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!

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”

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. Continue reading “From 10km to 21.1KM: Virgin Standard Chartered Half Marathon 2015 Review”

GE Women’s Run Result & My First StandChart HM Charity Run

My GE Women’s Run result is out and I think I did pretty good with this race. Even though I wanted to complete it in 60mins but I think the time of 1:05:33 is still awesome. All the training prior to the race paid off.

And… running can be addicting so I joined the Standard Chartered Run!