Standard Chartered Half Marathon 2016 Review

I did my first half marathon with Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) last year but hesitated to join SCMS again this year. This race is one of the most expensive ones out there, 2015’s start time was late and it’s running route had lots of slope. Hence, I only decided to join at the last moment after SCMS published their earlier start time at 4.30 am and new flatter running route. It turned out to be a right choice as I enjoyed this year’s run more than last year’s. These days, I run happy rather than for the timing so I think it takes away some unnecessary stress too!

Race Day

I had a late night out with friends the day before the race so I only managed to sleep for 2 hours before getting ready for SCMS (note to self: bad idea). I Uber-ed down to Orchard and reached at 4.05am. I start at Pen F which flags off at 5am so I still had enough time to navigate and find my way.

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There were really many runners already there and it felt like an early afternoon at Orchard!

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I must say that the signs to indicate the direction to the start pens were tiny and far and between. I saw so many people like me wandering around to find the entrance to the pens.

Flag off was in waves, even for the pens itself, and I found myself in the 3rd wave of pen F which flagged off a little past 5am. Off we went with little fanfare. As this was my only time running this route, I couldn’t run through it in my mind prior to the race. It’s something that I try to do before a race, as anticipating the route ahead helps me to run a better race.

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There was no congestion at the start of the race. The road was wide for everyone (4 lanes on Orchard Road) and I didn’t have runners zooming past me. I think this is the benefit of the wave system, people in my pen are running a race with a 2h45min target and we sort of have the same pace. It was cool to run on the streets of Orchard and just when sleepiness was kicking in (due to the lack of it) just 1KM into the race, I ran into 2 runners in yellow vests. They were a visually impaired runner with her guide. This sight really motivated me to run on for this race, I felt humbled and that I should keep going despite everything.

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Credit: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Facebook

Running from Orchard through to Shenton, it was well lit by street lights. It got a litter darker when we ran towards the Marina Barrage and Gardens By The Bay East, but there were makeshift spotlights to shine some darker areas.

As I was running towards Marina Barrage, I saw a band of drummers as entertainment to cheer the runners on. Kudos to them for waking so early to cheer us on!

We half marathoners ran aside the marathoners for 12 KM and split before the full marathoners headed towards ECP. There were volunteers shouting for half marathoners to keep left and marathoners to keep right about 100m before we separated to our respective paths. I initially thought that they didn’t have proper signage hence all the shouting, but it turned out that they just wanted to alert us in advance.

As I ran towards the national stadium, I felt that my left knee was acting up a bit so I approached a volunteer for some muscle rub at this hydration point. I had cool 100 plus here but this hydration point was also the one where the bananas and HIGH5 Sports Nutrition banana flavoured gel was located. There were ample of these when I was there but I didn’t take them as I carried my own GU gel and had already started to eat it at around the 11km mark.

These hydration points turned out to be my mini goal for this race. Every hydration point is about 3.5km apart so I ran this race telling myself that I’m reaching my mini goal with cool hydration every time I felt tired.

A little past the 16KM mark running towards Republic Avenue,  there were large fans with water mist stationed there. I’ve only seen these once when I was doing my Shanghai Half Marathon 8 miles event earlier this year so I was excited to see this again! The sun was getting higher at 7am in the morning and it helped to cool me down.

There was a hydration point before we approach the slopes on Republic Avenue so I drank up before I tackled it. Usually I won’t feel the strain of doing this mini slope as many other races start off with this route but having to do this 17KM into the race is another story.

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Wheelchair runners! Credit: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Facebook

As I ran by the Singapore Flyer, I came across the visually impaired runner with her guide again! I also saw a wheelchair runner zooming past all of us here. What strength! I think I got fuzzy feelings when I saw them and they motivated me to finish strong.

There were volunteers giving out wet tissues to runners at the esplanade. I thought it was a sweet move as it was indeed getting hotter now. I didn’t take one and powered on with about 1.2KM left.

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The gentle but ever so killing slope up the Esplanade Dr was draining and the last 1KM felt like forever. I tried to speed up at Anderson bridge but had nothing much left in my tank. How happy I felt when I really saw the finishing line and finished in 2:36:01h! I heard the MC announced that the 2nd female full marathoner just approached the finishing line when I was coming in and that is just unbelievable pace. Kowtow to elite runners!

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We were handed mineral water straight away post race and were separated to different zones to collect our medal, banana and 100 plus. There was no banana last year so I was happy to see it this year! The Padang field was muddy so I didn’t spend time there for the carnival and went home with jelly legs.

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Post Race Thoughts

Overall Race: 4/5

I liked this year’s SCMS better than last year’s.

The starting time was much earlier so we ran much of the race without the morning sun. I liked the pen and wave arrangement as the faster runners won’t be blocked by slower runners this way since they were lined up in front of the race.

The roads were wide and marathoners had their own path that were separate from us half marathoners after our paths merged back at Ford Road. This should ensure that the faster runners won’t be blocked by slower half marathoners. However, all runners converge at the last 3km so I’m sure that will be a problem for mid paced marathoners. They are sure to meet the slower half marathoners and even walking 10km runners.

There were more roving entertainment to encourage runners on this year and I personally feed on encouragement when I’m running a race so I really appreciated that. The water mist is a nice touch too! There was none last year when the sun was really burning hot!

I feel that the major problem with this race is with the hydration stations. It would be great if they had one more hydration point in the middle of the race. It felt like forever to reach the hydration stations for the stretch from the 8km to 16km point.

It would also be better if they had more volunteers manning the hydration stations. The poor volunteers were so busy! They just couldn’t cope with the large number of runners. SCMS is a huge event with tens of thousand of runners after all! I approached 1 or 2 hydration points that only had empty cups on the table and the volunteers were frantically filling up the cups. There were also too little tables for hydration that caused a crowding around each table which will definitely stress the volunteer out.

Minor caveat: I thought the medal looked thin, huge and ugly! It will still be cherished by me but oh well…

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One Year On: 21.1KM Great Eastern Women’s Run 2016

I started on my more serious running habit after joining the Great Eastern Women’s Run (GEWR) last year. One year later, I’m challenging GEWR again, this time doing the 21.1KM.

One of the things I like about GEWR is the race pack. Last year’s was super awesome with lots of goodies. Loved the big bag that I used often for gym. This year’s bag was much smaller, it’s still filled with goodies but it won’t fit all my gym stuff.

Race Day 

The race starts at 5.15am, and I reached early at 4.25am. There was a small crowd there, and I went to queue for the portable loos. The toilets were not lit and they were still locked at 4.30am.

The crew was opening them in the dark and some of the runners look dismayed. I slowly proceded to the starting pen. Think it opened at 4.50am and I secured a spot in the first wave. There were DJs to warm the crowd, and unlike last year, there was no led warmup. I did my own warmup and soon at 5.15am, the elite runners were flagged off. We were flagged off at 5.20am.

I had no confidence of running a smooth race this time. I envisioned myself running at 7.6km/h-8km/h and stopping to walk at certain points of the race if my knees can’t take it.

I started slow, running at 7.17min/km. The weather was cooling since it rained heavily the day before. As the race started at 5.15am, some portions of the race route were rather dark. I ran with the 2:45h pacers till the 3rd KM and overtook them when I felt good about upping the pace slightly. I took my first sip of cool 100plus at the 4+KM and took the mineral water at the 3rd water point. I noticed that the hydration point that only has mineral water is much smaller. I think it was 2 tables big and it does not have many cups ready on the table. It managed to handle the crowd of runners when I was there, but I don’t know if it can handle the crowd behind me.

Running on, we reached the Tanjong Rhu area, the area that has an inherent narrow path. What I like about this race was that it had signboards warning runners of narrow paths ahead. It made us mentally prepared and more alert. There was a hydration point with bananas at the marina golf area about halfway into the race. I didn’t see many people taking the bananas even though there had plenty and I only took water myself. At this point I still felt good, keeping to my pace of 7:13km/h which boosted my confidence of finishing this at a good pace.

We merged with the 10km runners at the straights of Gardens By The Bay East. Everyone was still running so there was no held up here. We seperated from them at MBS, with only 3+KM left for me. I was really happy at this point; still keeping to my pace and feeling good, with cooling wind blowing occasionally. There were many photographers here,  and I thanked them after they took my shot.

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Soon the finish was in sight at the floating platform and I picked up the pace slightly to finish in 2:32h.

We were seperated according to tee shirt size to collect the medal, finisher tee, 100 plus, mineral water and banana.

The post race fun fair zone was awesome. There was a snack area for runners to get ice cream, apples, polar cupcakes, yogurt etc.

There was the massage area with a long queue and a refreshment area for us ladies to freshen up after the race. I got my ice cream and left happily!

Post Race Thoughts

Overall Race: 4.5/5

Most of the race route was wide despite some narrow paths. Luckily, there were signs to warn runners of the the narrow paths ahead so nice touch there.

The hydration points were very adequate (8 of them altogether?) and the volunteers didn’t look overwhelmed at the task. In fact many held out the drink to runners! Awesome.

There were some volunteers stationed in pairs at various parts of the race to guide and cheer runners on. Some were really enthusiastic, some not so much.

The post run carnival was a highlight. Seldom does a race comes with a carnival so awesome. It is orientated towards ladies and comes with a zone to freshen up. Lots of free food available to hungry runners like me. Hydration zone and massage zone was also available. There was some activity at the main stage too.

This race is heavily discounted for Great Eastern policy holders like me so I’ll definitely join this again next year. Till then!

Ticked off the bucket list: From 10KM to The Marathon

[Long post ahead!] I took on The Marathon after 8 months of running consistently. I never imagined myself doing it, running 42km. I guess one thing led to another;  OCBC Women’s Run 10km in November 2015 led to Standard Chartered 21.1km in December 2015 and finally to the Sundown Marathon in May 2016.

They say once you start running, you will want to run more. It’s addicting.

I started off with basic gear last year, my old pair of running shoes, my running shorts, OCBC running singlet, running pouch and the Runkeeper App to keep myself aware of my pace.

I progressed to 3 new pairs of running shoes, 2XU running shorts, running caps, a hydration belt, knee bands, gels, a Garmin watch, multiple running related Apps and a shoebox full of running singlets from various runs.

I believe that if I can do it, everyone can! And it helps to lose weight too.  Continue reading “Ticked off the bucket list: From 10KM to The Marathon”

10KM Shape Run 2016 Review

My first race for the second half of the year begins with Shape Run 2016! Shape Run is a special run because it is the first race that I did 2 years ago. I remembered how poorly organised the finisher tee collection was then. It had snaking queues that left a bad impression for me.

Fast forward 2 years later, I joined the 10KM race again.

Race Day

The race was held at Bayfront Event Space beside MBS. I reached at 6am for the 6.45am flag off. It was still very quiet when I reached, the 15km runners were just flagged off and there were not many 10KM runners there yet.

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There was a row of about 15-20 portable loos behind the starting line. However it was blocked by the baggage deposit area thus making it not visible.

By 6.30am, there were still not many runners at the event space, so I decided that this Shape Run did not attract many runners this year. Maybe the Pocari Sweat Run 1 night before this race took away a bulk of the runners.  Continue reading “10KM Shape Run 2016 Review”

18.45KM The Straits Times Run In The City 2016 Review

My final long distance run before the long awaited Sundown Full Marathon! This is also my second last run for the first half of the year. And here goes the review.

Race Pack Collection

I went to collect the race pack on the last day of the race pack collection that was held at Raffles City.

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It was a simple affair, there were a few sponsor booths like Compressport, Panasonic there and a dedicated area with ample volunteers for the race pack collection. Collection was a breeze.

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There was no queue and the lady volunteer took my IC, scanned it, then proceeded to get my race bib and race tee and off I go with the little blue bag.

I thought that the race pack was pretty decent. There was a towel, instant oatmeal, a shower gel, and a cute keychain together with the usual race tee and race bib in a drawstring bag.

Since it is run organised by the newspaper, there is a special Straits Times Run newspaper with essential information like race routes, start times and other interesting reads inside. There was also an overload of vouchers by various sponsors.

Race pack collection: 5/5

Race pack: 3.5/5

Race Day

It was raining heavy prior to the race start time of 5am and I was afraid that the rain would affect this race. However, I received an SMS at around 3+am informing us that the race will go on, but that there may be a delay in the flag off time.

I reached the starting pen at 4.40am but it was not opened yet.

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At around 4.45am, the starting pen opened and everyone began to slowly walk thru the narrow entrance that was surrounded by 4-5 security guards to make sure that everyone had a race bib on. There was a led warm up at around 5am and we were flagged off at 5.15am.  Continue reading “18.45KM The Straits Times Run In The City 2016 Review”

21.1KM NTUC Run 350 2016 Review

First half marathon of 2016, and second half marathon overall done and dusted. A new pb for me, my nett time was 2h26m43s, beating my StandChart HM nett time of 2h31m16s.

Training

I signed up for this HM as a test of my endurance and fitness level for the upcoming Sundown Marathon, and the feedback I received from my body after the race told me that I really need to get those long runs in. I went running at the Gardens by the Bay area before the race to get myself familiar with the route. The construction around the area changes the normal route by a little so I thought I should get a feel of it. My plan for this race was to run consistently for the first 15KM then slowly speed up towards the end. I targeted to finish in 2h20m.

Race Day

I woke up nice and early, ate a banana and went to the race site.

What a striking sea of orange there! Straight away, I hit the portable loos first. The portable loos were arranged in a L shape making queuing for it tricky. Most people ended up queuing for the toilets at the outer side since the queue for the center ones were blocked by those queuing for the outer ones. The queue was rather long, some had 20 people queuing for it, mine had about 8 (I managed to squeeze in to queue for the center toilets). After using the loo, I went to the starting pen. Continue reading “21.1KM NTUC Run 350 2016 Review”

10KM 2XU Compression Run 2016 Review

First race that I woke up late for and ended up in the second wave. Now I know how the wave system functions!

Race Goodie Bag

I didn’t collect the race pack myself so I can’t comment on collection, but the race pack is actually quite decent with physical sample products. There is one Soyjoy bar, Garnier Men facial wash, Tigerbalm muscle gel, one strip of Acti-Tape, and one running pouch. The running tee does not have any logos to indicate that it is for the 2016 2XU Run which I thought was great since some running tees just have too many huge logos everywhere.

Training

I did my usual runs as part of my training for the Sundown Marathon, I didn’t particularly train at my 10KM ideal race speed so I was not aiming for a PB. I just thought that it will be a good race since I’m running with a friend.

Race Day

Having reaching the starting line at 6.50am for a 7am race, I was rather late so I didn’t use the portable loos or the bag drop area. Soon it was 7am and the runners that were lined up in front started running. Being at the back of the pack, I didn’t move forward much, and only manage to slowly walk forward. Soon the line stopped moving and we had to wait for a while and the second wave started 5 minutes later.  Continue reading “10KM 2XU Compression Run 2016 Review”

5KM Carnival Run @ Bedok Reservoir 2016 Review

My first 5KM race ever. I have never done a 5KM race before but from what I gather, the strategy for a short race is to go all out!

Training

I didn’t do anything special to prep for this race. I continued with my training prep for the Sundown Marathon which comes with some fartlek training so I think it helped ready me for the speed. I was gunning to complete 5KM in less than 30mins but I told myself to not take it too hard if I can’t.


Race Day 

The race venue was at my home ground, Bedok Reservoir, so I am quite familiar with the terrain. The loop is a mix of loose gravel and tar road. I arrived 30mins prior to the race which starts at 6pm, and already there were many people there.  Continue reading “5KM Carnival Run @ Bedok Reservoir 2016 Review”

10KM Marina Run 2016 Review

My first wet race! It was raining on and off for the whole day, the air was cold and the ground muddy but it was a new experience for me.

Training

I have not been training much since I lazed around during CNY so I tried to sneak in some pre 10 km race training during the week before Saturday. I ran a long run 10km, a tempo with fast finish 5 km and a tempo with fast finish 6 km on the treadmill to mentally prep myself for my race pace. I think that conditioning worked! I felt more ready for the race. My previous 10KM Brooks Run Happy demoralised me a little since I was really aiming for a PB in that race so I target to take it easy for this race.

Race Day

The race venue was at Gardens by the Bay East, which is nearest to Tanjong Rhu. I decided to walk from the National Stadium to the race venue even though there was a shuttle bus service. I was afraid of the long queue to board the shuttle and decided that it was a good warm up for my legs walking there. Continue reading “10KM Marina Run 2016 Review”

10KM Brooks Run Happy 2016 Review

First race of the year done! 10km completed wits a nett time of 1h 06m 15s. Although it’s not a PB, it was a meaningful one because I did it with my Sister.

We drove down to Big Splash and reached at 6.45am. It was kind of late since the race was at 7am and I was worried about not getting a parking space. Luckily the car park still had quite a few empty lots and I took it as an early sign that this is not a popular race. We walked over and I went to the portable loos. There was no queue and we soon went to the starting pen. The atmosphere at the starting pen was not high even though the race was starting in 5mins, it was also not crowded and we manage to secure a spot near the starting line and waited for the race to start. The emcee was working the crowd and he decided offhand to get a runner (I think a DJ) to flag off the race. Pretty not organised? Anyway, off we went!  Continue reading “10KM Brooks Run Happy 2016 Review”