MY RACE JOURNEY – It was a year-long mind preparation as I thought of taking part again on what I considered to be the ultimate event in my running journey to close the year 2016. A newbie in the running scene who can hardly finish a 4 kilometer set target a couple of years back, I just ran my third full marathon and this is my second year participating in this annual Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore celebrating its 15th year.

🔹  Digital Queue. I was quite hesitant to register for another full marathon after my 2 prevoius marathon experiences. They were all awful with plenty of unpleasant encounters making me almost cry while running, cramped and blistered all over, felt like DNF-ing and almost crawled my way to the finish. Until an ad by Marathon Sg regarding an online challenge, which made me so curious about and excited at the same time. It is a 7 day challenge whereby a specific task is given each day and all you need to do is to post the challenge on your social media accounts e.g. facebook, instagram and twitter. Every like and share accounts to an equivalent score and about 100 participants with the most accumulated points after the 7 day period were given free race entries with special prizes for the top 10. I was so thrilled that in contrary to my claimed introvert self, I flooded my social media accounts with all the needed posts to get to the top 100 spot. Fortunate enough, I bagged the 70+ place and that’s it, no more turning back, no more contemplating, I’m in for another 42km challenge for free with a limited edition SCMS shirt by Brooks.

SCMS Digital Queue. Won a free race entry and a limited ed shirt by Brooks

🔹  Warm Up Run. There was an official warm up run held at the Sportshub few months back but I was taking part in the ASICS City Relay happening in the evening of that same day so I decided to drop it.

Fresh from Blackmores Sydney marathon, I and my Mizuno CBD buddies took part in the Asics Relay.
Fresh from Blackmores Sydney Marathon, I and my Mizuno CBD buddies took part in the Asics Relay.

🔹  Training. I had so much anxiety as to whether I would improve my timing this time running my 3rd full marathon. Previously, I didn’t really train intensively enough. Furthermore, the longest run I have ever done before in preparation (if you call it preparation) for SCMS2015 were the 21 km races. After a 5:45 finish for my maiden full marathon, I learned that I needed to put in much more effort if I really wanted to get good results.

Clocked a 5:45 personal record, sufferred fever and chills when I reached home. haha
SCMS2015. Clocked a 5:45 base finish time. Sufferred fever and chills when I reached home. haha

Aimed for a better timing for Sundown Marathon 2016 but I did no better training. I stuck on to a similar routine  so it was never a mystery to me why I ended up with the same bad timing of 05:30.

With my other kuya Noel who is still running in his 50s. I remember he finished earlier than me by a few minutes.
OSIM SUNDOWN MARATHON 2016. With my other kuya Noel G. who is still running in his 50s. I remember he finished earlier than me by a few minutes.

I am just thankful that somehow I managed to fit in to a group of people of the same interest with genuine passion to continue improve themselves as runners. On top of the Mizuno CBD group where I first picked up so much useful techniques and pieces of advise from prime coach Lexus, I also met  a group of Filipino runners whom I joined in consistently for long runs designed mainly for SCMS 2016. I feel running with a group greatly helps in the overall development of a runner.

Photo Credit: Ming Ham
Mizuno CBD Runners. Photo Credit: Ming Ham
LSD Training. Met the elite Jenny Huang at the Coney Island during one the of the LSD weekends. Photo Credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners
LSD Training. Bumped into the elite Jenny Huang at the Coney Island trail at one the of our LSD weekends. Photo Credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners

Few months before SCMS, whilst working on shifts, my after work days has become a bit tight. Monday evenings is for my spiritual family, Wednesday evening is my Mizuno CBD/Pinoy-Sg alternate speed and endurance training and then one of the weekends is my long run. Recently, me and wife made Tuesday evenings a special run/workout bonding together with our little 6 year old miss biking as we run at a park nearby our block.

Our Tuesday night bonding. Notice the super moon on its second night as viewed in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
Our Tuesday night bonding. Notice the super moon on its second night as viewed in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

🔹  REPC. Race pack collection was smooth. I went to collect mine on the first evening at the race expo. There were designated queues for every category with a lot of counters to accommodate the large crowd making race pack collection a not so dreaded experience.

SCMS2016 REPC. Some runners praying while queueing to get their race packs fast!
SCMS2016 REPC. Some runners praying while queueing to get their race packs fast!

🔹  Race Eve. My colleagues planned an early Christmas party and they all decided to gather on 3rd December, yes a day before the race when I should be resting. In fact I considered not showing up because it is the “main event” the next day thinking that it is a party -there’ll be food and drinks (that includes alcohol) and definitely will end late. Instead, I suggested to start early as 3PM so we can have all the needed time socializing and catching up. Understanding my colleagues and friends were, they agreed on to my suggestion so I was able to give myself up to 8PM only. What happened next? I ended up saying my good bye at 9PM+ with a bottle of beer consumed with my belly so full of whatever that was brought for potluck and reached home about 10PM. My running buddies retired as early as 7pm while me stayed out til late and dropped the Discipline in the 3 D’s.

Colleagues and family gathered for an early Christmas party as most of them will going for a holiday soon.
Colleagues and family gathered for an early Christmas party as most of them will be going for a holiday soon.
🔹  Race Day. 1:30AM, my alarm rang and I was shocked waking up to a bloated stomach. I didn’t want to worry so I calmly rushed to the toilet and managed to release all the gas which is kind of alarming still because there was only gas if you know what I mean. With all my stuff already prepared a day before, I drunk my coffee and asked my wife that I will be eating the sandwich she prepared at the site.
     As no train services this year due to maintenance happening on that day I was again rushing like always for the 2AM bus pick up. However, I saw no runners at the usual shuttle bus venue. Not reading the event guide, I was surprised to learned that the bus services are at the bus interchange this time soon as I saw 2 guys (not on running attire but i assumed that it’s a running bag they are carrying) at the empty crossing rushing towards AMK hub. No wonder I see no shuttle buses at the MRT side and runners as well! Well, it is really too early though considering the flag off of the first wave is at 4:30AM. I managed to have a bit of chit-chat with one of the guys and he shared that he, like me, didn’t know about the pick up location until he saw the SBS bus with a sign SCMS going in to the AMK bus interchange.
     Having reached the location early, I went in straight to Cineleisure Orchard Shopping Mall to change and put on my gear and attempted once more for a toilet session where I succeed (LOL!) Feeling so light then, I walked out of the shopping mall, saw runners all over the place (some even smoking!) and went on to meet my running buddies at the baggage deposit. Opposite the bag drop were a few portaloos with queues slowly building up. It is a relief that i didn’t need to queue for it. The baggage crews were very helpful and I find the place much better this year where the baggage trucks were located not so telescopic from the pens. Last year was so far beyond Wheelock place which was an awful distance from the start pens at Orchard road.
Before the run photo. Photo credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners
Before the run photo. Photo credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners
     As my buddies gathered together and waited for few more, we did our own warm ups and then we went in to the pen D. It was nice to change smiles and waves and all the bests to familiar faces.
     Our wave flagged off at approximately 12 minutes after the first wave. With a set target of sub 5 hours finish (actually dreamed of 4:30), I felt that joyous moment that I get to finally showcase what I have had worked hard for, as we slowly advanced to the real start point and off we went.
     I planned a 6 min pace all the way can be slower but aimed not to push and exhaust myself at a pace faster than that. Me and my buddies kuya Noel and Amiel had a good start pace reminding them to slow down every time we tend to run a bit faster than planned (actually my plan, unknown to me is their pace plan and their own target finish time). A glitch at the GPS signal happened at 5 or 6 km onward so we were a bit lost there. In front of us were the 4:15 Hr pacers so we decided to overtake and keep up in front of them. Constantly checking my watch, I noticed we were running way too fast than planned though unsure of watch’s accuracy then. Trusting my watch, I slowed down a bit and kept a 6 mins pace accordingly. From there I slowly lost my buddies from sight.
   At the Marina barrage, I felt something wrong with my stomach. This was something I was very worried with to happen on this race! I stopped to pee and felt my stomach pain went off. I was praying then that that dreadful feeling wont come back ever again. I slowly went back to pace together with the sea of blues and greens and tried to catch up. The pitch-black pathway at the Marina Golf Course is lit this time easing runners on the transit to ECP. Cursing inside, my tummy hurt again so bad that I told myself I had to deal with this ASAP. I planned to unload at the first toilet at ECP and lucky enough, one of the cubicles is unoccupied when I reached. It was so terrible that I spent about 4-5 mins in there. So conscious about the time and feeling so relieved then, I quickly went back to catch up with the wasted minutes. I went on at a constant but slower pace than planned. Far in front of me along the the low lit ECP, I saw a guy who just stumbled, fell down and even rolled but to my surprise, no runners stopped to help him. There were no volunteers too. I tried to run faster to help him but I couldn’t. I saw him quickly stood up and went back to running. As I approached I tried yelling how is he doing and I hoped he wasn’t that hurt, he said he was okay and thanked me for the concern. I found out as i ran past him that he is already a middle aged uncle with a running bib! I managed to shout “Jia you Uncle, run safe!”
Whoa! Still looking great at the 27 km though I feel I am going to collapse anytime soon! Photo Credit: SY Snowy
Whoa! Tried my best to look great at the 27 km though I feel I am going to collapse anytime soon! Photo Credit: SY Snowy
     At the 28 km, I started to struggle. At some point my mind was telling me not to stop where my body couldn’t do it anymore. The sun is already up with its gentle rays. I am so much far behind my 4:30 goal. At 30 kilometer, I am at 3:30 add one more hour 15 minutes for another 10 km and I am about 4:45 to the 40th km mark. I am encouraging myself, I am fine, 4:59 is still sub 5, I shouldn’t give up! I ran-walked from 30 km onward. Seeing the huge mist fans made went on too! I wanted to spend my walk in it. It was one of my suggestions during last year’s SCMS. Something different this year also is the absence of that killer Sheares’ bridge, not much of uphill slopes for the entire course which made the last stretch more bearable for me. At the final turn at the iconic Esplanade Theater, the sun shone its fiercest. I appreciate so much the group of runners behind me who gave me a final push not to stop as they were screaming “last 700m!, last 500m!” and so on encouraging runners including me until the Padang finish line with the Seiko time keeper at 5:09:00. Did I just fail to meet that sub5???
04:55 Official nett finish
04:55 Official nett finish
🔹  Aftermath. Yes. Finally the race was over with a gun time finish of 5:09 and a net finish of 4:55. Overly overwhelmed though aimed for a really better timing of 4:30, I consoled myself with my Garmin watch finish of 4:47. Whichever finish time, I am just more than glad to have recorded yet another personal best of sub 5 hours for a local full marathon. I will try a 4:30 on my next full marathon probably Sundown 2017. The sweetest reward is having my wife and daughter eagerly and patiently waiting for me at the finish. I dedicate this achievement to them.
My wife and daughter patiently waited at the finish.
My wife and daughter patiently waited at the finish.
Our Families. Best rewards.
Our Families. Best rewards. Photo Credit: Kuya Noel B.
Our extended family. Photo Credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners
Our extended family. Photo Credit: Pinoy-Sg Runners
*On a post note, I feel that the baggage claim is way too far from the race recovery village. I didn’t get leg cramps while running the marathon but I did get one on my way to get my bag.
i_Sam
Posted by i_Sam
December 6, 2016 12:26
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