I’ll be honest, it really wasn’t what I was expecting. I knew there would be a lot of people, but boy oh boy. You sure as hell feel the 48,000 fellow participants. As if you needed any other reason to feel hotter in the sweltering Singapore heat!
I’ll be honest (again), I didn’t train much for the event. Last year I had my eye set on the Singapore half marathon but unfortunately pulled out at the last minute due to health reasons. Having done a half before, I thought “Nah. I don’t need to train for a 10k. I’ve been running consistently so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”
And besides, I’d been completely buried with work leading up to this year’s race. So, I figured a 10k would be easy enough not to train for, but tough enough to get a good Sunday morning workout in. Let’s just say it was more than a little tough.
The run aspect of it was manageable. But nothing can really prepare you for the sheer volume of people involved. Flag off for my group (Group C, 10k) was meant to be at 7.15am but we were 45 minutes delayed and only ended up starting at 8:00 a.m. That means, for 45 minutes we were held in the pen, standing restlessly and very quickly getting lethargic.
I felt terrible for the male emcee at the starting line who was trying his hardest to rally the crowd and engage us in some sort of activity. He even attempted to get us to do a wave from the front all the way down to the back. As you can imagine, that didn’t quite work out. I was nearly halfway through my running playlist when the horn finally went off and we were on our way.
The beginning of the run was pleasant enough. People were in high spirits and cheering each other along. Although you were pretty much shoulder to shoulder with fellow runners, at very few portions of the route would there be enough space for people to safely overtake without bumping into one another.
Unfortunately, the people that decided to slow down and walk ended up blocking the majority of the track, making it pretty frustrating. I wish people would have the courtesy to walk along the outsides so that the middle would be clear for others to run without breaking momentum. That being said, I too walked for a good part of the 10k.
Then, the sun came.
The sun came up soon after we started and very quickly I felt my energy drain. “Just make it to the hydration station,” I told myself. Once I got there, I doused myself in water, trying desperately to bring my body temperature down. After walking a few hundred meters, I got back into my stride.
I decided to wear a knee guard on my right leg on the day because that seems to always be the first thing to give out during a run. Good thing I did as after the 5k mark, my right knee started locking up and it was terribly painful to even jog slowly. Muttering to myself, I slowed my pace to pretty much a brisk walk. “Just make it to the next marker,” I’d convince myself, “You can do this. This is nothing.”
As the sun kept rising, so did the temperature on the track. “Just a bit more,” I assured myself. Next thing I knew, we had 2k to go. “That wasn’t too bad,” I thought.
And I slowly pulled my way into the finish line. My timing was pretty terrible at 1 hour 28 minutes, but I didn’t go into it with a timing in mind. I just told myself I needed to complete it since I missed the opportunity last year.
This is also predominately the reason why I didn’t tell anyone I was running till the last moment. I didn’t want the pressure of anyone waiting for me at the finish line to affect my run. I was doing this for ME.
But a finishers medal, a bottle of water and an apple later, I’m grinning ear to ear because, boy, was that a healthy struggle. And I’m glad that I was able to break this personal barrier today.
Many times, we want things to go our way for convenience. We don’t want speed bumps or detours. But we need them. We constantly need things in our lives that challenge us not just physically, but especially mentally. I believe it builds strength. And more than strength, it builds acceptance. Which is more and more important in our society nowadays.
So, while the SCSM 2017 was completely different from what I expected, I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to run alongside the young and the old. The slow and the fast. People of every single background. I’m grateful for representing my NIKE team and my family. I’m grateful for my health and ability to take part.
Would I do it again? Maybe. But I’d probably train well for it next time around.