Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mizuno 10K

Last night I carbo-loaded on a double order of Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is a local specialty here in Singapore. For good measure, I topped it off with a sampling of durian, an incredibly popular fruit here available only in the summer months, but also one that comes with a pretty strong odor - overwhelmingly pungent to some, odorless to others. Go figure. Nevertheless, chicken rice and durian ... not your everyday pre-race meal.

This morning was humid as usual, but the sun remained hidden behind a high cloud cover. At 7:00 am, I arrived at the Kovan MRT Station, one of the stops along the North East subway line. Outside, about a thousand or more people were already milling about. A quick stretch, and even quicker warmup, and I was ready to go. I took a GU and went to the water station for water, but they weren't giving out any. Free watermelon slices though, so I took one. GU and watermelon juice. That's a new one too. I hoped it wasn't some unknown no-no combination.

About 7:20 am, everyone started to gather under an inflatable arch start line in the parking lot. The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30 am. It seemed early, but without even an announcement, the air horn sounded and we were off. There was a sharp hairpin turn up an incline to get out of the parking lot, which quickly became a bottleneck 20 seconds into the race. Several of us jumped a low metal fence to bypass the turn. About a quarter mile later, we spilled out onto a main road, on which most of the out and back race was run.

A run's a run, and halfway around the world, I tried to fall into my pace. I was aiming for a marathon race pace of 9:09/mile, which was on my training schedule for today. One thing I did notice is that most of the runners were pretty disciplined runners. Unlike most of my other races, I did not have to contend with walkers and other out-of-gas jackrabbits in the early stages of the race. Most of the runners were local Singaporeans, with a sprinkling of Europeans, Aussies, and maybe Americans (hard to tell unless they start talking ... grunting, wheezing, and hard breathing doesn't reveal much!).

I made the turn at 25:30, and brought it home in 53:49. About a minute faster than planned, and since I don't run that many 10Ks, this is also a PR for me! After the race, I picked up the goodie bag with a really nice Mizuno short sleeved tech shirt ... a fantastic value since the race fee was only Sing$15. That's about US$9.50! This race fit perfectly with my training plan, and I got a good training shirt to go with it. Not too shabby for a morning's work.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beer 'n Curry

A little marathon training indulgence. Check out the dinner plates, or lack thereof, at the Banana Leaf Apollo Restaurant in the Little India section of town. All washed down with Singapore's local Tiger Beer. Mmmm Mmmm Good!

Postcard From Singapore

Greetings from Singapore! We arrived just past midnight local time Wednesday morning. It's been 13 years since I was last here, and 26 years since I moved from Singapore to the States. It feels like walking into a familiar old building, except that all the furniture's been moved around. Oh, but they left the heat on of course. And the humidifier. Lots of them.

Eager to shake the jet lag and test my running in this humidity, I went out an EZ 5 mile out and back on Wednesday morning. I cheated the heat and started at 5:30 am, running on 3 hours sleep. The run was fine, but within minutes, I was sweating profusely. In this humidity, my new discovery is that wicking shirts don't wick worth a lick (sorry, a little literary indulgence). At the turnaround, I went shirtless, which meant most of my sweat now went towards soaking my shorts instead! It felt like my shorts were vacuum packed directly on me. I hoped it didn't look that way too.

Undaunted, I went out for another EZ run this morning, aiming for 6 miles. I went out at 7:00 am this time, running on 11 hours sleeps. Yup, 11 hours! I laid out a loop route this time, which would take me past my old torture chamber high school. The Anglo-Chinese School was founded in 1886 by British missionaries, and stood atop a small hill. A single road led up the hill on one side and down the other, making almost a complete circular loop. Occasionally, we were made to run this loop for Phys Ed or other sadistic reasons. I don't recall a single instance when I was able to complete this loop without walking or without stopping. In my mind, they might as well have asked me to walk across the Red Sea; it just wasn't going to happen. Except today. In 5:15 flat. Couldn't have been more than 2/3 mile. Unbelievable. Childhood Demons : 0, Me : 1.

Other than running, it's been one gastronomic exercise after another. There's just some stuff you can't get in Dallas, and not even in NYC. Here's my three girls, my dad, and I at a local food market for breakfast and groceries:

where I snapped this pic of a fruit or vegetable that I have never seen before in my life. I still don't know what it is:

Any ideas?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Catch You On The Other Side

We leave tomorrow for Singapore. It'll be our end of summer vacation, coming back just before school begins in early August. 13 hours to Tokyo, plus 7 more hours to Singapore, is going to be a long long flight.

I hope to keep my training schedule while I'm there. I missed one run this week because something I ate gave me a fever, chills, and a different kind of runs than I was planning. My doctor said he's seen a lot of that lately; makes me wonder why. How does a whole city suddenly start having more cases of food poisoning than usual?

Today it's 102F + 27% humidity in Dallas, and 90F + 89% humidity in Singapore. I'll be testing first-hand that old "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" thing. Uh-huh. If I survive the humidity, next Sunday, I'm signed up for the
Mizuno Wave 10K there. On the plus side, there's a 12 hour difference in time zones, so I should be wide awake for my 6:00 AM runs!

Friday, July 07, 2006

What Was RW Thinking?

This has been bugging me since I got my issue of RW a couple of weeks ago. I don't know why I can't just let it go. On two separate topics, I think RW did a big disservice to our running community.

Revisionist Drinking: New Rules On Hydration

The whole article could be summed up in this quote: "If you come up to a water station and you're ambivalent about downing a cup, you're not thirsty and you don't need to drink. But if you see the water at the station and crave it, then you're truly thirsty and should have a drink."


1. It's not that black and white. Everyone already knows what to do if you're either bloated or dying of thirst. So what are you supposed to do in between?

2. It doesn't say how much to drink, a sip, a few sips, the whole cup, chug the Gatorade bucket?

3. It doesn't account for how far apart the water stations are. Are we supposed to keep passing each station, getting progressively thirstier until we really "crave" a drink, and then the next station is a killer to get to?

Personally, I'll keep drinking a few sips to half a cup at every station, unless I feel like drinking more at any one station.

The Marathon Experiment: How We Turned A Slacker Into A Finisher

This guy wasn't just a slacker, he was a non-runner! WTF again!

1. Seriously folks, do we really want to encourage first-time NON-RUNNERS to go for it in 18 weeks to run a marathon? Is this how we want to get people started with a lifelong love for running?

2. How many RW readers do you think are closet non-runners? Who's in this non-running customer segment that RW is trying to reach with this article? Are we in that slow a news month?

3. Anyone know of a good swimming magazine for non-swimmers? I've always wanted to swim across the English Channel ... can I still do it before Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Liberty 5K 2.65 miler

When's the last time this happened to you? Line up for a 5K race. 8:00 am and sun's already bearing down hard. Without warning, horn goes off and everyone starts running. No mile markers, but course is familiar from previous year's races. Trudging along a residential neighborhood and 10 mins pass by. Hmm, no water stops. Never mind, don't need any yet. 15 mins go by. Turn a corner and we're back close to where we started. That was fast?! Whoa, those speed workouts really worked! Cross the line in 20:45, a miraculous PR by almost 4 mins! Too good to be true ... and of course, it wasn't.

I knew it before I crossed the finish. Later, I overheard some front-runners talking to a race official, telling him that one of the race workers had blocked off the turn we were supposed to take, and directed everyone down the shortened path. The online results now lists the race as the "Liberty 2.65 Mile Race". Sadly, it showed I was on a PR pace, but I don't think I trust their 2.65 mile measurement! It was hot, and I was sucking wind close to the end.

On the bright side, marathon training week 1 is history. To make up for the Saturday faux pas, I ran 6 on Sunday morning to get in the "long" run the training plan called for. The run was book-ended by one of my 10-yr old's birthday slumber party at the local Embassy Suites. 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm Saturday with a bunch of free-spirited independent-thinking going-on 5th grade girls is quite a blast! I left the good wife to supervise the party overnight ("no boys allowed - i.e. me"), slept at home, ran Sunday morning, and rejoined the party at 9:00 am while they were just getting up! Just so you know we don't play favorites, my other 10-yr old had her birthday party last week. The gym rat had it at, where else, her gym! Can you tell one loves frogs and the other loves monkeys? Fraternal twins, oh yeah.