About feelthewindandjoy

Hi! Welcome to my blog! I am Jie Shi and I am from Singapore. I love to run and so I started this blog to write about my runs, my thoughts and racing experiences.

Income Eco Run

I had been participating in the 21km category for the past editions. Discussed with coach, and we decided to go for the 10km category this year. After a marathon in Feb, it is an off season for me and we are back to focusing on speed. The idea was just to go for short races to build up my speed.

I had a good training leading up to this event. I was eating and resting well. I even incorporated some body balance classes into my routine to relieve my tight hips and hamstrings that has been bothering me for the past months. I was so looking forward to Income Eco 10 km race. After a 4th place at the recent Sundown Marathon 10km Challenge, I was hoping I could earn a podium position this time.

Never in life I would imagine myself DNF a 10km race.

The morning seemed to be starting right. Jackie and I woke up on time, had our usual breakfast and grab down to F1 Pit Building. Other than enduring a stinky cigarette smell inside the car, the ride was uneventful. We arrived at the race site at 5.30 am, which is exactly 1 hour before the flag off. Unlike the rush during Sundown 10km Challenge, we had ample time to deposit our bags, visit the loo and I even managed a 10 mins warm-up jog. Spotted fellow ASICS and ActiveSg team mate, Banjamin and we made our way to the pen together just slightly after 6 am.

The pen was filling up quickly but Jackie, Banja and I managed to squeeze our way to the front where we met and greeted several familiar faces, Adriel, Joshua, Yvonne, Jenny, Desmond, all of them participating in the team category. Ghim joined us a short while later.

We chit-chatted and waited patiently for the flag-off. Few minutes before the flag off, the organisers released the chain and runners started moving forward and finding space. I counted and realised I am now in the 9th row from the front, which wasn’t ideal but something I could live with. There was a slight delay and all runners were beginning to feel restless and raring to go. Finally at 6.38 am, the horn sounded and off we go.

I started my garmin and crossed the starting line. The start was slower than usual partly because I was in the 9th row (unlike the 2nd or 3rd row I was usually at). There was probably some pushing and jostling as runners from behind dashed forward. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one participant ahead fell. The next moment, to my horror, I fell, my knees scrapping the hard tarmac road. I tried to get up. Then someone fell over me (or did some one step on me? I’m not sure) My face slammed against the road hard. For that split second, I was so afraid that I couldn’t get up and I could be trampled by the rest of the runners.

Shortly later, I got up. Something fell out of my mouth. I would learn later that those are the chips from my teeth when I was in the ambulance. My legs were wobbly. A glance at the surroundings and realised that all the runners had ran off. It was almost a minute after flag off. Can I still continue to run? I wanted to but somehow I knew I was not in a good condition to race anymore. I touched my face, and saw blood on my hands.

I was unsure of where to go. I spotted Jackie at the side. Thank god he’s still around. He came towards me, looking concerned. I told him I think I’m ok, and he should probably continue his race. He took one look at me and said, “It’s bad, I better go with you”. Edwin, who is one of the escort cyclists, fellow Jurong Safra member, came forward asked what had happened. I can’t see how I look but I must be quite a sight and was starting to draw some attention. I could feel the blood oozing from my face. Someone came forward and led us to the medic. It was then I noticed that there was a 2nd wave waiting for flag off.

The medic took one look at me and decided to send me to hospital immediately. They dressed the wounds on my two kneecaps, passed me a packet of ice and asked me to press onto a cut on my nose bridge. After Jackie picked up our bags from the baggage deposit, we were whisked into the ambulance. On the way to SGH, it was then I felt the pain on my face and realised that I had two chipped teeth. The accident started to sink in and I couldn’t help but cry, in pain and in disappointment. Why did such thing happen to me?

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The run that lasted less than 2 minutes. Scratches on the face, figuratively and literally. =(

Shortly later, we arrived at SGH A&E department. A doctor on duty examined me and asked me some questions pertaining to the accident. I was arranged to see a dentist and plastic surgeon. There was some waiting before I see a doctor again where I received an injection. Then I went for a X-ray for the face to make sure nothing is broken. Some more waiting and I get to see the dentist next. As they do not have proper equipment to fix the teeth on the spot, the dentist fixed a metal wire to stabilize my three shaky teeth so I can consume food easily. He also mend one of my chipped teeth. I was given an appointment to see the dentist on Tuesday.

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Minor cuts and bruises on the knees. Thankful that it just superficial injuries and nothing serious. 

After that, I did another X-ray, this time for my right knee which is swollen. Then, we waited again to see the plastic surgeon. He cleaned the wounds on my face with some soap water and alcohol. As there is loss of skin surrounding the cut on the nose bridge, he could not stitch it for me. The cut was deep so can only let it heal on its own. He mentioned that this cut may leave a scar in future. =(  Another cut was stitched up within minutes. The injection prior to the stitching is more painful than the stitching itself. Thankfully, the abrasion on the upper lips are minor and will heal without leaving a scar. I was scheduled to return for review on Tuesday.

And finally after close to 5 hours in the hospital, I was discharged. Thankful to have the hubby to be with me throughout the ordeal.

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How I look after leaving the hospital. The gauze covering the cuts on the nose bridge. Smiling awkwardly because of the metal wire (something like braces) on my teeth. 

Run safe never ring so true before. To all runners out there, please be careful especially at the race start where it can get chaotic and messy when runners dashed forward. Some are just too excited. Some are simply too competitive or aggressive. Most of the time it’s not intentional but it still pose the same danger. I heard about it, seen it, but just didn’t expect it to happen to me. It could happen to anyone. Do keep a lookout for fellow runners and make running safe for all!

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Seoul 10 km Challenge

I received an invitation from Pocari Sweat Singapore last November to participate in the Seoul Marathon. There was a change in plan however, after I unexpectedly qualified for Rio Olympics’ women marathon.

As I do not have a coach, SAA stepped in to appoint Mr Steven Quek to be my coach. His first advice was that there is no need for me to do another marathon from now until the Olympics. This is because I have just completed SCMS in Dec 15 and if I were to run Seoul marathon in Mar 16, followed by Olympics in Aug 16, that will be 3 marathons in 8 months and that would be quite taxing on my body. I would not be able to perform with Rio being the last and most important marathon too.

I agreed with Coach and also feel that I was not ready to do another marathon in March. So I quickly requested Pocari Sweat to change my race slot for the 10km race instead. This would also be in line with the training which Coach has planned for me, which is to improve my 10km and 21km timing first before we start preparing for the full marathon.

The Plan 

I met up with coach in late January to discuss my training program for Rio. As the time frame was too short, he does not wish to make any drastic changes to my current training regime. I shared with him my training log, personal bests for my 10km and 21km and he feels that we should focus on improving my speed for 10km first, followed by 21km before we focus on preparing for full marathon. Thus, my training was broken into three phases:

(1) Feb – Mar, 10km focused training and compete in Seoul 10km challenge on 20 March.

(2) Apr-May, half marathon focused training. Find a half marathon race in mid or end May.

(3) June-July, full marathon training. No more races until Rio Olympics.

The Target

My personal best for 10km races were around 41-42 mins. Coach set the target of achieving 40 mins, a personal best for Seoul 10km challenge. We will then target to do a half marathon in May.

Training (1st Phase) 

My training officially began on 1 Feb 2016. As my workplace is at Fusionopolis, which is a stone’s throw away from NUS, I could train with the NUS cross-country team at NUS track on Mondays and Thursday evenings after work. I remembered meeting Janielle and Faith for the first time and both of them shared with me their warm up routine and drills they did before they start their workout. It was the first time I was introduced to these drills and I took some time to learn and do the drills properly.

My weekdays training are intervals, ranging for 6km to 10km, starting with 400m repeats at 10km race pace (96s per 400m). We started with 16 x 500m intervals and coach gradually increased the intervals to 15 x 600m, 13 x 700m, 12 x 800m and finally 10 x 1km one week before my race.

For shorter intervals, it will be at a faster pace, 92s per 400m. At first, I was not used to the intervals as the number of intervals were more than what I usually do back when I train with Jurong Safra Running Club. But after a few weeks, I learnt how to run relax and run comfortably. I rest on Wednesday and do easy runs on Tuesday, cross training/easy run on Friday and Sunday.

There is no major change in my weekend training. I still stick to 20km long run on Saturdays, though Coach emphasized that the long run should not be too hard as I need to recover for the two hard interval training on weekdays.

Frankly speaking, I wasn’t sure if I would be able achieve the target time for my 10km race as I have not exactly been running at 4mins/km pace continuously. No doubt I have several good workouts during this 7 weeks of training, but there were times I struggled through the training. Like the 13 x 700m workout which I felt the fatigue right after 3 sets and in the end managed only 12 sets and did not complete the workout as plan.

Still, Coach is very encouraging and believes that it is possible. I just have to believe in myself and the training. The final workout 10 x 1km was a confidence booster as I managed complete the workout successfully.

Pre-Race

I departed Singapore on 18 March afternoon and arrived in Seoul on 18 March night. One of the Korea Pocari Sweat staff,  Lee Sang Kyu is very kind to pick me up from airport and send me all the way to the hotel. It was close to midnight by the time I settled in my hotel.

I woke up early to meet the Pocari Sweat team from Indonesia at 8am. They have two runners, one a national runner and another a celebrity, participating in Seoul Marathon. We did our easy run at the Gwanghwamun Square, where it would be the start of the full marathon event. I jogged for 30 minutes and did some drills.

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With team Pocari Sweat from Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Korea!

We met up with Team Pocari Sweat for lunch before going to the Olympic Stadium to check out the expo.

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In the evening, Wina and I meet up with Alex and Rudin who were also in Seoul to do the Seoul Marathon. Alex was injured so he decided not to race and support Rudin instead.

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20 March 2016, race day

Thanks to Pocari Sweat’s hospitality, I have no trouble getting to the venue and arrived at the race site with plenty of time to change, attend to a short interview, and warm up. It was easy getting to the front of the start line too with Pocari Sweat’s help.

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The race started at 1030am. Weather was cool at around 10 degree cel. I wasn’t feeling cold at all as the sun was out. Decided that I will not need my arm sleeves, I removed them just before I entered the race pen and put on my shades when I toed the starting line.

Many runners shot off when the race started and passed me. Adrenaline pumping, I ran along, telling myself to keep to my own race pace. My garmin alerted me 3:57min for my first km and it was exactly 4mins when I passed the first kilometer distance marker. I realised I may have to run slightly faster than what my Garmin indicated so as to meet my target of sub 40 mins. My pace for the 2nd km and 3rd km dropped due to undulating terrain and an incline. I was behind my target by 8 seconds when I passed the 3km distance marker.

I pressed on, determined to chase the time. I could see a girl running ahead of me and target to keep her sight. Got a little worried when my 4th km took me 4:08min and I was behind time by 16 seconds. Still, I kept going, knowing that the 2nd half of the race is flat and I still have a chance to do a sub 40mins 10km.

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Half way point, time check at 20 min 12 sec. I was gradually gaining back the time lost. I was also closing up on the girl ahead of me and that got me quite motivated. And at 7km mark, I finally caught up with her. My split read 3:52″/km. She tried to keep up and followed me for a while. 8th km was slightly slower at 3:58″/km so I was still slightly behind my target time. I knew I have to speed up or risk missing my target. It was only until 9km, with my watch reading I finally on track for a 40mins 10km.

As I approached the Jamsil Olympic Main Stadium, I got really excited and sped up a bit. As I entered the stadium and stepped onto the track, I could see and hear many supporters cheering for the runners. Gave my all and ran as fast as I could round the track. The finishing line was in sight and I was determined to finish the race under 40mins.

And I did it! Crossed the finishing line in 39 min 50 sec, a personal best. It is my first sub 40 mins 10km run. 1796440_10153612246761025_7422838963730084352_n

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Wina, country manager of Pocari Sweat Singapore was there welcoming me back with a hug.

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Make a new friend that day. =) This is Nicole, the girl whom I was chasing from the 1st to 7th km of the race. She came in 2nd, not far away from me.

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And what a surprise and bonus to come in first for the 10km race for the women’s category!

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In the evening, team Pocari Sweat hosted a dinner for all of us to celebrate our achievement. We had such a good time eating, drinking and chatting. Thank you team Pocari Sweat for the hospitality and support! So glad to be part of this family.

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Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon

I signed up for the half marathon category this year. Mainly because I know I’m not quite ready to do another full marathon so soon after SCMS in December.

My personal best for half marathon was last achieved at SCHKM 2013 where I ran 1:31:17. I have been trying for the longest time to do a sub 1:30 for half marathon and have not been successful. I was hoping the cool climate in HK would be able to help me achieve this target, if not at least a PB.

However, training did not go according to plan. I took a long time to recover from SCMS and could not perform during training. Training had also been inconsistent as I cut down on my training to visit my maternal grandpa (who was unwell and in critical condition) as often as I could. *Grandpa passed away peacefully on 2 Jan 2016. Though we were heartbroken and sad, we were glad that he need not suffer and was free from the agony. He is in a better place now*

I went to HK with a heavy heart. Having missed key workouts in January, I was feeling unfit and certainly not in the best shape to attempt a sub 1:30 half marathon. Still, I thought I could try for a PB.

17 Jan 2016, Race Day

Jackie managed to sign up for the half marathon category during race pack collection the day before. We started the race together at about 4:20″/km pace and eased into 4:15″/km pace. However, I faded off and slowed down barely 10km into the race.

I have ran SCHKM for the past three years, yet I don’t remember the route being so hilly and undulating. I struggled at the last third of the half marathon. I kept chasing for the time, hoping to run a bit faster but my legs felt heavy and breathing felt hard.

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Smile because for that moment it took away your fatigue.IMG_1090

It seemed like an eternity has gone by the time I entered Victoria Park and saw the finishing line.

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Lack of training and it totally showed during the race. So spent!

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A photo after the race. (Taken by Team Manager, Carissa who was there to support the Singaporean athletes.)

Completed the half marathon in 1:31:23.

Not a PB and certainly not one of my best races, but I glad I pressed on to complete the race in the best effort possible. Have to be contented with this season best time for now.

 

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2015

The Preparation

Having plagued by plantar fasciitis (PF) on my left foot since July, my first goal for SCMS was simply to arrive at the start line, feeling fit and healthy.

During the injury period, I cut down on my mileage and replaced most of my runs on cross-trainers and with spinning classes. I did more strengthening and core exercises too. Though my stamina and fitness declined during this period, I was quite happy with my progress as I felt physically stronger than before. My tight calves muscles (particularly on my left calf) were finally loosening. My PF was on route to recovery. The injury was a blessing in disguise I guess; it has forced me to rest my fatigued legs and I learnt to appreciate the simple joy of being able to run freely without the stress of chasing the time.

In September, I started running outdoors or on treadmills (due to haze) when I no longer feel pain when I run. As the pain usually come after my runs, I was careful not to ramp up my mileage or intensity too quickly. I continued to ice the affected area daily and foam-rolled every other day to reduce the tightness in my calves.

Then came October. My PF was healing well and I was able to put in some decent training in October, choosing quality over quantity. I went back to running 4-5 times a week in mid-Oct, while continuing my gym routine (simply because I really enjoyed the spinning classes). My mileage averaged 65km-70km per week. Training in October went well. I felt more confident in my tempo runs, and managed to run at a faster pace (as compared to pre-injury days) for some of the key workouts.

On 1 November, I participated in the Great Eastern Women’s Run which I completed in 1:31:35. (few seconds slower than last year.) It was lung-bursting effort and I struggled at the last 5km. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the results as I wasn’t sure I could run a sub 1:32 timing. It was a confidence-booster and closer to race day, I decided to base on this race to determine my target race pace for SCMS. Since my average pace for GE Run was 4:20″/km, I thought 4:40″/km or somewhere around would be a good target. Perhaps if I still feel good after the half-way mark, I could try increasing my pace to 4:35″/km. And so my 2nd goal for SCMS was to sustain 4:35″-4:40″/km pace. If all goes well, I hope to finish the marathon in 3hr 15min -3hr 17min.

If it doesn’t go well, my third goal would be to do better than my local PB time of 3hr 23min which I achieved last year.

Training continued as per normal in November. This year, other than Jackie who accompanied me on most of my runs, I am thankful to be able to do my long runs with a few more training buddies on some weekend mornings. I was so used to doing long runs that average about 5 min”/km to 5:15 min”/km pace in the past year. This group pushed me to run close to race pace, and to start slow and finished fast for long runs. It was tough but they made the training bearable and enjoyable.

Three weeks out from race day, I did my longest long run at East Coast Park with Safra Running Club. Jackie had a back pain and had no choice but to skip the run when the pain flare up the moment he started running. I ran 35 km on my own at an average 5 min”/km pace and that brought my highest volume in this 9-wks training cycle to 85km. I was relieved to get the longest run out of the way and looking forward to tapering.

15 Nov @ECP

35km done! =)

The following weekend, I ran 27km with Alex Tiong and Ivan Eng, starting from MR to Upper Peirce to Seletar and back. The guys were kind to follow my pace at just under 5min”/km. I’m sure they are capable of going faster if not because of me. Towards the last 5km, they started picking up the pace and I ran at sub 4:40″/km till the end. Another confidence booster long run.

I remembered I was feeling low and lethargic as I struggled through my intervals two days later. Jackie assured me that it was normal to feel more tired than usual at this time due to the training volume over the past weeks and that I should be able to peak at the right time when race day arrived. Indeed, my energy level was up again the following week. I only had two workouts on the last week leading to race day: 5 x 800 m intervals at avg 3:08 min per set on Wednesday (suppose to do this on Tuesday but it rained) and an easy 40 mins run on Thursday. And when I toed the starting line on 6 Dec, I was feeling fit, healthy, fresh and relaxed. =)

The Day before the Race

Jackie and I went to Sports Hub to support the Kids’ Dash which was held a day before the 10km, half marathon and marathon. My elder brother has signed my 35 months old nephew up for the 700m Kids’ Dash and we wanted to support. It was fun watching the little ones run and walk. After lunch at Kallang Wave Mall foodcourt, where I had a nice bowl of salmon don, Jackie and I headed to City Hall.  This year, I suggested to book a hotel room near the race site so we could sleep in a while more on race day morning.

After checking into Peninsular Excelsior hotel, we rested a while before visiting the National Art Gallery which was just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. In the evening, we had dinner with Ghim at Marina Square. I had Japanese curry rice with pork cutlet while Jackie had the same but with chicken cutlet. We all ordered the set which came with a free salad bar.

By the time we finished dinner, it was about 7.45 pm. We decided to return to hotel to rest, shower and prep our race gears for tomorrow.

The initial plan was to turn in by 9pm to get at least 6 hours of sleep. But I suddenly remembered I have not studied the race route and hydration points to plan the exact distance where I should take my energy gels. So by the time we hit the sack, it was already after 9.30pm. Nevertheless, I was well-rested and slept like a baby throughout the night.

Race Day

I  woke up feeling fresh when my alarm rang at 3am. Washed up before waking up Jackie. I had my breakfast, coffee and bread by 3:30am. I find taking breakfast 1.5hrs to 2hrs before race works for me.

Since our hotel is near the end point, there is no need to deposit our baggage and that save time cause the baggage queue could get really long. We decided to warm up by jogging to Orchard Road. I must say the hub has a really good sense of direction. We arrived at somerset in no time and stopped by Orchard Central to use the toilets before walking towards Ngee Ann City to meet up with our training buddies.

Goodness, there was already a huge crowd waiting to enter the race pens. It would be hard to spot anyone in that crowd. We bumped into Alex Tai and Run’er and a moment later the pens opens and all of us entered the race pen 2 allocated for 3hrs-4hrs marathoners. We quickly made our way to the front, hopefully to find a space as close to the start line as possible.

As we waited patiently for 5am to arrive, we saw more familiar faces and everyone exchanged words of encouragements,”jiayous” and “all the best”. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and positive vibes. The time crept closer to 5am. The chain that held us back from the elites runners were taken down and we moved forward to merge with the runners in the priority pen. No special privilege to start at the priority pen this year but no issue since runners from Pen 1 and 2 would be flagged off at the same time.

The race started promptly at 5am. The runners in front shot off at top speed. Runners at the back pushed and dashed off in a flash. Adrenaline pumping, I ran alongside with Jackie, reminding myself to run my own race and not get “pulled” by the faster groups ahead.

Jackie and I maintained around 4:35-4:40″/km as planned. Joshua sped past us after some time as he tried to catch up with Ying Rong and her friends ahead. The next few km went past uneventfully as we settled into race pace.

Time Check at 5km: 22:57 

By 7km, Jackie was dropping back and I knew I was on my own when I could not hear him behind me anymore. Ran past the Floating Platform and saw many Ekiden runners finished the first leg of the relay. Received some cheers from them too.

It was dark along F1 pit, but I could make out the two ladies in front – Jasmine and Jenny! I ran on and caught up with them after a while. Not long after exchanging some words of encouragement, I was out of the F1 pit and onto Nicoll Highway. By then, most runners have dispersed and I could only see a handful on the road ahead.

Time check at 10km: 46:26

I was feeling good but I knew it was still too early to know how the marathon would fare in the end. So I try not to get too excited and focused on maintaining the same pace. Took my first packet of gel as I approached the next hydration station. Lost sight of Ying Rong and group just before entering into ECP. I pressed on, knowing that I still have a long way to go. It was early in the morning but there were already many supporters out at ECP cheering for all the runners. I gradually caught up with two guys ahead and decided to tag along with them since we were all running around the same pace. Suddenly, I caught sight of Trevor from Safra MF. He joined our group and we ran together for a while.

Time check at 15km: 1:09:40

One of the guys, Julien Guienne (I got to know his name after ironlady, Ling Er tagged him in one of the pictures on fb) asked for the time I was hoping to finish the marathon. I glanced at my Garmin and told him, at the pace we were running, it seemed like 3hr 15min is possible. However as there’s still more than half-way to go, I told him I shall see how it goes after the 21km mark. We pressed on and sped up a little, probably excited about the possibility of completing the marathon in 3:15. Not long later, his friend dropped back and then it was just me and Julien pacing each other.

I took my 2nd pack of gel at the 18km mark as planned. Spotted Baoying just ahead and she was still looking strong and fresh. She was surprised to see me as she thought I was ahead. We chatted briefly, wish each other well and I ran on with Julien. I always like approaching the u-turn point, cause that’s when you could see all your friends on the other side and cheered for one another. It was a sight to behold when I saw a contingent of runners comprising of Andy Neo, Rachel, Poon ZL, Ivan, Baldwin, Alex Thiong, Ewin, Chun Kiat and many more, running at 4:30″/km pace, on route to a 3:10 marathon. Cheered for them as they ran past looking very focused. Not far behind were a few more runners, Ying Rong and her friends. And I knew I was currently in 3rd place for the local women’s category.

Time check at 21.1km: 1:37:29

I was happy to finally reach the half-way mark of the marathon, feeling strong and fresh, vastly different from how I felt during SEA Games and even last year’s SCMS. I was beginning to feel quite optimistic about this race. Julien and I worked together for the next few kilometres. I drank as I ran, picking up two cups at a go, one for drinking and one for cooling down over my head. He on the other hand, prefers to slow to a walk to drink. But he would always caught up with me after that.

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Julien and I worked together from 13km to 30km of the race. Thankful to have him to run alongside me inside ECP, where it could get really mental after the u-turn. 

Time check at 25km: 1:55:14

We had sped up over the last 4km after the half way mark. I was beginning to feel the first sign of fatigue setting in and very much looking forward to the support station set up by Tampines and Toa Payoh Safra Running Club at 28km mark, where I received lots of support and encouragement from fellow Safra members.

The next few km went by in a daze. It seemed more difficult to maintain the pace and I got the feeling that I was then running at more than 4:45″/km pace. But each time I checked the 1km split, to my relief, I was still hovering at 4:35 – 4:40″/km. I told myself to keep going and 30km would be my checkpoint to reassess my pace.

Time check at 30km: 2:18:20

I was gradually overtaking more runners at the last stretch of ECP. At the last water water station, Julien fell back and I was all on my own again. (He eventually finished in a respectable 3hr 23min). I did a quick body check. Running posture ok, breathing controlled. So far so good. I was not feeling as exhausted as I thought I would be. Seemed like the race was really working out well. Still,  it was too early to tell. After all, marathoners would know the race only starts at 32km. Finally, I arrived at the end of East Coast Park and just in time to see Ying Rong breaking away from her friends and running strongly towards the golf course.  Joshua was not far ahead and I was hoping I could catch up with him soon.

At the 31km mark, I was pleasantly surprised to see Jackie again. But there was no time for chit-chat cause I’m in a race! We ran together and overtook a couple of runners. Caught up with Joshua first, and then Poon ZL. As we ran past the golf course, we spotted Ivan too from the 3:10 contingent. We encouraged him to run with us. But he was having bad cramps and slowed to a walk eventually. Jackie and I ran on and saw Chun Kiat and Ngee Hung. We cheered and motivated one other. I was getting really excited as we approached Gardens by the bay. It was 33km and I was feeling better than before now that we were so close to the end! The pain which I was anticipating after 32km never hit me. I took that as a positive sign that the next 9km would be manageable somehow.

At Gardens By the Bay where it was once again a long straight road, I could see Ying Rong less than 50 metres ahead. Not wanting to increase my pace too suddenly and risk cramping, I aimed to just keep her in sight. That being said, I must have gotten a little motivated to see that she was so close, and by the time we crossed the bridge to Marina Barrage, I was closing in and she was just 20 metres ahead.

It was a joy to receive support and cheers from Jurong and Mount Faber Safra Running Club at the Marina Barrage. (After the race, Zhilei told me that we were their first “customers” so they could not react in time.) As I grabbed a cup of water at the next water point to myself down, Ewin, who has slowed to a walk due to cramps, encouraged me to chase after Ying Rong who was just ahead. Motivated, I ran on.

Time check at 35km: 2:40:12

I was finally shoulder to shoulder with Ying Rong as we ran past flower dome. I was hoping I could pull away from her at this point but Ying Rong was determined and hung on closely. I was getting nervous. On one hand, we still have 7km to go and it’s gotta be tough to fight for this 2nd placing. On the other hand, I was glad that Ying Rong has kept up. It’s always better to run together and push one and another to reach the fullest potential. And so we worked together for the next couple of km towards Benjamin Sheares Bridge, the infamous heartbreak hill of Singapore, where it could make or break your run.

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Credit to second wind magazine for this photo. I think this was taken right after Marina Barrage, towards Sheares Bridge. 

With Ying Rong hot on my heels, I dare not slow down. I tried to maintain the same effort as I pounded up the bridge. I thought of those hills I ran on during my training- NTU hill loops, M&M at Upper Pierce, Sentosa etc. “Make them count!” I told myself as I put one foot forward after the next. Step by step, I could no longer hear Ying Rong behind me. But I dare not slack, as she may surprise me when we go downhill after 38km.

As I was approaching the top of the bridge, I saw a familiar figure in pink ahead. It was Rachel! Motivated, I pushed myself and finally caught up with her. I was winded and could barely muttered any encouragement to her. Rachel cheered for me and I pressed on. With the upslope out of the way, I cruised down Sheares Bridge as fast as my legs could carry me, not daring to look back to see how far Ying Rong was behind. It suddenly dawned on me that we weren’t competing for 2nd place anymore, but the first place cause I was now leading the local women’s category!

Reached Republic Blvd road and merged with the 10km and 21km runners. It was so crowded and we spent some effort weaving in and out of the crowd. I wasn’t sure how far Ying Rong was behind, but knowing what a strong runner she is, I knew I could not afford to slow down even one second. I was determined to hold onto this lead for as long as possible.

Time check at 40km: 3:05:01

I had exactly 10 minutes to cover the remaining 2.195km. Can I make it under 3:15? Spotted Alex Thiong as we made our way towards Raffles Ave. I was too breathless to cheer for him, but Alex saw us and tried to keep up with us. Up Raffles Ave and then another right turn onto Esplanade Drive. There was lots of supporters at the side cheering the runners on. Spotted Colin (this year as supporter), shouted for us from the right side. One last bend and I would see the finishing line. The last 200m signboard never feel so welcoming before. Gave my all and sprinted to the finishing line as I watched the clocked ticked 3:14:xx closing onto 3:15.

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And yes, I did it! I crossed the line in 3:15:02 (net time), bettered my local pb by more than 8 minutes! A bonus to come in first for the Singaporean Women’s category too! Gosh, I won the Singapore marathon! I could hardly believe it.  After two years of second placings in 2012 and 2014, and one disappointing 6th in 2013, the victory is especially sweet.

And what was even more astonishing was to receive news that I came in top 10 for the Women Open’s Category; which according to IAAF’s guideline, this is consider a qualification for Rio Olympics! Gosh, it’s like a dream that seems to good to be true!

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Photo with Rachel, my ascis teammate & running bff. She put up a good fight and finished the marathon in 3:19, coming in 3rd for Local Women’s category. So glad that we are both on podium again this year. 

 

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Prize presenation =) Happy to have the chance to raise the trophy this year. And huge congratulations to Ying Rong meimei for her PB and 2nd placing too!  

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And of course a photo with my dearest hubby, who has been so supportive in my running journey. 

Great Eastern Women’s Run 2015

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).

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Check in! Thankful for the spacious and comfortable room that comes with a nice view. Had a well-rested night before the race.

1 November 2015, race day 

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The hubs came to support too!

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Toeing the starting line with elite athletes from North Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. <photo credits to Ghana>

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.

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Pressing on with Baoying hot on my heels.

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Digging dig. <photo credits to John Tan>

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Grinding through along the Jubilee bridge. <photo credits to Voon Ho Lee>

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.

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Just a bit more. <photo credits to Pictureart>

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.

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A hug after the run. Nothing beats friendship and friendly competition.  <photo credits to Pictureart>

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Happy us after the race! Congrats to Rachel who ran a PB timing of 1:28:45 and coming in 2nd! <photo credits to Pictureart>

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Group picture. <photo credit to Ghana>

The Straits Times Run

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.

Down but not out (Wk 4)

(Just realised this post has been sitting in my draft for ages..)

5 September, Saturday

Encouraged that I no longer feel pain in my left heel when I run, I decided it’s time to start doing long runs on weekend again. I can skip all other training but surely not long runs cause they are the staples for long distance running. And with ST Run and KL Half marathon happening less than a month away, I’m getting a bit anxious. So on a lovely Saturday morning, I headed to ECP with Jackie, Peyling, Eileen and Claude. Ran 20km in 1:39:32. Average pace: 4:58″/km. Somehow I’m relieved and heartened to know that I’m still able to do an average 5 min pace for my long run just like my pre-injury days. Am taking this as a positive sign that whatever I’m doing is a step in the right direction.

6 September, Sunday

REST!

7 September, Monday

Back to Fusionopolis Fitness First for elliptical trainer (50mins) followed by RPM Challenge (60 mins) and some stretching.

8 September, Tuesday

Joined Jurong Safra for tempo run at Jurong Central Park. Workout was 3 loops of 1.2km x 3 sets, with 2 mins rest in between. Completed all three sets in 17:03mins, 16:40mins and 17:36mins. Could not sustain the pace for the last set. Nonetheless, I had quite a good workout and is contented to have push through the mental barrier and completed all three sets decently.

9 September, Wednesday

Attended the body pump class for an hour followed by RPM challenge class (40mins) and hardcore class (30mins). 6.30pm till 9.30pm. Gosh, seemed like I’m spending way to much time in gym these days. (>.<)