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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