Friday, December 31, 2010

Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2010: My Journey To The Finish Line

The day has finally come.  The event that I have been preparing for several months - Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010.  My quest was to be able to finish the 10km race in 40 minutes or less. Well, at least that was my intention

Caveat:  This is going to be a long but fun read - I guarantee it!

May 20. Successfully registered for my 1st international 10k race

Fast forward ...

December 3. We arrived in Singapore past 8 o'clock in the evening.  We were an hour late since our flight was delayed.  Took the MRT from the airport and got off at Boon Keng.  My stomach was already grumbling so i settled to drop by at the nearest 7-11 for a quick bite.  I was able to check-in past 9PM.  Unpacked my bag, changed to my sleeping clothes, set my alarm and hit the bed

December 4.  I woke up by 630AM and was wondering why the sun hasn't come up.  I checked my watch again to see if it is indeed 630 or did I woke up earlier.  Peeked through the window shade and saw some rain clouds.  At that time, I was wishing for the day to be cloudy and on the event day as well.  Still sleepy but forced myself out of bed.  Had to start the day early as I need to get my race kit in Tampines.  My good friend claimed it for me in my behalf

From Tampines, next stop is Harbourfront.  Our itinerary for the day was to have a grand time in Universal Studios Singapore.  While I was on my way, instead of people watching I chose to read the event handbook and before I even realized it, heavy rain poured out of the dark clouds.  There I was thinking, of so many days why does it have to rain that day

It was 930 when I alighted at USS (Universal Studios Singapore).  The weather lightened up and the heavy rain became a drizzle.  Mitch and Ian was the first ones to get there and was waiting for the rest of us to arrive.  By the time we all got there, the sky has cleared
from L to R: Ed, Ian, Dex, Me! Angel, Mitch, Chast, and Jyet (missing: Benj who took this picture)

We all had a grand time though the weather wasn't fully cooperating.  Light rains was coming in and out for the rest of the afternoon.  Because of this, some rides wasn't operational.  Boo!  We ended the day by 6PM.  At least to the other guys.  Was on my way back and something's been bugging me - baggage and transportation

Once I got inside my room, I immediately flipped the pages of the event handbook for another rundown.  I was really worried about checking-in my baggage and how am I gonna go to Esplanade Drive.  Reviewing the handbook, I got scared when I learned that it'll take 45 minutes for me to deposit (and claim) my bag.  My original plan was to get as much rest as possible and wake up by 6AM.  Decided to cut my sleep by an hour to make sure that I won't be caught up with a long queue and be late for my gun start (7:45AM)

Now having sort that out, next one is how am I gonna go there.  Thinking that it might be a bad idea to grab a cab as some roads will be closed.  So I checked out the site once more to get some relevant information.  Good thing was that there was trial MRT services for half-marathoners.  The departure times from Boon Keng was 5:29AM, 5:44AM, 5:59AM and 6:14AM.  Cool!  Waking up by 5 seems to be a good idea after all.  If I miss the first departure time, I can catch the second one and still be early for my gun start

December 5.  (Pre-Race)  5AM.  My alarm went off.  Opened my eyes and without any delay I jumped out of bed to start my pre-race rituals.  Time flew so fast that when I checked my watch again, I saw that I just missed the first ride out of Boon Keng (NE9).  That meant I only had 15 minutes left to catch the next one.  Went out the door with barely 10 minutes left, a street to cross and 200 meters to cover.  I jogged all the way to the MRT station thinking that if I missed this, I'd be loosing 15 precious minutes and that would give me a lot more pressure.  Two minutes.  The next train will be coming in within 2 minutes, that's what the screen showed.  Without thinking, I sprinted all the way until I've reached the platform.  I made it!

The idea was simple - get to City Hall as quick as possible.  Since MRT was operating to cater to the SCMS runners, it was a cool sight seeing the rest of the passengers donning the event's singlet.  You can immediately feel the excitement.  But my enthusiasm soon faded away because I could not remember which station to get off.  I know what you are thinking - "what a loser".  I totally forgot that I needed to transfer to the North-South (Red) line and though my train will take me directly.  I jumped out at Outram Park (NE3) to catch the East-West (Green) line going to City Hall (EW13)

It was already 6AM when I've reached the platform.  A few minutes later, an announcement was made.  The next train was going to be available by 621AM.  I just said "WHAT?!?"  I should have gotten off at Doby Ghaut and saved myself a few minutes.  It was the longest 21 minutes of my life.  I was fidgety the whole time.  Even started thinking of either taking the bus or just run all the way to City Hall

A few minutes more, the train arrived as scheduled.  Rode it and got off at City Hall.  The next item in my checklist was to find War Memorial Park.  Signage was very helpful in pointing where the baggage facility was located. The placard was all over and difficult to miss.  When I got there, i was a surprised, there was NO long line at all.  My efforts has paid off.  Checking-in my baggage was a breeze.  There were many personnel manning the baggage station.  I guess this was expected since there were 21,000 runners who registered for the 10km race.

December 5.  (Race)  I got to the starting point (Esplanade Drive) before 7AM.  Surprised to see that only a couple of hundred runners were there.  I was expecting that there would be thousands of participants already waiting at the bridge.  I first walked up to the starting line and since it was still early, I went out of the corral to grab a drink to ensure that I am hydrated and do a final visit to the portalet.

I went back in and did some light jogging to fight away the jitters.  At this time a lot of runners are inside the 10k pen.  I now rushed going towards the arch.  While doing so, I noticed that there were ropes laid out on the road.  Later I found out that it was to control the number of runners and implement a wave starting system.  That seems to be a good idea especially when you have 21,000 runners in one category.  Having single gun start for everyone would be a logistical nightmare

While waiting for the gun to be fired, we saw the first marathon runner sprinting his way to the finish line.  Immediately, everyone was clapping and recognizing the feat he has done.  He responded with the encouragement he got by giving a thumbs up.  I guess donning the number "1" bib is just right.  The emcee even commented with how fast he was running that it felt that the Kenyan was running for a 100m dash but  doing it for 42 kilometers.  Kenneth finished with a time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.  Now that's fast!

A few minutes more then the emcee announced that we were only 5 minutes away from our gun start.  This even made me more nervous.  How am I going to fare?  Confidence level wasn't really that high as I've been missing some roadwork 2 weeks prior.  I just have to trust that all the hard work I've put in for the past months will support me on this race

The time has finally come.  We were given the 'go' signal.  Everyone has sped off.  Just a few seconds from the starting line, somebody stepped at the back of my right shoe and it almost slipped off my feet.  Had to stop and put it back.  This was the first time it had happened to me.  Was I too slow?  Was I impeding faster runners?  I just shrugged off the idea and resumed running.

In order to keep up with the lead pack I started out too fast.  Because of this, I found myself breathing heavily just after the first kilometer.  I had to slow down a bit and control my pace if I have to finish the race with a proper time.  The 2nd kilometer of the route was such a nice sight.  Every runner got a double treat - Marina Bay Sands up ahead and Helix Bridge on the right.
I initially thought that we will be running on Helix Bridge.  Still, it was all good just by looking at it up close.  A couple of minutes more then I saw the 3KM marker right in front of Marina Bay Sands.  I checked my watch and couldn't believe what I saw - the 3rd marker was only 3 minutes away.  I couldn't possibly ran that fast.  I knew instantly something was off.  I just hoped that the other distance markers were correctly placed

Already covered more than half of the distance then I started seeing the 21k and 42k runners.  At this time my mind is telling me to stop that I am too tired to continue.  In addition this was also the part where we need to cross a bridge.  I am not sure about the elevation and how long it was but for me it was the longest bridge that I ever crossed.  My brain also prompted me to slow down and follow the pace of the crowd which was easy on my heart.  While doing so I just enjoyed the view of the Singapore Flyer
Since I made some micro-adjustments on how fast I was going, I tried to make up for the lost time by running hard for the next two kilometers.  My body was still OK but my heart was giving up on me.  Not running for so long has indeed taken its toll.  I stopped at the 8KM marker in order to catch my breath and lower down my heart beat.  I checked my time to see how I was doing and so far I've averaged 5 minutes per kilometer.  "Not bad", I said to myself.  With two kilometers left, I mustered the remaining strength and willpower in me to continue running.  The race marshals somehow helped as they were cheering for me and kept on saying "Go! Go! Go!"

Expecting for a miracle to happen but none came.  I was barely keeping up with the pace of the other runners.  Not seeing the 9KM marker even made things difficult as I wasn't aware how slow I was doing.  Also, I was keeping tabs on how the other 10k racers are doing.  At some point, I saw a bunch of 10k participants going back.  I thought they already made a U-turn up ahead and seeing so many of them, it had a psychological impression that tons of runners has caught up on me and because of this it made things worse.  How?  Because of being competitive in nature.  Seeing hordes of 10k runners that passed me made me frustrated with myself.  All the hard and fast running that I did for the first 8 kilometers were now all gone and down the drain

I am now back at the Esplanade bridge and still didn't have a clue on how far (or near) I was from the finish line.  I've stopped from running again for the 2nd time as I felt so wasted.  Resting actually helped me to clear my head.  It made me realize that the runners I met along the road was actually from a wave of runners that has just been released from their corral.  I even saw the last batch of runners still waiting to be flagged off.  I continued to run or should I say I tried.  Since there's little strength left in me I can only managed to jog.  Hey, at least its better than walking.

The light at the end of tunnel.  Conquering a couple of hundred meters I saw the SCMS banner.  With that, I sprinted all the way towards it.  Big mistake!  It wasn't the finish line.  I got dismayed seeing that that there were more than 100 meters to go.  Since I used up all of my energy reserves, I couldn't sprint anymore
On the last turn, I finally saw the "real" finish line.  A few strides more, I could already see the elapsed time on the clock.  I already consumed 53 minutes.  Couldn't believe that I spent more than 13 minutes to cover 2 kilometers.  I wasn't happy with how I did.  Actually, I wasn't contented with my performance overall.  Was angry with myself.  I started to ask myself.  What happened to the several months of training?  What happened to logging in those kilometers.  What happened to all the hard work?  All I wanted at the time was to simply finish the race

December 5.  (Post-Race)  Finally crossed the finish line.  Grabbed a bottle of water and received my finisher's medal.
Stayed at the finish line area for a few minutes to see if I'd be able to spot Mitch (our official photographer).  Unfortunately I didn't saw her.  I decided to go back to my hotel for a quick shower and to get some rest.  Dropped by at the War Memorial Park to claim my bag.  Again, no long line.  While on my way, I still kept thinking that I could have at least pulled a sub-50.  I continued to review and simulate to what happened to the last 2 kilometers and that I should have done something different in order keep my pace for the remaining distance

In order to keep my mind away from my lackluster performance, I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting my favorite shops at Orchard and Somerset.  Grabbed a pair of jeans and a shirt.  We flew out that night

December 6.  The race results came out the following day

Final thoughts.  "Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it"  Even though I wasn't able to hit my goal, I will continue to train harder and aim for my intended race pace.  My experience and lessons learned at SCMS2010 will always serve as a friendly reminder to keep me motivated

Happy holidays!  See you on the road




it was still a great run Daves! Congratulations !

Daves said...

thanks marvin! :)

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