Last Sunday, November 8 2015, thanks to dear Gordon’s challenge, I completed my first 21km alongside with him and 3 other friends, lieyang, arthur, marshall. It still doesn’t feel real that I can now call myself a half marathon runner. And I owe it to Gordon for bringing me to greater heights, for those who have sweat it out with me – mostly lieyang, hanwei, david, lin le, and for all who believed in me. Special thanks to the bro who even wore a different colour shirt that day to help me recognise him easily to help me with my run. And God definitely helped me by taking away the ache I was getting, the stitch I had, and giving me strength when I called for it.
The night before, dinner was taken at 8pm (supposedly earlier, but mum got delayed while buying) and lots of water drank following the advice of Gordon and lieyang. Finally, got to sleep around 1030, before waking up again at 3am to my first of many alarms which is probably accounted to the anxious feeling in me. Dad and I set off from home around 340am and I was dropped off at the carpark opposite marina square, following some hiccups – going into the wrong carpark and waving at a stranger whom I thought was lieyang and arthur’s friend. After trying to get into the hotel to use the toilet, followed by using marina square toilet, we finally reached the floating platform and found gordon. And it wasn’t long before our race was about to start. We all did some stretching while talking rubbish, followed by the toilet and grabbing a shot on stage.
We finally came to the flag off point and it was close to 5am. There weren’t that many people and we were near the back of the crowd. We took some photos and chit chat. And when it came to flag off, the 3 officers took off first while gordon and I were together for probably 1min before I took off with a few occasional glances behind till I couldn’t see gordon anymore… Not long, I also passed marshall (the slow and steady) At the first bend, there was such a jam that we were close to walking pace? When the opportunity arose to cut the queue eg. going up the pavement, I took it and my body felt light and the run felt easy so I was kind of overtaking quite a number of people, while enjoying my run. And for this first 5km at least, I was just breezing through, thinking of how this journey has been since joining DBS, the running friends I’ve made, and the fact that I’m doing a 21km right now and imagining me being able to tell people in a few hours that I completed a half marathon!!! I was also just thanking God in my head for this day, for this experience, for these friends and praying for all of us to make it through safely.
The path was familiar once it hit near MBFC… and just near the usual warm up place there was the first water point, and boy the isotonic drink felt so sweet and I was kind of against taking isotonic drink at subsequent water points. It felt so good to be on familiar ground after that. I was still able to enjoy the scenery, think happy thoughts, notice people behaviour eg. a girl taking off her shirt using as towel and men turning over to glance lol. When we were closing up on the sheares bridge which had the first u-turn, was looking out for yellow shirt (lieyang) and tattoo tights (arthur) but didn’t see them all the way till I crossed the uturn, and I was kind of happy I think, knowing that they are far ahead though I was excited to HI them if we were to pass. By then, it was probably close to 7km and accompanied with the fast pace I took at the start, my body was getting a bit tired… Once I was on the other side of the u-turn, I was looking hard for Gordon, but again unsuccessful attempt.
The path proceeded into a darker lit and more gravel like flooring once we turned in to the left. The body was getting more tired too and the run was somewhat not as light hearted and enjoyable… Perhaps the scenery accounted for that as there was not much to see except bushes on the side? Each water check point was more valuable and soon the people around you seem to be constant… And motivational quotes on the board became visible to me suddenly probably because the body is more distracted eg. “Tough race never lasts, tough runners last”. And I also recalled telling myself what Gordon asked me before “I am strong”.
When the path was opposite Singapore Sports Hub, the morning light of the structure took some of the tiredness away. I found out that there is such a thing, race pacers – a group of 4 people with balloons attached on them and timing on their backs. I was close to the 2:20 pacers and moved from an ahead of them to with them to behind them gradually… Breathing also became heavier for me, as I heaved out louder and longer breaths. Later on, we ran past tanjong rhu (the back of dunman high), along the canal and for that moment, it felt refreshing as the thoughts of my school helped to distract me from the run, but it didn’t last quite long. And as each km passed from 12km, I was celebrating in my heart but the celebrations seem to be further and further as each km seemed to grow further apart.
It was probably around the 14/15km, not sure, when I saw a yellow shirt some distance ahead with a familiar body outline. And it didn’t take me long to confirm it was lieyang. And within 1 min or so of me spotting him, he turned around and gave a wave which was responded by a hand gesture signalling “hi, why are u here, go ahead” which later he told me he wasn’t planning to go fast anyway, so go slow today and help me with my run. Soon, I was just slightly behind him.. And we went on like this for quite some distance. Along the way, he would tell me how my timing would be if I maintain at this pace… And I was dying inside to complain, so tiring, but I held it in cause I knew that would not be anyway helpful. Instead, I kept pushing on while the sun was rising … Somehow, memories of the path after tanjong rhu feels blurred out, maybe because of how tiring it got and all I can recall is just nicoll highway.
And then when nearing the 19km mark, there was a u-turn ahead that took so long to reach and water was such a jewel then, so precious and I was so deeply longing for the water point. Throughout the last few km, the quantity of liquid consumed increased from half a cup to full cup, which probably accounted for the stitch I got halfway through. Before the next water point could come, a loud voice came from my right : “COME ON YOU CAN DO IT!” and when I saw that it was Gordon, I gave out an exclaimation “WOOH” and clapped for him even. And though inside me, I remember him saying “If you’re faster than me, I’ll be behind you. If you’re slower than me, I’ll still be behind you” I was just glad he was doing well and managed to catch up! While I was lagging behind Gordon, lieyang slowed down, not sure if it was to wait for arthur.. so I was soon by myself again, for the last 2km or so.
The last km felt like it was taking forever. There was mixed feelings going on too inside, what it’ll be like completing this, will I really cry? And also, I was just telling myself to picture myself running back from MBS to the warm up point but it was not easy as the last stretch felt so long and the image of the finishing point kept resurfacing but I kept pushing that thought away and focused on running. But it seemed that my pace by then was pretty slow.. according to mapmyrun and lieyang who was just behind me. And there was a photographer situated near the end point whom I even arranged my hair for that picture which I’m trying to locate still. This image was witnessed by lieyang just behind me apparently! Whoops!
When the finishing point was in sight, there wasn’t much feeling but to keep going and faster get it done! And when I finally crossed over, not long came lieyang from behind whom I gave a low 5 followed by cheers from Gordon who came from in front! And eventually arthur came, followed by marshall. And nope no tears resulted from this and this time round the isotonic drinks were quickly downed, 2 cans at one go and lots of milo and banana, making it the 4th banana for the day! Then we had some fun taking photos as per my request before finally going for breakfast followed by home with lots of laughters along the way~
Lesson learnt from this: Anything is possible. It’s all in your mind. And at the end of the day, I gained more than I could ask for, a milestone achieved, memories from the race and during this journey, friendship, love, confidence.
Extremely thankful and blessed for this experience. If asked whether I would do this again, I may actually consider it, I think…