Great Eastern launched a 21km run in addition to the 10km run for the very first time this year. I signed up this race together with Huiwen thinking that it would be another good lead up race to SCMS in 3 weeks’ time.
I was looking forward to the race as GE has invited several elite runners from other countries like Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia to compete for the attractive cash prizes. Though my time taken to complete a half marathon is no where near their standard, the idea of racing together with these elite athletes was enough to excite me.
The runners in the elite category were flagged off at exactly 5.30am. The rest of the 21km runners were flagged off about 2-3minutes later. I spotted a few Kenyans right at the starting line with us and I knew it would be a stiff competition among themselves in the open category too.
Failing to achieve a personal best for my Army Half Marathon in early Sept, my aim for GE 21km is 1hr 35mins. Ideally, I should be running at an average 4:30″km pace throughout. However, after 2km, I realised I was only running at 4:40″km. I tried to increase my speed after that but found it hard to drop the average pace to 4:30″km even after 5km. The average pace seemed to hover at abt 4:36″km. And I wondered, am I getting lazy to put in that bit of effort to make sure I met my target pace or has fear settled in me to avoid pushing and feeling pain?
The day was humid and sky was still dark. Stella and I took turns to lead for the first few kilometers. We overtook a couple of runners as we ran up the slope of an underpass. A Caucasian lady caught up with us again as we made a sharp left turn to enter the Kallang Park. She fell back by the time we exited the park. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ben Swee and Joe taking photos of us when we approached Nicoll Highway. Their presence somewhat brightened up the quiet and lonely stretch. (We could only see a couple of runners ahead of us.)
Stella was now slightly ahead of me and I tried my best to keep up and not lose sight of her. At the 10km mark, I checked my time, 45mins 30sec. I am 30secs off my target. I took my gel at the 11km mark as planned. In my attempt to pull the gel out of my pocket, I dropped my car key. Luckily I felt it dropped before I lost it for good. Ran a few steps back to pick it up and made a mental note to keep gel and key separate the next time. Stella was even further away now, she seemed to be picking up speed. I knew I would take some time to catch up again with her and tried to quicken my pace. There was a u turn at the end of a road and I could see many faster runners at the other side. Motivated and somewhat energized after taking the gel, I sped up to close up the gap. It was a nice change of scenery after the u-turn. Sky was gradually brightening up and we were now approaching Gardens By the Bay East.
There was a drink station at the 15km mark and other than isotonic drink, I was also looking out for the Maxifuel gel which would be given at this point. Strangely, no one seemed to be distributing it. (Jasmine Goh later told me that she got the gel only after she shouted for it.) Seems like other than training my legs and lungs, I need to start training my vocal chords.=p
Stella was still going strong and I saw her overtaking a lady runner ahead. Shortly after, I overtook the same runner as well and was finally closing the gap between myself and Stella as we crossed the bridge to Marina Barrage. There was another female runner, clad in pink top and white cap ahead of us.
Spotted Joe again taking photos of us not far away after a drink station at the 17km mark. With about 4km to go, I suddenly got a new found determination to chase after the two ladies in front. However, Stella seemed to be slowing down. I cheered for her to press on for the last 4km before I set off to chase after the lady runner leading ahead. She was running strongly. I managed to overtake her at one point, only to have her overtaking me again at another point.
We were now at Esplanade. I was surprised to see Chris from MF there. Barely have time to chat, I continued my chase after the girl. I could hear Chris running behind me. As we approached The Float@ Marina, I saw the girl overtaking Ling’er and I increased my pace. I shouted jiayou to Ling’er when I caught up with the elite triathlete and was very much encouraged when she told me to chase after the girl. That really gave me a second wind and I pushed.
I thought I would be able to catch up with the girl before we reached the finishing line. Alas, the finishing line was not straight ahead where I thought it was. Instead, we were supposed to turn right into the field. As I stepped onto the grass patch, I knew there was no chance to overtake her especially when there was another sharp left turn before we finally see the real finishing line.
Completed GE 21km in 1hr 36min 42secs (nett time) and came in 7th for the open category.
Later on, as I congratulated and shook hands with the girl, I realised that she was actually Michelle Chay – the female runner who came in third for Army Half this year. She has improved a lot and I could not even see her at all during the run. I still remembered her from last year’s Army Half when we were running alongside for most part of the race, and she eventually completed a position in front of me. She has brought out the competitive streak in me during the race and made me pushed so hard till I got cramps when I finished the Army Half Marathon last year. A painful finish but a satisfying one knowing that you have given your all. I was just telling Laichee the other day that the only chance I got to see was her back view during races. A very strong runner, with very nice arm swings! I was happy to finally get to meet her face-to-face today. =)