Running Log

Here's my running log that I'll update weekly. To view details of workouts, please visit this Google Docs page and highlight the workout. Additionally, you may choose to view my Strava profile. Last but not least, I've also started writing some race reviews on JustRunLah!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pocari Sweat Run 2015

I didn't meet my time goal. There's no denying that. Maybe the consolation is that my average pace would be a 10km PB. Nonetheless, it's plain that I didn't meet my time goal - to run a sub 3:54 pace for the entire duration of the race. Therefore, it isn't an easy race to write about as it does reflect vulnerable expression of disappointment. However, it's a learning experience to be shared and my greatest comfort is the verse 2 Tim 4:7.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

If you've been browsing my blog, you'd probably have chanced upon my previous race review of Sundown Marathon 2015. I've outlined how my goal was to run a sub-39 10km for this "season" - essentially from the start of 2015 to the conclusion of Year 2 of university. This seemed realistic, considering that I had increased my mileage and had completed Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2014 in 39:35. Furthermore, just past a month ago, I ran a conservative 10km during the No Frills Run 2015 in 39:36. Granted that was a flat and straight course, compared to a potentially tougher course (I would soon find out). However, I knew that my trump card was the fact that it was only about 7 weeks prior to this race that I started incorporating the deadly intervals that could truly help me peak if I planned it right. 

The route was to be more than 10km. Or 11km, for that matter. That wasn't the nicest piece of information, especially when I wanted to have a 38:XX as an official race result for a 10km race. I modified my goal adventurously, hence coming up with the sub 3:54 pace, allowing me to safely complete a 10km under 39.

Dad dropped me off pretty early this morning, hence allowing me to deposit my bags and start a brief warm up with much time to spare. Despite the long time to spare, I wanted to get into a good position, having encountered a disastrous 5th wave start during last week's Sundown Marathon. Naturally, having entered the race pen with 30mins to go (that's about as early as it opened), I was guaranteed the chance to enter the 1st wave, provided I made the effort to walk to the front. 

I was actually waiting at the front of the lines with 25mins to go. I was all the way at the front, positioned towards the left, providing me with the shortest distance to run (the first turn would be taking us leftwards). Took a seat for awhile, knowing that I could afford to rest my legs and calm my nerves for awhile. I have to admit that there was much less pressure for this race, despite it being a goal race. I was pretty confident I could manage the pace, judging from my surprising performance during the No Frills Run (mileage for the week was an insane 92km comprising of 3 workouts ~ and still the sub-40 was done without tying up). I was ready to embrace pain when it came, holding my motivations close to my heart.

Regarding my motivations, I took awhile to think of the various sources. It wasn't the smoothest first half of the year for me, largely due to both personal and family challenges. If you've been reading the blog (pretty far down now), you'd have come across my challenges with injuries of the weirdest but significantly debilitating orders. Furthermore, I considered my family - be it my sister's hospital encounter after an invasive episode of MSSA, my parents' love and acts of service or my friendships. In the end, I realised that it was all about love. Not my love or others' love, but love that came from Christ that empowered us to face challenges and serve others, perfected through how Christ came to serve us. To put it in my words, it's a personal experience that is not limited to a person, ask me if you'd like to find out more about what I mean :)

Back to the race however, with about 10 mins to go till flag off, a huge bunch of pacers (and some speedy doctors like Dr Derek Li, Dr Foo Gen Lin, Dr Lim Bao Ying; oh, I think there were the Yellow Fellows as well) entered the start pen, at the front, congregating towards the left. Beside me was a fellow runner Desmond who I'd seen placing well in multiple races before. Knowing that he was certainly not going to be running behind pacers, I told him we had better move towards the right, where the speedy doctors had lined up, as they would certainly not be obstructing us (or me, at least). 

As the minutes ticked away, I started jogging on the spot and at just about 6.29am, we were flagged off. I started quickly, aiming to find a clearing, before settling (and I think I did that well) into my target pace of around 3:54 for the first few km. 3:52 at the 1km marker (accurately placed), comfortable though expectedly so. I was probably within the top 15, expecting to gradually pass a couple of runners. I noticed that the leaders were easily 20s~ ahead of me. Tony Seakins caught up with me, though he seemed to be breathing really hard (audibly) while I couldn't really hear my breathing (rest assured, I was still breathing, just more comfortably). He quickly dropped off within a few hundred metres...that seemed quite unlike a veteran like him to do such a thing.

I saw Chester a few seconds ahead. I knew I would probably be safe if I tried to stick behind him. I settled into a steady rhythm as we climbed the mild ascent of Nicoll Highway before descending. I started to catch up with him towards the 3km mark and once I did, I encouraged him to stick with me. However, he didn't seem too comfortable and I gradually started to pull away. I suspect it was around the 3km mark that I realised that I may have been going a bit faster than expected. I possibly slowed, though Garmin reflected a 4:02 split for the 4th km that I wasn't convinced was accurate. I was pretty certain I was closer to a 3:58 or thereabout. Then again, there were multiple turns that could easily cost seconds.

I knew that the 5th km involved the ascent and descent of a steeper bridge (compared to Nicoll Highway), though far from the likes of Benjamin Sheares Bridge. I was prepared to lose some seconds there, recognising that there were pretty sharp turns as well. It was completed in 4:01, giving me some hopes that I was in good shape. Furthermore, I started passing the distance markers before my Garmin sounded. Splits according to distance markers were hopeful, on track for a 3:54 pace, though Garmin wasn't so agreeable. I was however, not feeling the most hopeful that I could maintain the pace for the remaining 6km~. I told myself it was better to ease up as 6km was a considerable distance and the consequences could be dire. 

The south-eastern stretch of Gardens By The Bay was bringing us into headwinds. Though it provided some comfort, it definitely cost me time. I was prepared for headwinds, either when heading towards the barrage or away from it (due to the channel formed), hence knew I needed to ease the pace fractionally. Conversely, as I crossed the barrage and headed away, I no longer felt the headwinds. I managed to nicely grab a cup (receiving cheers from the volunteers) of Pocari Sweat around the 7km mark. I had missed my cup earlier, at the 5km water point. All this while, I was running solo. I was still passing the distance markers on track for the 3:54 pace, though the disparity between Garmin's alerts was increasing as well. Out of the blue, a runner in black donning a Team Asics top went past me - the first to do so after the first km.

It was along the 9-10km stretch that I realised that without anything extraordinary, I would not meet my goal. Naturally, I slowed. Though I told myself to press on. In the few km that followed, my pacing was shattered. It felt like a mini fartlek as I surged with momentary energy, only to slow and repeat the cycle. To make matters worse, there were some turns serving only to disrupt my pace. At this point of time towards the torturous stages when one's goal isn't attainable, the thoughts of stopping just crossed my mind. I hung to my motivation - love.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
1 John 4:10

Thereafter, I picked up the pace. I was in sheer agony - but that's what I wanted - to be pushing my limits and embracing the discomfort. It was a long surge for home, spanning from the time I crossed the Tanjong Rhu Footbridge until I ended the race. That was to last for more than 1km, taking me past Desmond and subsequently Team Asics (the sole runner who had overtaken me earlier). It certainly wasn't a consistently paced sprint, but I'm convinced I ended it with nothing left. I barely remember crossing the line or what happened in the few minutes after doing so.

I look strangely comfortable though I was hurting. Credit to Running Shots.

Metres from the Finish. Credit to Pocari Sweat's Facebook page.

Surprisingly, I recall having a brief chat with Dr Derek Li after collecting my Finisher's Tee and Medal. Thereafter, I probably lumbered around for awhile before starting to feel the same feeling of dizziness and mild nausea as I did during SCMS 2014. However, this time it was less extensive, though I certainly wasn't able to walk straight for awhile. I quickly found an empty spot and sat down for some time. Managed to see En Yi after his finish as well.

Subsequently, I caught sight of Desmond and Chester and we exchanged a conversation. Chester's footpod recorded 11.7km compared to my Garmin's 11.12km, though I believe his was a pretty extreme overestimate. It was pretty straightforward thereafter - baggage collection, a shower (amazingly!) and then a contemplative journey home.

Strava data.

Results were quickly released the day after the race.

I've succeeded in my time goals in the past - a sub-4 hour marathon and a sub-40 minute 10km. It was likely inevitable that I would taste failure once and it came today. Yet I recognise that if I were to base running success purely on achieving a time, such an approach will be my greatest failure. Today, I failed to achieve a goal time and perhaps I failed to pace myself in the best way I could. However, today I walk away knowing that I succeeded in giving my best effort.

Now this thrilled me! Thanks Dr Li!
For more details of the race organisation, check out my JustRunLah! post here.

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