Sunday, July 30, 2006

My maiden Demoralizing Run

Fennel, Doraemon_red, Brokie, Gentle, DO, Dream

I was looking forward to this Demoralizing Run along Changi Coastal Road. Had a big dinner on Saturday evening, which more than provided for the carbo-loading required...Lots of races and events this Sunday morning, and I was not expecting a large group to turn up. Picked DO up and we were the first to arrive at Car Park 2 at Telok Paku Road, off Changi Village Road. We were soon joined by Doraemon_red who was seen running towards us like a ninja with her cute, red haversack...hehe, then followed by Fennel who arrived in a taxi all the way from the West...whoa!...and finally, when RSM Brokie arrived, DO & me ushered her into a nice, big parking lot specially marked out :))

The 5 of us started off from that point at Changi Beach Park, ran about 400m backwards to the end of the track, and proceeded forward. The sunrise in the distance was nice, and with some cloud cover, the morning was rather cool with a light breeze. We chatted merrily as we ran the approximately 3km beach track, through the rows of large trees, flanked by the beach. Some weekenders were already setting up tentages and ground ponchos, ready to spend a nice Sunday morning by the beach. I recalled that we did this stretch of road the first time last December during our first Ghost Run, where teelee and Ripley were among many other new SgRunners that joined in.

We made a short stop at the last toilet before Changi Coastal Road (CCR). This stretch of CCR is a long, straight and flat road that really tests one's mental strength and it goes for a good 5-6km, running parallel to the Changi Airport runway. It brought back memories of the 168km NTU run last year where I was one of the escorts to Lim Nghee Huat. Ultraman, Alvo, Meteor, True_Atlantean and Karen were the rest of the escorts then who ran this challenging stretch, and we made at least 3 stops. It was then that my ITBS flared up too. This morning, the 5 of us were running this stretch at a very steady 6min/km pace. The interesting conversations kept us going smoothly, this despite Fennel and Brokie having done 14km just the previous day...wahh, *salute*. We ran as a bunch occupying almost an entire lane. There were a couple of large trucks, and they mostly went on the second lane. There were lots of cycling groups though, and it was interesting to see many young children on those nice racing bikes... understood later that they were from the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS). We took in the sights, and the occasional taking off of aircrafts spurred us to move faster at certin small stretches.

The group maintained a nice 6min/km pace all the way to the turning point of about 10km. We had run for about 1hr by then, as we crossed over the road, and began the return journey. All of us still felt very stong and good. Some cyclists were also returning along that same stretch, and out of nowhere came one just in front of us, and gave us a wave. We immediately recognized it was Spiffy... she looked great in her very shwe blue biking outfit and also very pro leh...hehe. We waved back, and shouted at her...she moved slightly ahead, and made a turn back onto the other road...nice to see a familiar face along the way. As we were enjoying ourselves, the run did not seem demoralizing at fact, it was refreshing... soon, we had 4km left to the beach toilet. The gals were still maintaining a very strong 6min/km pace. DO and I then moved slightly ahead to allow them to maintain their strong pace to the finish. The sun was out strongly by this time, and it was good conditioning for us, at least for the final stretch of 4-5km. I was running maybe just about 4:30min/km pace for the few km, and when we were about to reach, another cyclist shouted at us...that was Gentle...We acknowledged him as he went further down to say hello to the gals. We all met up at the beach toilet for a short toilet stop, before going on to finish the final 3km of beach road. I ran that stretch at about 4:30-4:45min/km and the gals probably did about 5:30min/km. DO and I finished the whole run in about 2hr, while the gals came in at 2hr05min. We estimated the distance to be about 19km. A very good paced run, and good workout for me at least. That was the longest Fennel had, this gal has good potential. Doraemon and Brokie also did very well, very strong finish.

A satisfied run, rewarded with Brokie's Barley

As we stretched and enjoyed heavenly Brokie's Barley, we were joined by Sotong and his MHA. A nice surprise visit, and despite Sotong's injury and not being able to run, he came to say hello and even took some pics. We had a good chat, washed up, and then walked to the nearby Changi Food Centre for some of their famous eats. The famous beef noodles were not opened, so we tried some of the other nice food like bak-chor mee, fried carrot cake and chwee kuey. We were pleasantly surprised to bump into the HSP group of taz, Roentgen, daisiki, AngelicaWonders, KickJazz, teelee, JT. They did a 3hr run from Kovan all the way to Pasir Ris... I am impressed with their seriousness and dedication to do LSDs to prepare for the upcoming AHM...and daisiki mentioned they planned to do more LSDs and that was just the beginning...whoa...thats the right attitude. The two groups exchanged details of their morning runs, and the pace of chatter was indeed doubly-quick...hehe. Brokie, DO and I managed to leave in time and walked back to our vehicles, before the rains came....perfect timing to what was a near-perfect Sunday Demoralizing Run. We already had some suggestions of doing variations of this run, going into the beaches and serene areas of Loyang Chalets; the very flat road from Changi Beach, along CCR all the way to ECP/Fort Road for what might be possibly the ultimate flat and Long Demoralizing Run (LDR)...hahaha.

Distance Ran: 19km___Time Taken: 2hr___Pace: 6:18min/km

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Friday, July 28, 2006

My achy-breaky quads

My quads and calves were aching badly since Saturday's climb up to MK. I need to put some recovery runs in for the week, and hopefully will be all set to start proper training runs for AHM next week.

Monday 24/07: I walked around with a 'limp' the whole day, this in spite of a 'heavenly' massage the previous night. This has got to be taking the longest time for recovery for me. Managed to go a very slow 10km jog with Bev, and throughout the whole run, she was ahead of me...and she finished in 1hour flat. Well, a good improvement for her, and a nice recovery jog for me.
Distance Ran: 10km___Time Taken: 1hr___Pace: 6min/km

Tuesday 25/07: As my quads and calves were still sore, I joined the CBD Runners for a slow recovery run, instead of doing more rigorous stairs climbing at TP. I hardly have time to join the many SgRunners runs, so it was a good time for me to meet up familiar faces as well as new ones. I ran a bit with Divey, and then Bee (who was going away to UK for 3 weeks), roentgen, Shut, MightyJoe, among many other SgRunners. There were about 30+ of us running from Tanjong Pagar MRT into Marina South Pier, then adding on an extra loop around the steamboat area for a 9.5km distance. I did not time my run as it was supposed to be relaxing and easy for me. There were short spurts of about 2-3km where I increased speed, sort of doing fartleks. Ended the run with roentgen, Tin Tin, xsuanjing and DO at about 8.15pm.
Distance Ran: 9.5km___Time Taken: 1hr___Pace: 6:18min/km

Thursday 27/07: Finally found time to go down to SAFRA MF to join them for the weekly training. Haven't met the guys since their Pattaya trip, and it was great for me to do a 12km recovery run. My quads felt pretty ok, and I was not about to risk doing stairs climb and straining them at this important stage. As we ran along Depot Road, I chatted with Colleen about her Si Gu Niang trek in China...hmm, seemed like she had a good trip there, barring the bout of AMS she suffered. Good to touch base with Derrick who did a good 3:30hr Pattaya Marathon, as we ran along the railway and across the flyover to Kent Ridge Park. Also great to meet icy_Karen again, who signed up for 21km in AHM and SCSM. I told her to come for more training runs, and she should do well. I did 3 of the Kent Ridge slopes....felt good, and quite easy....maybe those laborious 10loop series around Labrador Park and the long steep climbs up Mt. Kinabalu did help to strengthen the legs for slope runs...hee.

We took a break at on top of the Park as usual to wait for the rest to join in. It had been some time since we ran this route...hmm, nice.... the scenic views of this Park in the day, as we recalled the Laksa Run :). From there, we descended the steep slopes, and I did quite ok...seems like the quads have recovered to do well for even the downslopes. Then along Pasir Panjang Road, Derrick took the lead, and I followed about 50m from behind...all the way up sloping Henderson Road and back to ClubHouse. It was a enjoyable run for me.... I really missed running after 2 weeks of very low mileage. I hope I have enough time to train sufficiently for the upcoming Army Half Marathon (AHM).
Distance Ran: 12km___Time taken: 1hr___Pace: 5min/km

Friday 28/07: Planning to do a training run with Beverly. She is signing up for her first 21km at SCSM06, and I hope to help up increase her mileage progressively. The furthest she has done is 13km, and that was under moonlight....she is really afraid of the sun :). It did not rain in the end, and we were able to have a good 10km time trial run for Beverly. She tried on the Ultimax Ironman socks for the first time, and with her Mizuno WR9, smashed her 10km time to go under, first time she did the course in under 1hr. She is now ready to move on to 21km training next. I was the rabbit running ahead, and added on 500m as usual to the course. My legs felt good, and with the DS Trainer, they felt light. I did the 10.5km run in 58min with a few stops at traffic lights to wait for Beverly. I managed to get some bursts of running in between, satisfying my endorphine requirements...hehe
Distance Ran: 10.5km___Time Taken: 58min___Pace: 5:30min/km

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Mt. Kinabalu Experience

Day 1: The Journey From SIN-KOTA KINABALU

The group of Climbathoners, including NTUC Team managers gathered at the Changi Airport at 11am for our afternoon flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, with a transit at Kuching, Sarawak. This trip was to be my maiden experience with climbing any mountain of height above 3000ft where cold temperatures and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) might play a factor. I got a cab and picked up Henry and DO, before arriving to the airport to meet the rest of the team; Yulan, Sabrina, Timothy, Hee Shen, Roland. Yusoff, Hamidah, Carmen and Lingam were to be the NTUC Team (this event has be supported and sponsored by Team NTUC in partnership with Young NTUC) managers accompanying us for this training trip. We all don the Team NTUC T-Shirts with the proper collar pins supplied by NTUC. We had a surprise visitor, IMD Ben who was nice to see us off, and had a cuppa with us to chat about his MK experience. In fact, Ben’s gf was climbing MK that same day, and we would have a chance to bump into her as she was on the descent the next day. Sabrina’s hubby too was there to see her off, and I chatted with him about his upcoming Bhutan experience.

After a 4 hour air journey, with a 50min transit stop at Sarawak, we finally arrived at Sabah around 5pm. We were received by the agent, Jean, a nice lady who had climbed the sacred mountain a few times. Jean was to take care of our support and requirements during our few days stay. We were immediately ushered into a mini-bus, and what followed was a 2-hour journey up rolling hills to the base of Mt. Kinabalu. We had a stop in between to pick up loads of supplies…DO and me picked up lots of food as we were worried there might be nothing to eat in that wilderness..haha. Night had fallen by the time we reached Rose Cabin, our place of lodging for the next 3 nights. It was cold, and fortunately, we all had our wind-breakers and track tops on. We had a group photo, got our rooms, and met for a dinner to discuss the next day’s plans. Dinner was good, with lots of fresh and crispy vegetables, a key feature at MK where the people grow their own vegetables in their backyard and use them to serve guests and tourists, as well as for local consumption. The room at Cabin Rose were Spartan, and water heating was by gas. I took some time to figure that out…had a nice warm bath, and got ready our stuff for the next day’s training. I planned to bring a mini haversack, with bottles of water, cap, windbreaker, powerbars…wearing running tights,and just a dri-fit T-Shirt. I could not get any sleep that night, because of all the weird noises throughout the night….howling winds, sounds of heavy rainfall, and noises of vehicles.

Day 2: The Maiden Climb

We awoke at 6am, and the skies were already bright. It was raining and the grounds were wet. We were worried that the rains might disrupt our ascent to MK, but those fears were soon put to rest. DO asked me about gloves and then only did I realize what I had missed out from my packing list. Fortunately Yulan had an extra pair, which she so kindly loan me for the whole duration…really god-sent…thanks Yulan, DO. When we got to the dining hall, the rains had just stopped, and we could see for the first time in the horizon, the majestic Mt. Kinabalu. It was a majestic sight, with clouds covering parts of the mountain top. We snapped some photos, had a nice breakfast, before proceeding in a mini bus to the visitor centre. We spent some time processing the papers for our training at the mountain, as well as visiting the chief who takes care of MK. He gave a small briefing to Hamidah and Yusof. On his desk were a pile of certificates of successful climbers to the mountain, waiting for his signature. It was 9am by the time we got on the bus to bring us to Timpohon Gate, the start point of our day’s climb. Along the way, Jean showed us the start and finish points for the actual Climbathon race, as well as some of the slopes we will be experiencing for the final 4km of the race itself. We soaked all that in, and I was looking forward to get moving up the mountain for a good workout. I had looked through a map provided by Rodney, and had some idea of the kind of timings we had to be at various checkpoints, but I had no clue at all to the terrain we were going to experience. There were 5 trekking guides attached to our team.

After signing off at the Timpohon Gate entrance, the front people like Timothy, Hee Shen and DO moved up pretty fast. I was walking the route to soak in the atmosphere and the terrain. Very early on, we had to start climbing stairs, which were cut out from the slopes of the mountain, and some had wooden strips across to provide the better grip. The air was cool and crisp. There were many early groups of trekkers who were strewn all along the route. For the first 2km, I was climbing many steps in succession, once in a while with some mud slopes providing relief for a short breather and maybe a sip of water from my water bottle. It was a challenge to be walking fast up those many steps. I soon lost the front group, as well as the back group. Henry was with me up to the Layang Layang area, which was the 4km point. According to plan, we should make it there by 1hr. I think we were there by 1hr10min due to the initial difficulty of moving past the many groups of casual trekkers. Up to Layang Layang, there were many steep slopes and numerous stairs. I took a few pictures as the scenery got better. Henry soon moved ahead, as I continued on to the 4.5km mark. After a short while, I met a group of young students (from NJC I think) who encouraged me, and saying ‘Good Luck To Your Climbathon’….hmm, they must have heard it from some of my team mates further up front. After a short while, someone said ‘hi’ as she was coming down….I looked up, and hey, it was IMD’s gf. Pleasant to see a familiar face. I asked her if she made it to the top, and she jubilantly said yes, as she continued on her journey down the slopes with care.

From 4km to 5km, there was a change in the terrain with more rocks and pebbles lining the slopes. It was quite tricky maneuvering those rocks, and if one is not careful, can easily slip and make a nasty fall. It felt long and slow along this stretch as the gradient increased and my legs and cardio were stretched. I was breathing heavily, and wondering when I could reach Laban Rata, the 6km mark, an important midpoint in the ascent. The air was getting colder as I continued North. Every once in a while, I would stop for about 10-15seconds to catch my breath, before continuing to drive my legs up those rocky slopes. Soon, the 5km mark came. Good…just 1km more. The route was just about to get much tougher after that. The terrain was one of even more stones and rocks, but inclined much steeper, with areas which were wet. It felt like it was never ending. My legs were so tired, and I was literally panting like a dog. There were some pipes along the sides of the path where I used for support to give myself that extra lift, but even with that, it was tough. 500m of that slope took me about 20min.

The beauty of Laban Rata

I checked my watch and it was showing 1hr45min of elapsed time. According to plan, I should reach Laban Rata in 2hr-2:15hr. There were less people on that part of the slopes, but many more porters who were carrying loads of 50kg on their backs as they climbed those slopes... wow, really full of respect for them as they remained nimble and swift. After a bit more of a struggle, I spotted Hee Shen in front, and from there I found renewed energy to finish off the final 200m more. I reached up to Laban Rata to quite a magnificent view. I took a few photos, and then heard shouts from David and Timothy for me to join them at the hut. They had reached about 10min earlier than me. I immediately spotted a nice-looking local girl next to the signboard, and requested to take a photo with her. David and the rest subsequently lined up to take photos with her too...hehe. After some food and water, we proceeded upwards and after 200m of sloping granite, there was the gate to the Sayat Sayat Hut, the next bound. We felt good and strong, and wanted to continue on with the upward journey. We were disappointed to find that the gate was locked, and apparently, the last group had descended about 15min earlier. The gate will normally be closed after the last group from the Summit had come down and crossed that point, usually around noon….Sigh, too bad,… we had to do it the next day then.

At about 12.30pm, we proceeded to descend. It was a whole new experience for us, as going down was certainly more dangerous and risky than going upwards. Although we were not taxed in the area of cardio strength, the rocks, pebbles, slippery steps and undulating surfaces presented a whole new challenge. I took a whole hour just to descend from Laban Rata back to the 4km mark, looking very carefully to make sure I stepped on the correct rocks, and I did slip a few times. Fortunately I held on to something, and nothing bad happened. Henry and DO too were cautious. As we proceeded down, we saw Rodney, and then Roland on their way up. Henry and David proceeded at a much faster rate after that, but I decided to really be cautious and took it slowly…anyway, we were not rushing for any time that day. The 4km down to 1km mark were full of steps, and with the rains the previous night, they were slippery and dangerous. Along the way were also many groups who were descending, and I had to make many stops to follow behind them as the paths were very narrow. That stretch felt really LONG, partly because I was looking down most of the time to make sure of my footing…it was really boring and frustrating…my Cumulus shoes were just not suitable for such surfaces, and I took a few more slips and tumbles, mainly minor ones. I was walking at snail’s pace for fear of tripping over. I had put on my pair of knee guards for the down-slope, which went towards preventing too much wobbling from my knees, and hopefully would minimize the likelihood of injuries. Soon, Roland and Rodney overtook me, and these two were literally running… wow! It took me almost 2 hours to finish that whole down trip, and by the time I reached Timpohon Gate, only Yulan and Sabrina were behind. They soon came back as well. It was a good experience for me, and with a better feel of the terrain, I knew I could do better the next time. As I was doing stretches and chatting, IMD’s gf came back..I was quite surprised she had just finished her descent, but nevertheless, she did very well and had lots of stories to tell of her climb. The team proceeded to have a nice buffet lunch, where we met IMD’s gf and her new Taiwanese friends. They were a friendly bunch. Most of the trekkers were curious of our training, as it was not so usual for people to ascend and descend in the same morning or even on the same day. We went back to Rose Cabin for a good afternoon rest, and many of us had tired and sore legs. I had a slight headache, possibly due to lack of sleep the previous night, and was quiet during dinner. The following day was going to be even longer and harder, as we will be attempting to go all the way to the Summit or at least to Sayat Sayat, the 7.2km mark. I had an early night, and fortunately managed to catch a few hours of sleep.

Day 3: The Full Climb & Time Trial

I woke up to the sound of howling winds at 2.30am..shucks, so early!! We were supposed to wake at 4.30am for a 5.30am set-off. I tossed and turned till it was time. I felt much better, but my quads were feeling the soreness of the previous day’s climb. I quietly hoped that the climb would be cancelled due to bad weather, but then again, I wanted to go to Sayat Sayat to have a look at the treacherous terrain I briefly saw the previous day. Breakfast was packed as we had to eat along the way. The team had promptly gathered at 5.30am outside Rose Cabin. We had some bananas, before we set off to the start point again. Jean was there as usual making all the arrangements for a 6am climb. However due to some mis-communications, we finlly got started only after 7am. Because of the long day ahead, I decided to bring my MountainSmith mini back-pack in order to bring more food, 2 bottles of water, bread, Livita honey, and more food…haha. That added another 2kg of weight, but I reckoned it was good training anyway.

We started 300m away from Timpohon Gate, simulating actual race day, and on the count by Hamidah, the team exploded into a run towards the mountain. I walked briskly, wary not to get into overdrive ahead of the steep climb. My quads were feeling a little sore, but some in the team felt even more sore. I was trailing behind Hee Shen and DO for the 1st km. Henry, Tim and Yulan were already up in front. They were going for the full works. My plan was just to get to Sayat Sayat and then decide. By the 2nd km, I had overtaken Hee Shen, whose legs were really feeling the effects. Because of the earlier start today, there were very little people on the route. I was able to progress more smoothly, and by the 3rd km, I could see DO still. My legs quickly got tired by the numerous steps leading up to Layang Layang. With the gloves, I was able to hold on to more of the railings and sides of the mountain where possible. That helped to give me some lift to keep going. I reached Layang Layang at around 1hr20min today, possibly due to the extra distance at the start point.

Along the high wooden stairway to the Sayat Sayat Hut

The next 2km was again long and testing. My legs were feeling the aches of the previous day;s climb, and the rocky surface. I had on the Montrail Sustina XCR today. It offered very good grip and provided the much need protection and stability in that rocky and x-country terrain. After what seemed like eternity, I finally reached Laban Rata in 2hr13min. The front people in my team had just left for their next check point. The guide told me there were 10min ahead. I took my time to have a nice Livita drink and 2 bananas. I waited for a while more for Hee Shen, before proceeding up to the Sayat Sayat Hut. It felt great to cross that gate, and once through, it was new terrain again. A steep incline with high stairs greeted me…It was shady with lots of trees, and there was nobody except me. I climbed those high stairs with difficulty, and as the air got thinner and colder, I was panting a lot harder. At one stage, I had to stop to catch my breath after every 3-5 steps. Then steps were followed by very rocky and wet terrain, and it was quite difficulty to move around. Since it was new territory, I took more photos and decided to take it easy. After some time, I reached the ‘famed’ granite slopes of the mountain. There I could see the start of a series of ropes, where trekkers normally used to guide and support them for night climbs up the summit.

The ropes leading up to Sayat Sayat & the View from the top

I tugged at the ropes to ensure they were secure, before making my cautious move along the steep mountain sides. Any wrong move can see someone ‘drop’ hundreds of metres down…sweat. Midway through, someone shouted from below…it was Hee Shen. He was telling me the proper way to hold the rope. One of the guide was with him. At that point, my camera’e memory was full and I could not capture fully the vast expanse of cliffs and slopes….it was a magnificent sight out there. With the strong chilly winds blowing, it was indeed a challenge just to move along the sides. I Looked down occasionally…It was steep. When I got to the third rope, I saw DO up there. He was coming down already? When we met up, he said he was not summit-ing as he could feel his quads tightening and he didn’t to want to risk any cramps on the cliffs. I too felt a slight cramp coming in my left quad. I finally reached up to Sayat Sayat in 2hr50min…hmm, I am allowed 3hr30min to make the summit during the race…that timing is really too close for a call. I will just try my best on race day, to go as far as the Race Officials will allow me to go. I moved past Sayat Sayat for a little bit more, before settling back and taking a rest. Beyond that will be the 7.5km, the plateau, 8km mark and then the Summit. I could see only a rope strung across the sides of the steep slopes, and it was just leading to nowhere. After a while, Hee Shen reached Sayat Sayat with his guide. Hee Shen also did not want to summit as he did not want to delay the group. I rested for about 15min, before making my descent. The way down the Sayat Sayat way was indeed treacherous, and one wrong move would see us tumble to ‘hell’. As such, people moved very slowly and cautiously, and lots more time were taken to descend. Then there were the slippery and sharp rocks to manouvre…wow, really very tough to get down. Sayat Sayat really told me that I will never make the descent time requirements, no matter how much more I can improve, because it requires more than speed…it requires the ‘dare-devil’ spirit (in DO’s words) to be able to leap and bound on those sharp, rocky and slippery surfaces…something which a special breed of people called the Sky Runners will be capable of.

After a whole long hour, I finally made it back to Laban Rata. I looked around and didn’t catch sight of my team mates. I reckoned DO might have gone back to the end point first. With my knee guard already on, I continued down from Laban Rata at a smoother and quicker pace than the previous day, even though my quads were aching like ‘hell’ by then. I met Roland by the 4km mark near Layang Layang, and he mentioned that he had turned back earlier at Laban Rata as he had done enough. I proceeded down with Roland and his guide for 1 km or so before moving ahead on my own. The final 3km had me slip-slidding occasionally as I was trying to move faster. Everytime my quads ached, my legs would soften, and I would mis-step and slip. After 6 hours since I started, I finally arrived back to the stairs up to Timpohon Gate…and up there were Yusof, Hamidah, Carmen, Lingam and Sabrina. It was as if I have arrived at Heaven’s Gate…hahaha… they had excited faces, and told me I had 4km more to go….wahhh.dang, there was still the final 4km of rolling downhill road to go…and with the state of my quads, I knew it was going to be bad. I gritted my teeth, tucked my haversack tightly and proceeded to finish the final 4km. I was running at more than 6min/km pace by then. Along the way, many vehicles tooted their horns, people waved and showed thumbs-up at me…hmm, they must be thinking I was the leader in some race and that I was reaching the end point. They were giving me all the encouragement. I waved back and picked up speed at the same time. That 4km seemed like eternity, and for a moment, I was in some kind of stupor. I just ran and ran, and finally I spotted a building and a few coaches. Yah…that’s the end point. I picked up pace a little, spotted Hamidah and Sabrina, and crossed the finish in 6hr30min. Wow…Relief for me. I had no more water by then, and fortunately Sabrina had a whole bottle…thanks so much. Soon, Timothy and Yulan came racing back, followed by Henry. Kudos to them as they went all the way to the Summit and back, all within 7hours. Roland, David and Hee Shen too finished in fine form. We were all so glad it was over, as we walked like ‘crabs’ to the nearby hotel for buffet lunch. All of us felt so hungry from the tough workout. Henry, Tim and Yulan will get certificates for having summit-ed. DO, Hee Shen and me could have gotten certs for reaching Sayat Sayat too, if we wanted to have the guide certify for us..hehe. It was later that I realized that I had sun burns over my neck and body...the sun was really HOT up at Sayat Sayat, just that it was masked by the very cool winds.

Day 4: Post Recce Training & Back To Singapore

We had a whole afternoon of rest. My room’s water heater finally ran out of gas, and we took very cold baths to relief our aching muscles.heh. DO and I spent most of the day doing our little experience sharing and post-mortem. We had a very sumptious dinner with lots of dishes. A post-training briefing was given by Hamidah and Yusoff, who expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance and dedication to the tough training. It was recognized that Yulan had the best chance of making the final cut, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the elite Sky Runners. We will do our best individually, and at the same time, help to support and help the team. The team spirit was getting stronger, and all wore weary but satisfied looks on their faces. We would be back at the end of September for the actual Climbathon Race, and we would be meeting many international Sky Runners and Adventure Racers then....will be an interesting sight to behold.

We got up bright and early the next morning for a incident-free flight back to Singapore. I was warmly welcomed by Beverly and the kids, and we had nice Swensen’s ice-cream afterwards..hahaha. It was like a ‘camp’ for me the past few days…just training and climbing and descending and more training…I didn’t spend a single ringgit while I was at Kota Kinabalu….hahaha. From the point of preparing for the Climbathon race, It was indeed a very fruitful and enriching trip for me. I learnt a lot about doing such mountain expeditions, and also to some extent whether my body can be acclimatized to such kind of environments. During the course of the 2 days of training, I did not suffer from the effects of cold, thin air nor Acute Mountain Sickness…it probably stemmed from the fact that we did not stay for too long high up on the mountain. I found out that it was a totally different matter and difficulty from trekking and racing Mt. Kinabalu…and after this round of recce, I have good reason to believe that the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon is indeed the Toughest Mountain Race On Earth. My quads really ache badly now, and I think it will be at least 2 days later before I can begin to do my first recovery run.

For a good Post Mortem of the Route and more scenic photos, GO HERE!

Some news of the Climbathon Team's Progress

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mt. Kinabalu, Here We Come...

In a few hours time, I will be leaving for my maiden voyage to Sabah for a preliminary trek in preparation for the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon in Sep/Oct. Well known as the Land Below The Wind and also Land Of The Sacred Mountain, Sabah is a land of varied landscapes and natural wonders. Many ethnic groups live together harmoniously while at the same time preserving their own culture, traditions, festivals and customs to make Sabah a multiculturally exotic experience unlike any other that we would have experienced.

MK newbytes: 25 May 2006

KOTA KINABALU: This year, the organizers of the 20th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon welcome TM (Telekom Malaysia) as they become the event's title sponsor this year.

TM is sponsoring a sum of RM300,000 in cash and RM100,000 in kind for this year's Climbathon, which takes place on the 30th of September and 1st of October. The event is officially called the TM 20th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon 2006

The Climbathon is also the final race of the Buff® Sky Runners® World Series circuit for the fifth consecutive year and is one of the two races in the circuit held outside Europe. Buff® Sky Runner® World Series is regulated and coordinated by the European-based Federation for Sport at Altitude (FSA) who are extremely selective in the choice of races for the World Series. The objective of the association founded on 11th December 1995 is to monitor and administer the formation, promotion and regulation of athletes and races above 2,000 meters and special events at or above 4,000 meters. Final decisions are based on course features, which must comply with FSA rules as well as the quality of organization and history of each race event.

This year, the race begins with the Women's and Men's Veteran Athlete categories on the morning of 30th September. Last year, returning champion and Olympian Anna Pichtrova from Czechoslovakia, was again crowned women's champion with a time of 03:13.2s. She was also the Women's Champion in 2001 and 2002, and managed second place in 2000. Favre Corrine of France (03:29.1s) and Venezuela's Cruz Aleida Salazar (03:42.2s) came in second and third respectively.

In the Men's Open last year, it was an exciting race among the top runners with Mexico's Ricardo Mejia coming in first at 02:41.5s, closely followed by Italians Dapit Faulvio (02.48.2s) and Jean Pellisier (02:49.6s). The Veteran Men category saw Malaysians raking in the medals with Taising Bin Bukulong clocking 03:12.3s at first place, Jios Bin Kundapit at 03:25.3s and Raimin B. Iki at 03:29.3s. Other top ranking Malaysian include Madamin bin Gihun (03:05.3s) in the Men's open and Florina Aku who came in 5th in the Women's Open with a time of 03:46.5s.

The current record holders are Italy's Marco De Gasperi who finished with a time of 02:36.59s in 2003 during the Men's Open and Anna Pichtrova who clocked 03:06.54s in 2004 for the Women's Open.

The Climbathon offers its winners cash prizes along with gold pendants for runners who reach the summit first in the Men's and Women's category. All athletes who complete the race will also receive a finisher's medal and certificate of participation.

Due to the narrow course and harsh conditions of the race environment, only 150 participants will be accepted for the race. For participants who wish to train at Kinabalu Park prior to the race, they must first register in the Climbathon before they are allowed by Kinabalu Park to enter the climbing trail. Training can be done only up to Laban Rata.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The few days to Mt. Kinabalu recce

This week was a slow week as I am preparing for the Mt. Kinabalu recce trip. Will leave on Thursday noon for Sabah, and by the time we reach base camp, it will be in the evening. We will be attempting a climb up to Laban Rata on Friday, and if all is well, a climb on Saturday all the way to Lowe's Peak. The pace will be slow and steady as we will be learning about the environment and obstacles along the climb. We will be back on Sunday.

Monday 17/07: Did a final stairs climb training before we head off to MK this Thursday. I did 10 sets of Bishan 30 floors. I did most of it 2-steps at a time to simulate actual MK steps. The steps at this Bishan Block is higher than those at Toa Payoh's 40-storey flats; just ideal for MK step-training. Completed the 300 floors in 1hr15min...really a good workout. I downed 2 bottles of Gatorade on the way.
Floors Climbed: 300___Time Taken: 1hr30min

Tuesday 18/07: As quite a number of SAFRA MF runners including cm and trainer Ong are still in Thailand, we had Wong and Chua lead us for a flat route run this evening. The SAFRA MF Runners did very well at the Pattaya Marathon with the majority clocking sub-4hr marathons, and one doing 3hr16min....possibly the best ever marathon timing by a SAFRA Runner in recent years.

There were a few new runners this evening, and I spent some time chatting with them. We ran along depot road to Canterbury Estate and then to Labrador Park, where I took 2 800m loops. I did a fast pace in Caterbury Estates, possibly 4:45min/km for the 5km loop, and then slowed to about 5min/km when I exited Canterbury and went into Labrador. It was a warm and humid night, but I still had a very good workout.
Distance Ran: 13.8km___Time Taken: 1hr15min___Pace: 5:26min/km

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lots of Shapes and Eye Candy

SgRunners babes @ The SHAPE Run

Took some time out this lazy Sunday morning to be pom pom team to support runners doing the inaugural SHAPE run. A women's only run which attracted 2,500 women runners was a first in Singapore. I was there with a mission, to pace Beverly for her 5km run, hopefully to do her PB of 35min+, and if possible, to break the 30min barrier. I also took the opportunity to give my SgRunners, SAFRA Running Club, Animiles, MR25 running friends some moral support, and cheers.

Went to the Esplanade and saw TLV (TeeLee's Van) coming in with the shwe babes and pompom boys. We walked up to The Esplanade Food Street to meet up with more running babes of SgRunners as planned...great to meet Spiffy, bbmon, Divey, Bee, Brokie, leh-lio gal, meteor, daisiki, bikerchic, and many more many colors, so many shapes....naturally lots of cameras were whipped out and lots of candid shots were taken. When it was time for the gals to move to the start point, the pompom team went about to do their work and moved to the start point to standby. I met also the RGB gals and Micheele from VPR, and wished them good luck. The 10km race started off promptly, with VT springing into the lead. bbmon was not too far behind, then brokie and the rest, then Bee, then I saw Tong Ling, Shirlyn, Sagolene and many more whipped by....whoosh.

I proceeded to walk up 500m and stood by as the 5km race started off. The SgRunners pom pom team of Superboy, Alvo, Cheow12, kops21, Tiwazz, nemo, teelee, cfred, cyberkinetic, cosmic, dasher, Shutehelup, tekko, renohtaram, hedgehog were gathered ahead ready to do their cheerleading stuff..hehe. Spotted Beverly and I started to run alongside, from the pavement. I ran throughout the 5km pacing her, reminding her about breathing and cadence, as well as telling her the remaining distance. I saw IMD midway, and pointed to him who to shoot...heh. It was a steady run for Bev, and with 1km to go, I pushed her to go for the sub-30min mark....she eventually made it at, PB...haha. I then proceeded to the front, and saw VT and the rest of the 10km runners finishing. I cheered for many of the familiar faces, and ran a short stretch with bbmon, who finished 6th in 43min...good timing. VT finished first in 39min. I saw many more familiar faces coming in, and cheered them as I called out...more 5km runners bambi, Roo, Michelle, Golden Retriever, molly (tekko's MHA), yuujinya ....the 10km runners Rhoda, bbmon, anna, charmaine, run3, charmaine, irene, sumiko, leh-lio, brokie, hyperactive, roonz, Tong Ling, spiffy, Sagolene, Shirlyn, charlotte, bikerchic, tooty, Bee, kickjazz, Divey, Shamrock, xsuanjing, penguin, JT, violet, daisiki, SAFRA Karen, yean....many more which I either missed or cannot recall. It was fun and I was joined by cfred as we both clapped and cheered. We were quite loud, and attracted a bit of attention of the TV crew...hehe.

A Dream Finish

When all had come back, we settled to get some drinks, and rewarded ourselves with yummy durian ice-cream...thanks to Cheow12. All the girls did very well to complete in fine form, as evident from the smiles of satisfaction from their faces. We all proceeded back to the meeting point at The Esplanade Food Street to have some nice group photos against the nice riverside backdrop. The certificate and goodie collection was really a long queue, and while waiting, we all gathered at the Marina Square Food Court for very nice coffee and re-fuelling...I felt quite hungry, and had a Korean Ramen....hmm, yummy. The wait for the goodie bag was well worth the wait and there were a ton of stuff in there, and timings were immediately printed on the certs. I met up with a few familiar faces like MR25's Lim Teck Heng, a few SAFRA Runners, and some friends, seems like many of the gals I know were at the SHAPE run...shhhh...haha. Beverly was quite happy with her timing, and she was thankful she didn;t have to run for too long in that hot sun :). It was a fun event for me, and the 5km run was shiokzzz, as that must have been a dream run for me, running alongside so many shwe gals and babes.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

A tale of 2 runs

A Sleepy Animiles Run

Woke up abruptly, I turned about in bed wondering why the alarm has yet to be set off. I took a look at the alarm clock...Yikes...its already 5.50am. The Animiles run was supposed to start at 5.30am. I clearly remembered I set the alarm at was it that it was showing 7.15am? I made a dash to call DO, and surprise of surprise, DO too overslept. He was walk-a-jogging to Lower Pierce Reservoir. I took a quick coffee, a Uncle Toby's bar, and off I went. I sms-ed SC5, doraemon_red and gentle to inform that I will start my run at 6.30am.

I had planned to do a 22km run this morning, but because of the shortage of time, I decided to do just 18km ie. turning back at Mandai Crematorium entrance. When Do finally arrived, we started our run at 6.35am. My body was still half asleep and it was quite difficult to get warmed up. As we hit Casuarina area, we saw Anna coming back...exchanged hellos, and then saw VT dashing back along OUTR, followed by ironman Lieu. All very fast runners. Then we saw cheow12 coming, fast. I got a little warmed up as we went onto Upper Thomson Road. Soon we saw cw, gentle, melissa, doraemon, notme, and SC5. All were running fast and still looking fresh at that point. As we ran past them, I was shouting that we overslept...hehe.

I reached Mandai Crematorium, and then turned back. Because of the rush, I did not bring along my watch, and so had no time. On the return route, my body started to wake up, and I increased pace a little. I finally reached back to LPR toilet, and DO was the only one left (the rest had gone off to the food centre)...time was 8.05am. I took approx. 1.5hr to do the 18km. We had a rest and stretch down, took some chocolate milk, washed up and rushed off to to have a quick brekky...fortunately met the animiles there...SC5, doraemon_red, Cheow12, mwengrof, Lieu, VT and the gang. Picked up the very nice MapleDREAM T from choonwei. A very eventful Animiles run for me, at least. Cheow12, DO and I then made a snappy trip to the Runners World ASICS Showroom. We met a number of SAFRA runners there...and after we got running shoes for friends and members, we rushed off to our next run..The World Harmony Run.
Distance Ran: 18km___Time: 1hr30min___Pace: 5min/km

The Second World Harmony Run

World Harmony Runners along Little India/Serangoon Road

I parked the car at Adelphi, then took a cab with DO to Hong Kah CC, the start of the 2nd World Harmony Run of this year. This WHR is held in conjunction with Racial Harmony Day. I changed out from my Adizero SN into my retired Cumulus VII. When we reached, it was just in the nick of time...11.45am for the start. There were about 30+ runners, many SgRunners...great to meet up with Commando. He showed us his finger, and it really healed quite nicely. He met with a motor accident, and was out of action for 3 months. Said hello to Johnny, Karen and her fast friend Irene, KK...quite a few. Seal and SV, Hyperactive, Flip, aichai, Shut, FBB, tooty, Ronnie, Wai, so many SgRunners. A very nice and interesting bunch, very hyper and very active...haha. The atmosphere of the run got really very interesting and happening as the run went on. whr and acleong who were organizers, led from the start from a bicycle, and providing directions to the yet-to-be-warmed up runners.

The first stop after running about 3km was the Masjid Darussalam Mosque. We arrived to a rousing and warm welcome by a large group of small children, teachers and mosque representatives. It was very interesting as the children put up a splendid performance for the WHR Runners. That must have been the largest group of people welcoming us, compared with even the many places we visited in March06 WHR. All the WHR Runners were very happy, especially the first timers, even with the sun beating down on us. I was enjoying the run, chatting with new faces like tooty, Karen's friend, FBB, Fiona (Wai Fung's colleague).

After another 3km, we reached the Grace Assembly Of God Church. We shared a short prayer there, before moving along the route to Botanic Gardens and Orchard Road. As we ran into Orchard Road, things really began to sparkle. There were the shopping crowd, and as we ran, there were loud applause and cheers from the enthusiastic shoppers and tourists. We made a stop right in front on Borders, and from there, we looked up the large screen on the Lido Building, and was treated to a 10min video of the World Harmony Run. Many stopped what they were doing to watch, and drivers in their cars along orchard road also looked up. It was happening...lots of photo taking, people from the Borders' cafe enjoying the show, and lots more wondering what the whole commotion was about...hehe. A lot of us were exclaiming that this WHR was turning out to be more happening than the one in March.

We proceeded on along Scotts Road to our next stop, the Khaisa Dharmak Sabha sikh temple. Over here we put on colorful scarves, and some of us looked quite cute in them..haha. We were treated to very nice tea messalah and fruits. I had a second helping of the tea. After the customary plaque presentation and photo taking, we went on to another sikh temple few hundred metres away, up a slope...the Sri Guru Singh Sabha. We were treated to ice cold Bandung..hmm, yummy and some nice dessert. Another large crowd of devotees here to welcome us, very warm indeed. After some prayers and blessings, we carried on along Serangoon Road and arrived a few km later to a hindu temple, the Veeramakaliamman Temple. It is just a short distance from a slightly larger Hindu temple we visited for the March run. We took the walk around the temple and was soon on our way to our last place of worship, the Tai Pei Buddhist Centre. This temple is huge and has a very clean design, and was very simply decorated and airy inside. We had a extra long prayer session by two monks, and was rewarded with ice cold, might be the first time I have tasted Yakult.

From this last place of worship, our final destination was just 4km to The Merlion (the same final stop we had for the March WHR). This being the final stretch had everyone in high spirits...lots of jokes, laughter, and no signs of fatigue. As we ran into Marina Promenade, we had a nice photo session with the dragon boat rowers..Hyperactive was really jumping up and down motivating the runners...Aichai was great running up and down, taking nice group photos. The weather was immaculate, very cool and breezy. We were really enjoying this WHR. As we neared The Esplanade, we had all the girls take turns to carry the torch and the flags. It was really enjoyable, and when we finally ended at The Merlion, it was touching to have so many people wanting to take photos with us...many tourists and graduates having their convocation took lots of group photos with us. We had been on the road for about 5.5 hours, having covered approx. 24km. As we wound down and walked to an open area near the old Parliament House to collect our bags, we reflected on how fortunate we were to be part of this WHR run which was meaningful and has brought some joy and cheer to some of the people we touched. Sandy and her colleague was there to welcome their friends. It was good to see familiar faces welcoming the tired but happy WHR Runners. FBB was very satisfied he did at least 20km, one of the longer runs he had done. I could tell that all the WHR Runners enjoyed this run, though slow, but we all ran together in one united and harmonious unit. Well done WHR Runners!

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Low mileage week

Starting from last week, my running mileage will be decreasing as quite a lot of time will be given to stairs climbing for the 2 weekdays of MK Climbathon Training. We have to reach a stage of doing at least 15sets of 30flloors in about 2hours. I don't enjoy stairs climbing, and will be missing my runs more....hmm, absence will make the heart grow

Monday 10/07: Ran my 'Kampong' loop with Beverly, who also has very low weekly mileage of less than 10km sometimes. Weather was good, and after our usual 1st km of chatting and jogging to warm up, I was running ahead to be the 'carrot'...hehe. Because I ran quite short on Sunday, my legs were still feeling fresh, so my pace was faster....that made Beverly work harder too...haha. As usual I ran an extra 500m into the estate along Braddel Rd. so as to have her be in front for a while. We will normally get back together at around the Methodist Church junction. From there I will move off ahead and will walk near the Kovan area while waiting for her to catch up. She will normally be very kan-chiong when she is ahead... so I will once again move up all the way to Lorong Ah Soo and then all the way back home. The loop is 10km with some extra entrances into various private estates. I could feel some nagging pain in my right sole after 7km....hmm, my Cumulus VIII is already near 900km, and should be retired immediately...haiz, haven't got a new pair to replace it....the shoes still feel and look very good, just that the forefoot cushioning is probably gone by now. Beverly finished the 10km in of her best times, and I didn't pause my watch for the traffic stops... must be the good weather :)
Distance Ran: 10.5km____Time Taken: 1hr01min____Pace: 5:49min/km

Tuesday 11/07: Met up with the NTUC management and sponsors Campers Corner to get a final briefing for the Mt. Kinabalu recce trip from Jul20-23, as well as to collect new training top and travelling T-Shirts. Xavier and Kelvin shared some tips about trekking up MK and effects of Air Mountain Sickness (AMS). After the 30min briefing, we went for our stairs climb training. I planned to do 10sets, but ended up doing 8sets of 30 floors in 1hour....quite a good workout at a steady pace....very necessary for actual race day. The strategy for me will be to go slow and steady, and delay the onset of AMS as well as 'hitting the wall'. I did most of the 240floors with double steps, thus strengthening my quads. Wearing thights and Adizero for the first time to climb stairs made it feel much easier. I am still undecided what shoes to wear for the MK recce... will likely test both the Montrail Sustina and Adizero SN. If I am acclimatized up to Laban Rata on day 1, I will be allowed to move up to Lowe's Peak on day 2 to test my body further...I hope I am well conditioned for those altitudes.
Distance Climbed: 240flrs____Time Taken: 1hr____Pace: 4flrs/min

Wednesday 12/07: Yikes...cannot tahan...didn't run much. Sneaked in a quick 10km run near my place before my dinner appointment. Since I was to run alone (which is quite rare these days), I took the opportunity to do a time trial with my new Adizero SN. It was HOT HOT...the sun was blazing down, and I really felt the heat. Sweated buckets when I finished, and it sure was pretty satisfying.
Distance Ran: 10km___Time Taken: 47min___Pace: 4:42min/km

Thursday 12/07: Because of some delays, I could not make it on time to Bishan for the stairs went to SAFRA MF to join the gang for some slopes instead. As usual, there was a big bunch, with a few new runners. With AHM and SCSM looming, running clubs tend to get more new members who are looking to tap on good training programs and group runs to prepare themselves for these important events in the local running calendar. Because a number of them were going to Pattaya Marathon this weekend, it was a short 9km to Labrador Park. I tried on the new SAFRA Running top and NB thights. The gear were light and reasonably good. I chatted a bit with the new members and derrick initially, and soon Derrick and I picked up pace to join the front group of DO, cfred, Ong, chin huat, and the HP guy. Once into Labrador Park, we went up the slopes from the carpark side, and then onto the Park itself for 2 sets of the 800m loop. While the rest ran back to finish off their 9km, I did 2 more sets up the slopes from the tunnels side, whilst DO did even longer to Mt. Faber. As I did a run on Wed already, I thought I should just go easy and do an aerobic pace. I did the 2 sets in solitude...nice sometimes to be just running alone, panting hard, feeling the wind, listening to strange sounds...hahaha. I don't normally talk when I am into the run (unless it is a social or fun run), only at the initial stages and after the run. I finished my approximate 11km run at the ClubHouse, and joined the rest to do stretches. Did dinner with the guys, and wished all of them the best for their Pattaya Marathon trip.
Distance Ran: 11km____Time Taken: 1hr____Pace: 5:27min/km

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Running Log: More than just a running record

After running for a few years, some of the people and friends I know do experience some kind of fatigue, more mental than pysical mostly. There might be a feeling of 'going into a rut' or 'the lack of a purpose' where running or training is concerned. These will be times where one can reflect back on how one got started on running, the journey of trials and tribulations, the experiences, the people and friends, the ups and downs, the fun and the laughter.... all will serve as good reference and memories as we continue to be motivated and move forward to greater stuff. I personally find that keeping a running log (even a BLOG in my case) does keep me thinking and motivated.... I find it very useful when I need to look back at some of the runs I did, photos showing the events I've attended, the people I've met, and the fun I've had.

I would like to refer to a nice article in Runners World by Jeff Galloway on the merits of keeing a running log, which can help us record our many events and experiences as we progress along the path of a 'runner for life'.

Log Power
A running journal may be your best training tool
by: Jeff Galloway

Cleaning out the garage some time ago, I chanced upon some musty books of notes and numbers: my old running logs. I read them for hours, reliving the excitement of long-past good days and picking out mistakes from bad days. What began decades ago as a simple act to record the highlights of my runs has remained an enriching part of my running experience. You too can benefit from this easy and fun writing practice.

As I did, most runners start by recording their times and distances, and little else. But over the months, log entries tend to expand to include route descriptions, commentary on training partners, and personal reflections on running and life. Look back a few years, and you'll find unexpected philosophy pouring out of your notes!

You'll also instantly connect with the runner you were 5 or 10 years ago and relive some of your most memorable days. But the greatest benefit of keeping a log is understanding its importance as a training tool. By looking back on what worked and what didn't, you can make sensible running decisions today and avoid mistakes that led to burnout or injury.

Keep a Lasting Record

As you learn to record important little details--how many days it takes you to recover from a long run, for example--you'll see trends in injury risk, improvement, and running enjoyment. By noting soreness in your body's "weak links," you can pinpoint when an injury started, and often find the causes. Learning to "read" early warning signs from logbook entries allows you to make the training adjustments necessary to sidestep trouble now and in the future. Over years of recordings, you'll come to know your strengths and limitations as a runner and as a person.

Turn Visions Into Goals

Whatever your goals may be, a logbook can sustain your inspiration and keep you on track. Logbooks also allow you to dream a bit. They're the perfect place to record "visions" (optimistic but realistic projections of what you think you can attain 6 or 12 months ahead) and to lay out a training plan to transform those visions into accomplishable goals. Along the way, the reviewing of training details will help keep you on target for success.

While slick, specialized running journals are full of information and inspiration, anything from a standard wall calendar to a computer file can serve as a running log. Software products allow you to set up a training program, track your progress, and collect and sort data quickly and efficiently.

If you haven't been in the habit of logging runs, I recommend you start by recording a few bits of information in a notebook. Later you can shift to a spiral-bound journal or computer product.

Nuts and Bolts

Here are a few things you may want to record in your running log--and why:

1. A daily or weekly goal, so that each run has a purpose
2. Time of your run in minutes
3. Distance in miles or kilometers
4. Morning heart rate, to judge general fatigue level
5. Weather conditions
6. Time of day, as it may influence how you feel
7. Terrain (too many hills sometimes lead to injury)
8. Walk breaks, as they affect how you feel and recover
9. Splits from speed sessions, to gauge training progress
10. How you felt (on a scale of 1 to 10)

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

The BG Run

Some call it the Botanic Gardens Run, others refer to it as Brokie's Gang Run...whatever it stands for, we all know it as The BG Run :). I finally found time after a long while to join in for this scenic run on this nice, cool humid Sunday morning. Since it was going to be a 14-16km run (hmm....must be the shortest I have ever done on a weekend in a long while yet...hehe), I just took a cup of coffee, and off I went to pick DO and Superboy up from Serangoon MRT. We reached the old SMU campus by 6.35am, and while waiting for the rest to come in, we did 3 slow laps round the track to warm up.

Miffy, angelica, JT walked in as I finished the rounds. By then, there was a crowd at the basketbacll court, all warming up and stretching. Ultraman was a surprise visitor, and he had already ran 20km in the morning before meeting us. Nice to see Doraemon_red, Ronnie, teelee, cfred and the gang. Brokie finally came, and gave a brief of the route with well put up maps...very pro...haha. Attendance were taken, and some late-comers were asked to drop 50...hahaha. The route would take us from SMU (Evan Road) --> in and around BG --> BG Gate (Evan Road) --> Cluny Road --> Minden Road --> Ripley Road --> Tanglin Road --> Nassim Road --> Cluny Road --> Dalvey Road --> Stevens Road --> Orange Grove Road --> Tanglin Road --> Nassim Road --> SMU (Evan Road). I guess there must be over 30 SgRunners gathered, and there were quite a number of new people too. I went around introducing myself and chatting with most of them....great to meet very new members like cazz, bikerchic, melissa (mwengrof) and gems. There was a 12km route, with a 4km extension for those who will need the extra distance. My plan was to shuttle between the front pack and the rear, adding in extra distance on the way, and depending on how I felt, might just do away with the extra bit.

The initial part in Botanic Gardens was nice...bumping into RealRunner and his MHA, seeing the early groups doing chi gong and tai-chi, some joggers too...we missed the front group for a bit, but eventually met up with them at Ginger Gardens. I chatted a bit with roonz, bikerchic, cazz as we ran into the Evolution Garden.....nice place...most of the runners have pretty good pace, and should do well for their upcoming Mizuno Wave and AHM races. I was just running up and down, chatting, and making sure to maintain eye contact with Brokie's group and the rear groups. From BG, we moved out onto Evan Road, then crossed over to Minden Road out to Ridley area and back to BG. I have done parts of this route when I ran with the MF Runners from SAFRA MF to BG. Jamessoh, Teelee, Ronnie, Cokiee, SportVenturer and Tiwazz were covering the rear for that stretch, and I ran along to meet up with their group to continue to the Shell Station along Tanglin Road for the first break. Brokie and the rest were there a tad earlier, and the group RV'ed. We had covered about 9km up till then. We hung around for about 10min, before moving off...this time, I followed renohtaram with JT, angelica, teelee, Ronnie, Cokiee and the rest....running along Nassim Road towards Cluny. I think the slopes started from here, and midway, I ran back all the way and found miffy, cazz, gems, teelee and tiwazz. After passing the last person, I turned back and ran forward again...did that a few times...quite fun, doing the distance, yet maintaining eye contact with all.

We finally reached Cluny Road and back to the back entrance of BG, where Brokie and the lot were waiting for us. DO who lost the group in BG finally met up at that point too. Great, we could continue on from there. The front group had probably ran ahead by that time. We continued on with a new group into scenic Dalvey and Stevens Road...there were a few gentle slopes which posed a good challenge, and I had second helpings of those whenever I had the chance to run back and then forwards again....the air was fresh inside, but it was still humid... lots of lush greenery, good for the eyes....hehe. I felt I was working quite hard with those slopes....good, then I don't need to run extra later on. Out onto Orange Grove Road, and we went for a second loop into the quiet enclave that time, some of the runners were feeling the strain of the slopes, and I advised them to take some walk breaks up the slopes. The second wind came for most of them, and we finished the run in good form and timing at Cluny Road. After some light stretches, we did a cool-down walk back to old-SMU...collected Brokie's barley and cut apples, before arriving to cheers of joy from the group anxiously waiting for the heavenly taste of Brokie's barley. It was a nice workout for me, even though the distance was not that long...hmm, and I was so thirsty. Grabbed a piece of apple, and had double servings of the ice cold barley....heavenly....hehe. The Prata Cafe was closed...haiz...we went to Food Haven after washing up, and I received my autographed Dr.Willian Tan book from Seal....thanks... Also got Ronnie to try the WR9, and am glad it was a good fit for him. Had a lot of nice discussions about SCSM05, World Harmony Run and also the CBD and RL runs. It is always good to meet the SgRunners for runs, as there are always so many people to meet and things to talk about and discuss. It was only when the rains threatened, we left Food Haven with very satisfied legs, stomachs and mouths :).

Because of the to-ing/fro-ing and the fact I did not set my stop-watch, the distances and timings will be based on my own estimates....not very accurate.
Distance Ran: 18km____Time: 2hr____Pace: 6:40min/km

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Friday, July 07, 2006

My many different running groups...

I virtually don't run nor train alone anymore. I enjoy running with a group of like-minded people who enjoy distance running, and have common topics like races, shoes, running gear, etc to chat about..:). I am already a member of the SAFRA Running Club, MR25 Runners, SgRunners, NTUC MK Climbathon Team, and will soon be a member of PaceSetters Club in KL, Malaysia. The benefit for me is being able to tap on the training and support for running from the various Clubs, as well as the many good friends and running mates I have made. This week represents a typical running schedule where I have runs with a few of these running groups:

Monday 03/07: Did stairs climbing training with the MK team. I ran from home to Bishan St 24, a 4km jog to meet up with Hamidah and the team. Hamidah briefed a little about the upcoming MK recee trip, and it is certain we will not be making an ascent for this round. Our future MK training will focus on just stairs climbing...yikes, boring stuff, but I guess there is not really a choice...since Mt. Kinabalu is made up mainly of undulating steps.... stairs climbing will be a major feature of the race. I tried on my Montrail Sustina for the stairs. I did slightly over an hour of stairs up the 30-floor HDB block at Roland's place. I took it easier this evening to simulate the long endurance climb, but still it worked my quads real hard. Ran back home, with DO joining me for about 3km of the journey. Hmm, have to bring bananas for the next stairs climb, if I am doing more than 300 floors :)

Tuesday 04/07: Took some time out to join the SgRunners CBD run. There was a big group of 30+ runners, many whom I have not met face-face though we have corresponded in the SgRunners Forum. It was nice to meet and catch up with the familiar faces too, Sotong, Bee, Balasing, Cokiee, Superboy, Jamessoh and many others whom I have not met for some time. The new members to the group were an interesting bunch...Andy, nemo, Roonz, KickJazz, JT, Shut, aichai, Tin Tin, rayner, ham et al... actually, I was the one new to them as they were considered the 'veterans' of the CBD run liaozzz. We took a nice 9.5km route into Marina South, all the way to the new Pier. Divey who was still nursing her injury, along with taz and a few others took the 6.5km route. It was nice as we ran along, and moving to touch base with the various groups running at different pace...sometimes pacing them for a bit, sometimes racing a little...a bit of fartlek training yah...haha.

After a short break at the Pier, we proceeded to the Victor's Bowl (or also known as Steamboat) area. DO and I had broken away from the front group as we wanted to do an extra loop around the area, making it more or less 12km. We ran back exiting from the Prince Edward Road side, and reached back just nicely to meet the various runners finishing their runs too. I had a nice time chatting with the new people, and also joined in the Birthday celebrations of Andy.. a nice piece of chocolate cake...pretty sinful though *burp*. As I had to get home earlier, I went off with DO and Divey first. A nice outing for me, a good break from the training runs and stairs climb I have been doing recently. Looking forward to another nice run with the group at Botanic Gardens this Sunday.
Distace Ran: 12km___Time Taken: 1hr06min___Pace: 5:30min/km

Thursday 05/07: Went down to SAFRA MF to try out the new SAFRA Running vest for year 2006-2007. The vest this time is very nice, Black with Orange sides. Shamrock whom I've not seen for a while also went down for the vest. Thanks to Edmund from SAFRA TP who brought the vests down for us to try, and thanks for our SAFRA MF Chairman, Thiam Huat for having the foresight to stock up some for us. I got mine on the spot.

The new SAFRA Running vest

I did a 13km run covering MF Clubhouse -> Henderson Rd -> Tiong Bahru Park -> Delta Canal -> Ridley Park -> Holland Rd -> Margaret Drive -> Delta Canal -> Tiong Bahru Park -> Henderson Rd -> MF Clubhouse. Had a fine time for the first half of the run chatting with the various runners, Jaime, Uncle Lim, 2 new runners, Colleen, and a few more. Uncle Lim is already thinking about his second full marathon after the Phuket one :). I picked up pace along the Ridley Park area, and ran mostly alone up to Margaret Drive where DO and I met up and paced each other. We waited for the rest at the junction back to Delta Canal, and watched cfred, small Chua and another new runner run past. First time I saw cfred running...hmm, he has good running form, potentially a good distance runner in no time. When sh and Colleen came, DO and I ran along with them all the way back to MF ClubHouse. Jaime felt out of sorts, cramping up at the ClubHouse...probably she was dehydrated and had 'hit the wall' of sorts...after some massages, and resting, she eventually made it to the hawker centre. She looked well...Hope she has recovered fully by now. Its good to have something to eat 1-2hours before any run longer than 10km, and hydration is always necessary during runs.
Distance Ran: 13km___Time Taken: 1hr08min___Pace: 5:14min/km

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