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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

1 year ago

1 year ago on this day, I was lying in a hospital bed, right leg stuck in a weird looking contraption moving it up and down and throwing up. Friends had shared with me their friend’s experience or their refusal to operate fearing that they will never be able to run again. And there I was wondering whether I had made the right decision to go for the op. Nevertheless I went ahead because the nice Doc had assured me that he learnt from the very best, Dr Steadman who operated on Alan Shearer, Michael Owen etc etc and if they can go back to football, I can go back to running. So I went with an open mind. The way he describe it sounded so simple and I expected to be up and running within 3 months. To my horror, after the op and in my first session of post-op physio, the physio took one look and said 6 months at least.

It is now exactly 1 year later and not only have I resumed running, I have done 2 half marathons plus a few other races here and there, The first half was done just 6 months after the op proving the physio wrong. I was up and running within 3 months (December to be exact). So was the physio wrong in his analysis or just being careful?

To prepare for the op, I went for 2 months of pre-op physio. I also saw an Osteopath and both the physio and Osteopath help me prepare for the op by putting me through a lot of lower legs exercises. The purpose was to build up the strength and muscle on the leg so that after the op during the recovery stage, when the atrophy set in, the impact will be reduced and hence recovery faster.

After the op, while most people would content themselves with just going for the physio session twice a week, I worked like a man possessed. While the leg was still immobilized and cannot bear weight, I contend myself with doing single leg pushups, and all the other jazz that the physio showed me and all this on a daily basis. Even while out with the Mrs and friends while they trained for their maiden half, I would make use of every single time waiting for them to do some sort of exercises like push up, squats etc.

Once the crutches came off, it was on to upper body weight as well. I put in 2 hours of work daily including the twice physio sessions. Than when the physio decided that it was time for me to start on the bike, I added that + swimming to the daily routine. The workout session increases from 2 to 3 hours. By mid December, the physio had commented that I was recovering faster than he expected so in end December, I did my first run on the treadmill and never looked back from there. Sure, the leg is still a bit stiff and cannot bend all the way back but hey I running without pain. I reckoned I back to 80% of my original fitness level although the recent races timing have been encouraging - almost at the old level.

To this day, I continue my daily workout 6 days a week doing strength training (not bodybuilding or weight training), stationery bike, swimming and running 3 – 4 times a week. I take more precaution now though and generally do not push myself all the way.

Why am I rehashing this? I know there are people, friends and runners who are suffering from injuries and are upset that it is taking a long time to recover. I am sharing this to show that it is possible to come back in a short time but one need to put in a lot of effort. Simply wallowing in pity is not going to get anywhere. Neither is it sufficient to just go for weekly treatment or exercise. The whole thing got to be an ongoing process. Workouts can be done at home with some light weights, maybe a gym ball and a theraband or even just body weight exercises (squat, pushup, lunges, calves rises, crunches etc). The important thing is to keep working on it but with care. Increase the mileage slowly (I started at 1km in December and move up to 21 km only in June). Don’t be dishearten; work hard and you will get there.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Singapore Bay Run/Army Half Marathon 2007

I love running in the Army Half Marathon. It was my maiden race in 2004 and it gives me a lot of memories. Didn't run in 2005 due to flu and last year although I did it fearing that it could be my swan song race. Fortunately it was not and so I am back to give it another shot.

Didn't really have a time target. The objective was simple - good if can finish in one piece; better if can do under 2 hours; best if can better last year timing or 'bester' if can get a PB.

It was as usual humid with nary a wind as we assembled on Esplanade Bridge for the start. This year route has been modified to run in the City first before heading to East Coast park. The race started punctually at 5.30 am but even though we managed to go quite near the front, it still took me almost 51 secs to cross the start line. Didn't managed to see many familiar faces at this juncture - only Balasing slightly to the front.

This time with full road closure, we were able to run in the city without interruption. Moreover, with the full road closure, there were adequate space for everybody and no pushing shoving squeezing as what has happened so frequently in all other races. I had a smooth run up to the East Coast Parkway. Up on the bridge, finally managed to see a few more familiar faces - Mike from Safra TP; Fennel, Cosmic, Doraemon Red. Water was plentiful throughout the route - I think they got a bit kiasu after the few past death. Also ran past a few pacers wearing singlet shouting 2:15. Er what were they doing so far ahead. At this pace, they are looking at sub 2!

At East Coast Park, stopped for a toilet break. Had been controlling since the start as I didn't want to go to the foul smelling portable toilet. What a relief:) Time was 56:39 at the 10km mark. Hmm, at this pace, it was 50/50 for a sub 2.

Curiosity got the better of me the next time I saw another pacer wearing a 2:15. Told him he was going way too fast for 2:15. He told me he not use to running so slowly and 'cannot control' his speed. I think that's bullshit. If they signed up to be a pacer, than by hook or by crook they should stick to their assigned time rate otherwise they will sabo all the runners tagging after them. If they can't do it, than don't volunteer. At Nicoll highway, which was like 17km, there were a group of them - 2 of them with 2:30 timing and it was only like 1 hour 40 mins. They were definitely way too fast for their timing band!

The ending was a bit of a let down. At Raffles Boulevard, had expected to run into Marina Boulevard to finish at the floating platform but instead we ran all the way to the back of the stand before doing a sort of left turn, right turn to finish. I think the route was changed slightly and deviate from the map. Sian, I had expected a straight home stretch where the runners can do the usual last minute chiong or compete with other finishers but it was not to be.

Anyway, I finished 1:58:47 so I only managed to hit the 'better' target but I am quite satisfied considering that during the training runs, I have been doing like 2:10 - 2:30 for 20kms runs.

Waited around for M - she came in about 2:10 so that will probably be a PB for her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mt KK Climbathon

Fortunately and definitely not qualified to do this. My only association with it is a friend is doing this and after 7 months of training, they are finally going off on Friday to Kota Kinabalu.

NTUC Club held a big bash at the Legends, Fort Canning to send off the 13 runners comprising of 11 guys and 2 ladies. Real big bash - MP Guest of Honour; Malaysian Dato Minister, buffet dinner, fire eating performance etc etc and I was there to enjoy the food:)

This is the 2nd year NTUC Club is sponsoring the Singapore team. Last year, a few of the sgrunners took part. This year sgrunners presence is down to 1. Last year only 3 of the team members managed to complete the race within the cut off time. So in good typical traditional Singapore style - to avoid the same fate, import foreign talent! This year they rope in 6 Gurkhas! I suppose they think the Gurkhas hailing from a similar background will be able to complete it and do the team proud.

Anyway, the whole team is a winner already - to be able to go through the vigorous training and to be able to compete in what is billed as the toughest mountain race on earth. Good luck and God speed to everybody in the team and especially to Terence.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Running Lab Thu Night Run

Reached a bit late about 6.45 pm and there were only a few runners waiting. Went to the changing room to change and when came out suddenly the shop was bustling with people. Within 5 minutes, there were so many runners and a number of new faces. Total of 36 today. Ayin couldn't make it, Eddie was late so it was left to Ben and me to jaga them.

Ben did the warm up + cool down - I kaypoh here kaypoh there trying to find out who running what distance and gauge their level of fitness without appearing too condescending or disconcerting. A number of the new comers indicated will do the shorter distance but in the end almost everybody went all the full 10km or if not at least 8km.

Poor Ben and me had to chiong up and down to make sure nobody pengsan or got kidnapped:). At the floating platform on the return leg, walked back with a new guy.

All in, without counting the walking, probably did a 8.5km distance sort of fartlek - so still got a pretty good workout in the end.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bad Weather or Weak Mind?

Wanted to do a 20k run today.

Went with M and friends to the Esplanade. Started from there, ran the AHM new route before turning into Marina South for the girls to familiarize themselves with the Shape Run route. Weather was good - cloudy with strong wind.

Back at Marina Promenade, suppose to run to Kallang Riverside Park before turning back to make it a total distance of app 20km. The Sun by now was out and shining strongly. Reached the 2nd flyover and decided to turn back. In the end ran only 15k. The sun too strong. The heat too hot.

Somehow it feel better to blame the weather or any other things except my own weak mind, spirit and body.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Washing Machine Ate My Socks

I have 4 pairs of Wright socks, 2 Ultimax, 2 Thorlos and 1 Injinji.

The &(#^%$) of a washing machine decides the Injinji taste the nicest and ate it. Now my poor injinji has lost its twin. Anybody got a single Injinji to spare?

One of life's great mystery:

- Why does washing machine only eats socks - not handkerchief, not underwear?
- What happens to the remains of the socks after the washing machine finished with it? What goes in must go out right?

Some insight to the mystery of the (*&%$ washing machine here

Hmmm it's seems like I not alone. There must be a conspiracy somewhere - maybe socks manufacturers and washing machine makers are banding together ...

Conrad's Column - hey maybe the wife did it!
George Johnson on Science Science gets into the mystery