Weather was fine when I left home early at 3.50am for GE Run at The Float @ Marina Bay. Very nice of my brother to send me to the race site so early in the morning. Said goodbye to Jackie who set off from my place to clock his 38.5km long run. He has plotted his route and his last stop will be at Fort Canning where he will walk over to The Float @ Marina Bay to meet me after my race.
I arrived at the race venue at about 420am. Though it was still early, there were already many participants around. I took my time to put on my race bib, deposit my bag and visit the toilet. Close to 5am, I did my warm up and proceeded to the race pen. The race pen opened shortly after and participants started streaming in. I managed to take my place close to the starting line. A while later, noticed Kaifen standing behind me and urged her to join me in the front. Chatted with her as we waited patiently for the race to start.
Soon, elite athletes also entered the pen from the front one by one. Spotted Anne, Baoying and Ling Er, our three local elite athletes representing Singapore under the Elite race category (this category was by invitation only whereby they will compete with other elite athletes from other countries like North Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.) It was also the second year Great Eastern have created this category for the event.
At 5.30am sharp, the VIP flagged off the elite category while the rest of us in the open/closed categories watched them from the start line as they faded into the distance. We were flagged off 5 minutes later (instead of previous year’s 2 minutes). Three female Kenyans sprinted ahead in rocket speed and soon disappeared from sight. A few more female runners also whizzed past me and ran fast ahead. I recognised one of them as Jenny Huang from her running style. Man, she was fast! And moments later, she was way ahead. As I was already running at about 4:20″/km, I thought it wouldn’t be wise to give chase. Overtook a lady who might have started a tab too fast earlier. The first hydration station came less than 2km into the run.
Spotted the three Kenyans running together in a pack on the other side, led by the cyclists not long after we ran out to the main road. At about 2km, I did a U-turn. Ms Leo (my basketball teacher cum coach from JJC) who was on the other side of the road shouted out to me and gave me a high-five as we ran past each other. Happy to see her this year again. Received plenty of cheers from the female participants as more and more turned into the same road.
Jenny was in the lead (for closed category) while I was second and some distance away from her. Since it was still early in the race, I decided to just keep her in sight for now and hopefully catch her at the later part of the race. At the next hydration point, after 4km mark, I was getting closer to Jenny. However, I realised my current pace has dropped to 4:25″/km pace. Seems like both of us were slowing down. There was no one closing behind us, so I was glad I had Jenny in front for me to follow.
It started drizzling which was good as I always have a problem with humidity. Saw some lightning flashed across the sky though and prayed hard that it would remain a drizzle and it wouldn’t start to pour while we were running.
It was still early in the morning and it was kind of dark inside Kallang park (the same park I ran last week at Nike Run). At a junction, a route marshal told us to turn right and head straight. The road led us to Mountbatten Road. I was a few metres from Jenny now, and I know I would be able to catch up with her soon.
Few metres become a few steps. we made our way onto the pavement as there was some constructions on going on the road. Managed to overtake her when we came down the curb and returned to racing on the road. I called out to Jenny to press on and hang in there and she encouraged me to go on too. As I was far from my target of hitting average 4:20″/km pace, I tried to speed up. Ran and ran and saw Kim Lai at a cross junction. Waved and smile as he took my photo. Soon, at about 8km mark, I was back on Nicoll Highway again. With a few inclines and declines, this race route was turning up to be more difficult than expected.
Without Jenny ahead and hardly any route marshals along the race route, I was kind of worried that I will be running on a wrong route. Thankfully, every time I thought I was lost or feeling unsure, a marshal would suddenly appeared at different junctions to clear my doubt. Good deployment of road marshals by organisers I must say. It was also easy to follow the barricades when there are no marshals around. As I gradually break away from Jenny, it was a quiet and lonely race against myself.
Close to 13km, I did a sharp left turn into a park. As I ran on, I noticed a female athlete clad in black top from the elite category not far ahead. Speaking in Mandarin, we chatted briefly and I ran on. At the same time, I could see Jenny turning in, still looking strong. She was retaining her 2nd position. She was still a distance away but I couldn’t help but quickened my steps in case she gain speed and suddenly catch up at the later part.
I ran on and finally reached Tanjong Rhu Road. By then, I could no longer see Jenny. Relieved that there was no one hot on my heels, I relaxed a little. The sky was gradually turning bright. The cool morning has drawn many early birds out for a jog or a stroll. A few of them cheered for me along the way. Though I was happy that I was in the lead, I was not quite satisfied with my run as I was running more slowly than before, with my current pace dropping to 4:30″/km and more. Where is that motivation and fighting spirit to get the best time possible? I recalled running together with Stella at the same event last year, and we kept each other going for most part of the race. And also the recent Army Half Marathon where I have got Baoying to push me to run my lungs and heart out at the last few kilometers of the race. In other races, there were usually more runners to chase too.
My average pace dropped to 4:27″/km then. Far from my target of 4:20″/km. Better not let it drop any more! I ran on, running comfortably hard towards Marina Barrage where the next hydration point will be located. I was greeted with many friendly photographers and cheerful volunteers the moment I ran down the bridge. I grabbed my drinks and continued running, smiling at all the cameras I saw along the way. Ran past MBS and I spotted Ling Er not far away ahead, running steadily.
I tried to speed up, hoping to catch up with her. Continued my chase along Marina Boulevard and finally caught up with Ling Er just before we turned onto Esplanade Drive. We exchanged some encouragement for each other and then I pulled away to conquer yet another short but steep slope up the bridge. Up and down. Reached the foot and there was a sharp left turn. Had to watch my steps as the ground was wet. It was less than one km to the finishing line! And once again, there were many photographers snapping away.
Saw Ken standing at the side, holding up his handphone. He is probably here to cheer for Emily. Waved at him as I ran past (only to realise later that he was actually taking a video of me.)
Down the ramp and saw the time on the clock counted to 1:39:00 as I crossed the finishing line. Distance was very accurate with 21.18km registered on my Garmin. Official time for my half marathon was 1:34:13 since we were flagged off about 5 minutes after the Elite Category.
Am very happy to come in first for closed category too! Thank you GE Women’s Run for adding this new category and gave non-elites runners like us a chance to be on podium!