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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New 5K and 10K PR: 22:20 and 46.23.55

I was up at 4.45, weighed myself and took a banana and water (I have junked the mango juice and a slice of bread routine). As I stretched, I gathered from CNN's AC360 that McBush is blaming Obama for the rejection of his bailout plan of wall street even though even Republicans equally rejected the proposal. David Gergen and the motley crew of CNN political analysts were on standby to weigh in on the issue but I had to hit the road. Too bad I missed that.

Anyways, we have a new guard and he sat back as I opened the gate - the former guard always made a point to open the gate for me himself. I ran slowly between the cars and buildings as a warm up then reached the main highway and pressed my timer then took off. I met two runners in the first 1K and cleared the first hilly 1K in 5:14 mins. Then I picked up the pace and passed this lady I always pass at the one and a half Km Mark. Then 400m ahead, I heard footfalls behind me. Somebody was intent on getting past me. I tried to hang on for a while and the footfalls remained persistent. I wanted to know who it was so I hung back and let it happen. He or she caught up with me and passed me. It was a tall fella. I couldn't tell his/her gender. He was a little wide in the hips but couldn't tell whether it was wide hips or a puffed up truck. I almost fell in some hole some idiots dug recently in some dark patch of the road. But I ran on after that tall figure, blanked everything from my mind except the pursuit of this sexless figure.

Anyways, I stuck ten meters behind the tall figure and he/she never managed to widen that gap. I was waiting for he/she to slow down but he/she turned at the 4K mark and ran back. I ran on, undecided of what to make of the tall figure's performance.

By the time I hit 5K, my clock showed 22:20. Un-be-fucking-livable. But I was beat so I told myself that even though my 5K was respectable, my 10K time would be atrocious and I said I wouldn't post it on the blog today since it would be something past 50mins. Anyways, I turned back and tried to maintain a respectable pace. I was doing some thinking in the meantime. And I was thinking, Oh well, I have cut weight but that does not mean my body; lungs, muscles and heart are ready to travel at that high speed and process the lactic acid efficiently. I met the lady I had passed earlier again and she had a short guy running next to her. He saw me pass her and started running shoulder to shoulder with me. I spent the next 2Ks trying to shake him off. He burnt out after 2.5Ks but he ran a good race and I wanted to congratulate him but that was a luxury I couldn't enjoy. So I ran on, with 1K to go, I looked at my watch and noticed it was around 40mins. I got excited and sped up! I could better my PR! I climbed the hill and sprinted down to the end of the 10K. The time was 46.23.55 This is my new 10K PR. Like I said, unbefuckin-livable. I am still incredulous and I have to repeat it to be sure. Now I can aim for 45mins over 10K and for 1hr10mins for 15K and I will be home!
Very exciting shit I tell you.
I am sure its the tall sexless figure and the short guy who pushed me and I am grateful to them. At least now I know 45mins 10K is within reach and consequently a 1hr 10mins 15K and of course my goal for the half marathon.
Cheers.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

3Kgs to go. Strength Training

So, predictably, the results of my weekend run showed up on the scale today morning as I expected. One kilo gone. Three to go. What is likely to happen in the next 5 days is that I will keep vacillating between 82Kgs and 82.5Kgs then next week, after my long run, it will drop to 81Kgs. Then between 81 and 81.5 for 5-7 days then a long run, then 80Kgs. etc etc.
At any rate, this morning I did frog jumps, heel/toe walks, squats, 43 push ups and several crunches.
Tomorrow, I will go for a 10K on the road. I am upping my distance (doing 10K instead of 7 or 8K) and will do so for the next three weeks then taper off. Meanwhile, the adipose tissue population resident in my body have to decide who in the tribe has to go next. Because, like I said, its a sustained and resurgent campaign I have launched from my neurones.
Cheers.
A
Disclaimer: Going for long runs and exercising a lot alone will not lead to weight loss. Exercise must be combined with an effective diet regimen to result in weight loss.

10K PR 49:13

I attempted to do a 10K in 47-48 minutes but only managed to do it in 49.13. This now stands as my personal record (PR). It is at least 2 minutes short of the speed I need to achieve my sub 100mins goal.
I ran some 20K yesterday with friends. I have no injuries meaning I can push myself harder this week. I aim to lose at least 1.5Kgs this week. The gains of yesterday's running may show up on the weighing scale tomorrow (It always takes two days or so, I wonder why?).
I am confident that if I can shed off the remaining 4Kgs, I will be closer to my target. Note that I managed to slash off 3 minutes from the 10K time I did last week, which was 52.10 mins. I am optimistic and hoping that I can clip 3 minutes from my PR in 3 weeks when I will attempt to do 15K in 1hr 10mins on 12th October.
Cheers. This week its a sustained and renewed campaign against adipose tissue and a resurgent quest for speed and stamina.
A

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chillin

I did them heel/toe walks and some crunches and some 43 pushups and squats. Takin it easy. Tomorrow I will take a shot at doing 10K in 47 mins then a 16K after that.
Cheers.
A

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Exhaustion test

I managed 60 pushups today. I should have done between 61 and 70. So I will try again tomorrow. I learnt that the best time to do it is after a thorough warm up. Preferably when one is sweating. I need to get another pair of trainers. What I have chipped away at my right toe on Sunday and I just cut open the damn blister last night. What does it mean? My right leg is bigger than the left one? Or is my right toe more active than the left one?
Cheers.
A

This is how to do a Sub 1:40 Half Marathon

I have been thinking of a strategy of doing my sub 1:40 and I have two strategies: run an even race or do a negative split. I can account for the first 5K and should be able to take care of the first 10 or 11k in the next 14 days. I have decided to be ambitious and see if I can meet my quest this year instead of the next year. If I fail this year, I will make next year's goal to be 1:30.
This is a draft. Strategy sessions continue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

8K in 38:19

Decided to shake things up and see what will fall off this morning. My left knee was acting up and during warm up and the first Km, I had to pause to crank it and wiggle it a little to shake off the tiny little nails. I also had some little pain in my right lower leg like an anterior shin splint but I tested myself with a few lateral lunges and could tell that the injury was not affecting any major muscle group.
I met around ten runners. One really pulled me between the 4th and 6th Km and another pushed me past the 6th K Mark. I felt pretty okay and strong. Offloaded a lot of fluid via sweat and did crunches and stretched thoroughly. If I am okay tomorrow, I will have a short run on Friday and a long one over the weekend.
Cheers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 5 Day 3

I did week 5 day 3 today. It was tough. I stuck to the 30-45seconds between the sets until the 8th level when I had to do 40 pushups: a swift 25 followed by a slow struggle to 40 by which time I was sweating. Then I did heel/toe walks for strengthening my compartment muscles.
In total, I did 18+18+16+16+14+14+12+40 = 148 pushups. Tomorrow, maybe a recovery run or a 10K. We will see.
Cheers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 2 Week 5 and 23Kms

I cleared Week 5 day two on Saturday. It was a struggle. It was more difficult than I anticipated. I thought because it had 8 levels with scraps of pushup sets, it would be easy. I conveniently forgot to remind myself that the last set would be a minimum of 40 pushups. The first 5 levels were relatively easy. Of course the 45 seconds breaks made it challenging and I varied between 45-50seconds. Level 6 and seven were difficult. I did 12 pushups in level 6 and couldn’t go to 15 and had to stop. I had to wait close to 4 minutes before I could do level 8, which by then was relatively easy.

Total count: 20+20+18+18+15+12+15+14+40=172 pushups.

I feel confident now that I can do more than 60pushups in one set. This 5th week has taught me new disciplines that I had not before acquired. In fact, I believe that one’s true “character” and pushup style emerges during this week. I will be doing day three on Tuesday. They say 30 seconds between each set (shudder) I will try my best and see how far I can go before I have to wait longer.

Yesterday I went for 22Kms and 800metres in 1Hr 57.56seconds. We started at four and the heat of the sun really did us in and made the run a grueling experience. I cleared the first 5K in 22:50 minutes which is an improvement of last week’s time. Consider the Sun and the fact that I was carrying water as I was running, it is clear that I can improve on it. Anyways, I got a stitch at the 8Kms mark and slowed down but at the 16th K mark my energy came back and my speed went up. I largely stopped due to dehydration as there was no one to hand me water.
It was tough and soul-destroying mostly because of the heat. But that was the entire point: to learn to run in the heat of the sun. If I am right, the 9.00am heat is hotter than the 4pm sun. The only consolation was that it was a flat course I was running on. The counting was also a challenge because of the monotony of the track.

If all goes well, I will try doing 63 laps (25Kms) next week under 2 hours. I have no injuries yet so its good so far. My body is in pain though and it feels lost, as if snatched from normalcy and plunged in a strange place. It cannot understand what is going on and is writhing and looking at me with its eyes as big as cherries, begging for an explanation. But I understand what is happening and it will just have to trust me. Cheers

Here is how I am doing weight wise. 4Kgs to go and we are home.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Review of The Richest Man in Babylon


The Richest Man in Babylon
is George S Clarson's widely acclaimed book on how to get wealthy. The book was first written in the 1920s and has been reprinted several times. Clarson's style of delivery is through the use of stories set in ancient Babylon, which was among the richest empires in the ancient world. Through the dialogues and the experiences the characters go through, Clarson masterfully puts across his "laws of Gold", "cures of a lean purse" and other tenets of wealth building and pathways to material wealth.
Clarson takes readers through the torment, wounded pride, frustration and mental anguish of ordinary people who struggle with back-breaking work, debts, slavery, empty purses and economic marginalization as they struggle to become men of means and he lights the path out of their economic and social quagmire.
The author dispenses his laws of wealth to such pensive, wealth-seeking characters through other characters, or agent provocateurs, who interrupt their thoughts, mostly posing as wise men, rich men or lucky men willing to share the secrets of their success, or “luck”.
The author does away with notions of luck being on the side of the wealthy and develops what he calls the laws of wealth instead, which he lays out. The first one is on saving a fraction (ten percent) of everything one earns. The author writes regarding saving:
"Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the seed from which your tree of wealth shall grow. The sooner you plant that seed, the sooner the tree shall grow. And the more faithfully you nourish and water that tree with consistent savings, the sooner you may bask in contentment beneath its shade."
The basic maxim here is that "a part of all you learn is yours to keep"
Controlling one's expenditure is the next lesson. The next one is investing what one has saved so that it multiplies. Then be sure to invest on businesses you understand or with people who understand their trade to avoid losses. Next, own your own home so that you reduce expenses from rent and the like. Next, have a retirement plan for yourself and family for the days when you are no longer productive. Then increase your power to earn by being better at whatever you do. Be excellent, ensure customer satisfaction, have an eye for opportunities and reach for them fast. This is how to make your luck. "Men of action are favored by the goddess of good luck", he surmises. Lend wisely and protect your wealth.
The story I loved the most in this book that has around ten stories, is the one titled "The Camel Trader of Babylon." It is richly told, humorously and in an entertaining, sadistic tone. In fact, it leapt at me and I would argue the author of that story is different from that of the other stories in the book but I digress. The gist of the story is that when one is hungry, or desperate or when one has lost everything, one thinks very clearly and their determination is bolstered tenfold than when they are surrounded with mild comfort or still have other straws to grasp.
Armed with this lesson, the main character in the story, a wealthy man called Dabasir, seeks to impart the lesson in the most dramatic fashion when he happens upon a debt-ridden, penniless, starving young man called Tarkad.
Dabasir invites Tarkad to an eating house and orders for mouth-watering dishes for himself while ordering only water for Tarkad, whose stomach is rumbling with hunger. Dabasir orders food from the proprietor of the eating house thusly: "Fat lizard of the desert, bring to me a leg of the goat, very brown with much juice, and bread and all of the vegetables for I am hungry and want much food. Do not forget my friend here. Bring for him a jug of water. Have it cooled, for the day is hot"
Unlike the other old-wise-man characters in the book, Dabasir's style is pompous and flamboyant. His wit is sarcastic and he does not babysit the impudent young man to whom he wants to deliver his wise teachings. This is what makes this story stand apart from the rest. I can say its the only story I found entertaining. The story continues with Dabasir telling his story to the hungry young man undergoing the torture of agonizingly watching Dabasir biting "goodly chunks" from the delicious goat leg while Dabasir tells his story. ‘"When I was a young man" Dabasir continues with another vicious onslaught on the goat leg’, one passage says. At one point, Dabasir pauses from his goat-munching, story-telling orgy and asks the young man, "How about thee, Tarkad? Dost thy empty stomach make thy head exceedingly clear? Art thou ready to take the road that will leads back to self-respect?"
After telling his story of how he became a free man from a life of slavery, where a lady friend asked Dabasir whether he had the soul of a free man or of a slave and challenged him to prove he was a free man, and after being satisfied that the young man before him has understood the lesson, Dabasir ends his tale with flourish. He turns to his food and calls the proprietor: "Kauskor, thou snail, the food is cold. Bring me more meat fresh from the roasting. Bring thou also a very large portion for Tarkad, the son of my old friend, who is hungry and shall eat with me."
I found this story rich. The book is very well written and is valuable for anyone interested in how to get rich or get financial and material wealth.

Set my PR in 5K and 10K

I did 10K on the track yesterday in a bid to set my PR (Personal Record) so that I have something to target and aspire to go past. I was quite well prepped though the sun did roast me quite a bit, which was okay but I am sure I could have done better without it and without the wind blowing against my chest (this business of "wind-assisted" and "wind resistance" makes sense when you run in an open field and the wind is blowing against you directly).
I started at around 5.20pm. There were around a dozen runners. One boy was quite impressive, his pace was faster than mine and later after I was through with my laps, he inspired me to do some frog jumps and some pylometric excercises, which I clearly need in order to have stronger legs and to increase my bounding and leaping for longer strides.
Anyways, I did the first 6 laps in under 2 mins each - between 1:33 and 1:50 and finished the 12.5 laps (5K) in 24.15mins. Then a stitch hit me after the 6th Kilometer, slowing me down considerably. In the end, I did 10K (25laps) in 52.50mins. Recall that I just did a tough half marathon 6 days ago, so this is not so bad I guess.
One of the things that keeps me motivated about my running is competing against myself and bettering my times over time. Some four weeks ago, my best time for 5K was 27mins. Now I am at 24.15mins I intend to push it to 23 or 22 in 4 weeks and push my 10K time to sub 50 mins in the same period (48mins would be excellent). I think its possible and achievable, particularly if I shed off the remaining 5Kgs, add pylometrics and long distance in my training. My compartment muscles are definitely stronger because my shins are comfortable. In the past, my body would swiftly punish me with a sharp pain in my shins every time I tried doing fast runs.
Oh, by the way after running on the track yesterday after close to 8 months on the tarmac, the tracks are definitely easy on the body. I will be going for some 58 laps on Sunday. Though its not very good for teamwork, I would like to ensure I cover the first 53 laps in under 2 hours. I have some colleagues who haven't run long distances, who will be coming out to test their endurance and who may need someone to pace with and encourage them. Let’s see how it works out. There are three guys who may be willing to join me in the sub 2hour quest, a quest we can repeat 4 times before the marathon on 26th October.
Today I am resting. I had a 7Km walk to push my MBR up a little. Tomorrow, I will do day 2 of week 5 of the 100 pushups challenge.
A

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 1 Week 5

Today I succeeded in completing Day 1 week 5 of the 100 pushups challenge. I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park so I was prepared for it psychologically. To give myself some insulin spike, I took some bread and mango juice. The first 40 were not dramatic. At least they were easier than yesterday. I then did 25 and struggled to 32. The next set required that I do 30. I couldn't go beyond 25. But since the next set was 25, I decided to do 30 instead of 25 and substitute the sets. So 30 it was, muscles spasming and threatening to rip. The last set was 40. I did the first 25 and struggled to 40. It was tough and for the first time, the pressure was on my lower back because I had to hold my body aloft in the pushup position as I took the pauses. It was as if I was doing the pushups for the first time. I guess I had made it easy the first time round by taking long, 5 mins break in-between.
So anyways, I did 40+32+30+25+40 = 167 pushups.
I am going for a 10K on the track shortly.
Cheers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week 5 Day 1 Attempt

I started with the first 40 pushups successfully then managed only 25 instead of 32 for the second set before I collapsed on my arms. That was it. I am on a short leave. Just did horribly on an aptitude test in an interview. Want to clear Reading The Richest Man in Babylon and then read Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great.
I am thinking tomorrow evening I should try my PR in 5K and 10K. First time on the track this year. So there.
Oh, by the way, I have lost 200g so I have only 5Kgs to go.

Cheers

Monday, September 15, 2008

Did 8K Tempo Runs

I did 7K in 33mins and warmed up and down for 1K taking 45mins in total. I met about 6 runners. I guess stanchart has got guys getting up early to hit the tarmac. This is the final leg of this years quest. Am getting stronger, lighter and faster. Will be trying my sub 20mins 5K in a couple of weeks. Another tempo run on Thursday then a long run on Sunday.
Cheers.
A

With 5 weeks to go...

Today I worked on my compartment muscles with the heel/toe walks and did standing calf raises on a Telephone Directory. Then I did some squats and crunches. I think I will go for an easy recovery run tomorrow though my glutes, hams and quads are sorta aching.

I have now lost 5.8Kgs since Aug 20th. My goals for the following five weeks:
1. Develop stronger compartment muscles.
2. Clear the 100 pushups program week 5 and 6.
3. Lose the remaining 5.2 Kgs and regain normal weight (assuming getting to what I was decades back is "regaining").
4. Cover at least 200Kms with at least 30Kms each week.
5. Do a sub 20mins 5K and a sub 45mins 10K.
6. Stay the hell away from injuries.
Cheers
A

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It was as Tough as Hell

This is a long post. Long for the benefit of many who have asked me "How did it go?" and also long because it was such a great experience and I like writing about my running experiences.

ASSEMBLY AND WARM UP

We were up at 4.30am on Saturday. We picked each other and arrived at the venue at 7.00am as advised. Myself, Sikuku, Mwangi and Kamau. Ready to do battle. The weather was excellent. We ate carbohydrates and hydrated. The participants were few and the organizers were thoroughly disorganized. In fact one of my colleagues protested at me referring to them as "disorganized organizers", why not just call them "disorganizers?".


Sikuku, Kamau and Kariuki ready to battle. Kamau holding his store to show his high carbohydrate payload.

They were late in registering people and had officials who had no clue what they were doing registering people. I assured my colleagues that marathons don't just test your endurance: they also test your patience. So we warmed up and held on. The 10K guys ran at around 9.00am. By that time, we had warmed up twice and decided the best thing to do would be to keep warm and not lose any more energy warming up for a race whose start time we did not know. Ndakaini is at 2040 feet above sea level unlike Nairobi, which is at 1600 feet but that didn't bother us. The air didn't feel thin in any discernible way.


Me and Sikuku. Ready for battle.


JOHN, SIKU and Mr. DOH


We met three very interesting people who I failed to photograph. First was Shiko (Siku), a beautiful strong lady who had run the Kilimanjaro marathon, Lewa marathon and even ran full marathon last year in the Standard and Chartered. Siku belongs to a group of hobbyists who practice in Ngong and she was with a guy called John Juu, who is actually called John High but he says guys prefer to use "juu", swahili for high.



Warming up

We quietly inspected Siku and decided that whereas she looked fit and beautiful in her designer shades, water belt and hairdo, we, in our chauvinistic shells would not be beaten by such a well-groomed lady. We had no clue.
John was tall but weighed only 82 and his Swahili was excellent. We also sized him up but decided this mzungu (white man) looked too athletic to take lightly so we decided we will see how we fare with him. He had run the Lewa marathon and a few minutes of conversation with him told us he was a seasoned runner. There was also another lady we whose name we did not get to know who also runs with a group in Ngong. We sized her up and quickly concluded that here was someone we could beat - we learned later that she panicked and did not run even though she had registered and had a bib. We also met 60 year old Mr. Dho. A South Korean from Korean Embassy, he had run in South Korea, Chicago and other Marathons. Full of advise, running experiences to share and wit and quite athletic. He told us that while running the Chicago marathon, he hit the wall and lied down for a full ten minutes before he proceeded with concerned runners looking down at him and asking "are you okay?" We laughed off that experience. We did not know one of us would have a similar experience together. We also sized him up and didn't know what to make of him. He later shared with me a chocolate bar he hid in his pants after the marathon. He had a PR of 1:45 for the half marathon. I didn't ask him how old he was when he ran that time.


Ndakaini Dam

Wait, I forgot to tell you about Wainaina. He was a guy in a red cap who also belongs to a running group in Ngong and had run the Mount Kenya run last weekend. He had a slight pot and I decided I could beat him even if he had run the God marathon. Again, I had no clue. He told me he had run the course and told me if I have run stanchart marathon, I should add around ten minutes to my stanchart time to estimate my time in Ndakaini. I quietly made a note to prove him wrong. He told me wearily, like an old man speaking to an impudent youth, that the course was tough. Tough my ass. I quietly thought. I had no clue. Sikuku also said we don't care whether hills and mountains are placed on the path: all we care about is reaching the finish line. We all agreed.

DIDNT HAVE A CLUE

A few things to note here:
I thought I knew what a hilly course was. I did not. In fact, after the race, we all agreed that the course we use for training is "nursery" compared to Ndakaini. We were like toddlers trying to play in the ranks of seasoned professionals. What I know as "hills" are inclines at flyovers and gentle slopes that rise at 10-25 degrees. Those are not hills. Those are flat courses. Period.
I also thought after a hilly climb, there is a downhill, then a flat course then another hill, and so on and so forth. In Ndakaini, one hill follows another. And every time you are going down its because you will be going up shortly. So every slope was a preparation for a nightmare ahead.




This photo shows the general topography of Ndakaini. Notice how the hills slope deeply and rise sharply. Repeat several times until you have 21Km and you have the picture.


As we waited, we met more people and watched the 4K veterans race and 3K children's race and 15K race. We were lucky because the sun did not come out. We were weary of waiting and many people grumbled and said if they knew the level of disorganization was as bad as it was, they wouldn't have come. There are people who decided to go for 10K since 21K would be the last. But we waited. All around us, we saw fit, lean runners wearing vests and shorts and we knew we were out of our league with our trucks and t-shirts. Siku also complained that the pants we were wearing were too heavy. We told her they weren't heavier than her water belt and designer shades and laughed it off.

I said I would run a sub-two hour race however tough the course was. I felt strong, had no injury, was well hydrated and felt perfect. Nothing could stop me. If the worst came to the worst, I emphasized, I would do one hour and 50-something minutes. I had no idea what awaited me. Anyways, the disorganizers (UAP insurance) finally had us assemble at the start line at 11.30am. Some politicians gave some tired, off-colour, off-putting, out-of-place speeches and then Samuel Wanjiru, the world marathon record holder and Olympic marathon champion encouraged us and flagged us off. The group surged forward and obliterated the tarmac with the rapid footfalls.

THE WHEAT AND THE CHAFF

In the first seven seconds, the group of about 60 runners divided into two. The first group had around 50 runners and the second one had around ten runners. Of course myself and all the people I met and knew were in the second group except for one or two people.
We watched the first group surge away like a flock of birds and settled into our paces. I had no trouble starting behind because I felt confident I would happily pass some of those speedsters at the 16th Km mark thereabouts after they had burnt themselves out. I was wrong. In fact, I never saw the group again.

Anyways, John and wainaina were around 80 metres ahead of me for the first two Kms. By that time, I had passed three people from the first pack. One was grimacing at the side of the road with a bloody knee injury and the ambulance came for him. Another was just sitting facing the bushes like he had lost something. A third was a lady in a stripped black and green tights. The size of her butts showed she clearly belonged to our group. She was one of the only two people I actually overtook. Unknown to me, Miss green and black would run behind Kamau for most of the race.

Anyways, Sikuku left the pack behind me and joined me at the 3rd Km saying the other group was too slow. I told him we should overtake John and Wainaina at the 5th Km mark. He agreed. They were around 100m ahead of us. We met the first hill at the 4th Km mark. My strategy with hills is very simple: never attack a hill. Dont slow down either. Just keep going. If it slows you down, slow down and keep your eyes down so that you don't get discouraged by observing its mammoth size.

This is where Sikuku fell behind and I passed wainaina and a boy from the first group. The latter two were walking up the hill. Little did I know that it was their strategy. Anyways, when we reached the top, they passed me and so began the loneliest half-marathon I have ever ran. I met one "fit" champ walking back after giving up for whatever reason and I passed two other "fit" champs who had stopped for whatever reason. I can boast that I beat three "champs".

At the eighth Km, a guy in red passed me and joined Wainaina and the boy ahead of me. John by the way, had left wainaina and I never saw him again until the race was over. When I reached the next hill at around the 7th Km, I tried to run slowly uphill but I was no better than someone walking and I knew I had to walk than waste my energy climbing that wall. So I walked and saw the guy in red, wainaina and the boy walk some 80 metres ahead of me (this scenario of me walking behind them would be repeated until the 17th K mark when Wainaina disappeared). When I reached the top, I saw them disappearing in the next bend. Again and again for around six hills. I finally passed the boy at the last water point and finished at the same time with the guy in red who we later bonded with. He was 39 and was running for the second time in Ndakaini and had improved his first time of 2:20. he admired my pace and explained his strategy for me: walk uphill and sprint downhill.

WAITING FOR THE AMBULANCE
Meanwhile, my buddies were in trouble. Kariuki's back brought trouble and he was picked by the ambulance. Kamau developed a stitch and walked in a doubled-up posture with one hand grabbing his painful side. The ambulance circled him but he waved them on. He soldiered on. Running, walking and painfully scaling the walls that were masquerading as hills. Later, one of his legs "died" and he was running sideways like a vehicle with a broken center bolt. The ambulance followed him quietly, waiting for him and his steely determination and pride, to collapse on the tarmac and roll downwards like a sack. He refused to come on board and dragged himself to the finish. At the 20th Km, they acknowledged that he was a warrior and left him to drag himself to the Finnish line.

DIE TRYING
Something snapped in Sikuku's knee on one of the hills. He had run with Siku for over 15Kays and had bonded somewhat. He struggled but found it impossible. He told Siku to proceed and leave him behind. She urged him on but continued alone at his insistence. He lay on the roadside waiting for an ambulance. It did not come. He arose after some minutes and decided to soldier on, one leg limp. The ambulance came at the 18th K and they asked him to come on board and end his obvious misery. He refused and limped as they followed him, watching him and waiting for a catastrophe.


After the race. We sit on a bench and observe the world, notice how the earth dives down sharply behind us only to rise up again some metres away.
In the end, I finished in 2:07 mins, Siku in 2:19 mins Kamau with 2:40 and Sikuku some minutes after Kamau. The first guy cleared it in 68minutes, 5mins slower than last year's time. The lady in stripped dark and green tights came just after Sikuku. My respect for her soared like a bird. She was tough! Too bad we never spoke.

ENTER THE VEGETABLE_WATCHERS
In a nutshell, we were the weakest and we were the last. But I think I will go back again to run on the toughest course on earth. Siku was very impressive for a lady and John was just a hard, experienced runner. Amazing guy. He later told me he ran all through and never walked on any of the hills. They urged us to join their running group. We weren't interested in the certificates being offered and left to eat and get our shredded, wounded selves back to normal. We decided we should go and see Kariuki's beautiful garden and forget tough, near-death issues like 21Kms, tarmac and Finnish lines.


We admire Kariuki's garden and take our minds off the torture and trauma of Ndakaini half-marathon



Here, Kamau tries unsuccessfully to become one with the vegetables. Knowing well that vegetables don't have to run 21K half-marathons.

I am surprised I did not get an injury because those hills were exactly designed to splinter people's shins. I can now give my compartment muscles a certificate of fitness. My glutes, hamstrings and quads are speaking in tongues today. I don't know how my buddies will fare with the injuries and all but we are meeting on Sunday 21st for 23K. At least now we know we have just been in a nursery thinking we are running a very tough course. We also know we will find Stanchart Marathon easy as pie and I will finally have my sub 2hrs half marathon.

Overall, we did well. We also know that the hardest iron goes through the hottest fire and that anything that doesn't kill you, hardens you. We will up our training and do much better in Stanchart Marathon.
Cheers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Resting, Hydrating and Carb Loading

Yep. Just that. Ain't nuthin' else goin on. I registered yesterday, its not a very well-organized race because we don't have chips and we pick the bibs tomorrow. Whatever man, just bring it on.
A

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Going for Ndakaini Half Marathon!

I was minding my own business yesterday reading the Nation newspaper when I realized that there is a half marathon this Saturday at Ndakaini in Thika. This is in page 33. I had no clue there was such an event and if I didn’t buy today's paper, I wouldn’t have got a clue. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for one preparing for Stanchart Marathon to participate in this event both for social reasons - the proceeds of the marathon go toward conservation of Ndakaini Dam catchment area - and to get an opportunity to test our speed and ability in a professional setting.
This Ndakaini Half-Marathon is quite big because some of the big guns come for it. I can see Tergat and Samuel Wanjiru are part of the Conservation effort here. The internet tells me that last year’s winners, Bellor Yator (also The winner of last year's Düsseldorf Marathon) and Penina Arusei are expected to defend their titles. Yator won last year in 1:03.58 ahead of Nyahururu’s John Guandaru (1:03.59). Arusei carried the 21km title in 1:16.46 beating Sylvia Kibet (1:17.23) to second place. Like last year, there will be 15km and 10km race for both men and women in addition to 4km for veterans and 3km for children.
So I will be going for the Nadakaini half marathon this Saturday. I think I am ready. Wish me luck!
Today I did squats and calf raises.
A

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Failed Exhaustion Test - Repeating Week 5

I failed the exhaustion test. Failed because I couldn't do 60 pushups in one set. I managed only 50. So instead of settling for the first column in week 6, I have decided to repeat week 5 in the third column. I did the first 40 in quick succession then did the last ten slowly.
Still giving my legs a break. I can see that there is a Ndakaini half marathon on Saturday. Too bad its sort of far - Thika - plus its taking place when I have organized a 23K run on the truck this Sunday and plenty of guys are set to come.
Damn.
I worked on my compartment muscles and did some crunches. Yesterday I took 50 flights of stairs. If it doesn't rain, I may walk today.
Cheers

Apply Yourself

I continue with my exploration of self-improvement ideas
Apply Yourself
Applying yourself means allowing yourself to effect change and make an impact wherever you are. Behind this idea is the idea that you should consider yourself a resource. It is a notion that fosters an attitude of selflessness and fights against the instinct of self-preservation that often makes us lazy and holds us back when challenges present themselves. Do not be afraid to be “exploited” or “used” by others. Allow them to use you because in the end, you benefit.

Behind “apply yourself” is the notion that the strongest iron goes through the hottest fire and the idea that what is important is not what you get from what you do, but what you become from what you do. If we allow ourselves to be challenged, we become better. If we ensure we are always in the thick of action in whatever circumstances we are operating under, we will be stretched, we will be challenged and we will become better people both in term of skills and in terms of knowledge.
We are limitless beings. But recall that whereas we can all be brave, we cannot consider ourselves brave until we have been exposed to scary situations. We can think of ourselves as tools and allow ourselves to be used. In this way, we get to know what we are capable of while we build our own capacity for greater deeds. This demands that we see every situation as exercise or as a test to find out, both for ourselves and others, what we are capable of, what hidden talents reside in is and what capabilities need improvement.
Challenge yourself. Apply yourself. Recall that if you don’t make a difference, you don’t matter so apply yourself and make a difference.
This concept can be applied at the workplace when one is supposed to work with his/her own team mates.
If you have lazy team members, instead of griping about how so and so is not pulling his weight, set upon the task with zeal and find out whether you can do the task alone for the lazy bum and for yourself. Use that as an opportunity, not as something to avoid for one day, a time will come when you will be doing it not for your employer but for yourself and when that day comes, you will be best placed if you had already developed capacity for handling such workloads.
I also used this concept when I was doing my Masters degree. We were given research work which we were required to tackle as a team. We would break down the task and assign members the tasks.
We were all working people. Some did not have internet access and after our second meeting, it was clear we would have delays. I covered everything. I did the research, typed the term paper for the entire group and prepared the PowerPoint presentations and even made the presentations. Through doing so, I learnt more, enjoyed better retention for the subject and improved my confidence in making presentations by subjecting myself to peer-review by colleagues. Remember the saying “ships in a harbor are safe but that is not what ships are made of”? Don’t park yourself in a harbor. Get up, do something. Apply yourself. Remember that change is necessary and growth is optional. Choose to grow, apply yourself. Don’t get comfortable.
So, when you are assigned a project on an area you are unfamiliar with, hit the ground running and get familiar with it! Its about having a “can do” attitude and enjoying the learning while you maximize your potential.
At any rate, when you want to avoid doing work, what do you want to do with yourself?
A

Monday, September 8, 2008

Exhaustion test. Lesson Learnt. Took a walk

I am giving my legs a three day rest from running because of some pain I have in my shins - its not shin splints, more like a stress fracture that is undecided whether to give me grief or whether to remain a shadow. At any rate, its a shadow right now. I ran last year's marathon with a stress fracture and I ain't particularly scared about the prospect of getting another one.
So anyways, I decided to ignore available transport and take a walk. Walked for 7Kms: 1hr 27 mins. It was an excellent workout. Too bad I wasn't dressed the part and my shoes must have taken a beating. Twas good nonetheless.
This morning I did my exhaustion test. I ended the first set at 37 pushups and the second at 32 pushups. I learnt a few things about the exhaustion test:

1. I thought it would be very easy so I approached it with a poor attitude: I was unprepared for trouble and when I encountered trouble at the 37th pushup, like a pussy(cat), I gave up. Instead of giving up, I should have slowed down and controlled my breathing and broken it down to smaller sets. Like a trained person.

2. I should take the first 40 or so in quick succession.

I will try again tomorrow. I would really like to remain on the 3rd column. Meanwhile, I am still doing exercises aimed at strengthening my compartment muscles. The heel/toe walk is quite good. Seated calf raises are compromised because I don't have a weight I can place on my knee so I am doing standing calf raises with a block of wood.
Cheers
A

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Resting

I went for my long run yesterday. I had no idea how it would end up because I was very uncertain about my compartment muscles and I was ready for shin splints or related problems. I started sluggishly and warily and did the first 5K in 30mins. After I had run for an hour, all pistons were firing and to use a tired and overused Kenyan expression, "it was all systems go" I ran for 1hr 43 mins in the end or 1hr 55mins if I include the warmups and warmdown. I am not sure about the distance. A colleague claims it is 20K but I highly doubt it. No matter. All speeds and distances will be confirmed next Sunday when I run 23K on the track.
This week feels like its gonna be a good week all round. Shins have an ache but should wear off by Wednesday. Dropped another Kilo. I am resting today.
Cheers

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Day 3 week 5

I cleared the above. It wasn't easy. I had to repeat the last level and therefore did 25 extra. This is not really a taper. I felt muscles in my elbow start to spasm when I was doing the last set and was drained after 25 push ups. So I waited for a few minutes and did the 40. That last set, level 8 is quite a struggle.
It was 18x2 + 16x2 + 14x2 + 12 + 40 + 25 = 173 pushups.
I also focused on my compartment muscles today. Did seated calf raises and the heel/toe walks. Just trying to take it easy and prepare for tomorrows long run. I think I will do the exhaustion test on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Enjoy the weekend.
A

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stewardship and Generosity

These are other concepts that require further development and a fuller treatment and I clearly don't do them justice. But I want them put out here, not in my head.

Be a Custodian, Not an Owner

There is a motivational talk I once attended by Pastor JB Masinde that was about how to be a custodian and not an owner of the things we have and it inspired me. How he said it and how I interpreted it may differ. Recall that the author of a book cannot and does not lord over how his book is to be interpreted: every reader reads a book and makes his own impressions. The same thing applies to a speaker.
So anyways, being a custodian means that when you have some resource, for example, a money, think about what someone above you would do with that money considering your present circumstances, that is, family, relatives and your own status in life. If you believe in God, this is easy because you can simply ask yourself what you would want God to do. But if you don’t believe in God, like myself, you can still ask the question and place yourself in the shoes of some father-figure who has no immediate interest in what you do with the resource. If you think this way, one finds that they are able to use the resources in the best way possible.
The logic behind this is simple. When you think of yourself as the “owner” you think of yourself. When you think of yourself, you will think of your needs and wants. And most of the times, our needs are fleeting and often indulgent. A custodian will not make your ego or needs the center of the equation even though he would make you part of the equation.
If you are brilliant and have great brains, ask yourself, how can I best apply my brains to help the people around me? If you just got a great windfall or a bonus from your work, ask yourself how best can this money be used? Not, “Now that I have this money how can I use it?” Don’t ask “What are my needs?” Ask, “What is needed?” That’s what I mean. I think that thinking like yields the best for us and makes us bigger people.
Recall also that you cannot give what is not yours.

What you have is what you give

This is another very fundamental Maxim. It means that someone who is full of pain and anger cannot give out love. If you are happy and full of joy, you will give joy to others. And behind this is the saying “every obnoxious act is a cry for help” When someone attacks you or is nasty to you, it means that person is in pain or is hurting. Instead of lashing out, remember that what people have is what they give. Sympathize with them and quietly consider why you would never deal with what you have in you in the way that person is going about dealing with what is in them.
Knowing this maxim will help us to tolerate people who are suspicious, vengeful, and vindictive and who are nasty and who are bullies. Once you understand this maxim, you will find that you do not get upset by nasty people. And you will be more understanding even in situations when you feel entitled to a certain kind of treatment.

You Cannot Give Away what is Not Yours

Behind this maxim is the concept of abundance. People everywhere today exhort us to embrace the idea that the world has enough for everyone. That we don’t have to be afraid of scarcity. New age motivational speakers tell us this in videos and in books. And believers propound the same concept while asserting that we should share what we have because God will provide. But they don’t point out the maxim that you cannot give away what is not yours. Let me illustrate.
Consider a typical corrupt politician. In general, such a person is wealthy and owns several businesses. But because his wealth is ill-gotten, he does not feel the ownership to it even though it legally belongs to him. Because he does not feel that sense of ownership, he is likely to seek more corrupt deals and accumulate more and more wealth and aggrandize himself insatiably. Such people never give to charity or help the poor, except where necessary for political reasons.
Why can’t they give away some of what they have?
Because it is not theirs.
It’s the same way when one is a child and they have a sweet or some food and another child wants some of it, we are reluctant to give them. It is because we were also given that food: it is not ours. Because we don’t feel we own the source of that food, we are held hostage by the fear of scarcity and so we feel if we give away we will be left with nothing.
Knowing this maxim will help us to understand when our parents or friends refuse to give us something that we think they could share or do away with. Based on this, we can say that poverty is a mindset. And this mindset is what stops people from sharing what they apparently have. The key word here is “apparently”. So a fear of scarcity makes us hold back from sharing and from being generous.
We need to understand that when we hold back, our worlds become smaller because, as Susan Jeffers says, what we keep owns us and what we give away sets us free. When we hold onto things, we get stuck with them. When we give them away, we are freed from them and can wander off to search for new experiences, probably better and more enriching.

In the next installment I will explore the John Ruskin's saying “What you become from what you do is more important that what you get from what you do” and "Apply Yourself"

Easy Run

I had an easy 7K run for about 45 minutes. Some two speedsters passed me and I struggled to catch up with them but gave up after 1.5Kms. My compartment muscles are weak. Always have been. I want to focus on them because they always give me grief. Once and for all.
A

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lull Before a Storm

I have rested yesterday and today (I consider any day that I don't run a "rest day" even if I do 1000 pushups). So I am taking it easy even today. No pushups, no easy runs. Just working and eating lightly and hydrating. My weight loss has hit a plateau and my legs are much better. I think I will do some 5K tempo runs tomorrow, clear week 5 of 100 push ups on Saturday and go for 20K run on Sunday. Next week I will take it easy (I hope I will have the discipline and no injury) so that I can do 23K on 14th September. I think I can achieve my sub 1:40 half marathon time.
Cheers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week 5 Day 2

Since I wasn't running today, I slept with week 5 day two firmly in mind. And I swore that one of us has to win: either I do those push ups or the schedule looks at me undone, unchallenged. I was not gonna play around with some damn pushups.
So after weighing myself (this week my weight has been steady, which is not good but its okay, I know how to drop it and when), I took some juice and some bread and placed a glass of water nearby and fixed a gaze on the floor beneath me. Controlled breathing. Focus. Proper form.
Then I started resolutely and with a do-or-die attitude. It was 8 levels:
20+20+18+18+15+15+14+40 = 160 push ups.
It actually wasn't that hard. I think these push ups need one to be strong and mentally ready and when you are strong, you know it. Yesterday and on Monday I was weak and I could have had my ass kicked by the push ups if I tried. I tried on Monday anyway and collapsed on my hands after 25 pushups. That intimidated me for a while. Only for a while. Then I found my strength.
I have some pain in my lower legs somewhere I can't reach with my hands. If it abates today, I will have an easy run tomorrow in preparation of a 20K on Sunday. If it doesn't abate, an easy run on Friday in preparation of a 20K on Sunday. Its not a big one. I can tell. Either tomorrow or Friday.
I can see that Day 3 has 148 pushups so its like this program has a taper. I think I will do day 3 either tomorrow or on Friday, then The Exhaustion test sometime early next week.
Cheers.
A

Handling Fear

I continue my ramblings on how to attain peace and happiness in life. Do not be shy to make a comment.

How to Handle Fear
Of course, we are not concerned here with the fear of being ill from a disease or the fear of being mugged in a dark alley. Our interest here is in the kind of fear that paralyzes people into inaction and the kind of fear that makes people stay in a painful situation that they can extract themselves from. It’ is the kind of fear that retards personal growth and boxes one in and shackles people. The kind of fear we will discuss here is the fear of being hurt emotionally and fear of failure.
We have to understand a few things about failure and fear of failure. People act with conviction when they are confident of success and when there is possibility of failure; most do not act as they should. They fold up and fail to act or avoid acting. So we are so afraid of failure, right? Let us look at failure. What exactly is failure?

Failure is an Attitude, not an Event
Remember the quote “I have experienced a series of defeats but I am not defeated”? Being defeated is a choice one makes; it is not an event. The playwright Marilyn vos Savant said that “being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” We are so hung up on success yet we learn so much more from failure than we do from success.
We have to understand that success does not make us and failure does not break us. Recall that success is something we experience, perhaps as a result of hard work, good strategy or even good genes. But success should not make us who we are. We should choose who we are. Do not let the outcome of your actions be the only measure of success or your personal worth. You are a success if you try, not just because you succeed. If we let success define us, we are likely to be destroyed by failure. Because when success validates us, failure is seen as a loss of identity or even death of the person because we end up tying the purpose of our lives to achievement of success. Recall that if something brings you up, it can also bring you down. Accept failure with the same measure of objectivity as you do success. Failure will only break us if we allow it to break us. Failure is not falling down: it is staying down. It is just an opportunity to get it right next time. So it is a learning opportunity. Henry Ford said that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Failure will not Break You
We have to understand that failure is associated with a specific event, and it is not a person and has no life of its own. It does not remember and it cannot actively seek you. You are part of the event and are responsible but you are not the event. You are still intact and fundamentally sound. Uncouple yourself from the event. Once you understand that whereas you are responsible for an event, you are not the event, you will have the courage to act, knowing that you will outlive failure. Plus, mistakes are a necessary part of progress. Marva Collins said that “If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.” And one cannot escape challenges in life. Challenges are inevitable while failure is optional as Roger Crawford once said.
Once you understand that failure builds you and does not diminish you, you can overcome your fears. The American labor unionist Walter Reuther said that “If you are not big enough to lose, you are not big enough to win.” So failure should be accepted in equal measure as success. The American actor Mickey Rooney surmised that “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Embracing this concept is integral to building confidence because as Peter T. McIntyre said, “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong. “

From the above, we can see that failure can help us grow rather r=than destroy us. This sentiment was echoed by the American actress Mary Tyler Moore when she said “You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.”
So take a chance, don’t be afraid. Realize that when you fail, you are going to learn and go in the different direction. Don’t say “I can’t…” or “I can’t because they…” because the limitations placed on us are an extension of our own timidity. If we are afraid to fail, then we will use other people’s objections and disapprovals as an excuse to avoid the risk of failure.

Fear as Opportunity
Behind every fear, ignorance is often present or at least a lack of understanding this may be why Marie Curie said that “nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” Dorothy Thompson said “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there's a bogeyman around, turn on the light.” So, look your fear in the eye and understand it. Indeed, most of the things that scare us are things we know little about or have never experienced or understood. Looked at this way, every fear is an opportunity for growth and is room for improvement in our personal growth. Jim Morrison put it aptly when he said, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
So fear can be defined as freedom that has not yet been conquered. Tom Crum said “You either move toward something you love or away from something you fear. The first expands. The second constricts.” So failure to confront your fears retards your growth and constricts your experience.
Remember that you can't discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore. And that, whereas ships in a harbor are safe, ships were not made to stay at the harbor but to sail in seas. It has also been said that as soon as you stop taking risks in life, your story is over.
Just like there is a silver lining behind every dark cloud, Ruth E. Renkel exhorted us that we should never fear shadows because they simply mean that there's a light shining somewhere nearby. So behind every fear we feel is something we need to learn. On the other side of fear, freedom awaits. Learn it and be free because as Dorothy Thompson said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”
Don't be afraid to fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It's OK to fail. If you're not failing, you're not growing, said H. Stanley Judd

August 29, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lesson Learnt: Recovery Run

Today I woke up full of spunk, buoyed by my recent rather "successful" runs. So I had it in mind to do another fast 10K and break my PB. So I downed some orange juice and two slices of bread. Orange juice has sugar and carbs and so does bread. So they were meant to give me the insulin spike to facilitate release of energy from my muscles and liver.
Watched a little of AC360 as I hydrated and changed. The Americans (CNN) are trying to paint China as not so successful by now focusing on the economic challenges China is facing. Its like US is advertising to the world "Ok, they won the olympics and were well organized. We give them that but their economy stinks. We will show you how" And then of course the storm expected to rip New Orleans. And McBushs running mate has a daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock and did McBush do a proper background check before choosing her bla bla bla.
I stretched a little and hit the road. After my 900metres warm up, I jacked up the pace. The streets were clear the air was crisp and clean after a drizzle last night and the streetlights were working. 10K, here I come, I thought.
By the time I reached the top of the first hill, 600metres ahead, I could feel it was a struggle. My body was asleep. I had no energy. I cleared the first K in 5.30 mins and the second K in 8.30mins. By then I knew I had to junk the idea of doing a 10K. I was weak.
So I changed it to a recovery run and jogged for 45 minutes.
The moral of the story is that I should have stuck to my schedule and realized there is no way, no how that you can exert yourself over 10K a day a part.
Lesson learnt. So I will take it easy today and tomorrow and see how Thursday is. More importantly, I will stick to my schedule and retain recovery runs on the days they should be run.
And oh, some little twit passed me and he made a roar as he zoomed past. Where are people like him when I am doing my tempo runs or on Sunday?
Cheers.
A

10K Unconfirmed PB 53.41mins

I did the 10K run yesterday and set a PB of 53.41mins over 10K and 25.57mins for the 5K which I will strive to improve on this week when I run on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, on the track, I could probably slash some three minutes off because there is no hill and no cars being driven dangerously by intoxicated drivers and no gaping manholes to jump over and so on and so forth. We will establish that soon when we visit the track.
I lost another one Kg last week and I feel lighter. Hopefully, I can lose another Kg this week. If I keep dropping a Kg per week, I may even surpass my goals if I can reach normal weight by 26th October.
Note that the lighter you are, the faster you can be because your blood has less volume to distribute oxygen to, so your heart can be more efficient and not taxed by having all that mass to feed with oxygen.
I started the first 5K by employing long strides and in the secong 5K, I relied more on pushing myself forward using my toes. This latter aspect, I found, contributes better to speed than large strides. At any rate, I will combine the two and find a balance in-between that is most efficient for my body. Its always about balance, about what suits your body best. Every athlete must find what works best for them.
I feel great. No injuries so you can be sure that I will push it on Tuesday. It is clear I am approaching a 5mins per Kilometre pace which is a great improvement from my past paces. But I am sure I can reach four within September (with more than 8Kgs off, why the heck not?). And I will reach four. Then sub four...

I went to watch MIRRORS. This is the best horror movie I have watched in a couple of years. It has very scary stuff that will take your heart from your chest and shake it down. It is also the first movie I watched where some of the audience could not take the dread and violence anymore and left before the movie ended, much to the amusement of those that remained, clutching onto each other for strength.
24's lead character, Kiefer Sutherland aka Jack Bauer is the starring in this film.
The movie starts with the hard breathing of a running scared night-watchman who eventually slices his throat using a piece of broken mirror. And that eerie scene sets the mood for the rest of the movie. Kiefer acts as an ex-alcoholic ex-cop who left the force after he killed someone. His eccentric behavior forces him to leave his family and he crashes at his little sister's house.
He finds a job as a night guard as he tries to get back on his feet and reunite with his family. His job is to guard a shopping mall that was burnt down. In that mall, alone at night and surrounded by burnt statues, a flooded basement and clear mirrors he hears strange sounds and sees strange things, he even hallucinates that he is burning and soon, the mirror at his sister's place possesses another character like himself. He falls backward when his image in the mirror stares back at him and transforms. He struggles to understand what is happening, everyone thinks he is nuts. His sister's jawbone is ripped out of its sockets by a demon in the mirror that takes possession of her body. It is a gory scene, she splashes in the bathtub, screaming in pain and the tub is full of blood. Her screams tear your heart out. And leave you looking for something to hold onto.
Kiefer realizes that the demons are after him. In anger, he shoots the mirrors but they repair themselves. They print 'eseeker' when he screams "what do you want from me???!!!" He uses his connections at the police force to seek and find eseeker. Meanwhile, he tries to remove all mirrors from his home knowing that the demon will come after his family just like it came after the family of the guard he has replaced. His wife almost calls the cops on him after she cannot take his erratic behavior any more. Meanwhile, his son gets friendly to the demon. At one time, Kiefer's wife finds her talking to his image in the mirror. When she calls him to her, he comes to her but his image in the mirror remains staring straight at her. She breaks down and is scared shitless. She calls her husband and they paint all the mirrors in their home.
It turns out that 'eseeker', what the demon wants, was a 12 year old schizophrenic girl. She got enlisted under a pshychiatrist who believed that schizophrenia could be cured by forcing the patient to face their own images in a mirror. That confrontation, he believed, destroyed any other multiple personalities the schizophrenic possessed.
So eseeker was strapped in a chair and placed in a room surrounded by mirrors in all directions. What happened was that a demon that possessed her left her body and joined her reflection in the mirror. She left and went into obscurity in a monastery where there were no mirrors.
The demon then, locked behind a mirror, started killing people as it sought to reunite with its host 'eseeker'. Kiefer finds eseeker and brings her to the building under gunpoint – 24-style and saves his family, which by that time is sucked deep into mirrors and reflections by the demon, which thrives on becoming whatever is reflected in the mirror.
The movie's end is confusing because it appears as if Kiefer is in a mirror because he sees all letters written backwards and left is right.
Maybe the director wanted to leave a window for MIRRORS II.