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.

GE Run running shots 1

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>

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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. (>.<)

 

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

Down but not out (Wk 1)

Since I am supposed to layoff from running for 3 weeks, I decided to use the Fitness First 3 day trial pass from Shape Run race pack to start a new exercise regime. Visited the gym on Sunday afternoon and tried the RPM (spin) class. It has been a long time since I join a spin class and it felt really good to race against the tempo of the music and work my quads. Not bad when the instructor is an eye candy too. =p

Rest on Monday and I returned to Fitness First to explore more classes on Tuesday evening after work. It’s great that the gym is so near my workplace at Fusionopolis and I get to save time on travelling. Attended the Bodyjam class and it was quite fun dancing to the rhythm of the music though admittedly I could not really keep up when the steps got more complicated =p This probably explains why I did not perspire as much as I would like to after the one hour class.

After the Bodyjam class, I went for the RPM class. I was looking forward to the spin class as I knew I would get quite a good and hard workout out of this class.  The RPM class feels much tougher than Sunday’s class. I could feel my quads burning with each push and pull of the pedal. Never have I pedaled so furiously before and it was satisfying to spot small puddle of perspiration on the floor after the 50 mins class.

The third class I tried was the Bodypump class, a barbell class to sculpt, tone and strengthen the entire body. I felt daunted when I first entered the class as everyone look so proficient in setting up their equipment. I was feeling slightly lost as it was the first time I attend such classes and have no idea how to select the appropriate weights for my bar. Thankfully, the instructor Andre noticed that I’m new to the class and patiently guided me to set up of equipment and select the weights and also a quick run through of some of the movements.

I chose the lightest weight available to load on the bar for warm up and gradually load more weights following the instruction of the trainer. As it was my first time doing strengthening and conditioning with a barbell (and I have zero confidence of my arm strength), I was caution with the load. Despite the minimum load, I was able to feel the fatigue in my arms after a few repetitions. The 1 hour class leave me feeling quite satisfied and toned. This was the last class for the day and I hurried to shower before the gym closed for the night. 3 days in an evening. Seemed like I had fully utilized the pass.

As the trial pass was only eligible for 3 consecutive days and I missed Monday, I went back to Jurong West Sports Complex’s gym on Wednesday and Thursday to continue with my gym regime. Hopped onto the stationery bike and cycled for 40 mins, followed by using the Nike Training Centre app to do some core workout.

Friday is my rest day. And so this marked my first week of zero mileage. Feeling a bit down since I can’t run, but I’m glad I’m still able to get my endorphin fix from the gym.

Injury Woes

The heel pain on my left foot was so worrying that I finally called Singapore Medicine Centre to fix an appointment with a doctor. The schedule was fully booked so it was more than two weeks later when I finally arrived at SSI for my appointment on 14 August 2015 morning.

I took the whole day off from work for this consultation. Had an ultrasound and the doctor confirms that the heel pain to be due to Plantar Fasciitis. To elaborate, it involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.

My ultrasound imaging showed a 4 mm thickness. Anything more than or equal to 4mm is consider plantar fasciitis. Doctor advised me to cut my mileage by half, and it would be best if I could lay off for three weeks. He also recommended me to see a podiatrist who can customise a pair of insoles for me.

And so the medicine centre pen me in for an appointment with a podiatrist (who comes only in the afternoon) on the same day. The podiatrist made some marking at the back of my foot and then asked me to walk up and down the corridor while he assessed my pronation.  Thereafter, a mold of my feet was made and I was asked bring along two pairs of running shoes when I return at my next visit.

Will be going back to see the doctor and podiatrist in 3 weeks’ time. Shall be good and cut my mileage for the time being. Hope to be able to recover fully in Sept so I can kick start my training for year end SCMS soon.