Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Running the Malaysia railway

Sunday morning I woke up and waited until daylight to get out and run. I did not want to run the same old routes. Jakeb has told me about running along the railroad tracks of the train that goes from Singapore to Malaysia. There is a trail a safe distance from the track that goes from near our house to Bukit Timah Road.

I left the house right as it was getting light outside. I crossed Holland Road and ran towards Holland Link. Off to the left there was a trail that went into the woods and I took it. I was running in my glasses which I do not enjoy. It is much better to run with my contacts in. With the high humidity my glasses were fogging up and the low light made it hard to see the trail. Every stick on the trail looked like a snake to me and the running was slow. After jumping over trees and navigating drainage ditches I made it to the railway. The trail there was much easier to run and with the sun coming up I could see much better.

From what I understand the railway in Singapore is owned and maintained by Malaysia. Running there was like leaving Singapore. I felt like I was miles from town in a rural place. There were railroad ties scattered along the side of the trail. The grass was high in places and everything seemed more raw – something Singapore would never allow.

After about a mile I came to the Bukit Timah Railway Station. It is a small run-down building where people were waiting for the train. Again it was good to see something that had a touch of humanity to it – a building that had worn paint and old wood and character. I ran down a road that ended at Bukit Timah.

Back in Singapore I remembered that Jakeb said that the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was not too far away and we should run up Bukit Timah Hill someday. I thought “today is that day” even though Jakeb was not with me. I turned on to Upper Bukit Timah and ran another mile to the base of Bukit Timah. The trail is very steep but paved. I ran about a third of the steepest part and had to walk. Someday I will run all the way to the top but my body will have to adapt to it.

I continued running when the trail grade was more runnable. Before I knew it I was standing on the highest point in Singapore (163 meters). Not nearly as dramatic as it sounds but fun to run no less.

I turned around and went back the way I came. The railroad trail was as enjoyable on the way back as it was on the run out. I found a way to get back to the road without running through the woods that was much less “snakey”.

It was good to leave Singapore for a couple of minutes. I will have to go back to Malaysia often.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 110

I am not a gadget guy. I didn’t get a cell phone until I had to. I do not have surround sound. My laptop is a practical notebook computer I mostly use to read my email and the internet and Skype with Andrea when she was in Texas without me.

This Christmas I got a Gamin Forerunner 110. I have thought about getting a Garmin for a while. I like the idea of putting on a watch and just running without having to stick to a prescribed route. But on the flip side of that I like the simplicity of running and I was always concerned that a GPS watch would just complicate things.

I am pretty regimented when it comes to running the miles that are in my training program. If I am supposed to run 5 miles today then I run 5. But I mainly try to just put in the miles and not worry much about pace. If my body feels like pushing it then I do but if I am not feeling all that great then I just cover the miles. I wear a standard sports watch but very rarely pay attention to it.

I was scared that owning a Garmin would ruin my running. And if I am not careful it will. The 110 is the most simple Forerunner but there is still a ton of data collected with every run – including how fast or slow I happen to be. If I stop to get a drink in the Botanic Gardens then my overall pace will be slower and my Garmin knows it.

So far I have been able to manage it. It will be good to just get out and run. I like seeing the elevation charts. I just have to be okay with being slow on some days and have my watch tell me so.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Texas Marathon 2011 Race Report

Andrea and I have a tradition of sleeping in the New Year. We have made a couple of exceptions but not many. This year was no different except for the reason we decided to sleep instead of watch the ball drop. Jakeb and I were running the Texas Marathon New Year's Day.

Jakeb and I woke up around 4:30am, got ready and took off from League City to Kingwood at 5:30. It was chilly outside but the temperature was good for running a marathon. We got to the park around 6:30 and picked up our race packets and chips. Jon Walk was there to act as race announcer and we talked to him a little while. He gave me a shirt I had left behind a couple of years ago when we ran the Texas Independence Relay with him. I was amazed he had it and had forgot I even had that shirt.

We sat in the car to stay warm until exactly 7:11 – that is when Jakeb said we should get out and stretch. After stretching well we made our way to the starting line and listened to the race instructions. Waverly Walk sang the national anthem and then we were off.

Jakeb and I ran a little more than a mile together. I knew I could not maintain the pace we were running. Jakeb was feeling good so I dropped back a little as he took off. He was in sight for a couple of miles more and then I lost him.

The race is four loops. I thought I would hate running four circles but it was really not too bad. I got a Garmin Forerunner 110 for Christmas and I used it to watch my mile splits and try not to get too crazy with the pace. I felt really good all day.

Near the end of the third lap I passed Jakeb as he was heading back out for his last lap. He had started to cramp and was slowing down. I took some S-caps at the turn, smiled at Andrea taking video of me (walking) and headed back out. I caught Jakeb about a mile out and gave him some ibuprofen I was carrying.

The last lap was easier than what I have experienced at the end of other marathons. I was tired but I was not struggling with pain. I still tried to run sensible but knew I was close to a marathon PR so I pushed as much as I dared. At what I thought was about a mile left I ran a little harder. I heard Jon Walk’s voice and cow bells in the distance and knew the finish was near. Anna was standing next to the trail and ran ahead of me to tell Andrea to get the camera ready. I crossed the line in a chip time of 3:52:16 (my marathon PR).

Jakeb finished a little later in 3:59:00. He had made a good recovery on the back side of the last lap.

I was given a huge marathon medal because this is Texas you know and some pizza. It was definitely a good way to start the New Year. Hello 2011!