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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Down but not out (Wk 3)

29 August, Saturday

Participated Orange Ribbon Run as one of the sports ambassadors with Rachel, Raviin and Renuka. Rachel had a shin splint and was also nursing her injury. Haha! I must agree with her when she commented that we are really sisters, injured also around the same time. Anyway, we decided to just do a easy 10km run together. She suggested 5min pace. As I have no confidence in my stamina these days, I told her I will try to follow, and she can go ahead if I can’t keep up. It was hot and humid when the race started at 4pm. We started at an easy pace of 5:30″/min and gradually increased our pace. Rachel’s husband, Zili was still running with us initially but ran ahead after we reached Marina Barrage as he felt that it was too hot and wanted to quickly finished the run. I wasn’t really watching the time anymore after Rachel and I settled into momentum and started chatting as we run. The first half felt more tiring probably because I could feel the glare of the sun in my eyes. We found ourselves going faster at the 2nd half of the run and met a lot of 5km runners as we passed Marina Barrage. At the last 100m to the finishing line, Yvonne, who participated in the 5km category came running past and we witnessed her victory as she crossed the finishing line in under 20mins. And yes, we managed to complete the 10km in sub 50km run too. A very much enjoyable run and catch up with Rachel. Am also very encouraged that I do not feel any pain at all on my left heel when I was running. My pair of GT2000 really provides good cushioning and shock absorption. =)

30 August 2015, Sunday 

Decided to hit Fitness First gym at West gate for active recovery. As the heel pain has returned after I finished running, I decided not to run but to use the elliptical trainer. After that, I went for an hour of RPM Challenge (spinning) class and lazed by the poolside. I can get used to spending Sunday like this.

31 August, Monday

REST!

1 September, Tuesday

Joined Jurong Safra Running Club on JW stadium for intervals. Workout was a pyramid: (400m, 800m, 1200m, 800m, 400m) x 2 sets.

Compared to the same workout I did a week ago (which I struggled through), I find myself more in control of the pacing and effort this time. Very happy to complete the workout feeling strong. Splits for the two sets: 1:35; 3:13; 4:55; 3:10; 1:31 and 1:30; 3:12; 4:53; 3:14; 1:28.

No pain on my heel when I did the intervals, but the pain returned once I took off my shoes and started walking. What bothers me is that the pain lingers and doesn’t go away till hours later. I find that icing the affected area helps. So I continued to ice my heel at night before I sleep and in the morning before work.

2 September, Wednesday

Active recovery at Fusionopolis Fitness First after work. I tried running on treadmill for 5 mins but my heel has yet to recover from the workout the day before and there was discomfort. Switched to elliptical trainer and I spent 45 mins on it before attending a 50 mins RPM class. Realised there was a 30 mins hardcore class after the spin. Curious what the class is about, I decided to try it out. Gosh! Hardcore indeed. It was high-intensity workout consisting of 15 mins cardio and 15 mins of conditioning. I was breathless and panting hard after just one set of cardio workout. This class activated all those muscles which I have been neglecting for the longest time.

3 September, Thursday

Still feeling discomfort on my heel so I decided to skip training with Safra Jurong and did deep water running instead. 45 mins of deep water running follow by 20 mins of swim. It’s really not the same as running outdoors, but I guess it’s the only way to avoid pounding and get fit while I’m at it.

4 September, Friday

REST! =)

Mileage for week 3: approx. 20 km

Down but not out (Wk 2)

22 Aug, Saturday

Woke up to a cool morning with light drizzle. Zhilei has kindly offered to teach me deep water running upon knowing that I am down with plantar fasciitis. Thankfully, the rain stopped and Jurong Safra pool re-opened just in time after 9am. Zhilei has also brought along a float (to be belted around the waist) for water running since the feet should not be touching the floor. After watching how she ran in the water, it was my turn to practise while she watched and corrected my posture. A few laps up and down the pool, I could feel the ache in my arms from all the swings, fatigue in the legs and even started panting a bit. We had to pause for a short while though as it started raining again and had to get out of the pool. Resumed running in the pool after the lifeguard given the greenlight. I practise a few more laps before we call it a day. Not quite the same as running, but it was closest to running with low impact. Thanks Zhilei introducing me to deep water running and spending your Saturday morning with me. =)

24 August, Monday

I decided to activate the 3 months complimentary gym pass at Fitness First which I won for winning Shape Run.(timely, isn’t it?). By the time I cleared the administrative work, I was too late for the body pump class. So I decided to try working out on the elliptical trainer for 30 mins. I have forgotten when was the last time I used this machine but I recall I don’t feel like I had a workout the last time I tried. How wrong was I. It’s really just a matter of the resistance and how hard you pushed. Within 10mins, I was perspiring and enjoying every single minute of it. Stepped off after 30 mins to get ready for the RPM (spinning class). One full hour of very satisfied workout as the instructor Lay Yen pushed the class to reach our limit.

25 August, Tuesday

Have not been running for 11 days. I decided to join Jurong Safra for short intervals as a test drive. Workout was (400m, 800m, 1200m, 800m, 400m) x 2 sets. Timing as follow: 1:26 (too fast), 3:14, 4:58, 3:16, 1:29. Over ambitious and I struggled through for my 2nd set and could not keep up with the rest. 1:31, 3:20, 4:56, 3:14, 1:28. Though timing was quite decent, it was demoralizing to be so far behind the pack and to feel the discomfort on my left heel once again. This was even despite wearing my most cushioned shoes. A sign that I still need to lay off from running for a while. =(

26 August, Wednesday

Am so glad I can still hit the gym to use the elliptical trainer and attend the RPM class to get my endorphin fix. Once in a while, it does feel good to just exercise, do what you like and not chase for timing at each training session.

27 August, Thursday 

It’s Jackie’s day off from work and he wanted to join MF Safra for their run. So I decided to check out the Fitness First at Alexandra since it was the closest to the clubhouse. Just nice there’s a Aqua Fit class in the evening and I managed to get to the class just in time. An enjoyable hour spent in the pool doing some runs and jumps; and squats, reverse crunches, push-ups etc by the poolside. I went on to swim a few laps after the class until the time is up for me to meet Jackie for dinner.

Mileage for week 2: approx. 10km

Heel Pain

The heel pain on my left foot (which has been bothering me after SEA Games) got more noticeable after Shape Run. It was still bearable to run but the pain was enough to scare me to lay off for a few days.

Rested for three days and iced the affected area. I felt better on Wednesday morning when I land my foot on the ground. Decided to test it out on Wednesday evening after work. I swapped my usual racers for Asics GT2000 in view of the extra cushioning.

Did a slow 1.5km jog from Jurong West stadium to NTU. The plan was to do a tempo run on the 3km blue track as it was softer from the pavement and road.  That will be 6km to and fro. I wanted to run for at least 30mins, hence extended the run a bit more to 7.5km. Time taken 34mins 57 secs, average pace 4:40″/km.

I was glad to switch to GT2000 as this pair though heavy soften the impact of the pounding. I could hardly feel any pain on my left heel as I pound on the running track. There was a strain which I felt just under the ball of my right foot, which was hardly noticeable. However, being injured (and suspected diagnosis of plantar fasciitis), I knew this shouldn’t be neglected as well.

Nevertheless, I was happy to finally release my endorphin after three days of zero running. Jogged back to Jurong West Stadium to cool down.

As the Asics City Relay is held on Saturday night, I decided to rest on Thursday and Friday as a precaution in case the heel pain flared up on race day. That’s make it just 1 day of training (10 km of mileage) for that week.

Training for SCHKM – Week 7

One last week before heading to Hong Kong on Friday morning! *excited*

It was tapering week so I only did two workouts for this week.

20 Jan 2015, Tuesday

Jogged to Jurong West Stadium and continue another two rounds around the track to warm up. Did a short session of drills and stretching and I was ready to begin my 5 x 800m intervals with run to rest ratio of 1:0.5. My initial target was 3:05min per set, but I could not seem to go any faster so have to be contented with the following time:  3:08, 3:10, 3:10, 3:11. 3:11. Cool down 1.5km to clubhouse.

22 Jan 2015, Thursday

Jogged to Jurong Central Park which is just a stone’s throw away from home. I started with 5:30″/km pace and was thinking of just completing my 7km easy run in an average 5:15″/km pace. Minutes into the run, I was getting the momentum. Comfortable breathing, legs feels light. I was in the “zone”, running relaxed and happy. Soon, I found myself going faster as I went round and round the park. Decided to stop after 4 loops when my Garmin reads 7km. Time: 36:08min, average pace: 5:07″/km. The release of endorphins never feel good.

25 Jan 2015, Sunday

Race day! *stay tuned for my race report!*

Total mileage for week 7 (19 Jan – 25 Jan) including the marathon:  56.3km

Training for SCHKM – Week 6

Took a break on Monday because my family is celebrating my dear nephew’s 2nd birthday! He will turn two tomorrow!

13 Jan 2015, Tuesday

I decided to venture into NTU to do the 1km hill loops again. This time alone as Peyling planned to do intervals at the stadium. Jogged about 3km to NTU from my place as warm-up. The plan today was to do 3 sets of (4x1km) loop with 2mins rest in between. Felt a bit nervous prior to the workout as the last time I tried the similar workout was 3 weeks ago where I did 3 sets of (3x1km).

The first set started well, clocking 13:35min for the first set, close to my target pace of 4:30″/km. I hit the stop button after the 4th loop and moments later my Garmin 610 quickly went into the power saving mode while I rested. At close to 2mins, I realised I could not unlock my Garmin despite sliding my finger across the screen umpteen times. Yes, I was perspiring that profusely and my hands weren’t dry enough. I gave up trying to unlock my Garmin when I realised it was close three minutes of rest time. After taking note of the time, I began my next set.

Set 2: 17:45min, average pace: 4:26’/km. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually run better without using the Garmin to pace myself. Was checking the time and doing mental calculation after every loop keep track of my pace.

Set 3: 17:52min, average pace: 4:28″/km. Spotted fellow Asics team mater, Raviin doing his training with his friends too.

Jogged to Jurong West Stadium to cool down. Except for the episode with Garmin malfunction, I was rather pleased with today’s workout.

14 Jan 2015, Wednesday

I was glad to have Peyling’s company for today’s run. Took the same route as last week, from office–> Ulu pandan PCN –> Jurong East –> Jurong West and extended it a bit to end at Jurong West stadium. I managed to do a much faster pace than last week and it seemed easier too. A training buddy really makes a difference. Completed 15.7km in 1:19:48, average pace 5:05″/km.

15 Jan 2015, Thursday

Decided to join MF Safra for training this evening because I needed some motivation for run after training for a few weeks alone. The program was a easy 10km run to Depot Road–>Canterbury –> Alexandra Rd and back to the clubhouse via Telok Blgh St 31.

The group started at 6min pace as warm-up. After about 2km, I picked up the pace to about 5min’/km. The group split up after we crossed the traffic lights, with the guys, Melvin and Xavier leading the way while Trevor and a couple of guys following closely behind. Melvin and Xavier soon picked up the pace again when we were inside Canterbury. Doesn’t seem like they are doing easy run after all as we were already running at sub 4:45″/km pace and going faster. As we ran out of Canterbury to cross the bridge over to Alexandra, I realised I was the only one following Melvin and Xavier who were pulling away from me gradually. My pace was hovering between 4:37-4:33’/km then. I pressed on and managed to close the gap after we came down from the bridge. But the two guys soon sped up when we turned left onto Telok Blgh St 31. My pace dropped to 4:51″/km at about 8km mark as I tried to run up the slopes. Melvin and Xavier were still going strongly and I was losing motivation to chase them.

Moments later, I heard footsteps behind me and realised Trevor has caught up. Soon, we were running alongside each other. Thanks to him, I picked up my pace again. At the flatter road, I managed to squeeze a bit more to chase after Trevor who was now ahead. Glad to have him pushing me to finish the run strongly. Completed 9.8km in 47:13min, average pace: 4:48″/km.

18 Jan 2015, Sunday

Jackie and I had wanted to join MF safra for their long run today. But we overslept and by the time we reached the clubhouse, they had already started their run. After some stretching, we started our run at 7:35am, following the same route. Since Jackie and I intend to clock 20km for the long run, we turned into towards MBS and continued running towards Marina Barrage. It was barely 10km, so we ran up to the 2nd level and down again before taking a break at the water cooler. And for the second time this week, I bumped into Raviin who was out running with his training mates. What a small world.

It was getting warm. I was not sure if I could maintain the 4:45″min/km pace for the 2nd half of the run. Jackie was certainly running faster than before. He was pulling away quickly as we ran towards the NTUC building. I am contented with running at 4:45-4:50″/km pace so did not attempt to close the gap. Caught up with him when we both stopped at a traffic light. I need some water so we stopped at McDonalds along Anson Road for a quick water break. I think Jackie sensed that I was not happy he was increasing his pace and leaving me behind, so he controlled his pace this time, and then pushed himself and finished strongly at the last 1km up Henderson Road to the clubhouse.

I tried to maintain the same effort as I trudged up the slope too. Glad to finish the run at an average pace of 4:43″/km in 1:30:37, distance recorded by Garmin 19.2km, probably not too accurate as the capturing of the satellite was quite unstable over at CBD area.

All in all, the trainings this week has worked out somehow, better than my expectation. A confidence booster for SCHKM next week. =)

Total Mileage for Week 6 (12 Jan – 18 Jan 2015): 62km

Training for SCHKM – Week 5

5 January 2015, Monday

It was business as usual on the first Monday of the New Year. Back in the gym after work. Easy run into NTU like last week, and this time I managed to complete 8 sets of 30 secs hill sprints inside NTU. I ran back to the gym to continue with 10mins of cycling and some core exercises. Clocked a total distance of 9.2km in 49:54 min for the easy run to and fro. Average pace: 5:25″/km. Happy that my legs felt more relaxed as compared to last week. =)

6 January 2015, Tuesday

Warm up 2.4km to Jurong West st 24. This is one of the usual training venues for Jurong Safra Running Club but it has been a long time since I came here. For the workout, I decided to try 2 sets of (4×1.4km) loop around the park with 2min of rest in between sets. Completed the first set in 26:45min and second set in 26:02min. Average pace was 4:40″/km, below my target pace of 4:30″/km so was slightly disappointed. End off the session with 1.7km jog to Jurong Point to buy dinner for myself.

7 January 2015, Wednesday

Another run from office to home on a Wednesday evening. This time with no companion as Jackie was at work and Peyling also tied up with her work. The sun seemed to be setting later than usual these days. I started my run from one-north MRT at 6:10pm, and I could still catch a glimpse of the sunset when I reached Jurong East.

Still recovering from yesterday’s workout, I decided 15km was enough when I arrived at lakeside. I continued running into Jurong Central Park and was surprised to see Sew Hyong doing her tempo inside the park. After my run, I went inside the clubhouse to get a sip of water. (oh yes, I ran without my bottle this time). And did some stretching while I waited for Sew Hyong to complete her run. It was nice catching up with her. She had signed up for Taipei Charity Marathon when they released new slots and is now preparing for the race which would be held in early Feb. Definitely one of the most hardworking and disciplined runners in our club. =)

Distance: 15.2km in 1:19:52. Average pace: 5:15″/km. Legs feel quite tired. >-<

8 January 2015, Thursday

Skipped running today due to rain. Was feeling lethargic too so I did not get out for a run even though the rain has cleared. Late at night, I decided to try out the Nike Training App which Jackie has recommended. Did a short 5mins workout following the steps, followed by a 15mins workout which focuses on toning the arms. Just a short session had me sweating buckets even though I’m not sure if I am following the steps correctly. But it did make me feel less guilty about not running this evening too.

11 January 2015, Sunday

Something exciting happened over the weekend! And I did not managed to clock 30km as planned on Saturday. Managed to squeeze in a 14.8 km run on Sunday after I overslept and woke up late. Did not bother catching the satellite since I was in a rush. So treated the first 1.3km as warm up. Upon reaching NTU, my pace increased to 5″min pace. First loop went well. But my run quickly went downhill when I began my second loop. I could feel my legs getting heavier, breathing become more difficult. I was glad to finally stop for water at hall 7. I only picked up again when I got out of NTU and ran towards my home.

Distance: 13.5 km in 1:10:20. Average pace: 5:13″/km.

*I hope I’m not burnout*

Weekly mileage for Week Five (5 Jan – 11 Jan 2015): 54.5 km