When I first signed up for this race months ago, I was envisioning myself to attempt a 4:15″/km pace for the 18.45km run. Why 4:15″/km? Because it has always been my greatest dream to go under 1hr 30min for half marathon and I had planned to attempt this pace for the upcoming half marathon on 4 Oct 2015.
Unfortunately, injury struck in August and my training was disrupted. I still train 4-5 times a week but at lower intensity and volume; switching to cross-training to replace some pounding on the roads. And just when I thought I was recovering well to head outdoors for runs, the haze came and interrupted my training plans too. I switched to running on treadmills.
So when I arrived at Sports Hub early at 4am for the race with Wong, Alan and Sew Hyong, I wasn’t ready to attempt 4:15″/km. Even 4:20″/km seemed daunting despite attempting this pace at Shape Run 15km in July. I wasn’t in top form and I decided that 4:30″/km might be a decent pace to start with. If I can at least managed a 4:30″/km pace, it will be a confidence booster to do a 1:35-1:40 half marathon for SCKLM.
Thankfully, the haze cleared. My plantar fasciitis is healing. Not 100% but at least no pain when I run now. I told myself to just enjoy the run and not to think too much about the time. To be able to run and breathe in fresh air, I should already be very thankful. With this mindset, I find myself relaxing at the start line.
When the race started, many runners zoomed past me in fast pace. I controlled myself and started at my own pace. Jasmine caught up not long after and was surprised I wasn’t chasing the front pack. I told her I’m taking it easy and asked her to run on. However, she held back the pace and I could no longer hear her behind me after a while. Boon Wee who was running alongside sped up to catch up with Trevor who was right ahead and they both disappeared into the distance. I continued running at my own pace, focusing on my form and breathing. My first km split reads 4:25″/km. At the first u-turn along Nicoll Highway, I counted about 5 females runners (a Kenyan, Japanese runner, Sakiko, two Caucasians and Jenny) ahead of me.
After about 4km into the run, we turned into Republic Ave and I saw Calvin from MF Safra not far ahead. “Good pace” I said to him as I caught up and ran alongside with him. I picked up the pace a bit and Calvin followed closely. “Nice to have company to run with.” I thought to myself as we found ourselves running together for the next 5 km to MBS, our pace maintaining at around 4:25″/km. I caught up with Jenny along the way and I cheered for her. But she was too focused in her run (and music) to hear me.
At along Gardens By the Bay, we spotted a small group of runners ahead, consisting of 3 men and 1 lady runner, all looking strong and moving at steady pace. (I came to know later one of them is Jon Cheal after he blogged his race experience and shared on fb. Nicely written article, read it here). Seeing the closely-knitted pack ahead, motivated me to speed up to close the gap in between. Calvin and I eventually caught up with them and we ended up taking the lead of the pack. Still feeling strong, we started to pick up the pace again as we approached Marina Barrage. At first, we could feel the group tagging along after we crossed the bridge. It was nice running in a pack and feeling the camaraderie shared as we preserved with our desired pace. I dare not slacken with so many of them hot on my heels too. Shortly later, Calvin and I managed to pull away from them and then it was just both of us again as we cruised along Gardens By the Bay East.
However, by the time we cleared Gardens By the East and entered Tanjong Rhu, I could sense Calvin slowing down and then I could no longer sense him behind me. A F1 runner ran on strongly and overtook me. I tried to keep him in sight.
By 14 km, I was beginning to feel the fatigue and my breathing got a little heavier. I was running alone and losing focus. My pace has dropped to about 4:30″/km pace, still within my target but I was getting a bit flustered as I was panting harder. As I passed by the 15km marker, Jasmine came running from behind. She was concerned and asked me if I’m ok. I told her I’m fine and asked her to run on. As Jasmine sprinted off, I have half a mind to give chase. But my fitness wasn’t there and with 3 more km to go, I have no confidence of keeping up with her at all. (weak mind, I know.) Anyhow, this was supposed to be a test run for me. So if 4:30″/km is what I have in mind, then I jolly well stick to it and not let the competition aggravate my heel pain. (excuses again =p)
The moment we turned out of the park, Jasmine was gaining speed and pulling away. I picked my pace and targeted to keep her in sight for as long as possible. Soon, we were approaching Sports Hub. It was still dark and there were a few twists and turns. I was grateful to have Jasmine ahead to follow. I could see her closing in on the tall F1 runner and running very strongly. I lost her as she turned into the stadium with the F1 runner.
“Press on, the end is near.” Finally, I was inside the stadium and pounding on the track. It feels good to be back here again. Completed the 18.45km (pretty accurate distance) run in 1:23:12. Average pace 4:26″/km (according to my Garmin) and finished 5th in the women’s open category.
Overall, I am satisfied with the run as I have bettered my target pace 4:30″/km by doing 4:26″/km instead. The pacing and run at the first two-thirds has went well. It’s a confidence booster for my SCKLM half marathon next week to clock a decent timing. The only disappointment was that I was not mentally strong enough. I did not have the guts to chase Jasmine after she overtook me at 15km and I just watched her go. Time to buck up on training and hopefully I can regain my fitness soon.