Friday, August 25, 2006

Stuck in a Rut

Thanks again to PT for inviting me to a run last night! PT is the lightning fast gal who ran the New Balance Real Run (and kicked my ass) on Sunday. I have been a bit of a rut when it comes to training and Intentional Discipleships - getting lazy, missing training sessions and QT - and the run with PT was probably just what the doctor Lord ordered. :)

We ran a brisk 6km or so, but what's great about it was PT's running commentary (literally) on breathing and running techniques. I felt a bit like the young David Carradine in the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu" getting a lesson from his wise old master... "Grasshopper, you have much to learn...". It was great being able to practice breath control and uphill/downhill running techniques. I had a great time, Praise God for bringing me a running guru, perhaps I can do this running thing afterall! :D

While we are on the subject of being in a rut, this is what happened to me yesterday...The fan belt on my trusty ol' Subaru Forrester broke and I had to be towed to the workshop. A few hours and $150 later, I finally got home, feeling thankful that
  1. This happened in Singapore and not 2 weeks later when I intend to drive to Malaysia for a holiday.
  2. This happened while I was driving and not Mrs Nitrox (a fantastic driver but she probably would have been a bit nervous - 1st sign of fan belt failure is power steering failure)
  3. Somehow when I rolled gently to a stop, I was right below the shade of a nice tree. The shade kept me nice and cool while I waited for the tow truck.
PRAISE GOD! Train safe and God Speed everyone. This weekend, I get out of the rut and start getting serious about training and Intentional Discipleship (again).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Race Report: New Balance Real Run 2006

Despite the rather "agressive" graphics used in by the event organisers, the run (in Sentosa - an island linked by a road bridge to Singapore) was really mainly paved roads. The website says ROAD 6KM, SAND 1.6KM, TRAIL 2.5KM, but the TRAIL is really just a tree covered concrete pavement. So don't worry, nature lovers, I am pretty sure no butterfles were trampled in the race. :)

I might as well start by telling you that I took 68+mins to finish the 10km. :( This is 3 mins SLOWER than the practice run 3 weeks ago on the exact same route. More on the reasons why later, but just about every one I spoke to had a worse timing than the practice run. The only exceptions seem to be my two buddies - PT and N - who actually finished even FASTER than the practice run. Sigh... Is there any reason why slow runners seem to always have fast runner friends?!?!

The night before the race, the usual pre-race tension set in and I did not sleep well despite good intentions to go to bed a little earlier. Wonder if it was the nap I took in the afternoon that made it harder to fall asleep at night? Finally feel asleep when I forced myself to mentally sing some worship songs to calm my nerves and remind myself Who's really in charge here.
  • 5:45am - Got up before the alarm went off, and I am not even a morning person. Praise God! Drank 1L of water, followed by breakfast - PBJ and warm milk. Drank more water, forgot to eat the two beautiful bananas that Mrs Nitrox hung out for me, and bolted out of the door to meet my chauffer buddy N, a.k.a "Greased Lightning".

  • 7:00am - Turned off the exit on the highway, right smack into a traffic jam on a Sunday morning! Took a close look around and just about every car had at least one very nervous looking guy/gal in running gear. Seems every man and his dog has decided to join this race and everyone's driving. :( We are still about 2kms from the bridge to Sentosa. Looks bad...

  • 7:30am - Still in the middle of the huge jam - made about 100m in the last 30 mins. N starts putting on his race bib and asks me to help lace in his race chip to his (thankfully) rather clean shoe. PT calls, sounds worried, she is a few cars behind us. Given that the race starts in 15 minutes, everyone is getting nervous. I call another two friends, all are stuck in traffic. Taxis are pulling out of the queues as the runners bolt out and start running towards the island.

  • 7:45am (official race start time) - Finally, we are on the bridge linking to Sentosa and making some headway. N and I are amused to find that the two lane bridge has been reduced to one on the Sentosa end due to some road works. Not exactly brilliant planning by the Sentosa chaps then.

  • 7:55am - Marshalls direct us to a parking spot 3km from the start line. Seems the race start has been delayed. The huge car park that was used in the practice run has been converted to a huge event area. Can't understand the logic of removing the largest carpark near the race start when thousands of cars are expected... Having sat in traffic for such a long time, I desperately need to go, so I bid adieu to N, who starts jogging optimistically towards the race start. I managed to locate a toilet just as I see runners filing past - seems the 10km race has just started. :( Fighting the urge to join the race halfway, I quickly off-loaded the excess fluids and start a slow jog to the start line.

  • The Race
    When I finally get to the race start line, it's almost empty. Late-comers like myself are still trickling in. Dutifully chipped in at the start line and off I went...
    • ROAD 6km - Not sure if it was the nerves, or the 3km jog to the start line, or the heat :o) but the hills seemed a little more steep than the practice run. Not a good start then... Tried to settle into some sort of rhythm, but it quickly got frustrating trying to weave my way between the back-markers. Can't believe how many people are walking the 10km RUN - some couples really looked like they were out for their usual Sunday stroll! The worst of the lot is probably those who decide to walk side by side and take up the entire lane. Felt like I has stopping and starting half the time. Mental note to self: Come earlier next year!
    • SAND 1.6km - Somewhere in the middle of the 10km, I hit the beach. Given that the bulk of the participants had already run through it meant that it has been churned into soft powdery stuff that would have been perfect for a building sand castles but terrible to run on. I think this is one of them artificially created beaches, which means that it is a rather narrow and hence steep incline to the sea, which kinda makes things worse. It seemed just about anyone who was not already walking decided to walk at this stage, so weaving became even more of a challenge. Let's just say that at some point, I actually ran right into the water - someone had told me that the sand near the water's edge is firmer, and being the novice beach runner that I am, I couldn't stop my side ways momentum down slope and ended up IN the water. Must be pretty amusing to the other participants, but it meant running with wet shoes/socks for the next 5km. :( Oh, and to add insult to injury, PT, who started after me, overtook me in the middle of the beach run - so it seems NOT EVERYONE was walking afterall. She was nice enough not to let me know that she was blowing by me (or was she too embarassed to acknowledge that she knows this slow runner), so at least it did not let the air out of my sails until I met her after the run. :o)
    • TRAIL 2.4km - As mentioned earlier, this was actually a concrete "trail" under the shady canopy of trees. I knew I should be pushing it once I hit the trail as it is the final 2.4km, but this is a real case of "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". After the sand, me legs felt like jelly, and it was all I could do to keep running and not walk. The trail is mostly uphill, and at this stage I was pretty much oblivious to what/who is around, gaze fixed on the ground and just wanting to get it over with. A few climbs later, I see the 1km mark and I tell myself to PUSH. I seem to have forgotten that the last 1km is all uphill and after what felt like 1km of pushing, I see a marshall telling us encouragingly "last 500m!". Thankfully it was all downhill and I struggled across the line about 68 minutes after I chipped in at the start line.

    N made it in a blistering 56 minutes! PT is not sure of her time, but given that she started after me and passed me mid-point, I would say that she probably did in below 60 minutes. I was so knackered after the run that enroute walking back to the car I managed to trip and sprain my right ankle somehow. :(
    I am more than a lil disappointed at my results but more post race reflections next time...

    Train Safe boys and gals, and God Speed!

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Adventures of the Intrepid Economy Class Traveller...

    [Sorry, have to make a post-publish edit as I forgot to update on the Intentional Discipleship front.]

    Some of you may remember that I sometimes joking call myself the travelling salesman. Well the truth of the matter is that it's much worse than that. I am actually the travelling sales SUPPORT man (a.k.a. egghead) so aptly represented by Dilbert in the cartoon above. :D

    Sorry for being away from the blogsphere for so long - both posting and reading/commenting. I have been on the road again the last 3 weeks in Indonesia and Japan, where I found this curious contraption in the hotel bathroom. Sorry that the picture is not very clear, but the item I circled is actually a REMOTE CONTROL for the toilet! The Japanese sure take their toilets very seriously, and I seem to have the "deluxe" model which comes with a heated seat and the remote control - makes my home toilet seem rudimentary by comparision! :D

    Just in case you are curious about the functions of the toilet, here is a close up of the remote. Can't vouch for all the functions, except that the heated seat is fabulous early in the morning in an air-conditioned hotel room. :)

    On the training front, I am getting very nervous that the New Balance Real Run is this coming Sunday. Have not trained much at all in the last 3 weeks thanks to my cattle class travels and a sniffling cold/cough thingy - just one of those things that parents pick up from their kids from time to time. When I did the practice run 3 weeks ago, I found the 1.6km beach run smack in the middle of the 10km run to be a real energy sapper. The usual hot and humid conditions in Singapore did not help either. Here's hoping that I will improve on my practice run time of 65mins.

    Until the race report, take care, train safe, and God Bless!

    P.S. (Sorry about the post-publish edit!)
    On the Intentional Discipleship front, I have a confession to make. I have been meaning to put onto the blog my QT Scripture Readings and prayer items alongside my training log (side bar), but I have been so inconsistent lately with QT that I am now too embarassed to do that. Please pray for me - that I will be dilligent in my daily QT because I really cannot afford to continue missing them!
    This month, I am taking on the lively topic of "Pre-Tribulation Rapture - What does the Bible say?" in my Care Group meetings. Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the belief that Jesus will take the Church up to heaven with Him before all the bad stuff starts in the 7 year Tribulation period (described in the book of Revelations). I must admit that I am still sitting on the fence on this one, but if anyone is interested in a set of SIMPLE (and I stress SIMPLE) notes on the subject, please email me and I will be more than happy to share our findings.