Sunday, September 22, 2013

Marathon party's over. Now what?

A brief summary of plans, daydreams, and amusements 

In the very short-term: 
- A small colony of pre-race butterflies has hatched in my stomach ahead of this weekend's triathlon. Of course, this suggests that there were caterpillars and then cocoons in my stomach earlier. (When you click on 'register for race', the pre-race caterpillars magically get into your stomach through an interdimensional...(I am unable to resist)...wormhole.)

- I will have to learn to love the tempo run if I want to PR (<2:11) in the half marathon. I have never loved tempo runs. Tempo runs are a whole world of pain that speedwork and long runs are not. Pain and misery. Someone teach me how to love a fast tempo please.

- In December I'll be taking part in my first relay with some colleagues - the Standard Chartered Ekiden! 6 of us run 42.2 km in all. Better yet, we're going head-to-head with a couple of other teams from work. (Losers buy lunch!) As long as I'm not first (pressure!) or last (too much pressure!) or working that day (zzz - you know it will happen to me, what else is new) I will be fine.

- Sometime between the Great Eastern Women's Half (November 10) and the time running/ tri season picks up again, I want to have adventures - we're going to India in November for the wedding of two great friends. And I really want to learn to surf or stand-up-paddleboard (the latter is somewhat more likely because I don't have to travel to do it). Anyone want to learn with me?

In the long term:
- I still want to volunteer at a community race. (I was supposed to volunteer at a Craze Ultra station this weekend, but that went out the window when I was recalled to work last-minute on Sunday. Thanks, work.)

- And I'm kind of curious to find out how much faster I can actually get, particularly at the marathon distance. There are incredibly cool runners older and wiser and far more laid-back than I, who go 'to heck with PRs' and wear costumes to entertain other people at races, but I figure I can save the costumes for later, y'know?

For the full story, go hunt down a back issue of Sunday Life!.

In other news, read this piece on John 'The Penguin' Bingham, whom some deride as having ruined competitive running (people run marathons just to finish, rather than to actually compete). Then tell me what you think. I am in two minds about it. I like chasing down other people and passing them. (This happens so rarely that sometimes I just try to finish.) I do enjoy competing. But mostly with myself.

Workouts this week:
Monday - swim 1.5km
Tuesday - track/ 3[1000/400]
Wednesday - midday swim at lunchtime 1.2km
Saturday - 'long' run/ started tired, was tired all the way, legs like rubber. You know some days you feel like you're flying and that you could run for ever? Today was the opposite of those days. 12km. Blech.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Multiple yellow lines: a weekend two-fer

A first-timer's Yellow Ribbon 10K

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I was just a baby reporter, all the rookies went on a field trip to the courts and watched a few cases of people being sentenced - from drug offences to petty theft. I used to wonder what would happen to them when they got out of jail.

As it turns out, the best rehab programme in jail means nothing if society at large doesn't give an ex-con a second chance. That's why the Yellow Ribbon Project was started by a group of government agencies and community organisations: it campaigns to give people another chance, and helps ex-offenders find work, get family counselling, and stay off drugs.

The Yellow Ribbon Prison Run is a 10K/ 6K fun run meant to highlight (in bright yellow) this cause, and runners get a chance to fundraise for the project or donate directly. Oh, and you get to run around the prisons at Changi - a part of town most of us will never see (at least not from the inside).

The race is astonishingly well-organised. Shuttle buses are provided from the nearest carpark/ MRT station (Expo) to the start point (except for one minor quibble: the bus ride took nearly 50 minutes including 15 totally unnecessary minutes of being stuck in traffic). Husband and I got to the start point half an hour late and started with the 6K runners - this was our own silly fault.

The course has gentle rolling hills, and can be narrow in places. It's way out at the eastern edge of Singapore, and is completely different from all the city road races that take you around and around downtown. To give you an idea of what a normal-sized race in Singapore is like - 10,000 people did this run. If you plan to PR, do not for the love of all that is holy start with the 6K fun runners and wrassle your way through the tail end of the 10Ks like we did.

This was a regular old tempo run for me - I'd just run 14km the day before - so I wasn't too fussed, and simply enjoyed the view; I wound up moseying in in 59:17, no PR but a decent enough time (I've been doing sub-1h 10Ks consistently for only a year now), and to my astonishment was 18th in my age group. At the start, husband immediately zoomed off ("I love you! See you at the finish") and was done in 49 minutes. This is testament to an unjust universe, as his entire training consists of running 4 to 8 km home from work four days a week.

Schoolchildren came out to cheer - so cute! Even the guards at the women's prison were out cheering us on. And the goody bag we got at the end contained a miniature mooncake (it is mooncake season) with a yellow ribbon on it - baked by a service run by ex-offenders! Unfortunately I had to go to work right away after that, so wasn't able to stick around for this...

Photo from the Yellow Ribbon Project Facebook page. 
I'll probably be signing up for this run again next year. Everyone deserves a second chance, after all...

I have these in yellow: A short, tight review - Mizuno Inspire short tight

I have two pairs of these - one has that bluish-purple stripe and the other has a yellow stripe. I wear them a lot (though I did not wear them for the Yellow Ribbon run, alas). The length (3 inch inseam?) is perfect. Note - I am 165cm/ 5'4 with stubby legs and I won't get arrested for wearing these in public. If you are taller, you may disagree. Despite the name, the size S was neither too short nor too tight for me. So what's the catch? Read on.

The tights have TWO pockets - a small one in front (I put my keys in there and there was no bouncing) and a larger one at the back (my Ezlink card, ID and a bit of cash fit in there just nice). With so much pockety goodness you'd think they'd be perfect for a long run.

So I took them out for a long(ish) run on Saturday, a lovely, unplanned, go-where-my-feet-take-me morning run. (This is what I do when I'm not training for marathons.) I ended up running about 14km downhill, uphill, and through to a trail that took me halfway around Macritchie - one of my usual routes, with some variations.

And then I got on the air-conditioned bus to go home. And I froze my butt off because my shorts were so soggy.

Use for: short sharp races (10K and under) to carry all your essentials around in if you don't want to deposit a bag, short runs before work, track workouts when you are running late
Don't use for: long runs, anything where you might sweat a lot and can't change out immediately after, sitting around straight after a soggy workout if you mind leaving damp butt-prints

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Adventures in shoe shopping: NB RC1400

Who reviews a shoe after they've already put 200km on it and used it for a marathon? I do. Sorry guys, it's been an epic few weeks.

I've already talked about how much I like my local running shop. They're like the fancy wine shop of running shops, except much less snooty. They know about shoes that I didn't even know existed, because these are arcane shoe models that are nowhere to be found in the blogiverse. It is less of a pain to go there and dither than to buy the wrong cheap size of a shoe model that doesn't work for me, online.

Their incredible shop assistant once helped me try on eight pairs of shoes.

They have shop doggies. (I am a sucker for smart doggies.)

And they have a rainbow of compression sleeves.
you sexy thing, you. all shop pics from TRG Facebook page.

What more can I ask?

Anyway, the New Balance RC1400.

I walked in one day and said, "I've been running in the Saucony Fastwitch, but I need something a little more cushioned for the full marathon I'll be doing in two months. Oh, and I like being able to feel the ground."

The owner thought for a bit, measured my feet and brought out three or four pairs; after about 20 minutes of dithering I settled on these.
obviously too pristine to be my shoes now
These are great shoes - light but cushioned enough for long distances (minimalists be warned, you can definitely feel a bit of a heel drop - it took me some time to get used to). I still prefer my Minimus and Fastwitch for speed work, but these served me well on long runs once I got used to feeling a bit more heel drop. They are incredibly soft and comfortable (did I mention I ran 42km in them with no blisters or chafing or...basically, I barely noticed I was wearing things on my feet, and I immensely dislike having things on my feet). I could run sockless in them, tri-style.

I am not one to bother about what my shoes *look like*, so long as they *work for me*. But these are good-lookin' trainers. As you can see.

Only one quibble - I don't know if it's ordinary wear and tear and humidity, or my bad habit of running on wet trails/ in the rain, but the plasticky overlays on the upper are starting to peel off. Well, as long as they still work...
Speaking of rain, I went to London for work last week. Like I said, it's been an epic two weeks - first I went to Australia to run a marathon with Holly, or more accurately a long, long way behind her; then I came back to work for a week; then I went to London for a work trip/ conference. More on that trip later, but my sister and I had a somewhat more exciting run on Hampstead Heath than planned.

When we started it was cool and a little overcast. We then proceeded to get completely lost. Whereupon it started to rain. Of course the moment we were done the sun came out and the birds started singing.

did not look nearly half as cocky afterwards
And now it's time to hurl myself into emergency tri-training mode.


Tri training is so hard. Mentally. As in, I have to decide whether to swim, bike or run on any given day, instead of doing what I always do: roll out of bed and go for a run.

But I don't want to be the resident Metasport embarrassment - the one who hasn't improved on a tri in two years, the one who has to breaststroke half the swim, the one who falls off her bike while doing a U-turn... you see what I mean? I have my work cut out for me. I'll try not to be such a gumby this time round.