Monday, June 30, 2008

Distracted Spin

Went for an hour of RPM Challenge. Rode ok, not lung-bursting or quad breaking. Long day at work and mind was still hyper active. I was constantly distracted by various thoughts and could not focus on the ride. Hopped over to Lau Pat Sat after class to indulge in the famous Qiu Lian noodles. Huge serving. :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

PI Run Series (I)

The PI Run this morning was disastrous. I should have maintained my sanity and not take part in a 12km race. I knew several of the road marshals, a number of my gym members were volunteering and they cheerfully waved the runners on. The weather was hot and humid. After 5-6km, I would be happy to end the run. The guys caught up fairly soon. Initially I saw Teck Hou, Kim Hong and Joshua. At one point Kim Hong was leading, then Joshua. Kim Hong called out as he overtook me. He looked strong and was still smiling, so I guessed he still had some reserves in his engine. At 7/8km, the water point was serving some diluted 100-plus and I took a cup. Bad judgement, because it was gassy and I felt like I could not breathe properly or deeply. The run went downhill from then. Around 10km, many of our Safra guys ran past me. Stomach still felt queasy.... Finally managed to finish the run after what seemed like forever. Hopeless.... Mental scolding to self never to sign up for short races again....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Swimming Techniques

Today was swim day. We hit the pool with the Eddie, JD and Sumiko. All the swim experts were there, and Alber and I were about to tap their expertise to correct our swim techniques. Eddie pointed out a couple of bad habits in my front crawl. It was difficult to alter my rhythm immediately. After a few laps, I began to feel the corrections, albeit still not fast at all.

Night Cycling

We went riding tonight. Quite a big turnout, about 10 cyclists. We met at the Bt Batok Swimming Complex and rode towards Ten-Mile Junction. The plan was to do 40ish km non-stop tonight. The guys were going fast, high-speed. I was trying out a new seat post from Eddie, and trying to use a more efficient cycling cadence. At certain sections of the route, traffic was still fast and heavy. Mandai Rd was a series of rolling hills, my quads burnt in the headwind. We then went along Old Upp Thomson Road, which was our usual Pierce Reservoir running route. There were several bends along the winding road, which made for a great chiong-ing stretch. We headed back along Mandai to Choa Chu Kang area after that. Whew, I was looking forward to the end of the ride. We stopped at a coffee shop near Petir Road after the 'end' of the ride, before everyone headed back separately. I reached home around 130am, totally bushed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pretzels Wheezing RPM

Went for RPM Challenge this evening. Had polished off an entire packet of cheeze pretzels in the office before class. Damn pretzels. Breathing felt obstructive as throat was protesting from the excessive & heaty snacking. Wheezed and coughed through the class. So sitting on stage (last week) vs being back on my usual bike today, the difference was obvious. Being up there totally exposed to everyone meant I had to work doubly hard to 'put on a good show'. Back down in the class, I could slack off somewhat. Haha. Oops. Went home to cook instant noodles.... more unhealthy food! Oh geez....

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Running Mood

Since Sunday's run was cancelled, I thought I should attempt to run tonight. I popped by Safra and saw quite a number of runners there on their individual trainings. Ong, Peter, Jimmy, Trevor were there too. Alber and I did the usual Canterbury route. I was getting tired of the route by now, having done it for the last couple of runs. Bumped into Chairman, Shirley and Dora inside the estate where they were doing some speed work. Felt lazy when we exited Hort Park and decided to short-cut at Henderson Road. I needed to revoke the magic of running. After Sundown, I was basically not very inspired to run. Well, I had a few short lung-bursting sprints last week, but they died with me after 30min.

A group of us went to Henderson for dinner. Alber was lucky, he ordered a cheese sausage, and got a free fish & chips too as the shop was closing! Shirley ordered some fried rice and the uncle undercharged her. Now, how come I don't get such luck when it came to food......

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Abs & Stretch

I thought I was headed for a Pump class, but the schedule was changed today. Luckily there was an "Abs and Stretch" session listed later in the afternoon, that I could try since I was already at the gym. Did some workouts on the gym machines while waiting for the class. It was so hard to kill an hour on machines. The rowing machine looked good enough, but lasted a mere 12min. I went from the various leg press, leg curls, leg extensions, abductors, to some lats and triceps. Pretty good, I managed to fill up 45min.

Abs and Stretch was a freestyle class. In any case, it was almost entirely new to me since I did not normally do Pilates or Yoga. We started with some stretching moves, pretty easy to follow. Then the abs. Ok, the normal crunches and stuff were easy enough. Then the trainer decided to progress into a couple of pilates stunts that were next to impossible for me to execute. There were some hardcore regulars in class who obviously did plenty of pilates, body balance types. So there I was in a class, where the fair-frail-fragile damsels, as well as the plumpish aunties could execute all those moves perfectly. Whereas me, the supposedly lean-mean-looking athlete could not even balance on my butt! On hindsight (no pun intended), it sounded funny. But the actual scenario was far from hilarious. So we had to lift our legs and hold various poses, or rotate or extend them in all imaginable angles. Flexibility was always my nemesis since schooldays. It was still not a friend now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Short Run

I asked Alber to pace me today. We ran relatively fast and hard (by my panting measurement) from Safra to Queensway and through Portsdown. Legs were a bit sore from yesterday's spin, but still sustainable. Then we continued the pace into Kent Ridge park, whereupon I almost died on the half up-loop round the park. I reached the end of KR park panting like I just finished a 800m sprint race or something. Oh dear, surely can't be that weak.... Time check, 38min to reach the tanker toilet at KR park. We waited for everyone to regroup before proceeding to hort park. I sort of cooled down already during the wait, and could not pick up the pace as before. The group went up Alexandra Waves bridge, whilst Alber and I ran on the Pasir Panjang main road instead. I managed to decently go up Henderson Rd without flattening out. At the end of the run, I happily concluded that I had put in effort to run hard today. Alber looked at me, and deadpanned that he had also put in effort to wait for me! *Pout* Sheesh!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spin on Stage

RPM class was full-house today, and I ended up on the stage bike beside KL. Not that I minded since it was one of the better serviced bikes in the room. It helped too that from the higher vantage view, I could check out the cute guys in the class. And cute there was. Haha. There was a chap - tall, tanned, lean, toned, definitely an athletic build, perhaps a triathlete? He looked a tad young though. He was in my direct line of sight somewhere in the middle of the room. So each time I looked from my bike, I could instantly see his nicely trained arms on the handle bar. He seemed to be spinning hard too, with real effort, which added to the appeal. Ahh, well, it was kind of awkward to be on stage where everyone else could see me, so I needed a distraction myself to not feel too self-conscious. Staring at some cute participants helped. :)

Discovery Channel was showing Season 2 of Everest: Beyond the Limit, Beyond the Summit. It was an awesome awesome awesome documentainment. Totally fascinating. All that snow and mountains made me yearn for a climb soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Safra Gym

I just rebonded my hair, so for vanity reasons, I skipped the run today. But there was a big group of runners. Alvin brought some new friends. JD, Eddie etc came as well. I went with Alvin to use the Safra gym instead, and followed him around on the various machines. On the leg machines, we did mostly single-leg drills. The aim was to isolate each leg muscles so that the stronger leg would not compensate for the weaker one. I did not normally do single-leg drills, and yes it was tougher than using both legs. Realised that my hamstrings were rather weak, relative to my quads. Ok, one problem area to look into. We basically went around on a circuit workout of all the major muscle groups. I ended with loads of crunches on the ball, trying to get my sort-of abs to become nearly-there abs. I think the definition of nearly-there has a long timeline to it........

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hungry Run

Amazingly slept late and did not want to wake up for run. In the end we went to MR late in the morning. It was a pure struggle to complete the run. I was so starving and hungry, totally flat, I had no energy to run. I ran, walked and basically enjoyed the mini-hike in the trails. It took forever for me to return to the carpark. Oh gosh, so low on sugar, I was dreaming of a hot Horlicks and piping Shunfu fried noodles on the run. I took 30min longer than usual. I was half expecting to see Alber waiting at the carpark, but did not. He probably extended his run, and returned about 10min after me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sleepy Day

Gosh, how could anyone possible sleep so much in a day? I slept at 11pm last night, woke up at 130pm. Had a lazy lunch, and slept again until 6pm. Woke up for a dinner and gathering. Essentially slept, ate, slept, ate, slept. Geez.... Perhaps the toil of the past races was catching up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Swim Mileage

Met Alber at Safra to swim. I had no idea how I would clear the 1.5km open sea swim at Port Dickson.... I guess just had to clock up some mileage in the pool. But I was oh-so-very-very-slow.... like 20min for 10 laps. We swam 20 laps. Uh.... 1.5km prospects looked daunting....

Coincidentally we met Heng and Evelyn at the hawker centre. Thank goodness for the great dinner company, because the food was so dismal!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canterbury & Henderson

Tried to keep pace with the runners within Canterbury area. Huffed and puffed for 30min, finally cleared the route, and decided to stop at Hort Park for a drink. Thereafter chose to finish the run by Henderson Road instead of going up MF. Henderson was a series of spurts for a couple of lamposts, my feeble attempts to sprint up the slope. Total distance slightly less than 10km.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

RPM Challenge

Spin spin spin. Pretty shiok to spin again. After the long Sundown, any workout lasting 1-2hrs was a mental cheer. KL was finally back to class. We hammered through 1h of songs, dripping sweat. Lame & superficial I know, but it always feels like a great workout when one is drenched in sweat, or covered with salt after a session. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Recovery Run

3x MF Loops. 1st set fast, nice to have that panting gasping pain for a short burst. Reached the cafe and needed a toilet break. 2nd set slowed a little, had a slight stomach ache. 3rd set slowest, left knee slight pain, right knee tight. I think did not fully recover from pull during Ultra, and strained it again during Duathlon. Thighs felt tight too from the lifting on upslope. Speed was indeed an alien concept to me now.

Proceeded down Morse Road and Harbourfront. Did an unplanned "interval" series of short dashes and slow jogs. Dashed to pump up my lungs, stopped when I could feel the knee "off". Repeated countless times, and finally made it back to club. Not pushing those beloved knees. Mental scare image of knee "popped" kept me in my place obediently. Religiously stretched.

We received our new running jerseys and many wore it on the run. The Nike jerseys sponsored by Alan Chao were spiffy and the group looked neat (and fierce!) going up MF. Would be a sight to behold if we all went for the VGO MF run and showed up in the same gear! The guys' jersey was orange and dark blue, with words printed in white. The design of the ladies' jersey comprised 4 sections of cloth sewn together (as opposed to the usual 2 sections) -- 2 main sections (front & back), and 2 side strips. I looked at the mirror and felt like a 3-fold tulip. Hmm.... But in comparison, the ladies' version was much nicer. A sweet lilac with seams in a darker purple shade, and words printed in black. I'm biased of course, because the jersey matched my Asics shoes. :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

City Duathlon 2008

I planned to take the City Duathlon as a relaxed recovery event, it being a week after Sundown. It was a fabulous weather, slightly overcast, no sun, no rain, very cooling for a race. There were many familiar faces. The Athlete's Circle clan was there - Adrian, Fiona, Ben. So were a number of Tampines Safra folks - the usual suspect, Helen, Sam and a couple of known faces. The race was delayed so we sat around and waited. I was still sleepy.

The DJ called for my wave to form up, and there was enough time for a toilet break. Alas they suddenly decided to flag off in less than a minute. Darn, and I started late. The Start line was not clear but luckily a couple of guys in the next wave gave me directions. Lah-lah-lah, and I thought I was going to have a relaxed race. As it turned out, I was not the only late one, and definitely not the last. Soon, the guys in the last wave had caught up the 10min flag-off buffer and were sprinting ahead to finish their 10km run. Adrian overtook me from behind near the finishing point. I finished my 10km run in about 1h, went to the bike transition area and took my time to change my shoes. JD called out as he was rolled his bike past me. The Bike Out area was a mud pool, before long everyone's shoes and socks were soaked in mud.

The cycling route was narrow with many bends and sharp u-turns. The fast ones, especially the guys, were constantly hollering at everyone else to keep left while they zoomed past. Then there were the amateurs who did not keep leftmost within the double yellow lines, but rode slowly in about one-third of the lane. It was an accident prone route. There was a bad crash near MSP, and the cyclist was lying flat on the grass waiting for 1st-aid. On my second round, an ambulance was parked there, further narrowing the lane and forcing cyclists to slow down. On my fourth round, there was a massive jam at the u-turn point where some cyclists were trying to filter out of the route, some continuing with the ride and everyone shouting. Someone behind me shouted for them to keep moving and not stop. I unclipped and waited at the side curb for the flow to ease off a little before u-turning. Majority of the guys had already exited the route hence traffic was a little lighter. Then I witnessed a crash in front of me. A cyclist zoomed up from behind and almost entangled with another bike ahead of me. They shouted at each other, wobbled on their bikes, and one of them flew across the road into oncoming cyclists. Thankfullly the road was rather empty and no one else fell down. Unfortunately the guy who caused the accident zoomed away. After completing my 5th loop, the marshals told us to "exit on the 5th" - which was vague and not instructive at all. My speedometer showed only 20plus km, much less than the intended 40km. I was not sure and was about to start on another loop when someone shouted 20km exit. So I crossed into the oncoming lane (not many bikes now), and exited the bike segment. When I reached the Bike transition area, we asked the marshals on the distance. Chin KK, who was there taking photos, told me to just proceed and not waste time arguing.

For the 1st time in a duathlon race, I had no cramps on the 2nd run. Haha, I guess the cycling was too short to cause cramps. I ran, rather happily, even with a smile on my face. The weather was excellent today, and it was an enjoyable cool run. Even had energy to encourage other runners to 'keep going'. A very far cry from last week's ultra-marathon when everyone was quiet and kept to ourselves. I saw Alber at the last stretch along Esplanade, he was only a few hundred metres behind me. I tried to pick up speed a little on the homerun, confident that he could catch up eventually. He did, and we crossed the finishing line together. Nice race, pity the cycling.

Saw Jane, Yihui, and Joanne at the race too. Jane took part, Yihui was cheering and Joanne on road duty. JD, Alber and I waited for Sumiko. Saw her bike still in the transition area but not her. Hmm. After a while she turned up, fuming furious at being disqualified after the marshals wrongly flagged some runners into the transition area instead of u-turn for another 5km during the first run. In the end, many of the front pack runners (ie. potential prize winners) of our wave got DQs. The race organization seemed very messed up today. We waited for a long time for Eddie to return, and busied ourselves taking photos. Oh well, it was meant to be a leisure race afterall. :)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sundown Reflections - add ons

More variations to my reflections:

(courtesy of fellow runner Anthony/ Dream)

Impossible Is Nothing
This We Conquered Is Really Something
Sweat And Tears Won’t Bring Us Down
Invaluable Experience Gained At Sundown

Impossible Is Nothing
The Journey Is The True Reward
Been There, Done That
All Sundowners Deserve The Utmost Respect!

(me, in response to runners' observations of increased breakouts & pimples after 84km)

Impossible is not nothing
Pimples, outbreak, funny rash
Trophies for our running queens & kings
Add a colour to our ultra dash

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sundown Eighty-Four Reflections

Sundown Eighty-Four
(31 May – 1 June 2008)

Impossible is nothing
Physically eighty-four
Mentally a major bore
Double loops a wretched tour

Impossible is nothing
Runners dressed in finest wear
Swanky gadgets fancy gear
A mere fa├žade to mask our fears?

Impossible is nothing
The strong ones cruise the crest
Minds and bodies at behest
Fast, faster, fastest

Impossible is nothing
The weak ones curse the test
Each step and curb a detest
Slow, slower, slowest

Impossible is nothing
The sun remains down
Have the roads sneakily grown?
My face a perpetual frown

Impossible is nothing
Taste buds pleaded mercy
Gels and drinks nil delicacies
Hunger yields no clemency

Impossible is nothing
Speed a foreign notion
Stopping is sweet proposition
Angel-Devil in battle tension

Impossible is nothing
The streets exhorted
Fourteen hours I fumbled
Step-by-step I trotted

Impossible is nothing
Anything is possible
Behind every race label
A spirit and story commendable

PS @ 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sundown Ultra 84km - Slow, Slower, Slowest

Finally I get to try and pen my thoughts after the inaugural Sundown Ultra 84km. There's so much to download - chronological description of events, or feelings, or after thoughts - I don't even know where to begin. [Photos]

Less than 24h to the race, I had a brilliant idea to park at Civil Service Club Changi so that we could chill out comfortably pre-race, and shower in proper facilities post-race. Finally put my membership to use. Eddie, Alber and I reached there before 4pm on Saturday - super KS! - and I realised the SGRunner group were only coming later. Sent out alert to fellow runners that parking was available there. We went for a super early dinner then back to Club to lounge by the pool. 7pm - time to freshen up and change into race attire - Zoot tri-top & Skins bottom. Strangely I was not nervous at all. It was going to be such a long race that it was useless fretting over it. It probably didn't even matter if we started slightly later. 5min was a pindrop against the whopping 14.5h cut-off time. Saw many familiar runners at the start point. SGRunners had a booth so we milled around the area, chatting. JD and Sumiko came to wave us off too. :) Passed by many many encouraging supporters, volunteers and friends who took the trouble to come and cheer us on despite the inconvenience for them. Unable to list all the names here, but heartfelt salutes to them.

Alber tagged on Anthony and DO's group of 25min-5min run-walk strategy, and they went ahead. Eddie could not stay at my slow-slow pace, so he too ran off. I did not adopt any run-walk strategy. I simply planned to run until I could not run anymore, and walk-trot to the finishing line. I pretty much ran solo for 84km. No pacer, no company. Just me and my inner voice. The desperate things I did to mentally distract myself included - singing nursery rhymes to myself (because I could not recall any other lyrics), reciting encouraging words, praying for good weather, and my favourite -- counting down mountains.

It was a 2-prong counting. 1st - to celebrate Linda's recent Everest attempt, every 10km ran would be in honour of each 1,000m she climbed (well, I assumed she climbed to approx 8,400m). 2nd - I would also dedicate each 10km to 1,000m of mountain that I had climbed (Kinabalu, Everest Base Camp, Siguniang, Kilimanjaro, Mera, Mustagh etc etc...) Alas, I ran out of mountains after 70km! Had not climbed beyond that height....

The 1st loop went. At the ECP U-turn point stretch, I saw many friends way in front - too many to name. I went from slow, to slower, to slowest. It was my slowest ever road marathon, 6h! Disgustingly slow. In comparison, my trail 42km was also 6h. I reached the Ultra-transition tentage, saw Benny there changing shoes, and Ultraman sick over a trash bag. Oh dear. I was too distracted to chat much. Changed my shoes, ate 2 buns, took a new bottle of drink and started on my 2nd round.

Even aunties and uncles were ahead of me. There was a group of 3 Ipoh runners, and another couple, all on a run-walk strategy. Their walking and running was much faster than mine. Sigh :( They were dressed in normal running jerseys and shorts/ tights. None of that fancy spaceage looking diver compression suits that I had on. In fact, looking around, I was hardpressed to find another in fancy gear. I must be the last of the SKINS-2XU parade. Double-sigh.

I passed by Kayano - to my utmost surprise. With his speed, he should not be within sight at all. I later learnt that he had a bad tumble during the 1st round. It was a horribly mental stretch along coastal road. I was taking 100min per 10km, and doing a 10min-2min run-walk. It was such a drag just to keep shuffling along for 10min. The 10min seemed forever, and the 2min never enough. It took an eternity for the 10km marker to appear. The worse stretch though was getting through ECP to the u-turn. I ate a Double Latte power gel. Bad choice. On an empty hungry stomach, the coffee started churning. The u-turn point was insanely far away. Benny and Angela were many km ahead. Passed Eddie who happily announced that he just had Macs. Great idea, wondered if I should eat too.

The next stretch to Bedok Reservoir also took forever. It drizzled briefly and the sun soon awakened. I came alive briefly along one of the Siglap connectors. Somehow the morning sunshine lifted my mood a lot, and I ran strong along that stretch. The brevity ended and I was moody again. Stomach growling, I was so looking forward to the Don's chicken pie that Alvin was suppose to standby near Bedok Reservoir. Passed the SGRunners support station and dear Ivy helpfully made me a heavenly cup of hot milo. I did not take any of the food as I was eyeing the chicken pie instead. My legs were threatening to cramp, so I eased off the running on tarmac. Walked along, and horrors! No Alvin nor chicken pie in sight! Thankfully, the volunteers at the Bedok Reservoir drink station donated their breakfast sandwiches & packet milo to the runners. A couple of us stopped to eat. Kayano asked if we could reach the end-point by 11am. I confidently told him "of course". We had about 3h to clear the last 14km. It should work out fine. I loved the Reservoir track. It was a nice soft break from the hard pounding. I slowly jogged on the sand and felt my cramps flushed away. That 20-30km stretch took me an eternal 2:15h. Horrid crumbs.

The Tampines-Loyang last stretch was pure mental. I was zoning out. My timing estimates had gone from 12h, to 13h to simply finishing before the cut-off 14.5h. I cajoled, encouraged, threatened, and scolded myself to keep moving, keep walking, just continue placing one foot in front of the other. Many of the volunteers were taking naps in the aid stations by then. The last 3 water stations were unmanned and also ran out of water. I still had a little Endurance drink left in my bottle, and had to make that last. I had taken 6 packets of powergel and my taste buds died. When I saw the 38km marker, my eyes got teary. It was a concurrent sense of happiness at having only 4km more, and anger at having 4km more. Soon after I crossed the 40km mark and turned into Commando camp. It started drizzling, and got heavier, until it was just pouring buckets. At that point, the runners around, we all could not care anymore, we just jogged as best as we could. I was mindful not to slip and fall on the cement.

I filtered into the finisher bay, and the clock above said 14:05h. A group of SGRunners were at the side shouting my name, Alber ran the last 10-20m with me, Alex & Passion were taking photos, and couple of other things passed by in a flash. I was happy to be back, finally, but felt crappy over the bad timing. But for now, first thing first. The missing chicken pie had turned up with Alvin & Karen at the finishing line. :) I happily tucked into the much needed solid food.