DNG #8: Southern Ridges

One thing about doing long runs/rides/swims is the monotony of it all. It’s even worse if you do the same route over and over again.

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Autumn in the parking lot?

This week, I swopped my weekly run route from Macritchie to the Southern Ridges. I’m sure I’ll talk about the virtues of Macritchie soon enough, but the Southern Ridges route is definitely more scenic.

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What the route looks like on a map

It’s quite amazing to run this route as a driver, when you can’t wrap your head around how direct the route actually is. Driving from telok blangah to clementi feels a lot further than running.

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One of several high vantage points on the route

The view helps distract you from the huffing and puffing, as you can see from the pics in this post.

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Elevated walkways

It’s not all fun and games though. There are quite a few slopes and steps along the way.

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Hortpark to Clementi

Nothing like inclines to get make you stronger though! (though it hurts like hell)

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Want to take a shortcut? Here are some more stairs...

To make things more interesting, there are also a good number of trekkers/tourists along the way. Usually they’ll clear a path when they hear you coming. Doesn’t hurt to yell out a “thank you”!

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Educational tour in progress

Total distance 2 ways is about 11+km dependong on where you start and end exactly. Clocked about 300m elevation gain.

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Don't look down

And did I mention how pretty the route is?

With this entry, I’m already one post behind my original schedule. Looks like I’ll have to pull a double to make up soon. :p

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DNG #7: Friday I’m in love (or the pool)

The weekend beckons, and to help welcome it, I have a swim set written out in all sorts of acronyms like 100k, 400mh, 200s, 200wd… But thanks to last minute work stuff that’s popped up and a tighter schedule, looks like swim is off.

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Was just talking to a few people recently about how missing training makes me feel grumpy. Funny how once exercise becomes a routine, not doing it makes you feel like something is amiss. Even when you know it’s going to be a tough set.

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Hahaha. Oww oww owwww...

On lighter weeks Fridays are rest days. This wasn’t planned to be a rest day, but that’s just how it is with commitments outside of training.

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DNG#6: Faber Thursdays

If there’s one thing harder than the Wednesday workouts, it’s trying to get up on Thursday morning to conquer Mount Faber on the bike. After all that kicking and running the previous day, my body doesn’t really want to subject itself to another round of smashing. The team assembles at 6.00am at MG, rides to the mountain, does X laps around it, and makes it back in time for work/breakfast. I can barely wake up early enough to drive there to do my laps.

On days I actually do make it to the hill in the morning, this is what it looks like.

F-f-f-f-aberrrrr

Round and round I go…

There’s another route that’s even steeper, but think it’s more dangerous, so I’ll be sticking to this for now. It’s already tough enough given most of the time we’re climbing in the big gear, as opposed to the easier gear where you can spin up the pedals a lot more easily. Today, I missed 8 lovely loops on the mountain. Feeling guilty already. :(

Like Coach Mike likes to say, time to take some concrete pills. First time I heard that, I actually tried to buy them off iHerb. :)

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DNG #5: Wicked Wednesdays

The toughest weekday for me, is Wednesday. This is where I’ve been scheduled to do a long run 60-90 min, and do a swim session in the evening.

Because I’m really not a morning person, I used to do the run after the evening swim, like a really long brick session. Coach said I should be spacing out my training though, so what’s the next best thing? Lunchtime runs.

If you’re familiar with singapore weather, you know that presents another type of challenge –  the heat and humidity.

Still, I think it’s good to get a sense of how hot this are likely to get in Danang during the run leg.

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Because it’s in the middle of the day, I’m running from the office, which is in the heart of the city. Today’s run was slightly different though. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s  wake at Parliament House was on, and something like 300,000 were lining up across the city in snaking queues to pay their respects.

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And here I was running around and between them. Apparently some queued for 8 hours. Now those are the real ironmen/ironwomen. I was cooked after my 1hr 25 min today.

it was HOT!

A small section of the longest queue I’ve seen

It felt rather surreal, and I became hypersensitive to my surroundings, suddenly aware that the man they were all queueing up to see had something to do with almost everything I was running over, under, past, between, opposite and through. Gardens by the bay, Marina Barrage, the central business district…

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DNG #4: Training with the wind

Tuesdays are wind trainer days. What’s a wind trainer, you ask? It’s basically a device that converts your regular bicycle into a stationary bike.

Tonight's workout. Sorry for the pic quality!

Tonight’s session

Why do this? Because this allows you to keep working at whatever rate you need to be doing without needing to worry about traffic conditions, with everybody in the same place regardless of how their usual pace, plus it’s easier to focus on getting the technique right.

Mana Mana!

Not a bad view, but we don’t usually do our Wind Trainer session in the day!

Down side is things can get hot and monotonous because you’re not moving. The air can be quite still, and it feels hot and muggy. Good thing is we’re located at Mana Mana, which is right on the waterfront. Also, Coach Mike doubles up as DJ Mike, which usually means a rock-skewed soundtrack for our workout. We can send song requests via spotify, and I wonder if I should try sneaking in some techno.

Typically, we go through a range of exercises at different intensities for about 1hr 15 min, which drains you quicker than long rides on the road because you can sprint as hard and as long as you want and never run out of road. Once we’re done cycling, we swop shoes to go for a “brick” run, which is all about getting into running mode straight after getting off the bike.  And that’s Tuesday for you.

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DNG #3: LKY… the triathlete

We interrupt my series of training day reports with this special post to commemorate the passing of a great man. No, Mr Lee Kuan Yew never took part in a triathlon, at least none that were formally recorded.

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But the man did mention that he swam daily, there are photos of him running with his security detail, and he mentions cycling from time to time.

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Perhaps he would have kicked ass if he did take up triathlon.

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After all he kicked ass in everything else he did.

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Thank you for everything. Maybe you can take part in the great tri in the sky. Think you’ll like it.

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DNG #2: Sunday rides

The easiest way to explain what goes into the training for Danang is to show you what a typical week looks like. So here goes…

On Sundays, it’s usually a long-ish team ride of between 80-120km. That may seem long if you’ve never done anything more than cruise up and down East Coast Park in a rented bike. That’s maybe about 20km..?

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Here's a 125km ride

But once you’ve tried out riding a road bike properly fitted for your body, the miles disappear a lot quicker and you get to see a lot more of Singapore than you normally would.

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The Jetty in the West

The team starts off from Mandarin Gardens (affectionately known as MG) and takes us to Kallang, Balestier, Thomson, Mandai, Yishun, Punggol, Sengkang, Pasir Ris, Loyang, Changi, and ends at our homebase in Mana Mana at East Coast Park. Sometimes we throw in Kranji, NTU, West Coast for a bit of variety.

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Out before the sun's up

Because of the relatively early start, I’ve been known to either chase the group because I arrive late (blame the snooze button), or do my own 100km+ ride on my own.

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Sharing the road is a key part of road riding. Helps if you're not the only biker on the road.

The latter is psychologically quite draining because a) the sun is earth-scorchingly hot, and b) pedalling on your own on increasingly crowded roads can be quite intimidating, and conversely doing long stretches of long, empty straights can be quite monotonous. Like I said in my last post, the support of having other people alongside pushing hard is one of the key benefits of being part of a training squad.

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Lining up for a photo at one of our Western rest stops

Once we’re done with the bike, 9 times out of 10 there’s a “brick” waiting, which means you change to running shoes and start pounding the hot asphalt. This is typically 15-30 min of running for me, but I suspect longer bricks are coming on in preparation for Danang.

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Trying to Tri

It’s been about 6 months since I got into this whole triathlon business. And I’ve fallen quite far down the rabbit hole…

soft in the middle

The 2014 Trifactor Sprint: My first triathlon

For those who say I’m slightly OCD when I go into something, they would be quite right. Since that first Trifactor race, I’ve signed up with the TriEdge team to learn how to get better at the sport (or 3 sports rather) – best Triathlon investment yet! And not too long after, I signed up for my first Ironman 70.3 in Danang.

Haha...

No, I’m not becoming Tony Stark…

For those of you who think I’m slightly nuts, you would also be right. The Ironman 70.3 consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run. It’s not that far considering the full Ironman distance is double of everything, and maybe triple/quadruple/… the pain. Still, quite a bit of effort required. As I write this, I have 55 days till raceday. Like me previous 100-post endeavour, I hope to blog every day about the who/what/when/why/where/how for the last 50 days leading up to the race. Will appreciate all your support. ;)

Sincerely, Slow Poke

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DNG #1: Coaching vs Kit

And here’s the first of my targeted 50 posts before Danang. Will include “DNG #” in the titles to help me track …

To complete a half ironman distance comfortably, you need to clock a good number of miles and develop good technique. Unfortunately I don’t have the willpower to grind out the miles on my own, and YouTube can’t tell you what you’re doing wrong, hence the benefits of bring part of a team with a coach.

everybody hurts

Keep on keeping on…

In my time picking up various sports like sailing, bowling, pool and now triathlon (yes, I’ve been quite fickle), I’ve found that I clock the most measurable progress under the tutelage of someone who knows their sh!t. No point putting in hours of practice doing it wrong. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you keep repeating incorrect technique over and over again, muscle memory is going to make it a lot tougher to unlearn those habits. Funny how I keep seeing folks spending big bucks on their equipment, but nothing on learning how best to use it. As I recently learnt, the technical term for such gearheads is AGNIs – All Gear, No Idea.

That's me, the spazzo with the thumbs-up

Team TriEdge at the 2015 Metasprint Aquathon. Coach Mike on his post-op crutch (a.k.a. big stick)

If you’re keen to come by and give it a go at one of our training sessions – swim, bike, or run – drop me a line and I’ll hook you up with a no obligation trial session with the TriEdge bunch. No hardsell. And contrary to the belief of one of my team mates’ concerned mother, we are not a cult. ;)

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Bluetooth your old speakers

These days, there are so many cool-looking, portable but mediocre-sounding bluetooth speakers out there that allow you to play your MP3s or Spotify playlist.

But what if you have a decent – kickass home theatre system that’s sitting idle?

While shopping at geek paradise a.k.a. Sim Lim Square, I overheard a customer asking about a particular product that allowed for conventional sound systems like your home entertainment systems to be bluetoothed.

Got me thinking for awhile because the Samsung home theatre system has been lying idle for a long time, and I’ve always wondered how I could stream my Spotify collection of music to it.

Picked up a set and here’s how it went.

 

Price: $59 from cybermind (I think!)

The box:

you only need that little black thing in the window and some wires.

Product packaging takes up so much space…

 

Unboxed:

simple, no nonsense black

From top left: AC adaptor, the bluetooth receiver, instruction manual, 3.5 inch to 3.5 inch cable, 3.5 inch to 2 RCA (red/white) cable

How it connects: The Belkin has a 3.5 inch jack input, so both cables provided have a 3.5 inch plug on one end (connect this to the belkin receiver), and either RCA jacks or another 3.5 inch jack on the other (connects to the speaker/amplifier). Any decent home theatre system will come with RCA outputs – 1 hole outlined in red, another in white – probably called “Auxiliary” or AUX for short. If you’re wiring a smaller set of speakers (e.g. PC speakers), you’re likely going to use the cable with 3.5 inch plugs on both ends.

 

Verdict: I’ve been using this sporadically over the last few months. Sound quality is decent enough. I suspect it’s slightly worse less pure than what I hear when I play a HD file or CD, but given the fact that the sound is pushed through an amplifier and out 2 fairly large speakers, it kicks the butt of any portable speaker. Also a factor is what quality of music your music downloads are. I stream and store my spotify files at the highest quality possible.

One issue I’ve had is when I’m downloading stuff while simultaneously bluetoothing my music, I get terrible stuttering. I didn’t think that data being downloaded via wifi and using a bluetooth connection would compete for resources on the phone, but it does. Will try using my samsung tablet with the Internet disconnected to Bluetooth the tunes and see how stable that is.

 

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