Monday, March 31, 2008
The class was unusually full today. Eddie was there too, had not seen him in a while. Ali took the class through the usual 9 tracks for a RPM Challenge, and threw in an extra speed track at the end. Nobody in class objected nor supported the addition. Probably all too flustered after the last climb to respond. Ha. "To flush out the lactic from the legs", Ali reasoned. It was an old speed track from RPM 22. Good to have a familiar music piece to motivate the legs.
Drove over to catch up with the SAC racers after class. Rowdy and hilarious bunch, mostly hardcore MTBrs. The two Indian chaps were there too, regaling stories about their very adventurous race, wrong turns, lost in the dark and getting stuck in a mini whirlpool in the dark for an hour. The rest of them were trading stories about MTB trails in Singapore, the upcoming 100k at the new Tampines trail park, a newly rated ubin trail etc. Something totally out of my usual circuit, as I listened on curiously. I was fascinated by the trail descriptions, but from a runner's perspective. I would love to run on them and explore the terrain. A tempting idea obviously. The dinner ended with most people declaring their intentions to race again next year in the 10th anniversary of the SAC. Yes indeed, but first, I would need a decent MTB and full armour to guard against more stitches or broken body parts. Oops!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
True enough, the run was a nightmare. We ran from clubhouse towards S. Buona Vista and NUH. Up and up, round and round we went, up the 99-loop road. I reckoned I did about 10km before my engine died. I was near the NUS running tracks when Ricci, Ong etc came from the opposite direction. I walked around Clementi Road to NUS entrance, up the slope, took a water break before I resumed running to NUH. Did not see Alber ahead even as I entered Science Park I, he was probably either way in front, or had stopped behind to look for me. As I was wondering, I heard his footsteps from behind. Must have missed me when I went to refill my water. We ran into Kent Ridge Park before our momentum died again. Oh sheesh. It was painfully pointless to continue the run, so we decided to walk back to Safra. Took a shortcut via the Hort Park and Depot Road. Lovely weather amidst a scenic laidback surrounding for a Sunday morning stroll. Hungry.... Most tempted to stop at the hawker centre for breakfast. :)
I realised I was not too hung up today about the incomplete run. On any other days, I would have been most annoyed. But today, I took it all in my stride (literally walking strides, ha). There would be another run another day. Probably need to gradually ease back into the training routine. Amazing (or annoying?) what a week's break could do to our fitness. Meanwhile, inhale the fresh air in the park. :)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
It's been a week since my inaugural crash on my virgin mountain bike ride during my first real adventure race overseas. Too many firsts all at once. Our trip to the Sabah Adventure Challenge was full of surprises and crises. Recap....
19 March 2008, 2am. A day before our departure. One of my team mates discovered, to all our horror, that he lost his passport! A frantic search and contingency plans ensued - replacement candidates, cancel the trip, join the race late etc. Thankfully, the immigration officers helpfully issued a temporary travel document in the same day and we were set to go.
20 Mar 2008, 4am. Morning of the flight. My humble house. Our transport came to collect us and our bikes/ gear to Senai Airport in Johor. 1 giant carton-box, 1 big carton-box, 1 relatively compact bike case, 1 huge duffel bag, and 3x 50-60L backpacks. We had a MPV. The giant carton-box would not fit into the length of the car! Frantic attempts to shove and prop the boxes. The winning configuration was the 3 bike boxes lying comfortably on 2 rows of totally flattened out seats, while Dom and I precariously squashed ourselves atop those flattened backs. KC, by virtue of his length (height) enjoyed the front passenger seat. The lead-up to the race in the past week seemed like a roller coaster, and we were not even on the plane! I only hoped that we would safely hop on the flight and reach Kota Kinabalu. Everyone suffered from lack of sleep in the past week, and we snoozed the entire journey.
We landed. At last! A sigh of relief. Dom's aunt, Fiona, was at the airport with her friend, Michael, to pick us. Another round of loading and unloading before we got everything secured on the back of the 4WD truck. Fiona generously put us up at her apartment during this trip. It was a nice cosily renovated 3 bedroom place, airy and comfortable. :) The rest of the day was spent re-assemblying our bicycles and registering for the race. For some strange reason, KC's front tire did not sit well, and we burst 2 inner tubes trying to align the wheel. We had to find a new tire but many bike shops were closed. We finally bought a spare one (RM75!) from the race organizers. After the race briefing and packing, it was past midnight when we were done. We had to meet at 630am the next morning.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Today, I eventually dragged myself out for a short run. I had some time after work and before dinner, so what better use of the time than to be out for a trot. I must have somehow hit my left rib/ chest area from the fall. The abrasions were ok, superficial wounds that healed quite fast. The internal strain was harder to detect and recover from. It hurts when I stretch my hands upwards, or lift my chest out, or swing my arms on the run. Ouch. Anyhow, I ran from office to the end of Esplanade Park and back. 45min. Legs felt fresh after the long break. Lungs, though, were trying to wake up from the hibernation state.
I'd dropped 1kg from the spate of stomach quirks since last week. Hmm... Not good, no strength, no power. Need to rebuild fitness.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
4x 1200m @ Queenstown stadium. I should retire from running. Looking at the turn-up tonight, I knew I would be the sweeper again.
First, the warm up run to stadium. Everyone was going so fast, even before the speedwork. Felt a bit of stomach cramp.
Then, the track workout per se. Target was <2min per 400m, and <6min per set of 1200m. I barely made it under 6min. It was consistently 5.55-5.57min for all 4 sets. Heaving, panting. Light-headed and headache by the last set. Did not dare to open up strides fully and strain my joints. 95% of the group was ahead of me.
Last, the return jog. At the onset of the return journey, I felt a tinge of ITB and knee discomfort. Did not feel it during the speedwork, perhaps too focused on catching oxygen and not be last. I was really slow on the return, even behind our newer, slower runners. I trotted, stretched, strolled, trotted. Runners were midway through their stretching when I returned. Demoralizing is an understatement. I went into the gym for my cool down and abs routine.
I am not really look forward to my weekly trainings. There is probably a limit to the cliched "challenging oneself" or "turning adversity into strength", or "yardstick to do better". Being put in place 3 times a week is not very encouraging. Maybe I should simply accept that I am slow, retire, and run my own leisure runs to keep fit. Like the E-grader simply trying hard for a pass.
Just for the record, I aced my Maths in school.....
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Dom led the way to Dairy Farm and up to Chestnut/ Zhenghua trail area. Everything was a first for me. The roads, the trails, the surroundings. But it was fun! Pedalling up the slopes and flying down. Heave, huff, pant, steady steady pedal, don't stop as I commanded the bike up the slopes, rolling over rocks, gravel and mud pools (courtesy of the torrential rain in the past week). Grrr grrr grrr grrr... my vision blurred as the bike rushed downhill with me suppressing between a smile and scream. I bounced over roots and potholes, flew over the edge of a rock to land on the path below....... well, okay, the edge was not very high, probably raised 20ish cm above the ground. But when that was your first time, hurtling downwards at high speed, and suddenly chancing upon that gap where the path sunk 20cm below your wheels, it seemed like going off the edge of Grand Canyon. Yeah well, somewhat exaggerated, but you get the picture.
After a short ride, we headed to a nearby coffeeshop for breakfast. Cycling through the HDB carparks, rolling over kerbs and void decks, I discovered that I could go over the kerbs without flying off my bike! :) Post-event, I was advised that I should have lifted the front wheel of the bike when mounting a kerb. Uh... that information had outlived its timeliness!
Now, if only the MTB segment during the race was as easy as this. Imagine doing this repeatedly over 3 days. Eeeks!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Alas, the watering can from above was not about to shut its tap, so I had a gym session instead. Did a couple of weights on the bar, crunches, and so forth. Some hardcore runners came, but Chairman called off the run in view of the rain and went with a few runners for coffee at Ya Kun. Some of the others went to a nearby HDB flat to do staircase training instead. The night air was surprisingly very cooling and chilly. The newspapers later reported that it was the coldest day of the year! 21.8 deg-C! *Whistles*
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Left the house and was almost blocked by the big refuse collection truck outside my gate. Reached the office and wrestled with bank over an online transaction and the foreign merchant. Three unresolved calls to the bank and a nasty email to the merchant. Then a race organizer emailed that my registration was incomplete, but which I clearly recalled submitting last year. Patience and civility was tested, and an impatient email exchange followed. It was the organizer's oversight. At my expense. A close friend called next with undelightful updates. Then a series of little irritable occurrences in the office. And my carelessness in the morning would boomerang and hit me later this evening. Arrrghh.....
Safra run. 14km. Round TB park, via canal and park connectors to Ridley Rd. We skipped the Botanic Gardens. It was my 1st run since last Friday's ITB scare. I was oh-so-slow that I easily trailed a far distance behind the runners. Ong was running with Jaime, their nice couply romantic run. :) Linda came late, but she easily blasted off to catch up with the main pack. Ricci was very late too, he lapped me near Tanglin Village. Anyhow, after the initial angst, it was solo cruise all the way back. The ITB felt ok, only a minor tingling around 1:15h mark. Hmm, F's massage seemed to work, though of course the distance and speed were much reduced tonight. Would need another follow-up massage. I skipped the TB park on the return, cut across the canal to Henderson Rd and stretched my ITB at the long traffic light junction. The runners had finished their stretching exercises when I returned. Oh well, I was still going to proceed with my crunches and such. Hopefully I could build a stronger abs and core for better performance and less injuries.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
We rode to Bt Batok Nature Park. Geez, I did not know that the park was so near my house, with a very pleasant interior. Quiet, calming and almost scenic. I practised going down steep slopes and climbing them. Oh man, a roadie was so much easier on the slopes! I also tried cycling around an open field with many tree roots to experience bouncing and skidding over them.
It was tremendous hard work to control and ride a MTB in the trails! I foresee lots of bike pushing during the race....
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I arrived at F2 carpark at 9pm. A handful of runners were already there. I knew a few of them - Jancy, Anthony, DO, Ronnie, and Benny. The rest went by their SGRz nicks which I could not recall. Everyone switched on their blinking lights for safety, hence the name of the run tonight - Blink Blink. We started off trying to keep to a 6.0 - 6.5min/km pace. The guys deliberately slow jogged behind me for the entire stretch of ECP. It was stressful having such fast runners slowing down and right on my heels. That was my usual easy pace, but for them, it was more like a braking pace. To compensate, they kept up a contiuous chatter behind me. We continued that way to B1, Fort Road, and Mountbatten.
It was a cool night for a run. Not humid, quiet and fresher air. But I was sleepy. I suppressed a few yawns throughout the run. Maybe then the conditioning was not so much the mileage, but getting accustomed to running after bedtime, to overcome that 'sleeping wall' when the body just wanted to shut down and lie down.
There was only so much "braking" and holding back the guys could do. After we turned into Stadium Walk at the McDonalds, we broke into a few groups of runners. I maintained my very-metronome pace throughout. We reached Esplanade in about 1:30-40h, approximately 15km? There was a live band performing at a makeshift outdoor stage. I think it was some Nokia promotion. There was loud music and many people around the area. We stood out in the crowd in our running gear amidst the Friday night party goers. Short toilet break at Esplanade. We wanted to find the ice-cream man, the uncle who sold the $1 ice-cream cones and bread. But Uncle was nowhere to be seen, so we headed back to the next alternative - Kallang Mac.
By then I could feel my hip joint flaring up. Was that the infamous ITB joint? I tried to stretch the band, and continued the run back. It was a good comfortable pace to Mac. The runners bought ice-cream cones and ate as we walked out. However, once I stopped running, the pain returned. Panic! It was a new sensation to me. I could feel the tightness pulling all the way down to the base of the leg. It felt painful just walking. Ok big-time panic. Injury-free was my motto. I strolled out a short distance to Mountbatten and decided to bail-out. That was not the time to be hero and finish another 10km. Mileage was not a problem now. I flagged down a cab and returned to my car at F2. Massage therapy awaited.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Went down Henderson Road. My calves were really really tight from Tuesday's hill work and yesterday's crazy spin. Met Linda at the junction of Morse Road, she had just finished her MF loop. I lumbered on, up MF slope. Calves killing! Stopped at the top of slope to stretch both calves and ankles, and saw Teck Hou coming from the opposite direction. Continued the usual MF 10km route, and met Heng and Alber coming up Morse Rd slope again on their 2nd half of run. Somewhere along Harbourfront, Alex appeared from behind. Since he caught up from behind, technically his pace would be faster than mine. But he neither went ahead of nor slowed down behind me. That made it difficult and distracting to run alongside because our natural gait and pace were mismatched.
End of 10km, back to club. Decided not to continue another 5km loop since everyone else was back, and I had lost my running rhythm. Another long run awaits tomorrow. Did a quick abs routine and headed for the shower. Happy with my new top and bottom.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
1st set - familiarizing with the route. The slopes and steps seemed rather steep, bad for knees and hips. Better go down slowly. Out to the flat roads for recovery. Up the long slope which was too long to "take one deep breath and chiong all the way up". Heng said at least I had the foolishness to try and chiong the slope. Could not see the front pack of runners at all. Was overtaken by Peter, Heng, Zhiwei and Hee Shen. For the next 3 sets, I maintained about the same distance behind and kept them in sight, sometimes running with Zhiwei and Hee Shen.
2nd set - managed to speed up a little now that I knew the route. 3rd set - lower calves near the ankles were burning, that old familiar numbing sensation because of poor blood circulation there. Ricci was coming down the slope in the opposite direction. I found out later that he just concentrated on dashing up the slope and jogging down slowly, skipping the steps section to ease the impact on his knees. Sounded good too, I might try that someday.
4th set - tried to recover legs on the down and flats. Puffed my way up the slope. Had to finish the assigned 5 loops, so pressed on for the last set. 5th set - butt started feeling the strain. Attempted to chiong up slope for a strong 'victorious' finish, but sustained the faster pace only about 3/4 up the slope. Finally finished, thorougly soaked with sweat. Chairman was saying something to me about doing a 6th recovery set, and how the training was .... yadahyadahyadah... Mind tuned out because I was still panting away and could not reply him! Some of the runners did a 6th loop. Saw Alber and Linda returning from their extra set. I chatted with Jimmy and this other young guy (can't recall name) about the recent biathlon.
I did my abs routine in the gym. Experimented again with that Swiss Hip Extension exercise, still wobbly and could not stabilize. Did a wobbly 10 leg lifts on each side. Legs felt very very heavy and tired after the run. One thing about a hard run was that it made me sleepy. Yawn....
Monday, March 3, 2008
Perpetually hungry. Since Sat's and yesterday's long runs.
Sunday 2 Mar 2008
11.45am: Post-run. Huge plate of yummy soya chicken drumstick add-noodles and a horlicks at the hawker centre opposite clubhouse. (Auntie missed us and gave extra noodles!) Still not satisfied.
1.15pm: Drove to IMM. Rumbling stomach. Bought an Azabu Sabo Hokkaido green tea ice-cream (smooth smooth texture)
2.00pm: Had sips of Alber's McDonalds strawberry milkshake (luscious & creamy)
2.45pm: Ate a Crystal Jade almond milk bread (savoury milk powder)
3.00pm: Pinched a couple of my sister's french fries (Mac does the best fries)
7.00pm: Huge bowl of fish soup with brown rice. Added more fish, meat and ginger. (Mum's cooking is the best)
9.00pm: Taiwanese green bean kueh snack
Past midnight: Better sleep or else would feel hungry again!
Monday 3 Mar 2008
7.00am: Woke up, stomach rumbling. Chewed a wholemeal sandwich on way to work.
9.00am: A pack of No-frills sesame soda crackers. Hungry.
12.00nn: Set lunch at Viet Lang with colleagues (3 pcs ngoh hiang appetiser, prawn noodle soup, green bean soup dessert)
2.45pm: Hungry! Crystal Jade almond milk bread (had foresight to buy extra :))
4.45pm: Discussion. Hungry. 2 packs of No-frills sesame soda crackers.
6.00pm: No gym today. Spent an enjoyable 2h catching up on backlog of readings in office.
8.00pm: Petrol kisok. Spotted 2 new flavours of Cornetto Royale ice-cream cones - Chocolate Brownies, and Almond Praline. Hmmm.... mental note to try both soon.
8.30pm: Dinner, finally! Black bean paste fish slice beehoon & vegetables.
9.30pm: Hunt for new Cornetto Royale began. 3 petrol kisoks. Disappointing. No new flavours.
10.00pm: Home. Raided the Cornetto normal vanilla-choc cone from fridge.
Eat and eat... unhealthy junk. This is bad... Need to run.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The weather was very humid this morning, I was drinking a lot from my new Nathan toy. I was going to try and survive on plain water and no gel for as long as I could. I ran at a constant pace. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. So consistent I felt like a metronome! Tick-tock-tick-tock. Flashback to childhood piano playing days, with the metronome going tick-tick-tick-TING in the background. :)
I lost Yong and Alber at the Nicoll Highway. They were behind me after going for a toilet break, and somehow did not cross the junction at Raffles Blvd. I waited at the end of Nicoll bridge before running back to try and find them. I spotted them on the other side of the bridge and motioned for them to take the underpass over. We were using a new route today, Tg Rhu to Fort Rd & ECP B1, instead of the usual Mountbatten Rd. That was my training route in the past, when I trained for marathons before joining Safra. I led them through Indoor Stadium to Tg Rhu and out towards Fort Rd. Deja vu. I had not been on that route for about 1yr. Yong commented that my pace was still very constant. Haha yes, not a metronome for nothing. But maybe I should set this metronome to a higher speed ticktickticktick instead. As we wre running out along Tg Rhu, Lai Chee and Freddy had already u-turned and on their return run in the opposite direction. We reached ECP B1 carpark in about 1:45h, and saw Ricci, Jimmy, and Trevor just turning around. They were orientating the new boy.
I met my friend, Yihui, at the toilet! Surprise! She was there to run at ECP too. After a water break, I set off with Yong and Alber. We decided to take the Mountbatten Rd back and went to buy drinks at the petrol kiosks. Took a few sips of Pocari Sweat - hmmm.... that stuff was quite refreshing. Pressing on. Still no urge for power gel. Good. After 18km, Yong had powered up and went ahead. We lost him around Nicoll Highway. I suggested to Alber to take the Kallang detour to compensate for not returning by Tg Rhu. From Kallang Dragon Boat Association, we looped to Geyland/ ICA, following the dreaded segment of Stanchart marathon to Crawford Lane and back to Esplanade Park. Made the mistake of entering the park because the place was under renovation and we missed the only exit out to Marina Promenade. Which meant hitting a dead end and having to backtrack to the exit. I was reminded again of how I disliked running through the park. Not fainting from lack of power gel yet. There was a nice wind blowing through the park, making the segment more bearable. I started humming to myself for distraction, and psyching myself to go farther without power gel. Hmmm.... I would need a wider repertoire of songs to last 84km!
Exiting onto Raffles Blvd, we ran past the newly opened Singapore Flyer. Was it my eyes playing parallex error trick on me, or was the flyer spinning slowly? The capsules seemed to be moving towards the ground ever so slightly. Mental note to myself - maybe I should try to get tickets for a ride. By now, the wind was giving way to an overcast sky. Soon, little droplets of rain fell. We stopped at the Esplanade Mall for a water refill, when the clouds opened up. Totally. It was a torrential downpour. Luckily we escaped the rain in time. Unluckily though, the run was disrupted. Had $10 on me, tried to get loose change to take a bus, but the shops were not opened yet. No choice, hopped onto a cab back to Safra. Everyone else had returned by then.
Today's achievement - managed 3h with only 6 sips of Pocari, water and no gel! Yes! (So why was I still buying so many gels and drinks if I was trying not to use them? Haha....)
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I thought of doing a short run since there was a long 30km planned tomorrow. The weather was nice and cool this morning. I set off, relaxed, and enjoying the morning serenity along the beach. There were a few groups doing morning exercises. One Chinese lady was teaching a group some dance and workout steps, another Malay lady was leading her group in stretching exercises. Further down, a group of uncles and aunties were enjoying their regular dip in the waters. I saw Angela in the opposite direction, who was doing her own long run. There were 2 SAF soldiers patrolling the beach near Marine Vista, and a police patrol car driving up and down the cycling path. Probably a stepped-up patrol presence in response to the recent detainee escape.
I ran from B1, past the seafood lagoon to the hawker centre. It was the biathlon 1km u-turn point. The early waves of biathlon participants had completed their swim and started on their 10k run. From afar, I could hear the incessant beeping as runners crossed the timing mat with their champion chips. I stood at the mat for a while, trying to spot familiar faces. Finally, I saw Helen from Tampines Safra. Shouted 'Hi' to her and she looked momentarily surprised. I continued my run back to B1, bumping into Angela again. I think we must have criss-crossed each other about 4 times today since we were both running up and down repeatedly along ECP.
There was a slight drizzle on the run back. I hoped the organizers would not call off the race, as what happened during last year's OSIM and Triladies. There was no thunder or lightning, and the rain was not heavy, so the race should probably continue. I reached B1 in a start-stop-start-stop rain, and decided to do a quick tempo run to the end of Fort Rd fence and back to the carpark. Distance clocked: about 12ish km. Probably had sufficient time to cover another 5-6km before rushing over to meet the bi-ing group. Took a quick water refill and set off in the direction of Mac about 2.5-3km away. The rain got heavier, but no choice, I was midway into the run. By the time I returned to B1, I was totally drenched. Angela had finished her run and strolling back to the carpark, soaked as well. Completed about 17-18km today.
Called Alvin Ong and found out that the guys had finished their events. Oops! I hurriedly drove over to meet up with them. Getting into the car with squishy clothes and dirty shoes was a challenge. I tried to minimize my contact with the seats etc. Grrr...... I would need to clean the car in the afternoon.
Met Peter and Margaret as I was walking towards the race site. She came to cheer his inaugural biathlon, how supportive! :) Sumiko won 5th prize so the guys were waiting for her prize collection. I think she gets a healthy extra allowance each month simply by winning at events. Haha. Melvin was there with his boy, and Trevor too. We took a couple of photos in various combinations. Everyone was in a jovial mood and we went for lunch at the hawker centre.
I really cleaned out the car when I reached home. I could now totally understand why guys were obsessed with polishing and waxing their cars. I pulled out all the carpets and vacuumed them thoroughly. Then I wiped every inch of the interiors with an anti-bacterial spray. Even wiped parts of the exterior, though I think the $6 car wash would do a better job. There, the car's interior was sparkling clean and smelling fresh. :)