Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo 2014

Date: 10 - 11 October 2014
Venue: McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, US
Why the expo was so awesome?

Overall: fabulous and well organized.

1.   Easy peasy bib pick up. All you need to do is show your registration print out or the code from your mobile and they’ll let you know which counter to head to. What I didn’t realize was when the code is scanned, it automatically prompts the guys at the counter to have your bib ready, which is was when I came out from the restroom (yeah, I made a detour). In-and-out in 2 minutes max (minus the toilet break). There were loads of counters, so no worries about congestion.

2.  Next  you head to the event tee pick up counters – these were organized according to sizes and again, in-and-out in 2 minutes. I was there on Friday morning, probably a low period, not sure if there were any crowds on the later part of the day or Saturday.


3.  Remember how everyone gushes about how awesome-sauce major marathon expos are? No different here – too many sponsor booths, too many giveaways (including a race entry into the Puerto Rico Marathon, Kashi, Powerbars, Clif Bars etc), too many race event booths etc. Too many choices! Too many discounts! You could literally spend the whole day there! No wonder they say your plastic gets working hard and working right away!

This is just some of the food I got!

4.    The highlight: meeting the legendary Bart Yasso!

Friday, October 24, 2014

City Running Tour – River Walk & Navy Pier

Date: 13 October 2014
Venue: The Bean > Chicago River > Navy Pier > The Bean
Distance: ~ 3.4 miles
Timing: ~ 90 minutes

And so someone aka yours truly thought it was a par excellence and extraordinaire to do a running city tour the day after this. Hey it was either doing it pre Chicago (equivalent to “tiring” out the legs on battered body after traveling through a few time zones) or post Chicago (equivalent to shuffling around like an old lady). In the end, it turned out to be post as rest overruled fun.

Oh hey, this post looks like is turning out to be “race” recap like! Anyway, back to the topic. This has be one of the highlights of my visit to Chi-Town and definitely one of the best ways to see the city. I highly recommend you do this! Don’t be intimidated by the word “run” since the pace is basically “smell the flower” pace and I guarantee you that I did no running whatsoever except for the few metres for the photo op. Of course, you need to “run” or look like run for the photos! Oh darn it! I even wore my jeans instead of some semblance of running gear coz I wasn’t expecting to run.

Here's the feeble attempt to "run"
Photo credits to Marlin

This was originally scheduled for the Friday before Chicago but due to my rescheduled flights, I asked Marlin (who so graciously!) to allow me to do it on Monday which in turned, turned out to be a one-on-one tour.

We met at The Bean around 7:15am and Marlin gave a brief history of the Americas, Chicago and the river before we started our journey. Yippity yak, yippity yak, yippity yak and soon we were close to the first stop where Marlin brought out some photos, charts etc and continued the earlier briefing. This was also the first photo shoot. Now, just look at that gal running! BTW, those first few steps felt like a dagger digging deep into the quads!

Walk, walk, walk. Yippity yak, yippity yak, yippity yak. Here we are at the turnaround – Navy Pier and I definitely don’t look like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo in this pose. More interesting talk about how Navy Pier and “windy city” came about. Bet you didn’t know that “windydoesn’t actually mean the weather! Me neither! It’s a reference to the “nonsense” coming out from politicians’ mouth and the long winded presentation of the Chicago team during the bid for the World Expo.

Photo credits to Marlin as well

Repeat para 2 and before you know it, we’re back at the Chicago Tribune building. Marlin pointed out that each country/event is imprinted on the walls of the building.

The Notes from Marlin
Thank goodness Marlin emailed this to me…coz I could never remember everything from the tour. So for those of you who are interested in the history of the Chicago River & Navy Pier, read along:
The lesson of the day is our environment can be very forgiving if we are responsible stewards.  The concept applies anywhere we live.  The following are some fast facts we covered during your tour:
1)    The geographic location of the Chicago River is the reason why Chicago became a major metropolitan center in the U.S.  It allowed for the growth of a major transportation center that connects the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico.
2)    The flow of the river is considered lazy with a slow moving current.  As Chicago grew during the 1800's the river was used as an open sewer receiving massive amounts of industrial and human waste. 
3)    Chicago residents get their drinking water from Lake Michigan.  During the 1800's the city experienced epidemics of waterborne diseases including typhoid, cholera, and dysentery.  This led to the reversal of the river so that the waste dumped into it would flow south, away from the lake.
4)    Navy Pier was completed in 1916 and was first called Metropolitan Pier number 2.  It was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 in honor of World War I veterans.  The U.S. Navy leased it in the 1940's to use as a pilot training facility.  Today it is the state of Illinois number 1 tourist attraction.
5)    Today there are over 200 WWII fighter planes on the bottom of Lake Michigan.
6)    The 41st president of the U.S., George H W Bush, trained as a pilot at Navy Pier.
7)    The Ferris wheel at Navy Pier is symbolic of the 1st Ferris wheel ever built.  The 1st Ferris wheel was designed and assembled for the 1893 Columbian Exposition.  (World’s Fair)
8)    Navy Pier is the state of Illinois number 1 tourist attraction.  It boosts the nation’s 2nd largest children’s museum.
9)    A 1970 study of the Chicago River revealed that there were 17 species of aquatic life in the river.  During this period the non-profit organization "Friends of the Chicago River" started a major river cleanup initiative.  A 2010 study of the river revealed there were over 70 species of aquatic life in the river.  The river cleanup initiative exemplifies the point; "our environment can be very forgiving if we are responsible stewards."
10) The name "Windy City" has nothing to do with wind. It is a derogative vernacular Chicago was labeled with based on political sparring. It suggests our city politicians are long winded and full of hot air.

Navy Pier

And the Rocky pose! Photo credits to Marlin

a)    Super well organized and informative and Marlin is a fantastic tour leader.
b)    Accommodative – Marlin even suggested I come in on Saturday morning (Chicago Tragic Events) when he found out about my travel predicaments.
c)     Tour time was about 90 minutes – just right, not too long before you get bored, not too short that you feel like you didn’t get anything out of it.

Walking thru the tunnel along the river

d)    Photo ops and FOC too! They put up the photos and Flickr where you can download them. Yeah, I’m looking at you, major run events! Charging something like $30-50 is just a bit too much for me.
e)    And just like a running event, you get a swag.
f)     Follow-up email – if you’re like me, you probably won’t be able to remember all the details, so Running Tour emails the brief to you.

a)    Can’t think of any! That’s how great a job Marlin did on Monday!
a)    Check Groupon or LivingSocials for deals – I got mine off LivingSocial and it was very well worth the deal.
b)    Read up on reviews – Marlin and his team received many thumbs up on TripAdvisor and which is why I went with them.
c)     Go without any expectation and enjoy the journey.
d)    Do this in spring or fall when the temps and weather are perfect for an early morning jaunt. Running Tours do have other longer runs and these could take up more time, so if you sign up for these, spring and fall would be great. I guess you can do the shorter ones in all seasons…except maybe winter…in which case, you’ll probably be RUNNING rather than shuffling along like I did. Who knows…maybe you do enjoy cooler temps; just not me to have chattering teeth for 3 miles.

Photo log (photo credits to Marlin as well):

Swag - Clif Bar included!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's been a while

Ok...a long while! Could blame it on work (scapegoat as usual!) or lack of motivation or just plain lazy! Take your pick? Oh wait, why did I even think you could be bothered!?!?

Anyway, I'm now on my way to Houston and rather than staring at the seat in front of me or talking to the old ladies next to me, thought I brush up the blog.

It's been a fab 5 days hanging out at Jessi and Will's place...

Oh of course, there was a bit of running thrown in...will get that race review done for ya, SiawHua

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Centro Tower Run 2014

Date: 23 August 2014
Venue: Centro Tower Office Building, Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
Distance: 32-storey stair climb
Timing: 7:24 (Gun)
Result: 3rd (WV)
Website: here

This must be the third or fourth edition of the event except that this year they included the Tower Run (stair climbing) as the Centro Tower Office building was completed recently. Tower Run on Saturday and the 12km Centro Mall Run on Sunday. Pretty neat I would say and allowed participants to choose either or both events. I won’t be surprised if they combine both the Tower Run and Centro Mall Run into one event in the future (and keeping the existing 2) – a double challenge? Not new, believe the U-Run in Singapore incorporates something like this (and over a longer distance to boot!).

Wave starts with about 100 participants for each wave beginning at 7am with the Men Open (2 waves), Women Open and the combined Men Veteran and Women Veteran. Each wave had a 20 minute allowance which is more than sufficient for the short 400m run (this is to segregate the faster runners from the mid and backpacks) and 32-storey climb. Hey, the winner came home to roost at 4.5 minutes. Go figure!

This was a last minute sign up (only did it when Desmond buzzed me to help him collect the race kit) and up to the morning itself, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it or make it. And who in the world runs DH before doing a 32-storey climb?!?! Naturally insanity prevailed. Yes, I did run the 11+ km on Saturday before heading to Klang (thank goodness for clear traffic on NKVE). Flag off was at 8:30 am and we were the last ones; at least it was only a short run from the compound into the mall and up the stairs. Since the hip was still iffy and since this was to be a “bonus” workout, I was really slow in getting off the blocks. Even “tai korRonnie (who did really look like a “tai kor” sitting on one of the benches in the mall) told me to hurry up.

Overheard joke on reaching the stairwell:
A: Oh where are we going (heading towards the door)
B: Stairs of course, you think elevator, meh?

Naturally it was congested at the start but after a few floors, the path was pretty cleared. I was pissed off with a couple of men who were grasping the railings on the right and when I said “excuse me”, was either close to having a heart attack or downright rude and refused to move to the left. Hey, I thought slower runners were supposed to keep left (as per road races rules, no?). Coupla French words were uttered. Passed Leslie, KM Tee at some point before bumping into LKK who was a volunteer on one of the higher floors. Let me tell you this…stairs in buildings are probably much tougher than Batu Caves or Lake Gardens’ varieties simply because they wind up unlike straight ups in the latter 2. I did have some close-to-dizzy moments but thank goodness, no projectiles. And soon it was over…32nd floor. Just to add, I walked up rather than sprint up. Really, no kidding. I’m of the belief that you don’t need to run up to get a good workout. Heck, I always feel my glutes working every single time I do BC and LG and the calves are sore the next day.

a)    Very well organized event from clear directions at the start right up to the top and back down again.
b)    Wave starts and the short run at the beginning helped minimized congestion. So it was pretty much spaced out.
c)     Great ventilation – all doors on each floor was opened and they had a couple of blowers on a few floors. Not once I did feel suffocated or throwing up.
d)    MC was great – providing clear directions and information. And spoke excellent English (yes, I can be snob about this coz I absolutely hate it when you slaughter the language – it just reflects poorly on the organizer and sponsors).
e)    We wrapped things up by 10 am. Definitely a positive. No need to spend half a day at an event with a lot of time spent waiting and waiting for either the lucky draw or prize presentation. Too bad if you weren’t around then the prizes were awarded.
f)     Generous and more than sufficient hydration (water and isotonic) at the start/compound and again at the 32nd floor. Breakfast spread at Shepardoo – tortilla with ham, samosa (thank goodness it was vegan!), fruits and juice. What more can you ask for?
g)    Shout out to the volunteers – everyone did great and was so helpful and cheerful.
h)    Ample parking at the mall at a flat fee of RM2. Plus point – security after the many incidents of break-ins in the last few events in town.

a)    Just one – slower runners should have been advised to keep to the left. Don’t remember reading about this in the race guide (I could be wrong?).

Photo log:
Event vest


Finisher's medal

Race cert

The spoils

Podium finishers (photo credit to Zas Ibrahim)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Training – 14 August 2014

Route: DH
Distance: 11.15km (Garmin)
Timing: 66:41 for 5:58 min/km pace

Yeah, you read that right. Yeah, I did the unthinkable. Yeah, I did really “run” DH on a weekday morning. Ok, maybe not “run”. Walk. Trot. Whatever. Feels like walking to me, so I’ll call it a “walk”.

Thanks for indulging me.

Still trying to figure out what possessed me to do the energy-sapping DH this morning. We can all agree that it’s energy sapping and no matter how many times you do it, DH will still eat you alive. The Hartamas route may be longer but is definitely a toddler compared to DH.

Started off somewhere near Lake Club and the idea was to walk but that gentle downhill along Jalan Parlimen meant the legs turned over pretty quickly (hey that’s relative!). Uphill at KTM/Sasana Kijang and there were already cars parked along the road. Man, some folks do really covert street parking that they come out early!

#$%^&* DBKL ought to get their act together! Street lights are erected for a purpose you know! And this is the 7th month of the Chinese calendar aka Hungry Ghost month. And this is Bukit Tunku, which made it to the top10 of the most haunted places.

Though the scare I got was from my own shadows and some bright light from a car careening down Bukit Tunku.

The awesome steep “first” hill. Double Hill is such a misnomer; it’s not double hills…it’s many, many hills.

Back onto Mahameru and lots of cars whizzing past. The stretch I hate most coz it’s just seems never ending till you hit the turn off to the palace.

The “second” hill. No monkeys this morning. Whew! Love whooshing down hill towards Jalan Parlimen. Finished at the traffic lights since traffic was heavy.

And since a blog post is not a blog post unless it includes pictures

Last night’s loot

Collected Desmond’s race kit over the weekend

Scary picture for Adam

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Opps sorry…haven’t been posting lately, so here’s what’s been happening over my end of the woods. Some things, not all.

Lake Garden Stairs Training – 21 July 2014

Route: 22 sets of stairs (2 sets of stairs>run down through Deer Park + 20 sets of stairs)
Distance: 7.90km (Garmin)
Timing: 1:13:38 for 9:19 min/km pace

Pure madness I would say but got it done and tacked on a short elliptical session after this. It was an early start for this gal despite the late night so it was a slow trot from the playground around the lake to the foot of the “stairs to heaven”. Bounded up the stairs and looped around Deer Park and repeated it for the second set before the nightmare of the next 20 sets. Spotted Chin Ann around i-dunno-set-nummer-zehn-or-something. Finishing off with another slow trot back to the car park. Lesson learnt this morning: never never never attempt to run after 20 sets of stairs!

Lake Garden Stairs Training – 5 August 2014

Route: 20 sets of stairs (with a 400m run every 5 sets)
Distance: 6.04km (Garmin)
Timing: 57:47 for 9:34 min/km pace

Short 2km warm up followed by all hell broke loose climb. And more climbing. And even more climbing. Know something…that first set of climb after a run is pure unadulterated torture such that you could be mistaken for drunk. Hip flexor was giving me trouble L and the calves were still sore from the weekend’s mega workout.

BTW, ever tried TH+TH/DH for a long run? All of us were so wiped out and the legs were practically useless on Sunday. But but but FOMO led me to the insanity of 10sets * 272steps. Hence the shin splints and sore calves. The things we do, huh?

So is everyone back from the Raya hols? How was your hols? And weekend?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Roundup

A quick 30min spin on the trainer this morning coz the hips and legs were protesting

Lots of walking over the weekend including one barefoot traverse through DH
Photo credit to KK

Some food were inhaled (note…this is not everything! I’m just a bad blogger – I keep on forgetting about taking pics)