2019 Season opener

It has been very challenging getting my training done this season. 

First off, i did my first 5km jog in January after tearing hip labral last October. Rehab has been slow but at least I managed to get back to running.

After moving back to Singapore in late January, I thought things will get back better and I looked forward to training with my lactic buddy, only to find out that she has retired and is trying for a baby.

So I ended up training with a group of unfamiliar team mates, having a massive age gap between us, and I had no idea how we were gonna motivate each other. More often that not, I felt like the outcast. I was too old for their jokes, my bedtime was too early for them and of course, my old battled body took way longer to recover from em workouts. 

To make things worse, I was suspected of hormonal issues and was constantly tired. I was vomiting between sessions and putting on so much weight despite not feasting like how I was back in Aussie. I went for a full blood screening only to find out that things are pretty alright. So till now, we have no idea what happened.

So things finally fell into place. I depended on the team to pull me through some workout days and coach Luis was always ready to listen or give me an earful. Thats when I realised I need to race to qualify for ASEAN Para Games. 

3 weeks out from the proposed cut-off date and I have not done a single 300m for the season, I was literally freaking out. 

I remember going to coach..

Z: coach, whats my workout for today?

L: the usual.

Z: can I do something different? Like longer distance?

L: yeah you can.. but why?

Z: because im nervous…

L: why are you nervous?

Z: ermmm… because my race is in 3 weeks and I havent ran more than 300m??

L. F…… 

Yeah. He forgot about the race. 😂

So i started doing the race specific training and I got smashed every single day. I couldnt get close to the qualifying time and I felt the games was slipping away from me.. 

i got more stressed and ended up doing the stupidest thing I could do. Overtrain. 

5 days before the race and booom. Plantar fasciitis on both feet. I had no choice but to forfeit the race and give my plantar some much needed break. Almost 4 weeks of rest and my fitness went back to zero.

I was fortunate enough to be given another chance to race last weekend and it was really my last chance to make it to the games. 3 weeks to race day but my fitness level is back at pre-season, body fat much higher than where I need to be, I knew my chances were slim. Dead slim. 

Then I did what I do best. Dug deep and convinced myself that its not over till the race is done. I went straight into high intensity interval training (hiit) with wb almost everyday, did my fartlek diligently for the first 2 weeks to get back as much fitness as I could and spent the last week working on race specific pacing. I woke up at 530am for 5 consecutive days to simulate race day. Taking breakfast at 6am and hitting the track at 7am. I will then rock up to work and sneak in an easy jog in the evening. It was really intense but I knew what needed to be done to maximise my chances. 

So came race day, i had diarrhea. Maybe its the nerves, maybe its the potato chips from the night before. Who knows?! Grrr… 

Its been a long time since I raced and I was really excited but very very nervous. I chat with the officials and they got me to the start line earlier so that I could do some run-throughs. 

15mins before the race: I changed into my spikes. I did some stretching and did some striding. Feels good.

10mins before the race: did more striding and paced around nervously..

5min before the race: was told that I had more time and I should take it easy. I did some stridings yet again to calm myself down.

3min before the race: prompted to do my final run before the race. Did more runs.

Finally.. on your marks.. set… bang! 

And off I went.

I felt the rhythm, i felt my legs turning, man, I know I’ve got a chance as long as I keep this going..

so came the 100m straight and I came face to face with the clock, only to realised im 10s too fast on my first 300m. I knew im stuffed. This is the standard template for killing yourself and doing the crappiest 1500m. 


As I crossed the 300m mark, a part of me wanted to stop, to end all the suffering, “to save my legs” for future. The other part of me wants to continue to try and make the remaining 1200m work. Its really beyond logic. 

The pacing is off and the lactic was building.. just how am I gonna pull this off.. *another 100m passed*

Maybe I should just start walking now.. but it will be quite embarrassing *another 100m passed*

So this is when I decided to not look at the clock nor the watch and just run. 

“Just gonna hang in there, run till the legs no longer move, the lungs exploding and there you will find another gear, as always, to finish strong” and as Michael would say “hand brakes off mate!”.

Really glad that I did not give up on myself and I got in a decent 1500m given all these circumstances. Looks like my season has just gotten a 5-month extension. Lets see what this season brings 🙏


Note to self: Its only over when you give up on yourself.

Yet another career change

recently, I have started work at a local fragrance house and that caught many by surprise.

Well, really guys.. this is not the first time I have been making “shocking” decisions in my life. First I stopped school to play music.. then I did my own business (which obviously didnt end up well) and then i went to study sports science.. then now working in the fragrance industry. Ok. I must admit, even I was not prepared for this change. I really wanted to have a job in the health care research area or in sports science.. but looks like life has got other plans for me.

Of the 1001 questions I get, I shall address the top 5 questions. This might serve as a reminder/motivation to myself during future speed bumps.

1.What happened to sports science? Your PhD?

Long story short, I still love sports and absolutely believe in the beauty of sports science. However, the time and place doesn’t seem to fall in place for me. I struggled a lot initially with regards to “wasting” my PhD, moving on to a total “irrelevant field”. I felt that a piece of document had inflated my pride and ego, subjecting me to “what is appropriate” and “what is fitting” for me. As soon as I realised that trap, I knew I needed to move on. Life is too short to contained by my own imaginary box.

It was fun while it lasting. lots of boxes ticked off. AT least I can tell other's that I was a scientist :)
It was fun while it lasting. lots of boxes ticked off. AT least I can tell other’s that I was a scientist :)

2. I thought your diabetes research was receiving a lot of traction and words are some research firm are interested in hiring you?

Yes and no. Yes, my research gained a lot of traction and I am very honoured to have the privilege of having a group of participants, I now call my friends, whom made it possible. Although a few research firm did sound me out, there was never a concrete offer. A part of me misses the Perth a lot, but I guess it is just not the time for me to be there. Maybe in the future? Who knows? :) 

3. Are you still competing as an athlete?

Well, the plan was to continue to compete but plantar fasciitis has struck me again. So I am hoping the latest layoff will do me some good and that I will be able to do my time trial this August. Ironically, of all the jobs offered to me, this current job (which is the only non-sports related job) was the one job that encouraged me to continue training, to represent Singapore. Ironic isn’t it? 

Always an honour to represent Singapore
Always an honour to represent Singapore

4. Do you own the business? or have a share in it? Cause you seem like it.

Friends.. I wished I had a share. I am just another employee in this whole working culture. I know treat this like my own business because i choose to. some of us might remember my failed business venture 10 years ago. It was called SIXX, a ladies footwear company. I was young, naive, full of pride and overestimated my ability. The company failed terribly. Now in 2019, I was given a chance to join SIX and my boss trusted me so much that he lets me run it like my own business. Seriously, the only way to repay this guy to give my all and make him some dough right?

xiang6699 EDT Copy of Scentbysix_20ML EDT Trio Gift Box_$198

5. What do you enjoy most about the job?

Well.. I enjoy talking :)

Talking to people about the company, the products and conducting workshops!

what I enjoy most is the out-of-the-box thinking that is required. looks like the PhD is not wasted 😛

Lots of unknown = lots of opportunities and excitement.

I guess I will be always attracted to doing something different and the unknown. Makes me feel so alive when things actually work out well.

3 pros and 1 noob. Im obviously the noob
3 pros and 1 noob. So obvious that I am the noob sauce.

Its official! I am now with MFP!

As we approach the halfway mark of 2019, Its timely that I reflect on how life has changed.

I have now officially relocated back Singapore for a few months now. Initially, I was certain that there wouldnt be much of a transition issue but I stand corrected. 

The weather, the work culture, the transport system (I still get lost on trains) and food has proven to be interesting challenges to daily living. Let alone, Shina and I are now staying at my parent’s till our flat comes along next year.

I also thought about why & how I started blogging. In the past, it was due to me being a Taiwan artist, then it was because I wanted to complain, then the real deal came in 2013 where I was strongly encouraged to document my accident. It was in hopes to encourage myself and possibly others. Thankful, I was able to help some people along this journey.

I have been so lazy, not blogging for a good 18 months. I just didnt think there was anything exciting nor was I really improving in my health condition. I didnt want to be seen as the “negative person” that complains about things. I wanted to spread some positivity to others.. but I was low in that department too.

Looking back, the blog is a diary and is something that I will want to look back and relive the good and the not-so-good bits of life. So it is with pleasure that I officially announce that I am now part of the MyFatPocket (MFP) family and commit to blogging once a month. I know my god sis will be keeping her eyes on me.

She has always encouraged me to blog, to share my “exciting” life with others. I love talking; writing is another whole new thing. It was just … too much effort for me. I mean come on, I can hardly find content for my instagram, still need to blog.. die la.. 

Fast forward to early June, when i caught up with her over coffee and the she told me that MFP has been looking for male bloggers to join the family.

Me: you sure or not.. 

Sis: sure

Me: you will have a nightmare chasing me for content one leh

Sis: no problem. I help you brainstorm

Me: u sure ah..

Sis: confirm

Ok. So confirm.

Black & white whole world see now.

So if my content lacking.. we know who we can all blame! Hahahahhahahaa!!

Jokes aside, while preparing for the “blog shift”, I was tasked to look for photos of myself.. and upon looking through the photo collections, I realised I really should have blogged more often. There was so much memories in the photos and how I wish I have written a blog for them!! So ok, my project now is to look back through these old photos and have some throwback blogs, while I log the present.

Peace out

2018 wrap up

This draws the end of Asian Para Games and also the end of 2018 season.
As I take one last look around the village and I find myself smiling to myself.
Despite clocking my career worst 1500m at the biggest event of my career (how ironic can this get), I am leaving the Asian Para Games a happy man.
To begin with, I have not thought it would be possible to be competing at such this Asian Para Games for numerous reasons. One of which was the fact that I was never truly fit for the entire 2018. Although I was cleared to engage in running again in Feb, plantar fasciitis has its way of clinging onto me and I had to reduce my training load for most of these 7 months. I haven’t been running as much as I would like and definitely not as fast as I would like during the easier days.
As a result of reduced training volume and intensity, I found it really hard to lose the extra kgs I have put on during the lay-off period. However, an administrative miscommunication resulted in me participating in the Tunisia Grand Prix instead of Berlin’s. Looking back, it was definitely the turning point of this whole injured-overweight cycle. I met a sports dietician. I have always believed that I had adequate knowledge in this area and I wasn’t willing to “report” to someone else with regards to my daily food intake. I am the diet police, why would I report to someone else?! My oh my, I am so wrong. Not only was my dietician a lovely person, she is a self-confessed magician (because she manage to get me to buy my own fruits, eat my fruits and veg, stop potato chip-ing and control & time my carb intake within 1 week) and most importantly, she was willingly to communicate with an over-seas athlete, after her working hours.  I have to credit her for helping me get back to racing weight.
Another reason was that PhD has been stressing me out this year with a series of unfortunate events, which led to sleepless nights, and I have to admit, I got pretty depressed at a point in time. There were times when turning up to training was actually hard because I just haven’t got my head screwed on right.
Injuries and illness have always been part and parcel of an athlete’s life. But I had the worst timing of them of all, suffering from a string of illnesses and injuries leading up to the games. Talk about some crap luck all year round.
Despite the hot and humid weather, training was great for the first couple of days and it just feels like a PB is about to happen. However, things took a turn in the last 5 days prior to the race. Initially, the plantar started to hurt and I conclude it was probably just me wearing spikes.  However, I started experiencing sharp pain in the hip and quad whenever I picked up pace. The pain got worse and more frequent as the days got closer to the race. I went to the physios, iced it, rested it but nothing worked. During the warm up on race day, I did some 100m striding and it got so bad that I couldn’t stand. To make matter worse, I was having gastro issues despite being extremely careful with my food intake. I had diarrhea for the past 3 days and I must admit, the toilet has been my most hung out place since. I was feeling weak, I was feeling pain and I had to seriously consider pulling out of the comp. Here I am, 15 minutes before reporting to the call-room, crouching at the finishing line, asking how much more pain can I endure and if it was realistic for me to run 1500m on that.  And it is always during such point in time, where no knowledge of mine, no strength of mine could sustain myself, do I feel the presence of God. I limped back to my bag, grab a pain relief spray while my physios were not looking and bathed my leg with mist of cold spray. I then grab a bag of ice, hi-fived my athletics fam and reported for racing. I just couldn’t bring myself to let my team and my country down.
100m into the race and I was dropped. The pain got worse as the run continued. The running form was an absolute disaster and every lap got slower. As the gap got wider, the cheers from team sg remained strong. Thank you
One thing that I didn’t expect was the cheers from the Indonesia public. It was so genuine and it was so encouraging. After I crossed the line, I walked over to thank the home crowd and was received with even more cheers and support. Thank you Indonesia for the welcome, passion and encouragement. I just wish I could have been in better shape to bring you better entertainment and that you could have kept my jersey.
You have brought me more injuries than a car crash could;
You have showed me ways of conquering the mind;
You have given me opportunities to represent the country;
You have brought me to places I never would have traveled to;
You have given me friends whom I will be thankful of and hold dear for the rest of my life;
You have given me experiences that I would never have dreamt of.


I look forward to sharing you with future generations.
prepared and written by Zac Leow
photo credits to SportSG

HBF 12km 2017

Recap leading up to HBF 12km -2017
12 weeks before the race
My friend, whom I had previously coached for last year’s City2Surf, came to ask for a personalised training plan so that she could run a sub 60 min 12km. The amount of time wasn’t ideal but I reckoned we could pull this off and just within 2 days, she registered for the race! Had a quick recap of the workouts I gave in 2016, building on that foundation to give her the best stimulus she responded to.
11 weeks before the race
Another friend came asking for another personalised training plan, also targeting a sub 60min race. This is the first time I had coached him and on hindsight, it was a huge challenge both for him and I. We took 2 weeks to kinda understand where we needed to be
It was definitely fun to coach and find the most efficient way to get the most of the individuals.   
Training has its ups and downs, with times them doubting if they could actually improve their respective 5 and 10 min to finish within 60mins. To be honest, there were times where I wondered if I have given the correct stimulus to get the adaptation needed. This is definitely something new for me: From being an athlete to being a coach. The amount of pressure is no lesser than being the athlete. Now I start to feel for all coaches. We (athletes) weren’t the only one panicking leading up to the race!
2 weeks before the race
I have always been contemplating about joining this race because of the disruption in training due to plantar fasciitis. My longest run since the injury had been a 6km 6:00min/km jog along Mt Bay and I was struggling. After some thought, I registered for the race thinking:
1. It will be good to get in my first road race for the year,
2. To psychologically get over this plantar nightmare,
3. To pace my friends so that they could run their target time.
I started practicing my 5:00/km runs and to my surprise, I still have the legs to reach the pace comfortably. Next, I was worried about covering 12km. I started to do lots of tempo runs on top of the interval sessions.
1 week before the race
We got together as a trio and practiced some race pace running with thought through some situations which might happen on race day. We came out with a drafting plan, ways to get around people and also race day strategy.
Race day
The day started out really cold and man, my body sure hate the cold now. Stiff muscles from the spasms (spinal cord injury) got me limping around. This is my first race where I wore a running jacket and I still felt that it wasn’t enough!! Brrrrr…
Went to the starting pen and me (bring a seasoned non-elite starter) started weaving through people and got us in a favorable starting position.
The race started with a huge downhill, which was great to get the legs moving. Had to hold back a little just to make sure we don’t kill ourselves too early in the race. Things were going pretty well and soon we reached my biggest fear of the race: the tunnel.
While we were in the tunnel, there were no GPS signal, no road markers and lots of bad ventilation. It was a pacer’s nightmare. Lots of runners doing random surges, huge fluctuation of pace in the field and all I could rely on was my innate metronome. This is one of the best tranferable skills I have gotten from being a musician.
“Just gotta keep my tempo. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.” That’s all I was thinking while in that slightly under 2km tunnel. All I could hope for was that when we exit the tunnel, the GPS gets going and I wouldn’t be running blind. Or, for road markers to be present so I can do the old school manual lapping, to check my km splits. Neh. None of that happened. There was no road markers (till much later) and my garmin didn’t manage to re-connect itself. It was giving me heaps of weird information and I did was necessary (sacrificing my strava data), stopped the watch and started a new run, in hopes that it will get everything working. It was a tall order to think and perform all these while only having one good hand. Was really struggling to get my spasm-ed left hand to open up and tap on my Garmin620 (first world spinal patient problems). Still, got that done and I continued pacing.
We continued running with lots of weaving to do as the course has merged with the 21km runners. Lots of choke points, tight turns, grass patches and sandy construction sites with some port holes. It was good fun but highly stressful that I could have been running at a wrong pace and I had to keep surging to a minimum to prevent my trio from getting dropped off.
At long last, I saw the 9km marker and that when I realized I didn’t have a total running time (because I restarted my run earlier *face palm). I reached for the Garmin and went to have a look at the world time and assuming we flagged off at 9:00:00am, we were 25 s behind our 60min target! I literally panicked and wonder what is the best strategic move to do. It was extremely challenging because I had to consider how the crew was feeling and if they were able to speed up so late into the race. After a 10-s silent debate within me, I decided to speed up and chase for lost time. Rather take the gamble than to cross the line at 60:02
It was a crazy 2km but eventually everyone came in below 59mins. 2 personal bests for my friends and a season best for me. Looking back at the data from their strava, I realized I have been really consistent throughout the run, hovering between 4:50-5:00 most of the time. Great to know the good old innate metronome is still working well, syncing to the race tempo while training with my Garmin .  =)
It has been a tough 12 weeks for these 2 and I am so glad they completed their training, came to the race and collected their well deserved “report cards”. Also glad that I managed to finish the race, putting this plantar fasciitis nightmare behind me. 
As I always believe. Nil Sine Labore.


Desperately trying to stay warm pre-race

Never thought it would have been that challenging to be a pacer, having to constantly make decisions on the go, not for myself, but for the crew I am bringing through. Great experience. Would definitely do this again if I am given the opportunity. Who knows.. First para-pacer in an official IAAF road race? Can definitely consider that when I retire. Haha.
Done and dusted with the first road race for 2017.

Still trying to stay warm after our post race celebrations.

Feels good to be alive and moving.

I cant help but wonder if I have reached my physical limits in the 1500m.
2017 hasn’t been a kind year to be thus far, having issues with the infamous runner’s curse, plantar faciitis. I have always wondered how such a simple injury could hamper numerous runners for months if not years. And just when they think its over, this plantar issue flares up on the other foot and the cycle repeats.
Today’s race has been bothering me so much that I can’t sleep. Not because I did not run a personal best nor was it because it didn’t unfold according to plan (how often to life goes according to plan anyways?!)
My plan for the race on 10 March was to start really fast and hold on to it for as long as possible, a strategy that usually doesn’t work well. That was exactly how it went. Started off with a record 400m pace and inevitably got slower and slower with every 200m and came to a crawl. Hence, the strategy for today was to run an even pace throughout the race, a strategy that is seldom applied in race as well.
The week leading up to today’s race has been fantastic. I was running the fastest I have ever been over 10km, 5km and 1km. I had a couple of interval track sessions at race pace (21s/100m) and completed those with not much issues.I was silently confident that I would be able to run an awesome 1500m tonight.
Warm up at 630pm was brilliant despite the pain in the plantar.
Warm up at 715 was horrible though. Spasms kicking in for both legs and left arm. I told myself its because of the cold wind and brushed that aside, assuring myself that it will all be fine once the race starts.
730pm. Set my garmin on a 21s intervals and got to the starting line.
Started the race in the middle of the pack feeling good about my position and was running faster than my target pace. I held back to maintain my target pace and was perfect for 400m.
Started to reel into an opponent at 600m and had to work around his pace or speed up to overtake him. It was brilliant racing from him, sprinting on every straight and whenever I seemed to have overtaken him, forcing me to constantly run on the outer lane. That totally threw me out of whack and I had to take the outer lane. I started to drift away from my target pace but that was just part of racing, I stopped my garmin and focused on the race. 
Finally, with 600m to go, I shook him off. I could feel the gap opening with every step I took. However, I started to lose control of my body. The left arm and leg refused to move and it started to choke my running.  I started to hobble more than I would like and much earlier as well than expected as well (usually happens in the last ~120m). I tried to manage the spasms by varying my speed, trying to relax my body but nothing worked. I dug deeper that I ever had, focusing on putting one leg in front of the other, regardless how small the step was.
300m to go and I could see the clock. It would still be a good race if I could just hang in there. But I couldn’t. My right leg has been over compensating for much of the race and it has started to take its toll.
200m to go and I was caught by the person I once overtook. I tried to run at my own race, focusing on a simple goal: to get my body across the finishing line. Things got worse with every step. I couldn’t feel my body, I couldn’t control it and I was about to fall.
Just 60m more.. Just a couple of steps away.. and I fell straight to the ground. I have no idea how long I was on the ground but I could think of was to: Get up, finish the damn race. And so I did. I got up, hurled my body across the finishing line and fell to the ground depleted. Leaving everything on the track. That’s what every race is.
After the race as I was leaving the stadium, my vision went into a blur. I started breaking into cold sweat and I couldn’t move. I stayed seated till the stadium lights were out and threw up. This wasn’t the kind of lactate throw up. It was something I had a couple of experience with. Its my spinal cord injury acting up. The specialist hypothesize that this phenomenon occurs when I push my body to its limit and my body rejects the activity.  I was shaking, shivering and constantly shifting in and out of consciousness. I really thought I was about to die. Thank God my wife was with me and drove me home after I mastered enough strength to walk to the car.
Once inside the car, the feeling of throwing up grew stronger, my eyelids grew heavier and my body weaker. I fear that I might be paralyzed again and I tied to move my fingers and toes whenever I could. I can’t help but think back about the doctors who told me to avoid running at all cost.
Got home safely and the awful feeling started to subside. Today was a day, I am thankful to be alive, running again. I wasn’t upset with the timing. I wasn’t consumed by the race. I was happy to be alive. It’s a very weird feeling.
Just how much more and how much longer can I push this body?
Maybe it’s the event.
Maybe it’s the falls.
Maybe it’s just forcing the body to re-wire to do the things I want.
The world of unknown awaits everyone and probably a little more for me.

Ps. Craps. I have a really sore shoulder from all the falling now. This shit has no end. Hai..

prepared and written by Zac Leow

First road race post accident

Recently, a couple of questions. One of which was asked why do I run? The other was how I felt not being selected to go to the Paralympics. This kinda got me thinking and I have come up with these reasons:

1. Because I run for those who can’t.
2. Being paralysed has made me realise how much running meant to me.
3. To show to my loved ones that I am getting stronger and better each day.

Wasn’t so much as to dissing the doctors or proving a point to the world. Being a Paralympian or not, is not the motivation in me taking up the sport.

For the past 1.5 years, I have been focusing so much on the 1500m and the possibility of going to the Rio Paralympics that I had totally ruled out road racing for 2016, stating that I will be back racing my full marathon only in 2018. However, when the governing body decided to not send me for any race exposure this 2016, deep down I knew I was not part of the plan. Hence, I signed up for the Swan River Run in May. There is no para category in this race so I will be running along side everyone. It was a little daunting at first but I figured that it is something I have to overcome. At that point in time, my longest run was a 6km and it took slightly under 34minutes for me to complete so I wasn’t very certain if I will be able to prepare myself for this race. Nevertheless, I started working on my long runs and set a “realistic” target of running a sub 25min for the 5km.

Come on, you guys know by know my definition of realistic is pretty different from others. :p
Fast forward to race day.
Just last weekend, I raced in my first ever road race since my accident. It has been 3 years since I last laced up in my Asics Japan Tarthers (the one and only shoe model I ever raced in), braved myself in the cold, stood at the standing line challenging for an official timing. I have raced in a couple of 5 degree races in the past but this race was totally different:
1. Due to my spinal cord injury, my spasms become worse making my movement stiff, losing range of motion, power and speed. Of course, the spasms hurt me. So I was literally in pain while waiting for the race to be flagged off. I had a lot of fear thinking about the wait and I even had to think about what attire to wear! Jacket or no jacket? Singlet or running top? Split shorts or long tights? These were new problems which I had never encountered. Definitely gave me a sleepless night thinking about this “silly” questions.
2. It wasn’t 5 degrees that morning. It was 0.8 degrees! Faintz
However despite all these, I was surprisingly composed and happy. It almost felt like I have never left the world of road racing. I was back in my element. I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t worried about the distance. I was looking forward to the pounding of the road, the pain at mid-way and the lactate at the final 1 km. I was genuinely happy. 
At long last, the gun went off and I started my run. It has been so long since I was able to run together as a pack with other runners. I was enjoying every step I took. But soon, I was dropped off by the lead pack, then the chasing pack and I was again running my own race. I carried on running alone, taking the strong head wind on my own for the remainder ~4km of the race. It was a very hard race not having someone to pace with, not having someone to draft but I was thankful that there were only a couple of people who overtook me. –grins-
As with all my runs, the pain kicked in slightly half way through and I started to count down the kms till I can stop. The only difference this time round: I didn’t question myself why I am putting myself through all these pain. I was happy feeling this discomfort. I was thankful to be able to feel such adrenaline, the pain in the knees, the lactate in the hamstrings and the pounding of my feet hitting the tarmac.
When I took the final turn and crossed the finishing line, I saw my timing on the race clock and I was so stoked with it that I forgot to stop my garmin! 
With about 5 weeks before the race, my coach and I had a discussion and we came to a conclusion that sub 25min will be do-able and we should change the goal to running a sub 24min 5km race. 2 weeks before the race, after a particular workout, we joked about how amazing it will be if I were to run a 22:30 5km. It was such a nonsense that we both laughed it off. To our surprise, I run 21:44 for 5km! Well under the “crazy nonsense” target we joked about. 
Data retrieved from my Garmin 620
Really happy with my ranking! I will consider this a victory for the spinal cord patient! HA!
Often, hindsight is perfect. I still had no idea what exactly went on. But, looking back at my training log, I knew what I did and I would say I must have done everything right in order for the run to unfold in this manner (and that’s why we keep a log). 
There are 4 people who have played crucial roles in making this timing possible. Thank God for placing them in my life. I have learnt so much from them and I “hear” their instructions in my head during my runs, keeping me focus on the agenda of every run. To the athletes who are reading this post, I hope that you do not just do a workout because you are being told to do so. Ask for the reason behind it so that you learn the reason. You will never know when it will come in handy. I often think back about the chats I had with them and a lot of things make sense, allowing me to create a workout that is specific to my needs and to my unique body. 
Increased my mileage
I had a chat with Stewie mid this year and I realized something that was lacking in my training. Mileage. I have been so narrow minded in my training, thinking that as a 1500m runner, I do not need to clock up the miles. After the chat, I started to clock in miles by adding in warm down jogs to make every session an “even numbered session”. Eg, when the workout was 8.8, I will do a 1.2km warm up to get a perfect 10.0km workout in the bank. Slowly, bit by bit, my weekly mileage went up to 50km/week – something that I am quite proud of. My goal is to ultimately hit 70km/week by the end of 2017.
Trust your coach – never back down
Trust your coach. If not, change. It is that simple. I only train with coaches who I trust my life with (quite literally) and I will never bargain for a lighter workout even if it sounds impossible. 
“Do not ask for a lighter load, ask for a stronger back”.
One of the key workouts that made this possible was when I was asked to run my 4 x 1km with 4:30 with 90s rest. At that point in time, I was running ~4:45 and to cut that 15s off seemed so crazy. If I haven’t trusted Grant and if I weren’t crazy enough to say “lets go for it”, I would not have been able to smash through these workouts. Sure my legs felt like jelly, my lungs felt like bursting but I managed to stuck through it and come out stronger. “If it isn’t challenging, you are not training hard enough”. Precisely the case and point.  
absolutely smashed after the run and its totally worth it.
Running mechanics 
Luis gave me precise instructions to help me improve my running mechanics when I was back in Singapore early this year. Till this day I still hear “use your elbows”, “credit card” and most importantly “NO BACK MECHANICS” whenever I run. I remember how he will emphasis on practicing good mechanics even if it was during passive recovery or during warm up/ warm down. Its all about practicing the right mechanics.
Numerous times during the 5km race, I feel my form suffering and I will instantly remind myself “NO BACK MECHANICS”, getting my running form as efficient as possible. Thank you coach for this wonderful knowledge. I will continue to practice!!
Coach, no back mechanics even at finish line right? =)
Every workout has its own agenda
There are times when I will have to smash myself during the workout. Take a spill, or crawl on the floor if need be. But there will be days when it is meant to be E-A-S-Y like a 6:30min/km 10km JOG. There is a perfect cycle to how workouts are supposed to be planned. In fact, I take my slow runs as serious as my intervals. It might feel counter intuitive to do so but at times, it is the slow workout that makes a difference (adding total volume and staying injury free).
I think these are the 4 main points that produced sure an awesome 5km race.
Thank you Asics for keeping me warm in this crazy weather! and of course, for inventing the best racers =)
Thank you for waking up, dropping me off and waiting for me in the cold! Love ya! HUGS
What’s next? By default, a longer road race.
See you at Perth’s biggest road race event, City2Surf’s finishing line. Better not let the spinal cord injury patient catch you *wink* :)

 Written by Zac Leow

1st 1500m of 2016

First 1500m of 2016.
First 1500m back in Perth.
First 1500m after I have “upgraded some parts” in Singapore.

Let’s just say I did not have high hopes for this race because I have yet worked on the physiological aspects of my run yet (aerobic capacity etc). I know my biomechanics have improved a lot since the ASEAN Para Games. At long last, I had that “kick” at the end of a long run, to overtake someone in the final stretch and that was tested out recently during one of the training session but in Perth and I certainly love this “upgrade”.

Given the lack of preparation, I knew the chances of me doing a new PB (personal best) and “NR” (national record) will be slim. Still, there were a few things I wanted to get out of this race:

1. To make sure I “kick” at the final 100m stretch (I usually finish off the last 100m of my 1500m in a limp)

2. To run every 400m faster than the one previous so that I can do a ‘negative split”.

3. To be more relax before a race because not every race is a “must win” and I want to be daring to try a different strategy/style even if it means that I might screw up the race.

With these agenda set, I prepared myself for the race.

Listening to some awesome music on my Sony B Trainer while visualising the run. Its kinda my way of ‘relaxing’ and removing all other distractions.

After the warm up jog, it was time to change into my race attire.
Side story: This pair of “pure neon yellow” spikes were given to athletes who competed at the previous World Championships. I hope this spikes will bring me closer to Paralympics and WC qualifications.

One of the many things that were taught to me by Coach Luis was to constantly check for my form, to give myself feedback on how my running mechanics are rather than just relying on feelings. Lots to work on, lots to remind myself of, but I am certain with all the work I put in, one day they will all pay off. Nil Sine Labore.

Final stride and video check before I get report to the call room.

Doing some mental preparation, reminding myself what Grant and Luis would have told me if they were physically here.

Race start! I can literally hear Luis saying: “Let your body fall, knee drive, ‘punch with your elbows’, feel relax and no back mechanics”
For the first time, I managed to stick to the running pack for a while before I got dropped off. Pretty happy about it.

 The race came as a surprise because I did not expect myself to be stick in the midst of a pack of runners. Think I might have started my first 400m a little too fast but it was still within my limits hence I didn’t blow up.

For a moment, I was wondering if I should keep up the pace so that I can continue to draft the runners. Abandoned that thought by the 600m mark and ran my own pace, putting my focus on original race plan and the final kick.

Interestingly, every time I come round a bend, I “hear” Luis shouting: Zac! No back mechanics!!
Thanks Coach. Those 2 months were well spent =)

Going for the final “kick” and I managed to overtake 1 person with 20m to go. This is the first time I won an abled bodied individual in the 1500m. I hope this is a good sign! =)

Managed to finish the race with a smile =)

Not only did I finished the race meeting all the agenda set prior, I managed to sneak in a new personal best and “national record”.
Cant wait to get the physiology aspect of things sorted out. I’m certain Grant’s going to make me spill during training and I am ready for it!
If it a’int challenging, I a’int training hard enough. Isn’t it? =)

Nil Sine Labore.

ps. If you are wondering why my “national records” are always in ” “.  It is because Singapore has no official national records and I am still waiting for the council to sort this issue out. So for now, every record I set is “unofficial” till the sporting body sort itself out.

More bad news. again.

Something has been weighing me down since Tuesday. Saw a different Doctor at the hospital for my #spinalcordinjury review here in Perth and was told (again) that:

1. It is a “miracle” that I am able to do what I do now. But, I will not improve further;

2. I may be basically waiting for my condition to worsen bringing me back to “where the prognosis was originally stated”;

3. Me training so hard on a daily basis is “trading” whatever limited “miracle” time i have left before my condition worsens.

These are not new information but this just weighs me down so badly and it makes me think if whatever I am doing now, is the best for me. Especially if this is the opening statement whenever I visit a new doctor. In addition, this doctor gave a new insight stating that my next fall could be one that sends me back to my wheelchair because it affects my nerves.

This reminds me of what a privilege it is to stand, walk and run. I am excited about the future as I push for the #paralympics but I also fear for it, if the doctor is right. Subconsciously, this has been holding me back for my past 2 training sessions and I really need to clear my mind to get on with “whatever’s left. Given the fact that I have been having unexplainable blurred vision and dizziness at times, I think I am beginning to buy into this story. Funny how I always have bad news coming to me whenever I start running well. Wonder if this is a sign or a distraction..

In serious desperate need of some positive energy. Dear Lord, help me tide this one through.
I have no doubt in my determination to constantly push myself to my limits even if my body were to start to deteriorate. But it is more of “if its worth it” and “if the doctors are right”.


I can just think of it as: since I am a miracle, i do not obey the normal projected pathway.
Yeah. I think I will go on with that theory. Lets just treasure the moment, continue better my best and hope that I will wake up walking the next day.

After chatting with my fiancé, we have come to the conclusion to live my and our lives to the fullest and not hold back. Quality of life and enjoying what I love. What a good wifey =)

This actually sounds like a good plan. All the more I have got to make my “remaining running days” worth while. I pray that I will be able to taste the freedom of running for a long time to come.. And that i will go a little faster.. And maybe do a sub 4 hour marathon again.

Please.. Lets just keep going on.
Everything is possible for one who believes (Mark 9:23). #webelieve
In fact, he doesnt even want to have a follow-up appointment with me because it was all “done-deal” and probably improvements in medical treatments for me wouldnt come soon enough.

My last fall might very well end everything. But.. lets go for it. Not in my character to hold back.

First race of 2016

When the ASEAN Para Games ended, one important question was looming over my head.
What’s next?
Obviously the next big meet would be the Rio Olympics and Paralympics but I am ready to actually challenge at that level, or even simply to qualify for it?
I took a good look at my 1500m results and I needed to shave off 45s in order to qualify for it.
45s is a massive time to cut. Maybe I should just wait for Tokyo 2020…
After sitting on that thought for a while, I realised that I have never backed down from a challenge, so why should I back down now? Regardless if I qualify for Rio2016, I will still train hard isn’t it? So might as well go for it. Make the fullest of every moment in life and live with no regret!
With that goal set, I knew I needed help while I am in Singapore and fortunately, I was given the opportunity to train with Singapore Athletics National head coach, Luis Cunha, who is a biomechanist sprints expert. Knowing that my running gait is my limiting factor, I am excited to see how improving my gait will help me in my runs. 
Before I knew it, the SAA series 1 arrived. 
I was really glad to see other para-athletes participating in this series. I believe this is a first step taken to integrate para-sports into the abled-body events. Its good for confidence building for para-athletes and also for public awareness too! =)
Para athletes competing in the 200m.
Although my daily workouts and warmups have changed drastically over these 2 months, my pre-race warm up was kept the same.
As for me, it was this standard routine that makes me feel comfortable, focused and ready to race, regardless the race and location. Thanks to sports science for this wonderful knowledge and habit =p
Popped on my sony smart B-trainers, listening to my favourite Japanese rock music and away I went for my warm up jog and drills with my asics tri noosa. Unfortunately, no cooling vest this time round =(
While waiting at the call room, I went through the motions that coach Luis often reminded me of: “no back mechanics!”. 
Then, there I was standing at the starting line. Said my prayers and I got ready. No block starts this time round simply because I haven’t been practicing it. Rather lose that 0.2s than to fall face down =x. 
My mind thought of nothing, it was a state of blank and BANG
Body falling forward, knees up, elbows blocked, I have taken off.
I ran a very evenly paced 400m and finished with a timing of 67.11s.
A trade mark I had make for myself over the years. 
A new personal best and renewed my previous “national record”. 
In 2 months, I shaved off 3.49s in the 400m.
This would have been deemed “impossible” to able-bodied or para-athletes. 
If you never try, you’ll never know. *grins*
Getting a new 400m PB gave me the confidence that a sub 5 min 1500m is getting closer every single training session. Just got to have the patience, be healthy, train hard and listen to coach. 
My next race will be back in Perth at the end of Feb and it will be my pet 1500m. 
Looking forward to the pain it brings.
Looking forward to the lactate.
Looking forward to running my lungs out.
Looking forward to push my body and mind to its limit once again.
Looking forward to smashing it.
No regrets. 
God willing that I will get closer to the qualifying mark race after race.
Really thankful for SDSC, SAA and coach Luis for making this special arrangement for me to train with such an awesome team. Not forgetting my team mates who push me every training session, never viewing me as someone less abled. 
Also, a huge “thank you” to everyone who came up to me, encouraged, cheered for me. Despite the humidity, head and sun, I’m beginning to love to race in Singapore a lot because of this “home support”. Thank you
Nil Sine Labore
Glad to be able to keep up with some young pups this time round
Trying my best to imitate the “head dive” at the end of the sprint. Not quite successful though =x