April 26, 2012

Bedok PCN - Exploring, Fore Foot Running, PAIN!

Bedok Park Connector Network is part of the legendary Eastern Region PCN that connects the entire eastern part of Singapore. Bedok Reservoir Park is centrally located in this PCN connecting Pasir Ris to East Coast Park. My runs are generally focused around the Reservoir and I haven't started exploring the surround areas yet so I thought that it was time to try as my stamina was getting better.
Welcome to Bedok Park Connector!

My best buddy who got hang of my recent running efforts, sent me this video to encourage me to try out a new running method: forefoot running.


Honestly, I have never heard of all these different running techniques until I started to frequent running forums and learn about bare foot running (Ouch!). So I was thinking: Why not try it out, sounds logical! So off I went with 2 ambitious projects under my belt: To find a way to ECP and to try out a new running technique. Piece of cake!
The downward slope on the left leads to the PCN

Distance to ECP and Pasir Ris Park. Down the slope I go!
There is a canal between my home and Tampines, and the canal will discharge off into the sea at ECP where one of the park connector is located. You can run on either side of the canal and I naturally picked the side which I do not need to cross the bridge.

After a short 1km run, I saw this sign!

END OF PARK CONNECTOR! WTF!
My first reaction was: Is this it? The legendary PCN which is not really a PCN?!?! Where is the connection? After a few seconds of muttering expletives,  I started to wonder if the other side of the canal will offer me some clues on how to cross the expressway, but that is a 1km run back to the bridge and another 1km run to the expressway again. Oh well, here goes nothing.

On reaching the bridge back at the starting point, I realized that I missed a map while charging down the slope into the PCN. It seemed like I had run on the wrong side of the canal! Why do they even bother to build a running track in the first place if it leads to a dead end?!?  So across the bridge I went, down the slope and headed along the canal towards south again.

Map of PCN. Notice the bottom green line
terminates at PIE
Crossing the bridge to the other side of canal
Partway through the run, I am my calves are starting to hurt and I believed that it is the result of the forefoot running method, but nevertheless, I pressed on as I had only ran a "puny" 2.5km and I hadn't event discovered the route to the "New World" yet!
The dark lonely run... Nobody about...

This time round when I reached the end of the canal, a strange yellow road welcomed me.

The yellow brick road? Or stairway to heaven?
I initially thought that it looked like some inviting pathway to a nice cosy restaurant or casino, but it is actually the slope of the overhead bridge that will take me across the expressway. That's a nice thought by the urban planners as steps are really a pain for runners and cyclists.

I am on the TOP OF THE... EXPRESSWAY!!!
Standing in the middle of the busiest expressway in Singapore was an strangely exhilarating experience.  If I were to be in charge of the Singapore tourism board, I will bring tourists up to this bridge and I am sure they will be quite suitably impressed by the towering HDB, splendid road infrastructure and $100,000 vehicles speeding down the highway.

Running to the end of my bridge triggered an alert from my iPhone to turn back before I exceed my running distance. My calves were seriously hurting by now, and so I took a quick snap of the "world" across the bridge and vowed to explore them in the future. From the looks of it, it was dark, creepy and seriously might have a mugger hiding in the bushes ready to rob me of my meager possessions.
The unexplored PCN. Be back when I am healed!

The next morning was an agony for me. My calves were so sore that I had problem walking in a straight line. My friends were commenting that the calves of our legs actually act as stabilizers for the body thus, taking the train that morning was pure agony. Most Singaporeans will know that train rides on the older East West and North South line are not as smooth as before with many jerks and sudden stops every other kilometers. On a crowded weekday morning, there is typically few chance you can grab hold on any railings or handles to stabilize yourself. With my calves out of action, I was stumbling around stepping on people's toes and crashing into their shoulders and bags as the train jerked and hiccuped to my destination. Good thing that the crowd around me that day were solidly built men and thus preventing intense embarrassment from crashing into a pretty girl or an elderly folk. No more runs for me for the next few days until my calves heal.

For this post, I will not make much comments about the scenery of the run (It's too dark to see anything) or any interesting activities (There's not a single soul...) as I was fumbling for directions most of the time and trying to land on the front of my feet. I did learn quite a bit about running techniques after this exercise and I thought this website: The Science of Sport, brings much interesting insights on which running techniques are better and which running techniques, do top athletes use. My conclusions is: Don't try out a new running technique overnight, or you will suffer extreme agony and experiences like the ones I went through. 

Location: Tampines Bicycle Track / Park Connector, Singapore

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