"Just don't do anything stupid. This isn't your A race," said Ben after our run-bike brick session on Saturday morning.
It's really, really hard run in a race but not race. I have never managed it before. I am competitive and I always want to catch the next person, see how much faster I can go or beat my own previous best times. I have only just become disciplined enough to not race people during my cycle to work, so to not kill myself trying to go faster in an organised race was a tall order.
Saturday evening was the last meal my mum would have with us for a few months, so we drank champagne with a barbeque dinner - a lovely evening. The race start for the 2xu half marathon on Sunday morning was 4:45am - definitely the earliest race start i have ever done. I pinned my bib on my top - my old ABRaS top from when we lived in Dubai - got my Mio ALPHA watch, my Altra Intuition shoes, feetures socks and shorts out, set my alarm for 3:45am (????) and then got into bed at about 9:30pm.
Of course, it felt like the alarm went off barely a few minutes after my head hit the pillow.
I took an old, cheap sports bottle with some drops of elete to sip from before the race start, which I had planned to leave there once I had finished it. Sitting in the taxi on the way to the start, I tried to pull out the top to have a drink and the whole top came off. I was soaked! Worse, I only had about half of the drink left! I told myself it didn't matter. I would soon be so sweaty you wouldn't know the difference anyway...
At the start - I met up with Jon and crew from Journey Fitness Company. Nicole took some photos, Ed arrived on his bike just as Dietrich and I went in search of toilets...
We all started together, about 400m back from the start line. It was a big crowd - 11,000 runners for the half marathon, they said, and more for the other distances. I ran behind Ed for the first 1km or so. He's a big guy - made a path :-)
It was a very steady start, partly due to the crowd, which was good for Ben's plan. I kept my heart rate down and kept my breathing easy. I continued running according to my heart rate and feel, but Ed dropped behind a little bit. My injured toe was throbbing a little and sometimes I could feel it touching the end of my shoe
From about 3km in, we started to catch up with some of the slower marathon runners. Some even carrying back packs. My husband's Muay Thai teacher - a tiny (but dangerous!) Thai man, covered in tattoos - passed me at about 4km. Then I passed Julian, a colleague from work, who had celebrated his 50th birthday and was jet-lagged having landed from London the day before at about 5km. I was impressed he'd even managed to drag himself out of bed, let alone seeing him running at such a good pace!
The rest of the race went quite quickly - I kept a steady pace and my heart rate just into my 'medium-hard zone', Mio ALPHA winking green at me the whole way. My shoes and socks were comfortable and after the first few kilometres I didn't notice anymore pain in my toe. The course was very dark in places, but the lighting provided by the organisers was adequate. There were plenty of drinks stations, and it was nice to have a bit of a breeze and to not be running under the hot sun.
At about 17km, Ed came passed me - "Come on! Let's do this!" he shouted. He was absolutely hammering it though. I took about 6-8 strides next to him and told him to get gone. No way was i going to keep up his pace for the next 4km!
After another kilometre or so I passed Mr Muay Thai at a drinks station... only for him to sprint past me again about 800 metres from the end.
Jon and Ed (who finished about 4-5 minutes ahead of me!!) were both hanging around the finish line, cheering us all on. A few steps after the finish line, I bumped into Kathryn - the super-turbo-charged Iron Mummy who won the Aquathlon a couple of weeks ago. We had a sweaty hug and she told me that she had come second (the times aren't published yet but I think she was probably 10-15 minutes faster than me). A guy next to her piped up, "... and imagine how she would have done if she actually liked running!" Amazing lady. Such an inspiration!
I had a nice race. I enjoyed it. I did stick to the plan and kept my heart rate down, didn't kill myself and didn't do anything stupid - as instructed. However, I feel like I could have really done a good time - probably my best time ever - if had raced it and 'killed myself' trying. So now I am a bit annoyed that I didn't go out all guns blazing... but, Ben knows what he's talking about. All the advice he's given me so far has been great - even sometimes when it's counter-intuitive, or the opposite of what I usually do. I am sure that following this piece of advice will come good when the A race does eventually arrive, and I'll thank him.
Once I had finished the race, I set about finding a taxi home. As I was walking to cross the road, I saw Tony. I used to be in his daughter's class at school and they lived very close to my family. He's another amazing runner. I think he must be almost 60 years old (sorry if I've aged you prematurely, Tony!!!) and he beats most of the youngsters. I think the best thing about his running though is that he has super long legs, and doesn't really look like he's putting any effort in - "loping" I think you'd call it. We had a very quick chat, then I continued on my way to find a cab!
Singapore is a small place, and the athletics/ multisport community is even smaller. It is lovely to see more and more familiar faces (and running gaits) at each event I go to. It really makes the whole thing much more fun. Training with groups - even if it is not the same group all the time - really helps. I'd definitely recommend it over training on your own.
I got home a few minutes before 7am, had a speedy shower and change and then went to the airport with my mum for breakfast. We had a nice long chat, a hug, then she went through to passport control and I came back home to spend the rest of the day with my boys!