When the last is not the last, you get the encore.
This race was not supposed to happen. YOLO run was supposed to be the last race together with my sons; but as it turns out, JustRunLah offered me a free slot (thank you) for the finale run for the Performance Series (TPS) at Kranji. I took the opportunity to also dragged my sons along for the 2017 encore run.
The Performance Series has a total of 5 runs; Island, Lake, City, Reservoir and the final one was Farm. The last race takes runners to the countryside of Kranji – a place I would not normally go visit; either recreationally or socially, let alone run there. TPS provided me this opportunity to experience running at a place like this. Heard it has undulating terrain but with good countryside feel. So when the offer came, it made perfect sense for me to go since it did not interfere with my family holiday plans.
RACE PACK COLLECTION
Just looking at the photos, you can tell that race pack collection was a breeze for most of us. I was in and out in less than 3mins flat. Took a quick look around at the vendors selling their stuff. There were not much to see though. Even the iconic JustRunLah backdrop was missing. I guess they must have hauled it to the SCMS REPC at EXPO which was happening on the same day. It was a no-frills REPC for this final TPS instalment.
December is not particularly a good month to take on a race because of the holidays and festivities, not forgetting rainy season. I just got back from a 4-day Penang family holidays and had been feasting on good street food. My mind was not quite ready for the race on 18 Dec. I tried to do some short runs prior to race day just to ensure that my body was conditioned after all the holiday indulgence.
The day of the race, my boys and I got up very early around 5am and found ourselves in the middle of an impending storm. A quick check on my mobile app showed thundering showers covering the whole of Singapore. We debated if we should even go for the race given the weather conditions. I looked up their TPS facebook page and tried to find some updates. Despite being blasted with comments from fellow runners, the organisers kept their cool and just communicated the relevant information.
The 6.30am flag-off time was postponed to 6.45 and eventually to 7.00am when the rain near Kranji began to subside. Unfortunately, runners were still trapped by rain in other parts of Singapore. The bus queues (based on FB feeds) continued to frustrate the runners as they tried to get to the start point before 7am. Kudos to the organisers for their calm response and the right decision moving the flag off time later so that we can all have a good run.
Ubering our way to the race village at Gardenasia, my boys and I found the place packed with a sea of luminous green; a fitting colour for a farm run. By the time we were flagged off, the rain was gone and the sky had a nice morning hue which was a welcome sight. The pre-dawn rain had cooled the air somewhat for most runners to attempt a PB despite knowing that there will be slopes along the course.
As the runners snaked through the route, many started out fast and furious. Much to our dismay, at around the 1km mark, we were literally reduced to either a slow jog and even a walk as the open road narrowed to a single lane. It lasted about 500-600m and we were back to two full lanes and many picked up speed again. There was only one U turn at the 3.5km mark and two other choke points along the entire route. Just near the 6km mark, we were channeled to Lim Chu Kang Road for a short distance before returning to the smaller roads; and of course when we returned at the 8.5km mark, it was one lane again. By then, runners have spaced out so it wasn’t much a problem for all of us. Despite this, I am inclined to believe that the organisers took great pains to minimise the choke points and sharp turns to give runners a good running experience. Well done!
Despite the slowdowns and initial human traffic jams (unless you are at the starting line-up), I really enjoyed the countryside scenery. Because I did not rely on earphones to entertain me while I run, I had the pleasure of taking in the sights and occasionally the smells of the farms and vegetation. Living in a congested, concrete jungle most of our days, it was a welcome departure. Just beholding the vast green space and unblocked skyline was alone a pleasure.
Water points were sufficiently distributed throughout the race route, at 2.5km intervals to ensure that runners were properly hydrated. Initially I wanted to stop at the 5km to hydrate but ended up skipping all the water points because I was afraid of losing my momentum. Surprising enough, I was doing about 6min pace despite the slopes and turns and bottlenecks. This was my first race running without any tapes and braces around my knees. I have finally recovered from my knee injury.
The slopes which I thought might ‘own’ me was inconsequential. I didn’t slow down for the up slopes, even the last portion when the incline was steeper. Pushing past the 8km mark, I started to increase my pace. My initial plan was to do 60-65mins, factoring the undulating terrain and not being at the starting line-up. But as it turns out, my official time was just 60:25 which could have gone under one hour if not for the bottlenecks.
Unlike the YOLO Run when my boys and I were pushing at the same pace. This time, I broke away from them at the 1km mark; and they eventually finished about 3mins behind me (according to the official timing.) I must say that my consistent training helped in beating my sons to the finish line. Nevertheless, they still looked fresh when I saw them at the medal collection point.
The medal collection points were not too crowded but the other stalls hawking their wares and the rest area were overcrowded with people. You could literally smelled and touched each other’s perspiration! It seemed like the holding area wasn’t meant to take so many runners. Many just collected their medals and finisher tees and left; maybe they were mindful that the shuttle bus queue would be very long. True enough, when we made our way out of the race village, the bus queue was insanely long. One of my fellow blogger-runner told me she waited for 50mins to board the bus. As for us, we decided to walk out to a less crowded area to Uber our way home. We walked more than 2-3km, over the Kranji Dam before we managed to reduce our Uber ride charge by 50%! – that extra 3km of walking paid off.
Before I share my own thoughts on the race, I thought it would be interesting to include reflections from my sons to add colour to this review.
Initially I was hesitant to participate in this run, but with the encouragement of my dad and my twin brother, I decided to sign up for it. On race day, we woke up to a really cold, rainy weather in the east side of Singapore which kind of worried us. Eventually the rain had stopped and run timings was pushed back. Arriving at the venue, the weather was cool; a fresh light breeze was blowing. I instantly felt recharged and ready for the run. Not far after flag-off, I was trapped behind many slower joggers/walkers who amassed at a certain point where the route got narrower. After beating the human traffic, my brother and I got into the momentum of running at the 5km mark. However, just as I was getting into it, I felt aches on my back and stitches in my sides, hindering my focus and will to run. I decided to slow down. I struggled for another 2km before the next hydration point where I took many gulps of isotonic water. This extra boost in energy gave me the motivation to complete the run. The pains in my back and stitches left me. From then onwards, I finished the rest of the 3km with relative ease.
I felt relatively accomplished with myself as I persevered through the pain and finished the run. Right after, my dad, my brother and I changed out into our finisher t-shirts. Holding out our medals in pride, we posed for selfies with accomplished wide grins.
This race was my second ever timed 10km run – The Performance Series Race #5 Farm. My initial thoughts on signing up were hesitant, due to the venue being rather isolated and relatively hard to get to. After some thought, I figured that it would be a good chance to have a run further from civilisation – something different from the usual Marina Bay area. With both my brother and avid runner Dad SY, backing my decision, we signed up for the TPS Race #5 together. Being held next to nature tucked away in the Kranji countryside, the air was much fresher and great for a morning run.
To my surprise, many others were there on a Sunday morning despite the early showers, all geared up for the race. Thankfully, the rain stopped on time and the race could be started on time with only half an hour of delay. The route felt great, with many countryside views of farms and forgiving slopes, ending with a downward slope leading to the finishing line. Post-race was really smooth and the handing out of finisher medals and tees was seamless. In overall, I felt that the race was executed well despite the delays due to the rain.
POST RACE THOUGHTS
I capped this running calendar year off with 11 races, one more than last year. In just two years of distance running, I amassed 21 medals; two of which are in the HM category and the rest are equally split between 5k and 10k. I even had the beginner’s luck to podium once in a small race organised by the company. Oh yes, I also had the pleasure of catching up with a fellow blogger-runner Rebekah Ong. Congrats in achieving your PB!
As I reflected over these two years, there were many lessons learnt from running. I am still a recreational runner; maybe a more serious runner but certainly not elite category. Where do I go from here? What should I be doing as far as my running goals are concerned? A few concerned ones had advised me to slow down, especially after knowing what happened to me when I got injured earlier this year. Others cheered me on. There were still a handful challenging me to go the distance – gun for the full marathon. As far as I am concerned, I started running first for fitness and eventually out of enjoyment. I am in no hurry to chase after stretch goals or outrun others. However, I still need to overcome my own shortcomings to be a better runner (not necessarily faster.)
I stumbled upon this quote at the back cover of the book by Richard Askwith – Running Free.
“An escape from the stopwatch tyranny of PBs and split times, this (the book) is a reminder of how to run for sheer joy.” – Runner’s World
I have been reflecting on this quote and how much it means to me. In this world where everyone is snared by the comparison trap; looking at what others have which I don’t have. Runners often compare PBs, splits and even the prestigious overseas races. The list goes on; it is endless. I certainly do not want to end up ‘chasing the wind’ and losing the pure joy of running. To put it metaphorically, I don’t want to lose the romance of my first run or race.
Meeting running friends, sharing experiences, getting injured, rehabilitating the injury, queueing for race packs, getting the latest gadgets, filling up your wardrobe with finisher tees…there are many more things to write about and reflect upon.
To know more, read my next blog…
Meanwhile, here’s wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
N.B. You may also follow on Instagram @twtwriter and Facebook (Chia Sie Yong)