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Running skirts, anyone?

This week’s been a little crazy so far, lots of things happening and life is starting to get very interesting indeed!

Was worried I’d be paying dearly for the run (and stairmaster workout!) on Sunday without any training to speak of, but looks like my body’s remembered how to recover now and I’ve managed a 10-15 mile trail run everyday so far. I’m dreading starting the speedwork though .. scheduled to start next week. I’d much rather run 30miles steady than have to go at lung-busting effort for 300m! Still, no pain, no gain, right? And with TNF100 Oz coming up soon and my ultimate goal of UTMB in August … I’m thinking if I don’t suffer now I’ll really be paying the price when I do those events.

Time to suck it up, Fat Bird! … good thing I work well under pressure 😉

I’m also working through my post-mortem list of the GNW100s to see what I need to change. First off was the shorts chafing issue … unpleasant to say the least! My Under Armour run shorts had been great throughout my training and racing, even for the TNF 100k, so I had no reason to expect them start chafing me at about 120km into the GNW100s. But, life’s no fun without challenges, right? So I ended up cutting the lining out of the shorts and that was enough of a remedy to get me through the last 54km or so.
Fab or what! (Picture: Running Skirts)

I’ve started looking at alternatives this week. I am averse to running in tights of any length due to potential camel-toe issues and just how inconvenient they’d be if I needed to answer the call of nature. Yes, I mean pee … or worse! 😀 When you run ultramarathons on trail it’s highly unlikely that the organisers will be able to put portaloos at regular intervals … some of the checkpoints are only accessible by foot! So it’s a reality that needs to be addressed .. keeping well hydrated does have it’s consequences, as well as deciding to have that second sausage sandwich at the last checkpoint.

Anyway, I only wear running tights when it’s cold. And since I live in the tropical paradise of Singapore, my alternative to shorts is the running skirt. Some of the top runners (mostly female :D) wear skirts to run … have a look at Catra Corbett  and Jamie Donaldson (both amazing ultra-runners) … and once you think about it, running in skirts does make sense. No chafing, no camel-toe, a flattering silhouette, great ventilation, no sweaty shorts sticking to your legs post-race (also contributes to the camel-toe problem), and no VPL (visible panty line). They’d be a great solution to the post-run clothing dilemma too .. you can go take a bus, MRT, sit in Starbucks for a double skinny macchiato and muffin …   

Catra Corbett in action (Picture: Dirt Diva)
I saw a couple of ladies at the NTUC run and asked their opinion. One said from her “Once you’ve tried skirts, there’s no going back!”. How you look affects how you feel, and if you know you’re looking great for your run, chances are you’ll be running better too. It’s a win-win situation. 

Okay, so I’ve looked at all the ones available, and there’s enough of a choice out there to make it interesting. You can get them locally from 2XU, Nike and Adidas, but the choice isn’t vast and the colours leave a lot to be desired. Training and racing gear doesn’t have to be boring .. once again the lovely Catra comes to mind … but she is at one extreme of the spectrum. Looking online, there are a few more options. Skirt Sports (by pro-triathlete Nicole DeBoom), Athleta (a part of the GAP group), Moeben, and Running Skirts

I’ve now ordered a couple of pairs from Running Skirts to try out (yes, one of them is cheetah print!), they should be arriving early next week! … I love receiving stuff in the post, there’s something about having a parcel or chunky package to open .. so exciting even if you already know what it is! I chose Running Skirts as they had a great range of colours and styles available, and they ship to Singapore. The Athleta ones looked a little boring and the Skirt Sports ones didn’t really appeal. I’d like to try the Moeben ones as well, but thought I’d wait for my RS delivery first. I’ll post a review once I’ve tested them out … can’t wait!

By the way, STARC ladies (and Bruce .. they do a purple plaid one!), this might be the solution to matching the lovely STARC vest! There’s a UK branch .. check out the colour combinations at Running Skirts UK, or maybe they’d do a custom one in purple and gold!    
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NTUC U-Run and OMB Challenge 2011

The 31-storey NTUC building …

Before the start (Photo credit: David Ong)

It’s definitely been too long since my last race. That was the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon way back in December. So waking up this morning at stupid o’clock wasn’t the most welcome way to start the day. Nonetheless it was the inaugural NTUC OMB (One Marina Boulevard) Challenge, a 10km run followed by a 31-storey climb of the NTUC building. They also had a competitive 10km and a 5km fun run available. I was looking forward to this, it would be a test of how much fitness I’d lost in the last month and how much my ribs might hurt if I pushed hard. 

What have I got to lose! (Photo credit: David Ong)
I think there were a thousand runners in total, with staggered starts for the OMB, 10 and 5k categories, it was all very relaxed at the start. Nice to meet a few familiar runners after what feels like a very long break. Quick mass warm-up session before the start, and then we were off. 
After the first 2kms I started to realise how much fitness I’d lost .. this was hard work! It was a flat 10k route and well marked out. Distance markers every 2km and water points well spread out. I thought I was keeping a steady pace, but by 5k I’d dropped from 3rd to 5th place, and coming in to the 10k finish I was in 7th place. I think I clocked a shocking time for the 10k, somewhere in the region of 47 minutes .. but happily enough no rib or back pain. 
The transition to the NTUC staircase took just over a minute and then it was headlong into a somewhat narrow stairwell with all the other sweaty runners. You know sometimes in a race when your thoughts are of the “Why did I think this was a good idea??” variety? Well, that was pretty much my frame of mind from the fifth floor onwards! Judging from the dazed / glazed / pained (insert appropriate adjective here)  expression on my fellow runners’ faces, I’m sure they thought the same too! 
The dreaded stairs … (Photo credit: David Ong)
Hands too sweaty to pull on the handrails, quads and calves completely knackered, I climbed as quickly as I could. The cold air vents on every other floor provided welcome relief for the fraction of a second when you climbed past it, but otherwise pretty hot work! Time to suck it up, Fat bird! I managed to pass a couple of ladies and think I made it to the top in about 8 minutes … I was so puffed out I forgot to stop my watch! 5th place .. not great but I’m chuffed to bits that nothing hurts (that doesn’t normally, I mean.) Lovely cool breeze on the roof-top, with a great view of Marina Bay on one side, and lots of sweaty, puffed out runners on the other.

With Roda (4th place) (Photo credit: David Ong)
Everything was well organised and pretty well laid out .. apart from the increasingly muddy field, which meant everyone stayed on the periphery of the field and did their best to avoid caking their trainers with lovely ochre mud. 
Mud, mud, and more mud!
Slight anti-climax end to the morning when I was told that the prizes went down to 5th place … result! … and then waiting 40 minutes for prize-giving only to be told “Oh, I’m so sorry but prizes are up to 4th place .. you missed out by 30 seconds.” There was no information on prizes or placings on the website so I relied on the information I was given … oh well, you win some, you lose some. At least I still had time to get to church and fall asleep during the sermon. And there was no way I could have pulled back another 30 seconds up those stairs!

Extra loud wolf whistles to the hardy bunch from Singapore who completed the Bataan Death March 160km today, well done!! And kudos also to the runners at the Tokyo Marathon today .. especially those who’d already done the HK marathon last week as well! 

We’re ALL winners! 😉
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Give it some beans!

“Give it some beans!”

First race of the year tomorrow, feels like it’s been ages. I wish I could say I’ll be bouncing up to the line for the start of the Tokyo Marathon tomorrow, or in the midst of the Bataan Death March 160km Ultra, but I’m going local this weekend for the NTUC U Run. It’s a flat 10k with a 31-storey climb .. no doubt that’ll be enough hard work for me given I’ve done bugger all for the last 4 weeks. 
Looking forward to it, though. I think it’ll be the perfect kick up the ass I need to get back into the groove for serious training again. I’ve taken runs this week quite tentatively given my recent attempt at flying … and happily everything seems to be working just fine. Not even veering off to the left anymore, yay! Best give it some beans tomorrow, then .. that’s the English equivalent encouraging phrases like ‘jia you’ (Chinese), ‘gambate’ (Japanese) or ‘vamos’ (Spanish). 
So to all those at the BDM, Tokyo Marathon, NTUC Run or if you’re just out for a run on your own, remember the beans!
Here’s something I came across with all that extra time on my hands over the last few weeks .. food for thought for the ultra-nuts out there! The Track Outback Race … 590km over 10 days … guess I’d better start looking at getting a bigger pack! 😉  
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Back in the running!

First off, well done to all those who ran the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Marathon in South Devon, and the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong this morning! Next, good luck to all those headed to the Tokyo marathon or the Philippines BDM 160 next week!

East Coast Parkway (ECP) sunrise
It’s now been just over three weeks since my kite surfing accident … and a miserable total of 3 pain-filled, short runs not worth writing home about … until today. Finally! A 9-mile run with Marnie at the beach this morning. Not feeling normal yet, but definitely bearable. Tried running in the pool, but got so bored after 45 minutes and kept losing count of the laps I was running. I gave up pretty quickly.

Will try to see a physio tomorrow to get my back looked at .. there’s a strange lump on the side I fell, possibly a popped muscle connector. That might explain why I feel I’m veering off to the left whilst running! Hopefully it can be easily fixed .. and without surgery! If not, I’m sure I’ll live.

One week to my first race of the year .. the NTUC U Run. It’s only 10km, but with a 31-storey climb up the NTUC building to finish. At least that’s a little more interesting! Feeling completely unprepared for it so we’ll see how I go. I know my quads will be burning on the stair climb for sure!

Now I know I can run again, it’s time to hit the trails … woohoo! Looking forward to a nice loop around the reservoir, even better with some new kit to try out. The Salomon Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab hydration pack (courtesy of the Desert King :)) looks super sexy and has had rave reviews so far!

Also have my Falke TR4 trail socks and Raidlight poles (see my previous blog post) to test drive .. can’t wait!