Evolve to adapt, adapt to evolve

Ever since I was interviewed, I had received some mails from fellow spinal patients and they all wanted me to share some of the therapies I have been doing. I feel so much for all these people because, I really do know what it feels to be in such a state and I often admire those who have not given up even when their current medical conditions are worse than mine. This road to rehabilitation is one tough road.. I have tried everything possible, medications, botox, physio, massage, OT, cranial osteopathy, all the works. But recently, I have started a new exciting treatment.

So recently I have been visiting “this evolved place” which many has asked me about. Thought I might share a little more about this evolved place.

Evolved Exercise Solutions (aka Evolved) is the name of the clinic I have been visiting and it is a physio/personal training center. Whats most distinctive is that it has an anti-gravity treadmill.

A what? 
Anti-gravity? 
you sure? 
How does that work?

So.. let me do a simple introduction to the anti-gravity machine.

Step 1. You are given a space suit. Only the bottom though. 

Step 2. Put on your space bottom OVER your pants/tights. Lets try to be hygienic.

Step 3. Step into the space machine.

Step 4. Zip up, Suit up, get ready for take off.

Step 5. Reduce weight, set speed and inclination (fastest weight loss ever. I swear)

Step 6. Gentlemen, start your engines. *vroooom… brr… vrooom 

Step 7. Take a break in between if you feel like dying
Step 8. You huff and you puff and go harder and faster to better your best.

 

Step 9. Prepare for landing and for gravity (again).

It is that simple. Sci-fi technology that isnt supposed to be on planet Earth. ha.
I have heard of this machine in the past and it was then only made available for the world’s most elite endurance athletes. The elites would clock in their 42km long run on this machine to “spare” their legs while concentrating on the high turn over rates or when they are coming back from an injury and needed to put in some extra mileage. I have always wanted to try this! Little did I know, I would be using it in this “new, evolved” body.
negative thoughts go away*
negative thoughts go away*
negative thoughts go away* 
 =x
Ok. on a serious note, this stuff has worked well for me. I think it is a synergy of how this ties down with all my physios, strength work, gym, running drills, running sessions, biking sessions all work together. Yeah. Thats alot of things I do for a week.
I did a 2:41:21 half marathon back in Singapore before visiting Evolved and just 2 weeks later, 3 sessions in, I did a 2:38:40 at the 21km mark for my marathon. 
I guess what is so special about this is the fact that I was able to run at higher speed without putting on the weight on my knees. The “lightness” allowed me to focus on my techniques and also for me to get in some body awareness while being strapped on at a spot, not falling over even when my left stop moving and gets dragged along the treadmill. 
During my first session, I realised that I have been missing out on the flight phase of my run and I worked on it.
Subsequently, I realised how uneven my stride lengths are, with my left foot stride being smaller than my right foot stride.
I then realised my left hamstrings have not been “kicking in”, making that nice small circular motion it once produced.
I also realised that I am not using my left glutes.
and the list goes on and on and on.
hate it when running isnt natural. grrr.
we were born to run! right ? right?
Just need to get this thing back on track so that I can once again enjoy running.

and… I have resumed running training with my team.
SO DAMN AWESOME TO BE BACK.

Got totally dropped off during the warm up (Shit happens). But somehow, it made me really happy. It reminded me of the first session I ever had with the team, around 1 year ago. Got smashed and dropped off by 15 year old girls and I worked and worked till I caught up, started dropping the girls off (i know this sound damn sad. but hey, my team mates are that good alright? serious.) and starting to catch up with the boys and BAM! comes my famous bike crash…
Its ok. I told myself that I will work my way back (again). I know it is unlikely that I will ever catch up with the boys ever again. I know it will take a long time, not forgetting how tough it will be, just for me to run a decent race again.
I ain’t throwing in the towels.
Looking at doing a good 10km road race this coming September. With all the help, encouragement and love I have gotten, I might just surprise myself. Who knows? Only way to find out, is to work my ass off NOW.
Totally smashed from today’s training at the Lake. Gonna check in to Evolved tomorrow for a tempo run. Just to learn and understand my body more. To make do with what I have left and to start improving from there again.
Just to share something I learnt from training this arvo. We often set boarders for ourselves because it we think that it keeps us “safe”, so that we will not be too smashed. We set a running distance or a running pace in our minds even before we attempt to do our very best. I am currently trying to clear all the “limtations”, “pace”, “restrictions” out of the window and just focus on something really simple. 
Just got to be better than yesterday’s me. Concentrate on being BETTER.

Ending off with my favourite phrase…

Nil Sine Labore

another look at the space machine

High tech treadmill yo

Perth Marathon 2014

This is one run that I wanted to do real badly yet this is the one run that I had actually feared.
I have always believed that the marathon is an honest race, you get what you sow. Having only my longest run post injury (21km half marathon) 2 weeks prior, I know I will be battling myself on this day.

I have been taping myself up with RockTape leading up to the race. Many might argue that these “colored tapes” are nothing but placebo. My take, try it to believe it. I was introduced to this particular taping technique “spiral” on my leg as it was previously shown to help kids with cerebal palsy. I gave it a try and found that it helped me alot. Now that I am all taped up, I am ready for the run.

Did some spiral taping on my left leg to prevent the spasms from kicking in. Believe it or not, this works for me.

Using the “spider” technique to recover from the bruise I had a couple of weeks back. Should have done this earlier =x

Before I knew it, the race flagged off and away everyone went. I had a plan this time round. 3 min of running, 2 min of walking and I was seriously determined to stick by it this time round. My girlfriend was my “support team” for the day and it was her very first marathon. She took the exact same footsteps as I did. No 10km race, no 21km race, went straight for gold. Doing a full marathon (42.195km) as her first ever race. Mad, you must be thinking. Daring is what I call it. ha.

All smiles. Because it is finally marathon time again =) 
photo:proflanders

Whenever I walked, people started passing me and no matter how fast I went during the 3 min run, I fell to the back of the pack and I literally meant the back. Last 10 runners maybe? Probably. I started to feel pressured as I had never been so far back ever before and it was probably just 5 km into the race. I felt so stressed that I might be lapped by everyone when they turn around for their 2nd lap. I had no choice but to be discipline and to carry on with my strategy and hope that there are just lots of people who are bad at pacing. Afterall, this is a marathon, its about pacing and knowing yourself. So I told myself to hang on and hope that things will get better in a bit.

As the run continued, I caught a handful of people and I didnt feel that much of a pressure. At about 12ish km, I saw my coach running past me (he started 30mins later) and that actually made me really happy and I told myself to dig deeper and follow through with my plan. Came through the 21km mark at 2:38:40 feeling really fresh and all ready for another 21km. My sessions at Evolved, on the anti-gravity treadmill must have paid off.

Somewhere after the 24 km mark,my girlfriend turned to me.

GF: I knew that the marathon is extremely challenging but never have I expected it to be so tough. My knees are just feeling so smashed right now and my glutes and back are hurting so much. You would have finished this marathon long ago by now if not for this injury right?

I nodded. Smiled a little.
A part of me died when she told me that. What she might not know was the tears behind my Oakleys. I tried to put on a brave front, looked away and I kept going.

The marathon has been such a special race to me. It was the race that suited me the most. A race about consistent hard work, the determination, discipline to push through training daily and most importantly, to have the hunger for the love of pain. I love the pain it gives. I enjoy it so damn much because I know the more pain I feel, the more pain my competitors are feeling too. It all boils down to who has the capacity to tank this all down and to fight through it. I LOVE THIS. At this present moment, not only am I not able to compete, I have lost the ability to run at an intensity that made me felt like my lunges are bursting. If not for this injury.. If not for it, I will probably be doing a sub2:50 at this very same race.

GF: How do you even race through all this pain? This is … 

Me: By doing 30km on every Sunday before attending Church.

Her jaw dropped.

Me: Yeah. And I had to do the first 25km within 2 hours because that what my coach told me to. I will then finish the last 5km with some hills at King’s Park.

My girlfriend went silent for a good few seconds.

GF: no, seriously… … you are crazy.

I started to feel even worse about my situation. All the hard work.. all the time I spent pounding my body.. the way I have devoted the last 4 years into running.. all gone because of a bike accident. I felt really shitty at this point in time.

Thankfully, I woke up my freaking idea.
If I had not taken up marathon running, I might not have had the will power and determination to come back from such a severe freak accident. It is a miracle how I can regain the ability to walk, let alone started running. The marathoner in me never stopped “running” even when I was paralysed. The love for pain and challenges made me pull through all the therapies and the competitor in me has yet to give up hope on racing. I want to do it again. I want to do another PR. I wanna smash my own marathon timing. I will make it happen. Even if it takes me years. I want to make it happen. I will make sure it happens back in Japan where everything started.

I completed the marathon later feeling surprising good about the situation. 42km worth of talking to myself, talking to God, searching deep within myself to make peace with myself and cried a couple of times during the run (good thing I had my big sunnies). The things a marathon does to one’s life. *grin

Post race, I did some recovery taping for my girlfriend and I had lots to think about. Now that I had covered the full marathon, my mind was already thinking of ways for me to get back, to be better, faster, stronger. Mixing and matching all the possibilities of everything I can think of. All the different workouts and drills that I will have to do.
Gotta keep this going. Can’t wait to run till my lunges burst, to feel the lactic burn before throwing up. I remember promising myself that IF one day, i ever get to run again, I will give my all, no holding back. No more hiding from the dreadful lactic workouts. I will enjoy it.

Looks like Avatar. heehee

Recovery taping! Pretty nicely done by me eh? *proud*

Trying to go for a good 10km race soon. Gonna challenge myself by stating the standard now.
sub 50 min for 10 km by the end of this year.

Nil Sine Labore
The only person that can give up on me.. is me. And I will never give up.

For sure I enjoyed my run. Hope it feels like flying soon.

Sundown Marathon (half marathon) 2014

I was back in Singapore to do the Sundown Marathon 2014 2 weeks back and it has been quite an experience.

Was really honored to have the opportunity to be one of the ambassadors for the race and I had a couple of opportunities to talk to the press to share with others my unique story.

I was really nervous and excited about the run. Im excited because I am back at Sundown Marathon, officially taking my first step back into running and I am really nervous because I do know how brutal the distance can be. I have always told others why I love marathons and it is because it is the most “honest” race. How much hard work and how well one is prepared for the race is almost certainly to show on race day itself. There will be no “miracles”, no excuses, no gimmicks. It all boils down to how much hardwork were put on a daily basis leading up to the race and I just love it for being so. So, a 21km (half marathon) is honestly a huge challenge for me, especially with my longest run being a 12km which resulted in me limping for 3 days after. Doctors have told me how much damage this run could cost me and how this could set me back and hinder me from improving. I was told to “know my limits” and be smart about it. Ermmm.. the problem is.. i know no “limits”. I have been told and wired to go beyond what I think I can, to continuously outdo myself, to perform one after another “limit-break” to become the best I can be. Hardwork, discipline and determination. My eventual conclusion was: whatever, lets do this run.


Before I knew it, I was at the starting line of the half marathon. This was a very familiar feeling. This adrenaline, this sense of unknown, this fear of what is about to come.. just makes me feel so alive again. I remember making a promise to myself when I was still in rehabilitation hospital that I will treasure every single moment I have while running. I will enjoy and be thankful for it because it was something that I have taken for granted. I have been chasing this “personal record” thingy that I have forgotten how fun and enjoyable it is to run, to feel the wind in my face and feel free from this social rat race we are so damn involved in. And, I told myself at the start line for the first time that “today is a good day. This is going to be a good run. Just gotta give my best”.

Priority entry to the race thanks to Hivelocity and Sundown.

I am sure people have heard about my miraculous healing and how i defied all odds to be back walk/running 7 months post to a C1 incomplete spinal injury. What no one knows were the struggles, the amount of help I have gotten during this race and the build up to it. (Of course, I did lots and lots of praying).  I had two wonderful friends who decided to do a half marathon with me as my “support team” to help motivate ma and to keep me safe during my run. What no one (except for my support team) knew was that I fell while running the day before the sundown race and I dislocated my shoulder. I got it fixed soon after the fall but i did not have much of a shoulder movement due to it. It was really painful. Shit happens. Nevertheless, I am back at the starting line, with my support team, embarking on my first step back into running. 

My awesome friends =)

Cant wait to start my run after the bag deposit!
Taking every step with you Lachy

I had a strategy going into the run. 3mins of running, 2 min of walking. I set my watch on repeated intervals and it beeped at the start of each intervals. I tried my best to follow the intervals but at times I just got too carried away and I refused to do the 2 min walking, which I eventually paid a pay for it later in the run. As I was running, mixed emotions were running through me. I knew this is a big step forward for me and I am really happy and thankful for it, but at the same time, it just feels so frustrating to see people over-taking me, seeing the 2 hour pacers run further and further away from me. Goodness, I would have never thought of doing a half marathon this way prior to the injury. I guess, life changes and it is up to me to adapt and make the best out of it. My team mate Steph once told me: Every race changes, condition changes, situation changes. But that’s what triathletes do best. We adapt.

Watching other runners go pass me as I walk.. is a bitter pill to swallow.

Yes! finally my 3 minutes to run!! Wheee..

walking my 2 min off

At certain portions of the route, there were lots of opportunities to cut corners or even run across a field (which will save about 400 m +). I was tempted to cut the corners to get a faster timing, but I thought to myself: I have never cheated on a distance before, why start now? My support team and I were probably the handful of “idiots” who followed the route strictly and run along the long windy congested roads to clock the full 21 km. Pride. That’s what it is. Pride. I did not cheat and I completed a real 21km. That’s my pride talking, right here, right now.

I started to feel the fatigue kicking in after 15km and uncontrollably, started to drag my left foot. Although I could run a little now, there are a lot of spasm going through my left body (arms, legs, back and abdominal) and these are things that I cannot control. I just have to live with it, deal with it, understand it and adapt to it. These spasms are the reasons why I have not been back riding my bike on the road. I have gotten too many falls just traveling from home to uni (1.6km) and these falls just aint pleasant. (bad for my bike too). Sundown Marathon was so kind to include the Shears Bridge this year to make a hell of a climb. THANK YOU FOR THE TOUGH COURSE. No. seriously. Thank you. I wouldnt have wanted it easy. It is because it is so damn tough, it makes the finishing more worthwhile. Maybe I should start learning to do things the simple way. Make life easier… hmmm.. NEH!

At the top of Shears Bridge! Took me freaking 20 mins to walk up.

My buddy who raced her own 21km race, did a u-turn after her race and came back to meet me 2km away from the finishing line. What a babe =) So, the 4 of us slowly, steadily ran towards the finishing line and I told them that I wanted to finish the run in style. I started to pick up speed going into the last 1 km of the run, doing this is the last stretch.

The run was seriously a struggle.

I started to lose my running rhythm.
I tried to keep my focus.
My left leg started to drag,
I used more of my right leg to carry through.
My left shoulder gave way and started to spasm,
I began to lose control of my body and I was about to fall over.
Just 20m more…
Just 10m more..
Come on!
And.. I crossed the finish line just in time before falling and having spasm kicked in all over my body.

Definitely not a nice finishing photo.

I completed the run in 2:40:21.
Just not too along ago, I would have covered 38km in the same time. How life has changed for me as a runner.

One day, I hope to start a race at the front of a pack again, focused, to run a best race of my life.

Will be doing the Perth Marathon this coming weekend. Hopefully I will be able to complete it. Just gotta get a bench mark and start improving from there. Nil Sine Labore.