Tuesday, February 28, 2006


With the new SLR camera, I took hundreds of runners' photos in action at the Towerthon race on 19 February 2006. It was indeed a privilege that CS Wong, another photographer, was there taking photos together with me.

I was most glad to receive a few photos from him where I was in the midst of action – taking photos of runners high in running action.

I was taking photos on runners and in turn, being taken by him. And at times, I would take his photos. Just like in life, we are in a continuous circle of doing things together: where everyone depends on one another to get things done.

Carrying the cameras and lenses close to professional grade, we were roaming quite freely taking photos in KL Tower without having been stopped by the race officials. Partly, they knew that we were from Pacesetters Club since I was wearing the yellow T-shirt prominantly printed with Pacesetters. We chatted with the race officials and consent was even given to view the staircase and took a few photos after all the runners in a certain batch went past.

I was having good time not on running or participating in the event but in taking photos.

Please scroll down a few postings below to view other Towerthon photos.

Photos are by courtesy of CS Wong.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Chi Running Vs Power Running

One day, Chee Wee sent us an email about Chi Running. He said it might help us to perform better in running marathon. After reading, I replied: “I believe when one is practicing Chi during running, the person can not talk. Otherwise, leaking gas.”

Chee Wee’s replied: “Ya, I agreed with KC. While a runner is doing the Chi running, he must focus on his core muscles breathing only; no talking ... hahaha! It might not work well with us as we intend to talk during our runs.”
If anyone of you is practicing Chi running, you may want to share some interesting findings with the rest of the runners. Please email me.

Chi Running Vs. Power Running
Power Running is the name we have given to the type of running that predominantly uses leg strength as the means of moving forward. With the exception of the Kenyans, most people are Power Running. In Chi Running you use your core muscles along with gravity to move you forward, while relaxing your peripheral muscles to create high efficiency. And, of course, you use your Chi.

Here is a comparison between Chi Running and Power Running


Low injury rate <> High injury rate

Based on core muscle strength <> Based on peripheral (arm and leg) muscle strength

Based on learning to relax muscles instead of using them <> Based on strength training

Bio-mechanics supported by the laws of physics, not the laws of strength <> The only bio-mechanics taught are those that support high muscle-usage

Requires less fuel <> Requires more fuel

Requires less recovery <> Requires more recovery time between workouts

Requires use of ligaments and tendons instead of muscles <> The body's ability to produce muscle cells diminishes with age

Creates less impact on the body <> High impact

Muscle cells are not broken down during training <> Muscle cells are broken down during training in order to be rebuilt as larger muscles

Looser joints have less injury potential <> Joints are vulnerable to impact

Less is more <> Bigger is better

Process oriented <> Goal oriented

No pain, no pain <> No pain, no gain

So, if we mastered the technique, we could be running like Michael Jackson's moonwalking style: we are actually running fast but does not look fast. Before our competitors could realize, we have outrun them. How about it?xxunning like Michael Jackson's

To read more of Chi Running, please click here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tapering Run for KLIM 2006

I woke up at 4am this morning all charged up to run the final 20km training run before taking up the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon (KLIM) 2006 challenge, which is one week away. A moment later, I heard the drizzling sound followed by downpour. Oh No! Not again. The weather seems to know my training schedule and included obstacles for me to overcome. During weekdays, it rains in the evening, and on Sunday morning, it rains in the morning.

To go or not to go? That was a pressing issue while I was sitting in my house at 4.30am thinking and listening to the intensity of the falling rain. Since I only did 3km run the entire week, I must go for the final long run. So I sent SMS messages to Weng and others to delay starting from 6am to 6.30am. If necessary, postpone it to 7am. Even the heavy rain could not dampen the spirit of running a marathon.

I arrived at Bukit Aman car park at 6.30am and I was most delighted to see the rain had just stopped. So this time, we were running 20km but started with those running 10km.

I heard one runner was saying: “Bodoh lah (not clever), with the nice and cool weather, we should be sleeping soundly in our home.”

Meng was saying: “Since this is the tapering week, we exceeded requirement by running even less.”

Running after the rain was just superb. Though the ground was wet, the air was really cool and fresh.

There were not many runners this morning. I presume many runners would prefer to continue with their sleep knowing it was running.

Publicity for KLIM 2006

When returning at the Bank Negara roundabout, I saw there were a few colourful banners hanging on to the lamp posts. But with a closer look, those were not banners promoting KLIM 2006. Just one more week to go but there was still no banner promoting this event.

Much like the recent Chinese New Year celebration in my hometown, the KLIM 2006 was just too quiet. There was not much publicity about the KLIM 2006. Even the prominent English newspaper did not carry any news about this event. What had actually happened: AmBank, DBKL and FTAAA?

Comparing to the Singapore International Marathon on 4 December 2005, that event attracted over 20,000 runners and more than 5,000 runners participated for full marathon category. Why Singapore can and we can not?

Back at Pacesetters Club itself, I remembered last year that the runners were really excited expecting and later receiving the sponsored running vests and shorts from Adidas. It was much like receiving Ang Pow during Chinese New Year: the excitement of receiving the sponsored items. Let us hope the Club would revive the idea of sponsored running vests and shorts for next KLIM 2007.

Back at Bukit Aman Car Park
I was pleasantly surprised to see the certificates for Great Eastern-Pacesetters 30km Run were ready. Jenny Lim and Uncle Tan were in-charged of distributing the certificates. This certificate achieved a class on its own: it was colourful with the necessary details such as runner’s name, completion time, etc. The icing on the cake was that it has a runner’s photo crossing the finishing line printed on the certificate. Flip to the back, it bears Konica-Minolta brands – the entire paper was actually photographic paper.

See you at KLIM 2006. Enjoy the run; enjoy the camaraderie.

By KCxxx :-))

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Running Becomes Life

Since KLIM is drawing near, here is another story on marathon. Nine days and counting to KLIM 2006.
One day after running SIM 2005 on 4 December 2005, I checked the calendar and counted three clear months to KLIM 2006. However, time passes fast: Christmas holiday was over, so was New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year and Thaipusum. And now, we have only nine days to go for the marathon challenge again.

Training was affected with the consistent downpour every evening. This evening, I was cautious when I managed to start my run. At 7.20pm, only a few laps into the run, it was raining heavy and again – training was abandon.
I was running at the usual playground near my house on Tuesday evening, 13 December 05, and I met a few of the regular runners. One of them exclaimed, “Wah, came back from Singapore marathon, can still run ah?" That was an interesting ice-breaker though the runner would not think hard for the meaning of his remarks.

The different in perception of the body condition was most interesting. To non-serious runners, they would think that after running a 42 km race, the whole body would be aching; or on a serious note, it would become a tragedy that has to be bed-ridden for weeks.

As for me, I actually resumed light running on Wednesday evening, 7 December – three days after the Singapore marathon. Why three mandatory days? This is to ensure that my body has sufficient rest to repair damaged tissues sustained from the marathon race – much like buying insurance. As for Chee Wee and Eric, however, they even went for another Biathlon competition (swim and run 7km) on 11 December 2005, one week after.

Is crossing the finishing line at the Singapore marathon the end of all running? Looks like it is not. After months of training runs where we run in the morning, in the evening, in the rain – running has become life and we cherish the camaraderie with other runners. One of my learned lady running friends said, "Running is like taking drug, it can be additive!" I quite agree with that statement. Even after Singapore marathon was over, I continue running and start looking for the next race, whether 10km or marathon.

Can Running Prolong Life?

Some people live sedentary lives. They eat, eat and eat; they worry what is not included in their meals and later only to worry how high the cholesterol level or blood pressure can go. Added on to their concern list would be a host of other related illnesses. Another learned running friend told me: "Running may not prolong our lives but it definitely improves the quality of our lives." Though I may like to think that running can prolong my life, the alternative result of improving the quality of lives may be a good reward after all.

Many months ago, I went to discuss work with my colleague who is in his forties. In the midst of a discussion, he dutifully took out two white pills and another two coloured ones, and gulped down with water. I enquired with concern and he said they were for stabilizing cholesterol and diabetic levels.
If given a choice, I would prefer to worry about not having enough time to run than to worry of my cholesterol or blood pressure.


It is most satisfying to live my life thus far without depending on medicine, and I can eat most delicious food I like without much worry.

Cheers to running and our well-being.


x x

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Being Thin

It is time for Kuala Lumpur International Marathon (KLIM). Browsing through my PC repository, I found this draft when I wrote for my first full marathon challenge in 2004.

On Friday the 13th of February, I bumped into a few colleagues in the same lift while going out for lunch. They were from the different floor. "Hey KC, how come you are getting thinner these days?" exclaimed one colleague. The description of thin was usually associated with a person having illness. My size 33 long-pants were very loose at the waistline. I really have to tighten the belt; otherwise, the pants would just drop off.

"I just did a 35km run last Sunday (8 Feb), and I am participating in the coming Kuala Lumpur International Marathon which is to be held on 29 Feb 2004," I replied. Immediately, my colleague raised his eyebrows in amazement and quipped, "You are very fit". And another colleague nodded in agreement. At that moment, everyone in the lift was laughing with the quick twist in the meaning of words.

The word "fit" justified that I was okay to be thin, a glorified situation as compared to the “thin” being caused by illness. When I told them that I would be going to run for about 5 hours (the longer duration the better; to make it sound impressive) in the Marathon, they actually looked at me in admiration and also disbelief. "How could you be running for that long hours? As for me, a 5-minute run seems a long time!" interjected another colleague.

Since the lift was reaching the ground floor, to summarize all the effort and pain of training at the Bukit Aman every Sunday morning, I replied, "Constant training, belief in yourself and commitment are important. And most importantly, join Pacesetters Running Club."

In life, certain endeavors may seem far-fetched to achieve. But with proper guidance and training, having perseverance when confronted with challenges, it may seem achievable after all. So, for the coming KLIM 2004, I am zero in on the finishing medal – ten days and counting. To the other runners participating in the KLIM, all the best to you too.

As of today, I have done five full marathons. The next marathon challenging would be on 5 March 2006. History seems to repeat itself – 10 days and counting to KLIM 2006.

Belief sustains the journey.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Women's Running: Advice That Could Save Your Life (2)

Note: To read Part One, please scroll down to the postings below.
Text only is extracted from the Runner’s World Book of Running

There are over 600,000 incidents of “violence against the person” reported in the UK every year. Home Office figures produced in 2000 suggest that 167 women are raped in the UK every day although only one-fifth of attacks are reported to the police.

If you think that your runner’s speed and fitness will protect you against assault, you are giving someone out there a huge opportunity to hurt you.

To protect yourself, you must first get rid of that if-could-never-happen-to-me attitude, and then take the precautions that are necessary to protect yourself from violent crime. To find out how you can run safely, J.J. Bittenbinder, police inspector and safety lecturer, offers some tips.

After more than two decades of working with more than a thousand offenders, witnesses and victims of violent street crime, Bittenbinder has seen it all. And he has come up with some tough strategies to keep you safe on the streets. Indeed, what he has to say could save your life.

Q: Do women runners need to be constantly aware that they are potential victims?
A: I’d hate women to be scared every step of the way when running. You have to realize that bad things can happen to anybody, any place, and any time. But if you have a plan of action, you won’t have to concentrate on the fear. Every bad guy is different, but you have to be trained to do certain things and use certain skills if a bad situation comes up. Then your attitude changes – instead of being afraid, you say to yourself, “This stuff can happen, but I know how to prevent it.” You will be more self-assured and, believe me, that comes through in how you look and behave towards potential attackers.

Q: Is there anything that a woman can carry with her while she is running that she can use if someone threatens her?
A: Yes. You can try a personal alarm. And not only will it help you get out of a threatening situation, but just carrying it will make you feel tougher. And if you feel tough, you will look tough. And potential attackers will be more likely to leave you alone.

Q: Should runners carry money or identification?
A: Carry some coins in case you want to run to a phone box and call for help. And yes, carrying personal identification is a good idea.

Q: We tell runners not to wear headphones. Do you agree with this viewpoint?
A: Get rid of them. I really don’t like those things. They are a bit like wearing sunglasses in the dark. I appreciate that lots of people love them. In fact, I have had many women come up to me and say, “But I feel so confident when I am listening to my own music.” Well, that is because you are blocking out reality. You are in never-never land. When you wear those things, you may not have that extra 3- to 4-metre head start to break away at pace, and that factor could be the difference between making it or not – all because you couldn’t hear the potential attacker approaching.

Q: What time of day should women run?
A: Early-morning hours are the best because bad people are probably still in bed. We get a lot of reports of sexual assaults in the early evening, around 6 p.m.

Q: What if a stranger is approaching a woman – should she ignore him or acknowledge him?
A: When a man and woman approach each other, there comes a point when the woman looks away. And the reason she looks away is because, if she doesn’t she may encourage a comment from this man that she doesn’t especially want to hear. So she looks away – usually down.

But that is like saying, “I am weak”, or “I don’t want to be here”. I suggest that you wave your eyes across him once, but don’t look down straight after. Look to the other side or over his head. Remember, it is the one who looks the toughest who won’t get picked as a victim. Meeting someone’s gaze adds to a strong self-image, which is exactly what you want to project.

Q: Do you advise that women run with dogs?
A: Yes. A dog is an unknown thing to a potential attacker. He doesn’t know what the dog is capable of, and he doesn’t know about the intensity of the bond between dog and master. Just don’t call your dog Muffin or something like that when a suspicious character is around. I like Fang or Bandit a lot better.

Q: Where should women run? Are country roads safer than city streets?
A: The depths of the countryside are not the place to be. If a potential attacker looks both ways on a country road and it is empty, he knows there will be nobody to interrupt him. But a deserted city street doesn’t make things as easy – there could always be somebody looking out of a window or driving around a corner. Run where there are people and activities around you. And vary your routes and the exact time you exercise so that someone who notices you won’t be able to predict your whereabouts.

Q: Is there a profile of a potential attacker?
Note by KC: Now continue reading the earlier posting, if you want, which was a continuation from here.

Amby Burfoot’s (the Executive Editor, Runner’s World) Running Round-up

In addition to the good advice in the preceding paragraphs, women runners can do one more simple thing: they can run with a group. There is strength in numbers, after all, not to mention that it is a lot of fun.

All across the country, small (and sometimes large) groups of women get together for regularly scheduled runs. They meet in the early morning before daybreak and in the evening after the sun has set. They run together because it adds to their motivation (it is hard to miss a workout if others are waiting for you), because it becomes a social time, because it is easier to train hard with others and for dozens of other reasons unique to every group. Often, safety is the least of their concerns but an important payoff nonetheless.

If you can’t find a women’s running group, look to run with a male friend. It only takes one, and many women can run as fast as the men, so it is no problem keeping up. If you can’t keep up with the fast men, then run with them on their easy days when they run slowly. Look for running partners at work, with your running club or in your local area. If you have just one of two days a week when you have to run in the dark or in your local area where you don’t feel secure, you may be able to schedule escorted runs on those days.

A final (and regrettable) word about trail running: As trail running becomes more and more popular, increasing numbers of women find themselves drawn to it. And why not? It is hard to beat a relaxed run in a scenic, natural environment. Unfortunately, trail running raises a number of safety concerns, so don’t do it alone. Get together with a friend or friends to enjoy trail running as a group activity.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

TM Forest Towerthon 2006

To view Part 1 of the photo album (96 photos) taken by KC, please click here.

To view Part 2 (71 photos) - Women in Running Action, please click here.

To view Part 3 (72 photos) - Concluding segment, please click here.


x x






Note: there will no posting on Tuesday (busy on Monday night).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Prelude to TM Forest Towerthon 2006

This Sunday 19 February, the runners would be exposed to a different kind of challenge. Not only that they have to run, they have to climb stairs too. Yes, it is the Towerthon challenge. All runners in this race would have to run 1 km uphill before challenging 2058 steps to reach the “Tower Head” (or the top) of Menara Kuala Lumpur (or KL Tower).

According to the entry form, the starting point is at the foot hill open space. A runner has to be there to understand the exact location as looking at the registration form and also in the web site does not provide precise position. The destination would be the Mega View Banquet Deck at the top, the level which is accessible to general public.

One of the motivational factors for a runner would be running towards the Revolving Restaurants at the top. The restaurant specializes in a wide array of local as well as continental cuisine. So during the tough moments of climb, just imagine that you would be rewarded with good food and drink. But don’t forget to bring lots of money; otherwise, your imagination would not be crystallized.

I am not so sure why the word Forest is part of the title. When a runner climbs thousands of flights of stairs, that would equivalent to stairs forest. I believe the organizer could refer to the 1km distance of road surrounded by plants and trees or the KL Tower is in the centre of a forest.

The main sponsor is Telekom Malaysia. From last Sunday’s Le Tour de Langkawi cycling race at Dataran Merdeka where Telekom Malaysia was also the main sponsor, it was commendable that they were able to stage a world-class event.

For those runners who have not tried this Towerthon before (neither do I), let me relate the salient points of Meng’s past two experiences to you: immediately after gun off, the runners are running uphill to the base of the KL Tower – that would strain the runners. Make sure you have sufficient pre-race warming up. Depending on the position when reaching the base, the runners would then enter the staircase in batches as the staircase could only accommodate about three slim runners climbing abreast.

Do not eat with full stomach as it would add on to the weight going against gravitational pull. Worst still, if runners who are not used to the continuous climb, they would then throw out. The smell was terrible and offensive as ventilation is only facilitated by fans at fixed interval location.

Here is the line-up of Penguin/Sunshine Runners for this race:
Runners: Chee Wee, Tony and Weng
Cameraman: Yours truly, KC.

Below was the exchange of emails between the Penguin runners:

Meng (Penguin-2):
(1) You must sprint like running 100 meters race from the starting point to the entrance of staircase which is about 1km away as if you have been chased by a bulldog going after your thigh which it thinks is a delicious drumstick. The reason being you will be at an advantage position when you reach the door entrance and start to climb up the stairs by pulling the side railing which will help to lift up your whole body while climbing up.

(2) Be careful of the slippery marble flooring just before reaching the door entrance to the staircase.

(3) The narrow staircase only allows one person to overtake another at any one time. So, enjoy the moments of gasping for fresh air as though a fish is jumped out of an aquarium onto the floor and struggled for survival. Anyway, wish you all the best and enjoy the Towerthon.

Chee Wee (Penguin-11):
I will heed your advice and be mindful of the useful tips. I will run like a mad dog (as it is the Year of the Dog) for 1km; then doing a flying fish style to reach the top of KL Tower. After that, how to come down, by foot? Will the organizer provide the lift for us? Otherwise, it must be painful experience to walk down the stairs and subject the knee with countless jerking. Besides, it would be bad for the body too with extra gravitational pull.

I am looking forward to participating in this exciting and challenging Towerthon. To the runners, it is about "FUN, STAMINA, STRENGTH, POWER and ENDURANCE".

Have a nice and productive day.

Tony (Penguin-3):
I think Chee Wee would outrun the champions this way. They would probably think that Chee Wee is the new kid on the block. And that would warrant watchful eyes from the competitors whenever he takes part in future races.

In kung fu movies, they associate the "chiew" (distinct steps or movement in martial art) with movement of animals: drunken monkey, praying mantis, swirling snake, etc. So in running, we found the new "chiew": associating with dog and fish, of which the Hong Kong movie makers have not thought of them yet.

Wishing all runners having good times in this Towerthon race.

See You at the Top.

(Incidentally, this is a classic motivational book written by Zig Ziglar. It stresses the importance of honesty, loyalty, faith, integrity, and strong personal character. The bestseller's basic premise is that you can get everything you want in life if you help enough people get what they want).


Note: next posting is on Sunday evening.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I am 18 you are 11

After returning at Bukit Aman car park at 8.30am from the 30km training run, I was shocked to hear that a few of the Pacesetters runners ran the 3rd or final Circuit Training run organized by FTAAA the day before, Saturday 11 February 2006. Disbelief, I told them that the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon (KLIM) online web site actually specifies 18 February. Nevertheless, with the detailed account of what actually happened during the Circuit Training run, it sounded true.

On Wednesday evening, 8 February, C-Cube highlighted to me that the correct date for the final Circuit Training run is on Saturday 18 February. Understandably so, Saturday 11 February was Thaipusum holiday. When I logged on to KLIM online web site to confirm, it was specified as 18 February.

I believe FTAAA did not realize the discrepancy in the online web site, which other runners are relying on it for information. However, when I logged on to the KLIM online web site on Sunday 12 February, it had been changed to 11 February. The date must have been changed either on Thursday or Friday, just two days before the Circuit Training run.

Changing date by the organizer was just overriding the value without highlighting what were the changes. One running friend who had watched Jet Li’s latest movie, The Fearless, related about the hero’s drink that had been spiked with poison, commented that there was no evidence for the erroneous content.

Another running friend commented that we made a mistake for making assumption and not confirming with the organizer. But then, what is the use of Internet online web site where we still have to telephone the organizer to confirm the date. In order words, the organizer had published contents that still encourage confirmation by telephone calls. Normally, in this Internet world, the information in the online web site would be latest as it allows swift updates as compared to printed materials; unless we are logging on to dubious web site.

It was over. For those who had planned to go for the final Circuit Training run, please try again next year. Enjoy your normal training runs and KLIM race; I wish you would achieve your Personal Best timing in this race.

Talking about making assumption, this is a real life and funny story told by Tony (Penguin-3):

Many years ago, I was representing state level for the National Athletic Meet. The runners in my team were warming up for the 4 x 100 meters race. A runner was getting ready at the track by running in his track bottom.

When it was time for the race, he confidently pulled down his track bottom only to reveal his sexy underwear – he forgot to wear his running shorts. All of us at the track, including the race officials were having good laugh. And of course, a few lady runners were joining in the laughter amid a few feeling awkward at the situation. Since then, the Team Manager would run the extra mile – though with extra work – by reminding us to wear our shorts.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Le Tour de Langkawi

To view 102 photos taken by KC, please click here.

Stage 10 or the final stage of the cycling race was held on Sunday 12 February 2006 at 3.30pm in Kuala Lumpur. The starting and ending point is at Dataran Merdeka.

I arrived there early at 2pm while CS Wong, a photographic friend was on his way traveled there by taking LRT since the station is near to Dataran Merdeka. This is also to avoid traffic jam due to road closure.

Walking towards the starting area, I could hear the announcement from the huge loudspeakers. Though the race was to start at 3.30pm, there were already huge crowd of spectators at the scene. There were lots of activities involving race officers, photographers, support crew, etc.

The entire area was well cordoned off. To ensure spectators do not run across the path (that would be fatal accident), both sides of the road were erected with cast iron barricade of four feet in height. To cross to the other side of the road meant having to walk a distance away.

I was able to take quite a number of photo shots without any race officers questioning my presence. With the SLR camera and huge telephoto lens, it was like displaying the license prominently to walk around.

It was cloudy with the rain clouds forming, however, it was hot and I was sweating profusely.

Just before the start of the race, there was parade of police riders, mascots and the sponsors. It was indeed a grand event comparable to world-class standard. Of course, compare to those running events, running events look humble and simple.

I was excited to see the top cyclists racing at Kuala Lumpur and I was standing so near to them. All these while, I have to view major cycling events via Internet.

The race was started at 3.30pm as planned. There were 102 cyclists participating in this final stage. All were donning stylish and colourful jerseys. With the tight jerseys and sunglasses, they all looked macho and cool. I guess 95% of the racers were mat salehs; I could not see any Malaysian cyclists.

While in the race, it was amazing that the cyclists followed very closely to the cyclist in front. It was awesome that they negotiate corners at maximum speed. I could not imagine if the racers in front were falling down. The racers at the back would sure ram into them; that would be quite a mess.

The drizzle started at 4pm and the race was still continued. I actually fear for the safety of the racers. When the road is wet by drizzle, there would be a thin film of oil on the road surface. Negotiating corners at maximum speed would be uncontrollable when the driving wheel hit the oil. A few minutes later, it was reported that two cyclists fell down. At 4.15pm, the rain was getting heavy and eventually, the race was stopped.

The announcer was saying: “Not only that the racers have to compete among themselves, they have to overcome the forces of nature.”

I was waiting in the tent seeking for shelter while watching the big TV screen to view the latest updates.

While there was still slight drizzle, I left the scene at 5pm. Walking to my car, I began to feel the tireness and stiffness in my legs muscle after a 30km training run this morning with Meng, Weng and LimFW.

Note: there will be no posting on Tuesday. Not free on Monday evening.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Avid Photographer

The photo below was sent to my by Jason Lee, who likes photography. Every time I look at it, I am amused. For those who are using compact camera, it would be difficult to understand why this guy in the photo has to carry so many cameras. It may sound like a joke. But after buying a Nikon digital SLR (single-lens reflect) camera, I begin to understand the situation and I empathize with him.

The best thing or the problem of SLR cameras is that they can change lenses to suit the occasion. For a distance subject, telephoto lenses are used; for closer subject, mid range or wider anger lenses would better suit the scenario. There is no one lens that suits all conditions due to optical shortcomings. The renowned camera makers such as Canon or Nikon have constructed different lenses to cater for the different requirements and scenarios: distance subject, close subject, fast-moving subject, close-up subject, etc.

For a serious photographer, changing lenses at the critical moment mean missing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and great moment. Changing lens is a delicate operation and requires great care; otherwise, a careless mounting may damage the precision gear systems between the lens and the camera body. From my experience, at the critical moment and under tense condition, my hands were shaking (a little similar to Mr. Bean’s shaking his hands) and a simple insert and mount operation may seem daunting task. Hence, the poor guy in the photo is carrying a few cameras equip with lenses of different focal lengths. Depending on the scenerio, he just draws the camera with the correct lens.

Carrying the SLR camera and its lens are just like lifting weight. You would be surprised to know how heavy they are. On 22 January 2006 at 6am before the Great Eastern-Pacesetters 30km run, Mr. Chan Wing Kai, the Club’s official photographer, was carrying a huge backpack containing his tools – the cameras. He told me that there were only two cameras with their pre-mounted lenses.

I tried to lift the bag from the ground. It was very heavy – easily more than 10kg. So I told him jokingly that being in Pacesetters Club, not only that the legs must be strong, the hands and shoulder plates have to be strong too.

On 1 January 2006 during the New Year’s run at Lake Gardens, CS Wong was using a Nikon D200 (latest model of Nikon SLR) with a 70-200mm VR (vibration reduction) f/2.8 lens. Total weight was about 2 kg and I commented jokingly that it weighed like cement block. The lens alone weighs 1.7kg!

So, next time when you see a photographer or cameraman carrying a few cameras, please show your greatest admiration for him of having the fire and enthusiasm to capture the precious moments in life. And when they zero in on you, give your best smiles, will ya?


To read reveiw of 18-200mm VR lens, please click here.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Women's Running: Advice That Could Save Your Life

Note by KC: The Runner’s World Book of Running was bought by Steven (aka Penguin-5; works in Hong Leong Bank). He was kind enough to lend his book to me. There is one chapter on women’s safety when running, and it is most appropriate to share with you.

The most thought-provoking idea was that a woman must never get into the car of an attacker. When you do, it is over. This sounds a resemblance with the few incidents that happened in Malaysia: First, the most recent case of Miss Choo Gaik Yap – she was raped and killed while jogging at around 6pm in Sungai Petani; second, Canny Ong’s, and third, a Chinese national girl student who took a taxi and was later raped and killed.

Text is extracted from the Runner’s World Book of Running

The safety question is the most troubling issue that women runners face. On the one hand, simply raising it restricts women runners. Instead of thinking of their workouts as a time of freedom and release when they can expand their horizons, they see limitations – the kind of shackles that women have long had to fight against. On the other hand, not to consider the safety question is sheer insanity.

At Runner’s World magazine, we encourage women to run by pointing out all the positive things about running. And we do this often and easily. After all, our women readers are constantly telling us about the many benefits that they have received. We get testimonials in the post nearly every day.

But we can’t stop there. Women have also been attacked, raped and murdered while running. Writers and editors can’t stop violence against women, but we can tell women how to be vigilant and how to protect themselves. That is the purpose of this chapter: to inform women runners while still liberating them.

Q: Is there a profile of potential attacker?
A: No. Because they look like you and me and your father and uncles and brothers and neighbours. Because that’s who they are. Don’t assume that someone dressed like a runner won’t pose a threat, either.

Q: So what do you do if a runner comes up alongside you and begins running with you?
A: It is all right to talk to him and run with him, if you want. Just don’t leave your normal running route. If he suggests going somewhere else, refuse.

On the other hand, if you feel scared right away because this guy is staring at your breasts or making crude remarks, you say, “Don’t talk like that. Leave me alone.” If he moves too close, use your personal alarm. (Note: Personal alarm will be discussed in Part 2 of the posting).

Q: What if you are being followed – should you confront the person and say, “Are you following me?”
A: No. Don’t ask questions. If you are suspicious, forget your normal route and take off for an area where there is more traffic or people. Never, ever ignore your instincts. When you feel the hair rise on the back of your neck, that is a few million year’s worth of evolution at work. Don’t ignore it – ever.

Q: What if somebody is trailing you in a car or stops to ask directions?
A: If anybody ever stops to ask, “Do you know …?” or “Have you got…?” or “Can you spare…?” just say, “No”. Don’t enter into a conversation. If he keeps it up, you should yell “No” again and “Leave me alone. Get out of here.” And believe me, you will be inspired to run away, even if you are at the end of your workout.

Q: What if someone grabs you? What can you do?
A: Flee if you can, but use the alarm if you can’t get away. If for some reason you have dropped it and he is trying to grab you, you have to use your legs to fight off the attack. Women don’t have the upper-body strength necessary to keep a man’s body off them. But you – especially runners – have the strength in your legs. If you get knocked down, start kicking hard.

Meanwhile, yell, but don’t yell for help. Too many people tune that out. You have to yell, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” and keep on kicking, yelling and using the alarm if you are able to. Don’t ever get on your knees during this struggle because he could get you in a choke hold, and then it is all over.

Q: Let’s make the scenario more threatening. What if someone is trying to force you into his car, and he has a knife or a gun? How should you react?
A: First of all, remember this: you must never get into a car. When you do, it is over. Many criminals use cars. And women whose bodies are found in woodland – they weren’t out there hiking in the woods when they were attacked. They were taken there in a car.

You must resist quickly. You must run away. If he gets hold of your jacket or shirt, you rip it off or pull it over your head and break away. Remember: the first few seconds of contact between a victim and offender are crucial – the offender has the least amount of control at that time because he is not sure how you are going to react. The more time you spend with him, the more he has got control.

Q: But what about the weapon – won’t you risk being hurt?
A: So what? It is better than getting in the car. Believe me, if you get in the car, you are dead. Just run. Say your assailant is brandishing a gun. If you run for it, you will have a 50 per cent chance of being hit. And if you are hit, you will have another 50 per cent chance of being seriously wounded and then another 50 per cent chance of being killed. Well, that is only 12.5 per cent of being killed. Pretty good odds compared to the car.

Q: Have you ever interviewed a runner who has been the victim of an attack?
A: No. but I heard recently about a woman who was running around a lake at dusk when she was attacked. Two young men slashed her. They weren’t trying to rob her because she had no money with her. They wanted to rape her, but she resisted, and they ran away. A taxi driver passing by saw her lying on the ground and took her to the hospital. She survived because she fought back.

Q: Unfortunately, rapes occurs. What does the victim need to know about reporting the crime?
A: the first thing you will want to do is to go to hospital. And I realize that this may be extremely difficult, but you must not bathe or clean yourself in any way. I know it is the first thing a woman instinctively believes she must do, but the fluids retrieved during the physical examination are what enable police to positively identify the offender through DNA analysis. And he will go to jail.

Q: How would you describe the woman runner who presents herself as a tough target?
A: She looks self-assured. Her head is up, and she looks straight ahead instead of down at her feet. She doesn’t wear headphones. She carries an alarm in her hand and she pays attention to everybody and everything, even cars that are traveling around her. If she hears somebody come up from behind, she makes a point of turning round to look at who it is. And if she is the least bit suspicious, she makes sure that the man sees the alarm in her hand so that he knows she could make things difficult for him.

Part 2: Other important questions in the next posting:
Do women runners need to be constantly aware that they are potential victims?
Is there anything that a woman can carry with her while she is running that she can use if someone threatens her?
Should runners carry money or identification?
We tell runners not to wear headphones. Do you agree with this viewpoint?
What time of day should women run?
What if a stranger is approaching a woman – should she ignore him or acknowledge him?
Do you advise that women run with dogs?

Friday, February 03, 2006

CNY & Rural to Urban Migration

Driving alone from my parent's house to the neighboring town, Beruas, it did not look anything extraordinary. The short distance of 11km was lined with rubber trees, oil palm trees and secondary vegetation. Occasionally, there were a few Malay kampung houses along the road. To the runners, this part of the country is superb for running: air is fresh; full of trees and not much traffic. However, I have never tried running there.

Beruas is about 60km from Ipoh. I slowed down when reaching Beruas’s one-street main road. It was quiet. It was lifeless. It could be much quiet than normal day as shops were closed. The most bizarre sight was that I could not see even two Chinese teenagers on the street! How could it be? After all, it is 11am on the Chinese New Year’s (CNY) day, Sunday 29 January. That supposed to be the prime time of CNY.

One kilometer away from the town is the Chinese New Village. The scenario was quite similar except that when I passed by the houses, I could see smoke from the huge joss sticks still burning that were placed in front of the houses.

Every year when I go back to celebrate CNY, I would expect this to happen. The rural to urban migration is taking its toll on the Beruas town and on the CNY celebration. When a teenager finishes Form 5 education, he/she has to leave the town because there are not much education and job opportunities other than tapping rubber trees. With the country’s changing focus from rubber to palm oil producer, there aren’t many rubber trees to tap either.

I spent my primary education in Beruas. Years ago, the town was bustling with activities and teenagers were talking, walking or cycling along the streets freely. There were many teenagers “lepak” (loitering) at the drinks stall with hit songs blaring from jukeboxes in shops next to the main road.

Currently, this town is under the Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yik’s parliamentary constituency. There were noticeable changes in term of amenities and structures of township amid the migration of teenagers.

On Saturday 28 January morning, with the onset of traffic jam for the north-bound traffic at PLUS highway, there was massive exodus of people “balik kampung”. But when I looked at other cars when caught in the slow moving traffic, our Malay and Indian friends were also rushing for the holidays too. There could be not many Chinese going back hometowns for the CNY celebration.

This year, I could not hear any firecrackers sound at all. The enforcement ban on lighting of fireworks and firecrackers were strict. The enforcement officers, donning navy blue uniform, actually come in motorcycles after hearing the sound of firecrackers.

I finally reached Ling Chen Hock’s house. He is my primary classmate and now a plantation owner in Beruas. With the migration, the number of friends is dwindling. From there, we would visit other primary classmates who are still in Beruas or their parents’ are still in Beruas: Ah Choon who is a captain with an international cargo shipping company; Ho Thiam Choy who is a pilot with SIA airline specializing in Boeing 747 for international flights; Ling Jeng Ying, a piano teacher in Sitiawan. Her late father was the Chinese primary school Headmaster in Beruas.

In the evening, we would then drive our cars to another town, Pantai Remis, which is about 30km away for a gathering of other primary school friends: Tiong Kee Huat (works in Brunei as a Financial Controller of a Finance company), Soon TK (the goldsmith of Pantai Remis), ChinTK (works in Kuala Lumpur), Wong HF, OngBL and Lee Yean. Since it is a coastal town, the restaurants there serve freshly catch from the fishermen just back from sea.

Cheers to the friendships. Cheers to more CNY celebrations together.