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Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back Looking Ahead

2010 is almost over. Time to reminiscence about what is over. Bopian. Old man already. Always must talk about the past.

1. Did 10 races. Not bad considering that I did only 6 in 2009.
2. Did 4 half marathon including 2 overseas in KL and Macau compared to zilch in 2009.
3. No full marathon. Don't think I miss doing this though.
4. Volunteered in 4 races. I enjoyed doing this so probably will do more in 2011.
5. Remained injury free the whole year. First time this has happened since 2005. Sure there were some scare but nothing major to take me off running for any extended period.
6. Attributed this to a successful conversion to mid foot running + reduced mileage.
7. Discover the joy and pain of barefoot running but will continue with shoes but maybe switch to minimalist shoes
8. Didn't have good timing for almost all the races. Probably because of the reduced mileage. Hopefully can do better next year especially for TNF.

So what's the game plan for 2011?

1. Do 6 races - at least 2 overseas. Maybe Muar and Angkor Wat. Anybody want to join me?
2. No full marathon. Yipee!
3. Try again for TNF 50km Duo. Hope to better the time. Will abandon my constant companion and get a new partner (male). Any taker?
4. Get new minimalist shoes. Target Acqusitions: Terra Plana Evo, Saucony Kinvara, NB Minimus. Any of you distributor out there want to sponsor me in exchange for a nice review?
5. Volunteer in 6 events. So far signed up for 1 in January.  Any event organiser (must be non-profit) need volunteer?

Anyway, to all friends, readers, bloggers, auntie, uncle, boys and girls and fellow citizens, have a prosperous 2011. Happy Running!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Different Form of Torturous Fun

Came home from work and it was raining again. With no more gym to go to, I was like hmmm need to kill time before dinner. Do what? The weights can wait till later so what other option?

Then it strike me to do something I have never done in my entire short running life. Go climb stairs.  I did like may be 10 minutes of stairmaster in the gym like 2 3 years ago but have never actually tried running up real stair- case. The most was to walk up the 4 flights to the house. There was always this fear that I may hurt the knee.

But boredom is a big motivation. So what the heck. The flat was only 13 stories high. So I ran up 13 floors and took the lift down and repeat. All of 4 times which means I ran a record 52 stories. Total time taken: 9 mins 40 sec. Is that good or bad? No idea but that's a PB. Ha ha.

Was it tough. Yeah it was tougher than I expected. I was panting hard after the second set and by the end of the 3rd set, the right hand felt weak and tired - from holding on to the railings.

But it was fun and I think I going to continue. At least it doesn't take too long and there is potential to increase the intensity by doing more set. But first must see how the legs behave tomorrow.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Runners, Plodders and Walkers Part II

Continuing from where I last left of, I was talking about the SBO runners vs the JJ runners. The SBO runners are basically unhappy with the JJ runners who take up to 8 hours to complete the FM. Their main unhappiness I believes, stems from the misconceived thought that the JJ runners ‘block’ their path while they are running thus causing them, the SBO runners to have to expend more energy to weave through them and thus spoiling their race. Apart from this, I do not think there are any other valid reasons for the SBO runners to be unhappy with the JJ runners.

However, this thinking of the SBO is not correct. Let me explain. The average SBO runners will take slightly over 4 hours to complete which means they will end around 9 am. The JJ runners take over 7 hours to complete. The route is one big loop and there is no overlap so how can the JJ runners be blocking their way since they are far far behind the SBO runners? But of course we all can see the mountain of walkers every year. Just take a look at the pictures of the marathon in 2009 below. This was taken at the Esplanade Bridge which is barely 300 metres from the finish. Look at the numbers who are walking! And notice that they who are walking have a different color bib whilst those FM marathoners with the white bib are the ones running.

So what is actually happening? The FM starts at 5 am. The average SBO runners will finish after 9 am. The HM starts at 6.30 am. The average JJ HM runners will take about 3 hours to complete the half which means they will be streaming in around 9 am as well. The 10km starts at 7.45 am. The average SBO 10km runners takes about 1 hour to complete 10 km and the average JJ 10km runners will take about 1 to 1 and a half hour to complete – ie between 8.45 am to 9.30 am. So what do we get? 3 group of runners converging at the same point at around the same time. When you have 3 lanes of traffic merging into 1, there is naturally a bottleneck and a big traffic jam or in this case – human jam.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Runners, Plodders and Walkers Part I

The dust has finally settled. Silence is golden. Every year after the full marathon is over, inevitably there will be a heated debate in cyberspace be it Facebook or the sgrunners forum. The bashing can become so bad that sometime it seems like there is no common ground between the 2 differing views. And this is not the case just here in Singapore but oversea and nothing ignite the debate better than this quirky and yet provocative ad from Pearl Izumi.

What am I rambling about? The eternal struggle between the runners and the plodders of course. The runners and here we are not talking about the elites but the (See Bey On) runners who typically complete a marathon in say less than 5 hours and those (Jalan Jalan) runners who complete a marathon in say 7 – 8 hours.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Balance MT 101

Probably the most fruitful outcome of this trip was that while at Timesquare, Hongkong, what did we spied? The New Balance MT 101! And at HK$500.00 only! Which is like S$100.00 or less since I changed S$1 to HK$5.83. How to resist? And so we bought ourselves one each. Tada!

Isn't it beautiful. Nevermind got no orange. Look at the shiny green (men) and purple (women) shoes.This has been on my must buy list since I started trying out minimalist running but Singapore NB has still not brought it in. Last I hear it will only reach Singapore in April or May and certainly I expect it to cost more than $100. So this is indeed a great buy. But how does it ride?

Took it for a short spin at MR today. First feel it was damn light and the sole was thin. Will I feel the rocks cutting through the sole? It was raining just before the run and the ground was wet. On hard concrete surface, the shoe could not hold well and it felt slippery. But on the trail, it performed wonderfully. I didn't feel any sharp rocks bitting into the foot and yet the sole was thin enough for me to feel the ground. That's all I can said about it cause it almost perfect when compared to my heavy Adidas Exerta. The only thing I didn't really like was the short tongue.  Anyway, I leave it to the expert to do the proper review.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Macau Galaxy International Marathon 2010

The last race of the year for me. One last chance for me to get the elusive sub 2 which has been eluding me the whole year. Okay I said I wasn't going to be obsessed over it but somehow it is what pushes me to continue to run. Guess without a goal, running will be just be like a headless chicken running round and round in circle.

Race Pack Collection at the Olympic Stadium
So to make doubly sure that I can get the sub 2, we packed ourselves off to cool Macau while our poor friends endure the heat in hot humid Singapore. Since we were there to holiday as well and in line with our resolve not to run the full marathon, we had signed up only for the comfortable half marathon which means we could spend the days prior and after the race to shop, shop, shop. The weather in Macau was a breezy 17 - 20 degrees with low humidity. It is our first time in Macau and our first time running in temperature that did not exceed 23 degrees.

The Grand Lisboa Casino
The start and finish was the Olympic Sport Stadium at Taipa. There were only about 4000 plus participants for the race which comprises the full marathon, the half marathon and a mini race of 6.5km. And everybody were flagged off together! No separate start but because of the small crowd, it wasn't too difficult to run. The start was a bit boring though going through some roads with constructions alongside but soon we came to the bridge - a massive 1 km bridge that links Taipa to Macau island. Going up wasn't too bad but on the way down the other end of the bridge, my heart sunk in fear when I saw the horribly steep upslope on the other side of the bridge. Soon we hit the 10km mark and the start of a stretch of run that took us through the casinos' heartland. If only we were running in the night, then the place would be beautiful with all the glittering flashing light but it was daytime and the buildings looked so ordinary. The bright spark was that most of the hotels along the route had their staff out in full force supporting the runners. There were all sort of dancers, cheer leaders and the run through was so much more enjoyable because of that.

I took my SIS gel at the 11km mark in preparation for the coming assault on the upslope of the bridge. Fortunately, the climb was not as bad as it look and I managed to conquer it without losing much speed. At 15km, I was about 1 hr 22 mins into the race. Another 6 km to go to get my sub 2. At this point, I even entertained thoughts of trying for a PB but quickly gave up the idea. I was here to enjoy myself not to suffer and I was just going to do enough to get back my sub 2. I was on target and no point rocking the boat. At 18km, I took the Kick Butt energy sweet for a last charge. I knew the sub-2 was in the bag but still.... At the final stretch, turning towards the stadium, our travel mate, wonder-woman and ultra marathoner extraordinaire, Kelly was there taking photo. She had earlier completed in the mini-marathon, gone back to the hotel to bath and came back to take our photos. A final 200 metres run into the stadium yes after a one year break, I got back my sub-2! M got a PB but did not hit sub-2, something I had expected her to achieve. In fact, I thought she should have finish ahead of me since she has been doing rather well for the longer runs recently but I guess we were not really there for the run but for the holiday so running was a lower priority.

The towel given after the race 
Overall, I like the race route - not crowded and sufficiently challenging. I like the start and finish at the stadium - makes one feel so 'pro'. Results were up almost instantly there was a big electronic board inside the indoor stadium where runners can check their timing. The full marathoner has a finisher tee but us half marathoner only got a medal and a beach towel. There was an earlier waist pouch which was given out during the race pack collection. These were the pluses. On the other hand, notwithstandng the small crowd, I felt the organiser should have segregated the start time for the 3 catergories, maybe 10 minutes apart. There were also no full road closure along most of the route and the fumes from the passing vehicles was a spoiler in the cool crisp air. Also, no isotonic drinks were served throughout the route. There were only plain water and sponge station. But on the whole, I enjoyed the experience especially running in this sort of weather. If only we can get this type of weather in Singapore. But I won't be back though. I will continue to go for 1 race each country and not do any repeat so that I can sight see at the same time.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Best Wishes

For most people, it is just another 3 more days to the biggest race of the year. For most, it will be the last race of the year, the culmination of hours and hours of toiling in the rain and sun just for this one big race. Whatever it is, the excitement is mounting. And that should be the case cos otherwise the whole race will just be another boring old run.

I can imagine the butterflies fluttering around in the stomach. There will be a lot of doubt – Can I do it? Can I complete in XXX time. There will be a lot of fear – What if I cannot wake up in time? What if I cannot sleep and therefore cannot run properly? What if I get cramps? Then there are the really important issues – What should I wear? Which pair of shoes? How many packet of gels?

I have either been an active participant or a passive participant – I was a supporter in 2006, ran in 2007 & 2008 and took photographs in 2009 but this year I will be giving the SCMS a complete miss. I will be in the sin city of Asia enjoying myself. Maybe do a little bit of running but mostly rest and relax.

So to my friends and readers who are doing the SCMS, have fun, run steady and God speed. And tell me your adventure when you complete!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gel Overload

While I was walking around the Race Expo last week, was at the SIS booth and learnt something new which I will share here.

Apparently there can be such a thing as too much gel. This chap, unfortunately I didn’t get his name claimed that he only takes ¾ of the packet of gel and chucked the rest. His reasons was that our body can only convert a certain amount of the carbohydrates in the gel to energy and any excess will be absorb into the stomach which will cause gastrointestinal distress or GI distress for short.

What is GI distress? Stomach feeling bloated even though you haven’t really drink a lot of water? Nausea, feeling of vomiting even though you are not pregnant and haven’t eaten anything oily or heavy before your race? Maybe feeling of getting the runs and I am not talking about the running you do with your legs? These are all symptoms of GI distress.

So according to this guy, if you take too much gel, the rest of the gel goes to the stomach, then you drink isotonic drink at the next water station and wham, trouble starts.

Which bring him to his next point – never down the gel with isotonic drink. The combination will guarantee GI distress as there is carbohydrates overload.

And finally his last point – don’t gulp down too much water especially during the latter part of the race. As the body temperature and the surrounding temperature increases, the body will have lost a lot of salt and drinking too much water will further dilute the salt in the body and that’s where the dread Cramps come in. His advice is to sip 1 or 2 small mouthful at every water station and drink isotonic drink when possible.

Sound easy? To summarise, take ¾ packet of the gel, don’t take gel with isotonic drink and don’t drink too much water. Did I mention how much gel to take throughout the whole race? My rule of thumb used to be 1 packet per 10km and 1 packet as needed between the last 12 km but after hearing him and doing some research on the net, I am totally confused.

Want to be confused with me? Read these:

  1. How much Carbohydrates to consume?
  2. Overcoming GI Distress
  3. Energy Gels and Sports Drinks 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shoes for Barefoot Running

Actually what an oxy moron - barefoot how come got shoes? But I am still in the stage of enjoying short runs san shoes but still need some sort of foot protection. My Tyr booties is almost worn out after and I need another replacement. Unfortunately, they are no longer on offer so I am left with not much options.

Most of my friends who like me still need some sort of shoes have got the Vibram Five Fingers. But I think they are very very ugly and over priced too. So despite this being the most obvious choice, it will not be my choice of footwear for any time to come.

This next pair is something I been eyeing for some time. This is the Terra Plana Evo Vivo barefoot shoes for barefoot running. It is available in Singapore at Mandarin Gallery and Ion. Can't remember the shop name but at $229, it is a bit too pricey. Unfortunately this one got no lobang for discount. How about if the distributor whoever you are? Sponsor me a pair and I do a very very nice review? :)

Most likely I will get this pseudo barefoot shoes from Nike. The Nike Run Free. The sole is not as thin but it is fairly flexible. It sells for S$169.00 which means I can hopefully pull some strings and get it at a decent discount but if not I go to Queensway I can get it for at least 20% lesser.

These next 2 are trail shoes but I reckoned if they ever reach our shore, should be suitable for road running as well. First on my wish list is the Merrell Trail Glove. This one is created by Merrell with Vibram so should be a good alternative to the VFF. Hopefully, Royal Sporting House will bring it in soon.

Finally, the one that a lot of people are anticipating  the New Balance MT101. Hopefully, the local agent for NB will bring it in. They didn't bring in the MT100. And hopefully, it comes in my size.
Er, anybody want to be Santa Claus to me? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tips No 3 for Marathoner Wannabes - Distract

Down to 1 and a half week. So exciting! Got sleepless night or not?

Okay you are running running running and tired as hell. When is this race going to end? “Why”, you asked yourself, “did I sign up for this torture”; “how am I going to finish this?”

When you are physically drained, when all the gels and salt and isotonic drinks doesn’t work and all you want to do is to lie down and sleep, how do you keep yourself focused and continue to run? This is what you need to do - Distract Yourself. Yes contrary to all the other experts’ advices out there to focus on the race, I am telling you – distract yourself. Guess that’s why I am not an expertJ

Distract yourself. Look at the other participants. Look at the hot bod in front of you or the sexy bum. Read the captions on the bibs. Get inspirations from them. Look at everybody just don’t look at yourself.  Look at the old fogey in front. If he can do it, so can you.

Distract yourself. Look at the scenery/surroundings. Hopefully the lights will still be on in Orchard Road but once past that place, look at the sea, the surf, and the people lining the streets. Look at the impatient guy in the car stuck in the traffic jam because of all these crazy runners and laugh at him. Look up, look down, look left, look right anything and anywhere just to take your mind off the agony of the run.

Distract yourself. Listen to music. Get a MP3 player. The Walkman 252 is great for this. Power it up with some real macho songs, not Jay Chou(I learnt my lesson!). And make sure there is enough juice to last the number of hours you expect to run. Dance to the music and you find your feet gliding so smoothly through the kilometers.

Distract yourself. Got no MP3 player? Sing out loud. Er a caveat here. If your singing is that sort that will wake the dead or give goosebumps to everybody, maybe better to hum silently in your head. Sing those silly songs like Lemon Tree, Mice love Rice, Umbrella Song you know those types that have the silly and catchy chorus that keeps you singing them over and over again.

Distract yourself. Visualise the char kway teow; swee char-boh; ice cream waiting for you at the finishing line. Visualise the sensual massage you going to get at the Thai massage bar in Geylang. Visualise the pride you going to feel when you recall every single step of the race to your children, colleagues and family. Visualise yourself crossing the finishing line – hands held up in pride!

Yes you did it! You are a marathoner!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Garmin Forerunner 110

After waiting for the past 1 year, I finally went and got my Garmin GPS watch. I had wanted one for quite some time but baulked at the cost of it. However, now that the USD had come down to a low, the watch has become so much affordable.  As I don't do tri, I went for the basic Forerunner 110. Across the big blue sea, the watch is selling in the US for around USD250 with the heart rate monitor (including shipping to sg) but over here it was retailing for S$340.00. However, I opted for the non heart rate version and it cost $300.00 at Sim Lim. Found out it was selling at the Sports Expo for $299.00. Oh well.

Out of the box, the set comes with a clip to attach to the watch for charging and uploading. There is also a power adaptor which provides for convenient charging direct from the power point.

The watch itself is pretty bulky. Its face covers almost my whole wrist. The display is simple - just the distance , the total time start, elapsed, end and the pace.  Using it was simple. Just press the page/menu button and wait for it to locate the satellite signal after which it will automatically switch to the Timer mode. From there, press the start/stop to capture the run. To save the run, press and hold reset. To manually insert lap, press lap otherwise there is some prefixed autolap interval provided.

Like: Easy to use. Display is big and easy to read for old fogeys like me. Locating the satellite was quick although in my 1st 2 usage, it took some time (more than a minute for the 2nd run) to pick up the signal but for the 3rd run, it picked up the signal almost instantaneously and while I was still inside the car!

Dislike: I like to see my splits but it does not display the splits in the History page. Just the basic information. Also, the battery life is kinda short at 8 hours with GPS usage and 3 weeks without (on clock mode). For my 3rd run with it, because I did not charge it since the 2nd run on Thursday, I was anxiously looking at the watch as the battery indicator went lower and lower but fortunately it held up for the 20km in the end.

Am I happy with the watch? My original choice was the Timex Ironman GPS watch which is still not available here yet and I have never considered the 405/410 or the 305/310 or even the 210 as I don't like the price, design and don't need the footpod respectively. So yes, I think I am happy with the purchase more so when after uploading the data to Garmin Connect and seeing the wealth of information there and after finding out how much the Timex will cost when it finally reach our shores.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips for Marathon Wannabe - Don't

3 more weeks to go before the SCMS.

At this point in time, to make sure that you can get to the start line in one piece

Don't sit next to anybody who looks even remotely like he/she has the cold, flu or even cough. Change place if you on the train or bus. Wear a mask if it is a colleague. Report him/her to the communicable disease centre and get him/her quarantine! Better still, take sick leave yourself and stay at home for the next few weeks until the race. That way, you be sure you won't catch any nasty bugs from anybody.

Don't do all other sports especially soccer and badminton. Many runners have had to abort their race even before the start after injuring their ligament or spraining an ankle while playing soccer or badminton. Maybe shouldn't even cycle. You won't want to be hit by a car or fall or something like that. If you must cycle, do it in the gym and make sure don't fall off. Swimming is okay but just don't drown okay?

Don't run ~ if the only interval you know is the break during performances at the Esplanade or you think fartlek is what comes out between your leg, don't try any new fanciful training no matter who recommends them. If you haven't done your long runs, it is too late to start now. Just like exam, if you have not been studying diligently throughout the year, last minute revision ain't going to help much so save your energy for the race and don't put in any last minute extra or special training. Just continue with your normal runs and pray for divine intervention.

Don't be a hero.  There has been a lot of news about gangster fighting and so on. So if you see a gang fight or a damsel in distress, don't be a hero and wade into the fight. Hero dies young. And dead hero don't get to run. Just be a good citizen and use your phone to call the cops and then get out of the way first. You also don't want to be injure by any flying objects.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tip for Marathoner Wannabes - Drink

4 weeks more to go to the big day for all Singapore marathoner wannabes and I am back with another series of posts for marathoner wannabes. But you gonna take these with a pinch of salt. Hmmm actually you should. Take the salt that is. It will come in useful when you run the final 10km of the marathon. For the other pro marathoners, the seasoned marathoners, the atas marathoners, you can read, you can dissect, you can criticize, you can add your comments, your advices, in fact you can do anything you want including go away but if you really 事做, by all means, carry on reading.

This 1st post shall be about drink - what to drink during the run up to the marathon other than your usual coffee, tea, milk, isotonic drink and sky juice.

Vitamin C. You trained and trained and 1 week before the big day, you catch the damned bug from some idiot standing in front of you in the train and who sneezed big time into your face! And there goes your race. So what to do? Load up on vitamin C now. Build up your immunity. Eat fruits rich in vitamin C. Better still, pop a tablet of soluble C into your pre-run/post-run water and drink it. And don’t worry about Vit C overload. Our body will know how to flush away the excess (smell your pee if you don’t believe me).

Honey. You see bees flying around non stop the whole day? Guess where they get all the energy from? From the honey of course! Studies have shown that honey builds up energy and helps wounds recovery. All the better to help you recover quickly from all the running.What more do you need? But wait, Like Vitamin C, honey helps build up immunity. It contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal substances. So what are you waiting for? Go get one bottle now. Better still get Royal Jelly if you can afford it!

Monday, November 08, 2010

How much Carbo?

Last Saturday I did my longest run since December 2008. Distance of 28km. It started off well and I was able to catch up with the front runners in my group even though I started about 5 minutes later than them. However, on the return leg, by the 22km along Changi Coastal Road, the energy level begun to drop and the pace became slower and slower.  I could see M about 50m in front of me but I couldn’t summon the energy to catch up with her. At the 25km outside NSRCC when she stopped for a drink at the choked water cooler, I ran past her but within 2 minutes she overtook me again and that was the way the run continued till the end with her finishing a good 5 minutes in front of me.

Fortunately for me, the run had come to an end. I knew if I had continued, I will hit the wall and come to a complete stop. I surmised what had happened was I had ran out of fuel or in cheem technical terms, depleted the load of glycogen stored in my body. How did that happened?

Let me see, firstly no carbo loading. In fact the day before, my entire day meal consists of a mishmash of junk starting with a small portion of fried beehoon, followed by another teeny weeny portion of abacus seeds for lunch, 2 slice of kaya toast and 4 tang yuen for tea and 1 bowl of laksa for dinner before wrapping up with a slice of peanut pancake for supper. How much calories are there in these foods? Personally I don’t think it was sufficient for me. According to HPB’s website, somebody like me need something like 2800 calories a day to maintain my weight so I figure best case scenario I took in enough calories to maintain my weight with no excess for the next day run. But this is at most guesswork.

Now some runner scientist in the US has come up with a specific formula to calculate the amount of carbohydrates required to run a marathon. To cut a long story short (you can read the summarized version here or the full paper here), one need to know his VO2 max (I don’t know mine which is a problem right?), expected pace; leg muscle mass and voila, take in the calculated amount carbohydrates and who knows you might be on your way to Boston!

For me, I think I stick to my short runs. It is so less complicated.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Not all Shoes are created equal

Take a look at the 3 shoes above. On the left is the Adidas Exerta. In the middle is the Nike Lunarglide and finally on the right is the Saucony Fastwitch. Look at the condition of the soles. Looking at the state of the sole, it would look like the latter has been used helluva a lot as the sole is almost bald. See the patch of grey right in the middle.

Yet, surprisingly, the mileage for each pair of shoes are 375km; 383km and 374km respectively. Can you believe it! The shoe with the lowest mileage got the most wear and that is made worse by the fact that the  Adidas Exerta is a trail shoes and used exclusively for trail runs and in that type of rough terrain should suffer more damages but did not. The LunarGlide is my current favourite pair of shoes and reserved for races and longer runs and the Fastwitch is used for shorter runs and shorter races.So it proves one thing. Not all shoes are created equally so relying on the time tested 6 months or 500km to 600 km is not good enough. Need to look at the condition of the shoes and replace accordingly.

So what should I get?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gain Weight & Run Slower

So I been agonizing over my lack of form this year. I thought I got it figured out that the reasons I been running slower are:

  1. Age – Soon gonna be half a century old. Cannot expect to be able to maintain the same type of performance.
  2. Mileage or rather lack of mileage. Since 2008, has been running shorter distances and average mileage per week is about 30km. Certainly not sufficient to even maintain previous speed.
  3. Speed – again the lack of speed training. Speed training or interval training or tempo run is something I don’t really like. Without that, how to possibly improve?
 And now to add on to my excuses, a new discovery. This year, I consciously put on another 4 kg +/- 1 buffet dinner. Reasons being that I didn’t want to look too gaunt and somebody claimed a little bit of weight can put more power into my run. But now I found out that actually for every 1 pound of weight lost, I can (or should) get up to 2 second faster per miles. So if I reverse that logic, for every pound of weight gained, I will run 2 second slower per mile. So I gained 4 kg which works out to 10 pounds which if I read this table correctly means I would have run 4:22 minutes slower! And which is just right for the type of timing I have been getting for my half this year.

Ah so now I know the real reason why I am slower this year. Time to lose that extra 4 kg. But maybe can wait until next Chinese New Year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Runner's Guide to Surviving the Haze

The haze is back and the streets are noticeably emptier with less runners. Er what happened? Scare of a little smog? Like a friend loves to quote.. ''what don't kill you makes you stronger". So for those who still want to run in the haze here is the ultimate survival guide to running in the haze.

1. Don't want to breathe in the air? Wear a mask. But not any mask. Studies have been made that show that the ordinary masks you get from the local pharmacy is not good enough to block out the little bits of pollutants. Get this instead.

2. Can't stand the smoke in your eyes? Wear a goggle. Not any pair of goggle but one that cover the 2 eyes and the side of the eyes. Swim goggles will do just find but for a better and more comfortable fit, try the bigger half face type.

3. Got asthma or some respiratory problems? Hello, why are you thinking of running in the first place? But if you die die (touch wood) must run, don't breathe. No air intake = no problem. Oh right, sorry just realise only 1 type of people don't breathe i.e. dead people so if you not dead and seriously die die (pun intended) wants to run, carry an oxygen tank. You know like those divers. And carry it often enough, and next year TNF comes around, you won't have any problem with a teeny weeny 2 litres hydration bag!

4. Allergy to the millions of rubbish floating around in the smog? Wear a wet suit (the one that comes with the oxygen tank will do just fine) or better still, wear a anti-contaminant suit. Cover up from head to top and guarantee no problem.

And there you have it. 4 set of gear to run through the haze - actually can probably run through a gas attack as well.  And just for a limited period only - this special design running suit at a special prize for my friends. Place your order now!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brooks Launch

Went out and got this beauty for $69.90 a real steal nevermind that it is 1 season too old.

Have been contemplating one of those minimalist shoes but there doesn't seem to be a lot in the market and wasn't too sure whether such shoes can see me through the lsd. The Brooks Launch is supposed to be one of the minimalist shoes in Brooks range and was the best debuted shoes in Runner's Worlds  Winter 2010 guide. This is a light weight trainer that is supposed to provide 'just enough cushioning' whatever that is. More of its specs here.

Anyway, reviews here and here of the Brooks Launch doesn't seem so bad so can try try. Of course, the key selling point is its color. And how did it respond on the road?

I took it out for a 15km run on Saturday. First impression it was extremely light. The cushioning was good and it absorb a lot of the impact from the ball of the foot. Usually if I was running with the Saucony Fastwtich or Zoots Ultra, I would have feel the sole burning within 5km. So there are some advantage to a thickened cushioned sole. The toe head was a bit narrow though cos I could feel some friction between the big and 2nd toe. Or was it due to the way the laces were tied (I went with the original lacing straight out of the box) or the new Nike socks that I was wearing. The shoe was also not as flexible as I like but still I think I did managed to get some mid foot running out of it. It feels like the Nike Lunar and I think it is a close comparison. Overall, I am pretty please with it considering its price. This shall be my training shoes for all the long runs.

Date of Purchase: 15 October 2010

Cost: $69.90

Purchased from: Sportslink White Sands

Worn in races:

4 Dec 2011 Angkor Wat Half Marathon

Retired: 22 April 201

Total Mileage: 579km

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Drink and Run

Who says runners shouldn't drink alcohol?

Obviously, the people behind these marathons have never heard of such prohibitions or they firmly believe, wine glass  in hand that drinking and running are pared for the course.

1. The Mother of all Wine Marathon: The Marathon du Medoc

2. Can't wait to drink up? How about the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon? In fact there are so many wine and run half marathons in the US that it's almost enough to make a marathoner gives up running!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Buay Song Buay Kum Wan

The soreness and the aches have disappeared but in its place is this feeling of disappointment.

I thought through the race the past few days- what went right (nothing) and what went wrong (everything).  No doubt it's just 10 minutes off my target time and considering the conditions I was in, that was not a bad achievement. But heck, in the first place I should never have allowed myself to be in this condition. When was the last time I had cramp while running? Way back in 2008 at the Borneo Marathon! And with so many runs all over MR, Bukit Timah and Zheng Hua, I had no excuse. It was a poor run, a very poorly executed race.

When I do a race, I like to give my best. It is not about timing. Never mind if the timing is lousy as compared to others but I am satisfied if I can do what I call a perfect race.  It is about completing a race in one piece without cramps, without hitting the wall and being able to walk normally immediately after the race. No crab walk, no vomiting, no dead exhaustion. So by all account, Saturday's TNF was not it for me.

So I now buay song, buay kum wan. Me think there is unfinished business to take care of here.. which means I be back!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Series of Unforeseen Events - TNF 100

A friend I talked to was in awe when she heard I was doing the TNF 100. Aiyah, I told her, only 25km lah! No big deal. Today, after completing the TNF 50km duo, I would like to change that to "Freaking 25km. Can die!". Yes while a friend of mine is happily traversing 250km in the Sahara Desert without a complain, here I am just  doing 25km and whining like a baby!

I had trained adequately or so I thought. I done so many runs in MR that the total number of runs this year exceeds the total number of runs there over the past 5 years. I ran the Rifle Range Road, Zhenghua and even went up Bukit Timah Hill. I also went to Lor Asrama even though I knew that we the 25kmers were not running there. I thought I did enough but unfortunately, it fell short, very short.

It all started well enough though. 4 pairs of us started together. My partner was of course M. In fact, I did I was the last one to cross the start line and remained so until the ranger station. I ran at a very comfortable pace. The target was to finish in 3 hours 30 minutes which could mean a 8.25mins pace; more than sufficient time to complete or so I thought. First 5 km - 35 minutes. 10 km - 1:11. A 7 min pace. I happily told M we were way ahead of our target time and if this continues, we could possibly finish in 3 hours! But I spoke too soon. We were out of MR by then and running on this mountain bike trail which we have not done before. It was narrow and had a lot of up-slopes. Needless to say, by now we were tired and like most of the other runners, we took to walking whenever we encounter an upslope. Actually not just that, I walked at upslope, walked when the ground is too rocky and walked when the downslope is too steep. The next 5 km took us 52 minutes! That was how slow we will! So the 3 hours was not going to happen. Back to 3.30 then. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it should still be achievable.

The Bukit Timah Quarry

I was so happy when we hit the
 by now very familiar Zhenghua pipeline reserve there. We were finally on the return loop! But out on Rifle Range Road, the first of the unforeseen circumstances struck! I suddenly felt the presence of an old foe - the dread cramp! Coming up on the right calf! I immediately switched to walking and continued this pattern - walking whenever I feel the cramp coming and so I slowly plodded on until Rifle Range Link just after the stream when finally the cramp hit hard. And so I was forced to walk from that point on until the Ranger Station when I took a chance and tried to resume running. 20km done 2 hours 53 minutes. In my current condition, 3:30 looks very remote.

5 more Km to go!
And then out on the road after the ranger station, I went dry - my water bag that is! Unused to carrying a hydration bag, I thought I still had water but there was no more! What the shit! I had passed the ranger station and there was no water point at the Island Country Road. Looks like it going to be a long long 4km! I run walked and continued with this and at one point was recovered well enough to  run at a comfortable pace. And then the last of the unforeseen event struck! Or rather the MR jinx struck! While trying to give way to a group of runners coming up behind me and avoiding a group of walkers, I somehow lost my balance and took a tumble.Immediately, both right and left calves went into full blown seizure! Apart from some surface bruising, I think I hit the hip hard cos now it hurts like hell whenever I walked!

My first souvenir from the race
But I managed to drag myself up with the help of the nice angmo hikers who even offered me their drink and trotted the final 2 km to the finish line crossing it in 3:40, 10 minutes past the target. M did slightly better - finishing ahead of me by about 6 minutes.

Sad but well, serve me right for being so contemptuous about the distance. Will I be back for next year? Will I go on to do the 100km duo? Don't bet on it cause I think I got enough to last me a life time!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Used Shoes Wanted

A common problem that the more ‘pro’ runners face is what to do with used running shoes. Typically, for this group of runners, they usually wear their shoes up to 600km or 8 – 12 months after which going by the manufacturer’s recommendation the shoes has to be  replaced as the cushioning would have break down etc etc. However, most times the shoes still look relatively new and certainly in very wearable condition. Throwing them is a big waste especially considering that there are so many people in other countries who don’t have shoes.

But now or at least for the time being, there is not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 lobangs to trade in or give away your used running shoes.

  1. Running Lab is offering a $50.00 voucher for each running shoe traded in. The shoes must be clean and in reasonably good conditions. The trade in period starts from 1 November and runs till 30 November but the offer is valid until 31 January 2011. Other terms and conditions apply, of course.

  1. Royal Sporting House is offering 25% off a new pair of shoes (house brand only) 15% for others, when you trade in your used shoes. Offer valid until 17 October 2010.

  1. Adidas. Understand that Adidas Singapore is also offering some sort of discount for trade in although can’t seem to find the information and details anywhere.
 By the way, this ad is for the Adidas Philipines trade in but I like it so much, I can't resist posting it here

  1. Athlete’s Circle is collecting used shoes to be sent to Nepal for the needy people there. The collection will be on until 27 November 2010. Please note there is no discount or trade in for this. This is purely a charity project.
 So if you got some old but fairly good condition running shoes lying around, why not consider trading it in or donating it. It’s for a good cause.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I Run with Music

It is quite surprising that having been running for so many years, I have never ran with music before; music in my head yes but not in my ears. I am not used to having something stuck in my ears or a dangling wire about me whenever I moved so I have never gotta around to using a MP3 when out for a run. However, I do know that some studies have shown that running to music actually helps in the running so when I got the chance to test drive the Sony Walkman W252, I grabbed it.

So on Saturday took it out for my maiden 'run with music' and to live up to the spirit that the people from Hill and Knowlton said - to 'stress test' the W252, the run was a long 20km. The night before, I had dragged a mixture of English and Chinese songs from the Princess' pc. Adjusted the volume to what I thought was a comfortable level although M said I was talking very loudly which means the volume was still a bit too loud. But to me it was probably just alright as I could still hear the surrounding sound. (Uncle here has to sound a word of caution - do not blast the player at full blast - it is bad for the eardrums and also runners need to be aware of the surroundings, in particular traffics and other road users coming up behind)

So how did it went? First, the earphone sits very snugly and there was absolutely no slippage or bounce. It wasn't too heavy either and after a while, other than the music, I didn't even noticed the earphone. Also, there was no jump or skipped track despite all the bouncing and running up and down the slopes. Indeed the music really took the mind off the miles (or KM as we said it here in Sg). Along the usual distance from Upp Pierce to Lower Pierce, despite the late start, I took 2 minutes faster than my usual time. Is it really the music or psychological?

Just towards the end of the run, it started to rain. Just nice to test the touted water resistant feature of the W252. Even with the rain and my tons of sweat, the W252 continued going on without any undue side effects. Despite the short charge on Thursday (I think it was charged for less than an hour), the W252 went on strongly for the 2 hours that I took to complete the 20km. According to the specs, it can last 11 hours on a full 90 minutes charge so I think there was enough juice in it to go far longer. Maybe I should bring it along for next week TNF 100 to distract the mind from all the slopes?

Finally, if you are looking for a nifty MP3 to bring along on your run, the Sony Walkman W252 will fit the bill very nicely. At the recommended retail price of $129, it is very reasonably priced and you get a rugged player without all the wires and extra weights.

And oh by the way, Jay Chou and running do not go together, if you know what I mean:)

NB: The Sony Walkman W252 tested in this review was made available courtesy of Sony Singapore

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walkman W252

Someone up there must like me. Just after I talked about having free products testing, got an email from Sony Singapore to 'stress test' their latest product. Talk about coincidence!

From the maker of the original Walkman, Sony has now come up with the Walkman 252, a MP3 player designed specially with the runners in mind. Which makes me wonder, why not call it the Runman 252? Er I guess Walkman 252 sounds better than Runman 252 right?

After a short 1 hour of charging, the Walkman 252 is ready to go for a run but unfortunately I am not so let's look at the features first:

Out of Box

 The most unique feature of the Walkman 252 is that it is 'wireless' but not wireless as in bluetooth or wifi. One of the big bugbear of runners who run to music is the annoying earphone wire and the need to carry the MP3 separately using an armband. The Walkman 252 cleverly overcomes all this by incorporating the MP3 into the earphone so volia - no wire.

It is sleek and looks damn cool. The MP3 comes in 4 colors, Black, pink, lime green and white. The test model I have was black all the better to blend in with the hair. Wait a minute, maybe I should have a white piece since my hairs are all white now! At only 43g, it is light weight and fits snugly in the ear.

The other main feature of the Walkman 252 is that it is water resistant. That should eliminate the perennial problem of most runners that the earphones get ruined by all the sweat from running. The Walkman 252 is supposed to be water resistant from fresh water, tap water and sweat but no swimming though! And no washing or rinsing under the tap.

Switching it on and off is simple - just magnet it together to switch off and un-magnet it to start playback.

Under the Hood

Its comes with a 2GB storage enough for roughly 500 songs. According to the press release, this is due to finding the right balance between the usability, performance and affordability. For this release, the playback is a solid 11 hours on a full charge of 90 minutes. It also has a Quick Charge function which allows the 252 to play up to 90 minutes with a short 3 minutes charging. Unfortunately, it does not come with a separate power adaptor charger so charging is only via the provided USB stand.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pipeline Reserves

On a hot sunny morning, 5 of us decided to tackle Bukit Timah Hill. The last time we came this way, we started from MacRitchie Reservoir and ran out of steam at the foot of the hill. So this time round, we played cheat a bit and started from Ngee Ann Poly which is like 1.5km away from the foot of Bukit Timah.

Still, it took a lot of effort and a fair bit of walking to reach the summit. And then to return to the foot. That short distance from the Poly to the top and down to the foot took us almost 45mins. [shake head]. Like that how to complete TNF in one piece?

Anyway, from there we went on to Rifle Range Road and then climb over the crash barrier somewhere in the middle and down to the Pipeline reserve. The last time I came here, we only reach the last year support table location but I have always wanted to go the full distance and see how far the pipes lead to (yeah I know it's Johore) but up to which point before it become 'unrunnable'. Unfortunately, the hot weather and slothfulness got to us and we ended up only at Zhenghua Park before we blakan balik.

With this run, I just realised I have completed the whole of the North Face route! Yipee. While others do it in 1 run, I did it over 5 runs. Ha ha ha.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fresh Air Fund - NYC Marathon

Unfortunately no I am not doing the NYC or New York City Marathon much as I would love to unless somebody want to sponsor me?

From time to time, I get requests from people, mainly strangers to promote some sites or review some products. These have include websites like painting, testing of some computer software, etc. Most time I ignore them unless it is something self serving (my interest of course) or a request from a friend. Sad to said though, is how come I never get a request to test something cool like Garmin watch or new shoes? That one I will gladly write more? So how about it, Nike, Asics, Adidas, 2XU?

There are times when I get requests to write about a cause and generate some publicity for it and most of these I am very happy to oblige and do my little bit to help. But of course I do find it strange that some of these requests come from overseas. I don't really think my little blog is that well followed but like I said anything for a good cause.

The NYC marathon is one of the big 4 marathons in the world (together with Boston, Berlin and London). This year it will be on 7 November. A special feature of some of the oversea marathons is that most of them are big on charities and charities organisation can sign up and runners can pledge funds for these charities and run for the charities. This year, one of these charities is the Fresh Air Fund, an organisation that provides free 'summer experiences' to children from disadvantages communities.

So anyway, if you are reading this from NY or anywhere in the USA or the World and is taking part in the NYC marathon, why not consider signing up as a Fresh Air Fund runner? More information about the Fresh Air Fund here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

POSB Run for Kids 2010

2nd year running I'm doing this event as a run marshal instead of as a participant. This time round, got upgraded to the 4.5km. The run started  a bit late and as usual it was hot in Sengkang. But still the participants don't seem to be affected too much by the heat.

Just about 1 km after the start, saw a guy went down clutching his chest. OMG, a real life crisis. Wiped out my phone to call the chief marshall but fortunately for the chap, there was a medic nearby and when he came I chased after the pack of kids. Those darn kids can run damn fast.

Had an enjoyable time though. I ran, walked, ran again, walked. It was interesting to see especially the young kids most of them still in primary school completing the 4.5km in fine form while the adults were struggling.

Some of the highlights:
The run and bike marshals pre-run 

Participants waiting for the start of the 4.5km race

Runners on the verge of completing the race

The Run and Bike marshal's post run

More photos on facebook

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Socks

So there I was walking aimlessly at the sale and then I saw this:

This looks like a perfect fit for barefoot running. Very light and thin and totally flexible. And only $15.90. So I grabbed one just to try try.

A quick search on the internet and found out it is called a water socks for people who engage in water activities. Nevermind, still can run right?

The first opportunity I have, I took it out for a short run. So how did it feel. First, it was slightly too big. I had chosen size 43 cos when I tried on the regular 42, it felt a bit small but the minute I started running, I knew it was too loose. The feeling was like it could fly off anytime. In fact I think if I just give a flying kick of sort, it will definitely fly. Maybe a pair of socks would help. Then I started getting irritation just below where the tongue should be right on the instep. Oh oh, this could be the start of a blister. A quick stop to check what's wrong and discover it was some label affixed there that was causing the problem. So probably need the sock after all!

Anyway, on with the run. The sole was thin enough to feel every little piece of pebbles and roots and what's not on the ground but it provide sufficient protection. Other than the fear of it coming off, it felt like, how to describe? running in flip flops. But anyway, as the run progresses, got more comfortable with it and managed to complete 40mins without any issues.

Have I found the perfect solution to barefoot running? My joy was marred when I turned over the shoes or socks to inspect the sole and found that it had worn down considerably. At this rate, it wouldn't last another 20km. 

Oh well back to square 1.

Anyway, while surfing, came across this review of similar water shoes here. Hmmmm maybe just maybe....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Barefoot Running

I am still curious enough about this barefoot thing. I am convinced by all the literature out there and the testimonies from runners (yes I mean you Mr PuaJ and a few others). There were a few doubters too but overall I think the pro outweigh the con.

Nevertheless, I am not prepared to go out and run barefoot all over Singapore. Firstly, I don’t like all the stares and secondly I don’t really relish the thoughts of getting my foot cut on nails, broken glass, drinks stubs etc. And of course, there is always the big B – blisters which my left foot seems in particular to be very prone to. But confining all my barefoot runs to the stadium track seem too restrictive. Yet kiamseap me also don’t think it’s worth spending over $200.00 for a pair of VFF which is what appears to be the only option currently available in Singapore and which to me is just a pair of glorified foot gloves.

At the end of the day, I believe that since we are talking about barefoot running (not forefoot), there is really no need to have a pair of minimalist shoes or any shoes in fact. What is required is only a foot protection system and the people behind the huaraches idea has got it right. Having said that, I think it is not really practical to make a pair of huaraches. A runner friend did one recently. He told me he paid about $12.00 for a pair of black rubber sole from a cobbler and a pair of SAF shoelace. Guess what, the thing gave way after 4km. So dollar for dollar, that is $3 per km which is kinda expensive compared to the typical cost of a running shoe and a lifespan of say 400km.

After looking around, I think the best option is to get one of those Panther track shoes that I used to wear when I was just a skinny little kid back in the late seventies and early eighties. Those old enough will remember that it is thin at the sole and very soft without any cushioning. That I think will do nicely as a foot protection for barefoot running. Problem is, is it still in production nowadays and available here in Sg?

And then while out shopping one day, I came across this pair of shoes which cost only $15.90 and 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Silly and Stubborn

I have always heed the age old advice of never wearing brand new attire for a race. I even use it as a mantra to all my running friends.

So what behold me to ignore my own advice? Maybe it is vanity, maybe it is old age. As everybody knows, old people can be silly and stubborn.

So what did I do? To complement my black look, I decided to put on a brand new pair of black Injiji toe socks. This to go with the black Zoots calf sleeve, black Zoots tights, black/green Nike t and black/orange Nike Lunarglide. And what did I get? This freaking blister! and 1 bruised toe nail!
Oh and it has to be the socks since I have worn the Nike Lunarglide for a few long runs including the KL Marathon without any problem. Oh well maybe I just go sockless?