From 10km to 21.1KM: Virgin Standard Chartered Half Marathon 2015 Review

I’ve never ran a half marathon before today’s Standard Chartered Marathon (SCMS) and never thought that I’ll do it. Running 10KM sounded crazy even in the beginning of last year. But today, I’m a proud 21.1KM finisher with a nett time of 02:31:16. All my training for these past 2 months using the 8-Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan via Women’s Running paid off.

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Credits: Women’s Running

Like I mentioned before in my post on my GE Women’s Run, I used this training plan to train for my GE 10KM run and continued with it to train for SCMS. Talk about 1 stone killing 2 bird.

I woke up nice and early at 3.45am and was ready to go! I had packed all my running gear in my bag the night before so I won’t frantically pack in the morning. I also studied the 21.1KM route on the event handbook and decided on how I would pace my run (slow start for 500m, steady pace for 13km, fast pace for 3km, steady pace till the end). I wanted a good time for my virgin half marathon and this mental prep also helped to reduce the first timer race jitters.

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I had 2 small bananas at home and left for the MRT ride from Cityhall to Harbourfront (I drove to Suntec City). There was already a small crowd at Cityhall MRT. I was lucky to meet fellow runner Ling at Cityhall MRT. He was a seasoned runner and gave me the best race advise: medical personal/ volunteers will be armed with muscle gels or sprays so apply them when needed during the run to provide relief to the sore muscles.

The train from Outram to Harbourfont was rather packed (it was around 5.10am). I guess everyone like me wanted a good spot at the starting line.

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Upon exiting Harbourfront, I followed the crowds towards Sentosa and bid goodbye to Ling (whom eventually did very well in the race). This is where it got a little confusing. I did not spot any sign that directed runners to the pit and so I followed the moving escalators towards Sentosa which turned out to be the wrong way. I eventually walked back and followed the right crowd, passed security personal and on the main road towards Sentosa.

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I spotted tables full of water for runners pre-race and found the portable toilets next. There was quite a queue for the many loos available but the queue was fast moving so it was okay.

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I then proceeded to the starting pen at around 5.50am and found myself still at the front of the pen.

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I stood there and waited till around 6.10am where the emcees began to work the crowd. However, I found their chit chat not engaging and they told us to wait a while longer for the race to begin. At around 6.28am, the VIPs came and flagged us off at 6.30ish.

I started off running slowly, trying not to let excitement get the better of me and suffer at the later part of the race. I spotted the 2:45 pacers and decided to run pass them and trail the 2:30 pacers first, thinking that I can always trail the 2:45 pacers if my run turned for the worst. Humidity hit me at once, and boy i’m sweating at the start of the race.

It’s my first time running in Sentosa so I didn’t know how’s the route like other than there will be slopes. However, my legs felt okay doing the slopes since it was still in the early stages of the race. Some roads for this run in Sentosa are quite narrow, and it’s a pain to the faster runners since they had to weave through the slower runners.

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We ran into Universal Studious Singapore (USS) and I spotted many mascots (including the minions(!), betty boop, elmo, transformers etc) waving and supporting us.

It’s a loop inside USS, and we ran out the same way running into it, with cones in the middle to control the traffic flow. However, some runners ate into the oncoming lane and narrowed the running space. I also had my first drink at the 6+KM water point which was stationed upon leaving USS.

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We then ran into Resort World Sentosa’s carpark. It’s a down slope so I’m expected an up slope later. However, it was not the slope that made running inside the carpark difficult, it was stale air and the lack of it. The carpark was hot and stuffy and made me tired. I was able to follow the 2:30 pacers up till here but our distanced pulled apart upon leaving RWS’s carpark.

I did a body check while leaving Sentosa and towards the 10KM water station. I had a huge blister on my right sole last week and 2 injured toes so I was making sure that they were okay.

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There was entertainment at this 10KM water station and it served to make us upbeat. I took another drink and had 1/4 packet of gel. It was my first time having a gel and I decided that it’s too sweet for me, so I stuck to water and 100plus (all cooled) in this race.

I was bracing myself for the second half of the race because I knew that this is the brutal part: 11KM – 18KM on the highway. It’s an upslope onto the West Coast Highway that leaves us without any shade. The sun is up by now (around 7.30am) and it was so warm even in the early morning. It made me thirsty very quickly and I can’t wait to reach the 13KM water point.

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There was a group of cheerleaders at this point and they gave me strength because they are cheering for us in the glaring morning sun. This is also the point where I’m going to do my faster pace run till the next water point. I tried to speed up but my legs were getting tired so I ran up to the volunteer armed with muscle gel and gave me calves a rub. The muscle gel worked and my legs felt stronger and I could continue at a faster pace.

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The run towards the 16KM water point felt like it took ages. The sun was in my face and I kept my head down half the time. I noticed that all the volunteers are also in the sun without a cap but were cheering for the runners. Kudos to them! However, more runners started to walk and it made me demoralised. I refused to walk because I was here to run.

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Finally, the downslope was in sight and I ran quickly to the water point only to face empty cups without water in it. The volunteers are clearly overwhelm by the influx of runners and many cups were only eventually half filled. I had 2 cups of water at this 16KM water point.

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It was then another upslope onto a bridge (Keppel Viaduct?), and this time the incline is even steeper (or maybe because I’m so tired by now), I could only manage a slow jog onto the bridge before returning to my steady pace. Again, the relentless sun made me thirsty quickly. By then, I can’t wait to finish the race.

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The 18KM water point was located under the bridge after running down from it. It provided some much needed shade. Again, I was faced with a table full of empty cups and had to find the filled cup in the midst of the empty ones. I had skipped the water and had 100plus (it was cool) as it was the last water point. I also ran up to another volunteer to give my calves another rub and continued my run on the streets of Shenton Way.

The last 3KM was torture, Shenton Way seemed never ending and my legs were so tired. I saw some runners speeding up for the final push but I had no energy to do that. I was still gunning for a 2:30h finish and my Runkeeper App told me that my time was still good so I didn’t want to slow down to ruin my run at the last leg. I continued at a slower steady speed and was so happy when I finally see the end in sight.

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The last KM was the the worst, my legs felt like they could stop functioning at any moment. I could not even speed up when there was only 100m to go and only pushed my legs in the final 25m when I saw that the time was still 2:31+ and counting. In this fashion, I completed my very first half marathon and only felt relieved to complete it without walking.

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I went to the designated area and smoothly collected my medal, cold 100plus and towel and ended it with a selfie.

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Post race thoughts:

Overall race: 3.5/5

Minus points:

I had a good race despite feeling that I ran more than 21.1KM. I was using the Runkeeper App to keep me informed of my time, distance and speed and the app told me that I ran 24KM. It’s usually quite accurate so I hope that I didn’t run so many kilometers more for this half marathon.

Getting to the race early is important. Starting nearer to the line feels good and also means that I’m in the first wave so there will be ample water when I reach the water points. I read that runners latter on didn’t get water at the 16KM mark as they ran out of it. I also wish that the water stations will always have cups with water in it waiting for runners instead of runners waiting for the water to be filled. (-0.5 points)

There was no mass warmup for this race. I didn’t know that as I was late for my 10KM SCMS 2014. All the other races (SHAPE Run 2014 and Great Eastern Women’s Run 2015) that I went to had a led warmup before the race. (-0.5 points)

There was no banana given post-race. I found myself fatigued and hungry. (-0.5 points)

Plus points:

The volunteers really made this race. They stood under the hot sun, directing the runners in the right direction, cheering hard and giving muscle gels and medical help to those that needed attention. This is the most cheered for race that I’ve been till date. It really makes a difference having someone cheering for you when the race is so torturous under the hot sun.

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