My first terrain run (the short bit in the Phuket Marathon 2009 does not count!) and I came away feeling positive about it. Oh notwithstanding the whines along the way – hey since when did I not whine about any run, right? This was the third edition of run and I hesitated signing up last year due to my (apparently unfounded and innate) fear of trail running. I was still sitting on the fence when Andy bugged me about it earlier this year but decided to give it a try when Firefly had the RM75 all-in-fare promotion. Since this was to be my first terrain run and after reading the comments on Sg Runners, I set about targeting a 1:15 finish (along the way it stretched to 1:30); so I was elated to discover my final timing of 58:15 minutes (12th placing! Can you beat that?!) – don’t get me wrong but I was a wee disappointed to see it being 3 minutes off my usual mark for this distance but I’m putting it down to the sands! I met Jessica Tang after the run and we compared notes and agreed that this was a toughie. [She came in sixth at 52 minutes.] Looking at the results later in the evening, it seems like everyone’s timing is about 2-3 minutes from the standard time.
(a) A very well organized run by the Home Team from the start to the end. [2010 probably marks the year I completed runs by all the Singapore uniformed bodies – Prison Services, Armed Forces and now, Police and Civil Defence.]
(b) They had shuttle buses from various estates but I got a lift from Andy since he stays in the next neighbourhood. This also meant I had a few extra minutes of shuteye and I did get more than enough zzz (I went to bed at 9:30 on Saturday!).
(c) Provisional results came out on the same day – similar to the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.
(d) The supporters and volunteers from the local secondary schools were great – loads of cheers. I especially like the ones at the last 3km when they told everyone to run instead of walk saying it was only 3km and it was the last stretch etc. Ok, maybe at that point I felt like whacking them for saying it and asking him to try running after the mind-boggling and energy draining run on the beach! Looking back, it was great to have them out there to keep everyone’s spirit up. One of Andy’s friends commented that this run didn’t feel like a Home Team organized event vis-à-vis the Army Half Marathon due to the small number of Police and Civil Defence guys out there. Then again, the latter are a small group compared to the Armed Forces and hence they roped in the volunteers. This worked out to their advantage as these were a group of highly motivated spirits.
(e) There were a few water stations and I had initially planned to stop for sips after reading about the searing heat and humidity in the last two editions. In the end, I felt good and skipped them. At the end point, you can have all the water and 100Plus you want as well – they gave out bottles and cans (good idea with the heat and which meant we didn’t have to make a few trips back and forth).
(f) This run is definitely different and I enjoyed myself even though the undulating trails and beach portions were so consuming – how in the world can they find the energy to run (no, make that sprint) in the last 2km?! Still it was a good workout and I probably developed new muscles – my glutes were slightly achy on Monday but every other muscle seemed to have held up well. My usual shin splints did not make an appearance either. Neither the dreaded Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. The post-run massage session with Diane made all the difference.
(g) Fantastic venue for the goodie bag collection after the run – the air-conditioned and spacious (yes, even if everyone were to lie down, there will still be more than enough space) Changi Exhibition Center. In the bag was the finisher’s medal and tee.
Bad (some of which are not the organizer’s fault):
(a) Long queue for the porta-loos outside and an even longer one for the restrooms inside the hall. I read later that there were actually more porta-loos near the shoe washing area (god knows where that is) which had zero queue. Perhaps the volunteers should have directed some of us there? In any event, I use my bloodied finger (the glass at home dropped off the table and I cut my finger) as an excuse to use the VIP restroom.
(b) On hindsight I should have run in the Bikilas – they would probably be more responsive on the trails and beach instead of the sinking feeling I had throughout those portions. [Andy, if you are reading this…I had so wanted to whack you for telling me that the trails were “run-able”! They were not! It was filled with pockets of soft sands. Post run: I found out why it was “run-able” last year – it rained the night before and the ground had hardened.] Therefore, this marks the decommissioning of my NB 966 – yes, it was part of the plan. Thank goodness Brooks is offering RM150 off for every shoe trade-in this month.
(c) The never-ending last 2km was mentally and physically challenging. The earlier trails and the beach portion took just about everything out of me and I could only plod through this 2km – I had the worst possible splits for this distance (don’t ask!). This was made worse by the zero scenery – no buildings, no trees (not even shrubs), just endless tarmac. The only great thing to come out of this run was the zero swearing and cursing; in fact I do not think I have been doing it for the past few runs.
There you have it. Like I said, not everything is within the organizer’s control. Would I do it again? I am not sure but if I do, Kei Ming will have to incorporate lots of trail running training. I will be sure to wear either a trail running shoe or the Vibrams or another old pair of shoes though this would be a die die die last option.