Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Muffin Revenge

Massage time. First comment to me "you seemed to have gained weight...". Flashback to last week's massage. Different shop, different lady. Same comment "you seemed more plump....".

Horrors (with a capital "H")!! Those muffins are back! All that running came to naught?

Probably the result of over indulgence last week. Conferences and food galore. Pre-dawn nasi lemak & oily fried bee hoon suppers after night runs. And the almost-daily Cornetto Royale Sweetheart Brownie cones. Not forgetting the irresistable melt-in-mouth peanut butter cheesecake. With the all-time killer butter sponge cake. Plus the cheese pretzel & japanese soya rice cracker snacks in the office over the last week. Bubur hitam with coconut juice. Geez.... typing out the list already makes me feel like a glut. Oops.

Mental note to myself - soupy lunch for the week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spinning Myopia

Happy that I went spinning tonight. Just a break from running. Something different. Just look ahead and pedal very hard and not think about anything else. Sweated buckets. What an achievement seeing sweat droplets roll off my chin! Spent a good 15min stretching all body parts and appendages after class. Mental note to myself to fix that hip quickly.

Headed for dinner. Was in major disbelief over how myopic people could get. Anyhow, I absolute have faith in myself and my belief. :) Felt so energised by the thought I could not fall asleep. Or maybe it was the peanut butter cheesecake that kept me awake til 2am. Oops. *sinful*

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sundown Familiarization Run (II)

Saturday night. I was late the familiarization run. 815pm. I drove along the road towards Carpark 1 and saw runners spread out along the PCN. Oops. 8.25pm. I spent some time trying to get a lot at CP1 before meeting up with Eddie. Henry & Ben were there at the organizer's pavilion beckoning us to start running quickly. Henry even offered to drive us to intercept with the runners! :)

Alber and Eddie paced each other while I slowly hummed along behind. Today we should attempt the actual Sundown 42km route. I had done most sections of the route, but not in its entirety. The Coastal PCN was very mental, easily 10km of the same scenery - ie. nothing much. The lamps along the PCN were unlit, relying instead on the roadside street lamps on Coastal Rd that ran in parallel to the path. There were many night cyclists and roller-bladers along the PCN, and many times we were squinting to see one another from the opposite direction. Those on wheels often occupied more than two-thirds of the lane too without the courtesy to keep to one side. It was such an accident prone stretch, I hope NParks would turn on the lamps on the actual race day.

To kill my mental bordom, I started counting the number of planes that took off. Many were SQ flights, I wonder what exotic destinations they were headed for and adventures that awaited. Very slowly we turned towards East Coast PCN. This newly opened stretch of PCN was worth the exploration. To my mind, the most trying stretches were the Coastal (start) and Loyang (end) PCN. For the ultra-participants, it was good that Coastal came first while we were fresh, but it also meant the 40-50km would be a torture. The Loyang stretch meant a painful end of the 1st round, but it would be somewhat easier as the 2nd round drew to a finish. So there was no way of escaping the 'pains' of either PCN.

We finally reached the water point at ECP, and was horrified to learn that it was only the 17.5km mark! Horrors! For the amount of time I took to reach there. Oh crumbs. Topped up my bottle with the Endurance drink - hey, I was holding the same drink! - and continued to Big Splash. The route was changed apparently. There was an extension to Big Splash instead of crossing the bridge straightaway to Siglap. Felt quite down and started strolling on the u-turn. When I reached the water point again, Eddie was making plans for "evacuation" transport! I was also feeling down and that seemed like an attractive option. Haha. But I'd not be able to forgive myself for quitting now. So Alber and I jio-ed him to do another 10km with us. We proceeded to Siglap with Jancy, Vincent, and Stardust.

Maybe it was the sip of Gu-gel that I took. The caffeine, oh yes mighty caffeine. I felt perked after crossing the bridge and was able to pick up speed along the Siglap PCN. Alas I had to stop at the Kembangan MRT to wait for Eddie. Motioned for Alber to follow the rest as I knew the way. After a few traffic lights and still no sight of Eddie, I decided to move on. I ran alone through the quiet estates, crossed another bridge towards Bedok. Low and moody. Walked and jogged. Reached a toilet area and was surprised to see a water point there. The group was there. One SGRunner had volunteered to set up a support shop there - 100plus, bananas etc. Thanks for the effort!

We set off for Bedok Reservoir. The route was different from the previous times I did it. Apparently it was revised to avoid a construction area near the condominiums, hence the earlier Big Splash extension. Luckily Stardust knew the way and I just followed. We cut through Blk 710 and crossed the traffic lights at Blk 714 into Bedok Reservoir. There were 2 runners there asking us for directions. We all ran along the west (left) bank to a new and totally dark carpark, cut through to the main road, and turned right along Tampines Ave 10. At the traffic junction, turn right again to Tampines Ave 9. (After the event, we learnt that many runners had gotten lost around the Reservoir area and did not know how to get to the Tampines PCN.)

Ah, now I knew the way. Tampines Ave 9 was along the MTB trail and the coastal PCN that I receed a few weeks ago. :) We jogged towards the Esso kiosk along Ave 9. We were about 10km away from the end point. Just 10km, I could persevere. I felt a very mild tightness in my left hip. I stopped to do stretch both hips and was alarmed to feel the same ITB sensation on both sides. Panic. Deja vu flashback of how I probably ignored warning signs on my right side causing the subsequent inflammation. I stopped immediately and decided to bail out. Even though there was no real pain, the last thing I needed was ITB strains on both hips! There were cabs aplenty. Along Loyang, I was spotted many runners strolling and very slowly finishing the last few kms of the run. Way to go!

I think I'm not very cut out for night runs. Haha. I need my sleep cycle..... Whereas Alber seemed to get faster and faster as the night progresses. He was still full of energy after finishing the 42km and could prance about! Very demoralizingly, it was my 3rd DNF for night runs.....

Grin and bear with it. Save to train another day, Live to run another race. :) We went to gobble up nasi lemak at the Changi Village market.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Junk Miles in the Drizzle

Oops. Was late for run and stuck outside Safra as the carpark was full. By the time I headed off, it was almost 730pm. Alber and I did a very relaxed run. A slow 8km run around Depot Rd, Alexandra, Harbourfront and back. Still felt tired and in need of some tapering before Saturday's long run. The slow slow jog started with my calf numbing up, again. Sigh, deja vu. Stopped to massage a litte. It got better after about 2km. At that point, it felt like I was doing junk miles in the rain. The kind of running mileage that had no benefit whatsoever, neither training nor recovery.

The run was slow and contemplative. I forgot that I was running. My mind wandered off to some work issues. I took my time to mull through them, footsteps on auto pilot in the background. Coincidentally we returned to Safra at the same time as the rest of the group that had gone to recee Sunday's location run route. Took a quick dinner at Henderson - the cooking fumes was so choking!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Numbing Run

Did a slow leisure run with Siew Lee, Henry and Jason to Botanic Gardens and back. The start of the run was bad. Lower calf numb. Perennial old problem. Bad circulation. Stopped to massage a couple of times before the numbness finally eased after Dempsey Village. Paiseih, they had to keep waiting for me. We ran into Botanic Gardens 2nd toilet-carpark and made a couple of wrong turns along the way. I was going at my usual chug-along pace, .... means I was chugging along far behind the 3 of them.

Collected my 2xu compression top from Eddie in the afternoon. Pink! Apparently only that pink series had XS sizing, and I'm not complaining. :) So I would get to try out my compression set during this Sat's night run. Cool! In the evening, I got half the red foam roller toy from Melvin (Jr). We managed to find a saw and halved the roller. Yeah, now I could play with it at home. Together with the little golf ball!

Monday, April 21, 2008

High Cadence Pedal Stroke

Went for RPM Challenge. Took a while to warm up to the tracks though, perhaps a consequence of the weekend's long runs. We hit the pace track, usually the one I enjoyed most because it was fast and furious, just spin like the cliched 'no tomorrow'.

I was feeling the fatigue when suddenly I thought I should use RPM classes to practise high cadence pedalling. That might reduce my cramping up during bike-run transitions. Suddenly I had a new focus to distract from my tiredness. I zeroed in on the instructor's cadence and tried to keep pace with him. He reminded the class to drop and relax our shoulders. I did not even realise that subconsciously, my shoulders were tensed up after taking many breaths. I did what he said. For a fleeting moment (until the end of that sprint interval anyway), I felt my legs flying at a light, high cadence (yet with enough resistance to prevent injury) and no fatigue. Voila! I was pleased. :)

Killed my legs enough during class, and decided to skip the abs floorwork. Happy to head home and chill by my laptop. :)

Rolling Foam & Balls

My little experiment over the course of last week with various gadgets.

My problem pain area was the ITB around hip joint. Last week I borrowed the foam roller from Melvin (Jr) and tried it. Not bad, it worked nicely on the calves/ lower legs. Alas not that great on the butt/ hip area. Maybe too much flesh there, the massaging was not penetrating enough. Then after a while, the hands got tired from propping myself up. Duh....

So I tried rolling my hip over a tennis ball while lying on the ground. Similarly, the tennis ball was too big and could not deliver a deep spot targeted rub. Then the ball was semi-flattened.... Oops.

In the end I used a golf ball instead, but lying on the bed. Doing that on the ground would be too painful. It worked nicely. Just lie on one side with the golf ball at the targeted area and start rolling. :)

Then out of curiousity, I experimented with the golf ball on the calves. Especially my lower calves, which were very prone to tensing up. Either I use them a lot or the blood circulation was bad, a result of long-ago overstrains. So, hold golf ball in hand and knead over the sore areas, as if you were trying to roll a dumpling (tang yuan). Perfect!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Pain-free Run?

It was a sizeable turnout for today's run. The route was new to me, I had done snippets of the route but not in the combination today. Safra - Depot - Alexandra - Tanglin (towards Orchard) - Orange Grove (pass Shangri-La) - Stevens Rd (hey, I passed Cheryl's house!) - Bt Timah (pass SMU) - Cluny Park (to turn into Botanic Gardens) - Botanic Gardens - Ridley Park - Lower Delta - Kg Bahru - up MF hill - Morse - Henderson. I modified the last portion to return from Harbourfront. Not sure of the total distance.

I started off relatively strong. Tried to keep up the front runners - Ricci, Ong, Stardust, Freddy, Ultraman. Of course, keeping up was a misnomer. Would be happy just to keep sight of them. :) They were simply going slow in the first portion so that our runners did not get lost on the new route. My hip felt good. Yeah. I managed to give chase, sort of. But I had to be conservative and watched my steps. Did not want to risk over running or triggering the ITB again. So my chasing resembled a tempo run instead. Fast for x distance, slowed for a few minutes, fast again. Heng caught up soon enough and overtook me. Routinely I tried to lift my chin and elongate my spine, like having a plumbline pulled from the top of my head. Good posture to have, the steps seemed lighter and required less effort. Of course it was easy to say all that when one was not tired yet. When fatigue struck, it was a different story altogether. Ha.

After 1h we reached Botanic Gardens and took a short toilet break. We headed out to the main gate and towards Ridley Park. Alber was feeling sick and had slowed down behind. I waited for him to cross the road into Dempsey. Melvin still had his ITB problem so was running at the back with Trevor and Jimmy. I felt like I had enough energy to try and catch up with the runners ahead. I passed Siew Lee, Shirley, Wayne and some others. I saw KK and Heng a distance in front but I could not close the gap with them. The Alexandra park connector section was always depressing to me, I just had to get over with it. Darn.

Sipped my powergel after turning into Lower Delta Road. I was already looking forward to refilling my bottle with icy water at the MF cafe. Ricci, who had waited to give directions to the back runners, zoomed by in a flash. It was a half-walk-half-run up MF. I started counting lamp posts and using them as targets to get up the hill. Got my water refill atop MF and met Jimmy. We ran down to Morse Road and I told him I was going back from Harbourfront. He waited for Alber to come down the MF while I went to Esso to buy a much needed Pocari Sweat. 2 for $1.80 promotion! Passed a can of drink to Alber before I went off alone on the Harbourfront stretch. It was so hot by then. Today's weather was more humid than yesterday at MR and it was quite a pain to go through Telok Blangah Rise.

Distance covered today should be about 23km. There was a very slight tightness in my right hip, but otherwise, it was a relatively pain-free run. Again. 2nd in a row. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happiness @ MR

I was awakened around 430am by super loud thunders and rumbles that shook the windows. Darn, it was pouring, which did not augur well for my morning run. At 6am the rain stopped and I thought I could make it for the run. I was meeting Heng and Aik Hock for a morning LSD at MR. Alas, it started pouring heavily again at 640am. Oh crats. Car was parked outside in the rain. Too much hassle and uncertainty. In the end, the bed beckoned and I went back to snooze mode.

Listened to my body. And body said needed to sleep. So sleep I did. Until I woke up naturally before 10am. Oops. I was suppose to be running. The rain had long ceased and the sun was out full strength. Ok, time to hit the trails. Washed up, grabbed my gear, breakfast, and headed to MR. The carpark was rather empty by then. I did a quick stretch and started running.

I had not been to MR for some time. How I missed the trail and the nature. Even though it was close to 11am, the trees and vegetation shielded the heat from the path. It was cool to run under the canopy shade. The grand plan was to do 2 loops of the standard 10.5km route, but using the trail-under-treetop-walk section. I wanted to minimize exposure to the midnoon heat. My hip felt ok. There was a slight soreness as a result of yesterday's massage, but it was different from the usual tightness at the joint. It felt rather 'loosened' and normal. Wow, I could not recall the last time I ran without that tightness.

Last evening I went to F's for a massage. He wondered why the hip-butt joint was taking so long to recover, so we kept pressing around the area until he hit a painful-yet-"sng" spot. Ouch. I had gone for several massage sessions but never felt that sharp pain. It must be the correct spot. Then without warning, F started rubbing it rigourously. Double ouch! Breathless. The last time I experienced such pain during massages was probably a few years ago (worse back then). F stopped. Break time. Breathed. Resumed. Held my breath. Break. Repeated that about 4 times. Thankfully the pain eased as the tension in butt loosened. When I stood up, the lightless was refreshing.

Back to the morning run. I ran very slowly. I think my trail pace was probably 8min. So absorbed in my renewed hip, yet cautiously not overstriding, I went over the rolling tarmac slopes, past the golf course and almost headed towards Pierce. I backtracked to the trail entrance which was semi-hidden along the road. Someone shouted "Hello" from the treetop walk above. I looked up to see a family peering down and waving at me. I waved back. The trail was muddy from the rain, squishy squoshy, as I followed the natural momentum over the slopes. Skipped over some rocks and debris playfully. Since I was wearing my GTX trail shoes, I could splash into small streams and puddles. Still felt good at that point. I finished the 1st loop in about 1:36h, no idea of the actual distance.

Began on the 2nd loop, and sipped some power gel at 2h mark. Instead of going over the tarmac slopes, I turned left after Northern Trail and used the MR Ultra route towards the entrance of Treetop Walk. I had never gone on it and did not know how to get onto it. After a little side exploration, I found the path leading to the entrance. Ahh, now I knew. I continued into the "real trail" section again, covering the familiar muddy terrain. Sipped gel every now and then. Oh no, I was going so slowly I would be so late for my lunch-tea appointment. I had totally underestimated my timing!

Walked a little here and there, but ran most of the way. Three boys on mountain bikes somehow found their way to the wooden plank bridge connecting to the golf course. Hmm, I thought bikes were not allowed within MR compounds. Ok 7.5km marker reached at the fitness station. Just a little bit more to finish. Yes!

Quickly stretched and washed up. The cleaner was washing the toilet near the canteen, and he helpfully offered me the jet hose to shower instead of squatting unglamourously at the tap. Not that holding the hose was any more glam. But it was much faster and cleaner. Thought I could dash off, but crumbs!, car key inserted yet would not turn. Jiggled the steering wheel, tried a few times, before the key hole mysteriously unlocked itself. Clueless.

Total run time was more than 3h for a distance of about 23km I think. :( But completion without any problem from my hip. Happiness! :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MF Hills

I 'ate' snake. I did only 1 loop of MF (10km) instead of the 1.5 loops (15km). Well, I tried to sprint (aka go faster) the last stretch from Kg Bahru back to Safra. Perhaps that compensated somewhat. Haha. I was reserving some energy for this weekend's long runs. Henry was back to join us for the run. Glad that he had recovered. :) A couple of other 'long-lost' runners, like Andre and Carol, also showed up today for the run. Angela passed me a copy of Runners World South Africa edition, which wrote about the Two Oceans ultra marathon. Thanks!

Since I was back early, I spent some on time on the back strengthening machine and gym ball. Core was very important. The next important item - dinner. Some runners went to Henderson (cos free parking), and another group went to ABC (cos more variety). Wee Haur & Snr Chua were sharing about their recent 6.5km swim event in Malaysia. Oh man, I probably could not even float that distance, let alone swim. Haha.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cantebury Short Run

Skipped the Labrador hill intervals today. I thought I should stay away from deliberate hills for now and do more flats. So I ran around Cantebury Estate and Harbourfront. Pretty good pace, returned to Safra in 1:18min. After a long break from the gym ball, I resumed my crunches workout. Oooh, nearly cramped the stomach muscles from over-enthusiastic crunches.

Chatted with Melvin about using foam rollers on ITB affected areas. We felt that mine might require a tennis ball in order to reach the depth of the sore spot. So I tried it during bed time. Hmm.... it failed to massage deep enough. Perhaps I should try with a golf ball the next time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sashimi & Peanut Butter Cheesecake

No run tonight. Yeah. Had a feast of sashimi - salmon belly! - ended with japanese ice-cream fresh (frozen) from the freezer. Reached home and polished off a slice of peanut butter cheesecake. Something interesting from Allan Bakes.

Initially I took a pinch of the cake. Oooh, peanut butter blended into the cheese. Then I took a 2nd tiny pinch. Enough, as I placed the cake back into the fridge. I should not be eating that at 1030pm. My mum and sis came by and took a bite each, with good reviews. Half an hour later, resistance crumbled and I promptly finished the last bits of the cake. The cake was a kick, just the right balance of peanut butter and cheese.

For peanut butter lovers, the cake came 3rd to (1) licking peanut butter off the jar directly, and (2) peanut butter chocolate shake @ Steeples, Tanglin Shopping Centre.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fast 1st Hour

I thought I should redeem myself from the incomplete Dusty Run on Fri-Sat. There was a good number of runners at Safra this morning. Ricci, Freddy and Aik Hock (SGRunner Ultraman) were there, still looking fresh after the super long Dusty Run. Today's route was 18km from Safra to Zouk, Robertson Quay, Fort Canning Hill, Esplanade and back via Shenton Way, Harbourfront and Henderson.

We started off at an easy pace. I was conservative, mindful of my hip ITB. I had been trying to recall when and how I had injure myself, but it was probably an accumulative thing. Perhaps it meant resuming my routine massages. I had not been going as often as I did last year, despite higher mileages this year. Seemed like a recipe for trouble.

Ricci, Freddy and Aik Hock were surely taking things easy. If I could keep them within sight and even draft them at various points, they must be doing a relaxed recovery pace - though it was hardly relaxing for me! No idea why but I felt very energized and strong this morning, so I sped up and tried to stick close to them. AH had a relaxed posture and gait. I kept observing from behind. Small shuffle steps, knees hardly lifting. That seemed similar to my style. I knew I was going hard because I was panting. I had no idea how long I could sustain that pace, it was faster than my regular, and I was in the front pack. Of course all the other runners behind could easily overtake me once their engines started. It stayed that way for an entire hour. I followed the 3 guys up Fort Canning. Every step upslope came with a psychological hesitation. Slopes triggered off ITB. I chose to err on caution and moderated my pace on the slopes. Especially on the way down.

We stopped for a water break. An Australian runner joined us for a short stretch. He was staying at a nearby hotel and was flying back that evening. Tall and lanky, his strides easily doubled mine. Anyhow, I was too focused on keeping up with Freddy and AH to bother with social conversation. At some instances when my concentration wavered, I tried to keep cadence with AH's steps. We passed Boat Quay and reached Esplanade in 1h. The drafting and pacing came to an end after an hour's hard run. I usually took longer to cover the distance during our evening runs.

After a break, we made our way back to Safra. I could not resume the earlier pace but was happy to go slow. I was happy for that one hour of great run, I felt redeemed. Not just for the Dusty Run, but the many weeks of self-doubt. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dusty Run

A long overnight run tonight. 55km Dusty Run. The turnout was good, about 30 odd runners gathered at the NTU SRC carpark in anticipation of interesting training run. Many were taking part in the Sundown Ultra - why else would we sacrifice a Friday night to do a crazy run like that? :) The full route was pretty much my cycling training route in the past. It was a good riding route for its many straight stretches on wide roads with little traffic or civilization. But those very reasons made it a very demoralizing and mental run. I was on 2 wheels then, instead of 2 legs now.

I slept very little the night before. Crashing out some presentation slides. Sigh. Thankfully (Or perhaps not so) that the run was starting at 10pm. Managed to get home early and sneaked in a 2h nap before dinner and the run. I decided to try my new Succeed energy drink for the run. It claimed to be good for workouts lasting more than 3h.

We started off with a loop inside NTU. It was my first time running within the campus and on unfamiliar territory. NTU had a much larger compound and more rolling hills than NUS. We stayed close together as a group at a very slow starting pace so that people would not get lost in NTU. Then we headed out to Jln Bahar and Lim Chu Kang cemetery stretch. Runners began to space out along the long straight road. Deja vu as I recalled the many 6km loops I rode - about 3km from start of traffic light to the next light. It was boring to ride, let alone run. The path seemed never-ending. "U-turn at the next traffic light", faster runners on the opposite road called out. A simple instruction which took forever to materialize.

Anthony, DO, Jancy and some others were practising their 30:5 run:walk strategy. Alber and I began with 60:5 instead. The group comprised fast runners to begin with, so they were quickly ahead of me despite more stops. Perhaps starting off with the Nanyang slopes without sufficient warm-up irritated my hip ITB. I had to constantly stretch and 'hammer' at it every 45min. Had to keep it soothed and not let it flare up like the previous night long run.

We reached NTU again and headed off towards Pioneer Rd North. Just past the Nanyang Community Club was a coffeeshop where we took a drink & toilet break. Then we continued to Jurong Hill near the Bird Park. Melvin started walking back at the junction of Pioneer Rd because of his knee ITB. We reached Jurong Hill and took some photos. Wow, I did not know such a place existed. There was even a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant atop the viewing tower! The expansive view in the background was that of Jurong Island, unblocked but nothing scenic. A newfound location nonetheless.

We left the hill to go on a totally demoralizing stretch of industrial along Jurong Pier and Jln Buroh. Totally. By then I had shifted downgear to a 30:5 pacing. There was zero civilization except for a couple of night shift workers and a petrol kiosk, where we stopped for drinks. I paused to stretch very often along the roads. If one day you were to spot a dark figure by the roadside trying to execute a standing cross-legged lean-to-one-side bend, that would be me. Oh what the heck.

Finally the familiar bridges leading to Pandan Reservoir appeared. I was awake, yet felt very tired. My legs were so heavy, my running form was quite non-existent. Jancy turned back to look for Vincent. She later headed back to NTU due to a knee pain. I jogged with Mohan for a short stretch along Pandan Reservoir. The wafts of freshly baked Gardenia bread assailed our noses in the pre-dawn morning. Mmmm...... Deep breaths. Mohan asked how far it was to the next check point and I told him about 2-3km to reach West Coast Park McDonalds.

Alas I did not reach Mc. By the time I reached the flats near my old house along West Coast Highway, just 1km from Mc, Alber and I decided to end the run and head back to NTU. I probably walked and stretched more than I ran, and it was pointless to continue. We cut through the flats and flagged a cab. A number of runners were already prematurely back at NTU when we reached - Benny, Jancy, Mohan and some others. I took a quick shower (there was hot water!) and left for a quick breakfast. It was past 4am when we drove away, and saw Ricci and Freddy running back around Jurong West area. Wow, power! They looked like they were still going strong. I reached home around 530am, washed up, stretched and stretched, and hit the bed by 6am. I was totally knocked out until 2pm the next day.

It was a good experience doing long runs at night. Not only did the body have to deal with the usual stresses of long distance, it also had to combat fatigue and sleepiness. Double whammy effort!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another Spin

Didn't do much this week. Worked late and attended a wake last night. Was so tired, but managed to scoot off to RPM Challenge today. Oh darn, Glenn was replacing KL again tonight. But I must say that Glenn had improved quite a lot since he first started taking RPM classes. It was a decent ride, generated a fair amount of sweat. Ha. Had a sudden thought of duathlon and wondered how to get through the bike leg without cramping up after that.

Popped by the hospital to visit Alvin who just had a knee ops to repair a torn meniscus and pump in some cartilage. He even had a recording of the ops, from the view of the probe-scope. Saw video of ultra vacuum device sucking up loose meniscus etc, and mini-scissors snipping away at the torn part. Eeeiiiuu. So there was no way to 'sew' back the torn section except to trim around it so that it stopped rubbing against the bone when running/ walking. Which meant less meniscus in the knee. Not a pleasant thought. It was a stark reminder to take care of our bodies, know our limits, and not risk permanent injuries.

Monday, April 7, 2008

RPM (v) Challenge

Set up my RPM bike and started spinning. I could feel the body drag from the weekend long runs. Met Kenny at MR yesterday and he also suggested doing back-to-back runs to simulate the body fatigue, instead of a single ultra run. Midway through track #4/5, my nose started to run too. Bad sign, sniffing meant the body immune system was down and I should rest. Well, it is a known fact that our immune systems are suppressed during ultra or endurance events to pool resources and allow the bodies to deal with the workout stresses. Hence the need for proper recovery after long hard workouts. Ah, but my workouts are long, not hard. Haha.

So anyhow, sniff sniff, back to pedalling. Mind wandered off to thinking how to ride at the City Duathlon a week after Sundown Ultra. In the background, Ali was shouting some instructions above the loud music. A couple of songs from previous releases sent the seasoned riders into auto-pilot as we were familiar with the routine. Concentration floated off again to some work I was researching on. Forced myself to stay focused on the spin and relax the body. Yes, how oxymoronic in sports. One needs to relax the upper bod instead of gripping the handle bars, yet hold in the abs to keep the balance, and get the cadence going.

Felt tired by the end of the hour. Need to eat and sleep.....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Long Run

I had to make good my self promise to do 2 runs this weekend. There were many runners this morning, mostly preparing for Sundown, and a few on recovery runs - Ricci, Jaime, Ong, Trevor, Jimmy, Peter, KK, Yong, Anthony, DO, Colleen, William, Jason, Alber, Heng, Derek, Lai Chee, Angela, Melvin (young) and a new guy. The heat was sweltering. Shortly into the run and I had to put on my shades in the glaring sun. On previous Sundays, I could have waited until 9am to don the shades. Our skins baked under the relentless rays and we took frequent water breaks.

The route to NUS was relatively straightforward via Dover & Clementi Rd. I ran with Angela at a nice steady comfortable pace. She had improved so much from when she joined the club. Her strides were consistent and her endurance had strengthened a lot. The group stopped at the Guild House for a toilet break before confronting the long upslope at PGP. This part of the route was new to some runners and the slope looked intimidating under the melting sun. We turned into the rolling slopes of Kent Ridge Rd to the back of Central Library. Had not run here since my SWET training days. I guess it becomes less mental when one knows the route well. Some runners took another toilet break, but KK, Alber and I u-turned and continued. We headed down the South Buona Vista 99-winding road to Pasir Panjang. The faster runners who took a break caught up very quickly. I was dying for a cold drink. Stopped at the petrol kiosk for a Pocari Sweat. Split off with Alber after the drink. His legs were stoned from yesterday's MTB. I felt ok enough to finish the targeted training today, although I was really really slow. How come I never seem able to up my pace? :(

I met Heng at a couple of petrol kiosks later, but he overtook me and was ahead all the way back. I turned up at Kg Bahru up MF slope. By that point, it was a jog and walk up the slope. Quite painful really with the heat. I finished my Pocari Sweat, and wanted more. Did 2 MF loops and asked the nice lady at the cafe to fill up chilled water for me. Ooooh. Nice and cold. Headed back from Kg Bahru instead of Morse Rd. It was enough distance & time for the day. Perhaps the distance was slightly less than 30km, which took about 3:20h run time, probably a 7min pace. But I was the last one back, and the total elapsed time was close to 4h. Dammn. It was insane.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tampines - Changi Park Connectors

I had a busy week, plus an uncooperative wet weather. Translation: zero workouts from Wed to Fri. Hopelessly cranky without the endorphins. I swore to myself that I would run this entire weekend.

This morning I drove with the guys to Tampines MTB trail to test out the 10km route. There was a MTB 100km ride happening there next weekend, and a couple of my friends were taking part. I was advised by seasoned riders that this was a relatively easy, flat and non-technical trail, and I should start with this if I wanted to pick up MTB. Ahh... let's see how that goes after I get myself a bike.

I left the guys to their riding and went for my run. It was already past 10am when I started and the morning heat was in full blast. I followed the Tampines park connector network (PCN) towards Pasir Ris PCN. There was an overhead pedestrian-cycling bridge to cross. This newly completed Eastern Coastal PCN, a 42km stretch of connectors, would form part of the Sundown Marathon route. The PCN led to Pasir Ris Park, along Pasir Ris Drive 3, Loyang Industrial estate and past Changi Air Base. There was no shade nor respite from the heat along Loyang, and I desperately sought to hide under whatever little shadow from street lamps or tree saplings. At one road crossing, I positioned myself into the shadow of the the traffic light pole while waiting for the lights to turn green. It was that desperate!

Along the way, several MTBrs came in the opposite direction. I wondered if they were riding in Ubin or some other hidden trails in the area. The Loyang PCN led past the Commando camp - so now I know where the camp was, I had never ventured along this route before. This PCN was very clearly marked and easy to follow. I went along Cranwell Road and came to Changi Beach Club. Hey, I knew this place! A couple of months ago, we brought a visiting friend there for dinner. That was at night and I could not recognize the roads. I recalled looking at the kelong outside the restaurant and wondered how people got onto the boardwalk. Aha, now I had found the entrance! I was pleased I explored the area. The 1.2km Changi Boardwalk was a lovely scenic wooden-planked path comprising 4 segments - Sunset Walk, Kelong, Cliff, and Sailing Point. I was surprised by the sea view, it was as close to running by the waters as we could get, short of doing a beach run. It was like discovering a well-kept secret, I had no idea such a place existed in Singapore. Running new routes uncovers nuggets of surprises, always. :) Two-wheel recee good, two-legged exploration better!

There were several morning anglers along the boardwalk, spending an idyllic Saturday morning chilling by their fishing rods. I stopped and took in the scenery, and even snapped a picture of the seaview on my phone. The new (at least to me) Ubin ferry terminal was reburfished with a clean toilet and ticketing hall. I took a break to refill my bottles. Whew, the sun was scorching as I continued my way back via Netheravon Road, past the Civil Service Club, the SAF chalets where we were invited recently for a BBQ, and looped back to Cranwell Road. The return run seemed faster, maybe because I already knew the route.

Alber called to say they had finished riding, but I was still a good 8km away. Oops. As I neared Pasir Ris Park, it started drizzling. The fizzy drizzle soon gave way to big clear droplets, and without warning, the skies poured. Like massive downpour where one could not keep the eyes opened, and my shades could do with wipers. Shoots. I was totally drenched and my shoes were squish-squooshing with every step. They felt a lot heavier when wet. It was the kind of rain that would clear in 15min, but in that short period of time, it was all or nothing. There was no hiding from the rain so I just had to continue plodding. I saw a giant fat monitor lizard trying to get off the wet grass, its clumsy movement similar to me!

True enough, the downpour ceased when I reached Tampines PCN, about 2km from my end point. Grrrr..... Finally, I reached the MTB trail, the guys had just returned. Whew, it was a tough run, not from the distance or terrain, but the immense heat. I took almost 3hr, inclusive of the breaks and traffic junctions. Baked, and drenched, and baked again. All in a day's run. Whew!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kent Ridge Hill Repeats

Deja vu. We were back at Kent Ridge Park today. Flashback to my miserable Sunday run through KR and Science Park. Oops. Today we ran to KR Park via Hort Park and Cantebury. It was a shorter way to KR. 5 loops on the hills. It seemed daunting. I didn't think my legs would be up to it. Had flashes of discomfort at weird places. Maybe it was just anxiety. 5 loops, here I go. I was slightly late, hence started the loop after everyone else. Managed to slowly catch up and overtake a few runners. Bit by bit, the loops went by. 1, 2, 3, ... I thought I was never going to finish the run. I was afraid of my ITB flare up and did not dare to stride widely. Finally, 5th round. Pressed on up the slope and finished the loops. The return to Safra was via Hort Park, which was in total darkness. It was difficult to see the path ahead and try not to trip.