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Wan's Column - My Second Life Starting at 50

Most of us would try to have some form of resolutions for the year and enjoy breaking them shortly after the start of the year. I believe I would experience a significant change in mindset this year as I am turning 50 in August 2007. Is 50 just a number or is it more to it? If it is just a number, why is there so much fuss about the nation turning 50 in August 2007 as well? In running, turning 50 means you can now compete in the Senior Veteran Category and most younger runners would give due respect to the uncles or aunties that are still fit enough to compete after 50.

I am looking forward to the first event that I could run as a senior veteran. I believe turning 50 means a sense of maturity in life, hopefully having also achieved financial independence. Most of us would sort of reach the peak of our career at around this age and may be slowing down or pondering at retirement in a short time to come. I too have given considerable thought since I retired from PACM two years ago.

Prior to my retirement from PACM, other than my work, my focus was very much on leading PACM. In other words I now have more brain compartment to deploy, to think about the future, how I am going to live my years to come in a meaningful manner.

Realistically, an average Malaysian would have 15 good years to do something they love to do after turning 50. Beyond 65, it would have been bonus years if you still have an able body. Therefore it is important that we make full use of this period to add meaning to our second life, life after the conclusion of your first life in your chosen career or profession. I have decided that My Second Life is very family/friends centric and I have to make full use of this period of time to guide my teenage kids into adulthood. I will also contribute back to society by sharing my experience accumulated over the last 30 years. One of the websites that I go to in my research is www.yoursecondlife.org and I have been sharing this web address with my friends who are approaching retirement. Another good website to go to is www.aarp.org, the website of American Association of Retired Persons. We need to plan in advance for our second life just like when we plan our career when we first join the workforce. While this is not a retirement website, senior runners would agree that running still can fit in very well into our life and have lots of fun pursuing it. The secret is to pace yourself, listen to your body and don’t get injured.

My Senior Veteran Running Group.
Since my retirement from PACM in March 2005, I have been socializing with a small group of PACM members that I used to service personally as we all run in the morning at Bukit Aman Car-park. They are Chai Weng Moon, Dr. Tan Tah Ming, Ngae Koh Hieng, Bruce Wun and Chua Keng Huat. As most of us are no longer very competitive in our runs except for Ngae, we make it a little more interesting with a handicap system with side bets thrown in. The incentive is a good lunch somewhere on Saturday once a month. I suppose this is a great way to keep us motivated in these events, run, have fun, go holidays and have a good lunch. All six of us are rather different in our approach to running, Ngae, Dr. Tan and Bruce take things to the extreme, still doing ironman, triathlons and marathons. Ngae and Dr. Tan are doing the Sahara Extreme Marathon this coming March. You can read about their intention, their charitable effort for Hospis in the PACM website.

The Senior Veteran Runners enjoying their roast goose lunch at Imbi Chinese Food Village to usher the new year

Bruce is still trying to run as many marathons as he could. Chai and I are more sober, we stick to a given routine of 30km a week over 5 mornings. We intend to keep fit and stay injury free. Our maximum is 21km (half marathon), about 5 half marathons in a year. Chua does irregular training but would come for certain races. Somehow we gel together with the common passion for running, good company and good food once a while. We started the year with a celebration lunch at the Chinese Food Village at Imbi Area for a roast goose lunch, compliment of Bruce for losing his bet with Dr. Tan at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Bruce gave a 2 hours handicap and lost. Through these regular lunches, we discover quite a few good eating places through Dr. Tan and Chua. The best we have been so far is at Langat Seafood And Beer Garden, Lot 100, Jalan Sungei Sop, Batu 14, Pekan Hulu Langat, Selangor. (Tel:03-9021 7215/6, 019-228 6037). Well this column could well develop into a Where to Eat Column over time!

The Beginners’ Program Revisited
This program was started on 6th May 2006 to help individuals who wish to run get started and motivated. It was loosely based on the Beginners’ Program by the New York Road Runners, the largest road runners club in the world with 40,000 members. After running the program for 8 months, we have a small following from individuals who wish to run. There is some disappointment when some gave up easily and stop turning up. We have a few successes and they went on even to share their stories in our website.


Wan leading the stretching session at a recent Beginner's session

The adidas Footscan session in progress

I do sometimes question myself as to whether we could sustain this program, given that only two of us are pushing it. During these 8 months, I have to lead it alone on certain Saturdays as Jamie was preparing to welcome another child to his family in January 2007. On certain Saturdays, the turn out was pretty bad and it did discouraged me a little. My good friend, Chong Ting Chow stood by the program and gave his full support week after week. The program got more consistency in December 2006 when we started to get a core group in Chong Ting Chow, Ivy Lim, Audrey, Patricia Limbang, Azleen, Peter Kuan, Alvin Kuan, Din, Siew Kee, David, Kim and Rizal as regulars. The turnout on 13th January 2007 was by far the best record as we have nearly 20 turning up.

Jamie and I were very motivated with such a large group. Ng Wei Loon from the Star who wrote a feature when the website was launched in March 2006 was around to cover this program. We hope with this news feature in the Star, the response will get even better and more sustainable. adidas who was around that morning to carry their routine feet profiling was equally enthusiastic about it. Krishnan Karuppan, Head of Running, adidas is very keen to have adidas to support it. Hopefully with adidas involvement, we could take this program to a higher level. It is our wish to see such a program being initiated in every park in the country. The program is simple and it is proven that even an elderly person (at 50), not running previously for most part of his adult life could get into the program and became a converted “runner”. Perhaps the program is too simple for people to give it a serious thought. A number of callers actually asked me how much we charge and were still skeptical when we told them we are doing it as a community service in a small way. We hope more media coverage would give a clear message that there are ordinary folks like us who are prepared to do something for free. I believe our greatest satisfaction is that we are able to change the life of a few individuals who will now lead a healthier life. Chong has admitted that he seldom fall sick after started running. We even discover a fine gem like Kim who has exceeded all my expectation as a new runner. (story on her first 20km is in the following section on the Their First 20km).

Great Eastern Pacesetters 30km 2007
Last year I was the Race Director of the event, a very challenging event to organize, considering the logistics and details involved. The duration of the event is 4.5 hours on the road and safety became a prime concern. On the eve of the event, I came by to lend support to my wife, Clara who is the secretary to Kiwanis Club KL. Kiwanis was provided a tent by PACM to promote awareness to their activities. This is sort of a warm up exposure to the coming New Balance Pacesetters 15km 2007; incorporating the Pacesetters Kiwanis Charity Fun Run. The weather was rather unkind on Saturday, it rained twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I could appreciate how tough is it to work under those circumstances, having brazed the rain when we did the Mizuno Wave Run in 2005 at Padang Merbuk.

Fruits, fruits and fruits - always a key feature in Pacesetters' runs

All the winners from each category. On the left is PACM president, Munning Jamaluddin

Sunny Lee & Angie from the Kiwanis Club of KL
I can see that things are very organized with many individuals carried out the same role that they used to do; example Law Lai Huat setting up the Event Backdrop and Finishers’ Gate. I did feel a little left out as I was not doing anything, except getting the Kiwanis people introduced. On the other hand I can see that the management structure I started in event management is more or less intact with further improvements on certain processes like the preparation of Powerbar Endurance Drinks. I can say that the PACM can match any road event organizer in the country. Many runners actually think that we are the best, given that we always have the runners in mind in almost everything we do. The results speak for itself as we have a mark increase in the registration to over 1,400. Many of the runners are repeat customers! Well done! Munning and team, you have made it worth the while for us to compete in such a tough road event.

This year, the event gets very little pre-event publicity. Notwithstanding that, the registration went up strongly towards December 2006 and it crossed 1,400 by closing date, a marked improvement over 901 recorded in 2006. The ratio of 30km to 20km runners is 60/40. When we first started this event, we have the developmental role in mind; to increase the base of the longer distance runners to feed the local marathon. I believe we are achieving the objective and we hope the PACM could continue with their commitment and the sponsors continue to support the event.

Their First 20km Race

This year my participation as a runner in the GE30km has added meaning, first I am able to migrate from Race Director to a runner in the 20km category. To make my participation meaningful, I am guiding two young runners, 16 year old Joseph Cheah and Teh Seok Im (Kim as we call her). I first ran with Joseph about two months ago when his mother first brought him to run with us on Sunday. He is eager to take part in some run but there was no event available then.


Kim pacing Wan stride for stride as per race strategy for the first 15km

I was asked whether he should sign up for the GE30km, I thought it may be too soon as I always feel, younger runners should take their time before going for distance events such as a 20km. Somehow he decided to go ahead and signed up for the 20km on the same day I signed up. One Sunday before the event, he asked me to show him the route but I was not doing 20km the week before a 20km race. I asked him to join Kim and I for the 15km practice instead. Kim is a new comer to running, started about 5 months ago on her own as part of her employer’s Staff Wellness Program, a program to encourage the staff to challenge themselves to get fitter and healthier.


Joseph Cheah finishing his first 20km race in sub 1hr 50mins

Kim racing towards her first 20km finishing

Wan in full concentration, pushing towards the finish line

After running on her own for a few months, she joined our Beginners’ Program on 2nd December 2006, the Saturday that I went to Singapore for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. I met her in the middle of December 2006 and found that she is very fit for someone who has started running for just a few months. I invited her to join me for a 10km run on the Double Hill Route on Sunday and she did. She passed with flying colors even though she had not done any 10km event before. I suggested that she may want to try the GE30km, the 20km version and she thought for a moment and did sign up for the run and as a member of PACM. I must qualify myself here as I normally do not encourage any new runners to do too much too soon, a statement that was drummed in by Dr. William Chan. After having convinced Kim to try a 20km race, I am obligated to guide her through. I told her to join me for the next 3 Sundays for the long run, one more 10km, then two 15kms and we are ready. Kim was extremely disciplined and punctual on the next three Sundays, we did the first 15km in 1hr 30mins and the next week, we did 1 hr 29 mins. I knew she is ready and she has the capability to finish ahead of me. I dictated to her a race plan, meet me at 6.15am at the check-in, follow my pace for the first 15km, we should clocked 1hr 30mins at the 15km mark.

At the 15km mark, see how you feel, if you feel good, leave me behind, run your own race to finish sub 2 hours. She followed my instruction and she did 1 hr 52 mins 4 secs, placed 9th in the women category, a great achievement for a first timer.

Joseph found our pace a little too slow right from the start and went on his own pace. I can see him from a distance and saw that he was pacing himself fine till, he disappeared from my sight. Joseph finished in an incredible 1hr 40mins 27 secs to place 18th. I completed in 1hr 54 mins 58 secs, placed 63rd and I am extremely satisfied with my results. After the run, I got Clara to take a nice picture of 3 of us with our medals, a picture we cherish for our effort. My little project is done and I look forward to be able to guide them in more ways. Needless to say, I feel great about the event.

The police did a fabulous job at the Jalan Duta crossing, my main safety concern as the Race Director last year. It feels so great to be able to run at the club event for the first time (Mizuno Wave Run 2006 which I took part is not considered a club’s event).

 

Looking Ahead
The next big event is the Ambank Kuala Lumpur International Marathon on 18th March 2007. I have to give the Xiamen Marathon on 31st March 2007 a miss as my wife is unable to take leave during that period. Never mind, I do it in 2008. Chong Him Shoong, president of Ipoh Road Runners told me that they have fixed 18th November 2007 for their annual run. This year they are doing both the 21km and 10km at a different venue. I look forward to that as well. During the Ambank KL Marathon, we would be helping Kiwanis to promote their Charity Run. I write a little more on this in my next article.

Kim, Wan & Joseph Cheah with their medals after the run

Wan Yew Leong
31 January 2007
wanyewleong@gmail.com

 
 

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