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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Figuring out the Cause

I got a fair bit of well wishes. Most of them are the usual get well soon. But from my colleagues, a number came with a reminder not to run too much. Because I am the only chap in the office to run, they think that the running caused the injury. Of course, technically, that is not wrong. The injury was a direct result of running but the question that I have been muddling over is - what was the actual cause of the current injury?

Was it really a result of running too much? I really don't think so. Compared to a lot of my other running friends, my weekly mileage pales in comparison to what they are doing. Most weeks, I am averaging about 35km spread over 3 to 4 sessions which works out to an average of less than 10km per session - certainly not a lot by any running enthusiast's standard.

Which leads to the next likely cause. Was it a result of my slightly more unconventional footwear? I now wears a myriad of different shoes - from a conventional trail shoe, to the stability Zoot Ultra+ to a minimalist wannabe the Brooks Launch; a real minimalist Terra Plana and then there is the Tyr booties and finally I run barefoot occasionally.  Not for me sticking to one favoured brand or certain type of shoes. I wear whatever I get foc or is cheap. Did these cause the injury? If so, I should have got it like a year ago when I started the trend instead of now much later when my mileage is very much reduced and logically my legs have gotten used to the changes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marina 21K

At $58 and $48 respectively for the 21km and 10km  distances, the Marina 21K has got to count as one of the most expensive local running race. The lure was an early bird opportunity to run in the brand new Bay East at Garden, part of the Gardens by the Bay, a giant garden scheduled to be opened only in mid next year. For me, it was 'triply' expensive as I had to pay for 3 participants (me, M and the Kid). Of course, to add salt to the injury (this time literally), I had to sit this one out as well. What a bummer!

The event didn't got off to a good start as well. In addition to the expensive race fee, the route was announced extremely late, in fact just 2 weeks before the race leading to all sort of speculation including one from me

Then the lack of a goodie bag raised another howl of disappointment. Why? Not that the organiser had promised any but for the price the participants were paying, they had rightfully or not expected something more than the usual t-shirt and medal. The organiser didn't help by keeping silent. Maybe they got a bit worried after the Tri-Factor debacle last week!.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trail Running 101 again (actually part 2)

Now for the “heart ware”. Trail running is not like road running. Generally, it takes about 20% more effort to run on trail than on the road so if you are wondering why you are not able to maintain your sub-60mins pace for a 10km, fret not. It is the terrain. Not you.

That said, here are some stuffs (from own experiences, friends, and glean from the net) on running trails.

Target ahead. Watch where you are going. Not left or right. The scenery may be beautiful but if you are not watching where you are going, you may end up eating mud! Look at the ground 3 to 5 feet ahead of you. Do not look down! Scan the surfaces, watch out for that root, rock or mud which may cause you to trip, fly or slip. What your eyes see, your brain will register and move your legs accordingly. That is unless you are so fatigued that the brain cannot process the signal first enough in which case

Take Five. If you are tired, slow down and walk. Stop if necessary. Drink your water. Eat something light. Best time now to enjoy the beautiful view of the reservoir or smell the flower. There is no shame in walking during a trail run.

Attention. Most trails are narrow. Give way to faster runners, mountain bikers and the occasional wild boars. Instead of trying to outrun them, if the path is too narrow, stop and wait for them to pass otherwise be prepared for a feast of expletives.  Keep to the left unless there is a ravine there.

Enemy Ahead. Be alert for danger. Watch out for overhanging branches. Look out for wasp or hornet’s nest. You don’t want to run smack into one. Also, there are snakes, scorpions and all sort of wild creatures in the forest. The forest belongs to them. Avoid them if possible (detour, stop until it go away). Try not to crush any insects, maybe except the mozzies). Another creature to avoid is the Mountain Biker. Most trails in the Bukit Timah areas are actually mountain bike trails which mean they get right of way. Stand to one side and let them pass if one is approaching. At their speed, sometime it is not possible for them to brake. You won’t want to get run down by a bicycle going at 50km per hour!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

TNF Trail Run Series #6 Woodcutter's Trail

Since I couldn't run, RSM Jancy or Brokie as she is more famously known has contributed the field report for the final TNF Trail Run Series at the infamous Woodcutter's Trail. Below is her account of the run with photographs from fellow run leaders, John and Kelly.
Talks about the much anticipated Woodcutter Trail (WCT) Run started on Friday afternoon when parts of the island started to rain.   Those who run trails often enough will know why we the TNF Run Leaders were lamenting.   Slippery…. Mud…. Wet… wash shoes…. Hahahaha….. But aren’t all these what trail running is made up of?

Chris, Molly, Kelly and I arrived in one car at the Upper Peirce Reservoir Car Park  slightly after 7am.  :P  We were late…. :P   The runners were already interacting among themselves.   Some tying their shoe-laces, some doing final adjustment to their hydration bags, many bantering….  After Chris gave a snappy briefing in his happening new shoe, off the merry runners went.  

We trotted for about 500m, I think, before we came to the entrance of the WCT.   There wasn’t a prominent sign stating that.  Someone who knows the way has to show.  This is precisely what we run leaders were there for.    To show the way…..

We went over a mini orangey yellow mud ridge and came to a rusty green barricade.  What barricade?  Nothing can stop us!  Some went over the barricade while some went around it on the right and down the slope.  After this, it was a long windy, undulating and laden-with-obstacles trail.  

Obstacle #1 : Pools of muddy water.  (Milo Peng?)   

Those who didn’t want to be slowed down will just bash through or leap over.   For me, I wouldn’t want to find out how deep the pools were.  I avoided them all by slowing down to a walk and looking for the driest path around them.  Heh….

Obstacle #2 : Swamps of mud.  (Chocolate Fudge?)

This one I don’t know how the rest did it but I did the same as what I did for #1.   This is to minimize the effort required to wash my TNF Trail Shoes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Deja Vu

Not bad. My earlier guess. Unfortunately, it is not tendonitis but a metatarsal stress fracture. The affected bone is the2nd toe and the site is almost at the joint portion which means it is more serious because the more movement the more the fracture will develop. The earlier x-ray at the A&E did not show up anything but today's x-ray shown very clearly the break in the bone.

So end up with this super big and super heavy shoe and a pair of clutches + mc for another 21 days.

Wonder whether I can get a refund for the Marina21?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Break

It was good while it last. I knew my luck wouldn't hold out for so long. It's been rare for me not to sustain one major injury a year but the last major injury was the stress fracture in September 09. There were some minor scares here and there in 2010 but nothing that developed into anything major or force me to lay off running for a longer time.

But this time, it looks like going to be a long break. Was running at Meridien JC. Had ran the 2km from home to the JC without any problem. There, I had barely ran 100 metres of the track when I heard a loud snapping sound from the left foot and then the pain shot in. Walking, not to even mention running was almost impossible as I couldn't even put the foot down.

Quick check of the web reveal 2 possible causes: tendonitis (hopefully is this) or worse case scenario: metatarsal stress fracture. However, an x-ray at CGH expectantly revealed nothing.Will need to go for a follow up at the Sports Medicine Centre a few days but meantime, there goes the final TNF Trail Run, the Marina 21K but hopefully should recover in time for the No Frills Run in August.

Meanwhile, it's makan time!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Never Stop Exploring -TNF Trail Run #6 Preview

The mysterious Woodcutter's Trail. Much has been said about this trail. Where is the exact location? How to get in? From which end and how not to end up in the swamp or the helipad? No such problem for us as we prepared for the final TNF run in the series. We got the service of a "tour guide" and we ran, very smoothly I must said from one end to another and back again.

But was the route as difficult to run as it was made out to be by those who have went there before? Certainly, one of the most difficult thing I find about the place was that we were running mainly in heavily forested area along a small trail passable most of the time to a single person. Everywhere looks alike and one can easily get lost if one take a wrong turn. Furthermore, the ground was full of hidden and "visible" dangers. There were rocky paths, leave strewed paths that cover roots, stumps and what not's that could easily trip an unsuspecting runner. Looking at the ground is not enough, there were many fallen branches, trees, vines hanging every which way waiting for the poor runner to run smack into it. Then there were some water crossings - small little streams with fishes which if one is not careful, could mean a nice little bath. Enough said, a picture is worth a thousand words and here are some pictures of what participants in the next TNF run at Woodcutters Trail can expect.

Most  of the trails were in densely forested area

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

No Frills Race

I have signed up for another run and busted my quota for the year. Suppose to do only 6 but had good reasons to sign up for the 1st No Frills Series of Run organized by Running Guild.

First thing of course is to lend some support to running pal Ben Swee and his team, the people behind the Running Guild. Their objective for these series of runs, in their own word “….wished we could return to the good old days where races were just a few bucks and they were kept simple, pure and people ran for the sake of the experience, the joy, and the exhilaration of racing with fellow friends/competitors and/or just want to have fun outdoors and meeting new friends, some even become lifelong partners” is so admirable. Okay maybe I don’t qualify for the lifelong partners part of it but yes especially in these times when every other race organizer just want to make a quick buck and oversell the race like the Marina 21K race (which I will reserve my full ranting in another post after I collect the race kit this weekend).

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

GE Women 10K 2011

Last year the sidekick skipped this race but this year due to the considerably attractive pricing (as compared to the other races), she is back for this and so poor old me got to drag my butt down to be driver and supporter.

As usual, parked myself somewhere just in front of the start line. Seems like all the other guys also got the same idea and soon the stretch of Nicoll Highway was filled with photographers and staunch supporters. Spotted a few guys all decked out ready to run alongside their angels. 

 After the flag off, I moved towards the finish line but choose to place myself about 100 metres away to avoid the mass of photographers who had amass there. There had a fantastic view of the first few runners coming in.

First was who else but a Kenya.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sleep Can Wait

My own version of the Sundown Marathon but a mini one. Since M had decided to skip the Saturday run, and too lazy to wake up early for my own run, decided to do my run in the night. After a nice dinner and reaching home only about 10pm, managed to set off only at 11.30pm. A record for me! First time starting a run so late!

Started off as usual down Pasir Ris Town Park before running along Drive 3. Damn, outside of Downtown East, the pavement is always crowded with pedestrians and even at this time of the night, had to take evasive actions many time. Luckily, after the traffic light, it was all clear. The air was fresh despite the fumes from the passing cars. Decided to run along Loyang Drive inside the factories area instead of Loyang Ave to avoid the traffic. Of course eventually had to go out to Loyang Ave and continued along the dreadful boring long road. Wondered how the ultra runners can do such a 'mental' route? Finally turned into Cranwall Rd. Sianz. The slopes here seems never ending. Took a wrong turn and ended up at the Aloha holiday camp and had to u-turn back partially. Nevermind, that adds to the distance.

My initial objective was to do 20km seeing I had no 'shadow' with me this time and was free to roam and run at will. But upon reaching Changi Village and after getting a drink, while the mind was willing, the body was weak and decided to turn back. At this juncture, it was only 8km done. Ha ha so much for 20km!