Giving the OSIM uSqueez Air a test of a distance runner’s legs

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The OSIM uSqueez Air covers the calves, ankle, and feet, and can provide both strong and gentle massages depending on one's needs.

Yes, those are my legs fitting snugly into the OSIM uSqueez Air, which covers the calves, ankle, and feet, and can provide both strong and gentle massages depending on one’s needs.

I took off my shoes and slipped my feet into a pair of sock covers before sliding them into the boot-like casing of the OSIM uSqueez Air, which I was testing out at the OSIM outlet at ION Orchard.

Running as frequently (six to seven days a week with double sessions on some days) and for as long as I do (up to 20km at once), my leg muscles can get quite stiff and so I was keen to try out the “Reflexology” and “Energize” programmes that were preset on the leg massage device.  Continue reading

Taiwan Open 3,000m steeplechase

Preparing to push off for the start of the 3,000m steeplechase race at the Taiwan Open. (Photo courtesy of Landdis Su)

Preparing to push off for the start of the 3,000m steeplechase race at the Taiwan Open. (Photo courtesy of Landdis Su)

I had hoped to finally bring news of a sub-10 minutes in the 3,000m steeplechase at my final tune-up race at the Taiwan Open, before the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in a month’s time (the 3,000m steeplechase, to be specific, scheduled for Friday, 12 June, at 5.30pm).

Alas, I missed the mark by a mere three tenths of a second, such are the fine margins in sport by which athletes meet or fall short of their goals and stress over.

Nevertheless, it was a new personal best by slightly over two seconds, and I was relatively pleased with how I ran and felt in general during the race.  Continue reading

Two seconds from lift off

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Racing the clock at SAA Track Series 5

Racing the clock at SAA Track Series 5 (Photo © Jezreel Mok. Used with permission)

With about three weeks of increased intensity (up to three track intervals a week) and hurdling work under my belt, I entered my final race of the year, a 3,000m steeplechase, on Sunday at the SAA Track Series 5 with quiet confidence that I could finally go sub-10 minutes, thereby lowering my 2012 personal best (PB) of 10:03.40.

Arriving at Kallang Practice Track at about 7.15am, I was pleased to note that it was one of those slow-waking days, when the sun and heat were struggling to turn up for work as people are wont to do in festive December. That checked, my other concern was the wind at the competition venue that, unbuffered by spectator stands that are a feature at conventional tracks set within a stadium, could blow in all directions and commonly did so. Thankfully, though it was breezy, it was not overly concerning.

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ST Run at the Hub and Incheon Songdo Half Marathon

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En route to a new personal best of 1 hour 14 minutes 52.72 seconds at the Incheon Songdo Half Marathon, where I placed 11th in an international field of 12 invited runners. (Photo courtesy of Jezreel Mok)

En route to a new personal best of 1 hour 14 minutes 52.72 seconds at the Incheon Songdo Half Marathon, where I placed 11th in an international field of 12 invited runners. (Photo 1 courtesy of Jezreel Mok)

I have had a fruitful period of racing in a span of 36 days, during which I improved my half marathon personal best (PB) three times for a total of 2 minutes 18 seconds. First, at the Army Half Marathon (1 hour 17 minutes 7 seconds) on 31 August, then the Straits Times Run at the Hub (1:15:42.08) on 28 September, and most recently at the Incheon Songdo Half Marathon (1:14:52.62) on 5 October. They might all have been over the same distance but each has turned out differently yet encouragingly for me. Continue reading

2014 Army Half Marathon

(Writer’s note: this story was originally published on Red Sports.)

Prologue

I remember that AC Milan (an Italian football team) tee shirt he wore the night before my first Army Half Marathon in 2007, when I was an officer cadet at the Officer Cadet School (OCS) during the first year of my national service. We chatted for awhile before I returned to my bunk to rest for the night in preparation for the race that was to flag off only a few hours later in the wee hours of the morning — a hallmark of the AHM.  Continue reading

Overcoming barriers

Enroute to my 10:03.40 personal best in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2012 Singapore Open (Photo © Leslie Tan/Red Sports. Used with permission)

Enroute to my 10:03.40 personal best in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2012 Singapore Open (Photo © Leslie Tan/Red Sports. Used with permission)

Overcoming barriers is a common theme in sports. In my sporting discipline, the 3,000m steeplechase track race, the notion is not only figurative, it is also literal.

Five barriers over the course of a lap (including a water-jump) and having to cross them 35 times over the course of a 3,000m steeplechase race has a way of sapping the strength and power out of a runner’s legs like no other event. And, mind you, these barriers are no hurdles; while hurdles fall when one hits them, the barriers are immobile to the impact of one’s leg. And, when that happens, the consequences range from a knock and the resultant soreness you will rue post-race or an abrupt crash to the track that is as good as an immediate end to one’s race. (Examples of the latter abound on the world wide web.)

I will mark a return to the track (for the first time in over one-and-a-half years) later today at Choa Chu Kang stadium at 4.40pm for the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships in the 3,000m steeplechase.  Continue reading

Jurong Lake Run

The start of the 10km race at the 2014 Jurong Lake Run

The start of the 10km race at the 2014 Jurong Lake Run. (Photo by Running Shots)

Two things runners dread most are injury and illness. I emerged from a week of national service last Saturday and, two days later, had to deal with the latter after developing a fever whose onset I realised only after a morning run, which I went on in an attempt to kickstart my running again after the previous week’s missed training. While the fever subsided by Tuesday and allowed me to carry on with my (albeit sub-standard) training runs the rest of the week, there was the small matter of nursing a lingering cough, which I did with lozenges up till race-day. However, one thing I have learnt from my years of competition is that the ability to perform on race-day should not be discounted if one has put in consistent work during the many weeks before and even if preparation in the days leading up to the race-day has not been ideal.

For the first time since its inception, the Jurong Lake Run started in the evening and, at 6.30pm (the scheduled flag-off time for the 10km race), the heat was still stifling if less intense than the earlier part of the day. Competition was going to be hot too with a deep field of runners gathered at the start line off Science Centre Road.  Continue reading

10km at Sundown Marathon

After the finish of the Sundown 10km with Jianyong (second from right) and two Gurkhas we ran with together. (Photo © RunSociety)

After the finish of the Sundown 10km with Gurkhas Suresh Gurung (left) and Jagat Bahadur Magar (second from left), who finished 9th and 7th respectively. They sandwiched my teammate Jianyong (second from right), who finished in 8th position. (Photo © RunSociety)

It was about midway into the 10km race and I positioned myself to pass the hydration station with its tables of cups to my left, approximating my distance to the cups, careful not to be too close to have them accidentally spill their contents (whether water or isotonic drink I am never too sure until the fleeting moments they spend on my tongue before being gulped down) onto my attire or shoes and not too far for my hands to reach them. I need not have gone to that trouble. Nicking a cup, I threw back its expected contents down my waiting throat and … wait, my throat continued to do. No water or isotonic drink was forthcoming. Did I accidentally spill all the cup’s contents while I snatched the cup from its perch on the table while running past the hydration station at race pace? I decided, after the second or third empty cup (over the course of a few hydration stations), that it was not from spillage that the cups were empty; they were empty to begin with. A cup represents a drink and, when it is empty, it is false hope — of a quenched thirst and renewed or sustained strength. It was a hope that found itself bemoan: “Why is the cup empty?” Not long after, a hand to my right (belonging to fellow runner, Gen Lin, who presumably heard me) stretched out with an offer of a cup. I lifted and tilted it towards my lips. This time, the cup had water. The drink was uplifting, not least because a fellow runner offered it in the midst of a race.  Continue reading

Green Corridor Run

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Running with Melvin Wong in the latter half of the 10.5km race. Melvin placed third at the recent 5.6km JP Morgan Corporate Challenge days after running a 2:58 marathon in Nagano, Japan.

Running with Melvin Wong in the latter half of the 10.5km race. Melvin placed third at the recent 5.6km JP Morgan Corporate Challenge days after running a 2:58 marathon in Nagano, Japan. (Photo by Trail Running Singapore)

The 10.5km Green Corridor Run on Sunday was my first race since the 8km Mediacorp Hongbao Run in February. Fourth place overall (and first Singaporean) with a time of 37 minutes 53 seconds on a muddy and uneven course, behind two Kenyans and an Australian (Fraser Thompson, listed on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s website with a 14:16.04 5000m personal best), was an encouraging return to racing on the back of seven weeks of training. (Fraser finished second to split the two Kenyans.)

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End March

Hello there, my friends. Thank you, first and foremost, for keeping up with my blog. I’m sorry I haven’t had much to share with you lately, since the new year.

It’s my final semester as an undergraduate. That means the end of a phase of life and the beginning of a transition period for me. I’ve been busy with my Final Year Paper and I’ve been riding an extended trough these past few months after the peaks of my athletic season last year. With employment matters to think about as well, it has not been easy to focus on training and running.

There’s nothing wrong with me physically; I’m not carrying any injury. And I still hope to compete at the highest levels locally and regionally. But it will take some time to return there. So, do stick it out with me because I will be continuing to share my athletic journey here on this blog.

Till the next time (and I promise it won’t take too long), take care and keep up the running.