I remember being apprehensive about whether or not to sign up for the 10km two and a half months ago. I had missed the early bird price hence despite a promo code, it was certainly a rather expensive race. Nonetheless, this being one of the bigger running events in Singapore, I decided to give it a go as this very race was my first race I had ever participated in - the Sundown Full Marathon 2012.
On my race calendar, this was perhaps one of the key races I had in mind, because I would have had about three months of training ever since deciding to take running more seriously again. My previous two 10km races were the 2XU Compression Run 2014 and the Run350 2014 - the former was my maiden 10km that I had not properly trained for, the latter was run with Ben.
The three months of training was uneventful. I certainly noticed gradual improvements. Three weeks ago though, when I tried to attempt a run at my projected race-pace(42:30), I was feeling a little apprehensive. Yet a week ago, when I did a 6.4km slightly-faster-than-race-pace run, I was beaming with confidence. I considered modifying my goal to sub-42. However, the week leading up to this race was not optimal after I seemed to struggle during workouts and even easy runs left my heart rate pretty high.
Cum race day itself, I did not feel that good. My tummy hurt in the day, though thankfully the pain subsided by the evening. Nonetheless, this drained a fraction of my confidence. Furthermore, I was feeling lethargic throughout the day. Yet there was little I could do, but hope that the race environment would help to overcome my lethargy. I was however aware that I do have mild night blindness, which makes physical activity in darker areas tougher and hence was hoping that the route later would be well-lit.
At 8.30pm, I took a quick shower and slipped on my contacts. Grabbed a bag (the rare occasion that I deposit my bag because I can arrive at the race venue early - this being a night run), threw in my valuables, some bottles, a towel, my race singlet with the bib attached and a pair of slippers. This certainly felt hectic - not an optimal state of mind to be in as it once again sapped my confidence.
Arrived at the site at 9.20pm and quickly deposited my bag. Subsequently walked around a little before heading to the start pens at 10.00pm. Jogged a bit at the back and attempted just a few strides before joining in the queue at the flag-off area. Usual sequence of events took place - warm-ups by fitness personnel, music performances etc. At 10.30pm, we were flagged off.
I had studied the 10km route as intently as I could, using Google Maps and the race map that was "not drawn to scale" (what other choice did I have?). The first km was very similar to Run350's and I hit the marker at 4:15 - right on pace though I could have started slower. It is said that people often start their runs too quickly - rightly so, because I do manage to overtake many runners in the later stages of every run. I never start too quickly because my first km is always slower or equal to my average pace for the entire run.
Just before the Uturn along Nicoll Highway, I noticed the Kenyan (eventual winner) already ahead of the lead pack, leading solo. Subsequently, I saw the fast pack of leading locals and not long after, I made the Uturn myself. On a side note about Uturns - I tend to run a larger radius while most seem to stick as close to the barricades as possible - I wonder what is optimal?
As I continued the run, grabbed a drink of water at the hydration point. Didn't recall seeing the 2km marker and the clock was at 9mins+. Hit the 3km marker at 12:30 - that was good, but I didn't feel too good. Breathing, though not uncomfortable, was not my usual rhythm at this stage. As I head up Merdeka Bridge, I slowed, deliberately, due to the gradual uphill. Naturally, the parabola-shaped bridge afforded us a downhill stretch thereafter. Yet another Uturn before the junction of Sims Way/Mountbatten Road, after which runners passed by volunteers shouting out and recording our bib numbers, probably as a precautionary measure lest digital recording was erroneous. Once again, I faced the same Merdeka bridge and employed the same pacing strategy - slower on the uphill and faster on the downhill, though this undoubtedly took up precious seconds in adhering to an even effort.
The route was uneventful till just before the 7km marker, where I encouraged a fellow Caucasian that I had been following (whom now starting to fade) to stick with me. We stuck together as we hit the short but painful incline along Republic Avenue tunnel. I passed the 7km mark in about 29-flat. This was a confidence boost because I knew that if I stuck to my pace, the sub-42 was possible. Subsequently, the route took us towards Kallang River. This was to be the darkest part of the run - both my internal and external environment.
For one, lighting was awful. After all, this was not the main road. What was done well was the placement of volunteers and marshals to guide runners to the correct path, though additional lightning would have been beneficial. My next complaint was the placement of the 8km marker - I'm certain there was an incorrect placement of either the 7km marker or the 8km marker, because my km split was about 4:50 (I hit the 8km marker at 33:52). From my judgement of pace, coupled with the fact that I was overtaking runners, I was certain that I was running at a sub 4:20 pace. Consequently, with slightly past 8 minutes to spare for my final 2km, I recognised it was near impossible to achieve the sub-42. However, I clung on to the pace, hoping that the 8km mark was further than it should have been and that the finish would be at the 10km mark, trying my best not to lose confidence. However, it was admittedly tough because I felt the tinge of lethargy and the body's unwillingness to increase my pace - this I shall attribute to the inability to adapt to night running.
I was unable to locate a 9km marker and instead knew, or suspected, that the end was very near when I saw the Start and Finish lines in sight. At that moment, the clock was ticking away in the mid 40s. Based on my study of the route, I knew the Uturn before the finish would be perhaps 35metres before Sheares Bridge, possibly requiring another 400m of running on my part. A faint glimmer of hope for the sub-42. However, I was to be proven wrong.
The Uturn only came after we were under the bridge. This meant an additional 70metres (35 x 2) of running, rendering it impossible for me to cover the 470m with sufficient pace. Naturally, this realisation took its toll on my pace and I crossed the finish as the clock hit the upper 42s.
This is my first 10km road race that I'm confident I did actually cover a full 10km (possibly even more based on others' GPS data!). I suspected 2XU's to be 100m short (I crossed in 43:13 NETT having barely started training) and Run350's was easily 400m short. Though I may have fallen short of my goal, I am thankful for this run - for the weather (no rain), for the skies (starry lit!), for the privilege of just being able to run - all these I attribute to God. I write this to remind myself to parallel my running experiences with the race that I run for Christ.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Sundown finally updated my NETT timing on the evening of the 5th of June, nearly 5 full days after my race concluded. I believe the staff is working tirelessly as they continue to update the many runners that encountered 'unforeseen environmental and magnetic interference present at the start-line'. However, I do hope that they invest in reliable technology for subsequent events to come to appease the multitude of dissatisfied runners.
|Nonetheless, to end on a happier note, a new PB over 10km (may even longer?)|