Friday, June 21, 2013

When Running Might be Unhealthy and a Memorial to a Great Place to Run

My plan for a long time has been that on my last morning in Singapore I would run the trails around MacRitchie Reservior. It is without a doubt mine and Jakeb’s favorite run in Singapore and I’ve written about it quite a bit here already.

The problem though is that for the last couple of days Singapore has had a haze problem. “Haze” is really too benign of a word for what we are experiencing. Farmers in Sumatra Indonesia have been burning fields to prepare for planting palm trees for the palm oil business and the smoke from those fires are washing over Singapore. The government is issuing health warnings and saying to wear a mask and stay indoors. Walking around outside is like walking in the smoke of a campfire. It is horrible.

So should I run or not? That was not even a question for me really. I had to run MacRitchie on my last day here. I had the trails mostly to myself like when it rains. I saw seven people and only two were runners. I think my oxygen uptake and my carcinogen uptake were probably equal. But I see it as a gift. I got to run MacRitchie almost alone. It was a good morning … and kind of coughy.

At the end of the run I sat at the trailhead and took off my running shoes. I unlaced the string from a couple of holes and tied them together at the ends. I stood knee deep in MacRitchie and slung them up in a tree as high as I could. There is a pair of Brooks Pure Flows with a little more than 300 miles on them hanging from a tree over the lake as a memorial from the running Stunzes.  

Goodbye Singapore.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Sundown Marathon is done – It’s time to go to Texas!

Jakeb and I spent all day Saturday trying to figure out how to act. How do you prepare for a Marathon that starts at 11:30pm? We’ve always run morning marathons. When do you eat and what? How much do you sleep and at what time?

I ate ceral for breakfast, pasta from Dan Ryan’s for lunch and beef hor fun for dinner at a little before 7pm. I slept for about two hours from 2 – 4 pm; otherwise the day was pretty normal.

Andrea saw us off at about 9:30pm and graciously volunteered to pick us up when at the finished if we couldn’t find a taxi. As we walked out of the condo to catch a taxi to the race my friend Procosh pulled up beside us in his car and asked if we would like a ride to the marathon. I said “sure.” He works downtown and planned to park at his office and walk to the starting line so we went along for the ride.

We checked in our bag told Procosh “good luck” and waited around for the start. When the start chutes opened we lined up near the four hour pace group and were only a few yards from the starting line. The fastest pace group at the race was four hours. This is not going to be a fast crowd. I am normally in the very center of the starting chutes at a marathon with as many people in front of me as are behind. But not at a Singapore marathon where much of the crowd is planning to go much slower.

Beforehand Jakeb and I decided not to try to stick together. He wanted to hang with the four hour pace group as long he could. I knew I didn’t have a change at anything near a four hour marathon especially since we had trashed our legs two weeks earlier climbing Mount Kinabalu.

The gun went off and I told Jakeb “later” and off we went. I started at what felt like an easy pace but I checked my watch at the first mile and was running a 9:10 pace which would be a four hour marathon. So I slowed down and tried to stay in a comfortable zone. And pretty much that is how the whole race went. I ran almost the entire way with the exception of the last 4 kilometers where I mixed in some walking but mostly running.

Jakeb finished in 4:20:39 and I finished in 4:41:52. It was Jakeb’s slowest marathon and my second slowest. Singapore is a tough place to run a marathon especially if you want a fast time. Jakeb finished in 360th place out of 6389 finishers (top 5%). I finished in 709th (top 11%).

In my opinion the Sundown Marathon is better than Standard Charter. This marathon is more of a runner’s race than Standard Charter. The start finish area has more for the runner. And the course is better with well planned water stations some with bananas and gels. Much of the course is the same as Standard Charter but the night time views are cool especially when you run across the bay from downtown and the flyer. And the best part is the course doesn’t go over that bridge at the finish in the searing Singapore heat. Obviously the weather is milder at night.

We were spent when it was over. There were taxis everywhere on the streets near the finish so Andrea got to stay in bed. I hit the pillow at 5:30 am and didn’t get up until 11:30 am.

That was the last big thing on my personal Singapore list. Anna needs to finish 8th grade. There are still places we need to go eat. Jakeb is on the schedule for another tattoo while Andrea has hers touched up. We need to say some “see you laters” to some people. But for the most part it is time to go home. Andrea, Anna and I have been looking forward to June 22nd for what seems like a very long time. Texas here we come!