Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011: Preamble

Azly Anwar: Looking for someone who has done SAC to call for advice. I'm almost certain to register, just wanna check out the financial bit. The 2day solo ultra trail running category is really tempting. Help please.

My obvious reply to that to his Facebook posting would be of course i will join him if he wants to form a team.

And that was how it started.

I have heard of Sabah Adventure Challenge (SAC) from the like of Zabil, Doc Hisyam, Bean, Soon, Adilah, Steve Canadian Bear etc. Basically it is the best adventure race they ever raced as it span a total of 3 days over the lush jungle of Sabah.

Any adventure freak (or wannabe like me) could not resist such offer. Not when you are teaming up with a person like Bandit. Historically, my first ever adventure race was with him (and Doc Hisyam) and there was no turning back. Whenever there was any adventure race, i will not blink an eye to pair up with him. With exception for the races he did not join or that one single race in Singapore that i registered without him (and he got...jealous, hahahah!).

We even got ourselves onto national TV (TV3) for Explorace Season 3. You know you are semi-celeb when the auntie/makcik shopping in the hypermarket can recognize you!

It was easier (to be recognised) as i had to bald my head in front of national TV.
So, tell me. It is a natural choice to team up with Bandit!.
Who else will give you the amount of pain and at the same time gives you the pleasure back again?
Who will still have his brain functioning in the most extreme of cases (solving arithmetic questions while being thrown about in a roller coaster ride going 360degree and get it RIGHT the first time???)
Who will cheer you up when you are losing it?
Who will pull you through and tell you to "imagine that Jessica Alba is naked and in front of you" when you are tired?

Azly Ahmad Anwar.

We registered as Team Alpha Bravo for the simple reason that he is from Alpha company and myself from Bravo company. This runs back to 1991 when we were both in RMC (his last year, my first year). Aptly so, the ties that bond us was because of the military school we were both trained. 

Sabah Adventure Challenge will happen from 21st to 25th April 2011. For the first time, they have Ultra Trail Running which is 60km over two days. While some of you readers might had done the Ultra 100KM in a day (in Singapore TNF), trail running in Sabah is totally different as the organisers promised adventure such as river crossing (depending on mother nature, if she is kind, we get to cross at chest high, if she is angry, we got to swim across perhaps?).
Whatever it is, i am all excited. I have also gotten my leave for this race approved (thank you boss! if you are reading this, but what are the chances!?). What is left now is to get a flight to Sabah and race!

Yes, of course, the training too. For the next few months to come, with the absence of Langkawi Ironman (some say it might be back, but who will want to commit to an Ironman race with minimal training, or last minute race confirmation unless you been training whole year to end?), this is the next most exciting race for 2011 for me. Looks like in the pipeline is to get my aging MTB a new life, do more trail running, get fit, get pumped up, do some night trail running and learn to cook instant noodle in the jungle again! It is after all, a self sufficient race! So, all care and preparation has to come into play and that include regulating bowel movement (i might need to consult CIFU Saiful as he can hold his shite for 3 days!!!!)

Bring on SAC 2011!

Allergic Reaction : Hives

Nadia woke up on Sunday afternoon nap with some insect bites on her cheek and her neck area. Looked like normal ants/mosquitoes bites that some Mopiko or Eurax can't solve.

She then proceed to play like usual and had a pool-of-a-splashing time outside with her brother.

Then, we proceed to dry her and put on her PJ. Ready for Dinner.

By 9pm, she suddenly complained that she was itchy. Naturally, i would had thought it was the insect bite in the afternoon.

When wifey and me removed her top, we were horrified to see patches of bites that are now looking more like patches of allergic reactions. We decided to rush her to the clinic as my limited medical knowledge tells me that allergic reaction can triggers amongst other thing such as :
1. constricting of the breathing passage
2. seizure

No point taking any risks!

While Wifey brought Nadia to the clinic, i put Ryan to sleep. I googled and found out more about what she could possible have. It is known as Hives.

The problem with parents nowadays is that information is so easily available and each one will be a medical expert with some googling. I am no better but i try to take what i read on the Internet with a cup of salt if i have to.
Nadia in Calamine Camo. Blends pretty well with furniture behind.
So, basically, there is no determined caused of the allergic that has caused this. For Nadia, it could be one of the following:
1. Insect bites during her afternoon nap. Could be mossies or carpet mites.
2. Dust kick up from house cleaning when we had the house cleaned in the afternoon.
3. Cold water from the vinyl pool we set up in the porch
4. dirt on the porch as she runs around in her tiny bathing suit, exposing the body to anything on the ground
5. insects/bugs biting her when outdoor
6. semi-dry just out of laundry towel that we used to wipe her dry, (exposing her to detergent?)
7. The eggs she took for dinner
8. The Choc with nuts and raisins she took after that.
9. The PJ she wore that was maybe had insect crawling
10. The change of temperature from outdoor cold water to warmer indoor

We could not pin point the cause or causes but we are certainly sure it is not the food she takes as this girl eats anything (delicious). No history of previous allergic reactions but that doesn't mean that she is not allergic to it now. So we have to monitor.

I recalled that i used to have these allergic to. What i had when i was 16 to 19 years old was something even more rare. It is called dermographism. What it does is that it makes my skin "imitates" what i scribble, stroke, scratched or even slapped.

Imagine me writing my name on my forearm and 2 minutes later, my name appear and will last another 30minutes before it subsides. Back then, the boys will give me a slap behind my back and their hand print will be visible as it will be raised and red. Kinda freakish i know. It lasted for about 3 years for me and never came back. Else, i would had "etched" TRIATHLETE" on my skin every time i race!

Back to Nadia. As of this morning, she still has the hives. While it is generally better compared to yesterday, being a 2years old toddler, she could not express her frustration for us to understand. And of course, myself and wifey being short of rest and sleep doesn't help when it comes to us and our patience.

I hope she recover soon. I so seriously need some night rest. It is affecting everything from life to work! Guessed now i know how much misery i have put my parent through when i was growing up having (apart from allergic reactions) these health problems!

Edited to include What To Do If Hives Happened
I missed this out.
OK. The doctor gave Nadia two type of medication. One is an anti-histamine and the other an anti-itch medication. If you can identify Hives from other serious allergic reaction, you can actually buy medication over the counter at a reputable pharmacist. 

I went to the pharmacist to obtain more calamine lotion and asked them for medication for Hives. The pharmacist offered me two options, which is just benedryl (antihistamine) or a combo of antihistamine and anti-pruritic (can't remember the name, which causes drowsiness).

Don't forget a bottle or two of calamine lotion to help cool and ease the itch. Calamine lotion has zinc oxide, which helps the skin to recover as well. One notion about the lotion though as it stain when wet. Zinc Oxide in the lotion pretty much mess things up when it is wet, so quickly wipe it away if it stain anything dark!

Other than that, the doctor told us that the hives should clear within two days, or will be better within 2 days. It is rare for hives to last longer than a week and if there are such cases, it points to more serious allergy reactions and need further medical attention.
So, the next time your kids (or yourself, like Adeline (pic above) got stung by wasp during The NorthFace 100km race), you know what to do. Get some anti-histamine and anti-pruritic and take them (per your weight, adults are 5ml each, kiddos below 5 half the dosage) and do the following:
1. don't scratch (with kids a bit hard to tell them, some adviced to let them wear gloves!)
2. don't wear tight clothing or diapers(hey, good opportunity to toilet train!)
3. stay cool and out of the heat (i.e. good circulation)
4. don't take alcohol (that is for you adults!)

If you have difficulty breathing(adults) or onset tiredness/nauseated (kiddos, usually can see if they are active and suddenly just limp) rush to the doctor or ER! Allergic reaction are often non-life threatening, but don't take the chances!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Do I Deserve To Win A Samsung Galaxy Tab

This is going to be downright brutally frank and there are serious competition out there to win this new spanking Droid tablet that could give the other fruit product a run for it's money.
image of the green apple taken from http://www.blather.net
I was told there were eight other contestants and the winner will be based on the most comments and page hit that the posting received.

Look, to start with, my blog has an average of 120 page hit a day. Pathetic i know.

I then took a look at the eight other contestants entry and if what they wrote make them deserve to win this Samsung Galaxy Tab, then i am seriously lost for words!

But it is a competition and i now summon all my friends and blog readers to help me, desperately, win this Galaxy Tab so i could give it away as an early Christmas and Birthday present to my wife.

Why do i desperately want to win this for her?

Here are the reasons, feel free to add on more in the comments column if you want (and i meant it):
1. I have ran out of idea to give a woman that has everything, anything.
2. I am pretty dry this couple of months and could need all the help i could get.
3. I am saving for Ironman Western Australia 2011, and will bring the Tab with me to chronicle my journey.
4. I am saving for a fullframe dSLR, so i can take nice photo of the Tab if i win it.
5. Godamit - it's FREE!

Nearest competitor has up to 52 comments (including his own comments, are they counted? I HOPE NOT!) I am not even posting the blog link so you can go and comment on their entry! HooYah!!! (sorry, ultra-kiasu mode).
OK. Here is the deal to seal the mother of all desperation:


Don't wait, comment comment comment and more comments! Muahahahahahah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Of Blood Donation And Bangsa Malaysia

There was a blood donation exercise in the office building today. I am a huge fan of giving blood away. Do you know that for every pint of blood that you donate, it will be split into 3 bags and that would meant you potentially can save three person that need a pint each?

My relationship with blood donation started when i was studying in TAR College. HKL or Blood Bank loves TAR College as i think the students believe giving blood was a noble act and they are hoping by doing more good deeds, they will be re-paid with good tidings.

When i was in TAR College, I have donated close to 20 odd times (last i counted and was given a cert for that), but despite that, i had to "re-sit" one year lah (because i failed my third year diploma). So, the "good deed = good tiding" doesn't really work here ;-)

Anyway, back then, the form for blood donation was much simpler. Perhaps back then, when i was younger (and slightly brainwashed to be Pro-Government), i overlooked certain things; like WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT RACE YOU ARE WHEN YOU DONATE BLOOD!?
I consoled myself that it is for statistical reasons. The maybe want to know how many people of certain races donate blood (and maybe this translate to be more patriotic?) and maybe which race are more generous? I don't know, but to move towards 1Malaysia and to realise the dream, we should just do away with forms that has these notation in them.

This also make me wonder if by ticking it as certain race, my blood will be selectively given to only that race? Is my blood more inferior than the others?
I also feel the pain when the needle goes in.
Anyway, if you still have not given blood to save your fellow countrymen's (and women) life, consider to start it soon. I also recommend that you donate only at KL Bloodbank because that is the only place that will not SELL your blood. I was made to understand that private hospital SELL the blood they collected (unless some of you can tell all of us this is not true). I have blood account with both HKL and UH.
Talk about milking you dry with 0.5inch of needle
Anyway, since i left TAR College, I've been a regular until about three years ago to donate Plasma. I can donate plasma once every two weeks and i did it once a month back then. To date, i believe i have charted in at least 30 times of donation, i am not sure about the figure as i did not keep score. I only remember i had needle marks on the crease of my hand like a drug-junkie back then.

I know how precious blood is and now that i felt good with my newly found blood-iron level, i believe this is a call to give back to and be grateful for my return of good condition.
With Hng, my colleague. The pics above is him being poked.
So, if you chance upon a call to donate blood, don't fret, the whole process won't take more than 15minutes (45 if you donate plasma) and it is painless. You will feel more pain when they lancet your fingers to find your blood group and when they apply anaesthetic via a smaller needle.

And as for the race portion, you can fill it up like how i did below.
Unite my fellow Malaysians!

My Son Turns Four

My son is officially four today. How time flies. It felt like yesterday when he was just a baby. Now, he can converse in at least two languages and has learnt to bargain his way out of trouble.
On Monday, myself and wifey had a mini celebration for him and his classmates. It was such joy and surreal to see myself doing this. I recall my dad did this for me too when i was growing up. I guess the cycle has already started.

We give the children what we can. After all, when we are long gone, all these belongs to them.

Happy Birthday Boy. We love you very much (despite how we make your growing up difficult with mindless lectures!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Powerman 2010 Du-ing Relay Race Report

What a good race. To begin with, courtesy of Honda Malaysia, i had the Jazz for the whole weekend. It was a coincidence that it was also my birthday weekend. Driving to Lumut is like a yearly affair. Sometimes, it is more than just once a year if work brings me here.

Me and wifey first thought about joining Relay together when i asked her permission if i can race Powerman in November. Back then, the condition of my health wasn't very sure, not helping was that i struggle during PD Tri. She suggested that we tag-team and join the race. After all, what is running 11km and 10km on a Sunday?
We called ourselves E.A.R.N. It is the initial of each family member. Those that know us would know what each stand for.

As the day grew nearer, wifey had the usual panic attack about not able to run, or will make us to be the last team that finish the race. I kept assuring her that it doesn't matter, as we are there to exercise and to be with friends, not to forget to get away for a mini break (she is slowly buying the idea of "racing during holiday" concept).
The best part of a "racing holiday". License to eat before race. This one extra because also birthday dinner.
Unlike last year and the year before and three years ago, I sort of decided not to be a big hero and drive down at 3am in the morning for the race at 7.30am. I drove down alone through Road 5(Kuala Selangor - Teluk Intan-Lumut) three years ago, then with Mervyn two years ago (reached early enough to even help Mel and Adele to set up the counters!) and with wifey last year. I am getting old and my reflexes are also getting slower and no point risking a drive down just to save a couple of hundred on room stay.

Bonus was that we were guest at CK's staffs' quarter and we could not appreciate it more! After all, we just need somewhere safe to put up a night. So, Thank you Chief Kutu!

We pushed off from KL late Saturday afternoon to reach Lumut by 7.30pm. Then myself and wifey went to Kampung Cina in Sitiawan for some seafood. I last eaten at this area about 3 years ago when i was out on fieldwork with my colleague from Manila, Albert Payapaya. The owner of the site we did some work brought us to Kampung Cina and had some seafood. It was very reasonably priced back then i recalled and the food was good. Instead of going to the place i went the last time (Coconut Villa), we settled for a simpler setup Villa Restaurant about 300meters further. The place looked promising with almost all tables taken up.

Must be good. Go to where everyone go and you won't go wrong.

As we sat down on the table, i saw the whole bunch of friends happily and concentrating on eating. Kannan the Ultraman saw us and we walked over to say hi. I only know him and Alex Hay. We then sat down and ordered our food.

Mantis prawn kam heong style.
Choy tam stirred fried with garlic.
Oo-Chien (fried oyster on flour/egg mix)
Butter crab.
The portion that was served was huge for two person and cost us RM63 including two large pandan coconut. It was cheap and definitely better than those places in town (Klang Valley that is). The Oo-Chien was the most refreshing i've tasted as instead of soggy oily flour/egg mix, it was just egg white fried until crispy with thumb sized oyster thrown on top.
Half way while waiting for the food to come, Raymond Tomato, Mitch Looi and Tony Quay spotted me across the next table and came over to wish me happy birthday!

Boy was i embarrassed! But HAPPY!
Alex and Kannan offered to get me a Guiness...but i had to decline as i don't drink. Thanks both and thanks Tony, Ray and Mitch!

Our food reached as everyone started to leave. We ate and returned back to the CK's place and call it a night. I had my bike setup from home and for this race, i brought my Ordu - my least ridden bike. I am still unable to tame her. Not helping with weak legs and all.
I was pretty charged up though i did not had a good rest due to some pulled muscle from my right arms to my right lower back - those "restless" feeling like you had a phantom arm type? Those that the more you try to rest them, the more they will twitch and felt even more tired? I had wifey massaging me and giving me deep tissue massage using her elbow to try to ease the pain. Worked for a while and i think i went back to sleep at 4am.

It actually started raining at 1.30am(i can't sleep though i thought i heard Shazly snoring from upstairs) and was still raining when i finally woke up at 5.30am. It was still drizzling as we reach the race venue. For once i thought to myself that Lumut will not be HOT this year. Phew!
By 7.15am, the organiser has requested that everyone move to the starting point. As usual, racing weekend meant congregation of many of us that know each other. I love this.
The Kalams
The Inspirator Emma and Mac
The Mum and the Tryathlete's Triple-S
The extended family
The Good Looking
The Racing Babes
The better lookings
And the item that make you look...fast, even when you are not moving.
The race for the full distance individual started off at 7.30am sharp. Relay gun off 10 minutes later and the this will be followed by the Sprint 10minutes after Relay and finally the Sprint Relay meant for Malakoff Staffs wanting to try to DU(as in Duathlon).

Hats off to Malakoff under AJ's command as he has ensured that his men and women stays healthy and engaged in sporting activities at least four times a year via major races. Kudos to Quick Release too for always organising world class top-notch races. They never disappoint.

The plan was that wifey run the first 11km, then i will cycle the next 64km and wifey finished it off with a 10km run. Somehow, i know she is not feeling too good and no point pushing her to do more and i gladly volunteered to do the last 10km run. I then realised that i am just 11km short to complete the whole Powerman distance and decided that i will just run with her the first 11km.

After all, if i don't, what am i gonna do for an hour while waiting for her?
We took a slow run to warm up as the gun went off and i know it is just a matter of 15minutes before the fast Sprint category racers come charging through. As the weather in the morning was super duper nice, the first 5.5km was completed in pretty decent timing of 40minutes. Key to long distance endurance race is to pace oneself. It is often very easy to get sucked into other people's tempo and then you bonk out and get left behind only to feel ultra-shitty after that.

I was not wrong to calculate that the faster individual racers (the Pros and the Strong ones) will overtake us and complete their 11km within 45 minutes. As calculated, at least 10 of them ran past us as we were running into the third km of our race.
I then realised that wifey could do her PB for 11km run. Her 10km has always been hovering at 1:20 and i know she can be pushed to do better. I picked up the pace and hurried her on, keeping the pressure and baiting her to go faster. It paid off as she finished our run in 1:16 for 11km - and that was her not feeling fully alright. Proud of you baby!

As soon as we enter Transition, i kissed wifey goodbye and geared up for the bike league. The last i actually cycled in a race was during PD Tri. The last i cycled after PD tri was two weeks ago. I so know i will be in for a surprise.

As i pushed my bike out and took some Powerbar Endurance drink, i knew it will be a long hot day and i knew i will be sweeping behind the race.

Being in a relay race put you in a spot where you are at least 10minutes slower than the last person doing the full distance, and 32km more than the person doing Sprint. That would meant the full distance racers will finish the race before you and 10minutes running could spell a good 2km distance away. This also meant the Sprint racers will be having their yearly taufoofar and cendol treats by the organiser while you are still hot on your bike seat.

But i was there just to complete the distance. It doesn't matter. I was happy my heart rate and i had zero fatigue feeling. I felt healthy and definitely much better than 1 year, or 6 months ago!
The 64km on the Powerman route could easily be completed within two hours or below. The route is pancake plate with a big banana bridge at the end. 
Don't let it bother you or you will end up like this dead monkey that rushed through the road to pick up a energy bar/gel dropped by some athlete.
Horrid, i know. I almost became part of the race statistic too if i am not too careful.

My first lap was done within an hour and by the time i touched the 60km mark, i decided to take things a bit easier and just spin. I could felt onset cramps on the calves. I caught up with a foreign worker on bicycle and cycled with him for a while before pulling away slowly. Guessed he was worried that this colorful chap wearing a sperm helmet was checking his rear.
My last 2km i saw a girl struggling to continue to cycle. But i can tell that she was very determined though. A bit of encouragement to pull her along earned me an unofficial friend.

I clocked in from biking in 2:20. Not too bad considering i now have a fresh pair of leg that won't go all jello when i start running the last 10km.
I heard Kannan announcing Juliana, Azmar and Yusran's name as i started my run. They have already finished their race in sub 4:10.
Needless to say, i spent almost 10minutes in each transition - taking things a bit too easy i supposed. You can even see racer pushing their bike home when i starting my run! Wakakakaak!

As i move out for the run, a quick compulsory peck on wifey's lips for luck and i was off. I then saw a familiar face waiting under the shade.
Hello Hot Mama Lizi!
I begin to make small run when the unofficial friend caught up and offered me a drink. She then told me that she will follow me (or rather my pace). Now i am under pressure to continue running! Hahahaha!

As i slowly made my way in constant 7:00 pace under the hot heat of 40degC, i noticed less and less people on the running route and more and more traffic plying the area. I know for certain that most people would finished the race within 4:30-4:45.

The unofficial friend walked and ran like doing interval training to catch up with me. I assured her i won't be running any faster than what i am already doing. 
Unofficial friend following closely behind
I found out she was doing this the first time, i did not ask her where she came from but judging from her speaking Cantonese, i don't think it is from Singapore! Towards the end of the first 4km, i checked my timing and it was almost 35minutes already. Having started the race 10minutes later, i knew whoever that wants to attempt to be known as a Powerman finisher (within cut off) will have to push it more.
It is such joy to see human pushing their limits. I constantly push myself and the people around me. In fact, if i have my ways, people that wants to work in my office should at least be able to run a 10km race; anything more than that is a bonus and sure hire!

The unofficial friend's friend came looking for her and accompanied her the rest of the way. I wished her luck and ask her to keep moving forward. 

On my second loop, Chief Kutu caught up with me. I have high admiration for this man. I have the same admiration for man like AJ. What we three have in common is that we are all trained for at least 2 years in Royal Military College. Age gap is not an issue as we are bonded by the sports that we do. I then decided to take things another notch easier by walking and running with CK to the finish! 
My last 10km took me 1:20. But it was all worth it. With the sweeper bus creeping slowly behind us while we chatted away and while CK's wifey, Jaja stopped every 50meters to provide coconut water and Coke for CK, we certainly felt like superstar!

Even the St. John Ambulance are sweeping their staffs away. LOL!
With whatever energy we had (actually, we had plenty still ;-)), we crossed the line in 5:51(CK) and 5:41(me).
We are both finisher in our own way, never mind that we did not earn the Finisher's shirt as we both got our medal and Team E.A.R.N and CK are Powerman in our own way.
We were the last. The organiser has packed up most items. The MC, UltraKannan concluded the race with the safe arrival of the two young men that held everyone up for 6 hours. :)

Thanks for reading and see all of you in the next race. Don't forget to say "HI!!!" to Team E.A.R.N!