Army Half-delayed Marathon 2013

September 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers had barely two hours of sleep before we were on our way for our first half marathon of the year. Parked at the usual car park but were made to walk a big round to the new starting point. This year, due to the huge discount in registration fee for army personals and NSmen at slightly more than $12, there were obviously a large increase of participants. Females runners are much fewer in numbers…

shirt
As usual, the event tee not very nice lor…hahah…A bit hot to wear short
sleeves to run 21.1km….

start
Tisu Girl trying to blend in with the army guys by wearing a red and black
running tee from 2011’s Great Eastern Women Run.

Itchyfingers were standing in the middle of the pack, and started running only about seven minutes later. As a slow coach, I decided to keep to the left while Tisu Boy went ahead. Lost him soon even though he was having a slight soar throat…The early morning was humid, with only occasional breeze at certain part of the route.

AHM 2013 all-en-v2
This year’s 21.1km route was almost the same as last year. When I saw this I was
reminded of the bottleneck between 7 – 8km…

Felt good and light on my feet even though it was humid and my training wasn’t quite adequate…This time, the longest I ran before race day was 11km…and the excuses? As usual, no time and lazy lor…hahah….in between we went for an overseas trip too. I also had to skip some days of training cos of migraine and gastric attacks. But for the sake of the race, I decided to cut off my consumption of fast food – something that I have always wanted to do but cannot stop eating it. It’s not because I love fast food so much but rather because it is so conveniently fast and easy. Gotta remind myself that diet is also part of the training!

The first few kilometres was relatively smooth. I deliberately ran at a slower pace in the hope of conserving energy for the second half of the run cos I remembered that I always got cramps in the calves around the 18km mark. Well, even if I wanted to go a bit faster, it was tough trying to squeeze pass so many people in front of me…it was not even half way into the run and there were already walkers in groups blocking the way….The route was dimly lit for the first few kilometers and some people tripped for that reason. I found that running just beside the ground lights along Gardens by the Bay was a bad idea cos my eyes couldn’t adjust to the sudden change from bright to dim and got a bit disorientated. So I moved to the middle and took precaution by running slowly and following the steps of those in front.

Then for some reason, we found ourselves gradually slowly down….Yes, what I feared most was happening again…At Tanjong Rhu, around 7.5km or so, a major bottleneck brought us to a complete standstill. In the beginning, I thought we were stopped by the marshals so that the elite runners could pass through. But I ran the route map through my mind and I don’t remember seeing any loops here. So what was causing such a big bottleneck? Last year we were stuck at the same place probably for about 10 minutes but at least we were still moving very very slowly after few minutes. This time I went from jogging on the spot to stopping altogether. 10, 15….20 minutes went past….At this rate, there was no way those stuck there could ever achieve our personal timing….

dun-stop
Along the route, there were always some motivational signs to push and
encourage runners. Ironically, the motivational sign here said, “Don’t Stop.
Keep Pushing” when all of us were forced to stop completely. Luckily no one
pushed around so that he could pass through. 
We were either annoyed
or amused by this sign that many took 
picture of it. When I passed by and
took this picture with my phone, I was stuck under 
the bridge for more than
30 minutes!

30 minutes in a marathon is a long time, and there is definitely no way I could chase back my 30 minutes…It was really demoralising to know that we wasted so much time waiting. Bottlenecks are unavoidable for large running events but to have to stop completely for more than half an hour was totally unacceptable and unheard of. It must be especially frustrating for those faster runners pushing for a personal best timing. Though not a fast runner, I was also hoping to beat my own past half marathon timings, but now the hope had been completely dashed. Not sure if others were feeling demoralised too, cos there seemed to be a lot more people walking after the bottleneck at Tanjong Rhu. But I didn’t want to walk and give up cos I know it would be even tougher running once the sun rises as it would be so hot….

Felt hungry and took the first gel around 9km. Thinking back, I’m not sure how I did it. I seemed to be a bit dazed and numb probably due to the lack of sleep and a bit demoralized due to the bottleneck. There were a few smaller bottlenecks cos of narrower paths and blocking walkers. Would probably be taking lots of photos since my timing  would be lousy anyway…but too bad I didn’t bring my camera as I thought the race was too early and too dark for photos.

national-stadium
Luckily Tisu Boy took this National Stadium work-in-progress photo

Slowly but steadily, I ran past one after another distance marker, physically I was feeling tired but mentally strong….I wondered where did I get the strength from…I think the 100 plus from the water points helped a bit too. Didn’t get any calf cramps until I nearly fell when someone squeezed his or her way past me without warning at the F1 pit area. That must be around 17km? I saw my left calf muscle cramped up and moved to the side to check on it. Luckily I was able to continue with a slight limp after a few seconds, regaining my strength shortly…Soon, we turned into Raffles Avenue and passed by Fullerton Hotel…20km! Another aggressive lady pushed me in her haste to sprint for the last kilometre and that triggered another round of slight cramp again and my right ankle seemed to twist inwards to the left! It wasn’t a sprained ankle, probably just cramp. I gave a soft curse, then continued running slowly with my temporarily mutated leg which went back to normal after a few steps…lotsa people were walking even though the finishing line was near. Don’t they want to get their well deserved ice-cold drink? Some army guys running the 10km route began singing their army songs, that was kinda nice and helped lift the spirit slightly…

Finally I ran past the finishing line! Got my worst half marathon timing, thanks to the various bottlenecks and the standstill. But I am glad I managed to finish the run without stopping to walk. Was surprised that I didn’t get any calf muscle cramps if not for the two knocks from runners. But maybe that was because my legs got to rest during the half hour “break” under the bridge, cos without it I might get the nasty cramps again?

back
My fifth Half Marathon medal….

front
This time we got a finisher tee too! 

As a reward for cutting out fast food in preparation of the race, I made a promise to give myself an ice-cream treat if I can get a personal best result. Though I got a personal worst result in the end due to the 30 minutes lost, I reckoned if I take away that delay, and maybe add in a ten minutes for resting my cramped calf muscles, I am still able to beat my own past timing! Hahah…a bit cheating hor? But nevermind lah, whether I get a personal best or not, the fact is, I have tried my best under the circumstances, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself….

reward
So there goes, Tisu Girl with her well-deserved new Magnum Pink ice-cream…
Yum…but I think I still prefer the almond one…wahahahah…. 😀

Also see related posts:
A Cool Morning Run – Safra Bay Run and Army Half Marathon 2012
A Refreshing Run – Safra Bay Run and Army Half Marathon 2011
An Uphill Task 

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