Thursday, July 28, 2011

Runner At Heart, Runner In Soul

I had yet another late night at the office today, just managing to grab a quick sammich from Subway on my way home, a scant 10mins before they were scheduled to close shop.

Upon reaching home, as I scarfed down my delicious, late dinner, I remembered the Subway voucher still lying in the Race Pack pouch I got for the SCMKL and went to get it out to use. Expiring 31st July. Thank God that, 
a) I remembered it on time, and 
b) I looooove Subway and can eat it on a daily basis anyway! *g*

Along with the voucher, I fished out an expired discount coupon for Timex watches and the SCMKL Runner's Guide Book. Flipping through the guide to see if there might be some useful tips to remember for my next HM race, I took some time to admire the once-thought-unconquerable 21KM route that I ran (and conquered!) as well as to scrutinize the Full Marathon route. Again. And all at once, my respect for full marathoners was wholly renewed, nevermind my respect for ultra-marathoners! Insane. But awesome. Insanely awesome.

It made me wonder if I could one day complete a marathon? Even a triathlon, maybe? The idea of being a triathlete is appealing.

However, nevermind triathlons, being even just a marathoner takes tremendous, dedicated training.. And let's face it. I know me. I don't have that kind of discipline. Passion, yes. Follow through, erm.. less so. Berangan je lebih. Haha.

Still, while I cannot in honesty (or full conscience!) call myself a serious runner, I do love to run. Running makes me happy. That wonderful high of being completely tuned-in to my body.. unparalleled, liberating joy. Of being able to completely empty my mind of everything save the rhythm of my breath and each footfall I make... Rightly or wrongly, running makes me feel better about myself. Running brings me peace of mind & gives me solace.

And perhaps that is all that matters, that no matter how casual a runner I am, this is what makes me a runner, at heart and in soul.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Does This Make Me A Full-Fledged Runner Now?

So remember me writing about losing toenails? By the horrified expressions on my pedicurists yesterday, it's officially happened. I've lost my toenails!

For the first time since SCMKL, I went for a mani/pedi. Seeing as how the new office is right next to a shopping mall (or three!), I decided to pop into a nail salon for a bit of pampering after a too-quick lunch.

The pedicurist, upon clipping my toenails, suddenly let out a horrified gasp and started yammering about how my nails were horridly fungus infected (because the flesh had separated from the nail, all the way to the base) and how I needed this magnificently over-priced unguent to remedy it.

Thing is, one of my besties has a nail fungal infection. She showed it to me and related how her pedicurist had actually inserted a lidi into the vacant space of her nail and how she barely felt it. So I knew that mine was no fungal infection and nothing more serious than what I've been reading of black/lost runner toenails.

I tried explaining to the woman that the black she was looking at were just bloodclots under the nails, and that the spaces where bits of the clots had chipped away and fell out were not fungal infections. She tried her damndest to yell me down and just to prove she had it right over my "excuses", she vehemently poked under my nail with a lidi. Without asking me first if it was okay to do so. The pain was so tear-inducing I almost kicked her in the face in reflex.

It was only then that she conceded my toenail were not fungus-ridden, but by that time I had insisted on a different pedicurist. 

Upon arriving home, I contorted myself into pretzel-like proportions to peer at my nails. Yup, the nails of my second+third toes on the right foot, and baby toe of my left foot had come clean away from the flesh! They don't hurt anymore.. unless of course some eejit pedicurist tries to jam sharp wooden skewers under them, or when I try to lift them higher (at which point it starts to ache at the base of the nail, which is still perfectly attached). 

Gross? Nyeahahaha! But cool. And according to some people, PROOF that I am a blooded (and nail-less!) runner!
So. It's official. I've lost three toenails. :O)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Barefoot Running?

I've been reading up on running and injuries of late, and here's what seems to be the most fuss-free remedy for most running ailments: barefoot running.


The basic premise to why barefoot running is good for you seems to be that all the cushioning and arch support found in running shoes actually do you more harm than good by "encouraging" poor stride. Moreover, there have been some articles that indicate the more expensive the shoes, the worse they may be for you.

So. Barefoot running. Just another fad, or is there actually something to this?

I'm intrigued enough to give this a try. Some runners have recounted how most - if not all - their running-associated problems went away once they switched to barefoot running, including joint pains. Whilst mine have been attributed to early osteoarthritis, which is a result of wear on the cartilage in my knees, which is a result of the impact generated from running, it's been written that barefoot running will force you to run with the correct stride and posture (ie. as the human body was designed to run) which in turn will result in lesser impact to the joints. Supposedly because you're doing things "correctly".

An acquaintance recommended Vibrams when I complained about my toenails hurting post-Energizer. Subsequent reading pretty much made the case for them. Funky-looking; I must mention that toe-socks freak the hell out of me, nevermind toe.. err.. gloves. Still, they seem pretty well-received by some runners, and are especially endorsed by barefoot runners, so why not? Also, some of them come in cute colours. *ahaks!*

Here are a few reviews on ye Vibrams, for those of you who might be interested, or skepticalAlso, a reminder to go slow with the Vibrams in the intial stages. Obviously, our feet have been conditioned to wearing shoes and barefoot running will be something we'll have to ease our muscles back into gradually. 

I'll most likely pop across the glorified longkang for a pair sometime next week, so we'll see how these babies perform. 

In the meanwhile, here's an interesting TED Talk by ultra-marathoner Christopher McDougall, a renowned proponent of barefoot running and author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, a book on, well, a tribe of barefoot runners. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Energizer Malaysia Makes Amends

Okay, so I know what I said about being reimbursed and belated gift packs sent for the botched Energizer Night Run being poor compensation for the booboo in the first place, but perhaps I spoke a leeeettle too hastily. 

Ha! Ha!  <- ala Nelson Muntz

Final haul: 
  • Cheque for RM50 as reimbursement of Registration Fee
  • Finisher's certificate
  • Finisher's medal (even though there wasn't meant to be one for 11KM but no complaints because I get a sweet memento of my first race, yay!)
  • Energizer Night Race T-Shirt
  • USB Double AA-size Rechargable Battery Charger
  • Energizer Headlamp (yes, another one)
  • Schtick Quattro Razor
  • Err.. Playtex Tampon samples (??!) <- I wonder if they give these out to the male participants too??

Now, a month and a half since the kerfuffle, I suppose most of us would've forgotten the irk, so (for me anyway) the cheque and the goodies are most welcome. And it is nice proof that Energizer Malaysia actually walk the talk of their apologies. Their commitment to making amends, if nothing else, impressed this perhaps-too-easily-mollified-by-freebies-in-the-mail runner. Lol. *G*

Eh, no use holding on to jarum yang patah, right? Live and let live.. and "Thanks!" Energizer Malaysia for sticking by your commitment! I think you handled the crisis remarkably well in the way that Expose Media did not.

ps. They should've finished mailing out all the reimbursement cheques and gift packs by now. If you haven't received (but insist that you want) yours, email them at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Of Knee Pains and Minor Heartbreak

My left knee started twinging a couple of weeks after the Energizer Night Run. At first, I put it down to the hard workout of the Run and *nyeah*ed it aside. It wasn't a persistent twinge after all, just a sometime occurrence. 

A few weeks after it started, the twinge would consistently appear at the mid-point of a standard run. I'd hit the 5km marker, and there it would be, that niggling little pinch that went *tuit*tuit*tuit* in my left knee. It wasn't any real pain though, just an annoyance. A mention of it to the gym trainers begot me the advice of making sure I warmed up and stretched sufficiently pre-run. Check. 

A couple of weeks after that, no change, despite the more careful warm ups. It still didn't really hurt, but it was sure getting somewhat uncomfortable. I had begun to wonder if there was reasonable cause for me to see a sports therapist or physician or summink, but thought it a little too paranoid at this stage. Then three days ago, after some 4 too-busy-to-run-days, at approximately 3kms my right knee started twinging. Alamak! Concerned, I slowed down and jogged through it. And at the 5km mark, it happened: a sharp, shooting pain through my left knee. 

After hearing first-hand of too many people who were forced to forsake running forever after as a result of a bad knee, I was horrified. And paranoid or no, I made an appointment to see the orthopedics specialist at Columbia Asia the next day.

Long story short, the diagnosis was early osteoarthritis. Because my bones/kneecaps/joints are "imperfectly aligned", which resulted in wonky wear on the cartilage, which was causing the pain along my joint line. Incurable, due to it being a structural issue. Inevitable. Hereditary (which would really explain all my aunts & uncles on Mum's side who all have problems with their knees). Recommendation: give up running and take up swimming instead (low-impact sport, mah).

The personable ortho was right; I really didn't want to hear what he had to say. But the good news is that the paranoia paid off: The osteoarthritis is in the veeeeery early stages yet, which means that mitigation is still possible. So he's prescribed a course of daily glucosamine supplements and a firm recommendation to half my running and allow swimming to make up for non-weight-bearing cardio work instead.

Highly sensible; I think I'll take his advice.

Unfortunately, this may mean a much slower progression of my running "career". It also throws huge question as to whether or not I'll be able to finish the half at the Standard Charted KL Marathon, which is little more than a month from now. Even without this injury I was already worried about finishing it. Now with this knee... *sigh*

I've been told to rest the joints for a week or two. Swimming, boleh, so I'll do that to keep ye old cardio at optimum levels. And I think I'm going to give the half a go anyway. Even if I don't finish, at least I can say I tried.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Say whaaaaaa???!!

So, in random surfing about running things I read that



What to do if your toenails look like they're going to fall off.

That would kinda explain why my toenails hurt post-Energizer. Eeps!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Official Apology from Expose Media for the Energizer Night Race 2011


So. The organizers of the Energizer Night Race 2011, Expose Media, issued an official apology for the major kerfuffle they durned

It hardly sounds heartfelt to me. It comes across as them being forced to accept accountability, but just barely taking responsibility. Either that, or they need to get new Comms people who know how to write sensitively.

There is some talk currently going around of a full refund possibly being given out but that would frankly be adding salt to open wounds. Unless you had only participated in the 5.5KM Fun Run for kicks and saja nak try-try, it takes dedication to train for running and the reward really is about the feeling of accomplishment at finishing your run, within whatever goals you set for yourself, and having that accomplishment acknowledged. 

It isn't about getting your money's worth in goodies and gift packs. It isn't about feeling that your money was well spent on venue and miscellaneous faff.

This was my first run, so I wouldn't have had any basis of comparison on how these organizers had done against other (presumably) better ones. So I wasn't upset that they had run out of the t-shirts they said all runners who completed the run within the qualifying times would receive. And I wasn't too upset either that there weren't proper water stations at the finish line for me to refresh at and catch my breath. I was a little more upset but even-then-not-too-bothered that upon crossing the finish line, newbie-runner-me had to wander about aimlessly for a minute or so because I had no idea what to do next and the marshalls seemed equally as clueless, waving me off in the general direction of 'there'.

All I wanted (and queued for 45mins for and STILL did not receive because they had run out!) was the qualifying certificate. That scrap of paper that said I ran and I finished within good time; that I really wanted. That was pretty much all I wanted to walk away with from my first proper race ever.

I know that ultimately, what does it matter what a piece of paper said I did or didn't do, as long as I know I did it? But I wanted something to remember my maiden race by. I wanted to frame it up and proudly display that I ran my lame ass 11K in a lame ass 1:38:43 and lame-assedly show it off to all my friends who would come by, even if they might think it was terribly lame-assed of me. 

Yeah, so I went home disappointed.. but I'm running off on a tangent here.

It's not about financial recompense. Or even material restitution (although given the Malaysian penchant for unnatural delight in freebies, the promise to post-mail goodies bags to everyone would help balm the sting.) It's about how the organizers made the runners feel, which was 'like crap'. The venue could have been less fancy, the prizes and goodies less flashy.. and nobody would have minded half as much as long as the organizers had made the runners feel like their accomplishments were acknowledged and that their patronage was appreciated.

It's a lot to make up for. And this letter falls far short of it.

Transcript of the letter of apology:

We, Expose Media, as organisers of the Energizer Night Race 2011, sincerely apologise for any and all discontent experienced by the participants in the event. We take full responsibility for all our actions directly and indirectly leading up to the issues before and on the race day.

We absolve the title sponsor Energizer Malaysia Sdn Bhd, co-sponsors, and the management of Sepang International Circuit of all liability and responsibility.

We are committed to a full distribution of certificates, medals, finishers’ T-shirts, headlights and complimentary gifts to every registered participant in the race.

We will also be announcing the winners today, and they will be contacted personally to receive their awards.

Details of the distribution for the above will be announced at 6pm on Thursday, 21 April 2011.

We would like to clarify that Mr. Mohan Gobindasamy was the official race director on the day and not Datuk A. Chandrakumanan. We apologise to Datuk Chandrakumanan for any implication of his involvement in the race.

We recognise that safety precautions and logistical details were not up to expectations and we deeply regret all the issues that resulted from the situation. We apologise for our behaviour should any party be offended throughout the course of the event.

Josie Huang Wan Ling
Group Director
Expose Media