30km Newton Challenge

Pre-Amble

This will be my third race in 2012! How quiet I have been this year. From January to May, I kept my feet off the ground to allow my foot injury to heal completely as well as to study for my Final Exams. I started jogging in May and June and was happy of my progress.

In August, I did the Army Half Marathon at a comfortable pace to prevent aggravation of my injury and it went well. The week after, I headed to Malaysia with my buddies Sia and Ramesh and put in a good half marathon effort. I chose this 30km Newton Challenge as a good build up for the Singapore Marathon.

A little bit of my life now: I have since graduated from Medical School in May and am 6 months into my housemanship. I am currently working in the Orthopedics Department at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (Yes! The beautiful new hospital in Yishun). I work 80 hours a week, with one night call each week (meaning I work from 7am till 1pm the next day) . Working weekends is a norm which is again why it has been difficult for me to take part in many races this year. For each weekend I am off racing, I have to “pay back” on another weekend. It has not been easy to run much. But still, I am enjoying it!!

Pre Race

My morning started off with a little startle. My dad frantically woke the house up exclaiming that he had forgotten to set the alarm and it was 4:50am! (blame myself for not setting my own alarm and the race starts at 5:30!)The day before I had arranged with my running buddy Sia Chuan Han to get a lift at 4:30am. I switched on my phone and I had 8 missed calls from Sia. I was partly upset that I may have to give my 30km race a miss but I kept everyone calm and went on to change up and at the same time calling Sia to check where he was. Fortunately, he was still downstairs waiting for me. My mum quickly made my usual milk shake and I drank it down. Gave my parents a hug and rushed down into Sia’s car at 5am.

Sia’s excellent driving skills brought us to the start line at 5:25am, just 5 minutes before the flag off. He is the man to thank.

Race

It was great to see familiar faces once again, this being my 2nd local race this year after recovering from my foot injury. I met Ramesh, who was the 2nd runner’s up in previous year’s Singapore Marathon and Ahmad, the Moroccan runner who is staying in Singapore now. Chee Yong, last year’s Singapore Marathon 1st runner’s up was also there at the start line. I guess many of the other runners were at the Adidas King Of The Road held on the same day.

My body has still not woken up despite the earlier scare and I was feeling stiff all over, having only woken up 40 minutes ago. There was also not much time to go before the start of the race to do any warm up. Before I knew it, it was time to start the 30km Challenge.

My goal for the race was to run at a pace slightly faster than my marathon goal pace. Having recovered only recently from my injury, I did not want to risk pushing the envelope too hard in fear of recurrence. To achieve this goal, I wanted to run at a even 3min 40seconds per kilometer from start to finish. With my training partner Jason Lawrence sick at home, I was worried that this goal would be much harder to meet. The week before, both of us missed the Nike Run due to illness but unfortunately he still could not recover in time to run the 30km with me.

From the gun, I kept my focus and started off at the exact pace, checking my splits every kilometer. Thanks to the race organizers, the distance markers will very accurate and allowed me to keep track of my splits accurately. With the aid of my GPS watch, I was able to make sure that I am neither running too fast or too slow. Being the lead runner, I had the privilege to have a lead cyclist, whom I realized after the event was Christina, one of my training mates when I was a swimmer back in those days, to help me pave the way. At 5:30am the sky was still pitch black and I started to have doubts if I could meet my target.

The first 7km or so to the first turning point was uneventful. My legs were still heavy having just woken up and I had a few near misses from tripping over my own legs. I hit the first 10km in 36min 10sec, at about 3min37sec per kilometer. A systems check showed that I was more awake and running smoothly.

Upon hitting the 2nd turn about at 15km, I was secretly happy to be able to keep my pace for 50% of the distance! Not so bad after all. At this point, the sun was just about to rise and it was a great feeling to be putting in a run on this beautiful Sunday morning. During this return trip, I was able to spot several of my friends running and it was good fun.

My lead cyclist Christina, however, did not have a good time. She had to shout at the top of her voice every 10 meters to get runners ahead to make space for me. She did an awesome job and I was able to keep up with my target pace.

Upon hitting the final turn about, I was 10km from the finishing line and I was starting to feel the fatigue. For the past 15km, I had been unable to get any water from the water points due to the crowd. My legs started to feel a little heavy. A quick check of my watch showed that I was still running at a decent 3:37 per kilometer. A small voice in my head told me to chill off a little to avoid any unwanted consequences such as illness or injury. As I just wanted to meet my target, I slowed down and eased off in the last 5km.

When I crossed the finish line, I was elated that I had put in a good effort in the race to meet my objectives, finishing the race in 1hr 49min.

Post Race

I immediately started refueling with the loads of Pocari Sweat at the water station while waiting for Sia to return. I managed to catch up with several of my friends who did the 30km and 18km challenge as well. The sun was relentless and I think many runners had a challenging time towards the end of the race.

Summary

The race organizers Pink Apple did a great job but perhaps better route planning can be done to avoid the 30km runners clashing into the 18km runners at certain areas. Special thanks to Christina for being such a wonderful lead cyclist for me! 🙂

For me, I had a good race, met my objectives and I think I am ready for the Singapore Marathon in December.

See you at the starting line for those who are running!!

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