I was looking forward to this run because days before the race, I received a reminder that my Straits Times All-in-One Package was expiring soon. Having participated in last year's edition of the race and clinching a top-25 finish, I had received that as an entitlement.
However, it did not happen this year. The top-25 finish happened. Though not the same entitlement. Instead, it was modified to a digital package (apparently of just about equal price, but obviously not of equal value). Nonetheless, this race was a pleasant race for a few reasons :)
Firstly, I didn't have to collect my race pack. As I'm not the most social runner, I don't run in groups or that kinda thing, hence I do not routinely meet other runners. This means I frequently race alone and collect my own race pack, sparing unique circumstances whereby a bunch of friends and I sign up for the same race, in which case I may seek their favour. I had signed up for the ST Run with Brenton, hence he was extremely helpful in collecting the pack for me.
Secondly, this race had a decently dense field of fast runners. Obviously I wasn't unrealistic and contending for a podium finish, hence it wasn't a threat to me. Instead, it was of benefit that I was not running alone for too much of the race. Company is always preferred by me (more on this later).
Thirdly, I think I ran this race pretty strongly (though not maximally), in comparison to a relatively poor race the week before, the SMU Mile Run 2015. I admit that was a difficult race to pace, but I suspect I could have produced more extreme negative splits if I had approached the race with more zeal.
Lastly, I thank God that the haze spared the morning of race day. None of the above three points would have mattered if the race was cancelled. And I'd have been really disappointed that I had missed two out of four of my races in September due to the haze.
Anyway, regarding the race itself, flag-off was prompt at 6.30am. I saw a couple of Kenyans, along with Bijay and his friend (and wished them luck!), in addition to notable local "elites". Also saw Brian a little distance away before we began. This year, I didn't have as much trouble getting towards the front of the race pen. The roads (on the drive to the venue) were much clearer compared to last year when I participated with my dad (and he had to drop me off, lest I did not make it to the first wave).
With a fast start as always, I quickly tried to settle into a comfortable pace. I had company - which I was very thankful for. As with every race, a couple of runners started to fall behind quickly, while Ron and another runner caught up with me and moved along. I was pretty surprised with a 3:54 first split as the effort certainly didn't seem to justify that.
I attempted to be cautious about the effort... yet in doing so, I ran a 3:49. Granted the second km took us down Nicoll Highway, it wasn't that significant a descent. Nonetheless, I trudged on comfortably (at that point of time).
At some point of time, I caught on to Ron and his buddy. I don't quite remember when exactly, but it was pretty early into the race. I had previously saw Ron at last year's ST Run and SCMS. He was certainly capable of running faster times than me. However, since he didn't seem too keen on running too quick today, I was happy to have his company.
The race was largely uneventful, with both Ron and I running near each other (often with him leading), until we merged with the 18.45km runners. Somehow it didn't feel as congested as before, probably because marshals (and some of the female lead bikes) were asking slower runners to keep to the left. I noticed that I was starting to tire (the best indication is when I begin to frequently find myself wondering when the race would end) and a tiny gap was gradually forming between me and Ron.
All was good until around the 7km mark, right under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge where a hydration station was located. There, a major bottleneck formed. Unwilling to try to weave my way through the crowd, I ran onto the grass on the left, only to realise that some (low-lying) bushes were obstructing my return to the asphalt and I risked running on uneven grass for too long. I decided to jump into the bushes (sorry plants!) to make my way back onto the path. Naturally, this cost me some precious seconds and the implication? I was a good 3-5 seconds behind Ron. It doesn't sound like much, but that's arguably 15-20m and I never made up the distance. The only positive was that he was constantly clearing the way for me as he cleared the path for himself with repeated shouts of "on your right".
The last few km was tough. I had stopped looking at my watch after the first half of the race. By then, I was convinced I could run a sub-40 due to multiple sub-4min kms. Though encouraging, as I wasn't expecting to run a particularly quick time for this race, I didn't have much motivation to press on hard. Unlike SCMS 2014, whereby I could tap into the months of training prior to race day, I admitted that I didn't really train hard (or specifically) for this race. In fact, didn't even bother with much of a taper. 2 days? That was about all. This (the mindset) was definitely reflected in my slower splits and I was really hoping that the race would end. The only significant aspect I recalled from then was passing the 4th-placed lady, Suzanne Walsham and her bike (though now, results suggest she was 3rd?).
The gush of cold air hit me (it really did) as I entered the stadium. It was certainly an encouraging feeling, a smile emerging from my face, as it spurred me to try to muster a bit of a kick down the straight, in recognition that the race was nearly over. Furthermore, the sight of a low 38:XX ticking away was a pleasant surprise even though I was convinced the course was slightly short. In a couple of seconds, it was indeed over and I certainly was glad.
Thanked Ron (who I then got to know) for his company. I certainly wouldn't have been able to run my time if I had lacked his company. For a reason now unknown to me, I had the opportunity to talk to Angsar. Thereafter, I managed to briefly catch up with Brian who told me he's been running for RP. Last but not least, I saw the Gurkhas Bijay and his friend (in retrospect, I've figured he was Suresh - the 10km Men's 2nd runner up). Thereafter, a 2km jog around the sheltered stadium and then back home (via MRT, not jogging).
|More than pleasantly surprised with today's performance :) Strava data here.|
|Preliminary Results out 3 days after ~ The digital subscription can't compare with the All-in-One.|