Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fubon Taipei Marathon 2011 - A Memoir

Fubon Taipei Marathon 2012 is taking place this weekend... and I just thought what better time to do a memoir recap of me & vonsy's experience in 2011 when we decided to make Fubon our first overseas marathon event!

We were planning to make it a nice holiday trip too of course - and with Taiwan - you know you can't go wrong with all the night markets & historical beautiful tourist spots. We did consider doing the Taroko Marathon until we saw the elevation profile (ie. 21k uphill & 21k downhill!) it was easy choice from then on to choose Fubon instead - right in the heart of Taipei city, and a perfect excuse to carbo-load at all the night markets! As for Taroko, we saved it as part of our tour itinerary after the marathon  (which I thought was most clever - coz I had planned to check out the hot springs in that area - and what better way to soothe the tired marathon muscles!)

So I remember planning for the trip already took place 2 months before - researching where to go, what to do, booking places (yes, even making a long distance phone call to a hostel in Taroko), and I remember being well pleased with what I had installed for the wife & I, hehe.. in brief it was going to be:

1) Arrive few days earlier in Taipei - eat! tour around
2) Run the marathon
3) Take a train to Taroko in Hualien the next day (highly recommended place btw)
4) Spend 3D2N enjoying Taroko

Our arrival wasn't very fantastic, it was already dark, cold & drizzling - the wife must've been cursing in silence (only deafened by her love for me of course) - but she's a good sport I know she is, and we ventured across the road to buy snacks & instant noodles & all that.. subsequent days were much better, still bit cold, but we started munching all the good taiwanese food (which helped) & even squeezed in a little 'climatisation' run.. we were definitely expecting a cold & chilly run - all the forecast certainly told us that. But as it turned out it was bladdy warm!
Us attempting to climatise ourselves before the run.. bunch of newbies we were :)
The marathon route! to be honest I do not remember seeing any of those buildings in the picture above coz I was too focused on the race. 
To be honest Fubon's best memories were these silly supporters.. their costumes & their high spirits were so crucial in pushing me forward at the 35k mark when I was in total agony!!!  

I am so sure these guys were paid to dress up!! Super super silly :D

hahahahaha.. how can you not love Taiwan :)

Oooo my idol ironman uncle - saw him overtaking me & was just in awe someone could run with what seem like his bag of 'stuff' in one hand & a pair of FLIP-FLOPS!!!!!
Yours truly in full agony - thinking about it brings back the pain like it was yesterday. I do miss it.

Champions of the world!

And a can of red bean to wash it all down.. :D
It was a good laugh - Taiwan - and we had such great memories on this trip. I always attribute my trips to Taiwan to the colorful & friendly people. They are as outspoken and friendly as one would expect, and truly colorful & helpful bunch of people.

If you've contemplated before going to Taiwan to do the Fubon or Taroko marathon - plan it well - and just go for it. Make it a week long holiday if you can coz it's a beautiful country with so much to offer! We'll be back one day Taiwan.

More pictures here:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Melbourne weather...

Well. for the fresh migrants such as myself, the Melbourne weather is certainly an experience all on its own. And due to my lack of understanding how true it is being described ie '4 seasons in a day', has resulted in me falling sick & bed-ridden for the past 3 days.

SO YES. heed thy advice. know your Melbourne weather. Read your forecasts!

So while one can wait for the body to slowly adapt & be hardened against the Ozzie weather, in the meantime the best short-term solution is if you're out perhaps it's good idea to always bring a thin, wind/rain-proof jacket. Because it can be scorching roasting warm in the evening, and you think it's gonna be OK, u get bit sweaty & then suddenly the gust of wind comes or the temperature starts to drop as the evening wears on... and you find yourself catching a chill.

Same goes with running. Gusty winds are very common. You're sweating so much, and as soon as you stop for a breather - u can easily catch a chill - so invest in some good attire, that will wick your sweat off, keep you warm when it's chilly, & vice versa.

Up in the alpines, I know for a fact that temperatures and weather can change in an instant too - so you definitely need to bring extra jackets & prepare for showers. It's just the way it is here I guess. Experiencing all kinds of extremes in a day. I remember a friend saying "This is Australia, everything's extreme!"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Two Bays...

Mmm.. looks like two bays tak jadi.. bus is full for 28k, and don't qualify comfortably for the 50k. Oh well. It's no big deal :)

And total registered already close to their cap of 1000 runners.. if not already.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mirabella Mountain 2012 Run Report & Buller Road Trip - Part 2 (21k of asking WHY!)


Wow. Sometimes you just have to get out there & live a little u know? My decision to join the Mirabella run was after realising that the Razorback Run was too gungho for a newbie-to-the-area like me. And trust me it was a good decision, I've met wonderful people, made new friends & learnt more about Buller in the summer than many locals i'm sure! :) The run was properly organised, runners were well taken care of & all in all - a stellar effort put in by the organizers & it certainly shows. If you're a runner wondering whether you should consider joining for 2013 & beyond - wonder no more, sign up & you won't regret it. The event is destined for greatness.

Here's my run experience narrated via the colourful medium of pictures:

Friday nite - arriving bit late, everyone had already finished dinner! Tried to sneak in while Hanna was giving a briefing on the lodge, but was duly acknowledged by her & the crowd :) everyone was friendly & I had a wonderful time getting to know many of the organizers & crew members. I crashed early after an exhausting road trip.
Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota.
The next morning. View outside the lodge. I'm not sure whether one can ask for more in terms of view. Weather was holding well - and that only meant INTENSE SUN! 

Back at the lodge after breakfast which was a small bowl of cereal for me - was getting ready & waiting to depart for the registration area - which was about 5mins walk towards the centre of Mt Buller village. No last minute rush or anything so it was definitely a good idea to stay overnight at the lodge. 
Summer it was indeed. Well coming to summer anyway. Entire Buller village is empty & from what I know the whole place will transform come Snow & winter. Jam packed with people & pristine white snow everywhere. Looking forward to seeing that one day.
Waiting for our ride to the starting point & chatting to the runners & getting goose bumps from the breeze. I forgot they were doing baggage drops otherwise would've brought my jacket along..
Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota.
One for the album - group pic of the 21k runners before we set off & make history.
Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota.
Oh wait - before that - warm-up exercises! I think everyone was caught a bit off-guard when the music started & the dance moves started :D in any case it was good fun (everyone seemed keen to get started already!)
Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota.
David Fot & me hopelessly trying hard to get in sync :D
Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota

Here's a clip of us warming-up & being amused!

As soon as we were flagged-off - the elites were off! I think they ran together for another 5k or so before the top dogs started pulling away & the separation was levelled out even more. My own strategy  was just to do my slow 6min/km pace for the first 7k, and incrementally by 30sec for the next 2x 7ks. I knew I could do no faster in my current form. In fact I was ready for pain.

A picture with David at around 2/3k mark.. legs were still feeling fresh & smiles all round! soon to change of course! 
Behind that smile are tired legs! Most likely at the 14/15k mark at this point, not too sure.
18k mark - lovely views. Didn't have the strength to admire for long, was just focused on regulating breathing & hydration & making sure I don't puke coz tummy felt bit funny at this point. 
Chugging along. I remember at this final drink station Hanna running across the road & handing me a wet cloth - grateful for that as it was much needed. I'm surprised my legs were still going at this stage as the agony of the 18k mark was kicking in.. pic courtesy of Sonya Clota
Drink station angels - Hanna & Sandra! Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota
The dreaded Hell Corner at the final 1k. Whoever named these corners must've been a runner !
Doesn't look like much? Trust me after 20k of running uphill - you'll feel every step of this corner!
Soldiering on. The long & lonely journey to the top. Onward march up the final 1k. Picture courtesy of Sonya Clota.
I mentioned about my race preparation - a set of hard-biting teeth. Put in use right here! Picture courtesy of Sonya Clota.
Vanity is.. mustering a gleaming smile for the camera no matter how much pain one is in! Picture courtesy of Sonya Clota.
Prize-giving ceremony - all smiles. I was proud of my time, proud of my efforts & very pleased that everything executed to plan OR it could just be the PERONI beer I had.. :D Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota

History making crew. Mirabella Mountain 2012 participants. Pic courtesy of Sonya Clota
A finisher's medal is actually very meaningful especially after a meaningful run :) While many pro-runners probably would be happy just with the record of their times, I personally won't mind having some kind of memento regardless of my level of run going forward.

While it was 21k of asking WHY - it was also 21k of KNOWING why!

Left - burger + drink for lunch shortly after run. Juicy goodness. Right - Brunch a day later (Sunday) back in Boxhill - Beef noodles, also total juicy goodness. Both highly recommended! :D
Some tour-guiding by Norman & Sandra who brought us up to the very summit & showed me & David around for a bit after our lunch. Found a nice place for coffee too :)

Post Event Thoughts.

Well I needed all this. I needed to get away & remind myself of the great outdoors is always there. Whatmore now knowing that Victoria is such a beautiful place with so much to offer. I'm already thinking of a possible future where I might be organizing my own trail runs here there everywhere (there's so much potential!) just like the Mirabella folks & their ambitions for the event. All in all I loved the experience & would not hesitate to put this event forward as a race to sign-up for 2013. :)

While I suffer the post-event & post-amazing-weekend blues - I shall have to start focusing on the next run - Thanks for reading & sharing this experience with me :)

The hills are alive. The view really opens up at the very top. Need to come back during winter!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mirabella Mountain 2012 Run Report & Buller Road Trip - Part 1 (Reservoir Hopping!)

So much to share really. Beautiful cows & people for 2 days! The drive was fantastic & the run was epic. Amazed I could pack so much excitement into 2 days! hope the pictures can give an idea what went on.. just gonna zoom through my thoughts below.. 


Build up. Knew wasn't the best idea to make it into a semi road trip! Based on Singers Marathon experience. But was stubborn as always, my sense of adventure hard to suppress n loved my trails too much (and boy am I glad I did it). Training mileage wise wasn't too bad but I knew I def did not enough continuous hills. Hard to find suitable training grounds around my area. And without a car to get me to/fro the Dandenongs easily. Knew the pain was coming! 21k on any terrain was never gonna be fast for me. Average 5.3 on flat, and I do under 2hrs. So on a 5% gradient hill with the occasional nasty slopes the whole way, its unknown territory really. Old Warrandyte slope isn't enough at all n I knew it. Was just gonna see what happens. The terrain guesstimating n a set of hard biting teeth was all I have in terms of planning how to run it! That was it for preparation!

Road trip planning. I dubbed it my 'Reservoir Hopping' itinerary. A last min addition of Lake Eildon (omg thk the heavens I planned it in). The flow was gonna be Sugarloaf - Maroondah - Marysville - Lake Eildon - Buller - Bonnie Doon (thrown in after I drove past it on Fri eve). The idea: quick drives from point to point, stop, grab pics & move on! Lunch for 1hr in Maroondah n 2hrs eve stroll/siesta at Eildon. Resist temptation to hike elaborate trails! Then get up to Buller in one piece, join Mirabella gang for din din & rest early, survive the run & leisurely drive back.

Here's a little map of intended stop-overs:

Thurs nite & Fri morn. Munched dark chocs for supper. Bad idea. Heart was pounding the whole night n woke up Fri morning groggy. Headachey in fact. Bad start!! Garrrr! what was i thinking! Anyway collected car Fri morn. Slight hiccup at car rental, tot this was sign of bad start to road trip! But nonetheless managed to sort things out n finally set off 1045, 15mins behind intended time. Wasn't too bad! The license plate on my little Hyundai was 'YIX 014' .. while YI was familiar & welcoming, i wasn't too sure about the X :) & being a superstitious chinese the number 4 is always frowned upon!

Sugarloaf Reservoir. was running bit late so din want to linger too long. Missed the first turning into Sugarloaf but eventually entered thru the exit of Ridge Rd. View wasn't fantastic, tot I just snap few pics nonetheless. Truck drove by, I waved & made sure my camera was visible, driver eyed me up & opened his door to let out 2 dogs - a huge German Shepherd & a small collie. The dogs ran towards me, realise i was a friendly & turned away. Was i scared? yes of coz. of the man, not the dogs. hehe.. dogs love me dude! anyway. it's a sign i wasn't welcomed in the farmland area & i hastily went on me way.

Maroondah Reservoir. When i pulled into maroondah, was already lunch time. stupid headache got bit worse & the heat was getting intense. decided to walk it off. it helped coz the dam was beautiful! took a slow stroll as the afternoon heat was intense. went up to maroondah look-out point & loved the sight. wished i had time to explore other trails but stuck to plan. had a simple 1hr lunch & was off again.. def must bring vonsy here to explore that romantic outlet tower! :) plus I know the surrounding mountains host the annual Maroondah Dam Trail Run (ooo yes *adds to run list for 2013*)

Marysville. was first charmed by the Marysville region when friends took me up to Cathedral Range NP. then after I decided to give the Marysville Marathon a miss i wanted to at least check out the region. & with the little hyundai i was spinning in & out of every little turn hoping to find something magical (i loved it!). It was back along Mt Margaret Rd (took this way up to CRNP) where I took the few pics below. The region def has much more to offer. 2013 Marysville Ultra shall be in the run list too!

love them cows!

Lake Eildon. omg. sorry if i keep repeating omg. but OMG. like i wasn't impressed enough already. As soon as I reached Alexandra, I had a good feeling bout the place. quaint little town. nice name. Taking the turn into Ut Creek Rd enroute towards Lake Eildon I was going 'wow' every 5 seconds. While I was already going 'wow' every 1min on the usual highway roads, along Ut Creek Rd the sceneries were brought right next to me, & the closer I got to Lake Eildon the rolling hills were all around me by now & i just wanted to stop the car & run up them. Hills do that to me. As I rolled downhill towards Eildon I made mental note to snap pics on way out (but didn't as it was already getting quite late!) still I managed a few, so rewrote mental note (next trip!):

My poor attempt at capturing the Ut Creek Rd rolling hills - trust me the hills goes on for ages! Love them!

Reaching Lake Eildon - I was already v v exhausted from the heat & long drive. I had this map for a quick hike along Estate Spur Track becoz i saw the stunning pic below from - I knew I had to check it out.. eventho it was already 5pm.

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I drove slowly along the lake-side studying the terrains of the surrounding hills. I tot of the run the next day & tot a siesta by the lake-side is better idea but best spots were taken up by campers & lake-activity goers. I was never gonna be happy if i didn't at least try to explore. The eve light would've lighted up the terrain & it would make beautiful pictures so I decided to hike the shortest route from the road up towards Estate Spur Track after pondering for 15mins. Yes it was quite a scramble, and yes the headache came back for a while, and yes I have NO REGRETS.. coz check out the views! OMG!

Here's my version vs the one below from :) clearly there's even more stunning views if I went further west along the track... SIGH.. NEXT TRIP!
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And with rolling hills like these why isn't there a Lake Eildon Ultra Trail you wonder... waiting for me to organise it that's why! 
It was a reluctant departure from Eildon, the sun was still ever intense but I felt none of it after seeing what i saw. I scrambled down & left the place around 6pm - in time to reach Buller by 8pm latest.

Buller. I tried very hard not to be distracted by the views as I sped towards Buller. But enroute to Bonnie Doon - the cows were calling out to me & I did stop to take few pictures at this beautiful open plain somewhere..

Then of course I came across Bonnie Doon - which I have not planned to visit nor knew about previously & was just flabbergasted how scenic the place was. I had to leave it for the next day on the return journey. But I literally drove with my jaw dropped all the way towards Mansfield & Mt Buller Tourist Rd where I took a picture of the great Buller basking in the evening light... I REALLY wanted to stop & spend ages getting the right composition for it but no can do.. this shot was literally emergency stop & grab!

Fortunately there was no further distractions along the way & I pulled into Navy Ski lodge at last at 8pm - the view from the lodge was another vista.. and I was privileged to be standing there witnessing the fading hues of purple...

Few more pictures of the magnificent sunset & I grabbed my stuff from the car, headed in to meet the wonderful Mirabella folks who had more or less finished dinner. I sat myself down, ate my pasta & salad, made small talks & crashed early for the night... I knew the day had exhausted me but I couldn't really sleep until 3am or so - it was a mixture of the dark chocs & the new environment & the excitement from what I went through in the day which was nothing short of magical.. & of course the 21k of Buller which would demand every ounce of tenacity & guts from me in a few hours time!


Bonnie Doon. An unplanned discovery! Bonnie Doon sits around the northern region of Lake Eildon, and I made it a point to visit the region after the Buller run. I pulled into Dry Creek Rd which cuts across the lakes in this region - and despite the unrelenting sun & sore legs I was energized seeing the views..

Stunning terrain isn't it.. 
Saw a roadkill wombat here too.. :P
 How cool is this for a postbox eh? 
Rolled up hay.. always picturesque!
Leaving Dry Creek Rd & after crossing the Maroondah Highway bridge over the lake, I turned into Maintongoon Rd that took me meandering along the edge of the lake - LOVED the drive, lake-activity goers were everywhere with their boats, skis, barbeques.. living the good life.

The drive was nestled between the hills & the lake - I checked my map & it showed that Maintongoon Rd cuts across to Alexandra anyways so I decided to brave it, but unfortunately my adventure was stumped coz the roads turned into dirt tracks shortly after leaving the lake area. SIGH. BACK with a 4WD next time then!

Anyway - that concluded my reservoir hopping road trip & experience up at Buller - all in 2 days. Pretty amazing if I may say so! Quick takeaways from the entire experience:

1) One can actually run up Buller!
2) Small cars are great for whizzing around little lanes
3) Cows are more photogenic than horses
4) It's a big beautiful world out there
5) Get a good pair of shades & hat
6) Stay hydrated & DON'T munch dark chocs for supper!
7) Live life & have no regrets!

Till the next adventure folks! Thanks for reading!

More Pictures HERE!