Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Surf Coast Hell Run 2015 - Relay Team Challenge

When: Saturday, 5th September 2015.
Where: Lorne, Victoria
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 21.1km (half marathon)

So, Bin and I kinda retired right now. That's right. 

Then Jon invited Bin and I to be part of his 21km relay team less than 3 weeks ago. 

Best team name ever!!!!!
We spent Friday night at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park and spent the of race day at Sheoak picnic area.

Due to too many events taking place in August and September, the crowd at the inaugural Surf Coast Hell Run was a small one. It felt so much more cosier this way, which I rather enjoyed, although I'm sure any race director/organiser would prefer it the other way round.

The 21km runners were flagged off at 9am.

There were 4 categories: 7km, 21km, 42km and 63km. Except for the 7km, the rest of the runners had to run a 21km loop which consisted of a U-turn point at the 11km mark. The 63km runners needed to do 3 loops and the 42km runners would do 2.

The route was described as, 'up, up, up, and then down all the way.' Despite the undulations and 'gentle' slopes, the route was mainly made up of 4WD tracks with no trail technicality involved.

"WHERE'S MY TEAMMATE??" Jon panicked.
"Hello????" I furiously waved my arms in the air to catch his attention.

SCTR Laksa Lovers was the 1st team to sign up, with SCTR Catch Me If You Can signing up at the last moment. There was friendly ribbing between the 2 team captains Gavin and Jon a few days leading up to race day.

Clueless me went into the race thinking our team was just in it for a relaxing weekend run. Haha!

Gavin and Jon were the 1st runners for the teams, with Gavin coming in at 2:11:xx and Jon at 2:18:xx, giving the other team an 8-9 minute head start. I was pretty impressed with these 2 chaps!

"I'll just keep ... running ... until ... that tree ... over there ..." I huffed.

The weather was nice and cool that day, with occasional showers. 

The first 4km of the run was filled with teasing undulation, which made me think, "OK, this isn't too bad!" until 4km. The next 4km involved trudging up (with the help of 2 sticks) and a few seconds of flat after every 1.5km.

It probably doesn't make any sense to you, so don't bother doing the maths!

"Let there be a view!"
 7km in, the slopes were a bit kinder to the legs... kinda.

No view.
I was looking forward to the aid station!

The one and only aid station at the 8km/14km mark.
John Yoon and George Mihalakellis were there to greet me, with George telling me hurry up as Ken was 14 minutes ahead!

I was like, "Whatever..." :P

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hello September, Goodbye August!

Time flies, and it's zooming by really quickly.
Where are the brakes?
I don't want the year to end so soon!!

It's been 2 years since I've moved to Melbourne and there's so much I've yet to experience or see. We probably need to speed things up a little but it's hard when a) they can cost a bomb and b) we just want to stay at home and do some gardening, or go trailrunning, or catch up with friends.

Winter has been tough, in a sense that we don't feel so inclined to go out there and run. We found ourselves doing a bit of workout in the comfort of the gym and I have to say that multi-tasking (watching TV while running on the treadmill) makes me a happier person - I wanted to watch Masterchef Australia!

Now that Spring is coming, we can't wait. More daylight means being able to tend to the garden when we return home from work! We'd feel more energised, too when we arrive home after work. Winter's dark evenings kinda sucked the life out of us that made lazing in front of the TV more tempting than going out for a run.

Last weekend saw us taking an hour drive from our place to Olinda, Dandenong for a 20k trail run. Jon wanted to recce the route for the Dandy Hipster Run (taking place on 26th Sept) and seeing that we needed some training for our race this weekend, we succeeded in dragging our fat wobbly arses out of bed at 5ish am. 

Disappearing into the wilderness.

Photo credit: Jon.

We felt so alive! Wooooo....

We walked up this stretch and joked about setting up a few mobile coffee stands along the way.

I thought it was the end of our run but turns out that we had another 2k to go after this this.

It was great running in the Dandy's again. We love love love being surrounded by the lush green and tall trees and the muddy trails. I rolled my left ankle when I tripped over nothing and it took 10 minutes of rest before I could continue on. With 5k to go, it seemed like a huge feat but somehow, I could walk OK, especially on the inclines. Once my ankle felt much better, I managed to jog the last 3k as the route was flat. I was pretty pleased; thank goodness no major injuries. *mixed feelings*

Yet somehow I managed to twist my RIGHT ankle a few hours later. In my tired state of mind, my foot slipped off the pavement while we were walking towards Freedom. Arghhhhhhhhhhh!

Now that hurt 10x more than the earlier incident!
I sat around on the sofas in Freedom while waiting impatiently for Bin to make his purchase and go.

I hobbled around most of the day and it was only at night (after our dinner guests had left - we invited them over at the last minute so we could continue catching up) I managed to ice and heat both ankles.

Anyway, to cut the long story short about my being a heroic idiot with 2 injured ankles, I haven't been able to walk properly not because of them, but because of my very sore quads! My ankles are good, albeit just a little swollen. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Quick Chat with Siqi WU

Two Bays Trail Run 2014
It came as quite a shock to know that our running buddy, Siqi a.k.a. Ricky, a.k.a. Smiling Assassin, was leaving Melbourne so soon (this Sunday) to return to his home country. 24-year-old Siqi has been here for 2 years and recently graduated from the University of Melbourne. 

A few of us were lucky to have the opportunity to spend a little time with him for lunch today. 

Von: What will you miss most about Melbourne?
Siqi: That will definitely be the friends here.

Von: What about the trails??
Siqi: Definitely the Alpine area! 

Von: Dandenong's?
Siqi: Yeah! Pretty good.

Gary: Surf Coast!

Von: Among the trail events, or running events you have done in Australia, which one is the most memorable one for you?
Siqi: Memorable one ... I would definitely say last year's Buffalo Stampede when I got lost and while climbing Mick's Track. It was already dark and it was raining, I couldn't see anything. It was right after 14 hours of running. I got lost with a bunch of guys.

Mucking about at Buffalo Stampede 2014.

Von: How many events did you take part in (Australia and New Zealand) since your stay in Australia?
Siqi: About 15 to 20. I have done 2 events in New Zealand. This year, I did about 2 events per month this year.

Von: If you were to return to Australia in the near future (very soon again!), which event would you like to do again?
Siqi, Oh, definitely Alpine Challenge! That's my only DNF, 'Did Not Finish' race.

Von: Which distance would that be?

Jon: He would not leave home for anything less than a 100 miles!!
Bin: Yeah!

Siqi: I think 100km is pretty good, but if I can, I might try the 100 miles. To do it now would be beyond my capability, I would say. I did not finish that 100k race and I need to finish that!

With Yuan, after they both completed 2015 TNF100 Australia.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Runner Profile: Yuanchao Cheng

Say hello to this ever-smiley friend of mine who is better known as Yuan (among us). He's pretty shy, I think, but with an ever-ready smile on his face, you'd be sure to spot him from a mile!

I have to confess that I have been dying to ask him whether his polka-dotted shorts was his favourite running attire, so ...

1. Tell us, Yuan, are these your favourite pair of running shorts? :D

(YT: If you don't know what I'm referring to, it's this one, but lately, he hasn't been wearing it so often!)

Haha. Yes they are. I’m a very boring man at my daily life. So I want to try something different while running, like wearing some colorful fancy pants...

At the 2015 TNF100 Australia.

2. It feels like the last time I saw you was when you were running towards the finish line at the 2014 Surf Coast Century 100KM. Since then, you have been hopping from one ultra event after another. What has been your most memorable event so far?

I would say 2015 Two Bays Trail Run would be the one. Even though I have done a couple of 100k events, this year’s Two Bays 56k was the hardest one I ever ran. It was the only one I had a goal to achieve from the beginning to finish. So I pushed myself very hard and hurt me a lot...


3. How long have you been running?

Nearly 3 years. I stopped smoking in Feb 2012 and noticed that I had put on too much weight. Suggested by a friend, I started running since Sept 2012.


With the family at Tarawera Ultramarathon 2015.

4. What's your favourite food? Do you follow a strict pre-race diet regime?

I grew up in North China, where noodles and dumplings are the traditional food over there. So I still love noodles and dumplings, even all kinds of breads more than rice.


No, I don’t follow any pre-race diet regime. I even had fish and chips for dinner before Great Ocean Walk 100 (GOW 100) (Siqi Wu’s idea).


5. What do you think about when you're running long distance?

During a race, I usually just focus on my body and the race itself, like my running form, pace, nutrition, hydration etc. At training, I just purely enjoy the moment to be alone, I'm not thinking too much.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Quick Getaway to Gold Coast, Queensland

Friday, 3rd July 2015

We flew into Gold Coast via Jetstar and landed at the airport before noon. As we queued to picked up our rental car from Budget, the lady at the counter asked the hubs if we were there for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. :D

We were pleasantly surprised to have been given a new red car, woohoo!!

We decided to stop by Burleigh Heads for some lunch as our tummies were beginning to grumble. Unsure where to go for food, we found ourselves outside the fish and chip shop.

Might as well!

Shared a single platter for $17. No biggie but good enough to keep our tummies happy. :)

Walked towards to beach after lunch for a quick look-see.

We were rather too chilled for words - instead of stopping by the expo to pick up our bibs, we headed straight to our accommodation to check-in, rest a bit before heading out again.

We found ourselves at the unofficial Main Beach parkrun because some friends said they'd turn up. *no names mentioned* While waiting for team McCleish to arrive, we chatted with Trish, a runner from Brisbane. She was there with her husband and running buddy, and they were doing the half marathon on Sunday.

The crowd began to build up and Tim (General Manager of parkrun Australia) kicked it off with an opening speech and introduced several people to the crowd. There were a couple of elite runners that day, but for the life of me, I don't remember their names.

SCTR represented!

The legs felt good. We were stoked to find ourselves mostly running on a track instead of a concrete pavement. Most of the run was on a track and it was pretty cool - I would say it's a light trail for beginners, with a little undulation every now and then. Every now and then, we'd catch a glimpse of the aquamarine sea beyond the trees on the route back to the start area.

The pictures I have don't do the route justice. I have to say that it's a pretty good parkrun route. In fact, I loved it!

If you're in Gold Coast for the weekends, do join their parkruns on Saturday mornings at 7 am.

After that, we rushed off to Surfers Paradise to meet up with our friends from Malaysia for dinner. We didn't expect it to be so difficult to find a parking spot!

*sigh* There is always a photobomber trying to be funny!

Bin and I were clearly under dressed for that rather breezy evening. :D

We were indecisive where to have dinner and eventually decided on Belly Busters. We took a while to decide what to order (we were pretty clueless) but after 15 minutes, we made our selections reluctantly. The whole stack of ribs was huge!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Recap of Asics Half Marathon at 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon

I signed up for the Asics Half Marathon at the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon for 2 reasons; a post-exam weekend getaway to celebrate the end of a full-time 6 month course, and to provide myself a goal to keep fit and keep myself in check lest I lose my fitness altogether. The trip itself was also to catch up with some friends. :)

Being too busy and exhausted with studying during the past 6 months certainly took a toll on my fitness. I gained weight, felt less of a runner, and my frustration ate into whatever I had left of my confidence. Every day after work and every month after an exam, my respect for working mothers increased by a notch – how did they juggle everything??

One of the long runs with Bin and Eugene at Altona Beach.

Studying and training

When I signed up for the half marathon in April, on the last day of the early bird registration, I only had 2 months of strict training (haha) to follow. This forced me manage my time properly, giving me a perspective of what I wanted to achieve in the evenings, besides cooking dinner, studying and completing assignments.

Getting involved in running again definitely made me happier, and parkruns on Saturdays reflected the progress of my training. I was gaining my speed once again, although not as speedy as I was 2 years ago.

While waiting for a table at Vapiano for dinner the night before the race.
Photo courtesy of Foo.

The gloomy winter evenings didn’t help things. It was always easier to say, “It’s too cold, let’s skip the running!” rather than change into running gear and get our butts out of the door. It was hard work.

I told myself that even if I did minimal training, I would manage to comfortably finish in 2:15 so I need not put too much pressure on myself to chase the sub-2 finish that has been eluding me for all these years.

At Vapiano, standing in line to order your food before a designated cook.

Was my training enough?

Like the last 2 (full) marathons, I adopted a training plan which I was comfortable with. I did a half marathon trial 3 weeks before the event and despite how difficult it was for me, I was surprised to finish in under 2 hours. Granted my posture was horrible and I was panting like hell, but I was happy to know where I stood - the sub-2 was within reach. 

No more doubts about it!

Managed a group photo despite being late. We got lost in the crowd!
Photo courtesy of Jamie Pang.

Race Day – Sunday, 5th July 2015

We stood at the end of Corral B and couldn’t see the start line at all. It took us several minutes to cross the timing mat but I wasn’t sure how long it took. I tried looking for the clock but I don’t think there was one at the start gantry. Or maybe it was facing the other direction.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Surf Coast Trail Marathon Recce Run

Monday, 8 June 2015.

We were on the verge of changing our minds that early morning. It was easier to snuggle up under the covers than to get out of the warm bed, shivering.

Nevertheless, I reminded ourselves that we had to get our long run done, by hook or by crook, and we also needed a bit of a social run. :)

We made it to Bells Beach's car park in time to join the first group - we started early but ended up being the last few to finish. We were that slow. :(

Anyway, I was curious to see how I'd fare. 30KM is an unnecessary distance to run when you're training for a half marathon but I believe in hard and unnecessary work. I needed to test whether my endurance was still intact. 

Bells Beach.
By starting at Bells Beach and heading towards Anglesea, we were skipping the first 10km of the route.

Every glimpse of the sea made me go "Wow" and I was thoroughly enjoying my run.

We bumped into Robbo who was running towards us from Anglesea. He had started from there and was basically doing a reverse loop. While some of us were on our way to Bells Beach, he kept sharing photos of the surf coast on Facebook to tell us that he was on his way (to meet us)!

Photo credit: Sandra Henry

I thought to myself, "Thank goodness I decided to come out today!"

Chris Ord, the RD of SCTM.

The second group caught up with us and went ahead, thereby becoming the lead group. It consisted of 2 race directors, Rohan Day of Two Bays Trail Run and Chris Ord of the Surf Coast Trail Marathon event itself.

The trail is fairly runnable, but not when the trail starts going up, up, up. As it leads you away from the coast, you'd lose sight of the beautiful view.


I still do not enjoy running on the beach. 

It's so difficult and frustrating!

But that wasn't even the hardest part yet.

This made me smile. :)
We arrived at Anglesea, the start and finish line for the Surf Coast Century 100KM event (takes place in September annually). I forgot to take a picture, but we got our shoes wet as we had to cross a .... patch river stream.

I was not a happy cow.

In fact, I was very annoyed.
My socks bunched up inside my shoes, making my toes uncomfortable.

I should have brought an extra pair of socks!

Photo credit: Matt Hosking

We took longer than expected to reach Anglesea, missing the group photo opportunity with the other 30km group and the 15km group (who started at Anglesea).

This made me extra grumpy.

From then on, things were going downhill.

It was an extremely long stretch of beach running that was no fun at all. There was headwind - wind was blowing and sand was getting into our eyes. It took like forever just to clear the beach - after huffing and panting for a while, I'd think we would have covered at least 500m but when I checked my watch, it would tell me that I had only covered ... 150m.



So I took the opportunity to munch on my snacks.
Might as well.

There were plenty of surfers out that day. I was told that crazy weather makes it a good day to catch waves.

I was quite pleased when we arrived at the lighthouse, because it meant that the end was near! Not near enough, but sigh, it didn't matter, it still meant that the end was near.

Only that I might have misunderstood Dion when he told me that I should not be able to clock 30km+ as it could be slightly under.

I ran past the lighthouse faster, hoping that it was just 500m away to the designated finish point, but I was utterly gutted when I realised that it really was actually 2km away.

whaaaaaaaaaaaaat ...

I was just all out cranky then and wished I hadn't come this far for a social 30km run because it wasn't fun at all.

Nope nope nope nope nope.

However, chatting with the few friends and being served tea, scones and cookies after run made it all a bit better. We could whinge about it together. :)

I must apologise that I am very out of date with everyone's blogs. Exhaustion, work and studying does not leave me in a very good state of mind for blog reading. Hopefully I'll catch up with all the goss once my exams are over. :)