Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Flashback: Singapore Marina 21K

I think there's only 1-2 of these left!  We've almost gone through them all!  Lucky you, no more Sunday Flashback!  :-)  This one stems from July, 2011, during my 8 week stay in Singapore.  I'll tell you all about that some other time.  Probably.

Well, half marathon #8 (and the first one in a different country), is in the books.  Thanks goodness it's over!  In case you weren't aware, other countries call half marathons 21k's - because they like k's a lot.  :-)

I highly recommend everyone does the Singapore Marina 21k, this race is definitely for you if you:  
  • Love out and back double-loops
  • Like running in the dark on poorly lit streets, grass, cobblestone, etc.
  • Want to sprain your ankle from said poorly lit streets, grass, cobblestone, etc.
  • Or would prefer to scrape your knee from falling on said poorly lit streets, grass, cobblestone, etc.
  • Love to refuel after a hard race on bananas.  And just bananas. 
  • Like to run on back alleys
  • Love to run with hundreds of other people SINGLE TRACK that brings you to a near walk
  • Love to run on a street with one lane not blocked off to traffic and the other lane not removed of parked cars, leaving about 1 foot of still unsafe space to run
  • Did I mention there were two identical loops that were just out-and-back loops to begin with?
Gitt and I before the races.

Backing up a bit.  This was a my first night race (started at 7:30pm), and Gitt's race (the 10K, just one loop) started at 5:30pm, so it left me a little unsure what to eat / what to do.  I ate a really great breakfast and lunch, but not very big, and then I had a few bakery items on the way because we were running late instead of the Subway sandwich I'd planned to get, and then there was essentially no food at the race start (or finish for that matter) so I ended up eating a hot dog and apple juice (I asked for an apple, but in true Singaporean style, yes, this has happened to me before, they gave me juice instead and absolutely REFUSED to sell me just the apple they use to make juice, even for the same price, it is IMPOSSIBLE to do such a thing), so not exactly the best pre-race fueling job ever on my part!

Also, they do not seem to be big on GU and such here so I tried to buy one or two but couldn't find it anywhere.  So I was left to the mercies of 100Plus at the aid stations (a carbonated Gatorade-like product that tastes like Fresca), and I carried a water bottle which I was so happy about because even though I wasn't that thirsty (I did do an excellent job of hydrating) my throat was dry most of the time.  The last two aid stations I was begging the 100Plus, like come on, do your thing, give me a boost!

 The views from the run!  Okay not really, it was dark by the time I was running.  But the views BEFORE the run.  That's the Singapore Flyer on the right - the biggest ferris wheel in the world (I think?) and on the left is the Marina Bay Sands Casino / Hotel - the only cruise ship I know of ON TOP of a hotel!

On to the race!  Gitt dominated in 1:08, which is amazing for her first 10K ever and having run for essentially only the last 4 weeks.  Alex, who was supposed to do the half with me, apparently showed up over an hour after the start so I never saw him.  Even though I learned my lesson in the 5K [where I should have started at the very front], a port-a-potty stop and the incredible jam of people left me way back from the start, which I ended up paying for severely later.  The good news was that I passed people the whole entire time, and I don't think I ever once got passed by a woman or someone who started with me (only the elite men who started after us).

The first 3 miles I felt like I was suffocating, this was an exceptionally sweatastically humid day (lightning was going off in the distance most of the time so I guess we're just lucky we didn't get a thunderstorm), so this horrible feeling coupled with the horrible-ness of the course was leaving me VERY grouchy at first.  Seriously, SINGLE TRACK during the 2nd mile of a busy half marathon??  And it was in some alley-way?  And then we're running on non-shut-down roads where they didn't even bother to remove the parked cars?  WHAT?  So I easily lost two minutes in the first two miles here, so although the course was short (about 12.9) this is probably an accurate time given the single track.  Then there was tons of out-and-back, which made it confusing because there were people running EVERYWHERE, coming at you, across the river on the path on the other side, on the bridges, and it was confusing where you were headed next, who you were ahead of and behind of, etc.

The course got a lot better after those first 3 miles though (even though it was 2 loops of the same course), because after the 1st loop it was way spread out and I was pretty much alone, and there were some redeeming qualities to the course - you ran on the water for much of it, had great views of the flyer and Marina Bay Sands and other great Singapore sights, and the National Day (August 9th) practice parade was going on complete with an amazing set of fireworks that we got to see part of.

 Can you spot me?  :-)

The next 7 miles felt pretty good, I got into a kind of zone that felt sufficiently hard but potentially sustainable (though I had my doubts the whole time).  I fell into step with red-shirt-man, who I ran with for probably half of the race.  I would lead or he would and at times I thought I'd never see him again but then we would be back running side by side again, and that really helped pull me along in the bad times.  I finally pulled away from him for good at the end but I made sure to find him afterwards to say good job.  The last 3 miles felt HORRIBLE, like hitting the wall, my legs felt like lead and I had to play mind games and keep chanting mantras and replaying Pump It to keep going.  The course was pretty flat - there were just a few small hills associated with crossing bridges, but the biggest one in mile 11 felt like a MONSTER on the second loop, that was a really hard time!  I also developed a HUGE blister on the bottom of my right foot which was starting to bother me but really didn't hurt until I finished, and then it made it difficult to even walk.  But then I finished!  So happy with this effort and time.  Although its far from a PR and slower than the half I did with Rachael in May, it felt like a really really good effort and in the humidity, I think it is a great time.  I'm proud!

Afterwards we left since Alex started so late, and tried to find something good to eat and drink to celebrate but it was 11pm and everything was closed [everything in Singapore closes early because they want you home and not up to no good!] and I just wanted to take a shower so bad so we just grabbed some prata (the only thing open, not a very satisfying post-race meal) and then I crashed and had the best night of sleep ever.   Now I'm ready to go to my real home.

Total Time: 1:52:23    Average Pace: 8:43

Look at that ridiculous sweat!

Splits:  9:10, 9:28 (the single track), 8:32, 8:36, 8:36, 8:25, 8:46, 8:39, 8:36, 8:35, 8:37, 8:41, 8:33 

***UPDATE*** I got 9th place!!!  Yessss.  Move to Asia and you will instantly improve your running status in races even though you'll be way slower because of the heat / humidity.  I will NEVER get 9th overall in a half marathon with 400+ females in it again, I am sure of that!

Ever done an international race?  I want to do SO many more - London, Paris, Great Wall, etc. etc. etc.!  I love traveling and am sad I don't have any travels on my calendar.