Seoul 10 km Challenge

I received an invitation from Pocari Sweat Singapore last November to participate in the Seoul Marathon. There was a change in plan however, after I unexpectedly qualified for Rio Olympics’ women marathon.

As I do not have a coach, SAA stepped in to appoint Mr Steven Quek to be my coach. His first advice was that there is no need for me to do another marathon from now until the Olympics. This is because I have just completed SCMS in Dec 15 and if I were to run Seoul marathon in Mar 16, followed by Olympics in Aug 16, that will be 3 marathons in 8 months and that would be quite taxing on my body. I would not be able to perform with Rio being the last and most important marathon too.

I agreed with Coach and also feel that I was not ready to do another marathon in March. So I quickly requested Pocari Sweat to change my race slot for the 10km race instead. This would also be in line with the training which Coach has planned for me, which is to improve my 10km and 21km timing first before we start preparing for the full marathon.

The Plan 

I met up with coach in late January to discuss my training program for Rio. As the time frame was too short, he does not wish to make any drastic changes to my current training regime. I shared with him my training log, personal bests for my 10km and 21km and he feels that we should focus on improving my speed for 10km first, followed by 21km before we focus on preparing for full marathon. Thus, my training was broken into three phases:

(1) Feb – Mar, 10km focused training and compete in Seoul 10km challenge on 20 March.

(2) Apr-May, half marathon focused training. Find a half marathon race in mid or end May.

(3) June-July, full marathon training. No more races until Rio Olympics.

The Target

My personal best for 10km races were around 41-42 mins. Coach set the target of achieving 40 mins, a personal best for Seoul 10km challenge. We will then target to do a half marathon in May.

Training (1st Phase) 

My training officially began on 1 Feb 2016. As my workplace is at Fusionopolis, which is a stone’s throw away from NUS, I could train with the NUS cross-country team at NUS track on Mondays and Thursday evenings after work. I remembered meeting Janielle and Faith for the first time and both of them shared with me their warm up routine and drills they did before they start their workout. It was the first time I was introduced to these drills and I took some time to learn and do the drills properly.

My weekdays training are intervals, ranging for 6km to 10km, starting with 400m repeats at 10km race pace (96s per 400m). We started with 16 x 500m intervals and coach gradually increased the intervals to 15 x 600m, 13 x 700m, 12 x 800m and finally 10 x 1km one week before my race.

For shorter intervals, it will be at a faster pace, 92s per 400m. At first, I was not used to the intervals as the number of intervals were more than what I usually do back when I train with Jurong Safra Running Club. But after a few weeks, I learnt how to run relax and run comfortably. I rest on Wednesday and do easy runs on Tuesday, cross training/easy run on Friday and Sunday.

There is no major change in my weekend training. I still stick to 20km long run on Saturdays, though Coach emphasized that the long run should not be too hard as I need to recover for the two hard interval training on weekdays.

Frankly speaking, I wasn’t sure if I would be able achieve the target time for my 10km race as I have not exactly been running at 4mins/km pace continuously. No doubt I have several good workouts during this 7 weeks of training, but there were times I struggled through the training. Like the 13 x 700m workout which I felt the fatigue right after 3 sets and in the end managed only 12 sets and did not complete the workout as plan.

Still, Coach is very encouraging and believes that it is possible. I just have to believe in myself and the training. The final workout 10 x 1km was a confidence booster as I managed complete the workout successfully.

Pre-Race

I departed Singapore on 18 March afternoon and arrived in Seoul on 18 March night. One of the Korea Pocari Sweat staff,  Lee Sang Kyu is very kind to pick me up from airport and send me all the way to the hotel. It was close to midnight by the time I settled in my hotel.

I woke up early to meet the Pocari Sweat team from Indonesia at 8am. They have two runners, one a national runner and another a celebrity, participating in Seoul Marathon. We did our easy run at the Gwanghwamun Square, where it would be the start of the full marathon event. I jogged for 30 minutes and did some drills.

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With team Pocari Sweat from Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Korea!

We met up with Team Pocari Sweat for lunch before going to the Olympic Stadium to check out the expo.

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In the evening, Wina and I meet up with Alex and Rudin who were also in Seoul to do the Seoul Marathon. Alex was injured so he decided not to race and support Rudin instead.

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20 March 2016, race day

Thanks to Pocari Sweat’s hospitality, I have no trouble getting to the venue and arrived at the race site with plenty of time to change, attend to a short interview, and warm up. It was easy getting to the front of the start line too with Pocari Sweat’s help.

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The race started at 1030am. Weather was cool at around 10 degree cel. I wasn’t feeling cold at all as the sun was out. Decided that I will not need my arm sleeves, I removed them just before I entered the race pen and put on my shades when I toed the starting line.

Many runners shot off when the race started and passed me. Adrenaline pumping, I ran along, telling myself to keep to my own race pace. My garmin alerted me 3:57min for my first km and it was exactly 4mins when I passed the first kilometer distance marker. I realised I may have to run slightly faster than what my Garmin indicated so as to meet my target of sub 40 mins. My pace for the 2nd km and 3rd km dropped due to undulating terrain and an incline. I was behind my target by 8 seconds when I passed the 3km distance marker.

I pressed on, determined to chase the time. I could see a girl running ahead of me and target to keep her sight. Got a little worried when my 4th km took me 4:08min and I was behind time by 16 seconds. Still, I kept going, knowing that the 2nd half of the race is flat and I still have a chance to do a sub 40mins 10km.

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Half way point, time check at 20 min 12 sec. I was gradually gaining back the time lost. I was also closing up on the girl ahead of me and that got me quite motivated. And at 7km mark, I finally caught up with her. My split read 3:52″/km. She tried to keep up and followed me for a while. 8th km was slightly slower at 3:58″/km so I was still slightly behind my target time. I knew I have to speed up or risk missing my target. It was only until 9km, with my watch reading I finally on track for a 40mins 10km.

As I approached the Jamsil Olympic Main Stadium, I got really excited and sped up a bit. As I entered the stadium and stepped onto the track, I could see and hear many supporters cheering for the runners. Gave my all and ran as fast as I could round the track. The finishing line was in sight and I was determined to finish the race under 40mins.

And I did it! Crossed the finishing line in 39 min 50 sec, a personal best. It is my first sub 40 mins 10km run. 1796440_10153612246761025_7422838963730084352_n

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Wina, country manager of Pocari Sweat Singapore was there welcoming me back with a hug.

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Make a new friend that day. =) This is Nicole, the girl whom I was chasing from the 1st to 7th km of the race. She came in 2nd, not far away from me.

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And what a surprise and bonus to come in first for the 10km race for the women’s category!

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In the evening, team Pocari Sweat hosted a dinner for all of us to celebrate our achievement. We had such a good time eating, drinking and chatting. Thank you team Pocari Sweat for the hospitality and support! So glad to be part of this family.

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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.

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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. 

ASICS City Relay

1 August 2015

I was feeling quite excited about the race as ASICS is the title sponsor for this running event in Singapore. Adding to the fun element, it’s gotta to be a team event across all categories. However, unlike Sundown team event, Asics City Relay is an Ekiden format whereby team members take turns to run 10.5km one after another to make up the full marathon distance. Representing ASICS Running Club, Rachel volunteered to be our first runner as she prefers to run when it’s still bright. Claire opted to be the 2nd runner and Brittany chose to be the 3rd runner. And that leaves me to be the last runner for the team.  We called ourselves Team Asics Charlie Angels. =D

By 5.45pm, all the first runners of each team were already ushered into the race pen. There was a short briefing of the race route and a run through of the change over. At 6pm, the horn sounded and the race was on.

Having fun at photo booth after all the first runners were flagged off.

Having fun at photo booth with Claire after all the first runners were flagged off.

And with Jackie, who eventually decided to participate in this event. He was the 2nd runner for another team.

And with Jackie, who eventually decided to participate in this event. He was the 2nd runner for another team.

There was a tracking board available on the event’s website which shows the time of the runners when they crossed 5.2km mark, which is the u-turn after Gardens By The Bay. It also shows the time when they returned to stadium for the changeover. Rachel ran an impressive first 5km in under 19 mins. By the time she returned to the stadium for change over, her time which was sub 41 mins put us in the lead by more than 3 mins from the 2nd women team.

Claire took over the wrist band and set off looking strong and focused. I looked out for Jackie, who is running the 2nd leg for his team and then went around taking pictures with friends, at the same time find out more about the race route and learn from the experience from the first runners who has returned.

A picture with Brittany (in black) and Rachel after Rachel completed the first leg. She is so amazingly fast!

A picture with Brittany (in black) and Rachel after Rachel has completed the first leg. She is so amazingly fast!

I was feeling hungry having had my last meal at 1pm. Was still contemplating if I should get some food when Wong offered me a small piece of hotdog bun which was enough to fill my stomach. Maintaining our first position, Claire returned in about 48 mins and off Brittany went. I was feeling more jittery by the minute and decided that it was time to get myself a cup of coffee to calm my nerves. Sat down to enjoy the cup of coffee while I listened to Claire as she shared her race experience. It’s gotta be quite messy, she said as the running path is narrow and shared by runners running to and fro. She reminded me to turn left after I see the overhead bridge as she made the mistake of going straight towards marina barrage, only to backtrack after she realised it was not the correct route. Claire also warned me to look out for cyclists and park-goers too.

I finished my cup of coffee and got ready to warm up. At close to 8pm, I proceed to the changeover pen to wait for Brittany’s return. I estimate her to be coming back at around 8:20pm. I was feeling nervous by the minute as I saw more and more runners returning and still no sight of Brittany. While waiting, I spotted speedy Yvonne Lin, 3rd runner from Team Trackstar running past and heading towards the next changeover pen. It was then I realised we have fell to 2nd place. There was nothing to worry about though as Trackstar was under Running Club category which means Team Asics Charlie Angels still remains first under Women Open’s category.

3 more minutes past and I was happy to see Brittany running towards me, her arm reaching out to pass me the wrist band. Grabbed the wrist band and flicked it across my wrist and off I went. I do not have high hopes of catching up the last runner of the Trackstar but was hoping at least I could close up the gap. Spotted Rachel and her husband, Zili both already showered cheering for me as I exited the stadium.

I focused on following the runners ahead of me and gradually overtaking them one by one. Switched on the LED light of the wrist band and it shone brightly in the night. At about 2km mark, I arrived at Tanjong Rhu Park Connector. It was the path whereby the already narrow path was further divided into two to cater for runners returning to the stadium. Spent some effort weaving in and out of the crowd. Also saw Gen, who was the fourth runner for team Flying Doctors flying past me, on his return route to the stadium to finish the race. He and his team mates, Baoying, Joshua and Derek would later went on to win the top position under the corporate category.

I continued running and was glad to catch sight of the overhead bridge, which means water point is near. Turned left and grabbed a cup of water for a sip and pour the rest over my head to cool myself.

It wasn’t difficult to figure out where to turn as I have many runners (mostly runners running the 3rd leg) ahead to follow. Crossed the road and I continued running on the park connector (which leads to ECP). That’s when it got messy and dangerous as this time we also have to look out for cyclists who were sharing the same running route as all runners.

I have yet to reach the u-turn and I managed to catch a glimpse of a female runner running past me on the other side of the route. Her race bib indicated that she’s the fourth runner and I sort of guess she was the anchor runner from team trackstar.

Soon, I reached the u-turn point as well. Time check: 21:31 mins for the first 5.2km. I pressed on, hoping to catch sight of the girl from team trackstar ahead. It took me a while, but I eventually catch up with her after a few hundred meters. She quickened her pace the moment she sensed that I was running alongside her. I pushed the pace, and took the lead shortly after. We continued pushing the pace and got a scare when an oncoming cyclist ride towards us. I let out a scream before I swerved to the left to avoid the cyclist. Thankfully, no one was hurt. With no time to lose, I continued running, hoping to pull away from the girl who was still hot on my heels. But she was quite determined to keep up and I could hear her breathing hard behind me. She was already pushing hard and I knew if I can sustain the pace, I can definitely pull away from her.

Alex Tiong from Safra Tampines came flying past me. Motivated, I tried to chase after him. But he soon disappeared and was out of sight in a flash. By 8km, I could no longer hear footsteps behind me and knew the trackstar girl has dropped behind. I pressed on, not daring to take any chances, in case she sneaked up from behind at the last minute.

The last 2.5km back to the stadium was tough. I was getting tired and my pace dropped back to 4:15″/km. There was more twists and turns as we ran around sports hub before we were eventually directed into the stadium. I sped up again at the last 1km upon seeing that the end point was near.

Made a right turn for the finishing line as I entered the stadium. There were many cheers from the crowd as the emcee announced that the first women’s team has returned. Elated and feeling super high, I crossed the finishing line, and lift the finishing tape up high. Yeah! Team Asics Charlie Angels did it! We won not just the Women Open’s category, but we were the overall winner for the female category too.

Time for my 10.5km was around 44:43mins. Combining all the time taken, we finished the “marathon” in a total time of 3:08:19.

Team ASICS Charlie Angels. =)

Team ASICS Charlie Angels. =)

Super proud of my team mates who have given their all for the race. All in all, we had a great race and truly enjoyed ourselves. It was so much more fun and meaningful to win this as team. =)

A photo with Andy, our

A photo with Andy, our “team manager”, who coordinates and get us together to form a team.

Looking forward to the next series of Asics City Relay!

Heel Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shape Run 2015

A super belated post so am just going to keep this short.

Started the morning with a scare because I realised I had forgotten to bring my time chip when I arrived at the race site! I had left it on my bed after putting on my race bib before leaving the house. =(

I was still contemplating to ask my brother (who has kindly gave me and Peyling a lift to KPT very early in the morning) to drive home and help me pick up the time chip. Decided to check out the information booth first to see if they can help. Thankfully, I am able to purchased a new race bib at S$20. Phew! No need to trouble my brother after all.

The 15km race started promptly at 6am. There was a leading vehicle flashing the time as the clock tick away. Lead cyclists, Trevor and Chris led the way and a whole lot of us followed the moment the horn sounded. Few hundred meters into the race, I was in the lead. There was another female runner running alongside with me for a while and overtook me after 2km. I get to know later that she was the 26 year old RSAF officer, Lynette who appeared in the newspaper some months ago for a full score for her IPPT results. As I was already running  faster than my target pace, I told myself to be patient and stick to my own pace since it was still early in the race. I eventually overtook Lynette and gradually pick up my pace. She was hot on my heels as we pounded on Nicoll Highway. It was until we turned into the F1 pit and I gradually pull away from her when I sensed that she is not keeping up anymore. As I do not know if she would eventually catch up in the end, I told myself to focus on my pace and aim to maintain my position till the end of the race. Lynette later went on to finish 1st runner-up for the 15km race.

There was plenty of u-turns for this race course and it was encouraging to receive cheers from runners and pacers over at the other side. I was running alone most of the time and it was great that I have the lead cyclists, Trevor and Chris to follow.

Shape Run 2015

The race was over in a flash. 15km is actually quite a nice distance. Not the fast and furious, lung bursting 10km, and it’s shorter than 21km which make it seems easier to push a bit more because you know the end is near.

As I ran down the ramp towards Kallang Practice Track, I could see all the 5km runners waiting for their race to begin. I was all smiles when I saw the finishing tape in front of me. Super elated because it’s not often I get to break the finishing tape here in Singapore.

credits to John Tan for this lovely finishing picture =)

credits to John Tan for this lovely finishing picture =)

Completed the 15km run (my garmin read about 14.5km though) in 1:02:42. Avg pace: 4:19″/km. All in all it was a very enjoyable race and as usual, it was fun catching up with friends after the race too. A bonus to come in first for the first time in Shape Run. It was the first year they incorporated a 15km category into the event.

With the two wonderful lead cyclists, Chris and Trevor who led me from start to finish. =)

With the two wonderful lead cyclists, Chris and Trevor who led me from start to finish. =)

With 2nd runner-up, Serene Yang.

With 2nd runner-up, Serene Yang.

Ezann ran well too and came in 4th.

Ezann ran well too and came in 4th.

Happy to meet Cecilia who was there to compete in the 10km category. And she came in 10th position too! Congrats Cecilia!

Happy to meet Cecilia who was there to compete in the 10km category. And she came in 10th position too! Congrats Cecilia!

Prize presentation. =)

Prize presentation. =)

Prize winners for Shape Run' 15.

Shape Run’15 ‘s prize winners for 15km, 10km and 5km category.

Sundown Marathon 2015

4 July 2015, Saturday

Been signing up for the full marathon since 2009. This year I decided to go for the 10km team of 4 category when ASICS offered a slot and get a few of us (Kaifen, Claire, Brittany and myself) to form a team.

It was great fun doing a team event. I always love the camaraderie shared among team mates. And it brings a special purpose to racing, because it’s not just about running for your own PB, it’s about doing your best for the team.

I met up with Claire and Kaifen to deposit our bags before we proceed to the race pen. We were looking for Brittany but could not contact or see her. By 9.30pm, there were already a lot of runners streaming into the race pen so we hurried inside. Got a shock when we were almost stopped from entering the first wave. Luckily, we managed to scramble in at the last minute and squeezed our way to the front.

The race started promptly at 10pm. The moment the horn sounded, the front pack shot off in lightning speed. I started my Garmin. Someone knocked against me and I did not realise I have accidentally pressed my Garmin and stopped the time until a minute later. I reset my watch while on the run, knowing that the distance recorded here would not be accurate anymore. As I followed the flow of runners and run based on feel, I could see once of the top female runners in Malaysia, Michele Tan far ahead of me. I was already running at 3:57min pace so I have no guts to go after her. Baoying caught up and was running alongside with me by 2nd km. She was gradually picking up her pace as we approached a flight of stairs leading to Helix Bridge at the 3rd km.  Up the flights of stairs and down again, before we hit the running path towards Gardens By the Bay and Marina Barrage.

I tried to keep up with Baoying, but she was really strong and pulled away from me shortly later. I pressed on, hoping that I could at least keep her in sight. As I ran on the bridge over at Marina Barrage, I could see Michele just slightly ahead of me. She seemed to have slowed down. I overtook her and continued running, taking the few runners ahead as my targets. It’s barely 5km into the run and I was already breathing hard. Yet I can’t seem to go faster. Where has all my stamina go?

Saw scattered groups of men running past from the other side. It was exciting to see who was leading, and who was closely behind. Cheered for Raviin when he ran past. Finally, I arrived at the u-turn. It was a big round u-turn. By the time, I was back onto the straight road, I could no longer see Baoying ahead. I continued running and tried to keep up with a couple of male runners in front.

I was slowing down. The bridge leading to Marina Barrage seemed so far away. I told myself it’s only 4km more to finishing line and I should just keep running.

As I was approaching Marina Barrage, I saw Morgan just ahead and called out to him. I tried to overtake him. He seemed surprised to see me and quickly increased his pace to pull away from me. With a new found motivation, I tried to follow Morgan. I thought I was running faster than before, but the splits on my Garmin says otherwise. My pace had in fact dropped to 4:27″/km and 4″37″/km for my 8th and 9th km.

As I chased after him and ran down the Esplanade bridge, towards the finishing line, Morgan gave a final kick and sped off with his brother. I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch him. I pressed on, hoping to at least achieve a decent timing for this 10km run. Ran my heart out for the last 500m and finished in around 42:30 min.

Slightly disappointed that I did not even manage a sub 42min this time. Hopefully, I will do better for my upcoming races, Shape Run 15km and Ascis Team Relay 10.5km.

All in all, my team did well! We came in first for Team of 4 Women’s Category! Super elated and proud of our team effort.

Eunice just completed her 5km run when we arrived at race site. She managed to catch the fireworks along the run too!

Eunice just completed her 5km run when we arrived at race site. She managed to catch the fireworks along the run too!

Team ASICS. Brittany, Claire, Me and Kaifen.

Team ASICS. Brittany, Claire, Me and Kaifen.

A nice picture of Zhilei and me after the run. I'm still perspiring profusely!

A nice picture of Zhilei and me after the run. I’m still perspiring profusely!

With Rachel, who came in 2nd for her half marathon event! Impressive 1hr 30min run!

With Rachel, who came in 2nd for her half marathon event! Impressive 1hr 30min run!

And it was nice catching up with Kelvin after his race too. Being a father of 2 does not give him much time to run, but he still managed to clock a decent time for his 21km.

And it was nice catching up with Kelvin after his race too. Being a father of 2 does not give him much time to run, but he still managed to clock a decent time for his 21km. <credit to second wind magazine for the pic>

With the boy boy who only manages to run 2-3 times a wk due to work. Glad he still managed to clock a good time for his 21km.

With the boy boy who only manages to run 2-3 times a wk due to work. Glad he still managed to clock a good time for his 21km. Thank you second wind for this lovely shot. 

NTUC Income Run 350

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

,

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

Run350

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

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

Here’s a few photos taken after the race.

With friends from Jurong SAFRA

With friends from Jurong SAFRA

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

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

With friends from MF SAFRA.

With friends from MF SAFRA.