Rachel and I attended the GE Run race briefing on 31 Oct, a day before the race. The race briefing was held at Ritz Carlton. We had decided to sign up under the Elite category since we were also racing in this category last year. I must say the organiser was very generous this year. W were offered a free one night hotel stay at Ritz Carlton each and we get to choose to stay either on Saturday night or Sunday night. Since I stayed in the west and always had to trouble my brother to give me a lift to race site on race day morning, I opted for Saturday night for ease of travel.
At the race briefing, we get to meet 13 overseas elite runners from North Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. It was also then we realised that local elite runners, Vivian Tang, Mok Ying Rong and Lim Baoying are also racing under the Elite Closed category. Despite a smaller contingent compared to last year, it’s gotta be a tough fight for a podium finish. *sweat* Whatever have I gotten myself into?
After the race briefing, the few of us hang around to chit-chat while the organisers brought the rest of the overseas runners out to recce the race site. It was nice catching up with Baoying and Ying Rong over light snacks and coffee (both have opted to stay on Sunday night).
1 November 2015, race day
The race started promptly at 5.30am at Singapore Flyer. When the horn sounded, the front pack consisting mainly of overseas runners dashed off at lightning speed towards F1 pit. I was the last in the field, with Baoying slightly ahead of me when we exited F1 pit. Rachel and Vivian were some metres ahead of Baoying.
My first km was over in 4mins 15 secs. I had wanted to start at 4:20″/km but adrenaline got better of me (and also I did not want to fall too far behind the rest). 2nd km was even faster at 4:08″/km. I knew then I have to slow down or risk crashing out later. By 3km, the strong field has staggered, with most running alone or in pairs. I could still see Rachel, Vivian and Sakiko ahead but they were building up their speed and gradually pulling away from Baoying and myself.
By 7km, my pace eventually dropped to 4:20″/km. By then, I only have Baoying, who was just ahead of me for company. My target was to maintain my pace and to keep her in sight for as long as I could. It was heartening to receive cheers and encouragement from the runners from the opposite side of the Nicoll Highway i.e Jenny, Jasmine, Peyling, Ms Leo, pacers etc. They were in the general category and were flagged off 3 minutes after 5.30am. All of them look fresh and strong. Anne, who is back racing was in the lead pack of the general public category.
At 9km, I ate a packet of gel. I was glad to finally leave Nicoll Highway and running toward Sports Hub. From far, I could see another competitor ahead of Baoying. But there were lots of twist and turns and I lost sight of her shortly after. I pressed on, determine to stick to my race pace for as long as I could and keeping Baoying in sight.
By 12km I was feeling the fatigue, and my current running pace dropped to 4:24″/km. I continued running, did a u-pin turn before entering the park along Geyland River. I could still make out Baoying’s outline in the darkness. I saw her overtaking a Taiwanese runner who seemed to be struggling shortly later. I knew I could not afford to slow down if I wish to catch up with both of them.
Eventually, I managed to catch up with the elite athlete from Taiwan and overtook her. This gave me a renewed motivation to dig deeper. I ran on, determined to close the gap between myself and Baoying. I was feeling relieved to have completed two-third of the race. But got a shock when my Garmin read 4:35″/km at 14km mark (the longest split in the entire race) and I knew I had to pull myself back to focus on my run.
Positive self-talk seemed to work well. I was back running at 4:26″/km as I ran along Gardens By the Bay. The sun was up. It was getting brighter and warmer. The view was awesome. I was exhausted but I was getting closer to Baoying too. She seemed to have slow down over the last two km. I pressed on and was soon running alongside with her on the bridge leading to Marina Barrage.
“Jiayou, it’s gotten be over soon, we will finished this.” I cheered for her. Then, I picked up my pace, bracing myself for the 800m hill loop ahead towards the rooftop. My heart was pumping wildly, my lungs were bursting, my quads were screaming as my legs took on the hills. But eventually I reached the top of the hill unbroken. I cruised down the slope as fast as I could when I saw the Taiwanese athlete on her way up the slope.
I was surprised to read a 4:17″/km split as I ran down the slope. I would have thought running uphill would slow me down. With just 4km more to finishing line and Baoying hot on my heels, I have no time to lose but to run as fast as my legs could carry me.
It was a heart-pumping and exhilarating 4km run from then on. I had raced with Baoying many times, and I remembered her finishing strongly during for all her Army Half Marathon races. We were running shoulder to shoulder right till the end in 2013, with her beating me eventually by a sprint. Her final kick is formidable.
I thought I would finish last in position for this race. So now that I’m third from the last, I knew I had to do my best to defend whatever position I am in now. I dug deep, giving whatever I had left in my tank as I ran past MBS and Esplanade.
I was extremely relieved and happy to see the finishing line at the Floating Platform. Saw the clock ticking past 1hr 31 mins and I knew I need to push hard to make sure I finished under 1 hr 32 mins.
Completed the 21.1km in 1 hr 31mins 35 secs (nett time), 3 seconds slower as compared to last year; finished 4th out of 5 in the Elite Closed Category and 16th out of 18th under the Elite Open Category.
Not the best time but it was the best I could gave under the circumstances. Though disappointed that I did not manage to better last year’s timing, I was pleased that I have successfully incorporated some positive mental strategies to keep going when the going gets tough in the middle of race. The self-talks had broken my mental barriers and I realised I’m actually stronger than I thought.
The last 5km was especially memorable. I thought I was physically too tired to push anymore when I noticed my pace was slipping. But it was actually all mental. I realised, when you want something badly enough, you would fight for it till the end. I did. And I’m glad I didn’t let the demons in my head get to me this time.
Here are some happy pictures after the race.