Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008...

Event: Nike+ Human Race 10K 2008
Venue: Esplanade Bridge, Singapore
Date: 31 August 2008
Time: 4.15pm
Distance: 10KM (10.09KM by Jamie's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: Nike LunarTrainer+
By Frank
.
*Warning: Long report ahead*

30 August 2008. Pre-race day...
The much awaited day is finally here as I woke up early filled with excitement and anticipation as I get ready for my trip to Singapore for the Nike+ Human Race 10K, a running event where it unites the world in running together globally for the name of charity. 25 countries will be holding this meaningful event with Singapore being the only country in South East Asia to be selected. With my luggage double checked, I left home for KL Sentral to meet up with Pueh Tian to board the KLIA Ekspres for the airport. Arrived at KLIA in 28 minutes sharp and met up with Jamie who arrived as early as at 9.30am. Our flight, MH603 was scheduled to leave at 12pm. With 2 hours to spare, we had ourselves checked in before proceeding to chill out at McDonalds. But as the excitement builds up, time quickly passed and we soon met up with Niki (R.AGE, The Star) and Richard (TimeOut KL), both from the media team at the boarding gate.

It was rather narrow on board the Boeing 737 but luckily it was just short trip of just 45 minutes. But this short trip turned out to be one of my most “scariest” air flights ever. Due to bad weather halfway through the journey, the aircraft shook pretty badly and at one point, it even hit an air pocket. My stomach took a dive from it but I managed to stick to my composure as we landed safely at Singapore Changi Airport shortly. Although I enjoy flying, I guess I prefer to use the coach at times like these. Hehe…

It was my first time inside the passengers lounge at the Singapore Changi Airport and I must say I was really impressed. Clean, well organized and the people there served with a smile on their face. Immigration and customs clearing plus our luggage collection were all done in a breeze.

Gallery Hotel...

From here, we took a cab and proceeded to meet up with Alison from Nike Malaysia at Gallery Hotel located at Robertson Quay. Nice hotel and I really like the concept. Collected from Alison our race kits which she helped collect earlier and that saved us lots of precious times. Really appreciate it. Upon checking in, I was surprised that each of us was given a room each! WOW! We are all pampered by the generosity by Nike Malaysia. Deposited my luggage in my room which was number 731 and went straight for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Spoilt again with choices, I ordered cod fillet with something and something which turned out really good although it couldn’t fill my hungry stomach. Those who travel with me will know how much I can fill my stomach with. Anyway, lunch was really good and we all had a good time getting to know each other.

With the gang during lunch...

We parted our ways after lunch and together with Jamie and Pueh Tian, we went to Orchard Road. Upon arriving, we found the sky begin to open up with some light drizzle which later became a heavy downpour. And that was around 4pm and we got a little worried as the race was scheduled to be flag off at 4.15pm the next day. With no where to go, we hung around at Lucky Plaza and Paragon before making a dash across to HMV at The Heeren till about 8pm where the rain had stopped earlier. No damage for me but the other 2 guys shopped till they dropped for CDs and DVDs. We then made our way to Plaza Singapura for a simple but yet wonderful dinner where I ordered 2 portions of Singapore’s local delights.

With our stomach filled, we made our way back to the hotel. But that will be before stopping by at both Boat Quay and Clarke Quay for some photography session as the place was light up for the upcoming mid autumn festival. With that done, we each called it a day to have some much needed rest for the big day next.

Before turning in, I took the opportunity to check out my hotel room which I didn’t earlier. Armed with all necessities, 2 single beds and a large LCD screen (with 1 dead pixel), I was living like a royalty. With that done, while enjoying my green tea, it’s time to unpack and check out the goodies in the race kit which consists of a race tee with my bib number of 829620 printed on it. How cool is that! Oh and yeah. The bib number is actually a global running number. Then we have a water tumbler, a gym knapsack, Nike+ Human Race 10K mementos and race guide plus race necessities. All these items certainly come in handy and I just simple love them. With that, it’s light off!

A view of my room...

Contents of my race kit...

31 August 2008. Race day...
MERDEKA! Yes, Malaysia is celebrating its 51 independence but yet, I find myself in Singapore getting ready for the Nike+ Human Race 10K. Found myself awake at 6am after a wonderful rest. Upon cleaning up, it was time for breakfast at the hotel’s cafe. Local and American breakfast were served and though was simple, it was sufficient. A good start for a much awaited day. With plenty of time to spare, together with Jamie and Pueh Tian, we decided to pack up our race necessities and leave for the city for some sight seeing. And while doing so, we surveyed part of the race route along the Boat Quat and Clarke Quay area. At the same time taking some ridiculously funny and wacky photos.

Running the wrong direction thanks to the misleading markers...

We came, we ran and we even posed...

The gigantic stage...

Every now and then, we had our eyes on the sky as it threatened to open up with rain clouds seen since early morning. Fingers and toes were crossed. Soon, it was noon and we had an early lunch at Pastamania, Funan DigitaLife Mall. Talk about carbo loading. As we made ourselves around the mall, our Nike LunarTrainer+ was really an attention grabber. Even a kid noticed them telling her mummy that the 3 of us were in the same shoes!

As minutes tick away, it was time to visit the race village. Final preparations were being done to the village as we caught up with Siva who was part of Malaysian team behind the gigantic stage. Got ourselves geared up, shoes and ChampionChip checked and wrist tags were on. Red tag being for the first wave runners estimating a sub 50 minutes completion time and the pink tag for the access Nike partners lounge area. Caught up with Wong Li-Zren too while we were checking out the partner’s booth.

Synchronised running...

With Wong Li-Zren from Nike Malaysia...

Our eyes were still paying attention on the sky as it was still threatening to rain as we deposited our baggage. It was a simple and yet systematic process and there wasn’t any long queue. Probably the best baggage deposit I have ever experienced thus far. However, we weren’t as lucky with the media center as we failed to locate it after even asking the marshals around. With that, we made ourselves to the Esplanade area and hung area there till 3.45pm before we had a very light warm up.

20 minutes to go, we checked ourselves in at the reporting area along the Esplanade Bridge and met up with Boon Seng and David. Soon it was time and together with Pueh Tian, we made our way to the starting area and were placed at the front line only to be pushed to the second when the elites came in. I spotted Shaharudin, our Malaysia top marathon runner among the elites who was part of our Malaysian contingent too. However, we lost Jamie who was stuck at the back of the field. As we all waited for the moment of truth, I jump around a little to keep my heart rate up and also to keep my calf muscle warm as they will be used intensively later in the race. I handed my new Oakley Flak Jacket Livestrong edition shades its race debut and just hope that I will run comfortably in it. Shades down, and I’m ready to go.

With Boon Seng and David...

5 minutes to go, the emcees of Utt and Taya announced that a kid suffering from cancer will flag off the race together with a panda! Not a real panda though but the mascot for WWF. The huge crowd consisting of an estimated 11,000 runners applauded the kid as he was interviewed and that certainly lifted the crowd’s spirit as the Nike+ Human Race 10K was a charity running event after all. It did for me as after all, my pledge is with the Lance Armstrong Foundation and myself as a cancer survivor. And with 1 minute to go, the “red army” was ready as a countdown begins for Singapore, the fourth city in the world to be flag off.

4.15pm. Race time as the “red army” began its conquest! My ChampionChip went *BEEP* as I stepped on the mat and away I went leaving behind Pueh Tian who was still standing around taking photos. Haha… Knowing that the route at the second half of the race will be narrow and tough to run on, and coupled with my advantage of being a front row runner, I decided to take off from the start. No match for the elites though as they rocketed off. My first kilometer was faster than my usual although still comfortable. Boon Seng and David who started from the blue tag area even overtook me. But things took a turn when I threw the hammer away and went into my race pace after completing the first kilometer and eventually started overtaking others including my 2 friends as I made my way around the Marina area.

Away we went. Try spotting me on the left...

Shortly later, the first entertainment zone appeared and was playing some loud music. There were a total of 4 entertainment zones along the entire race course which I didn’t really took note off. I was concentrating on my every stride and didn’t have time to engage my ears for entertainment purposes. There were some discomforts along the way as sweat began to flow down into my eyes. I couldn’t wipe it away as my shades were blocking. Suffered the sting for a while before I began to keep wiping off the sweat from my forehead. A refreshment station came into the picture shortly but I skipped it. In fact, I skipped all 4 refreshment stations along the way. Although I believe I would not have any trouble grabbing a cup of refreshment from it as it was properly organised, I didn’t want to do so as it will only slow me down having to drink from the cup. Besides, I have already hydrated myself well enough before the race.

Making my way back into the city area, I could see the second and third wave runners running the opposite side making their way along the routes I ran earlier. It was a sight to behold as everyone was in red! Soon, I’m back at Esplanade Bridge and it should be the halfway point. I’m not looking at my Nike+ SportBand (part of my strategy in running my fastest pace) and just had to rely on the distance markers. As I entered the underpass of the Esplanade Bridge, I swore I smell durian! What a lovely smell, but where did it come from? I know Esplanade Theaters On The Bay was shaped like a durian but…

2 things happened as I made my way to the Cavenagh Bridge. The first being a runner who just cut in front of me without first looking to the back and that nearly caused me to run into him. It slowed my pace down and although I managed to regain it shortly, another runner stepped on my beloved Nike LunarTrainer+ from behind which again slowed me down. I was lucky the shoe did not come off but this is where I began to struggle as the sky started to open up and it drizzle. Although not heavy, it slowly made the surface wet and to make matters worst I was starting to run on tiles. It was really slippery and I had to slow down a little to avoid slipping as I was struggling for grip.

Soon, I entered the Boat Quay area and red bricks surfaces took over. Not as slippery as before but still I had to be careful as certain areas was still made of tiles. Besides, this is also where congestion is expected to happen as runners were taken through a narrow path alongside bars and restaurants. And unlike in Malaysia, weekenders who were around the area are there to cheer for the runners, something which was priceless. At the end of the Boat Quay area is where the Alkaff Bridge was. I made a u-turn here and entered Clarke Quay. It was even narrower here than before but I know that it was my last chance to push. And so did me as I began to empty my tank, although in a very cautious method. I began to navigate through other runners who had slowed down due to tiredness or the slippery surface.

As I near the last underpass, a marshal who was there to direct runners cheered us on. She told us to push for it’s the last 1KM to go. And as I emerged from the underpass, I knew the finish line was really near already as I had earlier checked the route out. Ran pass the Sir Stamford Raffle statue and it was a straight run along the routes of the Supreme Court. I could see the finish line ahead and with 300M or so to go, I slowed my pace down to enjoy the final moments of my race as I lifted my right arm up and pointed towards the sky inspired by Ryan Hall who did just that at last year’s Olympic Trials. As I near the finish line, I saw the clock attached on top the finish gantry and I knew at that time that I have successfully achieved my secondary target as I crossed the finish line in a new personal best of mine completing the race in 00:47:55. The only question now is the distance.

I made my way to the de-chipping area located within The Padang and exchanged my ChampionChip for the beautiful finisher’s bracelet, a really unique alternative to a medal. As I did my warm down and stretch, I realized that I was still fresh and my legs weren’t tired at all. I guess my preparation really paid off but probably it was also due to the second half of the race when I had to slow down to avoid slipping on the wet surfaces. I met up with Jamie soon and it was the moment of truth as I checked with his GPS sensor. It read 10.09KM! I did it, my first sub-50 minutes 10KM race! Was really delighted on my performance and although I know I could have been faster if the condition were right, that was something that I didn’t want to think about.

The finisher's bracelet...

As we both rested at the VIPs lounge, the rest of the guys soon joined in. Exchanged our race stories as we indulged ourselves in the delicious food prepared. There was even beer served but yours truly was the only one that skipped it. The music concert started shortly as we bumped into Shaharudin and found out that he completed the race in fifth position. WOW! And below is the ChampionChip timing of our Malaysian contingent. In brackets are our global positions versus an estimated 1 million runners worldwide.

Shaharudin Hashim – 00:35:44 (563)
Frank Chong – 00:47:55 (18694)
Jamie Pang – 00:51:06 (33326)
Niki Cheong – 00:58:19 (79565)
Richard Augustin – 01:13:40 (166975)
Lim Pueh Tian – 01:42:03 (216288) *detoured back to the hotel to grab his DSLR camera*

My race results...

The Malaysian contingent with Shaharudin second from left...

Made ourselves to the media center with the help from Niki. It was actually hidden within a building thus missing it before the race. As Niki was busy sending his write-up back to The Star, we were each busy collecting our media kit. The media kit, like our race kits were superb! Consisting of a press release kit with an attached CD, we were given a jacket too which retails at SGD112. I took China and it made me like a walking “ang pow”. Jamie took Japan which made him looked like a moving target while the rest took Mexico.

Contents of the media kit...

It was from the media center that we parted ways as I went to Robinsons at Raffles with Jamie for a short last minute shopping for his kids. As we made our way back to the hotel later, we passed by again The Padang and managed to catch a glimpse of the on-going concert. The music was loud and the 4 big screens and lightings made things really interesting. However, it was late and we decided to call it a day. Our dinner was just a simple kebab which we packed during our 2KM walk back. And after a good race, I was rewarded by a refreshing shower before I indulged myself with the kebab I bought earlier with a bar of dark chocolates and a cup of hot green tea. Heavenly!

1 September 2008. Post race day...
Although I had only 5 hours of sleep, I was feeling rather refresh. Probably still pretty high after yesterday’s achievement and the endorphins from the chocolates I had. With my luggage all packed up and ready to go, I left the room with a heavy heart and adjourned down for a quick breakfast before checking out. Alison had earlier booked us a shutter cab to bring us to the airport. And with that, it’s goodbye to Lion City as we flew back to KL at 9.55am on board an Airbus 320.

Thank You…
Before signing off this super long report, I would like to take this opportunity to congrats and thank Alison Lee, Wong Li- Zren, Siva, Nike Malaysia and the whole Nike Global team for a job well done at the Nike+ Human Race 10K and also everything else from apparels to travel expenses as I certainly race like a human and lived like a king. And not forgetting my travel and running mates too. It was great travelling with you guys and I really had a good time! It was a blast!

And with every great moment, comes an end to it and everything should be in our memories. I’m really proud to be part of a million runners running globally on 083108, in the name of charity. The Nike+ Human Race 10K certainly redefine running from another great perspective. And with that, comes to an end of this very first edition of the Nike+ Human Race 10K. Till the second coming…

An article from the Singapore Straits Times says it all...

To relive the experience, do check out entries from Jamie, Niki and Pueh Tian. And thanks to them for those great photos!

Do relive my preparations leading up to the race by hitting the links below.

- Racing The Human Way… (ready to race)
- Nike LunarTrainer+… (shoe of choice)
- Eating The Human Way… (diet plan)
- Training The Human Way… (training plan)
- Running On Marshmallows… (Nike LunarTrainer+ preview launch)
- Run A 10K Like No Other… (introduction to Nike+ Human Race 10K)

5 comments:

C-CUBE said...

BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO !!!

Bink said...

One word..COOL!!!

Niki said...

Aiyo, reading you rave about the event, I'm dissapointed that other races aren't gonna be as fun and well-organised! Haha :)

I had a great weekend with you guys, thanks a million!

Carboman said...

Fantastic PR! Keep it up!

Runnerz said...

c-cube: Thanks!

bink: Not only cool, it was MARVELOUS!

niki: Sorry lar as you know we are in boleh land. Anyway, congratz on your superb 10K debut and I shall see you in upcoming races.

carboman: You did extremely well yourself.