First Time for Everything: Running Races in Sweltering Singapore

Once upon a time, I was on the track team.

You might be thinking:

what

Sure anot?

And I wouldn’t blame you. I quit after a year of intermittent attendance and reluctant trips to the CCAB track when I deigned to go. By Sec 2, I had left the Track & Field club for the debate team.

I told everyone it was because I could speak faster than I can run.

But really it was because I just didn’t like running. I could think of things to like about it if I tried (eg. solitude during runs, another opportunity to observe people), but I could easily come up with a billion more things I didn’t (sweating is gross, it gets monotonous, I look like a giant tomato after I run, Singapore is a sweltering sauna-cum-armpit, etc).

Anyway, the whole point of this preamble is to tell you how far I’ve come (I know, self-praise is no praise but these days I’ll take what I can get) and that is…

I ran my first race ever! And another race after that!

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This is a big deal because I’ve signed up for runs before and not turned up. Like when I half-attempted to wake up at 6am for a SHAPE run five or six years ago. The thought of running through a smothering blanket of water vapour was horrifying, so I told my little sister to just go. On her own. And she did. Even though she didn’t intend to run the race in the first place and only signed up cos I made her. I’m a terrible person.

Anyway, about this life-changing first race. I ran the Great Eastern Women’s Run (10 KM) last month with my friend Audrey. (How times have changed: a few years ago I paid no heed to missing a run I had already paid for. This time I only signed up after double-confirming that she had some OCBC lobang that ensured we got a discounted price.)

There were many things to be afraid of, primarily the 10,000-meter distance I don’t recall ever running in my life. Also, I was genuinely worried that I would need longer than the allocated time they parceled out for the race. Can you imagine completing the race only to find that the finishing line has been torn down? That is the single biggest mental block preventing me from even attempting a marathon. How malu would that be???

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

greateastern_3 copyThe weather was amazingly good. The air was cool without being heavy, despite heavy rain in the wee hours of the morning that threatened to cancel the race altogether. The Marina Bay circuit was flat and scenic, and I really felt like I was running on my grandfather’s road. Shiok.

There’s also something about running with people. I am not ashamed to admit that I am very extrinsically motivated (i.e. annoyingly competitive – just ask all the poor people who had to endure rounds of SanGuoSha, Resistance or whatever boardgame it is with yours truly participating). So yeah, every person I overtook was kinda like a smug pat on my back. Hey gurl, I’m just casually running more quickly than you are… I guess I’m terribly insecure.

Seriously though, this race was as good as first races go. Audrey and I managed to keep up with each other the whole time, even though she had said that we were “sure to lose each other” amidst the sweaty throng of people. And we never stopped! Even though part of me was sure that we were gonna start walking around the 6.5km mark. Also, they gave us free, high-resolution photographs to download post-event – the Great Eastern event organizers really know a way to a girl’s heart.

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To no credit of ours, we did gingerly push some sauntering souls aside to get to the finishing line. But the long and short of it: we surprised ourselves with a timing of 1 hour 10 minutes (I was three seconds behind Auds). A feat considering we had been completing sub-5km routes in like 44 minutes or so.

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Just before we crossed the start line and embarked on my 10km route to becoming a tomato

Fast forward to last Sunday – the Standard Chartered Marathon 2013’s Ekiden relay (42.195km divvied up among six runners). Fellow rookie colleagues, a former Mambo King and I joined forces to… be the last team among four office groups. T-T

It wasn’t even a close fight – our overall nett time was 4:53, with the third-placed team coming in at like 4:30+ or something. Jo said it’s cos “they’ve had more years to train.” That’s a good way of looking at things.

It took me almost 30 minutes to reach the SCMS start point. I guess I should have thought ahead, given that there were almost 60,000 participants. The whole stretch from Ion to Cineleisure was packed with people and I don’t know if it’s cos it was a higher volume or that men were involved but runners were definitely a lot more sweaty and smelly. And this was when we were walking to the start point – at 5am in the morning.

The my-grandfather’s-road feeling was taken one step further here – my leg (the first 7ish km) took me through Orchard Road, the CBD (running through Robinson Road was the coolest!!!) and down to the Marina Bay Floating Platform where I passed off the Ekiden sash to Audrey.

My group Whatsapped each other throughout the whole run. By 11am we managed to assemble at the Padang – Audrey, Claudio and I even had time to go back, shower and take a nap. Haha. The Padang was full of waddling, actual marathoners struggling to get rehydrated and to feel their limbs again.

Anyway, what a great bunch of people:

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Thankfully the t-shirts said “Ekiden” and not “Finisher” because I clearly do not look like a legit marathoner.

Although if it did read “Finisher”, I might have sold the shirt to this guy. Would have been a lot less embarrassing than appearing on Page 1 of The Straits Times, with his claim to fame being a really dumb cheater.

In a fit of running enthusiasm, I have signed up for the 2XU Compression run. It’s my goal to make 21km by the end of 2014, though judging by how tired out I was from a 4.9km circuit round the office… It looks like there’s gonna be some work to do.

For the record, I still intend to finish up the last two places (Mongolia and Beijing) before I leave for South Africa. I’m never gonna photo-spam ever again. Lightrooming is a bitch. 

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