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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!