2 Nights To The Standard Chartered Half-Marathon!

The coveted green-and-blue race tank! My first!

It’s less than 48 hours to the race I’ve been psyching myself up for since August: the Standard Chartered Half-Marathon on 4 December.

I’m hearing that everyone and his grandpa is running this race — and oddly I guess that’s what the attraction is: The sense of “doing it together” has a strange appeal.

I can tell you it’s not an easy time for me—I’m coming off two terrible infections. One was a weeklong virus that caused me to have crazy vertigo. And then last Wednesday I came down with a 40 degree fever that didn’t break for 3 days, and I’m still experiencing the tail-end of that infection. It’s fine when I’m home but being in a cold office or freezing shopping centre will spark off a headache and a hacking cough.

To tell you the truth I seriously thought about not running this race. I’ve always been taught that if you are still coughing, sniffling, sneezing etc, you shouldn’t risk a second infection. But the thought of having not showing up for the “ultimate” end to my very first year of road-running … that was harder to take.

I thought, okay I will visualise the route. I do this for every race. If possible, I drive there to check it out, or run part of it. It helps me to visualise finishing the race, and if I can see it, I can have it.

Fortunately (or not), in my inbox there was an email labeled SCMS Newsletter 5, and in it, was a Youtube video of the 21K route (courtesy of BMW, who is a sponsor of course — but this is brilliantly made).

I use the word “Brilliant” loosely. When I first watched this video on Tuesday night I nearly peed in my pants. Not only will I have to basically run across Sentosa, I have to run up the slope that joins up the West Coast Highway, leading to the ECP and Benjamin Sheares Bridge.

Hello, I am used to taking this route — IN A CAR.

Sorry but I have to be honest — comparing this route to the full marathon route is like comparing the Cylon Battlestar Galactica Ride to the Shrek canopy ride at Universal Studios Singapore. The full marathon takes the racer from Orchard Road (okay so there is a very mild dip at Ion but no serious elevation) to East Coast Park which is nearly entirely FLAT GROUND. So it’ll be a further distance but offers hardly any elevation.

Where’s the challenge???

But I have to admit watching that video with the West Coast Highway slope and the undulating dinosaur-like humps of the ECP-Benjamin Sheares Bridge gave me a sleepless night.

The next day I could stand it no longer — cough or no cough I HAD to run up one slope just to psyche myself for the monsters I’ll be facing on Sunday.

I can’t say I am very prepared but God knows I run for His good pleasure, and I have made the decision I will finish this race.

So, check in on Monday when, hopefully, my fingers are still working and my butt will let me sit down to key in my race report!

Beating The 10K Monster

A year ago, if you told me I was going to complete a 10-kilometre run, I would have laughed till my stitches burst.

So it is with no small measure of gratitude and amazement that I completed my first 10K run last Saturday: the Marina Bay 21K Run.

Pre-race at the lovely Marina Bay Gardens East

I have God to thank, and the incredibly awesome Mr Threez, who has not only encouraged me all these past 13 months since my surgery but has, since May, picked up running to keep me company.

It felt amazing to be running a race with my husband. It’s been many years since we pursued a sport together (pizza and beer don’t count, right?). We used to kayak every Saturday, but running was never my thing. He was the marathoner before we got married; I was the step aerobics fan.

So to be able to discover and share a sport 17 years into our marriage feels incredible to me.

Okay, so how was the run?

The run was organized by Epic ESR and flagged off by MP for Mountbatten Lim Biow Chuan. (Okay, I don’t really know why I wrote that, just that reading other runners’ blogs, it seemed the thing to do!)

I won’t pretend to be a hero and tell you that I breezed through it. It was tough going! But there was a lovely energy about the crowd, and what could beat the beauty of the riverside sights?

The women runners were flagged off at 5.30 and the men at 5.40, to give us chicks some room on the narrow tracks, I suppose. “All the elite and fast runners, please come to the front,” said the host. Being neither elite nor fast, I nevertheless squeezed as close to the Start point as I could because I just feel less discouraged when I don’t see a sea of people in front of me!

The women runners had a 10-min headstart.

One lovely perk was that the National Day Parade rehearsals had begun so we were privy to some of the colorful river-borne displays on the water as we ran. At 8pm that evening, after the gun went off for the 21K runners, the fireworks took place!

The route was a main attraction for many of the runners. Marina Bay East Gardens has a running track leading to Tanjong Rhu, so you literally are running along the river for most of the time. 23 July was, apparently, the first time that track was open to the public.

The downside to this route was that it took runners through some extremely narrow points – some that forced us into single file. There were also parts where we had to run on uneven grassy patches. For the full battery of complaints, including the lack of km markers and the not-very-well-trained marshalls (poor kids), you can probably Google “Marina Bay 21K” and read your fill. In the words of my “women’s run friends” who did not sign up for this race, “The goodie bag was useless and the T-shirt is bleah.”

But I tend to run for the route, not the goodie bag. And I loved 80% of the route. Of course, there were the dreary parts along Jalan Benaan Kapal where we had to loop around to make up the kilometres to hit 10K, but getting back along the river, and especially the final stretch from Tanjong Rhu back to the Bay East Gardens, was sheer joy.

I actually felt a great urge to sprint the last 50 metres toward the Finish line! And “sprint” is not even in my vocabulary! But seeing the seconds tick – and knowing that my personal best was 1:15 for 10K during my own training – I ran like a cat on fire to cross under that yellow gantry in 1:13.

The official results came out yesterday. I ranked 189 out of 898 women runners.

Compared to the Nike Goddess 5K, this was tougher for various reasons (aside from the obvious one that it’s double the distance!). While the Nike race was hard to run because of the prohibitive heat, the Marina Bay run took a toll on my body. For the first time I felt my quadriceps ache. My back started to niggle somewhere after the 7K mark and I had to stop to stretch at one point because it just got too achey to continue. And the exercises really helped because I could clear the final 2K without much issue.

The finisher's medal. It's rather cute with the Flyer and all...

I am so, so grateful that what seemed impossible months ago has actually come to pass. God is good! Now I know how Moses felt facing that big fat ocean with 1,000,000 children of Israel as the thundering hooves of the Egyptian army bore down on him and his motley crew. And how he must have been beside himself when striking the water with his rod, the seas parted. He couldn’t have been shouting “woo-hoo!” and taking his time to saunter across. He would have been more like “Thank you, GOD! Now quick! Finish crossing this sea bed before those chariots catch up! Hurry up!”

As for Mr Threez, who, unlike me, breezed through the run without as much as an “ouch”, the flame of long distance running has been fanned into a furnace. We’ve signed up for the Standard Chartered half-marathon at the end of the year.

As I write this, I am nursing a sore left foot. The run had left me with an inflamed foot but I didn’t realise it, and happily went for Zumba on Monday and Body Combat on Tuesday. By Tuesday night I was in agony. By Wednesday I was calling Chris my physio begging her to see me even for just 5 minutes and tell me what to do. I have a plantar fasciitis-type inflammation in my foot. Chris taught me two calf-stretching exercises to do, and told me to throw away the ballet flats I was wearing because they’re killer for foot injuries. She told me to look for “stability shoes” for my Zumba/Combat classes — obviously wearing my son’s cast-off New Balance cross trainers was not doing my feet any favours.

And I thought running was a low-maintenance sport, haha!

Can’t wait to get well and get back on the road…