Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sea Swim & Trails

I was late for this morning's sea swim. Oops. Too tired from last night's outing. I missed a few laps and only did 1 warm-up lap of the 250(?)m triangular loop. Then we were grouped into 2, 3, and 4 loops. Coach instructed us to try all sorts of 'stunts' - backstroke, sighting, overtaking etc - while doing the loops. We ended with relay sprints in teams of 4 swimmers. My group had a really young Sec 2 boy who was very very fast. I swam first, then 2 others, and he took the last slot. While we were around 3rd placing, he managed to propel us to 1st spot each time. He was not even sprinting nor panting. The way he cut and glided through the water was so effortless, it was a joy to watch from the shore. He took his time to breast-stroke and once clear of the crowd around the buoy, he took off into front crawl. It was like watching a musical symphony, in harmony, smoothly executed. While the other swimmers were furiously pumping arms into the water, he just cut ahead. Wow.

Late in the afternoon, I went to BT for trail training. As usual, 3x SRJ paths. Pack felt heavier even though the items were unchanged from before. It was almost dark when I finished my training. Had to rush back for a wedding dinner.

Night Safari Visit

I had a couple of corporate passes to Night Safari this weekend. So we went for a visit tonight - Heng's family, Eddie's family, Alber and I. The evening started off with a very nice home-cooked dinner at Heng's place, thanks to Eve's cooking skills. :) We brought a cheesecake and 2 tubs of new-flavoured B&Js ice-cream (One Cheesecake Brownie & Cake Batter). B&Js never failed me, and those were no exception. The ice-cream was rich, creamy and ooooh. The Breadtalk cheesecake was not up to my expectations though, more like fluffy whipped cream-cheese.

We made it to Night Safari, hopped on the tram and took a ride around the enclosures. It was a good experience for the children. Some of the animals were pretty close to the tram, grazing on the grass or sleeping, and generally ignoring the human visitors. We took a short stroll in the trails, and ended with a Nights of the Creature animal show. Pretty decent stuff and great visitor experience overall. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

MR Trail Test-of-Reflexes Run

I love running in the trails. Back at MR this morning (well, it was more like noon) in the blazing heat. There was a new carpark in construction, it looked really big and would be a great help to easing the parking limits at MR. I decided to run to Pierce toilet and back.

It was certainly a test of my reflexes. I almost stepped on a sunbathing grass snake, which was brown and looked like a twig. It slithered away fast and furious before I even lifted my foot over it. I was more shocked than it. The monkeys were out in a troops today, seldom saw so many in MR. I kept slapping my thighs to create 'warning' noise (lest they attacked), and almost missed a giant monitor lizard in the middle of the path. Had to jam-brake! As I was afraid to jump over it, I had no choice but to jog on the spot and wait for it to slowly crawl across the path. A little further up, I saw another monitor lizard again. Gosh! Met Chairman and a Safra lady runner as I was finishing my run. Hmmm, clocking mileage at this stage of marathon training?

The run was good, legs felt bouncy. Love the softness of grass and trail. :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yellowfish Swim - Conned to Sprint

I had a good tui-na yesterday. After the kneading on my neck and entire spine, I could breathe much easier today. Consequently, swim class was a lot more productive and manageable (compared to last week's heaving and puffing and blocked nose full works).

I was late and reached only at 7pm, and missed 15min of drills. :( I joined in for some side rolls and then some 50m of back-stroke, breast-stroke, butterfly, front crawl, before we started on training laps. There was a weird soreness in my left biceps/ shoulders. Could it be the effect of my Tetanus jab yesterday? Sure it was not that lasting.... but the muscle around the jab prick was really sore. I could sort of rotate my arm, but not really 'pull' the water.

We did 450m, 350m, 250m, 200m. Then 50m sprints. Coach said 8 sets for lanes 3-4, and 6 sets for lanes 1-2. After the 1set however, he claimed we were very disorganized, so not counted and restarted from zero. Wah seh, kenna conned! Haha. So we dutifully did 6 more sets. Then another con. He said rest for 2min and do another set of 6 sprints. *blink* Mental calculation - that meant 12 sprints?!? Breath got faster. Maybe Coach was teasing us, and after some protests, he ended after 3 sprints. Whew....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TB Stairs

I did 8 sets of TB stairs tonight. I was slower, but legs definitely felt more conditioned for stairs than my last 2 trainings. I met Lihui in the stairs, the girls had a media launch this morning. My knee hurt a little on some steps. Hmm....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Run Alone

I did a run by myself from Safra to Portsdown, Buona Vista, Queensway and back. 14km route. It took me forever. I decided not to wear the patella guard today. So knee started hurting after 8-10km. Sigh. The 14km took me a long long time to complete. Felt so disgusted with myself. Totally envious of those who can run fast and pain-free. :((

Monday, November 24, 2008

Climb or Not?

Felt well-rested today (slept a lot yesterday). Did RPM Challenge tonight, but was very distracted. I was planning several things in my mind, and did not feel like pushing hard. Oh well. The class was full, I almost could not get a bike.

Friends were planning another major climb next year. Contemplating if I should join them or not. Times are bad, cash is tight, USD is expensive. Maybe I should decide after my year-end climb and judge my condition. La-li-la...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Disastrous Sunday Run

This morning's FatBird pacer run was a disastrous. The penalty of being at BT trails yesterday. My legs felt like lead, I was reminded of the Gatorade ad where the chap was running and swimming with chains on feet. Absolutely dragging. It did not help that I spent the first 6km trying to catch up and overtake the pacer groups in front of me (I started 1-2min later). Either I was very very slow, or they were way over their target pace! My watch registered an average of 6:30min pace (and I should be at 7:00min target). If they were ahead of me, yet pacing a slower timing, then what pace were they at? Befuddled.

Met many along the way. First saw the Tampines Safra runners at Big Splash - the very skinny but fast lady, Sam and others. Then met Gabor, Michelle etc around B2/C1. Ahh, so KM was having the group's Sunday training at ECP too. He was on a bike with a huge stopwatch chaperoning the runners. How charming. At F2, Yellowfish gang was there doing a Nike Lunar shoe trial. Coach led the group on the run. Saw Eddie, Sandy, Kenneth, Kristal, Ronnie, Richard.... just about the folks who went up to Powerman.

Vincent joined me around the Changi PCN (he was also 5h pacer but had gone ahead with the 4:45h group). We made our way to the u-turn point at the 2nd hut along Coastal Road. I saw Dom cycling, and I think Alex too. The run started going downhill after the u-turn. Legs were getting heavier. I was wearing my new Asics GTs (a cool pastel pink! Awfully sweet!) and they were pounding heavily on the road. Sigh.

I made it to the toilet at G2. The weather was hot today, I drank a lot. Then I half-ran, half-walked to the next toilet at F2. Yellowfish folks had finished their run and were having drinks & bananas there. Jancy and Vincent ran ahead. Passion half-strolled, half-jogged with me to the hawker centre where she bought 100-plus. I kept asking her to go ahead and run back, but she very kindly walked with me instead. We stopped again near MacDonalds bike rental - I got a Pocari, she got an A&W rootbeer. I was near empty now, my fuel gauge was low low low. We walked and chatted all the way from hawker centre back to Big Splash! And took forever to reach. She had gone for the DSO lab tests too so we compared notes. We made plans for our de-kah (pork trotters) binge outing. :) When we reached Big Splash, it was almost 3:30h. Most people have left already. Oops. I felt so bad for spoiling her run.

Alber and I drove to BT market for brunch. I was famished and hot. Downed an entire plate of chicken noodles. Plus an ice-cold Ribena (and I normally did not take cold drinks). It was heavens. Kept gulping water after I reached home, and still felt super tired with a slight headache. Hit the sack and snoozed for a few hours. Awoke feeling much better, but hungry. Alber said my life was a constant sleep, eat, workout, sleep, eat, workout cycle. Haha.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Toxic Bt Timah

I was so zonked last night, I slept all the way til noon today. The sun was bright and hot outside. I dragged my lazy body out of bed and got ready for another afternoon in BT trail steps training. Good golly, I found my (misplaced) trekking poles! Oops.... and I had just received a brand new pair last week. :( Now I felt bad that my friends had to spend money to buy that for me. *guilty pout* No matter, the old pair was a little stiff to the turn but still usable. They had served me faithfully for 5 years. I would use them for local trainings or lend them to friends, and bring my nice new Ultralight pair on the expedition! :)

3x Spath
3x Rpath
3x Jpath
Over! Happiness!

I made the mistake of over-tightening my shoulder straps, and suffered big time on the first two sets of steps at SR-paths. Could not breathe properly as the entire weight pressed down on my shoulders. Luckily I had some sense to readjust the straps and what a huge difference that made for my last set of J-path. But still, shoulders were aching. A group of uncles were at Rengas and commenting on my gear by the sideline, guessing the weight of my pack and how come my boots were not Timberland (?!?). I took a sip on my hydration tube, and heard one proudly telling his friend that it was water and I was drinking (from that device). Haha. It was like having a live commentary by my side. Today I did not see any creepy crawlies (last week a huge monitor lizard crawled lazily into my path). Instead I saw many squirrels bounding across the steps and amongst the trees. Cute. I finished the sets drenched in sweat, as usual. Every part of my gear was totally wet with perspiration, no matter how 'dri-fit' or wicking the material was.

A well-rewarded dinner - fresh sashimi overload with Alber at our favourite Sakuraya hideout. Double slabs of salmon belly, maguro, scallops (shiok!), cuttlefish, octopus, chuka hotate, grilled saba, sticky rice and green tea ice-cream. Heavens. The two of us ate more than a table of 5 next to us. They had the same amount of sashimi orders but for 5. Gosh!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yellowfish Swim Class

Swim class was a torture tonight. Did not feel well, nose blocked, sore throat. We did the usual drills for the first half - catch-up drills - eeks, I still could not execute that for a full 50m without running out of breath. :( Even 400m moderate swim was a challenge for me tonight. 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m, 200m, 300m (well, our lane was so slow, we skipped the last 300m). We did 2x 50m sprints (only!) tonight. Last week we did 8 sets, and I survived. But not tonight. I bailed out the last 10m of the 2nd set, almost cramped. Oh dear..... Super tired....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lactate Threshold & VO2max Tests

Part of the DSO-marathon study required us to undergo a medical screening (to certify that we were in ok shape to partake in the study), and a lactate threshold and VO2max test. My ECG and 2D-echo and battery of blood tests were normal, musculo-skeletal (aka a series of rotations and limb movements) was functioning too. So I showed up at the DSO physio lab. Two army recruits were out on threadmills in the sun, in full combat gear and doing some tests, breathing into face masks. How interesting.

First, I had to do a fat-pinch measurement. The researcher (I think he's German or Swiss) marked litte crosses on my biceps, triceps, waist, quads and calves. Then he had a caliper device to pinch the flesh on those areas and measured them. He repeated 2-3 times.

Next up, lactate threshold treadmill test. I put on a face mask that measured the amount of oxygen intake (or something). The aim was to run for 3min intervals. Every 3min, I would straddle the treadmill while a researcher pricked my little finger to get 2 lactic acid readings, and another upped the speed by 0.5kmh. There was also an exertion chart that I pointed at to indicate the level of hardness of my workout. The aim was to find the point of inflexion where the amount of lactic acid in the body started to spike, a sharp increase. I started at 8.5kmh and gradually went up to 12 or 12.5kmh (can't recall). I think my threshold point was around 11.5/ 12kmh. Then I rested for 15min. On average, I used more oxygen than the previous test candidates. (cos iron deficient)

The last test was VO2max. That involved running on the treadmill at a constant speed, but the elevation would be increased by 1.0 every (I think) 1-2min, until the point of surrender. It was meant to be a tough test, pushed to the limit. The researchers were shouting encouraging remarks throughout the test. I managed to hit 6.0 or 7.0 (didn't see clearly) before cutting the test. At which point I was really huffing and puffing. Whew!

We would not be getting the test results until after the marathon. Can't wait to see what my report card says!

Anyway, off to a quick shower and meet Lee for a belated birthday dinner at Hooha Cafe off Pasir Panjang Village. It was well known for its succulent steak, and it certainly did not disappoint. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Procrastinating Stairs

I admit, I procrastinated. I doodled and pottered around office and basically procrastinated on my stairs training. When I finally dragged myself to the much dreaded Blk 21, it was almost 830pm. I started on the steps, painfully, wearily. Today's sets took, on average, longer than last week. By the 4th set, I was quite poofed. Luckily I bumped into Joanne on the 5th set, so we did our last few sets together. We completed 8 sets. Whew! It certainly helped to have company nearby, or I would have bailed out after 6 sets. *sheepish grin*

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bt Timah Trail Sauna

I took my pair of brand new Leki Makalu Ultralite anti-shock trekking poles to Bt Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) for training. They were my birthday present from a bunch of great friends, and really came in handy now because I misplaced my existing ones.

It was my first time back at BTNR in 1.5 years, gosh! I hoped I remembered the routes and circuits. To save time (because it was already noon, oops!) and up the intensity, I decided to do 3 sets of the same steps, followed by a loop. I had a new Halo headband on my forehead and it did a terrific job of keeping away the sweat and hair from my face. The amount of perspiration from stairs and trek training was amazing (coming from someone who sweats minimally). I was toxically drenched in no time.

Summit Path x 3sets - Fresh and perky
Rengas Path x 3sets - Lactic started to set in, legs turning into jelly
Jungle Fall Path x 3sets - Low sugar, legs turning into stone
Dairy Farm Loop - More wooden steps!

My legs were jellied and shoulders ached by the end of it all. My 15-16kg backpack now felt like a 18-20kg pack, pressing down against my shoulder blades and back. My Marmot pack hip belt was tightened to the max, and so were the shoulder straps. Ouch, there was a slight abrasion on my hip.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

FatBird Pacer Training

This morning Alber and I joined in the FatBird pacer training for a 28km run at ECP Big Splash. I donned my Asics shoes (had to continue Thursday's shoe trial experiment) and led the 5hr runners. There were 2 guys, and the 3 of us ran as a group all the way. During the run, I did a quick mental calculation. 5hr = 7min pace = 196min (3:16h) for 28km = 98min at the 14km u-turn point. I was not wearing my footpod and went by feel. The run started off nice and comfortable. I think our pace was just nice, we had 1-2 mis-turns on some of the forked paths, but managed to reachthe u-turn point along Coastal Road with about 10min to spare for some stretching. I saw various people along the way - Swee Kheng, Henry (Kops), Fennel, Hee Shen & his wife, Lixia, and KC on his bike.

We continued on our way back, and stopped again at Carpark G toilet to refill water. We were still on schedule with about 7 - 7.5km to Big Splash. When we reached F2 (the bougainvilla garden), one of the guys dropped back and asked us to go ahead. The 5:15h pacers were too fast and were beside us, so we got their help to accompany the guy. So I ran with the remaining guy and we paced each other all the way back. We had to pick up speed a little as there was no buffer left for breaks. I think the guy could have gone faster, but he held back a little for my sake. At 25km, my left knee felt a warm flush of pain so I could not speed up. Yet I could not stop either. We finally made it back to Big Splash. 3:21h. I guess the pace was just about right, taking away the traffic lights and stretch breaks. Time for a good warm down stretch and brunch at Old Airport Road to refuel.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Swim class

Swim class today had relatively few attendance. We did buoy-kick, side rows several times, punches, and then sprint 50m x 8 times. Whew. We ended with 400m and 300m slow swim. The sprints were quite a killer. So cold and famished after that. Brrr.......

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FatBird iRun & Nike Air Zooms

I joined Fatbird for the i-Run tonight at River Promenade (outside the Fat Bird statue). It was the first time I joined in their run. Esther (Passion), Ronnie, Anthony, DO, and Roslyn were there. Good to see them again!

My main purpose was to test my pacer Nike shoes tonight. I was issued a pair of Nike Structured Triax, with Air Zoom soles. When I used them last week at Canterbury loop, my hip felt really strained. I had to stop several times to stretch my right ITB. My left knee was also inflammed after the run.

So I had to do a controlled experiment to verify if it was the shoes or me (having just returned from a long flight). I managed to race through Powerman that weekend with my Mizuno runners. On Tuesday, I wore my Asics for another trial around Canterbury. My quads and calves were aching big-time from Powerman, yet knee and hip felt ok after run, and there was little inflammation.

Today I decided to test the Nikes again. I had a physio session in the afternoon, so I was all 'set' rightly. After 26min, my hips felt strained and my knee ached again. Then the pain eased. But at 50min, it returned. Hmmm.... I had a similarly bad experience with a pair of Nike Elite Air Zoom shoes 5 years ago. My ITB would tighten after 5km without fail on each run. I dunked those shoes. Since then, I dared not use Nike running shoes (Nike tennis shoes were ok). Until now. And the prognosis still looked bleak....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Staircase Training

I finally resumed my long deferred staircase training. I am officially in panic mode, with my climbing expedition less than a month away. Gosh! I packed my backpack last night, stuffed it about 14-15kg. It had been more than 1 year since I last climbed staircase. Deja vu! The 30-storeyed Tiong Bahru flats, with the familiar bicycles and laundry in the stairwells. There was a family on the 3rd floor cooking dinner. First round, the wafts of freshly steamed rice assailed my nose. Second round, I sniffed fried fish.

There were 2 stairwells, so our common training practice was to alternate the stairwell so that we would not be 'turning' on the same leg all the way. I spied 2 large bottles of ice cold mineral water bottles on the 30th floor. Ahh, one of the girls should be training as well. True enough, I bumped into Jane and Yihui. It was nice to see some faces on the boring stairs!

It rained non-stop and the weather was thankfully cool tonight. By my 2nd round, I was totally drenched in sweat. It was like being in a sauna! I managed 8 sets of stairs tonight, and was super famished. Time to head home for a warm dinner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recovery Run & Bday Dinner #1

I went to Safra for a recovery run. Legs were so sore and aching from Powerman. I must be getting worse...... taking so long to recover from a race?! I did a very very slow Canterbury loop and returned from Henderson.

Eddie, Alvin, Karen came for the run, so we hastily arranged a dinner after the run with Sumiko and JD as well. It turned out to be great company. Karen got a chocolate ice-cream cake from Swensons, and a bright orange balloon! We had overdose of tze char food at Holland Village, and Henry and his wife, Lucille, joined in too. Everyone was talking excitedly about the recent Powerman and trading past race 'war stories'. Hilarious.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Powerman Malaysia 2008

Powerman Malaysia, Lumut, Perak (9 Nov 2008)


We reached our hotel, Oriental Star, in Lumut earlier this year, as compared to last year. The unloading of bicycles and wheels was a lot more systematic too, having gained experience the last round. We had breakfast, checked-in, and washed up. As before, Melody from the organizers came to our hotel to issue our race packs and conduct the race briefing. Then we had 2 buses to bring us to the stadium race site, to look at the race expo and start/ transition area. That was followed by a heavy seafood lunch, and a trip to Giant supermarket to buy our breakfast, water and so forth. At night we met Snr Chua and Sok Hwa, and we drove to Kg Cina (where we went in the morning, and where all the Chinese restaurants were) for dinner. We chose a restaurant nearby our lunch venue, and saw other groups of Singapore racers there. Even the race organizers were there as well! The food was fresher and nicer than lunch.


We met at 5.45am to load our luggage and then rode off around 6.30am to the start point. It was a 8km leisure ride, and many were in the transition area when we arrived. I was apprehensive and jittery about my run/ knee. Oh well, just grit through the race. Sandy's transition pit was next to mine, our surnames (Siew & Sim) ensured we were usually near each other during races.

First 11km run. I ran fairly fast by my standard, 1hr exactly. It was cloudy and shady, good weather for now. I spotted couples running together, side by side. How sweet. Jessica and Ken. Sylvia and can't-remember-his-name. I entered the bike transition, Eddie was slightly behind but he rode out faster. I took my time to change my shoes and munch on the powerbar. Argh, the ankle timing chip strap caused abrasion and it bled onto my sock and shoe.

Cycle 64km. It was the same route as last year. 2 loops of 32km (or 4 sets of 16km up and down the same road). There were 3 bridges to clear. The first was a baby one, then a slightly longer and steeper one, and finally the last one that loomed in your face even from afar. Weird, I did not really feel the bridges last year, they did not seem as imtimidating.... Anyway, look down, change gear, keep pace and climb the slopes. I felt so unconditioned for the ride. My left problematic knee felt more acute pain on the ride, than run. Now I wondered which triggered the injury - run or bike? By 45km (just before the last u-turn) climbing the 3rd long bridge, my thighs almost cramped. Ok that was no good. It meant I would suffer on the run. Easy easy, would be disastrous if I cramped on an upslope and fell off. The last 16km of the ride went by slowly, trying not to cramp.

Run 10km. Two loops of 5km. The run was bad. 5min out of transition on the road, and both quads cramped. I could not move, and just stood on the road and massaging my legs. It hurt. I could not recall the last time I had a cramp and forgot what it felt like. :( Many familiar faces passed me, and they were on their 2nd run laps already. Grace, Jess & Ken, Kristal, Sok Hwa, and so many. Oh damn. After 15min of slow walk, I could finally trot again. I took 45min to clear the first 5km. Argh. The sun was out and it was terribly terribly hot. I was mentally so lazy to run the 2nd loop, strolling a lot. Li Xia overtook me too, I tried to keep sight of her, but she just went non-stop. Then I spotted Chin Yeh walking in front of me. By then, the aim was to budget my time exactly so that I could get back just under the 5h cut-off. Races this year end were no good at all. Each event barely scrapping the cut-off time limit. Last year I had a lot of time clearance to spare, and did not even feel as tired. Every part of the legs threatened to cramp - quads, calves, shins, toes....

Finally made it in 4:58h. Hmmm, maybe the 2nd race was always worst than the first time? It was delightful to get a cold wet towel and ice-cold water after the race. But sadly, they did not have decent finisher tees. What was it with races that made all the tees look like over-sized pyjamas, which one would not even wear to bed?! We showered at the public changing rooms at the stadium, ahhh that was the best part of the race. The post-race award lunch was much better this year in terms of quality and quantity (last year, they ran severely out of food). The buses were late and we waited for a long time at the car park. One of the participants, Li Xia, had heat exhaustion and was sent to the hospital for saline drip. Luckily she recovered in time and returned to join us for the bus ride home. By the time we loaded everything and left the stadium, it was 4pm. We stopped at MacDonalds to pack some food before the start of the long ride.

We reached Singapore Lavender terminal around 1.45am. Gosh, such a long day. Unloading the bicycles and driving home took some time. By the time I unpacked and got to bed, it was 4am. Yawn.... why go through the pain of the journey and race at all, when all I did was scrap the cut-off time? Such gluttony for pain.......

Friday, November 7, 2008

Swim and Lumut, Here we come!

I went for swim class tonight. My 1st swim after 2 weeks' break, it was super refreshing. Very delighted that I could sustain a 4-breath-1-pull for a lap (I normally breathe on every 2 strokes). We did some drills. Too long never swim, forgot how to do side kick. Oops. We did 4-breath, then we did 2-4-6-breath-1-pull. That was quite fun. Then we did 6 sets of 100m moderate, and 6 sets of 50m sprint. It was supposed to be 8 sprints, but we negotiated for a discount. :)

There were not many people in class today. Most were going up to Powerman tonight, so they did an earlier class in the week. I could not do a make-up class, having just returned from Europe. Anyhow, the plan was to rush home at 9pm, grab 2 bicylces, load up and drive to the coach terminal in Lavender by 10pm. Ambitious. In-between that, I was stuffing in mouthfuls of rice and lup-cheong (chinese sausages). Mental flash - why do I keep packing stressing myself like that?

I made it to Lavender a little late. My dad drove the car back, but I had forgotten to unload the bicycle pump and my house keys from the car! So he had to drive around again. Many passengers were there already and we quickly loaded the bicycles and gear. We had more than doubled our group size this year. Last year we went in 2 buses. This year, a total of 5 buses! I was surprised to see an entire busload of Yellowfish swim-mates. Soon we were on our way..... that annual 9h 'pilgrimage' to Powerman.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

9h Bus Ride

I went for Andrew's RPM Challenge tonight. Everyone commented that I'd lost weight. I think the Europe trip did some damage and accounted for a 2kg loss. Just stick me (or anyone else) in a cold climate with rabbit nibbles for 10 days and I guarantee a visible effect.

Hip and back were not feeling great. Probably the result of 12hours cooped in eco-no-my return flight. Back strain pulled on the hip. Felt a discomfort during Tuesday's run. OMG, this year is indeed turning out to be an injury-prone year, as predicted by my Chinese horoscope. Really?

Wanted to go for acupuncture, but the clinic was closed by the time I rushed over. Drats. And I had another long journey this weekend up to Perak for Powerman race. 9h cooped on the bus, albeit slightly bigger than plane seats. But hey, I always preferred the plane seats, more attuned to my size. Anyhow, 9h.... it suddenly dawned on me that I could have gone beyond Japan, and 3/4-way to Europe in that time! Coupled with the return 9h, I would have reached San Francisco! Right..... [PS muses to herself and stares dreamily at the world map......]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recovery Run

It was good to be back in the company of running friends after a long break. I did a slow run with Alber in Canterbury estate, while the rest had their Labrador interval training. It was a really slow jog for him, he had to wait several times for me to stretch along the way. My knee had not fully recovered, it was visibly swollen below the knee cap after an hour's run. Hmmm.... Obviously there was still some internal irritation that caused the slight inflammation.

We went for dinner at Henderson. Had a good time catching up and chatting with the runners. Ahh, it was good to be home.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back in humid Singapore

Back to Singapore last night. The weather kicked me in the face at Changi Airport. The blast of humid dense air made it difficult to breathe, after the crisp cool air in Helsinki. The return flight was full, which meant I was stuck to an upright chair in the Economy sardine class for a straight 12h. Thankfully it was an SQ flight and not a Lufthansa operated one, so the seats had a slightly wider pitch, and service was good. I drank some wine and tried to sleep. Amazingly, it was the first time on a flight that I had difficulty falling asleep.

Today, my car air-con was turned full-blast. Walking out for lunch, I was convinced that we would not have that quality of life X-factor that Singapore so aimed for as long as the hot and humid weather was in our face. A huge contrast to the four seasoned-weather in Switzerland and Finland, where even children's playground looked more enjoyable, and people walked everywhere and used the public transport simply because it was efficient, reliable and comfortable. Heavens forbid that a bus ride should feel cold in winter! Incidentally, I rode in my friend Sylvia's BMW in Zurich. The heater warms up the seat delivers a nice comfortable gradual warmth to one's important bottom. Lovely!

I went for RPM Challenge tonight. Legs were fresh after 1 full week's rest after Lucerne Marathon. The air was rich but somehow the lungs felt like it required extra effort to filter out the oxygen. Met KM, Michelle and KC for dinner and catch-up about training for marathon. I must try to sleep early tonight and overcome the delayed jetlag.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On Women and Values

The middle-aged (30ish) to elderly (60ish) women I had met on this Europe trip were very interesting. Most of them were fiercely independent, valued their freedom (should I say guarded it zealously) and had little or no intention to get married. Different women had told me in essentially the same words - Do what I want, when I want, without having to wait for or answer to others.

Almost all of them had been married before, and they told me that nonchalantly, as one would announce the number of sibling one has. Most had live-in male partners, and happy with that no-strings-attached arrangement. Many were 'cougars' - older independent women dating younger men. Only one was planning a wedding next year, after living with her much-older partner for 7 years. I was told that in Finland, children borned to 'unmarried' couples were legally recognized and 'tied' to the natural father who would be responsible for them.

And then, there was another group of women. Women of leisure, married or living with rich old tycoons. These well-maintained ladies lived a jet-setting lifestyle of luxury, courtesy of their partners who travelled a lot for business. For this group, the art of subtle deference, playing the perfect hosts with small talk that made one feel like long lost friend, making gently intelligent conversations without usurping their partners, lovingly nudging their partners.... it was an art that captured their strong feminity yet vulnerability, and I was sure men were enchanted by that. So too, I met a couple of much older men who were living with younger women.

I was enthralled by what I observed during my short stay and through conversations with the residents in a non-tourist interaction. There was a part of the new womenomics movement that appealed to me. And then there was a more traditional women culture that fascinated me.