I remember my first run in my adult life. It was a 5km charity run two years ago, and though I finished it in fairly decent time (25 minutes, which is still my best time to date), I hadn’t trained for it at all. I didn’t even walk a few rounds around the block. So, needless to say, after the run, I couldn’t walk properly for many days, because my leg muscles were all frozen.
I remember thinking at that time that I would never join a run longer than 5km, because it felt as if that was all I could manage.
Then I took part in the 8.5km Tropicana Nite Run and there was no turning back.
Still on a high from getting the pretty finisher medal, when I reached home, I started looking for another run to join. Problem is, most runs have early registration deadlines. But I found one that still was open for registration even though the run was only 2 weeks away.
As I was signing up, my hand moving the mouse hesitated. The mouse pointer hovered between 5km and 10km. I remember how I struggled to finish 8.5km. But at the same time I felt I couldn’t regress to something shorter. So without further thought, I clicked 10km.
I must say that there were times in the days leading up to the run that I wished I signed up for 5km instead. The idea of running 10km was quite daunting. Even when I run at the park, I can’t seem to get past 5km. What on earth made me think I could complete 10km??
RACE DAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2014
I was on my own for this one as well, because my only other running kaki (who is far more serious about runs than I am) had already signed up for another run on the same day. But I’ve never been one to shirk from doing things alone so I had no qualms going for this run on my own.
So I got up at 4am to get to the venue in time for the flag-off at 6am. I was hoping to park in Jalan Kebun Bunga which is in Botanical Gardens itself so I tried my luck. But as suspected, the roads were already closed as the half-marathoners were flagged off at 5am.
Unfortunately all other suggested car parks in our information booklet (which came in our race pack) that I knew how to get to were also not accessible. In the end I trailed a line of cars and parked at the car park of a community centre. The good thing was that it was a proper car park, so our vehicles would not be obstructing traffic or pedestrians in any way.
Not knowing how to get to the starting point, I fell in with a pair of sisters who were going to run, and a girl who had just dropped off her boyfriend for the 21.1km and was going to wait for him at the field. We made our way together to the field, which was about 3km away.
We got there in time to be flagged off in the second wave. After that we went our separate ways and I was truly on my own now, with just my music.
I’m not a runner. I’m not going to pretend I’m one.
Truth be told, as I started the run, I tried very hard not to think of the distance because it really felt overwhelming. I had to pace myself, and I wasn’t sure how to because I had never run this distance before. I constantly alternated between running and walking. But here’s what kept me going and kept me in check:
- The people around me
My highly kiasu nature wouldn’t let me slow down too much. When I’m slowing down with a walk, it’s normal to see people overtaking me. But when suddenly a huge group move past me, I’d be like “Hey I can’t be THAT slow!” And I’d make myself pick up the pace again. Seeing people constantly moving around me makes me want to keep moving too.
- Time vs distance check
I had set myself a target: to complete 10km in 80 minutes. This means I had to do 8 minutes per km on average. The organisers had put up large boards with the numbers every km, so I kept checking my Polar watch to see if I was still keeping time. It was an excellent way to keep my pace in check, and to prevent me from slowing into a sluggish walk (which is tempting to do towards the end).
I know myself. I would have finished the run crawling across the finish line if that was what it takes. I would never give up halfway. But I must admit that I can’t say the thought did not occur to me.
A few different people have told me that it’s at the 7km mark that the feeling of “oh my god can I complete this” suddenly kicks in. And in this race, I suddenly got that. I didn’t get it in the Tropicana Nite Run. As I passed 7km, the thought of 3 more km made me cringe a little. I was almost wishing that the patrol vehicle was nearby so I could just jump in and be taken back to base.
But I knew I would hate myself if I did let that happen. So I gritted my teeth and kept soldiering on.
The worst part was that I started getting quite hungry at this time too. Suddenly I had to contend with hunger pangs too.
The last km was when suddenly everyone would get a sudden surge of energy. You could see people suddenly switching from a walk to a run as they passed the 9km mark. I was no different. But I couldn’t keep up the fast run, although I tried. However in the last 200m, I managed to sprint all the way to the finish line!
And I shouted “YES!!!” again. Thankfully there were no videocameras this time.
And I proudly collected my first 10km finisher medal.
And stuffed myself with bananas and Revive, courtesy of the organisers.
I didn’t finish the 10km in my targeted 80 minutes. According to my Polar watch, I finished it in 84:36 🙁 Still, not too bad for my first run, but am definitely aiming to do better in my next run!
TIME TO GO HOME
I didn’t stay for the festivities, because I didn’t get top placing, and I was not eligible for the lucky draw as I hadn’t bought any 2xu products. So I decided to go back to my car.
Unfortunately I DID NOT KNOW WHERE IT IS.
I was unfamiliar with this area, and I hadn’t noticed the landmarks earlier that morning while walking to the venue, because I was chatting with the other girls. And everything looks different in daylight compared to in the dark.
So I walked around for half an hour like a fool, trying to find the community centre. My legs were already not talking to me, and I think they would have abandoned me if they could, for making them go through this hell. I was almost going to ask one of the other runners who had parked on the side of the streets to give me a ride. I was also seriously contemplating calling my boyfriend to come pick me up and drive me around until I find the lost car.
Note to self: next time drop a pin on Google Maps, you silly girl! That’s why you have a smartphone!
Fortunately before I got more hopelessly lost, I bumped into the same pair of sisters with whom I walked in the morning. The older sister (who had kept her wits with her this morning, unlike yours truly) knew where we parked, and she led us right to it.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT AND GAINED
Here’s what I found out about myself when I run:
- I have power and speed – but no stamina.
I can run quite fast. But I can’t keep it up. I can sprint for maybe 100-200m but then I have to stop to take a breather. It’s not that I don’t have energy – I do. But my muscles are not very good at handling the lactic acid buildup, so I often have to take a break to let them recover before I continue.
- I don’t like running.
I really don’t. I hate running on treadmills. I’ve ran on one at the gym for half an hour once this year – but I’ve never been on it again since then. So I have to run outside. But even when I try to train at the park, I’ll find any excuse to cut my training short.
So why am I signing up for more runs??? Because I’ve found out I enjoy the challenge of running. So I will run when there’s a goal to achieve – either to beat my own personal time, or to get that nice shiny medal. I know I know it’s a little… pathetic, but the medals do keep me going.
Here’s my official time as recorded from the timing bib I wore at the 2XU Compression Run, taken from their website.
And that concludes my somewhat eventful morning. Made new friends. Unlocked an achievement. Earned a medal!