29.10.17. Race day.
The day started at 2.10 am. Woke up, wash up and had my usual breakfast, bread and coffee at 2.30 am. Jackie and I did not have much problem getting to race site at Marina Barrage as Stella and Joe had kindly offered us a ride to race site. Joe is participating in the 32km run while Stella would be there to support.
We arrived at Marina Barrage just before 3.30 am. Visited the washroom and then we hung around to chit-chat and catch up with other runners who have just arrived. Jackie forgot to bring along the gummy bears so I passed him one packet of energy gel. I had brought along four packets (wanting to finish them as they were past expiry date). Usually I will take one gel ten minutes before the start of the race but decided that I could do without one this time.
At around 4 am, we decided to make our way to the start line. Crossed the bridge and some of us began a light jog towards the start line, where many runners had already gathered. Squeezed our way through and managed to get to the first few rows just behind the start line. Greeted familiar faces and chit chat with friends while waiting patiently for the race to start.
In the first part of my post, I mentioned that the initial plan for this race was to attempt my marathon race pace for SCSM. However, because training has been disrupted and I have not been clocking a lot mileage and doing speed workouts, I decided to treat this race as a training run and see if my legs could handle a faster pace (just below 5 mins) without any pain. I set a target of finishing the 32km under 2hr 40min, which is about 5″min/km. It is a far cry from 2014 Newton Challenge, where I managed to complete in 2hr 25mins, but at my present condition and fitness, I dare not attempt a faster pace in case I aggravate the injury further.
We were pre-empted by the emcee that the race may be delay due to a vehicle obstructing the route. Fortunately, it was clear soon enough and did not cause any delay. At 4.30am sharp, all runners were flagged off. I was cautious about starting too fast and just aim to run comfortably at the start. To my surprise, my first km split registered 4:46″/km. Legs felt ok and I decided to just go with flow. Jackie, Rachel, Zili shot off in top speed and soon faded into the distance. Faster runners, Ngee Hung, Trevor Chua etc ran past me.
I was happy with my pace and simply aim to keep Jenny Huang who was about 30 meters ahead in sight. The first few km were uneventful. I was running mostly on my own, gradually overtaking some runners. Weijie, ActiveSg team mate, came from behind and soon disappeared.
By the time I turned into East Coast Park, the runners have dispersed. I could see a few runners dashing into the toilet at B1 carpark. I ran on, still keeping Jenny in sight who was running strong and seemed to have sped up a little.
It was a dark lonely stretch at ECP. Other than Jenny ahead, there were a few male runners ahead and I tried to keep up with them so we could run together as a group. Not long after, Randall came from behind. He has went to the toilet earlier. We chatted and realised that he was targeting about 5mins pace for the first half and then hopefully pick up the pace later. We decided to run together since we were comfortable with the current running pace which was hovering around 4:45″/km. At around the lagoon area, I was gradually catching up with Jenny and was soon just running beside her. She had her earphones on and was very determined. Each time I passed her, I could hear her quickening her steps and overtook me again.
This continued a few times all the way just before the first u-turn. I overtook her for the last time and could no longer hear her from behind. Randall and I continued running. I was pleased with how the first 12 km has worked out thus far. Other than some discomfort in my glutes (which I expected), I was feeling comfortable and in controlled of the pace. I applied some muscle rub which I have carried with me, hoping that the warm sensation could ease the discomfort.
Perhaps the adrenaline of catching Jenny has wore off, Randall and I were slightly slower in the next couple of splits, hovering just under 5mins pace from 13th to 16th km. Probably losing some focus here as we started chatting again. I wasn’t too bothered by the pace since it was still under 5mins. But now reflecting on the race, I thought I should have been more focused to sustain 4:45″/km pace.
Soon, we were back to B1 carpark at ECP and we spotted Stella who cheered for us enthusiastically. Got me really pumped up and we started to pick up pace again, knowing that we were getting out of ECP soon. As we left ECP towards Gardens By the Bay, we could see more runners at the other side, mainly some half marathoners who were also on their way back to Marina Barrage.
Dawn broke and the sky was getting brighter as we reached Marina Barrage. Crossed the bridge and was pleasantly surprised to see Ghim who had already finished his race and starting on his recovery jog!
I braced myself for the incline to the roof top, knowing that the hill would add more strain to my already tired glutes and hamstrings. Randall ran hard up the slope and I followed closely. Upon reaching the top, I was surprised to see him slowing down instead. Seemed like fatigue has caught up with him. He waved for me to run ahead. I continue running down the slope, hoping to catch up with some of the men aheah.
Not long after, spotted Weijie running strongly at the other side. He went on and finished 3rd for the Men’s local category. Definitely a confidence booster run for him. Spotted a few more familiar faces as one by one the speedy ones sprinted down the last stretch to cross the finishing line.
It was less than 5 km to the finishing line, I should be speeding up here but somehow it felt tough, I couldn’t get back to 4:45″/km pace and was once again hovering just under 5mins’/km pace. Spotted Jackie at the other side, running strong. Not long after Rachel appeared, looking focused. Zili was not too far back after.
Just as I approached MBS, spotted Jasmine as well on the other side, on route to finishing the race. I pressed on and felt relieved when I finally spotted the u-turn point. Applied more muscle rub on my hamstrings and continued running. Not long after, Baoying who participated in the 21km category ran past me and gradually pulled away. I aimed to keep her insight and tried to speed up a little. Baoying went on to win the 21km female category with a comfortable lead. (Lucky her won the grand prize for the lucky draw too, a Samsung S8! The biggest winner of the day.)
As I approached flower dome, I saw Gen on his bicycle, already on his way home. I would learn later that Gen won the 21 km men’s Singapore category. My pace picked up again to 4:46″/km over the last one km and with the finishing line in sight, I sprinted the last 200m to cross the mat.
Time: 2:35:04. Average pace: 4:49″/km
It was not a fast time but good enough for a 3rd place finish for the 32km Women’s Singapore category this year. After a couple of 4th place finish at Straits Times Run and Army Half Marathon this year, I was happy to be back on podium. Most importantly, I have gotten some confidence having completed 32 km within my expectation. Though there was still some discomfort, it was manageable and I believe it is just a matter of time before I recovered fully.
Shall end this post with some photos taken post-race.
Next up, YOLO run (21.1km).