Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Final Sundown Familiarization

It was a very warm and humid night. About 100 odd runners have gathered at Changi Beach Park, and even the press were there to take photos and cover the even opening. Briefings were conducted by Ripley and TLR, and the lead runners were introduced. Bev and I were part of the the lead runners for the mid-pack, supposed to be doing an average 7min/km pace.

We started off at around 8.15pm. Running along the narrow pathways was a real challenge, even with such a small number of runners. I cannot imagine what it will be like on actual race day. Chatted with my group of runners comprising of DO, Ultraman, Eugene, kk, SealBoon, Prata, Raven, Colleen, William, Spinn3rX and other runners who were following the mid-pack. Spotted Mike Kang bobbing up and down the lanes...there were many other familiar faces too.

We began immediately with our 25min run/5min walk, a slight change to the routine for the night. The part along Changi Coastal Drive's Park Connector was boring, and it was good that we were running as a group. Chatted with a few new runners and gave them encouragement for their maiden marathons. Roonz was running very well, given her much lighter physique. Half-timer joined in the conversations, and he was running so strong. Into the PCN to East Coast, the Skateline Saturday nite skates were happening, with large groups coming in the opposite direction, the leaders holding on to large beacons....they were having fun....hope to join them for one of these night skates after Sundown.

Near NSRCC, our group of mid-pack runners had bunched to about 20+ runners. Other smaller groups were running near us. We had some nice photo shots taken by a photographer strategically lined up along that way. We finally spotted the large group of front runners along ECP BugerKing area who had gathered for group photos. DO had a chat with them while the rest of us continued running. Bev called out to me and said she would wait for me to u-turn from Big Splash. By then, our legs were getting the strain of the flat, hard ground of the ECP route. On the return, we saw Kayano, Brokie and their bunch of runners waiting at turn-off to Bedok Reservoir PCN. We waved merrily, before turning off onto the overhead bridge. At last, some relief, although very small, for the legs...some variations to the otherwise very flat and hard ECP.

Bev managed to catch up with me near the Kembagan MRT, before proceeding together towards Bedok Reservoir. The very warm night was taking its toll on most of us, and I was perspiring profusely. It was with sheer delight that we welcomed the refreshment point set up by JamesSoh. He had cold 100-plus and bananas, which were life-savers at that point. After the refuel, I felt a 'second wind' and ran in the direction given by James. zco in his SKINS suit was also, he must have been running quite fast to be in front.

The part from Bedok Reservoir PCN to Pasir Ris PCN was a real blur. We must have made a number of wrong turns, but with directions given by the people-in-the-street, we were mostly on the PCN. That was quite different to what we ran during the previous Fam runs, where stretches were done on roads. Without marshalls stationed at specific turns, it can be a real challenge for runners to know their way on race day. I shudder to think what will happen if I have to figure the way after running for 50km or more. I hope for the best. Colleen, Prata and Ultra were running strong, while the rest were content to plod along. My feet were pretty achy with all the pounding of flat, hard PCN roads.

We had a good break at Cheers. Fennel had stayed with the smallish group of about 10 of us by then. Having found the Pasir Ris Pk PCN, we estimated we were about 12km from the end point. We did our next walk break when we reached Downtown East area, 5km later. Along the way, we did not see many other runners. We wondered where all of them went to. zco and Spinn3rX also broke off somewhere, without our knowledge. With about 7km to go, Eugene reported that we had ran for 38km, at an average pace of 6:30min/km during runs, and 7:30min/km during walks. Wah, we actually ran a bit longer than planned.

The final 7km was just 'mental', with all proceeding towards the end point at Changi Beach Park. Bev, kk, DO and myself were running as a small bunch, with Prata, Ultra, Colleen in front. I managed to show the rest the turn into Cromwell Drive (which was the actual route), which would be longer as opposed to running straight down. Spotted SealBoon and a few other runners near Changi Village. I informed them we were almost there, and led them to the finish. We were so happy to finish about 47km in 5hr45min, and immediately abolished our initial plan to run till 60km. Our legs were just so 'wasted'.

I drank 8 cups of cold Gatorade provided by the SgRunners' support team....great work for the organization and support by Ripley, taz, renohtaram and a few other moderators. It was a hard, but satisfying run. We decided we had to revisit the PCN from Bedok Reservoir to Pasir Ris Pk to familiarize ourselves. Bev and Eugene were happy they completed their first marathon of 42km or more. Since most of us had no mood to eat, we decided to head straight home. After a nice warm bath, I slipped on my recovery compression tights, and had a good rest of about 6hours. I was refreshed and rejuvenated after that. No chaffing, abrasion and no major damage.

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