“Congratulations! You have been promoted to 2nd placing for SCMS 2012 in the local women category!” I received a phone call from SSC yesterday informing me of the official results. Ms Josephine Wang, the initial 1st runner up was disqualified as it was verified that she did not participate in the race. She has passed her bib to another participant. As such, all other winners’ rankings were shifted up by one position. This is good news for Stella and Yvonne too as they are now both 4th and 7th position respectively!
On Sunday night, Straits Times has contacted me and told me that other than the Champion, Anne Qihui’s results, all other women’s results were not confirmed. The reporter was trying to find out if I was being notified of this or if I knew what was the reason. My first thought was, “Oh no! They are going to penalise me for a missing split time at 40km mark. (Don’t ask me why the time was not detected. I’m very sure I ran the entire route. Garmin doesn’t lie.) Am I going to be given the 3rd place title, only for it to be taken away from me in less than 24hrs?”
No words could describe how I felt when I received the call from SSC yesterday confirming that I am in fact in the second place. Relief, delight and gratitude. A mix of emotions and it still feel so surreal.
And after all the excitement, I’m ready to sit down and start on this race report.
2 December 2012
Red and gold Christmas lightings were up and brightened up the entire Orchard Road. As there was only two race pens this year, i.e one for under 5 hrs and another one for above 5 hrs, Jackie and I decided to enter the race pen early so that we would not be too far away from the start line. At 4.30 am in the morning, there were already a crowd and we had to weave in between them to get as close to the front as possible. As we waited patiently for the marathon to start, I switched on my Garmin 20 mins before race start to locate the satellite. Almost got a scare as it was taking a much longer time to locate it. Jackie was also facing some difficulties in locating the satellite.
The marathon started exactly at 5 am in the morning. As I ran along with the crowd, I reminded myself not to be pulled by the faster runners and just stick to my own pace. I could see Yvonne way ahead. Jackie disappeared slowly into the distance while I settled into my targeted pace between 4:45-4:50″km with Freddy Tan, Stella, Chris and Kenneth. Trevor ran past and was soon a few meters ahead of us. After 1km or more, we entered an underground tunnel where I lost the satellite immediately. I recovered it shortly when we came out of the tunnel but the distance was not accurate anymore. We spotted Yvonne at around the 3 km mark and cheered for her as we ran past. Freddy Tan sped up and he broke away from the group. Freddy Yeoh from MF Safra caught up with us after the F1 track and we ran as a group along the Nicoll Highway, slowly catching up with Trevor who was still ahead of us.
When I checked my time against the 10 km distance marker placed along the road, I realised that I was already two minutes behind my target time for 10 km. I took a packet of gel and increased my pace slightly. The entire group of us continued to run together along Fort Road. I could feel the camaraderie among us as we entered ECP together. The company made the 42.195 km road seemed less daunting. It was dark inside the park. I heard Chris asking for the time at one of the water stations, and realised he has forgotten his Garmin.
We could hear some sirens from a distance and knew that the elite runners were on their return route. As expected, along came a group of elite runners running in a pack. A couple of runners staggered behind. At about the 15 km mark, we caught up with the speedy veteran Japanese lady, Itsoko. She has started very fast early in the race. Trevor seemed to be increasing his pace and knowing that I’m already behind my target by 2 mins, I tried to catch up with Trevor. We spotted Mok running alone on the other side.
As Trevor and I ran towards the lagoon, the day was noticeably getting brighter. We could see many more speedy runners on the other side of the road. Just after making a turn at 19 km mark, I caught sight of Trainer Ong who was running very fast and looking very focused. Gen came along and shouted for Baoying who was just slightly ahead of me and Trevor. Then I saw Richard, but he was gone in a flash before I could shout for him. I knew Jackie should be nearby and kept a lookout for him. As expected, he appeared not long after, still looking fresh and we cheered for each other. There were a few more male runners behind him, and then I caught sight of Sue Corser (Newton 30 km Champion) and Angie Tan (2nd runner-up for SCMS last yr). As I ran past the 20 km distance marker, I checked my time – it’s above 1hr 36 min. It was then I realised there was no way I could finish the marathon within my first target, 3hr 20min. Though I was disappointed, I was still feeling good and told myself not to think too much about the time, and just focused on sticking to the current pace. Excited that we are approaching the half-way mark, Trevor and I unconsciously increased our pace.
Finally, Trevor and I arrived at the u-turn point. Almost immediately after the u-turn, Trevor was saying he could not hold on to the pace anymore. I told him to hang on for just five more km. Spotted Stella, Kenneth followed by Freddy Tan at the other side not long after we u-turn. Cheered for my Safra friends while Trevor and I continued pacing each other. We managed to catch up with Uncle Gary from Tampines Safra. After exchanging words of encouragement, Trevor and I continued our run and soon we arrived at the lagoon. As we ran around the lagoon, I was surprised to see Sue Corser just slightly ahead. I caught up with her and encouraged her to press on. As I pulled away from Sue, I could not hear Trevor’s footsteps behind me anymore and I knew that he has slowed down. I continued the run this time alone and could not wait to hit the 26 km mark so that I could take my gel as planned.
As I ran past one of the Ekiden stations, I spotted Yeehua who waved at me. I was very happy to see her, but I could only managed a wave. I was beginning to feel the first sign of fatigue. I took out one of my hammer endurolytes so that I could take it at the next water station as planned. However, before I could pop it into my mouth, my hand shook and I accidentally dropped the precious salt capsule. I never been so glad that I had brought three extra endurolytes with me. (My plan was just to take one during the entire race.) I took extra care the second time round.
The sun was out, but thankfully the temperature was still bearable. It was pretty humid though. I was perspiring profusely and my running attire was drenched with sweat. At every drink station, I kept pouring the remaining water in my cup over my shoulders. I could feel myself slowing down, and true enough my pace was now hovering closer to 5 min/km pace. “No, I can’t slow down now, not when I have not even hit the 30 km mark.” I told myself to hang on and aim complete each km in under 5 mins.
Over the other side of the route was a sea of runners, mostly clad in blue singlets.There were also three Power Rangers running together and I could not help but smile when I see such colourful costumes. Si Qiang saw me and called out to me. Encouraged, I pressed on and finally I was past Big Splash and was approaching Carpark B1. The thought of leaving ECP cheered me up and I tried to increase my pace to catch up with Robson who has overtaken me along this stretch. Time check at 30 km: abt 2hrs 25mins.
The next part of the race route along the construction site was actually my most dreaded portion mainly due to my bad experiences in 2010 and 2011. However, having recce part of the race route during one of my long runs, I was mentally prepared to tackle this stretch. There were several runners in front of me and as more and more runners overtake me, I told myself to keep them in sight. It seemed like ages but I was finally out of the site and welcoming me ahead was beautiful greenery. Not long after I entered the park, I saw Trainer Ong just in front of me. He was no longer running. I ran up to him and asked if he wants to run with me. He declined but encouraged me to continue my run. Motivated, I pressed on and was surprised to see Angie Tan just slightly ahead. She seemed to be slowing down. I continued at my own pace and soon found myself running alongside with her. I could feel her picking up her pace as I ran past her. Finally, I managed to pull away from her after the 33 km distance marker.
It was just 2 more km to reach the bridge leading to Marina Barrage. The thought of seeing Jurong Safra volunteers (who had set up a support station there) spurred me on. I met Robson again along the way and I still remembered he said, 你不是人，你是女人! That really made me laugh out loud. As he slowed down to pose photo for his photographer friend, I decided to continue my run ahead. I could see the bridge from a distance. This is my last chance. To finish in 3:20 hr is definitely out of the window but surely 3:25 hr might be possible?
Adrenaline pumping, I crossed the bridge over to Marina Barrage. There were many cheerleaders and supporters there. Over at the drink station, I quickly took a cup of water to replenish myself. The supporters here were very motivating and kept cheering as I ran past. Few steps later, I saw Jurong Safra support station. It took them some time to recognise me, probably because I was not clad in the official safra vest. I smiled and waved at them but had to decline their offer for support items. There was no need for any gel, sng paos or drinks at this point, just seeing them gave me the strength to carry on running.
A few moments later, I caught sight of Morgan in front of me. He was walking. I called out to him and asked him to run together. I was really glad when he really started running with me. I had felt like slowing down then and his presence stopped me from doing that. Alas, after a while, he told me to run ahead without him. I continued the run alone again. As I approached 36 km mark, I was horrified to feel the first signs of cramps in my calves. It came so suddenly and took me by surprise. I might have gotten too excited earlier on, and has ran at a faster than intended pace.
As I adjusted my pace to mitigate the pain, along came Thow Wee and his friend. Both seemed very relaxed. “Looking good, Jieshi! You still look fresh! Keep going!” Thow Wee cheered me on before he and his friend overtook me. At that point in time, I so wanted to tell him I’m not feeling good at all. I am slowing down and I’m no longer sure if I could finish the marathon within 3:25 hr. Doubts slowly crept inside me. I cringed as I felt the cramps haunting each step I took. Fortunately, the cramps were still bearable and I could still continue to run, albeit at a much slower pace.
“No, I can’t stop now, if I stop I would not be able to start running again.” I psych myself to diminish the thought of stopping or walking. “Come on, you have already come so far, no way are you going to give up just like that.” Yes, I am not going to walk, not when my legs could still take it. Knowing that Jackie would be waiting at the end point for me made me even more determined to just keep moving, no matter how slow. I’m not going to let him wait too long for me.
I was very much relieved when I finally reached the next water station at the 37 km mark. I took another hammer endurolyte, hoping that it was not too late to help to keep my cramps under control. It seemed like an eternity but I was finally out of Gardens By the Bay, I was once again pounding on the road. I took my last packet of gel just before I approached the daunting Benjamin Sheres Bridge. It was so crowded here, mostly half marathoners. As I ran up the slope, I could felt the cramps intensified. I was dismayed when I saw that my previous 1 km took me 5:20 min. 3:25 hr target was slipping away from me. At the rate I was going, I was not even sure if I could beat my personal best (under 3:28) anymore. Suddenly, someone shouted for me from behind. I sort of guess that was Poon Zili. However, I was struggling with my cramps and did not dare to turn back in case I aggravate it. From where I was, I could see many runners mostly clad in SCMS running vests on the other side of the road. Esplanade seemed so near, yet so far. The road was so congested, how on earth am I going to get through it? Finally, it was down slope so I managed to pick up my pace again here, before I merged with all other 10 km runners.
Finally, I arrived at the last water station at the 40 km mark. I have to squeeze my way through to grab the water due to the crowd. I quickly took my last endurolyte and continued my run, weaving in and out of the crowd. Someone was distributing some fancy Christmas headbands. Turned left and came the slope up Esplanade Drive. It was even more congested here and I stick to running at the extreme left hand side where the orange cones were positioned. The finishing line was very near, I could hear the crowd cheering wildly. “Come on, Jieshi, you are almost there. You have to do your best to finish this race.” I psych myself up and pray hard that the cramps would not flare up.
As I turned right towards Padang, I looked out for the lane for full marathon runners and continued running straight ahead, praying hard that my legs would be able to carry me through the final stretch. By then, I knew the time was already passed 3hr 28min and there goes my chance to do a personal best. The finishing line was now just a few meters away, I could see the clock ticking seconds by seconds.. it reads 3:28:42. Knowing that I was very close to completing above 3:29 hr, I sprinted. I was determined to do my best for this race and every second counts. Only after that, I realised that in my pursuit for time, I had forgotten to pose for a nice finishing photo. Luckily, there were so many photographers along the way to help to capture the moments.
Completed my 6th SCMS full marathon in 3:28:47 (nett time). Not a pb, but definitely the best time attained in Singapore thus far. I have shaved 23 mins from my last year’s timing of 3hr 52mins. I was in a daze after that and someone handed me a potential winner tag, informing that I was third for my category.
The feeling of being on podium and sharing the stage with Anne Qihui was like a dream. I have came to the race with just an expectation to clock a personal best. I do not dare to think about the position (though admittedly a top ten would be nice) as it is something that is not within my control. The only thing I could control during the race is my own pace. I came to realise that in a marathon, it’s really about you and the target time and no one else. To emerge as one of the podium winners is a bonus.
I am really fortunate and extremely thankful to all my like-minded friends who have encouraged me along the way and made this race a less stressful but more enjoyable one. 一粉耕耘，一份收获。Super elated that my training efforts has paid off! 2012 has been a pretty awesome year for me.