7 December 2014
SCMS was my last race for the year 2014. Training has been pretty consistent this year. I began building up my mileage progressively after completing the KL half-marathon in October. The training phase this time was slightly shorter, so I was feeling anxious that I wouldn’t have time to clock the mileage require to do a good marathon. Thankfully, though the mileage was not impressive (much lower compared to last year), I felt fit and strong throughout the training phase and was pleased that I survived some of the toughest workouts. I even enjoyed the training journey this time.
It was with much excitement and anticipation when I stood at the start line at SCMS 2014 with many of the top athletes in Singapore. We were flagged off at exactly 5am in the morning together with the invited elites athletes from overseas. The elites shot off in lightning speed. I was the last among the pack. Strangely, there was no one behind. I turned around and realised that the organisers had once again hold back the general crowd. It was much later when I realised they were hold back by about 3 mins as compared to less than a minute last year.
But the race has already started for us, there was no time to be wasted. Rachel had shot off in top speed with her husband, Poon ZL and the rest of the local men. I could not even see her after the first bend. Ying Rong, on the other hand was running together with a friend and they were keeping behind the overseas female elites runners at the start. I was a distance away, already running at 4:30″/km pace, about 10 sec faster than my intended pace for the first km. Few minutes later, the overseas elites female runners sped up and soon the pack was out of sight. I saw champion Mok Ying Ren, taking it easy at the start and soon also sped up to chase the men ahead. Into the tunnel, I was the last person in the lot, and was glad to have at least Ying Rong and her buddy within sight to keep me company.
Not too long into the race, I could hear footsteps from behind. There were some African runners running at breakneck speed, probably trying to make up for the 3min gap. Then there were a few Ekiden Runners as well, all running their hearts out for their team.
Not too bad for the first 5km, as the average pace of 4:39″/km falls within the range of my target pace range, 4:35″/km-4:40″/km. I was feeling fresh and was happy to see more Ekiden runners overtaking me and cheering for me as they ran past.
I was reaching the F1 pit when I saw Richard ahead. He seemed tired and has slowed to a walk. He had initially ran past me, but was already wheezing. I ran a bit faster to catch up and cheer him on. Took it as a good sign when I saw him running again towards his pit stop to handover the slash to his team member. I ran on, out of the F1 track, looking forward to reach the 10km mark at Nicoll Highway where I planned to take my first packet of gel.
10km: 46:27 min
My race plan was to increase my pace slightly after 10km. Somehow, I found it difficult to do so. There was no one in sight for me to chase and there was no one behind me to urge me on. My running pace was hovering between 4:45-4:50″/km now. Gosh! It’s only 10km. I was losing focus earlier than I thought. I arrived at Fort Road, and was glad to know it that ECP is near. It was still dark in the morning and ECP was pretty quiet. As I ran towards Big Splash, I began to see more people standing at the side, cheering for the runners. It was heartening to see so many people sacrificing their sleep and rendering their support to the participants.
15km: 1hr 10min 14sec
I was definitely slowing down, by a good 30s as compare to the last 5km splits. However, unlike past years where I got all anxious about not meeting my target pace, this time I was at peace. I told myself to just go with the flow and not to worry too much about time. I don’t want to rush into chasing the pace and end up affecting my running form and suffered cramps again like last year. So a good part of my run inside ECP was doing periodic checks of my running form, body and breathing rather than chasing for 4:35″/km pace which I had really hope to do.
At about 18km mark, Ngee Hung, a veteran 3:10 marathoner whom I get to know after running the Gold Coast Marathon this year, ran past me, looking strong. I tried to keep him in sight but soon he vanished into the distance. I was running at an average pace of 4:40-4:45″/km pace and already found it tough to go any faster.
20km: 1hr 34min
21.1 km: 1hr 39min 23sec
I was reaching Bedok Jetty and I get to see the faster runners at the other side of the route. Spotted Mok Ying Ren followed by some local elite male runners, all looking very focused. Saw Rachel at close to the Outward Bound School. She was looking good, and running just slightly behind Baldwin. By then, I barely have the strength to shout out words of encouragement to them and all I could muster was a thumb-up sign. It seemed like an eternity when I finally spotted the u-turn. It was further away than I thought, and I estimated that Rachel must at least be a good 1km-2km ahead! She’s really that fast!
After the u-turn at close to 23km mark, I tried to look out for familiar faces on the other side of the road. I was surprised to see Trevor just a couple of hundred meters behind. He must have started really fast to close up the gap. I was really happy to see Jackie too not long after. He looked fresh and strong despite having no confidence that he could survive till the half way point. Me on the other hand, was beginning to feel the fatigue setting in. I pressed on, looking forward to the support station by Safra Tampines at around 26km. Along the way, spotted the first female athlete behind me, Xinyi (she went on to clinch the 3rd placing in a net time of 3hr 24min). Saw Jenny too who cheered enthusiastically for me; Ezann very focused in her run and many more friends from Safra running club along the way.
25km: 1hr 57min 52sec
I was glad to finally see Safra Tampines’ support station. Kevin saw me running towards them, and had a bottle of pocari sweat ready for me if I need it. I took a mouthful and returned the bottle to him. I continued running, determined not to let my pace dropped too much. Saw Lance and his group of pacers who cheered for me as they passed me on the other side of the road. I ran passed the chalets, passed Big Splash and finally arrived at Area B carpark. Spotted Huijun and her friend who cheered for me. It seemed like ages before I finally spotted the 30km distance marker.
30km: 2hr 22min 13sec. “12 more km to go. I can finish this.”
I was relieved to be out of East Coast Park but it was once again a lonely run as I turned into Marina golf course leading to the Gardens By The Bay. The sun was out. I pulled my shades down. I was counting down 1 km by 1 km and could not wait to get out of the area. There was probably just a couple of runners within sight. Just before turning out to Gardens By The Bay at 34km mark, I was pleasantly surprised to see an unofficial supporting stations with cups of coke placed on the table. Though it was tempting, I chose not take the coke as I had never tried it while running before. I pressed on, looking forward to Jurong Safra support station at Marina Barrage.
35km: 2hr 46min 26 sec
Crossed the bridge leading to Marina Barrage and was welcome with cheers from many supporters. It was also the official photo taking site so there were many photographers taking running shots of the participants.
Spotted some Jurong Safra club members from a distance and I got a milo Sng Bao from Ben. The ice cold milo was heavenly and gave me the much needed boost of energy. Ran past MBS and saw more photographers. I only threw away the sng bao when I arrived at the water station just before the Sheares Bridge.
Going up Sheares bridge was different from last year. Still the same long daunting stretch, but without the crowd this time as the organisers had changed the race route for half marathoners. It was nice and quiet. Except for one or two runners ahead, I had the whole road to myself. I was exhausted but I was excited to be less than 5km to the endpoint. As I run up the slope, I told myself to maintain effort and not worry too much about my pace. To be able to run non-stop up this bridge at a decent pace was one of my targets for the marathon.
From a distance, I could see a man in orange vest ahead. I recognised that it was Poon ZL. Suddenly, I could hear someone shouting my name! I turned to my right and saw that it was Jackie! He was walking by then, but still mustered enough strength to shout across to me to jiayou. I waved back to him and pressed on.
I looked at the time. No chance for a PB. But if nothing goes wrong, it would be a local PB for me, smashing the 3hr 28mins I did two years back for Singapore marathon. I finally caught up with Poon ZL just after the peak. I could see lots of runners running along Republic Blvd road. It was a long stretch of downhill from 39km until the merging point of all 10km, 21km and 42km runners. Before I knew it, I was turning into Republic Blvd road myself and I kept to the left side since I knew the last water station would be on the left hand side. It was a totally different world here after the merge. There were many runners grabbing cups of water from the drink station. I slowed to a stop to get a cup for myself.
40km: 3hr 12min 54sec
With just 2km more to go, I weaved in and out of the crowd as quickly as I could, hoping to get out of the congestion soon. Spotted Richard with Kien Mau along the side of the Raffles Ave road and they cheered for me just before I turned into Esplanade Drive. It was a torturous climb up the road but I knew the end was near once I reached the bend on top.
There were barricades dividing the runners into their respective categories and I looked out for the route for marathon runners. When I saw the sign that says last 200m, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Managed to smile and pose for a finishing shot just before I crossed the finishing line. Phew! Finally the race is over! Completed the marathon in 3hr 23min 51 sec and came in 2nd for the Local Women’s Category. Rachel who led from start to finish was the champion and she finished in 3hr 17mins.
Somehow, I felt that I could have done better and should have try to push a bit more to run faster. My mental strength was not strong enough and I kept worrying that I would suffer from cramps if I push too hard, too early in the race. Nonetheless, it was still a new local PB, smashing my previous course record of 3:28 by about 5 mins, so I am contented.
Here are some photos taken after the race.
Now that the race is over, I shall rest and take a short break before resuming training for my next marathon, Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which is happening on 25 Jan 2015. Wish me luck!