Sunday, December 04, 2011

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011 (SCMS)

It is my second 42km marathon this year, following the last Sundown Marathon which I clocked 4 hrs 32 mins and I hoped to clock 4 hrs 15 mins - a personal target I set for myself. One week before the race, I cut down on long distance running with Chua to give enough rest to my legs.

The race this morning was tough but fortunately for us, the weather was pretty cool and no sign of rain threatening. As expected, the adrenalin rush in me will keep me awake throughout the night. I set my alarm at 3.00am, 2 hours to the flag off at 5.00am and since MRT is running 24/7, I should arrive well ahead of flag-off time. To my little surprise, I managed to catch few hours of sleep but I was already up and running at 2.30 am. Before 3am, I was already walking to Aljunied station on my way to Orchard fully geared.

I was among the early birds and by my reckoning it should be around 3.30am (didn't have my watch on - intentional) Slowly as the clock continued to tick, more and more runners were streaming in. This year 20,000 runners registered for the full marathon, more than the 10km and 21km category. While waiting at the start point, I was hoping to catch my buddy Chua but no luck. I didn't have my mobile phone with me, again it was intentional so that I can run as light as possible. We were to be flagged off near the Mandarin Orchard and exactly 5.00am, off we went.

I aimed to maintain 6 mins per km pace, if I hoped to clock under 4 hrs 15 mins. I was striding consistently, coping well. Best of all, I kept the pacers, the 4 hrs, 4 hrs 15 mins, 4 hrs 30 mins, 4 hrs 45 mins and 5 hrs all the way behind. In fact in the first 10km, the 3 hrs 30 mins pacers were within my sight. I was pacing well within the 6 mins/km target. The first 10km took us from Orchard to New Bridge Road and into the business district. From there, we ran past F1 pit and to Fort Road. From Fort Road, we then headed to East Coast Park and all the way to East Coast Lagoon. At the first East Coast Park, I saw a lone African runner who was way ahead of the rest of the pack. He was already heading back the opposite direction to the city. He was more than 10km in front of me, covered near 30km at that juncture and I had then covered about 15km. Like the rest, we clapped as he strode past. A group of African runners were trying to catch up with him. Then further down, I saw our first local runner, an Indian. Finally, Mok, our local champion was with a group of runners who was trailing behind. Not surprising, he was nursing injury for few months and surely, he lost some of his fitness. It was still pitched dark at East Coast Park. I was glad that I was still pacing well, never stopped.

The U-turn near East Coast is the 21km mark and I cleared that hurdle without trouble. However, some few kilometres later, I started to feel fatigue of sorts. I slowed my pace and then I felt hunger, gosh! I was losing energy but there was no pain in my legs after more than 20km run. I started to walk a short distance to sustain the loss of energy from the hunger. I yearned for banana or energy gel but the water point along the East Coast stretch provided just mineral water and 100plus. Some 24 km into the race, the 4 hrs pacers overtook me but it was to be expected. I didn't attempt to keep pace with them, simply let them drift further and further from me. I started to adopt walk and run strategy, hoping to conserve some energy to the last part. After I ran past former Big Splash, I caught sight of Clarence on the opposite side. I shouted at him and he merely acknowledged less his jovial self, gave him a thumbs-up. From the look of it, I knew he was struggling. Hey, who wasn't...I was also trying to sustain the fatigue in my body and legs.

Some 30km into the race, the 4 hrs 30 mins pacers ran past me. I knew I will not be able to achieve my personal best time of 4 hrs 15 mins and under. I just have to keep going, telling myself to finish the race no matter what. Frankly, the last 10 km was the toughest when fatigue got the better of me. My legs wanted to run but my mind told me to walk. I managed to grab a banana after 30km mark at the water point but still couldn't finish the whole banana.

When one of the marhsals shouted 7km more, I was already aching all over. I wondered whether I could muster enough energy to run the last 7km and as much as I would like to, I had to switch from walking to running and back. This slowed down my pace considerably and at some 36km mark, the 4 hrs 45 mins pacers strode past me. I had 3 km more to the finish, just tag along to them I told to myself. But suddenly, my right calf pulled a cramp and I had to stop. After some stretching, I resumed my run and walk but the pacers had by then moved ahead and ahead of me.

We had to run up the Benjamin Sheares and a sign indicated this is a 'Heartbreak Bridge' because it is upslope for a good 800 metres. At that juncture, we joined the rest of the 21km runners and it was frustrating overtaking them. The bridge was packed with runners, I had to move from side to side just to overtake them (damn, they were walking as if it was a stroll in the park). It was frustrating. And near the F1 pit, 10km runners were linked to us. It was not enjoyable running the final 2km stretch from F1 to City Hall, chock-a-block with rest of the runners from other categories. I lost the inspiration to push the final 2 km, frustration got the better of me. Finally, at the final turn to City Hall, I just ran less the usual 'boost' I reserved for the final 100 metres. The clocked showed 4 hours 50 mins plus when I ran past it. Personal best was not achieved but I am glad that I have completed my 4th marathon in 3 years.

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