Tuesday, November 22, 2016


2016 has been a tumultuous year, yet one that has been satisfyingly sweet.

In a nutshell, these were my new experiences and achievements:

APRIL: Completed Boston Marathon 2016 (my second since 2014)
JULY: Completed Challenge Roth
AUGUST: Ironman 70.3 Cebu (secured a spot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee)
OCTOBER: Earned my fourth Boston Qualifier (BQ) in Osaka Marathon (and a potential Boston Marathon 2018 slot)
NOVEMBER: A podium placing (3rd) in my age-group for the CSC Duathlon (10km run, 36km ride, 5km run)
4 DECEMBER: Garmin Pacer for the Singapore Marathon 2016 (my next big challenge and my attempt to ‘pay it forward’)

It was a year of personal challenges and disappointment at work as well as in sports, however these were neutralized and aligned with these personal achievements. I found renewed interest in my pastimes, assumed new leadership roles in my volunteer work, and rejuvenated my racing mojo.

I allowed myself to surrender to the process, go with the flow, not ‘overthink it’ (as my training buddies remind me), and be motivated and be inspired by running-friends near and far. Taking on feedback and responding to these positively was harder than I thought – I suspect my Zen-glass was full – and had to drain it and learn with ‘Beginner’s Mind’.

The results have been encouraging so far, and I have committed to a year of more focused training and racing. Since 2016 has been a more run-centric year (with running-based sponsorships), I have spent more quality time running and less on cycling (particularly in the second-half of the year) and swimming. In fact, I experienced injury before Boston and just before Osaka. I healed adequately to run the two 42.2km races in 3:32 and 3:19 respectively. A great part of my recovering was attributed to rolling (massaging) my legs and glutes with the ribbed-ball.

One week after running the Osaka Marathon (30 October), I ran a 5km Parkrun as part of World Toilet Day. I ran a sub-21 minute race and scored a season’s best timing. I caught a bout of the flu after that race, resulting in a persistent ‘nasal drip’ (also known as the ‘100-Day Cough). Two weekends after the marathon, I did a 35km, pacesetters’ training run with my Garmin team. About eight hours later, I ran an 8km fun charity run (Lunghi Run). Amazingly, I clocked 43km in total on that day. I assure you I completely rested the next day!

Two days ago, with residual buildup in my upper-respiratory tract, I completed a duathlon. I did well for my run (1st in both 10km and 5km) however faded in the ride. I lost a fair bit of riding fitness due to the heavy running schedule. Fortunately, I earned a 3rd place and an overdue podium placing. I admit that this hard-earned ‘win’ has stoked my enthusiasm. Thus, I feel more committed to do better next season. I will be focusing more on my riding power, and swim competency (my weakest station). My friends have been encouraging of my efforts, and I feel assured that I will do well with their feedback and coaching advice.

My next A-race will be as a leader for the 3 hour 30 minutes Garmin Pacers. This will be the first time I will be a marathon-pacesetter and contributing to the running community. I hope I will do justice with my team of pacesetters on 4 December.

Next year’s A-races will be: Ironman 70.3 World Championships (9-10 September) and Ironman Cairns (11 June). I will focus on these races soon after the next marathon is completed.

I wish you better performances and achievements to you!

Thank you, my sponsors BVSport compression-socks, Mizuno Singapore, F1 Runners, and Garmin watches for assisting me on my journey. Photo-Credits: Joe Goh, FX Shots, Mel C. and Ming Ham.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Osaka Marathon 2016: A Race Report

I completed the Osaka Marathon on 3 November. In that race, I earned a Boston Qualifier (BQ) time of 3 hours 19 minutes. With a margin of over-10 minutes, I think I am assured of a spot in the Boston Marathon 2018. I was mildly disappointed that I missed narrowly a BQ-with-Boston in April this year. So, I applied for a place in this marathon after talking to participants from previous editions, including team-mates and representatives of Mizuno Asia.
When I earned a lottery spot, I was elated and made preparations: mainly in this order – accommodations, air-tickets, and race preparation. 
Osaka Marathon was my third marathon after Boston Marathon and Challenge Roth (an Ironman-distance race), and I had to ensure I banked in a potential BQ for my ‘three-peat’ entry into Boston Marathon 2018.
I arrived on Thursday evening, collected my race-pack/registration on Friday, and raced on Sunday. It was a straight-forward process, with no fanfare or drama. That was the way I like my race preparation. The #MIZUNOMerchandise Store met us, upon exiting the racket collection points, and a wide array of shoes and race-gear greeted us. I was smitten by the Made In Japan (MIJ) Wave series of shoes, especially the Wave Emperor that I BOUGHT A PAIR the day after the race - at Mizuno's flagship store in Osaka. The Bio-Gear (BG) series of compression-wear was also a new array, and many runners wore it on race-day.
Thus, when traveling with my team-mates Nicholas (Nic) and Chor Yin  CY )– we knew each other for about 6 years – and we met up on two occasions before the race to tighten our race-plans. We did not, however, train together as I was training seriously with my F1 team-mates and Garmin pace-setters group. That I got mildly injured before three weeks before the marathon (a left gluteus maximus sprain) augured well for me as I did not have to jeopardise the training program of Nic and CY. 
With a rigorous program of self-massage, stretching, and strength-conditioning, I recovered adequately to race on 3 November. I was still doing (and video-recording) my second cycle of the 22-Pushups/22-Day Challenge for awareness on physical disability and physically-challenged (PC) athletes. This motivated me to stay healthy and focused on my primary and secondary goals. 
After an early-breakfast at 5am – sweetbread, and two cups of Bullet Coffee (I brought my own coffee and coconut oil with me to mix), I ‘took care’ of my body, facilitated by the Bullet Coffee. I visit the toilet as frequently as I can before I traveled to the race-site, as the queues tend to be reliably long and frustrating. I wanted to urinate one more time before I walked to the race-start, to do my warm-up and dynamic stretching. I also drank a cup of Hammer Nutrition ‘Perpeteum’ on my way out.
CY was kind to gently prod me, and informed me that ‘open-door’ urinals were located on the other side of the field. Thankfully, I visited it, and then we three soon parted ways as my race-pen was on the other side of the race-ground. As you walk pass the stadium, you will meander around the medieval Osaka Castle, which provided some relief to my pre-race anxiety.
I managed to find my way into the ‘B-pen’ or second pen, by climbing over the rails. Interestingly, the runners did not demonstrate their upset-ness with me. Such was the zen-like readiness of runner before the flag-off. Around me, I glimpsed runners in all forms of attire, including those in costume. Halloween is celebrated with gusto in Japan, and saw several Pikachus, a Playboy Bunny, anime characters, and the like. Thinking back, they must have felt hotter with the additional gear most of us wore: singlet, shorts and shoes. I was dressed in Mizuno sleeveless top, 2XU running-tights, Mizuno Cruise 10 shoes, and BV Sport compression socks. I stuffed my small hand-held bottle of Hammer Nutrition ‘Perpeteum’ sports mixture in my side-pocket. The thermometer read about 12-17 degrees Celcius at dew-point with50-60 percent humidity, and would hit 20 by midday. The temperature is ideal for racing especially if you come from the tropics.
When the gun went off, I just ran slowly to gain my bearings and cadence. The synchronicity of runners encouraged me to take it easy for the first few kilometres. But it was not to be. Checking my Garmin 310XT watch after each KM, I noticed I was hitting 4:20-4:25 minutes/KM average. I tend to run intuitively – by ‘feel’ – and I use my watch as a guide for my pace. In racing, I tend to weave through any ‘gaps’ between runners. It is akin to swimming in open-water (sea, lake), where you swim to open patches of water, so that you do not get kicked by nervous swimmers. 
The spectator support was great – cheering us, and their friends on. I was in race-mode and had my ‘game-face’ on, and spend most of my time looking just ahead of me. I was aware of the ‘general picture’, however focus more on my breathing, footfall and sense of discomfort. My triathlon friends, Marco and Fritz say that I think too much. That means I take a calculated approach to racing, whilst not taking the occasional risk. When you are too cerebral during a race, it plays on your mind, turning the supposed fun and festive event into a more challenging one. Constantly reminding myself of my preference, I nudged myself to, occasionally, pay heed to the runners around me, the next aid-station, and to appreciate how far my training had brought me. 
CY called out to me at the 15km mark, where I returned my recognition. I was quite stoked for having nice splits on the 5km, 10km, and 15km milestones. I was, on-target, for a 3:08-3:09 marathon. My 21km split was good for a 3:10 marathon, and I hoped I could hang in. The prevailing belief among runners is that ‘the marathon does not begin until you experience fatigue, or ‘hit the wall’ or ‘experience the bonk’. True to prediction (I knew that my less than optimal tapering preparation would cost me), I started to slow down and felt ‘hotter’ at the 28km mark. One week before this race, I had almost no running until 12 hours before the race. A short run on the road/treadmill before the marathon or triathlon has always been my pre-race ritual.
The course is, generally, flat with several 'switchbacks' (U-turn points). The climbs are gradual, except for the one at the 38km mark.
As I hauled ass, I tried to dodge the bullets of fatigue by consuming nutrition at every aid-station. I used the Swiss-made CrampFix electrolyte-capsules at every 10km interval. The CrampFix electrolyte formulation has helped me for many years as I was feeling tight, but not cramping at all.
The ‘mountain’ came at the 38km when we had to crest a flyover. It is akin to the early part of the Sheares Bridge in the Singapore Marathon. Having trained for it, I ran up with stronger steps until I hit the plateau, and to a welcomed descent. The last four KM’s were just pushing the pace as hard as I can, although my speed was waning and I was wanting of more speed.
I was delighted to cross the finishing-line (as well as relieved), as I was ‘hauling ass’. Having braved fatigue after the 28km mark, and knowing that my desired goal of a 3 hour 9 minute finishing-time (PB/PR) was fading, I just gutted it through. I ‘dug deep’, focused on my secondary goal (BQ). It was a long examination that exhausted me physically and mentally. [Watch my video to see more slow-motion action.]

Like the race-exposition, everything was clockwork-precise, and I took my post-race celebratory photos, got my mini-red-bean bun, and bottle of sports-drink. On emerging from the vast hangar of a hall, I was pleased to get a free can of Asahi Beer. Alas! It was a non-alcohol version, which meant my pain had to be soothe much later at dinner in the Kirin City cafĂ© and pub. I ate a bento set meal that helped my recovery, as I awaited Nic and CY. 
Key Learning Points:
1) Choose a marathon/race that meets your goals.
2) Study the route before you decide on the race. Talk to previous participants and hear their feedback and opinions (ease of earning a BQ, PB/PR, course profile, spectator support, aid-stations, sideshow carnivals).
3) Choose a marathon/race that your body feels most comfortable with.
4) Travel with people you are comfortable with. Manage team dynamics well.
5) You want to enjoy the environment: scenery, touristy sights, and climate (time of the year).
I won’t go into detail with my post-race celebration and recovery. Suffice to say, I enjoyed eating Japanese cuisine and it was ‘comfort food’ to me. Drinking all the main brands of beers – Asahi, Sapporo, and Kirin – was part of my intended experience. It is hard to erase my passion for beer (even the zero-alcohol, Asahi Dry Zero beer) after spending 7 years working in a brewery. Visiting the fish markets in Osaka and Kyoto were highlights, as was walking through the renowned temples and shrines. There is a certain zen-like quality to the Japanese environment and scenery, which blends innocuously well with the polite and courteous citizens. I felt no need to rush when we went on walkabout, as I did also during my race. Racing with the Japanese runners, I learnt to appreciate the natural synchronicity and surrender to the ‘flow’. You need not rush, as you are still ahead and somewhere.
Thus, I recommend this race for the aforementioned benefits. I would give both Gold Coast Marathon and Osaka Marathon as my go-to races for a Boston Qualifier. Be mindful of the later start-times, and impending heat.
I hope that you found this report useful.
*Updates: Suffering symptoms of common cold a week AFTER the race. Last Saturday, I earned a season's best 5km performance of under 21 minutes. So, in a sense the recovery is on-track, but mired with a few expected obstacles. No training for a few more days.*

Friday, October 14, 2016


When times are hard, we tighten our belts. We hope to tide over the bad times. We partake in a few more luxuries when times are good. We brace ourselves for the worst of times.

I have varied interests in my life. I don't do them all at once. I wish that I can, however, I rather spend my time doing what interests me than wishing for them to happen.

If there is one thing that I have learnt well is: Time is a finite resource. Once you use it, it is gone. We can regret time lost in wasting it away, or appreciate the ‘moments’ we have created with another person.

Despite what we have learnt, we cannot ‘save time’, ‘buy time’, ‘make time’ or ‘invest in the time’ – we can merely make full use of it at every moment. Medication and healthcare may ‘buy us time’ with another, yet spending time connecting with a patient means more as our sense of time is distorted (in a good way). How we spend our 24 hours in a day needs to be ruled by our clarity of thought, strength of purpose, and fervency of choice: Profession, recreation and service to others.

Time is a ‘sense’. It is an abstract like human emotions.  We can measure it with watches and clocks, yet these instruments merely provide us with a reference point. There numerous points in time we can refer to: memories, accomplishments, achievements, celebrations, and milestones.

Each of us has a unique ‘sense of timing’. How we pace ourselves can be learnt, yet we have a natural cadence that we are ruled biological by. Yet, this metronome within us can be calibrated to our priorities, passions, and purposefulness.

These are my approaches to how we can utilize time, and be timely in our delivery and decisions.

1)   Set deadlines for mundane matters and chores (give yourself a Self-Compliment when you meet each mini-deadline; use a Gantt Chart to visualize your progress).
2)   Set SMART* Goals for mid- to long-term achievements.
3)   Plan ahead, and make simultaneous preparations (engage your personal Project Management for your next vacation).
4)   Take on a challenge. (22-day Pushup Challenge for PTSD patients, 1-Minute Plank Everyday For 30 days, NanoWriMo 30-Day writing challenge, 5km run race).
5)    Learn a new skill within 3 days, 30 days or 3 months.
6)    Give yourself 20 minutes to write all you can on your blog (or somebody else’s). Ensure it is edited. Yes, that is how fast you have to think, write and edit. Keep the piece short: 3 minutes worth of ‘eyeball time’.
7)   Like an exam-paper, if you get ‘stuck’ – move on to the next task. Return to this later, but you still must get it done! (I am writing a book review, which I put aside for now, and will complete within the hour).
8)   Stand up, for a few minutes. Sitting is hazardous to our health long-term. Avoid painful conditions that can be reduced through ‘mindful’ posture and activities.
9)   Be creative. Start with the first answer/solution, and apply the next. Never stop thinking too quickly. There is always more than one right answer!
10)                 Be inspired, be stoked by other’s achievements, be happy for their accomplishments, and ask yourself one Key Question: WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS? Be present for the next surprise coming…

By the way, this post took less than 20 minutes to complete. Secret ingredients = Motivation + Discipline + Inspiration (from my friends).

SMART*: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.

Sunday, October 9, 2016



I watched the Ironman World Championships today, and was stoked not only by the winners and professionals, bu also with the age-groupers. Each age-grouper - all amateurs - earned their spot to participant by some form of qualification. It is one thing to qualify, it is another to complete the entire 226km of swimming, riding and running within 17 hours. There are also wonderful stories of these age-group athletes who brave many trials and tribulations to take their spot at the deep-water start-line of the race.

Queen of Kona - Paula Newby-Fraser - who dominated Kona in the Ironman eight times. 
Having completed my dream of finishing this same race in 2013, I was assisted in reliving my own memories vividly. I recall most of the details, mostly of emotional upheavals and suffering. However, indelibly etched in my brain are my personal experiences. Again, these involve inspirational people - competitors, champions, volunteers, and supporters. 
My friend's father, Kor Hong Fatt - octogenarian Boston Marathon finisher encouraged me to qualify for this race, and I did.
Soonchul - Sydney-based friend who is a Ironman finisher and consistent sub-3 hour marathoner.
I love inspirational people! They inspire me to get off my seat. I assure you, I spend a lot of time sitting with my notebook or paperback book - so these people help me kick my ass from the comfortable throne of procrastination and Sloth. 

It is so easy to conjure excuses. It is much harder to do what we are supposed to do: choose, duties, errands, paperwork, cleaning up, organising, and the like. Sometimes, part of the process of achievement involves doing what is necessary and needful. Inspiring people have fewer excuses, and they inspire and motivate us indirectly by doing the seemingly impossible.
Dr Hannes Koeppen - World Champion in the Ironman triathlon (Physically-Challenged). Strong and fiercely determined. I appreciate that - as a corporate trainer and speaker - that my profession allows me to stand 95 percent of the time, and that hobbies also engage my mobility. Thus, I have been busy writing, interviewing and researching actively these past few days. My fellow blogger and former-corporate leader, Khairil Annuar has stimulated my mind with attractive conversations. Of course, our mutual interest in India Pale Ale (IPA) beer and craft-beers lubricate our dynamic arguments.

And, of course, when training with other athletes I have to work harder. Plus, the people who nominate me for physical challenges. I am glad you know I would likely complete my task. 

Once, I blogged everyday for three years - thanks to a challenge suggested by marketing-guru Seth Godin.

Thank you, to all my connections on Twitter, Facebook, as well as face-to-face friendships and acquaintances.

Friday, May 13, 2016


It has been about a month since I completed Boston Marathon 2016, in its 120th edition. These were the highlights for me.
I met my team-members at Changi Airport: Coach Lexus and assistant-coach Zhi Yong
It felt good the second time round. My first was in 2014, Boston Strong. I managed to qualify after one missed opportunity in 2011, in the Hong Kong Marathon.My next BQ came in 2013 and 2015, both earned in the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. The climate suits many Asian marathoners as it is cool, but not cold. Plus, the course is a fast course.

I missed the BQ-within-Boston by 2 minutes with my 3 hour 32 minutes and 4 second finish. With each year's cutoff hovering just under 3 minutes, I was off by 5 minutes. I was pleased  that several of my friends from Singapore earned BQs, which was done under slightly warmer conditions this year. I was pleased my injuries healed before the race, having suffered a sprained left ankle and suspected calf sprain/tear. With my BV Sport compression-socks and lighter Mizuno running shoes, I cleared the 42.195km in decent time.
We met CRO of Runners World - Bart Yasso. It was a real treat to meet the creator of the Yasso 800's
I held back on the first 10km, as it was mostly downhill. This year had more women participating, and I was gladly 'out-chicked' by this wide and deep field of great runners of all age-groups. My last 10km was hard, as I heated up a little and had to hold back. Although I was stronger on the hills this year, the do sap the legs. I improved a total of 16 minutes over 2014, and moved up the top-31 percent of the overall field. for that, I am grateful for the three-run-sessions per week I had with my new running group, F1Runners and the JRLAcademy of runners. The diet of interval-track sessions, strength-endurance were adequate to give me a very good Return On Investment (ROI) on my training. The rest of the time I spent on strengthening my body with cycling, swimming and circuit-training/kettle-bell training.
I applied what I learned over the years in my book 'Clocking Your Boston Qualifier: Run Less; Run Faster', and so was assured by my wisdom gleaned from experience and experts. In fact, one of my interviewees in my book - Andrew Cheong - earned a strong BQ of 3:26. He is a proponent of FIRST, and runs three key workouts a week: one long, one tempo, and one speed session.
It was a richly rewarding second outing to Boston, and the magic of this race never ceases to amaze me throughout the entire point-to-point course. The spectator support was generous and encouraging. For the first-time Boston marathoner, there will be many memories to relish over.

I hope to return in 2017, and qualify at the end of this year in cooler climates.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

New Training/Racing Gear For Challenge Roth 2016

Hello, Dear Readers! 

It has been a while since my last post, and fresh from my second completion of the Boston Marathon 2016, I share these thoughts. Since my relative 'absence', I have published my book on running, completed Boston Marathon, earned new sponsors, and acquired new wisdom.

These are my training tools for my next Iron-distance race - Challenge Roth. All the opinions are entirely and truthfully mine, and the products are either on review (or seeding) or on sponsorship.
I have been using BV Sport compression wear for a few months, and I can attest to their French-made functionality. Of the four styles and designs, I have found physical support when I was injured (sprain ankle and suspected torn/sprained calf muscles on the same left leg) before Boston Marathon, so that I could train and race through the injury. I survived one interval track session, and one strength-endurance session (road) with the high-socks.

When you use compression-wear, ensure the following conditions and considerations:

1) Get one near-medical grade standards. After all, compression-wear and wraps were designed to reduce swelling/oedema from acute inflammation. I completed Boston Marathon 2016 with BV Sport compression socks as part of my RICES treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Support. It addresses all five factors if you keep the area immobile, and insert ice cubes underneath the fabric (and against your skin) after each run. My ankle was puffy after each high-intensity run and circuit-training session.
2) Compression-wear does not work in water! Avoid swimming in them, as they get stretched and your tactile ('feeling' sensations on your skin) ability will not be as clear in water as the liquid medium seeps between skin and fabric.  
3) Compression-wear works best on its tautness and firmness. If you lose bodyweight through dehydration or fat-loss, the tension of the attire against your skin and muscles will be reduced. Therefore, fit is important in order to gain the most benefits from such therapeutic and training devices.
4) Hand-wash them to extend their life-span. Avoid over-soaking as it may lead to shrinkage or, otherwise from rough machine-wash.
I have been running, occasionally, on the MBT GT-16 shoes. This pair of shoes appears more built-up with its perimeter of sole - like Hoka - and are, interestingly, light enough. If you are a long-distance runner, and suffer from sore soles (say, from mild PF), these may be a solution for you. I ran two rounds in them in Central Park, New York City and over several, recent, 10km social runs. They weigh as much as some of the lighter, popular models - 355g for a US size-9 shoe. The ASICS Gel Kayano weighs 309g for the same reference size. 

The advantage of these MBT designs are that the deliberate weight distribution shifts your footfall near to the mid-sole or fore-foot position. Some running shoes use 'lugs' or 'steps' that create an imbalance forwards when you run, encouraging toe-off. This model and its sister creations, work on the physics of simplicity: weighted front. I attempted to run on the heels, and it was fairly challenging.

1) You get a half-size larger. Your feet swells when undergoing physical activity.
2) Replace the laces for those with better grip, or tie a double-knot.
3) You run in them several times to get use to its chunkiness. It is supportive, I assure you. 
Like all new products you use, give them at least 3-5 sessions to break in, before judging them. Above all, feel and fit should be weighted heavier against aesthetics and design. Weight can become negligible after training adaptations. I will review the racing model shortly.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Racing To Decide

Decisions can be hard to make. Yet, we still have to make it.

We make decisions about our career, choice of work, relationships, finances, lifestyle, beliefs, and levels of comfort. Without deciding, we may be unable to progress further and employ leadership values like discernment and diligence. A clear goal (SMART) directs us to purposeful actions, and therefore, the investment of focused and guided effort.

When I left full-time employment to pursue my dream of being an independent corporate-trainer, I had to decide after making intense preparations. I had to completes my tertiary education (my first degree), hone my skill-sets and develop my expertise and confidence over-6 countries. Each decision led to more preparatory work and applications. I had to decide to make a bunch of mistakes to engage my penchant for success and failures. The fear of success is as jeopardising as the fear of failure.

Mental conditioning - learning how to develop patience, tenacity, endurance, persistence, perseverence - is as important in the decision-making process. We train our brain to visualise the future, imagine, recall key information, gain insights, develop foresight, and prepare for unpredictable events and opportunities. 

Some decisions are born of dreams, desires and wants. However, each is different in type, relevance and approach. By identifying what these are, and determining how important each is - we can begin be decisive of how we spend our time and expend our resources.

When I started running marathons, the Boston Marathon was not on my list. It was not even on my Bucket List. Subsequently, after many years of training and excelling in the 42.195km (26.2 miles) running format, I decided to challenge myself to earn a Boston Qualifier (BQ). My first BQ in 2011 led to more focused training. A second and third BQ in 2013 and 2015, respectively led to completing the Boston Marathon (Boston Strong) in 2014, and my next attempt will be on 18 April this year. Essentially, one decision led to another, buoyed by action (strategic training) and measurements.

Which leads me to ask myself: Which are my main races and expectations for this year? I may need a beverage to consider this? What will it be?
Leadership Lessons: Learn to decide: snap it (fast) or deliberate over it (slower). Do it by yourself. Do it with a team. Learn to agree. Know when to disagree. Above all, take action after deciding.