Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sundown Marathon 2011

This will be my only full marathon for this year, the Sundown Marathon 2011 which I first participated in the 21km event last year. Chua and I have been preparing for this marathon since last year, doing our twice-weekly run from HarbourFront to Keppel Bay Club and for me, I combined the training with cycling and trekking. All these activities did help immensely in our endurance run where it matters most.

On the morning of 28 May, I even arranged to do leisure cycling with two friends covering 40km and after that, went to Paya Lebar Airport for an airshow. By the time I reached home, it was around 4pm and admittedly, I was 'dead' tired. The run was slotted at 10pm and my heart was pounding with excitement at every passing minute.

At about 8pm, Chua arrived at my house to pick me up. At about the same time, Dora messaged me to update that she just clocked 1 hr 1 mins plus in her 10km, which was her first 10km. Wow, not bad a time and possibly, she could finish under 1 hour once the actual result is out in the next few days. CK was a little behind her, understand he suffered cramps which slowed him down considerably.

Chock-a-block traffic along Changi Coast Road leading to Singapore Exhibition Centre, the start/finish point. At slightly over 9pm, we finally arrived which gave us ample time to prepare/warm up - phew!

This year, it was better organised than the previous year, at least most runners can make it on time for the race and also, the ultra-marathon event (100km) will start about a month later which should provide much logistical relief to the organisers.

The 42km event attracted 11,000 runners this year. Excitement filled the air when all the runners lined up at the start line. Before the flag-off, I turned to my run buddy, Chua and wished him luck and he did likewise. Finally, we were flagged off at slightly over 10pm. We had to run more than 3km from the start line to the main road and then, all the way to East Coast Park.

Chua and I were together for the first 5 km and slowly, I surged ahead of him. I was maintaining a steady pace, defintely not faster than my usual pace knowing I will soon run out of energy at some point. Around 10km, I saw this amazing runner with one arm. Before passing him, I went up to him and said, "Go, go, go...!" which he duly acknowledged.

At about 18km mark, I was surprised I ran past the 4-hr pacer. I realised I had clocked under 2 hours in the first 21km. Nearing the 21km u-turn point, Chua finally caught up with me. We had a quick chat, he told me he just vomitted from drinking too much of isotonic drink. I told I too had some pain in my stomach from drinking too much of 100plus but I had no choice, need to replenish my energy. But he was more charged up after the throw up. He opened his pace and started to surge in front of me. I decided I should slow down in the next 21km, our half way mark as I feared I might sustain cramps which may put paid to my run.

After the 25km mark, I stopped to walk for a while though I still can continue running. It was short walk before I resumed the run. It was basically the same routine for me throughout, stopped for a short walk and then started to run again. This was to ensure I don't suffer leg cramps. The last 21km was the hardest part, as energy started to sap away.

At East Coast Park, there were some supporters cheering us on which was certainly a morale-booster to me and the other runners too. I tried to give thumb-up to the supporters at each point, acknowledging their supports. Thanks all the supporters, strangers you may be to me but runners certainly need cheering up to forge ahead.

At the last 10km mark, the 4hrs 30 mins pacer ran past me. At that point, I said to myself that the 5-hr pacer must not past me if I wanted to come under 5 hrs. So I decided to push harder in the remaining 10km but it was tough as my legs were getting weaker and weaker.

At the final turn to the finishing, still more than 3km left and I decided to open up my pace - heck care any cramps now. I was really charged up, knowing the end is near. It was a run of my life in the last 3km, I must say. No one ran past me, in fact I was overtaking many runners in front of me. I was pleasantly surprised that I still packed so much energy in my last 3km, running like a 'pro'.

Nearing the finishing line, I looked up and saw it was around 4hr 30min plus, surprise...surprise. I made a final dash, gave two peace signs to acknowledge the crowd for their cheering on.

After collecting my finisher tee and medal, I saw Chua who finished slightly more than 4 mins ahead of me. Boy, he was in top top form.

After a short rest, we walked back to the car and home is where we wanted to go. A well deserved rest for us.

Thanks to organisers of Sundown for another memorable event. I should be back to lower my mark.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Hope That One Day I Can Return

Note from author of the blog: This article is taken from The Malaysian Insider which is written by one John Malachi, representing his personal view of his own country.

John Malachi
The Malaysian Insider
May 25, 2011

MAY 25 — I am a Malaysian living abroad. I graduated as a doctor in Australia and went back to Malaysia in the early 1990s. From the first day I started working in Malaysia until the day I left, I have worked all the 15 and a half years of my time in Malaysia in public hospitals, not a single day in private practice.

In the mean time I got married and have two beautiful children. I went through the system, however unfair it was, being posted to hospitals that no one wanted to go to, and being sent on a merry-go-round around the country with two kids and a wife in tow.

I have had many opportunities to leave the public health sector to go into private practice – I was even offered a consultant specialist job in Singapore, but I hung on to the government hospitals, willingly foregoing better opportunity and financial rewards.
The reason that I went back to Malaysia? Well, in spite of the warts and all, it is still my country; where I grew up, where my parents live, and where my grandparents lived and died. In spite of all the corruption and cronyism, it is still where my roots are, and where I want my children to grow up and to acquire the identity of being Malaysians.

Yes, I know about the religious bigotry and the racist policies, but it is still the land that has given birth to me and where I thought I could contribute a little in return. I don’t have the eloquence to be a politician, the courage to be in the opposition, or the brains to constructively criticise and shape public opinion to move the country to a better future.

But just like my grandfather who spent his life as a hard manual labourer who helped build the railway from Gemas to Kota Baru, I thought the little skill that I have as a doctor would do some good to some people somewhere. That was why I stayed back.

But why then did I leave? Well, there comes a time when you have to look into your children’s eyes and tell them that you have to sacrifice their better future because you love your country. There comes a time when you have to tell them that you don’t have enough money to educate them because you want to do your bit for the less fortunate in the country. There comes a time when you have to tell your children that they have to grow up and get used to the discrimination — in spite of all that the family has done for generations — just because of their skin colour.

The only problem is, I couldn’t bring myself to look into their innocent eyes and tell them that.

My family and friends have been gracious; they have been glad that we could leave, and none of them called us traitors. But I do feel like a traitor inside me. And as I write this in tears tonight, I hope that one day I can return — return to continue to do what I was doing before I left

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why I work and stay overseas

Note from the author of this blog:
This is taken from The Malaysian Insider written by Alex Yap.


By Alex Yap
The Malaysian Insider
May 24, 2011

MAY 24 — Rather than harping on race issue, I am writing as a Malaysian not as a Chinese Malaysian. My point is to get the new graduates in Malaysia to see the bigger picture, and hopefully my article can help them get a direction in their career.

I am now working overseas in China (not because I am Chinese but because China has lots of jobs now due to the booming market).
I worked in Malaysia for more than 10 years in the retail market working for Chinese bosses (Singaporean/Malaysian), Indian bosses and handled brands like YSL and Hugo Boss and I have climbed to the level of GM in Malaysia. I have worked overseas under Singaporean/US bosses for more than six years now and been posted to the Solomon Islands, Vietnam and Cambodia and now China.

The reasons why I work overseas:

1. The money/currency

In overseas postings even if you work for Malaysian bosses/companies you can expect to be paid more than in Malaysia. Currently I am paid in US$ and British pounds. Thus, if you convert to ringgit, my salary can easily reach more than RM20,000 per month. That’s a lot of money in Malaysia. In Malaysia, I discovered some GMs are only earning RM8,000-10,000 a month. With inflation and cost of living in KL so high what is RM10,000 per month if you have a family to feed, house and car and other debts? Is it really enough?

2. The work

Overseas you will find that you are really treated well for your talent, skill, hard work and performance. There is no ceiling really when it comes to salaries… some expats from Singapore are earning on the average S$$30,000 (RM72,000) per month. If you are good, headhunters (international standards) will come looking for you

3. The exposure

You will meet people of different cultures and become more confident, open minded, etc. Now I do not have to look for jobs, I can rely on my network of foreign contacts. You will also look at things differently. Malaysia really is a tiny country and its economy is small. The Malaysian GDP per capita is more than 20 times lower than Singapore’s.

4. The culture

I am sad to say my years working in Malaysia I have encountered all sorts of unethical behaviour among Malaysian bosses and employees. They seem to be very concerned about people’s sexuality. I have encountered GMs who are actually mistresses of the bosses, etc.

6. The system and delivery of businesses are not efficient in Malaysia

The roads, the public sector services. Thus, it’s really frustrating working in Malaysia. Small issues or non-issues will always come up e.g. lost mail, cheques, slow Internet, poor service, poor or non-delivery of services paid. All are rent seekers and businesses do not really create values. Corruption is the norm.

7. Race and religious issues also will come in the picture and taint all business dealings.

People or businessmen will always use race and religion to justify business failures. Non-Bumi and Bumiputeras are always clashing with each other in business dealings. Performance and fair competition are not well regarded.

8. Tidak apa attitude/apathy

Now, Bumis and non-Bumis are hoping for God, the government or bomohs to help them in everything including businesses and careers.

The fighting spirit is gone.

9. NEPThis has caused Malaysians and Malaysia more harm than good (even to the Bumis). The country is no longer competitive.

10. Security

I do not see any future in Malaysia for anyone… it is a time bomb waiting to go off anytime. The country is not working.

I did not write this to condemn anyone, it is just my honest opinion about why I prefer to work and live overseas. This world does really belong to the fittest. Nobody will help you if you don’t help yourself.