Thursday, January 31, 2008

Long Night

It was a hectic week, not lest because I have a presentation tomorrow morning and I'd not completed the slides.

I thought of skipping the Safra run tonight. But we had a corporate event in the afternoon, with a good buffet lunch and excellent homemade ice-cream. So I needed to run off the calories. I got to Safra late and did an easy slow run around Cantebury estate with Alber, trying to keep sight of the other runners. There was a new runner who was lost in the compounds so he followed us out of the loops onto Alexandra Road. I wanted to conserve my legs for the long run tomorrow evening, so I skipped the MF loop and went down HarbourFront instead. Did some crunches on the gym-ball after the run. Have to keep up the abs routine if I want to squeeze into my new CNY dress.

Shared a quick dinner with Linda at the Henderson market and had a Teh-C to get a caffeine boost. I had to rush back to continue working on my presentation slides. It was going to be a long night ahead.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gym and Abs

The morning was not my day. My shoe strap, which was recently repaired, snapped in exactly the same spot on my way to the MRT station. My laptop hanged in the office, a new colleague moved in and was incessantly loud, and I nearly misplaced my beloved M-frames.

Needed a cardio-break today. Had been working out non-stop since last week. Stayed back in the office a little so could not make it for spin class anyway. I went to Safra gym to do some light weights - back, triceps and abs. I was trying to tone up my abs. Muffins seem to be appearing all round. :( Went on the gym-ball and did about 100 crunches, front and sides. Then I used a free weight and did some more side bends. Hmm.... the strategy didn't seem to be working, abs are still flabby. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

6x MF Loops

We had a discount today. No stairs because of the slippery steps from the rain. Instead Ong added an extra loop, so the target was 6 MF loops tonight. My right knee felt tight, I'm not sure if that was the ITB area. Not a good sign. I went down the slopes very cautiously, focusing on my upslope timing instead. I managed to keep around 4:30-4:40min consistently for the 6 upslopes. It probably was not fast. I experimented with different uphill running styles to see which felt easier or faster - lifting thighs higher, shuffling small steps using calf muscles, and so forth.

I managed to survive the 6 sets, and returned to the club for some stretching. I did some crunches on the gym-ball. I am hooked on the ball lately, in my attempt to get some abs and drop 1kg.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mixed-terrain RPM

Monday's RPM class was a good one. Ali jigged the usual RPM routine and programmed 2 mixed-terrain tracks back to back, leaving the class in heavy panting and heaving. There was a guy on the bike next to me and another directly behind who were tracking their %max HR. I could see them clearly in the window reflection. We subconciously pitted our "speed" against one another via the reflections, trying to match or outdo the spinning cadence on the fast tracks. I felt such a healthy glow after the class, having maxed the workout.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Safra Tampines Location Run

I was deciding between going for Tampines Safra location run, or a Sundown Marathon familiarization run organized by the SGRunners. Tampines was organizing a 14km along the newly opened park connectors in the eastern side, which was also part of the Sundown route. It was probably more difficult to try that route on my own. So I went to Tampines early in the morning. It was a lively social run with many Safra runners. Many took the chance to chat with fellow runners along the way.

The route went past Bedok Reservoir and across the PIE to the park connectors towards Kembagan and Siglap. We stopped at several key junctions for the big group to gather and take photos. The multiple stops made the 14km feel like a tempo run. At the u-turn point at Kembagan, a few Tampines runners set up a water station to supply chocolate-flavoured Endurox to the group. It tasted sort of like diluted Milo.

After the run, Sam conducted a cool down stretching session. A group of us then followed Adam, our F&B manager, to a nearby hawker centre for yummilicious braised pork ribs noodles. Excellent!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gear Shopping

I had decided that this week would be my recovery week, ie. no long runs, after the KL race last weekend. Curbing my temptation to head off to Macritchie for a run, I went for a spin and pump class instead. I drove my new Little Greenie to the gym and parked it for 3h. The ensuing parking charges gave my heart a harder workout than the classes - $11! My eyes blinked double as the fees flashed across the display and my cashcard beeped at the exit. Ouch. Ok, it was going to be better carpark planning henceforth. Not to mention cheap cheap lunches for the month.

After class, I went to Sam and Eddie's new showroom openhouse to check out the gear that they carried. There were a couple of items on super marked down prices, and I bought 2 pairs of Pearl Izumi tri tights for $45 each. The original price was $129! What a steal. They would come in handy for the Sabah race. :) Since I was in the eastern area, I popped by Cycle Craft to get a bike pump - the tall standing type. Viki recommended a particular model for roadies, and a customer beside me ayed in agreement. I hoped the new pump would be able to hit high pressures without me having to jump up and down on the handle bar, trying to push the air through!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Recovery Run

Our first Safra run for the week after the KL Pacesetter. We were doing a 12km recovery run around Kent Ridge Park and back. I arrived at Safra late because we were in the midst of packing our office cubicles for the big move tomorrow to our new floor. Goodbye spacious window prime real estate seat. Hello teeny weeny cube.

By the time I changed into my running gear, the group had already set off. It was a cool night for a run, after the heavy downpour in the afternoon. I was wearing my slippery Pearl Izumi Synchro Pace so I ran very carefully on the wet paths. Alber did a slow jog with me, chatting along the way.

After the run, I met KC and Dom to discuss our race logistics. Amongst other race gear, I had to find a MTB for the Sabah race. We would probably sign up for the less extreme category so that we could enjoy our first adventure race together, without killing ourselves or one another. The race sounded fun, but the training commitment seemed high in view of my other races.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RPM Challenge

I attended Kee Leong's RPM Challenge class tonight. Felt the need to work off last night's mega dinner in JB. Legs felt surprisingly fresh and strong. I really dialled up the resistance on the last few tracks. Maybe I might build more quads power to help in my runs! I was really sleepy after the workout. It was the kind of tiredness associated with speed work, drained. Had a light dinner of handmade noodle soup and went home early.

JB Dinner

Monday was Sumiko's birthday. Our steamboat group had earlier planned to have a celebratory dinner in JB on Tuesday. Alas, Eddie was working late, and Alber had a last minute assignment at work. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I had a chat with Sumiko. She advised me to focus on track and speed work in order to improve my timing, rather than going for long runs.

By the time we all met and drove to JB, it was almost 10pm. Whew. I was extremely tired and left the guys to do the chatting and entertain themselves. The meal was pretty decent, and there was a lot of food, courtesy of Alvin who drove, and JD who paid. Luckily we all stayed around the same vicinity, making it easier to drop people off at their homes. I managed to get back slightly past midnight. Oh so tired and stoned out today......

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Blues

Monday blues blues blues. I had post-KL trip blues, and Monday workday morning blues. I was so tired after KL, a result of too much sun, driving and disruptive sleep over the weekend. And I had a whole week of morning meetings. Hmmmph.

In the evening I went for RPM Challenge class. In line with my mood today, my workout outfit was blue too! Eddie Chang was not there, perhaps he was still in KL or recovering from the race. Surprisingly I still had some energy and managed a decent spin. I nearly pulled a quad muscle though from spinning too fast. But the zzzzz blues caught up with me shortly after, and I was quite bushed by the time I reached home.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

GE Pacesetter 30km (Part II)

Race day! I woke up around 415am to get ready for the run. We were to gather in the lobby at 445am to wait for the bus. I fixed my milo-oatmeal breakfast and munched on it while getting ready. The lobby was filled with runners - apparently there were about 90 guests from Singapore staying at the Coronade that weekend due to the GE event! There were about 40 from MF Safra, 20-odd from SGRunners and 20-odd from Toa Payoh Safra. And that was excluding running groups who were staying at other hotels. It was fun to see familiar faces at a non-local event.

The buses took 15min to reach Lake Gardens. We alighted just outside the park and walked a short distance to the starting area. The setting was a friendly casual Sunday morning. People milled around, chatting and stretching while waiting for the reporting to start. The pre-dawn air was fresh in the park and temperature around 22-degC.

The race was flagged off promptly at 6am for the 30km (and 630am for 20km). The route was known for the endless number of rolling hills and much winding around residential estates. You would not bother counting the slopes because it would never be the last until the race ended. You simply tackled the upslope ahead, enjoyed the cruising down and looked out for the next climb. The rolling slopes were a mix of gradient and length.

The first 18km was around private residential areas, condominiums, national monuments and parliament. I think I started out too fast because by 1.5h into the run, my legs felt tired. I started off with Alber, then he went ahead. Alex caught up next and ran a little in front of me. I saw Jancy in front of me, running alongside Alber for a while. Then I caught up with Vincent, and much later on, Helen and Chairman. By 2h, the signs of cramps were creeping in, especially on the downslopes. My calves, quads and soles took turns at threatening to cramp. My right knee and ITB felt really tight. That was no good. The last injury I wanted was a bad ITB, which many of our runners had last year. I probably needed more routine massages, which I had laid off from since end-Nov.

We then ran through the Hartamas Shopping Centre district, where runners were going in both directions. Distracting myself, I kept my eyes peeled on the opposite road for familiar faces. Ricci was going very strong, he was already exiting the area as I entered. Some distance later, I saw Teck Hou, then Ong, Kumaran, Sam, Derrick and so forth. I saw Ping running fast, she was eventually in the 6th position for the 20km category. Sam won prizes for coming in 5th for the 30km run, probably the Veteran's category.

The U-turn point and powergel station this year was moved further up a slope. Last year we went up a small slope up, round a couple of shops to reach the drink/ powergel station, and then down a long slope. This year it was the reverse - we went up the long slope, to the same shops, and down the small slope. My legs felt pretty drained when I reached the U-turn section. I took a powergel and tried to speed up on the return leg. Wee Hou passed me and signalled me to follow him. It was MR ultra deja vu. I kept pace for some distance, sped up ahead along the tarmac highway stretch, but the cramps were still looming in the background. Any fast and wrong steps would trigger the cramps.

I reached the last 4km mark and had only 20min more to my sub-3h target. At that point, I knew it was a lost cause, I would not be able to cover that distance in that time, certainly not with hints of cramps. Wee Hou overtook me, and then Sok Hwa caught up from behind and told me to "jia you". She was having a relaxed run today! The last 1km seemed to take forever. Finally I saw the familiar signs that said "400m to go". Funneling into the finishing line, the photographer was shouting to me to raise my arms for a victory shot.

Time taken 3.05h. It was 7min slower than last year when I was less prepared! I was away on a climb and returned only 2wks prior to the race last year. My maximum mileage was a struggling 20km. During the last run, I had pain in my hip joints then from all the slopes and really struggled through them. Yet my timing was much faster. I could not fathom why.

But as one Nike t-shirt stated "Runs end. Running does not." There, it captured the essence of running. After sulking for 15min while doing my cooling down stretches, I was distracted by the post-run carnival at the gardens, food, shopping and taking photos. I took a free breakfast cereal, checked out the booths and ended up buying 4 pairs of New Balance socks - very cheap, RM6 per pair!

Our catered bus brought us back to the hotel for a nice shower. We were driving back to Singapore in the afternoon, but before that, a very important interlude - Japanese buffet lunch at Kampachi at the Equatorial Hotel. The sashimi tasted bland though it was fresh. The rest of the selection was decent and had a good spread for our rumbling stomachs. The drive back was smooth. Myself, Alber and Heng took turns at the driving wheel and we reached Singapore around 7pm. It was very fun indeed to have like-minded fellow runners on a trip. I look forward to more of such race trips in future.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

GE Pacesetter 30km (Part I)

GE Pacesetter 30km Run

Friday 18 Jan 2008

A group of us drove up to KL for the GE Pacesetter run. Led by Adam, there were 4 cars and 15 passengers making the long drive. We met at Safra in the evening before setting off via the 2nd Link. Enroute, Adam brought us to a small town in JB for seafood dinner. It was the start of many carbon loading to come. We dug heartily into the tze-char food, chilli crabs, shellfish, meat etc. It was 10pm by the time we finished dinner. We had another 3-4h drive to our hotel in KL. We reached KL around 2am and made a few wrong turns before reaching the Coronade Hotel.

Alas, there was a note in our rooms informing us that a main water pipe had burst nearby and water supply to the hotel was disrupted. I was lucky, I managed to get a quick hot shower before the water ran out. Totally. Not a single drop from the taps or flush. Most of the group did not get to shower. I had bought a gallon (5l) of mineral water during the drive and it proved most handy in such dire situations.

Saturday 19 Jan 2008

The water was still not restored by the morning. Hotel staff went round the rooms to distrbute more bottles of mineral water for use. We went to the lobby and checked on the situation. Efficient as always, Adam had gotten the hotel to arrange a backup 17 rooms at another hotel which was not affected by the burst pipe. Jaime's group of about 20 pax was due to arrive in the afternoon, and it would be a logistical hassle to move our entire group around. The hotel assured us that the main water supply had been restored and would be fully functioning by 1pm. It was filling up the water tank to create enough pressure for the guests' use.

KK and Wee Hou were not at the lobby and not answering their phones. Yet there was sound of water flow from their room. That was when someone suggested that the shower water was restored and we all went back to our rooms to wash up. We eventually found out that both of them had gone out for breakfast but accidentally left the taps on while testing for water in the morning. It was a happy incident. I brought the group to a roasted meat shop for black sauce wanton noodles and fatty dark char siew. The char siew was my favourite, richly fats that melted in your mouth. After brunch, the group split for our own activities.

We met again at 6pm to collect our race tags and for dinner. Adam brought us to another cooked food restaurant where we occupied about 5 tables. There was a table of Safra non-pork eaters, 2 tables of SGRunners and 1 of Safra members. My last table comprised the drinkers and their final tally was 9 bottles of Guiness Stout. The boss must have been so happy that we were there. Some of the runners went for desserts, coffee and tea after dinner. After that, it was off to an early rest before the race.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cheetahs & Olympics

I love the on-going debate about the definition of dis-abled and abled bodies and the use of prosthetic limbs in sports.

Double amputee South African paralympic champion, Oscar Pistorius, was banned from the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic legs were deemed to give him an unfair advantage over his able-bodied rivals. The IAAF Council made the decision based on scientific tests done by the Institute of Biomechanics at the Cologne University. The tests reported that his running blades, known as "Cheetahs", gave him a 25% energy saving and a <10% energy loss in his artificial limbs versus normal sprinters at the same speed. Upon reaching a certain speed, running with prosthetics required less additional energy than natural limbs. The "Cheetahs" were deemed as technical running aids which contravened Olympic rules. Pistorius' paralympic world record for 400m is 46.34sec, way behind the world record of 43.18sec, and he had yet to achieve an Olympic qualifying time.

The debate surrounding the official recognition (or not) of prosthetics in world events such as Olympics smacked of hyppocrisy to me. "Sorry, you cannot race with us because you have no legs." and subsequently "Sorry, you cannot race with us because your legs are too good.". Was it because seemingly disabled athletes challenged our deep-seated belief that what appeared to be a handicap (and hence less-abled) might really be better-abled instead? There was no doubt that double amputees could rise to the occasions and in many instances, had outperformed their au naturale counterparts. Double amputees had summitted Everest (Mark Inglis in 2007), completed the Mother of Ironman in Kona (Scott Risby in 2006), and many more inspirational achievements. To date, the best of prosthetics had yet to match the records of the best of nature in absolute terms. If we could somehow discount nature to level it with the disabled challenges, the chasm, if any, might not be too wide.

So why not the Olympics? Each Olympic racer tells his/ her own story of sweat, blood and tears. Why not a double amputee as well?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Telok Blangah Loop

We ran Telok Blangah Hills tonight. KC came along too. There was a slight change in the training plan. Instead of our usual 1km loop starting from the carpark, Jimmy shortened it to about 600m starting from the triangular branch-off junction. We were to do 8 sets.

I thought the new loop was better. There was only 1 upslope (instead of 2) and that allowed us to really go all out on the upslope rather than conserving for the 2 slopes. I followed the trainer's advice to chiong up hill and take it easy down. The runners were split into 2 groups by gender. The guys were flagged off after the girls as they were faster and caught up easily. In the girls group, Colleen was leading all the way, followed by Julie. On the 3rd set, Chairman joined us to be the 'rabbit' and up the pace.

I usually did not like hill work, but to my surprise, I was enjoying the new route. My timing was +/- consistent for all the sets. I skipped the 7th set as there was a slight strain in my left shin. All of us did the last set together. The guys really went all out and blasted past me in a flash. After the 8th set, we did an easy jog around the loop to cool down and made our way back to Safra.

Hmmm..... I think I need to drop 1.5 - 2kg and tone up a little more to run faster. The scale tipped the wrong way again today. But oooh, there was going to be good food and many gatherings ahead.

Smile :)

I think my blog's full of complaints. Yucks. It feels like one of those I-just-want-to-hide-in-a-cave moments. I think I should just keep quiet, take a deep breath, and train harder instead of grousing like a broken recorder. There's nothing inspirational about me slacking off or slowing down or generally being negative. Breathe. In. Out. Smile. Stay positive. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

RPM Challenge

Went for RPM Challenge class and met Eddie (Chang) and Fennel at the gym. My breathing felt a little shallow, so decided to ride easy for the hour. Eddie and a few of the gym members were also going to KL for the Pacesetters this weekend.

I took a quick shower, went for dinner and bumped into James at Vivo! Have not met him for some time. Found out that Wai Fung had recovered from her bad sprain and was now training hard for Bintan-Tri in May. A group of my friends might be taking part in the race too, but it was only 1 week from the Sundown Ultra, so I was skipping it. If the group goes, I might tag along to support, take photos and get a nice tan. :)

Dom called to discuss about the logistics and plan for the Sabah Adventure Race. I would have to get a MTB and try balancing myself in the trails. I think I might be quite clumsy at that.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

MF60? MF65?

Slept late last night and had only 4ish hours of sleep. I woke up to my alarm, feeling sluggish and heavy. And sleepy. Did my usual pre-run routine and hitched a ride to Safra from Heng. The route this morning was one of my favourites - South Buona Vista, NUS, Kent Ridge Park and MF Hill - almost all the hills in the vicinity. It was reportedly 25km, but it seemed longer than that.

I had strained my gluteus maximus muscle (more affectionately called The Butt) while doing reverse crunches a few days ago, and my calves felt like rocks. The run felt forever. When we started, Heng, Alber were a little ahead of Wayne, who was a little ahead of me, and Jaime and Michael were a little behind me. After some time, Heng and Alber disappeared from my sight. Wayne was a respectable distance in front of me, and I could hear Jaime and Michael's conversation from right behind me. I was pretty much the last runner, lonely in my own thoughts and stiff legs. Shortly after I entered NUH, Teck Hou came running out of the loop. While I ran from Science Faculty to the Alumni House, Ong, Ricci, Derrick and Lai Chee appeared consecutively in the opposite direction. I saw no one else subsequently until I exited the NUS loop and met Wayne at the junction towards Kent Ridge Park. He ran ahead while I continued on my slow KR loops.

My mind was distracted. I was the absolute last now. No other club runner was in sight. Perhaps we should call ourselves the MF60 or MF65 club (similar to MR25). New members should be able to complete our 10km MF loop in 60/65min. I would barely scrap through that criteria. At the pace we were running, slow runners would totally be discouraged from joining the club. I also had an uneasy feeling that only fast runners would be welcomed. Talent spotting was always part of the game. I guess it was a self-selection thing.

I planned to take a break and refill my water at the toilet in the park. Alas, there was no water in the flushes, the tap and the water cooler! I continued onto the wooden bridge. Looking down, I realized that I was 'running above' Cantebury estate and the new horiculture park. At the Henderson Road junction, I contemplated where to return to the club or proceed up MF. Since I was so slow, I might as well go for the time mileage instead. Afterall, I needed to burn off the cheese cakes and buffet I had last night. I half-ran-half-walked up MF and met Alber in the opposite direction. He did a reverse from Morse Road and MF loops. I persisted through MF and back to Telok Blangah Rise. Everyone had left to shower when I returned. Reward for my run - 1kg of water loss. I had better buck up since the GE Pacesetter run was only a week away.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fish, fish, fish

I went for a morning spin and pump class. My arms were perhaps more conditioned by now and they did not ache as much after the weights. But the squats and lunges were really lactic-inducing. After gym, I headed out for a well-deserved fish soup rice. Oh I could live on that for days and not get bored. :)

My sister was back from her Europe trip. The whole family went to Hilton for a Japanese buffet dinner. I must say that the spread was rather sumptous, with free flow of sake (not that I fancied it). The sashimi was not up to my standard though, the salmon slices were not from the taro (belly) area and tasted dry. However, the scallops and many others deserved second helpings. The steamed cod fish was excellent, the fish pulling away in complete slices with the touch of my chopsticks. So much fish and sashimi. I might have been a cat in my previous life! Dessert was good, especially so if the famed Hilton New York cheesecake was on the menu. Lovely. It lived up to its name. I would probably have to run harder tomorrow to work off the extra calories.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Disgustingly slow. Last of runners. Overtaken by everyone else. All our runners have improved so much, I'm now usually at the last of the pack. I can't say I didn't try today. It looked like a trot-along pace but it felt like a semi-brisk run. No matter how much faster I shuffled, or opened my stride, the gap between me and the next runner ahead widened. By the time I returned to Safra, the group was midway through their cooling down stretches. Why does everyone seem to run so easy and way ahead of me, while I'm gasping so hard? So what if I manage to catch up at 30, 40 or even 50km, most races would have been over. Me..... No talent, no ability, no potential. Heck. I'm resigned to mediocrity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Weights Training

I thought my legs would be much worse today, but they were surprisingly 'relieved' after yesterday's training. Yeah, I might be able to go for a spin or pump class today afterall! I promptly cancelled my massage appointment.

In the end, I went to Safra gym to do some weights instead. A number of runners were at the gym too. Kumaran, Trevor, Chairman and Amelia went for runs. Alber was showing me some of the machines and reps to do. I am not a gym person at all. It seemed like a boring thing to do, and I was easily distracted. When I was training with the girls in the past, I used to skip the requisite gym sessions and had all sorts of excuses why. I think my Pump classes were more intensive and fun, since we had to follow the rhythm of the songs while getting a whole-body workout.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Loops and Stairs

I almost gave up on the night's training - 5x MF loops + 3x stairs. Even going up Morse Road to reach the MF loop was a pain. I walked a little up the slope. My 1st MF loop was so slow, I took 11min vs a typical 9ish sub-10min per loop. That did not augur well. I started making backup plans, like run 3 loops and proceed back via Harbourfront, or do 5 loops and skip the stairs. KK sprinted past me at the end of my first loop. Then I caught up with Yean and Michael, and thereafter ran alone for the rest of the loops. The 2nd loop was a little better, and thankfully, my legs loosened up a little after the 3rd loop. I experimented with using higher quad lifts at a faster pace to get through the trudgery of the remaining loops. I stopped a few times to catch my breath or just stood at the spot to recover from my experiments. Right knee felt cranky and both ITB sides felt tight on the downhill. How come everyone else seemed to be running well? Clocked about 11min/loop.

I had not done stairs in a long while. After 4-1/2 MF loops, I stopped at the stairway, pondering very hard if I should go down or not. I guess I was probably swept up by the other runners and started down the steps with them. I half hopped and walked up the stairs, and tried to go in a rhythm of 10-steps run, walk, 10-steps run, walk. Managed to clock about 2:09min consistently for each set of stairs, quads were burning with heavy breathing and panting.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tiring Spin

I was tired. Yes. But I had also overloaded (aka greedily gorged) today, so I contemplated between a swim and a spin. In the end, the wheels appealed more and I made my way to ORQ gym. An 1h RPM Challenge class. It was going to be a challenge no doubt. My butts, quads and hamstring were still sort of aching. One would think that by now my body would have gotten used to that sort of training. Perhaps I should do Pump more often to strengthen the muscles. It was really quad-burning to tackle the pace and climb tracks. I think my hamstring almost cramped. Thankfully, I managed to book a massage session on Wednesday. Tired and sleepy. Yawn.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Burning Butts

I slept late and woke up to sorely aching butts and quads, the result of weighted squats and lunges yesterday. I had no idea how I would complete the 21km run this morning. True enough, what felt manageable turned out to be close to 7min/km pace.

There were the usual familiar faces, and a number of new runners. I jogged along with Yuen along Portsdown road until we reached the Dover Road petrol kiosk and some of the runners took a water break. I continued the run with Jason and a young boy whom I had not met before. I think he was Rosemary's son. We ran together through Dover to Clementi Road and split at the canal. I could tell that Jason was deliberately holding back - his body posture signalled that he would be more comfortable at a faster pace - and asked him to run ahead. Alber and Heng came along soon and the guys headed off together.

I ran the rest of the way back to Safra alone, and met Michael at the junction of Depot Road. By that time, I was between walk and run, and was quite happy to stop. The temptation to follow him back via Depot Road was great, but I thought I should finish the designated distance. So I shuffled along Alexandra Road, HarbourFront, Kg Bahru and Telok Blangah Rise. Trainer Ong had suggested that runners go up MF if they wanted extra mileage, but I was totally in no condition to do that today. I was relieved to finally haul myself back to Safra at the end of the run. Most of the runners were already back and chatting at lobby by the time I returned. My butts were positively burning by then. Ouch.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fish Soup Saturday

Skipped my morning run. Skipped my morning ride. Did not feel like waking up early and did not want to wash my bike again. So I popped down to the gym for spin and pump classes instead. Spin was decent. Tried to load up slightly more for pump weights and suffered big-time. My upper bod strength was 'cannot make it'....

I managed to get my fish soup lunch at Maxwell market. Yeah! That was my 4th attempt and the shop was finally opened, albeit without the pomfret fish. Ahh bliss. Luckily or unluckily, I was trapped by a sudden heavy downpour at URA building after lunch. Good thing I was already in the building when the rain pelted down, but now I would have to entertain myself while waiting for it to stop. I sat at the lobby counters, made myself comfortable and read my Economist. I had learnt never to leave home without a good read to kill waiting or commuting time. No idea why I felt so tired I nearly fell asleep in the lobby. I think I would really ache tomorrow on the sunday run.

Caught up with KC, Dom and Linda for a movie in the evening. Inevitably, the discussion soon veered into the upcoming races and exciting overseas events. I would probably team up with Dom for the North Face 100 trail run. The route sounded insanely muddy and dirty! Chee Meng had been trying to pique my interest in the Gobi Desert race ( this year, which to-date had never appeared on my radar. Meanwhile, half my heart had fluttered to a mountain somewhere, don't know when. I would like to do a climb this year as well.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Non-elitism Sports for All

I had dinner with the girls. It was a good catch up session as we updated one another on our latest adventures. Averill managed to rotate herself out of her army vocation into a shooting-related one so that she can be on the unit's shooting team and continue training with the national squad. Joanne's all ready for her Everest attempt in a few months, and Linda's on track getting expedition details too. I was so proud of them. Everyone of them is so strong and awesome. As for me, I was still figuring out what events and expeditions I should partake in this year. Too many options, too little time.

A few days ago, I heard a comment that our Stanchart Singapore Marathon should have a 6h-cutoff time. The person was a competitive racer who believed that if you wanted to participate in a race, you should aim to win something. Why else to take part? He felt that people who did not train and/or completed in 9h by walking 42km to earn the finisher's medal made a mockery of the marathon and serious training by faster runners. I was aghast by that high-browed attitude.

Sports should be enjoyed by everyone. In particular, running has such a low-cost entry barrier and little technicalities that almost anyone - young, old, rich, poor, rich - can take up the sport. There is a place and time for elite competitors, and another for the rest of us mere beings. The elites have their Kona, Boston, New York, London, Tour de France and the likes. The rest of us simply enjoy a good workout and a personal challenge in the company of like-minded people. In anycase, a typical marathon is large-scaled enough to accomodate both groups.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

First Run of the Year

My legs were sore and my calves felt like rocks. I perched on my working shoes in their little sharp heels and felt the lower legs burning. Perhaps finally the crazy adventures of the past days had caught up with me.

Needless to say, the evening Safra run went horribly slow. A trot-along recovery it was. An estimated 11km into the Cantebury estate and Harbourfront route. The faster runners in the front did an extra loop whilst Chairman made the slower ones behind skip a turn to narrow the gap. It was always a maze inside Cantebury. I still get lost even now, and I have a fairly decent sense of direction. Ahh. On the way back, I chatted with Anthony about my MR ultra and his Chiangmai marathon. He was on a very comfortable recovery pace and accompanied Beverly, who soon ran ahead of us. Yours truly, on the other hand, was doing all I could to sustain a conversation at his pace. Breathe. Legs dragging.

Post-run, I had a separate dinner with the "steamboat gang" - Eddie, Sumiko, JD, Alvin, KM and Alber. We all squeezed into Alvin's car and went for XO fish soup. Next dinner outing would be to JB to celebrate Sumiko's birthday soon. Looking forward to another boisterous affair. We also discussed the KL Marathon in March, and wondering if I should go for that.

Friends had been sending me links to all sorts of events around the globe. All very tempting and extreme. I wonder if I should dedicate 2008 as a year of running, amongst others, and not do a major climb this year. Or if I should replicate 2007's exciting agenda of an event every month. A very tired me soon fell asleep, lulled into my dreamy adventurous world.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

70 end; 70 start

Although I ended 2007 with a 70km run, I definitely had no intention of starting 2008 with a 70km ride.

New Year's Day. A leisurely morning ride followed by a nice lunch. That was the plan, according to our discussion with Alvin, Eddie and gang. A slow, short 50km ride at 25-30kmh. The reality was that I woke up still aching from the ultra run and was in half-mind about not going for the ride. Alber had a headache and was not riding. I had not rode on the roads with my cleats except during the Powerman race. I was apprehensive if I should use the cleats and kept thinking I might fall. Excuses flashed through my head. In the end I convinced myself that it was a good opportunity to practise my cleats in the company of other riders on a no-rush ride. I checked with the rest and after lazing in bed for another 30min, I decided to join the guys for the ride. Afterall, it was meant to be slow, relaxed and short.

How wrong. I rode from my home to the Bukit Batok swimming pool to meet with Alvin, Eddie, JinYe and a few others. I had been staying at my new place for 3-4months and still not familiar with the area. We cycled to 10-mile Junction to join up with JunDe and continued riding to Neo Tiew area. The guys were fast. Eddie rode his MTB, as per originally agreed with Alber. Even then, he was way ahead of me, very strong and fast. I was clumsy on my cleats and could not clip in promptly on a few occasions. I had to pedal with one leg and fiddled around with the cleats with the other until I heard the familiar 'click'. Thankfully the traffic was light, and I remembered to keep the clipped in leg moving. At one point, I rode in front with another guy when the road ahead split into 2 directions. He turned right and I went straight. I hesistated to follow him, and suffered a stationary tilt-over onto a grass patch, grazing my knee slightly. I shuddered at the thought of a high-speed crash and fly-over.

We stopped for a break at a coffeeshop near Kranji Reservoir, and caught up with some jokes, courtesy of Eddie. He was such an entertainer at social gatherings. We continued towards Upp Thomson Road, Woodlands, Mandai and Sembawang Road before heading into Yishun new town and Seletar Reservoir. There were numerous long stretches of slopes, some with very strong headwind where my speed plummeted to 16-17kmh. It was tough just trying to get the pedal strokes going. By the time we reached Seletar, it was already 50km. There was another 20-odd km between me and my bed. My legs were feeling the fatigue from the run and slopes by then. I took a Gu-gel, a deep breath, and we set off on the return ride. I almost contemplated flagging a taxi back, but thought I should not give up. Eddie was still going strong on a MTB, and he had covered 50km at the ultra too. I visualized the ride as a climbing descent to basecamp and that 1h would pass very quickly. Hmm... my Mustagh climb provided a lot more imagery and motivation than I had bargained for. :)

We were supposed to end at some coffeeshop for lunch, but the group split up on the way back. I was lagging behind after being separated by some traffic junctions and I rode alone. I only had a homing device and did not know where the lunch venue was, so I headed straight home instead.

Total distance: 75km.
It was a good recovery ride and a chance to practise my cleats. I was glad I made it for the ride. A great start to the new year.