29 August 2016

I got pwned by the Army Half Marathon (again)

When I first ran the Army Half Marathon in 2013, I got pwned.

I made a couple of mistakes like drinking too much water during the run and stopping too long at a choke point, thus ended up with a nett time of 3 hours and 36 seconds.

Last year, I improved to 2h 42m 16s at the 2XU Compression Run.

After that, I was done with half marathons because they were simply too hard. I just stuck to mostly 10k races.

But the registration fee for this year's Army Half Marathon was too cheap to pass up. It was only $13 for early birds.

I was optimistic enough to aim for a time of two and a half hours.

After all, I have changed so much as a runner since 2013. I'm more conscious of my form. I know more about shoes. I got more gear.

Remembering how I felt weighed down by my sweat-soaked clothes during my first AHM, I bought the super-light Adidas Adizero running singlet and super-short Nike running shorts.

I found the perfect running shoes in the Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini. So light, so cushioned and so comfortable that I wore them without socks.

I also wore my Compressport calf sleeves, mostly to protect my ankle from being scrapped by the heels of my own shoes.

Flag-off was at 5am yesterday.

Once again, I worked the night before and took a taxi straight from the office to the race.

But despite not getting any sleep at all, I felt great. Two and half hours seemed doable.

I tried to start the race slowly to avoid tiring myself out too early. (It didn't work.)

I even caught a few Pokemon along the way. I was enjoying myself.

When the 2h 20m pacers ran past me with their balloons, I thought never mind. I would start worrying only when the 2h 30m pacers overtake me.

And that happened after 15km on Nicoll Highway, but I still believed I could catch up to them and make my target time.

Then came the U-turn on Republic Avenue.

I still remember this stretch of road from my last AHM. This was the part of the course that broke me three years ago.

And yesterday, it broke me again.

I had lost sight of the balloons of the 2h 30m pacers ahead of me and any hope of catching up to them.

My right leg started cramping up. I was now limping,

And then the unimaginable happened - the 2h 40m pacers overtook me.

This meant I wouldn't even be able to beat my previous time of 2h 42m!

Just as in my previous half marathons, I was jogging so slowly that the walkers were overtaking me.

It was over. I was done. I got pwned by the AHM again.

But I told myself, no matter how slow and tired I was, I would not walk the remaining few kilometres.

And so I struggled to the finish line.

My official nett time was 2h 52m 56s.

I have never felt more disillusioned after a race.

I started to question my self-identification as a runner. All the money I spent on shoes and running gear. All the reading up on running. All the actual running.

Finishing the Urbanathlon, aquathlons and all those trail runs meant nothing when I can't even run 21km in two and a half hours.

My one excuse is that a small muscle ache in my right buttock due to a new exercise I did last week acted up late in the race, which resulted in the cramp.

I also find it curious that my running apps recorded a variety of distances longer than 21km, all the way up to 23.8km.

Does this mean I wasn't as bad as the official timing may suggest?

The only way to find out is to run another half marathon.

Guess I have a new goal in life.

EARLIER: Half marathon, full experience – but I walked a quarter of the way

28 August 2016

Still hazy after all these years: Where's our 11 months of 'nice air', Indonesia?

Hello, haze, my old frenemy. I’ve come to talk with you again.

Is it really you or just smoke from the Hungry Ghost Festival?

No, it’s you. You have a distinct odour.

Can I get you a drink?

How about that popular Taiwanese milk tea, Chun Cui He?

No, wait, it has been recalled.

The Straits Times reported that the product could be available in Singapore again after more than a year.You could come and visit us again then.

On second thought, don’t.

No offence.

As you may or may not have noticed, people aren’t very happy to see you.

Actually, it’s more like because of you, people can’t see very much of anything.

And you do stink up the place. Again, no offence. Maybe you can try a new deodorant or breath mints or something.

It’s not a good sign when we can smell you before we can see you.

And you look, uh, as hazy as usual.

How long has it been?

The last time the PSI was in the unhealthy range was October last year. It’s August now. So that makes it 10 months.

Hey, I thought the Indonesian vice-president said we get 11 months.

Mr Jusuf Kalla said last year, referring to the neighbouring countries’ complaints about you:
“For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us.”

So he owes us one month.

Now I regret going to the website at thankyouindoforthecleanair.com to thank Indonesia for “11 months of clean air”.

But since you’re here, that gives a chance to catch up.

How long have we known each other now? How many years?

Let me read you something:
“The haze over Singapore worsened last night after a comparatively sunny day. By 9pm, practically every part of Singapore was fog bound. Even in brightly-lit streets like Orchard Road and Nicoll Highway, motorists had to drive with full headlights on…

“The meteorological station at Paya Lebar airport reported that visibility was good in the afternoon but deteriorated to poor at about 10pm. Flight movements, however, were normal. A pilot who brought in an aircraft at 11pm reported: ‘There is haze at 3,000 ft, but visibility is still good.’”
That’s from a Straits Times article. Guess when it was published.

I’ll give you a clue.

My favourite song that year was Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard by Paul Simon, who once wrote a song called A Hazy Shade Of Winter.

Was it about you?

Even though the article could have been written today (well, maybe except for the Paya Lebar airport part), it actually came out on Oct 14, 1972.

More than four decades ago.

My god. How young were we back then?

We had never even heard of PSI.

Or Gangnam Style.

The only mask I wore was when I played Zorro.

We didn’t even celebrate Halloween back then. We were so backward.

But Singapore has come a long way since 1972.

We now have an airport at Changi. We have even won a gold medal at the Olympics.

If you had shown up two weeks earlier, you could have caught Joseph Schooling’s victory parade.

On second thought, it’s a good thing you didn’t.

We have already given him a deferment for his national service so that he can win more medals for us. We don’t want you making him sick.

But for all the advancements Singapore has made in those 44 years, we still can’t get rid of you for good — and by the looks of it, probably never will.

Again, no offence.

Hey, we used to think we would never win an Olympic gold medal too.

So we can still dream.

And if we ever do see the last of you, there would be a parade surpassing even the one for Schooling. We would even put Mr Kalla on the open-top bus.

So don’t say we never thank Indonesia.

But alas, I probably will see you again next year.

It just better not be in less than 11 months.

No offence.

- Published in The New Paper, 28 August 2016

24 August 2016

The most popular Singapore blogs by monthly visits (July 2016)

This is a follow-up to a blog post I wrote a year ago, re-ranking the top 25 blogs listed by Alvinology.

But that list was puzzling in terms of what Alvinology counted and didn't count as "blogs".

So this time I decided to expand it considerably to include what I think are noteworthy local blogs and websites, which admittedly may also be somewhat arbitrary. But hey, Alvinology started it first.

As before, the data is from Similar Web.

This list is by no means comprehensive or definitive. If there is any blog or website you think should be included but isn't here, let me know.

I decided the cut-off would be 30k visits. If a website had fewer than 30k visits last month, it won't be listed here. Sorry, Eunice Annabel (29.6K). That also leaves out my own blog, which had only 8.20K.

(Blogs with the blogspot subdomain name, like Xiaxue's, are listed twice because Similar Web counts the subdomains blogspot.com and blogspot.sg separately.)

Here are the most popular Singapore blogs (or whatever):

Mothership 2.10M

Goody Feed 1.70M

All Singapore Stuff 1.70M

The Smart Local 1.60M

Hungry Go Where 1.4M

Daniel Food Diary 1.30M

Seth Lui 1.30M

Lady Iron Chef 1M

Money Digest 954.50K

Money Smart 933.50K

The Independent 725.20K

Parka Blogs 578.40K

Miss Tam Chiak 507.10K

Passport Chop 423.40K

The Online Citizen 377K

I Eat I Shoot I Post 330.80K

Noob Cook 307.20K

My Fat Pocket 296.2K

Beautiful Buns 245.90K

The Middle Ground 245.20K

Johor Kaki blogspot.com 233K

Sgag 229.20K

Bun Bun Makeup Tips 213K

The Ordinary Patrons 211.80K

The Motley Fool 192.50K

New Nation 174K

Viva Woman 173.90K

TR Emeritus 165.60K

Bumble Bee Mum 155.10K

Salary 146.60K

Dollars And Sense 139K

Aspirant 138.70K

Must Share News 137.80K

Xiaxue blogspot.com 135.10K

Just Run Lah 130.10K

Mitsueki 121.60K

Jeraldine Phneah 113.40K

The Domestic Goddess Wannabe 128.90K

Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow 123.90K

Cheekie Monkies 122.80K

Xiaxue blogspot.sg 120.90K

Investment Moats 106.50K

Remember Singapore 99.70K

Alvinology 96.20K

Bong Qiu Qiu blogspot.sg 96K

Run Society 86.60K

Spring Tomorrow 86.20K

Fiona Seah 84.50K

Super Adrian Me 83.40K

SG Food On Foot 77.10K

A Singaporean Stocks Investor 74.10K

Bong Qiu Qiu blogspot.com 71.30K

Camemberu 71K

The Halah Food Blog 70.60K

Pinky Piggu 69.50K

The Ranting Panda 68.50K

Tech Goondu 63.3K

Peony Kiss 59.20K

Celine Chiam 58.70K

The Baking Biatch 57.80K

Mr Brown 57.20K

Sparklette 57.10K

Yina Goh 57K

The New Savvy 56.80K

Working With Grace 54.20K

The Wacky Duo 53.70K

Missus Chewy 51.90K

Lester Chan 51.80K

Johor Kaki blogspot.sg 50.30K

Thoughts Of Real Singaporeans 50.10K

Techie Lobang 47.30K

Transitioning 47K

Only William 46.90K

Makansutra 46.60K

Five Stars And A Moon 45.10K

The Fifth Person 44.70K

The Wedding Vows 44.60K

My Wok Life 44.50K

Mummy, I Can Cook 44.20K

Darren Bloggie 43.40K

Cuisine Paradise 41.40K

Limpeh Is Foreign Talent 41.30K

Chords Haven 41.3K

The Bonding Tool 41.20K

Tiffany Yong 40.80K

The Heart Truths 39.90K

SG Young Investment 39K

little Miss Bento 38.70K

I Eat And Eat 36.40K

Roseanne Tang 36.30K

Delishar 36.20K

Budget Pantry 34.60K

Naomi Neo 33.20K

Bagaholicboy 33.20K

Singapore Daily 33.20K

Zit Seng 33K

Budget Babe 32.80K

Nicole Choo 32.70K

Dairy & Cream 31.50K


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