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!