That morning, I had woken up at about fifteen minutes past four. I had prepared a mug of milo with milk but couldn't stomach any food; not even bread! My dinner was heavy, I could still feel the roasted lamb leg inside my stomach. I tried to down a bit more fluids but I felt like puking. After I had changed into my gear, I left the house with a heavy stomach. I reached the car park of Millenia Walk just before 5am. I had left my bread in the car as I was still feeling very full. Perhaps, I should've just stuck to my usual pre-race staple of pasta, chicken and salad. NEVER feast on roast lamb leg before a race, it is a mistake as I would find out during the race.
Unlike other mixed races, the number of participants for the GE 21km category was relatively smaller. First, no men were permitted to take part in this event. Besides, more women ran in the 10km compared to the 21km competitive category. Hence, I found the whole race experience very pleasant indeed. From the start, I did not have to enter the race pen quickly as I knew that my chance of finding a spot close to the start line was almost certain. Unlike other major races for both men and women such as the Sundown Marathon or the Standard Chartered Marathon events, the race pen was not crowded at all. In fact, I had made my way comfortably to the 8th row, counting from the 1st, and had stood there eagerly before the countdown was heard at 5.30am.
As always, the wee hours was extremely humid and windless. I had begun to perspire even while standing. As I looked up to my left, the Ritz Carlton Hotel towered majestically. I wondered curiously how many female participants had actually booked a room upstairs to prepare themselves for the race. Within moments, I heard "5-4-3-2-1" and off, the elite runners went first. It was another 2 minutes later that the rest of us crossed the start line after another countdown was led by the emcee.
There is something very exciting about road racing. I get a 'feel good' adrenaline pumping in me as I pound each step of the way. A race feels like its every runner for himself. For me, I was racing against my own previous record. By the 3rd km, I was already panting. But to give up or slow down was out of the question. 'This is like walking', I kept assuring myself that it wasn't difficult even as I panted along with my feet. Gradually, I felt myself allowing my mind to 'take over' as I ignored the growing physical discomfort as I took each step forward and closer to the finish line.
I feel great satisfaction at having overtaken many runners. 'Try to overtake the next one ahead', I kept telling myself as I plodded on. Of course, some were faster and had overtaken me. I looked ahead as far as my eyes could see. Runners dotted the route until they disappeared from my sight. 'Wah...so fast!'. By the 6th km, I tore open my 1st pack of energy gel and swallowed it slowly. But my stomach felt a bit unsettled. 'What is wrong?' I wondered.
By the time I had turned back to Nicoll Highway, I could see the first hint of sunlight illuminating the east horizon. 'Keep going', I urged myself not to slow down but to use the sunrise as my pacer. The road ahead was smooth and no one jostled or pushed me at all. I could see my steps clearly this time as the sky turned brighter but the early sunshine was still hidden behind the horizon clouds. I ran upslope just after the 11km mark and turned around into the Tanjong Rhu condo belt. I was panting more heavily now but I refused to let the physical control the mental. Actually, this is one of the best routes I've ever raced in. I discovered the lovely greenery as I made my way towards Bay East. I never knew this route existed until that morning. By then, the discomfort in my stomach was more evident but I suspected nothing and kept going. I was late by 2 minutes when I reached 16km. 'Arrggghh!'.
The straight journey through Bay East Gardens was a test of one's mental focus. I didn't want to look too far ahead as it would dampen my spirit. By then, I had slowed down inevitably. The tiredness had sunk in and my tummy didn't feel that well either. When I finally made it through Bay East Gardens to the Marina Barrage Bridge, the early morning sun was shining brightly at my back. After I had downed another half cup of water at the next drink station, I felt my bowels moving down.
The 17km sign was clearly visible but my rumbling tummy distracted my focus and forced me to consider another option. 'Find a loo, quick!'. 'No way, just hang in there and hold it in!'. Arrgghh! Seconds ticked by as I looked franticially around me, at the same time, doing my utmost to slow down lest the unthinkable happens! The watch read 1:44 before I passed the 17km distance marker. I was battling against nature and wondering whether I should just forget about racing against my own time but the competitive spirit in me was just overwhelming. By the time I reached 19km, I could not feel my bowels anymore but I was past my expected finish time by at least 4 minutes.
If I had not ordered that roasted lamb leg at Meds Dining the night before, the result could've been more promising. Based on provisional results, I had finished in a nett time of 2:11:06. I would've liked a 2:07 at least but given the unforseen situation, I knew it wouldn't happen. I'm not sure what's my overall position although my provisional standing under the Master category is 27. I'm also clueless as to how many women competed under my category so I'm waiting for the final results to be released soon.
"Not good enough", I told my friend through sms after the race. Next time, I have to run faster. Now, that gives me another excuse to keep pounding the pavement!
Count me in for 2013, my mission is NOT accomplished yet. :-)