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?


Hamburglar said...

Nice new blog Sling runner.

You may want to get in touch with Dave (nee O'runner - president of sydney striders) who has just moved to Singapore.



Ed said...

Hey sling runner, I love Perth! I was born there but now live in KL. I've read your entries -- you run for such long periods of time compared to me.. I'm new to running and have been doing an average of 20 minutes each workout.

Anonymous said...

SLing, you are definitely definitely talented!