There I was standing and waiting at the Singapore F1 pits
near the Singapore Flyer with my buddies. It was hot and humid. I was already
sweating buckets even before race started. In fact, I was already losing too
much fluid the day before when we arrived for Sundown Singapore!
6 hours before the race started, I was already trying to
keep my “cool”; both mentally and physically. My short nap in my air condition
room wasn’t helping much and I flushed down on fluids regularly. I woke up to
find Colin chilling at the lounge area of where we were staying; just in time for
the others to join us for a small pre-race snacks and banter. Later, we bid
good luck and send off our friends who were racing the 10K race.
|Photo courtesy of Leen.|
Standing at the start pits with thousands of other
marathoners; conquering the night and roads of Singapore is astonishing and
exciting. But that night we had the humid weather to accompany us. I was told
much later it was about 35 degrees. That’s like standing under the hot
afternoon sun! Trying my best to keep upbeat and calm while the live entertainment
was going on. I slowly made my way closer to the start line; losing both Ying
Hui and Thian Hui who were doing a faster pace. I lost the others way before we
entered the paddocks! I saw the 4:30 pacers at a corner and made sure I passed
them; telling myself that I wouldn’t want to see them throughout the race.
It has been 12 weeks of constant and dedicated training
with ACAC (Athlete’s Circle Athletic Club). I was just fresh from my HM PB at
2XU SG back in late February and I almost immediately started the programme
with fresh determination that I would surpass my FM PB. The target was to
achieve my Sub 4:30. A few days before, Coach Edan briefed me through a race
pace according to my current performance and well being. I thought he was
completely nuts when he told me I could sustain at a much faster pace than I
originally initiated. I told him I’ll do my best and if I couldn’t do it, at
least I tried.
Random thoughts raced through my mind when I waited for
the countdown. I quickly looked back at the pacers again, turned to front and
said a prayer. I prayed that for whatever it may come, my feet will continue to
bring me forward to the finishing.
The race started on time; 11:30PM sharp.
Deep breathes in and off I went. It was difficult to keep
at my strategy pace as majority of the runners kept pushing forward fast. I
removed the music from my ears to hear my surroundings. I haven’t put them back
on since. My senses went on overdrive.
In less than a click, the 4:30 pacers passed me!
Bollocks! What the hell is happening?!
I kept thinking this is extremely bizarre for them to
push out so soon into the race. I glanced at my watch and looked at my pace.
“Stay calm. Don’t burst out so soon”, I told myself.
The first part of
the race was at Nicoll Highway and has a very straight, flat road. I slowly overtook and slipped through as many
runners as possible. The plan was great until we were forced to stop a couple
of times at junctions along Stadium Boulevard and Stadium Walk for traffic.
Some of drivers cursed at us and some of the runners retaliated with words and
“bodily gestures”. I was annoyed but I didn't want to let my emotions to get
the best of me. I let off a huge loud huff as I went along.
10K – Jolene had advised me earlier on to at least
sustain a strong first 10K and let the rest take over; which I managed to do. I
managed to hit my timing right on the dot, My race strategy was followed
according to plan despite a bumpy start. And then.....
|The crazy mental part of ECP. Looks ridiculously long than anticipated.|
12K – 33K something/whatever la - The dreaded ECP stretch. The most feared route
for any marathons or races held at Singapore. Infamous for its concrete paths,
over smooth tar roads and occasional narrow paths. Couldn’t blame the
organizers but there really isn’t much road in Singapore to race a marathon
fully on road alone. For some strange reason, lights would go off randomly
along the route and I tripped and stumbled a few times with other runners. It
also happened along the dark, uneven roads before entering ECP. It was
disheartening that I couldn’t regain my momentum but I was determined to
Somewhere along the 15K, I knew I was behind time but
determined to hold on to my strategy given by Coach Edan. Nutrition wise, at
least. The humidity was no help and the sounds of waves from the beach couldn’t
put a smile on face. There was just no wind and air was stiff. I started
feeling dizzy and drenched myself in every water station possible.
Then the heavens opened as I passed just right after the
half way point. I couldn’t be more grateful as the cool rain poured over me and
I picked up the pace. However, I feared the same situation 2 years back when it
rained continuously for almost 3 hours and I cramped up badly. But alas, the
rain was short lived and it radiated heat from the ground.
“Great......Just great!” I whispered sarcastically to
I felt like every inch of my pour soul has been sucked
out of my body and I was forced to occasionally walk. I could feel my shoes
heating up and pain started to inch through the soles of my feet.
My mind was playing tricks and I kept “threatening”
myself not to hit the wall. I was extremely tempted to jump right in front of
an ambulance that was coming towards me but the thought of looking like a
suicidal lunatic retracted my decision. I didn't know why I had thoughts of doing
that. VERY unlikely of me.
“Hey dude. You've
trained so hard. The countless hours, the early mornings and late night runs.
Don’t give up. It’s a waste if you just give in now”. Thoughts started to pour
OR there was the occasional crude thoughts like. “Oi
Bugger! Giving up so easily because of heat? You’ve been through this before.
Run all you can, walk if you need, crawl if you must. Stopping and not
finishing is not an option!”
At this point, I was somewhere close to 30K. I glanced at
my watch and told myself a Sub-5 seemed achievable at this rate and point. Go for
And off I went.
33K – to the finishing (or so I thought) – I couldn’t be
happier when I left ECP park and landed my feet on the more common roads of
Singapore. I screamed out at the top of my lungs “Good Bye ECP and Good
Riddance!” The others runners around me glared at me like a crazy man but I
couldn’t had cared less. I’m just glad that I have another 9K to go.
Despite feeling tired, I still felt fine thought I was
running much slower that I needed to. My shoes and socks were still wet and I
suspected a few of my toe nails were about to come off. It made even harder to push
on when I came across a few familiar faces on the road and they were struggling
too. I couldn’t believe at the sight. These were the people who usually would
have finished the race by now and here they; as we try to take over each other
from time to time.
|Happy can jump around after a FM.|
Photo courtesy of Leen.
Back on the ECP Highway, things got interesting. I’ve
been warned before about a certain stretch with an elevation “that seems to
never end”. It’s probably about the only high elevation throughout the whole
race but its one tough cookie to swallow. None of the runners around were
running up that stretch including myself. Not a single one. And mentally
calculated there were at less about a 100 of us. I tried to jog a bit but
gravity seems to pull you back a bit more.
Photo courtesy of Leen.
By the time I’m done, passed Marina Bay and in we went to
finish off the remaining 3K. My mood was picking. The marker doesn’t seem to
jive right with my watch and I’ve already overheard a few of the runners I’m
running with saying the same. It didn’t matter as I pushed on. And then when my
watch hit the 41K mark and I still felt that I was far away, I knew this was a
race that was going to be over distanced. The question is how much more?
Then my watch clicked at 42K; just below 5 hours (barely
at 4:56) but I told myself “Good Job, Andrew. No PB this time but its one heck
of a run despite the tough conditions”. It’s true that I couldn’t be much more
proud. I thought I wouldn't have survived the entire race well.
By the time I crossed the finishing line, it was 5:04
(nett). I didn’t cry like I used too but I stood in silence for a while near
the barricades. I closed my eyes and absorbed the feeling that was coming to
me. I said “Thank you” and walked myself to the welfare tent. And soon much
later after that, I meet up with the rest of the guys who had earlier finished
their respective races or awaiting the others who had yet to return.
|The AC Team! Post-Race.|
Photo courtesy of Leen.
Conclusion (Post race) - Many had asked me whether I was
disappointed at the race? Whether I was sad that I didn’t achieve my PB? Was I
angry at the conditions and etc. The answer is NO.
I have no regrets what so ever doing this race despite
knowing my fears of ECP route or whatever that came in my way. There are days
when you win some and you lose some and I’ve try to learn from the good and bad
|Photo courtesy of Leen.|
Achieving a personal best is a bonus and testament of
your hard work. But that doesn’t mean not achieving it is any much less of a
credit. I’ve learned a lot from this one race alone. We may come prepared in
many ways physically but the will and determination plays a big role as well. I’ve
just over shot my PB by just a mere 23 minutes and I can still proudly say that
this is still my 2nd
fastest Full Marathon. I take that as an achievement too! To
add on, this is the first time I’ve never cramped for a Full Marathon! Looks
like the nutrition plan worked.
I quote from one of my sports heroine, 4-time World
Ironman Champion - Chrissie Wellington.
“Seize every opportunity you have, embrace every moment.
Make a mark, for all the right reasons”
A great big thank
you to my buddies at ACTraining for being there for all of us in Sundown
Singapore and Coach Edan and Jolene for guiding us through this crazy 12 weeks.
All in all, I would say that Sundown Singapore 2014 was
awesome despite the humidity. Will I be back again you say? You bet I will.
PS:/ By the way, another Sundown series to go. Sundown Johor, here I come!