Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spartan Race Putrajaya 2016 - Sprint and Beast

The Kuala Lumpur leg of Spartan Race Malaysia concluded itself in a spectacular fashion with two back-to-back events, a Sprint and a Beast over one weekend. It was the final stretch for many pursuing their Trifecta, having completed their first ever Sprint event in October 2015 and the Super in March 2016.

Normally Trifectas are completed within a calendar year (Jan-Dec) but due to the requests of Asians who got their first taste of Spartan Race end of last year, Big Boss Joe DeSena made an exemption for the KL and Singapore Sprint and announced that it counted towards the 2016 Trifecta.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Indonesia: Tough Mudder Bali 2016

It was exciting news for OCR junkies in Malaysia to hear that Tough Mudder was finally coming to Asia, set to take place in beautiful Bali. And since Bali was sort of a part of Australia, it drew heaps of Aussies over as well. Malaysia and Australia weren't the only excited nations.

According to Coconut Bali, mudders from over 37 countries flew into Bali for what was deemed "probably the toughest event on the planet." For many, it was their first Tough Mudder. For a few other members of my team, the Mudder-in-Laws and myself, it was our second and third respectively. I had my eye on that blue headband and I wasn't going to let even a nagging hip pain and cramps get in my way.

The morning of the race, it was so humid. Imagine that. Our wave was 7:30am and we were already sweating. I loved that they brought down a few of the Australian Tough Mudder team to lead the warm up and especially the emcee who successfully got the crowd revved up. Tough Mudder always had the best pre-race routines where we had to incite the Tough Mudder code to look out for each other.

At 7:30am on the dot, we were released onto the course and off we went into the 13km course. I had heard the organisers had to shorten the route on account of the Bali heat. A wise decision I thought as heat stroke and dehydration were no joke. The heat and terrain also limited the types of obstacles they could bring to Bali.

However Tough Mudder does not fail to live up to its name as there was mud albeit not as much as Australia. But enough that everyone came away muddy at the first obstacle.

Of course, what was an obstacle race without wall obstacles? Tough Mudder was not without Skidmarked (slanted walls) and the Berlin walls. There were some obstacle that could be conquered alone like the Cage Crawl and the sand bag carry.

The infamous Artic Enema 2.0, a dread feature obstacle overseas was one to look forward to to combat the Bali heat. At least until we found our legs seizing up from the icy cold waters. What sorcery is this??

Still the nice cooling effects lasted about another kilometer before we came across the ever scenic Life is a Beach obstacle.

Which wasn't an obstacle but a photo backdrop....sighhhhh.

Quite a number of the obstacles were a disappointment as they were merely part of the terrain like the Gorilla Killer (which was actually a killer hike in the Melbourne Tough Mudder so that was legit), Bushwhacked, Stairway to Heaven and Cliffhanger. Like why....

Where Tough Mudder really excelled were their teamwork-oriented obstacles. The Pyramid Scheme and the ever iconic Everest 2.0 were my favourites because it basically forces everyone to work together.

Blockness Monster was a new obstacle for 2016 and one where we had to work with other racers. It also got us all nice and wet for the next and final obstacle........Electroshock Therapy.

Ah, what is Tough Mudder without Electroshock Therapy?

Also what is Tough Mudder without a cold bottle of beer and its orange headbands?

The first Tough Mudder in Asia clocked in 13km, the shortest TM I've done but on account of the blazing heat, it was a good call. As for the obstacles, well, let's just say the terrain should not be counted as obstacles. Loved the course though for its scenic views but wished there was more beach running and obstacles. 

Psst - I heard Jakarta is next on their list for a Tough Mudder Half and another full Tough Mudder for Bali next year. 

Ps: Sorry for the crappy action pics. They were taken with my iPhone 4s, securely protected in a waterproof bag. 

Pss - I missed my Olympus camera.... Olympus Malaysia, why you take so long to service my camera? It's been two months T_T

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How I prevent cramps

Cramps suck.

There is no denying that sudden seizing of your muscle into a tight knot in that one brief second is perhaps the worst pain you can experience in that moment. Unfortunately, some people are more prone to cramps than others.

I am one of those unfortunate souls. I even remember my first cramp. A 2km run followed by a round of waterpolo does not do wonders to your muscles...

However after many years of experimenting, I finally figured out a near cramp proof way of preventing cramps. Load the hell up on isotonic sport drinks a day or two before the race.

Isotonic sport drinks are a crucial part of my race preparation; long distance running and obstacle course racing wise. Two days before the race, I would load up on a bottle of isotonic drink and this has so far prevented me from getting a cramp as proven by my Kyoto Marathon and the numerous OCR races I have done this year. So far, cramp free to date.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

[Hokkaido 2016] Day 4 part 2 - Self Drive to Biei and Furano

I was lucky that my car came equipped with an easy-to-use GPS because without it, I would have been hopelessly lost in the countryside of Hokkaido. Forever doomed to wonder the roads in a rented Toyata Vitz with dysfunctional family in the passenger seats.... *Shudder*

We had many places to hit in Biei and Furano and so much driving to do and so little time.
1. Zerubu Hill
2. Mac OS X backdrop, less commonly known as Blue Pond
3. Shirahige Falls and Blue River
4. Shikisai no Oka
5. Tomita Farm 
6. Furano Cheese Factory

After my near encounter with a speeding ticket in part 1, we arrived at our first stop of the day, Zerubu Hill. Because it was still early in the season, the flowers weren't at full bloom so there wasn't much to see. However, it gave us a lovely view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Little did we know that we would be driving towards those snow-capped mountains and would be seeing plenty of them later on.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Run for Your Lives

Run For Your Lives, a game of flag tag set in the world of a zombie apocalypse will be making its return to Malaysia this December 31st at Taman Botani Putrajaya. Drawing from its beginnings in the United States back in 2011, the game has attracted over 12,000 participants since its debut and has spread to other cities worldwide which include Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The premise behind the game is that a zombie apocalypse has plagued the world, caused by an unknown virus. Participants may choose to run as a ‘Survivor’ (human) or a Zombie. Gameplay is generally simple – the humans will have to outrun the zombies, who have the goal of ‘capturing’ the humans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

AXA Hearts in Action 2016, Cyberjaya race review

Colourful shirts from which you can pick one to wear for run.

Funds going to animal welfare and preservation.

AXA Hearts in Action 2016 had me at those points and without hesitation, I signed up for the 12km category and dragged along my mom and a colleague. Sadly, that was where all the positive points ended for the race organisers.

Upon arrival at the race site, there was no clear indication of where the race was starting from. I only assumed it was before the finishing arch because there were a horde of runners standing there. There were also a horde of 6km and 3km runners standing there munching on donuts and sandwiches so you would understand the confusion.

Monday, September 26, 2016

[Hokkaido 2016] Day 4 part 1 - I got pulled over in Japan!

It was the first time I drove in Japan and also the first time, I got pulled over by a cop. Ever.

Let me start from the beginning.

When coming to Sapporo in the spring, seeing the flower fields and natural wonders of Furano and Biel comes high in the list of things to do. However unlike Otaru which was easily accessible by train, these two locations were best explored via car and so rent a car we did for this occasion. To drive in Japan by the way, foreigners are required to obtain an international driving permit (IDP). For Malaysians you can find out how here.

I rented my car, a Toyota Vitz from the Toyota Rent a Car near my hostel, having made the booking online weeks before the trip. For a family of five, it was a bit cramp in the back seats but as we didn't have any luggages with us, it sufficed for the two days adventure outside of Sapporo. On this day, we were headed to Furano and Biel and what a long drive it was into the countryside.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tokyo Marathon 2017 - HERE I COME

As you may have guessed from the title of this post....I am in for the Tokyo Marathon 2017. Out of exactly 321,459 entries, I was one of the 26,370 runners who was lucky enough to score a spot by ballot in a World Marathon Major and one that is being held in my favourite country in the world, Japan.

That's a 8.2% chance of winning the ballot and I got it. Excuse me while I hyperventilate into a paper bag.

Okay, I am fine now. But I think the little butterflies in my stomach disagrees. Because holy crap, I need to start training all over again.

The Kyoto Marathon 2016 was my first ever 42.195km and it had been a glorious experience running all over the historical and naturally beautiful city that was Japan's former capital. You can read about it here and here.

It only seemed fitting that I try balloting for the Tokyo Marathon next which I did in August along with my mother and a few friends. The Tokyo Marathon is set a week after the Kyoto Marathon resulted in a shared cold weather that was ideal for a long run.

I had also balloted for the Kyoto Marathon 2017 (as back-up) and also the Nagoya Women's Marathon (because the medal is so beautiful) but it seems that fate has plans for me to be in Tokyo instead.

Maybe I should try for the lottery next. Some prize money would help finance my next adventure to Japan. Can't wait!

Monday, September 12, 2016

[Hokkaido 2016] Day 3 - Self Walk Tour in Sapporo

Admittedly, this self walk tour was impromptu. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day on our third day in Sapporo and decided to hit all the outdoor activities and attractions in the city. It just so happened that everything was more or less within walking distance of each other that we decided to save money and not take the train.

Carmen was our automatically anointed navigator for the tour and with her trusty phone and portal wifi in hand, she led the way. From our accommodation at Khaosan Sapporo International Hostel, we took a nice leisurely stroll to the Sapporo TV Tower. Breakfast was purchased from a passing convenient mart and consumed on a bench in Odori park located at the foot of the tower allowing us to enjoy the blooming flowers on a lovely sunny morning.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Great Holiday Deals with Sri Lankan Airlines at MATTA FAIR Sept 2016

Here's an image to marvel over.

I have yet to experience the beauty that is Sri Lanka but its natural attractions of beaches, blue waters, jungles and national parks and sanctuaries continue to draw me in. Throw in their promise of delicious spicy food and the temptation to hop on the first flight out to Colombo is just too great!