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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

SCSM 2006 - Race Report

the short

- i finished the half in 3:12.24 gun time and 3:05.39 chip time.

- surprised that i did better than the 3:30 i had expected, but didnt break the sub-3 that i wanted...


The full report

It was almost shaping up to be the race i didnt run.

I had the flu for almost a week before the run, and a combination of Lemsip, flu medication and warm clothings helped. But i hadnt slept much the whole week from my blocked nose, body aches and looking after 2 very fretful kiddies (who were also down with cough and sniffles) in the night. PLUS it was the middle of the very inconvenient time of the month.. (#$^%@&)

Finally it was the night before the race. I was excited, if apprehensive.

I pinned my bib to my top (the red GE10k singlet which fit well, not the official SCSM singlet which i havent had time to wash :p), packed plasters, money, handphone, heat rub sample sachet, tissue paper, powergel into the various pockets of my raceready tights. Socks and socks liner.

ARGH. i left my shoes in my shoe bag in the car, will have to change in the morning and tie the chip in the car park....

i should try to sleep, but E was still packing his suitcase for his golf trip to Chiangmai on the same morning of the race. We had packed the kiddies to my in-laws for the night, so it was relatively quiet and i took the opportunity to tidy up the disaster zone with toys and books strewn all over.

I drank another Lemsip and felt better. Then by chance E channelled surf to live coverage from the Doha Games and the Singapore table tennis women were playing against North Korea, the defending champions who defeated China in the last Games.

1st match was won easily by Sun Beibei, the 2nd was won by Li Jiawei. The 3rd was lost by Zhang Xueling. The 4th should have been won by Li Jiawei but she succumbed and suddenly we were 2-2 against the North Koreans.

The 5th and final match was Sun Beibei again, a 22 year old in her first major outing. Alas, she lost the 1st 2 games, she cant lose again or it will be all over. YES! She took the next 2 games 11-8. Amazing, she took the lead in the last game, but oh-no. The North Korean caught up with her at 10-10. Is she going to earn glory and grow tremendously, or is she only to choke? She raced to take the next 2 points and Singapore is through to the semi-finals. The Singapore coach jumped over the barrier to bear-hug Sun as tears welled up in her eyes. What grit, what determination. If ony our lions were more like her...

Oh-oh, it was already 1:50am time to sleep. but swimming is up next. It was worth it as i caught Tao Li winning the bronze in the 50m backstroke. Alright. Really time to sleep! 2:30am!

Di-Di-Di-Di... it wasnt mine. It was E's at 3:40am for him to get ready to leave for airport at 4:00am. Have a good trip dear.

I slept abit more and woke up at 430am. Had breakfast of biskuit and coffee. started changing into my gear.

  1. Sportsbra - check

  2. Singlet - check

  3. plaster on feet - check

  4. Tie up hair - check

  5. Sports cap - check

  6. Raceready tights - errrmmm... whats this gooey stuff on the pants? ARGH! the powergel had leaked in the night and soaked through the pants!!! i quickly took out everything from all the pockets and stuffed them into a plastic bag, while quickly rinsing the pants out. Where's my other raceready shorts? oh-oh, in the car with my shoes. sigh.
  7. Socks liner + socks - check

5:10am Lets Go. LETS GO ALREADY.

I ran to the car park and when there i looked for my handphone. Not in the bag! I drove and parked the car at the foot of my block and ran up to look for my phone. Not at the sink, the kitchen table, the table where i laid out my gear. Had to call my self. No ringing! It must be in the car! I ran down and found the handphone in the plastic bag where i had shoved everything in, which is why i didnt feel it in the bag. duh!

I drove madly in the light traffic to Raffles City where i intended to park. In fact i drove so fast that i missed a turn to Lavender Road and went via a slightly longer route. I made it to Raffles City but there was a long queue of cars going into the car park. The car park indicators said ONE lot... i waited for awhile and it was already 6:00am. People were getting off the cars and letting their chauffeurs park the car while they walk to esplanade, I had no such luxury and decided to park at suntec, the walk from Padang to suntec after the run be damned.

Managed to find a lot and parked quickly, stealing a look around and seeing no people or cameras, i quickly changed into my raceready shorts in the car, stuffed everything into the pockets and then changed shoes.

I ran out of the car park and came right upon a toilet, yes, a godsend. and then I ran to the esplanade... eh? i dont remember it being that far from suntec to esplanade? When I finally reached esplanade, my way was blocked by central dividers too high to jump across like some other guys did. A policeman told me to turn around and use the underpass. I told him my race is starting NOW! he shrugged and waved me along.

I came to the starting pen and the gun had already gone off! oh shucks. NO CHIP NO TIME. my chip was still in my pocket. I tied it to my shoe quickly and joined the last of pen 4 people shuffling towards the start line. As i was about 10m away from start line, a tall sweaty chinese man who looked to be in his 20s nonchalently pushed me aside and moved ahead! He did this to other pp too but i was quite startled. But no time to rue over it as we came upon the start line. The adrenaline pumping and it was time to RUN!

The fact is despite the difficult registration, the mishaps of the morning and the recent illness, i've not felt this good in many days.

I felt alive and that the wind would carry me.

In fact I felt so good that it was a good half km before i realised that i had forgotten to start my stopwatch again... I estimated that i was off by a good 5 minutes and started my watch anyways.
We ran down Raffles quay, and Shenton way. The sound of pounding feet on quiet roads was magic as the sun rised. The weather was cool and a light breeze blowing, you couldnt ask for more perfect weather, at least until the sun comes up totally anyways. :)

And then we hit a left to go to Marina South, running down the familiar canel. At about 3km, my left instep started to feel raw but why since i had already taped it?! oh goodness, i had used a different brand of plaster, it was cheaper and i thought it wouldnt matter.... i hope it wont cost me too much.

We came upon the first water station. Trying to avoid the water retention and swelling last year, i only took a sip to rinse my mouth like Philip told me to, and used the rest to splash upon my face, neck, shoulders and arms. The drinks were served in paper cups but it was still prudent to not trip over any of them.

As we ran down Marina way, i had to stopped and slap another plaster over the blister which was throbbing. I could only hope that it didnt get worst and burst.

Just as I started running again, I came upon an old man with a shirt that says 台中.长青 and i was suddenly filled with respect with this spritely old man who flew all the way from Taiwan to Singapore to shuffle as well as he could. i gave him a thumbs-up and said "加油!" as i ran passed him. He looked startled but returned a smile.

The rest to the U-turn was uneventful but i had never known that there was a Marina Jetty at the end of civilisation in Marina South. The u-turn was thaaat far. The long route out made me think of a queue for a Disney attraction: you join a long snaking queue and as you come to the top of the queue, you realise that it continues snaking for another section and yet another.
After the U-turn, I ran passed the first of the full-marathoner. He was wearing a Reason To Run bib that said "not running 42km, conquering 1km 42 times". There were lots of other people who wore the RTR bib on their backs, including "Kick me", a pair of girls who had "Slower" and "Then Us!" respectively which made me wanting to kick THEM. Another trim young man had one that said "Becos I used to weigh 97kg". Two that had their RTR made into T-shirts said "I've procastinated long enough" and "To eat more cookies 'n cream" :D

We ran back the same way we came and at about 11km, i heard the sound of cans being dragged on the ground. Just like those tied to a wedding car in movies. I couldnt believe my eyes. It was a girl with a rope around her waist, dragging a tyre with a stylofoam box with plastic bottles and snack wrappers and cans around it. She had a message on the box "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". She smiled and talked to people who asked her the who-what-whys while continuing to run. It was tough enough running a full marathon, but being so burdened... Her commitment to the cause was admirable.

I came upon a man who had collapsed at shenton way, he was already being attended to by other runners and volunteers so i didnt linger. But when we were coming upon the bridge near Fullerton, a police bike stopped all of us and made the volunteers removed the central divider barrier to let a police escort and an ambulance through. I hope it wasnt the same guy i saw earlier at shenton way, and it was, the situation was not too serious or too late...

At about the 15km, the blister became full blown and stopped bothering me as it had became so large and water-filled that it was self-cushioning. Unfortunately, my left ankle had become slighted twisted from running so far while trying to accomodate it. But that was going to be the least of my problems as my muscles start getting tighter and tighter.

It was only near Republic Boulevard that i realised that there were volunteers dispensing heat rub near water stations. Another godsend! I gratefully took some and massaged them into my thighs, calves and shins. I stretched a little and was able to run again.

Unfortunately, it was yet another demoralising long way to a U-turn at nicoll highway that turned around at 17km. I was just glad that i wasnt running the full this time. As I headed back, i could see that i was ahead of a couple of hundreds of half-marathoners, even overtaking some, and that lightened my heart. And it was really funny when some of them asked "where is the u-turn" to familiar faces, and their so-called "friends" kept telling them "VERY FAR!".

As I came down Nicoll Highway onto Republic Boulevard, i saw the girl with the tyre again. This time she was in full concentration and with pain written all over her face, and there were 2 ladies helping to pull her load. I thought no less of her then when I first saw her, and could only hope that more people will become aware of her cause, and maybe help her along.

I had began to take some walking breaks, but always with a weary glance towards the darkening sky which at some point started to drizzle lightly.

But when i reached Saint Andrews i caught my second wind, and was about to run the last 200m to the finishing line. Like Alex said in the last marathon, "Look good for the cameras!"

I had crossed the finishing line at Gun time 3:12:24

I gave a call to Leng, who was supposed to pick me up and drive me home in my own car, and she was surprised that I was already done as I had told her to meet me at 1030, 4 hours after the start. LOL

While waiting for her, I ate a banana and some isotonic drinks and tried to stretch. Again, thankfully there were roving volunteers dispensing heat rub and that helped tremendously.

I called BigLady and asked how did she do. She finished her 10km in 1hr 54min. Her first race on bad knees! I was so proud of her.

There lots of other friends who ran well, including Philip who did a 4:37 and Brokie a 4:17 (and who came in 28th in her age group) in their full marathons, and Terence who did a 1:01 for his 10km, but I was the most proud of BigLady's achievements because of the obstacles she had to overcome. I just wish she'll be less hard on herself and savour the moment.

Finally met up with Leng and by then i had cramps in my bum from sitting too long, and the blister was threatening burst, and i couldnt bend my knees. She helped to get milk and food for me, and sent me home. Leaving only after I managed an ice-bath, feeding me, and ensuring that I was comfortable. Did i say that I'm blessed with great friends? yup. But i'll say it again. I'm Blessed With Great Friends.


So the Official Chip Time was up. Mine were:

Chip time 3:05:39
I almost wanted to cry when Mike broke down the stats and told me that if i had ran 15sec faster per km, i would have broken sub-3 :(

But nonetheless, it was an enjoyable race, all the memorable because it was a pretty good race despite my aboslute lack of talent.

My race results based on gun-time:
- 5471st amongst 6165 half-marathoners
- 1504th amongst 1814 lady half-marathoners
- 217th amongst 237 lady half-marathoners of my age-group.
---> i was ahead of 384 men half-marathoners!



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