Wednesday, December 09, 2009

TR - Singapore

Sun, Dec 6/09
Singapore Marathon
Marathon # 321 - Country #101 (new World Record)
4:43:41- 3 AG

I can’t say that I was looking forward to this marathon except that I would finally move off the century mark and complete Country #101. I visited Singapore five years ago and knew that the weather would be brutally hot and humid! The Sports Manager did not want to go since she had visited Singapore many times and was still recovering from her hip surgery.

Thus I made the long, 30-hr journey by myself. The journey was extended a few hours and I arrived at my hotel at 3am on Fri morning. When I exited the taxi it was hot and humid at 3am – I was already NOT looking forward to the race! I let the poor old bod sleep as late as possible and then proceeded to the race expo to pick up my race packet. There were 50,000 runners registered in four events – about 18,000 in the marathon.

I was not pleased with the race organization even before I left home. They had been very inflexible, uninterested and non-caring to assist me in obtaining bib #101 for the race. If you are not an elite athlete who can win the race they are not interested in helping you! When I tried to check the age group results for past years I learned that not only were there no age group awards for the race but they didn’t even post results for age groups! Thus my evaluation or rating for the race is LOW! Do not run this race if you are hoping for a PR (weather) or if it is a special milestone like race #100, etc! They could care less!

Packet pick up was well organized but the expo was pathetic! For a race that size there were only two booths selling running gear – the rest were hawking medical services and nutritional items? Fortunately the race booklet was good because there was very little info available at the expo!

Since I had toured the city/country on a previous trip I decided to buy a ticket on the hop on/hop off tour bus on Sat to visit a few interesting sites such as the Merlion (the city symbol) at Esplanade Park, the Singapore Flyer (new) and to check out the logistics at the start/finish area. The race started on the Esplanade Bridge and finished in front of City Hall. Once I was familiar with the area I was free to enjoy the rest of the city, enjoy an early dinner and go to bed early.

Sun was M-day! The marathon was the first race to start at 5:30am. It was HOT (high 70s) and humid (80%) at 5:30am as I lined up with 18,000 runners. There were only 3 race pens – sub 4 hrs, sub 5 hrs and 5 hrs+ with no controls. Thus I lined up a few rows behind the Kenyans and elite athletes to avoid getting boxed in. Because of the expected heat/humidity and no age groups or incentive to race I had decided to run ‘slow & easy’. I figured that I could run an easy 9-min pace for the 1st Half to take advantage of the ‘cooler’ weather and then slow to a 10-min pace in the 2nd Half. I ran the first 3 Km faster than wanted (15:55) because I was boxed in with fast runners. However at that point the course opened up and I was able to slow down. I passed 10Km in 55:30 but was already overheating? I slowed the pace to 9:30s in an effort to cool my body down.

However when I reached 15Km in 1:26:08 and a split of 6:08/km (9:45/mile) I knew that I was in trouble already. My body was burning up and I couldn’t cool off? I decided to let my old bod dictate the pace till the Half and started to stop at each water station located every 2 Km. I would drink one cup of water and dump two on me in an attempt to hydrate and stay cool. I passed the Half in 2:07:15. But the sun was up by then and the temps were in the 80s and I knew the 2nd Half would get ugly! When I passed 25km in 2:33:59 and a split of 6:36/km (10:33/mile) I knew I was in big trouble. My legs felt OK but I just couldn’t increase the pace – my body would not cool down and I had not yet made or had a need for a pit stop. I increased my water intake to two cups at each stop and dumped 3 or 4 cups on my body to try to cool off. I could barely run (jog) to the next water station w/o walking? It became a matter of survival. Run – or shuffle – for 2 Km, then stop for water in and on and repeat the cycle!

Around 37Km the marathon and Half merged to share the final 5Km and the course was clogged with walkers from the Half. Now I had to weave around thousands of walkers and that only exasperated the situation and the agony! I dearly wanted to join them in walking but needed to end the agony as quickly as possible. I continued to shuffle between each water station – then stop/walk - pour two in and 4 on- in a desperate attempt to stay cool and hydrated and finally crossed the finish line in 4:43:41.

I was so frustrated and disappointed with my performance and inability to recover and ‘run’ the race that I didn’t bother to stick around for any after-race festivities. I took a finish-line photo and returned to the hotel for a COLD shower just to cool off. I had planned to spend the afternoon exploring the city and taking a river cruise but the streets were so crowded with Sun/Xmas shoppers that I retreated to my hotel room to watch college football games from the USA and rest for the 30-hr return trip home on Mon.

The nice thing about ‘running’ so slow I have discovered is that my legs were not sore or tired after the run. I should be able to resume speed work in my training program sooner than expected to prepare for one more race in 2009. I decided to run a marathon in FL in two weeks. Hopefully I can run a faster race?

Stay tuned!

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