Sunday, July 20, 2014

KM Duathlon Inaugural Race Event

Me after the race

It was the inaugural event organised by Infinitus and admittedly, it was not cheap either.  It came with two race categories, 30 km (run 5 km, bike 20 km and run 5 km) and 60 km (run 10 km, bike 40 km and run 10 km) respectively.  I decided to sign up for the 60 km event to test my own endurance.  This race could have cost me more than S$200.  My club, Aranda Country Club agreed to absorb half the cost and coupled with early bird discount, I only paid less than S$80.    

Start of our 10 km first leg run 

The race happened this morning at the Changi Exhibition Centre.  For 60 km participants, we had to run 2 laps inside the exhibition centre in our first leg, cycle 4 U-turn laps along the Coastal Road and finally run 2 laps to the finish.    

The night before I hit the bed early.  Though I set my alarm at 0415 hrs, I actually got up at 0130 hrs...haiz, I was too excited, probably.  Anyway, I arrived at Changi Exhibition Centre before 0500 hrs and it was still pitched dark.  There were some who were even earlier than me.  Quickly, I set up my bike and pushed to the bike holding area.  Slowly more arrived.  I was a long two hours wait for me as we were to be flagged-off at 0700 hrs.  

While waiting, I went to the toilet to relieve myself.  At first I put my car key in the front pouch of my compressed tee and two packets of energy gel behind.  I made a switch before going to toilet, the car key behind and the energy gel in front.  When I stood in front of the toilet bowl, the two packets of energy gel simply dropped off my pouch and slipped into the toilet bowl.  Had my car key dropped it, it will spell disastrous for me...phew!     

Still fresh as it was just the first leg

Both the 30 km and the 60 km participants will be flagged off together.  By my reckoning, there were at least 500 participants and majority going for the 30 km event.  After a briefing by the MC, we were flagged off at 0700 hrs when it was first light.  The first leg was the 10 km run and it should be easy for me but I did not want to push too hard though.  I was keeping to my usual pace.  The elite runners were already way in front.  I covered under 53 minutes for my first leg and headed for my bike.  It was still not that hot.  I was hoping to keep above 30 km/hr throughout the bike event.  It was alright for the first 10 km and I was averaging around 30 to 33 km/hr.  I suddenly felt hardening on my left calf.  I ignored it and pressed on.  But it didn't go away.  I decided to stop by the side of the road to stretch my legs and by then, my right calf also started to harden too.  Fortunately, I can carry on after the stretching but I had to be careful not to pull any cramp. Momentarily, I was confused with the U-turn count.  We were supposed to count 4 U-turns but there were in fact 8 U-turns we had to make, considering we had to cycle from one end to another end along Coastal Road.  When I made my second U-turn, I double-checked with the road marshal and he confirmed the U-turn count started at his side.  I could have been disqualified had I turned in early.  There was head wind and the ride was getting harder and harder when my lactic acid slowly built up.  I was averaging lower than 30 km/hr for a good distance.  Unlike OCBC bike race, we can tag on each other but we will be disqualified once we were to tag on others.  We had been warned prior to the flag-off.  I was on high cadence throughout as I was hoping this would help somewhat in my run later.  Given after the 10 km run, the ride was made even harder.  Different muscle group was tapped for different event.  Mentally, I was preparing for the last 10 km run after the bike event and the weather was getting hotter by then.  Sure enough, it was hard running the last 10 km leg.  To avoid cramp, I decided to walk and run.  It was the toughest 10 km I had.  By then, I told myself that finishing was key.  I huffed and puffed until the last two km, I stepped up.  I ran past two runners in front of me to the finishing.  I was just in time for the prize presentation award.  The men's top three finishers went to two Caucasians and one young Malaysian man.  They clocked around 2 hours 30 mins.  The top two ladies finished just under 3 hours and one just finished a little over.  I clocked 3 hours 31 minutes to finish in 42th position of out 117.  I reckon it is not a bad result for an old man who had to compete with mostly young competitors.  I am satisfied with my result.  It was a good event and thumbs up to the organiser, Infinitus for a job well done.  I enjoyed every bit of it.      

The bike event

Monday, July 14, 2014

Puasa Month

Eid al-Fitr is known as the “Festival of Fast-Breaking”.  In Singapore we call it Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa.  Muslims have to observe a month of fasting, which is known as Ramadan and when it ends, Hari Raya Puasa celebration will begin.  In Malay, the words “Hari Raya” is called the “grand day of rejoicing” which falls on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.   

During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and indulging in any form of behaviour that serves to nullify the fast from dawn to dusk.  They are also required to perform religious duties such as reading the Quran.    

Days before Hari Raya Puasa, there will be a “Hari Raya Light Up & Celebration” along the stretch of road at Geylang Seria which showcases our proud Malay culture and other inter cultural events.  It is usually run for a month until the last day of Ramadan.  The light up is unique to Singapore’s culture which brings people from all walks of life, where everyone gets to interact and mingle in the spirit of Ramadan and Hari Raya celebrations. The place at Geylang Seria will be brightly lighted up and decorated with multi-coloured ornaments.  Street-side bazaars selling local food, clothes, batiks and other wares are also set up which attract not just the Muslim shoppers, the other races too.  Hard bargains can be heard in familiar local lingo, “lelong, lelong” over loud hailers by some enterprising stallholders.  Curious tourists who have read about our annual light up event can be seen making a trip to soak in the atmosphere.                

Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and it is a time of forgiveness for the Muslims.  The first day after Ramadan is usually a trip made to the mosque in the morning to recite special prayer and seeking forgiveness from the elders.  It follows later with home visits with the parents’ homes being the first stop.  Like the Chinese in preparation for the Lunar New Year, many homes are given a fresh coat of paint and new furniture is added.  In anticipation of visiting guests, plenty of savoury local delicacies are prepared for them too.       

Hari Raya Puasa is one of the most important holiday celebrations in multi-racial Singapore where many non-Muslims can be seen visiting the homes of their Muslim friends.       

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Youth Day

The idea of having an International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by a group of young people in Vienna, Austria during the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum.  The primary aim of declaring Youth Day is in concert with fundraising and promotion purposes, among others and to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with various youth organisations.

While ours is not for charity purpose of sorts and have been observed for more than three decades, it is a festival celebration for the youths here.  It was first celebrated on 18 July 1967 at Jalan Besar Stadium when Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) was launched by our first President, Yusof Ishak.  It involved some 24,000 from primary and secondary school in a two-week celebration then.   This has since metamorphosed into an annual event showcasing youth talents and involving more than 40,000 students typically in the month of July.

Whatever its purpose or aim, it is therefore safe to say that Youth Day is celebrated by many countries in the world to appreciate the youths’ achievement in each country for they are the future leaders of the world.     

Through the many initiatives of SYF, students of different ethnic backgrounds come together in celebration for building friendship, bonding and honing skills.  SYF has become an annual celebration in the month of July and without doubt, this year’s Youth Day will be celebrated on 6th July.   

Wishing all youths a Happy Youth Day!