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Monday, July 30, 2012

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2012

It never amazes me the appetite the running community has for races. Races are sold out within weeks of opening for registration like the Nike Run and in the not too distant past, the Shape Run when it was sponsored by Nike. Same with the year end marathon. That is usually one of the fastest moving race despite it having a course capacity of more than 60,000.

This year was not exception. The race opens for registration on 6 July, a Friday. People started queuing overnight from 3 pm the previous day. Now I really don't know what is the point. Sure, there are some incentives like free registration, some freebies but is it worth the long overnight queue? Surely, the time spent wasted there is worth more when put to more productive use? 

As at the date of this post, the Ekiden, the 10km and the half marathon has already closed and only the full marathon and the kids run are still available. And that despite complaints of congestion, overpriced race, ugly event tees, poor transport arrangement blah blah blah.....

Just make me wonder, just exactly what is the attraction there in taking part in a over hyped,over crowded event? If it is the full marathon that is filled up, I will understand since there is only 2 full marathons a year in Singapore and that is more a challenge. For 10km races, at last count, there are another 9 races available from now till the end of the year and as for half marathon, there are 2 + the new and novel 9+22 km Passion Run and the Great Eastern Women 10k. So what is the attraction?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dog Attack!

Nope I haven't been attack by a dog yet but I had a close shave not too long ago. I was lucky compared to this lady and this lady but I am sure they will admit they are lucky too if they compare themselves to this gentleman.

Anyway, while it is generally pretty safe to run in Singapore, and there are not that many dogs or even other animals like monkey attack, still I was curious enough to find out how to defend myself in case it happened. So I turned to Mr Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Milan and this is what he advises: 

" I get very calm. Believe it or not, what will be instrumental in blocking the animal from attacking you is for you to be calm and unafraid. ........Once I have asserted myself, I claim my own space. Often, I use a walking stick, an umbrella, or anything I happen to be carrying and place it out in front of me, so I make myself appear bigger and feel more in command of my space. What I am saying with my body language is, I don’t want the dog’s space; I don’t want that tree over there, I just want this space that I am standing in. n Again, I am maintaining a very calm and assertive state. That energy creates a barrier that automatically demands his respect. I’m letting him know that I’m not afraid of him."

Huh? That sounds very cheem. And me think 99.999% of runners here don't carry any stick, umbrella  except maybe a water bottle when they run  so the advice might present some difficulty to carry out.

But I have this theory. Animal only attack when other animals including human intrude into its territory or threaten its young. So the right thing to do is to avoid going near to them. but if there is no choice, do not run away from them. I learnt this from my previous encounter. When I saw the 3 dogs, I stopped running and just walked across. They stood there and barked but made no other move. But when I thought I had passed them sufficiently and resumed running, they chased after me. To the dogs, it could be a game or it could be big fish eat small fish and if I run, means I scare of them so they attacked. I don't know but reading other advices from other websites, the consensus is don't run, don't do anything that will cause the dog to interpret as hostile. Wait until the dog lose interest and walk slowly away.

Will it work? Try it out the next time and let me know!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Uncle advice for Trail Running

It's the hot season and the runners are out in force in the woods and trails, partly to run away from the sun and also to prepare for the mother of all trail run in Singapore, the TNF 100 Challenge.

Many groups are conducting familiarisation or training run. Such run typically spans 20km to 30km. Ordinarily, a 20km run couldn't faze any hard core runner but a 20km run in the trail is a different ball game altogether. 

Whilst it is true that it is cooler in the forest, the heat is still there nonetheless and a runner will continue to lose water. Further, a comparative distance run on trails typically stretch up to 50% longer than a road run for the average runner. Therefore hydration is extremely important. Yet unlike said the East Coast Park or roads where one can easily stop at a toilet or drink kiosk to top up water, there is no such luxury in the forest. So runners should invest in a good hydration bag and get one to carry enough water.

The hydration bag can also be used to carry a basic first aid kit. This is one area a lot of runners neglect. When we did the TNF Trail Run series last year, 4 of the run leaders carried first aid kit. It is easy to pick up an injury in the woods - the chances of falling down and cutting oneself is extremely high, getting bitten by insects or worse snake etc. A good basic first aid kit should minimally consist of the following: spray plaster, antiseptic wash, bandages, water proof plaster, tweezer and cotton swabs

Finally, run with a friend. Accident can happen any time anywhere and a friend alongside can help when the need arises. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Running in the Rain will cause One to fall Sick?

Last Saturday I woke up to the sound of rain. Awww, we were all ready to go for the weekly weekend run. But since we had to drop off the kid at his camp, we decided to go ahead with a hope that the rain will stop by the time we reach East Coast Park. But the rain didn't stop and got a little bit heavier but it was still a drizzle. Now, I can't remember when was the last time I ran in the rain but I do remember it was lovely and so I was raring to go ahead with the run.

But of course I didn't get to go East Coast Park.  The sidekick didn't want to run in the rain. Like a lot of people, she believe that one will fall sick if one runs in the rain. The belief is that when one runs, the pores on the skin opens up to allow the sweat to come out. So if one runs in the rain, the rain water will get into the body through the open pores and the water will accumulate in the lungs and cause the person to fall sick, catch a cold which will develop into pneumonia! Fact or myth?

So does one really fall sick from running or going out in the rain? Anecdotally many people does. Like in the movies, they get caught in the rain and bingo, next day they develop a cold/fever.

But according to Dr Tan Swee Kheng; writing in the inaugural issue Run Singapore; a cold is caused by a virus and not rain. So unless the virus resides in the rain drop, it is not possible for someone to catch a cold or the flu from the rain. Ditto pneumonia. A quick search on the web also yield more or less the same conclusion. So running in the rain does not cause one to fall sick. Sure but I dare say not a lot of people is going to be convinced by this.

However, whilst running in the rain does not cause one to fall sick, running in the rain can still be bad for the health like
- slipping on the wet ground and getting injured. Running shoes are notoriously bad on smooth tiled pavement like what our gahmen loves to have on our walkway
- being pocked in the eye/head by an auntie carrying an umbrella
- or worse, kena hit by lightning. After all, Singapore has one of the highest rate of lightning activities s in the world

For the record, I did get my run in the rain after all although we started real late at 9am. But by golly, it sure was fun! And no, I didn't fall sick.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Races gone Crazy

Me think the race calendar in Singapore has gone crazy. Everybody is rushing in for a slice of the pie never mind that the pie is not getting bigger.

This month of July alone, there are 9 races. Last weekend there were 4. 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. This week there is another 4. Marina 21 on Saturday, Pocari Run, Shape Run and SIS Age Group 15km on Sunday. 

A quick count on the race calendar for the rest of the year reveals the following:

9 races in July; 1 in August; 6 in September; 4 in October, 5 in November and finally 2 in December. And that's not counting the hybrid races, the vertical marathon or those that I am not aware of. 

Runners have never been so spoilt for choice. Yet why is it that I every time I log on to the sgrunners forum, I hear grumbling about expensive race fee, poor goodie bag blah blah blah? Surely it is but a matter of common sense to participate in those races with a good reputation and not take part in all and sundry?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Republic Run 2012

After a break of almost 2.5 years, I finally ran another 10km race. By a string of injuries and timing, I have for one reasons or another not signed up or ran any 10km since the F1 Nature Run in April 2010.

Anyway, with a very much reduced running mileage in recent months, I approached this Republic Run with a bit of wariness. Sure I told myself no time target but I would be lying if I said I won't be devastated if I run beyond 1 hour. So all I hope for was just to go below 60 minutes. The signs were good. In the past 2 10km runs in the neighbourhood, I had clocked about 56 mins but those runs are not races and anything can go wrong. The other positive was the weather was great after an afternoon of heavy rain.

We reached Republic Poly about 4.30pm. The race was supposed to be flagged off at 5.15 pm but somehow it got delayed till 5.40pm by which time the sun had came back out. What a bummer! The crowd wasn't too big. Probably about 3000 plus but there were some serious runners there. Some Kenyans who eventually came in winners as usual. Anne Qi was there as well. And everybody seems to be so serious doing warm up runs here and there. And I thought it was a charity run?

I did my own "warm up" when I walked back to the car to get my sun glass and ran back to the start point after that but the start was delayed considerably so that was kinda wasted. The race was eventually flagged off by the GOH, who apparently was the cause of the delay as he was late!

We ran out of Republic Poly into Woodlands Dr 91. There was only a one lane closure and as I had started almost right at the back, I had to run hard to be able to pick up the pace. But maybe because the crowd was small, soon the runners started to spread out and I was able to run without having to force my way through the crowd or having people breathing down my back. 

At about 1.8km, the Kid (ok he no longer a Kid) overtook me. He and a friend were taking part as well. That was the only time he was behind me. I wisely decided not to follow him and ran my own pace. I was surprised that I was doing about 5 mins pace. It certainly didn't feel that fast. But I knew I couldn't sustain this type of pace. I skipped the first water point at the entrance of Admiralty Waterfront Park. We were soon running along the waterfront where I was stationed just 2 weeks ago during the Banana Relay. This time I was running there. Too bad there was nobody there to take my pictures with the Johore coastline.

At 5km, I was just over 25 mins according to my watch. I knew I have to slow down and then I saw the slope in the park. That was it. I slowed down considerably. But at this point, I knew the sub 60 was in the bag. There was no way, short of a disaster, was I going to take more than 35 mins to do 5 km. But the number of slopes in this latter half of the route was daunting. Other than the slope in the park, there was a longer slope along Admiralty Road West. Which was fine as what goes up must come down but at the end of the road, we had to do an u-turn and face the slope all over again. If that wasn't bad enough, we went into the Admiralty Nature Park and did a short stretch on trail. Which was fine again except that the trail leads to a zig zag slope much like the one after Hort Park going up to Kent Ridge Park. But that was about it and we were back in Republic Poly and I crossed the finish line in I believe just over 53 minutes. This could be a PB as the other 2 races where I did faster than this were non-chip race (the Mizuno Wave Run in 2005 and 2008). Yes for those too young to remember, there was a time long ago when not every race comes with timing chip.

Got to wait for the official results for confirmation but whatever it is, not bad at all for an old fogey who have been slacking and taking it easy. These old legs still got some run left. Next up - Yellow Ribbon Run.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Project Tummy Resurrected

I gave up on Project Tummy after 3 months. So what if I didn't reduce my weight to 75kg? The daily weight in isn't going to help. But surprise surprise, weighed myself recently and by golly, the weight has dropped to 74kg. The weight now fluctuates between 73.5 to 75.5Kg. Why such a big range? Don't ask me. Ask the weighing machine:)

But anyway I figured what happened was this.

In the first month or phrase 1, I was concentrating on losing weight via the classic burn more calories method. However, the way I went about doing it was not to exercise more but to exercise or to be more precise, run less. Instead of doing LSD, I switched to a combination of the now in fashion HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. As a result, the monthly mileage averaged around 120km.  Food intake was  as per normal. 6 - 7 meals a day. Ultimately I guess not enough calories were burnt.

In the 2nd phrase, I decided to watch my food intake using a app on the mobile phone. And true enough, for the period that I was monitoring, there were more "gain" days than "loss" days. No wonder cannot lose the weight. But calorie counting is too troublesome and I soon gave up and just forget the whole thing.

But I did do something else. I skipped 2 meals out of the 6 - 7 I take a day. The 9am office breakfast and the night snack were dropped. So sad no more late night chocolate. I also reduced my intake of the already less sugar soya drink to twice a week. Exercise routine continues as per normal.

And I guess this is what works. Finally, I was burning more than I was gaining. The trouser is a little bit loose now but I not measuring it yet. The tummy is still flabby but it's okay. No longer young so can't really be bother. So at the end of the day, weight loss is still a simple matter of burn more calories than take in calorie .