Going The Distance

Completed a 10km run, checked! 

I always wanted to feel how it was like to participate in a large-scale running event, so I signed up 2 months prior to the event since my sister was running in the same event as well. Running such a long distance used to be such an impossible task, given the me who couldn’t pass the timing for 2.4km run during Senior High days. But since going through the training in BMT as a recruit, along with some occasional OTOT runs during the weekends, my timing for 2.4km dropped drastically, and I could feel my speed and stamina improving. But still, the training in army itself isn’t going to be sufficient in helping me complete that 10km run, so I had to do my own training. But where do I start…

After signing up, the next weekend I immediately went for a run since I didn’t have much time to train, not to mention that I had to start from scratch. I did a little research as well as read up in the library for any running techniques and anything related which would help me train up (can’t help the nerd inside of me LOL :X). So after which, for every weekend run I tried to increase my mileage by 1km, and running around the Kembangan track became a weekend routine. I didn’t have any secret training, I just ran and enjoyed being able to run and see civilization  instead of the various buildings and boring scenery back in camp. Also in camp, it’s hard to find a running buddy as literally no one likes to run in my platoon, so I’m forced to run shorter distances than I want to run. Originally my aim was to complete the 10km run within 50mins but I changed it to 55 mins after realizing how lousy my body was LOL. Unfortunately, I fell on my tailbone a few days while playing basketball in camp before the race, and I had to lower my expectations even further to completing it within 1 hour as sudden movement of the legs would incur pain to my back. But the race must go on, and I have gone too far to giving up due to just slight discomfort…

In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Hopping onto raceday itself, it was horrible to wake up so early on a Sunday morning, but I guess I would have to get used to it if I were to participate in future races. I properly hydrated myself, while munching on a banana, and off I went to the race venue. It was an exhilarating experience to participate in such a race, as they were thousands of people present at the venue. I met one of my signal mates there, as well as Scorpion 2IC Naja (you fucking kabai!). After a little warm-up, I was off to my first ever race, and the adrenaline was there. I started perhaps too fast, since I was overly excited and wanted a good timing. Along the route, there were drink stations to provide us with 100 Plus, and there were several volunteers who were cheering us on, which were both pluses and welcomed when you are tired and losing motivation. Around the 4km point, I started to slow down as the legs started to wear out, mainly due to me not pacing myself properly. As we moved onto the beach, running on sand was a total new experience to me, as more energy is required to spring forward as with every step, you sink into the sand. Coincidentally, I was on part of 24km route march to POP just a few months ago, nostalgic ttm! After passing the 9km mark, I was a little down as I knew I wasn’t at my best condition and my timing would probably be over the hour mark. To my surprise, I saw the big clock at the end-point and it was around the 58 min mark. Knowing that gave me some motivation and I sprinted forth down the final stretch, rewarding myself with the cans of 100 Plus and a banana given to those who just completed the run. I was too tired to do my usual cool down (which I regretted for a week), but there was this sense of accomplishment after finishing. Usually on a Sunday morning I would be at home sleeping, but for that Sunday, I was outside doing something which I have always wanted to do, run a race. After the months of training, I achieved my goal: Finish the race, along with a respectable timing, and learnt much more…

I only decided to pick up running again due to this event, and it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. Before, I used to run a little, but with little progress as I was stuck doing 2-3km every time I run due to my poor fitness level. After months of running during BMT through the dreaded AGR and speed training, my fitness level was well enough for me to have a good run for at least 30 minutes. Running has a lot of benefits and it’s like a all-in-one package for me. Running is one exercise which burns a lot of calories (STILL TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT), and feeling the rush of  “runner’s adrenaline” is what really makes me look forward to running. Also, when I run, it seems like it’s just the track in front me of me and nothing else, so it help me clears the clogged head of mines. I know that I may not be the type who looks like a runner, nor the fastest person out there, but hey I took up running as a hobby, just to relax myself from everyday life and participating in events give a sense of accomplishment, since not everyone out there can simply run that long distance.

So here’s a reminder to myself for future runs:

1) Have enough sleep

2) Drink lots and lots and lots of water the day before

3) Do proper warm up and cool down

4) Pace myself, wear a watch if needed

The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.

-John Bingham

Already looking forward to my next running event: 2012 Standard Chartered Marathon. Let’s go fighting!

No more training to be soldier. Life after BMT and Signals

Through basics, we excel! Speed through skills, SIGNALS! 

In a blink of an eye, I’m now close to being a 8-month soldier, and I’m 30% through my NS journey already. I haven’t really got to experience unit life as a whole, with memories of being a trainee/recruit still fresh in my head. Another one of those long due posts, and one that is worthy to mention since being an NSF takes up majority of my current life now haha.

After 4 months of being an REC, finally POP lo~!! And it was bittersweet after going through 17 weeks in Tekong with our bald heads. The 24km route march was the 2nd worst thing that I have gone through in the army (I just hated field camp). Foot blisters, groin abrasions, drenched in the early rain and sleep-deprived, all of us wanted to just finish the damn route march and enjoy our block leave afterwards. But this being POP, the motivation was there and spirits were high, so everyone pushed and completed the route march. The moment when we grabbed our jockeys caps and threw it in the air, it all finally made it worthwhile. BMT for me wasn’t really all that bad since I was in Scorpion: nice welfare company, SUPER NICE sergeants (huge respect), nice platoon mates. What more can I ask for? The thing which made BMT so special was that transition from being a civillian to a soldier, which was probably the hardest part and one which you would never imagined to feel like until you actually enlisted. For me, BMT is still the most enriching part of my dull NS life. I actually miss the physical training sessions which I used to dread, the talk-cock/HTHT sessions after lights off, the pigging out of snacks and cup noodles after RO, how we spammed Saboteur/Monopoly Deal during breaks. But I still hate wearing ILBV and any outfield activities. With how my unit life is looking to be like, BMT is going to be the most memorable thing I gone through (and toughest LOL).

me with my buddy happy POP-ing^_^

During BMT, the end-goal was to attend our own POP, so there was at least something to work towards to, and at least a sense of pride since the parade was to show that you have passed BMT. No SCS/OCS means there was nothing to work towards to; no POC, no Commissioning Parade, no rank, and stuck being a man. Of course I was sad that I didn’t make it to Command School, especially after working hard to pass my IPPT and SOC, but things can’t always go your way right? I could have gotten worse vocations, so don’t complain and just move on; life isn’t going to wait for you. I wasn’t really a leader type of guy anyways, so as a man, I just have to listen and do my job well. There are pros and cons to being a man, but many just think of the cons and forget about the benefits. And looking at my life now, being a man could have been the best thing that happened to me in the army (to be explained below :D)

Moving onto a life as a private, I got posted to Signal Institue (SI) to be trained as a signaller. I felt more like a student at SI, attending practicals and lectures everyday. Which other place would let you be in smart 4 all day long sitting in a air-conditioned lecture room, no wonder Stagmont Camp has always been referred to as “Slackmore Camp” because your life as a soldier isn’t supposed to be that slack. I actually hit my low in there (for many reasons) and there was absolutely zero motivation. I was sleeping during lessons and didn’t study AT ALL for any tests since passing was good enough. For some reason, I just didn’t see a need to study since there was nothing to work towards to. I’m studying about ancient radio sets and signal stuff which would be totally irrelevant once I ORD, so as what I deserved, I got below-average results. Physical training there was very minimal that they might as well do not conduct them, and as expected my below-par fitness level dropped even further. It didn’t help when you could buy bubble tea and deep-friend snacks during our breaks, and I gained around 8kg there (I’m not kidding >.<). In SI, I also got to communicate with different types of people in my platoon. As supposed to having mostly JC peeps during BMT, there are many different kinds of people that I have met with (but JC students still take up the bulk). From poly students, dropouts to NITEC, it was quite hard to get along with them at first since their mindset are completely different from ours, but as time goes by, these group of people also become easier to get along with. I missed the final exercise due to a sinus infection, which probably pissed off my sergeant but I still passed out of the course safely and it’s off to the final phase of my NS life, being in a unit.

And as we anticipated, most of the platoon got posted to 21SA. On the first day, I was already missing Stagmont Camp and dreading the new unit life. None of us knew what to expect, and the people there didn’t know what to do with us as well. At first sight, the place was just filthy and layers of dust covered the whole bunk. The sight of the toilet was revolting and I was thinking: “FML this is my home for the next 1 and a half years?!”. Fortunately, all of us cleaned it thoroughly and now the place is much cleaner. When we heard how our lives are going to be like, I was like “dafuq?” since it was the total opposite of what I expected. I wouldn’t be touching radio sets for a very long while, I wouldn’t be going outfield most of the times or doing force prep, nor I would be getting fucked while I’m being inducted into the unit. And army life just gets easier for me (the perks of being posted to HQ)…

Life at HQ 21SA is perfect for me, I get to OTOT exercise in the morning, do my own stuff during the afternoon and get plenty of admin time at night. Aside from the occasional sai kang that we need to do at times, most of the time I just sit in the room and rot till RO. When I thought BMT at Scorpion was slack, I experienced life at SI. And when SI wasn’t relaxing enough, I got posted to one of the best places for signaller. I always expected an army life where I would be running around and sweating outside in the hot sun; and I experiences culture shocks every time I got posted to a new camp. Since the whole signal platoon is going to stay together for the rest of our NS life, I have gotten closer to some of them. I still miss my BMT mates dearly and wish that they were here with me to slack around, but I get along good enough with most of the people here. Even the relationships with some whom I used to have conflicts with during our time at SI have improved. Of course, there would be one or two assholes who you just can’t get along with, but all the other people make up for that.

21SA HQ Signal Branch!

My NS journey may not be as colourful as all those who have gone through SCS/OCS or even normal man who have exercises everyday, but given the large amount of time, I intend to spend it well and improve myself even further. OTOT runs in camp, reading and learning Korean, and just making use of the time in camp. People always tell us to make good use of our time in NS since there is no escape, and for me the way of me spending it would be irrelevant to the army context, but whatever… Like one of the SMEs said, where else would you have 10+ other guys being in the same bunk together and be able to talk cock and do stuff together without being stressed about schoolwork etc. NS is also a mini break for me from school and I’m enjoying my brain being able to relax and not be cramped with useless information. After all of us ORD and get back the pink IC which we never really treasured, no one would really care about what happened in the army.

Still looking forward to ORD, but life’s good for now. Definitely contented with life now~ 😀