Wednesday, September 22, 2010

my army half marathon 2010 experience

Yay! I'm so proud of myself.

I broke my previous half-marathon (13.1 miles or 21 km) personal record of 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 56 seconds to 1:52:59 this Army Half-marathon 2010 held last September 12, 2010.

Organized by the Singapore Armed Forces Reservist Association (SAFRA), this annual half marathon event is attended by thousands of newly recruited NS boys (Singaporean males who reached a certain age are to take part of the National Service for two and a half years), army delegates from neighboring Asian countries, and the general public. This year tens of thousands gathered at the Padang (where the National Day Parade 2010 was recently staged) and waited for the 5:15AM flag-off for Half-Marathoners.

The Run

It was hot and humid! I woke up at the witching hour of 3 to prepare myself for the race. I had a quick shower and had some hot Milo and some white bread. I quickly slipped into my Adidas Techfit compression pants (gave my quads and glutes that much needed lift!) and white Nike singlet. I plastered key areas of my feet and toes with bandage to avoid the painful discovery and development of blisters during the middle of the race.

I arrived at the venue at 4:20 am. Thanks to the shuttle service from SAFRA Yishun Club. What usually takes a drive or commute to the city in 40 minutes to an hour, that shuttle bus took us in 20 minutes! I barely closed my eyes for a quick nap, then we were at the venue. Amazing!

Anyway, I searched for the baggage deposit and found it easily. I praise the logistics as it was arranged by gender-and-category, then by bib number. I easily found the pen manned by two army boys and hand over my bag. They quickly wrapped my stuff in a large, clear trash bag and secure it with a plastic lock. They hung my bag along the railings arranged chronologically according to the pen's bib number range. So ingenious. I was very impressed.

When I arrived at the flag-off area, there was heavy build-up of runners. Those who can't wait for slow-movers attempted to scale the walls and squeezed in. It was quickly managed and resolved. Again, I was very impressed.

It was REALLY hot and humid. I was huffing and puffing in the first couple of miles. The first uphill was at the Helix bridge. This is the bridge that connects Raffles Avenue to the Marina Bay Sands complex. Along the Marina Bay Sands complex, 21Km runners was greeted with a congestion of private cars coming home from the casino. Around the 3rd mile, I was climbing with a steady pace towards the East Coast Parkway Skyway. This went on and on for another mile or so. I was seeing the Singapore Flyer and the Singapore Skyline so high up! And I was on foot! That was a very unique experience. Though my breathing was still deep and heavy, I felt strong and steady in the uphill. Many thanks to the weekly hills training!

By mile 6, we were at the unending stretch of East Coast Park. Did you know that the ECP stretches for over 9 miles (or 15-16 kilometers?) An army boy handed me a banana -- a real fruit *wink* -- from one of the water stations. At a 9-minute per mile pace, it was quite difficult to bite and chew...

When I saw the 15th kilometer mark (or aroud 9-miles done), I glanced at my watch. 1 hour and 23 minutes. I was thinking -- at 5:00/kilometer pace or faster, I'd be able to reach the finish line a little after 1:50. And I'd be able to beat my PR, I said to myself. I ran as fast as I could. I hurriedly passed through water stations, even the mile markers. I even breezed way past our Dragonboat Team Captain, Jon! How surreal!

And just like that, I was nearing the finish line. I saw cheerers and greeters! They shouted "jia-yo" (or Chinese: 加油; pinyin: jiāyoú), which means be stronger! When it is used for sports, it encourages the athletes to do better, demonstrated at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by the Chinese.

I think I did it. I was STRONGER!

My bib and a great looking finisher's medal

Click below for a RARE photo of me wearing my medal. (Yes, only my medal.) j/k!

Proudly wearing my medal! (at FF-Paragon for shower after the run)

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