Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pre-Ultra Intervals

Found some time to join the SAFRA MF gang for their menu this evening....yeah, intervals. It has been some time since I went to Queenstown Stadium for some laps, and after the hard ground I experienced during Saturday night's Sundown run, I felt my feet deserved some pampering on the bitumen track :).

A turnout of about 3o. We began the customary 4km warm-up run from ClubHouse to Queenstown Stadium. I had a chance to try the new DS Trainer and she performed like a charm. However, the evening was humid, warm and without any wind, just like the previous few nights. Once at the Stadium, we were briefed by Trainer Ong to do 5 sets of 1.2km each, with 4min 400m laps reasonable averages for all. I warmed up in the first lap with a 5:50min time. A short rest, and then the next lap in 5:40min, then the 3rd lap in 5:23min.

Because of the extremely warm weather, and many of the runners perspiring profusely, Trainer Ong and Chairman advised all to take a water break, and then to end the night with just 1 more lap to make it 4. Since it was the final lap, I just let loose, and played a game of catch up....completed the final set in 4:50min. I enjoyed the interval run this evening....mainly because they were longer 1.2km sets, and the pace set was reasonable. A slow jog back of 4km completed the warm night of training.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Final Sundown Familiarization

It was a very warm and humid night. About 100 odd runners have gathered at Changi Beach Park, and even the press were there to take photos and cover the even opening. Briefings were conducted by Ripley and TLR, and the lead runners were introduced. Bev and I were part of the the lead runners for the mid-pack, supposed to be doing an average 7min/km pace.

We started off at around 8.15pm. Running along the narrow pathways was a real challenge, even with such a small number of runners. I cannot imagine what it will be like on actual race day. Chatted with my group of runners comprising of DO, Ultraman, Eugene, kk, SealBoon, Prata, Raven, Colleen, William, Spinn3rX and other runners who were following the mid-pack. Spotted Mike Kang bobbing up and down the lanes...there were many other familiar faces too.

We began immediately with our 25min run/5min walk, a slight change to the routine for the night. The part along Changi Coastal Drive's Park Connector was boring, and it was good that we were running as a group. Chatted with a few new runners and gave them encouragement for their maiden marathons. Roonz was running very well, given her much lighter physique. Half-timer joined in the conversations, and he was running so strong. Into the PCN to East Coast, the Skateline Saturday nite skates were happening, with large groups coming in the opposite direction, the leaders holding on to large beacons....they were having fun....hope to join them for one of these night skates after Sundown.

Near NSRCC, our group of mid-pack runners had bunched to about 20+ runners. Other smaller groups were running near us. We had some nice photo shots taken by a photographer strategically lined up along that way. We finally spotted the large group of front runners along ECP BugerKing area who had gathered for group photos. DO had a chat with them while the rest of us continued running. Bev called out to me and said she would wait for me to u-turn from Big Splash. By then, our legs were getting the strain of the flat, hard ground of the ECP route. On the return, we saw Kayano, Brokie and their bunch of runners waiting at turn-off to Bedok Reservoir PCN. We waved merrily, before turning off onto the overhead bridge. At last, some relief, although very small, for the legs...some variations to the otherwise very flat and hard ECP.

Bev managed to catch up with me near the Kembagan MRT, before proceeding together towards Bedok Reservoir. The very warm night was taking its toll on most of us, and I was perspiring profusely. It was with sheer delight that we welcomed the refreshment point set up by JamesSoh. He had cold 100-plus and bananas, which were life-savers at that point. After the refuel, I felt a 'second wind' and ran in the direction given by James. zco in his SKINS suit was also there....wow, he must have been running quite fast to be in front.

The part from Bedok Reservoir PCN to Pasir Ris PCN was a real blur. We must have made a number of wrong turns, but with directions given by the people-in-the-street, we were mostly on the PCN. That was quite different to what we ran during the previous Fam runs, where stretches were done on roads. Without marshalls stationed at specific turns, it can be a real challenge for runners to know their way on race day. I shudder to think what will happen if I have to figure the way after running for 50km or more. I hope for the best. Colleen, Prata and Ultra were running strong, while the rest were content to plod along. My feet were pretty achy with all the pounding of flat, hard PCN roads.

We had a good break at Cheers. Fennel had stayed with the smallish group of about 10 of us by then. Having found the Pasir Ris Pk PCN, we estimated we were about 12km from the end point. We did our next walk break when we reached Downtown East area, 5km later. Along the way, we did not see many other runners. We wondered where all of them went to. zco and Spinn3rX also broke off somewhere, without our knowledge. With about 7km to go, Eugene reported that we had ran for 38km, at an average pace of 6:30min/km during runs, and 7:30min/km during walks. Wah, we actually ran a bit longer than planned.

The final 7km was just 'mental', with all proceeding towards the end point at Changi Beach Park. Bev, kk, DO and myself were running as a small bunch, with Prata, Ultra, Colleen in front. I managed to show the rest the turn into Cromwell Drive (which was the actual route), which would be longer as opposed to running straight down. Spotted SealBoon and a few other runners near Changi Village. I informed them we were almost there, and led them to the finish. We were so happy to finish about 47km in 5hr45min, and immediately abolished our initial plan to run till 60km. Our legs were just so 'wasted'.

I drank 8 cups of cold Gatorade provided by the SgRunners' support team....great work for the organization and support by Ripley, taz, renohtaram and a few other moderators. It was a hard, but satisfying run. We decided we had to revisit the PCN from Bedok Reservoir to Pasir Ris Pk to familiarize ourselves. Bev and Eugene were happy they completed their first marathon of 42km or more. Since most of us had no mood to eat, we decided to head straight home. After a nice warm bath, I slipped on my recovery compression tights, and had a good rest of about 6hours. I was refreshed and rejuvenated after that. No chaffing, abrasion and no major damage.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spoiler - heavy showers

I was all ready to do a early Saturday morning run with DO, but was woken by heavy thundery showers at about 3am. Couldn't get back to sleep, and read a book till 4.30am. The showers did not abate, and I sms'ed DO to cancel the run. The weather forecast showed that there would be more rain on Sundy morning...shucks.

Drove to ECP B1 with Bev in the evening to do our LSD, while the weather was dry. It was cloudy but real humid when we started in the direction of F2 and Changi Beach Park. We planned to do a 3hr run, and U-turn when we reached 1.5hrs. I put on my new 2XU long compression tights to test its capabilities. Put on some music, and more or less soaked in the sights. Lots of bikers, roller-bladers, runners, joggers, walkers, beach-goers and families around. Met some familiar faces along the way, and was late to respond to a few who called out to me...apologies if I did not acknowledge, I was really zoned in and did not look around at faces too much.

I took the PCN (Park Connector) route which led to the pathway along Changi Coastal Road. I U-turn after doing 1hr35min. Bev called to say she would turn back earlier as the place was getting dark. It was quite mental running alone on the flat surfaces, with the occasional bikers going by. Decided to listen to some inpirational stuff instead of music, and that got me pumped up for a bit. By the 2hr15min mark, my legs were feeling the strain...may be due to the depletion of glycogen, and that I had nothing other than gatorade mix. A pack of stylo gal bikers zoomed by and the leader called out to me...Eliza...exchanged greetings a little and away they zoomed off. I was feeling quite slow then.

I tried to pick up the pace a little to reach back to B1 earlier, but it was not easy. The crowd was thick at the MacD and Skateline areas, and a biker nearly crashed into me, with her screaming... ARGHHH....haha....scary lah. Saw Big Splash and I knew it was near. Reached back to B1 in 3hr15min. I reckoned it was about 30km, averaging 6:30min/km pace. It was a hard workout, but at least we completed the weekend LSD. It was close to 9pm, and we soaked in the atmosphere of the quiet and moonlit night.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

55km aftermath

Quite a number of injuries have cropped up with a couple of the runners that attempted Dusty 55km run last Friday night. Because of the increase in mileage ahead of Sundown Ultramarathon end May, there is an inherent problem of bodies not recovering fast enough, allowing injuries, especially to the knees and leg areas to flare up.

I did a series of short recovery runs after a good rest over the weekend. A 9km on Sunday around the neighbourhood, bumped into Spinn3rX, my neighbour who also did the Saturday run. He heard there were some injuries, and we also chatted about him looking at starting some regular runs at NTU, his new training grounds...hehe.

Did another 9km on Monday, this time in reverse direction. The rains threatened my start, put on my cap for insurance, and was happy that it was dry eventually. The legs have cleared off the accumulated lactic acid by then, I hope.

Went down to MF on Tuesday despite the heavy rains in the afternoon. As usual, the rain stopped just in time for our 7pm run. Put on my older pair of Katana in favour of the new DS Racer because of the wet grounds...again had my cap on just in case. The Katana is still performing well in spite of hits rather high mileage and there was still good traction. Ran as a group with the SAFRA MF Runners to Labrador Park, and did 6 laps of the 1.2km 'tunnels' loop as planned by Trainer Ong. I averaged 8min+ per lap, which did help to work up the cardio....good to feel the heart pumping. The regulars were there, and Michael brought his son along...which did well at his first SAFRA training run.

At the recommendation of Alan from SgRunners, I went down Running Lab and walked away with the Optic Nerve HALOGYN PM sunglasses....comes with 4 pairs of interchageable Photomatic lenses, adjustable nose-bridge rest, active air vents and 100% UV protection. The price is very good for sports sunglasses with such specifications. Looking forward to trying to see if it is suitable for me to use in long distance running.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Dusty Run

The much anticipated NTU Dusty Run finally happened. About 40+ enthusiastic runners showed up at NTU Sports Recreation Centre at 10pm, armed with our night running gear, ample fuel, blink blinks and lots of gumption. Stardust, the event organizer, gave a brief of the route and we started at 10.25pm. The night was warm and humid, as we started to tackle the NTU slopes with our 30min run/5 min walk plan.

Bev went into her 6:30min/km pace immediately as she had planned to do 35km as her second longest run distance in preparation of the full marathon. Most of the runners were familiar faces, and there were some whom I have not met for some time. Spoke with Rusty about her KLIM performance, as well as the attractiveness of Sundown, enquired about Fennel's haversack of goodies, and was quietly smiling about Brokie's 'mummy-style' taping on her leg. It took almost an hour just to get out from NTU itself.

Our small group of DO, Brokie, Colleen, Prata, Stardust, DeepCruiser and myself began our run/walk routine right from the start, and after about 1 hour, we found ourselves at the rear of the pack. The turn in from the unused runway (Lim Chu Kang Rd) into the cemetary was interesting, and all were rather quiet during that stretch. It was good to see the front runners going very strong as they U-turned along the unused runway....that was one 'mental' stretch filled with strange smells and some rather fast cars. Kayano joined us for our third walk-break. PS and Alber were testing their 1hr run, 5min walk (which turned out to be pretty tough for such a long distance). After 2hours of running, I could feel a tinge of tiredness in my feet, and we were looking forward to a nice toilet break.

We took our first refuel break at a coffee-shop near to NTU. Some of the front runners were already there, while a smaller group had earlier broken away at NTU. It was about 1am, and the zzz monsters were attacking. Bev managed to find us. Rosemary and her team were there too. I had my raisin bun, and gulped down a can of cold soya-bean milk....it was refreshing and I was energized. We stayed there for about 10min before continuing with our journey. Next stop was Jurong Hill. I noticed that the group was thinning as the night drawn on. I put on my MP3 player and enjoyed some nice music to compensate for the lack of sights in the night, and to give myself some tempo to consume the miles ahead.

We had some photos taken at Jurong Hill, before proceeding to the very long and straight road towards Pandan Reservoir. Our group have become about 15 pax by then. We ran along the highway, then the sandy surface of Pandan Reservoir. Bev and Rusty had caught up with us by then, and they were going strong. We decided to have a longer break at the Petrol Kiosk after the Reservoir. By then, we had covered 31km, and the effects of the night were showing on the runners. Eugene had turned back at the Reservoir for his 35km run. Mohan told us that Brokie, Vincent and Kayano had also turned back for their shorter distances. Alber and PS also caught up with us at the kiosk.

With 31km covered, Bev and Rusty contemplated doing 4km more before calling it a night. The next stop would be a long road along West Coast Highway towards Clementi and then Buona Vista MRT, covering aother 10km. A group photo at the kiosk. Mohan decided to hop on a cab back to NTU. Bev and Rusty took a cab home once they achieved their misson along Pasir Panjang. The remaining 10 of us by then had to tackle the long and winding road...haha. Stardust, DO and I just kept running thoughout to finally reach the Dover Road Caltex kiosk for our final long break. It was 4am in the morning, and we had been on our feet for close to 6hours.

Ultraman and Freddy called from Buona Vista MRT to indicate we had covered 39km by then. I downed 3 cups of choco milk, and finished my remaining raisin bun. Wendy, Bose, Alex and Yong came to join us as well. They were doing well to reach the 39km mark. We had about 16km to the end point, and that turned out to be one of the toughest stretches I had to run yet. We set off at 4.12am along South Buona Vista Road, turning towards Dover MRT station. The road was yet another long and straight one. Colleen and Prata led the run, while I was contented to just tag along behind Stardust.

We turned into Clementi Ave 2, and went up the bridge to wait for the rest. After waiting for a while, Bose finally called Stardust to informed that his group had missed the turn and ran straight up. So Prata, Colleen, Stardust and I just proceeded on with the remaining 11km to NTU. The speed set by Prata was no less punishing, and I was just looking forward to the end. I shouted for our 5min walk break for some reprieve, which did give me renwed strength. By then, my major problem was chafing on my inner thighs, which I had not applied BodyGlide too...shucks!

I just pushed on and it was great that Stardust called for a toilet break at Chinese garden MRT station. It was there that we found back Bose, DO, Wendy and Sealboon. We were joined by the ang-moh as DO recounted how his group were treated to some secret short-cuts by Wendy...haha. Wendy did indeed know the place well, and before she bade farewell 3km further, she showed us the coffee-shop for our final stop, just 1km outside of NTU. I had ice-cold milo, and it was the best thing I've had in a long time...haha. I slumped onto the chair, and did not really want to go anywhere. Brokie and Ultra called to say they were waiting for us at the end point...so we picked up our weary bodies and pushed the final 1km to the end.

Brokie took some victory photos of us, before sharing about the events of the night. Raven was there since 3am to give support to the group...*kudos*. Brokie had finished her run by 2.30am, and waited for us till 6.30am..*appreciate*. I had covered an estimated 58km over a total time of 8hrs. Some had done a little more, while the majority did slightly less. Ultraman dished out his pearls of wisdom, while Bug was looking very fresh even after his 60km conquest. I almost screamed in the bathroom as the water hit my abrasions...*OUCH*. My legs were feeling ok otherwise. We gathered for breakfast at Boon Lay market, before heading for home at 8.30am, a good 10hrs since we gathered.

Maybe it was the intensity and that my body was still very active, I could not get to sleep after I reached home. This must rank as one of the toughest runs I've done in a while. Bev was pleased as punch with her 35km accomplishment. She could have done more if she wanted to, but that was not in the plan. Thanks to Stardust who painstakingly planned and organized the whole event, with recce runs, videos of the run route and detailed instructions. DeepCruiser and RoadRunner helped heaps too with the design of the banner and leading the runners. It was a challenging but very good training run for me. I survived the Dusty Run 2008!

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another HOT Run

Half expecting the morning to be sunny, I put on my new ASICS Biomorphic Compression tights to test the effectiveness of its 'cool' factor and sweat-wicking capabilities. Also put on my newly purchased old-model Speedstar for some run-in. A reasonable crowd turned up, and it seemed that more MF Runners are taking on the Sundown Marathon and Ultra-Marathon at end May. Angela shared a little about her South African ocean-ocean 56km Ultra-Marathon, and we began talking about the possibility of us doing the 90km Comrades Marathon one day.

Bug gave a brief of the 30km route, and away we went under heavy cloud cover. Chatted with Heng along Portsdown Road, and telling him to test out some lighter runners for good measure. Met an Ang Moh runner who was keen to join us for some Sundown training, and I told him to meet us at ClubHouse next week. I put on my zen stone for some pop music to set me up on a tempo along Dover Road, and then to NUS Guild House. Took a short break, and proceeded along Prince George's Park, and then turned left along some rolling hills, towards the NUS library. The sun was blazing down on us, and more water stops had to be made.

Spoke with Lai Chee about her Sundown chances and the attractive prizes on offer. Dawned on me that there might be not that many lady runners for the 84km distance....hmm, maybe should ask a few of them to bump up to that distance. We ran back out to PGP, and then turned towards South Buona Vista Road, and onto Pasir Panjang Road. Not wanting to do more slopes, I ventured into Labrador Park on my own for an additional 4km or so. The ASICS compression tights kept me cool and dry from the waist down, even with the sun beating furiously on me. I thought about getting a complete compression suit for long races....must start looking out for good discounts...hehe

Saw a few of the runners going up Mt. Faber for their loops, but I will give that a miss. Reached back to ClubHouse doing about 30km in 3hrs, including all the various stops. My legs felt ok, and I didn't feel too drained this morning. Had a good lunch discussion about our Sundown prep, and the upcoming 55km Dusty Run at NTU this Friday evening!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Speedstar 3...I'll be waiting!

Just got a replacement for my old ASICS Speedstar, albeit same model, different colour...while waiting patiently for the launch and availability of the Speedstar 3 (ASICS Fall Range) later this year. Found a write-up and posting of a sneak preview of the Speed 3 on one of the online running forums.

Sneak Preview: Speedstar 3

From initial reviews: Speedstar 3 SSWWWEEEEEEET shoe! Msrp US$85 will retain same fit as the 2. Little overall changes occurring to the shoe, midsole remains same, tooling remains same. New outsole is a blown rubber instead of the old PU duosole for increased durability. Reduced overlays on the upper allow a more open feel.

My initial take is that the colour looks rather similar to the original yellow Speedstar, just that there are more black trimmings with laces. Good to hear that the wear and feel will be similar to the original version, and weight is about 9.4ounces, which some of the overseas runners were uncomfortable with. I will be looking forward to more reviews as the shoes become available in North America and the Asian markets.

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