23 December 2007

Farewell 2007, Welcome 2008

Honestly, I am glad that 2007 is over. It was a year of big changes in life as well as disappointment in terms of my running. Firstly, I got married hence finding the time to run was a bit difficult (we were in long-distance relationship previously, hence I had freedom to run). Secondly, we've moved back to Singapore which is really not a conducive place for running (humid, crowded, lack of races). Thirdly, after 3 years of consistent training, it seems that my running performance has plateaued. My mileage and PB history so far:

2005: 3575k, 14 real PBs+ 8 first race PBs

2006:, 3700k, 7 PB

2007: 3300-3400k, 1 PB

All in all, I had little to cheer about in terms of running.......

I've been thinking a lot about my running plan for 2008. When I returned to Singapore in October, I thought I would solely focus on 5k/10k/21k since marathon training would be a humungus challenge given the heat/humidity, new job, and lack of running places. However, since then I have had a mood swing.

Firstly, I didn't fare too badly from the weather judging from my last two races (not great time, but okay). With more time, I think I should be able to tolerate the conditions better. Perhaps I should treat this as 'heat training' and hopefully I can perform better when I do 'cool weather' races. Secondly, there are possibly no 5k/10k races in Singapore until April or May next year. How motivating is that?

I've been searching the web for races in the region. Given my measly mileage in the last 3 months, I think a marathon in 1Q is definitely not a viable option. 2Q is more realistic - a couple friends from Perth will be running Canberra Marathon in April, but I am unsure whether I'll be in a racing shape 3.5 months from now. Domestically, there are two new marathons, namely Sundown Marathon (night) in May and Lion City Marathon in June, but I doubt I can race to the best of my ability in humid conditions.

The most viable option looks like Gold Coast Marathon in early July. It seems to have all the tick in the boxes - it is fast and flat, with a decent field size (not small but not gigantic), pacer group availability, good weather, and a nice place to go for a short holiday with my wife. It is also a good 6 months from now. I can simply do base building for a couple of months before jumping into marathon-specific training for the next 3 months and then into taper.

Here are my tentative (but not complete) races for the first half of 2008. Once the local running calendar is out, I might do a couple of track races (3k, 5k) such as Allcomers Meet, SAA road relay etc.

30 Mar: 10k/21k as part of Kuala Lumpur Marathon

The probability of doing this one is probably 80-90% as KL is about 1hr by air from Singapore. Probably will do 10k or 21k to gauge fitness shape (albeit a hilly course)

31 May: 'marathon training run' or relay as part of Sundown Marathon

This is a new marathon/ultra to be held at night time in Singapore. I'd say the probability of doing this one is about 60-70%. If I do it, I might run

the relay (two-person team) or the full 42k as a slow training run - five weeks before Gold Coast.

8 June: Saucony Passionrun 15K

The probability of doing this run is about 50-60%. Basically I will use either this race or Phuket HM in the followng week to gauge my marathon goal shape.

15 June: Laguna Phuket Half-Marathon

If I don't do the above, probably I will run this one because we can combine this with a holiday. Since this is 3 weeks out before Gold Coast, I might either run the HM at all-out to test my marathon shape or simply at marathon-goal pace for pace familiarization.

6 July: Gold Coast Marathon

Barring any injuries or physical/mental breakdown, this would be the GOAL race for the first half of 2008.

10 December 2007

Quiet Time

Ain't much goin' on last week….

Have done very little running - only 3 x 30-45 minute runs plus a short fartlek session in the last 8 days. There is a new X factor that possibly can hinder training, namely tropical downpour during the monsoon season. The rain could go on and on for more than 24 hours non-stop. We had a couple of those days last week.

My weights has ballooned to 70.6kg due to Singaporean yummy but fatty diet as well as low mileage.

I expect my training to be very minimal this month. Will spend this week in Bangkok, Thailand for a workshop so perhaps I can only afford to have 3 training runs at most. For Christmas, my parents will be coming over hence there will be little running. For New Year, we'll go for a holiday in HK Disneyland.

I look at the local running calendar and there are virtually no races for the next 4-5 months (some charity/fun runs could exist but not in anyone's radar at the moment). This has deflated my running appetite a bit.

Perhaps it is a good time for a break. A full month to rest the body and mind in order to get ready for next year.

Will think about my goals and planned races for 2008 in the next few weeks. Due to busy schedule, please expect delays in posting a blog. Also, need to do a bit of negotiation with my wife, possibly for running 2008 Gold Coast marathon in July.

02 December 2007

Singapore Half Marathon 2007 (too many people !)

Finished the HM in 1:32:xx.... slightly disappointing....

My 'cool weather' HM is 1:27 and I was hoping to get 1:29-1:31 in Singapore, taking into account the temperature differential. At the end, it wasn't the temperature that was the main problem, but it was the 'traffic congestion' that slowed me down.

The event was just too big - 40,000 runners participating in the 42k, 21k, and 10k. The marathoners started at 5:30 while the half-marathoners started at 6:15.

Was doing Ok for the first 6k, averaging 4:18 min/km. After that, I started to catch the slow runners and walkers (5-7 hours marathoners) and had to zig-zag my way through for the next 10k. During this segment, my pace slowed down to 4:28 min/km - a lost of almost 2 minutes. I couldn't count how many times I got bumped left and right because I was trying to navigate my way through.

After 16k, we had a turnaround point and it was free traffic from there. My pace improved to 4:16 min/km for the last 5.1k . However, I couldn' run any faster as my hip began to get very tight and the mercury began to heat up.

Garmin GPS measured total distance as 21.74 km (av. 4:16 pace). I think the zig-zaging during km 7-16 led to the extra distance.

I think the organizers should design a different route for HM-ers in order to prevent 'bottlenecking'. Also, slow runners should learn race etiquette by keeping left at all times. Met the 11th place finisher from Australia at the finish. He has a PB of 1:13 and finished the HM in 1:24. He was very disappointed with the organization and lack of discipline/knowledge of slow runners.

Otherwise, a good flat course and nice weather for Singapore standard.Well done to all !

Position: 28 out of 7402 overall, 5 out of 871 in Male 35-39

27 November 2007

Drink and Thrive

First of all, good luck to those running Singapore Marathon & its associated events this Sunday.

Also, all the best to a fellow blogger called 'by7' who is based in Hong Kong. He'll be running the Fukuoka Marathon this Sunday - where Samuel Wanjiru will also make his marathon debut. The marathon's cut off time is 2:45 pace, so basically all runners need to run every 5k segment in 19:35 or faster. Otherwise, the race will be over.

Saw this timely article on hydration. A US-based coach called "Tinman" commented as follows 'Most people know & understand that fluid and carbohydrate ingestion improve long-term distance running performance (over 90 minutes of running), but they do not know that research shows that even 1 Hour of intense running (80-90% of VO2 max) is improved too; by ingestion of fluids and carbohydrates, independently'.

Even low levels of dehydration (eg, less than a 2% loss of body weight) impair cardiovascular and thermoregulatory response and reduce the capacity for exercise. Heat exposure also reduces the athlete's ability to train and compete, an effect that can be independent of hydration status. Even if athletes are well hydrated, hot weather alone will reduce their capacity to exercise. Optimal performance is possible only when dehydration and hyperthermia are minimized by ingesting ample volumes of fluid during exercise and by taking common-sense precautions in keeping cool. Recent research has demonstrated that consuming fluid in volumes approximating sweat loss maintains important physiological functions and significantly improves exercise performance, even during exercise lasting only 1 hour. Carbohydrate ingestion also improves exercise performance, an effect that is independent of, and additive to, preventing dehydration.


Tinman further commented that it does pay to consume fluids and carbs DURING the race, especially early because their is a delay in emptying. He figured it takes about 4-6 minutes for fluids and carbs to start first reaching your bloodstream, and it really takes off 8-12 minutes after consumption.

To all runners, make sure you drink, drink, and drink......

Training wise has beeen so-so. I don't have a high target for Sunday's HM but I'll try my best. If I suck, I'll just chalk it up and treat it as a training run.

Saturday, 24/11: Easy Run
Ran without a watch. About 60:00 easy in Fort Canning park. Also, did 6 short hill sprints and 2 downhill strides.

Sunday, 25/11: Progression Run
17:00 warm up from home to Botanic Gardens (5:14/139)
10:00 @ 4:50 min/km (156 bpm)
10:00 @ 4:40 min/km (165 bpm)
10:00 @ 4:30 min/km (165 bpm - low HR due to drink stop)
10:00 @ 4:20 min/km (176 bpm)
24:00 cool down (5:06/161) back home

All up, 18.1k in 1:28:43 (4:54 pace av). The worrying thing is that my HR during the 4th segment of the progression run was already averaging at 176 bpm or 90% MaxHR. This was only after ~50-60 minutes of running with only 10 minutes spent at 4:20 pace. Hence, I doubt very much I can run between 4:15-4:20 pace on Sunday.

Perhaps Tinman's Heat and Performance chart was right. I should expect my pace to be around 4:30ish due to heat/humidity.

Tuesday, 27/11: Fartlek
10:00 warm up
3 x 4:00 at approx 10k effort (3:55-3:58 pace) with 2:00 rest
3 x 00:40 strides
5:00 cool down

Woke up late this morning hence was short on time. I've done a couple of CV workouts in Singapore and I found that I am struggling after the 3 x 1000m. In Perth, I used to be able to do 5 x 1000m comfortably. I think a combination of weather and low mileage in recent weeks have contributed to this.

Wednesday, 28/11: Recovery Run
One hour easy run along the Singapore River & Marina at HR 140-150 bpm (71-76% MHR). Don't know the exact distance.

Friday, 30/11: Easy Run
8.3k at easy effort in 41:40 (5:01) at Fort Canning. Did 3 x 00:20 strides at the end.

21 November 2007

Heat and Run

Thanks all for your comments.

I've registered to do a Half Marathon next week (2 December) - which is a second fiddle event to the gigantic Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on the same day. Around 38,000 have entered the marathon and its associated events and registration was closed about three months before race day. Since the marathon is the showpiece event (elite wining time 2:14 in 2006), the HM field will not be competitive. Last year there were 6500 runners in the HM and the winning time was 1:20.

I recently look at the Heat & Performance Changes Chart by a US-coach called "Tinman" and he postulates that running performance will be affected by heat & humidity as follows:

Temperature Performance Change
111 F / 44 C -12%
100 F / 38 C -08%
90 F / 32 C -05%
80 F / 27 C -03%
73 F / 23 C -02%
65 F / 18 C -01%
59 F / 15 C No change
53 F / 12 C No change

My HM PB is 1:27ish and that was done with a starting temperature of 8c or 45 F and relative humidity of 75%.

Presently, I think I am in about 1:30-ish HM shape. My training volume has been pathetically low, with the longest run of 24k about six weeks ago, and since then I only did three 18-20k runs. Mileage has been averaging about 50k in the past couple of months vs. 80k-ish previously. Hence, my endurance sucks big time at the moment.

Singapore temperature in the morning (7am) is about 27c / 80F with rel. humidity of 90% - equivalent to about 90F in apparent temperature. During the race, the apparent temperature could rise to 38c / 100F.

Based on that chart, my HM time is predicted to be slowed by 5-8% or between 1:34 to 1:37. So lets wait and see !!!

Sunday, 18/11: Recovery Run
45:00 on MacRitchie trail. Planned to do 60-90 minutes but couldn't stand the heat and humidity. Cut the run short.

Monday, 19/11: Recovery Run
30:00 along Singapore river, av HR 142 bpm

Tuesday, 20/11: Marathon Pace Run
3k warm up from home to Botanic Gardens
2 x 5k @ 4:30 min/km (av 163 bpm)
5k cool down back home, with last 200m fast

Did okay for the first 5k, but had to stop a couple of times in the second 5k as the humidty got better of me. All up, 18k in 1:26:40 (av 4:49)

Wednesday, 21/11: Recovery Run
40:00 minutes along Singapore river, av pace 5:24

Thursday, 22/11: HM Pace Run (abbrieviated)
Had a night out and had a bit of hangover. Planned to do 3 x 10:00 at sub-HM pace but felt crap and stufffed after two rounds. 2.4k w/u, 2 x 2.4k in 10:00 and 9:52 (av 4:09 min/km, 167 and 172 bpm) with 2:00 rest, 2.7k c/d. Too much alcohol, the weather was too damn humid.

15 November 2007

Accidental Winner

For my first ever race in Singapore, I decided to do Run-A-Movie 8K race at the East Coast Park this morning. Given I only arrived in the country 3 weeks ago and still acclimatizing to the hot/humid conditions, my goal is to run under 4:00 min/km for the whole 8k (sub 32 minutes).

I always know that races organized by charity groups typically have two characteristics: 1) the distance is normally inaccurate (typically short), and 2) average field depth. And it turned out that my prediction is right. The course was measured as 7.1k according to My Garmin 305. And I ended up the overall winner...accidentally that is !!

Arrived at the park pretty early and did 4k warm up incl several strides and lined up at the front. After the gun went off, I was probably in the 5th position by the first 100-200m. Then the runners began to disappear left and right and I was second by the 1k mark. The runner in front had a good gap of about 100m on me and I continued to tail him. Reached the 3k mark (according to Garmin) in 11:51 (3:57 pace). To my surprise, we turned around 500m later, meaning the course was short. I began to sweat heavily at this juncture as the temperature went up. Was clicking at 4:01 pace for the next couple of ks and maintained the 100-150m gap with the front runner. I then had a little side stich and the guy upped the ante in the last 1000-1600m, by increasing the gap to 200-300m. The finish line was behind a food court and I didn't see him again after that. I crossed the '8k' line in 28:21. But according to garmin, the distance was only 7.1k, hence my av pace was 4:00 - which is what I planned to run at.

Not a fast time given I did tempo training runs at this pace when I was back in Australia. But given the hot weather and high humidity, I am fairly pleased. There are still a lot of work to do in order to get back to my 'cool weather' PBs in Australia and to exceed them. The good thing is that I could run a bit faster today since I wasn't pushing super hard. The field was thin - the front guy was 100-200m ahead while the 3rd place guy was 400m behind me, hence I was 'safe' in the middle. Anyway, I'd call it a hard tempo run.

At the winners' ceremony, the organizer announced the 3rd place guy's name as the 2nd place winner. Was my number not recorded? A few seconds later, they announced my name as the 8k winner for the Open category and Overall. I was surprised and honestly told the presenters and the guest of honour that I am actually a second place finisher and not the winner.

A couple of possibilites exist: a) they guy's number wasn't recorded, b) he didn't register but decided to race anyway, or 3) he was doing a tempo training run and he didn't cross the finish line and ran to another route. To whoever this 'phantom runner' is, you are the real winner, mate !

For my troubles, I received 4 movie tickets + ryder sunglass + medal.

Training wise, this week was as follows:

Tuesday, 13/11: Fartlek
20:00 ez + 3 x 1k @ 10k pace with 2:00 rest (4:02/167bpm, 405/172, 3:55/175) + 4 x 200m with 1:20 jog (39, 42, 44, 38). Splits were all over the place again as Garmin had troubles receiving signals. Couldn't find a long stretch of road alongside the river, hence did the 1ks intervals on 500m section (turnaround). Felt crap.

Wednesday, 14/11: Recovery Run
A cruisy run along the river in the evening, 37minutes, av. pace 5:33, HR 143 bpm

Thursday, 15/11: Easy-to-Moderate Run
15:00 ez to Padang, then 3.2k @ Medium Tempo effort (4:18 pace/170bpm) on grassy field, 3 x 00:20 strides, 15:00 ez All up, 46 minutes, av. pace 4:52, HR 159 bpm. Nice to be able to run on grass again !!

Friday, 16/11: Recovery Run
30:00 along the river again, finishing with 2 strides, av 5:21.

Saturday, 17/11: Race
4k warm up incl strides, 7.1k 'race/tempo' in 28:12, 5k cool down. Total 16k.

07 November 2007

Home Sweet Home

Ah....at last !! Finally we've moved to our apartment. Some of the furnitures & appliances have arrived (bed, tv, microwave), but no sofas & dining tables until early December. The property boom in Singapore has driven up furniture demand, resulting in 1-2 months backlog.

Managed to do more outdoor running this time including the famous MacRitchie Reservoir, which has undulanting trail and bitumen roads - great for long runs on weekends. My apartment is a stone throw away from Singapore River and the Promenade passes through Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, the Fullerton Hotel, and the Esplanade Theatre (approx distance 2.5k one way). For those who don't live in Singapore, these areas are night-life heartbeats of the island - there are a glut of cafes, bars, restaurants including Hooters and the famous Brewerkz microbrewery. I also found a public track in Queenstown (about 15 minutes by bus) to do my speed workouts.

Wife is going back to Australia for 2 weeks hence my running volume should increase during this period (but don't tell her, okay?)

Sunday, 4/11: Aerobic Medium Long Run
First ever run at the much-fabled Singapore's running mecca - Macritchie Reservoir. The first 4k was on trail and the rest on rolling, bitumen road. Nice !! Ran up to the 10k drink stop of MR25's 35k race (held on the same day) and then back. All up, 18k in 1:35 (5:16 pace). Met up with DO from SG Runners and Dave (O runner) from Cool Running Oz.

Tuesday, 6/11: Easy Run
A late night run (10pm) on Mandarin Hotel's treadmill, starting at 10 km/h, increasing the pace by 0.1 km/h every minute. All up, 8k in 40:08 (5:01 min/km av).

Thursday, 8/11: Tempo Run
Another run on the hotel's treadmill. 1.6k w/u, 5k LT tempo run in 20:00 (4:00 min/km), 1.4k c/c. All up, 8k in 36:03 (4:30 av). The effort felt easy in the first 10-15 minutes, so perhaps the treadmill speed was a bit suspect.

Saturday, 10/11: Track Intervals
8am: A morning jog from home to Esplanade and back. Approx 5.5k in 30:00 (5:27)

3pm: VO2Max Intervals at Queenstown track (hard surface)

1.8k warm up with 2 strides
5 x 800m with 400m jog. Splits: 2:54, 3:01, 3:01, 3:03, 2:58 (av. 3:44 min/km, HR 176-186 bpm)
5 x 200m with 200m walk/jog. Splits: 38, 43, 43, 43, 43 (av. 3:30 min/km)
1.5k cool down

First interval sesssion in a month (also first one in the tropics) and struggled big time. The 1st 800m was too quick to my liking and the rest suffered. Was ok with around 2:10 recovery (one lap) for the first 3, but then had to take equal period rests. HR reached 195bpm (my MaxHR, I think) by the 5th, hence I decided to call it quit after that. Average HR was 182bpm vs 173 bpm in Perth (10bpm lower).

Sunday, 11/11: Aerobic Medium Long Run
Ran from home to Botanic Gardens (3.6k), around 60 minutes within the garden, then ran back. 20.2k in 1:45:12 (5:12 min/km). Legs felt a bit heavy from yesterday's track workout, also a slight niggle on the archilles.

I've registered to do an 8k run next Saturday. Not expecting fast times given my sporadic training and weather acclimatization. But it would be a great test to evaluate my fitness level and hot weather tolerance ability.

30 October 2007

Hot, hot, hot !

Hot, hot, hot ! How can I train in this kind f**king weather !

Finally we landed in Singapore, yes....30c and 90% humidity - all year around. The coolest temperature is 25c but that's at night time. In light of this, the way forward is probably to either start running really early, use treadmills a lot or (most likely) a combination of both.

We stayed at the Mandarin on Orchard Rd - which is about 20 minutes walk from our apartment in Robertson Quay. However, since the current tenant will vacate the apartment on 31/10, we'll be staying in the hotel and (by the suitcases) for 12 days. We spent the first few days shopping for furnitures and electronics. Fortunately (sigh), most things are much cheaper here than in Australia, for instance, a 42 inch plasma TV by LG costs less than A$1500. However, coffees prices are pretty steep here - a cup of latte costs around A$4-6.

Running has been pretty minimal - averaging 40k in the last 3 weeks due to relocation. Probably will stay in the this range until we have fully settled here and explored the local options.

Saturday, 27/10: Recovery Run
Hate to say this but I did my first run back in Singapore on treadmill. I'd say Mandarin hotel has the worst gym among the 5* hotels on Orchard Rd. The treadmills are old and the gym was smelly (yuk !). Started at 6:00 min/km, progressing gradually to finish at 4:45 min/km at 1% grade. All up, 10k in 52:48 (5:16 min/km)

Sunday, 28/10: Easy Run
My first outdoor run in Singapore and I must admit the conditions wasn't that horrible. A, cool overcast morning certainly helped. Ran 2.5k to Singapore Botanic Gardens, then 7k within the garden itself plus another 2.5k back to hotel via Orchard Rd. The garden has a lot of nicely, surfaced bitumen paths, so it would be a great place to do tempo runs. Can picture myself doing long run here on weekends. The issue is that I couldn't find any drinking water tap there. All up, 12k in 1:01:30 (5:08 min/km)

Tuesday 30/10: Medium Pace Tempo
Have been running at easy paces for the last 1.5 weeks or so hence decided to do something a bit brisk today. All up, 8k in 36:40 (4:35 min/km) including 24 minutes @ 4:15 pace.

Wednesday 31/10: Easy Run
Didn't get a 'pass' from my wife to run outside in the rain, hence another run on the dreadmill. 12k in 1:01:33 (5:08 min/km) - with the last 3k at 4:40 pace.

Friday 2/11: Recovery Run
An easy recovery run at 2% grade before work in 30:20 (5:37 min/km).

Overall, too much treadmill running to my liking....hopefully I'll be able to do more outdoor running soon...

25 October 2007

Farewell Perth

Unfortunately, running had to take a back seat on my last days in Perth. My last few days turned out to be really, really busy. We moved out of the apartment last week and stayed in a city hotel for a week. One we arrive in Singapore, we'll again live on suitcases for 12 days until we can move-in to our apartment in Robertson. Was busy at work - a lot of job hand-overs, tidying up unfinished jobs and loose ends as well as a couple of farewell dos organized by the company.

I felt that I've gained some weight due to a combination of less running and (much) more eating. In the last three weeks I only ran about 3-4 times versus 6 times a week previously. In addition, we've embarked on a gastronomical 'pig-out' tour - visiting our favourite restaurants in Perth with an excuse as 'for the last time'. This week, I'll blog my running a bit differently, adding my 'food diary' as well:

Saturday, 20/10:
Medium Long Run: 24k in ~2 hours (5:02 min/km). A couple of ks warm up before meeting my running buddy, Rob at Bell Tower. Did 2 laps of the Bridges for 19k total. Pretty much cruising the whole run despite windy conditions. After bidding farewell to Rob, did 8 x 00:15 strides on grass before running back to the city.
Dinner: Marinated kangaroos, chilli muscles and of course, some pale ale at Little Creatures.

Sunday, 21/10:
Hill Reps: 8 x 170m hill + 3k w/u & 3k c/d. Felt like crap today probably from too much alcohol last night. The reps were done in 31-34 seconds (3:14 min/km avg.) with walk/jog recovery. Was stuffed after the 4th rep.
Dinner: Went to Freemantle for fish n chips then a basket of brownie sundae at Baskins Robbins for dessert.

Tuesday, 23/10:
Recovery Run: 35 minutes (5:28 min/km). A slow run on the grassy area on riverside.
Dinner: A tender, succulent baby goat stew with pasta at Romany in Northbridge.

Wednesday, 24/10:
Easy Run: 13.5k in ~70 minutes (5:08 min/km). Feeling really lethargic, hence had to bag my planned tempo session for my last run in Perth. Hips were pretty sore, presumably from the hill reps session on Sunday. Saw Ben Cousins running in South Perth. It was a shame I couldn't do my last run in Perth on a high note.
Dinner: A famous, cheap Japanese place on Shafto Lane called 'Taka' for lunch, several sushi plates at Jaws for dinner and finished up with a huge chunky apple pie at the 24 hour Fast Eddys.

Will be flying to Singapore later this afternoon, so my next run will be done in Singapore. We'll definitely miss Perth - also thanks to all my running friends here, Rob, Epi, Jon, and Homo. I hope I'll come back and do some races here again !

Singapore...here I come !!

19 October 2007

Ten More Things About Me

1) I am havin' a mid-life crisis...haven't broken any substantial running PBs for a long time...

2) I love racing various distances, week-in week-out, all year around. I think this is why I have become a CRAP racer !! Probably I can race much better with periodization and focus.

3) I loathe running in heavy-cushion shoes (urrghhh !). I normally use racing shoes for tempo/intervals workouts and light-weight trainers (Asics DS Trainer, Nike Free) for my long and general training runs.

4) I don't use HR monitor to dictate my running pace, bur rather as a data recorder .....

5) I love doing short-hill sprints, especially after tempo/intervals.

6) Due to the heat/humidity and lack of running areas in Singapore, unfortunately I need to resort to a 'dreadmill' more often than not. But....unfortunately I can't run at fast pace on a dreadmill....'coz I get a feeling that I might slip and fall off...

7) I am quiter...once I know that I can't rach my goals, I prefer to slack off or even DNF the race (Any advice for building mental toughness??)

8 ) I am a massive holly-cow sweater. I normally wear a headband.

9) I will try to do pool-running on my recovery days or as a second workout (it's nice to have a pool just outside my apartment).

10) I don't like running with underwear (the in-built undies are enough !)

15 October 2007

Move Me, Shake Me, Break Me

Counting my last days in Perth. Sold my car Accord Euro on Tuesday for a cheap-skate price. Our packing was scheduled on Friday and to our surprise, only one packer came to our apartment. He was so efficient that the whole packing process took 4 hours to complete (single handedly). A total of 34 boxes were shipped. Afterwards, the feeling began to sink in. The apartment is virtually empty except for furnitures and a couple of large suitcases that we'll carry into our flights. All of my shoes were shipped except for my Nike Free and Asics DS Trainer. But most of all, I will miss running in Perth with its mild weather, clean air, parks & jogging paths, and fantastic running ambience. We are scheduled to vacate the apartment on 22 Oct and leave for Singapore on 25 Oct.

Running wise, my recovery from Melbourne Marathon (DNFed at 37k in 2:52) went really well. Took a couple of rest days and did a a couple of short slow runs on Wednesday and Thursday. Muscles were so good that they didn't need any massaging or icing. The key workouts for the week were:

Sat 13/10: Threshold Tempo Run + Hill Reps

Summer is coming!! A pretty warm day for Perth morning standard at 22c. After 2.2k slow warm up, I did 5k tempo run in 20:04 (av. pace 4:01 min/km). Felt really strong for the first couple of ks (sub 4 pace) before starting to feel the rise in lactate and HR in the second half of the run and had to fight a bit to keep the pace in check. Av. HR for the 5k run was 174bpm or 89-90% MaxHR (bingo) - however it touched 186 bpm at the end of the run or 95% MaxHR -- Yikes !! I think I would struggle big time if I run at the same effort in Singapore where av. temperature is around 30c.

After the tempo run, I did 5 x ~120m hill charges in 25, 24, 25, 25, 25 seconds with walk/jog recovery, followed by 2.3k of slow jog to cool down. All up, 11k in 52:46 (av. 4:48)

Sun 14/10: Aerobic Medium Long Run

Ran the first 14k on rolling hills of Kings Park, averaging 5:05 min/km. Then ran the last 4k at 4:27 min/km pace on flat-ish terrain. Ran non-stops without water or rest break. Was feeling a bit sluggish in the first 10-15 minutes but felt stronger as the run went on. Total 18k in 1:28:50 (av 4:56)

Tue 16/10: CV intervals

After a slow 10:00 warm up, I did 5 x 1000m at ~10k pace with 1:45 very slow jog between the intervals. Splits: 3:54/168 bpm, 3:58/171, 3:56/172, 3:54/175, 3:54/175 bpm. Felt pretty comfortable throughout and was totally in control. Not sure whether this is due to endurance effect from my 'long run aka DNF'ed marathon' 9 days ago or just simply because the recovery duration between the intervals was too lengthy. Was short on time, hence I didn't manage to do any short reps or hill sprints or long cool down afterwards. Finished with 3 x 00:20 strides. All up, 10k in 47:54 (4:48).

All in all, none of these workouts were earth shaking or earth breaking !!!

14 October 2007

The Birth of Sling Runner

I'm starting this blog because I'm entering a new chapter in my running life. After three years of hard work, pain, gain, and lessons learnt in beautiful Perth, Western Australia, I am now back in the tropical Singapore. With an average temperature of 25-30c and humidity upwards of 75% throughout the year, training and improving my personal bests will be very, really, extremely, super-duper challenging.

To start off, I'm no great, natural talent. I was a couch-potato until my early 30s and was lucky if I could run one kilometre non-stop. When I was younger, I played a bit of tennis and basketball here and there, but I sucked at them. Between the age of 20 and 30, I was so much into partying and drinking. While I wasn't overweight, I was virtually unfit and I had a belly beer as a bling. I could still vividly remember when I was studying my masters in the US, I went shopping in a supermarket with my flatmate (a girl). On our way home, it started to rain, and she suggested we ran to our apartment - which was a measly one kilometer away. I said yes and we started running. After less than one minute, I was huffing and puffing already and I had to stop. She said why ?? We just barely started !! That pretty much summed it up !

In my early 30s, I had a job posting in China. I was single and blessed with cash. I developed a passion for adventure and travel. I scuba dived in exotic locations, did white-water rafting on Zambezi river in Zambia, skydived from 9000ft in New Zealand, did white-water kayaking including a vertical 30m drop waterfall, and climbed the 4000m Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo (the highest mountain in SE Asia). Whilst looking for another adventure to be accomplished, I asked myself: why not running a half marathon? It is a kind of adventure in itself since it is physically and mentally challenging.

After undertaking about one month of light training, I did my first race - Beijing Half Marathon in October 2003. Due to my low fitness level, I had to stop and walk several times in the race but was still able to complete the HM in just under 2 hours. I had difficulty walking for the next few days but I was happy. Later I improved my HM time 1:50 in Hong Kong (Feb 2004). I then came accross a quote by the great emil Zatopek: 'if you want to win something, run 100m. If you want to experience another life, run a marathon'. There was a marathon in Xiamen in March, about 6 weeks after my last HM. Despite limited training (my longest run prior to this was 21k aka the HM and I then 'gallowalked' a couple of 30k training runs), I duly completed the Xiamen Marathon in 3:50. Mission accomplished !

After the marathon, I discontinued running for a few months. In October 2004, I had a new job posting in Perth, Australia. The place was virtually a running paradise. Clean air, excellent running community, lots of parks and bike/jogging paths all over the city !!! I even have the beautiful, gigantic Kings Park, a few steps away from my apartment. I began to run religiously since then and the year of 2005 AD turned out to be my best ever running chapter. Did 22 races in total and I got 22 PBs. By the end of the year, I slashed my 10k times from 50 minutes to under 40 minutes, my HM times from 1:50 to 1:31, and my marathon times from 3:50 to 3:17. And that was only after one year of consistent training !!

In 2006, I had big hopes given the rate of improvement that I had in the previous year. Started the year with a bang, 39:23 10k and then a 1:29 HM followed by a 1:27 HM. However, after that, my world came crashing down. My performance went sideways and I consistently had a number of bad races. The harder I trained and the more mileage I ran, the worse my race performances were. I was sick of running and took a few weeks off in order to re-group. At the end of the year, I changed my focus into short races and the decision began to yield positive results including a 5k in 18:45.

And now, 2007....Grrrr...this is probably my worst period of running. Had some decent results early in the year including several sub-19 5ks and sub-40 10ks, but I was aiming much higher than that (sub 18:30 5ks and sub 39 10ks). Overall my race performances continued their downward spirals. Got married in May and went on a long honeymoon. Upon returning to Perth, I set my goal to run a PB in Melbourne Marathon. After marriage, I found that finding time to run was a bit of challenge. I couldn't run as much as I wanted to because I had to balance family life. I also had a training slump in the critical period and only did one long run in the last 6 weeks. During the judgement day, I set myself a goal to finish the marathon in under 3:15, however, the lack of long runs and training proved to be my downfall as I got cramp and tight muscles near the end. I eventually pulled out of the marathon at 37k mark in 2:52. I began to wonder: have I reached my genetic potential even after only 3 years of training?

In October 2007, I am now back in Singapore (lived here in 2001). I realize that I have to work harder and train smarter in order to achieve a breakthrough in my running. I've been running poorly in the last year or so. The heat/humidity as well as the lack of running places will become the major obstacles that I need to overcome. I estimate that my 5k-10k running times from Australia will be at least a couple of minutes slower if I run them in Singapore.

I aim to re-start my running life from scratch again. This will be a new beginning....

I have worked hard at improving my running. And I will work even harder to become a better runner. Who knows where this will lead?