Click here for the latest on RunEatGossip »

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 1 Training

The haze took a breather this week and so I managed to do a full week of training. 

Started the training on Monday with an easy 8 km run round the Pasir Ris Park. No haze and the runners were out in full force. Air was pretty fresh next to the sea.

On Tuesday, as planned, we went to Safra Mt Faber. Singapore got no mountain but still got to try doing hills. Started from Safra and ran via Henderson Road to Morse Road and made our way up to the summit and then down to Kampong Bahru side. Along the way saw many speedy runners from Safra. Think they were on the way back. How in the world do they manage to start so early? We made a u-turn and ran back up to the top before going back down to Morse Rd and back to Safra. Total distance was slightly over 8 km. Not as tough as I had thought but then again its only about 100 metres high. The up part was about 1.1 km with a gradual rise of probably 30 degrees. Think probably good for another loop but its okay,  start slow and progress slowly.

Did a short interval on Thursday. The idea is to do all sort of training runs to cover all base. Haha. Maybe a bit unscientific but I think good for getting the lungs to work hard. May need that later.

Wrapped up the week with a run at Bukit Timah. The original plan was to do at least 20 km but got a bit lazy and ended up just slightly over 17 km. Did the usual route from Ngee Ann Poly to Diary Farm via the KTM track and the Dairy Farm Quarry. Went into the Wallace Trail but got stuck behind a group of uncle and aunties hikers and who refused to give way on the narrow trail. One of them was blasting Air Supply on his phone or MP3 player for everybody to hear! What an inconsiderate bunch of fellas! Made our way up to the  Bukit Timah summit via the Regas(?) Path. Again got stuck behind another group of mainly lady walkers and again these people did not observe proper trail etiquette and blocked us from moving forward. First time Molly went up this way and she found it very tiring like what I experience when I went up this place the first time. 

That it for week 1. Hopefully the haze will continue to stay away and we can go into week 2 smoothly.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kancheong Time

K. So I am a wee bit kancheong now. It is just slightly under 3 months to the longest race I going to do so far. And I have barely  started training for it. The haze  of course didn't help. 

It all started last year when I decided to run a 50km race to celebrate my 50th birthday. But I left things a bit late and somehow the year slipped by and I didn't sign up for anything. So I did the next best thing. Sign up for one this year. Nevermind that I have not run a full marathon for the longest time. To make it worse,  this is a trail race not merely a road run and the cut off time for it is a whooping 15 hours which means it is probably going to be tough as hell.

To kick off the training, I went and did a 25km trail race in Thailand in January. That turns out to be relatively easy but after that, the momentum was not maintained and the weekly mileage continued to stay at 30 km, definitely not something that is adequate for the purpose. But last week decided to use the Muar Cross Country Run, which was a half marathon semi-trail race to relaunch the training. But the haze kicked in and I lost 1 more week. And with lots of races and photoshoot assignment coming up in the next few weeks, plus the haze, I really don't think I can prepare sufficiently for it.

And how do one train for a trail race of 50km when Singapore is all so built up and the only trail we have is MacRitchie and Bukit Timah which while we called the latter a hill is just a small little mound in comparison.. There  going to be a climb of at least 1.5km with total ascent of 3.5km. Where to find such altitude to train in here?

Anyway, the next few weekends, haze permitting, will see me traversing Bukit Timah and MacRitchie and at least once every week I will be at Mt Faber trying to make the best of whatever we  have, for what it is worth. Anybody care to join me?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running in the Haze

Past week with the PSI shooting way past the safety limit,  runners in Singapore and some part of Malaysia have been left without their weekly fix. 

Of course a little bit of haze couldn't put off people like me though. Me and the sidekick, we did a run on Tuesday evening when the PSI was about 130 in the unhealthy zone. How does it feel like running in the haze? We started from our usual place at the foot of the block next to the park connector. We then ran the usual route to Pasir Ris Beach Park. By  the time I hit 3km, my throat felt so dry and irritated. So this was how it feel like to run in the haze. I had to stop  for a drink at the toilet something that I don't usually do for such short distance. By then the eyes was also watering and the air smell bad. 

On Thursday, the PSI crossed the 200 mark.Still we decided to go out for a run but at the gym. But to get to the gym, we have to walk 900 metres from our place. This time the air was really bad and I don't think I even want to try running in the open. We covered our mouths with our towels and went direct to the gym. I think we would look like a clown if we wear a mask and run.

So the conclusion is - if the haze is real bad as in the naked eyes can see it, then it is not good to run in it.  Go do some cross training - swimming is not recommended though. Better to use this period as a recovery period and rest the legs.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Muar Cross Country Run 2013

Have heard a fair bit about the famed food of Muar so when we had the chance, we decided to go up there. The fact that there was a trail race was a bonus. So a group of us led by the Incredibly Macho Dude and his petite little wife hopped onto the coach and off we went for a weekend of makathon! Sadly, the famed food turned out to be a big disappointment. Hopefully the race will make up for it. 

We were staying in Muar town, I think and to get to the race site where the race pack collection was held, we had to walk there. We took directions from the locals and I think, down there nobody walk or cycle and we were directed all over the places and ended up walking 2.5km in hazy and hot weather before we reached the Chung Hwa High School. There were only a few people there. The race pack collection was short and sharp. Unfortunately, the sidekick discovered that she had been wrongly placed under the Men’s category even though from whatever angle I see her, she still looks like a woman to me! Oh well. Since we were there for the run and she wasn’t podium material, we left it at that. Just run!

We woke up at 4.45am the next morning. By now, we have found a shorter route to the site, thanks to the wonder of modern technology – the GPS. So we were supposed to do a warm up run there but all of us ended up walking the 1.8km distance there through a dark neighborhood. The stillness and quiet of the morning was broken only by the occasional vehicles and the loud call to prayer from the nearby mosque.

We reached there Chung Hwa High School again. There were probably only about 1000+ participants from what we could see. There was a big group of Safra runners complete with Safra and Singapore flags as well. In fact, we met many more Singapore runners friends there including the omnipresent Mohan. I believe Singapore based runners accounted for more than 10% of the total runners and form the 2nd largest contingent after the Malaysians. 

The setup at the start line was rather basic. It was just a banner with the word Start and a safety tape as the start tape. And oh yes, there was a group of young ladies doing some sort of energetic warm up which in most events could attract a lot of attention but in the darkness, nobody could see them well and they were generally ignored with most of the people focusing on a video wall which was playing the race from last year.

We were “flagged off” at 6.30 am sharp. We ran along this seemingly never ending Jalan Junid. It was still pitch dark when we were flagged off and as we ran along the road; we passed by many nice beautiful houses. The scenery changes with the light and as it grew brighter, the houses changes to shophouses and with dawn breaking, into kampong houses and forest along the side. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Erke Women Running Shoes Review

Finally after several runs over various distances, the sidekick is ready to give her opinion of the Erke Women Running Shoes.

But the problem is - M doesn't want to write so I am gonna try paraphrasing her here.

Look:  She likes the colour and design. Generally I do agree it looks fairly nice. In fact, some of the ladies who have seen it also like the color scheme. 

Weight: The shoe weighs 215g. Fairly light weight unlike the traditional running shoes. M said it was light and comfortable to wear.

Feel: The sole is made of rubber and initially she was not used to the rather bouncy feel of the shoe. Running beside her, I can hear the loud sound of the shoe as it hit the floor with every movement. She didn't like the bounce. Too much she said.

Cushioning: According to M, there is sufficient cushioning despite the low heel to toe drop. 

Flexibility: The shoe is soft and flexible enough for her to run the usual mid foot

Water resistance: M don't like running in the rain so there is no chance to do a wet test. So I did the next best thing. Pour some water on the upper to see how fast the water can seep in. Unfortunately, the water got in pretty fast although most of it stayed on the upper and did not trickled down to the insole.

Overall: After several runs, M has kinda gotta used to it. She wears it for short run though as she said it heat up over longer distances. In her opinion, the shoe is suitable for short training and easy run and not for long distance runs. She would recommend it for beginners, people looking for a cheap but good pair of running shoes to kick start their running.

The Erke Women Running Shoe is available at all Sportslink outlet and retails for $69.90 although the last time I went to one of the outlet, it was on the offer shelf for $49.90.

NB: M's pair of Erke Women Running Shoes came courtesy of the people at Erke

Monday, June 03, 2013

Sundown Marathon 2013

After a few sleepless nights and days of torture , the day or rather the night dawn? The day of the Sundown Marathon. Heck, I wasn’t even signed up for this shit and I as kancheong as the sidekick. She complains of upset tummy which I think is more like butterflies than real pain. Funny, considering that this is not her first marathon. Maybe it finally sink in that I not gonna be running side by side with her?

Anyway, the kancheong part – just to show how kancheong I was. We drove down to the race site at about 10.40 pm. I got out my camera, my media pass and walked with her to the race site. The plan was while she goes to the race pen, I will go to the front, flash my media pass and take pictures of her (errr - of everybody) at the starting line. We reached the race village and I started fiddling with the settings. Hmmm something wrong. The camera is not working. Open up the battery compartment and shit… where is the battery? Then I remember – it still in the charger……. at home. Oh well, nevermind I have a spare but its in the car at Millennia Walk. So I walked back while the sidekick went ahead. And I reached the car and took out the camera bag and … battery! Die. The spare was sitting inside the battery grip which I had conveniently left behind at home to reduce the weight! Sighed…. By this time, it was too late to walk back to the Race site. And I probably can’t spot her even if I did so off I went after sending her a short SMS. 

2 hours later, I am now at Garden by the Bay East somewhere around the 36km mark. I didn’t expect her to reach that fast but a few of us have decided to kaypoh a bit and cheer on the runners here. After all, she had set herself a target of 5 hours which means she will only pass along this way about 4 hours after the start. So I had a long wait. We brought with us some coke, hot drinks and heat rub for our friends who were running.

The first few runners had already passed when we reached. Marcus set up his vantage point to shoot for Running Shots and we started cheering the runners. The front runners were all fixed on the race and most of them probably didn’t even realize we were there. None of them stop for our drinks even though we offered it to them. The next wave of runners came later – those hoping to finish between 4 hours to 5 hours. Some of them stopped when they see us – to chit chat, get a drink but generally they were in a hurry and did not dally too long.

I expected the sidekick to be in this group. I see her "very the up", though she is very short :) During our training runs, she was doing well and averaging about 7+ minutes pace and I expect her to do better during the race. In fact, I was optimistic that she could even do 4.30. But she did not appear. Not even when the 5 hours pacers passed. Which made me more kancheong. Did she cramp up? Did she dit the wall? Was the stomach upset she complained about real after all? But eventually she came into view. She stopped for Brokie's famed honey water before moving off. But her 5 hours target was gone not unless she could run the balance 7km in 40 minutes which I doubt she could - not after running for 4 hours +.

By now the main bulk of runners were coming in hard and fast, oh wait some were not so fast. Quite a number were walking by now and we hit a sweet spot with a lot of them because we had a prized commodity with us - heat rub and water! It seems the water station ahead of us had ran out of water tle and those who were desperate enough, summoned up courage to ask for water from us. There also seem to be no aid station and our heat rub was in hot demand (pun intended). I do hope in our little way we had helped to make the rest of the race easier for those who managed to get the drinks and the heat rub from us before we too ran out.

The sidekick managed to finish in 5 hours 10 minutes. She complained that there were certain sections along Tanjong Rhu where there were bottleneck and passable only 1 or 2 at a time and she had to walk these sections. In addition, some stretches were dark and there were empty gel packets, banana skins, cups and bottles strewed all over and she had to gingerly jog these areas so that she won't slip. Excuses  , excuses.... But I think overall she was quite satisfied with the results considering this is her first night full marathon and she was running this distance alone for the first time too, meaning I was not there to run with her. But then again, I think if I was running, she will probably end up with a 6 hours + timing!

Looking at the runners enduring sleep and tiredness to complete this race, I am glad I am not running. It certainly isn't easy to run against the body clock and the humidity and gruelling distance. On top of that, most runners appears to be very ill prepared to take on the challenge which makes me wonder - why did they do this? For the medal or finisher tee?