Friday, June 30, 2006

MK Climbathon Prelims Preparations

The air tickets are booked...our team of 10 Climbathoners and a few officials will make our way to Mt. Kinabalu for a trials and recce mission from July 20-23. I am looking forward to get a feel of the cold, thin air, and rough terrain. Wonder if I will be able to sleep halfway in a hut up the mountains?

Tuesday 27/6: Scheduled for a time trial of 12 laps around the 1.2km Labrador slopes. DO and I did a 4km slow jog from ClubHouse at 5.45pm to warm up and we arrived at Labrador park by 6.15pm. Colleen joined us for this evening to get a flavour of the flavour of MK training. Carmen and Wilna arrivedly promptly at 6.30pm to start us off. I put on my new Mizuno WR9 and fuel belt for this pretty 'mental' run . The loop starts upslope from the tunnels area, to the top where Olive cafe is, then down the carpark, along the length of the football field, and back to the start of the tunnels again for 1.2km. The first 5loops were pretty ok, with me averaging slightly less than 8min per loop. The weather was humid, and the lack of forefoot cushioning in the WR9 were making me work very hard. I felt tired and hungry by the 7th loop. I almost finished the water in my 2 fuel belt bottles, and had to top up at the toilets. DO and Timonthy had already ran ahead, and I was mostly running near to Yulan. I felt pretty tired, really weighed down by the new shoes. I met SAFRA cm, Ong, Jaime, Bug and fellow runners doing their weekly training run at the Labrador area, and we exchanged greetings. I was quite tired then, and was trying to focus on how many loops to go...sweat... By the 9th loop, I decided to power-walk up the steepest stretch of slope of about 50m to catch my breath, before chionging up again to the top...that helped me recover a bit, and gave my tired legs some reprieve. Completed the 12 loops in 1hr39min....felt really drained...took a bottle of Gatorade....and walked back to ClubHouse with DO....very hard workout, but satisfying :)
Warmup: Distance Ran: 4km___Time: 25min___Pace: 6:15min/km
Time Trial: Distance Ran: 14.4km___Time: 1hr39min___Pace: 6:45min/km

Thursday 28/6: No specific plans for this evening's MK training. Visited the NB Tech Centre earlier, and bought a pair of running thights...good value...will try it for the next run. Then ran 3km from MF ClubHouse to meet the MK team at Labrador Park. There weren't manhy that turned up, so DO and I decided to do our own training run of about 13km. We initially ran out from Labrador Park to Queenstown Stadium, hoping to catch the SAFRA MF Runners for their scheduled track intervals. This evening, we had cfred, a SgRunner who joined the SAFRA Runners for his maiden run, and we wanted to go there and show him some support. Ran about another 4km or so and when we neared Queenstown Stadium, there was a soccer match happening, and we had to be turned away from the gates :(.

DO and I then decided to do a tempo run into Canterbury Estates, and then back to ClubHouse. I started my time, and off we went. We ran at quite a hard pace, and covered the Canterbury Estates in about 34min. My new Adizero SN Yellow (yes, wearing for first time to break-in) behaved well, and really made a big difference to my pace. Though the weather was warm and humid, I ran through the course with relative ease, and felt that I worked hard enough. We finished the approximate 2.5km depot road stretch in equally good pace..hmm, maybe 5min/km and reached ClubHouse in time to meet up with the rest of the SAFRA MF Runners. cfred was there and we had a good chat. Wai Fung went into my BLOG, and found news of the 2nd WHR she is joining in for this cause-worthy run in July.
Distance Ran: 15km___Time: 1hr20min___Pace: 5:20min/km

Friday 29/6: Did a slow recovery jog around my backyard with her...nothing too taxing, ahead of the MR25 25km Progressive Run this Sunday morning. Put on my Cumulus which is 880km in mileage already and due for retirement..hehe..just wanted to have a bit more forefoot cushion, reluctant to put on my WR9 or 754. The forefoot cushion of the Cumulus is good, and it will be good if that was entended all the way thru the mid-foot to the heel. The Adizero still is my favourite in this area. Covered the 10km with some short burts of runs in betwwen walk breaks of waiting for Beverly to catch up...she hasn;t run for 2 weeks, so was a bit short of stamina...she has slim down further :)).
Distance Ran: 10km_____Time: 1hr_____Pace: 6min/km

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Recovery From Phuket Marathon

I did not feel all that tired after the Phuket Marathon, and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)...hope I got it right...set in on Monday evening, especially after a good massage...hmm. I planned to do some recovery runs after I reached Singapore.

Wednesday 21/6: Joined the Climbathon Training and did the 13km route from Bishan Statium -> Bishan Park -> LPR -> OUTR -> Main Gate -> Return the same way. Put on my Mizuno WR9, which was new, and started the run slowly. David, Tim, Henry, Yulan, Sabrina, Roland were there too. My legs felt ok, but I could feel that my engine was cold after a few days of rest. I took a while to get warmed up. When we reached the end of Bishan Park, DO and I carried on into LPR while the rest turned back to Bishan flats for stairs-climbing. I decided against doing stairs as I was in recovery mode. DO was runnning ahead most of the time, since I was doing a recovery pace of about 5:30-6min/km. DO was cautious about his knees while I was cautious about navigating those OUTR one stage, I thought I felt something on my outer knee...but phew, false alarm...I guess I am still concerned with ITBS since many of my friends like Divey, Bug and leggie has just developed the symptoms, and is causing them some pain... so the issue was still very fresh in my mind. We made our way at about a 5:45min/km pace all the way back...think we took about 1hr15min. Met the rest of the group back at the Stadium, took a break, and went back home for late dinner.
Distance Ran: 13km ____Time:1hr15min_____Pace:5:46min/km

Thursday 22/6: Went down to MF to do a recovery run with DO and Bug. Met up with the MF Runners at SAFRA, who congratulated me on my recent performance at Phuket Marathon. A big part of my improvements can be attributed to the good training program and team spirit of MF…thanks to cm, Ong and the team. The SAFRA Runners went for their 6-8 sets of hill intervals @ Telok Blangah Hill, and Alan Chao’s training team went to MF for ninja adventures, the 3 of us went for our slow recovery run along Canterbury Estates, then to Labrador Park doing 2 loops, and finally returning along Henderson Road. My legs felt lighter, and I can feel I am recovering well. I was careful not to push too fast, since one tends to feel real good after a well-run race. Bug and DO ran mostly along with me, and with 3km to go, they charged ahead and I just did a slow pace back to ClubHouse. The stretch of Henderson Rd did get to me, as I could still feel the tiredness on the slopes.
Distance Ran: 13km ____Time:1hr15min_____Pace:5:46min/km

Sunday 25/6:
The SAFRA MF team were doing their tapering LSD run in preparation for Pattaya Marathon 2 Sundays from now. I joined in the planned 26km run at a slower pace to complete my week of recovery from Phuket Marathon. We took the route of
Clubhouse -> Henderson Rd -> Tiong Bahru Park -> Havelock Rd -> Clark Quay -> Fort Canning Hill (2 rds) -> Esplanade -> Marina Promenade (2nd Toilet) U-turn -> Esplanade Bridge -> Shenton Way -> Keppel Rd -> Harbourfront -> Henderson Rd -> Clubhouse.

I collected my new Adizero SN (aka Adidas Supernova Cushion) from DO. I wore my current pair of Orange Adizero while DO wore his new pair to do a trial of the shoes. The skies looked gloomy after a night of rain. The group of Ong, Jaime, Wong, Adam, Freddy, TLH, Jimmy Chow, Derrick, small Chua, Teck Hou, Colleen, DO and myself started off at 7.15am. We ran in cool weather along Tiong bahru Park, then Clarke Quay, before turning off a new route to Fort Canning Hill..hmm, a new route, nice gravel slope up. As we hit Fort Cannong, the skies opened up and we were drenched. We were soaking wet when we finished one round, and by the second round at FC, we had to take shelter to assemble the whole group. We rested in the shelter for about 15min, and seeing that the rain wouldn;t stop, we continued on with the run. We ran all the way to Esplanade before the rain abated. Colleen, Do and I had a good discussion about Mt. kinabalu training and next year's possible K2/Nepal trip. Colleen, who was from the Everest traing team before had lots to share about ice mountain climbing, and also indicated that her friends might be interested to join in our K2 training and trip. Before we know it, we reached the 2nd toilet at Esplanade, and saw the rest of the group turning back.

After the short water break, the 3 of us continued on along Shenton Way and Keppel Road. DO was very happy with his Adizero SN as it provided good drainage as well. My shoes which was wet thoroughly by the puddles of water, were almost dry...very good drainage...very good value shoes....great forefoot cushion. We ran in the drizzling rain all the way, and it felt good. Colleen who was still recovering from a cold turned back along Kampong Bahru, while Do and I ran back along Henderson Road. Reached back very happy with the 26km run in the rain...took a warm shower, and headed to the Hawker Centre for nice Yong Tau Foo and hot kopi-si.
Distance Run: 26km___Time: 2hrs20min___Pace: 5:23min/km

I Did a total of 52km recovery pace run for this week. I felt good, and seems to be resting sufficiently. Next week I shall be back to Climbathon Training, starting with 12 loops around Labrador slopes on Tuesday...hmm...3 more weeks before going to Mt. Kinabalu for the prelims and recce run. A new kind of running for me...a good experience...looking forward to it :)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Phuket Marathon 2006: Field Report


I was cautious this time around, and did my final long run 3 weeks ahead of this full marathon race. I was mentally and physically prepared this time for the hilly Phuket Marathon, the first time a full marathon will be held on this Paradise Island in Thailand. There were quite a number of Singaporeans going to Phuket for this race, including SAFRA Runners, SgRunners and MR25 Runners. I joined in the SAFRA Toa Payoh team’s itenary which Vincent had kindly organized and coordinated. I arrived a day earlier to check into Royal Paradise Hotel @ Patong. A relatively nice gotel at affordable rates, and its at the heart of the tourist Patong belt. The race was to be at Laguna Phuket Resort, about a 40min drive away. We did a bit of shopping in Phuket Town itself and settled in to a nice International Buffet at the hotel. We had a nice evening unpacking and watching soccer, while waiting for the arrival of the rest the next day.

From my hotel room @ Royal Paradise

Lookout Point & Cashew Nut Factory

We were joined by about 20 SAFRA Runners and family the next day, where we did even more shopping and eating, as well as enjoying nice Thai and Oil massages. They SAFRA group had gone to the race expo to collect their race packs...Divey collected for me so I didn't have to go down..thanks Divey. We did some sight-seeing visits to the Lookout Point, Cashew Nut Factory, Live Firing Range. We went on a recce of the race route on Saturday, and was pleasantly surprised to see the scenic forested route with water buffalos and nice beach area. We did the first half of the full marathon route, and skipped the return thinking it was the same…big mistake for it proved to be a challenging 2nd half the next day…hehe. We completed the day with lots of carbo-loading starting with bird’s nest, then a 7-course seafood at a beach restaurant (a little like BottleTree in Sembawang) and then shopping at Central Festival…before retiring early for the night.

Prepared my race gear, pinned on my race bib, and put the Championchip into my Adizero (so I won't forget them), and read the race instructions with a study of the route. I hardly slept the previous night, despite going to bed early at about 10pm. Laid in bed and rested till 2:50am, before waking up to wash up and get changed. I took half a bar of Powerbar, and a banana. I put on my Adizero shoes with Ultimax socks, before going down to the hotel lobby to meet up with the rest of the SAFRA Runners. Our transport was to pick us up at 3.30am, and while waiting, I found some time to tape up my toes. The mini-bus journey took about 30min to reach the race site at Laguna Phuket. I took small bites of the sandwich that came with the packed breakfast, and chatted with Shirlyn, wee san and Sam during the journey. Once at the race site, we took a trolley ferry to the start point, about 1km from the parking area.


We were at the start point at about 4am, and was gathering to take a group photo, when I realized I left my championchip at the hotel…Shucks! WTS! I recalled that I had the chip (with a strap) in my shoes, and while wearing my shoes, forgot to strap it on my ankle. I was not used to this chip with the ankle strap; normally lacing on the chip directly. I quickly talked to the chip people, and requested for a replacement chip…I was fortunate that they gave me one, without collecting the deposit. As I did not have much time to go back to the car-park area, Lee (who was doing 21km and starting an hour later) volunteered to go back to the car-park area, borrowed a mobile phone and called back to Hotel to get Edmund (who was going to the race site later in the day) to fetch my Championchip…thanks so much to Lee and Edmund.

SAFRA Runners At The Start

The race begins

As I proceeded to the start point, managed to take some photos with the SAFRA Runners and met many of my friends who were there running too - RealRunner, Seal, SV, Karen and spotted some MR25 Runners as well. RR who was doing the full marathon mentioned that he was quite relaxed about the race, and I advised him to pace Sam and Eric who were good runners. Karen was quite excited and chatty at the start of the 42km. Speeches and well wishes were given, before the approximately 300 runners started off with the sound of the horn at 5am. I started my timing immediately, and was about 30sec before I crossed the Championchip mat. I saw RR and Sam running ahead, with Eric moving forward. I too started to move at a faster pace to bank in some early miles. By the first km, I have lost most of the crowd, and I moved on to a 5:30min/km pace. The weather was cool but humid. We turned out into the highway after the 2nd km. I felt my bladder getting full as I was running along 2-3 runners. I found a spot along the highway among some bushes to empty my bladder at about the 6km mark. Shortly after that, we turned into a smaller road leading into the woods and forests on both sides. I was running mostly alone, after overtaking about 5 early runners. The cyclist escort was with me for certain stretches, and was really useful in guiding the way and watching for my behind in case some traffic do come in. I ran past the water buffalo area, and then continued on to the 9km point, where there was a Championchip mat placed…hmm, strange…normally they ware placed at the 10km mark. At about the 10km point, a Taipei runner ran ahead of me, and I decided to follow him for a bit. We went through to the 12km point, where the series of many small slopes started. It was starting to get bright..first light seemed to come early at about 6am. I kept up a strong pace of about 5:15min/km, and by that time have already banked in some extra minutes. I took my mini-snickers bar, grabbed a bottle of water, and navigated the slopes from 12km-16km. I took a salt tablet at about the 15km mark as I was worried the heat might cause me cramps later on. I noticed this portion would be the 26-29km on the return leg, and mentally noted that it was steeper on the return…waahh. I struggled a bit with my Powergel pinned to my shorts…shits, must pin properly next time. Slowed down to a walk where 3 other runners ran ahead. I finally got it off, and gave chase to close up on the lost timing.

I ran mostly behind this Taipei runner and the 3 new runners, and finally hit the Na Yang beach area. I knew this was the 18km mark from the previous day’s recce. We ran into the dirt track, and I saw the front runners on the return. I saw Sam coming out strongly…he must be about 800m in front of me then, followed by RR who was about 400m in front of me. I reached the 19km Championchip mat point, took a banana and some water, and overtook the runners including the Taipei runner who stopped to walk. As I ran out from the dirt trail, I saw Eric running in and we cheered each other. I continued along the beach road, and overtook 2 other front runners who seemed to be tiring as the full light was coming out at the 20km mark. The sun was getting warm as I crossed the 21km mark in about 1hr52min…good, I was still ahead of schedule. I continued on and soon was in the company of a few Caucasian runners. They seemed strong, even under the sweltering heat. I decided to just run behind them and trailed 2 particular Caucasian runners for the next 10-15km. On the return stretch, the race got even more challenging with the slopes getting steeper and more numerous…what more with very little shade on the roadside. I could see more runners coming in on the other side of the road. Yap was one of them and he cheered me on…nice steady runner. Karen also came on the other side, and we shouted pleasantries to one another. I still looked ok at that 25km point as I navigated the slopes. After the series of slopes, I was getting tired. There were quite a number of photographers along the course, and everytime I spotted them, I put on a good posture..hee. There was even a mobile television crew on motorcycles who followed me and another caucasion runner for a good was tiring as we had to look good and yet navigate the upslopes. Fortunately, they left after a while, and as I was about to relax a little, I spotted a girl with the TV station I gotta charge up the hills lah…Arghh. She had a sweet smile though, and that recharged me for the next 5min…haha.

Soon I reached the 29km point where I took my first short walk at the water point. I remembered this point as the one I had turned out onto the long and winding road earlier. Took some Gatorade, and began to chase after the Caucasians. I reached the 30km mark at about 2:39…hmm, still on track for my sub 3:50hr target. I was prepared to slow down to 5:45min/km pace if I hit the wall…and having some extra minutes to play around with was useful. At about 31km I had a sudden seizure on my right calf area…Oops…onset of cramps. I slowed a little and proceeded cautiously. I took my 2nd and final Powergel there and then. By 32km our small group overtook 2 local Thai runners who seemed to be burning out…wow, these Ang Moh runners were still going choice, I gotta tail them. I got seizures at the 33km mark again…yikes...I immediately changed to my ‘anti calf-cramp’ running posture and proceeded on without stopping. The sun was beating down mercilessly. I was feeling the heat, and my breathing was getting heavy. We ran onto the highway which by that time was quite heavy with traffic and smog. There was no shade on the road at all. I overtook 1 more Ang Moh there who finally stopped to walk. There were 2 more in front, and I continued on this long stretch of highway in a daze. We finally turned off into a small town to loud cheers by villagers and townfolk. They were cheering the Ang Mohs with great gusto and all with thumbs up too…haha. After the small township, one more Ang Moh stopped to walk. I nearly wanted to join in, but decided to delay it a little. There were 2 large slopes at the final 6km of the race. I had to walk up one of those, along with 2 other runners. I was drained at that stage. I took the opportunity to recover and heel-run on the downslopes. The final 5km was really punishing as we had to run up slopey mountainside with construction ongoing, interspersed with some forestry and lake. Finally turned into the dirt track at the 3km mark. Here I bumped into a lot more 21km runners who were slowing or walking…really made me want to walk….waah…I had to tell myself to keep going. The hot sun finally made the Ang Moh who was with me for the last 15km stop to walk. I ran on slowly, maybe at 6min/km pace at that stage. There was even a Caucasian photographer who requested me to step onto the puddles of water for a photo shot. I obliged since it was the final 2km. Soon it became the final 1000m…I was sooo happy to see that. I increased my pace on what was to be a straight road to the finish…500m…400m…300m…I could hear the screams and roars…and with 200m, there was a group of young boys who just finished their 10km run in a dash. I looked at my watch which showed 3hr47min, and I made a sprint for the final 100m to finish in 3hr48min21sec. I raised my arms to the many clicks and flashes of the cameras at the finish. My Championchip was removed from my ankle for recording and printing of the certificate, and the finisher’s medal was placed on my neck. A happy and satisfying finish for me.

Race Certificate with finisher's medal

Satisfied SAFRA Runners @ Phuket Marathon 2006

As I made my way out of the crowd, saw Sandy and Wee San who had finished their 21km in good timings. San handed me a banana, which I held on to for the next 20min before I could eat it…I walked around trying to cool off my heated muscles, and catching some good breaths of air. I bumped into many of my friends who were there congratulating one another. Met with RR’s wifey who did a commendable 21km. I could see quite a few runners in the medical tentage receiving treatment from heat-stroke and cramps. I was fortunate that my cramps were under control from the 37km onwards. I didn’t dare to sit down nor bend my legs too much for fear of having cramps (my lesson at the March KLIM06 taught me not to go for the post-race massage too). I rested for about 30min, before doing a quick wash-up and then joining the rest of the gang to cheer those who were coming back from their full marathon finishes…Benson, Yap, Uncle Lim, Karen, LaoKayu were among the many satisfied ones that arrived below the magical 6hrs. We all collected out printed certificates after about a 1-hr wait after race…neat!

Distance Ran: 42.195km ___Time:3hr48min___Pace:5:25min/km
Position in Age Group: 10 ___Calories: est. 3000KCal

Full Marathon Results
Half Marathon Results

Post Race

We went back to Hotel and I spent the later part of the day relaxing. I had a nice steamboat dinner with the family, watched abit of soccer and had an early night. The next morning we gathered with the friends at Patong Beach and had a nice time walking around the waves, para-sailing and just plain sun-tanning. Prices at Phuket and especially Patong Beach area are pricier and the tourists are made up of mostly Farangs (Westerners). We all did enjoy ourselves with nice food, shopping and massages (some of us had 2 or 3 times). I took an early morning flight home on Tuesday from what is a very enjoyable Thailand marathon-holiday.

Official Press Coverage


The Race Organization

I am quite happy with the organization of the race, and there were many good points
1. Nice scenic and challenging route
2. Distance markers provided for every km, with clear directional arrows and OB areas
3. Sufficient isotonic and plain water provided every 2km
4. After race food was great, though I took only bananas and pepsi
5. Almost on-the-spot certificate and medal collection

Areas For Improvement
1. Start time should be earlier by at least 30min, since first light comes at 6am
2. A few more banana/Powergel stations provided will be great (There was only one this time)
3. Better quality race T-shirt
4. A nice finisher's T-shirt for the full marathoners will be much appreciated
5. A larger finishing area will be nice

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Run Paradise: Here I come

I am off with the family and friends to Phuket from 15 June to 20 June, and I look forward to participate in the inaugural Phuket International Marathon held on 18 June 2006.

Located in the beautiful Andaman Sea, Phuket is every holiday maker’s dream. The “Pearl of the South” offers something for everyone.

The organizers of the Run Paradise - Phuket Marathon suggests that we visit the famous Phi Phi Islands, learn to dive off the Similan Islands, spend a day island hopping, go Deep Sea Fishing, ride on an elephant or simply relax on the beach. At night, sample the world’s best seafood or experience the fusion of ancient and modern Thai culture at the cultural extravaganza of Phuket Fantasea. Then dance the night away at one of the many night clubs or enjoy a quiet drink at a bar.

Wait for my update and FR when I am back...Meanwhile, lets all enjoy our runs!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My latest pair of road runners

My Mizuno Waverider 9

Yes, got a new pair of Mizuno Waverider 9. It is my first pair of Mizuno runners and also the latest model of the very popular Wave Rider series, for neutral-arch runners....thanks to Carmen :)

I immediately put it on for my training run this evening. It felt snug and was very light on the feet. I did a 15km run comprising the 10km MF loop, plus an additional 5km loop around Henderson/Harbourfront/ Telok Blangah Way. The shoes felt good throughout the run, though it could do with more forefoot cushioning..hehe, maybe I am too pampered by forefoot cushioning in my Cumulus and Adizero. The heel cushioning in WR9 is good, and when navigating the downslopes of MF, the heel cushion gave me a good ride as I tend to heel more on downslopes. I did not feel much heat generated, except for a bit in the top of the forefoot, but that was not conclusive. I believe the shoes will fit even more snugly as I break it in up to 100km. Meanwhile, my Adizero will go with me for Phuket Marathon.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

The Montrail Sustina II XCR

This being the tapering week ahead of Phuket Marathon this weekend, I decided to take my newly exchanged The Montrail Sustina II XCR or a short test run. I have previously tried the Montrail Hurricane (did a brief review of it) and found it to be too heavy and stiff for my liking. I collected this new Sustina in exchange of the Hurricane on Saturday.

My trail runners: Montrail Sustina II XCR

I put on the Sustina with the original insoles provided ie. without the use of SUPERFeet, along with the slightly thick FoxRiver x-training socks. I took the 8km route around my place, comprising mainly road, concrete sidewalks and some bits of grass at intersections. The shoe at 12ounces immediately felt lighter than the Hurricane (13.9ounces), not compromising on its stablility and cushioning. The first 5km felt pretty good, and I was more troubled by the blazing evening sun instead. In spite of the hot ground, I did not feel much heat from the shoes...maybe I was not running fast enough? but I was already doing abt 5:45min/km. The Sustina was pretty responsive with reasonably good forefoot cushioning. There was some flex at the front, a lot better than the rather stiff Hurricane. As I ran, I could feel the proper roll from the shoe, and though I did not do much slopes, I could feel the comfortable heel cushioning too.

The Sustina is indeed one of the better trail runners in the Montrail stable. Although I have not much experience with trail running shoes, I feel that the Sustina is acceptable to be used in a mixed or cross-terrain. Since its function is not solely as a road runner, it tends to be heavier due to the extra cushioning and stability features built into the shoe. Its traction was reasonable on road and sandy surfaces... I will need to test it on more rocky and muddy terrain at MacRitchie (when I get back from Phuket). At least for the moment, I feel the Sustina does make the mark for use in our Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

The best surfaces for running?

Quite a number of my running friends have been down recently with injuries like ITBS, Runners Knee, etc. I wish them a speedy recovery, and hope they can be running pain-free as soon as possible. I recall my painful episode of ITBS last year, and although I have recovered from that, I am still very careful with my runs and training these days. I found an interesting article from Runners World about A 7-Step Plan For Running Injury-Free which I would like to share:

-- Extracted from Runners World

Too many runners repeatedly make the same mistakes in their training, following the same pattern of training, injury, and recovery, secure in the fact that they can always "fix it" afterwards. Here, taken from Joe Ellis' book Running Injury-Free, are seven ways to avoid injuries from the start

1. Find a Friendly Surface

The best surfaces for running are firm (not mushy or slippery), relatively flat (without camber), smooth (without ruts or holes), and provide some degree of shock absorption. The more angled the surface, the steeper the incline, the harder the surface, the greater are the chances of an injury.

Grassy areas such as golf courses make relatively poor running surfaces. This may surprise some people who choose grass because it's soft. But grassy surfaces are also uneven. And many of us--more than half the population--have some biomechanical abnormality. So running on grass makes the muscles and tendons in your feet and legs work harder and leaves you more susceptible to injury.

Roads are also notoriously poor surfaces, not only because of traffic hazards but because they are canted so that water will run off the center of the road. This slant causes the "upward" foot to pronate more and the "downward" foot to supinate more.

Provided you wear good shock-absorbing shoes, sidewalks tend to make better training surfaces than roads because they are flat. The problem, of course, is that cement surfaces are significantly harder than asphalt or other man-made surfaces.

Here, ranked in order from most desirable to least desirable, are various running surfaces:

1. Soft, smooth cinder track, unbanked
2. Artificially surfaced track, unbanked
3. Soft, smooth dirt trail
4. Flat, smooth grass

5. Asphalt street or pat
6. Hard dirt track or trail
7. Concrete sidewalk or road
8. Banked or cambered surface
9. Hard-sand beach
10. Rough, pot-holed dirt trail or grass

I have always felt that surface 5 is better than 7, and than surfaces 8 and 9 contributed to my ITBS in 2005 - DreamRunner

For the rest of the steps for running injury free, GO HERE!

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Marathon tapering week

Tuesday 6/6: Did a 15km run with SAFRA MF runners from ClubHouse to Botanic Gardens. The route took us from Clubhouse -> Henderson Rd -> Delta Canal -> Ridley Park -> Botanic Garden -> Farrer Rd -> Margaret Drive -> Delta Canal -> Henderson Rd -> Clubhouse. There was a large turnout of at least 25, with 1 or 2 new runners. I ran mostly with Bug, DO and bbmon as we enjoyed the cool night, though it was still humid after an abrupt stop to the earlier rains. We stopped at BG toilet after 9km and 46min; waited for about 10min for the rest of the runners to come in, before we proceeded along Farrer Road and Margaret Drive. We did quite a fast pace here, running in a smallish group of 4. We headed all the way back to the ClubHouse feeling quite drained from a hard workout. I could feel soreness in my archilles during the run, after having borne the weight of the heavy pair of trail shoes I tried on on Monday evening.
Distance Ran: 15km___Time: 1hr25min___Pace: 5:40min/km

Wednesday 7/6: Did a evening of run and stairs climb as part of MK Climbathon training. Met up with Hamidah and the team at Bishan Stadium. We discussed a bit about the Montrail shoes, and with feedback from Sim, we decided to change to the lighter version...Montrail Susitna II XCR...will go down this Saturday to Camper's Corner. Kelvin and Xavier are away on some expedition...will wait for them to come back to conduct an experience-sharing session of MK with the team.

We did a 40min run through Bishan Park and back, before proceeding to the 30-storey flat of Roland to do stairs climb. Hamidah was already there waiting with nice cold Powerade. We did 3 flights of 30-floors. It was some time I did any stairs climb. It was tiring, especially after the run. I was panting hard by the second set. After the stairs workout, we had discussions about the prelim MK Climb in july. Hamidah also announced to us a trekking expedition to K2 somewhere near Nepal next year in August (
Dubbed the "Savage Mountain," K2 in the Himalayas is Earth’s second-highest peak and arguably the hardest climb in the world). The few of us immediately volunteered to be considered for the fully sponsored month-long expedition. It will be quite exciting, and training will start from October. She also asked us to introduce friends who are fit and might be interested to join in. We will be on the lookout...:))

Thursday 8/6: Had planned to join in the Running Lab (RL) run with Beverly, but due to a last minute meeting schedule, have decided to do a 9km tapering run around my home instead. I really need to get my Mizuno Wave Rider 9 and the new Asics Nimbus running shoes soon, as most of my existing runners and trainers are newaring their retirement age. I still have the Adidas Adizero ahich has clocked close to 280km, and I hope to save that for Phuket Marathon.

day 10/6: I went for a 18km Animiles run as my last weekend tapering run before Phuket Marathon. Watched the opening World Cup game between Germany and Costa Rica, and went to bed at 2am. Had about 2.5hrs of sleep, and got up at 4.30am. Took a coffee and 2 small bananas and reached LPR toilet at 5:05am. Saw SC5, notme, lieu, choonwei, bleu and the regulars. Met up with doraemon_red aka Doreen who joined in for the first time. bbmon and DO were also joining me for the 18km distance.

We started at about 5.30am, and soon most of the animiles were in front...hehe. I ran behind for a short bit, before moving up with bbmon and DO, after ensuring that doraemon had her pacers guiding her...thanks bluedauphin (Rachael) and snail (Caroline). The morning was cool along OUTR. I could hear bbmon breathing quite heavy as she is still recovering from her chesty cough and flu. DO and I ran ahead after getting out onto UPR, and we caught up with SC5, and then cw. On the turn into Maindai Road, cw chionged ahead and moved on for his 24km distance. DO and I turned back at the 9km U-turn point (just after the bridge at the Crematorium area), after doing approx. 45min. We gestured to bbmon and notme as we turned back. I continued to run ahead, and picked up pace slightly.

Back at the junction to UPR, we saw a gal runner (didn't get her name) injured, suffering from a cut in her leg. There was another runner with her, and someone had gone ahead to look for the support vehicle. After checking with her to ensure she was alright, we continued on our way. I continued to hydrate from my fuel belt, and though I brought a mini Snickers bar, I didn't feel hungry enough to want it...the bananas provided sufficient fuel for this shorter run. Back onto OUTR, I saw the cyclists and quite a number of early runners running in the opposite direction. We exchanged some greetings. The sky was still dark, as dawn was slowly breaking. I finished the run at 6:50am, taking about 1hr21min. I realized Doreen might have gone off first, since she was doing a 1hr 10km run. I waited for the rest to come back, and we had a good time chatting and cheering on the Animiles who did 24km, 27km... We also spent some time later looking at cw's very shwe bike, and had a nice breakfast of special toasted bun and coffee. A very nice 18km Animiles run, first time I did a shorter distance, and that would make me a squirrel for the day....hehe
Distance Ran: 18km___Time: 1hr20min___Pace: 4:30min/km

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Test drive of my first pair of trail runners

The Montrail Hurricane

For this evening's Climbathon training, I decided to bring my new pair of Montrail Hurricane for a trial. Even though the Montrail was more suitable for rugged and trail type of terrain, I needed to run it in to allow my feet to grow into it, as well as get a feel of its performance on road surfaces. Met up with the team at Bishan Stadium. Carmen and a new staff member Jolene arrived at 7pm, and we tried on the new dri-fit polo T-Shirts...hmm, looks quite nice...I decided to go for a M size.

We started the run at about 7.15pm, and ran through to Bishan Stadium towards Lower Pierce Reservoir (LPR). I could feel the weight of the shoes (13.9ounces, according to DO) bearing on my legs. DO also thought that the shoes were a tad too heavy for would be more suitable for trekking up mountains. The weather was warm and humid as we ran along LPR onto Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR). The group of Timonthy, Yee Shen, DO and myself chatted and laughed as we discussed about some funny incidents of our training. The shoes were really quite heavy as I went on, and it felt still too. The cushioning was really insufficient for a fore-foot neutral-arched runner like myself. I had to adjust my stride a little, and I was careful not to run too hard. DO and I made a U-turn at the main gate leading to UPR...13km was sufficient for me as I merely wanted to run-in the shoes, and have to save some for tomorrow's 16km run, and Wednesday's time trial. Tim and the rest wanted to do an extra 3km, so they ran to the end of OUTR.

On the return leg, I slowed down slightly but continued to lift my legs. I found that I cannot increase my cadence as the shoes were still stiff and quite heavy. I could feel the heat generating within the shoes, and maybe because of the warm weather, and the gore-tex encapsulation, the heat remained for a while more in the shoes. As we ran back, I was discussing with DO about a lighter pair of Montrail which could be more suitable, and that we hope we get the chance to test it for performance. We also thought we should suggest to the NTUC team managers about organizing a seminar/talk by experienced trekkers and runners up the MK route to share their experience and advise on the varying terrain of the mountains, preparations in terms of gear and training we should do, as well as strategy and tactics we can apply during the climb/run. We can take some of these to the ground for verification in mid July during our recce trip. DO and I completed our 13km run at about 8.30pm We waited till about 8.45pm for some of the other runners to be back, before making an early move back home for dinner.

My initial view of the Montrail Hurricane is that it is more of a trekking shoe that is more suitable to be used in mountain races/climbs, and I need it to be at least 2ounces lighter with more forefoot flex. I will try it next in the more rugged terrain of MacRitchie and Bukit Timah Reserves, after I return from Phuket Marathon in June20.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

A tough 25km trail run & gearing up for Climbathon

Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon gear collected from Campers' Corner

With just 2 weeks to Phuket Marathon, it was to be a tapering weekend LSD of 25km at the MR25 25km Progressive Run route. I did not prepare much for this since it was expected to be just 25km. I had a small bowl of cereal and a banana before heading out to MacRitchie to meet the team of SgRunners and Climbathon runners. A big turnout today of more than 15, Alvo, RealRunner, Bug, DO, runalone, teelee, cfred, kops, Derrick, Jaime, Craig, taz, Cokiee, meteor, philip, yee shen, Rodney and myself. Other than our large group, there weren't too many other people around as it is usually the case on a Saturday. There was some kind of school running event going on however.

We started promptly at 7am, after Alvo gave a brief of the 25km route. We ran along Northern Route, and exited to SICC golf course in a respectable 22min. The team was running strong, and all were enjoying. We ascended the slopes at 'Chunky Hill' and Alvo pointed the 5km hilly trail path we would be taking on the return. RR ran on strongly after the 2 hills, and I followed behind to guide the rest onto the golf course skirting the reservoir. Ronnie, teelee and I soon reached the toilet at Upper Pierce Reservoir and had a break there. RR had moved ahead by that time. After the rest had gathered, we continued on into air-cond road. The air-condition was not that cool this morning, probably due to the warmth of the June month. We touched the gate at the end of air-cond road, and returned the same way. The group was keep close together as we turned left out from air-cond road into UPR. We did the 2 slopes with relatively ease, and soon reached the main gate into OUTR.

After a brief orientation to the new runners about the MR25 20km Progressive U-turn point, and the Animiles run along OUTR, I turned back with the rest and attacked the 2 slopes. Bug, Do and I had a nice little 'chiong-ing' exercise up the slopes and we ran at a quickened pace to return the the UPR toilets for our water stop. At that point, some of the other runners have gone their own way. When Kops and cfred arrived, we continued back along the golf course and onto Chunky Hill road again. After going up a slope, we turned right into Rifle Range Road. This portion is made up of sandy trails, with some parts a tad muddy. The way there was a lot more downslope, with a large drain which we had to navigate...fortunately, some steps have been carved out off the muddy slopes, which made our crossing a lot easier. After we crossed over, Alvo, runalone, teelee, DO and myself were running ahead, and climbing more upslopes. My legs were feeling a bit of strain by that time, since we had probably climbed 8 slopes by then.

We finally reached the end of Rifle Range and onto the metal road, next to the Military Camp. We continued on all the way, up more gentle slopes to the large bridge. Along the way, RR came on the return asking where the actual U-turn point was. Alvo later established that we probably ran an extra 1km by turning before the bridge. RR would have run an extra 1.5km, turning back after the bridge. Going back, it was more downslope, and I was striding along with teelee, at the same time recovering. I had taken a snickers bar at about the 15km mark...that was keeping my energy levels still ok. The return along the same way along Rifle Range road took a toll on my legs, as we had to climb a few steep, sandy slopes. teelee and runalone were running mostly alongside me. By the time we ended back onto metal road, I was quite drained. DO mentioned he will go back by the Northern Route, while the rest of us continued on towards the Ranger Station. We took a short break at the Ranger Station, met up with Ronnie, who joined us back along the very rocky Sime Trail, then Jelutong Tower. teelee and runalone were running just in front of me as we pounded the wooden bridge and then onto the trails and the road round the golf course. The sun was in full force by that time. I tried to run ahead to get out of the sun, and teelee and runalone joined me all the way. We took a short power-walk up the tree-roots area, before reaching the exercise area. I pointed to teelee and runalone the return route for the MR25 5km Time Trials route. teelee told me to run ahead, as he wanted to slow jog back. With about 3km left to the finish point, me and runalone made a quick-paced run along the shady trails, up 2 slopes, onto Lornie Trails, passing zig-zag bridge and finally reaching the end point at about 10am to cheers by our team-mates. We had taken about 2hr25min to cover the gruelling 26km...a good effort.

Distance Ran: 26km ____Time:2hr45min_____Pace:6:21min/km

Spent 3 hours here gearing up for Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon

It was a hard workout for all of us. We waited for the rest to be back, washed up, and then headed to Adam food Centre for nice prawn noodles. Bug's injury worsened, and we were discussing how to go about resting for his ITBS. DO and I had to leave earlier to rush down to Campers' Corner to meet Hamidah and the NTUC Climbathon team to select and collect some of our sponsored running gear and equipment. We took 3hours just to try out the long-sleeves running top, Montrail Shoes, x-training socks, gloves, camper's sack and sling. We had a fun time choosing the gear, and chatting about our upcoming prelims recce trip to Mt. Kinabalu in mid July. We will now have to run-in some of the equipement, especially the trail shoes, in preparation for the prelims, and eventually the finals on Oct 1. We are all looking forward to this Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon, which some say is the toughest mountain race in the world :)

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

3 weeks to Phuket Marathon

After the final 36km LSD on Sunday, my mileage should be tapering down. I will be doing 25km in MR for the second weekend(June 4) to race day, and 16km in BG for the final weekend(June 11) before race day. Looking at my Running Log, I realized I hit 83km last, not sure if I have ever exceeded 80km weekly mileage before...that must be my new weekly mileage record...:))

Monday 29/05: My legs felt ok after the LSD on Sunday, and I went for a 11km recovery run to burn off excess calories (seems like its getting difficult for me to burn off calories these days....maybe my running is getting more efficient, or the workouts are not HARD enough, or I am just eating too much junk?....hmmm). I started off at about 5.30pm, and the sun was still up. It was warm, and I did try to put on my oakley shades to protect my eyes...hmm, just cannot get used to wearing shades to run...seems like my eyes cannot breathe, and I do feel more warm because it blocks off the wind to my face...guess I will never look like a tri runner lor...haha. I ran around the usual 10km loop near my house, and extending it by an additional 1km or so. There were quite a number of runners on the road even at that time. My legs felt hard at the end, after pounding on the concrete pavement for 9km or so...really bad surface for running. I tend to do better in runs which allow me to run on tarmac, and I find that I can go much longer without aches on road tarmac. Upon reflection, SCSM gave me early cramps along East Coast Park because of the hard concrete surface we had to go on...hmm, hopefully I can get better cushioned shoes to save my legs if I am to run on concrete pavements for most of my training.
Distance Ran: 11km ____Time:57min_____Pace:5:11min/km

Tuesday 30/05: My hamstrings and butt felt achy this morning...hmm, could it be DOMS? Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. My legs were feeling good just after the long run on Sunday, and the whole of yesterday...only experienced soreness today. Went down to SAFRA MF in the evening for MK training...a 15km run up to Mt. Faber. The full troop NTUC managers were there... Yusof, Mida, Wilna and Carmen. They briefed about our upcoming prelims and recce trip in July (20-23) as well as getting montrail shoes this Saturday at Campers' Corner. It seems that we have to start equipping ourselves for the cold climb up MK...golves, long-sleeved shirts, hydration, food, proper shoes, etc etc? The large group of SAFRA Runners were also having their run into Canterbury/Labrador but I was not joining them this evening.

The 8 of us (DO, Henry, Yulan, Roland, Ronnie, Yee Shen, Timothy, myself) along with Ben started off at 7.05pm. We ran at a good pace down along Henderson Road, Harbourfront and then up MF via Kampong Bahru. It was a good experience for those who have not climbed up MF from that side. Ben enjoyed his run up together with myself and David. We waited on top for a while for the rest to reach, before heading down along the more gentle, but longer left side down to Morse Road. Ben shared with us that MK is similar to MF from the Morse Road side, where there's a short steep upslope, and then there is a long, more gentle downslope. Once out onto Morse Road, we picked up the pace and soon Ben was in front, with me following him from a distance. It was a good run up the slopes of Telok Blangah Rise for Ben, Yulan and myself who were leading at that point. Once the slopes were done, Ben surged ahead to the ClubHouse. I checked my pedometer upon reaching the ClubHouse, and it was showing 10km...great. Just another loop of 5km to finisih the run. I did that loop in about 22min, just after Ben's 21min+. Took an overall time of 1hr20min to finish the 15km slight-moderate hilly route. The rest of the team came back shortly within 5-10min intervals.
Distance Ran: 15km______Time: 1hr20min______Pace: 5:20min/km

Wednesday 31/05: This was the 4th consecutive running day for me...I know its against my training principles, but I needed to do this anyway :). Met with DO at SAFRA MF, and while waiting for bbmon, we did a slow warm-up jog along the 5km route of Telok Bangah Rise -> Harbourfront -> Henderson Road. We reached the ClubHouse at about 7.15pm...still early... we chatted and stretched a little while waiting for bbmon. bbmon actually sms-ed DO to say she was coming, but I brought my phone for the run didn't receive her message. We finally went for the run at 7.40pm on our own. We did a tempo pace for this second leg into the Canterbury Estates and then back to ClubHouse via Henderson Road. It was a warm and humid night. I had a good workout from the 15km run this evening.
Distance Ran: 5km_______Time: 30min______Pace: 6min/km
Distance Ran: 10km______Time: 51min______Pace: 5:06min/km

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