SAFRA Bay Run 2014/Army Half Marathon 2014

Pre-race preparation

I haven’t been running any races for the past 2 years except the Army Half Marathon. So i stayed loyal to Army half marathon this year by registering it early. This probably will be the only race for me in the year 2014. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Mens Veteran category due to my birthday month.

The Bay run race in 2013 still fresh in my mind. I still remembered how i ran that day. But this year, my preparation load was even lesser than last year. My weekly mileage was around 40 – 50 km for the past 2 months. Luckily with the Safra MF LSD run, i could at least stick with the consistent running. Or else, my weekly mileage could be less than 30 km. Put aside the mileage thing, the strategy to prepare for the race is the key. I experienced it last year, to maximize your full potential with minimal preparation. Again this year, i adopted similar strategy as compared to the traditional mileage program.

I did a time trial 10 days before the race. I could run 3:50 min/km for 7 km and it surprised me. I did a few tempo runs days before the race and that’s all. My estimated pace was around 4:06 min/km and i expected myself to come in around 1 hr 26 min plus. That would be 3 sec per km faster as compared to last year.

Race Day

I was wondering how to travel to esplanade in the middle of the night. The only option was to take a cab. Ridiculously, my club fare was even more expensive than my race fee. This part, our local races transportation was inferior than the oversea ones.

I reached City Hall around 3.30 am. The feeling was quite unfamilar to me as i had been out of race for so long. But my usual ritual was to warm up at the Esplanade toilet where the Team Fatbird used to gather. I saw Anthony there again and their usual huge TF group. At around 4.30 am, i lined up at the starting line area. And i saw familiar faces, Raymond, Alan, Eugene and Harry. Wished everyone a good race. Another drawback point for the race, the pacers (above 2 hrs) and the army boys were in front of the Kenyan runners. I think it was very dangerous unless the pacers and the army boys were going to start faster than the Kenyans. I popped in some gels early to get rid of any early race miscomfort such as dry mouth or dry throat. I experienced it last year.

The race started promtly at 5 am. As i expected, the start off was not as smooth. I had to squeeze through to the front. As we turned into Marina Bay, i realized the wind was quite strong. I tried to hide behind the bigger sized runners from using excess energy to run against the wind. My first km was sub-4 min (3.59) and the distance marker was accurate this time. My second km was even faster (sub-3:40), i knew i have to slow down. I saw Thow Wee surged upfront but i tried to stay calm. My first 5 km was sub-20 min which was a sub-4 min pace. I tried to stay with some consistent runners to get a proper pace. From 6 km to 9 km, my pace slowed down to 4:08 to 4:10. It was more comfortable by then. I clocked the first 10 km in 40 min 25 sec according to my watch which was equivalent to 4:03 min/km pace. This time was 1 min 25 sec faster than last year. What on earth am i doing! I tried to stay calm as i was still feeling alright. It was only at 12 km mark that i felt my hamstring tighten and my calves started to feel stiff. It was probably due to my lack of mileage and race conditions. There was also a number of turns around the new Sports hub. I tried to remain consistent pace at around 4.08 pace. The plan was to raise gear after the Crawford St tunnel.

At Nicol Highway, Ronnie throttled past me and a lot of runners started to speed up at Nicol Highway. I reminded myself to stick to the plan. It was at this stretch of 2 km to 3 km, my pace dropped to 4:20 min/km. The tunnel still haunted me as i suffered badly at this part in 2011. I was still waiting patiently for the tunnel to come. After the tunnel, it was my turn to turn on my turbo. With 3 km left, i raised my tempo all the way to 4:03 min/km. I was a bit disappointed that i can’t run below 4 min/km, keep trying and trying all the way until i have nothing left. At the Esplanade bridge, i beat my last year’s timing at the similar distance. I finished the race in 1 hr 27 min 55 sec, a pace of 4:08 min/km. Slightly faster than last year but missed out my planned time with just a min.

Post Race

I was feeling great without any cramps despite my lack of mileage. Collected my finisher tee early and proceed to the massage area. It was a perfect execution of my race plan. Despite my fast start, i did not crash out. I was thinking if i could start my tempo earlier before the tunnel. What will the race outcome turn out to be?

At the massage area, I happened to chat with the Open cat 9th position winner. He came in 1 hr 16 min. He was quite open and willing to share with me about his training. He told me that he was just clocking 120 km per week which i did before in 2011. I was wondering why i can’t run like he did, back in 2011. I checked out his training details and was glad that he was willing to share.

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30 km: Sentosa

It was a gloomy sky early in the morning, but i decided to take a gamble to go to the clubhouse. Trainer Daniel whatsapp me whether to cancel the run. I told him that i would go ahead and the most, i could drop by my mum’s place. Surprisingly, the weather was kind to me, it was cooling without rain. The turnout was poor probably due to the NF race the day before. It was huge contrast to the Team fatbirds, a ratio of 6:1.

I briefly mentioned the route map to the runners and started off at 7.10 am. It was my first 30 km of the year 2013. There was no race for me to look forward to, just wanted to test out my fitness. The road was very quiet, especially with this nice weather, everyone maybe still in their beds.

I was the guide into Sentosa, leading the runners through the gateway, Hard Rock hotel and then into Siloso beach. The weather started to get warm. My first 5 km was very slow, just getting my body to warm up. The time taken was 28:16. I was not really sure about my fitness conditions whether i could finish the 30 km. My last 30 km Sentosa run was at last November which i clocked 2 hr 16 min with avg pace of 4:31 min. I still remembered very clearly in my mind. The pace started to pick up after my toilet break at 7 km mark, Palawan beach. I was lagging behind at Tanjong beach about 500m away from Harry and Alan. We u-turned at Sentosa Cove entrance and then proceed towards the Satelite area. I caught up with the duo at the gateway roundabout and then started to raise my tempo. My next 5 km time was 23:44, a huge contrast to the first 5 km. I was running faster and faster as i was feeling very good even the multiple slopes do not affect me. Looped around the Sentosa Satelite and then ran towards Hard Rock hotel. My third 5 km was 22:58, a total time of 1 hr 14 min for my first 15 km.

The sunshine started to pour in my second loop to the beaches. I started to use the shower facilities along the way to cool down my core temperature. I was all alone by then, just keeping my pace consistent. In fact, i clocked the fastest 5 km in 22:18 for my fourth one. On 20 km to 25 km, i was at Satelite area again. Testing my endurance against the slopes. It was tougher this time, with extreme terrain and the hot weather. Nevertheless, i was still able to maintain a decent 5 km timing of 22:54. My final 5 km would bring me back to the clubhouse. It was time to relax and i dropped my pace to a much easier one for my final 2 km. Astonishingly, i have a huge negative split time of 1 hr 10 min for my second 15 km. I completed the whole 30 km in 2 hr 23 min 57 sec. Although it was a huge gap from my last attempt, i was content about the time. Afterall, it was my first 30 km and i was feeling very good.

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Singapore Bay run 2013 official result

BayRun2013

The above result states that i run the Sunday race in 1 hr 23 min 34 sec. Even the gun time is faster than my watch time. I think something is wrong here. I was only 10 – 15 m away from the start line, 23 seconds difference from net time seemed a bit funny.

My avg pace is 3.58 min/km which makes me laugh. It only makes the report card looks nice but doesn’t reflect my true fitness.

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Singapore Bay run/Army half marathon 2013

I haven’t been posting for almost 9 months. This can only show that i had been laying off for about 6 – 7 months. Not totally off from running but away from structural training. I have my best form in January but never followed it up. After January, i was always out of town almost every month. I didn’t sign up for this year SCM but sign up for the Bay run.

Pre-race Preparation

I would say that i didn’t prepare much for this race. 2 weeks before the race, i was still away. I was thinking how to race this run. I didn’t run as much as compared to last year. I was taking some ideas from Mo Farah & Gelan Rupp training. Mo Farah is basically unbeatable at the moment. Their main attention was basically their running form. So i looked back on my own running form to check the most effective and efficient way to last through the 21 km.

With 2 weeks left, i only ran an average of 60 -70 km weekly. In between, i have a trial to check what kind of pace should i run on the race day. To my surprise, i managed to run 3.57 min/km pace on 8 – 10 km. With some mathematics calculation, my 21 km pace should be 4.07 – 4.11 min/km. I used my heaviest shoes to test on 4.10 min/km (9 km) 5 days before the race and found out that i could manage it without exerting any hard efforts. I was really surprised to have regained some of my speed/pace.

Race Day

Since i had already worked out my race pace, i have nothing to worry about. I have no injury as compared to last year when i fell badly in training before the race. The only thing to take note was not to start too fast. This was always my mistake for the past cases. Dear sent me to Shaw centre at 3.45 am. As usual, i like to have a warm-up run of 2 -3 km. I ran all the way to Esplanade toilet where the Safra runners used to gather. I saw Anthony with their fatbird team there but no Safra runners. I did my stretching there and stayed around the toilet so that i could constantly release the 100 plus that i had drank up. I wished Anthony ‘good luck’ before i proceeded to the start point. 40 mins before the start point, most of them had already gathered right before the line. I was wondering these runners could manage a 3 min/km pace at the front. I refrained myself from going too front as it would lead me to start too fast. Dora kindly invited me to the front but I declined as i knew i would definitely start fast if i stand in front. Last year, my first km was 3.27 min/km, it was a suicide pace for me.

At exactly 5.15 am, the race flagged off. As i expected, the front runners did not push fast. They were basically jogging through. I have no choice but to squeeze through. Along the way, I wished all the Safra runners ‘good luck’. Soon i reached the first marker, my watch was reading 3.57 min/km. But strange thing was that my watch did not indicate the first km mark. Only 10-15 m later, my watch then sounded out. It was telling me 4.11 min/km. I was a bit confused, am i at the right pace? I continued to stay at this pace and check the pace later. I ran through Marina sands and then Garden by the Bay, the usual route like last year. The memory was still fresh in my mind. I was much faster last year. I checked my 5 km timing and it was about 4.10 min/km. I knew i was at the right pace and from now on, just stick with it.

The pace varied from 3.55 min/km to 4.25 min/km. I believed the GPS signal went haywire at times. But the average pace was around 4.08 – 4.10 min/km. The distance was shorter as what my watch was telling me. So i took my watch distance marker as the correct one. Kallang route was very dark, i just focus on the runners in front and make sure that i do not trip. Some supporters who spent the night at the river side, cheered us up. My 10 km point (according to my watch) read 41 min 50 sec. I was slightly slower now. After the 12 km slope, i gradually increased my pace. At times, i was at 4 min/km, overtaking the tired runners. I was tired out last year at 14 km mark. This time round, i made sure i would go through this point strongly. Through the Crawford tunnel, i was still maintaining the target pace. I could see Vivian, Thow Wee and Wen Long just opposite side about 500m in front.

Soon we went through the dark F1 pit. I was still slightly faster than 4.10 min/km. With 1 km left, Andy Neo ran past me. I couldn’t respond but to maintain the pace. Maybe at that point, i was already satisfied with what i had done. Looking at the watch, clicking at 1 hr 21 min. With the minimal training, i could achieve sub-1:25 was really out of my imagination. I finished the 21 km in 1 hr 24 min 8 sec. Actually, it was 800m shortage. My watch was reading 20.3 km.

Post-race

My avg pace was 4.09 min/km. 1 hr 24 min 8 sec is a huge PB for me. Unfortunately, the distance was not actually 21 km. But this was the best so far for my Army Half marathon journey. I couldn’t expect anything better prior to what i had trained. Wen Long & Thow Wee, I believed they were just 1 min plus in front of me. They did around 4.05 min pace. They are both sub-2:55 marathoners.

Last year, I trained so hard, avg distance of 100-110 km weekly. I couldn’t even achieve the expected result of sub-4:10 pace. I think I had achieved something miracle. Come to think about it, i believed that some science have to do with it. I was watching the recent World Championship, observing some runners behaviours during the marathon race and of course, the Oregan project. With the limited time, it was useless to do intervals or speed trainings. I just find out what my half marathon pace will be and then prepare toward it.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

It was from this date i started on my build-up mission last year. After coming back from Hakone, I started my training by building a strong base. I was fortunate not to suffer much injuries during the process, probably due to the base training i had built up.

After the marathon, i reduced my weekly mileage to an average of 60 km. At this moment, i was waiting for Dear to get back her fitness. She had become civilised for too long, it’s dangerous for athletes to get civilised. You will no longer get hungry for success. I was focusing on building up my pace. My tempo pace had improved recently, running under 4 min pace (3.56) for 10 km distance. It was at least 15 sec improvement from last year when i had started off. I was hoping to make a new record on my weekly mileage in Jan 2013.

My New Year running resolution will be a PB on my 10 km, half marathon as well as a sub-3 marathon. Hereby, i wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2012

Pre-race

I had spent months in preparation for my sub-3 hr attempt in this year’s SCMS. The built-up started way before the Bay run. 4 week before my race, i tried to run under 4:10 pace for several runs with my fastest 13 km at 4:04 pace. All my 16 km and below runs are below 4:15 pace. Just for my longer runs, i couldn’t hit 4:20 pace for 18 km and above. My last 30 km 2 weeks back was 4:31 pace.

My race plan was to maintain 4:22 pace up to 30 km and then go at 4:10 pace for the last 12 km to squeeze into top 10 places. My only doubt was whether i can maintain 4:22 pace up to 30 km. I knew anything slower than 4:20 pace may kiss the top 10 chance goodbye. So i had to take a gamble on it.

I reached DG MRT at 4.00 am, did my warm-up and toilet break before i had a warm-up run to the start line. Everything was smooth but the start line was crowded and i had to squeeze myself to the front.

Race

The race started promptly at 5.00 am. There was a bit of blockage at the front, not sure why the pacers need to stand in the front as they were not the sub-3 pacers. I dashed out of the crowd to gather momentum. My 1st km was 4:12 pace (my garmin showing 3:55, a bit off). I remained relax and easy, not to do any unneccessary movement before 30 km mark. My 1st 5 km was 21 min plus, on target. I tried to group with some of the runners  to share the pacing load. Our space was quite well spread. I skipped the plain water support stations and went for 100 plus stations. At 10 km, my time was 44 min, on target again. It was easy for the first 10 km.

After 11 km, i started to see some of runners dropped back. I was wondering whether i had went too fast. In fact, i had just remained on 4:22 pace. It was very dark at East Coast park, couldn’t see the front runners. I made a mistake at 19 km mark. I followed the Ekiden runner into the change over point. It was too dark and i can’t see the sign board. At 21 km mark, i checked my Garmin watch and it was showing on target pace. So i just waited patiently for the 30 km. Unfortunately at 23 km, my pace started to drop. This was my greatest nightmare, unable to maintain the pace. My mind started to have doubts. I decided to wait and see. At 25 km, my time was 1 hr 52 min (4:30 pace). My target for the sub-3 hr was gone by then. Next, i would have to see whether i could break my marathon PB. Unfortunately, i couldn’t hold the 4:30 pace at 30 km mark. Disappointment filled into my mind, i just wanted to stop running. I feel no point to carry on, save the energy for the training. My 30 km point time was 2 hr 18 min. I took a stroll through the golf course and a lot of my fellow club mates encouraged me to carry on. I told them to carry on and went for their PBs. Freddy & Trevor caught with me at 34 km mark. The time was still enough for them to finish 3:30. But Freddy was having some troubles. To share his load, i walked and run with him till the end. Along the way, Daniel also joined in to finish with a time of 3 hr 47 min. I was totally alright with no much aches.

After race

There was no doubt that i was disappointed with the outcome. I knew it was a gamble to try the 3 hr target. I had done everything well in training except my long run. If i was to go slower at the front, i had no chance to challenge the top 10 placing. So i had no regrets at all and i went out with what i had planned for.

One thing for sure, I was having problems on longer distance. I was not marathon-fit and not race-fit despite my increase of mileage recently. I had improved my half-marathon but yet to find a break through on my long run. Anyway, i will resume training straightaway as i did not suffer any marathon effects.

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Tapering time

2 weeks away from SCMS2012, i had done everything i could to push my standard of running. Built up all the way before the Bay run till now. I had hit my personal high of 121 km weekly mileage 2 weeks back. Feeling tired after it, i cut off the workload to avoid getting into overtrain condition. After the Bay run, i was constantly running under sub-3 hr pace for 10 – 15 km. Unfortunately, i couldn’t do it for longer distance which leave a negative mark on my training. Other than that, my training was going very well. I had broken my 2 years old MF 30 km record twice. I seemed to be able to threathen all my training records.

Tapering weeks are the most enjoyable period of the 3 months marathon training and can be the most important period as well. It marks the end of the training cycle, but the beginning of our body recovery. It’s the recovery that make you faster. For my tapering, i am going to keep my legs as fresh as possible and not to get injured just like the Bay Run. Keep my weight under control, not to load too much carbo and balloon out of my fittest weight condition.

My Safra MF running mates were training very hard for the race. It was becoming increasingly difficult to select our core runners. At least 10 of them can fulfill the Safra time requirement to qualify the team. They have the ‘steel’ mindset to train harder and run longer. Hereby, i will like to wish them a huge PB on the race day. Rewards always come to those who work hard.

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