Monday, February 21, 2011

Hongkong Marathon 2011

Ahh, the HK marathon. The year of the Rabbit medal. I was happy to be back in HK for the race. I had taken part every year except for 2010 when I went to Langkawi IM over the same weekend. It was a challenging hilly route, lots of ups and downs over the highways and into the tunnels. It was likewise this year, no letting up on those slopes.

The weather was a lot cooler this year, 13 - 15 degC. It definitely made running much more enjoyable. We gathered at the start line outside Mira Hotel and were flagged off at 6:45am. There was a slight drizzle and it was chilly when the wind blew. I was dressed in a long-sleeved top, 2XU long tights and a thin running jacket. I started off feeling snug and comfortable, and whipped out my jacket hood when it started raining. However, I soon began to warm up. By 6km, I had to stop and remove my jacket. I tied it around my waist and continued. I felt like I went out too fast in the first few kms, and my rhythm was off. So I slowed a little and tried to find my pacing.

I picked up pace after 10km and was on a roll. I took half a banana and the isotonic sports drinks at various counters. I saw the Sharks running ahead of me. This year, we had three Sharks, two of which were female runners. Power! Alas, I had to go to the portaloo at about 32km. That cost me 3 precious minutes. I plodded on, trying to recover the lost time. Another alas! We merged with the 21km runners for the last 15km or so. They meant I had to weave in and out of the human congestion, and I was certainly not pleased. I had managed to keep to a 5:45min/km pace and the crowd slowed me down.

My legs felt relatively strong and fresh, up to about 36km. The last stretch always gave me problems in my previous races - I typically get cramps on the last few slopes, triggered by steady downslope pounding. Argh, careful now. I slowed down to a more than 6min/km pace as I negotiated the last bends and slopes. The last 2km was a flat out through the city streets, shops and supporters. I picked up pace and went as fast as I could towards the finishing line - not that it would make any dent in my timing.

4:13h. Five minutes off my previous HK PB. It was a good run. :)

First 10km - 1:00h
2nd 10km - 56min
3rd 10km - 1:00h
4th 10km - 1:02h
Last 12km - 13min
Total - 4:13h

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Run & Core

Today we did a short run to the Queenstown Stadium, followed by some core exercises, then back to Safra. It was my first time joining in their group core exercises. Not as intense or long as the ones we used to do in Yellowfish Strides class, but it was a nice refresher. We did sets of jumping jacks, push-ups, leg raises, side planks and frontal plank. Fun! The 4km jog back to club was reasonably fast, I enjoyed the higher cadence and pace.

Now it remains to pack my gear and hope not to crash in HK marathon this weekend. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Last Long Ride

Absolutely last long ride, after which the bikes get serviced, cleaned and packed for IMNZ. We cycled from my house to meet with the rest of at Casuarina. Akira joined us too, another super fast rider. Lai Chee came too, hers was sheer power. I was promptly dropped at the word go. I pretty much cycled alone, within sight of Lee and Alber. Once we hit Coastal Road, I did not even see any of them. Argh. So I skipped the B1 pit-stop and continued towards West Coast. Even with the headstart, at the speed I was going, I would reach Mac at about the same time as the rest.

I was trying to figure out how to crank up the speed and put the carbon wheels to good use. It was tough spinning it up to 32kmh, before the wheels took on a life of their own. I experimented along the way, small gear, big gear. I could only up the speed on the heavy front gear, but that meant I would not last the distance in the same gear. Dilemma.

I ate a hotcakes meal, surprised that I was not as starving as last weekend. We headed to Tuas to be slapped by the Tuas-selton winds. Lovely. The headwind was relentless, my speed dropped to the 15-16kmh. Tiring.

Another pit-stop at SPC. 130km. By then, every single bump and vibration on the road was amplified 10x and my butt was tremendously sore. Some cyclists went off to West Coast and back. Alber and I decided to follow WH, H and Lee to NTU and return from Brickland Road. Distance: 155km.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love Miles in the Trail

Some people call them junk miles. To me, junk miles are only junk if one is following a training plan towards some race targets. Not when one spontaneously sneak a rendezvous with those trusty running shoes and head out for a quickie. I call them love miles.

The idea was to do my long run at MR this morning. Obviously I woke up late and had to rush back for a noon appointment. So I ended up running 1x complete loop, and 1x Northern trail loop. It was a nice morning, the trails would never feel as hot as running on the roads. I lost a lot of my speed, my legs were not used to a higher cadence nor my heart comfortable with pumping hard. But I enjoyed the run, no pressure. Well ok, technically I was supposed to be training for HK marathon next week, but it was too late to do anything useful. So heck, I would just run along happily and hope not to collapse along the way or something embarrassing.

I was rather looking forward to 6-March, the day after IMNZ. Happy to not have to do long swims and long rides thereafter. Happy to just be reunited with my shoes. No more swim-bike-run. Going back to plain vanilla run-run-run. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Running is a great way to de-stress

Work had been hectic. Very hectic. I missed a couple of swim/ run sessions and my mileage had basically dropped a lot in the past weeks. I would turn up at runs totally stressed and strung. But there is something in a run that makes one relax and not think about work. The mind tunes out the world and just chills.

That would be me tonight. I showed up for run late. By the time I started, I was still thinking about work. But I just ran and ran and slowly, the tension eased off.

Met TCM at Safra and he mentioned going on a climb. Ahha! I perked up immediately. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Drenched Splish Splash

Dark clouds were threatening to open up on us during the run. We were running through Canterbury towards Kent Ridge Park when the rain came pouring down. It started with a drizzle and progressively became a downpour. All of us were drenched and we cut short one loop in the park. My shirt was hanging heavy from the wetness and my shoes splished splashed sloshed their way on the tarmac. By the time we reached the club, however, the rain had stopped. Ahh oh well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quickie Run

There was sea swim this morning, which I skipped. Had a great plan to do a long run, but got derailed. In the end, I did not want to sit around the house or defer my run, so I just went. Pulled on my trusty GTs and headed out. It was the 3rd time this week that I was running around the Clementi canal PCN and Jurong Jln Kechil route. It was about 10 - 11km depending on where I turned back.

Junk miles are junk only when one is following a training plan. They are not junk when I steal 1-2h for a spontaneous rendezvous with my running shoes. :)

Back just in time for my open-house party.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mega Mega Ride

I finally clocked a super long ride today, to ease my panicking mind over the impending IMNZ. We started from my house at 5am and rode the 15km to Casuarina to meet with the guys. We had 7 riders this morning - us, Melvin, Gary, Henry, WH, Lee, Eddie and May. All strong riders, I would definitely be dropped. It was a round-island ride, going along the usual Hougang - Tampines - Loyang - Coastal Road. The front guys had disappeared and there was no difference from me doing my weekend rides alone. As usual, my engine refused to kick-start before dawn. Even though I had a peanut butter cheese sandwich, I felt my energy sapping away. By the time we got to B1 (approx 60km) , I was flat. Anyway, that did not matter since I was the slowest and last rider.

Persevere! About 20+ km more to West Coast Mac for a much-needed breakfast. There were several big trucks and long trailers along the West Coast Highway. Traffic was relatively light so they were going very fast. Although they were typically 1 lane away from me (them being in the middle lane), I could clearly feel their draft each time they sped past. My new deep-section wheels caught the wind especially well. Wobble. Finally we reached Mac! Double-fortune-fillet-o-fish, iced-milo and hash brown! :)

Continuing on, we rode to Tuas. The guys brought me to a new extension. We nicknamed it Tuas-selton because it totally resembled the race route in Busselton. Flat, fast, but with strong head and cross winds at some sections. The roads were newly paved and the ride was smooth. There was a stretch without any wind and my wheels gained speed. 37kmh. I was stunned and took a double look to re-check. No mistake. Wow! (Coming from someone who plods along at 27kmh) I slowed down to 32kmh and picked up speed. It steadily and quickly increased... 35... 36... 37... Impressed! Finally, that must be the effect of the carbon wheels. I was initially thinking that I was not strong enough for them and that maybe I should switch back to normal lightweight wheels. The fun ended too soon and suddenly I was hit by a crosswind after a right turn. I could literally feel my bike going sideways, and I had to lean my weight to one side to counter it.

We took another pit stop at SPC along Jln Buroh. 130km. The last segment was to NTU and Neo Tiew before heading home. I managed to do the climb in NTU, and seeing the meter go from 10kmh to 9.9kmh to 9.0kmh,... and still pedaling on. Pant. And then I did not dare to go down the other side so I held on to both my brakes and slowly rolled down. Panic. By the time I got to the Lim Chu Kang cemetery stretch, I was really bored. My legs were just rolling as long as my bike was moving, with no care for speed. 20kmh. Don't care. Just roll. Finishing off at the Kranji junction, we bade farewell and Alber and I continued home instead of going back to Casaurina.

Our usual coffeeshop along Upp Bt Timah Rd was open for business, so we stopped for fresh iced lemon tea and lunch. Getting back onto my bike after that was literally a pain, my butt bones were sore rubbing against the saddle. It was like stopping for a sleep after a 50km run, and trying to restart. Ouch.

Finally made it home. Total 173km. Well ok, we had multiple stops along the way, but I would not have been able to complete the distance otherwise. Could not imagine running 42km after that. Ouch.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Melting Run to Mandai

It was really tough running under the sweltering heat. We started at 230pm, from my house towards Mandai. It was my usual cycling route, but the road felt so different on the run vs bike. I noticed more things and details than I did while riding.

After 40min, the heat got to me. It was really depressing and mental to continue the run, but I had to at least make it to the Shell station to top up my water. I strolled a little and ran a little. Thankfully, the cloud cover drifted over and the weather cooled a little. We managed to run up a section of the Mandai slope before turning back. A pit-stop at Esso after Linear offered a great respite. Ice-cold Minute Maid juice! Alas the weather was erratic and we ran into a drizzle near home. So from burning sun to being drenched. Oh my. Total distance 23-24km.

I was more interested in running along Mandai to Seletar Reservoir actually. The rolling slopes resembled the HK marathon route and made for good training. Just like cycling. But that meant I would have to drive to somewhere along Mandai to start the run. Hmmm, that would take some planning.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CNY Bunny Run

Glorious sunshine today. I took advantage of the good weather to squeeze in a run in between visits. Basically it was the same route as yesterday, minus the park extension to Ghim Moh, but in a much hotter weather. Distance was about 11.something km. My first run in the Year of the Rabbit. :)

Back to visiting...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finally, a run!

Days of pouring showers - the last weekend count was almost 60h non-stop! - have messed up everyone's training plans. My long runs and rides were cancelled over the weekend and I was missing them.

Thankfully, the sun shone through today. It is the eve of the lunar new year, the highlight being the traditional reunion dinner. But I had a 2h slot in between cleaning up my room and the dinner, and I made a beeline for my running shoes immediately.

Alas, my GTs were not with me and I had to make do with the DS-Trainers (not my ideal shoes). I ran from house to the Ulu Pandan canal park connector, and covered the canal end-to-end. Then I headed back along Ngee Ann Poly, Jln Jurong Kechil and Bt Batok East Ave 6. Estimated distance was 15km? There were several runners and cyclists along the way. I guess everyone was happy to be back in the outdoors after the torrential washouts.

Very pleased that I was finally able to be out running. :)