequently reported complication.Impaired eyesight secondary to retinal haemorrhage may be transient or take several weeks to resolve. Whiplash injuries may occur as the jumper is jolted on the bungee cord and in at least one case, this has led to quadriplegia secondary to a broken neck. Very serious injury can also occur if the jumper's neck or body gets entangled in the cord.More recently, carotid artery dissection leading to a type of stroke after bungee jumping has also been described.All of these injuries have occurred in fit and healthy people in their twenties and thirties. Bungee jumping has also been shown to increase stress and decrease immune function.***


Later that day we drove to Glenorchy which is famous for its horse rides and the making of the movie :Lord of the Rings.Glenorchy is a small settlement at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand's south Island. It is approximately 45 kilometres by road Queenstown.

The facts:


Glenorchy is a popular tourist spot, close to many tramping tracks. It lies near the borders of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The local scenery received worldwide attention when it was used as one of the settings in the first of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. The scene where Boromir was slain and leant near a tree, Lothlórien and Orthanc were a few that were shot in Paradise. Vertical Limit and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were also filmed in the area.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 5

Day 5-another good bright sunny day in Te Anau.We woke up early because we plan to drive to Milford Sound by 7:30am in order to avoid those buses heading in the same direction.

Milford Sound:

"Over one million people visit Fiordland every year and Milford Sound is one of their favourite destinations. A part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is no wonder that Milford Sound was described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world'."


The Milford Road is a stunning alpine drive.One needs to allow plenty of time to make the drive through this steep and windy highway.There are many viewing points and short walking opportunities en route which provide opportunities to get out of the car to admire the spectacular scenery and the sheer scale of the landscape.

Total distance from Te Anau to Milford Sound and back is 240km and it will takes about 2 hours to drive non stop one way.There are no fuel stations along the way until Milford Sound.



Proper flush toilet stops can be found at Knobs Flat, The Divide and Milford Sound.








There is no cell phone coverage between Te Anau and Milford Sound.According to the information provided:Telephone services are available at Knobs Flat (card phone), Homer Tunnel (satellite phone for emergency use only) and Milford Sound (card phone).We have our first scare with our rented car about 25km from Milford Sound when we smell something burning while we were travelling down hill.We stopped at the nearest rest area and discovered that one of the car rim was dented and there was a burning smell from the front tyre.I was feeling panic and was trying to figure out ways to look for help.Then I decided to take the risk to drive up to Milford Sound before I call the car rental emergency help line.



***Another beautiful scenic view along the State Highway 94 which is one of the highest and most scenic state highways in New Zealand. The highest part of the road is at 940 metres above sea level. Posing in front of the Homer Tunnel while waiting for our turn to cross this tunnel.The road leading to this tunnel-before and after the tunnel is very steep and winding.I suspected my car rim might have knocked onto some rocks which I was not aware of.



We came across this aggressive bird during one of our stops.This bird is not afraid of humans and it is fierce.This bird tried to "force open"my car door by biting on the car rubber!!



The info on this bird:



"The Kea (pronounced keɪ.ə/; Māori: [kɛ.a]) (Nestor notabilis) is a large species of parrot. (family Strigopidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. About 48 centimetres (19 in) long, it is mostly olive-green with a brilliant orange under its wings and has a large narrow curved grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is the world's only alpine parrot. Its omnivorous diet includes carrion but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects.

The Kea's notorious urge to explore and manipulate makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "the clown of the mountains", it will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items."

**Playing along a small stream on our way up to the Homer Tunnel.



***One of the stops along the Milford Road is The Chasm...massive rock formation and great water falls.
We took 3 hours to reach Milford Sound from Te Anau because of the frequent stops along the way.
***Inside this cruise terminal building waiting for our departure.Surprisingly there wasn't many people in Milford Sound,not like what described in travel websites or books.



http://www.southerndiscoveries.co.nz/



We took the 3 hours long Discover More Cruise which also provides us a buffet lunch which was good,delicious and filling.There was also unlimited serving of coffee and tea throughout the trip.




***The Milford Deep Underwater Observatory which claimed to be the only floating underwater observatory in New Zealand.It was refurbished and re-launched in January 2010 with striking new information panels where one can learn the natural history, geology and environment of Milford Sound.There is a 10m underwater viewing chamber with a 360-degree views of the marine life which I find to be nothing special.





**Seals lying on the rocks.This was the only wildlife encounter during our 3 hours cruise in Milford Sound.




***Our ship getting near to a waterfall...We enjoyed the majestic surroundings and natural beauty of the Milford Sound including the wildlife , waterfalls and snow capped mountains.




On our way back from Milford Sound,we stopped by Lake Gunn as my son was very eager to try out his new fishing rod.The water was clear and we can see fish swimming close to us but unfortunately my son was unable to hook anyone of them.



My son was frustrated and he insisted to continue fishing at a river mouth in Te Anau.This location was provided by the owner of Stu Fish Shop.Despite spending another hour here,he still unable to get any fish.Arghh.....!!



We were out for almost 14 hours today.It was so nice to have a long day time during spring and summer.



We had a great trip to Milford Sound and the trip/cruise was definitely worth the time and money.