Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hello Berlin.....again

I don't normally go to a city more thn one time unless I really like it, like Paris. I'm here now in Berlin and typing this....

Yes... After 2 months, I found myself back to this city again. Last time, when I came here, I realized that I wasn't able to explore this city as much as I would love to. I just had a little taste of it and then I had to pack and go. This time, I came here for Christmas markets and Berlin again.

Two things for me that I would love to dig more in this city. One is the history, both Nazi and Soviet Union; second is the graffiti. With these two in my mind, I had one day history day, one day graffiti day. The history is still heavy to me but at least it is not stranger anymore, especially, after reading the book entitled 'a woman in Berlin' and my knowledge from my last visit in the concentration camp. It is still very interesting to me.

It is always fun to check out those graffiti. You will find my new findings towards the end of my blog...

Of course, Christmas markets. I really don't know how many here but everywhere I go, I will hit one. I have been so many to a point I'm well saturated with those Christmas atmosphere! After my days walk on history and graffiti, Christmas market is truly my evening adventure.

I'm typing this in the last night on Berlin. No more Christmas market but I will head to see ballet tonight, danced by Staatsballett Berlin. Tonight is THE classic, Schwanensee (Swan Lake). And the prime ballerina is Polina Semionova. ( I'm so excited to see her! Just purely can't wait.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

1 week already...

Last week, I was electrified by the personal best that I made in my last marathon in NICE.. now, I'm sitting in London and rekindling this sweet memory.

I actually still can't imagine that I have achieved 4 hours 15 mins in this difficult course.  It's truly a major encouragement for my 2012 marathon preparation and a wonderful way to finish my first year of marathon running.  I was reading my diary again about that day and I still can taste the tiredness on my both legs, the cheers from the crowds, the electrifying feeling and the thrill... I think it's gonna to be in my memory bank for the rest of my life.

Back to London after another 2 days in Nice. The first thing that I did was to celebrate another completion of the marathon... what did I do?? Hahaaa... a BIG HUGE Bunch!!!! It's kinda routine for me now... a BIG HUGE BUNCH in this funky eating place called... The Breakfast club in Spitalfields market. They truly know how to make a nice and yummy English breakfast (well.. I'm vege, but they do have vege twisted fired up!), with eggs (proteins), hashbrowns (carb), tomatoes (Vit C), mushrooms.... Yum Yum Yum! These all help me to recover after the 26.2 miles of running! This time, I had my lovely friends, my fellow workers, Lianne and Polly to go with me! Can't be better than this! 

Before heading to Nice for this amazing run, I did think about what I'm going to do after the race.  After all, I have been training for marathons, one after the other from the beginning of this year.  I still remember how I spoke to one of the following runners in my church about training for my first marathon (Paris) at the beginning of the year.  I sounded so naive and inexperienced.  After all the races, I was planning to have 2 weeks off from running so that I can recover properly. How can I resist the temptation especially the sun has been so lovely in London? On Thursday, for the month of Movember... my running club, Nike had a Movember run.  For guys, no shaving for 1 month and running with the mustache; for girls.. well, no hair to grow.. so stick one on! Like this...

 I won't say that I looked handsome... but I do think that I look better without it!! Would you agree?

Fellow runners in the Nike running club in Stratford

What next? To be honest.. I don't know.  I have started to look into different training programs and then to plan my training program for next year.  Meanwhile, I will take running easily.  Just enjoy the moment of running, lovely winter sun shinning on the face, gentle wind breezing onto my face, the sound of the trees like dancing with the wind...and there is nothing, no pace, no distance, no time, in my mind, but just let the body to take control and run as the body is pleased.... A little rekindle of running.. why not? I love running...

P.S. if you are reading this, and having any good marathon training program, please let me know!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Personal Best has created today! Wow!!!

The time is 4 hours, 14 minutes and 46 seconds!!!! It is the time on my Nike plus; official time may come later this afternoon. I just can't believe that I have done my PB on this course actually not that easy at all! One thing I do know, my mind was focused and ready for the challenge. It is also a course that I ran all the way from the beginning till the end!!! I'm electrified! What a way to finish my first season of running, especially after my disappointing time from Berlin!

Details come lata! Now, it is a celebration time!!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 3 - a day before the race

Love breaky run.

It is like a little 'loosing-up'-per-race exercise. To get my muscle going; to get my head and mental to prepare and focus onto the race tomorrow. So, I took part this small breaky run hosted by the race organisation. It is a small run, just running along the Promenade des Anglais. It wasn't that grand like the Berlin one, running all the way to Olympic Stadium. As a warm up run, it wasn't too bad! So am I ready for the last race of year 2011? Maybe. Normally, I ask myself this question on the morning of the race day. As for now, I'm chillaxing... Trying not to think about it.

As I'm chillaxing, I went to Matisse museum. Apparently, he spent his last few years of his life in Nice. It is a small museum but has adequate work of Matisse displayed in the museum. I really enjoyed it. It wasn't too much that makes my brain absolutely exhausted, but there are enough work to know him and be interested in his work.

Enough of walking today... I'm just chill, reserving energy for tomorrow. The question for me is how fast I can do this time. Not that I'm pressured myself to run real fast. But I want to do my best, so that I can work out how I can prepare next year.

Next blog, it will be the time.....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 2 in Nice but not in Nice

After one day walking around in Vienx Nice, I decided to go outside of Nice coz honestly there isn't much to see apart from shopping.... (not my cup of tea). I jumped onto a train & travelled 2 hours, to a place called Entrevaux. It is a small town very close to the Alps in France.

What is so good about this place? It's kind random choice. But I picked this place out of all other small towns around Nice because it is kinda far from Nice and it is an medieval town built over hundreds years ago. If u know my love of history, then you will see why I draw into this small town.

To say that, I don't have much knowledge about this village. However, it a small village has its own charm. The medieval village was surrounded by a fortress wall. There is a building called Citadelle. It can be either a residence for the head of the village or a prison, on the top of a hill, which is in the village, within the wall. There are museums telling you the history but with my limited French. I can't give you more than what I saw. The village is small and actually quite packed. The roof is still made out of clay.

I did climbed up to Citadelle, not advisable to a runner but I was driven by my curiosity badly. The view from above is always beautiful. But Citadelle, the building itself,is quite run down, considering it is over 100 years old. Reconstruction is in process as I saw all the working tools around.

The surrounding view is beautiful. The Alps is magnificent! The Autumn color just glorified its beauty. Interestingly, the river bed, as low water level, is actually in pale pastel white color, it gives a very strong contrast against the Autumn colors from the mountains. Even though there are some areas with higher water level, the color of the water was chalk blue. It actually printed an interesting but beautiful picture.

It has been a good day out for me. With only 4 trains running between Entrevaux and Nice. That's how I now am in cold train station, typing his entey and awaiting for the last train back to Nice (it's coming at 1927...about 40 mins away).

Anyway, it is a day for me. I also have met another runner in my room today. Sue is an experienced runner. She has just finished the NYM about 2 weeks ago. She told me that she wasn't feeling great in NYM but she finished in 4 hrs (wow!). She hasn't set her time for this one, but i think it wont be too long. She also is a qualifier for Boston marathon next year and VLM as well (running with me!!) Impressive!

Anyway, there will be a breaky run tomorrow (��). Now, I just want to head back and sleep.... Good sleep.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

9017... 3 days to go and I have a question....

How much exercise is enough in the final week of tapering?

Yes! 3 days to go... I have arrived to Nice today and collected my bib number! 9017. As I open the package, I have realised that I have put 4 hours as my target time. Now, I really don't know how to give that result, since my best result remains 4 hrs and 24 mins. But will see.

This race was truly introduced by my running buddy in USA, Kathleen. She did this one last year. And now, I'm doing it. How do I feel right now? Actually, I'm overwhelming tired since I didn't get any sleep at all as my flight was 0720 in the morning. There isn't an overnight service from my place to the airport. As a result, I stayed overnight in the airport last night and finished one of amazing books.

Since I have arrived in Nice, I have not been stopped. I walked in Vienx Nice and went to the expo for the bib number. Now, I'm totally tired. I always find that it is a very fine balance between tapering and exercising during the final week before the race day. How much exercise is enough in the final week of tapering? Last time, when I was in Berlin, I realised that I might have overworked my two legs too much a day before the race day; therefore, my 2 legs weren't fresh as I was hoping for. This time, I don't want the history repeat itself again. That's why I'm in my hostel room and typing this.

Anyway, I still have 2 days to go. I will chill out again in these two days for this Sunday. If you have any answer for my question, please be free to throw in.

Day 1 in NICE, 3 days to go....

I'm typing this at the beach! With a lovely sun shining in me and a clear blue sky. I forget now nice it is sitting under the sun and just facing the sea with the warm blanket provided by the sun and the gentle breeze from the sea!!! It is nice because I'm in Nice.

I'm actually sitting where the marathon will be started on Sunday. As I'm facing the sea, Monaco is on my left hand side and Cannes is on my right. And looking into my right hand side, I feel suddenly that Cannes actually is very far from where I am now! And I'm going to run to there on Sunday. It is a lllllooooooonnnnnnnngggggg way.

But it will be on Sunday, 3 says away. Now, I think I will make my way to explore the Vieux Nice, Old Nice. CJ is faithfully with me. Let see what we can get. But so far, it is the view that I'm having....,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Virgin London Marathon & VICTA & me.......

What is the relationship between Virgin London Marathon (VLM) and VICTA?

On a paper, they both start with the letter 'V'.  Apart from that, you may not able to see more.  But if I tell you that, VICTA is a non-profitable charity for visually impaired children, then you may begin to see the link.  

VICTA stands for Visually Impaired Children Taking Action (registered charity number 1065029).  A local charity based in Milton Keynes, was founded in 1987.  This local charity took actions into their own hands to help children with visually impaired children and their families to have sufficient support and provision in their normal daily life.  The charity raise funds for practical technological help such as braillers, canes (with sonar), computer with specialist software (for speech, Braille and screen magnification).  They also raise money for 'life changing' activity vacation weeks and computer camps for visually impaired children.  I said that it is a local charity but their activities does not limit in their local area.  They also raise money to support the National Library for the Blind.

Certainly, this charity has touched so many lives that we all can imagine, and made many dreams come true, not only the children and runners!

I'm privileged to be on Team VICTfor London Marathon in 2012.  If you have followed my blog, you know how I was inspired in the Berlin marathon where the locals were cheering their loved ones during the race.  At that time, I was truly thinking how good it will be if I can run in a city where I know very well and the people I know. London marathon is notoriously difficult to get a spot through ballot system.  I have failed twice already.  This year was my 3rd attempt.  With my two failed applications in the past, it makes me to run this one of the world marathons even more, especially next year is the Olympic Year in London.  However, it is what I got....

and a lovely red jumper with a big 'SORRY'! 

'Oh no! didn't get a spot!' That's my first response when I saw the package in my mailbox (The face you can see on the magazine, it's the face that I had when I got the package). But this package didn't defeat me! 'I should try something else.' I told myself.  Charity! As I always have one charity event in every year, what a great way to makes this marathon experience more special if I do it for a charity cause.  So, I tried different charities and VICTA is the very first one replying me and giving me a spot to run this marathon! Oh! Wow! I'm electrified! 

VICThas done many amazing work to the visually impaired children and the families.  They are what they are on the paper... taking action and being an advocate for them.  I like a charity who mean to their work and cause ( Therefore, I'm very delighted to be a part and run for this wonderful charity in 2012.

This is the beginning of the story for this special event! The story will be continued with your help. Your giving is a blessing to the children and their families, and an encouragement for me to run this great marathon on the 22/04/2012. Here is where you can help me to continue my history...

Two ways to make your donation easy:
1) Virgin Money Giving Website (
The easiest and most direct way! Just one click... the website will tell you how to do the next.  It's safe and no hassles!

2) If you are reading this from Australia, and want to help me out.  You can also make your donation in my Australian account! The details are as following...
Name of the Account: May Sze Chang
BSB no: 342012
Account no: 366688412

Your generous giving mean more than words.  Everything that you give mean that your care about the children and their family.  Everything that you put in mean that you are at my back when I am on training for the marathon and running it on the D Day! 

I will keep you in post about my training... meanwhile.. please take this little extra step to help me making this history.

6 days to go.... for my last marathon of the year!


I just simply cannot believe that we are in November already.  To make your heart pumping faster, we are actually almost in the middle of November.  A time to talk about Christmas shopping, Christmas cooking, Christmas eating, Christmas dresses, Christmas parties... list is just going on.

For me, the 'Christmas' topics haven't hit me hard yet as I'm still in training for my very last marathon in this year 2011. What a year! This will be my 4th marathon in this year, my very first year of marathon running.  Some people, my workmates especially, just can't really get how I can do 4 marathons in one year.  Don't I feel tired? How would I use my annual leaves to go different places to 'suffer' (26.2 miles of running... it can be too much for some)? I have a list of questions that I have been asked in this year... I may save my answers to my next blog....

One thing that I can tell you is that, it's all about the love of running.  26.2 miles indeed is a long run. The thing is, it's like everything else, you can get addicted to it. Just like one of my running friend said 'you got the running bite!' More you do, more you want to do.  That's why I'm still excited for this very last marathon....

Where is it? 
South France, running from Nice to Cannes

20/11/2011, only 6 days away 

The route...
We will run through 4 cities between Nice and Cannes:
Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Villeneuve-Loubet, Antibes Juan-Les-Pins, Vallauris Golfe-Juan
It is a coastal running... the scenery won't be bad at all but as my running friend, Jennifer says, who cares about the scene when you are struggling the run? Well... it's kinda true too.  But as I love nature and sea, the beautiful seaside scenery definitely is a booster for me!

It's just only 6 days away, it is a time to see how I feel about it now. To be honest, I feel slightly worried and yet excited about this run. Since my last run in Berlin wasn't too brilliant, I would love to do better in this one.  I did a 21 miles run about 2 weeks ago. It was a fabulous 21 miles that I didn't want to stop! Since then, I have already in my tapering preparation. I do think that I'm still very positive about the run.  The worrying part actually are my legs. I found them slightly tight in my last 12 miles long run.... don't like tights legs....  I need some good sport massage. But where I can find one???

I'm in my annual leave now as well.  So, all I need to do right now is eating well, sleeping well, chillaxing and getting some mental pictures installed in my brain... and just keep blogging till it comes... it's only 6 days away!
I like this motto at the end, 'Yes we CAN... The marathon is nice....' Good one!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I do more than just running... I also do baking!!!

I'm in the break of my work and study today.  So, I decided to pick a recipe from this lovely book... and bake!!!

Yes! I enjoy baking and I love this TV series.  I don't think I'm good enough to be in a contestant. Baking is so much fun, creative and surprising.  Like today, I'm totally surprised by my creation!

I took the recipe from a contestant, Jason, the 19 years old baker.  His lovely creation, Cheese and onion tear and share bread.  I love baking bread, more than anything else.  So, when I saw this bread on TV, I wanted to try it already.  Simple ingredients and procedures.  I decided to give it a go.. and the result is....

My very first attempt of the bread! Yummy!
They may not be looking very attractive.  But they are definitely yummy! I wasn't able to stop tearing them and eating them... I'm so surprised to taste the softness of the bread, and the marrying flavor of onions and cheese in the bread.  This attempt has definitely given me extra boost to do more bread baking in the future.  In fact, I have started hunting for another one already :) If you want to know what it is, I think you need to be staying in tune to find out  :)

Couple weeks ago, I also baked a healthy version of Pumpkin muffin for my friend's birthday. I chose pumpkin because it is one of the popular food you will find in Thanksgiving celebration in USA.  My friend, is one of the friends who I can share laughter and tears together.  In order to thank for her friendship, I chose pumpkin... to show my gratitude towards her kindness.... and the result....

With some MaySze's twist here.....
They are quite dainty! But I always think that we are in the age of weight-watching... small but yummy muffin is better than big huge one that you can't finish or you will finish it with the mind of sugar and calories intake. To make it healthier, I didn't use sugar at all but honey; rice milk in the place of normal milk. I don't think the taste was compromised. On the other hand, I enjoyed it even more, so as my friend as well.  

I know that a lot of people putting the recipes on the blog to share.  I don't know whether I should follow the suit.  But my purpose of blogging it, simply, I want to share my joy of baking.  If you do find that they are yummy to you, and you want to have a copy of the recipe.  You can let me know and I will email you :)

It's time to go back to my study... Newborn life support day is on Wednesday.  I need to review it again!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Scottish Ballet in London

I missed ballet so badly. 

 I haven't been able to go to see any theater/ballet production recently.  I can't even remember what and when was my last production that I saw.  I'm so pleased to return to Sadler's Well for this amazing ballet company that I missed last year when they toured in London.

This time they toured with 2 totally different ballet: one is from Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo's Kings 2 Ends and Sir Kenneth MacMillian's Song of the Earth.  Two complete productions from two different choreographers. For me, tonight is much more than just ballet but also about the music. 

I haven't heard of Jorma Elo until tonight. If I got to use 3 words to describe what I think about his work, they are witty, playful and happy. Truly, it was my impression about this work.  The ballet divided into 2 parts: the first half was the technical bit with strong contemporary and physical demanding pace and movement. The first half of the music was composed by Steve Reich, a very contemporary piece of music with strong rhythm, but difficult to count for ballet.  Dancers attacked the notes well (you can see how much they practised in order to hit the note clearly and sharply) and it was full of energy. With those contemporary notes, the dance was indeed slight 'cold' and impersonal. The second half music was composed by the great Mozart, Violin Concerto No 1.  A delightful music, and hence the atmosphere was totally different.  The choreographer didn't stick with classical ballet movement with classical music.  There are some unusual steps and isolation movement danced with isolated instruments in the music; which added different dimension, layers and humors in the ballet.  I did hear some laughs in those 'funny' steps danced in the ballet.  However, despite those interesting details, I do find that there is no 'big' WOW for me in this ballet.  It was a good piece of ballet; but for me, it is lack of surprising elements and impressive signature in it, like Christopher Wheeldon's work, which is a small disappointment for me.

One of the main reasons for me to watch this production is Sir Kenneth MacMillian's Song of the Earth.  Simply put, this ballet was about a journey of a young man and woman encountering different fear in their lives.  At the end, the fear of death seemed powerful and overwhelming and yet, death itself isn't necessary threatening but it can be also revolutionary.  I first watched it when the British prima ballerina Darcey Bussell danced in her farewell performance in 2007.  I still remembered the power of this ballet when I first watch it.  It brought me in tears! I found that the ballet reached me to a very deep level regarding to the fear that the leading female dancer was facing in the ballet; the fear of loneliness, death and loss.  For me, it was powerful, that's why I want to watch this again on stage.  I applauded the strong ability demonstrated by the dancers.  The messenger of death was danced by soloist Christopher Harrison, which is the most impressive dancer for me in this ballet.  Very clean and crisp movement is a delight to watch. As a messenger of death, you won't feel that he was threatening; he gave you room to imagine his role in the ballet.  Was he an evil taking the leading man's life? or was he just a shadow following every single person (as he didn't dance in all 6 parts of the ballet, but just reappeared in towards the end of some parts of it)? Or was he just one of us? Credit to Harrison's strong ability but also applauded to MacMillian's choreography.

With all these praises in my heart, I actually didn't find the impact that I was hoping in this production.  It may not be fair.  But this piece of ballet was done in 1965, a great piece has been danced by different great dancers in the past.  I think it's not only me, but everyone comes to see this production with their own perceptions of the ballet.  I'm pleased to see how the dancers was being on their own, who they are on the stage; dancing with their very own interpretations.  However, I do find that it's not as impact as the last one I watched.  Would that to do with the maturity of the dancers and even the company as a whole? Royal ballet will redo this masterpiece in 2012, I will definitely book a place for myself to watch this again to answer my own questions.

It is a good production overall.  I do see the potential in this company. With a new artistic director is coming to the post, I do believe that there will be changes and challenges in this company.  I enjoyed the production tonight but I just hoped for a small wow factor....Here is the clip from Scottish ballet on their rehearsal of this production. 

My next production to watch will be Cloud gate dance company from Taiwan.  I have heard so much about them already... now, I can finally experience their beauty.... can't wait!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris 

My life is more than just running.... But I do admit that, I'm very picky on movie.  You may have heard how good this movie is. But I can't help to say that again for myself... IT IS A VERY GOOD MOVIE!

Paris is always my favorite city. I did dream about moving there, like Gil in the movie.  It has its magic, the charm that you want to stay there longer.  Woody Allen has done a fantastic job in showing Paris in a different way.   You still can see the romance that you dream about Paris in the movie; and yet you can have some Woody Allen sense of humor in it.  Paris is still beautiful and romantic, the story has just added another layer onto it.

I love the screen-write.  It is very witty, funny, light and yet poetic with all different 'celebrities' putting together in a 2 hour movie. I was just laughing all the way.  The clever part is how you do know each 'celebrity' in the movie by the dialogue even though you are not a Wikipedia to know all 'celebrities' lives and their works.  To be honest, it would be my dream too, if I can meet all these great writers and painters in one world.  I don't mind to stay in this dream a little bit longer.

Having a beauty in a movie always adds some more favor in a movie.  For me, Marion Cotillard is the beauty in this one.  Needlessly to say how pretty she is already; in those 20's dresses, she just looked even more stunning and elegant.  Alice, my ex-houseband from my old flat watching the movie with me last night, and I love her last white dress...

Not the best photo to show the dress,
 but it's the best  it can  get!
Alice doesn't really like Owen Wilson, in general.  But I found that he is the best person to play Gil in the movie, the character that is indulging in the past with confusions.  He obviously not that clever looking as Michael Sheen, but those confusing and 'not-so-sure' looks do make you laugh and sympathize with him. Only thing for me, that irritates me slight from Wilson, is his broken nose... I just feel 'Ouch!' everytime when there is a closed up...Ouch!

I love the music, as I'm soundtrack person. Love Cole Porter music... I could just sing and dance along with the music when I was watching the movie (but the cinema was almost full!).  
Love the the dress in 20's.  Vintage!

For me.. it is the best of everything I love in one movie.  So.. I love this movie!

I don't want to put too many movie photos in my blog,
but I just like Adrien in it as .......

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hilly and wet half Eden Project marathon

It's actually my long run for this week training. But I have soon realised that it is more than I hope for.

Why did I go all the way to Cornwall to do this race?
Simple. I like Cornwall, since my last visit. And I like Eden project. In my last visit here, I found out about the half marathon run. Since I have this weekend off by chance, so I decided to book a spot for myself. Then, I found out that running by myself probably isn't that much fun, I was able to pull my new running friend from NZ, Jessica, last minute.

But before to talk about the run, Jess and I had a very remarkable experience in our stay in Cornwall. Even though it was my 2nd visit in Cornwall, finding a cheap accommodation, like hostel, is impossible in St Austell area. In the Cornwall official tourism website, I managed to find a place, which was written as a place for backpackers, and it only costs £10 a night. We have had a few email corresponding, she sounds very nice person. I gave it a go....

Jess actually got there first and she found out that it was actually a caravan that we were to stay. I didn't know about it at all till she texted me and asked me about a sleeping bag as the caravan actually was quite cold. I never had stayed in a caravan before. There were actually no electricity and water in there, but there was a lamp that is lightened up by manual generated power. It is unbelievable. I truly didn't prepare for that. But I guess, costing £10 for a night. It is kinda reasonable. But the owner of the house, Linz, is a very lovely and friendly landlady. She is actually renovating her house (that's why her place looks quite messy everywhere) and has just returned from a road trip from Portugal. She knew that we didn't have a sleeping bag, so she lend us blankets and duvet to keep us nice and warm. With a wet and gary weather outside, staying in a caravan was less ideal. But at least, Jess and I had a good night sleep as we needed for the half marathon.

Back to the race, it is official to Jess and me that it is one of the hard half marathons. My PB in half was 1 hours and 46 mins, but it was on the flat surface. It isn't a flat surface marathon. It has hills.... LOTS of them. Some were small but some were quite steep. You can say that, there are ups, there must be downs. But running up and downs one after another is tiring. And there was a significant length on off road trail... With the rainy and grey Cornish weather, those off roads have become a muddy roads, which made my run even harder. My Eco Brooks trainers were covered with mud, so as my calf as well.
The Muddy Brooks trainers....

Pasta Party in Eden Project
About 1400 local runners in this 3rd year running event. Supportive locals and marshals cheered us up whenever we passed by them. It was actually a good organised event. With all those ups and downs, the good news for us was that we were actually running downhill to the finishing line. As we were approaching the finishing line, the Eden Project was right in front of our eyes. It was actually quite a good view. I was clocked in 2 hours and 6 mins; Jess came just a few minutes after me (a very good effort for her as she didn't train at all prior to the race). I guess, it is hard from city runner since it is almost flat surface in the city. That's why I was quite ok with the result, even though I wasn't able to complete it under 2 hours as I hope for but considering the ups and downs I had run. I'm ok with the time. And I do think that it is a very good training for me for the last marathon as there is a hill at 30km mark, running up the hills does strengthen my leg and cardiac muscle.
A huge plate of pasta, salad and Yummy bread!
The best pasta party ever!
The organiser actually is quite well prepared, even though it was their 3rd year running. We had the best (in my eyes) pasta party the night before the race. It was held in the Eden Project, the Mediterranean Biome. I said it was the best, as I also went to a pasta party in my hostel in Berlin. It was €8 for unlimited pasta and sauce, just sauce, nothing else. But in this one, £7, a big plate of pasta, salad and yummy bread! It was massive and yummy. It was truly a great pasta for us, just before the race. I think, if I did the full marathon, I would be very happy about that.

Pre race pasta was nice. Post race, free Cornish pastry and a pint of ale (I don't drink, so gave the voucher to Jess) were just unbeatable. Sorry.... I have no photo of the pastry as I was very hungry! What else could we ask for. After a long hard run and then having a yummy, carb-rich pastry! It was very comforting. Sound a bit odd. Instead of those post race recovery drink, pastry just did the job.

Overall, it was a great run for me. Time may not be very impressive. But I do think, that it was a good training ground for me. At first, I do think that it was quite discouraging in terms of the wet and gary weather, with muddy off road. Indeed, it was outside of our comfort zone. But actually, now, I looked back to the race, I'm so pleased that I have done it. And now, actually, I want to do it again. This kind of run did train our mind to overcome the difficult course. I see this race, as a positive experience. I may return back next year to do the full one.
The Medal and the T-shirt..
I will be back again...

Monday, October 10, 2011

In or Out?!

I was one of 17000 people waiting for the results....

What was I waiting for? A guaranteed place in London marathon 2012.

After my experience in Berlin, I realise that I really want to run in a soil that I'm familiar with. 'It would be very nice, if there are people I know during the course. Cheers, hugs, and just a poster to keep you going have suddenly become valuable and exciting in a hard run. That's why I decided to try my best to get into London's marathon.

When I saw a lovely red jumper and then the rejected magazine, my heart was just can't help but sink.

Didn't get a spot!

What is next?

London marathon has about 25000 places for 125,000 to 170,000 applicants. So, the chance to get a spot is 1 in every 5 entries. There are about 35000 to 40000 people running every year. If you are good with math (unfortunately, not me), there are 10000 to 15000 places to be filled by charity places.

This is the Charity that I'm running..
what this Charity does, I will introduce you later!
As my desire to take part in the marathon so strong this time, and I do want to run this special marathon with a good course, I quickly ran through the magazine (that's what it is for) to look for a charity place to run. But fundraising isn't that easy. To find myself a spot to run in the Olympic city in 2012, the target is even harder to reach. Anything from £2000 to £3000 is normal. So, after all the searching and email correspondings, I have found a charity, VICTA, which a charity that helping visual impaired children and families. It is a local charity in Milton Keyes. And their major funding actually is from London marathon. So, I decided to run with this charity. Apart of running the race itself, I would love to run in a team, to build a strong team relationship with someone having a same goals and commitment together. I do believe that having training with others, it will help to keep running interesting and sharing with other running experience definitely is helpful.

So, I though I was out; but now, I'm in! Next, will be getting my fundraising activities started and most importantly, start thinking about training, even though I still have one to go..

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So how was it really? Berlin Marathon

4 days after the marathon, you properly have already known:
1) Paula Radcliffe has her qualified time for the London Olympic 2012 by 2 hours and 23 minutes
2) World record has broken by Patrick Makau, the fastest man in the world (the news said)
3) MaySze has done hers just ok. 

But how was it really running 42.195km (26. 2 miles)? 
The weather on the D-day was beautiful.  Sunny and actually slightly warmer for a runner like me.  There were over 34,000 people running the race.  It is one of the largest marathons in the world.  Berliners were excited about the race.  Families and friends of the runners were along the course and cheering their loved ones.  Kids were giving you their little hands for the 'high 5' (how can you resist them?). There were a lot of hugs, kisses and photo taking along the course.  Therefore, as you can imagine, there were crowds and music almost in the whole entire course, the whole 42 km. Atmosphere was truly great.  

Berlin marathon is one of the world marathons, ie an international marathon.  There were different people from different countries.  During the race, I have met 7 Aussie.  It was so good to see some runners from Down Under, we did cheer each other on during the race (it helped, for me). Japanese and Korean also had their representatives as well.  There were some small Japanese and Korean women running the race... they were so cute.  For some reasons, there were many Danish there; so as their followers. (Do you know why, Alice?)  Of course, at the end, Germans were just filling up the course.
Running to the finishing line.
 Brandenburger Tor is behind us!

As you also know that by now, Berlin race is the fastest course for the marathon as it is very flat. It is not only flat but actually quite a wide course as well.  We have not encountered any situation that we need to slow down the pace or even stop during to narrow paths or roads.  Even though there were many people walking towards the end of the course, you still can found some rooms to run!

The organisation looked after the runners quite good.  Water stations almost in every 2-3 miles; special refreshment station almost in every 5 miles, where you actually can put your very own special hydration drinks at those refreshment station (It was my first time to know about that too).  In those stations, you also found iced tea (yes! iced tea) and bananas in some stations. Basically, if you are not a fussy eater, you really don't need to carry anything for the race.

As for me, after 4 days of the race, I have finally accepted my gutted result.  On the positive note, the race actually helps to plan better for my final marathon training. (yeah.. one more to go!).  I did learn what work for me, what not.  The most important thing is that, my fire and enjoyment of running has re-flamed and probably burnt even brighter.  Even though the time was not what I hoped for, but I know that I will come back and do better.  So, I'm back to running (I did a 5 mile run this morning). I will start to re-plan my training schedule for my last marathon in 2 months time.    

Apart from marathon, there was also inline skating and power wall in this marathon.  These were my first time to learn about these two events in marathon length.  But in my hostel, I was actually sharing a room with a German family, which Dad did marathon, son mini-marathon (shorter run for kids under 10), and the daughter did the marathon length of inline skating.  She told me that it's very common in Germany.  She finished in 2 hour and 30 hours, but experts, like the winner of the game, finished the course in 1 hour 14 mins.  Pretty fast! That got me wanting to try skating as well. 

Anyway... this marathon is in my history book.  Must to better for my next and last race.
The medal and the finisher t-shirt (costs me 25 euro dollars!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2 hours and 23 mins....

No no no! It is not my time. I wish. If so, I should be doing Olympic Games next year. It is Paula's result. She didn't break her record, nor I broke me. It actually quite a disappointing run for me.

I finished in 4 hours and 34 mins. Not the worst one but not the best one either. As I have put so much time and effort to improve my run in last few months after the Edingburh one. I was just hoping that I could do better. But it didn't turn out that way. In fact, I wasn't feeling quite 100% for the race at the beginning. My recent caught blocking nose and coughs might got to do something about it. I dun know. There are alot of whys, but they also can become alot of excuses. Now, what I should do is too get some rest and start to think about my training for the last run this year.

I'm tired and having a mild headache. I think I will head to sleep soon....

Here is the medal.....

I'm going now...

A very quick note...

It's 0745. I'm heading to the starting point now. I have a mixed feeling. Excited, petrified, and 'dun know' feeling.

Next one will be the one with a result!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Different day... Most importantly, the run is tomorrow!!!

Very different today, comparing to yesterday. Starting the day with a breaky run organised by the event organisation. And we ran to the Olympic stadium, which was built for 1936 Olympic game held by Hitler. It was short and easy run, just keep my feet in a good shape. Even more encouraging was that there were over 10000 runners together towards the stadium. It was something. My blood was just rushing over my body when I saw the stadium in front of me. For a one second, I felt like an Olympic runner running back to the Stadium, which was full of people cheering me on.... Wowowowww! It was just one second imagination. It was a very good and positive feeling, no doubt about that. In fact, the race will be started and ended at the Brandenburg Gate. It is a historical symbol of Berlin. Not a bad way to start and finish. I met a few Aussie are running this race as well... Cool. Go Aussie!

After a sad and heavy day, I went for another tour today, called 'alternative tour'. Don't know what you may think of it when you hear the name in Berlin context. It is a tour to look at Berlin's another well-known feafure, street art! It is completely different turn from yesterday. But I'm glad that I went. At the end, it is something that I intended to look into while I'm here. And I'm glad that I went for this tour as I really had no idea where to start initially. With the tour guide help, it has certainly become easier and at least I know what I should look for. A few famous artists were noted, like Blu, XOOXO, El-Bocho. You may not know who they are but when you see their work, you will go 'Oh! yeah....'. My CJ has the busiest day today. So you will see some of them later. Apart from the artistry of the street art, the struggle and tension on merging these two different worlds were also reflected in those street art as well. I truly enjoyed it very much. There are some artists are truly great and reflective.

There is one thing truly speaking clear and loud for me from yesterday in the camp to today the street art, Berlin is a changing city. And the changes are huge and rapid comparing to all other cities that I have been. It is not just only political, environmental, or economical changes, but most importantly, cultural changes, which interests me as I have observed and believed that culture is the hardest thing to change and mould as it forms and binds a nation and identifies them as who they are. But Berlin is still going through this as I'm typing. What is going to happen tomorrow in Berlin, truly it isn't that easy to figure out.

But for now, I know that I truly go to have an early for the race tomorrow! As you can imagine what my blog will be like....


Friday, September 23, 2011

It is a heavy day... My heart weighted thousands stones

To be completely honest, I don't think I can post anything tonight on the blog about my day. My heart is heavy burdened and my brain doesn't want to process all the information that I learnt today in the concentration camps, which is just outside of Berlin. The concentration camp is called Sachsenhausen. What is it really? Well the tour that I supposed to join today describe the camp as following...
'it was the Nazi's model camp which set the standard for all those to follow... This was a place in which over 50,000 abused prisoners perished, as well as a school of brutality for training SS guards to work in this and other camps. Sachsenhausen's terrible history continued even after 1945 as the Soviet occupiers took it over for a further 5 years to house political enemies.' (newberlin tour)

I have become speechless and my brain has basically refused to take any more info on this matter.

So I decide to put it up later about this camp with some photos that I took with CJ when I get back to London.

Sorry. But stay on tune...

Marathon is 2 days to go...breakfast run tomorrow morning. Good. My frets are getting itchy....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small taste of Berlin

Truly, I have a small bite of it today. I went to a free tour today. Walked around this city and learnt about the its history in 3 hours time. What I have to say after that intensive history walk, "WOW! so much to know about this city!". It is interesting that I have come this city with an idea that Berlin is an international city with strong economic drive and lively spirit. German technology and their innovation always give some surprises to the world. Their history from WWII, it is easy to put an equation mark between German and evil. However, in my tour, as I learnt this history of this city and saw the city with my very own fresh eyes, I have relearnt about this city and realised that it is a city living in the scars from WWII and Cold War. The city itself is actually still rebuilding from WWII; people are still getting their heads around to learn how to live in freedom and trying merging two worlds into one. But I learnt the most is that German know and acknowledge their history, both bad and good, and choose to respect it and live with it positively. They also had experienced the hard time when communists were in power; like Chinese in Chinese revolution. They also burnt books and manuscripts that were against the communists ideas. They were perpetrators in WWII, and yet they took responsible for their actions and chose to acknowledge it. The city itself (about 92%) was actually badly damaged in WWII as well. Doubtlessly, it is a city with many scars. And today I just have a bite of it. I think, I will try to learn more tomorrow when I go for the concentration camp. It properly won't be that easy for me to take on.

On the brighter side, I have picked up my bib numbers for the run (hooray!). And Paula looks so good for the race as well. 'I am here to win!' she said. Of course! Who can stop her?! The health expo, where I picked my number, is held in a old city airport from Soviet Union in east Berlin. Quite a big massive building as it was always be for Soviet Union. I just go "wow". CJ is with me and took a few faithful photos. But I can't put upload them till I go back to London and process them. Sorry. They will come shortly.

One more thing. I have met a good friend today. In the tour, I met a gentlemen who will also do marathon this Sunday! And guess how old he is..... 70!!!!! (he just corrected me that he is actually 72 to be precise!). I feel shame already. And he is aiming to finish the race in 4 hours (mine target time is 4.15). He had has 6 marathons under his belt! Can you believe that?! I hope that I still can run marathon when I'm in his age!!!!! . He is definitely my inspiration. Wow!!

Many wows in this blog. And I know that it is still coming...

Time to hit my bed...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 days to go...

Can’t believe that I will be running one of the world marathons in 5 days time.

More encouraging to know that I will be running with Paula Redcliffe, the fastest woman marathon runner in the world in 5 days time.  What can I say more about this race?

I can’t put a right words to describe how I actually feel at this moment.  I would say that I’m excited, since I’m still awake at 3am in the morning.  And yet, I’m petrified about the race.  My preparation for this race has been long and challenging.  It definitely not smooth sailing.  Pain and blues in training were hitting me since my last marathon in May.

But here I am.. I will catch my flight to Berlin in 14 hours time.  Race will be on this coming Sunday. 26.2 miles run.
Exactly one year ago (25/09), I did my very first half marathon in London which changed my whole marathon world.  I wouldn’t believe that I will be doing my third marathon at that time.  But I’m doing now… 

If you want to know what the course looks like… here is the answer… 

Keep you in post about the run! Stay tune!