Sunday, December 07, 2008

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008...

Event: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008
Venue: Esplanade Drive, Singapore
Date: 7 December 2008
Time: 5.30am
Distance: 42.195KM
Shoe: Nike LunaRacer+
By Frank

5 December 2008. Arrival day...
It was a perfectly cool morning when I arrived at the First Coach terminal at One Utama. Met up with Andrew and Wai Lam before our journey down to Singapore which starts 8am on the dot. Nothing much happened during the journey except for my faulty on-board personal entertainment system and also the bus driver that was on his mobile phone for almost the entire journey that kept my blood pressure sky high. Oh and yeah... Did bump into Shih Ming and San who was on board Aeroline at the Pagoh rest area.

6 hours later, we arrived at Novena Square and went straight to the humongous Singapore Expo to collect our race pack after getting a bit lost on our MRT ride. Though there was a small crowd, collection of the race pack was swift. In 15 minutes time or so, I was done and I found myself in the Sports and Fitness Expo which was next to it. Small exhibition but yet the things that were on sale were very cheap. It's here that I done my first damage of my trip when I spent a whooping SGD235 on the 2XU compression top and elite tights. Gulps... Met up with Ben too who was there working under some fitness company. Had a good chat with him as it's been a while since I met him.
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A scene during the race pack collection...

It was already 3.30pm when we were done so we rushed from the expo to Beach Hotel by cab that cost SGD16.80! Upon checking in, we had our very late lunch before starting our adventure at Orchard Road. Dinner was awesome as we pasta at Spageddies, Paragon Shopping Centre before returning to the hotel to rest.

6 December 2008. Pre-race day...
I woke up pretty early at 8am despite only sleeping for about 3 hours due to "disturbance" from both Andrew and Wai Lam. Chee Kong and Pueh Tian soon joined us when they arrived just before 10am. Peuh Tian despite not running, came for a weekend getaway and was our photographer for the trip. Thanks a lot my friend for the time taken. We all had our breakfast at a nearby hawker centre before Chee Kong left to meet up with his friends. With the 4 of us left, we decided to pay a visit to the Singapore Flyer, the current world largest observation wheel. It was a 30 minute ride that took us to 165M sky high. It was a good experience and we all had a good time snapping photos around, not to mention some rather ridiculous shots.

Pointing to the Esplanade from the Singapore Flyer...

Back to ground, we made ourselves to Marina shopping centre for lunch before meeting up with Jeff and his girlfriend and Suntec City. Parted our ways after visiting the Fountain of Wealth as I returned to the hotel to to process the check in for another room. And after doing so, I took a walk from the hotel to Funan Digital Mall to meet up with my cousin Eugene. Chit chatted and gave some final tips to him as he is taking on the half marathon. Had a very early dinner at Pastamania before we left for home and hotel respectively to rest for the big day tomorrow.

7 December 2008. Race day...
And so the big day is here as I woke up at 1.15am. With both Andrew and Chee Kong still asleep, I took my own time to get myself prepared. At 2.30am, both of them were awake and by 4am, we were all ready to go. Met up with Jeff, Pueh Tian and Wai Lam at the lobby and off we went to Swiss Hotel to meet up with Chin Chin, Lynn and their friends. Took a group photo before we proceeded to the start venue which was packed with runners. Before parting with Andrew and Chee Kong, I gave them some final advice just like an old man. Hahaha...

Into the sub 4 hour pen I went with Chin Chin, Lynn, Siew Swan and Jeff. Met David who was a sub 04:30:00 official pacer, Boon Seng, Yen Erl and Wai Yee. To my surprise, I bumped into Yaziz too who was starting just next to me. I have a history of racing with him towards the finish line at 2 events this year which was done in a rather hilarious manner. Therefore, I told him no racing to the finish line this time. Haha... With the time ticking away, we all waited anxiously for the start while wishing everyone around us the best.

At 5.30am, off went the air horn and I started my sixth marathon, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008.

As mentioned in my pre-marathon entry, I will be running alongside Lynn which we both did. Both of us blazed off upon stepping on the timing mat at the start gantry. However, due to the amount of runners, we were a little off pace as we tried to navigate our way through. As we navigated ourselves, we ran left and right that at times we had trouble spotting each other. Hahaha… Nevertheless, it was a good warm up. It was when we hit the 2KM mark when the crowd had dispersed a bit, that we both increase our pace. As both our goals are similar, I started building a sub 4 hour time with a 4 minute cushion which will sum up to around 03:56:00 upon completion if everything goes smoothly.

As we arrived back at the Esplanade Bridge, marathon runners can still be seen crossing the start gantry at the opposite side. Later, we arrived at Raffles Avenue and I spotted Yaziz. Gave him a thumb up as I ran pass him. Shortly later, I heard a loud scream from a lady runner who wanted to stop for a toilet break. Not sure what happened but my guess is that she had a shock of her life when she opened one of the mobile toilets along the way and that there was someone making his/her deposit inside without locking the door.

Ran pass Republic Avenue and into the long stretch of Nicoll Highway. At about 8KM or so, Lynn took her first gel. Offered her my bottle of Pocari drink to go down with it. At this point, I knew something had gone wrong. The gel came too early for her and she is slowing down. I slowed my pace down keeping myself running just slightly in front of her to offer my support.

Arrived together at the 10KM mark at Mountbatten Road in a time of 00:53:38 followed by a short stretch along Fort Road before hitting it at East Coast Park. Compared to the previous year, runners ran along the tarmac road just outside the park which was really spacious. I kept myself running on the left side to allow faster runners to overtake me and also for Lynn to spot me. Though still feeling good at 14KM, I took my first gel to avoid the risk of glycogen depletion.

I kept turning my head back from time to time to check on Lynn while trying to maintain a constant distance from her, as knowing if I got too close to her, she will ask me to ahead which I did not want to. However at one point, I slowed down to get alongside with her to offer her a drink which she decline. I can see she’s really tired and I felt really hopeless for being helpless. As a personal trainer, I failed badly today. Shortly at approximately 19KM mark, I turned back again and I finally saw the gesture that I did not want to see from her asking me go ahead. Didn’t want to, I gesture back asking her to push on as I stubbornly stayed on my pace and made the u-turn shortly in front. After doing so, Tey ET spotted me on the opposite side and I ask him to cheer for Lynn if he managed to see her which he did with a rather loud one. I spotted Chee Kong too and called out to him giving him a thumb up.

I arrived at the 21KM mark at 02:00:23 with the sub 4 hour timing cushion still barely intact. I took my first stop under the distance marker to allow Lynn to catch up. I was doing a stationary jog there in order to maintain my heart rate. While doing so, Seok Ling ran pass me and I waved to her. Resumed running after Lynn caught up and I was rewarded by a GU Gel at the 23KM mark. After taking it, a volunteer along the route asked me if I was ok. I was really surprised that I was asked the question as I was still doing fine. I replied to her that I was feeling wonderful and carried on. Hmmm… Was I looking awful that time? I wonder.

I decided to pay a visit to the gents shortly later while waiting for Lynn. As she got near, I resumed my run. I know at this point that she really struggling but I was really proud of her for still keeping it up. The time cushion was still hanging on though it was slowly wearing off and frankly speaking, I was prepared to fore go my goals to help her just complete the run. It was no longer a race for time, but instead a race of friendship and companionship.

Around the East Coast Lagoon, I ran pass San and managed a short chat before continuing on. It was at the 27KM mark when I stopped again that Keat Seong ran pass me and also that Chin Chin caught up. She brought me a message from Lynn asking me to go ahead. I turned back and saw she was there and ask if she was really tired. She gave me a nod before Chin Chin told me that she will support her. Reluctant to let go, I carried on, still at the same pace. As I arrived at the 28KM mark, I looked back again and saw Chin Chin running with Lynn. I asked myself at that time if it was right to carry on myself. It was a really tough decision but I know that Lynn had wanted me to go for it as she did mention to me earlier before the start of the race. With this I came to my decision, to run my fullest for a friend and a training mate. I took one final glance at the both of them before I started pushing real hard.

The time cushion is now gone and looking my watch, it will be tough even to clock a sub 04:15:00. However, I remained positive and increased my pace and started using the advantages of the Nike LunaRacer+, the bounce to perform pylometrics. Started landing on my mid and forefoot using my calves muscles extensively. As I near Keat Seong, I tap on his shoulders telling him that I’m going for it. Shortly, I passed Shih Ming too who gave me a blur look when I greeted her. She was running her debut marathon and she was doing well.

I exited East Coast Park into Fort Road again and arrived at the 30KM mark at 03:03:05. I’m slowly building back my time as I took every stride. Soon, I’m into the Stadium Boulevard and the first sign of the “human wall” came into the picture. The half marathon runners detoured into the race route and it caused some congestion. Was lucky the road was wide and it was just for a short while before they were taken to another route. As I made my u-turn just after the 32KM, mark I look to the opposite side to see if I can spot the 2 girls which I did not. Instead I spotted Lawrence and called out to him. We both exchanged a good luck gesture as I exited the area heading towards Kallang.

Took my third and final gel at around 35KM as I noticed that it was possible to run a new personal best as I had managed to reduce my time deficit. With the new found energy, I increased my pace yet again swinging both my arms pretty hard. Just before entering Crawford Street, I spotted Boon Seng walking. As I passed him, I told him to start running again. Not sure if he did as I carried on.

After the earlier signs of the “human wall”, 38KM is where it all began. This is where the marathon runners will run alongside the half marathon runners till the end. To add matters worst, the quarter marathon runners joined in one kilometer later. The whole road was so congested that I had trouble navigating through and at certain points, I had to run on the drain cover on the outer lanes, hence increasing the amount of distance I have to run. My pace dropped significantly here and time was ticking away.

Ran passed the F1 pit lanes before arriving back at Raffles Avenue and into the 40KM mark at 03:56:25. Unlike the previous year where we ran into the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay area, runners are now taken to the Esplanade Drive heading to the bridge itself where it all began about 4 hours earlier. It was about a 5% gradient climb towards the turning point into St. Andrew’s Road and the final one kilometer really felt long. I spotted Pueh Tian taking photos at the junction but as I was “drowned” in a large number of runners, I don’t think he spotted me.

Arriving at the final stretch towards the finish line, I asked myself if I were to stop at the side to wait for my friends? Thinking back yet again of what Lynn told me earlier before the start of the race was the one thing that made me continue on as I slowed my pace down, enjoyed the surroundings and eventually crossed the finish line with my hands wide open clocking 04:08:49 coming in at position 635. My primary goal achieved!

My finishing moments...

As I made my way towards the rather muddy Padang, I prayed that both Chin Chin and Lynn will return safely without any pain. As I de-chipped, rehydrated and stretched myself at the de-chipping area, I waited anxiously for their return. Nearing half an hour later, I spotted Chin Chin but not Lynn and I got a really worried. Chin Chin told me that Lynn wanted her to go on just like what happened to me. And also that I learnt that she suffered a cramp. But the positive side of it was that a friend was with her that time. As time tick away and we waited and waited, she finally arrived. By her looks, I know she was really dejected. And knowing that I’m not good with words, I decided to stay mum.

We rested for a while before proceeding to collect our finisher’s medal and shirt. We then proceeded to the rest area and met up with Andrew, Jeff, Ben, Yee Hua, Michelle, San and Shih Ming. Things got a little easier for Lynn with friends around as we chatted and joked among ourselves. And it was a relieve sign as I see the smile back on my tough training mate's face.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Chee Kong arrived back just before we were to leave for the hotel. He was so exhausted that he downed 3 bottles of isotonic drinks before we all left the race venue. Parted ways with Chin Chin and Lynn as we arrived at Swiss Hotel and I made my way back with Andrew while Chee Kong and Jeff were together.

With Chee Kong who completed his maiden marathon...

Both Andrew and Jeff proud of their half marathon and marathon debut respectively...

Congratulations to Chee Kong and Jeff who completed their maiden marathon respectively 05:08:41 and 04:48:25: And to Andrew for a successful half marathon debut, it’s a stepping stone to marathon running. To Chin Chin, congratulations too on a strong performance. Finally to Lynn. If you are reading this, "Don’t worry about me as it was my own decision. You ran great as it’s not easy to run such a time. There will be more to come for you and I’m sure you will come back stronger. Most importantly, stay strong and keep smiling".

The second race of the Greatest Race On Earth, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 seemed to have suffered the effects of the global economic downturn. Thought it was still a great event, the overall quality took a dip for last year’s edition. This year saw less musical bands and cheerleaders. Though refreshment was sufficient, isotonic drinks were hard to spot and they were really diluted. Let’s hope the event will be back to it’s fullest in year 2009.

With the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 over, I successfully completed my sixth marathon and managed too, to run 4 marathons this year, a resolution met! Not forgetting that's 2 marathons done in a span of just 3 weeks. And not to mention my running curtains down for this year’s marathon running. To sum up this event, though the new route is a little tougher than last year's, it was not physically tough but instead it was mentally. And despite having successfully met my primary goal, I was disappointed with myself for I couldn't help a friend and finish the marathon alongside as I thought of. Being helpless at the point when a friend needs support really brought me down to earth. And to make the decision to leave a friend in need, trust me it was tough to make. Nevertheless, I was really proud of my friend and therefore, I dedicate my sixth marathon to this friend of mine.

For my run analysis, hit the RunPix link here.

10 comments:

Carboman said...

cinya nice tights. for the price, it's cheap!

RunWitMe said...

Cinya! Sorry for not able to spot and take picture of you during the run. Next time la....

Congrats!

Runnerz said...

carboman: Indeed. Been eyeing it for sometime already.

RunWitMe: It's ok. I guess I'm hard to spot too due to my vest which is blue in colour. I'm "camouflage". Haha...

lionel87 said...

see you there next year!! =D

LIFE IS GREAT said...

bro..you are good.

All the way without problems.Seems like you can do it easily!!

LG said...

Thanks Frank! ( again and again ) Nearly got my eyes teary reading your article. :)

Runnerz said...

LG: Don't be. Reasons make us runners run stronger. And it's the reason I mentioned that helped me achieve my results at Singapore.

Kit Weng said...

well done frank... great article

Tweet and Ribbit said...

Great writeup, Frank! Isn't Lynn just an absolute sweetie? And one tough girl at that too!

Runnerz said...

Tweet and Ribbit: Thanks for the compliments. Yes, she is. Though I only got to know her only a few months back, it's been really great to have her as a friend and also as a running companion. And not forgetting that I also got to know you through her. It's been a pleasure.