Merry Catmas! “Somehow” there’s a new cat in our lives!

I am still not 100% sure how this happened, from what I gathered so far: while I was still traveling back from Singapore, R&J tried to feed a little kitten OUTSIDE of our house / compound.

After my return a few hours later, this same kitten was INSIDE our compound, which is tightly sealed off and no way a little kitten like this could have jumped over or sneaked through. We suspect someone dropped her over the fence.

Anyhoo, with R leaving next day on business, it was up to me to make decisions. So, for starters I kept this new cat outside, with a box & blanket for shelter and some food and drink.

Later on I would show her the back-kitchen, while being very careful that our big cat is not around and no food bowls are getting mixed up.

And yesterday then we took her (yes, it’s a girl) to the vet for deworming & rabies shots …

Now the next steps are to get the 2 cats acquainted and so far it does not look too bad! There is some growling on the house queen’s part, but so far there has been no fighting …

But just like last year’s Cat Miracle, the timing sucks, as we are about to go on xmas break again in a few days …

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Marathon Recap + Pro Photos

As I am still digesting all the impressions and emotions from this spectacular event, a nice link to all the pretty ‘pro’ photos appears in my inbox!

I think what makes them very ‘pro’ is that they somehow managed to NOT show the suffering, instead I look actually still very much put together.

And mind you that most of those photos are taken in broad daylight, which means that was after 7AM, 2.5h into the run (so, after 25km of me pounding asphalt and the mercury crossing the 30˚C mark on its way up)

Full gallery over on SmugMug

This last Sunday started very early at 2:30AM with waking up and getting ready, in preparation I had already laid out all my gear (I learned later that runners call this a ‘flat lay’ photo, which is both, showcase and mental reminder) the evening before, I just had to remember to fuel up with some coffee, protein shake, put vaseline on potential chaffing areas and at 3AM I left the hotel.

The walk to the start point is a mellow 30 minutes and from the moment I hit the streets I saw other people in running gear heading in the same direction. More and more the closer we came.

Singapore’s Formula 1 pit made for a great start ‘chute’, everything was very well organized, things like bag check / drop. Ample toilets, water stations (would not have mind some more coffee), and booming loud music to get the energy pumping.

By 4AM we were asked to enter our ‘pens’, those are the holding areas in the start crowd, based on what time you think you will finish. This way there is some more crowd control and quicker runners don’t have to pass slower runners for the first few kilometers.

And then at 4:30 they started sending off the first wave of runners, beginning with the elite-atheletes. By 4:42 it was the turn of my half of pen C and the race had officially started for me.

The way they take the time with all those runners starting in waves is through a chip implanted in the bib, which starts the clock once I get over the start line, takes readings along the way (see the above pic) and when I cross the finish line.

One thing that did not work out too well: I wanted to hang on to the group of 4h pacers, but somehow they were in a wave earlier (despite us being in the same pen) and I had no chance to catch up with them.

Funny thing I noticed: right after the start, quite a few of the (male) runners went to the nearby trees to relieve themselves. Seems that they had waited too long, had too much water, did not want to line of for the restrooms.

It was still pitch black and would stay like this for the next 2h.

After crossing a bridge, we made our way through the Central Business District, where everyones’ GPS watches went haywire (tall buildings messing with the satellite signal), from that moment on I could not totally rely on my pace info anymore.

We went down the westside highway, which was very easy running.

I was able to judge by marker points and my total time that I was doing well within my planned parameters.

After 12Km we did a U-turn and headed back, and once we hit the CBD again, there was already the divide for half-marathon and full-marathon. After that it got more empty and I spotted the first twinkle of daylight.

But they had also a half-marathon marker for us and I could see that I was still doing well, clocking in at exactly 2h, just as I did during training. But slowly I noticed that I got tired and even though I ate & drank as much as possible along the way, around 25km I got first thoughts of ‘maybe I can’t do it under 4h’ … which soon turned into ‘you don’t HAVE to do it under 4h’.

Still, I reached 30km well under 3h and now would have been the time to start my ‘fast finish’ … but this is when I felt the first signs of cramps!

Did I mention that it was pretty warm for early morning, very humid, both things I trained for, but this was even a bit more than Colombo. Also, there was no wind at all and the sun was coming up.

Keep in mind that Singapore is only 140km north of the equator. This, for sure, makes for some extra challenges.

After those first signs I slowed down in hopes they go away before they actually manifest, but at 32K I got the first serious cramp-on. What helped me was a shot of concentrated pickle juice (this is how the sales lady described it) called ‘CrampFix‘, which I had purchased for 5S$ at the expo. And lo-and-behold, it works!

One time only though … as I wobbled on, it did not take too long for the cramps to return.

By now all the medical tents had brought out their supply of Tiger Balm for all runners to freely use. Put that on your leg (or other affected areas) and you get a pretty hot, soothing, tingly sensation, which seems to alleviate the pain (and the cramp) …

At that time I was down to walking and I had found company in another walking runner, which greatly helped getting over the pain (and disappointment), from time to time we would start up again running a bit, and stopping a bit.

Particularly brutal was that around 39K we had to cross a big and TALL highway bridge, going up was actually not that bad, but the strain in the thighs when going down was constantly triggering cramp-return .. so, I mainly kept walking.

With the end in sight and hearing the crowds and another runner passing me, encouraging me to run the last bit, I got started again, only to get hit not only with the biggest cramp-on yet, but while I was trying to stretch out those contracted muscles, I felt like I was about to pass out! That was truly scary! Just shy of 500m before the finish line!

My immediate thought was that if I dropped to the floor, the medics would come and take me away and my race would be DNF (did not finish) [only later I thought those medics might be race experienced and would giver runners a chance to recover on the spot so they could still hobble over the finish line]

(This is a copy/paste job of 3 images from an independent photographer who set up camp at 41KM, just before my ‘near faint’ experience. How am I still smiling?)

I managed to hang on and slowly staggered along on my jelly legs until I was about to come around the bend for the finish cute and the sign read ‘150m’ … and that’s when I put my last energy into it, put a smile on (fully aware there would be cameras) and made it over the finish line, looking like I had a fun, joyous & gentle run!

We each got our medals after that point and had the wonderful Marina Bay as a backdrop to pose with it. We also got more drinks and cool towels and seems there was still much more going on (like ‘engraving station’, get your name and time engraved on your medal), but I really just wanted to lay down in my AC’d hotel room and made my way back.

Maybe I should have stuck around a bit longer, or laid down there to rest a bit, or checked with a medic, but on the way back I had another scary return of the ‘I am about to pass out’ sensation. I very quickly found something to lean / sit on, as to appear resting casually and not like someone who is about to faint. And this way I managed to slowly get some power back and after 30 minutes I was ok to move on and made it back to the hotel.

Would I do it again?

My initial thoughts of the event were very different compared to now, 3 days later, as I type this.

I felt like I never wanted to run a marathon again. “Been there, done that”, item off the bucket list, no need to repeat.

This has since then changed a bit. I will give it some time and probably look for a place with more moderate climate. But I still want to, some day, finish a marathon under 4h, before old age makes that impossible.

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Meanwhile … in Malé

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Back in SL, first things first!

Getting back into the routine of waking up kiddo, making breakfast and school lunch and my protein shake, then grabbing running stuff and off we go.

Compared to the last few days, Colombo felt actually cool and nice for running. I wondered if I should have worn long sleeves.

I kept it very mellow again with my pace, just a little bit to help the muscles with their recovery (I strongly believe in the ‘keep on moving (gently)’ school of thought.

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One last Singapore Sunset!

It’s time to go back home and here is a sweet sunset shot taken from Changi Airport’s butterfly garden!

Ride to the airport by bus was easy, no issues at check in, ample time to explore the food options (plenty & good), easy security, tons of shopping opportunities and yes, a freakin’ butterfly garden, how cool is that?

Flight boarded on time, they did not have any fish meals left, and since I did not want chicken I selected vegetarian, which was actually pretty good (polos curry among the items), but I was still full from all those noodles.

Landed on time, suitcase took forever to show up, but eventually I got home and off to bed.

What a great, long weekend in Singapore, really hoping to return again soon (then again, I say that about many places, like KL, Hanoi … Koh Chang 😀 )

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More noodles

In my ongoing search for more noodle-y goodness, I was tempted at pretty much every corner, so many choices!  And here is what else I got over the course of the long weekend:

Saturday night: Spicy Pork Pho @ PhoStreet.

Back in Vietnam I was always wondering why pho only came in chicken or beef, never pork. If I wanted pork, I had to order bun cha. But here they mix things up a bit and this one was very nice! The broth was spot on in flavor. The pork balls were missing the lemon grass / char grilled taste I would have expected. But I really enjoyed this one.

Sunday early dinner: Assam Laksa @ Pappa Rich

This one is more like the laksa we had in Melaka, less coconutty, more tamarind sour-spicy. Absolutely delicious! Actual presentation not as pretty as menu, ah well …

Monday lunch: Flaming Hot Tonkotsu Ramen @ Kanshoku Ramen Bar

This place isalso known for their ‘original truffle ramen’, which I really want to try next time I have a chance. The smell of truffle was surely in the air!

But I went with what I thought would be closest to my bakatare experience, and wow, this bowl did not dissappoint. I would have to say that this is so far the closest contender, but Bakatare’s broth feels ‘richer’ while Kanshoku’s pork slices have too much fat around for my liking.

But overall a total winner!

Monday pre-flight dinner: Sour Spicy Mee Hoon Kuay @ Kopitiam / Airport.

I had checked out other Kopitiam outlets before. They mirror the concept of the hawker markets, with small counters each specializing on their own particular cuisine.

This bowl had Chinese hand made noodles, a pleasant, albeit a bit boring broth. Had a long discussion with the chef lady (very limited English) that i DO want spicy … which she somehow did not get, had to add quite some hot sauce, which helped. Maybe the least impressive of all the noodle bowls I had so far, but the portion was huuuge and only 5SG$

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Up & Down Orchard Street

What to do the morning after a full marathon? Well, I actually kinda ‘slept in’, so, no 4AM wake up call.
Got up around 7, felt that my muscles were medium sore, and in my book the beste remedy is ‘keep moving’. So I headed out for a very mellow jog up and down Orchard Street, and area I explored last time with Julius, but have not done so far on this trip.

Inspired by that, after packing and getting ready for check out, I used the time I still had for a photo walk. Those tall buildings and whacky interiors make for some great 360˚ photos.

Especially Orchard Central, were you can ride the escalator up pretty much on the outside of the building. The last bit, from level 7 to 11 felt actually kinda scary!

Inside of Orchard Central, notice that big golden ear hanging over me.

On the way to level 7

Entrance escalator, feels a bit like entering a haunted house.

All the way up on level 7 now, but it continues up to 11!

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I finished (AND survived!) #SCSM2018 !!!

Yes, somehow I made it.

Thanks to the lovely weather it turned out way more brutal than expected, especially those last 10km.

This just a funky collage of my own photos, there are supposed to be many more professional pics coming.

Fullscreen_12_10_18__12_03_AM_jpg___50___Layer_2__RGB_8____And when I post those, I will hopefully have a longer write up with it.

Some fun with numbers: Obviously I was not the only one struggling with heat, humidity, lack of wind and rising sun. Still managed to place in the top 1/5th across the board.

Not too shabby for a 50+ guy running his first ever full marathon.

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Nasi Padang with ‘strangers’

Even before my 2015 trip to Singapore, I had joined a local foodie FB group and over time received many helpful tips on where and what to eat. I never left that group, so when time came around again, I asked for ‘what are there MUST EAT spots for carb loading?’ … and not only did I get ample responses, I also got this group gathering set up!

Susanne, Morgan & Duncan introduced me to Sabar Mentini II and Nasi Padang (from Wiki: “Nasi Padang is a miniature banquet of meats, fish, vegetables, and spicy sambals eaten with plain white rice, it is Sumatra’s most famous export […]”)

So, I might have had some of this or that before, but never has a whole ‘buffet’ and thus I have no benchmark really to compare it.

It was all very tasty, some a bit spicy, very pleasant (while not mind-boggling). I think the fact that I met up with complete strangers to enjoy some food and talk about was the bigger fun part.

This was probably also my only non-noodle dish of this trip. More on that later 😀

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Gooooood Morning Singapore!

No running today, but lots of walking.

Singapore’s landmarks make for some very pretty tiny planet pics.

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24h noodles!

Important for long distance running is proper nutrition, and one of the better known secrets is ‘carb-loading’, getting your body to store as much glycogen as possible before the actual event (and not just the day before, ideally the 2-3 days before, with a more mellow intake on last day, so not to feel full on race day.)

So, I made it my objective to seek out plenty of noodle bowls, starting with last night, just walking around and stopping at the first place that looked promising: Gu Thai Noodle.

Today, after a long walk to collect my race kit, I went looking for ‘Sungei Road Laksa’, which has very favorable reviews, only to find that they were closed for a few days, just my luck, but I may try on Sunday.

So, a bit further, I visited 328 Katong, a small place with Michelin honors and Anthony Bourdain credentials (as showcased by photo on wall).

Lovely flavor laksa, but I found it strange that the noodles are pre-cut, so there’s no chopstick aided slurping, all just spoon feeding.

Oh, and a piece of otah with it.

In the early evening I was wondering around a bit aimlessly, found a place touting laksa at Albert Hawker Centre, but they had finished their laksa broth, so I opted for ‘just’ prawn noodles.

I asked if it was spicy and the chef said ‘no’, but he can make it spicy if he does the dry version, so I went for that. Very tasty again with a nice kick.

And after some more walking and mainly looking at shops (being overwhelmed by the ample selection at the super markets here) and while not really hungry again, I saw, just before closing time, this promising looking ramen place.

And went for it :)

While no Bakatare, their volcano ramen was tasty and filling.

This place has some very weird variations on the classic ramen though, like lemon chicken and carbonara versions!

Very full after a very long day (and over 48K steps on my step counter (!) ) I went to bed, with a very full, but happy tummy.

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Last training run / getting over jet lag.

Since the race on Sunday starts early at 4:30AM, to beat the heat, I had planned to get out very early today as well, to get over the time difference of 2.5h and to get a feel for the last parts of the 42KM route.

Since I could not run yesterday, I cobbled together what my trining plan had said for yesterday and today and made it a very nice 16K (10 miles) mellow sight seeing run.

Great to see all those sights before the tourist hordes descent on i.e. the Merlion. Very cool to be there all by myself at 5:30AM.

I got to see a very few other runners, seems they come out after 6AM.

Sunrise is later here, around 7AM, but by 6 I saw first glimpses of light in the sky.

Funny thing, while in SL I get warning signs for crocodiles, here it is otters!

Update, those otter sightings also occurred in the middle of the marathon 😉

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Meanwhile … School Winter Gala!

While I am off, Julius has his winter concert, possibly his first violin event I am missing.

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Off to Singapore!

It has been a very long time that I travelled without any of my dear family people.

But this time I am just going for a long weekend to Singapore to run my very first full marathon!

Flight was smooth, especially after I scored my own exit row, with ample space in front and the sides, I even got to nap a bit.

Upon descending I got to witness a beautiful sunset.

Immigration was a breeze, and getting a SIM card and MRT card also very easy (interestingly, got them each at adjoining money changing booths, while the person at the StarHub counter was taking a break). 12S$ for SIM and 12S$ for MRT, easy peasy.

Hopping on the bus and an hour later I check into my hotel, get sorted, and go out to find some food. More on that later.

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Good Morning!

After a long, rainy night, it started clearing up just in time for a glorious sunrise over Independence Square.

But with all the water evaporating, the humidity was unsurprisingly all the way up, which made for a rather sweaty run.

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