Marathoner Ashley Liew: Grateful To Represent Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games

National marathon runner Ashley Liew, 28, successfully qualified for the SEA Games 2015, when he ran a personal best timing of 2 hours 32 minutes 12 seconds at the New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in January this year.

Said Liew, a Chiropractic Intern at the Sherman College of Chiropractic in South Carolina, “When I had completed the New Orleans race and saw my timing, I was filled with immense gratitude. Throughout the race, especially when it got to the last third, I kept repeating the mantra ‘Strength and Grace’ as I felt blessed to have my mother’s strength and God’s grace during the metaphysical journey of 42.195km. When the organiser presented me with a Singapore flag for placing overall runner-up, I couldn’t help but shed a tear too.”

Coach Rameshon and marathoner Ashley Liew representing Singapore with pride at the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2015 (flag courtesy of the organizers)

Coach Rameshon and marathoner Ashley Liew (left) displaying the Singapore flag with pride at the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2015 (flag courtesy of the organizers)

Three factors that resulted in his personal best qualifying time

Liew puts his good timing in New Orleans down to three factors. He said, “First and foremost, was faith. My biggest takeaway was learning from the humble Kenyan runners that success starts with self-belief, no matter the circumstances or outlook. When I toed the line, I had faith that I could sustain the sub 2 hour 30 minute pace even though my first right toe joint had subluxated on my last run, three nights before the race. And in the last windy 10km section when the legs became heavy and the right toe numb, I glanced at my wrist bracelet that has the word ‘strong’ on it and continued to believe a fast time was still possible.”

Another of the factors was Coach Rameshon – who had made many sacrifices for Liew, including taking time off his busy FlexiFitness training schedule, turning down an offer to be an official at the Asian Marathon Championships, missing his wedding anniversary (unintentionally though) and braving jet lag and the long journey to fly to the United States. Said Liew, “And this is something I can never repay him for. Just his presence was enough to reassure any nerves I had pre-race. He was there to ensure that I had the best mental preparation possible, come race day.”

New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2015 - Top 3 winners with country flags

New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2015 – Top 3 winners, each with their own country’s flag draped around themselves

“And last but not least, is the regular chiropractic care I receive. I am convinced that without the chiropractic adjustment on my subluxation just days before the race, I would not have been able to complete my race warm-up,” Liew added.

Will be one of two marathoners representing Singapore at the SEA Games 2015

Ashley completes the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in January this year, in a new personal best.

Ashley completes the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in January this year, with a new personal best time.

Now with his timing in New Orleans, Liew will be one of the two runners representing Singapore in the SEA Games 2015 Marathon. The other one will be Soh Rui Yong. Said Liew, “I am grateful to get this opportunity to represent the country again. This event is especially special because it is on home soil and I will definitely give 100 per cent preparation for this monumental occasion.”

Remains modest about delivering a gold medal for Singapore

However, Liew remains modest about whether either he or Soh would be able to deliver the gold medal for Singapore – in the marathon. He explained, “The marathon, as with many other events, is unpredictable. It is hard to say who will come out tops, because every race is so unique. It would be fantastic if both Rui Yong and I are placed in the top three. More importantly however, I would like to focus on the things I can control, for example, saying focused in the race and sticking to my rhythm. But whatever the outcome, I want to know that I have raced with my whole heart and soul.”

“But I think that Singapore has a fighting chance at winning a gold medal as both of us are strong runners. For home advantage to count though, Singaporeans have to turn up on the morning of 7 June, the day of the marathon, in force. I am not just referring to family and friends, but throngs of supporters along the route. I get the chills when watching the replay of Australian Kerryn McCann pulling away from the lead Kenyan during the 2006 Commonwealth Games Marathon in the final 200 metres, thanks to the the thunderous roar of thousands of supporters cheering their fellow Australian on. We need something like that to significantly make a difference,” Liew added.

Has been training very hard in preparation for the SEA Games

There is definitely no doubt that Liew has been training hard not only to qualify for the SEA Games, but is also making sure that he will be in tip-top condition on 7 June. In fact, he had even travelled to Kenya to train for several weeks last December. Said Liew, “The December training stint in Kenya was a significant boost to my fitness and mental strength which contributed to my 2 hours 32 minutes 12 seconds personal beset on 25 January 2015. And after taking a break, I have already set my new 5km personal best of 15 minutes 43 seconds.”

Upon arrival at Iten (Kenya), "home of champions".

Liew arriving at Iten (Kenya), “home of the champions”.

Liew took part in the Wrightsville Half Marathon in North Carolina last Sunday too. He was placed seventh overall and third in his age group, and said that he was pleased with his performance there. But he adds that the course had not been as flat as he had expected.

Will be giving himself time to acclimatise back to the Singapore weather

As Singapore’s weather is more humid than he is now used to, how does Liew, who is currently based in the United States, plan to acclimatise when he is back in Singapore for the Games? Explained the marathoner, “South Carolina’s climate is warm, sometimes warmer than Singapore’s but not as humid. I plan to be back 15 days before race day, which would give me enough time to acclimatise.”

Liew and his tempo run workout group, with a bottle of Coke in hand each, courtesy of ex- world record holder.

Liew and his tempo run workout group, enjoying a bottle of Coke

Liew’s Tips for Marathon Runners

Having just broken his own personal best recently on his way to SEA Games qualification, what tips does Liew have for marathon runners who wish to clock faster timings? He said, “Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare your current state to your own individual maximum potential – that way you can find true joy in the running experience. Run for something bigger than yourself – for example, be grateful for your ability to put one foot in front of the other, which keeps things in perspective.

Be consistent in all aspects of training and be patient with results. For instance, I took 10 years to reduce my marathon time from 4 hours 29 minutes 34 seconds to 2 hours 32 minutes 12 seconds. And last but not least, ignore conventional wisdom on what you can and cannot do. I am just an example of how you can craft your own journey no matter what the starting point is,” Liew added.

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