YOLO Run

YOLO Run was held on the same weekend as Great Eastern Women’s Run. Prior to signing up for YOLO, I have rejected GE run’s invitation to join the elite category as it was 3 weeks away from SCSM and my intention was do my longest long run, 35-36km on the same weekend.

So when Baoying shared that she got some free slots for YOLO run which was held on a Saturday, I thought it would be nice to do a good 21km followed by 15km to clock my longest run.  Signed up for the run happily, thinking to take this as a good training run.

And then along came the Alfa Romeo challenge, where female and male half-marathoners each stand to drive away with a brand new Alfa Romeo. Of course, it’s not going to be easy. Here’s what it says on the website:-

In light of Singapore’s national record of 1hr 7mins 8secs for the men’s category and 1hr 23mins 16secs for the women’s category, the incredible winners of the 21KM Alfa Romeo Competizione will be the fastest male and the fastest female who can finish the race under the times of 1hr 9mins 0secs and 1hr 25mins 0secs respectively – a feat that must be achieved without the assistance of illegal drugs and steroids.

I certainly cannot run sub 1hr 25mins for a half marathon, not at my current level and definitely not in Singapore. My PB is just under 1hr 28min and that was achieved in Japan, a cool climate perfect for running. So I didn’t paid much attention to this challenge until Rachel shared that there would be cash prizes as consolation prizes if no one can run below 1hr 25min. True enough, I checked the website and it was updated with the new terms:

The fastest entrants who do not run below 1hr09mins (Men) and 1hr25mins (Women) but still run below 1hr15mins (Men) and 1hr37mins (Women), from their respective Men or Women categories, will be entitled to the cash consolation prize(s) of:

– 1st position : SGD3,000

– 2nd position : SGD1,500

– 3rd position : SGD750

Now, 1hr 37 mins sounds a lot more achievable compared to 1hr 25min. So why not just sign up for this challenge since I’m already participating in the run?

So Jackie and I attended the briefing on 1 October at Velocity together with Rachel and Zili. The guys gamely signed up on the spot to join the challenge with us since they thought they do not stand a chance to win in the open category anyway.

11.11.2017. Race Day.

Jackie, Daniel, Ivan and I shared a cab down to Singapore Flyer. We arrived just slightly before 4am. The place was dimly lit. So dark that we received advice from other runners to bring along hand phone (as torchlight) because there was no lights inside the toilets.

Met up with Alex at the pacers’ tent and we mingled, chit-chat and took some pictures. I did my warm up and visited the loo again (super long queue even at 4:35 am. I almost thought I could not make it to the start line by 5am.)

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At 4:50 am, we were led to the start line and the emcee introduced the participants of Alfa Romeo Challenge to the crowd. There were altogether seven of us. Four men namely, Soh Rui Yong, Lexus Tan, Poon Zili, and Jackie. For the female participants, there were only three of us, Rachel See, April Mckenna and myself. We were allowed to have one pacer so I have roped in Ivan to run with me.

The race was supposed to start at 5am. We waited..and waited. By 5:40 am, we can sense that the crowd were getting restless. There were some boos from the runners. It was rare to have a race being delayed for so long without any explanation. The emcee tried to calm the runners down by explaining that there has been an incident around Sports Hub area and that we should be flagging off soon.

We were finally flagged off at around 5:50am. Rui Yong disappeared almost immediately with the lead cyclist and his cyclist pacers and that would be the last time I see him. Lexus shot off in great speed and pulled away quickly too. I could see Zili, Jackie and Rachel not too far ahead. Ivan and I ran on, with April following closely behind us.

My first target was to attempt average 4:20″/km pace. I told Ivan beforehand that I wasn’t sure if I could handle this pace as even if I could run without feeling pain in my butt, I may not have the fitness to sustain the pace throughout the 21 km. If that didn’t work out, my second target is to finish under 1hr 37min in order to qualify for the prizes.

Along Nicoll Highway, we spotted Gen. He ran alongside with us and was puzzled by the delayed start. We chatted and ran past the first hydration point, only to find out that it was not ready yet. Yuta, from the open category (which was flagged about 2 mins later) came running past shortly. Gen ran with him and the two disappeared into the darkness to catch up with the rest of the Alfa Romeo challengers ahead. It’s back to just me, Ivan and April. April and I each have a cyclist to lead us. A few more fast runners ran past, one after another spaced some distance apart, Ahmad, Gordon, Ghim.

As we turned into Sports Hub, a few more runners overtook us, Daniel, Jingjie, Derek, Hubert running in a pack. April was still following closely behind me, and I dare not slack. We were running at 4:25″/km pace but I felt comfortable and wasn’t in a rush to get into 4:20″/km.

As we ran past Kallang Wave Mall, the two cyclists who were supposed to lead me and April ended up cycling behind us and talking to each other. At certain turns, we took cues from the pack of runners ahead and follow. I have to request my cyclist to be ahead of us to led the way when we could no longer see any runners ahead.

Left Sport Hub and we headed towards ECP where I know that there would be a u-turn at 9km mark. As we ran towards the u-turn, we could see the rest of the runners on the other side. Ruiyong was so fast that I didn’t get to see him at all throughout the race. Lexus, currently in 2nd place among the 4 male challengers. Jackie was in 3rd place! And I thought to myself that he must be enjoying to have his very own lead cyclist. Not long after spotted Rachel running strong.

Seeing all these runners motivated me and I was soon running at 4:20″/km pace as planned. After the U-turn at 9km mark, we ran towards Marina Barrage, my cyclist actually turned towards Tanjong Rhu. Seemed like not all the cyclists know the race route but luckily we have a rough idea of the race route.

At 10km, April was still hot on my heels. At first, I was glad to have her running closely behind me, as she pushed me to stick to the pace and kept me on my toes. But when this continued even after 12km where Ivan and I started picking up pace and was running under 4:20″/km, I wasn’t sure if I like the idea of her hanging so closely behind us anymore. It was nice running together, but I was hoping April could share the load and perhaps take the lead some time instead of shadowing behind. I guess it’s all part of racing strategy.

At 14km, I was feeling good about the run as I experience no pain at all. I felt thirsty though. There were now many 21km runners on the other side of the race route and it appeared to have only one hydration point at the other side, which was jam packed with runners. Without 2nd thought, I made a move to the right to grab some water from the hydration station. And of course, I got stuck in the crowd of oncoming runners as I tried to retrieve a cup of water. It was a silly and grave mistake which I regretted and paid for it dearly at the end. Upon seeing this, April took the chance to speed up. By the time I got back to the clear but narrow running path, she was ahead by at least 20 m and pulling away fast. I think my mistake could have given her a new found motivation.

I thought I still have a chance to catch her, after all we still have about 6 km till the finishing line. Ivan and I set off to chase, but it was getting harder to run fast especially with oncoming runners sharing the same narrow path at Tanjong Rhu.

Crossed the bridge and we seemed to be closing in to April. However, she glanced back and seemed more determined than ever to get away. I was feeling the fatigue after the sudden surge earlier on. Or my mind is weak and I lost the motivation to chase. I could not react to the change in speed and my pace dropped to 4:40″/km as we ran inside Sports Hub, the gap between me and April widening again. She crossed the road and looked back for the last time before she sped up again to break away.

I ran on, following Ivan. The next moment I saw April running on the grass into the crowd. There was a hydration station on her right. Gosh, is she going to make the same mistake as I did by stopping for water with all the runners out there? We got closer and realised it was actually part of the running route. It was also the u-turn point for 10km runners, which explain the massive crowd. Ivan and I got through the crowd, made our way down the flight of stairs gingerly to get to Kallang Riverside Park. By the time we started running again, we had lost sight of April in the crowd. =(

It was even tougher to run here as we were blocked by slower 10 km runners who were on their return route. It was impossible to overtake on the right as there were on-coming runners coming through. I was trying to get past a guy running in front of me. Tapped on his shoulder lightly and he responded, “Stop Pushing!”

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Photo credit to Pictureart Gallery

Hmm.. hello I wasn’t even pushing? I squeezed my way through and relieved to get out of the crowd. Spotted the starting line on the other side. The finishing line should be somewhere towards the back. I checked for the time. To my horror, it was already 1hr 35mins ++ and yet there was no sign of the finishing line.

I got anxious and started speeding up. Saw from a distance the runners running up a slope, where the finishing line was. Would I make it in time? I sprinted and finally crossed the finishing line in 1:36:44. Phew! Just barely under 1:37.

Not the best organised race certainly – late race start, congested running routes, insufficient hydration points etc. I did enjoy the shoulder massage at the end though. And it was a creative and interesting concept to link up with Alfa Romeo to introduce the Alfa Romeo Challenge and let us have a go of breaking records. The incentive that came along with it was a big bonus too.

Reflections

I am not happy with my race performance, even though I did managed to finish under 1hr 37min and get away with a 3rd place (because there’s only 3 females runners in this category).

No doubt there’s some congestion and that could have been a reason for me to slow down, but somehow I feel that I just did not try hard enough to sustain my target pace. I did not push hard enough to catch April when she pulled away. Instead I gave in to my fatigue. Thinking back, April deserves to win because she wanted it more that me. Every race is a learning experience and I certainly take away loads from this race.

On a side note, I am glad I’m able to run without the pain in the butt feeling. So things are looking up. =)

 

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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.

 

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>

NTUC Income Run 350

The target for the half marathon was once again 1hr 30min. And once again, it was an unsuccessful attempt.

The race started promptly at 5am. The moment the horn sounded, Jackie and I could not help but run fast to keep up with the front pack. We had planned to start at 4:20″/km pace and to step up to 4:15″/km race pace after the first two km. However, adrenaline and excitement got better of us. We found ourselves clocking a 4:03″/km split for the first km.

Despite the fast start, we could still see Trevor, Jenny and many others ahead of us. At the 2nd km, we have slowed down slightly to our intended race pace, though our average pace was still below 4:15″/km. Knowing I would not be able to sustain the pace for long, I told Jackie to run ahead and not wait for me. I continued running, contented with running at 4:15-4:20″/km pace. Soon, Jackie faded into the distance. I caught up with Jenny shortly and then caught sight of Trevor who was ahead.

Boon Wee who was initially behind me caught up with me and we ran alongside each other for a while. I was beginning to feel the effect of the fast start as we turned towards Sports Hub. My running pace dropped to 4:24″/km. Boon Wee ran on to catch up with Trevor who was ahead but also seemed to be slowing down.

Over at Sports Hub, there were a few twists and turns. It was pitch dark at certain stretches so I kept my eyes on the ground most of the time. Shortly after running past the Kallang Wave Mall (I think), there was a commotion ahead. Some runners had ran up the bridge and had to u-turn after realising that was an incorrect route. I kept my eyes on the few runners ahead to stay on the correct route. Soon, I was on the road towards Tanjong Rhu. My running pace had dropped further to about 4:30″/km. I took a packet of gel at around the 10km mark. I could no longer see Trevor and Boon Wee after I turned left into the park connector.

It was pretty dark in the park and I could barely made out the outline of a male runner ahead. He was slowing down so I pressed on to close up the gap. We chatted briefly, encouraged each other as we ran alongside each other for a while. I gradually pull away from him to maintain my pace.

There was no one else in sight and I was feeling the fatigue. At 13km, I got a shock to see that my pace has dropped to 4:37″/km. I tried to put in more effort, but the next split was also a disappointing 4:36″/km. It was then I knew a sub 1:30 time was out of reach. I was feeling tired and having all kind of negative thoughts, “this is so tough”, “why not just slow down and finish the race since you ain’t going to get that PB anyway.”

It was so easy to just slow down and finish the run comfortably. After all, there’s no chance to beat those Kenyans ahead and there’s no chance to do a personal best. Then, veteran runner Ng Ngee Hung came along. I waved for him to run ahead. He encouraged me to “lock the pace” before overtaking me. This was all I need to hear. Surely I could at least maintain 4:30-4:35″/km pace. So I threw away all my negative thoughts and waste no time to catch up with him.

The wonder of having company during a hard run. My legs started kicking again. Though I wasn’t running any faster than before, the effort seemed less taxing now. Ngee Hung and I ran steadily along Gardens By the Bay. As we approached Marina Barrage, I psyched myself up to prep for the slope. It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. I cruised down at the other side and eventually caught up with Ngee Hung.

Then it was a long straight road towards Art Science Museum. Ngee Hung overtook me again shortly after the down slope and was chasing after another runner ahead. I tried to keep both of them in sight. Ran past MBS and finally reached NTUC building. 19km done! Only 2km more to go. Motivated, I picked up my pace to close up the gap between myself and Ngee Hung.

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I finally caught up with Ngee Hung and another runner at Esplanade bridge and cheered for both of them as I ran past. Ngee Hung, still feeling strong, was hot on my heels. I thought the end was near after getting down the Esplanade Bridge and so I picked up my pace again. There was no marshals around so I was thankful to have Ngee Hung shouting for me from behind to turn right towards the floating platform. The platform was dimly lit. It was then I realised the finishing line was still a few hundred meters away, closer to the Singapore Flyer. I pressed on, and caught sight of the finishing line after a bend. The clock was ticking away. I sprinted, hoping to at least finished under 1:32.00.

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Alas, I crossed the finishing line in 1:32:05 (gun time). I was 4th for Women’s Open, behind three Kenyans. I thought prizes were only given to top 3 winners so happily went for breakfast with my friends before heading home after the race. It was only few days later when I checked the website, I realised I won the Local Champion Women’s category! Happy bonus. =)

Though no PB again, I’m satisfied that I managed to overcome the negative thoughts in my head and finished the race in my best effort and possible time. So grateful to have Ngee Hung pacing me for the last third of the race when I really feel like giving up.

Here’s a few photos taken after the race.

With friends from Jurong SAFRA

With friends from Jurong SAFRA

With Zhilei and GY. This camera angle makes us look tall.

With Zhilei and GY. This camera angle makes us look tall.

With friends from MF SAFRA.

With friends from MF SAFRA.

Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014

This year, HiVelocity created a new category called the Elite Local category for Great Eastern Women’s Run. I am very honoured and privileged to be invited by HiVelocity to join this new category. (embarrassed to be called an elite though, cos my time wasn’t really that fantastic compared to the rest of top runners).  No doubt competition is going to be stiffer due to the strong pool of athletes, but what draws me to join the category is that I got a chance to race alongside with the overseas and other local elite runners. Though I probably be outclass by most of them, I was hoping that the bit of competition could push me to do a personal best for half marathon. As always, prizes for GE run winners are attractive. In addition to the top three cash prizes for Elite Local category, we can also compete for a top 10 finish in the Elite Open category. There are altogether 17 athletes (5 overseas runners and 12 locals runners).

The day before the race, we were invited to a briefing held at Ritz Carlton hotel. We get to sign on a huge red balloon and race kits were presented to us one-by-one. It was nice catching up with the runners, many of whom are friends. We had a nice time mingling and enjoyed the light snacks and coffee provided. Thereafter, some of us went along with the crew to check out the race site and took some photos.

Group picture with all the runners.

Group picture with all the runners and the big red balloon.

9 November 2014 – Race Day

It was still drizzling when Rachel, Zhiliei, Jasmine and I entered the race pen. Shortly after, Yvonne, Kaifen, Baoying entered the pen too. Then along came Anne, Ying Rong and all the overseas elite runners who also joined us at the start line for some photo-taking before the start of the race. I was shivering in cold and couldn’t wait for the race to start and get warm.

A group picture before the race.

A group picture before the race.

We were flagged off at exactly 5.30am. The elites from overseas shot off. I started running alongside with Yvonne who is doing her debut, first half marathon in Singapore. As we turned out of the Singapore Flyer towards Nicoll Highway, I could see the pack of runners ahead breaking out into smaller groups. Three overseas elites were running together in the first pack way ahead of the rest of runners. The second pack consists of Anne, Rachel and another overseas runner. Not far behind were Ying Rong and another overseas runner clad in red top.

My race plan is to start at 4:20″/km and increase my pace to 4:15″/km once I got into momentum. First km went smoothly as planned. I was trying to keep Ying Rong in sight so I went a bit faster after the first km to close up the gap. It was still drizzling and the crew has shifted the drink station from the road to the grass. So we need to step up to the curb to get our drinks. 3km past and I was still feeling good. Two African runners from the open category ran past us. I felt Yvonne dropping back after about 4 km. I continued running, determined to maintain the 4:15″/km pace for as long as I can. There was a hairpin turn, and I received plenty of cheers from the ladies behind, Kaifen, Jasmine, Zhilei as well as ladies from the 2nd wave. Jenny, who was leading her category looking fresh and all smiley, follow by Sue and Peyling seems to be holding well too.

5km came and went in a flash.  Suddenly, Ying Rong increased her pace and began pulling away from the overseas elite runner whom she was running together with for the first 5km. It happened so fast that she was out of sight immediately after a left turn. I dare not increase my pace as my current pace was already hovering below 4:15″/km. I focused on closing the gap between myself and the overseas runner, who seems to be slowing down. I was relieved to finally caught her after the 7km mark and we ran alongside for a while. As we entered into a park, I was surprised to see Anne just slightly ahead. She was still running fast, but was slowing down. A cyclist clad with a vest that reads “3rd place female” were leading her. Realizing I actually stand a chance for a podium finish, I quickened my pace to give chase and finally overtook Anne at 8km mark. From then onwards, it was a pretty lonely run. Without anyone ahead to chase, I slowed down a lot to about 4:25″/km pace. I was so worried that someone would catch up with me that I kept glancing back to see if any of the runners behind. Vanja who belongs to the general open category ran past me, she was third for her individual open category (behind the two Kenyan or Ethiopia runners who ran past early in the race). She seems to be taking it easy after she pulled away from the 4th place runner who were hot on her heels previously. Ran past Sports Hub for the first time and I thought the place looks quite amazing. I was glad to have the cyclist leading the way, otherwise I would certainly be lost with all the twists and turns.

It was getting brighter and I could see more runners (from the 2nd wave) on the other side of the road. Renuka shouted and cheered for me when she saw me. (She was supposed to join us at the elite local category, but had decided to do an easy run that day). Her encouragement got me going again and I tried to speed up.

Soon, I arrived at the Marina Bay golf range. It was a long lonely stretch all the way to Marina Barrage. I realised I was losing the motivation to even try for a 4:20″/km pace. Spotted three guys running in the opposite direction towards me. Recognize one of them for Raviin (Yvonne’s bf and fellow asics team mate) who cheered for me when he ran past.

It was close to 16km. And I was finally approaching Marina Barrage. Upon reaching the barrage, I saw the cyclist waiting for me at the start of a ramp leading to the top. It was only then I realised we had to run up the ramp, the same route we did for sundown ultra relay. Vanja who was still within sight, picked up her speed right after she finished this loop and never look back. I increased my pace too after exiting Marina Barrage. 4km more km to go, surely I could finish it.

GE Run 2014

There were a lot more supporters and photographers stationed outside MBS. I try to smile at all the cameras I saw. Arrived at the last water point along Marina Boulevard and I saw Vanja again ahead. I pressed on. No chance for a 1hr 30min half marathon anymore, not even a PB. I could only hope to do a time that betters my KL half marathon’s time.

It was the same route to the finishing line as last year. Up the Esplanade bridge and a sharp right turn before running towards The Float@Marina Bay. The ground was still wet. I was thankful that my pair of tartherzeal provides quite a good grip to save me from slipping. I relaxed a little when I saw the finishing line just ahead. Finished in a net time of 1:31:32, matching the time I did for KL half marathon, yes, right to the second.

Finishing line is near!

Finishing line is near! *photo credits to Dave Poh*

I was disappointed that I did not manage to do a personal best despite the perfectly cool weather. Still, it was my best time for a local half marathon so I guess I am contented. The unexpected and surprise podium finish make up for the disappointment too. I finished 3rd for the Elite Local category, behind the champion, Ying Rong and 1st runner up, Rachel The three of us were 5th, 6th and 7th for the Elite Open category. =)

Not a bad race after all.

Happy to come in 3rd!

Prize presentation on stage. Delighted to come in 3rd!

Super like this photo taken with Ying Rong and Rachel.

Super like this photo taken with Ying Rong and Rachel.

Happy for Peyling who did a PB and came in 3rd for the individual local category too!

Happy for Peyling who did a PB and came in 3rd for the individual local category too!

Standard Chartered KL Marathon

Standard Chartered KL Marathon holds a special place in my heart because it is the very place and event where I achieved a couple of breakthroughs when I picked up competitive running 3 years ago. This is where I ran my first overseas half marathon in June 2011 in under 99 mins and where I achieved my very first BQ cum sub 3:30hr marathon the year after.

So I was very excited to be going to KL for the half-marathon again this year and set a target of a new pb for my half-marathon.

The Friday before the race, Jackie, Gis, Chris and I met up at Golden Mile Complex to take the 11 pm coach from Singapore to KL together. A bumpy ride but we managed to catch forty winks in the coach and arrived in KL at 4.30am. We spent a couple of hours in a nearby McDonald. The plan was to wait for the first train to be in service so we could head to Chinatown for breakfast before checking into our hotel. Thankfully, the hotel allowed us to check in early at 9am so we get to wash up. After meeting up with Laichee who was also staying in the same hotel, we went for a second round of breakfast before finding our way to the Dataran Merdeka to pick up our race kits.

2nd round of breakfast before collecting our race kits.

2nd round of breakfast before collecting our race kits.

Done with race kit collection.

Done with race kit collection.

We also met up with fellow Safra running mates, Sew Hyong and Peyling and took some nice photos at the finishing line. Had lunch at Lot 10 and we parted in the late afternoon to rest before meeting again for dinner at 630pm. Had about 6 hrs of quality sleep, and woke up feeling fresh.

The finishing line!

The finishing line!

12 October 2014 – Race Day

We set off on foot from the hotel to Dataran Merdeka at 5am. By the time Jackie and I deposited our belongings and visited the loo, it was 5:30am and the race pen was quickly filling up with people. There was little time for warm up. We started  jogging towards the pen and squeezed our way to the front. Did some light stretching while we waited for the race to start.

The half marathoners were flagged off at 6 am. A different route this year, we set off running at the opposite direction as past years towards Medan Tuanku Monorail station. Jackie said he will try pacing me for a 1:30hr half-marathon so our target was to start at 4:20/km pace and gradually increase to 4:15″/km. The first few km started smoothly. Spotted a few ladies ahead and my target was to keep them in sight. I was quite surprised though that the first water station only appeared at the 3km mark. Thankfully, the weather was not as humid as I thought it would be. Subsequently, the water stations were spaced about 2.5km apart, which was good enough for runners.  There was a tall Caucasian lady in white top running strongly in front of me. And further ahead was a petite female in orange top, running fast and strong.

The first 5km was over shortly. Did a time check: under 22 mins, average pace 4:17″/km. Not bad for the first 5km, I thought as I was (surprisingly) still feeling fresh. After 5km, Jackie and I attempted to increase our pace closer to 4:15″/km as planned. At 6km, my Garmin suddenly lost the satellite. I continue to run alongside Jackie. Thankfully, it captured the satellite a while later and I continue to receive alerts for every km, albeit not exactly at the distance marker now. I was getting into the momentum, gradually closing up with the Caucasian lady in front. Finally, I past her after the 7km mark. We were running smoothly, hitting at a split of 4:17″/km most of the time. I thought we were not too far of 42mins plus for the first 10km, but a time check at 10km shows 43min 15s (almost 45s off!)That got me anxious, and I ran a little faster at the next km. Though target was still off by a bit, I was really quite pleased with how the run was working out at this point as I was not panting too heavily.

Alas, at close to 12km mark, there was a steep slope that totally threw me off my pace. I could only watch as Jackie ran strongly up the slope and pulled  away from me. I struggled up the hill, and by the time I was at the top, I had slowed down a fair bit to catch my breath. The good thing was I could still see Jackie ahead, he was closing up on the female lady in orange top. I concentrate on the couple of runners ahead of me, taking them as my target.

There was a hairpin turn after the 13km mark, and I saw Jackie on the other side. We cheered for each other and it was at that point I know he’s gonna run on his own. Which means I gotta finish the race on my own too, without him pacing me.Back on flat ground, I was getting my wind back and was very encouraged when the Caucasian lady whom I overtook earlier cheered for me as I past her on the other side of the road.

Crossed the 15km mark in about 1hr 05min. I was feeling good and was prepared to increase my pace for the last 6km. Alas, at the next km, a series of slopes greeted me. Running up and down the undulating terrain threw me off my pace again. I was now doing splits of 4:22-4:26″/km and beginning to feel the fatigue setting in. At 18km mark, there was another steep hill and my pace dropped to 4:33″/km. I was winded by the time I reached the top. Thankfully, what goes up must come down. I try to catch my breath as I cruised down the hill. Back on a flat course with just 2 more km to go, I pressed on. There were more photographers around taking running pictures of participants.

At the last 500m, I could see the finishing line right ahead. Gave my all and chased the two male runners who were slightly ahead. The female lady in orange was still in sight but a distance away, and not quite possible to catch anymore. It was a gentle down slope to the finishing line. I could see the clock ticking away..1:31:xx.. No personal best since it’s already more than 1:31:09 but I can still chase for a sub 1:32 timing to get a season best timing for this year.

Last sprint to the finishing line!

Last sprint to the finishing line!  Photo credits to Mino Ersyah Arshad.

Gave my all and finished the half marathon in 1:31:33, with a 8th position in the open women’s category. No personal best, but it was a feel-good run and I thoroughly enjoyed the race.

My hard earn finisher medal. =)

My hard earn finisher medal. =)

 

Army Half Marathon

My target for this year’s Army Half Marathon is to sustain an average 4:20″/km pace. If all went well, I hope to finish below 1hr 32 min for the 21.1km.

The race started at 5am in the morning. Elite runners and army guys shot off right from the start. Saw Renuka, Rachel and her husband, Zili started at a fast pace and soon disappeared into the dark too. Trevor followed not far behind them. Adrenaline running high, I was surprised to find myself starting the run at 4:17″/km pace for my first km. Managed to see Jackie with Ying Rong and a few runners running together. I tried to follow them, but when my 2nd km reads 4:15″/km, I decided it would be best to run my own race. Slowed down a bit and my average pace came down to 4:20″/km as planned all the way to 7km.

First third of the race done, I was still feeling not-too-bad. I took it as a good sign and pressed on. Shortly after, Baoying caught up with me and we chatted a bit. She was strong! I could only watch as she sped away up a slope and faded into the distance.

Soon, I was approaching the u-turn and I could see many speedy runners like Renuka, Andy Neo, Rachel, Poon Zili, Trevor Chua, Boon Wee, Randall on the other side. Jackie seems to be pacing well, could still smile when he saw me. At the hair pin u-turn, Chia from Jurong Safra caught up with me. He was still running strong, and soon pulled away from me after the u-turn.

Fatigue sets in and I realised my pace has dropped to about 4:25″/km. I was no longer pushing as hard or maybe I was afraid to push hard. Close to 12km, I noticed my shoelaces on my right foot has came undone. I hastily re-do my laces and continued running again, trying to catch up with the guys ahead.

There was a guy clad in a NUS singlet who was running with a friend. I overtook him and he followed closely behind to catch up with me. We ran alongside for a couple of km, until at about 16km, my shoelaces dropped (again!). Frustrated with myself for not tying properly the first time it loosen, I re-tied my shoelaces after the u-turn, and quickly picked up my pace to catch up with the guys in front again.

With only 5km to go, I knew I have to keep pushing and try to finish as close to 1hr 32 min as possible. Spotted Randall who has slowed down and encouraged him to follow me. He seems to be in pain and asked me to go ahead. I got more excited as I approached Esplanade and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Spotted Sky at the foot of the bridge.

It was a painful climb up the bridge. But once up, I kept my cadence high and gave my all when I saw the finishing line and clock ticking away ahead. Finished the race in 1:33:29. Far from my pb, 1:31:17 clocked in Hong Kong last year, and missed out on the podium finish but I was satisfied as it was one of the best time I achieved locally for an accurate 21.1km course. Overall, finished 4th in the Family Women’s category. Vanja, Rachel and Baoying were 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. Renuka raced under Women’s Open so she was 5th among the strong field of competitors consisting of African runners, with an impressive time of 1:29:11.

I still got much to learn about pacing myself and racing a good half marathon. Realised I tend to get very distracted in the middle of my race and I find it hard to sustain my pace for the second-third. Gotta work harder if I really want to break the 1:30 barrier someday!

Run! Run! Run!

Run! Run! Run!

All out when I saw the finishing line ahead. Taking gulps of air in.

All out when I saw the finishing line ahead. Taking gulps of air in. Thanks Running shots for the pictures.

Happy to complete the half marathon! Love the new Asics pink top.

Happy to complete the half marathon! Love the new Asics pink top.