Bring On the DARK Night

June 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers had mixed feelings the whole of last Saturday – was feeling excited, nervous and uncertain at the same time. Why? Well, the day had finally arrived for Itchyfingers’ second Sundown Marathon!

Sundown Marathon will always be special to me cos I did my maiden Half Marathon with them in 2011, whereas Tisu Boy did his first Full Marathon. We didn’t do too well, but the first time is always bitter-sweet and unforgettable…hahah….This year, both of us signed up for the 21.1km run

I think we signed up pretty early…was it late last year? Having done quite a number of Half Marathons since 2011, and with about five or six months to prepare, I thought I would be in a pretty good shape for the night run. But sometimes, the more time you think you have in hand, the more you would postpone or delay your plan to do something…For the whole of this year, the most I did were 10 km runs – once with Home Team Real Run just two weeks ago and other times on our own. By the time I realised that I was clocking too little mileage per week, it was already too late…The day, or rather, the night, had finally arrived.

At first glance, I thought the 21.1 km route was quite similar to last year’s Great Eastern Women Run, where I achieved my personal best timing for the distance…But on closer scrutinisation, there were actually some variation….Poor full marathoners had to run the long stretch along East Coast Park in the dark again…

The 10 km runners started their run on Saturday 10.30 pm, while the full marathoners were to be flagged off at 11.30pm. half marathoners were the last to start at 12.30 am. The last Sundown I did had a much earlier starting time – 8pm. We arrived earlier but couldn’t see the full marathoners’ flagged off cos the starting line was inside the F1 pit building. Queue for the loo was super long!

The night was super humid! Was already perspiring before we even started…Finally we were let into the starting pen!

Signages pointing to the different targeted finishing timing were very loud and clear! Good job! For some other runs, I couldn’t even locate the pacers….

Decided to try to follow the 2:30 hr pacers… I wasn’t too confident that I could repeat my Great Eastern Women Run’s timing, but maybe if I could keep them within my sight for as long as possible, I could hope for a 2:40 hr? It would not be easy, giving my lack of preparation…

Flagged off!!!! Bring on the night! I liked the overhead bridge idea! 

For the next few kilometers, my eyes were constantly fixed on the pacers’ blue balloons. Not that easy to keep up with them cos somehow they seemed to be running faster than the targeted pace. Could be my illusion cos I didn’t really check my watch for pace – there were so many watches beeping at the same time, I couldn’t really hear mine…The air was still; the road was dark and long and the night was silent. There was not much cheering along the way, and most of the time the only company we had beside the next person running in front or besides you was the tropic’s humidity. Yes, it was a very humid night – shortly into the run, I was perspiring all over, with sweat constantly dripping into and stinging my eyes…A slight stitch on the lower abdomen crept in quietly – must be the work of that last snack two hours before…Soon I started to slowly drift further away from the blue balloons…

Couldn’t remember when and where did I finally lose the pacers, but I think probably less than four or five kilometers!! Am not good at recognising roads at night, especially when we had to run on some small dark roads. Decided not to run at my own pace instead of trying so hard to keep up with the pacers, in case I failed to sustain all the way to the end. The route wasn’t really that smooth sailing, cos certain parts were either too narrow or dim, and some parts were uneven with potholes. I had to really slow down and watch my steps whenever it was dark and bumpy. The slopes were not being helpful too at night, especially the long stretch along Sheares Bridge. Such a killer! Many started to walk, but I stubbornly pushed on, at a painfully slow pace…Since I couldn’t hear my watch after each kilometer, I didn’t check my pace. Anyway it was too dark to see it without turning on the LED backlight.

LONELINESS. Yes, loneliness was the only word that I could think of. Despite being surrounded by so many runners, the stillness and quietness of the humid night was quite unbearable. We were literally engulfed by Darkness…Halfway through the course at 10km and I realised I was completely thrown out of pace. I was really feeling the heat…Running at night is different from running in the day, cos your sense of distance may be off as landmarks seem further, and with little or no activities on the road, there is less distraction from pain. I don’t like to wear earphones as they are cumbersome, though some music is always good to give you an extra push. My motivation was the next water point, which were about 2 or 2.5km apart…I had my water, but I needed some cold isotonic drink to cool down. Unfortunately, I found only two water points with 100 Plus…Quite a letdown. Wasted a bit of time when I turned back at one water point to get a second helping of 100 Plus in case there were no more at the next ones. It was tempting to start walking once you pause for a sip…

An artistically blur photo of the Marina Bay area….Itchyfingers ran this stretch the week before but we did it in the early evening when it was much brighter

When I peeped at my watch at 16km, I thought I still stood a chance for a relative decent personal timing. But I overestimated myself. Was obviously exhausted after the killer bridge. Then a slight right ankle cramp forced me to slow down, missing the opportunity to pick up speed when going downslope along the Marina Bay Sand!

Didn’t know the last 5 km would me take so long…The last 1km was really terrible cos even when volunteers shouted, “200 meters more!”, there was no sight of the darn finishing line…we couldn’t even hear it! To reach it, we still had to make some small turns here and there…Then finally, I heard it! The music! The flash lights from camera! I saw the finishing line!!!!!

The music blasting in the background was “Don’t say goodnight”. I had no more energy to sprint, so just kept moving my legs across the line…Was glad to have finished the race though my timing really sucks! Hahahah! It was my worse timing for Half Marathon, except that time when I was sick and walked most of the distance; and another when many of us were stuck in a major bottleneck. Tisu Boy was also off his targeted time. But the only consolation? To know that I am actually capable of running longer distance cos the route was definitely much more than 21.1km!! Some people even recorded close to 23 km!! Wahahahah!!!!

But I was really so tired! All I wanna do was to just sit down, take off my shoes and rest those sore feet and calves…Couldn’t remember feeling so even on my maiden Half Marathon. Must be the lack of adequate training and sleep… I didn’t even have the energy to take out the medal for a photo! Hahahahah!!!!! Really must take my hats off the full marathoners, especially those fast ones…How did they do that?

The hard-earned finisher medal…hahah….

The back

Not too sure if Itchyfingers will be back again next year. Maybe I should swop my useless-at-night camera for a super powerful LED torchlight? Hahaha….

Also see related post:
> Sleep Can Wait. Beat the Sunrise



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