Monday, January 03, 2011

1st of some long routes

run 3 Jan 2011

11.43 km
2 hours

Running with the vibrams. So far I am getting quite used to the five-fingers and enjoying the change in my style of running. No sign of knee pain or ITB. Only main problem is pain at the ball of my right feet. Not as bad as the first time I used it but I wished it wasn't there. Considering getting a pair of Newtons to follow through with the mid-sole strike running and ease that ball-of-foot impact. Weather was fine so didn't have to bring along water. Not bad for an 11K run considering I am a compulsive sipper of water when I run. Halfway though the run, I was in pure bliss listening to the ipod.

I am thinking of doing 10, 15 and 20 km per week. I am quite confident the mid-sole strike I am learning with the vibrams will allow me the mileage without getting the ITB pain like I did the last time when I pushed for longer runs. Those were 20km runs usually on Saturday mornings.

All this in prep for the Sundown marathon this year. I guess I will have to do some core-strengthening work and lose about 5 kg and hit my ideal of 73 - 75 kg. (I put on the 3 unprecious kilos I lost slowly for the long stretch of the first half of last year.) I am not packing in the dualthlons or mini-triathlons this year - too much "sombong" in such events. Running events are more pure and this time, I have got my formidable running kaki, Darryl.


Auto Draft

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here's a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2010. That's about 21 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 323 posts. There were 18 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 13mb. That's about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 25th with 51 views. The most popular post that day was De-escalation of war by ants.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dead kitten, largest ant, whales, largest ant in the world, and hopea odorata.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


De-escalation of war by ants April 2007


An Ode to Whales December 2007


Hopea odorata in the Botanic Gardens June 2005


Chap chye recipe podcast December 2009


some nice sayings November 2006

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Was I "Born to run"?

Discounting the fact that I was a serious athlete in my youth, I have been running quite a fair bit in the last 5 years for reasons that may only now be clearer. Interestingly, the reasons are probably embedded in our evolutionary past. The five year mark is significant as it coincides with a time of crisis, vocationally. Anyway, the first thing I did was hit the pavements. The runs were pretty long about 15 to 20 km and I was averaging something like 60 km per week. ITB slowed me down and I had to rest and reduce mileage. And since then, I have taken part in several half marathons and 2 full marathons, some cycling races and a mini-triathlon.

So, why hit the tarmac under duress? So according to Chris McDougall, author of "Born to Run", Americans have pounded the tarmac in droves every time there is a national crisis. Was it was a way to soul search? I have always wondered if it was the runners' high at the 12 km mark that was making me run far or was it more like the feeling of running away from burdens? After reading Born to Run, an evolutionary perspective is considered. It's a good read, highly engaging and fast.

Chris McDougall at the Singapore American School giving his Born to Run talk. He ran the Standard Chartered 21K that weekend. He gave a highly engaging talk, needing no powerpoint or shoes...

I thought after attending his talk, his book would be mostly about barefoot running but once I got hold of it courtesy of Alvin, I found it was more about the Tarahumara or Rarámuri (which literally translates to runners on foot or those who run fast). Alvin who adopted barefoot running (ok, minimalist footwear running to be accurate..) wrote this piece in Biorefugia. Did I mention that he also ran a full marathon in the vibrams?

What appealed to the biologist in me was the detailed writing in the later part of the book on how, we as a species evolved into running animals that ran other mammals across the the death - termed the "Persistence hunt". According to McDougall, sweating is human's superpower. In the book, McDougall retells how scientists found clues to the evolution of man into running animals in our nuchal ligament, achilles tendon and gluteal muscles. Nuchal ligament? Whazzat? Best explained in this Harvard University gazette piece "Running paced human evolution" about Daniel Lieberman's work. Liberman has a nature paper on this subject and this Nature videoclip "The Barefoot Professor" on how we were evolved as runners and barefeet at that was a compelling nudge to empty my wallet for a pair of Vibrams.

Persistence hunting isn't as straightforward as just running down the prey it seems. It involves lots of strategy, skill and experience as well, so the brain of the one doing the persistence hunt must be pretty evolved to suss out an individual from the pack, track the animal that has bolted out of sight and have the imagination necessary to emplace the prey in the vast savannah plains.

Anyway, my whole approach to running has been revolutionized. Running with the Vibrams is like barefoot running and the midsole strike rather than the heelstrike is adopted reducing impact on the knees. And, I no longer time myself or run to cover mileage but more to enjoy myself and wander. So the run from my house to Changi village on early morning to meet Otterman and other kakis for a breakfast was one of the best runs I have had, just map the route and run, soak in the atmosphere of the cool morning and "persistence hunt" for breakfast.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Matthew

Dear Matthew,
Please remember when you grow up that mummy put you on her lap and picked the red ants from your toes and feet.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Free spirit

What is it about the beach that frees a kid's heart?


Labels: , ,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Poor in spirit

There is this sentence here from the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus that has always eluded me. I always thought it to be straight-forward and that it was about knowing you are poor or that by being poor you see God. This Sermon on the Mount happens to be a favorite of Gandhi so in a way I am drawn to it because someone I admire had dwelled deeply in its teachings.

The reason why I bring it up is because of an old couple at church. They have been volunteering at church actively for many years and have sort of grown along with the church. I have never known them very closely but this last few months I have been seeing them monthly as I play the guitar for a group of people who meet on the 2nd Friday of the month to sing some hymns during Taize. I just play the guitar - the level of emotional and spiritual involvement I question at times.

So in these last few months we've had lots of conversations and I hear more about their daily lives. It has been endearing. She loves her husband dearly who is ailing but still keeping strong and when she wasn't well from a fall, she was worried about who would take care of her husband and keep her company, and yet after every singing practice, he makes his way laboriously across the main road to make sure she gets across safely. They struggle and their bodies are taking a beating with age. We drive them back when they don't hastily disappear.

It isn't difficult to be drawn in and take notice of the love they have for each other, the respect they have for the Church and their relationship with God, its all very palpable. The prayers she utters in the group is like a conversation with God and all I do is close my eyes and imagine a benevolent God infront of her. The form in her prayer makes one participate and know that we are in holy presence.

So I think about the Beatitudes (Matthew, Chapter 5) - I haven't opened the Bible for a long long time. I think about poverty in spirit and wonder, is she poor in spirit? I think she knows she and her husband are poor in spirit and that their lives are in God's hands, their very sense of security. But the strange thing is that in their poverty, is a richness in their lives that have flowed to us all. And I actually begin to realise, how poor I am in spirit.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Transfixed in the moment

I am thinking that time and life is passing us by,
Unless we go faster than the speed of light,
It's better to be transfixed in the moment.