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Race Report: Bedok Reservoir Ultramarathon

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Me and my friend Bee Ping participated in last weekend’s Bedok Reservoir Ultramarathon which was organized by Running Guild.

Before signing up for this run I was trying to decide between this run or the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon. I was looking for a run that will help me get prepared for the TMBT Ultra Marathon. After looking into the pros and cons of each race I decided to go for the Bedok Ultramarathon for the following reasons:

  • being a smaller event the race course will not be crowded
  • having a chance to see familiar faces and friendly runners along the race route who give support and motivation to other runners
  • being a volunteer in the past for a couple of races organized by Running Guild, I know that there will be plenty of food and drinks available at the aid station
  • having an opportunity to run with my good friend on her first ultramarathon

I did not run much for the month of August as I was in Africa for almost two weeks. I did a lot of walking though while I was trekking in Mt. Kilimanjaro. My thoughts before the race was just to take it slow and take the race as a training run for TMBT.

Me and Beeping arrived in Bedok Reservoir almost an hour late on race day. The race started at 7am and most runners were already on their way to complete the 2nd loop when we arrived at the starting point. The format for the solo category was to complete as many loops as possible within 12 hours from 7am to 7pm. One loop around the Bedok Reservoir is 4.3Km. One needs to complete a minimum of 12 loops (total 51.6Km) within 12 hours to earn the Finisher medal and shirt.

We collected our race bib and I hurriedly filled up my hydration bladder with water and one of the volunteers helped me put some ice inside. Without any stretching me and Beeping started to run.

Marcus of Running Shots took a photo of me before I started to run

It was first time to run in Bedok Reservoir and I didn’t know that the surface is mostly made up of dirt road. I was glad that I wore the Altra Lone Peak shoes instead of the  Asics DS Trainer 17.

The sun was starting to shine brightly and I was cautious to run slowly as I know I would be having a long day ahead. As the run went on the distance between me and Beeping got wider and wider and soon I was running on my own.

1st loop

1st loop

1st loop

1st loop

I only ate one piece of bread for breakfast and I was getting hungry. After I completed the first loop I stopped at the aid station and ate a few slices of watermelon and half of the banana before continuing for my second loop.

The first three loops went fine but on my 4th loop the heat of the sun was starting to bother me and my legs were feeling heavy. I was running at a much slower pace.

By the time I was going for my fifth loop it was already past 10am and the sun was burning hot! I tried to amuse myself looking at the scenery to distract my mind. Midway I stopped and took a photo of the beautiful scenery.

Kayaks in Bedok Reservoir

Kayaks in Bedok Reservoir

I started to employ run/walk strategy at this stage. Some of the runners who were part of the team category were finishing the race. I remember telling myself that time that it would have been better to just run in the team category as I only need to run for 25.8Km. I didn’t have to torture myself more running under the scorching sun.

I egged myself to continue until I have completed 6 loops as by then I am halfway of completing the ultra.

Running for the 6th loop

Running for the 6th loop

I was somewhat relieved when I finally completed 6 loops. I was feeling very exhausted. I took my time at the aid station to rest and I ate watermelon, banana and some chips. Not long after I saw Beeping arriving to complete her 6th loop. I decided to wait for her so we can run the 7th loop together. Brokie was also at the aid station taking her sweet time chit-chatting with the other runners after she completed the 6th loop.

The heat was taking its toll on most of the runners. The three of us decided to walk the 7th loop together. Along the way the three of us were chit-chatting about the upcoming TMBT race. Brokie was also using this race to prepare for the TMBT. Like me and Beeping she was also wary about the race. She shared to us her preparations which was quite helpful as it gave us an idea what else we needed.

Although we walked the entire loop it was not a relaxed walk as Brokie was walking at a fast pace and we have to catch up with her. I didn’t mind though as we were enjoying talking.

Walking all the way for the 7th loop

Walking all the way for the 7th loop with Beeping and Brokie

It was already past 12noon when we completed the 7th loop. I told Beeping that we only take a brief stop at the aid station to get some drinks and then continue for the 8th loop. Once we have completed the 8th loop we can take a longer break to eat some cup noodles as by then we only have 4 loops to complete and she agreed. Brokie ran in the other direction as she wanted to go to the toilet.

We left the aid station and started to run but after only a short distance the heat was already sucking all our energy. We stopped and decided to walk under some trees. We were mostly walking until we got to a part with some shade and then we ran slowly again towards the aid station.

As soon as I completed the 8th loop I immediately went to the table where the volunteer was serving cup noodles and requested for chicken flavor. I took a chair and sat down while I ate my cup noodles. A couple of minutes after Beeping arrived. She took the vegetable cup noodles and sat beside me. I was craving for a very cold 100Plus but I didn’t get to bring one. Thankfully the watermelon was very nice and I ate a few slices of it. I never ate as much watermelon as I did that day.

After resting for a few minutes I re-applied sunblock, topped-up water and ice then we set off for the 9th loop. I was feeling a bit full so I walked first. The sun was burning hot so we tried to walk under the trees where there was shade. I told Beeping that once we have completed 10 loops the last 2 loops will just be mental.

We completed the 9th loop and continued for the 10th. I had to take a stop at the toilet so I told Beeping to go ahead and I’ll just catch up. Beeping was nowhere in sight when I got out of the toilet so I ran slowly until I was able to see her from a distance. I continued to run until I finally caught up with her. As I was still feeling okay I continued to run but when I got to an open trail I just had to stop and walk.

My feet were aching even if I just walk and my left hip was bothering me again. I waited for Beeping at the aid station before continuing for the 11th loop. We were both very tired and spent. We decided to walk the 11th loop. Midway way we met Angelina and Randall who were running in the opposite directions. They were still looking very strong and they gave us encouragement to continue. Their endurance is just amazing!

The last few kilometers are always the hardest mentally as it always feel like very long. On our 12th loop we were already very drained. The heat was just unforgiving! We marched all the way to the finish line. I asked Beeping if she wanted to run the last few hundred meters however she told me to just go ahead. I decided that we just finish together.

After more than 9 hours we completed 12 loops for a total distance of 51.6Km. It was Beeping’s first ultramarathon. She had never ran an official half marathon or full marathon. Her supposedly first official half marathon in last year’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore did not materialize as she got sick. She signed up for this year’s Standard Chartered KL Marathon however the marathon got postponed from June 29 to September 29 due to the bad haze conditions.  I was very happy that she completed her first ultramarathon.

After the Ultra my shoulders were badly sunburned

After the Ultra my shoulders were badly sunburned

After completing 12 loops

After completing 12 loops we got our Finisher’s medal

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Sundown Marathon 2013

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Sundown 2013 Race Pack

 

After last year’s experience of running in the pouring rain, I signed up again for the Sundown Marathon this year hoping that I can do better.

This year the organizers held the Sundown Marathon for two days (May 31-June1). The half marathon was held on the 31st May at 11:30pm while the 10K was held on 1st June at 12:30am. The full marathon on the other hand was held on 1st June at 11:30pm.

I think it was a good idea by the organizers to stage the full marathon and the half marathon on different days as this prevented the race route from getting too congested. Last year both categories were flagged off at the same time which made the starting point congested and confusing.

I arrived at the F1 pit building about an hour earlier before the race started. Security was tight. Bags were checked before entering the venue however, it wasn’t really much of a hassle. There were a number of baggage deposit counters and depositing my bag was quite a breeze. The volunteers were quite friendly and cheerful too.

As I entered inside there were already a lot of runners waiting for the starting pen to open. There was a stage setup and there seems to be a live band performing as well.

One of my pre-race rituals is to go the toilet before starting to run. It somewhat gives me a peace of mind that once the race started I don’t have to worry about finding a toilet midway during the marathon to pee. The organizers provided an ample number of portable toilets and there were portable toilets specific for women which was really good.

Thirty minutes before the scheduled flag-off and the starting pen was opened. There were markers that indicated the target finishing time. Being a slow runner I went to the entrance indicating more than 5 hours.

At exactly 11:30pm the full marathon was flagged off. From the F1 pit building we made our way to Republic Boulevard heading to Republic Avenue then Nicoll Highway which is a route I’m very familiar with.

Sundown 2013 Full Marathon Race Route

I was mindful to run at my own pace and not to start out too fast. I stopped at every aid station to drink water or 100Plus. I regret that I didn’t use my hydration pack as I wouldn’t have to stop at every hydration point instead I would only stop at aid stations with 100Plus.

From Mountbatten Road we passed by near the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The route then took us along the river and there was this very-well lighted building with a very unique design. I remember passing by this area last year on our way back from East Coast Park to the finish line and I was soaked wet.

I passed the 10K mark at about 1:14h on my stopwatch. I was feeling okay and was hoping that I can sustain my pace until the finish line.

From Tanjong Rhu Rd the route led us to Gardens By The Bay East. I knew that we were now heading to the East Coast Park.

I had only been running for 15Km but it seemed like I was already running for quite a long time and I was not even halfway yet. My pace was slowing down at this point but I told myself that at least I don’t have to run under the hot sun.

As I was running in the East Coast Park I looked up to the sky and there were no signs it was going to rain anytime soon instead, I saw a bright crescent moon. It was quite lovely to look at and it distracted my fatigue for the meantime.

I started to feel pain on my right hip but continued on with the run. I was targeting to reach the 21Km mark and the U-turn mark without walking, only stopping at aid stations to drink water or 100Plus.

I reached the 21Km mark about 2:38h on my stopwatch and I was already feeling exhausted. About another 3Km before reaching the U-turn point at the National Sailing Center. The lack of sleep the past few weeks had finally caught up on me. I was feeling sleepy and my tummy started feeling funny.

As I went past the U-turn point (24Km) I decided to walk. The pain on my right hip was getting more worst and I also felt like vomiting. I was not feeling good at all. After walking a few minutes I tried to run again but my right hip was just in pain.

I was still within my target of finishing the marathon in 5:30 but I made the decision not to push myself further as I know this injury can get far more worst. I decided to walk at this point until the finish line. I felt sad that it’s going to be another disappointing finish at the Sundown Marathon but I know it’s the wisest decision.

The long walk back to the finish line seemed like an eternity. Even walking was painful too as my feet were very sore at this point. It was the first time I was wearing the Asics DS Trainer 17 in a full marathon. I have been running with my Nike Lunarglide+ 3 the past 4 full marathons. Although I have been running with it during my training runs the past few months, I had never done long runs with it over 20Km.

I took the Maxifuel Viper Active Gel at one of the aid stations however, my tummy was feeling uneasy so I decided not to take it. I ate the banana but I couldn’t finish it as I felt like vomiting.

I took a toilet break at the last public toilet in East Coast Park before heading towards Garden By The Bay East but it did very little to get my energy back.

As I walked back to the finish line, many runners went past me but all I cared about was getting to the finish line safely. I was battling with so many demons that night. Hip and feet pain, nausea and sleepiness. I felt like I was walking zombie. I recalled telling myself that night that I shouldn’t run the Sundown Marathon again next time.

There was supposed to be a hydration station in Gardens By the Bay East but it seemed like the station was already closed when I passed by. The volunteers were sitting at the side and there was no water available. Feeling a bit thirsty I continued to walk. I saw someone taking photos from afar and as I walked closer I realized it was Marcus from Running Shots but I was too exhausted to even say hi to him. I also saw Brokie who was giving support to other runners.

at Gardens By The Bay East

at Gardens By The Bay East

As I continued on to Marina Barrage the 5:30 pacers caught up with me. I forced myself to run along with them but I only managed to run a few meters and I had to stop. It was disheartening and the prospect of finishing over 6hours was a very big possibility.

I walked from Marina Barrage all the way to Gardens By The Bay South, Marina Bay Sands, Marina Boulevard then Esplanade Drive. Around the Merlion area, the 6-hour pacers had arrived. Since I was already very near to the finish line, I decided to make one last push hoping I can finish the marathon before 6hours. I ran from Esplanade Drive to Raffles Avenue but I had to stop again after the Makansutra Gluttons Bay. I walked until The Youth Olympic Park and then ran until the finish line.

After running 5:54:36 (net time) I finished my 2nd Sundown Full Marathon. I was hoping for better results before the race started but given the pain I was experiencing during the run I can’t really complain. I was relieved more than anything else to have finished the marathon.

To the Finish Line

To the Finish Line

Finisher’s medal and shirt

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