Category Archives: Running Spots in Singapore

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Oct. 7-13)

Last week was characterized by two things:

1. Not much running.
2. A return to yang yoga.

Both of these were good things.  As I’ve said before, I tend to use the post-long-race week as both a physical and mental break from training.  I take a step back from my intense Sunday afternoon workout scheduling session, and just do whatever workouts I feel like – or don’t feel like – doing.  I put zero pressure on myself to do anything, and if I want to lounge around and read a book instead, or sleep in for an extra hour, I let myself.  So after last weekend’s 50K, my workout week looked like this:

Monday: Yin yoga.

Basically, I fell asleep in a candle lit room while ostensibly stretching my hips.  Glorious.

Tuesday: Yoga by the River

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday.  I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head...

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday. I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head…

A new East Coast Lululemon showroom opened last week in Singapore.  In preparation/celebration, the owners organized a series of free Tuesdays by the River Community Yoga classes during September and October.  This was my first time in attendance.  There were over 100 of us – probably closer to 200 (?) with our yoga mats spread out on a pedestrian bridge at Clarke Quay.  The guest instructor demonstrated and led from the broad concrete railing.

This was an interesting experience, and I’ll admit that I left with conflicting emotions.  First of all, doing open air yoga with like-minded folks after sunset was REALLY COOL.  But Clarke Quay is a pretty popular evening hang-out for expats, professional locals, and tourists.  Our group occupied most of the bridge (leaving just a narrow space for people to pass by), so we were impossible to miss.  As my mat was located next to this walkway, I heard lots of comments as people went by – and a fair share of them were from groups of men, to the effect of, “Whoa, it’s our lucky day!”  Then, they pulled out their phones and started snapping pictures.

A week later, and I’m still not sure what I think about this.  On one hand, we are opting to practice yoga in tight clothing in a very public setting.  And there were plenty of groups, women, and couples staring (and photographing) too.  I mean, we were quite a sight:

Yoga on the BridgeOn the other hand, such blatant discussion and admission of oogling makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable.  But, I think I’m filing this one under “Live and Let Live,” though – and I’ll probably go back this week.  [Tonight, actually – locals, come join us – BYOM (bring your own mat)!]

Plus, this yoga session reminded me of how much I’ve abandoned my “other” yogas (Hatha, Flow, Vinyasa) in lieu of Yin.  Although Yin is great for stretching and relaxing, I do enjoy the challenge and strength required by yang yogas, and want to ensure I fit in a class or two each week in the coming months.

Wednesday's dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan.  Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday’s dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan. Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday: RPM

I have lots of team-teaching to do in the next two months, so you’ll be seeing a lot of spinning going on.  This was just a little test/warm-up.  While I didn’t kill myself with resistance, I was quite pleased with how good my legs felt – generally quite strong, just a touch of residual fatigue when I pushed the hills or sprints hard.  Three cheers for speedy recoveries!

Thursday: Short run/walk & Yoga

This was the Grand Opening of the Lululemon store I mentioned above.  The owners and managers of this store are an energetic, passionate bunch, eager to share their love of fitness.  In fact, I’m working with them to dream up some joint Lulu-RWH programming, so locals, stay tuned!

Anyway, they invited me out for the opening, so I joined an excited, chatty group of 30-40 athletes for a 2-3K run/walk to and through some of East Coast Park.  There, we enjoyed half an hour of waterfront yoga.  Delicious!

Our instructor kept saying, "Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall," then catching herself when we all laughed.  I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Our instructor kept saying, “Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall,” then catching herself when we all laughed. I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Next, we headed out for a ride around the East Coast area and tour of some local yoga and pilates studios…on a Hippo tour bus (don’t ask me why it’s called a Hippo bus; it doesn’t look like a Hippo):

Hippo BusMy job rocks.  I spent the morning working out, then sitting on the sunshiny, breezy upper deck while riding around Singapore (and ducking the occasional low-hanging branch), talking to yogis and runners, people for whom fitness is a passion – and in many cases, a profession.  The morning ended with mini cupcakes and Chinese treats back at the showroom.  Overall, a very fun morning.  Good luck with this new adventure, ladies!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to "test drive" - the blue & white striped tank.  We'll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to “test drive” – the blue & white striped tank. We’ll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

Friday: Good intentions, zero execution

Saturday: Communication Fail

I was supposed to shadow an RPM class on this afternoon; but some miscommunication meant that I got to the gym…but didn’t end up shadowing.  Unfortunately, I was wearing my flip flops, and carrying my cycling shoes, but was absolutely without sneakers – so an alternative workout would’ve been hard.  I did some stretching, then came home and finished up my book (Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell – total brain candy).

Sunday: Long Run (9 mi)

GCA has been hankering to try out a new park connector, so I met her, and another of her friends (A), for an early morning run from Buona Vista MRT out to Pandan Reservoir.  This was super fun for me – Pandan Reservoir is near to my in-law’s place, so this is where KMN and I used to run when we would come to Singapore to visit.  This run was made possible by the construction of a new, shiny, loopy bridge over the AYE (freeway) that just opened.  The bridge is really quite impressive; I should have taken a picture – but I’m a bad blogger, and failed to take ANY photos of this group adventure.

We took the pace nice and easy, and the miles passed quickly with company.  My knee did just fine until about Mile 8, when it started to twinge a bit.  After a few twinges, I dialed back to a walk to the finish.  Walking, bending, squatting, and all other activities were fine for the rest of the day.  For now, I’ll continue to treat with rest (or at least, stick to short runs), and add in a bit of quad/hamstring strengthening.  The beauty of being post-key-race is that I have the time and freedom to let this run its course, without being anxious about training that I’m missing.

Anyway – I thoroughly enjoyed getting out for miles with friends – and meeting a potential new running partner *A*ahem*A*!  AND, the run ended with a trip to Ghim Moh market, where I was reunited with my first (and still favorite) tau huay (soybean pudding):

There's nothing like your first time.  Especially when it's as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet...

There’s nothing like your first time. Especially when it’s as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet…

I only wish I had thought to bring another five containers home, to eat this week.  Instead, I’m just going to need another excuse to go join GCA for a run in her neighborhood. 🙂

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of post-ultra-week.  Total Workout Time (including stretching & rolling): 6 hr, 19 min.

Coming up this week?  Lots of spinning, and some more non-yin yoga (and, who am I kidding, some yin yoga, too!), and probably some short runs.

Public group yoga: Awesome, or uncomfortable?

Beach yoga: Yay or Nay?
[I hate getting sand everywhere, but have to admit that the views were spectacular!]

28 Miles Is A Really Long Way (TNF 50K Training Run)

I’m running The North Face Ultra 50K this weekend – Oct. 5.  (!!!!!) So let’s take a post to talk about long ultra-specific training runs.   I integrated two of them around my Perth Marathon training: one before and one after.  I planned to write about the first one (a 27-miler in early August), but we left for vacation in London, and I got distracted.  So instead, I’ll tell you about the more recent 28-miler (from Sept. 19), and I’ll work in a few nuggets of wisdom/reflections from August’s run.  See how this new schedule is already helping me stay on track?  After all, Tuesday is Race/Run Recap Day!

Until my 27-miler, I had never done a training run longer than 22 miles, and never run further than ~26.4 miles (what I estimate a marathon actually works out to be for most of us), period.  For that first run, I planned for about 25 miles on trails, and I was feeling anxious about the endeavor – so I simply decided not to think about it (except for appropriate fueling and packing) until it was done.  And while the run was sweaty, tiring, and mentally taxing (and ended up being 27 miles) – I completed it.

Afterward, I took those 27 miles and kind of held them in my hand, staring at them with amazement and a little bit of confusion, “Am I crazy?  Did I just run 27 miles through McRitchie Reservoir?  On a regular old Friday morning?  Did I seriously just do that?!?!”  

Of course, the answer was YES – Yes, I ran 27 miles.  Yes, I did it by myself.  Yes, I ran a marathon distance between my first and second breakfasts.  Yes, I still got dressed, did my work, and even went out for dinner and a show with my family that evening.  Yes, I hope my face didn’t have a smug “I ran 27 miles this morning, what did you do?” kind of look on it the whole time.

But fast forward to September, when I set out for my second super-long training run (aiming for 26-28 miles).  This time, I was less anxious: I’d done this before.  I knew it would take awhile, and be really sweaty and not always easy, but I could do it.  My legs felt recovered from the marathon, I had done a 22-mile run the previous week, and I was feeling strong.  During my August run, I had also made the subtle but important decision to change how I viewed long, ultra-training trail runs.  They actually weren’t “runs” at all – rather, they were “adventures”.  My goals for these long trail adventures:

1. Don’t fall.
2. Don’t worry about pace.
3. Walk the hills.
4. Practice good hydration and fueling.
5. Stay out for 4-6 hours.

It was that last point, the 4-6 hours, that was prompting such long training runs.  Yes, 26-28 miles is probably a bit long for a training run for a 50K (31 miles).  Slightly shorter back-to-back runs would accomplish similar levels of fatigue, and would likely be easier on my legs.  I’m not suggesting that anyone else follow my approach.  But for me, personally, I wanted the confidence of having practiced hydrating and salting for a 5+ hour adventure.  The heat out here is no joke, and on race day, I need to be confident that I can plan, manage, and adjust my fluid and electrolyte intake, depending on the conditions and how I feel – not just for the first 2-3 hours, but for the entire 5+ hours of the race.  And since my legs seemed to recover quite quickly from these efforts, they made sense for me.

So I stepped outside waaaay early on Sept. 19.  KMN was with me, headed out for his own tempo workout.  We kicked off our anniversary by running in opposite directions.  [Thankfully, our marriage is stronger than the symbolism here.]  I wasn’t in the mood to do 4 loops of McRitchie (which is what I did in August), so instead I planned to incorporate part of a route I ran back in February with the Trail Running Singapore group.

[Note: There are trails in Singapore, but most are within a few kilometers of a major road that is serviced by a bus route.  Thus, I can go out for a long run, make up the route as I go, and hop a bus home when I hit my target distance.  The most important thing to plan are water stops (fountains, kopis, or convenience stores).  The logistics of long-run planning are actually super easy out here.  Also, I get cell service just about everywhere, even out on most of the trails.]

Although I didn’t want to run four loops of McRitchie, I still kicked off the morning with one.  There is one main loop, but including my run to the park and a few side detours, I extended up to about 9 miles.

I also blaze a trail around downed trees, and take out every cobweb industrious spiders built across the trail overnight.

I also blazed a trail around downed trees, and took out every cobweb industrious spiders built across the trail overnight.

Then, I turned around a re-ran half the loop again – with a quick stop at this lovely thing:

Right hand fountain at the Ranger Station: My favorite water fountain in Singapore.  It's refrigerated!!!  I always stop to refill here...

The right hand side water fountain at the Ranger Station is my favorite water fountain in Singapore. It’s refrigerated!!!!! I always stop to top up my water here, whether I need to or not!

I decided to add some distance with a quick spin through the Treetop Walk (a 250 meter long suspension bridge, rising 20-25 meters above the forest floor) and its associated trails.  But I had forgotten how many stairs there were on the way out, and ended up doing more walking than running.  The breeze up on the walk was fabulous, though (and probably the real reason I wanted to go!).

Treetop Walk with McRitchie Reservoir in the background.

Treetop Walk with McRitchie Reservoir in the background.

It’s too boring to note every bit of food and beverage that passes my lips during this kind of run, but on average I take 1 electrolyte-only source (usually a salt tab, occasionally Nuun) and one sugar+electrolyte source (Sports Beans or Sports drink) every hour.  I also drink my pack dry (1.5 liters) every 90 minutes, and I chug water at any fountains I pass.  In addition to my hydration pack, I carry a small 8 oz bottle (stolen from my no-longer-used Fuel Belt).  I use this little bottle to mix up concentrated Nuun and to help refill my pack at poorly configured water fountains.

After my high-flying foray to the Treetop Walk, Garmie reported I was just under 14 miles. At that point, another trail branched off the main loop.  I was 4 miles from home, so decided to run 4-5 miles OUT on the “branch off” trail, then run back, then run home – which would put me in the ~26-28 mile range.  So I veered off onto the Rifle Range Link, then to Rifle Range Road.  I’ll admit – a mile of road was a nice break from the trail!

I turned back onto the trails and retraced the route we ran much earlier this year out to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.  Bukit, pronounced like “book-it”, is the Malay word for “hill” – so anywhere there’s a hill in Singapore, the neighborhood/area is called “Bukit _____”: Bukit Brown, Bukit Batok, Bukit Timah, etc.

Bukit Timah is actually the highest point in Singapore (163 meters, don’t laugh), and there is a wide, paved path to the top, along with some short hiking trails.  The spot is quite busy on the weekends, but this was mid-morning on a weekday, so things were pretty quiet.  Standing at the Visitor’s Center at the bottom, with 17+ miles on my Garmin, I made a slightly crazy decision: I was going to hike/run to the top.  I had never made the summit, and although I didn’t think the Ultra would be crazy enough to send us up Bukit Timah, I wanted to check out the terrain, just in case.  Plus, I’d never done it before, and this was an adventure, after all.  The longest trail to the top is just over 1 mile long, hiking from ~80-100 meters above sea level up to 160 meters (the long trail had some extra ups and downs in it, though, just for fun!).

So, I set off.  The footing was a no-brainer (paved), but the first part was quite steep.  I took a photo, but it looks flat, so I’m not showing you.  🙂  I fast-hiked the steep parts, then slow-ran the less steep parts.  The trail I chose turned off-road briefly, to descend, then ascend, about 40-50 meters of trail stairs.  I actually appreciated the variety, and in about 20 minutes, I was at the top.  There’s actually not much of a view, but there is a rock!

Yeah, yeah - the active lifestyle blogosphere is full of folks who summit 14ers like its their job.  But in Singapore, we've got to make do with what we have!  163.3 meters will have to do!

Yeah, yeah – the active lifestyle blogosphere is full of folks who summit 14ers like it’s their job. But in Singapore, we’ve got to make do with what we have. 163.6 meters it is!

I also spotted a monitor lizard hiding in some leaves.  Sometimes, these buggers pop out on the trails. They’re harmless, and run away quickly, but are pretty sizable and can give you quite a surprise.  Just ask my friend Deb, who encountered one on a solo run when she was visiting a few weeks ago. 😉

Look closely, he (or she) is there.  Hint: Look for the tail.

Look closely, he (or she) is there. Hint: Look for the tail.

Having “conquered” Bukit Timah (OK, I’ll admit, even I’m laughing at the measley elevation Singapore offers), I headed back down to the Visitors Center, refilled my pack, and set off for home…but home was still a good 8 miles away.  Usually, once I make the turn to “head home”, I start to feel like the end is in sight.  But on this day, the end still felt really far away, even as my watch clicked to 20 miles, 21 miles…

How I was feeling at this point.

How I was feeling with about 6 miles left.

Physically, I was doing OK – legs were tired, but the varied terrain of Bukit Timah seemed to perk them up a bit.  My nutrition and hydration status was good, and although I was feeling tired, I had no specific complaints.  But my brain was pretty much fried.  I just wanted to be DONE.

I tried out some favorite mental tricks: Bribery?  Not buying it.  Envision the finish?  Depressingly far away.  Why am I doing this?  This is RIDICULOUS!  I broke out my iPod, with a brand new audiobook loaded on, just for this very circumstance.  But somehow, I’d accidentally loaded a book that I’d already listened to, and suddenly, the narrator’s voice grated on every nerve I could muster.  Finally, I hit on it: the tried and true method of chunking.  I chunked my way back out to Rifle Range Road, and back onto the trail in McRitchie.

At this point, my chunks turned to miles: Run 1 mile, walk 0.1 miles, repeat.  These were slow, sloggy, hot, somewhat sad miles.  When a gentleman running in the other direction passed me (I was at about mile 25) and said, “Geez, it’s hot out today!” as he zipped by, I sort of wanted to punch him.  Dude, you have NO idea.  Or maybe he did.  What do I know?

Three run/walk repeats later, and I was back to the road, just one mile from home. Normally just want to run to be done, but still…the urge to walk was very strong.  As I fought it with each step, I tried to channel the experience: “I’m going to feel this way during the Ultra.  I’m going to want to walk.  I’m going to want to stop.  I might want to cry.  But I will keep moving forward.”  As I am often telling my clients: “Your training is for your body, AND for your head!”  Well, this run certainly worked out my head muscles…

Finally…5 hours, 20-something minutes later…I was home.  My husband (already at work) had programmed the air conditioner in the study to turn on a bit before my anticipated arrival.  He chilled some water for me, and left me a note reminding me to hydrate (watermelon & Aquarius sports drink in the fridge!).  After a few minutes in the air con, some cold beverages, and a little stretching…I felt surprisingly GOOD.

The greatest casualty of the run was a callous on my right big toe, which got a blister underneath and ultimately had to be cut off (the callous, not the toe).  This is normal for me, so no biggie.  [Also, we’ll be talking about feet and blisters a lot in some upcoming Coach’s Corner posts, so stay tuned.]  There wasn’t even too much chafe-induced post-run squealing in the shower.  And I was awake enough to bang out some work, write a blog post that some people actually found funny, and enjoy anniversary dinner with my husband (don’t hate on the recycled photo):

Hey, you two clean up pretty good!  ;-)

Hey, you two clean up pretty good! 😉

Overall, I’d call the run a major success.  I accomplished all my goals.  I pushed through some tough spots.  Part of me wishes I hadn’t experienced such mental disintegration at the end of the run (motivation wise – all my faculties were still perfectly intact), but part of me is glad for it.  Brains need training too, and there’s no way that this run made me less prepared for the North Face race.  So…come on, Saturday – bring it on!!!

[Even though a race preview doesn’t fit into the New Blogging Schedule, I’ll be posting one, so keep your eye out for one in the next day or two.]

I know a few of you have favorite Port-o-Potties – but does anyone else have a favorite water fountain?

As a runner, what limits YOU more: Your brain, or your body?

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Aug. 26 – Sept. 8): Marathon Recovery

Yesterday, I posted my Workout Round-Up for pre-marathon week.  Now it’s time to take a look at the post-Perth workouts!  In case you have forgotten (or are new – HI!), I actually spent my summer dual-training: for a marathon in Perth at the end of August, and for a 50K trail run in Singapore in early October.  With the 50K in mind, I ran a solid race in Perth, but didn’t kill myself.  I only had about 2 weeks of recovery before hitting a few more long workouts, in Singaporean heat, on Singaporean trails, in preparation for the 50K.

[Perth race reports are here: Perth Part 1 and Perth Part 2.]

So here are my two recovery weeks.  The goal of Week #1 was: Do whatever the heck you want, and nothing more.  This is a physical break – but more importantly (for me) a psychological break.  After adhering to a training plan for so many weeks, this break week was important for me, for my mental recovery/rest – especially since I planned to jump right back into a few intense weeks of training.

Monday (Aug. 26): Walk all over Perth with Grace, groaning slightly, avoiding stairs, and enjoying a long afternoon rest over gloriously rich hot chocolate at Chocolateria San Churro.  Red eye back to Singapore.

Tuesday: Not one blessed thing.  Not even a stretch.  (Don’t tell my coach.)

Actually, my legs were already significantly less sore.  What was nagging me the most?  My back, of all things.  I must have been a bit more tense than usual during the marathon, because the muscles of my upper/middle back felt tied in knots.

Wednesday: Yin Yoga

Basically, Joyce turned out the lights and I dozed off.  Well, I guess I approximated enough of the postures that she didn’t come over to check if I was still alive.  So, that’s a start.  My back felt better afterward, as well.  Two points for yin.

Thursday: Yoga

Post-Spin Stretch.

Post-Spin Stretch.

Sherlin works us a bit harder than Yin, but the hamstring/quad/hip flexor stretching was just what I needed, if not exactly what I wanted.

Friday: Spin

I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel about spinning, but they were actually really, really OK with it.  And my still-tight back was quite happy to stretch and fold forward to the handlebars.  Excellent!  I made a mental note that, if running turned out to be draggy  next week, spin would remain a good option.

Saturday & Sunday: Stretching and rolling and resting.

After switching places in and out of town during most of August, KMN and I were finally both home – and expecting guests on Tuesday.  We took the opportunity to catch up on chores, finish up a DIY project around the apartment, and prepare for visitors!

I also spent the week eating pretty much what I felt like eating.  For example, on Saturday night, I really wanted popcorn.  We were out of kernels for our popcorn maker. KMN went to the store to buy some, couldn't find any, and came home with this instead.  A reasonable substitute.  And a POP UP BOWL?  I'm not sure if this is pathetic, or cute.  ?

I also spent the week eating pretty much what I felt like eating. For example, on Saturday night, I really wanted popcorn. We were out of kernels for our popcorn maker. KMN went to the store to buy some, couldn’t find any, and came home with this instead. A reasonable substitute. And a POP UP BOWL? I’m not sure if this is pathetic, or cute. ?

KMN went for a long run on Sunday.  For the first hour he was gone, I was thrilled that I could catch up on work and tidy up around the house, rather than haul myself out for a weekend long run.  For the second hour he was gone, I was jealous that he was getting all the endorphins and I was getting none.  The timing was perfect: Clearly, I was ready to get back in my running sneakers!

Now twinning with my husband. But he was going running; I was merely going floor mopping.  [In Singapore, mopping is a tech-shirt-worthy job.]

Now twinning with my husband. But he was going running; I was merely going floor mopping. [In Singapore, mopping is a tech-shirt-worthy job.]

Total workout time (including rolling and stretching): 3 hrs, 45 min.  I should have been able to knit a sweater, or make a chiffon cake, or at least wash all the windows in the apartment with so much less time spent working out.  But alas…I don’t have much to show for it.

My goal for post-marathon Week #2 was to return to regular (albeit mostly easy) running, for about 25-30 miles, if possible.  To keep my overall workout load reduced, I planned to cut back on my cross-training workouts for the week.  This corresponded nicely with having guests, too.

Monday (Sept. 2): BodyPump

A two week break from BodyPump doesn’t do your (or at least, my) muscles any favors, that’s for sure.  I kept my weights fairly light – downloaded a bit from what I was using in July and early August.  And despite doing the squats and lunges without any added weight at all – I was feeling the burn, both in class and most definitely the next day.

We also went to another supermarket, and were able to find popcorn kernels.  After checking the snack aisle, the cereal aisle, and the grains aisle, we accidentally stumbled up them HERE.  Kind of makes sense, I guess...?

We also went to another supermarket, and were able to find popcorn kernels. After checking the snack aisle, the cereal aisle, and the grains aisle, we accidentally stumbled up them HERE. Kind of makes sense, I guess…?

Tuesday: Run (6.1 mi)

My dear friend Deb arrived for a visit verrrrrry early on Tuesday morning.  She’s a running machine, and promptly informed me that she wanted to run.  So, we ran.  The pace was a bit faster than my usual, but the miles flew by as we chatted and caught up.  As I did most of my marathon training alone, having someone to chat with really helped pass the time.

Wednesday: Run (8.1 mi)

Deb needed to do her long run, and wanted to check out the trails near our apartment.  I obliged, and we ran one loop of McRitchie Reservoir together.

Deb on the run.  [*cue music*]

Deb on the run.

After one round, we parted ways and I headed home, while she completed a second loop.  And in those 8 solo miles, she had more adventures than I’ve had since moving here: Mischievous monkeys ransacking boxes of water bottles, a sighting of a small snake, and a close encounter with a monitor lizard!

Playful monkeys on the first loop; she didn't have a camera to catch their shenanigans on her second round!  How many monkeys do you see...?

Playful monkeys on the first loop; she didn’t have a camera to catch their shenanigans on her second round! How many monkeys do you see…?

Thursday: Rest

Actually, it poured all day.  We went to a museum and took things slow and easy.

Friday: Run (3.6 mi)

KMN and Deb both did longer, faster workouts.  I pulled the “I just ran a marathon 1.5 weeks ago” card, and took a shortened option.

Saturday: Hiking in Palau Ubin

Our Garmin died partway through the trip, but we probably walked/hiked about 6-7 miles for the day.  Since we were all running a race the following day, I opted out of any other workouts.

Sunday: 5.6 miles + 20 Story Stair Climb

All three of us (KMN, Deb, and I) ran the Salomon Vertical City Trail Race.  I’ll post a separate race report soon, but suffice to say that I am much better trained for longer distances at the moment.  It was also a great example of That Time Coach Holly Ran The Race She Always Lectures You NOT To Run.  Stay tuned. [Edit: Salomon Vertical City Trail Race Report]

All smiles before the race!

All smiles before the race!

Total Workout Time for the week: 5 hrs, 38 min – almost all running, with some stretching/rolling.  Having Deb around this week was a great motivator for me to get back out on the pavement and trails.  Zipping off to the gym while guests are visiting seemed a bit of a waste – so that helped keep most of my training time run-specific.  Next week (uh…that would be this week that has just passed), it’s back to running + cross training, though.  Bring on 2 weeks of post-recovery, pre-taper 50K training!

What is the coolest/scariest animal you’ve ever seen while out running?

Anyone have a good recipe for pesto?  I made pesto last night, and it was a flop.  But I have an over-achieving basil plant, so…help a girl out?

Did you notice the new Run With Holly Gravatar photo (in the Comments section – I’m not just a green design anymore – I have an actual picture!!)?  Not to brag (much), but I have to admit that I’m feeling extra snazzy now!

2013 Weekly Workout Round-Up (June 3-9)

Aha! I found it: A week without excuses!  After guests, rhinoviruses, and some IT band hypochondria the past few weeks, things clicked into place this week.  So now it’s Sunday (when I started writing this, although NOW-now, it’s Wednesday, oops?), and my legs are tired.  [Funny how a “good week” is synonymous with tingly-tired legs, isn’t it?  Athletes are a strange breed, indeed…]

Here’s what went down:

Monday: Rest

My IT-band is my Achilles heel (ha, ha), so when it tightened up on me during last weekend’s long run, I crossed my fingers that it merely needed a bit of TLC, not a three month running break (See? Over-reaction.).  So I spent some quality time with my torture devices on Monday.

Let me stop for a second here and be very, very, crystal clear: I am hyper sensitive to how my IT bands feel.  Last weekend, it was a bit tight.  It didn’t hurt.  It hardly even “twinged”.   My hips were tight, my IT band was tight, and I could feel that in my leg and knee.  So I stretched a lot, and cut my run a bit short when I didn’t like the way it was feeling, and dedicated myself to more resting/running this past week.  But if your IT band is actually hurting (like, OUCH hurting) and you run through that pain, I can pretty much guarantee that you cruisin’ for a bruisin’, and a long running break while it heals.  So watch yourselves.  I do not advocate running through injury pain.  Please.  Don’t do it.

Tuesday: BodyAttack

I went all out, and managed to put together a somewhat cute confidence-inspiring (for myself) outfit for my first class.

I went all out, and pulled together a matching, confidence-inspiring (for myself) outfit for my first class.

I’ve been on a hunt for a dash of aerobic cross-training that makes my legs move outside the sagittal (front-to-back) plane of motion. I love running and spinning, but also recognize the importance of giving the under-used muscles on the sides of my legs some love, too.  I thought BodyAttack would be something like the Tae-Bo I loved many moons ago (ask my college roommate).  While there wasn’t much punching or kicking, we did do plenty of hopping, jumping, and grape-vining from side-to-side.  The class didn’t push the limits of my aerobic capacity, but it did provide plenty of lateral movement – and even some arm work!  My brain also got a workout, trying to learn and execute some new (to me) choreography.  The hour flew by, and although this may never be a workout staple, I’ll be back when I want to mix things up a bit and exercise my peroneus muscles (the muscles on the outside of your lower leg).

Wednesday: AM Run, PM Spin

I do most of my running solo these days, so having GCA for company on this run kept my pace easy and the miles flew by (or maybe that’s because she was measuring in kilometers, which always pass faster…).  Best of all, the IT band didn’t give me any trouble.

Thursday: BodyPump, Yoga, & Run

Gratuitous BodyPump set-up photo.  My outfit wasn't nearly as cute on this particular day.

Gratuitous BodyPump set-up photo. My outfit wasn’t nearly as cute on this particular day.

I arrived home after yoga around 8:30 PM.  There was a light drizzle, and the air was really humid. I was hungry.  I really, really wanted to eat my dinner and relax.  But I convinced myself that a dark, rainy run would be fun (?) and headed out.  But the joke was on me because…I was actually right!  The rain got harder as I ran, and while the weather wasn’t exactly cool, the moisture was refreshing.  Of course, I wasn’t sorry I went.

Friday: Spin

Holly *hearts* The Grid Foam Roller

I remained diligent with my dedication to rolling and stretching.  I know that these are the “dues” I must pay to do the sports I love.  So, the foam roller and I spent 20 painful glorious minutes together.  In fact, I spent a total of 75 minutes on the roller this week, plus a few yoga classes, plus some extra stretching. I was GOOD to my hips.  And, as you’ll see, they were good to me!  Reciprocity rocks.

 

Saturday: Hike & Swim

On Saturday, I joined a group of local runners for a trail clean-up on some of my most frequently-frequented trails, McRitchie Reservoir.  I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but we ended up walking/hiking for about 5 miles (plus I did a 1 mile run to where the group was meeting).  And, since Jeano has requested photos of Singapore, and I do like to brag about this swatch of green in the midst of a city of >5 million people, here’s a photo looking out over McRitchie (admittedly, from a different day):

Green and green and green.  Taken at a very specific angle, to avoid high rises in the background.

Green and green and green. Taken at a very specific angle, to avoid high rises in the background.

Sunday: Long Run

Despite a late night on Saturday, I was strangely excited about the next day’s long run – I had 16 miles planned.  This would be my longest run since moving to Singapore.  I was so excited that I stayed up even later to set out my nutrition, hydration and apparel on Saturday night.  In the morning, I grabbed some cereal and pulled on Clothing Set #1.  I debated on wearing a cap, but decided that it was early, and the trails are shaded, so I’d be OK until I circled back to the house about 2/3 of the way through the run.  This would have been fine – except, about 3 miles into my run, the brightening sky suddenly started turning dark, as a storm rolled in.

It is possible (possible) that I rocked out one unplanned tempo mile, while trying to get through the most exposed section of the trail and back under tree-cover.  I made it, just before the rain started in earnest.  But Singapore rain doesn’t mess around, and there was no way that some trees were going to keep me dry!  As the rain grew heavier, I ran for the Ranger Station, where I knew there was cover (and water fountains!).  I made it, and spent about 5 minutes running small loops near the station, in case the storm got bad enough that I really needed the safety of the shelter.  But that got boring quickly, and I was starting to get some odd looks, so I popped under the awning, had some nutrition, and dripped all over the place.

At that point, I was 5 miles into my run, and had 11 miles ahead of me.  I didn’t have time (or the desire) to hang around until the sun came out.  I knew that the next shelter was just over one mile ahead, so off I went.  The half mile that followed was the most fun I’ve had running in Singapore thus far.  It was on a low-lying section of trail, so in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, the entire trail was covered with water. I splashed through puddles that came up over my ankle.  I sloshed, hopped, splashed, and basically had a grand old time.  The trail is mostly covered in gravel, so although it was extremely wet, the conditions weren’t that muddy (dang!).  Just wet.  And so fun.

The rain continued, and as my eyebrows were unable to stop the flood of water into my eyes, I was definitely regretting my decision to leave my cap at home.  But that was the ONLY thing I regretted.  The thunder and lightening moved further away, so I stopped worrying about how close the nearest shelter was. The next 4-5 miles flew by.  I love running in  summer rain, and this was glorious!  The rain helped keep me cool, and with so much rain, I hardly noticed my sweat.  Plus, this kind of storm prompts a bit of camaraderie on the trail – all of us who’d ventured out were united by a love for adventure and a dash of crazy.  We waved, laughed, and kept on moving as we passed each other.  [There was one group of folks with umbrellas, which….really?  This was the kind of storm where an umbrella might – might  – have kept the top of your head dry, but that’s about it.]

Before long, I’d finished my trail loop and arrived back at home (11 miles down, 5 miles to go).  The rain tapered off to a light drizzle. I had some Nuun, changed into Clothing Set #2, and plugged in my headset.  I was going to use an audiobook to help me through the last 5 miles on the road.  And off I went!  My legs were starting to feel tired, but the change to the road guaranteed easy footing and pancake flatness.  I listened to my book (The Brothers K, by David James Duncan), bribed myself with sips of water every half mile, and let my legs do what they do best!

I finished up with 16 miles on the dot, and felt awesome about life.  But I didn’t have much time to revel – it turns out that, on Sundays, my workout doesn’t end when my long run ends.  First there’s stretching and hydration, preparing some refueling food, grabbing a shower, and zooming out to catch the bus for church.  It’s like a sprint after a long run.  Extra training?

Compression sleeves really do add a little je ne sais quoi to an outfit, don't you think?

Compression sleeves really do add a little je ne sais quoi to an outfit, don’t you think?

Trust me, I put on actual sandals when I leave the house.  That makes things better, right?  Right?  Whatever. I actually don’t care. I’m a runner. I’m not ashamed.  I will proudly parade around Singapore’s Little India, a white girl in compression sleeves, without worrying what people say.  Life is too short for that!  I don’t know whether it was the calf sleeves, a solid refueling plan (that continued with masala dosai in Little India), or the fact that my training is actually working – gasp!, but I felt remarkably good for the rest of the day.  My legs were a bit stiff, but there was little soreness, and I felt fine going about my daily activities.  Also, the cooling rain, plus 2 salt tabs, plus 2 Nuuns, plus 1 package Honey Stingers, did the trick on the electrolyte front, so I remained headache free for the rest of the day.  Excellent.

So, 1,700 words later, that brings my total workout time last week to 11 hrs, 44 minutes + Hike (~2 hrs, 30 min).

Not too bad.  I’m aiming to keep up the stretching and rolling this week, and will be trying to sneak in at least two swims, as well.

‘fess up: Do you ever choose a workout outfit because you find it confidence-inspiring?

Do you try to hide your calf sleeves/compression socks in daily life, or do you wear them loud and proud?

If we were to go out for Indian food (North OR South Indian), what dish(es) would you choose?

Meeting! Friendly! Trail! Runners!!!!

I still have some posts pending from last week, but I can’t wait another minute to tell you about the run we did on Saturday morning.  Seriously, I can’t.  I’ve been nudging KMN all afternoon saying, “We found some new running friends!  We went on a trail run today!  This morning was awesome!!!”  He’d probably like to be left alone for 10 seconds.

So you all are my temporary substitute (I love having a blog).  You know what?  We found some new running friends!  We went on a trail run today!!!  *ahem*  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s take a step back, because this story actually started a few weeks ago, when I decided that 4 months was long enough (too long, actually) to be without a running community.  Being a typical Type A personality, I established and embarked upon mission Find Running Community with vigor and determination.

My trail sneakers want to make some friends!!!

My trail sneakers want to make some friends!!!

But as anyone who has ever done this knows, finding a new sporting group of any kind can be a tricky and intimidating task.  Runners are generally pretty friendly, but no amount of research will tell you what a group’s dynamic will be when you actually show up for the first time: What if they go too fast? What if I get lost?  What if no one talks to me?  What if they’re actually aliens??? [Spoiler Alert: We did not get abducted.  I offer up this post as proof.  I doubt there’s WiFi in outer space.  Probably not even any dial-up connection…]

One of the groups I found was the Trail Running Singapore Facebook group.  This looked like it had good potential.  First of all, I love trail running (in case there was any doubt about that).  Second, I’m a little biased towards trail runners (no offense to road runners, you all are generally awesome as well) – I think their group dynamic tends to be slightly more flexible and relaxed than (some) road running groups.  I also think trail running helps fill the awkward “getting to know you” silence – you can pretend to concentrate on a really rocky section, or a pretty birdsong, or the glory of nature – when, in truth, you have just temporarily run out of things to say.  (Yes, this actually happens to me. Believe it or not, I’m really an introvert.)  To me, these silences seem less uncomfortable on the trails than on the roads.

The Trail Running Singapore group seemed pretty straight-forward and no-strings-attached: no shirt to buy, no fee to pay, no nothing.  Just show up, have a brief route meeting, then get out there and have fun on the trails.  So a week ago, when they announced that February’s group trail run would be starting at MacRitchie Reservoir (right next to our apartment) on Feb. 2, it was a no-brainer.  Of course I was going!!!

I jabbered to KMN about it all week long.  Frankly, after the awesome Green Corridor Run, and with my IT bands behaving themselves, and with the prospect of a new group to run with on Saturday – I was pumped.  I must have gotten him excited about it, too, because when the alarm rang at 6 AM on Saturday, he was the first one out of bed.  We gathered our water bottles, public transport cards, and a few dollars, and headed out.

We walked about a mile to the meeting point and easily found the group.  After a short briefing and head count (~26 trail runners!), we got started.  The first part of the run was through MacRitchie Reservoir, on the trails KMN and I run every week.  We settled in to an easy pace, and chatted briefly with one of the run leaders.

5 Holly in Shadow

An “ooops!” photo actually ends up being a cool play on perspective and lighting…

Although the run was casually organized, the leaders were careful to keep track of all group members.  There was a lead runner and a SAG (caboose), and they managed to span quite a wide range of paces.  We also stopped approximately every 3 miles to regroup and refill water bottles.  Major kudos to Leader Kelly for keeping tabs on everyone!!!

This was a false alarm.  We actually didn't take this trail.  But what fun would a trail run be without some uncertainty/negotiation over the route?

This was a false alarm. We actually didn’t take this trail. But what fun would a trail run be without some uncertainty/negotiation over the route?

Shortly after our first stop, we veered out of MacRitchie and onto the “new to us” portion of the run.   We ran through some awesome rolling, rocky sections and a strong stream crossing (although we took the bridge 🙁  ), and popped out on Rifle Range Road.  After a mile or so, it was back onto the trails in Bukit Timah.

We wound through Durian Loop (no durians, though) and to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor’s Center.  I chatted on and off with some other runners, getting to know a few people and just soaking in the nature.  Again, kudos to the organizers and runners, who all watched out for each other and ensured that no one missed any of the turns.  At a smidge over 6 miles, we took our second break to regroup.

I must confess, all the sweat out here is nuts.  Overall, I’m adjusting pretty well to the weather, and never once really thought “Man! It’s HOT!” (although temps were in the low 80s + humidity).  But the high humidity really retards evaporation, so as soon as I stop (and lose the breeze my running generates), I am absolutely soaked.  Excuse me for being gross, but sweat was running into my CWX capris, and back out the bottom, streaming down my calves and into my socks.  By the bucket load.  My hands get so sweaty that it makes my fingers turn prune-y.  Crazy.  But the human body is amazing – this kind of weather would have wilted me in Rochester, but after 4 months out here, I’m quite accustomed to it.

KMN & I at the 6 mile mark.

KMN & I at the 6 mile mark.

We were feeling too good to quit just yet, so we continued with the group onto the old railroad trail (a continuation of where the Green Corridor Run was held last weekend) and off to the old Dairy Farm (not a dairy farm any more, unfortunately).  At the 9 mile mark, we had a planned meet-up with some other members of the group, who’d started earlier and added some distance to hit 51 km for their 51st birthdays.  Another friend (of theirs, not ours, but heck, that’s how trail running works) had brought cake, so there was a mid-run photo and refueling stop.

I really, really adore how trail runners just adopt newcomers into their fold without question or hesitation.  I never actually met Francis (Frank?  Ferdinand?  Philip?  Heck, I’m not even sure of his name!), but I sang him Happy Birthday and wasn’t even allowed to refuse a few bites of his cake.  There was a lone runner we met up with during our run, who adopted us (or vice verse), and just joined in the group.  The more the merrier!

Another awesome thing about Singapore:  The abundant public transportation options mean that you can run as long/far as you want, then head out to the nearest main road and hop on a bus.  And that’s exactly what we did.  The group was continuing for another 6 miles or so, but that was a bit far for us at this point.  So we reluctantly turned back, but were able to enjoy a short walk/jog out to a convenient bus stop.  Now that we were on our own, I forced KMN to make several “nature observation stops”:

A lot of the leaves in Singapore are MASSIVE.  And I'm not sure why they're changing color.  There's no such thing as "Fall" here...

A lot of the leaves in Singapore are MASSIVE. And I’m not sure why they’re changing color. There’s no such thing as “Fall” here…

Looks like some insects of some sort found this leaf to be a good spot for their eggs.  Holy cow!

Looks like an insect of some sort found this leaf to be a good spot for their eggs. Holy cow!

 

After ~20 minute bus ride, we were home.  10 minutes after that, we were enjoying this:

Roti prata, "carrot cake", and iced Milos.

Roti prata, “carrot cake”, and iced Milos.

Total run distance: 10 miles
Total time: ~1:45
Total New Trail Running Friendships Seeded: Hopefully, a lot!
Will We Be Back: Abso-stinkin’-lutely!!!

Thanks, Trail Running Singapore, we’ll see you all again soon!  [Hopefully, we’ll be able to cover the full distance, and join you for post-run chicken rice, too!]

Ever had an “oops” picture turn out to be awesome?

How have you gone about finding running friends in a new city?

Green Corridor Run 2013: Race Report

I glance down and see some blood on the front of my shirt.  At first I’m curious, then I’m horrified, as I realize that the blood is coming from a gash across my abdomen, where a bit of my innards are peeking out.  I have no idea where the cut came from, but I do know exactly which innards they are (I’ll spare you those gory details.)  My first two thoughts:

  1. They’re not supposed to do that!  I have a layer of muscle between my skin and organs!!!  And this is just a little nick!  My abs are thicker than that!!
  2. I have to hide this!  If anyone finds out, I’ll never be allowed to race today!!!!  Do we have any duct tape?  [I did not make that last part up. I genuinely had this thought.]

And then…my alarm clock rang.  My eyes flew open, and the very first thing I did was to carefully examine my abdomen.  Thankfully, all organs seemed to be properly in place, and my skin was intact.  *whew*

I’m not usually prone to running dreams/nightmares (or at least not to remembering them), so I have no idea where this one came from.  On the plus side, I was wide awake and ready to go at 5-something-AM on a Sunday morning.  Good thing, because it was the morning of the inaugural Green Corridor Run!!!!

GCR Sign

I’ve already posted a little bit about this race, and my anticipation of it, in this post from last week.  And now, finally, it was go time.  I was pumped.

Neither KMN nor I have elaborate pre-race rituals (leaving the last 2 bites of my pre-race cereal in the bowl is pretty efficient, as rituals go), so we were ready very quickly.  We grabbed our bottles, EZ Link cards (for public transit), and phones – and off we went.  The public transport system in Singapore is awesome, and an easy 30 minute bus ride put us literally steps away from the start site.  There were also shuttle buses from the nearest subway stations – very generous of the race organizers, as these stations were still less than 1 km from the start!  [Singaporeans: In the US, we often have to drive to a race site and STILL walk 1 km, or more, to get to the start!]

Sunrise.  Our flag-off time was 7:15 AM.

The sky brightens. Our flag-off time was 7:15 AM.

Driving to this race was highly discouraged – parking was extremely limited, and the race was point-to-point, without any arrangements for a shuttle to bring people back to the start.  However, there was a well-marked and staffed drop-off point, and those arriving on foot from the bus, subway, etc. had a separate, fenced-off walking path through the arrival area, so both people and vehicles could move safely and easily.

A sink. In a port-a-potty.  It must've had a light, too - because at this point, the sky was pretty dark.

A sink. In a port-a-potty. It must’ve had a light, too – because at this point, the sky was pretty dark.

We walked past the old Tanjong Pagar railroad station – but it was a bit dim for any good photos, and the building itself was closed to the public anyway (sorry, Dad).  I needed a bathroom stop and was thrilled to see a long row of port-a-potties, each with a line of exactly one person.  Score!  Also?  This was the nicest port-a-potty I have ever used, EVER. It flushed. Did you read that? IT FLUSHED.  The seat was angled to the left, so I could sit without feeling like my nose was in the urinal.  There was a sink with running water, soap, and paper towels – in the port-a-potty.  I was loving this race, and hadn’t even run a step yet!!

The race was scheduled to start in waves (of ~2,000 runners each), to allow sufficient space for all runners on the sometimes-narrow trail.   The race directors wisely opted to allow runners to self-select their wave based on estimated 10K finish time (under 60 min, 60-80 min, and >80 min).  KMN and I chose to start with the first wave, but to stay in the middle-to-back of the pack.  I was aiming to use the race as a steady, moderate-effort run.  My goals were to check out the Singapore trail running scene, to run comfortably, and to finish without any IT band or metatarsal pain.  Depending on the crowds and trail conditions, I estimated that an 8:30-9:00 minute mile would probably do the trick.

The starting corral was calm and relatively spacious.  Singaporeans can be very pushy (for example, when getting on/off public transportation), but everyone seemed relaxed and gave each other sufficient space.  KMN and I slowly inched forward, sizing up our fellow runners and doing that delicate dance of “where’s the right place for our pace”?

~5 minutes before the start.

The corral, ~5 minutes before the start. The station is behind me, and everyone is standing where the railroad tracks used to run.

KMN & Holly at the start of the Green Corridor Run.

KMN & Holly at the start of the Green Corridor Run.

There was a short pep talk, a brief warm up, and by 7:16, we were on our way!  The race was chipped at both the start and finish, so we didn’t mind a short wait to get to the starting gantry.  As the seconds ticked by, though, we both realized that weren’t as far forward as we’d thought.  Ooops!  Ah, well, too late to change anything now!

Things loosened up quickly, though.  The entire course was along the old railroad bed.  The tracks were gone, and the railroad ties were either covered over or removed.  Mostly, the terrain was dirt and/or grass.  The path narrowed gradually, over the first kilometer or so, so there was sufficient time for everyone to spread out.  Even at its narrowest, the trail could accommodate 3-4 runners across – so compared to single-track racing, this was positively spacious.

There were a very few walkers who started where they didn’t belong, but mostly, everyone seemed to have done a decent job of starting in the right place.  Everyone except us, that is.  We’d started way too far back.  But thankfully, the wide path afforded us plenty of space to pass other runners, and we kept up a steady stream of passing for most of the race.

We ran through the first few kilometers easily, as we worked our way forward and settled into a pretty steady effort.  There were volunteers stationed every half kilometer, and plenty of trail access points marked, in case of emergency.  We saw medical personnel and an ambulance at some of these exit points (possibly all, I’m not sure).  And while it was a difficult course for spectators to access, having volunteers positioned frequently ensured there were people monitoring the runners’ safety, and also a few friendly faces to clap and cheer (nothing too exuberant, but still, an encouragement).

In addition, plywood had been laid across some of the muddier sections – perhaps to protect the runners (many locals expressed serious concern about getting muddy – don’t get me started, that’s a rant for another time!), but I suspect also to protect the trail from getting too beaten up by the run.  This was unusual to me, but the boards seemed sturdy enough when we crossed them.  I hope they remained firmly in place and not too slippery as the morning went on.

There were also a number of short tunnels (overpasses), which must have been very muddy in the recent past, because it looked like they recently received a gravel dump (some discussion board reconnaissance confirms this). Running over big chunks of gravel is scary to someone who has busted metatarsals in the past, but I ran as gently as possible and made it through unscathed.  The most exciting part of the run was the longest of these tunnels, which was actually pretty dark inside.  There were about 10 seconds there when I wished I had my headlamp!

We did get stuck in a bottleneck at one point, as runners picked their way around some muddy patches.

Me: *glancing back* “Uhhh…”
KMN: “Yup, go for it.”
Both: *splash through mud, around at least 20-30 runners*

Sweet!  We’d earned ourselves some trail cred, and a bit of a spa mud bath for our feet. I was loving this.  Every bit of it!

The temperature was ~77°F (25°C), and humid at the start.  Without any direct sun, this was a very tolerable – almost pleasant – running condition for Singapore.  As we clicked off a few more kilometers, things warmed up – but we were carrying our own hydration, and both felt pretty strong coming into the halfway mark.  The race also provided 3 hydration stops with water (all 3) and 100Plus, a local sports drink (at least 1).

By this point, many people were running single file along the hard packed, grass-less center line of the trail.  We were hanging out along the sides, where the ground was a bit more uneven but passing was easier.  Everyone was strung out in a line, with runners ahead and behind, but the path was certainly wide enough for all, and we were able to proceed without much frustration.  There was a strip of forest on both sides, and beyond that, urban Singapore.  KMN was able to pick out his old school, a new mall where we recently met friends, and his family’s preferred hawker center.

Around the 7 km mark, I started to get a bit tired.  My body was feeling the effort, and I was concentrating hard to keep my ankles strong and my feet from landing too hard.  While the passing wasn’t too hard, constantly looking for the best way around/through groups was getting mentally tiring.  Although KMN and I had been informally taking turns leading, I knew that I would need something more regimented for a countdown to the finish.  We agreed to switch off every half mile from that point forward. [The course was marked in km, but we still use our Garmins in miles.  Americans… :)]

This arrangement meant that I was forced to run strong as the lead for half a mile, then got to follow (mentally easier, but physically still a push) for half a mile.  This worked perfectly.  KMN was a great tag team member, and we ran steadily all the way to the finishing chute.  He even had a nice kick at the end to pick off one or two more gentlemen.  There were no ladies in my sight, and I held back.  It’d be a shame to have run a good, safe race – then tweak something in a sprint to the finish.  We moved through the finishing chute, and received our finisher’s medals and a Green Corridor Run towel.

Results have not yet been posted [Edit: Click HERE for a link to the results page – but only to enter your bib number (Letter + Number) and get your time – there is no overall listing of finishers and their times.]. but according to my Garmin, my finish time was 54:XX [Edit: Chip time 55:08], for about 6.3-6.4 miles, giving me an average pace of ~8:45  min/mile – smack within my goal range.  I am absolutely pleased with this.  I’d held myself back from racing hard, but still gotten a good, solid workout and just a taste of my normal “2/3 through the race ughhhh.” low point.  KMN and I got to work together during a race (usually we run separately), and we both finished feeling strong.

Finish line refreshments consisted of water, 100Plus, and bananas – but frankly, that was all that I was in the mood to eat anyway.  We rested, stretched, rehydrated, and took some photos:

We finished at the old Bukit Timah railway station.

The finish line was at the old Bukit Timah railway station.

KMN in front of the station.

KMN in front of the historic station.

Look closely between the bars, and you can see some of the control switches for the tracks (I'm pretty sure that's what they are).

Look closely between the bars, and you can see some of the control switches for the tracks (I’m pretty sure that’s what they are).

And just past the finish line, the tracks resume!

And just past the finish line, the tracks resume!

I

 

I was trying to be a steam locomotive.  KMN thought I was doing a running pose.  Eeeks!  I hope I don't look like this when I run!!!

I was trying to be a steam locomotive. KMN thought I was doing a running pose. Eeeks! I certainly hope that I don’t look like this when I run!!!

It would have been fun to hang at the finish, cheer in the rest of the runners, and maybe see the fastest folks get their prizes – but we had plans to meet friends for lunch.  So we walked about 200 meters out to the main road, hopped on a bus (sat on our handy towels!), and in about 20 minutes, we were back at our apartment.  I could not have asked for a more convenient race experience!!

Overall, this particular race presented logistical considerations that were unique to trail racing, and to Singapore.  Organizationally, there were a few false alarms very early on (November/December) that resulted in the dispersal of conflicting information, and much discussion, concern, and doubt among a vocal contingent of local runners.  However, the organizers ultimately presented a smoothly run, organized, safe, and fun event.  I didn’t see any of the common “inaugural race issues”: transportation options, hydration, medical care, and restrooms were all available in abundance.  I am operating on a US-based race pricing system, but I was quite pleased with the $48 SGD price point ($39 USD), for which we received an urban race with meticulous organization, chip timing (start and finish), some goodies (bag, visor, towel, medal), and a bag drop & shuttle buses (which we didn’t use, but seemed to be working pretty smoothly).  Oh – and did I mention those port-a-potties?  They were most excellent!

The organizers accommodated and educated trail runners of all experience levels.  They did everything possible to provide a trail-centric event open to as many participants as possible, while still taking steps to preserve the more fragile sections of the trail.  They brought participants out to an ecologically and culturally significant space, a bit of a “hidden gem” of Singapore.  And all of this was done in a local way, without the massive organizing power and tremendous corporate sponsorship that characterizes many other races in Singapore (Standard Charter Marathon, Brooks Nightlife Run, Nike We Run, Adidas King of the Road).  While none of my web research has indicated exactly who the organizing body is, my hat goes off to this dedicated group, and their recruited volunteers.  I would sign up for next year’s race – and any other event you all produce – in a heartbeat.  Thank you!!!!

Two thumbs up for the Green Corridor Run 2013!!!

Two thumbs up for the Green Corridor Run 2013!!!
And, of course, some Fleet Feet Endurance Team love!!

Ever run a race where some element exceeded your wildest expectations?  Do tell!

Alternatively, please tell me about the nicest port-a-potty you’ve ever used.

*I chose to participate in this event, and paid my own entry fee.  I have no association with the race, its directors, or Groundswell Events.
**We did not take any photos during the race, but if you go the the Green Corridor Run’s Facebook page, there is a link to lots of photos taken by Running Shots (click on “Recent Posts By Others” and scroll down to find the link).

[EDIT: If you want to keep reading, head over here to read about our post-run refueling at Relish.]

Green Corridor Run = Massive Excitement

There is seriously some massive excitement going on over here.  Like, dancing-in-my-desk-chair excitement.  Why?

We’re running our first race in Singapore on Sunday!!!!!!

I’ve described my most recent racing exploits here, but in short – I haven’t run a solo race since June.  June!  So when appeared in my Inbox last week, my excitement began to mount:

Packet Pickup Reminder

This is the inaugural year of the Green Corridor Run.  We’ll be running through a stretch of green that travels all the way through Singapore, north-to-south.  It used to be the start of a railway that stretched from the southern tip of Singapore all the way to Russia.  I believe that some of the stretches have been recently revamped to allow access and provide a narrow running path.  We’ll be running on grass, gravel, dirt, clay…and the course description promises “with forest on both sides”.  Here’s a screen grab of the route:

Screen grab from race website.  The thing is, I'm not seeing very much green on there...

Screen grab from race website. The thing is, I’m not seeing very much green on there…

Obviously, we’ve never run the course, so the run will be an adventure!  There are so many reasons for us to be excited about this: the chance to run, the chance to run a trail run, the preservation of historical spots (unusual in Singapore), and the celebration of green space in an urban hub.  I love it!  Also, there’s the elevation profile.  *giggle*

Again, screen shot from race website.  This is your math lesson for the day: Always check the axis labels.  BAHAHAHAHA!

Again, screen shot from race website. This is your math lesson for the day: Always check the axis labels.

This run – like most in Singapore – doesn’t play to my hill-climbing strengths. Singapore is a pretty flat place.  But it’s OK – because I’m actually not racing this race.  Did you hear that, self?  I’M NOT RACING THIS RACE!!!!  [I’ve been reminding myself of this daily.]

I’m still watching my IT bands, and my metatarsals, and I’m not really in racing shape.  So I am publicly proclaiming that this will be a run for me.  A trail run, in a new place, with lots of Singaporeans who love to run – but a run nonetheless.  I’m emphasizing this mostly for my benefit, not yours.  🙂

Still, I can’t wait.  So while I’m all race-happy, let me tell you a few things about races in Singapore:

  1. There aren’t nearly as many of them as there are in most mid-sized US cities.  There are 2-3 races per month, and usually only one per weekend.  I do believe this number is increasing; when I first visited 7 years ago, I had a hard time finding much info about any races.
  2. Race registration is usually closed a few weeks (or more) before the event.  Green Corridor registration closed December 31, and race will be January 27.
  3. Packet pick up is always done in advance.  Maybe with special permission, you can pick up elsewhere or on the morning-of.  Singaporeans like to be tidy and super organized. While it’s a bit of a pain to make a separate trip out for packet pick-up, I’m quite sure this smooths the logistics of race-day organization.
  4. Singaporeans love goodies – and will protest sub-par goodies.  Thus, the swag bags are usually pretty decent for the race fees.  For example, we paid $48 SGD (~$40 USD) for this race.  In addition to the actual race, and chip timing (Start & Finish), this is what we found in our goodie bags (books not included):

 

Nylon backpack, visor, $150 spa voucher, 1 ZERO electrolyte tablet sample.

Nylon backpack, visor, $150 spa voucher, 1 ZERO electrolyte tablet sample.

I would have registered even without any freebies, so this looks pretty good to me.  Not sure how long that visor is gonna stay white, though…

 

My willing co-conspirator.

My willing co-conspirator.

What’s the best goodie you ever found in a swag bag?

Any Singaporeans out there running Green Corridor this weekend?
I’ll be the tall white girl who’s running (not racing!) with the Chinese guy (unless he decides to race).

 

Conquering the “Bad Weather Blues”

I work with runners all over the world – literally.  In fact, it’s almost impossible for me to send a blanket email to them all, and have everyone receive it on the same day (as I figured out when I started writing a weekly “Wednesday Wisdom” note…ooops!).  Some of them are wilting in the strong sun of summer right now, while others are struggling through frigid temps on the East Coast of the USA.  But there’s one constant: They – nah, WE – all need a push to get out there when conditions are challenging.

This weekend served to remind me of this fact.  Singapore experienced relatively steady rain for the entire weekend – and many locals thought this was awful, curl-up-in-bed, stay-at-home weather.  [Confession: I thought this was awesome – the temps were the coolest that I’ve ever experienced in Singapore (~76-78 F, 25 C), and there was a non-stop breeze.] The streets were emptier, the buses were emptier, and the trails sure were emptier.

So this got me thinking.  I’ve run through pretty much every kind of weather (Rochester in the winter, LA in the summer, Singapore year-round), and there are a few tricks that work in any kind of questionable or challenging condition.  These are mind games that help me get my workout gear on and get outside, no matter what the weather.  I figured I’d share a few with you:

1. Adjust your timing, and convince yourself that you’re getting the best deal.  In colder months, sleep in a bit and do your workout a little later (Whoot! Extra sleep!), or on your lunch hour (Sweet – an excuse to avoid the weird smells emanating from the microwave in the lunchroom!).  In warm weather, get up early and get ‘er done (Booyah! 8 AM and my Saturday run is done!).  When there’s more daylight, you can workout in the evening (A sunset run is perfect to de-stress after a long day of client meetings.  Plus?  SUNSET.  Shazam!)  The trick is to keep telling yourself that you have the best deal around.  It actually doesn’t matter that your story will change in 6 months.

We also got fancy and did a Nuun test-on-the-run test.  Even if you dissolve an hour ahead of time, and shake well, you're still going to get a bubbly mess after a mile or so.

We also got fancy and did a Nuun test-on-the-run test. Even if you dissolve an hour ahead of time, and shake well, you’re still going to get a bubbly mess after a mile or so.

For example, this weekend, we took advantage of the cool rain to delay our run until late morning.  Usually, we try to beat the heat and be done by 9-10 AM.  But the rain gave KMN a chance to sleep in, and me the opportunity to have a phone date with a good friend from grad school.  We didn’t leave the apartment until about 11 AM.  We headed out to MacRitchie Reservoir, to run my very first full loop of this visit (~6.5 miles).

2. Dress appropriately.  I could go on and on, but essential, wear the proper gear. In brief, wear technical gear, especially in the layer closest to your body.  If it’s wet and/or windy, wear something that will afford some protection.  Watch your hands/feet, and protect your head and eyes, whether it’s hot or cold.  If you aren’t sure of the right apparel for your sport and season, then ask someone. Ask at your local running store, ask a runner friend, ask me – just ask!!!!

For a warm, rainy day, this meant wearing caps to keep the rain out of our eyes, relatively tight fitting clothes (to avoid the wet-saggies), and nothing that would be damaged in the rain.  The photos are a bit weird because I only let my iPhone out of its protective case (aka, a little Ziploc baggie) for about 10 seconds at a time.

KMN in the distance on a wet trail

KMN sporting a cap, un-baggy clothes, and his love for a good rainy day!

3. Connect with your inner child.  Puddles, snow storms, even a bit of ice – kids love it all.  The world is their playground.  Make it yours.  Of course, please be safe.  But who cares if your sneakers get soaked?  They’ll dry!  Be a little wild and crazy, and let your inner child run free.  Have fun!!

The trails were totally empty on this rainy morning (lots of Singaporeans weren’t following this advice!).  We were treated to a bit of (rare, in Singapore) disorder – a tree had fallen across the trail during the night!

Yes, it's just a tree.  Yes, we've seen zillions of trees.  Yes, we'll still pose and take photos with it!

Yes, it’s just a tree. Yes, we’ve seen zillions of trees. Yes, we’ll still pose and take photos with it!

4. You aren’t the only one!  Keep your eyes open, and you’ll surely see another, equally dedicated runner/walker/cyclist out there on a crummy weather day.  There are some pretty hard-core people out there.  Don’t you want to be one?  Speaking of which…

We did share the trails with a few other folks – but just a few. Interestingly, most of the other peopile we saw out were Caucasian.

 

5. You want to be a bad-a$$.  And that’s exactly how you feel after finishing a workout in crazy conditions.  In fact, the worse the weather, the prouder you can be of your accomplishment.

And there you have it, folks.  Just a few simple tricks, and you’ll be running in any weather, at any time.  As for us, we knocked off 7 miles in the rain.  They were some of the most fun miles I’ve run in Singapore to date, although I expect that they’ll face some competition next weekend.  Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you all about it!

Ever have an awesome rainy run?

What’s your best trick for getting yourself out the door when the weather is crazy?