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New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Duathlon photos

Is my dimple showing on the relaxed 10km run?

Along the 36km Scenic Route of Cramps

5km Run Out After Transitioning from 36km Bike

Stellar performance by the Saturday Meesua Running Team at the Singapore Duathlon 2006

East Coast Park, Singapore - The season-opener in the local multisports calendar saw an unprecendented turnout at yesterday's Singapore Duathlon 2006. The endurance race consisting of 10km run, 36km bike and another 5km run saw some 800 particpants taking part in the gruelling event. While there were almost 400 participants who did the full distance, some 200 teams of two also took part in the relay category.

Teams came from varied backgrounds and even raced in different kinds of bicycles. Competition was keen and tough amongst the relay teams, with some teams fielding cyclists in skin-tight 'ultraman' gear and spruced-up bicycles. Others, like the 4th Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR) fielded platoons of soldiers -obviously first-timers - in their ubiquitous PT attire and knobby-tired mountain bicycles in this test of lower limb and cardiovascular endurance.

One recreational group in particular registered 3 relay teams for the event. Team Leng-Ling-Leng, The Boys of '74, and Dua Kaki II were the teams fielded by the Saturday Meesua Running Team (SMRT). Formed informally about 2 years ago, the SMRT is predominantly a running group whose members run at MacRitchie Reservoir Park almost every Saturday morning (and public holiday) before adjourning for a well-deserved breakfast of mee sua at a local coffeeshop. Sunday's event was the first multisports event that the SMRT took part in, besides the several marathons that members have taken part through the years.

"This is the first time we're soaking in the atmosphere at a multisports event. It's definitely different from running-only events. I might consider taking part in next year's edition, once I can commit to upgrade or buy a new road bike and one of those skin-tight 'ultraman' outfits. This is quite inspiring!" said John, a spokesperson for the SMRT, when asked about his own plans in relation to SMRT's.

"The guys here are quite cute with the carved-out bodies gleaming in the sand-dusted sun. I cannot wait to take part in the relay category of a triathlon. Can you imagine there'll be more hot bods around?" exclaimed Ser Ling, the cycling half of Team Leng-Ling-Leng, "As a cyclist, I still have some time to check out the boys coming out of the sea after their treacherous swim before I bike away with motivation!"

John gave a wry smile and nodded in agreement.

The Saturday Meesua Running Team also had their cheerleaders coming out in full force in support of their participating members. With cameras and chilled fruits in hand, they cheered on at their suffering team-mates as they looped the circuits of endless sheer torture.

When asked about the strong evidence of team spirit in SMRT, headmistress Wei Leng answered, "We have a great bunch of people in our group. We are all single and we care for each other. There's nothing else to do on a Sunday morning so why not come participate or cheer the rest on? It's amazing how everyone supports each other in the group, even at the wee hours of the morning!" as she referred to late-night 'planning' sessions and 'carbo'-loading parties. "I mean, John came with his skates in the hope of pacing the runners. Chiwei walked all the way from the car park despite his swollen knee. Vivien brought chilled fruits. Ros gave us directions and the use of her parking spaces. Cynyi even brought some badminton racquets. Hazel haggled with the taxi driver so she actually got here in time! Darwin took some photos of us while we suffered. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that made this outing so beautiful. It isn't just about running or cycling or racing. It was about the spirit from the our subsidiary Meesua Team Rahrah (MTR) which spurred all of us to make it happen and to push ourselves beyond our limits."

Meanwhile, SMRT is in the midst of negotiations with the mee sua stall for possible sponsorship of dri-fit running vests and mee sua thin colour-coordinated shoe laces for upcoming races. ~ Munnster News

CM = Cramp Management: Race Report for Singapore Duathlon 2006

Cold Feet
It was the cycling leg of the relay last year which got me started in the Duathlon. I partnered with Steve to form the Dua Kaki team in 2005.

This year, I looked straight in the eye of the full challenge - 10km Run, 36km Bike, 5km Run. I had my initial reservations because I dreaded the bike-run transition. The lure of the full distance didn't seem all too attractive as well.

Nevertheless I registered for the race, reassuring myself that I've ran more than 15km before and biked more that 40km, albeit at separate times. Moreover I should be fitter than a year ago, and I've since had more spinning classes to *hopefully* improve on my bike splits. I also had the support of great training buddies who volunteered to pace me, or just simply turn up to cheer the participants on. Another group of friends from the usual Saturday morning runs also decided to take up the challenge of the relay category for a 'feel' of a multisports event. The spirit of attempting the race - even in the relay - spurred me to sign up as an individual participant.

Even through days leading to the event, I still had cold feet. Again, I reassured myself that distance wasn't my mantra, but by having faith in Luke 1:37 and being 'slow and steady'.

The Agony of The Feet
WL picked me up early on Sunday morning for Mandarin Gardens, our meeting point for the rest of the Saturday running group. I had my hearty Macdonald's breakfast and I made sure i hydrated with enough water and electrolytes. I wasn't too sure what I missed out.

Fast forward to the starting line-up, Edkor gatecrashed to pace Reeves and me. 9:30am - the Men's Open race started. I ran and maintained a constant 10.3kmph pace. There were several slips of pace but I compensated with a faster gait. A bunch of NS boys from 4 SIR in their distinctive "blue beauty queen sash" singlets overtook me in great pace. I thought of them as fit young men who could do the 10km in good timing. But could they endure the race?

I finished the first 10km in good sub-hour timing. My PB for a multisport event and I still felt good and ready to take on the bike course.

Then I transitioned for the bike leg. It was also the first time I used the carbon strykes and aero drink bottle - my first race with aerobars. The 36 km 'journey' consisted of 4 loops around the flat coastal park. I managed to maintain a good 28-36kmph speed, except for the 2nd round when I experienced severe cramps of the calves. I couldn't figure at first why my calves were straining at a seemingly flat and easy course until I caught a glimpse of my calves and they were bulging hard! I tried to vary my gears to relieve some pain but to no avail. I tried to get on aero position to shift my muscle groups. It was a temporary relief but the strains persisted with agonizing intensity. Something was not right, but my contradicting brain told me to keep going and keep pushing, albeit at a comfortable pace. I knew for sure that I couldn't afford to bonk since there was another 20km ahead of me for the bike and another 5km run. I had to finish the race (after all, WL promised to treat me to makan if I finished the race! haha... ).

Soon, my legs was on autopilot and I couldn't feel a thing. All I felt was that my calves were getting stiffer the more I pedalled. I was travelling at 20kmph in lead-laden legs. I was prepared to slow down to a halt and just fall off the bike with my cleats still attached. Then I saw a red cross medic ahead and I slowly veered to the right towards him. Lloyd screamed from behind "Munn! Right! Right! Coming in on the right! MUNN!! F-word!" I almost came to a stop and tried to uncleat but I couldn't! Lloyd took evasive action and sped past me in the narrowest of gaps on my right. Dang! I felt bad coz I could have caused him to crash!

*Sorry Lloyd, bro....*

I called on the medic to hold on to the bike while I tried to uncleat. Again, I couldn't. I had to literally twist my body (instead of my lower legs) to uncleat. Cramps. I spent a good 5 minutes having a massage of sorts by the medic (thanks!) and had a free show of the passing bikes ala Tour de East Coast.

Giving up was never an option. I got back to the bike when I felt slightly better and trudged on. The 4 SIR boys were falling away like emergency rations released from a relief helicopter. The boys were on knobby-tired mountain bikes and I could have sworn most of them were travelling at a "very leisurely" pace of 15kmph. The scene that kept me going in somewhat sadistic motivation was the awesome feeling of zooming past the pathetic blokes while on the aero position. I gobbled 2 packets of E-gels, thinking that the concentrated salt content could stop the cramps.

Approaching transition and about 2km before dismount, I set my gears to smaller chainring at increased cadence, in the hope of 'getting rid' of the lactic acid built-up. At transition, WL and Clifford (Lau) were there to support me. I screamed out cramps. But I faced the final 5km and trudged on.

The Joy of Defeat
The cramps continued. In fact, they seemed to have a brain of their own. This time the cramps moved up to the thighs. I tried to keep my pace at 8kmph. Slow and steady and I also have to admit that I took every excuse to walk when I approached the drink stations and to respond to everyone that cheered me on. It was my way of pain relief.

At the final 1.5km, there was Jerry Wan - godsent like an angel - he paced me to the end with words of encouragement and the never-say-die attitude.

*Thanks Jerry!*

I clocked an unofficial 2hr 50min at the finishing line. The moment I stopped, the brains of my legs decided to take full charge of me. My thighs tensed up so much I couldn't walk. All I could do was shuffle my feet like a geisha in kimono. Even that was agonizing.

Lots of picture perfect grimacing and contradictory mind-over-body thoughts later, I managed to just fall off my side (while standing!) and actually stretch myself to limited but
movable flexibility.

Then I collected my Orbea and regrouped with the gang... contented that I completed the race in a sub 3-hour timing.

Cramp Management while on-the-go. The joy of defeat. Defeat of the cramps.

Things learned during this race:

Lesson 1: Never cut the straw too short on the aero drink system! Time to get replacement straw!
Lesson 2: Don't underestimate power of a recovery drink
Lesson 3: Love your buddies who pace and support you!

Friday, February 24, 2006


I really need to clarify.

I was only doing my normal leisurely training at Sentosa last Sunday morning - 20km bike around the satellite station and 5km coastal run with Smallcircle Sir and Jerry Wan.

I didn't intend to gatecrash the NUS Biathlon, NEITHER DID I WANT TO BULLY THE YOUNG KID BEHIND ME!

Traffic News of the Day - Singapore

The AlTeeAye announced that they will be installing intelligent road studs at some traffic junctions, apparently to make crossing junctions safer for pedestrians.

The article can be found here.

This has got to be one of the rare occasions where the welfare and safety of pedestrians is taken into consideration. Maybe the initiative comes from a different department, or maybe it just happens to be under the purview of AlTeeAye (and not the 101 other agencies).

Whatever it is.... apart from the rather oxymoronic term "intelligent stud", I wonder what the studs would look like at the traffic junctions?... ... like that safe to cross meh? haha... hmmm... i wonder again what would it be like if it were a 'flashing' green stud... ...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Beatles... simple yet profound

Their simple lyrics, profound and straight-to-the-point. No wonder the Fab Four still has such a great following...

Decidedly my favourite band together with U2.

"Oh yeah, I´ll tell you something
I think you'll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

Oh, please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
and please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
Now let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you i feel happy, inside
It's such a feeling
That my love
I can't hide
I can't hide
I can't hide

Yeah you, got that something
I think you'll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy, inside
It's such a feeling
That my love
I can't hide
I can't hide
I can't hide

Yeah you, got that something
I think you'll understand
When I feel that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand"

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Once a Scout, Always a Scout

Today is World Scout's Day.

I joined the Scout Movement and got my World Scout Badge back in 1985. Fond memories of being a cadet scout in Maris Stella include our very first meeting - it was a lesson on sewing. Yep, we had to sew our badges onto our temasek green uniform and it is one life skill (sewing in general, not just clothe badges! But I reckon there are iron-on ones nowadays) that has stuck with me all these years. Then there was the mess-tin cookouts we had in the back of the old MSHS canteen. I cannot forget our night 'confidence' walk at Bidadari during the scout camp - my first encounter with casual walks in the cemetery, stargazing, and listening to distraught wailing from families of the deceased at the nearby Mount Vernon funeral parlours! How about our scavenger hunt at Lucky Plaza in primary five (way before the existence of Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City), and the time we had the aussie exchange student/scout? Then there was the hiking bit at Macritchie Reservoir where we spent some time catching butterflies for our Naturalist badge. And of course the outing to the original Sands House at Clemenceau.

Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia!

Then I went on to join the 2516 Scout Troop. Flying Fish Patrol. Coincidentally, I was also in the Flying Fish Patrol in cadet scouts. This was where I learned about integrity, discipline, motivation and true nature of DEXUFTO (our version of torture camp).

I learned how not to give up in adverse situations (you can't really give up when under authority to do push-ups at the sludge processing facility outside our school compound - in full of sludge!, or standing up to a pack of wild dogs in Mandai).

I learned to appreciate my surroundings - nature and urban landscape, including being aware and observant of the things around me. How? Marching hikes from school to Punggol Jetty. Round-island topo, and even memorizing the islamic names of our dead neighbours and year of death at Bidadari.

We also had our fair bit of fun and laughter during the combined hikes with St Anthony's Guides and Hai Sing Guides. And we'll always have fun during campfires, where the boys impress the guides from St Nick's, IJ, KC, etc... with badge-laden shoulders and bravado abseiling stunts on the school parapet and walls (we were also known as the Dancing Lizards).

Nostalgia, Nostalgia, Nostalgia!

Here's to all the Marist Scouts..... Brothers always!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Singapore's gonna have a Spaceport by 2009!

Refer to this news article from channelnewsasia.

Singapore's got one of the world's busiest seaport and airport, and prides itself with a 'world-class' land transport system. Now it's gonna go further than 35,000 feet and beyond the stratosphere, delving into outer-space.

Imagination to reality: A return trip from Singapore to the moon for S$1.5 million + GST on TigerSpaceways. Options for freeze-dried nasi lemak and teh-si kosong available on board. Sorry, no inflight entertainment.

I want to be the transport planner for this one. Shiok!

But I wonder how the astronaut (singanaut? lioncitynaut? can-or-naut? sure-can-aut?) will land in Singapore...

sure-can-aut (S-C-N): Changi, we have a problem.
mission control (MC): S-C-N, send.
S-C-N: Changi, we are heading home from the moon.
MC: S-C-N, we know. What is the problem?
S-C-N: Changi...... wah lau eh! Which cartoon choose to have spaceport in Singapore? Country so damn small, I cannot see from up here ah! WHERE TO LAND?!?!?!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Who says all good things come in pairs?

Not when it involves socks management in the household!
As long as there are at least 2 working male adults in the house, it is absolutely necessary to implement the Central Sock Repository (CSR).
I'm sure there are many people who are in my position (or were before). I live with my parents and Dad is still in the labour workforce. Both of us wear typical 'business' socks to work, complete with the ubiquitous pressed shirt and pants. Like women and their obsession with heels/flats/courtshoes/etc. that are black, men also have this thing for black (or at least predominantly very dark) socks.
The first irritating thing about bad sock management is pairing the socks after they come out of the laundry. So many times, one sock is matched with another sock with subtle differences in patterns or slightly darker/lighter shade of black.
Then it sometimes goes to the wrong drawer.
And then the unmatched socks are matched with other socks of (subtle) different patterns or slightly darker/lighter shade of black!
Remember statistics and probability? Well this is the classic case of having 20 (or more) pairs of black or almost black socks of subtle differences in all possible kinds of combinations ever fathomable in the realm of statistical analysis. The propensity for such combinational flaws will reach a magnitude so high that family feuds have been known to occur.
I just have this strange feeling that the phrase 'to sock someone' (or to 'hit someone forcefully') has its origins from extremely poor sock management.
By the way, don't even bring up the subject that 'the socks will be covered by the pants anyway'. It just doesn't cut it. Socks are the deciding factor if a man is accepted by the Fashion Police. I've learned from Men's Health that a pair of socks should match the pants a man is wearing (grey pants with grey socks; black pants with black socks). But I digress...
I am therefore thinking of implementing the CSR in my own house for the sake of world peace. Let me negotiate with Dad in the next couple of days.

Friday, February 17, 2006


And so WL consoles me and tells me that doing 12:02 min for the 2.4km run wasn't that bad after all, considering that I was much worse-off barely over a year ago.

I've got to agree with her.

Between last year and this year, my IPPT age category moved one notch. This means by standards alone, it would require less of me to attain the different levels of achievements. This year, I'm in Category Y1.

Let's compare results from May 2004, May 2005 and February 2006 (station/May '04/May'05/Feb'06/judgement for this year):
  • chin-up / 5 /6 / 7 / better
  • sit-up /35 / 40 / 35 / worse (but May'05 were 'magic' counts)
  • SBJ / 198 / 216 / 212 / worse
  • Shuttle Run / 10.0 / 10.0 / 9.9 / better
  • 2.4km Run / DNS / 12:19 / 12:02 / better

Consolation: Looks like I have indeed been improving despite getting older in age. Also note that it was because of the May 2004 results that I had to do Remedial Training (RT) which was essentially the reason that started me off on a regular exercise routine (and therefore attempting triathlons). My timings for 2.4km run during RT was in the embarrasing area of 15 - 16 minutes. So yes, I have improved! Another consolation: I'm getting older but the qualification is getting easier to pass! Hmmmm.... at this rate I'm going, maybe I can try for an Olympic medal for the Senior Olympics in 2030!

IPPT doesn't cater to Triathletes

While general fitness and endurance has improved through constant (and progressive) triathlon training, it is usually the slow twitch muscles that are activated for long distances. The fast "booster" twitch muscles are left unattended since spurts of boosting energy is seldom called for in triathlon training. Without the proper development of fast twitch muscles, the IPPT (or the Individual Physical Proficiency Test) will be quite useless to the NSman who has been training for triathlons all this while!

There are 5 stations of the IPPT, namely the Chin-up, Shuttle Run, Standing Broad Jump, Sit-ups, and the 2.4km run.

Looking at the above, what are the stations that would benefit the triathlete?

  1. The Chin-up Station. Our arm muscles will be toned and built for general overall strength from all the swim training. Chin-ups shouldn't be a major problem.
  2. Shuttle Run requires massive bursts of energy. This is a fast-twitch station. Everyone generally does well in this station but I've seen test-takers screw up on this because they tend to 'micro-brake' on their expensive non-running shoes. These jokers screech alot. I have no problems with this station - usually my best but the score range is quite narrow. This is when 0.01 seconds means alot!
  3. SBJ. I hate this one. This is the station I'll rant about. For this station, one requires THAT sudden burst of fast-twitch action to leapfrog the distance. It has to be coupled with technique. It's a make-it-of-break-it station. I'm always at the borderline. Triathletes may not do well on this one.
  4. Sit-ups. This can be easily aced if the triathlete has been using his core muscles. Core muscles are essential in sustaining the long distances. Non-triathletes tend to use momentum in getting the required numbers, but I think triathletes can do it steadily and surely within the 1 minute time-frame.
  5. 2.4km run. In my opinion, time taken to complete this course will be reduced due to all the LSD training. However, speed is the crux of the matter. To complete the 2.4km run in gold standard timing (<10.15min>

In summary, the IPPT is not exactly catered to the triathlete lifestyle. Some of the tests do not favour the triathlete and is therefore not an indication of an NSmen's physical prowess.

So what can be done to ace the 'difficult' stations? There is nothing else better than spot training. It is already established that general health and fitness is there to at least pass or get a silver standard. What would a triathlete need to do to get that S$400 gold incentive reward?

  1. Work on the core muscles. Pilates should do the job. (sit-ups + chin-ups)
  2. Interval training. More time and mileage has got to be spent at the track to do fast sprints + slow recovery runs. (2.4km run)
  3. Fartlek training should help in cardiovascular and strength at the quadriceps and calf muscles (2.4km run + shuttle run + SBJ)
  4. Tuck jumps and vertical (stair) runs (SBJ and shuttle run)

Together with the above, there is a need to incorporate heart rate training for each specific type of spot training so that a form of progress monitoring can be done.

And now comes the reason why am I writing this. I did my IPPT at Maju Camp yesterday with FT, CW and Wayne.

My results (station/score/pts):

  • Chin-up/7/3
  • Shuttle Run/9.9s/5
  • Standing Broad Jump/212cm/2
  • Sit-ups/35/4
  • 2.4km Run/12:02min/3

Overall result --> Pass, Incentive.

WHAT?!?! All I needed was that 4cm for my SBJ to get a SILVER! This translates to S$200 incentive reward!

Actually, with the increasing exposure to multisports, perhaps MINDEF should review the IPPT standards. If a multisport athlete takes part in 3 or more endurance sports annually, then the athlete may be exempted from the IPPT and get monetary rewards directly?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

G.A.W.K again

I think I can feel a teeny weeny bit of difference at the 'powerhouse' portion of my torso. I may be able to entice my abs to surface afterall. The pilates classes at California Fitness is giving me some results. Not that I can see the abs yet, but I can feel the tightness around the area (everybody altogether now: oooooooooooohhh). All said, the classes are not meant to be once-a-week workouts on the core muscles. Working (and using) core muscles to do your daily chores should be a sub-conscious effort. My inkling is that only then will the abs peak.

I'll try this method. After all, the pilates movements aren't too difficult to replicate anywhere. I think all I have to do is to incorporate a few exercises into my daily stretching routine.

Can it be done?

BTW, I'm taking on WL's 6 month challenge to get a 6-pack. Whoa... looks like come August, I'll probably need to post a picture of my dream 6-pack.

Note: if anyone thinks that I'm trying to be vain in getting a 6-pack washboard ab, then let me just say that it's not an easy process. I think completing an Ironman is much simpler. Some people have the privilege of having those abs, but I'm not one of them. It will be through sheer hard work and loads of determination. Even that in itself is not guaranteed because I may just have to succumb to the fact that my body isn't built that way. We'll see in 6 months time, and then we'll pass a judgement okay?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Phoenix Rises from the Ashes

It's been two long months. I'm back from a self-imposed hiatus (it's called 'bin lazin around')!

Quick update: I've left my former company and I've been at Maunsell for a month already. It's been good so far. There are 99 other staff here compared to the solo survival course at the previous 'outpost'. Therefore interaction with fellow humanoids is - at long last - very frequent. I also don't have to crack my head wondering where to have my lunch and with whom. I'm usually with my co-workers. The office is at Beach Road so it's also very near the Bugis California Fitness Club. It's got an awesome spinning studio. I know, I know I used to cuss and swear at the persistent (and often brash) sales tactics of California gym staff. Ah, but let me clarify that I am only going to Cali for the spin classes and the occasional pilates class. I still honour my own stance that I shall not have any dealings with their sales personnel (read: con) other than paying my regular monthly subscription.

Returning to Maunsell is a blessing in several ways. I used to be an intern here back in the summer of '97 - right after my freshman year at Purdue. I'm so glad that I was offered to 'contribute to Maunsell's worldwide growth' even before I was told of the news that 'AmVeeAye' would be moving operations to Bangkok. There are also several familiar faces here, which in itself is a consolation that the turn-over rate is not as bad as say... ElTeeAye. And then I remember the Happy Hours of yore, which is still quite a frequent culture here. Awesome!

Training-wise, I've started to put on more saddle time by signing up and attending spinning classes about 2-3 times a week. It's been about 3 weeks and I can already feel the improvement in general endurance. Running has also improved due to the regular Saturday morning sessions with Weileng's group and Monday afterwork runs with my Maunsell coworkers.

I think it's been great so far in terms of training. I started off with improving on my swim, then in Oct 2005 decided to concentrate on my run, and now it's time to put on saddle time. I still have to work on the diet plan though. It's all following my progressive and incremental plan though.

Ironman Busselton by end of the year? Hmmm.... it's not an impossibility!

Next race up... Singapore Duathlon on 26 Feb and Kuala Lumpur Half Marathon on 5 March.