“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
This was the quote that ended my last blog in 2016 and for the whole of 2017 I stayed dormant mainly due to injury and re-injury. There was nothing to report but ‘bad’ news and more ‘bad’ news. So, I decided to give blogging a break and focus on my rehab for a possible comeback end of 2017. What I did for the large part of the year was slow and short runs and only tried out a couple of short 5k races. Although it was uneventful, I was able to just run for the joy of it and took time to do other stuff, e.g. strengthening and rehabilitative therapy.
In August, sensing that I may be on the mend from my injury, I decided to write in to JustRunLah to see if I can get a promo code to sign up for the last of the Performance Series 2 at Changi. This race on a new route was scheduled to take place in early November, giving me ample time to prepare for the race. I was grateful that they gave me a slot at a good discount and that gave me motivation to really focus on coming back strong.
Race Pack Collection
This was one of the fastest race pack collection I ever had. Although it was a small counter but I was in and out of the place (located at One Raffles Place) on a Saturday afternoon within 5 minutes. There was absolutely no queue at all. The goodie bag was no frills which to me was good. I rather organisers spend the money on the logistics for the smooth running of the race than providing freebies that do not contribute to a good running experience.
To get myself geared up for the race, I debated with myself if I should attempt a trial 10km run prior to the actual race to see how my body and recovering injury responded to the distance. I thought long and hard over this and finally succumbed to my heart to do a relatively slower 10km two weeks before the actual race. As it turned out, my plantar fasciitis did not worsen, neither did my legs and body fatigued too much. Happy with the trial, I went on to gear up with shorter runs below 8km.
Sleeping fitfully the night before the race, I woke up early at 5am to prep myself. The usual one toast, one banana and one coffee – my essential trinity breakfast, was what I needed to get ready for the race. Weather forecast the night before predicted rain but it turned out to be fairer than expected. I took a ride from a fellow running friend, Mike and arrive at the race village about 30mins before flag off time. There was surprisingly ample parking space at the start line. This was really helpful for those who drove; no hassle whatsoever. The organizer also housed the information counters and sponsor booths in one of the warehouses next to the Changi Exhibition Centre. I supposed this was where they intend to hold future air shows in Singapore. Mike and his sons went on to the start pen while I had to pay my routine visit to the toilet before the race. I only saw him later at the medal collection point.
Morning light began to dawn on the runners preparing at the start pen. With music blaring away, and a few more diehard ones stretching away, I made my way to the front. I wanted to get into Wave One to avoid the crowd in later waves. I was told that one side of the road would be closed for the race so this meant there would be sufficient room for all runners to maneuver in either directions.
The road stretched out long as far as my eyes could see. It reminded me of my NS days at SAFTI when I used to run the 10km route along Pioneer Road. It was a DNF then, but not today. I hoped I could better my timing from my test run two weeks earlier. I breathed a grateful prayer: “Lord, thank you for such beautiful weather this morning and a completely flat course for my comeback race.”
As the 10k runners prepared to be flag off, we welcomed and applauded the winner of the 21km category coming in under 80mins. Incredibly fast. Of course, these are elite runners whose bodies are toned and streamlined for running. Some of us who are slower will probably take that amount of time to finish a 10km course! Nevertheless, as amateur runners, it is always silly to compare and compete with others. I snapped back to reality from my runaway thoughts when the emcee started the countdown.
The horn sounded and we were off. The elites sprinted off while the rest of us jostled our way through others to get ahead and find some space to run comfortably. Mindful not to get ahead of myself, I settled to a comfortable 6:15 pace and slowly worked myself towards each km marker. I wasn’t aware of my increasing faster pace until I glanced at my TomTom. Can I sustain this pace? I had not done this pace at this distance for more than 6 months and no basis to think I could. But I felt good so I decided to go with the flow. I also met Kenjoe, one of the JRL bloggers, also running buddy, at round 2-3km mark. As I passed him, I applauded him and gave him the thumbs-up. We saw each other again when I did the return loop; it was good to see him keeping up a steady pace. Waved at him and later caught up with him at the finish line (but no photos, sorry bro!)
Midway to the U-turn, I met the 21km pacers coming back on the return route. Some of my friends whom I met on Instagram who amongst the pacers. I called out to them when they passed me. Those who the 2:30 pacers. Seeing familiar faces put a spring in my strides and for a moment I was running faster. I quickly checked myself to conserve energy.
Frankly speaking, the route was boring, unlike the Farm route from the 2016 Performance Series. There was practically nothing to see, save some cycling enthusiasts and far away planes over our heads. It was just trees, lampposts and the road ahead of me. So, I started to notice the different runners that I overtook and thought what were the reasons that made them wake up early on a Sunday morning and drag their legs for a 10km run. What was their motivation? Could it be for fitness, fulfilling a dream or responding to a dare from a friend? Even as I was pondering over this question, the U turn came into view.
After the turnaround, time somehow began to speed up. I noticed myself picking up speed again without putting a strain on my strides. Soon, someone from the other side called out to me. It was Rebekah, a fellow blogger from JustRunLah! too. She was all decked out in her spiderman (or woman) attire, running under the Superheroes banner. Waved and smiled at her and making a mental note to catch up with her after the run.
Someone commented later that the water points were badly spaced out (I think it’s more for the 21km runners) because I did not use them until around the 8km mark. That pit stop for water cost me almost 1 min of my timing, but it’s okay. Looking at my watch, I knew I was averaging less than 6:10 which means that I had already met my target timing of 65mins. The road began to turn left which meant that the finish line was in sight. As I neared the finish, I realized that the distance was going to be 200-300m short of the intended 10km. As the runners went faster towards the finish, I did likewise. After passing the finish arch, I ran a bit more just to fulfill the 10km – haha.
Post Race Experience
For the first time in a race, the medal and finisher tee collection booths were at least 400m from the finish line, right inside the warehouse, right next to the stage. In a way, this was good. It was sheltered and away from the sun and any possible rain. However, as more runners finished and gathered inside the warehouse, the place was getting stuffy. Drinks were aplenty and there was even a queue for people who wanted a neck and shoulder massage (sorry no full body scrub down.)
After collecting my medal and finisher tee, I walked around, stretched a bit and cooled down. Then I decided to go look for the Superhero Rebekah and some of my pacer friends. Here are some photos with them.
At around 8.45, the sun was still hidden behind the clouds. There was a gentle breeze and overcast skies. No rain was imminent. All the finishers were enjoying catching with friends, taking wefie and boomerang jump shots. There was much celebration and mutual congratulatory messages were offered. As the curtains descended on this year’s Performance Series, many were be wondering if TPS would make a comeback again in 2018. Will it include a marathon category, which means a logistically humongous task to stage, let alone draw runners to participate? It is still anyone’s guess.
There is still one more race in my bag before I close the year 2017. It has been a year of ups and downs and a very humbling experience for me. Injury will always humble a runner, whether professional or amateur. It has a way to cut us down to size and make us more humane when we thought we were invincible. And I am very thankful and grateful to God who gave me this humbling experience and also lifted me up again in His timing. TPS Changi was the race that He commissioned me back to racing. Now I am more convinced and persuaded that I run because He enables me, not because of my own training or fitness. And thus I dedicate this finisher medal and tee to the Lion of Judah.
In conclusion, let me share this quote from the www.ilovetorun.com. Runs and races will come to and end; but running does not. Looking forward to my next sharing. Meanwhile, run safe and run happy!
You may also follow me on Instagram @twtwriter for more updates on my running journey.