Sunday, June 26, 2011

Standard Chartered run

The last time I ran the 10k, I injured my left knee.

Which wasn't all bad as it forced me to spend more time at the pool. I became a better swimmer as a result.

But I was worried about my knee. The injury was rather serious. I felt pain in my left knee after long walks. I was worried that the injury was permanent and that I would never run again.

When a FB friend invited me to sign up for a recent Standard Chartered KL Marathon, I said yes.

We trained together. We had about three months before the run, but the training wasn't regular. I felt it wasn't enough.

So I set a modest goal: to finish.

Preferably, to finish running. At the last run (the Mizuno Wave run in 2009), I aggravated my knee injury halfway into the run and limped all the way to the finishing line. It was hell.

It was also nice that this time around, a bunch of fellow divers and swimmers from Dolphin also joined in the run. They, too, claimed to not have enough training and so we said we'd see how it goes (and stop for cendol if we got too tired lol).

Me and my scuba and swimming instructor Cyrena

This was also the first time I took the LRT to a 10k run. I was out of the house by 6am.

I expected the train to be empty. I was so wrong. By the time the LRT reached my station (and it's only the SECOND station), it was packed with people in green running singlets. I just managed to squeeze in.

(Lesson learnt for race organisers: you must get Prasarana to use the four-car LRT on race mornings. That day, it was the shorter two-car LRT.)

The event for 10k started near Tugu Negara at 7am.

By the time I got to the starting line, I was already drenched in sweat because I ran from the Masjid Jamek station to the starting line.

I started my run at a pace that I could maintain comfortably.

One thing that I did differently with this run was I kept running. I did not stop to walk. No matter the route, even when going uphill, I just kept running at a constant pace.

I found that I was able to pass so many people this way.

By the time I remembered to check my mileage, It was already at kilometre 6. I was surprised.

I did feel something in my left knee at kilometre 8 however, so I had to scale down my pace.

But after the final turn on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the pain somehow went away. I ran a bit faster all the way to the finishing line, with lots of people cheering along the way.

I finished my run in 1hr 10mins -- a personal best.

The rest of my Dolphin teammates, too, did well. The best of us did just over 1hr.

I am running and swimming better now than I did in my 20s.

It was a great day.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

How to tackle Table Topics

I'm no longer active in Toastmasters, but that doesn't mean I no longer take an interest in how they do things at the world's biggest public speaking club. Specifically, I am most intrigued by how some speakers seem to handle Table Topics so effortlessly.

Table Topics is a segment in a Toastmasters meeting in which participants speak off-the-cuff about a given topic for two minutes.

Two minutes is not a very long time, which is precisely why it is very easy to waste the 120 seconds on making feeble arguments or getting sidetracked, generally not able to really say what you want to say.

So how do you deliver a polished Table Topics speech? Here are some techniques employed by seasoned Toastmasters:

1. 5Ws + H
State the what, where, when, who and how of a given topic.

That is, you state your Point on a given topic, then Re-emphasise your point, followed by an Example and lastly, state the Point again. This technique works well with topics that require you to take a stand.

3. Another approach is talk about the Past --> Present --> Future of a given topic.

4. Yet another technique is to use a Cause --> Result approach.

There you have it. Four techniques at your disposal for tackling Table Topics. And remember also the three rules in public speaking:

* Don't apologise
* Don't ramble
* Don't invent