Last evening was spent in a very enjoyable race at the Republic Run 10km, in Woodlands, Singapore. It was the first time I was going to race in my VFF KSOs and i was quite eagerly waiting for a chance to try them out. For those who want to cut the chase, well, I ran 52:42 (5:11 pace) and bettered my previous PB by 2.5 minutes or thereabouts. The longer version continues below ..... :)
After my 21km trail run on Saturday, i hadnt run for 4 days due to a strange mix of work-related and shopping-related circumstances! :) I was eager to clock some mileage up in the week and so although, i knew i had a race on Saturday evening, i thought i would venture out for a 12km run on Friday evening. And boy, was that a mistake !! I have never run in more humid weather and was already sweating buckets by the time i had run my usual 1.25km to the AMK Ave 1 - CTE Signal where i usually do some stretching before continuing on the rest of the run. I had planned to run at a 6:15 pace or so, but ended up going at 5:40-5:50 pace and at the 6km mark, had no choice but to sit and take a break on Upp Thomson Road as I had been steadily losing water but had nothing to supplement this loss. Of late, i have stopped carrying water for 12km runs and below, as what i have just before i leave my house sustains me for the running duration. I resumed my run, only to stop another couple of kms ahead to take an extended traffic signal break. This dismal sequence would continue once more and by the time i ran 11km, i decided i was just gonna walk back. That made for a very forgettable day.
And so, when Saturday came along, i wanted to atleast partially, redeem myself for the poor show on Friday. I met with Eugene at the Woodlands MRT and we made our way to the start line together. (Also saw Mok, Vivian Tang at the start line). As it turned out, i was probably the only runner in the entire race running in Vibrams, which made it slightly special! ). I have PowerBar Gel boxes at home which are expiring in October this year so I use every chance i can get to finish them before they expire, so at the start of the race, i popped a Gel, downed it with water and figured i wouldnt have to drink water during the race. The race started and i found myself running at a planned 9.5km pace or so i thought. My breathing was very stable and i am very conscious of not running the first few kms of a race very fast and instead use it as part of the warm up. Except that when i looked at my watch somewhere around the 1km mark (to check the calibration of watch vs. distance marker), i saw that i was going at a 11kph + pace. I thought i was asking for trouble and slowed down. Except that i ended up somehow running the 2nd km at practically the same speed as the 1st km. As i do these days, i barely looked at my Garmin after that until the finish line and mostly run by how i feel. After the first kms, the field strung out quite a bit and i began steadily picking my way up through the running field. The route was mostly flat with a couple of gentle slopes, like Sling had mentioned on FB and except for the time of the day, which made it humid, the tree foliage along the route and the reservoir at a section of the race all made for very peaceful surroundings to run in.
At around the 7.5 km mark, i saw a couple of other SG Runner friends who had started with me and i slowly eased ahead of them running a very steady race. This run was a dramatic change from my first couple of runs in my VFFs when my Calves turned into stone towards the end of the run and for a few days after that. 90kms later, with another 60 kms in my midfoot strike shoes, i found myself a lot more comfortable running with a midfoot strike and also learning to relax as i ran faster. Coming out of the reservoir road at 8km, i ran into a sea of school kids who were doing the 5km fun run and although i had to spend extra effort to weave in and out without losing pace, it is always fun to see young kids out in the open having fun. :) I came up to the 9km mark and saw that i had 47 minutes and change, down already and knew that if i just kept my current pace, i was going to beat my previous PB of 55:20. Since there was some gas still left in the tank, i picked my speed in the last 500kms, and finished with a sprint 100mtrs. My garmin recorded a distance of 10.17 and time of 52:42 as i came past the finish line.
After a very tasty and cold herbal tea drink and a bit of water, i had cooled down enough to reflect that one of the advantages of improving your running speed, is that you stay out of downpours that hit the 70min+ runners for the race! :) It was great weather nevertheless and i am sure i would have run in the rain if it had come down while i was still in the hunt. From my 1st race in Dec 2008 where i ran a 67:33 for the 10km to this, its been a fantastic journey. I definitely want to see a sub-50 10km run this year now ! :)