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.

 

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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.

Great Eastern Women’s Run 2013

Weather was fine when I left home early at 3.50am for GE Run at The Float @ Marina Bay. Very nice of my brother to send me to the race site so early in the morning. Said goodbye to Jackie who set off from my place to clock his 38.5km long run. He has plotted his route and his last stop will be at Fort Canning where he will walk over to The Float @ Marina Bay to meet me after my race.

I arrived at the race venue at about 420am. Though it was still early, there were already many participants around. I took my time to put on my race bib, deposit my bag and visit the toilet. Close to 5am, I did my warm up and proceeded to the race pen. The race pen opened shortly after and participants started streaming in. I managed to take my place close to the starting line. A while later, noticed Kaifen standing behind me and urged her to join me in the front. Chatted with her as we waited patiently for the race to start.

Photographers going around to take photos at the start line. A picture before the race. Say cheese! =)

Photographers going around to take photos at the start line. A picture before the race. Say cheese! =)

Soon, elite athletes also entered the pen from the front one by one. Spotted Anne, Baoying and Ling Er, our three local elite athletes representing Singapore under the Elite race category (this category was by invitation only whereby they will compete with other elite athletes from other countries like North Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.) It was also the second year Great Eastern have created this category for the event.

At 5.30am sharp, the VIP flagged off the elite category while the rest of us in the open/closed categories watched them from the start line as they faded into the distance. We were flagged off 5 minutes later (instead of previous year’s 2 minutes). Three female Kenyans sprinted ahead in rocket speed and soon disappeared from sight. A few more female runners also whizzed past me and ran fast ahead. I recognised one of them as Jenny Huang from her running style. Man, she was fast! And moments later, she was way ahead. As I was already running at about 4:20″/km, I thought it wouldn’t be wise to give chase. Overtook a lady who might have started a tab too fast earlier. The first hydration station came less than 2km into the run.

Spotted the three Kenyans running together in a pack on the other side, led by the cyclists not long after we ran out to the main road. At about 2km, I did a U-turn. Ms Leo (my basketball teacher cum coach from JJC) who was on the other side of the road shouted out to me and gave me a high-five as we ran past each other. Happy to see her this year again. Received plenty of cheers from the female participants as more and more turned into the same road.

Jenny was in the lead (for closed category) while I was second and some distance away from her. Since it was still early in the race, I decided to just keep her in sight for now and hopefully catch her at the later part of the race. At the next hydration point, after 4km mark, I was getting closer to Jenny. However, I realised my current pace has dropped to 4:25″/km pace. Seems like both of us were slowing down. There was no one closing behind us, so I was glad I had Jenny in front for me to follow.

It started drizzling which was good as I always have a problem with humidity. Saw some lightning flashed across the sky though and prayed hard that it would remain a drizzle and it wouldn’t start to pour while we were running.

It was still early in the morning and it was kind of dark inside Kallang park (the same park I ran last week at Nike Run). At a junction, a route marshal told us to turn right and head straight. The road led us to Mountbatten Road. I was a few metres from Jenny now, and I know I would be able to catch up with her soon.

Few metres become a few steps. we made our way onto the pavement as there was some constructions on going on the road. Managed to overtake her when we came down the curb and returned to racing on the road. I called out to Jenny to press on and hang in there and she encouraged me to go on too. As I was far from my target of hitting average 4:20″/km pace, I tried to speed up. Ran and ran and saw Kim Lai at a cross junction. Waved and smile as he took my photo. Soon, at about 8km mark, I was back on Nicoll Highway again. With a few inclines and declines, this race route was turning up to be more difficult than expected.

Without Jenny ahead and hardly any route marshals along the race route, I was kind of worried that I will be running on a wrong route. Thankfully, every time I thought I was lost or feeling unsure, a marshal would suddenly appeared at different junctions to clear my doubt. Good deployment of road marshals by organisers I must say. It was also easy to follow the barricades when there are no marshals around.  As I gradually break away from Jenny, it was a quiet and lonely race against myself.

Close to 13km, I did a sharp left turn into a park. As I ran on, I noticed a female athlete clad in black top from the elite category not far ahead. Speaking in Mandarin, we chatted briefly and I ran on. At the same time, I could see Jenny turning in, still looking strong. She was retaining her 2nd position. She was still a distance away but I couldn’t help but quickened my steps in case she gain speed and suddenly catch up at the later part.

I ran on and finally reached Tanjong Rhu Road. By then, I could no longer see Jenny. Relieved that there was no one hot on my heels, I relaxed a little. The sky was gradually turning bright. The cool morning has drawn many early birds out for a jog or a stroll. A few of them cheered for me along the way. Though I was happy that I was in the lead, I was not quite satisfied with my run as I was running more slowly than before, with my current pace dropping to 4:30″/km and more. Where is that motivation and fighting spirit to get the best time possible? I recalled running together with Stella at the same event last year, and we kept each other going for most part of the race. And also the recent Army Half Marathon where I have got Baoying to push me to run my lungs and heart out at the last few kilometers of the race. In other races, there were usually more runners to chase too.

My average pace dropped to 4:27″/km then. Far from my target of 4:20″/km. Better not let it drop any more! I ran on, running comfortably hard towards Marina Barrage where the next hydration point will be located. I was greeted with many friendly photographers and cheerful volunteers the moment I ran down the bridge. I grabbed my drinks and continued running, smiling at all the cameras I saw along the way. Ran past MBS and I spotted Ling Er not far away ahead, running steadily.

I tried to speed up, hoping to catch up with her. Continued my chase along Marina Boulevard and finally caught up with Ling Er just before we turned onto Esplanade Drive. We exchanged some encouragement for each other and then I pulled away to conquer yet another short but steep slope up the bridge. Up and down. Reached the foot and there was a sharp left turn. Had to watch my steps as the ground was wet. It was less than one km to the finishing line! And once again, there were many photographers snapping away.

Almost to the finishing line! Super elated to see so many photographers along the way. The best part is all these photos by FinisherPix can be downloaded for free!

Almost to the finishing line! Super elated to see so many photographers along the way. The best part is all these photos by FinisherPix can be downloaded for free!

Saw Ken standing at the side, holding up his handphone. He is probably here to cheer for Emily. Waved at him as I ran past (only to realise later that he was actually taking a video of me.)

Down the ramp and saw the time on the clock counted to 1:39:00 as I crossed the finishing line. Distance was very accurate with 21.18km registered on my Garmin. Official time for my half marathon was 1:34:13 since we were flagged off about 5 minutes after the Elite Category.

Am very happy to come in first for closed category too! Thank you GE Women’s Run for adding this new category and gave non-elites runners like us a chance to be on podium!

And Kaifen was the 2nd runner-up! Just four seconds away from Jenny. Congrats, Kaifen!

And Kaifen was the 2nd runner-up! Just four seconds away from Jenny. Congrats, Kaifen!

Thank you Great Eastern!

Thank you Great Eastern!

Thank you bf for coming down to support despite a very long and wet run on a nice Sunday morning. <3

Thank you bf for coming down to support after your long and wet run on a cold Sunday morning. ❤