Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2015

The Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Nov @ECP

35km done! =)

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

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

The Day before the Race

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

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

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

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

Race Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Check at 5km: 22:57 

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

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

Time check at 10km: 46:26

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

Time check at 15km: 1:09:40

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

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

Time check at 21.1km: 1:37:29

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

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

Time check at 25km: 1:55:14

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

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

Time check at 30km: 2:18:20

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

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

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

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

Time check at 35km: 2:40:12

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

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

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

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

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

Time check at 40km: 3:05:01

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

28th SEA Games

7 June 2015, Sunday

The day has finally arrived. It’s race day. And it’s not just any race day. It’s SEA Games marathon race day. It still seemed so surreal as I stepped onto the Kallang Practice Track and lined up behind the starting line, shoulder to shoulder with all other elite marathoners in the region on that cool, drizzling Sunday morning. When I first started running competitively four years ago, it was simply a pursuit to better my personal best. Never did I thought I would have a chance to represent Singapore for SEA Games. It was a wonderful opportunity and I really treasured it. Thank you SAA for the nomination and SNOC for the nod of approval.

The night before the marathon, I was in bed by about 9.45 pm. As I lay on the bed, I could feel and hear my heart still pumping wildly, much faster than any other normal day. It took me a while before I finally drifted off to sleep. Despite the few hours of sleep, I woke up easily when the alarm sounded at 3.15am. It felt as if I had not slept at all and if I did, I had slept lightly. Breakfast was three slices of bread with peanut butter, a small banana and a can of coffee. Rachel and I then went down to the hotel lobby at 420am to meet up with marathon guys, Ashley and Ruiyong, Coach Rameson, Physio Emily.

We were surprised to see Coach Janna and race walker Shumin (who has just completed her 20km race walk the day before) up so early in the morning too. They had wanted to show their support and decided to tag along too. =)

We were surprised to see Coach Janna and race walker Shumin (who has just completed her 20km race walk the day before) up so early in the morning too. They had wanted to show their support and decided to tag along too. =)

The group of us boarded the shuttle bus and arrived at Kallang Practice Track shortly later. As Rachel and I were still clad in Yonex Team Sg attire, we headed for the toilets to change into our race attire immediately. Then we walked towards the track where many other athletes were already jogging and warming up.

Feeling very excited.

Feeling very excited.

Warming up

Rachel and I getting ready for the biggest race ever. 

Rachel and I put our bags down and also started jogging on the track. A short while later, we were called to the call room and were given a time chip for our shoes. After securing the chip, we continued with our warm up along the track. Soon, it was time to report to the call room again. The officials called out our bib numbers and arranged us to stand in a line. I could feel the tension in the call room. It was all so serious as the officials sounded really strict. We then sat down in the same order and wait. We were not allowed to go anywhere (without an official) from this point onward. There was some waiting as apparently, there was a lightning risk. Thankfully, at close to 6 am, we were ushered out onto the track to start the race. I was getting more nervous by the minute. I think it was all shown on my face as I could hear Jackie shouting out to me when we started our first lap around the 400m track. ”放松“ (relax) he said, reminding me to relax .

The marathon started promptly at 6am sharp. The men naturally took the lead and set the pace. The female runners followed. I went with the flow and tucked myself right behind the pack, just behind Rachel. The first round went by so fast that I did not recall running the 400m at all.

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There were many supporters standing just below the grandstand cheering for all of us. Adrenaline pumping, I continued to follow the female pack as we completed another lap around the track before heading out towards Tanjong Rhu. Saw a dear old friend, Emily cheering for me as I exited Kallang Practice Track. Many F1 runners were outside cheering for us too. I kept running, focusing on the pack ahead. They were gradually pulling away. I was hoping I could at least kept sight of them before we reached East Coast Park.

My Garmin registered 4:04″/km for my first km. “Gosh, this is too fast”. Still, I was already falling behind the female pack and the gap widen as we ran towards Tanjong Rhu Bridge. By the time I cleared the Tanjong Rhu bridge and ran towards Fort Road, I could no longer see the guys. The women have also broken up, with a pack of 6 leading the front and the rest scattered behind. I could see Rachel from a distance. She was in 8th position and slowly catching up with another female runner ahead. I was 10th and the last runner. My split for the 2nd km read 4:19″/km. “Still too fast. I’m going to kill myself later if I continue at this pace.” So even though I was reluctant to see myself dropping so far behind the other runners, I forced myself to slow down some more and ignored the gap that was widening between myself and the rest. I have planned to run my own race and I better stick to this plan. At the right-hand turn into ECP, I could see Jackie and many runners who were cheering for us at Kallang Practice Track running towards ECP from the adjacent side of the road. Jenny and Jasmine were there too, ever their bubbly selves, cheering loudly for me as I ran past. Lexus was encouraging and assured that I was running at a good pace. I pressed on, knowing the difficult and mental part of the race was approaching.

It was still dark as we entered ECP. We continued running on the service road before making a right turn onto the runners’ path. Here marked the start of the 5km x 5 loop inside ECP. Realising that 5km mark was approaching, I kept a lookout for the first water point where we would be retrieving our bottles (which we deposited a day earlier). Got a shock when I realised that neither one of the two bottles left standing on the table belongs to me. I continued running without picking any bottle. Thankfully, further down the road, there was a water point with cups of water available. I quickly grabbed two cups, one to quench my thirst and another to pour over my head to cool myself.

At 5km, my split reads 4:31″/km. I was finally settling comfortably into my target race pace. Though my average pace was still 4:22″/km (having started off faster than expected), I was feeling less flustered than before and was determined to stick to this pace for as long as I could. There was no rush to catch up with the rest anymore. Marathon is a long race. I was contented running at this pace and if I am going to finish last, so be it. Saw the pack of marathon men’s flying past on the other side of the road. The pack of 6 female runners was still sticking together, looking strong. As I approached the toilets at B1 carpark, I saw Rachel’s hubby, Zili with his 5 year-old daughter, Charlotte, holding onto the cute banner they did for Rachel. Both cheered for me as I ran past. Not too long later, I saw Rachel on the other side of the road, looking fresh and focused. We cheered for each other. Some distance behind her were two other petite female runners (both from Timor Leste), one was clad in a purple vest and another in a red Asics vest. They seemed to be slowing down and were just slightly ahead of me. As I approached the u-turn point ahead, Jasmine, who was running up and down the stretch cheered loudly for me. Spotted Jackie and many more supporters just before I u-turn. I was very touched to see some supporters and park-goers on the other side of ECP as well. Some whom I do not even know cheered loudly for me as I ran past.

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Time check at 10km: 44:30min. I was 30 secs ahead of my target 45min for the first 10km.  With the sky brightening up and the crew holding up a signage with Singapore flag as I approached the table, I identified my bottle easily. Straight up ahead, I could see still see the two athletes from Timor Leste and was slowly closing up on them.

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Overtook the girl in red Asics vest, just before I did the u-turn for my 2nd loop. I then set my sight on the girl in purple vest ahead. I caught up with her soon and we ran alongside each other for a while. Feeling motivated that I was not the last anymore, I pressed on to keep up with the girl. Eventually, I managed to pull away from her and was once again running on my own. The day was gradually brightening up. As I ran towards carpark C, I kept a look out of my family and friends on the other side of the road. A really huge banner caught my eye first. Wow, I knew s29 is going to make a banner, but I have not expect this size! It’s really huge! I spotted my family and Jurong Safra Running Club together with them. I cheered up immensely and looked forward to meeting them as I did the u-turn.

However, I got a nasty shock after the u-turn when a strong head wind started blowing. More effort was required to run against the wind, and my pace began to drop. At 15km mark, my watch reads around 1:07:45, average pace is now 4:30″/km, which was my target race pace. But with the headwind along that particular stretch of ECP, I began to doubt if I could sustain the pace any longer.

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Started on my third loop and I pressed on. I wasn’t feeling as good and confident as before. I could feel myself slipping away from my target pace as the first sign of fatigue set in. Not long after, the girls whom I overtook earlier on caught up with me one by one. I was once again the last runner. I wanted to try following the girl in red vest ahead but I just could not keep up with her and have to watch her fade into the distance. I saw one of the female runners, wearing shocking pink compression socks, who was initially with the front pack slowed to a walk. I came to know later she is Jane Vongvorachoti from Thailand, with the best personal best time of 2:40:40 for marathon among all female marathoners. She did not finish the marathon in the end but went on to compete in 10,000m track event a few days later and emerged 3rd place.

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I could not remember when did the rain come. It just poured suddenly halfway through the run (I don’t even remember which loop I was doing then). I was feeling miserable as the rain slowed me down more so than ever. I was also worried for all the supporters who were standing under the rain cheering for us. Was relieved when I saw my family, s29 and Jurong Safra had a white tentage to seek shelter from. Many supporters have also brought along an umbrella or poncho. Spotted dear Huiwen who has moved from B1 area to C1 area to support me.

Time check at 21km: 1:37:10. My average pace has dropped to 4:37″/km. Not possible to go for a PB anymore, but perhaps I could at least try for a local PB. Only two more loops left inside ECP but I was already feeling mentally and physically drained having battled the rain and wind. The only thing that kept me going were my family, friends and many other supporters who cheered hard for me each time I ran past them. They have not left to seek for shelter. The least I could do is to do my best and finish the race. The rain was making me so miserable and it must have shown in my face. I could hear Jackie shouting out to me and telling me to smile as I u-turn. Charles and Cecilia were there too cheering for me each time I ran past.

Smiling when I heard Jackie called out to me to smile at the u-turn.

Smiling when I heard Jackie called out to me to smile at the u-turn.

At some point in 3rd or 4th loop, the first pack of the men overtook me. Ruiyong was still in good form and encouraged me as he ran past. Over the course, one by one, the marathon men overtook me. At 25km, the time reads 1:56:58. Average pace slipped further to 4:40″/km. By the time I started my 5th loop, not many supporters were around anymore as most of the marathon men had left ECP. I was very touched to see Mr Yana-san, Andy and a few runners from ASICS Running Club near the Big Splash cheering for me and the rest of the female marathoners. I saw the front pack of the female marathon, now left with 4 of them on the other side of the road, looking strong and focused. Not far behind the pack was a female runner from Myanmar, now in 5th position after dropping off from the pack. A distance away was Rachel, still looking strong too. I think she could sense that I was feeling very tired. She encouraged me to “跑完它“ as I ran past.  Some distance away was the girl in red Asics vest from Timor Leste.

SEA Games

The last loop was pure mental. I was losing motivation and could hardly even maintain a decent 5min/km pace. Save for a few park-goers, ECP was empty and quiet. I was pleasantly surprised to see dear Ching Yee in a bright pink top and Qiwen as I approached the u-turn. The posters they had made with my name and photo had caught my eye earlier on, but because it was dark and rainy, I could not recognise them in the pool of supporters. Now that the supporters have dispersed and I was on my last loop, it was then I realised they are the ones who were cheering for me! Haha! I’m so blur! My heart lifted when I saw them.  It has stopped raining by then. I was soaked from head to toe. My shoes were squishy. My vest and shorts weighed like a ton. I know my family, s29 and Jurong Safra Club were all still waiting for me over the other end to finish this last loop. I pressed on.

SEA Games

Saw the front pack of female marathon on their way out of ECP. The Myanmar girl seemed to be suffering from cramps and was running more slowly than usual. Rachel was slowly closing up the gap. No sign of the Timor Leste girl in purple vest and I guess she might have dropped out from the race. There was one last marathon man, clad in Asics yellow racing vest. He seemed to be in great pain and was running awkwardly. I saw the other Timor Leste girl, who was still going strong and steady overtook him.

As I u-turn for the last time, I found myself running closer to the supporters where they were standing, hoping to draw some strength from them. Jurong Safra, my family and s29 all cheered loudly for me as I ran past. I was glad to see them but the run has taken a toll on me that I could no longer smile at them. I was getting so tired of the loops and could not wait to get out of ECP.

At the 30km mark, I retrieved my bottle and ate the banana which I had attached to it. Time check at 30km: 2:23:30. Average pace: 4:46″/km. I was gradually catching up with the male marathoner who has slowed down significantly. I could see that he was struggling hard to maintain his form. I wasn’t feeling too good myself so I pressed on to run alongside with him, hoping that we could push each other along and finished the marathon together. However, that was not to be. Shortly later, he slipped behind and I could no longer hear him. I came to know later his name is Aye Thaung and was one of the medalists for the SEA Games marathon held in Myanmar in 2013.

I was relieved to finally reach the last hydration station before exiting ECP. The volunteers were giving out mineral bottles this time instead of cups of water. As I tried to reach out for a cup and missed it, I stopped abruptly and pulled my right calf. “Oh no! Not now!” Thankfully, it wasn’t too serious. But it was enough to scare me to take it easy to avoid triggering the cramps.

As I ran up and then down the green bridge and towards Garden By the Bay, thoughts of giving up came to my mind. I could feel the cramps settling in and had to slow down to manage the bouts of pain that were attacking my calves. I was now running at 6:15″/km pace. So slow but any pace was better than having to walk or stop like the SCMS 2013 marathon.

Maybe I should just give up and DNF. I am last anyway. The thought kept circling inside my head. But deep down I know I would be very disappointed at the end of the day if I did not finish the race. Prior to the marathon, Rachel and I have even talked about it. We came up with the worse case scenario of what if the race did not work out for us. Do we give up and DNF? We both agreed that no matter what, we are going to finish the marathon. This being home ground, I was all the more determined to finish it too. I thought of all the supporters who braved the rain; who were now waiting for me at the finishing line, and I knew I had to finish the marathon for them and for Singapore.

It took me a long time, but I was finally reaching Gardens By the Bay. Finally, I could see a marshal. As I ran past him, I could hear him speaking to his walkie-talkie that there’s still one runner out here. “Yeah, that right. I’m still running. Please wait for me to finish.”

It was lonely running alone, with no signs of anyone else. I wasn’t even sure if I was on the correct path. I was feeling so miserable that I no longer care about the time. All I hope was to finish the marathon. Just when I was feeling demotivated, I saw Vivien Tang and her running partner running towards me, encouraging me to press on. That cheered me up immensely. I was also feeling marginally better now that marina barrage is near. My cramps seemed to be alleviating too which was a good sign. Time check at 35km: 2:59:35, average pace: 4:50″/km.

I thought it would be a lonely run from that point onward. I was wrong. As I crossed the bridge to get to Marina Barrage, I saw dear Emily waiting for me. She was very excited to see me and cheered for me. I was so happy to see her that I was finally running under 6min/km pace.  Emily ran with me at the side for a while. She even offered to hold my bottle for me. Haha! so sweet of her, but I was worried about breaking the rules so I told her I will hold it myself. Emily followed until she could not keep up anymore. I was so touched because she has not been running actively for a while and yet because of me, she has been running up and down the whole morning. After saying goodbye to her, I continued running and finally reached MBS. Now to conquer the Esplanade Bridge followed by F1 pit.

Upon reaching the end of the Esplanade bridge, I was once again surprised to see Coach Janna and Shumin waiting for me. I came to know later that Coach Janna had taken a video and at the same time reporting about my race progress to the rest of the team in the group chat.

At F1 pit.

As I made a sharp right turn into F1 pit, I saw Alan, Sew Hyong, Run’er, Peyling and her colleague standing at the side cheering for me too. They have did the 10km Nila run which was held together with the SEA Games marathon earlier that morning, no doubt also have to run in the heavy rain.

I was looking forward to the 40km mark at Nicoll Highway MRT station. I could feel many eyes on me as I ran inside the F1 pit. Many people were at the 2nd level, looking down from the the glass panels. I could even see some of them with their fists pumping into the air, like they were cheering for me.

Grabbed my last bottle filled with Gatorade at the last water station. 40km time check: ard 3hrs 27min. 2km more and the worse it over. I tried to push my pace a bit more. As I ran along Nicoll Highway, I could see Sports Hub. So near yet so far. I was feeling really tired and really wish everything could be over soon. It was the longest 1km plus to Kallang Practice Track. But I was so relieved when I finally turned into the stadium. Saw the finishing line with the clock ticking close to 3hr 34min. I dashed, thinking that was the end of my marathon. Crossed the mat and saw an official signalling for me to continue one more lap. Oh!  So it hasn’t end? I was disoriented.

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With the whole stadium cheering for me, I pressed on to finish the last lap. At the last 200m, it was all out and giving whatever I had left in my tank.

After what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finishing line with a time of 3:35:54. I did it! I did not give up even though I very much feel like doing so after exiting ECP. I was relieved and exhausted, but I barely have time to bend and catch my breath. The next moment, I saw physio Emily, Rachel coming up to me, putting my arms around their shoulders. I can still walk, I wanted to tell them but I was so tired that I couldn’t talk. Rui Yong came up too, and he has Singapore flag around his back. There was a group hug.  I was still in a daze. Then Mr Tang, SAA President came forward and took over from Emily, putting my arms around him, as we walked off from lane 1. There were lots of photo-taking. I felt dizzy and could hardly smile at all the cameras. Then the ever supportive Jackie came along too, taking over Mr Tang. Mr Tan Chuan Jin came over to congratulate me too and there were more photo-taking.

Photo opportunity with Mr Tan Chuan Jin. Really nice of him to take time off support all the sports.

Photo opportunity with Mr Tan Chuan Jin. Really nice of him to take time off to support all the sports.

Finally, when all was over, I walked over to where all the supporters were gathered with Jackie. I spotted my family immediately. They were a big group. My dad, my 78 yr old grandma, my older brother with my pregnant sister-in-law and 2.5 yr old nephew, my younger bro, my uncle and auntie, Kaixiang, my cousin, with his wife and 1yr plus daughter. I was so happy to see them.

My dearest family! <3

My dearest family! ❤

JJC girls frens

My JJC girls frens, Ching Yee, Qiwen, preggy Meiwei with her 2 yr old son, Danlin and Yiru. Thank you all for the lovely posters and support. I am very touched! 

My secondary school friends, Charmaine, Shihui, Kim, Xiuling were all present too. Though we have not been meeting up often, they were eager to show their support. They noticed how pale I was after the race and were very concerned, asking me to rest and we can always take a photo another time.

As I moved down the line to thank and shake hands with the rest of the supporters, I began to feel the effects of the marathon. I was feeling dizzy and weak. Luckily, Meihui who was there with runner Jingjie offered me a sweet and I felt slightly better. I continued walking down the line to look for s29. Really very touched to see them. Check out the big and beautiful banner they made for me.

s29 rocks!

A picture with s29 and the gigantic banner that captured lots of attention. 

My no. 1 supporter and pillar of strength <3

My no. 1 supporter and pillar of strength ❤

It has been an amazing journey and I’m really glad and honoured to be part of the 28th SEA Games contingent.

Tokyo Marathon

It was the first time I ever tried racing three marathons in three months i.e Singapore Marathon on 7 Dec, Hong Kong Marathon on 25 Jan and Tokyo Marathon on 22 Feb and I wasn’t quite sure if my body could handle the training and stress. But Tokyo was my last shot to better my marathon timing and hopefully get a nomination for SEA Games 2015 within the window period.

I only had 4 weeks to prepare for Tokyo Marathon after SCHKM in late January. So it was back to training after 4 days’ break. I kept my volume light for the first week, with only an easy 10.5km run on Thursday and 18km long run at Sentosa on Sunday. Luckily, I had Jackie to accompany me for the long run even though he has no need to train for any upcoming marathon. It was especially motivating to see Andy, Gen and Derek doing their long runs on the warm Sunday morning too.  Total mileage for week one: about 30 km

I stepped up the volume in Week 2 by running 5 times that week. Had not quite recovered from the marathon, hence I did a slower 1km tempo intervals, easy runs and tempo runs at 5min/km pace instead. Ended week 2 with a 28km long run at ECP. Total mileage for week two: about 71 km.

I continued running 5 times a week in week 3 and added more intensity into my workouts. Monday: 9.5km easy run + (6x30s) hill sprints, Tuesday: 7km + 5km tempo run inside Jurong Central Park, Wednesday: 16km run home from work, Thursday, 14km run from MF safra to Botantic Gardens and back. Saturday: 20km long run at 4:45″/km at ECP. Total mileage for week three: about 76 km.

Week 4 was tapering week and I only managed to do a 5x800m short intervals on Tuesday. Missed working out on Wednesday and Thursday due to CNY. I had wanted to do one last run on Friday when I arrived at Tokyo. However, this did not materialize due to time constraint.

Race Bib collection at Race Expo, Tokyo Big Sight.

Race bib collection at Race Expo, Tokyo Big Sight.

My race day attire from head to toe.

My race day attire from head to toe.

Fast forward to race day, 22 Feb 2015, Sunday. 

It was still drizzling when Peyling, Jamie and I stepped out of our hotel at 615am in the morning. It was cold as expected. Temperature was about 6-8 degree Celsius. We hurried to the train station to board the train to the race start at Shinjuku. We were running a little late to meet Yana-san and Kaifen as we had difficulty finding the hotel.

Asked a volunteer for directions, and we finally located the hotel and met up with Kaifen and Yana-san. After some photo taking, we hurried toward the start line. We need to clear the security check before we get to deposit our baggage. There was already a long queue at the security check counter and I lost Kaifen after clearing the security check.

After depositing my baggage in the assigned truck, I spent some looking for the right staircase to get to my allocated pen B. Managed to squeeze in some time to queue for the portable loo before entering my pen which was already crowded with runners. I tried to move closer to the front but to no avail. It was just too packed. I decided to stay put and wait patiently for the race to start. Suddenly, someone came and stood in front of me. He was wearing a jacket and pants, with a buff across his face, covering his mouth and nose. It took me more than a second to recognise that was Gen behind the buff. He was looking around for Andy but couldn’t find him in the crowd. There was about 15 minutes more to the race start. I removed my poncho and old t-shirt, re-tied my shoelaces, adjust my gloves and arm sleeves. Glad that I had Gen for company to chit-chat and distract me from the race jitters. As the time crept closer to 9am, the crowd moved forward and closer to the start line. I ate a packet of gel, checked my Garmin to make sure that it has captured the satellite.

At exactly 9:10am, the race started. Pen A was flagged off first. It took about 1:30min for Pen B to go next. I saw Gen raced off right from the start. He had to run on the elevated road divider to pull away from the crowd. I fumbled as I crossed the starting line when I realised my Garmin suddenly lost its GPS signal. I went with the flow and it was only 300m later, it recaptured the GPS again.

Got a shock after I passed the 5km mark in 24:13 mins. I had wanted to make sure I do not get carried away from the start as it was a gradual downhill. But this was much slower than what I have thought, possibly due to the crowd and my legs took a much longer time to warm up in the cold weather. I ran on, determined to get into my target race pace from 5km onward to make up for the lost time.

Things seemed to be looking up after that for I clocked 21:42min for the next 5km. I was finally getting into the zone and was looking forward to the first u-turn at 15km mark at Shinagawa. Managed to sustain the pace and clocked 21:57min for the next 5km. There were more supporters along the side of the road now cheering for the participants. The distance alert from my Garmin sounded even though I was a few hundred meters away from the distance marker. My average pace was about 4:23″/km according to my Garmin, which was exactly my target race pace but I knew I still have to run a little faster because whatever pace shown on my Garmin is not be accurate anymore. I pressed on and ran 22:08 for the next 5km. 20km done.

I thought I was running well. But when I checked the time at halfway mark 21.1km, it reads 1:33:23, I realised I was about 1 to 2 mins behind my target time for my first half! I was still feeling ok, but could feel fatigue setting in and I could feel myself slowing down bit by bit. To distract myself from the fatigue, I tried to smile at all the cameras I could see. There were really a lot of photographers! My 5km split to 25km mark was 22:30min.

By 25km, I was beginning to feel cold. I couldn’t even grab a cup of water from the table properly using one hand. Thankfully, the drink stations stretched long and I managed to grab a cup of water using both hands. At 29km mark, I fumbled clumsily to retrieve my 3rd packet of gel which was in the front pocket of my short. It shouldn’t be that hard to retrieve it, after all it was just a piece of Velcro keeping the gel in place. However, my fingers were so numb that I could not even bend them properly. Struggled for so long with the pocket and even thought of skipping the gel altogether. But I needed a boost for my run. Eventually, I removed my right glove and finally pulled the gel out from my pocket successfully. Then, I wasted more time trying to put my right glove on which was now inside-out. 5km split at 30km mark: 23:13min

With only 12km more to go, I tried to look for runners who were ahead of me as targets. Saw quite a few female runners with a different colour bibs and I told myself to catch up with them. This plan seemed to be working well until at around 35km, a veteran female runner dressed in Elsa costume came cruising past me. She was all smiley and waving to the supporters. I was losing focus but I was amazed that she could run so fast in a costume and still look so calm and composed. Tried to follow her but had to let her go as I could not keep up anymore. 5km split at 35km mark: 23:13min.

There was a steep incline at around 36km – 37km mark. I took my last packet of gel as I pounded up the hill. Time was running out and at the pace I was running, I probably wouldn’t be able to do a PB. Still, I pressed on, hoping I could find my second wind after the hill. 5km split at 40km: 23:18min.

One last slope at 40km mark and it would be a smooth flat route to the finishing line. The time reads 3:01hr here was no chance for a PB unless I am able to run sub 4min/km for the last 2.195km. I picked up my pace, running as fast as my legs could carry me. As I made a left turn towards the Tokyo Big Sight, Akiko from Asics shouted for me. Spotted Yana-san too who was taking photos of the runners.

I knew the finishing line was near then. There was another right turn and I could see the finishing banner just ahead. Completed the marathon in 3:10:41 (nett time). Happy that it was all over, but disappointed I did not manage to do a PB. Still am contented with a second best.

Overall, it was a great racing experience, with first class organisation and support and endless cheers along the way. Though the run did not quite work out the way I hope for, I enjoyed every bit of the it. Still have much to learn about pacing (not to rely on Garmin too much) and racing strategy especially in a course like this.

Very happy to strike another World Major Marathon off my bucket list too! =D

Team Asics. Congrats to Andy who ran an impressive 2:51:59 for his marathon!

Team Asics. Congrats to Andy who ran an impressive 2:51:59 for his marathon!

With the ladies and our hard-earned medal after completing the marathon.

With the ladies and our hard-earned medal after completing the marathon. From left to right: Kaifen, Jamie, Peyling and Me. Congrats to Peyling for achieving her PB and first sub 3:30 marathon!

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2015

I was hesitant to sign up for SCHKM at first for two reasons: (1) I just completed the Singapore Marathon in early Dec last year; (2) I have also signed up for Tokyo marathon which is on 22 Feb 2015 (which means 4 weeks after SCHKM). Yes, that sums up to 3 marathons in 3 months! Something which I have never thought I would have attempt if you ask me a year ago. But I guess, I am not getting any younger. If not now, then when?

The Training Phase

Some may feel it is a tab too soon to race in another marathon after SCMS. I thought so too but took the plunge anyway. Somehow, the fact that I only have 7 weeks to prepare for the marathon made me treasure my time and training sessions more than ever. The shorter training period made the training phase more bearable too. I find myself putting in my best effort during the training because time is running out and I have to make the most of every training session. Learning from past experience, I also reminded myself to stay positive and happy during training, and not to beat myself up if I had a bad workout, or if I did not clock enough mileage. Undertrain is better than overtrain. So, despite failing to meet my target weekly mileage of 80km in what was supposed to be my peak week, I was not too upset about it. (after all 79.3km was pretty close to 80km =p). I simply have to believe that the hard work and effort put into each training session would be good enough to pull me through on race day.

Pre-Race

Jackie and I arrived in Hong Kong on Friday morning, two days before race day. We spend most of our time on Friday and Saturday eating, walking around, shopping, keeping our legs active and made sure we hydrate ourselves with isotonic drinks. We had about 5-6 hours’ of sleep on the night before the marathon. I was hoping to get at least 8hrs of rest, but we got carried away with shopping and spent a longer time than expected preparing for our race gears the night before.Still, it was a quality sleep and I woke up feeling relaxed and fresh.

Race Kit collection with Jackie and Laichee at Victoria Park.

Race Kit collection with Jackie and Laichee at Victoria Park.

Race day

Jackie and I woke up at 4.15am in the morning to get ready for the race. Breakfast was a chocolate croissant which we bought from Marks & Spencer the night before and a can of warm coffee which we got from 7-11 while we were on our way to Granville Road in the morning. Visited the loo and deposited our baggage at my allocated van. It was not as cold as last year, so I decided to do away with my arm sleeves. There was no need for gloves at all. I also took off an old T-shirt which I was wearing to keep myself warm, leaving only my poncho over my race attire which were just my Asics running vest and shorts. As Jackie did not have a priority start this time round (standards for men raises to sub 3hr for the priority start this year compared to 3:30hr last year), he has to made his way quickly to the start pen, which was already quite crowded by 5:40am. I was thankful to be given a priority entry (standards for women priority start is sub 3:30hr) as it saved me a lot of hassle.

A picture with fellow Asics team mate, Kaifen before the race. She is representing Singapore for the Asian Marathon this year.

A picture with fellow Asics team mate, Kaifen before the race. She is representing Singapore for the Asian Marathon this year.

A picture with Jackie before the race too.

A picture with Jackie before the race too.

After a short warm up jog up and down Granville Road and some dynamic stretching, I entered the priority start pen at the Nathan Road when I see more and more runners with a red stamp on their bibs filling the pen. In front of us was the elites’ pen, including overseas invited runners. They had a gold stamp on their race bibs. The time crept closer to 6am, the working crew who were holding back the general public pen slowly marched forward till they finally let go of their hands and allow the runners to merge with us. We were all pushed to the front as well, merging with the elites runners. It was about 6am. Feeling warm now that all participants are all huddled, I removed my poncho and took a packet of gel while waiting patiently for the flag-off. The emcee shared with us the temperature of the day, which was about 17 degree Celsius. Humidity was on the high side at 80 over percent.

“Ten..nine..eight..” the countdown began. I checked my Garmin for the last time to see that it has not lost the satellite. “Three.. two.. one..Beeeep” The race is on! Upon hearing the horn, the front pack shot off in lightning speed. Runners from behind also started fast, and many dashed past me in a flash. Adrenaline pumping, I ran on, following the runners ahead, running at 4:27″/km pace for the first km. There was a road divider separating the runners into two groups right from the start. Out of a corner of my eye, I saw a runner stumbled forward and fell onto the ground. Thankfully, he did not suffer from any injury, he was up again and continue running.

The race is on!

The race is on!

Three kilometers later we were on West Kowloon Highway. It was then I realised that there was more runners ahead than I thought. There was a long train of runners ahead and I could not even see where this train ended. From this part onwards, it was a gradual uphill. We could see the half marathoners who were flagged off at 5.30am on the other side of the road too. I was feeling ok, but as much as I would like to go faster, I could not seem to increase my pace comfortably. At about 5km mark, my average pace was hovering at about 4:28″/km. I got a little worried because I have yet to get into the “zone” and I could feel my breathing got heavier when I ran up the hills. I decided to just maintain my pace until I reach the 10km mark and hopefully be able to speed up thereafter. It was getting warm and I was grateful for the wet sponges provided at all the water stations. I almost missed grabbing one sponge and a kind runner from behind passed me one. It happened so smoothly and quickly; almost like passing a baton that I forgot to thank him.

Time check at 10km: 44:50 min.

Not too bad though I was hoping I could do 44mins for my first 10km. Nevertheless,  I was pleased that I was finally getting the rhythm and running more efficiently. The downhill just before the 10km was a good breather. A few kilometers later, I could see the elite pack consisting mainly of Kenyan and Ethiopian male runners flying past on the other side, followed by another pack of elite female runners few minutes later.

I wonder how was Jackie doing. He was probably behind me as he has intention to start at a much slower pace. I was also keeping a lookout for fellow Asics team mates, Rachel and Kaifen, wondering where they were too Soon, I find myself running on Tsing Ma Bridge (青马大桥) and I get to see the faster runners on the other side of the road. Caught sight of Ramesh, Singapore representative. Not too long after, saw Rachel running strong. Her husband, clad in Captain America costume was a few seconds behind her. Gosh! They were really fast! I estimate that they were at least 1km ahead.

Knowing the u-turn point at 15km mark was near, I pressed on. I was surprised to see Thow Wee ahead. Caught up with him and chatted a bit with him. He encouraged me to run ahead.

The first turning point at 15km mark.

The first turning point at 15km mark.

After the u-turn, I kept a lookout of the runners on the other side of the road for familiar faces. Saw Jackie not long after and we cheered for each other. He was not as far behind as I thought after all! I know it would be just a matter of time before he caught up with me. I increased my pace unconsciously, looking forward to the next turning point at 20km mark. Spotted a few more familiar faces along the way, Kaifen, Peyling, Sebastian from NB. Heard someone shouted my name but I did not manage to see who it was.

Getting into the zone

There was a right angel left turn as I cruised downhill to North West Tsing Yi Interchange. Somewhere along this route toward the turning point on Ting Kau Bridge (汀九桥),  I found myself relaxing and beginning to enjoy the run. Jackie was catching up. He was just a few seconds behind me after I u-turn at the 20km mark. Am I slowing down? I tried to speed up a little. Crossed the 21.1km marker and glanced at the clock placed beside the marker, which read 1:33:48. “1hr 34 min for the first half, can I do an even split and finish under 3:08?” My mind raced.

Jackie soon caught up with me again and we ran alongside each other for a while. I was glad to have his company as I always have the tendency to slow down after the half way mark.  It was long stretch of downhill and a couple of uphill from 20km onwards. We were definitely on runners’ high, running faster at sub 4:25’/km pace at certain stretches and my fastest split recorded here was 4:15″/km. Jackie was on fire and soon was pulling away from me. I dare not keep chase and was contented with the pace that I hope I could sustain throughout the race.

Fatigue set in

However, by 28km, I was fading away when I approached yet another slope. My running pace dropped to 4:35″/km as I pushed myself up the hill. “What goes up must come down.” I chanted the mantra to myself. By then Jackie, who was stronger at tackling hills, was about fifty meters ahead of me but still within sight.

Passed the 30km distance marker and checked my time: 2:13:22. Am I still on target for 3:08? I have no idea. By then, fatigue was attacking me in waves and I was too drained to work out any calculation. I only know I have 12km to go and less than 1 hr to finish the marathon to get myself a PB.

It was mostly flat for the next three km. I pressed on, hoping to close the gap between myself and Jackie. I was happy to finally see the entrance to the Western Harbour tunnel leading to Causeway Bay. My Garmin lost the satellite a few seconds after I entered the tunnel. It was a long stretch and I could see many runners ahead. I ran purely based on feel, not knowing my pace. By 35km, I could sense that Jackie was slowing down because I was closing up on him. “7km more to go, come on!” I tried to think positive. Soon, I was approaching the exit. The light at the end of the tunnel never feel so welcoming before. Suddenly, Jackie who was just a few meters ahead of me stopped and started walking. Oh no! Did he pick up his pace too fast earlier on? I hope he would feel better and start running soon. I gave him a pat on his back from behind as I ran past. Too exhausted to exchange any words after conquering the hilly terrain, all I could mustered was a eye contact which I hope it conveyed Jiayou for him.

Finally, I'm out of the last  tunnel.

Finally, I’m out of the last tunnel.

The challenging terrains

Despite running the same route as last year, I was totally unprepared for the undulating terrains when I came out of the tunnel. I did not remember this part of the route being so hilly. Little did I expect myself to be huffing and puffing as I ran on the Connaught Road West Flyover. It seemed much easier last year, probably because I was chasing after Jackie and Kenneth right after I came out of the tunnel.

From this point onwards, I was running alone most of the time. The only motivation was that the end point was near and there were now more photographers taking photos and supporters cheering for participants along the roadside. My Garmin did not recalculate the distance even thought it captured the satellite after I came out of the tunnel. Hence, my average pace shown on the Garmin became 4:40″/km. Distance was also not accurate anymore. I kept running, looking forward to hit the streets at Causeway Bay.

Past the 40km mark and I saw a familiar figure in red vest ahead. It was Rachel! I hurried along, hoping to close up the gap. It took a while for me to finally catch up with her and we cheered for each other. I was less than 2km away from finishing point and was feeling excited and anxious all at once because I realised I was very close to getting a personal best.

I could see the 41km mark in a distance on the top of one last hill. I psych myself up to prepare for the steep ascent. Thankfully it was a short one. I tried to catch my breath as I cruised down the slope. There was no chance for a 3:08 finish but there was still hope for a sub 3:10 if all worked out.

Feeling very excited and anxious when I realised I was so close to getting a PB and also so close to missing it.

Feeling very excited and anxious when I realised I was so close to getting a PB and also so close to missing it.

I pounded through the streets at Causeway Bay, soaking in the race atmosphere and running as fast as my legs could carry me. I was getting more anxious by the minute. The organiser had changed the last one km of the route this year. Where was Victoria Park? Where was the prominent green carpet leading to the finishing line?

Ah.. there it was! I took a glance at the clock ahead the moment I stepped onto the green carpet. The clock was already counting at 3:09:xx. I had less than a minute to finish the marathon in under 3:10!

Giving my best at the final stretch.

Giving my best at the final stretch.

With no time to lose, I made my final sprint towards the finishing line, just on the dot too with a gun time of 3:09:59. Mardiah from SAA managed to take a nice finishing shot of me at the end. =)

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So yes, I did it! Completed the SCHKM in 3:09:57 (nett time). Finally a sub 3:10 marathon to my name! A new personal best, shaving about 1min plus from the 3hr 11 min achieved at GCAM last July. =D

With our hard-earned finisher medal.

With our hard-earned finisher medals.

Up next, Tokyo Marathon in 4 weeks’ time!

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore

7 December 2014

SCMS was my last race for the year 2014. Training has been pretty consistent this year. I began building up my mileage progressively after completing the KL half-marathon in October. The training phase this time was slightly shorter, so I was feeling anxious that I wouldn’t have time to clock the mileage require to do a good marathon. Thankfully, though the mileage was not impressive (much lower compared to last year), I felt fit and strong throughout the training phase and was pleased that I survived some of the toughest workouts. I even enjoyed the training journey this time.

A group photo before the race.

A group photo before the race.

It was with much excitement and anticipation when I stood at the start line at SCMS 2014 with many of the top athletes in Singapore. We were flagged off at exactly 5am in the morning together with the invited elites athletes from overseas. The elites shot off in lightning speed. I was the last among the pack. Strangely, there was no one behind. I turned around and realised that the organisers had once again hold back the general crowd. It was much later when I realised they were hold back by about 3 mins as compared to less than a minute last year.

But the race has already started for us, there was no time to be wasted. Rachel had shot off in top speed with her husband, Poon ZL and the rest of the local men. I could not even see her after the first bend. Ying Rong, on the other hand was running together with a friend and they were keeping behind the overseas female elites runners at the start. I was a distance away, already running at 4:30″/km pace, about 10 sec faster than my intended pace for the first km. Few minutes later, the overseas elites female runners sped up and soon the pack was out of sight. I saw champion Mok Ying Ren, taking it easy at the start and soon also sped up to chase the men ahead. Into the tunnel, I was the last person in the lot, and was glad to have at least Ying Rong and her buddy within sight to keep me company.

Not too long into the race, I could hear footsteps from behind. There were some African runners running at breakneck speed, probably trying to make up for the 3min gap. Then there were a few Ekiden Runners as well, all running their hearts out for their team.

5km: 23:16min.

Not too bad for the first 5km, as the average pace of 4:39″/km falls within the range of my target pace range, 4:35″/km-4:40″/km. I was feeling fresh and was happy to see more Ekiden runners overtaking me and cheering for me as they ran past.

I was reaching the F1 pit when I saw Richard ahead. He seemed tired and has slowed to a walk. He had initially ran past me, but was already wheezing. I ran a bit faster to catch up and cheer him on. Took it as a good sign when I saw him running again towards his pit stop to handover the slash to his team member. I ran on, out of the F1 track, looking forward to reach the 10km mark at Nicoll Highway where I planned to take my first packet of gel.

10km: 46:27 min

My race plan was to increase my pace slightly after 10km. Somehow, I found it difficult to do so. There was no one in sight for me to chase and there was no one behind me to urge me on. My running pace was hovering between 4:45-4:50″/km now. Gosh! It’s only 10km. I was losing focus earlier than I thought. I arrived at Fort Road, and was glad to know it that ECP is near. It was still dark in the morning and ECP was pretty quiet. As I ran towards Big Splash, I began to see more people standing at the side, cheering for the runners. It was heartening to see so many people sacrificing their sleep and rendering their support to the participants.

15km: 1hr 10min 14sec

I was definitely slowing down, by a good 30s as compare to the last 5km splits. However, unlike past years where I got all anxious about not meeting my target pace, this time I was at peace. I told myself to just go with the flow and not to worry too much about time. I don’t want to rush into chasing the pace and end up affecting my running form and suffered cramps again like last year. So a good part of my run inside ECP was doing periodic checks of my running form, body and breathing rather than chasing for 4:35″/km pace which I had really hope to do.

At about 18km mark, Ngee Hung, a veteran 3:10 marathoner whom I get to know after running the Gold Coast Marathon this year, ran past me, looking strong. I tried to keep him in sight but soon he vanished into the distance. I was running at an average pace of 4:40-4:45″/km pace and already found it tough to go any faster.

20km: 1hr 34min

21.1 km: 1hr 39min 23sec

I was reaching Bedok Jetty and I get to see the faster runners at the other side of the route. Spotted Mok Ying Ren followed by some local elite male runners, all looking very focused. Saw Rachel at close to the Outward Bound School. She was looking good, and running just slightly behind Baldwin. By then, I barely have the strength to shout out words of encouragement to them and all I could muster was a thumb-up sign. It seemed like an eternity when I finally spotted the u-turn. It was further away than I thought, and I estimated that Rachel must at least be a good 1km-2km ahead! She’s really that fast!

After the u-turn at close to 23km mark, I tried to look out for familiar faces on the other side of the road. I was surprised to see Trevor just a couple of hundred meters behind. He must have started really fast to close up the gap. I was really happy to see Jackie too not long after. He looked fresh and strong despite having no confidence that he could survive till the half way point. Me on the other hand, was beginning to feel the fatigue setting in. I pressed on, looking forward to the support station by Safra Tampines at around 26km. Along the way, spotted the first female athlete behind me, Xinyi (she went on to clinch the 3rd placing in a net time of 3hr 24min). Saw Jenny too who cheered enthusiastically for me; Ezann very focused in her run and many more friends from Safra running club along the way.

25km: 1hr 57min 52sec

I was glad to finally see Safra Tampines’ support station. Kevin saw me running towards them, and had a bottle of pocari sweat ready for me if I need it. I took a mouthful and returned the bottle to him. I continued running, determined not to let my pace dropped too much. Saw Lance and his group of pacers who cheered for me as they passed me on the other side of the road. I ran passed the chalets, passed Big Splash and finally arrived at Area B carpark. Spotted Huijun and her friend who cheered for me. It seemed like ages before I finally spotted the 30km distance marker.

Can't wait to get out of ECP.

Can’t wait to get out of ECP.

30km: 2hr 22min 13sec. “12 more km to go. I can finish this.”

I was relieved to be out of East Coast Park but it was once again a lonely run as I turned into Marina golf course leading to the Gardens By The Bay. The sun was out. I pulled my shades down. I was counting down 1 km by 1 km and could not wait to get out of the area. There was probably just a couple of runners within sight. Just before turning out to Gardens By The Bay at 34km mark, I was pleasantly surprised to see an unofficial supporting stations with cups of coke placed on the table. Though it was tempting, I chose not take the coke as I had never tried it while running before. I pressed on, looking forward to Jurong Safra support station at Marina Barrage.

35km: 2hr 46min 26 sec

Crossed the bridge leading to Marina Barrage and was welcome with cheers from many supporters. It was also the official photo taking site so there were many photographers taking running shots of the participants.

Finally arrived at Marina Barrage.

Finally arrived at Marina Barrage.

Spotted some Jurong Safra club members from a distance and I got a milo Sng Bao from Ben. The ice cold milo was heavenly and gave me the much needed boost of energy. Ran past MBS and saw more photographers. I only threw away the sng bao when I arrived at the water station just before the Sheares Bridge.

"run tall and look straight", I kept reminding myself.

“run tall and look straight”, I kept reminding myself.

Still holding on to the milo sng pao

Still holding on to the milo sng pao

Going up Sheares bridge was different from last year. Still the same long daunting stretch, but without the crowd this time as the organisers had changed the race route for half marathoners. It was nice and quiet. Except for one or two runners ahead, I had the whole road to myself. I was exhausted but I was excited to be less than 5km to the endpoint. As I run up the slope, I told myself to maintain effort and not worry too much about my pace. To be able to run non-stop up this bridge at a decent pace was one of my targets for the marathon.

From a distance, I could see a man in orange vest ahead. I recognised that it was Poon ZL. Suddenly, I could hear someone shouting my name! I turned to my right and saw that it was Jackie! He was walking by then, but still mustered enough strength to shout across to me to jiayou. I waved back to him and pressed on.

I looked at the time. No chance for a PB. But if nothing goes wrong, it would be a local PB for me, smashing the 3hr 28mins I did two years back for Singapore marathon. I finally caught up with Poon ZL just after the peak. I could see lots of runners running along Republic Blvd road. It was a long stretch of downhill from 39km until the merging point of all 10km, 21km and 42km runners. Before I knew it, I was turning into Republic Blvd road myself and I kept to the left side since I knew the last water station would be on the left hand side. It was a totally different world here after the merge. There were many runners grabbing cups of water from the drink station. I slowed to a stop to get a cup for myself.

40km: 3hr 12min 54sec

With just 2km more to go, I weaved in and out of the crowd as quickly as I could, hoping to get out of the congestion soon. Spotted Richard with Kien Mau along the side of the Raffles Ave road and they cheered for me just before I turned into Esplanade Drive. It was a torturous climb up the road but I knew the end was near once I reached the bend on top.

There were barricades dividing the runners into their respective categories and I looked out for the route for marathon runners. When I saw the sign that says last 200m, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Managed to smile and pose for a finishing shot just before I crossed the finishing line. Phew! Finally the race is over! Completed the marathon in 3hr 23min 51 sec and came in 2nd for the Local Women’s Category. Rachel who led from start to finish was the champion and she finished in 3hr 17mins.

Somehow, I felt that I could have done better and should have try to push a bit more to run faster. My mental strength was not strong enough and I kept worrying that I would suffer from cramps if I push too hard, too early in the race. Nonetheless, it was still a new local PB, smashing my previous course record of 3:28 by about 5 mins, so I am contented.

Here are some photos taken after the race.

Prize presentation for Singapore Women's category. Happy to be on the podium this year.

Prize presentation for Singapore Women’s category. Happy to be on the podium this year.

Sharing the joy with the boyfriend. <3

Sharing the joy with the boyfriend. ❤

Now that the race is over, I shall rest and take a short break before resuming training for my next marathon, Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which is happening on 25 Jan 2015. Wish me luck!

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

I have been wanting to try the Gold Coast Airport Marathon ever since I heard other runners raved about the nice scenic race route and cool climate that make it a PB course. So when Ascis offered a race slot for this event, I decided to go for it. It is my first Ascis sponsored event after all and the idea of running together with fellow Asics team mates excites me.

Training was quite erratic this time as compared to the previous time I was training for HKSCM. Ever since the Safra road relay in early March, Melvin trainer has adjusted the target paces for intervals and tempo runs according to our 1.6km results clocked during the road relay. With faster target times, intensity level went up too. On good days, I could managed a good, confidence booster workout. But more often than not, there were also a few workouts that I struggled through and left me disappointed when I could not meet the target time I set out to achieve. Once, I could not even complete 3 sets of (1.5km x 4 loops), giving up after two sets when I slowed to walk. It was then I realised I might be burnt out from the high intensity workouts on Tues and Thurs.

Long runs in March and April were quite smooth. Jackie and I managed at about 5-5:05″min/km pace for most of our runs ranging from 17km to 25km . However, towards mid April, I fell sick. Training seems to go downhill for me in May. There were a couple of times we just could not complete the distance we have initially set out to do. The longest run leading up to Sundown marathon was a mere 32km at ECP (we usually train up to 36km) which didn’t work out too well towards the last 10km and I struggled to finish it at a much slower pace. Sundown marathon which was supposed to be a lead up run for my GCAM was also a disappointment.

In June, work got busier and I have to skip some training with Safra. But I made sure I was still training consistently, squeezing in a run after work on my own. After all, I only have 4-5 weeks to prepare for Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I was more cautious this time because I knew I could easily fall sick again if I push too hard. I no longer attempt long runs at 5″/min, instead I ran with my feel and keep to average 5:15″/km pace. Jurong Lake Run was a confidence booster and I was glad to regain my fitness and arrive at Gold Coast feeling fresh and strong.

Kaifen, Alex, Brian (Alex’s friend whom Alex roped in to share accommodation with us) and I arrived at Gold Coast on Saturday morning. There was some delay in the flight and also the airport shuttle. After saying goodbye to Peyling and Priscilla, who took the same flight as us, but stayed at different places, we finally arrived at our motel. It was a nice spacious apartment for 5. Boon Wee, who arrived a day earlier was already in the apartment waiting for us.

After putting down our luggage, we grabbed a quick lunch and set off to the race expo to collect our race bibs. As the restaurants in Australia closes as early as 5pm, we did not stay for long at the expo.

Bumped into fellow Safra training mates at the race expo. With Peying, Priscilla and Sew Hyong  =)

Bumped into fellow Safra training mates at the race expo. With Peyling, Priscilla and Sew Hyong =)

Took the bus back to our area and we settled for subway for dinner. Then it was back to our motel to rest for the night. I think it was the first time I actually slept for 9 hours before a marathon. Other than waking up 3-4 times in the middle of night to use the bathroom, I had quite a good rest and woke up feeling recharged and excited.

Race day morning. It was cold! I pulled on layers of clothing and complete with a poncho over my body to keep myself warm. Our apartment was about 1km from the race venue, so we set off on foot at around 6 am in the morning. Some photo takings before we deposited our baggage. Visited the portable loos and headed to the race pen. Kaifen and I got the priority slot, so it was pretty easy for us to get into the pen. Saw many friends from Singapore too and we wished one another well for the race.

A photo before the race. All wrapped up with layers of clothing to keep warm.

A photo before the race. All wrapped up with layers of clothing to keep warm.

The weather got a little warmer by 7am. I decided it was not as cold and decided not to run with my gloves. The marathon started at 7.20 am. It was a perfect weather for run. I went with the flow and was pleasantly surprised to know I was already running at target race pace 4:30″/km at the first 1km. Saw Rachel and Poon Zili ran past us and disappeared into the crowd with the 3hrs pacers after a while. I was running alongside Kaifen and was comfortable with my pace so decided to just stick to it. At 5km, we reached Surfers Paradise. There were many supporters standing at the sides cheering for the runners. Turned into the stretch of private houses and soon 10km was over in a flash.

Kaifen and I were consistently hitting around 4:30″/km for our splits from 1st km to 10km according to my Garmin. However, the distance markers were always a few meters ahead, so we were probably closer to average 4:31″/km pace. I didn’t think too much then but I realised I should have tried to hit 4:30″/km at the distance markers rather than based on my Garmin splits because the few meters difference turned up to be quite a lot of difference by the time I reached the half way mark and means I would not be able to finish the marathon in 3:10 hr at the end.

At around my 12 km mark, I could see many elite runners on the other side of the running route. Was very happy to spot my idol, Yuki Kawachi. He was running alone, looking very focused. I like the race route because you get to see many other runners at the other side at various points. Spotted a few familiar faces, like Jianyong, Rachel when we were running towards to the u-turn point at the 15 km mark. All is well at the first u-turn as Kaifen and myself were still keeping to average 4:29-4:30″/km pace as planned. Spotted a lot more friends after this u-turn, Joe, Richard, Zhilei, Weisian, Peyling, Elaine, Voon Ho on the other side.

It was the same route back to the start point to hit 30km. The race course was unexpectedly undulating though, some ups and downs along the private houses. Not as flat as what I heard from most people. Fortunately, they were short inclines. Kaifen was no longer running alongside with me after the u-turn, but I knew she was close behind. I ran on, hoping that she would catch up. I decided not take my salt capsule as planned at the 18km mark since I was not perspiring as profusely as I thought I would be. Soon, I arrived at the halfway point at 21 km. The clock read 1:35:33. It was then I realised we were 33 seconds off target, despite keeping to average 4:30″/km pace based on Garmin. As much as I wanted to finish in 3:10hr for the marathon, I was afraid to increase my pace when it’s not 30km yet. Another “mistake” because I could have probably shave more time if I increase my pace earlier at this stage when I still feel good. A veteran male runner ran past and we chatted and ran for a while together. He got faster and I hold back, aiming to keep him in sight. I was beginning to feel tired and keeping to 4:30″/km did not feel as smooth as before. I looked for other female runners ahead as targets. When I saw a pack of runners ahead, I also tried to run behind the pack and let them pull me along.

Finally, I was back at Surfers Paradise. Average pace on my Garmin has dropped to 4:31″/km. There were more cameras along the way and I smile at all that I could see. The next 5km was a daze, but eventually I reached 30km mark and was looking out for our number one supporter, Alex. Time check at 30km, 2hr 17min. No good, time seems too tight if I’m still targeting for a 3:10 marathon.

Happy to see Alex after the 30km mark.

Happy to see Alex after the 30km mark.

Someone cheered for me, I suspect it was Alice since Richard was racing too, but I was too exhausted to turn and check. Not long after, I saw Alex on the pavement, taking photos of me and cheering for me as ran past. It was another uphill ahead, and I got a shock when my split read 4:36″/km. At the rate I’m running, I’m not even sure if I could do a PB (sub 3:14). I ran on and with a few more splits at 4:35″/km, my average pace dropped to 4:32″/km. Saw Wen Long at the other side and shouted jiayou to him.

At 35km, my Garmin reflected a split time of 4:35″/min. Then it got stuck at this screen for a long time. I tried pressing the buttons but in vain. Eventually, I switched to the clock mode, showing the real time. I did some calculations in my head. To finish in 3:10hrs, means I had to reach the finishing point at 10.30 am. Without being able to read my current pace, I ran based on feel this time. I was looking forward to the next u-turn point which is the 36.5km mark. Spotted Poon Zili, who looked very happy and fresh on the other side. No doubt a PB run for him. Knowing that Rachel should be not far behind, I kept a lookout for her. True enough, spotted her not long after, she has slowed down quite a bit but still looking good too. Motivated, I sped up, hoping to close the gap between us. The u-turn was further away than I thought and I knew it’s quite impossible to finish in 3:10hr. Made the u-turn and was glad to see Kaifen pressing on, on the other side of the route, despite her flu and sore eye. I ran on and spotted Joe, Richard and Boon Wee along the way as well.

At 40km mark, I no longer know what was the pace I was running at. I only know that the clock was ticking and I had to run a lot faster to finish as close to 10.30 am as possible. Gave my all at the last 2 km and came home in 3:11:06 (net time). A tab disappointed that I did not meet my target 3:10 hrs for the marathon, but overall still satisfied that I managed to finish the race strongly and shave about 3mins from my last PB of 3:14.

Was pleasantly surprised that Run Society wrote about Singapore Runners at GCAM2014 too. Check out:-http://www.runsociety.com/2014/07/15/singapore-runners-set-record-times-at-gold-coast-airport-marathon-2014/

Check out my splits! Slowed down too much betw 30 to 35km. But yhis was probably the most even half way splits I ever did for a marathon. Just a second difference!

Check out my splits! Slowed down too much betw 15km to 20km and 30 to 35km. But this was probably the most even half way splits I ever did for a marathon. Just a second difference.

Happy to complete the marathon in a good time!

Happy to complete the marathon in a good time!

A nice photo from Run Society after the race.

A nice photo from Run Society after the race. From left to right: Zi Li, Rachel, Me, Kaifen, Wenlong and Alex

Met Mr Tadashi from Asics Japan for the first time. Thanks to Kaifen to introduce him to us.

Met Mr Tadashi from Asics Japan for the first time. Thanks to Kaifen for introducing him to us and getting the VIP passes for us.

Wide variety of food at the VIP lounge!

With Asics team mates, Alex and Kaifen. Wide variety of food at the VIP lounge!

The day just got better! We met Yuki Kawachi at the VIP lounge and requested for a photo with him =)

The day just got better! We met Yuki Kawauchi at the VIP lounge and requested for a photo with him. He’s so nice to agree to it! =)

A solo pic with my idol! He came in 3rd in 2:11:27 for the marathon despite a fall during the race.

And a solo pic with the Citizen Runner! Yuki came in 3rd place in 2:11:27 for the marathon despite a fall during the race. Respect!

Sundown Marathon 2014

Sundown marathon was a disastrous race for me.

31 May 2014, Saturday

It was supposed to be a lead-up run to my Gold Coast Airport marathon, which is happening in 5 weeks’ time. And I thought 3hr 30 mins would be a good target. Jackie, who has barely recovered from his sickness decided to run the marathon together with me. We also asked Daniel (from Jurong Safra) to run with us since we were all gunning for the same time.

After a long restless wait at the start line, full marathoners were flagged off at 2330hrs. Adrenaline got better of us at the start and we were surprised when we found ourselves running at 4:38’/km for the first km. We slowed down and settled at 5min/km as planned at the 2nd km. More and more runners ran past us. We said Hi to Lynly, who was all smiling, running easy and fast. Soon, she was running ahead too. By 3km, Jenny, Rachel and Ezann who had sped off with them right at the start, have faded into the distance. Soon, Jasmine Goh also overtook us and ran ahead.  I was getting a bit anxious to see so many female runners running at such a fast pace so early into the race and couldn’t help thinking, “Are we running too slowly?”

Perhaps I was anxious, perhaps I was feeling comfortable. Unconsciously, we picked up pace and were running at 4:50-4:55/km. Daniel dropped back to continue at his own pace based on his heart rate. It was a very humid night and I found myself pouring water over my head at every water station. The first 10km was over in a blink but I was beginning to feel the first hint of fatigue at the long stretch of dark road towards ECP after mere 50mins into the race. Spotted Lynly again ahead. She was still going strong and all chirpy when we ran passed her.

Our pace dropped to average 5″/min when we entered ECP. It was getting harder to maintain the pace now. And every breath I took seemed to be heavier than usual. Jackie seemed fine though.

The early part of the race when Jackie and I were still feeling good.

The early part of the race when Jackie and I were still feeling good.

We were just running past the lagoon and I was most certain I was not able to keep up with 5″min/km pace anymore when Jackie stopped suddenly at the side, bend over and puke. Many runners ran past us. And it was rather heartwarming to receive words of concerns and encouragements from friends and some strangers. A few even stopped to see if we need help. After a few minutes, Jackie was feeling better after vomiting. He urged me to continue to run and complete the race while he slowly make his way back.

Worried, but since there was nothing much I could do, I started my watch again and continue the race. 26km more to reach the finishing line, surely I could do it. I thought to myself. However, by 20km, I could feel myself slipping away from the target pace. It was a struggle to maintain 5min/km and I slowed to around 5:20″/km pace. I knew it would be impossible to catch up with the ladies ahead then, not at the rate I was running now.

Finally, I was on the road towards NSRCC where the U-turn point (25km) was located. Saw the fastest female runner at the other side, a Kenyan lady. Rachel was closely behind, hot on her heels, still running strong. In current third place was Ezann, followed by Jasmine Goh not far behind. There were also a couple more ladies after that. The U-turn point was near but I was feeling terrible by the minute. Felt like there was something stuck to the brim of my throat and felt like vomitting with each step I put forward.

After the u-turn, I was feeling so unwell that I lost the motivation to try to maintain 5:20″/km anymore. I no longer concern of the pace I was running at. I trudged on at about 5:40″/km for the next few km. At about 28 km, I could see Jenny from a distance. She had slowed down a lot too, but she was still running albeit at a slower pace. I had wanted to walk then, but seeing Jenny pressing on despite her discomfort motivated me to pick myself up again. Taking Jenny as my target, I managed to run 5:29 min for the next kilometer. Cheered for Jenny when I was finally running beside her. She complimented that my pink DS racers were pretty. Never know one could still remain so bubbly and cheerful during a race like this. Only Jenny. She’s a strong one.

Thankful to receive kind support from Safra family when the going gets tough.

Thankful to receive kind support from Safra family when the going gets tough.

I ran on, slower than before but determined to continue to run so long my legs could take it. At 30km mark, I walked a little and took my time to drink the water. My next target was to reach the 33km mark, which was also the end point of ECP before going up the Sheares Bridge. Saw Boon Wee at the 33km mark. I told him I was going to walk and jog back as I was not feeling well. Boon Wee went ahead and soon disappeared into the distance. I got a shock when I saw the crowd as I exited ECP. It was the merging point of 21km and 42km runners. Many were walking up. Looking at the crowd and the up slopes , I lost all motivation to run. I succumbed to fatigue and walked up the slopes. At the top, I attempted to jog for a while but felt nauseous as I pounded on the road. So it was walking for me again all the way till 40km, where I started to pick up my legs again to jog to the finish line.

In the end, I completed the marathon at about 4hr 10min (including the stops). My worst performance since 2010. A very disappointing experience which made me swore off running any full marathon past midnight.

I’m not sure what has gone wrong. One reason could be that the food I had taken prior to race was something different and my stomach could not take it. (Had a curry bun at a cafe and it was something I never tried before and taste funny.) Another reason might be because I drank too much water and isotonic drinks (due to humid weather) and end up feeling bloated and full during the race.

Training wise, I must admit my mileage might has fallen short due to higher intensity workouts and hence led to a few unfinished long runs. Looks like I have to train harder and smarter for my Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

Will be back stronger.