Sunday, December 02, 2007

SCSM07 - A Pacer's FR

I had set my mind from June to be a 4hr Pacer at this years SCSM. With the few training sessions I attended, as well as running with friends and kakis at our own training runs, I felt we were ready to help a number of them do their PBs and even do sub-4hr marathons.

We gathered at 4:45am in the morning, near the Merlion. The pacers were there, along with the elite runners. Met Ultraman and his Er Mei tudis, Akira and his Japanese elite runners, and many SAFRA friends. I was concerned that some of those who wanted to follow my 4hr pace group were nowhere to be seen. When we finally took out spots at the start line, there was Brokie, hophing and a few others spotted.

The first 10km
The horn blew, and away we went. The 4hr pace group of David Tay, kkchin, DO and myself were running abreast at a very comfortable 5:30min/km pace. Many of the runners came up to follow our pace....and there were more who overtook us...must be the race jitters...haha. Soon we had Gentle, Charmaine, leh-lio,Kayano, Ronnie, aerosolcan come up. DT and KKChin ran a tad ahead, with DO, myself and the SgRunners running as a group. It was fun. Kayano had a bib that made fun of Brokie to taunt her in the Brokie-Gentle challenge....but she was in no mood to be distracted...hehe.

I was constantly running at the rear of the 4hr pace group, maintaining a steady 5:30min/km pace, always keeping an eye out for DO and the rest. leh-lio was running very close to my pace.....she secretly said she hoped she would do sub-4hr. I assured her that she had a good chance if she could keep up with us till the 28km at that pace. We caught up with DO and the group by the 10km mark in 54min....slightly ahead of pace. I spotted many familiar faces along the way...we greeted and chatted for a bit....spotted Wong, a very consistent sub-4hr marathoner from SAFRA MF, and told DO and gang to use him as a reference point....turned out that Wong was always nearby throughout the whole race till the end!

This stretch took us along Robinson Road, Nicholl Highway then into ECP via Fort Road. We maintained a steady pace and leh-lio was still running close...very strong pace indeed. She stopped at most water points, and was steady throughout. I advised her to speed up a little to go for her toilet break, and then rejoin us. Once into ECP, could see the Kenyans running as a group strongly on their way out....applause for all of them....further down, spotted many familiar faces...Vivian Tang, Teck Hou, the MR25 runners, and many more.....cheered for those that I could recognize. Brokie was cheering heartily for them too...she was still maintaining a good pace. Charmaine was just so consistent throughout, and she was just following DO's pace. At the U-turn from F2, David Tay gave us a shout to acknowledge our steady pace. We reached 21km in 1hr57min...barely on pace.

I started to move up slightly, and told DO, Charmaine and leh-lio to move ahead. While I could still see Brokie about 50m back, Gentle must have tapered off slightly. I continued to maintain the pace, and along the way chatted with a 62yo German who did a very good 3:30+ NYC Marathon recently. He mentioned that this SCSM is not for him, as the heat will surely kill' his pace later. I kept about a 50m distance from DO and party, and was hopeful that brokie, gentle and the rest could catch up. Acknowledged quite a number of running kakis from SAFRA, and many whose faces I did have a chance to catch. Shortly after the Powergel station, Saw DO picked up a iced Sng Pao from the SAFRA support station at 27km....I too asked for one, and that 'heavenly' Sng Pao kept me going till 30km. Time check was 2hr50min...was still on track. I walked a little to see if I could spot Brokie and the rest, but to no avail

I noticed a gal running nearby and sensed that she was going for 4hr. I paced her, and urged her to keep going, as we ran out onto Moutbatten and the Nicholl Highway. I could feel my calves tightening, but otherwise all was well. Posed for a few nice shots for photographers lined up along the way. Chatted with the gal from 35km, and told her about Pacers and SgRunners...hope we can have another good runner to help out next year. By then, DO, Charmaine and leh-lio were at least 500m in front. By 36km, I told the gal she has to increase the pace and follow me if she wanted to break 4hr....she said yah! I took a slow drink at 37km mark, and decided to back-pedal to give one last view to the rear to see which other fringe runners I could pick up...I crashed mildly into a cone while running backwards, and almost got a cramp on the left calf...Phew! I had only 30min to cover the remaining 5.195km...I had to make a move.

The final 4.195km
With about 4km to go, I upped the pace to 5:40min/km...a few runners asked me if they could still make 4hr...I told them it was close, and they should be in front of me to stand a good chance...1 or 2 sprinted forward, but the rest mostly stayed behind. There was this guy who followed so close to me, and then kicked my underfoot, resulting in a huge cramp for me...Arghh! I stared at him, and he just ran away...haizz...I had to walk off the cramp, losing precious seconds. At the 39km mark, I noticed someone was SealBoon...he was slowing, although moving. I ran up and signaled to him to keep going at my pace. The final 2.195km was just pure mental of trying to ward off my cramps, and running in a 'crabby' must have looked funny from behind.

Then it was into the Esplanade and about 1km to go. Spotted Bee waiting near the end, and waved to her. With 500m to go, I could hear the blaring of the announcer. I increased speed hoping to meet the 4hr mark. Round the bend with 200m to go, it was 48sec left...Beverly mentioned she saw me sprinting to the finish....crossed the finish in 4:00:06 Gun Time...that was close...Chip Time will be 3:59min+. The finish was a bit spoilt when a deperate Ang Moh tried to cut in....surely would have affected the finishing photo...shucks!

SealBoon and the new gal crossed just after me, allowing them to go below 4-hr Chip Time. They were elated. I was so glad for them, and was happy to have made a difference. I was extremely happy that leh-lio finished in 3:58min along with Charmaine...a dream come true for! I am proud of Brokie for smashing her PB with a 4:09min timing, and Gentle making a strong comeback with a 4:15hr timing. I am sure they will break 4-hr pretty soon. The Brokie-Gentle Challenge was certainly the highlight of the first part of the race, and true to prediction, it was a close finish in the end.

The 4hr pace group was happy to have accomplished our mission....the other pace groups all did very well to come within 5min of the paces they were doing, in the process helping many do their PBs...this is surely one experience I will treasure for a long time to come! Ultraman did very well to establish a PB of 3:44hr...and his Er Mei Pai tudis all did so well...congrats to all of them.

Beverly took some nice photos of us at the finish spot, and thanks to her shoulder, I was saved from the near eruption of a massive cramp while standing in the sun. Bev clocked a respectable 2:09hr for her 21km, not PB, but good enough on such a warm day (she hates the sun...haha). After collecting our finishers' medals and T-Shirts, we proceeded to take some very nice and interesting group photos at the Cenotaph. As I had to rush for a wedding lunch, I could not stay longer to have lunch with the group and share in their Victory speeches and stories.

Distance: 42.195km__Time: 3:59:54__Pace: 5:41min/km

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At 7:44 AM, Blogger roentgen said...

This is a great Pacer account DR! :) You have certainly helped many runners aiming for the sub-4 mark by running true to the displayed target time of 4 hours.

Congrats on yet another successful marathon under you belt :D

At 11:42 AM, Blogger runmondeo said...

Well done DR!


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