I thought last year Sundown will be my last time running the full marathon when I clocked my personal time but for reasons not known to me either, I decided to sign up for it again. Then Dora also signed up and CK was convinced by her to give this another shot. Chua and Catherine needed no coaxing, it was a kind of a ritual for them.
This time, I didn't train much in running as I was involved more into cycling. The gruelling 'Baan Dada Charity Ride' in Thailand in March this year followed by OCBC Super Challenge in April. The longest distance in training I did was 15km. Sheepishly, I was hoping the cycling mileage I have clocked can sort of make up for it...fingers crossed.
For the first time, Sundown Marathon 2013 separated the 10 km & 21 km (grouped as one) event and the 42 km event which I thought was a wise move, for better crowd control though logistically, it was more challenging for the organisers. 31 May, Friday will see the 10 km and 21 km and 1 June, Saturday, the 42 km event. Winnie ran the 10 km and I was there on the first day to support her and also took the opportunity to 'size up' the place prior to our event on the following day.
On the day of the run, I spent the whole Saturday staying at home and not doing anything. I had slight diarrhoea too, visited the toilet few times but it was still manageable.
We (Dora, CK, Chua, Catherine and I) had arranged to meet up Promenade station, exit A at about 2245 hrs. Our flag off was scheduled at 2330 hrs and there should have more than ample time for us as it was short walk to the venue at F1 pit from the station. I was first to arrive followed by Chua who drove and parked his car near the Peranakan Museum. I took the train. Catherine arrived shortly after. She parked her car at Suntec City. Dora came by train and CK arrived slightly later. He blamed the bus driver for his delay. We then made our way to the venue.
CK and Dora will pace and run together while I will keep pace with Catherine. Chua will run on his own as he had more training mileage and he should finish earlier than us. Before the flag-off, we gave each other a pat and soon, we were flagged off. We were in the second and last wave. There were some 10,000 runners for the 42.195 km event, second in participation size to the year end Stanchart event.
I was pacing behind Catherine for the most part after flag-off. We were doing about 6 min per km, and our pace was constant. We ran the first 5 km along Nicoll Highway and into the stadium. One lane in some road at the stadium was opened for the runners. It was very tight for us to overtake and we had to run on the pavement or the grass patch in order to avoid clashing on the persons in front. With some 10,000 runners and the first 5 km, most of us are expected to cluster together, the organisers should pre-empt that. They should open up two lanes instead of one lane. At that hour, there were not many cars either.
After more than 11 km into the race, we were heading to the park at Gardens by the Bay which will lead us to East Coast Park. Catherine and I were still keeping good form and pace was constant too. CK and Dora were behind us and Chua was way in front.
We ran past the 5 hours pacers and considering, we were flagged off 8 mins after the first wave, we were well below the 5 hours target. We were still doing good on the East Coast Park. It was a long run near to the sailing club before we made an U-turn. We slowed our pace. Catherine complained the blisters on her feet were bothering her but she still pressed on. I must say her threshold for pain was high. I felt my stomach started to bloat, probably from taking too much drink along the way. I tried to ignore it. When we made an U-turn at East Coast Park, we had already covered more than 20 km. At that juncture, I can still carry on despite the slight discomfort in my stomach.
About 30 km, the 5 hours pacers finally caught up with us and we can still manage to keep pace with them for a while. Catherine started to open her pace and I followed, we past many along the way. At about 33 km mark, I told her the sharp pain on my stomach was bothering me and I asked her to run on own. She was hesitant at first but I assured her I can manage and if I am better later, I will try to catch up with her. When the stomach discomfort seemed to have improve but the muscle in my two calves started to pull and I had to stop running as I was afraid I might pull a cramp if I pressed on.
The last 10 km was the most punishing, considering the condition I was in. I was either walking or running. I started to count each km as I ran past and each km seemed never ending. We had to run to Marina Barrage and then, to the business district. It was hard, I must say. On the final stretch, we then ran to the underpass near MBS and there, I can see the finishing ahead. I just kept running and before running past, I took a glance at the board above, it indicated 5 hrs 8 mins something. I should have clocked just under 5 hours. Catherine was resting at the rest point and she had finished about 3 mins ahead of me.
We rested for a while, not knowing when Dora and CK will cross the finishing line but we were sure Chua had finished ahead of us. Finally, we realised Dora and CK also finished and they were already on the way to Promenade station. We met up for a while. Dora took a lift from Chua and Catherine walked to Suntec City to pick up her car. I waited for CK who was already on the way to the station. It was still 0500 hrs and the first train will depart at 0610 hrs. CK and I waited for the station to open its door before making our way home for a well-deserved rest.