What to do in Singapore from One Runners Perspective. A weekly series of daily itineraries : Day 1

I’ve been anticipating, since my return back from Singapore, to give you all the delicious details of my 10 day South East Asian tour. You can all now release your breath, find a cozy place to take a few minutes to read on about this one delighted, runners perspective on things to do and places to see to get the most out of your sightseeing trip when in Singapore. With the plethora of information, I’ve decided to write this in a weekly series of daily itineraries. Here goes Day 1….

After a 12 hour and 30 minute red-eye flight from Luxembourg with a brief layover in Zurich, I arrived with a loss of 7 hours compared to central European time. Since it was already evening upon my arrival to Changi Airport, I wasn’t expecting to get a full day’s activity in on night one. After an easy 20 minute cab ride, I quickly learned they use Singapore dollars, that pretty much everyone speaks English or at least Singlish, and the drivers side is on the right and the roads are driven on the left. Having passed many open aired trucks on the highway, full of construction workers retiring after a day’s job, I soon discovered the concrete jungle of high rises and constant construction growth to house the 5.6 million, multi-cultural, population of this island city-state. I certainly wasn’t in Metz, France anymore. Regardless of the population, the country itself is only 719 squared km (or 278 squared miles) and actually made up of a total 62 additional smaller islands. It’s a fairly new, independent country founded in 1959, so its architecture is not full of history. In fact, the whole financial district is fairly modern, full of sky rises with evening light shows but I’ll get into that more a bit later.

For those who don’t know, I’m was visiting my college friend Katie, who was on a 3 month work stint in Singapore, allowing me to take advantage of coming in the first place. So night one was dinner together on Orchard Road, the famously long shopping avenue in downtown and then immediately making an attempt to get a full night’s rest before a busy tourist day the next day. I slept maybe 4 hours and was up by 4am, a blessing and a curse that with age I’ve found jet lag hits me harder with long travel. Reminder: I was still in training for the Paris Half Marathon scheduled the weekend of my return home. Because it’s one degree north of the equator, you’re dealing with super heat year round with incredible humidity, it’s not the ideal climate for long distance runners. But I made the most of my jet lag and hit up the hotel gym and got a 5k interval run in before 7am. After a quick breakfast and having purchased a discounted online ticket for Gardens By the Bay, that included the sky walk, I set out for my first day’s adventure by bus before 9am. By the way, public transportation is superb and incredibly affordable, something I used frequently to get to and from a lot of my adventures because it’s just too hot to run around everywhere

Gardens by The Bay


Pic 1: Supertrees, Pic 2: The Singapore Flyer, Pic 3: Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Near the marina, this eclectic garden mixed with modern day Supertree apparatuses, houses indoor and outdoor botanical beauties. Placed in between the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer, you can get some great photo ops of the iconic structures. My first stop after a short walk around the outdoor gardens was to hit up the sky walk, as recommended seeing before peak day to avoid the heat from the sun. After, I made my way towards the two indoor conservatories; first, the Cloud Forest which encases a 35m (115ft) indoor waterfall and second, the Flower Dome which is the world’s largest column less and eco-friendly glasshouse.


Pic 1: Sky Walk, Pic 2: The Cloud Forest, Pic 3: The Flower Dome


Merlion Park

From the gardens, I made a brief walk over the helix bridge towards Merlion Park. Along the waterfront with another spectacular view of Marina Bay Sands, sits an impressive 8.6m mythical, half lion/half fish, water spewing statue. The landmark is the Singapore mascot.


Merlion Park


Hawker Centre Food Courts

With almost a half day spent, I was getting hungry and found myself making my way towards Chinatown with a pit stop at one of the famously known Hawker Centre Food Courts. Each court has numerous stalls housing authentic, local and nearby cuisines for mere dollars. For sure, should not be missed.


Ramen


Chinatown


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum


33% if the Singaporean population is Chinese and Chinatown keeps authenticity close to home with its several temples, most famously Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Amongst the magnificent 4 story temple are several, narrow, mostly pedestrian only streets that have negotiable markets for souvenirs and fruit stands where you can try a piece of the stinky Durian fruit. After 13 miles of walking, a little shopping and quenching my thirst with a couple Tiger Beers, I met back up with Katie and we made our way to the river for dinner.


Chinatown Streets


Clark Quay

A great area for specialty food and cocktails with a peaceful view is Clark Quay along the river. Clark Quay is home to several restaurants with most providing specialties of Singapore including the soft shelled crab. The crab is stir fried in either pepper or tomato based chili sauce. Paired with sticky rice and garlic spinach, this meal is as messy as it gets but a sweet memory of flavor and fun that I won’t soon forget.


Katie and I having chili crab in Clark Quay


Stay tuned for next weeks blog when I make a venture to Sentosa Island!


Sentosa Beaches


Work Hard, Play Hard

Hello All! I’m back!

Last you heard from me I ran the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. It’s now November. I took October off from the blog, and for good reason, as I was resting, recovering, and then partying along the east coast of the USA.  

After Berlin my father, who came to watch me run, stayed with us in France for a couple weeks. So a few trips were made around Europe until we all flew back to the US the second week of October.

In this period of time (5 weeks), I’ve visited 11 specific cities/towns, 10 states, 5 countries, and 1 district. Amazing! I can’t imagine covering all of it with you, nor do I want to bore you, but I’ll do my best to make a brief recap for ya. 

This week will be Part 1: pre-USA.

Colmar, France 

Quaint town on the eastern side of France, close to Strasbourg. Known for alsascien architecture, cuisine, and the seasonal Christmas Markets.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise

Alsacien Food

Alsacien Food

Colmar, France

Colmar, France

 

Nancy, France 

I’ve visited Nancy, which is 45 Minutes south of Metz, before on my own (click here to read about it). However, I liked it enough to bring my dad down to see it for a day.

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation

Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation

 

Verdun, France 

Known for it’s WWI battle, the small village holds several memorials for the French Military.

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Duoaumont Ossuary

Duoaumont Ossuary

Le Fort de Duoaumont

Le Fort de Duoaumont


Luxembourg 

A small country that boasts beautiful countryside and plenty of historical value throughout.

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

Château de Vianden

Château de Vianden

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Inside Beaufort Castle

Inside Beaufort Castle

 

London, England 

A place I’ve been to several times, but my dad has not. We decided to cross the channel for a weekend.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

The Mall

The Mall

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 

I’ll continue Part 2: USA next week where we trekked along the east coast for 3 weeks!

Recap: ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg 

This past weekend, I ran the ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg. The race included a half marathon distance, full marathon, and a team relay marathon. I opted for the half while Julien did the full. 

Me and Julien at the start

Me and Julien at the start

First off, as I mentioned in last week’s blog Tips for Hot Race Weather, it was going to be a hot one. And it was so incredibly hot. At race time which was a 7pm start (remember it’s a night run, however the sun was still blaring up for a good hour and a half into the run), the temps were at 88F/31C. Holy Moly.

Getting to the start was a little chaotic. The highway closed the ramp to Kirchberg from the French side, making everyone detour with poorly visible signage, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the area. Once making our way back to the city, we discovered most parking was brought to a single lane entrance to the nearby shopping center. This was slow and frustrating dealing with parking for 15,000 runners.

Leading up to race day, I was drinking 4L of water. On race day, the steak continued and then some. I initially wanted to wear shorts, basically wear as little articles of clothing as possible, but even on the walk from parking the car with 2x application of chaffing gel, I knew my thighs wouldn’t let me run in shorts. So I switched quickly into some Capri leggings in the bag drop off area.

The start and finish of the race is at the LuxExpo in Kirchberg, Luxembourg. It’s a huge hall to fit the finish line, which was indeed inside, food court, bag drop off and even temporary showers were brought in on trucks. 

My corral

My corral

A little sign of encouragement

A little sign of encouragement


The start had 7 corrals mixed with the two distances plus team relay, I was in 5th and it took me close to 15 minutes to cross the start from the gun. The race organizers reminded us to take it easy with the temps and actually introduced an additional water stop starting early at the first mile instead of at the first 5km, then they were placed approximately every 2km. Each station was mostly well stocked with water, electrolyte drink, energy bars and oranges. Here is where I saved myself, besides starting about 30 seconds slower pace than usual, I took always two waters (one to drink and the other to pour on top of my head) and at every other stop I took an electrolyte drink. And with this routine, I saved myself from cramping or worse heat stroke. 

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

The course is relatively wide open through Kirchberg, running through the main roads that were blocked off to traffic and stayed mostly flat. Heading over the bridge towards Glacis Parking, we caught a glimpse of the elite making their way back. I heard that even the elite were up to 15 minutes off pace due to the temperature too. 

The atmosphere at Glacis was a big party with flamenco dancers, drums beating, drunk spectators everywhere screaming and cheering you on. It seemed like an awesome time! We then made our way through the luxurious neighborhoods of Limperstberg, where the one way streets became a little narrower and fresh legs were turning over for the first exchange in the team relay. The neighborhood really gets into the spirit though and so many kind neighbors brought out water hoses for the runners while they laughed and casually sipped Champagne. Again, if I wasn’t running, this seemed like a really good time! 

Heading back towards Glacis we made a turn into the Public Park. Here the race track got super narrow and made it impossible to pass other runners, so you were stuck for a bit with a controlled pace, which I didn’t mind all that much as I already adapted to not setting PRs and just to have fun. 

Then we made our way into the old city center. This was easily my favorite part of the race! We split off from the marathoners at Place de Guillaume by the town hall and the half marathoners took a turn towards the palace and city bars where people yelled, cheered, and even did the wave. Really next year I may seriously need to consider being a spectator, it was such a party. 

Passing by one more time through Glacis, we made our quiet exit back over the bridge towards Kirchberg again. Here I started to see several runners starting to crash and burn, requiring serious medical attention with still 5km to go. It was eerily quiet as we lost a lot of the spectators and the course started a slow, progressional incline back to the finish. I can see why this could play havoc on dehydrated individuals. With about 2km left to go, we saw the first male marathoner making his way back at about 2:06. Its astonishing what these professionals can do. Finally, I made my way back towards the expo, where a crowd surged again right before the finish. The actual finish line was 200m inside the expo with a big blue carpet and disco lights and loud music. It was super interesting and helped me get inspired to sprint my tired legs in for a 2:12 performance. With easy access to finishers medal, drinks, showers, and bag access, the race organizers really thought of everything. 

Course map courtesy of ING

Course Map courtesy of ING


After the finish, I met up with my friends Lindsey, who finished her first half marathon, and her husband and another friend Aline, who participated in the team relay, for some celebratory beers while waiting to cheer on Julien in the full marathon. 

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two


Overall, a moderately challenging race that got a bad rap due to the heat.

Julien at the finish

Julien at the finish

Me at the finish

Me at the finish

Tips for Hot Race Weather

I’m running the ING Night Half Marathon this upcoming weekend. And here’s the forecast…

Dang it, that’s hot. (That’s 30C btw.) If you remember, I prefer winter or cold weather training over heat. And not so lucky for me, this will be the hottest I’ve experienced come a race day. 

So I’ve scoured the internet to find the best advice to prepare for hot race weather. Here are my favorite tips that I’ll be following:

1. Hydrate Well Before Race Day

That means I’m having half my weight in ounces daily or enough that my pee is mostly clear.

2. Eat Cool Foods Come Race Day 

So for breakfast I’d have yogurt, lunch salad, cold fruits for snacks, etc. Any attempt to keep core body temps down, I’m game.

3. Wear Light Colored Clothing

Dri-wick and lightweight fabrics will be key to help keep air curculating. 

4. Alternate Water and Salt/Electrolytes at the Aid Stations

I’ve found a lot of Europe races don’t provide sports drinks at water stops or at all. That’s why it will be essential to bring salt sticks or packets in my belt to help prevent cramping.

5. Keep Head Cool

Also, in addition to taking liquids at each aid station, it’s advised dosing head with water to keep cool. 

I’ve read for every 5F above 60F, pace can drop anywhere from 20-30 seconds per mile, so start times and expectations should be lowered. So as opposed to running for time, I’ll be using rate of perceived exertion to determine my pace. No joking aside, I’d really like to avoid heat stroke this race! I’m not looking forward to the temps but I’m looking forward to having fun. Overall, my goals are to prevent cramps, avoid hyponatremia (too much water, causing sodium imbalance), and to cross the finish line. 

Running versus Life

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind and that’s not the best plan of action while training for a marathon.

For Christmas, I traveled back to the US to Boston. I was able to get 3 runs in and a strength training workout. In the meantime, I focused more time and energy seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen in 6 months or longer. There was a wedding, winter park outings, friendsmas dinners, Christmas shopping, and chocolate martinis.

Then this past week, I returned home and I had a friend from NYC fly to France to visit and do some sight seeing. I made 3 out of 4 runs but my strength workouts fell to the wayside. The fun part about my long run this week was my friend Liz, who ran the NYC marathon in November, was able to run with me. Training and having a life and making memories are difficult to accomplish at the same time. However, I’m going to not be too hard on myself. My legs keep moving, my lungs are strong and I’m completing 75% of my workouts while allowing myself to take a few days off to spend time with friends. I think it’s a fair trade off for my mental health as well. I was able to have fun and I’ll be back on track this coming week, that’s what counts. 

Being back home, I was able to show Liz European Christmas markets, Strasbourg,  Luxembourg castles, NYE the French way and a couple days in Paris.

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Enjoy life and then get back on the horse!

Recap: ING Route Du Vin Half Marathon

Sunday September 25th I ran my something upteen half marathon. The race was the ING Route du Vin in Remich, Luxembourg. This was my second race since living in Europe. 


This race was the 55th edition and is the oldest race in Luxembourg. The race is an up and back Route, set parallel to the Moselle River in the wine region of Luxembourg. 

  

To be absolutely honest, I signed up for this race because in your goodie bag you get a free bottle of Crémant sparkling wine from Cave Gales Luxembourg. I mean, hell ya! Along with the Crémant we also received a running belt and a bunch of snacks from Powerade. I also mentioned in previous posts feeling the post race blues after the Paris marathon and seeing how the half is my favorite distance, it all came together.

Remich is a gorgeous city. The start and finish is along the river and the street is lined with restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. As I’d never been to the town I was a bit disappointed I had to run a race instead of enjoying the weather with cold beers.


My only qualm about the race was a 3pm start time. With the weather reaching 24C/75F and not much shade, the peak of the heat hit the runners in most of the first half of the race. However, this race was very well organized with water stops every 5k and a fruit stand with cola during the last 2km. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how many spectators came out to support at the start, halfway and finish with a few scattered at some of the Wineries and hotels along the way. But in all honesty the view was really spectacular. With the river and people boating and water skiing along one side and the hills full of vineyards on the other side,  you feel at peace with all the nature and beauty. The heat was still uncomfortable but the scenic, flat course on a sunny day was something really to be admired. 


I finished the run 4 minutes and change faster than my planned 2:15 finish. Yay! Now the next step is finding out in October if I’ve made the lottery for the London Marathon which would be April 2017. Keep your fingers crossed!

Achilles, what a pain in the heel

I’ve got 11 days until my next half marathon. This past weekend I went for an 11 mile run. Exactly half way through, I started getting right calf tightness. I stretched, I continued to run and this process happened probably every half mile for the remaining 5.5 miles. As I continued the discomfort intensified. I was able to finish but my calf, and into my Achilles, felt like there was a tourniquet around it. The pressure was intense and I knew I had to do some serious foam rolling in my future. I have to admit, I’m my own worst patient sometimes and have not been rolling throughout training, so this issue was likely brought on by my own actions, however I would like to teach you some preventative and rehabilitative protocols you can follow to reduce your chances of developing Achilles injuries.

Anatomy


The calf is comprised of a few muscles: the smaller plantaris and the bigger gastrocnemius and soleus. The muscles combine together distally before the heel bone to form the Achilles tendon (the connective tissue of attaching muscle to bone).

Function

The calf helps to push the foot downward (the gastroc with the knee straight and the soleus with the knee flexed), like a ballerina pointing her toes. This is called plantar flexion. The gastroc and soleus also assist in bending (flexing) the knee. The Achilles tendon itself is like a spring and is responsible for storing kinetic energy for power moves like jumping and sprinting. 

Achilles Injury Causes

A typical injury can be minor (tendonitis) which can be treated conservatively to quite severe (full rupture) which requires surgery. The cause for injury stems from two possibilities: structural tightness and mechanical instability.

When putting the foot under load (weight bearing) the muscles and tendon will need to both shorten and lengthen in different phases of gait, therefore one must have adequate flexibility of the tissues. The foundation, bottom up typically the forefoot which is made up of the big toe and arch and top down the pelvis, must provide stability to demonstrate efficiency of movement, again through different phases of gait.

Treatment

A physical therapist can help to determine your root cause (too tight or too unstable) but acutely (the first 48-72 hours after injury) you can start with the RICE treatment. R: rest, no running! I: ice, 10-20 minutes until skin turn pink, can be done several times throughout the day. C: compression, can be stockings or compression socks if there is swelling. If no swelling, massage. E: elevation, raising the foot above the heart to use gravity to eliminate swelling.

In the sub-acute phase (48 hours to 6 weeks), we can start to work on lengthening the tissue with stretches and soft tissue mobilization. Secondly, we can work on foot and hip stabilization. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, the late phase (6 weeks to 12 months), load and agility will be the focus for return to sport. *This phase and the sub-acute, for proper return to sport, should be done with a trained professional*

Exercises

To lengthen the tissue, begin with gastroc and soleus stretching. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds 2-3 reps, 2-3 times per day. 



Incorporate foam rolling or trigger point massage with the use of a dense ball (lacrosse ball works). Sit on floor and place leg on apparatus, applying body weight and begin to roll from heel to back of knee. When finding a tender spot, hold pressure for 20-30 seconds while flexing the foot up and down. Repeat process on each sore spot found. 


Regular deep tissue massages can be helpful in prevention, and if you are near Luxembourg you can book directly online with me at LuxChiro.
To stabilize the foot, begin with 3 point single leg balance. Stand on one foot with the opposite leg reaching out to a 12 o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds, shift non-weightbearing leg out to 3 (or 9, depending if you are on the right or left) o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds. Lastly, shift leg to 6 o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times in each position for each leg. 


To work on eccentric lengthening, start with a small step (2-8 inches). Step onto stair with heels off edge. Begin with both feet in a stretched position and push heels up by putting weight on toes. Progress to single leg with knee both straight and flexed. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. 


For pelvis, try sidelying and putting yourself into a modified side plank. Raise the top leg up straight, keeping hips stacked and toes toward floor. Work your way up to 3 sets of 10 on each side.



Footwear

See my previous post on selecting the right footwear A PT’s Perspective on Running Shoes

I was lucky my injury was not too severe, and has resolved in 72 hours with foam rolling, stretching and not running. My 5 miles today were a breeze and I incorporated the strength training after my run as well. Lesson learned and thankfully not too late.