Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

LIFT Conference

At the LIFT Conference for a few days. By the end of the day, the shops are closed and everywhere is dark, so the only place to go is back to hotel. Geneva is a small place with well-connected transport (well, that is for the rest of Switzerland too). So I managed to hop onto the buses during breaks and take a look around town, and back to the conference.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ski School!


Ski class was fun! I signed up for a beginner's class at the ski school. A whole day course lasted 5hr (excl lunch) and cost CHF105 (SGD135) per person per day. I took a ski bus with many others to Bodmi - which was an area of gentle slopes where all learners (adults and children) go, and different ski schools had their areas for lessons. After some sorting out, there were 6 of us in the class with an instructor named Walter, who was 77 years old! Fit as a fiddle!

Walter was very experienced and showed us various basic techniques, like walking on the skis, side stepping, parallel ski, sliding etc. The balancing was similar to inline skating, except that now the sticks were much much longer (vs 4 wheels) and took a lot more strain on the ankles, legs and arms (ski poles). I could understand why cross-country skiers had the highest VO2max ever recorded. It was not an easy sport and really worked both upper and lower body. My sense of balance was quite decent. :) I think knowing some skating and being familiar with crampons and snow-shoe etc from mountaineering helped. At the very least, very au fait with handling the ski poles. I decided to sign up for another day's class. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Switzerland Day 2 - Grindelwald Snowed In!


There was massive snow overnight and today. The snow shovers were out in full force, regularly clearing the roads for cars and buses. It was amazing that the buses were still right on the dot, true to Swiss transport efficiency.

My grand plan was to take the rail up to Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe, which was why I came to this region in the first place. Unfortunately, the heavy snow meant visibility was no good and could not see far. In fact, all the surrounding mountains that I saw in yesterday's perfect weather had 'vanished' in the whiteness!

So I changed plans and headed for Mannilichen to try out sledging, on the advice of the friendly tourist centre service staff. It was an activity where one sat on a wooden sledge and navigated yourself down the snow slopes - great for non-skiers and children. Alas, the lady at the cable car ticket advised that the snow was too high for sledges or hiking! So I saved my money, headed back to town, and spent the rest of the afternoon checking out gear shops and renting my ski equipment, for tomorrow's class.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Switzerland Day 1 - Grindelwald


I love love love long haul flights especially those on SQ. I just love the idea of checking in and turning up at some faraway destination with both apprehension and excitement. So here I am, after a 12h flight and 3-4hr train ride (with 2 interchanges), in the lovely town of Grindelwald in Switzerland. Grindelwald is located within the Jungfrau region which is a UNESCO heritage site.

It was almost noon when I reached my hostel - Downtown Lodge - a cheap B&B hostel that I booked at the last minute, and thankfully got myself a dorm bed. But this was afterall the land of graciousness and civilization, so hostels are perfectly clean and comfortable.

First stop, the Ski school where I had booked myself for an adults' class on Monday. There I got ideas for what to do for the rest of the day. I found my way to First station to take the ski gondola up to "First", then took the Flier ride. It was like a flying fox except you were strapped to a harness with legs dangling and going down at 84kmh for 30sec. Then I hiked down the mountain, amidst all the skiers and snow-boarders. Midway through, I bailed out and caught the gondala back to the train station.

Grindelwald is a small town, everything within walking distance. I realised that my hostel pass entitled me to free entry to the sports centre, which had an indoor swimming pool. I tried it, it was not conducive for laps but quite a good perk up.

Rather jetlagged now.....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Swim Class Better

Swim class tonight went well. The water was warm - it was a hot day. I moved to Lane 3 last swimmer. Henry came for a trial class. After that he said it was 'siong' and had aching arms. Haha.

We did many catch up drills (I lost count), a few sets of 200 - 250m, then a number of 100m and 6x 50m sprints, and some heads-up swim.

Had to rush off after class..... airport, Swiss bound! :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Aviva Worth the Cost?

KL was not in class, another guy called Lester took over. Class was not as siong and hard though. My legs and back felt a wee bit tight, perhaps time for another massage before I leave this weekend.

I finally off-loaded my Silkair ticket to a replacement climber, and bought a pair of cheap Jetstar tickets. Whew whew! I could plough that savings into Aviva 70.3. Now that I am swimming so much, I think I should sign up for 70.3. Yet the $375 registration fee is a huge deterrant.... Ouch. Let me mull over it a little more, although the deadline is 8-March...

Next up, Busselton. My friends have already booked the accomodation and about to get their air tickets. I am very much considering taking part. Except of course the swim cut off.... 3.8km in 2h 15min. Whew.... (1) I have never done that distance in the pool. (2) Even in the pool, I am not sure of clearing that timing. Confidence aside, perhaps I should chope my slot in the accomodation and air ticket as well?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yet Another Tues Class

My foolhardiness led me to yet another Tues swim class. No choice, if want to clear Aviva, I must clear the swim first.

I was happy in my little last corner in Lane 1, surviving my swims. For Lane 1, we did -
3x 400m (I cleared 3x 350m)
9x 100m (me: 6x 100m)
11x 50m (me: 10x 50m; think the rest did extra 2 though)
1x 250 (me: 200m)
a few backstroke 25m + front crawl 25m
1x backstroke 25m + butterfly 25m (I obviously could not fly....) + breaststroke 25m + front crawl 25m
No treading water today. Whew!

Arms aching now....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Open Sea Swim & Run Brick

Horrors, I snoozed my alarm and it went silent! I woke up with a start at 740am, and I was due at ECP F2 for sea swim at 8am! *Panic* I rushed down and got there only at 830am. Darn. I managed to join the 'early' group for 2 loops of swim before we gathered with the rest of the YF crowd.

We were divided into 4 groups - Gp1 being the elite supersonic swimmers (the podium & school swimmer types), Gp2 was the 'not the above but still fast' group, Gp3 was the average mortals with me amongst the slower ones, and Gp4 was the newbies. Each group had to swim different distances around various buoys in the sea, which measured out abt 200m or 400m. Eg. G1 did 3 rounds, G2 2.5 rounds, G3 2 rounds etc. Then it was 2.5 rounds, 2, and 1.5. Last set was 2, 1.5, and 1 round before we hit the run. Of course G1 was very fast, they were all standing on the beach even as I finished my much reduced distance!

We transited to a 6km run - F2 to hawker centre to chalets and u-turn near the toilet after the pond, and back. My legs were surprisingly light and flew by themselves! I was so thrilled to be back in running! I ran with Wung Yew for 1-2km, he's legs were so long, his one stride cost me two shuffles! I made it back in 28min. Hmm... maybe the distance was shorter than 6km, I did not think I was that fast today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yellowfish Swim Class

I was on time for class tonight! After the tough Tues session, today's class seemed like a breeze. Chantelle was there for her trial class. We went through some basic drills - scully, catchup, one-hand pull, then we swam..... 300m, 200m, 100m, and countless 50m, 4x 50m sprints, and tread water. Hey, I'm actually beginning to like swimming now! :)

Time for a good rest and sleep tonight, it had been a long week...... a much needed rest after HK marathon. It was afterall 42km, even if slow... Sunday would be another tough training session. *yawn*

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bukit Timah Circuit

I joined the MPA group for training at BT reserve. We had quite a sizable turnout today, I was surprised to see CE there as well. Johnny took us through the warm up and we were on our way. We started on the trail which led to the tarmac road at Catchment Path. There were various flights of steps in the trail. CE was going fast, and I tried to keep up, together with some of the guys. I had a 12-13kg pack, and not in the most ideal position to carry out a conversation while keeping pace. *pant pant*

As it was getting dark, I suggested that the group do 3 sets of Rengas non-stop, then proceed to 3x Jungle non-stop. The idea was to reduce time wasted strolling between R-J, and maintaining an active intensity level. It certainly burnt my quads more. After Rengas and by the first set of J, I could feel my knees and legs going soft. Wow... Most of the folks were shaping up well, many had good new boots and fitness level had improved. Things looked good.

Catching Up, Literally

Felt rather tired today, body still reeling from the culture shock of Tues swim. *blink* I got to the RPM studio thinking I should be at facial or the spa instead. Hmmm..... Anyhow, got my usual corner bike, and proceeded to ride the class at a leisurely pace. Mentally I had a lot going through my mind. There were many trips coming up - one HK down (as well as a busted wallet. What economic downturn?!) , and 3 more lined up back-to-back. Some work, some personal. That meant 3 sets of logistics, admin and preparations. I was getting my hotels, air tickets and dates mixed up, not to mention rescheduling my trainings and makeup classes etc. Too many deadlines and considerations for various to-do items. Or whether to register for Aviva, when to train... Plus a series of work assignments choking in the pipeline related to the trips. Oh I needed to clear my brain, it was too busy. Even in sleep I thought of those issues.

After class, I met Jan, KC, KM, Alex, Michelle and XinHui over at a snazzy cafe called Wine Company opposite the SMu tracks. It looked pretty elegant from the outside, but had a cheerful outdoor area - cheerful because we were laughing loudly and chilling out in runner's attire. Oops. It was nice to catch up with them and hear about their run coaching and races. It would also be tough catching up with them because everyone had progressed so much over the past months. KM's programme was pretty effective, almost everyone (80-85%?) achieved their PBs and marathon targets. I, on the other hand, had no confidence yet to resume proper runs and training. I know, being fresh out of HKSCM did not exactly qualify as 'have not been running'. I was constantly mindful of potential injuries or trigger points, and held back.

I had pretty much laid off running (properly) since mid-Sept til now. My knee gave me major problem for a good 3 months, recovering a lot better only after SCSM when I went climbing for 3 weeks. It had a proper respite from the pounding. Then my foot set me down for another 2 months. So in the last 5 months, I had not been training 'normally'. Ironically still, I did 3 marathons in not so great timings. Time to lay off runs for a while. Perhaps I should simply focus on improving my 5ks and getting stronger.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Evil Swim

I swam and swam and swam, and swam even more. Coach said to go for Tuesday class to clock mileage if I wanted to survive Aviva. So I went. A bit kenna conned. Haha. Luckily I had some 'discount' from the trainings. The other swimmers in our (slowest) Lane 1 were just too fast for me, and lapped me by 75-100m. So I could rest, and then rejoin them.

I arrived at the pool late, and in time to jump right into the sprints, gosh!
- 9 x 100m (How to survive?! I rested every 2sets)
- 11 x 50m (*blink* Was that for real? From a Friday class where we did 6-8 sets maximum, I lost count of how many I did and rested)
- 350m moderate pace (I did 300m)
- 400m moderate pace (again, 300m)
- 400m faster pace (same, 300m faster)
- some hands-up drills half way across the pool (in the sea sure drown....)
- tread water (for dunno how many minutes, hands up, hands down, cross ankles, like syncro swim)
- dismissed (yeah!)

Giayee, Kristal, Kenneth, WY, Lynn etc were also at the class, so we all trooped to Old Airport hawker centre for dinner. Had to work hard and earn my dinner for the day!....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hongkong Stanchart Marathon 2009

This would be my 3rd time running the HKSCM full marathon, but I was full of nagging doubts. Just 2 weeks before the trip, I could barely run 10km without feeling pain in my foot. I was under-conditioned for the distance and my legs had different plans of their own. I did not have high hopes for the race this year, and was mentally prepared to flag the sweeper bus if I crossed the cut-off times at various checkpoints.

This year I stayed at the Kimberley Hotel. Sandy was at the same hotel and kindly helped to collect our race packs. The hotel was a very convenient location. The morning of the race (8am start), I woke at 7am, had my instant oats + milo breakfast, and strolled down to the start line with 8min to spare. The VIPs were already present and getting ready to flag off the marathon runners. Chief Executive Donald Tsang was the guest-of-honour for the race. I knew only because my picture was coincidentally captured on the front page of the South China Morning Post - a tiny little head in the background, just below Donald Tsang's outstretched waving hands!

The morning was rather warm, 20 deg-C, unlike last year's 13 deg-C. I mistakenly wore my Nike long sleeved and 2XU tights, only to be greeted by the warm air. Most other runners were in typical sleeveless vests and shorts. I was very conservative during the first 7-8km, feeling my foot and knee (last year's injury). My first 10km took slightly past an hour. Alber had already sped ahead the moment we crossed the timing mat, so I could only catch sight of him at various u-turn stretches. I did not the see the other Safra runners until 16-17km mark, after they turned around.

When I reached the 20km mat and turning point, my legs could feel the lactic and I wondered how to survive another round of 20km. At 24km, I went to one of the mobile loos, and took the chance to remove my Nike top. Ah, now the weather felt much better, cooler. I ate a powergel, and picked up speed at 25-27km. Caught up with Alex who overtook me earlier, and had a running photo taken. Vanity! Haha. Looking at my watch, I felt that I could complete the race in 4:20-4:30h. But shortly after, disaster struck. I felt a churning in my stomach, like diarrhea. Gosh, I had never had a bad stomach during any race or climb. From then on, I was on the lookout for loos along the route. The worst section was the 35-37km tunnel stretch. There was no water points or loos inside the tunnel. I was forced to walk the 2km because any running made my stomach more urgent! It was pure happiness and desperation when I spied one immediately after we cleared the tunnel. I was in a pathetic state....

I managed to walk (upslopes) and run (downslopes) and hung in there until the last upslope at the dreaded 41km point. I was about to sip my drink when Henry came from behind and grabbed my arm, wanting to drag me along. I told him to go ahead. As we rounded the bend into the final 1-2km stretch, the public lined the streets and were clapping loudly in encouragement. Shirley called my name from the side as I ran past her. Adrenalin and peer pressure kept me running to the end. I crossed the line finally at 4:48h, a rather long run. Alber was back long ago, at 4:00h. Fantastic timing for him. As for me, I was extremely thankful that my legs did not give me problems beyond the usual muscle soreness! Welcome back, dear Legs! :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Makan Index Increased by Cold Swim

Makan index for the day -
Breakfast - sandwich, 2 cups of tea
Snack - couple of CNY cookies, 3 pieces of sugar-crackers (no choice, pack of 3, haha)
Lunch - fish soup + rice (very generous portions! and uncle charged me less for less rice, hard to find stalls like that nowadays), almond paste (waitress changed it when I commented it was too liquid, unexpected good service), 2 cups of tea
Snack - Cereal drink + muesli bar
Dinner - Claypot chicken & mushroom + rice (rather disappointing... tsk tsk), horlicks
Snack - ..... I'm working on that right now! Haha

Swimming class was not as cold today despite the rainy afternoon. I told Coach he had to explain less and make us swim more, or else too cold & freeze. :) Anyway I was late, had to rush out an email at work before I could go. Only managed to catch a few drills and we started on training - 500m, 400m, 200m, chasing-sprints 8x 50m, and then treading water (ouch my poor legs...). Shower was cold though, I came out of it shivering, goosebumps all round. Brrr.....

Off to HK tomorrow. Can't wait to check out the winter clearance on gear! Mammut, Montane, Salomon, Nike, Rockport..... tip of the iceberg. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Accidental Brick

A quick entry since I'm super way past zzzzz time.

Perpetually hungry the whole day and ate non-stop. Like really eat..... breakfast nutella sandwich in car, 2 cups of earl grey tea in office, some CNY snacks during meeting, wanton noodles soup for lunch + peanut butter donut (cos noodles was so light & healthy!), resisted buying snacks, 2 cups of vanilla tea in office, resisted sinful chips, oat cereals drink + muesli bar. Workout @ Safra. Shared dinner with Adam - stir-fried bittergourd with egg, + steamed fish head (enough to feed 3-4!) & rice, + assortment of munchies. Felt guilty. Made a big mug of camomile tea at home.

Training wise - swam 20 laps (because I was late), and ran a short Canterbury-Henderson route. Did not intentionally plan a brick training though, it just happened. Foot felt fine, hope it remains fine in HK.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

RPM Relax!

It rained the entire afternoon, washed out all plans of run or swim. In any case, it was Challenge Day. The class was fully subscribed within 10 min of opening the registration. Luckily I went early.

My usual corner bike was replaced by a brand new one. The resistance knob was stiff and tight, and it was hard to make incremental adjustments, short of cranking up/ down a huge resistance. I rode relaxedly tonight, wanted to save my legs for HK.

On my way home, I stopped by Daily Scoops ice-cream cafe at Sunset Way. I had heard about it, but only found its exact location a few months ago, and finally got to try it tonight. After various samplings, I settled on a double scoop Crunchy Peanut Butter and Salted Mr Brown(ie). The ice cream texture was slight melty though, I would prefer it to be more frozen. Not all the flavours were creamy and rich though, I found the vanilla too 'light'. Nonetheless, the flavours I ordered tasted rich and decent enough. Great! I think I would be back very often, enroute home! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brand New Safra Run

Almost every evening I go through an elaborate (aka think a lot but cannot decide) process of choosing a workout. Typically my options revolve around RPM, BodyPump, swim, run, and occasionally cycle (though rarely on a weekday night).

Today was similar. After much indecisiveness, I showed up at Safra, thinking that I would try the 10km MF route. By some mis-management of time, I ended up running with the group instead. Happily! Finally! We did a 11km from Hort Park to Kent Ridge Park, 2 loops inside, and back to Safra via Pasir Panjang Rd. It was my first time in months to run with the main group and I was happy to be there. I was also apprehensive that the runners would chiong, it being only 11km, and I would be dropped far behind. I hoped my foot would hold up, I was not sure.

The run turned out ok. The pace was decent and relaxed. I was not very conditioned for the slopes, so I just took them at a leisurely pace. Had to protect my knees on the downslopes too, not wanting to suddenly shock them with the inclines. Ankles and feet felt a little stiff, but they loosened somewhat after a while. Constant self-reminders to relax and land normally. The tendency with injuries would be to over-compensate for it by changing our postures etc, and hurt another body part consequently.

After exiting KR Park, I did not see any runners ahead or behind me. Hmmm, weird, did I get the route wrong? Nonetheless, I completed the distance and was happy with my effort. Happy with my foot. Mental note to stick more medicated plasters when I sleep.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Irritating & Inconsiderate Swimmers

I felt so lazy today. I went to Frankie during lunch to tui-na my foot. Ouch. I must have been over-zealous last night, self-rubbing it. It felt stiff and slightly painful this morning when I walked around. So I got it wrapped up in medicated cream the entire afternoon in the office.

That left me with nothing else but to swim this evening. Swim swim swim. The weather looked grey and gloomy, the water looked cold. No choice, I was already at Safra. Made a date with Alber to hit the waters tday. So there I was, in my new cyan bikini, trying not to yelp when I jumped into the pool. Ok to be fair, it was not as cold as last week's Fish class.

The pool was relatively empty when I entered, I could still afford a lane to myself. Then it started filling up. Two lanes were closed off for Navy Biathlon time trial, with a giant digital timer set up. Haha, I could pretty much time myself and know that I would not meet the 40min. Anyhow I swam, and swam, and swam. And ducked swimmers. Brrr..... Irritiating swimmers. There were those who could not keep to their lanes, and those who swam without ever looking up to see where they were headed - they probably thought they were like torpedoes, fired up and charging ahead blindly. And then there were those (male) breast-strokers who almost became just that, their arm pulls coming so close, I had to deliberately siam! Finally the most irritating swimmer was this chap doing butterfly strokes, churning out huge tsunamis along the way in the very crowded pool. I was next to him, which meant sometimes I risked having the water splash right in my face as I turned to breathe. Idiot! *grumbles*

Peter, Jason and Siew Lee were there too, training hard for the biathlon. So fast, so effortless.... unlike me, still so slow. Anyhow, I swam 40 laps in exactly 1h, and still felt good for another 10 after that. I wanted to time 40 laps to see if I could possibly make it under the Aviva 1:10h cut-off for 1.9km sea swim. Looked promising.... with 10min to spare for struggling in the sea, obstructions etc. Hmm.... should I sign up for Aviva, times are bad, wallet's in recession too. *ponder*

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lamp Post Hugging Run

I slept an insane 13hr last night, from 6pm to 730am, skipping dinner totally! Gosh, I did not even realise.... but was not hungry, so did not bother waking up to feed. So I woke up this morning rather refreshed. The grand plan was to go to ECP and test mileage. Of course since I was alone, I was not disciplined enough to hit the road early.... It was 830am when I started.

The first stretch from B1 to hawker centre was fine. The weather was cool, the feet were holding up. Then some minor discomfort. Maybe it was a wrong choice to wear Mizuno... should have stuck with my Asics instead. Along the way I saw Lynn, then Lai Hsia, then Coach zoomed by, and a couple of Fishes. Nearing F2, one guy ran past me. What a great physique! Tall, lean, muscular, tanned, in good shape..... I only caught his back view since he overtook me. And then I realised it was WY. Haha.... Oops. KPI was having their monthly Newton Run day at F2, so that explained why so many Fishes were there and some other familiar runners. Chatted briefly with Fiona about my bad foot, and continued on the run.

It was a jog, stop, stretch, repeat all the way to the sailing club toilet. To stretch, I had to stop, find a lamp post, step on the cement base, 'arch' my foot and pull myself into the lamp post. Sort of stretching the calf and foot at the same time, holding the position for many seconds. And I did that several times. It must have looked funny to the passerbys, a girl semi-hugging the lamp post for so long.... :( When I reached the last toilet/ car park, I was most tempted to go up to the departing cars and hitch a ride back towards my car at B1. I suppose I could play the damsel in distress role.... but somehow I did not do that. So I jogged my way back. Luckily the foot pain eased after a while, and did not really bother me by then. I saw more people on the way back - GiaYee, LiPeng, Maye-e, David, R.... And Mien too, with her 3 princesses and hubby out on a Sunday stroll. With so many people along the way, it was hard to stop and walk. I guess that kept me going until I reached B1. Haha.