I was in Geneva from the 8th to the 11th of April to attend a triennial exhibition/conference related to my work. For a change, I went via Emirates Air and even though it meant a 4-hour transit in Dubai both ways, it also meant fantastic food (unexpected choice of word for airline food, I know), fantastic in-flight entertainment (heck yeah, I’m a Directioner! haha), and the opportunity to charge my electronic devices the whole way!

This time around, we stayed at Hôtel Suisse which was located right smack across Cornavin main train station and an easy 5-minute walk to Lac Leman.

This triennial trip has become a love-hate sort of thing for me — love because Switzerland is simply beautiful and who’d want to turn down a free trip to Europe anyway; hate because it meant meeting marathons from morning until evening (dinner meetings included) and by the time I’m done, all the shops would have closed already by 6 or latest 7 pm.

But life’s too short to dwell on the negative stuff so I chose to find happiness in the little things instead, like finding free tickets for the bus/train just before exiting the airport.

I’ve also *finally* figured out where to buy prepaid SIM cards — at the post office inside the airport building. The starter pack cost CHF14.90 and it included CHF20 credit.

As always, Geneva hotels issue a free Geneva transport card. For the first time in my 5 trips in Geneva, there was actually a spot check inside the bus for tickets and transport cards. They rarely check and if you get caught, I heard the fine is pretty steep.

Oh, and I finally managed to complete my Tintin French comic book collection, thanks to the close proximity of our hotel to a Payot librairie (‘bookshop’, not to be confused with bibliotheque, which means ‘library’). No pics of the comic books though 😉

The weather was a bit chilly for spring but the sun was bright so I could not complain. In between meetings, I sneaked in a pic or two of the beauty outside the hall where I was having my meeting marathon.

The highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to run beside Lac Leman, even if it meant dragging my derriere from the warmth of my bed and into the 5ºC spring morning weather.

I wore my brand-spanking new Nashata A-line ultra top underneath an old New Balance long-sleeved running top that I bought from Cape Town ages ago and the combination kept me warm enough for the short walk to the lake area yet the Nashata ultra top did a great job of wicking off the sweat from my body as I ran.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis for several months now and this was the first time I ran since Malaysia Women Marathon, thus I took it slow and easy, doing 1.5 km two days in a row at a leisurely 10 min/km pace. I actually found it tough to have to slow down since my pace has already improved to around 7:30 min/km so I ‘slowed’ down by taking lots of pics along the way.

The weather by mid-afternoon was a lot more pleasant, with lots of sun and a bit of warmth, so I did not hesitate to indulge in some gelato one afternoon. Never mind if it meant blowing CHF5 (approximately RM20 ~ almost USD6!) on a small scoop of noisette (hazelnut) and caramel salé (salted caramel) gelato.

And Switzerland being the world’s centre of fine chocolate, it only made sense to bring back as much chocolate as my arms could carry on my flight back! Hint: There is a Migros grocery store in the airport where you can do some last-minute chocolate shopping.The flight back to KL meant more movies and good food on board Emirates Air…and a bit more of shopping at Dubai Airport. Psst…do you know that Dubai Airport now has lots of shower rooms in the airport? And they’re FREE! Just bring along your own towel, toiletries, and slippers.

The highlight of my return flight was, again, food. This time, it was Filipino food called tapsilog (a contraction for tapa-sinangag-itlog or beef-fried rice-egg) which was way too expensive even for airport food…but, digging into the warm rice at 2 am and topping each bite with the runny yolk and the tender beef, I felt as though I was right back home.

Au revoir, Genéve! See you again in three years…

One thing I love about Kuala Lumpur — which I can’t seem to stop talking about — is the abundance of green spots all over the city. Of all these green spots, KLCC Park remains my favourite partly because of its location (right smack in the middle of the city centre!), mostly because of its jogging track which is made of rubber chips that absorb the impact of your walk/run/jog. Plus there’s the small matter of having it right under the shadow of the world’s most famous twin towers 😉

The jogging track is 1.3 kilometres long and is marked every 100 metres. You might want to take note of the location of the two public toilets in the park, which I’ve marked in the map below. (Click to see a slightly bigger view.)

As you can see from the map, there is a huge children’s playground in KLCC Park, as well as a children’s wading pool. Both facilities are open to the public free-of-charge. The wading pool opens at 10 am and can get quite crowded.

This is one of the numerous water fountains that can be found in several points beside the jogging track.

There are trees all around to provide shade. And if going round and round the jogging track starts to get a little too boring, you can always jog up and down the hilly portion of the park within the jogging track’s perimeter.

Notice the lady jogging with a scarf on? Expect to see all sorts of people at KLCC Park — from expats in short shorts and fluorescent spandex; to Indian ladies in kurta, salwar khameez and sport shoes; to old men with canes; to couples with babies in strollers and/or children in tow; to seasoned runners whom you can identify from their steady, unbroken pace around the track and their well-defined calf muscles.

If you are a shutterbug, watch out for Photo Spots such as this one, which shows a great spot for taking photos.

The results will vary, depending on your camera but, more or less, the Photo Spots are quite spot-on with the angle and location.

If you’re anything like me, who gets excited over stuff like the Petronas Twin Towers’ reflection in Symphony Lake, it’s so easy to get side-tracked as you run/jog/walk — there are just too many photo opportunities along the way!

This is the bridge right next to Photo Spot 2, where lots of runners (and the occasional early-riser tourist) stop to have their photos taken. Can you spot KL Tower in the picture?

Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel then comes into view right after you pass by Petronas Twin Towers.

KL Tower becomes more visible as you round the corner and approach the KL Convention Centre. It does look a bit weird because the KL Tower looks dwarfed by other buildings from this angle.

As you turn the corner and jog past KL Convention Centre — where AquaRia is located — you can see Traders Hotel right behind it.

KLCC Park is open daily, from 7am to 10pm. I suggest you go early so as to beat the crowd and, if you are a puteri lilin like me, to avoid the heat. [NB: ‘Puteri lilin‘ is the Malay term for someone who dislikes the heat of the sun. Literal translation: ‘candle princess’!]

Parking fees are RM2.50 for the first hour, RM1.00 for the subsequent hour. Payment is by cash only. Alternatively, you can take the LRT and get off at KLCC station.

See you soon as KLCC Park’s jogging track!

*All pics taken with my HTC Desire’s camera.

Sunday morning dawned cool and balmy, clear after the previous night’s rain.

I put on my running shoes, geared up with my Samsung MiCoach heartrate monitor and earphones (the stride sensor’s busted), did a few stretches, and slipped out of the house while my children were still sleeping soundly. [NB: DH is in China until Tuesday, in case you’re wondering why I seem to be living a ‘single’ life today.]

This run also marked the debut of the New Balance® Long Sleeve Motion Top that I bought from Capetown (ironically made in the land of my birth — the Philippines) which features New Balance’s new Lightening Dry™ fabric technology, said “to keep you dry and comfortable by managing moisture transfer through the use of hydrophobic polyester yarns.” (It worked like a dream!)

There was no fanfare, no people cheering on the sidelines, no timing chips embedded in specially designed bibs, no commemorative t-shirts nor medals nor certificates. It was just me and my dogged determination to achieve my goal of running 5 kilometres today, the 28th of June, despite not being able to join the KL Marathon.

The sky was clear, a calming shade of robin’s egg blue. The only sounds I could hear were the pounding of my heavy feet on the asphalt pavement, the squish of moist green grass, the chirping of birds hiding somewhere within the branches of dew-laden trees, the occasional hum of approaching cars, the thumping of my unfit heart against my chest. I met a few other runners and walkers along the way but they all seemed too preoccupied with their MP3 players or just plainly avoided eye contact.

And I did it! Never mind if it took me almost an hour (my original goal was 40 minutes but a side stitch slowed me down on my last 800 metres). Never mind if it was more of my run-walk-pant-repeat routine rather than a steady run. I. Did. It. I ran 5 kilometres and proved that if I just set my mind to something, I can do it. My only fervent hope is that I can apply this determination into every other aspect of my life from this moment on…

Bad habits truly die hard. Especially sedentary habits. Until your waistline screams for mercy every time you zip up your pants or skirt. That’s when you know you have to dust off the trusty old treadmill and put it to good use again.

You put on your ultra-light running shoes. The ones with the ultra-flexible sole. Yeah, that pair that you ‘invested’ a fair amount of money in to motivate you to put an end to your sedentary ways.

You turn on the treadmill and step on it gingerly. You set the speed at a moderately slow pace and low incline. For warming up, you rationalise. Just for a few minutes.

Then you start running. Or at least try to, for a few minutes. Then you find yourself slowing down to a walk, in an effort to catch your breath. Pant! Wheeze! Puff! Is this how asthmatics feel at the onset of an attack?

You slow down, just for a few, lest your heart explode. After a few minutes, some semblance of energy regained, you quicken your pace to a jog again, thereby starting the whole cycle all over again.

Run. Walk. Pant. Repeat.

You glance at your wristwatch and grimace as you note that less than 15 minutes have elapsed. Fifteen minutes! The tightening sensation in your lungs have fooled you into thinking that it’s been half an hour already.

And so you push yourself to continue. And even have the audacity to increase the speed and go for a steeper incline.

Run. Walk. Pant. Repeat.

Some 20 minutes into the ordeal and you’re already sweating buckets. But you’re holding on. And wish you have time to go for a ‘real’ run outside, instead of making like a hamster on an endlessly rotating wheel indoors.

Run. Walk. Pant. Repeat.

Just when you make it past the 30-minute mark, you suddenly hear a tiny voice call out, “Mama!”

Uh-oh. Trouble! You slow down the treadmill’s speed, hoping you have some time for a proper cool down. Just a few minutes more, you pray silently.

“Mama!” The voice has taken a more urgent note, now on the verge of a major tantrum, as years of mothering experience have taught you.

Sighing, you turn off the treadmill and holler back, “Mama’s right here! I’m coming!”

As you wipe off the sweat from your brow, you tell yourself to forget about running in that nearby park and just consider yourself lucky to be able to run on a treadmill rather than not run at all.

You are gasping for air like a fish out of water. You can feel your heart pounding like bongo drums. And you don’t need to look into a mirror to know that your face is all flushed. But you don’t care because the endorphins from your brief run are starting to kick in, engulfing your whole being with a rush of unexplained joy and exhilaration. Despite the initial exhaustion, you have to admit that it feels sooo GOOD to run. Beats taking Lipovox anyday.

Perhaps you can try again tomorrow morning, before the children wake up. For now, mommy duty comes first…

Petronas Twin Towers at 7 a.m. KL time. Photo taken with a Nokia N82.

If you’ve been following my tweets on Twitter (or reading my updates through the widget on the sidebar…there, on the right side, just under ‘About Me’), you probably know by now that I’ve signed up for the KL Marathon. Not for the marathon or the half-marathon, but for the 5 km fun run. (I never thought I’d see the day when ’5 km’ and ‘fun’ can go together in the same sentence in perfect harmony.)

I’ve never been a runner in the right sense of the word. All I’ve been on is the treadmill at home, which tends to gather dust every now and test, in testimony of the frequency — or the reverse — of its usage. But lately, I’ve been putting the treadmill to good use again, following the Samsung MiCoach‘s preset programmes. It’s been a long, slow struggle but I felt my stamina has vastly improved from its former sedentary shame — a mere 15 minutes used to be my limit. Now, I can continue for up to an hour comfortably.

I’m painfully aware, of course, that running on a treadmill is nowhere near ‘real running’. With a treadmill, the rotary belt moves you and all you have to do is keep up. Out there, you have to do all the moving — all {weight-goes-here} kg of you. But with my grueling work-kids-travel routine, it’s treadmill or nothing.

So today, eager to test how I’d do ‘out there’, I went to KLCC Park at 7 am and ran/walked/panted along the 1.2 km track that goes around the park. I finished 2 rounds (2.4 km) in 21 minutes and 42 seconds, then did a third (mostly walking round), bringing my total mileage to 3.6 km within 33 minutes and 53 seconds. Nothing to shout about. But, hey, I gotta start somewhere, right?

The 1.2-km jogging track in KLCC Park.

Therefore, theoretically (and a huge emphasis on the theory part), if I keep up with my treadmill training (with occasional visits to KLCC Park), maybe… just maybe… I can finish the 5 km fun run within 40 minutes.

So Kak Haza, the treadmill is not that bad, at least for building up stamina. See you at the KL Marathon on 28th June!