Friday, October 31, 2008

RAINBOW - Double Entendres

Rainbow was a long running kids show that was staple viewing when I was a lad - the cast obviously had a bit of a laugh filming this episode, although I gather it didn't actually go out on air. I've no idea how they kept straight faces - very funny in a slapstick smutty sort of a way.

(DISCLAIMER: Viewer discretion is advised. Once again, Mum, Aunties etc if you watch it, don't blame me).

Ride & Run Alert - Sat 1st & Sun 2nd Nov 2008



Location: Country Heights 5:00am
Distance: 8.8k
Difficulty: Rolling Hills
Intensity: Moderate

Destination: Salak.
Distance: 113k.
Meet point: Country Heights 5:40am then Mega Mall 6:30am.
Difficulty: Rolling Hills
Intensity: Easy out and then a little race pace?

Location: Country Heights 10:00am ish - straight after ride
Distance: 8.8k
Difficulty: Rolling Hills
Intensity: Hard/Fast



Location: Bukit Aman Car Park to Sri Hartamas 6:15am
Distance: 25k
Difficulty: Rolling Hills
Intensity: Easy

James Wrate painting Malaysian PM - 5 minutes = M$50,000

(Courtesy of Shuba Kumar)

This clip is our friend James Wrate painting the Malaysian PM (Badawi) at a "happening art" exhibition in aid of cancer survivors. He painted the PM in 5 minutes and the art was auctioned and sold for RM50,000. Very cool.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Diwali (Deepavali) 2008 (WARNING: Home Movies)

Sid and Seb on a high. You've just got to love them. (Sid wasn't quite so cheerful once we lit the fireworks but I'm sure he'll be into that next year).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Randy and Ivie's Wedding

(Photo courtesy of Mariana)

The real wedding took place a week earlier in Penang but this was the REAL celebration. It all took place at the Hilton in Petaling Jaya on Saturday 25th October 2008. A date that surely Randy and Ivie will cherish but also a date that a certain barefooted, bald headed runner and an aspiring pro Ironwoman my wish to forget. Certainly the cleaning lady at the nightclub isn't going to forget it too soon!

I, on the other hand didn't make a mess other than internally, it is Tuesday and I am still suffering - needless to say far too much was consumed on the alcohol front but the night was a blast and a huge thank you to Ivie and Randy as our hosts! Here's a picture of us before we became disheveled and disorientated.

From left to right - Shilpa, Bee, Mariana, Chris, Carmen, Sam, Hayley & Simon

Happy Diwali (Deepavali)

Happy Diwali (Deepavali) to one and all. This year we had a quiet time at home with just Shilpa and I with Siddhart and Sebastian.

The evening started with Shilpa and the boys paying their respects and lighting the requisite candles.

We then has a gorgeous Indian dinner that Shilpa had prepared followed by the boys running around and around the dining table like boys possessed which was huge fun if not a little loud (Video to follow).

Then for the highlight of the evening - THE FIREWORKS - these of course are illegal in Malaysia so these photos are actually taken in Afghanistan.

The boys both loved the sparklers but freaked out a bit when the other more interesting stuff came out - Sebastian soon came to love it all and couldn't get enough of it. Siddhart however was completely terrified by the rockets (the ones in the bottle as he called them - the bottle was the launch pad of course). We only had three rockets and it was only when the third one landed with a loud THUNK on the neighbours roof that I realised that we needed to go around and apologise in the morning - Oops!

By the end of it all neither Sid nor Seb wanted to go to bed but Daddy was dead on his feet (much to the disgust of Shilpa) so that was Diwali for another year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The World's Best "Best Man" - Great Job

I guess the chair just got bored

Every family has one...We have THREE

(All cat pictures courtesy of Sian, no more though I promise)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm pretty sure that we just have two good twins - gorgeous too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mizuno 10k - 6th Place

Cool bananas! 6th Place! - just one spot out of the money!!!! Drat! Hayley should have goaded me into a sprint down the finishing straight after all. Oh well pretty chuffed with that all things considered.

Chrissie Wellington - World Champion Again!

(Courtesy of Chantal)

Check out this link and read what Chrissie has to say about winning the Hawaii Ironman for the second time - it's a great read, she's very humble and clearly a true champion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Do, or do not, there is no TRY" - Yoda

(Courtesy of Sian)

How silly does this fella feel?

(Courtesy of the Telegraph)

Horse gets head stuck in tree

A horse had to be cut free with a chainsaw after it managed to get its head stuck in a tree.

The young filly needed to be freed from the tree after curiosity got the better of it and it wedged its head between separate sections of the trunk.

The horse, called Gracie, was unable to free itself and could have been in danger were it not for a passer-by who was able to come to the rescue after he heard the horse whinnying .

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mizuno 10k - a.k.a. Hillzuno 10k

(Photos courtesy of Tey)

Yesterday was a tough but satisfying day. Shilpa and I were up at 5 a.m. having been at a friends Hari Raya open house drinking and eating and eating and eating until late into the night. The alarm call was a very rude awakening and I felt sick from the moment it went off.

We had the Mizuno 10k to do at 7:30 but the plan was to put in an early 11k training run first. As it turned out this was essential to empty my stomach of the mountains of food and beer (and the resulting acid) from the night before. We started at 6 a.m. and Shilpa looked pretty good while I took several short walk breaks up the steeper ascents to keep my heart rate down in prep for the race.

Come 7:30 we were at the race start having had a quick drink and Shilpa a gel too (I think I would have thrown up at that point had I tried the gel). The gun went off and the race was on - straight up a steep and unrelenting hill for about the first 600 metres. That was pretty much the theme of the whole race long and steep ascents followed by long steep descents. The finish chute was flat and that was about it.

I pushed pretty hard in order to see were I was at with my somewhat inconsistent training this year but having had the previous week off things seemed to be going well. Don passed me soon after the start and we had a play-fight going up the first hill which was fun for half a second until the lactic kicked in - he then sped off into the distance to finish 5th in our category. In fact the guy that won the race overall, Jean-Pierre was also in our category so we were in good company.

At the only drinks stop at about half way I was feeling strong, grabbed a couple of power drinks and proceeded to pour most of the contents over my face but got some in my mouth. I saw Sofian at this point and got a big cheer from him (thanks Sofian that really helped boost me) - he was heading in the opposite direction in his training for Busselton Ironman (good luck).

Hayley making it look easy.

I was now on the course that Shilpa and I had run that morning so it was still fresh in my mind which seemed to help. But back up the long long hill to the turn-off on the way to the National monument it struck me that it was starting to hurt somewhat, it was then that I saw Hayley in the distance - too far to catch with just 2k to go but it would be nice to be within sight of her at the finish.

Simon making it look hard and painful.

As it happened I found a second wind and caught her up with about 300 metres before the finish line. A big mistake I thought as she was going to make that last 300 metres an unbearable and painful sprint, one she was bound to win. However, she passed on some words of encouragement and let me have my moment of glory. Hayley was first lady overall and yesterday was her birthday too - how cool! Well done and happy birthday. (I finished 6th out of 433 in my category - [missed the prizes by one place - darn!] and 30th overall out of 1893).

Shilpa looking like a pro.

After a bit of recovery many of the Team Tri-Hard triathletes had or were now finishing, I looked at my watch - it was 55 minutes, I knew after the pre-race run and the extremely hilly race that Shilpa was unlikely to finish in less than an hour but I wasn't going to take the chance of missing her so I went to keep a look out.

Amazingly, at 58 minutes she appeared looking tired but very relaxed finishing in a fantastic 58:33! A personal best. Now that was probably the run of the day. (Shilpa finished 17th out of 133 in her category and 54th out of 662 overall for the women - what a result!)

It didn't seem like I'd long finished when Gan from my office wondered by - he must have had yet another awesome race - well done dude. Pity about the photo - he was clearly moving too fast.

Also Foong Ling from ProMark took part and is becoming a regular now. Great job.

Also Joey from ProMark was there, I didn't see her but Shilpa spoke to her before the start. Yet again Joey conquered the race inspiring us all with her usual determination and resilience. Well done again Joey.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Surely even the American's can work it out this time?!!!

(Courtesy of Nick Flynn)

Mmmm...who should get your vote?

John Cleese Sums Up the US Election Beautifully

(Courtesy of Nick Flynn)

This is worth 4 minutes of your time.

Ride/Run & Run Alert - Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th October

Saturday Ride/Run
Destination: Ulu Langat.
Distance: 100k from Kajang.
Meeting pointing: Mega Mall: 6.30am. Ulu Langat Traffic lights: 7:15.
Difficulty: Easy Rolling hills.
Intensity: Easy!

Followed by a brick run of 4.4k in Country Height.

Sunday Run
Location: Dataran Merdeka.
Distance: 22k (2k warm up, 10k race, 10k warmdown race course second time)
Difficulty: Hilly
Intensity: Race - hard as hell - nauseatingly painful!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

US presidential debate: Blah blah blah

Come on people, let's get this over and done with. Vote Obama in as President, at least we'll have a bit more respect for the average American if they can at least show that they're not as racist or conservative as we thought they were. It'll be nice to have a President that's not itching to use his arsenal of missiles every chance he gets too.

Whatever the outcome though, Obama or McCain, please just get on with it and then let's get the world economy back on track. The end of the speculation and election nonsense is the real light at the end of the tunnel - hallelujah we're almost there.


A British man wearing jeans and a V-neck jumper left NBA star Devin Harris trailing in an impromptu basketball contest that has become a hit on YouTube.

[Simon says: - Basketball is only marginally more interesting to watch than baseball but this clip is kind of fun (assuming it wasn't staged of course)]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Armstrong to race Giro d'Italia

(Courtesy of the BBC)

Armstrong will make his comeback at the Tour Down Under in January
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will race in the Giro d'Italia for the first time next year.

The 37-year-old will make his comeback at the Tour Down Under in January after coming out of retirement last month.

The American used to concentrate on the Tour de France exclusively but insists he will "give his utmost" in the Giro, which takes place from 9-31 May 2009.

"I've raced for a long time and I never did the Giro which was one of the biggest regrets I ever had," he said.

"Fortunately for myself I get to erase that regret and be there for the 100th year anniversary and maybe get a good result, who knows."

The three-week Giro, one of the three major stage races along with the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain (Vuelta), will end five weeks before the Tour de France begins on 5 July.

[Simon Says: - There's no stopping the boy!]

Monday, October 13, 2008


(Courtesy of the Telegraph)

You have to laugh otherwise you'd cry - this brought a smile to my face this morning at least.

Kona Diaries - The Race

From Sam and Carmen

Click here to watch Carmen Finish (ignore the Navy bit at the beginning - about 30 seconds into the clip)

Aloha folks!

Carmen had a fantastic day finishing in 13hr 35mins after sticking to the tough job at hand with grit and determination that is epitomized by the Ironman spirit. She has done us all proud. Relaxed and tired after the ordeal of a tough Ironman course, Carmen wants to thank all her friends and family for supporting her throughout her training and preparation for the race. This meant a lot to Carmen.

Today is the morning after the race and Carmen has the appetite of a horse and she is up for a mega breakfast. Before we head off, here is a brief run down of the big day yesterday.

We had a premature wake-up call at 3am when Simon sent us a well-wishing sms message [Simon says: - sorry guys, I can't apologise enough, I thought I'd timed it to perfection - I feel a real plonker]. To be honest, we could not sleep very well feeling anxious and nervous ahead of the big day.

After a light breakfast, we headed down to Kona village where the race organisation was already in full swing. It is difficult to comprehend the number of volunteers at this race but they are in their thousands and every one of them is so helpful. After body marking, Carmen disappeared into the transition area and that is the last I saw of her until she came out from the swim.

The swim start is an amazing sight with close to 1800 athletes treading water and edging forward to try and get that extra advantage of clear water for the swim. The whole scene is noisy with a tv helicopter hovering overhead and a military transporter aeroplane doing fly-pasts. In fact, three Navy Seals jumped out from the back of the plane and parachuted down to the start area where they jettisoned their gear and joined the race in their fatigues. I found a precarious spot to watch the start from a narrow breakwater crowded with spectators. It was a good spot and I could see a sea of green hats (men) with a sprinkling of orange caps (women) stretched across the start line. I knew that Carmen was anxious about the mass swim start and was probably behind the main pack. She later confirmed that she was some 50m or so behind the main pack at the start. The announcer warned that there is no countdown to the start but there was no mistaking start of the race, a huge 'boom' could be heard as a cannon was fired. And off they went.

Carmen's anxiety in the swim was short-lived when over 200 volunteers on long-boards appeared from around the pier and paddled over to chaperon the swimmers all the way around the course. Luckily, Carmen was not bothered by someone kicking her of swimming over her and she managed to get into her stroke quite quickly. She could see the sea bottom for most of the course and even a scuba diver that was taking photos of the swimmers! They think of everything.... Carmen found the water a bit choppy on the way out and easier on the way back. Nevertheless, she finished the swim in a longer than normal split time of 1.43 but was happy and relaxed knowing that she could look forward to the bike and run courses.

The bike course proved to far more difficult than Carmen had imagined. It was windy and undulating and with one big hill. Simon had warned us about the wind and sure enough, it arrived. The worst part was the side wind and not the head wind. Carmen found herself gripping the handlebars tightly to avoid the front wheel from shaking and from getting out of control. I knew something was not right when her split time for the bike went over six and half hours. In the end, she appeared at bike-to-run transition after a bike split of close to 7hrs. As she got off the bike, I could see that her lower back was giving her some discomfort after so long in the aero position. Nevertheless and after a few minutes in transition, she reappeared wearing a different top and lovely smile on her face. I knew then that she would finish come what may.

Carmen did what she normally does on the run, she kept to nice and steady pace and gradually ate up the miles. After the Alii Drive out-and-back (14km), she looked comfortable and strong but she told me that she had been suffering from diarrhea after taking too many gels. All she needed to do now was the remaining out-and-back to the National Energy Lab [Simon says: - Isn't it the Natrual Energy Lab?] in the dark. I figured she was running at 4hr30min pace and sure enough, she emerged out from the darkness at just before 8.30pm where I joined her to pass her the Malaysian flag. I rushed to the finish line to catch her coming across the finishing line holding the flag aloft and with a huge smile on her face.

Great job Carmen, you have done it again!After relaxing for a while in the post-race recovery area, Carmen and I went back to soak up the atmoshpere at the finishing line. The atmoshpere is absolutely amazing and with announcers like Wit Raymond pumping up the crowd, you could not help but be caught up in the excitement. As we stood there cheering other competitors crossing the finishing line including a 75 year old man that finished in 15 hours (what an inspiration), our very own Chrissie Wellington came by to join the festivities and threw some of her race gear into the crowd as a memento of the day. Carmen put her hand out to catch Chrissie's race goggles but they bounced off her hand and someone next to her picked them up. Drat! Anyway and by now, Carmen was tired and hungry so we left the party at around 10.30pm and headed for home.So, what a fantastic day and what a fantastic job Carmen did for us all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chrissie Wins Again - Craig Alexander Men's Winner

Chrissie Wellington won the Hawaii Ironman World Championship for the second year running. She acheived the victory with a comfortable lead despite a puncture on the bike - Wow - looks like she's going to dominate for years to come!

Interestingly she's been a professional triathlete for less than two years and has taken part in 5 Ironmans (including two Hawaii's) winning every one of them.

Craig Alexander also won the 2008 race after having been second last year. The Aussie won despite crashing though some serious foliage towards the end!

Carmen Finishes the Hawaii Ironman

(Carmen) Ban Yeik Leong
1322 39 Petaling Jaya MYS Nurse

Swim 1:43:05 Bike 6:59:56 Run 4:41:47 Finishing Time 13:35:01
Overall 1394 of 1736
Category 59 of 68

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (1:43:05) 2:42/100m 1639 66

FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 5.5 mi. (2:05:32) 19.30 mph
SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 28 mi. (3:20:37) 17.98 mph
THIRD BIKE SEGMENT 59 mi. (5:24:23) 15.03 mph
FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT 88 mi. (7:13:49) 15.90 mph
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 112 mi. (8:48:22) 15.23 mph
TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (6:59:56) 16.00 mph 1524 61

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 5.2 mi. (9:45:37) 10:04/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 10.3 mi. (10:37:11) 10:06/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT 17.6 mi. (11:58:17) 11:06/mile
FINAL RUN SEGMENT 26.2 mi. (13:35:01) 11:14/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (4:41:47) 10:45/mile 1394 59

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 4:52

Congratulations Carmen, it was clearly a tough day, you did yourself and your country proud - Huge Respect!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kona Diaries - Friday

From Sam and Carmen

Aloha again!

Well, we are down to the last few hours before the big day and make no bones about it, the tension is rising! Carmen and I have just got back from the bike check-in and the scene was absolutely amazing. The number of helpers must be in the hundreds and they all seemed to know what to do. The swim course is all laid out and the starting line marked by an enormous Gatorade bike bottle sitting on top of the pier. Needless to say, Carmen had her eye on that bottle too but I convinced her that it is too big to go into my rucksack!

As the athletes were chanelled into the transition area, all the bike companies had their reps counting the number of their name-brand bikes being checked in. I peeked over the shoulder of a few of them and I reckon that Cervelo must be the top brand this year. Cervelo were dishing out yet more freebies for those that had a Cervelo bike. Carmen was in her element and got yet more free tee shirts! Once we were done with the bike check-in, we hung around for a while to see the other athletes coming in. Chrissie Wellington came past to check-in her new P2C. She looked in great shape. Lets hope she has a good race tomorrow too.

Carmen and I then headed back to the apartment for an early evening dinner and we will be off to bed very early tonight. Our plan is to catch the shuttle along Alii Drive at 0430 that will drop us off close to the start. We all know and love Carmen as a quietly strong triathlete that gets the job done but she is understandably anxious about the swim and the 'washing machine' effect at the start. Her game plan is to hang back at the start and to pick out other swimmers that go at her pace and to stick with them or even draft them around the course. Lets hope her strategy works. Once she is out from the water, she is looking forward to the bike and run legs especially since the weather has been cloudy and cool every day since we have been here from 2pm onwards. So fingers crossed, she will have the same conditions tomorrow.

So gang, please channel positive thoughts Carmen's way tomorrow morning to help her have a great race.

You can follow proceedings on Ironmanlive and put in her bib number 1322 under the name Ban Leong.

Di2 Dura Ace unveiled for time trial and triathlon bikes

If you thought that Shimano were done making waves with their electronic shifting technology this year – you’d be wrong. Today they’ve announced a new variation on their Di2 electronic shifting groupset, specifically designed to up the game of time trial and triathlon riders.

The ST-7971 Dual Control levers eliminate the need to change hand position for gear changes by mounting a pair of integrated gear-shifting buttons in the hood of the brake. This set up means you’ll never have to hop between the extensions and bar-base when cornering or climbing again – saving time and allowing for better race focus. They also include carbon brake lever blades and barely tip the scales at 127g per pair.

The extensions aren’t forgotten either, receiving the SW-7971 satellite switches. These are designed to be easy to integrate into existing bars and the shift wires can be run through inside the extensions for maximum aerodynamic gain. They come in at a svelte 103g per pair.

Both shifters are compatible with the FD-7970 and RD-7970 front and rear derailleurs and are expected to hit the market three months after the release of the 7970 series in January.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kona Diaries Thursday

From Sam and Carmen


Carmen and I started the day like hundreds of other athletes with a morning swim at around 7.15am at the Ironman start area. The buzz around the waterfront was electric and you could sense the nerves and tension rising among the athletes. Oooh, scary man!

The water was choppier today even though it was not windy. We managed a 30 min swim along the buoys before we got out of the water to warm ourselves under the morning sun. It was beautiful. No sooner than we were out of the water, Carmen’s antenna was raised. She was on the scent of yet another freebie. Off she went like a ferret to return a short while later instructing me to “put this on”. I politely asked what “this “ was and I was told that it was a sticker that I needed to put on my arm or leg and return to two guys from Germany that were dishing out free tee shirts and swim caps from a makeshift stall on the promenade. So, I dutifully did what I was told while Carmen did the same thing. Needless to say, we are going back there tomorrow!

Once we were armed with our free tee shirts and by the way they are quite nice, we returned to our favorite spot the Gatorade tent to collect yet more bike bottles. We are now up to 7 bottles and on target to get up to 10! We then returned home for breakfast and armed with loads of goodies. Carmen was happy!The rest of the morning was spent on a short tour in the car just south of where we are staying. We came across loads of coffee plantations something that Kona is famous for and then we stopped at a lovely coffee shop that had great scenic views of the coastline below.

We were only going there to have a cup of coffee but once Carmen saw the size of the breakfasts, she could not resist and she got stuck into a huge plate of scrambled eggs, sautéed potatoes and juicy sausage. Everything disappeared and she even drank the coffee too. Immediately overlooking the coffee shop was an enormous avocado tree fully loaded with fruit. God knows how the grower harvests the avocados since they were so high up.

Once we were done with the second breakfast, we headed down to the coast and a landmark where Captain Cook died, allegedly killed by the Hawaiians back in the mid 1700’s. The coastline is dotted with many coves and in one of them, we found this really friendly guy called Kai that was de-scaling red snapper fish that he had caught the previous evening. I am sure it’s difficult to picture in your mind but this guy was sitting on a lava outcrop with waves lapping around him and on one side, he fed a moray eel that was swimming in and out of a shallow pool and on the other he fed a 30cm diameter turtle. Unreal but true. Carmen has taken the pictures!

With the tourist bit over, it was time for Carmen to have another short ride on the bike. She cycled into Kona town and I met her there after taking some video clips of her on the bike. We did the Expo thing again and stocked up on Powerbar freebies. We also bumped into Alex Bok who was looking good but a bit frazzled.

This evening we went to the race briefing which was pretty uneventful. The good points to note were 200 kayaks on the swim course, drink stations every 5 miles on the bike course and 6 bike mechanic vans on the bike course that will gladly repair a flat so long as you have the tubes. Now that is good organization. While walking into the race briefing area, we noticed a relatively new P3 (same colour as mine) complete with Zipp 808 rims, carbon handlebars and carbon water bottle cage for sale for USD 4000. Not bad eh!Its bike check-in tomorrow and an early night…….

Kona Diaries Wednesday

From Sam and Carmen


Early this evening (Wed), Carmen and I went for short run/jog along Alii Drive and who should we bump into? None other than my mate Chris! That’s McCormack to you…. I was just giving him some last minute tips on his preparation for Saturday and strangely enough, he bloody well ignored me. What can I say? I reckon he must have felt a bit threatened by my pace since I was going deceptively slow at the time, let’s call that walking! Anyway, he cruised past Carmen and I and headed off into the distance for his early evening dinner of fish and chips and a pint, not!

Anyway, today was a Sam ‘Scorsese’ day, the film director. Armed with a Sony camcorder courtesy of Chris, I took loads of shots of the swim practice session, the Expo and parts of the run and bike course.The swim practice session starts around 6am and goes on until 9am. It is very well organized. Gatorade operates a kit drop-off area manned by half a dozen volunteers situated 10m from the beach. With just one entry point onto the beach, the immediate vicinity is absolutely crowded and bustling. With people using it as a meeting point as well, it’s just like a scrum-down at the beginning of a swim start.

Nevertheless, the buzz is awesome. I could hear a lot of German, Spanish, French and Portuguese (Brazilian) spoken but I could not hear anyone from Asia, not even Japanese. While the race is truly international, make no doubt about it the race is very American! By that I mean there is a lot of hype and hoopla so be prepared if ever you make it to Kona.

Back to the swim practice. The water is calm early in the morning. It’s not as calm as Langkawi but much better than Desaru. The swim course is one loop out and back and parallel to the shore. Carmen and I did not swim all the way out to the half way point but there were support crews out on the water over the whole distance. Again, this shows the excellent organization of the event. The water temperature is cool but once you start swimming, the temperature seems just right. Carmen and I noticed a lot of athletes using those thin wetsuits over their trisuits. The Zoot version of the thin wetsuit was selling at 200USD in the Expo (ideal for you, Emma for swimming in Bukit Jalil).

Once out of the water and back to the Gatorade tent, the volunteers quickly hand your bag back and give you a free Gatorade bike bottle and a bottle of Endurance drink. Needless to say, Carmen went back for more and more. We are up to three bike bottles so far but I reckon we’ll be up to 10 before we leave!And then it was time for the Expo.

Ford is the title sponsor for the race and as you can imagine it has a lot of snazzy vehicles on display. However, I did not see anyone showing the slightest bit of interest in what Ford had to show. Instead, most people were looking for the sexy bikes and the latest go-faster gear that was on show. That included Carmen and me. All the top brands of bikes were on display….. and there was a special beginners section for those riders using a Trek TTX (Simon says: - Sam secretly covets the TTX)! By the way, Cervelo had a P4 on display.

Once we had finished with the bikes, we headed for the freebie section where we got loaded on free Gatorade, Powerbar drinks and granola (that was our breakfast). Interestingly, Powerbar had a new product that is like a jelly bean but nicer. It’s called Gel Blast. Sadly, they are only available in the US. They are nice.

Once we were done at the Expo, we headed out on the bike and run course and visited the famous run turn-around at the National Energy Lab. My God, what a desolate place. This turn-around is about 13/14k from the finish line and since the sun goes down at 6.15pm, Carmen and hundreds of other athletes will be there in the dark with her glow stick! I am sure that completing this section of the course with no lights or people to lend some support will be tough.

Nevertheless and knowing Carmen as we all do, she will take on the challenge in her stride. At least, she has now seen the place in daylight and seen the lava fields that surround this special place.Tomorrow’s agenda is an early morning swim followed by the mandatory Gatorade bottle collection! Thereafter, Carmen and I may go for a trip in the car and be a tourist for the day. The race briefing is tomorrow evening and while Carmen is not keen to go, I feel that on this first occasion, we should go.

Anyway, more to come tomorrow…….

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Dear Runner,
We regret that we have to advise you that your application to run in the 2009 Flora London Marathon has not been successful due to massive over-subscription.

However, if you still wish to run, please see below for a list of tour operators who may be able to help you enter the 2009 FLora London Marathon.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Bedford, Race Director

Jazzy Race Certificate

Whatever you may think of my ugly mug, you must agree that this is a jazzy and cool finisher's certificate - some events in recent years have included small pictures of the competitors but this is a whole new dimension - well done OSIM Singapore Triathlon - all they need to do now is to reinstate the nightclub prize-giving format (with free flow beer and wine of course).

I'm Too Old

I love to hear that phrase - hate it actually but it always brings a knowing and rather dismissive smile to my face.

Now without wanting to disparage my Dad, it's the sort of thing that he is likely to say and probably has often said. Mind you, at the age of 76 he can be forgiven for invoking that clause in his life contract.

In fact we all know people that have said it about one thing or another, many of us have said it ourselves - I'm talking about YOU by the way not me, I HAVE NEVER UTTERED THOSE WORDS and hope that I never shall, other than in jest perhaps. I may be too old to achieve something but I will never be too old to at least trying it - good old Dunkirk Spirit.

Which brings me nicely back to my 76 year old father. As you will know if you read this blog with any regularity, he took up running at the ripe old age of 74 and has competed in and completed several 10k races and goodness knows how many 10k training runs - indeed I had the great pleasure of running a couple with him on my recent visit to the UK.

10k is his limit though, or one would think so at his age, so you can imagine my surprise, elation and immense pride when Mum informed me that he'd just knocked out his first 15k run. Well done Dad.

It wasn't planned, he was doing his usual 10k Chasewater run but decided to bang in another 5k loop of the lake. AWESOME!

Epilogue: When I did Ironman Hawaii (a lottery entrant I hasten to add), I was beaten by three 75 year olds! This normally stimulates a chuckle from most people which annoys me somewhat - when I tell this story my intent is to demonstrate how awesome they were rather than how crap I was. And that my friends is the point of this diatribe - don't ever underestimate the aged nor underestimate your yourself. I prefer to hear "I don't want to" rather than "I can't" - in that, there's at least a degree of honesty.

"If you think you can, you can - if you think you can't, you're right!"

Naked Briton in Japenese emperor's moat

(Courtesy of Telegraph)

Balding British man detained by Tokyo police after swimming naked in moat surrounding emperor's palace.

[Simon says: - "I think I know who this is and he lives in KL - he knows who I'm talking about"]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Malaysian triathlete set for Hawaii challenge

(Courtesy of the Star Newspaper 7 October 2008)

TRIATHLETE Carmen Leong believes that she is well prepared for her debut at the Ford Ironman World Championships at Kona in Hawaii on Oct 11.

Since June, the 39-year-old nurse has been undergoing a systematic training programme, between 15 and 18 hours a week with her Team Tri Hard training buddies.

Following the training, Leong feels she is in a good shape to compete against the more illustrious triathletes in the world.

“Despite going through the regimented training programme, I have not suffered any illness and I’m also injury free. I’m feeling good and ready,” she added.

She has reduced the intensity two weeks before the big race.

“I covered 200km in my final long ride to Port Dickson followed by another 24km run on the day after the cycling outing. Now, I am just going through light workouts before leaving for the event” Leong said.

Leong earned a spot to feature at the event when she emerged as the top Malaysian women finisher to clinch the third spot in the women’s 35-39 years category at the Langkawi Ironman in February.

She clocked 12’39:09 and crossed the finish line for the second time in the Ironman distance of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run.

In her first appearance at Ironman Western Australia Triathlon in Busselton in December last year, she finished the gruelling race with a better time of 12’30.

For her upcoming Ironman in Hawaii, she is anticipating tough challenges to tackle the first discipline.

“I am not a strong swimmer and it is going to be difficult because of the mass start in deep water. The plan is to take it easy in the swimming leg. But, I have to make up in the cycling.

“I am feeling confident about my ability to do well in cycling because I have adapted to the aerodynamic position after getting the correct set-up on my bicycle.

“I have also done a lot of long rides as part of my build up. But the conditions on the road are also going to be tricky because of the strong headwind and crosswind.

“Hopefully, I will still be feeling strong after the ride to set a good time in the run. Running is my forte. Usually, I am very strong off the bike,” Leong said, adding that she hopes to bring down her personal best to 12’20.

Leong had raised almost RM9,000 from friends to realise her dreams of taking part in the world meet.

“It costs about RM15,000 to get to the starting line. It is fantastic that there are a lot nice people out there who are willing to help unconditionally.

“My employers have been supportive in giving me time off on Saturday and Sunday to train. I want to thank them for allowing me to savour this once in a lifetime experience.

“Previously, I have only won many local meets in my age group. This is a step up because I have accomplished a personal achievement to qualify for the event.

“My aim is to soak up the atmosphere and come back with good memories from the outing there.

“It may be the only time that I am going to compete at the world meet because of the strict qualification criteria,” Leong said.

Kona Diaries Tuesday

From Sam and Carmen

Hi Folks

After 14 hours of flying and an 18 hour lay-over in Tokyo, Carmen and I arrived in Kona yesterday morning and checked in to a really nice apartment with all mod-cons. It is situated on the famous Alii Drive about 5 miles out from Kona town.

Our immediate impression when we stepped off the plane was the heat and the similarity with Langkawi but unlike Langkawi there is starkness about the place given the lack of trees and greenery. As we drove out from the airport, we got on Hwy 19 heading towards Kona and we immediately saw loads of triathletes out on their bikes testing out the bike course.

On the drive into Kona, we passed the famous National Energy Lab that is such a huge landmark on the IM run course. And boy, did it look sparse and hot around there. Eventually, we arrived at our apartment and unloaded everything. Carmen proceeded to have a long nap while I unpacked everything and put her bike together.

By mid afternoon, we felt a bit more human and decided to drive into Kona to see the start and to get the feel of the place. It did not disappoint! There is already a huge buzz about the place and we could see loads of triathletes that had clearly decided to arrive early to prepare for the race. We bumped into Grace (used to work for Bike Boutique) at the swim start with her German wheel-chair athlete boyfriend (he won Kona last year). It was nice to bump into someone you know.

The swim course was laid out for practice with a line of buoys going out to the half-way point. The water was calm and very clear. According to Grace’s boyfriend, you can see the bottom for most of the swim and you can see loads of fish, rays and even dolphins. How cool is that? The plan is for us to have an early swim this evening to test the water for ourselves.

Kona town has loads of interesting triathlon shops with gear galore and not unexpectedly, Carmen could be found sifting through the 50% off bargains while I hovered and got bored! I was more interested in going for a coffee at the Lava Café where allegedly all the big guns in triathlon hang out. Sadly, there was not enough time to drop by at the café but that will be on the agenda today.

As we drove back to our apartment along Alii Drive, we saw Chrissie Wellington out for an early evening run along with loads of other athletes. She looked in top form so lets hope she does well again this year.

This morning, Carmen and I went of a 40 min run/jog along Alii Drive which was wonderful. This is the last section of the run and it is famous for the fact that it gets lined with thousands of people to cheer you on to the finish. That is where I will be on Saturday to cheer Carmen on to the finish. Until then, we will continue to prepare through light exercise and rest and with a bit of a tourist activity thrown in every day.

I will try and send another update on Wed. Cheers.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Shilpa Conquers The Marathon (with relative ease)

Four weeks ago Shilpa had never run more than a 21k (and not many of them either). One weekend she decided to extend our usual 21k to 25k (alone too - even harder on the mind). Last week as you may have read in the international press (and on this blog) that on the same day that Haile Gebrselassie broke the marathon world record in Berlin, Shilpa also completed her first 30k run in Kuala Lumpur.

Well, time moves fast and records tumble even quicker it would seem; this morning at 4:45am Shilpa embarked on her first 42k (marathon distance) run. She barely noticed the first 32k, was resolute until 37k, at this point she had a bit of a wobble but quickly regrouped and polished off the last 5k to complete the marathon distance in 4 hours 37 minutes. An amazing accomplishment by anyone's standards.

There has been some talk of Shilpa entering the Bangkok marathon. This has caused quite some controversy as it was rumoured that Paula Radcliffe had planned to make an appearance in the event only to pull out once she heard that Shilpa may take part - the top level of women's marathon running has clearly been shaken up by this new, up and coming phenomenon - Go Shilpa Go!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm Saying Nothing

(Courtesy of Andy Jeffries and some reference to women drivers)

Unrelenting Genting

(Phots courtesy of Ivie, more from Carmen and Dave a bit later with luck)

My poetic title (it rhymes, sort of) was conjured up at some point during the climb and really seemed to sum it up perfectly at the time. Genting is tough, really tough but that I already knew. What I didn't realise is that doing it without a hangover made it a little more manageable but also removed the "misery" aspect out of it. It was actually FUN.

Although I did tell myself that I knew why I'd vowed never to do this climb again and I perfectly understood why it had been 5 years since the last time but surprisingly, I never once had a negative thought, nor did I vow not to repeat it again. In fact I'm rather looking forward to the next time with a couple of new time goals thrown in.

So how did the day unfold: we met at Batu Caves at 6:45, faffed around for a while and then Sam gave his briefing. In true Malaysian fashion, certain people were talking and not listening (you should see Chinese weddings here - no one listens to the speeches, the hall is usually a cacophony of chit chat - but that's the way it seems to be, no one gets upset or offended), at which point I piped up and reiterated a few points as much for my own clarity than anything - sorry if I stole your thunder Sam. Then we were off with the first stop planned at about 31k but with two fairly steep hill climbs first, one short and sharp and one long but not quite so sharp.

There was talk of people leaving their egos at home since it was going to be a tough day, I knew that I should have, but clearly I didn't. I squeezed over the first two hills in first place with Lim right on my back wheel - we'd see who was the real hill climber later in the day (it wasn't me). Sam was third up on his trusty old cast iron ORANGE P3.

I shot off down the hill (guess I was the heaviest) and was starting to wonder where the support vehicle was and where the designated stop was supposed to be, when suddenly Carmen pulled up in the Nissan X-Trail just 20metres in front of me and with about 4 seconds to spare - Sam was non-too happy, but hey, she was on time - it was just a little fine that's all - the important thing was that there was plenty of water, energy drink, bananas, gels and bars to go around. Everyone arrived within a few minutes of each other and then we were off to the Gohtong Jaya (Awana) roundabout.

After a few minutes I'd dropped the pack and was hammering nicely towards the steeper sections when I saw Ivie and Carmen in the two support vehicles - they'd pulled over for a photo opportunity, I put on my best "Lance, hill climbing smile/grimace", I even gave a little wave, got two metres past the car and my front valve blew out - if it had to happen then was that perfect timing or what?!

The pack passed me and Lim kindly hung around to help out. I was well supported by Ivie and Carmen so I told him to go ahead - I think I said something about catching him up - wishful thinking!

Sam, Jason Robinson (long since left Malaysia but still in touch) and I used to timetrial up this climb - (I had memories of trying to open a melted kit-kat going up here, desperate for the calories but barely being able to move the pedals while struggling to unwrap the dratted thing).

With the tube changed I was off again. I'd got it in my head that we used to do this climb in less than an hour, I was moving along nicely and started picking the group up one by one, eventually catching Sam (and precariously wobbling next to him - sorry Sam - it was steep though in my defense). I briefly saw Lim in the distance but he just cruised away from me. At the roundabout my ride time was 1:00:18 so I was pretty disappointed as I felt it had been a good climb - It was only when I checked my log that I found that I'd beaten my previous best by 8 minutes and Jason's by 2. So that was a result and something that I feel can be improved upon still further.

Carmen was waiting at the roundabout, we were quite high up at this point and the wind was starting to blow - it was really quite cold (probably as low as 22 degrees Celsius - I know exactly what you guys in the UK are saying but you have to remember that we're not used to it, the windchill factor and we were soaking wet with sweat). Lim was sitting down shivering, Sam arrived soon after but I decided not to hang around, I filled my bottles, grabbed a couple of gels, had a pee and I was off.

This is where things get really tough, I remember Sam once dropping a chain near the Chinese Temple/Pagoda (about half way up this section of the climb and at the steepest point) it was so steep it was almost impossible for him to get going again - I think in the end he had to clip on downhill and then do a precarious u-turn without getting run over. I'd been going for quite sometime and then caught sight of something almost vertically above me - it was the Pagoda but way way up in the sky, it looked like a little matchstick hundred's a metres above me - oh my goodness - this is going to be hard.

Not disheartened, just a little more wary, I continued to grind it out - some of the guys had converted to a 27 back cassette (much lower gears than normal) but I stuck with my 23 - not a very efficient decision I concluded with the benefit of hindsight. After oh so many switch backs, with the climb getting progressively steeper and the pedals going around progressively slower I looked behind and had a clear sight of the road below - no one there - wow I thought, I may even get to the top first - no more than 1 minute later Lim tootled past me with a friendly word of encouragement and off he went - he went on to get to the top 2 minutes ahead of me and a worthy winner. I was second and very happy with my efforts and totally stoked about the whole ride - I really, genuinely enjoyed every minute of it.

Sam was next with the rest of the group arriving over the next twenty minutes. A great shout out to Chris who was first woman to the top, closely followed by Bee. Emma found the steepest part of the whole climb and tried to cut the corner - her bike handling skills going backwards were not what they might be and I leave you to imagine the outcome - she then ran the last 3.5k barefoot, shoes in one hand and bike in the other.

Ngae got to the top with his usual inimitable smile - KK had seen the pros hanging on to the medical car in the TdF so when a buddy came along he did the same - there is a stewards enquiry but he may escape suspension as he was bringing up the rear (to make sure everyone was OK no doubt). The others riders were Randy, Terry, Meng and Dave. Great job, everyone that started made it and without exception with a smile on their faces. Great job guys - when are we doing it again?

In the meantime, Shilpa, Seb and Sid were making their way up to meet us for lunch, we all drove down to Gohtong Jaya and had a truly wonderful feast and a few well earned beers, followed by the inevitable ice-cream.

Huge fun, fabulous company and a great day out, thanks to Sam for organising everything, Carmen and Ivie for manning the support vehicles and Shilpa and the boys for their support. Selamat Hari Raya.

EPILOGUE: Even before Lim caught me, the very idea of "racing" up this climb was a complete aberration that tugged at my mind - rather than thinking "how quickly" I could go, I was reduced to thinking "how less slowly" I could move - trust me, it WAS NOT negative thinking, nor was it defeatism, quite the contrary, it just seemed the most accurate and appropriate way of dealing with the reality of the climb - maybe this was a result of having the wrong gear ratios from the off but simply keeping the pedals turning, however slowly, was satisfaction enough at times.

The guys that race up here on the Tour de Langkawi - my hat of you you guys, AMAZING - but they must be machines - that's the only way I can explain it.