Sunday, 30 January 2011

Silver Linings


Okay so this weekend has definitely had it's ups and downs! Absolutely delighted I managed get to Jason Bay for a day kitesurfing at last .. it's been far too long since my last session, not to mention the NE monsoon is 3 months late!

It was pretty gusty though, and I thought I'd call it a day sometime in the early afternoon when I literally couldn't hold on to my kite anymore. Got back on the beach and was trying to land it when I got lofted by a gust. Seriously. I don't remember anything between the sudden panic at being unintentionally airborne and opening my eyes to find I'm lying on the cabin verandah with lots of concerned faces looking down at me. What the hell happened? Everything between my left shoulder and hip feels like I've been run over by a monster truck .. and I've got the bruises to prove it. I've even got a lump on my forehead despite wearing a helmet .. how am I going to explain this one to Mum? But I'm very grateful for all the help from the kite guys .. thanks, boys!

I've spent all day today in bed, dosed up with Nurofen (definitely helps!) and after a thorough check I'm pretty sure I haven't actually broken anything. Just feels like I have! So yesterday I had about a 5 foot 'up' and an equal distance 'down' .. not quite the kind of airtime I'd expected when kiting!

Got an interesting email today, though! I was waitlisted for The North Face 100 in Australia .. a slot's become available .. looks like my travel plans are going ballistic this year!

Signed up for a couple of local races as well since they sound a little more interesting than the usual road runs:

The Salomon Tiong Bahru Urban Trail Run (http://www.wix.com/tbr2011/tiongbarhurun2011)
and the organisers say: " The inaugural Salomon Tiong Bahru Urban Trail Run 2011 will have participants to race and experience the Marang Trail which is 800 metres (2,600 ft) long and an elevation of 70 metres (230 ft). The trail consists of steps and shaded footpaths through secondary forest. It extends from Marang Road, just behind the HarbourFront MRT Station to the cable car station at the Jewel Box on Mount Faber. The run will bring participants through 6 overhead bridges which include the highest pedestian bridge in Singapore known as the Henderson Waves, standing at 36 metres (118 ft) above Henderson Road at 274-metre (899 ft) long pedestrian bridge providing a scenic view of the city to Telok Blangah Hill Park."

Also the NTUC Healthcare U Run, OMB race (http://www.usports.sg/Events.aspx#reg_fees)
The blurb reads: "Outdo yourself in this year's U Run with the OMB Challenge-- a 10km run followed by a 31 storey climb up NTUC Centre! 10km Competitive Run and 5km Fun Run available too."

I figure I'm not going to get that much hill training in Singapore so I might as well take what I can get. I like competition. It gets too dull if I train for too long and haven't felt the thrill of the chase for a while. ;)

Still, given my current state of semi-broken-ness, I'm hoping I'll be back in my trainers by Tuesday. I'm hobbling round like a very old person at the moment and making age appropriate noises as well ... this is NOT good! At least I've got some time to recover before UTMB! ;)

On a final note, a small amendment to my fantasy race calendar .. I'm swapping the Transalpine Race for the Cradle Crossing in Tasmania. (http://www.ultimatetrailracing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=156:the-cradle-crossing&catid=3:newsflash&Itemid=183)

I get an extra week to recover after UTMB and it looks gorgeous! Who's coming?? :)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Home at last!


Whew! It's been a rather long fortnight in Europe, and I'm glad to be back in the tropics again. Crazy work schedule, far too much amazing food and freezing temperatures have not been conducive to my training. The first week Milan was a write-off, with two runs either side of a 5-day headcold. Bah.


Fared a bit better in Paris, and managed to get a run in almost every morning. It was too cold to run for longer than an hour .. I didn't bring enough warm gear and ended up doing speed/tempo sessions each time! I ran along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower each time, occasionally making a detour through the Jardins de Tuileries. I'd forgotten how gorgeous Paris can be, and it was good to have a little quiet time to see it all in its full beauty again.

Of course you have to shop when you're in Paris, and I managed to sneak in some retail therapy on my last day. Two new packs .. the XA10 + 3 is an update on my old one, which has taken quite a beating in the last year or so! The XA20 is a larger capacity pack for longer races .. I'm not sure which I'll be using for UTMB yet, but at least I've got the options now.


Also got some Raidlight foldable trek poles. These weigh in at 180 grams! I'll definitely need these for UTMB, and I'm delighted that they fold up so small. My new packs have specifically designed pole holders so there's my justification for shopping! The spec says these assemble in 5 seconds, but I think they should add "... with practice"! I'm getting there, though!



Stocked up on some Falke trail running socks as well and other running paraphernalia .. walking into the running stores is like going to Aladdin's cave. Think my credit card actually tried to run and hide.

So if you're ever in Paris, check out these stores:

Au Vieux Campeur (http://www.auvieuxcampeur.fr/)
- In Paris they have 25 stores in the Latin Quarter. Each store specialises in a type of sport .. the one at 4, Rue Thebard is the running specialist. The store stocks trail and road running products, from shoes and attire to GPS watches, nutrition and hydration packs. If something isn't available in the store, it probably will be in one of their other specialist shops nearby. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, but their products seemed a little 'last season'. Maybe the 2011 ranges hadn't come in yet.

Endurance Shop (http://www.enduranceshop.com/)
- Their shop in Paris is on the outskirts of town, but well stocked for a small store. Mainly caters to runners and triathletes. Product range is very current and the staff were very helpful when I needed help.

Lepape (http://www.lepape.com/)
- Large store near the Champs-Elysees, but had a disappointingly small range of shoes and attire. Most of the store was stocked with treadmills. Their website is very comprehensive, but the warehouse is 800km from Paris so it wasn't possible to get anything I wanted sent down at short notice. Better for online orders, but they don't ship abroad. If you're planning to visit, your best bet would be to call in advance and request stock to be sent to their store. Delivery is from 2-5 days. Their prices are very reasonable, especially now the January sales are on, and the staff are very helpful. Oh, and the widest range of Falke running socks I've ever seen! :)

Okay, so this week I sort out my training program for the next 7 months leading up to UTMB. I've got a good feeling about this .. let's hope it lasts till August! :)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Update!

Woohoo! I'm in!!! Just seen the change in my status on the UTMB website from 'waiting' to 'to pay'. I love having something to work towards. Now the challenge is getting enough training for the mountains ... here goes nothing! :)

D-day!


Okay, so today's the day we get confirmation of our UTMB slots ... I'm only checking my email every 5 minutes ... the suspense is killing me already!

Leaving Milan for Paris this afternoon. The scores on the doors so far are:

Fashion shows - 30
Stinking headcold - 1
Number of runs - 2
Pasta eaten - a lot

Didn't do so well getting my runs in this week. An energy-sapping combination of back-to-back shows, a nasty cold, jet lag and near freezing temperatures have successfully scuppered my training. Managed a run this morning in an optimistic 3 degrees celsius outside .. had to call it a day after measly 5 miles as I got so cold I thought my ears would fall off ... even despite dressing like a ninja!

Our schedule in Paris doesn't look as bad as Milan so here's hoping training will get back on track tomorrow.

Also missed the inaugural Vibram HK100 Ultra this weekend just gone. Well done to everyone who attempted it, and I'm looking forward to the race reports!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Ciao, bella!

There were little plates of Baci everywhere ... who could resist!

This is just my bedroom .. there's a lounge, dining room and fully equipped kitchen round the corner!

Arrived in the city of Fermo yesterday after 18 hours of travelling .. I'd honestly rather do an ultra! My apartment in the gorgeous Palazzo Romani Adami more than made up for all that travelling, though! I was given the apartment that used to be the old stables, and it's spacious enough to sleep 4 comfortably.

Dinner was handmade strezopretti (little twists of al dente pasta) with speck (Tyrolean juniper flavoured ham) and black pepper , in a creamy ricotta sauce, with a fresh caprese salad on the side .. heavenly! I'm definitely going to have to keep up the running while I'm here .. the food is just so good! :)

The piazza at the top of Fermo

Start of the sunrise through the valley

Got up to run at 5.30 am ... still dark and extremely cold .. but nice and fresh! The Palazzo is close to the top of a hill where the city's cathedral is, and so my run was quite a scenic one, going down towards the beach and then back up to the top. It was a novelty to greet the handful of locals with a badly accented "Buon Giorno!", and to watch the sunrise come up through the valley ... and not to have sweat pouring down even after an hour's run!

Breakfast spread at the Palazzo .. a warm welcome after a run in the cold!

Now in back in Milan, not quite looking forward to running in the city .. too many traffic lights and somewhat erratic drivers! The great food will make it all worth it, though! :) Ciao!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

T minus 6


I thought today was the day entries for the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - http://www.ultratrailmb.com/) will be confirmed and I've had everything crossed since I registered last month. So it's a huge anticlimax that I read the fine print and realise that if there's a draw (in the event of oversubscription), then the draw will be on January 18th. Gah. Patience is a virtue I've had little experience with. Oh well, best get on with the training then.

This year I've tweaked my training to include more speed sessions in the hope that they will compensate for the lack of hills here. There's no way I could ever hope to simulate the mountainous terrain of Mont Blanc here so I'll have to get a little creative instead!

I'm off to Milan for work tonight and the prospect of running in sub-zero temperatures doesn't exactly appeal at the moment. My work schedule is such that I'll have to do my runs in the early hours of the morning ... now, where did I put those heat packs?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Start as you mean to go on

What a brilliant start to 2011. A lazy lie-in to start, followed by a leisurely hour in to pool to wake up. Then a steady 12 miles on the trail, the first 4 in scorching sunshine and the remainder in the sweet respite of monsoon showers. I love running in the rain!

Here's my racing schedule for 2011 if time and money were no object:
February:
North Face King Of The Hills, Hong Kong (30.5km)
March:
North Face King Of The Hills, Sai Kung (37.4km)
April:
RTI Hong Kong (65km)
Sabah Ultra-Trail Run (60km) - signed up, yay!
May:
The North Face 100km Australia - waitlisted
June:
Sundown Ultra (100km) .. only because it's local!
August:
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (166km) - awaiting confirmation .. this is THE goal for 2011!
September:
Gore-Tex Transalpine Run (300km) .. like I said, if time and money were no object! :)
October:
The North Face 100km Singapore
November:
Great North Walk 100s (173km)
Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon (21km)
December:
Coast to Kosciuszko Ultra-marathon (240km) .. this is next on the list, an akubra is way cooler than a finisher's tee!

If I even manage half this list I'd be delighted. Drop me a note if anyone's got any races to add or suggest, or if anyone is planning to do any of the above, always good to have some company!


Ah Hwee's chicken wings are always a great motivator!
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