Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Birthday Run

This evening was the birthday celebration of one of the usual runners, Eng Hwa. We gathered early, and started off at 6.45pm. There was a large group tonight. I wanted to run a fast pace to finish early, as well as prepare for the MILK run this Sunday.

I ran mainly in front, along Chua, with Dennis following closely behind me. Dennis has this habit of drafting very close to whoever he could keep pace with. I ran without a watch, but I estimate it to be my 10k pace. When we were nearing Morse Road, leading up to Mount Faber, Jimmy Chow and Chua overtook me. I slowed down a little to prepare myself for the ascent. Jimmy and Chua ran straight ahead, whilst me and Dennis turned up along Morse Road. We ran the full stretch of Mt. Faber to the top, and ran down towards the Telok Blangah slope. When we hit the road, we saw Wong, EH and a few others running towards the ClubHouse. I tried to catch up, and Dennis was trailing farther behind. As we neared the ClubHouse, I overtook the group and sped to the finish.

We did a quick chnage, and proceeded to the Tze Char stall for a sumptious 7-course dinner, with house wine and fermented kiwi juice provided by the owner. It was a joyous occasion, and we were joined by other runners who did not run, but came for the birthday celebration dinner.

Distance Ran:9km___Time:50min___Pace:5:33min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:700 est.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A new 13km route via Margaret Drive

This evening we tried a slightly different route. We started off prompt at 7pm, and headed straight towards Tiong Bahru, passed the park, then ran along the canal route towards the Ridley Park area.

Foo and I turned right and when I told him that we were supposed to be going towards Margaret Drive, he gestured to turn back. We went back towards the first traffic light, and met up with Paul and the rest of the group again. From there, we took off, with Ong and Kumaran running up ahead, then followed by the group of Foo and Paul, with me trailing behind. As I was not familiar with this new route, I followed the quick pace.

Near to Margaret Drive, we took a turn into a car park, and then a trail leading into a exclusive private estate of lagr houses. We came out of Peel Rd, then ran along the stretch of Sweetenham Rd. As we were running pretty fast, I didn't have much time to admire the nice large houses. I will come back again next time at a more casual pace, and then enjoy the lush scenery in this area. We exit this estate into the old army camp at Dempsey Road. From here, it was familiar territory. I told Paul to move on and not wait for me, since I know my way back now.

I followed Paul out onto Minden Road, and from there, I took the usual route back along Ridley Rd area, Henderson Rd, and all the way back to ClubHouse. The pace this evening was fast, as I was intending to use it as a trial for my upcoming Milk Run this Sunday.

Distance Ran:13km___Time:1hr08min___Pace:5:15min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:850 est.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday LSD From MR To Seletar Reservoir

This Sunday morning's weather was great. The air felt cool. However, there seemed to be less people gathered at MacRitchie. Even the car park was relatively unoccupied. A few of us were speculating that it may be due to the end of the school holidays, and parents spending more time preparing their kids for school instead. The usual MF Runners were gathered - Adam (ad), Goola (g.), Eng Hwa (eh.), Derrick (d.), Hock Soon (hs.), Jimmy Tan (jim) and myself....huh, only the 7 of us. Met some from TP but they did not join us. Our plan was to run to Seletar Reservoir (2nd. toilet) and back, but this time taking the reverse way of Thomson Road first, then Upper Pierce, then OUTR, all the way, later coming back by Ngee Soon Rifle Range, and then back via MR Northern Route.

We started off at an easy pace. hs. was already in front, with the rest of us bunched along Thomson Rd. This stretch is where we normally finish our run, with the sun beating on us. So starting off here meant that it was still cool. From Thomson Rd, we turned into Pierce Reservoir Rd. and made our first toilet stop. Our friend, jim, was having the runs (stomach problems). He will try to catch us later, after his arty bombardment exercise. 6 merry runners carried on and once we reached the main gate along OUTR, d. decided to move ahead. I ran behind him for a while, with hs. and the rest. When d. hit Upper Thomson Rd, he continued. I decided to join the rest, since I am not familiar with the Rifle Range area.

5 merry runners then continued towards the road leading to EGC, and this was where I broke off from the pack 2 weeks back. I finally knew which route they took, and today we went again via this route up on over a bridge, crossing the scenic Seletar Reservoir. By this time, the sun was beating down on our backs, but still ok lah. As we approached the 2nd toilet, I saw Derrick on his return on the road below (to carpark A, which he normally takes). I whistled at him, and he waved. We bumped into some familiar faces and eh. friends at this point, and they told us how to get to the trail into Rifle Range. We skirted along EGC, and then moved into a smaller road...

All of a sudden, hock soon's ear got caught by a dangling stick of thorns. His whole head and body was pulled back. Goola exclaimed 'You've lost your ear!'. eh. and myself were so shocked. I quickly looked back to see if pieces of hs. ear were dangling on those thorns. Fortunately, there was no serious injury. g. apologized for cracking the joke, and scaring us. Wow...we were all awaken by was funny for us, yet the pain was with hs...we hope hs. won't mind us having a small joke at his expense...haha. eh. offered some water to cool hs. ear and cleanse it. hs. felt much better and we carried on, skirted around a fence of thorns, and finally onto Ngee Soon Rifle Range. This was a former range for live firing, and was no more in use. Adam and myself were having nostalgic moments of our army days, how we enjoyed being the butt party, holding up the targets for the firers. Also the amount of waiting time we spent waiting for our turns to fire. We ran for about 1.5km inside the range, and then moved onto another trail leading us to the pipeline that will bring us back to MacRitchie air-cond road. In fact this road at Rifle Range is even cooler than the MR one, and we felt like it was about 20deg or less...we were almost getting cold.

We chugged along, walking sometimes, through the undulating, slightly muddy terrain along the pipeline. We tried to jog, and walk over those muddy and undulating areas. I was following behind g. who was familiar with this place. Very soon, I hit out to the MR air-cond road, and immediately turned right to follow g. I looked back to ensure that ad was behind. After a while, we reached the toilet, and waited for eh. and hs. They came 15min later, and they actually thought we went the wrong direction, and went to look for us. That's why they were delayed. From here, it was familiar territory, and all of us ran back across the bridge, skirting the SICC course, up and down the series of road slopes, then into Northern Route. I felt ok, since we have had a couple of stops, so I increased the pace slightly. It was a lot cooler inside, and the number of trekkers and walkers seemed a lot less today.

When I finished, Derrick was already there chatting with a friend. He mentioned that he ran to Seletar R. via car-park A, and back along OUTR. I told him we went through a few new places. Very soon g., ad and the rest were back. ad, the newly appointed f&b committee immediately brought out his chilled 100plus. It was welcomed by all of us, and we had a very good, refreshing drink from there. We were discussing about some of the even longer routes, and g. and eh. were sharing about their adventures through track15, the 'Desert' route, and also the 38km route. We agreed that we should try them soon, and we were all given tips by the 2 experienced lady marathoners how we should prepare ourselves for these long runs. I will not say what the tips are here, because I think they are truly good tips. We were all very satisfied with this approx. 25km run, and with the carbo and water load from the 100plus, we decided we didn't need breakfast. We now look forward to trying out track15, and maybe g. can advise when.

Distance Ran:25km XC___Time:2hr25min____Pace:5:47min/km
Average HR:148bpm___Max HR:170bpm___KCal:1730KCal

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Singapore Runner's Community

My Running Blog has just been added to the Singapore Runner's Blogging Community, a new community set up by The Lonely Runner. This is a trial provided for all running enthusiasts in Singapore.

Do spend some time to check it out, and if you have a running blog, get it listed there too.

Keep Running & Blogging
The Dream Runner

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Short Hard Run - Labrador/Mt. Faber

This evening saw more runners turning up. I was feeling OK, except for a sore throat, and many of my running friends were asking me about my voice. We were to do a Labrador loop, followed by a up and down the top of Mt. Faber.

We started off fast enough. Chairman was just talking about getting someone to be a rabbit and have us all chase him for the heck of it. Soon, Mervyn and Dennis took the lead, and their pace was fast at first. I was just happy to tag along behind, and somewhere along Depot Road, a new rabbit emerged...SC Ong. Ong overtook the pair in front, and I quickly followed his tail. I know Ong to be one to set a good fast pace, and I decided then to do that pace...since it was about 10km pace. Very soon we overtook the pair, and I was running along Ong for most of the way to Labrador Park. We did a loop inside, and ran out towards the main road towards Mt. Faber. Along the way, we saw Chairman and the rest of the runners coming into Labrador Park.

Ong and I pushed on. I was feeling OK, but maybe my shorts were a little small, I was getting some chaffing. It was a tad uncomfortable, but I pushed on since it was just another 5km or so. We hit Morse Road soon enough, and up Mt. Faber we went. It was a hard, long climb up. It was my most tiring climb up Mt. Faber yet, and if not for the banana I ate before the run, I might not have the fuel to finish the climb. It was exhilarating when we reached the top at Cable Car Towers. We took a quick toilet break, and continued downslope all the way, and back to the ClubHouse. As we reached the ClubHouse, we saw Chairman coming in from the other direction. It was hard enough of a run for me, and I rewarded myself with a cool bowl of Cheng Thng at the hawker center thereafter.

Distance Ran:11km___Time:1hr03min___Pace:5:43min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:800 est.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nice, Cool Tuesday Run

It was drizzling the whole day. By the time we were ready to run at SAFRA MF, the rain had stopped. This seemed to be the case so far. Our runs have always been rain free, even on rainy days. This evening, there was a big event at the Club, and I almost did not get a car park. There were only a few of us running this evening, probably because of the rainy weather.

Strapped on my HRM, and ran a slow pace toward Canterbury Estate. By the time I reached the entrance to Canterbury, I was the last runner behind. Once into the estate, I tried to catch up with the rest. The weather was very cool and nice, and I have no problems running a little faster.

Once out of the estate, we have covered roughly 7km. We ran towards Labrador Park, and I ran towards the end of the Park, since I have not been to that part before. There was just a small tower at the end. I then did another smaller loop after that, before making my way back to the Club House. On the way out, I was running a faster pace along with Paul and Colleen. We reached the Club House, feeling still very fresh from the run. A great workout again.

Distance Ran:13km___Time:1hr10min___Pace:5:20min/km
Average HR:152bpm____Max HR:169bpm____KCal:880

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Enduring Questions - Can Supplements Cure Your Knee Pain?

-- Extracted From Runners World Magazine --

Thousands of runners pop glucosamine and chondroitin. How much do the pills really help? by: Amby Burfoot

If I had a big wad of bills under my mattress and decided to invest it in something running-related, I wouldn't buy stock in a shoe manufacturer, an energy-bar maker, or even a high-tech GPS company. I wouldn't open my own specialty running store, design a new sock for runners, or organize a Rhythm & Blues Marathon in New Orleans.

Instead, I'd sink all my cash into glucosamine and chondroitin, two over-the-counter supplements reputed to battle osteoarthritis, especially knee pain. According to estimates, worldwide sales of pills containing glucosamine and/or chondroitin could reach $2 billion any day now. It's a safe bet that the recent scare over the COX-2-inhibiting painkillers like Vioxx and Bextra has only accelerated supplement sales.

Runners talk, fuss, and worry about knee pain all the time, and when pain strikes, we often turn to glucosamine/chondroitin. A recent Internet poll at showed that 94.5 percent of respondents said they had tried one of the supplements. What's more, 79.8 percent reported that their symptoms "somewhat improved" or "greatly improved" after taking glucosamine and/or chondroitin. Less than one percent reported that "things got worse" with the supplements.

In a world that's often 50/50, this amounts to almost miracle proportions. So much so that I'm skeptical. At the same time, I can't help but be impressed by the pile of testimonials on my desk from runners who swear by glucosamine/chondroitin supplements.

It makes you wonder how two innocent-seeming pills could have such dramatic power. Glucosamine and chondroitin both occur naturally in the human body, but most commercial glucosamine comes from the chitin, or exo-skeleton, of shellfish, and most commercial chondroitin from cow or shark cartilage. Both have relatively low rates of absorption from the intestines, and yet both are said to promote healing of the articular cartilage in joints. It's the wearing away of this cartilage that causes the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis.

Why does knee cartilage wear out? "If I could answer that, I'd have a Nobel Prize in medicine," says Wake Forest osteoarthritis expert Stephen Messier, Ph.D., a nine-time marathoner and six-day-a-week runner. Sometimes, trauma from a football injury, skiing accident, or other mishap can lead to osteoarthritis, but so can overuse of a joint in individuals who are susceptible to such overuse. Messier points out that there are no studies showing that running causes, or doesn't cause, osteoarthritis. The problem: All existing studies are cross-sectional studies. These can only provide a snapshot of a given group of runners at a given time, and can't account for injured runners who might have stopped running prior to the snapshot. It will take a prospective study--a long-running video, rather than a snapshot--to prove or disprove the running-osteoarthritis connection.

Supplemental Studies
The medical literature in support of glucosamine/chondroitin is cautiously positive, though some observers are concerned that many of the studies have been funded by supplement manufacturers. This is particularly true in Europe, where the supplements are big-business prescription medications.

A recent meta-analysis of studies involving glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate (the most common forms of the supplements) to treat knee osteoarthritis was published in the July 14, 2003, issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine. This paper reviewed the best studies from 1980 to 2002, and concluded: "Our results demonstrated a highly significant efficacy of glucosamine on all outcomes, including joint space narrowing." The paper also found chondroitin "effective" on several outcomes measures, and added, "Safety was excellent for both compounds."

While several other meta-analyses have reached similar conclusions, most experts in the field believe the jury is still out. They're eagerly awaiting the results from the large-sample National Institute of Health's GAIT (Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial) study, due for publication this fall.

My favorite glucosamine study involved a group of Navy SEALS, and was published in a military medical journal in 1999. The SEALS were younger (average age: 43) and much more active than your typical person with knee osteoarthritis, so I figure they come closer to mimicking the stresses that runners face. Indeed, the study authors noted: "Osteoarthritis is not unexpected in this occupational setting, given the history of high levels of activity and trauma."

The SEALS all suffered from knee osteoarthritis before beginning the double-blind, randomized, 16-week study. Half of them took a supplement containing glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, and manganese ascorbate; the other half took a placebo. "The relief of knee discomfort was the most important finding of this study," the researchers concluded. "Knee osteoarthritis symptoms were relieved" for the SEALS who took the supplements, an assessment reached both by questioning the patients and by examining their knees.

Among the testimonial e-mails on my desk, the one from Bruce Truax is typical. A self-described "young 53" and a 15- to 25-mile-a-week runner, Truax tore his meniscus three years ago. When his knee pain persisted, his doctor suggested a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that gradually helped Truax return to pain-free running. "I've been using the supplement ever since," says Truax. "It's great stuff, and I'm a heavy runner at 245 pounds, so I really work the knees hard."

Orthopedic surgeon Robert Erickson, M.D., of Canton, Ohio, has been taking it as a prophylactic for nearly 10 years. "After my first 25,000 miles of running, I figured I needed all the help I could get for my second lap around the world," says Erickson, who has now reached the 50,000-mile mark. "I don't see any downside to glucosamine. It's relatively harmless, especially when you compare it to the Vioxx-like meds." Erickson has concluded that glucosamine is the more effective of the two compounds, a belief shared by many other experts. It's also much cheaper than chondroitin.

Before You Dose Up
Given all the success stories, it would be wrong not to close on a cautionary note. Glucosamine isn't a miracle pill, and it shouldn't be taken by all runners, not even all runners with knee pain. "Running doesn't cause arthritis, but running can aggravate arthritis, and too many runners are running through pain," says Klaud Miller, M.D., an orthopedic sports medicine specialist in Evanston, Illinois, who has knee arthritis himself, from a wrestling injury. "It's just not smart to continue aggravating your knees when they're telling you to stop."

If you have temporary joint pain, by all means try glucosamine or glucosamine and chondroitin. The products are little regulated in the United States, so go with a respected, big-brand company that produces quality products. This way, you're unlikely to have a bad reaction. Be sure to stick with the program for two to three months, as these are slow-acting supplements.

Don't use glucosamine/chondroitin to push through the pain barrier, however. That could lead you down the road to permanent damage. Run sane, not sorry. It's more important to preserve your knees than your running.

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Father's Day LSD

Today is Father's Day, and I have a program all lined up, culminating in a big western dinner in the night. So, there was no way I was going to miss this Sunday's run; I better burn sufficient calories so I can indulge myself at night. Already, i gained 1kg from a big lunch and dinner to celebrate my dog's birthday yesterday...haha.

I woke up hungry, grabbed a large bowl of cereal, 2 cups of coffee, and a banana. Hmm...that should be enough fuel to run even a marathon...hehe. Arrived at MacRitchie 6.40am and spotted Eng Hwa and Derrick, also just arrived. By 7am, we had Adam, Goola, Colleen, Yuen, Sok Hwa, and also Tay Lee Huat (TLH) & Ronald from TP. Since we ran the Seletar Reservoir Route last Sunday, we decided to go the Bukit Timah route, which will be about 22km to/fro. The army was having a run event too, and they had stations set up already.

We started off slow along the Northern Route, and I started chatting with Colleen most of this way. We spoke a bit about the upcoming Milk Run, and a host of other stuff, including MP3 music for running. Our pace was rather relaxed, and very soon, I had nice babes saying 'excuse mua'...of course I gave way hurriedly, and they passed, panting as they went. I was amused that for once, I was in the way of other runners in the woods...and they were very patient with me....haha.

We exited the trail in 24min, and compared with last week's 21min, this was like slow. No wonder, those babes had to overtake me...haha. We continued along the SICC road, and up the slopes. Because we had so much energy reserved, we climbed the slopes very easily...Almost caught up with the babes...they were like panting relentlessly by now. When our whole group gathered shortly, we turned into the trail towards Bukit Timah Reserve. This was familiar territory, and it feels so gooood.. to run the trails again. I had my trail-runners on, but still could feel that the grounds were wet. We ran carefully, and soon arrived at the road leading to the Visitor Centre. We ran on, and soon arrived at the guard house. Goola, Adam and a few others took the trail route towards the Visitor Centre, while Derrick, Eng Hwa, Ronald, TLH and myself took the road that runs further up ahead, and leading all the way to Bukit Timah Road. The five of us eventually ran the stretch of Bukit Timah Road back, whilst the other group went to the Visitor Centre...

The 5 of us continued along Bukit Timah Road towards Adam Road. There seemed to be quite a few cars on the road by then. We should have run this stretch earlier in the morning instead. Maybe we can do this stretch first the next time, running this entire route in reverse. As we were approaching a Petrol Station for a break, someone gestured and shouted Derrick's name from the overhead bridge. We looked up and saw this guy in a ‘stylo-mylo’ yellow suit waving at us. He was wearing a sporty helmet, with cool shades to boot. At first we thought it could be some Traffic Police or even a news reporter wanting to capture our running adventures. When he removed his helmet, we then realized it was Adrian, our doctor runner at MF. He later came down and told us he had cycled for about 30+km, about equivalent to 10km effort in terms of running. He wished he could break into the huge sweat we all were wearing. Adrian's racer and gear looked cool indeed. I think running gear should also look something like that...hehe.

After that short conversation, we picked up speed towards the turn into Adam Road. We estimated that there was another 8km to go. Since the roads were flat, and there were not much scenery left to admire, we moved quickly, turning left into Adam Road, crossing 2-3 highway exit/entrance points. As we neared Lornie Road, Derrick and I decided to turn back into the MacRitchie Trail, instead of running ahead with TLH and Ronald on the road. As we turned in, I recognized this part of Lornie Trail, the midpoint of the MR25 5km Time Trial Route. The cool shade from the forest was welcoming after the blazing sun on Adam/Lornie Road. Derrick and I sped up, and ran a very quick pace, climbing 2 muddy slopes, all the way to the zig-zag bridge and finally ending back at the carpark toilet area, where we started. We ran an estimated 19km in 2hrs, with about 10-15min stoppage time. I felt very strong all the way till the end. It was most likely due to the great fuel I added in my morning breakfast. I told myself, if I were to run long and need lots of energy, I need to at least have a banana or 2 in future. I had to rush off for my next appointment with my family, and did not have breakfast with the group. I could do with an even longer run, if I had more time today, but I was happy to have done my weekly LSD (Long Slow Distance) run.

Distance Ran:19km___Time:1hr50min___Pace:5:47min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:1400 est.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Evening Run to The Esplanade/Marina Promenade

This evening's run was a long one for me, as I was to follow Derek and Paul to reach all the way to the end of Marina Promenade and back, making it a 19km distance. The weather was fine, though a little humid. The turnout was good with close to 20 runners in all.

We started off at a reasonable pace, and soon I found myself running along Alexandra Road, and then turning off to Zion Road, where there was a canal. This was a better access way to The Promenade, and certainly beats the traffic-laden road. I remembered we took this canal path recently too. Anyway, soon we were at the Grand Corpthorne, and the entrance to the long path leading to the Esplanade. At this point, the runners decided to pick up pace, with Derek, Paul and then Wong moving up. I followed close behind since I wanted to run the full length to Marina Promenade.

Somewhere prior to reaching the 1st toilet at The Esplanade, I lost the front runners. When I reached The Esplanade, I decided to run ahead without visiting this water point. This was an additional 2.5km stretch to the Marina Promenade, and as I near it, I was hoping to see Wong, Paul or Derek run back. I didn't catch any of them, until we were about 1km to the end point, when Derek and Paul ran up to me. Then I knew they went to visit the toilet at The Esplanade. We made a stop at the toilet when we reached MP, and I had my first sip of water. Paul mentioned that he was feeling a little tired and was going to jog slowly on the return.

We had already run 50+ mins by then, and we started on the return at a comfortable pace. Derek was urging us to run faster, but I decided to take the slower pace as there was still at least 9km to go. I soon lost sight of them, and I made a water stop at The Esplanade toilet. I didn't catch them, and decided to make my way back to the ClubHouse alone. After running for another 1km, I heard someone call me, and I realized it was Paul and Derek. They were once again behind me. They probably waited for me, and I didn't see them earlier. From that point on, it was a matter of endurance, as Paul has aptly put it. I was still feeling OK, and had a little reserve. The banana I took prior to the run also gave me the strength I needed to push on. I finally reached the ClubHouse with about 1hr45min of running. It was another good long run for me...hmmm, these few times, I have managed to run more than 15km for weekly night runs....not bad a deal.

Distance Ran:19km___Time:1hr43min___Pace:5:24min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:1200 est.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Rainy Evening Run To Labrador Park

This evening saw a big turnout of runners at SAFRA Mt. Faber. Sometimes there could be few, but on some days like this this evening, there were like 20+ runners. All the lady runners were out in full force, with the notable exception of Teen who was tied up with work commitments.

When we started off at 7pm, it started to drizzle. We carried on anyway, and very soon, I was chatting with Eng Hwa along depot road. As we hit Canterbury Estate, I started to try to catch up with the front group. Sok Hwa was running close behind as well. Very soon, I saw Hock Soon in front, and moved close to him. I am now a lot more familiar with the tranquil Canterbury Estate, an enclave of exclusive private houses with mainly Ang Mohs living in them. Most of them have large canines as pets and protectors of the house. I am always a bit wary when I see those big dogs moving around the estate.

Near the exit from Canterbury, I caught up with the group of Adrian, Akira, Kumaran, etc. We proceeded to move into Labrador Park, and I ran two rounds of the 800m lap. In fact I was planning to just do one lap, and when Foo came along and mentioned that he was going for lap 3, I decided to do one more lap. On the exit from Labrador, I met Jaime aka Xiao Mei. She mentioned that she was waiting for the rest of the group. I proceeded to run out of Labrador Park, and all the way back to the ClubHouse. Though the weather was good today, I felt a bit lethargic, and wasn't quite in the mood to run too long. Looking at the time covered, I estimated that I ran about 13km, quite enough for a weekday run.

Distance Ran:13km___Time:1hr15min___Pace:5:46min/km
Average HR:160bpm____Max HR:175bpm____KCal:1020

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

From MacRitchie To Seletar Reservoir & Back

This Sunday morning was to be full of running activities. There was the MR25 X-Country Marathon. I had been thinking for a fleeting moment whether or not to join the Marathon, but decided against it in the end. I had not even ran my first road marathon, not to mention a X-Country one. Also, this one involved 4 loops around the MR Northern Route, which I know will be very tough, if not monotonous.

I woke up early, and my wife was supposed to join me for our Sunday run with the MF Runners. However, she didn't feel too well upon waking, and I went ahead instead. I reached MR by 6.40am thinking I could get a sweet parking spot, but instead, was surprised to find the place jam-packed. I then realized that The Adventure Race had took the whole of carpark A. I had to make a loop back and finally parked at the lower car-park. There were a ton of people already about. I bumped into Eng Hwa at the car-park and she mentioned that Teen could not make it. Teen must have had such a fun workout to Sentosa yesterday that she cannot roll out of bed today for this run.HaHa. Well, she will not know what she missed without reading this report.

I saw the MR25 running group registering for the XC Marathon, and I went ahead and chatted with some of my running friends, Sukaimi aka The Lonely Runner, David Ong and also Aik Hock. They had all signed up and were talking about their preparations. They told me that of the 30+ runners who took part last year, only 9 completed the marathon. I went like 'Phew! Fortunately I was not going to take part". In fact David was only going to run 2-3 10km laps.

I then spotted Sock Hwa, Goola and Chairman, and went up to them. Sock Hwa mentioned she had taken part and completed in the previous 3 MR25 XC Marathons before. This year she is skipping it due to injury. Along came Lai Chee, showing us her battle-worn scars, the latest on her knee. This is one tough lady, going for the Marathon with a fresh wound like that. Wow! Then heh, along came Andre, our new MF Runner. This was the first time for Andre at MR, and he planned to run about 10+km. Very good determination, Andre. He reminds me of myself when I first started to run last year. Very dedicated, and always willing to join in for runs with different groups of people.

We finally started off our own run, and the plan was to run all the way to Seletar Reservoir, and back, making that about 25km. Along the way, there are places where people can turn back for shorter routes of 15-21km. Very flexible. We had a smaller group today of Chairman, Sok Hwa, Eng Hwa, Jimmy Tan, Hock Soon, Goola, Wong, Chairman, myself. I think thats it? Ahhh Jimmy Tan, he too had not joined us for MR runs for about 2-3mths. I remembered I last ran with Jimmy along the same route too. We headed towards the start of the Northern Route, passing the small wooden-planked bridge, and into the trails. The weather this morning was excellent, cloudy with no sun. We ran a good pace in the woods, and came out of it at the SICC road in about 21min, faster than in previous runs, where we normally exit here at about 23min. Chairman asked me to move on, and since I haven't broken a sweat yet, decided to run ahead and wait for the group at the first toilet. I ran up the slopes of the SICC road, then turned left along the golf course overlooking the reservoir, and then along the long stone bridge to the first toilet.

The group came after a while, and Andre was following behind, not too far off. Well done, Andre, keeping to that pace. Chairman said he will allow Andre to run to the main gate up ahead, and then for Andre to turn back. I think Andre did just that, and that would be about 15km, and by no means an easy route (trails & slopes inclusive). I think Andre would have lost another kg after today's run...hehe. The run along the road to the main gate leading to Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR) was extremely pleasant today. It was like the air-con was on, and we were getting breezes of about 24-26deg. Jimmy Tan was calling it 'heaven'. All of us were very happy, and were enjoying the run very much.

We reached the main gate shortly. At this point, Wong, assumed the lead and turned left towards OUTR. I followed behind, and since the weather was good, Wong too picked up the pace. I merrily followed behind, and when we reached the end of OUTR, Wong turned back. I gestured to him that I was going ahead to Seletar Reservoir. I got onto Upper Thomson Road, and then towards the Executive Golf Course along Mandai. I looked back to check, and was happy to see the group was also going the same way. I remembered that Goola wanted to run all the way to Seletar Reservoir too. I ran along, passed the toilet at EGC and then towards Seletar Reservoir end. I ran along the longer, flater road towards carpark A. Derrick showed me this way the last time we were here. There was also a turn at carpark B towards the Tower, which I was thinking of trying maybe the next time. The route to and back will add another 4km of running. I took a short toilet break at the toilets at the Reservoir end, and took in the beautiful sight. There was a vast expanse of water, and many joggers and walkers were already about in that area. I waited for about 5min for the rest of the group, and when I didn't see any of them come up, I decided to run back and hopefully meet them.

Clicked my HRM and off I went. I had already ran 1hr13min, making it about 13km at this mid-point. I picked up pace a little hoping to catch up with the rest. When I went back to the toilet at EGC, I still didn't see any of them. I thought they might have turned back much earlier, and was a little surprised, since Goola normally will run longer than that. I continued on my way back along Upper Thomson Road, and then back to OUTR. At about this point, it started to drizzle. I was still feeling very good, and the rain gave me a good clean-up of my perspiration. In fact, till then, I had not even used the water I carried with me in my fuel belt. I just took water from the 2 toilet stops earlier. I was getting a little bored, since I have not seen the group for a good 1hr by now. I continued on faster, hoping to catch their backs. I reached the main gate again, and ran past it towards Lower Pierce Reservoir. I found it strange that I still have not seen the group. Could they have gone another way? I know Wong would have reached earlier, but I thought the rest shouldn't be that far off.

I continued on, and this stretch of the road always will have the cyclists coming up. There were not many cars along here today. I continued, and finally reached the Casuarina estate. The rain had just stopped, and the sun came up. I had a good drying up. Wet clothes always give me chaffing. I ran even faster here, hoping to catch the group maybe at the toilet up ahead. Reached there, no luck. Nobody there; I took a quick drink, did a little stretching, and off I went for the final 4km+ back to MR. I felt strong at this stretch, and the pace wasn't exactly blistering. There was no one to pace me, and I was just taking it leisurely. Within what felt like a short time only, I was at The Little Sisters Of The Poor building; turned into the woonden-planked bridge, and headed back to where we started at the MR toilet.

When I recahed back, I still didn't see our MF Runners. I did see David Ong, and we had a short chat, He just did 2 rounds of the XC Marathon, and had to go bring his kids for an outing. It was a good workout for him. He also mentioned that Sukaimi is in the top 5, and maybe could get into the top 3. Good for him, Sukaimi. I hope he wins something again. I then spotted Wong, and later Chairman and Jimmy. Andre and Chairman had already bathed and changed. They then told me that Goola and the rest probably went to CarPark B Tower at Seletar Reservoir, and when I came down, they were still up there. That explained why I couldn't see them at all. They were still not back from the run. I had to go for another appointment, and could not wait and join the group for carbo-loading and breakfast. As I was leaving in my car, Jimmy said this was the best weather he had experienced at MacRitchie. I agreed totally, and we all went back very satisfied with the run.

Distance Ran:25km XC___Time:2hr17min____Pace:5:29min/km
Average HR:152bpm___Max HR:168bpm___KCal:1720KCal

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lost in Botanic Gardens

This evening's run from SAFRA Telok Blangah was to take us to Botanic Gardens along the usual Ridley Park route. We started promptly at 7pm, and was joined together by 2 new runners, one of which was Lee's son, Joshua.

Chairman was leading today, and the pace was a tad faster, after we have past all the usual traffic junctions. I was chatting with Colleen for a a while about her preparations and experience in doing vertical marathons. I did not even realize we took a nicer route along some canal? Anyway, we soon reached inside the old Mindef, and out we came into the entrance of Botanic Gardens. Lo and behold, we saw two of our runners just coming out from Botanic Gardens. They have started much earlier, and even went quite far in. When we reached the mid-point where the fountains were, we decided to continue. We broke away, and I found myself trailing Ong and Paul. They were running at quite a fast pace, and I was following from about 25m away, not wanting to lose sight of them.

Botanic Gardens have recently undergone some renovations, and now a lot more paths were through. We ran through a series of ups and downs, and I was following till suddenly, I realized that the 2 were gone. I continued running ahead, and tried to look for an exit to the roads. After a series of wrong turns, I finally arrived at the Singapore Management University (SMU) campus @ Bukit Timah. I was surprised that Botanic Gardens could lead me here. I found a toilet here, and took a few sips of water, I continued on, and very soon I found an exit to the main road. It looked like Bukit Timah Road. I was amazed. How did I end up here. I checked my time, and I have been running for about an hour now.

When I exited to tha main road, on the left were signs pointing to Adam/Farrer Road, and on the right was Bukit Timah Road leading all the way to Sixth Avenue and beyond. I decided to turn right, and continued running along Bukit Timah Road. After about 1.5km, I saw SMU campus from the main road this time. The lights were bright, and I saw the famous track that Chairman and Teen talked about. This was the place they ususally got for swims. I turned in Evans Road, and continued on. Then I saw a nice restaurant by the road called The Prata Place. Ahhh...this must be the place that Teen told me the group go to for dinners afetre their workouts and swims at SMU. I would like to visit it some time. I continued on, ans asked directions from a fellow jogger, who confirmed that if I carried on that long straight road, I would hit Botanic Gardens.

So, on I went, and along the way, passed a few groups of runners. There was even a group of 5 girls running along that road. It was about 8.30om when I reached dempsey road area. I continued ahead along tanglin road, then to henderson road, all the way to ClubHouse. I was down to a slow jog the last 3km of the run. I wasn't prepared for the extra km from getting lost, and somehow, mentally I was tired. I must have covered at least 20km. Later on, Chairman confirmed that that route was easily 20km, and that they used to run that route all the way to Dunearn Road and back for 20km. Though I got lost, I earned a bonus run of 20km. I ate a pieceof banana, did a quick bath, and joined the group for a hearty dinner at our usual dinner haunt. Overall an unexpected but relatively pleasant run.

Distance Ran:20km___Time:1hr45min___Pace:5:15min/km
Average HR:160bpm____Max HR:170bpm____KCal:1400 est.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Weekly Tue Run To Kent Ridge Park

This evening we had a big group, about 20 runners, and led by Vice-Chairman Chua, we ran another new route. We went from SAFRA Clucbhouse, along Depot Road, then to Pair Panjang Road, up Bukit Chandu, all the way upslope to Kent Ridge Park, and onto the bridge all the way up to the top, where there was a tank.

We took a rest there, and waited for the rest to come, before running back. It was a steep descent the other way, then along Buona Vista Rd (99-curves), then turning to Pasir Panjang Road all the way back along PSA building, depot road and back to ClubHouse. A much needed workout for me.

Distance Ran:12km___Time:1hr08min___Pace:5:40min/km
Average HR:150bpm____Max HR:175bpm____KCal:850

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

30km Sunday Run From Telok Blangah To Marina South/Kallang

This morning's Sunday Run was decided hastily on Friday evening, when Chairman wanted to do it from SAFRA Mt. Faber. We needed a change from the usual MacRitchie Route, and this was the best time to try out a new, long route.

We started off at 7.10am from the SAFRA Clubhouse, and immediately headed towards the direction of The Esplanade. I did a rought count, and there were about 22 of us. We had a large number of lady runners today, and it may be due to the promise of a scenic run along the way. The pace was nice and easy, and even our usual speedster, Derrick was keeping to the relatively slow pace for him. We ere bunched together for much of the distance, chatting, updating one another of recent run events. Of course some still cannot resist talking about work, but mostly it was about what a nice day it was. Very soon, we found ourselves near Fullerton Hotel, where we took a short break, and a number of us were admiring the nice sports cars parked outside the hotel. At that point, we have covered 1hr 12min of actual running time, accounting for stoppages at traffic junctions as well. That would be approximately 12km based on a 6min/km pace, which was about that.

After the quick break, we moved along Shenton Way towards Marina South. We remarked that for many of us, it was the first time running along Shenton Way as a group, and ot was fun. Very soon, we turned into Marina South, and we saw many footballers occupying the large fields along the Marina. They looked at us, and we looked back, both groups impressed with each other's dedication and passion to be doing what we are doing on a early Sunday morning.

I basically couldn't remember the sequence of route and events, and all I remember was that we very soon reached the end of the Marina, where we could see the sea. It was beautiful, and we wished we could have been there earlier to see the sunrise. However, most of the babes with us remarked that they prefer sunsets...and so we moved on. We ran along the edge of the waters, across parts of the woods, and came to this small tourist park where we had our second water point. According to my HRM, we ran for 1hr 21min, and that would be about 13km. just before that, we took 2 nice group photos with the CBD as the backdrop....COOL.

The Mount Faber Running Group

At this juncture, Chairman announced that we might run all the way to Kallang River on the way back, and maybe take public transport home. That will be about another 10km. We could not decide, and continued to run the second half. We cut through a wasteland, part of the Marina to be developed into the second business hub. We soon reached the water point at Esplanade (this is the usual water point we come to whenever we do our night runs to the Esplanade). We had already ran 1hr 45min at that point, not bad, all the runners still looking fresh. The ladies were all feeling good too. At this point, we formed into mini groups and broke off from group headed back to ClubHouse (about 7km more), another ran towards the Nicholl bridge (adding another 4km to the entire route....I took this with Goola and Derrick) and another group ran all the way to Kallang River/Stadium?...then they did something special. I ran along with Goola (I hope I got her name right) along a nice, flat, scenic path. There were many joggers and runners, and a lot of them looked like serious runners too. We reached the Nicholl Bridge, toop a quick sip of our water bottles, and turned. On the return, we bumped into Derek and the group of Colleen, Evelyn and Tong Ling. We exchanged a few words, and off Goola and myself went towards the toilets at Esplanade. This was where we met up with Derek, and from here, it was all the way back to the Clubhouse. This last part was quite uneventful with the exception of us spotting this sexy babe walking by. Derrick and myself had weak knees for short while. We regained composure, and made it through the remaining distance back to Clubhouse. The traffic had grown heavy along the roads by then, and we had to make the usual traffic junction stops. We reached the ClubHouse with my HRM registering 2hr 55min of actual running time (though the physical time had already exceeded by at least 3.5hrs). Based on that, we estimate the distance to be 30-odd km. I was satisfied with the distance, and I attribute that to the good weather we had. Already, I am looking forward to our next long, Slow Sunday Run. The grapevine has it that it could be to Kent Ridge Park, or even to Sentosa Island itself.

Distance Ran:30km___Time:3hr___Pace:5:51min/km
Average HR:143bpm____Max HR:168bpm____KCal:1930

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Speed Work @ Labrador Park

This evening, we had a sizeable group of 20+ runners, and Chairman decided that we should do speedwork at Labrador Park. We seldom do speedwork, and when Jimmy Tan, who has not been back for about 2months, asked me, I said most likely no speedwork tonite. But then, Chairman had better ideas.

We did the usual 3km distance run to Labrador Park, and took a rest there. When all had gathered, Chairman flagged us off for the first 800m lap in the Park. I returned with 3min12sec, and I thought it was too fast a pace to be sustainable. We took about 5min rest in between. All in all, we covered 5 fast laps of 800m, and I estimated the times to be:
Lap 1 - 3min 12sec
Lap 2 - 3min 25sec
Lap 3 - 3min 40sec
Lap 4 - 3min 55sec
Lap 5 - 4min 10sec

On the way back, we took the slope up, and then ran another 3km back to clubhouse. In terms of total distance, we covered 10km. Because of the hard effort, I think I expanded about 850KCal. Overall, this was a very fun speedwork exercise, not done in a track/stadium.

Distance Ran:10km___Time:49min___Pace:4:54min/km average
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:850 est.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A 10km Hills Run

This evening I took time out of my busy schedule to fit a 10km run up Mt. Faber. Completed 2 loops, with the first stretch always the long one. We started off the longer distance from Blubhouse along depot road, then turning left along the long stretch before doing the ascent up Mt. Faber. Had a good hills workout.

Distance Ran:10km___Time:57min___Pace:5:41min/km
Average HR:N/A____Max HR:N/A____KCal:700 est.

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