Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eating Clean - A White Collar Dilemma

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
For those of us that spend more time sitting in front of the PC or out at work, this is a dilemma, especially those that tries to eat clean for health and weight-control reasons.
The abundance of (unhealthy) food being sold by the hawkers and eateries leave much to be desired. Even office pantry is a sinful place to be for those that tries to eat clean.
Butter crab
Coffee, fortified beverages, creamer, condensed milk, junk food/snacks are just some of them. Caffeine messes with your system no matter how much you say you say you need them (thus i save them for race morning, if i need it). Fortified beverages are nothing but cocoa with loads of add-on and sugar. Creamer are hydrogenated vegetable oil, otherwise known as trans-fat. I don't need to elaborate about junk food/snack.
I have my diet sins too. I used to stock up a lot of dried sour plum. I have a bottle of cordial on my desk (gladly, I've not touch it for months!), i bring junk food for those "comfort eating" at work.
These has to stop.
Lunch is always a challenge. That RM4.99 meal is just too good (read : wallet friendly) to let go. But I know that every single fries i take brings me closer to more clogged arteries. Everything is processed. OK, how about we eat that bowl of Nyonya laksa? Goddammit those coconut milk in the curry broth with steam chicken and uncooked cockles are just too darn delicious to ignore (and i just salivated while typing this).
Mee Jawa Best In The World
That plate of  nasi briyani with succulent beef in dark soy sauce and tonnes of vegetable (got to be healthy right?) perhaps takes the monotony away from the lunch hour.
Nasi Briyani Ayam...with vegetable...right...
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. (and i so hate myself for eating them all!)
Technically, they are all "home cooked", or how else they landed on the platter for the serving? But little do most of us know that whatever we see being served are actually bad for our health. Some hawkers claimed to use the "freshest ingredient" and that usually meant rejected vegetables bought at cheap price from the hypermarket (i just saw someone in uniform of a kopitiam around Mutiara Damansara buy "reduced price" vegetables). For economy and maximum profit, most of them recycle the oil they use. Most know that oil can only be used a couple of time for frying. The more we expose oil to heat, the more they oxidizes and break down to carcinogenic materials. Seen the pisang goreng (fried banana fritter) lady's cauldron of oil? Golden yellow or dark brownish?
Wait, it's golden yellow. But is that "refined" oil from "recycled oil"? Meaning, were they re-processed used cooking oil?
OK. Eat healthy. Take sandwhich. Subway. O'Briens. Can't be bad, no?
Did you just ordered your sandwhich with extra meat and "please more mayo and that sweet onion sauce, please"?
You get my drift?
It's never easy to eat out. It gets more difficult when you are trying to eat clean. You ARE what you eat.
So what are you now?
A walking lard? A sedentary chap fan (mixed economy rice)? An active fried chicken? A walking Sambal Belacan?
But i love my teh tarik! Can i ask for it to be "kurang manis?" :(
With gastric re-visiting me and with more dilemma in trying to get back into shape (and not be a "has been" triathlete) i find myself constantly fighting with my stomach and palate. But I've made my mind that i will eat to live. Not live to eat anymore. Of course i do have those occasional "cheats". But they are far and seldom anymore.
Give a thought on what you put into your mouth today. Look at your lifestyle and see if you need that much calories. Check if your bread are made from "refined fortified flour". See if your muesli bar has more chemicals you can't pronounce than natural ingredient. See if your "fruit juice" is made from 80% sugar and 19% preservative and 1% "fruit extract".
Yes, healthy diet is boring. Some stood at the edge of being visually repulsive and tasting worse than fermented durian. Fancy a concoction of spirulina with chia seed?
Eating healthy is not cheap. Organic food cost a bomb. Anything healthy will have the seller marking it up at higher price to justify the "ingredient". Often, we just take it for granted what was served to us is of the best possible quality. Sometimes they are true, often, they aren't. So what do a white collar worker like me earning pittance wages and has a family to feed do? If i were to eat out, an average lunch will be costing me RM6.50. I am trying to stay away from spicy food for health reasons (i am a Malaysian for crying out loud! No sambal belacan???) and that usually meant the choices are limited. Today, i took a stroll to the local hypermarket with a gastric developing in the upper left side below my heart. Bought a pack of simethicone for better night sleep (hate waking up with a sour tummy!) and walked over to get some boring vegetable. Saw two packs of "cheap salad" that will expire in day's time, checked the condition (not soggy) and got them both at RM1.90 and RM1.50 per 125gram each. I walked over to the bread counter and was contemplating that Pita bread only to find it being made using "enriched fortified protein flour". I settled for a hard no-brand (in house) loaf of wholemeal bread that cost RM2.80.
I try not to buy those "branded" bread as they usually have shortening (to make the bread super duper pillow soft). So, the "hard" bread was a compromise i have to make.
And i walked back to the office, sat in the pantry, washed half a pack of the salad (and i was happy they were in good crunchy non soggy condition) and ate them.

But am i really eating healthy? I guess i can't win all the time. Not when the tummy is making your hand shiver as the pain radiates through your body.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Respecting The Distance

What does it really meant?
In the simplest defination, it simply meant that you MUST train for your race.
But WHY?
You do not "just go and run" a 5km if you are a beginner or jump in and do a 42km just because you've done a couple of 10km.
You do not assume 100km is do-able just because you have done many 42km or don't expect that just because you have done a 42km before, your next 42km will be a stroll in the park.
Often time I have seen just how some noobs (beginner) call their run a marathon. Fair enough as a 5km or 10km run is a (pseudo)marathon as your weekend activities consist of walking for hours window shopping in Mid Valley or One Utama.
I am running a risk of offending many readers of this blog (most are first time visitors with only about 30% returning readers). But YES...
I cringe every time someone tells me he/she runs a marathon in 1hour and 30 minutes.
You see, when you do that, you are NOT respecting the distance.
And you certainly made a fool of yourself and undermine anyone that has put in effort and sacrifices and mileage to complete a certain distance.
Take myself as an example. I've completed nine humble timed marathons, three Ironman triathlon races, countless long distance triathlons, countless Olympic distance triathlon, many adventure races, many duathlons, many more short runs and does 21km on weekends for mileage. Just for Standard Chartered KL Marathon alone, I've clocked in no less than 10 long slow distance (LSD) training. Don't get me started on the mileage (and hours I have to wake up) to train when i was training for my Ironman races.
Am i bragging now?
By respecting the distance, you will learn about your own ability. You will surpass your own limits. You will find out what others put in to be better (weekend) athletes.
By respecting the distance, you will know what to do when you have cramps. You will know what food and diet to follow that suits your body the most. You will be prepared for the unforeseen when you race.
By respecting the distance, you will go out for your training or race - and come back alive.
Sadly, not many give themselves that respect and learn to respect the distance.
Unless you are Lance Armstrong or some super athletes, you can just wear your shoe and go out for a run and ace it (by the way, Lance can finish a 42km in sub 3hours). But these professional knows that they too, have to respect the distance.
I have to get this off my chest and i see this as an opportunity to educate. Back when i started running, no one was there to guide me. No one cared about telling me to "train". No one certainly told me that 42.195km is a far far distance.
My wife took 8 months to fully train for her first Marathon. And that too, she was jittery about it on race morning. She respected the distance. She put in the mileage. She not only ran a good race but she recovered so well she is ready for another run today!
So, apart from respecting the distance, what is the next most important aspect of running?
Staying alive.
There are many death related to running. Remember the casualty during Adidas King Of The Road? How about Last year's SCKLM? I am not implying that they did not respect the distance here by the way. Far from it.
For those of you that ran yesterday's SCKLM, did you not noticed many paramedics around? Did you not feel comfortable having them around? In my most humble opinion (and trust me, i can be a huge critic and could make race organisers feel uneasy), yesterday's race organisation was amongst the best I've ever seen in that many years I've been doing (purely) running sports! What was there to complain?
The water was adequate.
There was isotonic enough to drown you.
There was even banana about KM16 for the full marathoners.
Medic were everywhere.
Medic were equipped with mobile defib. Two were at least on bicycle. You know how heavy are those?
And i was utterly disgusted when some "runners" participants complained about UNRIPE BANANAS in their POST-RACE bag and NO BREAKFAST WAS SERVED AFTER RACE.
Look. You are certainly NOT respecting the distance. Let alone respecting yourself when you make those statement.
Then there are participants that registered but for some reasons did not went to collect their race kits and asking "how to redeem back". Where can...
So can i buy a Happy Meal, don't eat it, and ask for refund? (Sadly, one past event organiser has decided to set a precedence and refunded not only MONEY, but also race kit, medal and finisher t-shirts to ALL participants because they screw up the run). I sure hope he/she meant that they want the race kit (i.e. the bib, the race pack, the muscle ointment and the recycle bag) and not the medal, T-shirt and eeerrr...bananas.
So dearest running friends - those that is starting to run and decided to run for health or to run to socialise, please, respect the distance. Please know the differences between the committed distance. And certainly please don't make a banana out of yourself or demand for a breakfast after a race. If it makes you feel better, a plate of Nasi Lemak has enough energy to let you run 21km and climb 10 flights of stairs. So, if you came to run 5km...and want a are NOT doing yourself a favor and you are respecting those that has put in the time and effort to train!
You are allowed to throw the unripe bananas at me if you are offended by what i wrote above. Breakfast not included, but i might offer you some salt tabs and my drinks, perhaps even help you with your cramps if i see you rolling on the ground.  :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wifey 42km Debut DONE!

She did it.

Forty Two Freaking Kilometer Around Kuala Lumpur. And she did it in style by finishing the race way ahead of me.
She raced an injury free race, well hydrated, had fun, looked great and most of all, finished what she went to do.
Eight months ago, running a marathon (again, i am stressing, a marathon is a race of 42.195km distance, but to be a bit less anal about it, lets just put it as 42km) was perhaps something that wifey would not even consider. With the decision to "give back" to her a a bit of encouragement, she decided to pick up running a marathon.
Sensible eating (she has not had a Nasi lemak for eight months), a lot of self-refrain (food), understanding the technicality and also the demand to train, Wifey now knows what it takes to respect the distance.
The early morning jitter is only normal even for seasoned marathoner or athlete. Anything can go wrong in a race. Today alone:
- I've spoken to a man that forgot to cut his toenail, and ended up walking/running like a penguin;
- I bumped into my junior in VI (Victoria Institution) that attempted his first 42km (hello Jo Yan!);
- Made new friends that i shared my Hammer Nutrition salt caplets, spoke to runner that is against Lynas;
- Exchange some thoughts with a lady that was concerned that she won't get a finisher medal for her first Marathon (Hello Genie!);
- Had one runner asking me if i am "Tri Stupe";
- Felt sexy that at least three instances of runners telling me i got nice legs (and arse); and
- the list goes on and on.
The icing was to know very well that Wifey was way ahead of me and WILL finish the race.
This post is dedicated to her. Aileen Marathon Har. We have been tracking her progress for the past eight months (since August 2010) and look at the transformation that she went through!
August 2010. Pencala Link 10km run.
LRT June 2011
June 26, 2011. Standard Chartered KL Marathon. FMV 6:10
Well done Wifey. The glory is all yours today!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Real Men Wear Skirt

Going to be running in SKIRT tomorrow for SCKLM. It will be a full 42km in Kuala Lumpur.
The idea of doing this was the brainchild of Choi that brings in these wonderful Running Skirt and also Karen which has made effort to get this come true for some of us.
The intention of this was actually to raise some fund, have fun and to make running more enjoyable. As some of the runners that will be wearing the skirt can be considered as veteran for finishing up to 55 marathons, there got to be ways to "liven" up the whole experience beyond just "running" and going home after.
Have fun seeing the photos. And have fun ogling at us in skirts tomorrow. Yes, the MEN.
My biggest challenge is to ensure no VBL. For that, i get lesson from dearest wifey.
Good luck to all of you racing in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur tomorrow! Race well, race safe! And most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Featured in Oriental Daily and Carbo Loading

I can now tell my kids that they were in newspaper when they were young. :)
The article, i was told, speaks about us having a healthy lifestyle. While we all have our sins with food and laziness, i sure hope the article (in the paper) gives an insight to our everyday's life.

On a separate and very related topic since it is 3 more days to go before SCKLM, i am going through some gastric issues and lack of rest. Just got back from wonderful Kuching (for work) and will be in Alor Setar and Sungai Petani for the next two more days. I am putting myself at a risk of not performing this Sunday with the lack of training and also planning of proper carbo-loading. The following paragraphs will show just how much i am not practising what i am preaching. It will serve as a good reminder for myself in the future.
Speaking of carbo-loading, many people did it wrongly, or has the wrong impression about doing any sort of loading before any major event. While some see it as an opportunity to "binge" on food, we must remember to fuel the body only with good food. We are what we eat. I've long forgo that i "live to eat" and would "eat to live". I am very very selective with the food i take and most of the time, i sounded anal about it.

Carbo-loading are typically done if you are going to embark on an endurance event of no less than 90minutes. And by that, the intensity and the purpose of the carbo-loading could differ from one person to another. This also meant that you should not justify carbo-loading just because you are planning to do a 10km run in 2hours or a 5km fun run in 90minutes. The most common mistake one could do is to carbo-load a day before any major race. The body could not convert the fuel to glycogen on time if you eat a day earlier. In fact, the usual acceptable timeline would be a week before the event.

Many people carbo-load wrongly as well, which could be demerits to the whole exercise of carbo-loading. Before one carbo-load, or consider to embark on doing so, they should exercise hard enough to deplete their energy or glycogen level to prepare the body for the upcoming loading. This state of "hunger" is important as our body sort of reacts to certain situation/abnormality when pushed to the extreme.

Then for the first 3 days, they will be on low carb diet with more protein and on the fourth day, they start to take in more carbo (high quality carbs yah) with low glycemic index (GI). What this meant is to take in complex carbs. Rice don't make it. So does pasta (a common mistake even by race organisers). The perceived starvation from the first 3-days of carbo-loading (which you aren't really loading anyway) will force the muscle to "absorb" as much carbs as possible on the last four days. This will effectively raise your serum glucose level (or blood glucose level) without raising your insulin (or getting the sugar high) or spiking your sugar level. You do not want to have an elevated sugar level as once the sugar has been used up, you will have what the athlete calls "Bonk". Your body will then crave for "sugary" food and your body will slowly shut down to conserve energy.

So what is good carbs? Aim for complex carbs. It is anything with whole wheat (full/whole grain stuff like oats, brown rice), fruits and even yogurt (plain variants) and milk (doesn't matter high or low fat). Basically, eat healthy unprocessed stuffs. Any food with GI less than 55 is good. Do some read up to find out more of food glycemic index (GI) value and you will understand what i meant. In fact, during the (only) three Ironman i entered in 2008, 2009 and 2010, i literally made my own energy food from expensive organic ingredient such as rice malt syrup and agave syrup. You can read them here : Homemade Energy Gel. Myself and wifey even made our own muesli as those available in the market are sugar laden and garners it's so called nutritional properties from SUGAR. Read about these wonderful muesli here : Homemade Muesli Bars.

Do complement the carbs you take with protein and oil too. An endurance athelete has to train his or her body to utilise protein and fat as fuel. While it sounded funny to be eating oil to burn oil, we are talking about good oil. The good virgin olive oil, the good grapeseed oil, the good CLA. Skip any animal (saturated) or peanut/palm oil. Load up a bit more on your salt and balance it off with banana (potassium in banana will balance off the natrium or sodium in the body). At the current point of time, i am a big fan of Chia seeds. Read about them in the Internet  my blog as well. :)

Remember to rest well, do some short runs, perhaps a 5km run at easy pace and learn to relax the muscle.

This last few days is important. There is really no time for last minute mileage for it will do nothing but burn you off within the first 10km of your marathon (42km ya) or 21km race.

Good luck and see all of you this Sunday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Featured As A Runner in Jamie Pang's Blog

Most of you could be big fans of Jamie "Carboman" Pang. I knew about him when i first joined running as a supplement to my fitness when i started adventure racing about 10 years ago. Little do i know, he asked me if i was interested in some sort of "interview" and be featured as a runner in his well known blog.
I do not call myself an accomplished runner. Compared to many "veterans" out there that has clocked more mileage and even more events compared to me (Ronnie PM1 has 280 finisher medals from runs!), i am nothing but just your usual "Joe". Compared to many that has picked up running about two or three years ago, they could had clocked up enough of Marathon within that short period of time compared to my EIGHT (thus far) since five years ago. So, there is really nothing to brag about. I've given ONE talk about running (beginners' level) and i am very happy to see those that came for the class actually running beyond just that one talk! Imagine what i could do if my achievement were more credible (like winning races, being on podium etc).
However, we are all in the sports not because we want to be better than everyone (it's never an ego game for me) but it has been always a health factor for me.
In the short but concise "interview", I've answered numerous questions from the Sifu himself and this was how i fare.

Read about my interview with Jamie Carboman Pang by clicking on this line.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cats Whiskers at The Waterfront@Park City

I don't usually post about fashion but here is my first. Cats Whiskers (women clothing boutique) has just recently closed their longest operating branch at Desa Sri Hartamas (due to wavering crowds to the area - not sure about you, but Desa Sri Hartamas is almost dead now!).

So, in replacement, they moved to a more community based area at Desa Park City.
Read all about it here: Cats Whiskers@Parkcity

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nadia Turns 3 Today!

My girl is 3 today. I made extra effort to wake up earlier to go over and see her. Really misses them sleeping in the same room as me. She is attached to me and is much easier to manage compared to Ryan. But then again, that was what i said about Ryan at 3 as well.

The past few days, i kept having some notion if my kids will still love me when they grow up older. They hold my hands nowadays and gives me hugs and kisses. Will it end? Many friends has told me that changes will be inevitable and many told me to nurture them, be their friend and grow with them. Perhaps it's how i went through my younger days that has made me feel somewhat disconnected. Don't get me wrong, my parents love me to bits. I grew up with my mum being the strict mother that rules the house with utmost discipline (but she crumble and has spoilt her grandchildren). My dad, which worked so hard to make ends meet, 7 days a week, is someone i see only in the evening when he is back from work and he will then takes nap in late evening to recuperate from the long day.

I wished that he had spent more waking hours with me. But i grew up knowing that he did what he have to do.

I see the cycle repeating. With my long hours at work - i only see the kids for 2 hours at most (If i am lucky to be back by 7pm) before they retires to bed by 9pm. I've avoided working when at home. Keeping the laptop and BB where it should be - away from reach.

But still. I felt it was inadequate.

Today, when i see Nadia my heart felt mellow. She greeted me with her usual zest and hugged me. I then took a photo of her, with me.
I can see her growing up to be a very determined girl. Gutsy as well. Here are some photos of her, growing up over the past 3 years.
Happy Birthday Nadia. You will always be Papa's favorite girl.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Escrima As Self Defence

I've started to take up a self defence class. I would not call it martial art though the class discipline includes mastering the Wing Chun 16-steps leg work and also a couple of "lion dance" like leg movement. The 90minutes of workout on basic footsteps and stick work sure burns the core muscle and also the upperbody.
What is escrima? Escrima is actually a martial art originated from The Philippines. It has Chinese kungfu influence with the fluid movement and it relies alot of usage of sticks, knife or any handheld weapon. It was taught to the peasants as a way to protect themselves from baddies or invaders. It is simple enough but requires a systematic approach to it.
My decision to pick this up was very much influenced by a buddy that has been training under a sensei that has been practicing this for the past 10 years at least. The thought of using basic everyday items, such as pipes, sticks, rattan, or whatever you can get hold off is what makes it very very practical. A simple tactical torchlight or a 6-inch wood would be a weapon to protect one-self if the exponent are trained to use them.
For the class, i have two sticks of rattan, measured at 26inches each. 26inches is ideal (while some would swear with 27 or 28inches sticks) as it imitates the reach and length of a machete. I've learnt to respect this simple rattan as a weapon. It could be used to disarm and disable a person attacking you. We are taught to face weapon such as machete, cangkul sticks and also another set of rattan. Best defence is always to run away, but if pushed to a corner, rest assured those trained will not hesitate to use what they learnt!
Sensei Paul demand commitment with every swing and stroke we do. Shoulder following through, hip flexing, legs position and wrist snapping is just fundamental. Accuracy, fluid action and power will come with enough practice.
Yesterday, after 3 lessons and a lot of secret training by myself and visualizing how to get things correctly, i never felt more "in one" with the rattan stick. Sensei Paul offered many advices and improvement on technique and i am just eager to learn more. So eager that I cracked both my rattan sticks...and in process, broke one of my sparring partner. I had blisters on both my thumbs due to the flicking motion and today, i woke up with a sore shoulder - a testament on how hard i swung the day before. That too, i was at my 70% to 80% of my full actual power. Time for more refinement got to use more smooth strokes, than brute force.
Each of the rattan above is 1.25inches diameter. Myself and Kerby, my sparring partner found out that if the rattan were hit will have burnt smell...and produces smoke, and that is when the rattan will splinter and break.