the pencil runs

posts on running

Weekend long run

Monday, October 31, 2005
Hit 17.9km this weekend, the longest run in my life. Heh, that is so cool to say, the longest run in my life. :)

Woke up early and took a cab down to AMK. Inadvertently took a longer route to Upper Pierce. Saw a lot of smiling joggers coming out of Upper Pierce as we entered. They all looked very happy for some reason. (I think they were finishing their runs that's why!) Smiled and waved and smiled some more.

Upper Pierce had its share of hills, but nothing like the hills at the golf course. By the time we got there, the sun was beating down on our heads. Phew. Somehow managed to smile and wave at a few golfers while huffing up the hills.

It felt good to turn into the trail at MacRitchie for more reason than one. First, it was much shadier than the road; second, it was familiar ground. Stopped at the Ranger's Station to top up the water bottle (710ml) and to use the loo. Saw a furry little catepillar there too. Then it was the rocky trial, the golf link, the scenic path, the boardwalk again, then out of MacRitchie onto the road again.

Stopped to get a 100-plus from the vending machine at MacRitchie. We didn't have coins so we SMSed "PUK" to 54848, made our drink selection, and out tumbled our can of drink! How cool is that! The cost will be charged to our next mobile phone bill. Topped up the water bottle again. The water cooler at the top of the hill at MacRitchie dispenses really cold water. Excellent stuff.

The road after MacRitchie was tiring. I think it was because my body was not used to running for such a long time. Even though most of the route was flat, everything felt like an uphill -- as if I had wet sand in my shoes. I kept thinking, just 20 minutes more and we'll stop, 15 minutes more and we'll stop, 14 minutes more, and so on and so forth. It is funny how time manages to crawl by so slowly sometimes.

Well, we finally got to stop. Took a bus back to AMK, had some mushroom chicken mee and an ice cold coke for brunch, then it was back home for a shower and a nap.

One more month to the half marathon.

Planning for the weekend run

Friday, October 28, 2005
Proposed route
Map image courtesy of

Has anyone done the route from Upper Pierce to MacRitchie? What is it like?

New Shoebag

Monday, October 24, 2005

New shoebag, a present from S. :)

It is large enough to fit my running clothes and socks too. That's my blue running top you see underneath the "Adidas" logo.

I like it. :)

Btw, I've enjoyed the ride on my new Asics GT-2100 so far. It is a little roomier in the toebox compared to my old GT-1090. It also gives more support -- but that is an unfair comparison as I can hardly remember what my GT-1090 felt like when they were new. A bit slippery on wet pavement, not sure why, will observe further.

The Perfect Solution to Measuring Distance

This is by far the perfect solution for penny pinching runners. Since Streetdirectory started charging for its route calculation services, I've been searching around for the best solution to calculate the distance of my romps around Singapore. I've finally found it. It is the free software MapEdit, coupled with a map of Singapore studiously put together by a few dedicated GPS enthusiasts in Singapore and Malaysia. What a great bunch of folks! I am very appreciative of their hard work.

1. Install MapEdit
2. Register as a member at
3. Download Singapore map
4. Open Singapore map with MapEdit

This is a screenshot of the Singapore map on MapEdit.

To calculate distance on MapEdit:
1. Zoom in to required area.
2. Select "Create object" on toolbar.

3. Mark points of route with mouse.
4. When done, right-click and select "End".
5. Specify type of object (as far as a runner is concerned, this changes only the colour and thickness of the line drawn in) and name the route.

6. To see distance of route, select "Select Objects" on toolbar. (That's the little white arrow.)
7. Right-click on route and select "Properties". The distance is in the "Elements" tab.

To save map with running routes:
1. Save map in "Polish format".
2. Export map to "Garmin IMG/ cgpsmapper.exe".
3. Save map.

As a bonus, also has downloadable maps of the roads and trails in Malaysia. Best of all, this solution is completely free. It does not require an internet solution, and is quick and easy to use. :) Great stuff eh?

Garmin Geko 101

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I am swaying towards a GPS sytem again, mostly because of the price factor. This is the Garmin Geko 101. It costs about S$170, which is half the price of the Polar RS200sd which is selling for a cool S$400 or so.

Alternatively, the Garmin Forerunner 101, an instrument specific for runners, is going for approximately S$170 as well. Joel gives a good comparision between the forerunner and the geko. I quote:

In a way comparing the Forerunner and the Geko is a little like comparing apples and oranges. The Forerunner is definitely a niche product for athletes. It trades away a number of features found in most GPS receivers for ease of use and specialized features for runners...

The Geko on the other hand is a small, general purpose GPS receiver that can be used by athletes. It acts as a data logger for your workouts, and by running software on your PC, you can get most of the statistical data provided by the Forerunner if not more. What you can't get from the Geko is the real time coaching information.

For me I'd be more comfortable taking a Geko on a long trail run out in the boonies (especially in places I've never been before), because of its advanced navigation capabilities and the fact you can carry spare batteries. I'd be perfectly happy using a Forerunner on more civilized runs and using it to fine tune my pacing.

So, here's my bottom line recommendations:

* If you're an athlete and care less about using a GPS receiver for navigation, get a Forerunner. Considering its features and capabilities, it's a pretty reasonably priced training tool. (2/24/04 - If you frequently trail run under heavy tree canopy, in canyons, or urban areas with lots of sky obstructions, you're probably going to get frustrated because of poor satellite coverage.)

* If you can only afford one GPS receiver and want to use it for workouts and navigation get a Geko. It's small, affordable and versatile. 2/15/04 - I'd personally favor the Geko over the newly announced Foretrex. The thought of relying on a GPS receiver for navigation that has a rechargeable battery you can't replace out in the middle of nowhere kind of bothers me.

I kinda like how the Geko looks compared to the Forerunner even though the functions of the Forerunner are more suited to my use. I like the compass and being able to mark my track and find my way around with the Geko -- that's just cool. Of course the Forerunner comes with Autopause (timing is puased when your speed gets below a certain level) and Autolap (automatically triggers a lap when you reach a certain distance) and with a handy wrist strap, but the Geko looks so much better.

The Polar RS200sd is probably more accurate and it comes with a heart rate monitor, but right now, that $170 price tag is calling my name. I only wish it was more like $140, but hey, one can't always have everything.

'cuse me, do you overpronate? (A simple test)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
This is a simple test to see if you pronate when you walk/ run, tip courtesy of Dr. Low of the Shape workshop, shared by daisiki on the sgrunners forum.

1. Stand on one leg.
2. Bend other leg backwards.
3. On your standing leg, slowly bend and stand up again.
4. If you cannot do the above without trembling, it is likely that you pronate.

'cuse me. do you overpronate?

Monday, October 17, 2005
After an early morning 12km run on Saturday, I trooped down to Suntec for the Runner's Day exhibition to get a free podiatry consultation and a free fitness test. For the free fitness test, you had to lie still for five minutes and the Polar watch would calculate your fitness level from your resting heart rate and rate of change. Although I've had coffee AND a long run before the fitness test (both not recommended), I took the test anyway and they told me that I was `elite' for my age group and sex. Sweet. Now I feel like a gurkha. :)

The wait for the podiatry consultation took much longer. When it was finally my turn, I had to run and step on this sensor board for the computer to analyse how I run. The podiatrist also asked me to show him where my hips were and he did a few measurements. I had hoped that the podiatrist would tell me that I was biomechanically effecient (haha! wishful thinking!) and I had nothing to worry about, but no, he told me,
  1. My foot collapses in (overpronate) when I run, more so on my right foot,
  2. I am slightly bow-legged and therefore my foot is prone to collapsing in even when I stand, and
  3. I have a heavy step.
The prescription meted out was a `control' type of shoe. Various brands name this type of shoes differently, but a common characteristic of `control' shoes is a duo-density sole for support. Basically runners who overpronate need a little extra support to compensate overpronation. The hardworking podiatrist took a look at my old shoes and told me that they were the right kind of shoes but that they were so old and gone that they were of no use any more.

So I decided that I would either get the Adidas Supernova Control, the Adidas Adistar Control, or the Asics GT-2100. Took a bus to Queensway, tried the Supernova on one foot and the Asics on the other and decided to get the Asics because it fit better.

These are my new shoes. :)


The Asics GT-2100 is a step up from my old pair, the Asics GT-1090, costing about $20 more. It was named Editor's Choice by the folks at Runner's World in 2004. It has a duo-density sole (the grey portion is denser than the white), personlised heel fit, reflective strips, moisture management sockliner, etc. etc. etc. I like. :) The only issue I have with the shoes are that the laces are too short. Aw well.

AdiĆ³s, mi amigo. You've served well. Now you get to retire. :)

Long Run

Friday, October 14, 2005

Water break.