Army Half Marathon

Pre-Race (2 wks before AHM)

After the last disastrous 22km run on 18 August, my ankle started swelling again. Not very painful, but the swell was enough to scare me into visiting a GP this time. As expected, the GP told me to stop running till my ankle recover fully. I was also given some medications for the swelling. It was really a torture not to exercise at all. To maintain my fitness, I went swimming on Monday and Tuesday. But swimming just isn’t the same as running. I was in need of a sweaty, heart pumping workout. So I hit the gym and hopped onto a stationary bike on Wednesday and Thursday. Rested on Friday, swim on Saturday and finally resume running on Sunday

The run turned up to be better than expected. I was immensely surprised that I was able to maintain an average pace of 5min/km for 17km, with the last 3 km at close to 4.30min/km.

Though I was satisfied with the last long run, I was still concerned about the fact that I only clocked 17km for the entire week. With less than 1 week to AHM, I continued with intervals (10x400m) with Jurong Safra on Tuesday and did my own tempo intervals (3 x 1.6km) on Wednesday. It was hard but glad that the time wasn’t too far off from target. and my ankle is still holding up. Thursday was a slow easy run covering 8.5km in about 50 mins. I wore my race shoes (Brooks T7) to test it out on the road. Rested my legs on last two days before race day.

Race Day (1 Sep 2013)

The day started at 2.45am for Jackie and I. My younger brother has kindly offered to give us a lift to the race site in the wee hours. We arrived at Esplanade at about 4 am and spotted a few familiar faces while we changed into our race shoes. After visiting the toilet and depositing our bags, we proceeded towards the race pen. Saw Zhilei and Yvonne hanging around the entrance, waiting to enter the race pen for seeded runners. I joined the two Safra ladies while Jackie entered the other lane to join the guys who have already made their way towards the starting line. Anne Qihui was already at Esplanade Bridge and we chatted with her for a while. Stella came not long after and we did a short warm up together. Soon, more and more army guys running for their divisions showed up too.

As more and more runners gathered at the starting line, we also moved on to wait on the road for the race to start. Scanned around the sea of runners and say hi to fellow competitors like Mok Ying Rong, Vivian Tang, Jasmine Goh, Baoying etc. There were a few Kenyan runners too. Seems like it’s going to be a fierce competition among the Women’s Open category. (I was in the Family Women’s category, which seems less competitive.)

The race started promptly at 5.15am. The elites dashed off in lightning speed and disappeared from sight almost immediately. I ran along following the rest of the runners, reminding myself not to start too fast. I could see Jackie, Andy and Alex ahead. I ran closer to the right side and threw away my bottle of water before slowly catching up with Yvonne who was ahead.

At the first km alert, my Garmin reads a pace of 4:06″/km. Too fast. At the second km, it reads 5:27″/km. Seemed like there was a problem in capturing the satellite. I decided to run based on my feel and look out for the distance marker instead to gauge my actual pace. As the crowd slowly dispersed, I could feel Kenneth, Trevor and Stella running behind me. Shortly after, Kenneth broke away from us for the portable toilet. I continued running with Trevor. I think we might have ran a bit faster because Trevor started commenting how to sustain the race pace. I was wondering the same myself, but I told him that it’s possible and to press on.

I continued running and managed to catch up with Ronaldo at MBS. Saw the 5km distance marker and did a time check, about 21:18 min! I was on my target of 4:15″/km based on the distance marker. However, since my Garmin has yet to reach 5km, the actual pace might not be that fast after all.

Probably the adrenaline has died down. I could feel myself slowing down as I exited Marina Barrage. It was pretty dark inside the Garden By the Bay (East). Someone clad in Safra singlet ran past me. It was Chia! (Our Vice Chairman from Jurong Safra) I wanted to follow him but I was struggling even to maintain the current pace which has dropped to 4:30″/km. So I gave up the idea to give chase.

It was only until I was at Tanjong Rhu Road, I suddenly found my wind back and began picking up a little. Spotted Poon Zili, but I was too tired to call out to him. Time check at 10km distance marker was about 44 mins. Much time has been lost since I slowed down quite a bit between 6km to 10km. I finished off my packet of gel and tried to focus on my run.

I was glad when I finally arrived at Nicoll Highway as it means that I am only left with a third of the race. I have found a pace which I was able to sustain comfortably (4:30″/km) and decided to stick to it. As I ran along Republic Avenue, I suddenly saw Baoying a few hundred meters ahead of me. Knowing that she was racing under the same category as me, I tried to increase my speed to close up the gap. As I entered Crawford St, I could see a few speedy runners over at the other side. Spotted Anne running strong.

Entered the tunnel and saw Alex Tiong and Chia over the other side. Finally reached the u-turn point. Baoying must have saw me as I could sense her speeding up right after the u-turn. I was still a distance away from her though, so I pressed on to try to catch up. Over the other side, I could see a few runners from Safra, Daniel, Melvin senior. They saw me and cheered for me too. I was tired and could only attempt a wave to acknowledge.

It was still dark inside the F1 pit. I could barely make out the outline of Baoying. I was breathing hard, and had no idea how fast I was running. I guess the race pace really doesn’t matter anymore now that you have a competitor to chase. With about 3km to the finishing line, I was getting closer but she was still going strong. It was only until Esplanade Bridge when I was finally just a step behind her. We were soon running alongside each other. I was gasping for air by then but with less than 1km away from the finish line, I was determined to give my very best.

At the final turn into St Andrews Road, I could hear Diana shouting for me. It was starting to feel a little congested here as I guess many 21km runners around me were all heading straight for the same lane catered for the 21km finishers. I was just a shoulder apart from Baoying then. As I saw the 200 m distance marker, I thought it was time to pull away from her. I sprinted and Baoying sprinted too. Her last surge towards the finishing line was amazingly strong and and before I could react, I was dropped within seconds.

I was surprised though to see the clock showing 1:30:33 as I crossed the finishing line. Certainly, the time must be wrong since I was definitely off my target race pace by a fair bit. Only after checking the Garmin, I realised that the distance was shorter than 21 km. So I guess, even though it was the first time I did a 1:30 something time for a half marathon, this best time wasn’t really consider a PB.

Nonetheless, it was certainly the best time I ever got for Army Half Marathon! And after a 8th position in 2011, a 4th position in 2012, I finally managed to squeeze into top 3 for my category! =)

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