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Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 to 2013

A super bad flu kept me off running for the whole of the last week of 2012 and the year ended quietly for me. No big last race like the MR 25 Ultra or anything spectacular. In fact,unlike the past 2 years, there was no race for me at all in December.

For 2012, I had decided to run less and I thought I quite succeeded in that with less races, less long trail runs and even the weekdays runs were reduced. Yet after reviewing my logs, I was surprised that in fact mileage for the year was still higher than previous years. For the whole of 2012, I clocked a total of 1,502km which works out to roughly 29km a week. For 2011, it was 1,328/26; 2010: 1665/32.  
In 2012, I took part in 5 races. In 2011, it was just 3 in 2011 but a whooping 9 in 2009 and 2010.

2012 actually has been a good year for me. Other than the sprained ankle at the TNF 100 in October, I had no major injuries unlike in 2011 when I had the metatarsal stress fracture which probably accounted for the less than desired mileage then.

So what does all this figures imply? And why am I running less? Have I lost my zeal for running? Or am I getting too old for this shit?  The truth is - neither. Or at least I hope so. I am taking it easy on the advice of my doctors and friends so that I do not pick up unnecessary injuries. 

That said, 2013 is going to be a brand new exciting new year. I have already committed to 3 races, all increasingly longer in distance one of which will be my very first ultra! After photographing and admiring all these ultra runners I have decided it's time to do one myself abide even if it is the shortest ultra distance available. 

Have a blessed healthy 2012. Keep on running!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Night Trekking at Cameron Highlands

A lot of my friends had during their long ultras, ran in the forest in the middle of the night. Me? Never did an ultra and have never step foot in any jungle or forest in the night at all until now.
To pass away our time because there is absolutely nothing to do in Cameron Highlands at night, we decided to sign up for a night trek.Our guide said the whole distance should be about 2.5km and it will take 3 hours to finish. In my heart I was like lol, we probably will cover the 2.5km in double quick time but...Of cours, with our luck, it continued to rain and so here we are all decked out in the disposable raincoat in the middle of a jungle adjacent to a river, a village and higher ground on our left.
The benefit of having a guide was soon apparent when within a few steps of entering the trail, he stopped to show us this stick insect. And as we continued on, we became more and more aware of the little critters that were all over the place.
We also saw a green forest frog. In fact, subsequently we saw a few more of the same species. They were so well camoflauged that if not for the guide pointing them out to us, we may have missed them seeing that it was totally dark in the trails.

The guide also showed us this weird little creature. At first he mistook it for a firefly. But on closer examination, it turned out not to be but was in fact a caterpillar. And the interesting thing about this caterpillar? It glows in the dark!

Next we also saw this long legged creatures. It is as I understand a centipede although the guide claimed he has not seen it before.

More on the night trekking here

All in, the whole trek took us slightly over 3 hours out of which about 2.5 hours was spent actually in the jungle and the rest was the return trip to the car via a kampung road. So yes despite the rain, we took longer than we expected. In fact, I believe if not for the rain we could have spotted more creatures but the rain has forced them to take cover leaving us silly human to walk in the rain and waiting to get a cold!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Trekking at Cameron Highlands

Most people who goes to Cameron Highlands think of the strawberry farms and tea plantation. After all, there is no  shopping mall, theme park or anything of interest for visitors. Except the mountains and jungles. Which most sane tourists would only admire from the road and not venture into.

Anyway, we got sick of visiting farms after farms and decided to do some trekking up one of the hill. We didn't know what to expect and having heard tales of people getting lost in the jungle, we decided to get a guide although we were told it was possible to go without as most of the trails were clearly marked.

We told our guide we wanted something exclusive and that we did not want to join other people as we anticipated we will be slower in our movement. We obviously didn't know what we asked for because we got more that what we bargained for.

The guide brought us to this place. He called it a private trail as opposed to public trail, that is, trails that are known only to his company. 

We started at the foot of a hill just in front of a vegetable farm. Our first objective was the summit of this peak which involves an almost 70 degree vertical climb over soft muddy ground. 

Distance to the summit was not too long - just about 300 metres but it took us almost an hour to climb, clambering over the dense undergrowth and ducking under many fallen trees. 
We finally reached the summit which is just a narrow strip of rock barely 2 metres wide. Luckily we had the guide with us otherwise M would have freaked out having to walk over this area.

That's our guide leading the way.

And that's our next target, said the guide. The next peak. Gulp!
And so we continued our way, slithering and sliding over some areas, crawling under trees and bashing  through thick undergrowth which do not seems to have been trodden on for ages. 

The Princess crawling under a tree
But we were well rewarded with impressive scenes of what the guide called "mossy forest" which was actually thick growth of moss over the trees, branches, grounds and everywhere.

After a tired but rewarding 3 hours trek, we made our way back but not before having to climb over more steep cliff side like this one. 

Overall, it was an exhausting 5 hours trek made worse by the intermittent rain that falls every now and then and more challenging than we had expected but nevertheless a wonderful way to spend the day rather than visit the farms/

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cameron Highlands

It has always been my desire to run in a cool place. Cool as in cold. And the chance came when we went to the Cameron Highlands for a short getaway. 

Weather during the time we were there was terrible. We got our "cool" but most time it came with rain. Temperate was around 15 degrees in the morning and the fog was so dense in the earlier part of the morning. A little bit later and the traffic would have built up into a big jam so it was really difficult to fit in the run. Finally we managed to squeeze in a short run on the day of our departure.

We started off at about 7.15 am. The plan was to just do a short 30 minutes. What I wanted to do was to see how it feel like running at an higher altitude. Our hotel was at about 1600 metres above sea level which was about as high we can get start of from. 

Out of the hotel, it was a down hill run along the relatively empty road. It wasn't as bad as I thought. The altitude. Going down, we ran at an easy pace stopping to snap some pictures. We ran downhill for 2 km eventually reaching 1,500 metres above sea level which means we have descended about 100 metres only.

Running downhill
 Ok that was easy enough. And now for the difficult part. Running the 2 km back up. Temperature was a cool 16 degrees and great for running. But within a few pace of running uphill, I had removed my jacket and was sweating buckets, the first time I had done so during the past few days here. 
Running uphill
Aside from the fact that it is rare for us Singaporean to run in such weather and altitude, we also don't have any real hill to climb. And even though the ascent was only about 100 metres, it was enough to reduce our already slow pace to an even slower 7 minutes pace. And now a days later, our quads are still aching from the exertion.

But overall, I enjoyed the run. I only wished it could have been longer.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Kid

The kid started his running in mid 2009. Since then, a lot has passed. Back then, he was in the poly. Now he is in the Navy. 

I remembered he started off with just a short 2.4km. Since then he has moved on to 10km distances and even took part in some races together with us. For one reason or another, he did not venture beyond that distance. Being in the army didn't help. The emphasis was on fitness and not so much long distance running and with him almost permanently on courses, there is hardly little time to run. Even in camp, with the strict emphasis on safety, self running out of the PT sessions are a no-no.

So we were surprised when he declared that he wanted to do a 21km to commemorate his 21st birthday this week. Transiting from 10km to 21km without any progressive training runs is a no-no for me but what the heck, you only get to be 21 once so we didn't to support his endeavor.

Started off last week with a 15km run at Punggol. He passed the test with flying color completing in in 1:30 hours. So this the week of his birthday, we went to do his virgin 21km. We were blessed with shower of blessings. A heavy rainfall shortly after we started did not dampened our spirit but in fact made it easier to run. And despite this being his first 21km, he blew us away by finishing faster than both of us.

Welcome to the club. The orientation is now over!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Old Masters 老前輩

At 50 years of age, I feel my age when I run. Yet out there in the great running world, there are so many people who are so much older and still running strongly. Like these people.

This gentleman is from Malaysia. He is  70 years young I think. He does not just run. In fact, he runs ultra like I run 10km race! And he travels regularly all over the region to participate in races.

This guy is always seen at the local races. Bone thin but still running very strongly. He looks at least 60 years?

This is argubably the most famous veteran senior runner in Singapore. Mr Hong Fatt Kor. He is what 80 years old? You can read his interview with Run Society here.

Another very prominent runner especially in the MacRitchie trails.

Another frequently seen runner.  Not too sure how young he is.

This gentleman is I think between 75 - 79 years young.

And of course at the last SCMS, a very special guest turned up! 101 years Fauja Singh came all the way from the US to take part in the 10km race.

I don't think I will be running when I am 100 if I live to be that old. Heck, I don't even think I be running at 70! So I really admired and look up to these 老前輩. Wonder how they do it? Maybe I should try to do an interview with these guys?

Friday, December 07, 2012


The marathon is almost a week old. Maybe this comes a bit late but still it's worth a read I hope since there always a race round the corner.

Here are my secret weapons for a quick recovery:

1. Stretch immediately after the race
2. Take a cold shower as soon as possible after the race
3. Eat a good meal. For a good cheap local recovery drink - go for teh halia yes ginger tea
4. I like to put an ice pack on my knees and lie down with my legs raised up against the wall
45 Have a nap in the afternoon after the race

These are the standard prescribed advices from the pro: Chow Chug Chill

Running Times Hydration, Powernap, hydrotherapy, Instead of forcing out potentially helpful inflammation, aid your body in flushing out superfluous inflammation. Drink plenty of water, elevate your legs above your heart for a few minutes whenever you get a chance, take an ice bath and consume more anti-inflammatory foods. Whole grains, healthy fats from avocados and nuts, beans, leafy greens, and wild-caught fish promote an anti-inflammatory response in the body, but don't prevent local, potentially beneficial, reactionary inflammation.

Yahoo Sports Food, liquid, dry clothes, swimming, light exercise, light stretch, recovery run, sleep, cold bath

Quite similar right? And at minimum cost

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2012

This year unlike the past 2 years when I was not in town for this event, I am in Singapore. But like the past few years, I choose to skip this again and instead when down to snap some pictures.

Initial feel while walking on the Padang was that the organisation has improved. There were plenty of freebies available for the runners and supporters. However, one observation was the the free drinks were inside the runners finishing bay and not available to supporters. Security was tight, too tight in fact and the boorish and rude security personnel made it worse. I seriously wonder what they fear? They should take a leaf out of the Newton Challenge or even the Brooks Run Happy to see how to organise a party for runners and supporters.

This year the race again starts from 3 locations to reduce the jam but unfortunately they didn't plan for the finish leg which was again a big jam starting from the Sheares Bridge. With a total of about 53000 participants, something should be done to alleviate this situation which crops up year after year. Me think the least they should do is to cap the 10k numbers. According to the figures released, there were 17,000 full marathon participants, 10000 half, 20000 10k and 3500 Ekiden runners. 

This is billed as the Singapore Marathon so why are there so many 10k runners? Surely there are enough 10k race in Singapore to satisfy those who want to run the shorter distance and not clog up the route in such a major race. I was about 200 metres from the finish line and 3 hours after the 10k were flagged off at 7.15am, there were still plenty of them struggling to reach the finish line or worse walking hand in hand. Surely there is a better time to go on a date than this! 

There is a front page report in Sunday Times that the race may be split into 2 days when the Sports Hub is open in 2014. Hopefully that will come true and make it a pure 'marathon" for a better experience for the runners.

Anyway, this race marks the appearance of many "super heros" other than Catwoman and Spiderman/ Catwoman was missing this year but instead there were



Zorro not exactly a super hero but a hero nevertheless

And this group of Spidey, Hulk, Thor from the Avengers

This year event also appear to have more runners using this to promote their cause be it physical disability, Lynas or using it to raise funds for charity.

Participants in the wheelchair category

The visually handicap running with a sighted partner. Spotted at least 5 pairs of them

 And this gentleman from Malaysia bringing his anti-Lynas protest all the way here

Overall based on what I heard, the event organisation has improved tremendously. Now the next thing for them to do is to find a way to manage the crowd and make it a truly gold class experience for the runners.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Swissotel Vertical Marathon 2012

I have never been on top of the 73 storey high Swisstoel Hotel what more ran up instead of taking the lift. So when I was given the chance to go up, I grabbed the opportunity. Equipped with a media pass, instead of running up the stairwell like the rest, I took the lift up to the top of the world. What I want was to get a view of the skyline but unfortunately it was fairly cloudy and I didn't get any clear view although I did some decent shots. 

But more than the view, what I got was the determination and drive of the participants who ran up the 73 storeys. Mainly healthy young people but some oldish folks and some with very obvious physical handicap.

Young people hand in hand

This chap came from Malaysia just for this!

Where did Flash came from?

Singapore's son, Singapore Blade Runner after completing his first vertical marathon

Another physically challenged guy completing the gruelling 73 storey climb

More photos here