Monday, August 21, 2006

A little sightseeing

Work has been going pretty well since Tuesday. The first few days I was like a zombie and it seemed like my body's battery charge just skydived from around 3pm onwards. Just as I'm getting in synch, I will have to get on that plane back home.

I've not been in the mood to run since getting here. I have access to a health club about 1km away from the hotel I'm staying in but the thought of walking in this heat did not appeal to me, on top of feeling lazy.

I have seen some of the sights in Dallas, one of the more popular ones is the place where President JFK was assassinated. I drove down the same route he took up to the point where he was shot, and it was interesting to imagine how he was cruising in the back seat of his convertible with people cheering him along the way, not expecting what was going to happen next.

The above picture shows the book depository where the shooter was. If you look up to the 6th floor (take the ground floor as the first floor), you will see that the right most window pane is slightly different. That is where he took the shot from.

The food here has been pretty ok, but nothing to shout about. There are plenty of nice restaurants where one can go for a nice evening, and the costs are pretty reasonable at least when I look at it from a dollar to dollar (ringgit) perspective.

I was taken to the Antares Rotating Restaurant which is part of the Hyatt Regency. Here one can get a lovely view of the entire city of Dallas. If you had seen the famous series 'Dallas' in the 80's, perhaps what you thought Dallas to look like might not be too accurate. That part of Dallas still exists but is located towards the south.

A picture of the rotating restaurant taken at dusk

An amazing view of Dallas captured from inside the restaurant. The skyline is always as beautiful as you see in this picture.

I have also been shopping for some stuff. They have huge stores here where we get plenty of choice, nothing like what we have in KL. One of the stores I went to was called Sports Academy. The choice of running shoes here is just amazing. I am considering picking up a pair, perhaps an Asics or Mizuno as the price is lower than what I could get in KL. I will definitely pick up a pair of Thorlos Coolmax and also a few pairs of Nike Dri Fit socks.

I shall leave Dallas on Wednesday night and should get back into KL on Friday afternoon. Yup, another long trip. Will be glad to get home and get back into routine again. Missing my wife and kid quite a bit already.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Was I wrong?

I've just arrived in Dallas 10 hours ago after 28 hours of traveling. It wasn't a comfortable trip with the flight being full and for those who travel regularly, you would know being stuck in economy class for over 18 hours and having to sit in the centre row as both window and aisle seats were not available, can't be a good thing... not to mention than I have extremely long legs.

I was arriving into LA before having to catch a connecting flight to Dallas. Here I needed to go through the immigration and clear customs, then collect my luggage and re-check them in for my next flight. After spending over 20 hours on the go, all I wanted to do was to clear this process as quickly as possible and stretch my legs a little before catching the next flight, but this was not to be.

The situation at the LA immigration was worse than a market. At least in the Malaysian markets, everyone knows what they are doing and are clear on what they want. Here you would find immigration officers guiding passengers to the various counters by screaming at the top of their lungs. The queuing system and the efficiency of clearing the queue as quickly as possible was also screwed up.

After having to stand in what I would have called a relatively short queue for 45 minutes I realised that it had stopped moving. This is when I realised that the 3 counters which served my queue had closed and the officers were packing up to go home. It took another 10 minutes before one officer came to replace just one of the 3 counters, and even then he did not open the counter straight away. Instead he started taking out his soft drink and did things in really slow motion, like you at times see in the Malaysian government offices.

A quick look to the other queues and I realised that they were being processed a lot more efficiently than the one I was in. What luck!! After a bit I just could not stand it anymore and gestured towards one of the immigration ushers to complain. Her reaction of "What do you want me to do? There's nothing I can do, this is normal" stunned me. Not to mention the arrogant tone of voice. After explaining that I was going to miss my connecting flight, since we had already landed an hour late, she hesitantly said she would see what she could do.

Anyway to cut the story short, I was ushered out towards another queue which cleared much faster. I am totally appalled by the kind of service I seemed to have received. My impression of the US has been further tainted and I am not really keen on spending much time exploring much of this country. For the rest of my journey to the hotel, I had also encountered similar rudeness when asking for any kind of information or help.

To me the people make up a country, and if there cannot be basic courtesy and politeness, then it's really sad. All that people say about the greatness and superiority of the US is total bullshit from my point of view. I am proud to be a Malaysian, and I would suggest that we are very much ahead in many ways when compared to the US. If anyone wants to talk to me about corruption, transparency and a real democracy, then don't because it's pretty much the same in every government and both you and I know that! So as we close in towards yet another Merdeka celebration let us cheer and say "MALAYSIA BOLEH!"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Good holiday

The first day when we arrived in Camerons, the weather was quite cold and it was raining most of the time. However the next two days brought some great weather that allowed us to spend a lot of time outdoors.

The TNB bungalow that we stayed in was nice. One of the perks my mum enjoys from being a TNB retiree is the use of all their holiday facilities. I ran on Tuesday from Brinchang to Tanah Rata and back. Total distance was about 8km.

Photo taken when we stopped at the famous waterfall on the way up from Tapah.

The bungalow where we stayed in. It has 3 large bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a large hall, dining and kitchen.

The compound surrounding the banglo is very scenic and it even has its own playground. My wife and my mum reliving their childhood.

Nick enjoyed just as much as everyone else.

We had some good wind for kite flying. I was a total flop since I have never flown a kite before, but Chiew Chin showed what an expert she was.

Father and son chilling out at the Tea Valley.

Picture taken in the Tanah Rata public park. The lack of maintenance in the park is quite disappointing. It used to be a lovely place for relaxing.

Finally a picture with everyone in it. Just passing by the Old Smokehouse. The prices on the menu were too crazy for even some coffee.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Finally a proper break

I'm finally taking 3 days leave from work after 7 months. This 3 day holiday was planned since my elder sister is back from Sydney for a one month break. We shall be leaving for Cameron Highlands once I publish this post.

The weekend saw me doing some running as well. My son wanted to go to the park on Saturday evening, and I managed to run a comfortable 5k. Since I hadn't been able to run with Choi and his gang on Saturday morning as I only finished work in the office at 4am, I decided to join Peter, Lee and Albert for a 21k on Sunday.

I knew that I was in for a tough run with the company I was running with. Sure enough we were averaging a sub 6 minute pace throughout. I had forgotten how difficult the hills in this Klang - Shah Alam route were. It is a measured and accurate 21k route.

The second half saw me slowing down but Peter wouldn't have any of that and kept on pushing me forward. I completed the run with a personal best time of 2h4m37s. Total mileage for last week was 52km. I shall be building my base for the next 2 months since my next marathon will only be in January.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Another 10 laps

Yesterday I managed to run another 13k or 10 laps at the KLCC park. I just love the weather in the last few days which has been quite cooling since it has been raining regularly. Jamie was at the park testing his new camera and took this picture for me. You can see from the lift of my legs what kind of pace I was doing.

I was reading 'The competitive runner's handbook' today while killing time before going to the US embassy and spend some time analyzing the chapter on training pace. Bob Glover divides training pace into three categories which are Brisk pace, Base pace and Easy pace.

In another section of the book, he classifies runners into their categories based on their race times i.e. novice, basic, intermediate and advanced competitors. I fall under the category of a basic competitor since my 10k race time is about 50 minutes. However my estimated half marathon and full marathon timings are still far from what I should be clocking, and it's due to lack of mileage and training.

Anyway coming back to the subject of pacing, from my 10k race timing, my Brisk pace should be around 5:30, my Base pace should be 6:00 and my easy pace around 6:30. Most of our training runs should be run at Base pace for maximum aerobic benefits and conditioning. Therefore my Base pace per lap at KLCC should be appx 7:45.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More wining and dining

Yesterday was yet another happy day as Captain Lim celebrated his 50th birthday (Chinese calendar). It's these moments that really reaffirm my thoughts that running is so much more than just exercise or just achieving PRs and collecting medals. The most wonderful and important part about running is the true friends that we find in so many of our fellow runners.

Well our captain has been running for over 18 years now and is not planning on retiring anytime soon. This is the kind of spirit that I admire and hope to be able to follow in the years to come. His dedication in helping the team in anyway he can despite his busy schedule is always and eye opener for me and a reminder that I need to start giving back to the sport. So here's to many more wonderful years of running and friendship!

Lim with a few of his friends who would be climbing Mt. KK in a week from now

From the right... Chak, his wife, Ms. Chi and Peter

From the right... CB Leow (Our marathon hero who was placed 15th in the recent Penang run), Ajeep, Albert, Lim and me

This is the same trio which participated together in last year's Genting 24 hour walk

The yummy blueberry butter cake absolutely hit the spot after all the other scrumptious dishes

Sing song time for the birthday boy

"Wait a minute, before you eat any of this cake, do we have a deal that you will run the 42km in PJ International?"

The captain with his lovely family

A very happy Peter many glasses of wine later

Wait a minute, I thought we opened 6 bottles, what happened to the last one?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

KLCC 10 laps

Yesterday I was feeling unbelievably fresh and strong. I had initially planned to try and run an easy 8 laps at KLCC park. The weather was very cool and excellent for putting in some mileage. Ronnie was there and later on I even saw Azwar.

I just maintained an average pace of 7m40s for most of my laps. After my 8th lap, I still had a lot of energy left so I decided to go for another 2 before calling it a day. Total distance covered was 13k in 1h15m47s.

My elder sister arrived last night from Sydney and stopped by my house on the way back from the airport. It was really good to see her again after one year. We shall be taking a 3 day break and going to Camerons this Monday.

I just downloaded the few photos taken in Penang. The dinner picture below was taken at the restaurant in which Jana treated us to a wonderful pre race meal. She was indeed very hospitable and kind to us, especially to Lim and me who stayed at her place. Btw, she got number 9 in the woman's veteran category for the half marathon with a sub 2hour timing.

One of the best meals I've had in a very long time. The restaurant only has 10 tables and has been operating for over 10 years. With the limited tables they are able to maintain quality of their food. They even have a few awards on display. It's somewhere near the Bukit Gambir area.

Oon sitting at the far end was our reliable driver back to Klang. Here we sit at one of the better mamak stalls in Bekerly garden in Klang for a parting meal together after all the feasting in Penang.

Captain Lim on the right is the PACM Klang area group leader. Next to him is Peter Goh who is the ex Klang area group leader. Both are dedicated in helping the team in anyway they can. Peter clocked 4:30 in the 42.195km this time round.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006