2014 My Running Year in Review.

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In 2014,

I dropped the ball.
As I started my new career in november, running took a back seat. No, I made it take a back seat, by chucking it aside as I  made excuses for my lack of time. Initially it was due to the time take to commute via public transport from my home in the northeast to my workplace in the west. Even when I relocated to the west, I hardly ran, at least not kind of volume that I was on previously.  Even when I made the decision to purchase my own personal vehicle for the ease of saving time or making it more convenient, I did not make time for running. It was in the gutter. I was destined to fail.

Did my first Ultramarathon – MR25 Ultramarathon ’14
This race was meant as a celebration for the new year. 2 years ago I started celebrating the new year differently each year. In 2012, I celebrated in Sydney, 2013 in Tokyo, and for 2014 I needed a personal challenge. After running in the trails for awhile, it was a natural progression to the ultra. Concept was simple enough, 12 hours as many rounds as possible, min 5 rounds for a medal & finishers tee & cert. I walked-run finished mine in apprx 7hrs.

Photo Credits: Yeo Kim Song

Photo Credits: Yeo Kim Song

Did a Half Marathon PB – SCHKM2014 HM (PB 1:31’38”)
2014 was meant to be the Half-Marathon year. The year that I did my SUB1:30 HM enroute to Boston Qualification (BQ). Coming into this race, I threw my training programme that I drafted out for this Half-Marathon out of the window. Just two months into my new career, I managed to go from 100km/week  of mileage to a measly double figures which I can’t even remember because I didn’t log it down.

my paper boarding pass from Tiger Airways - managed to squeeze myself into a flight just 30mins before take-off after my earlier flight got cancelled.

my paper boarding pass from Tiger Airways – managed to squeeze myself into a flight just 30mins before take-off after my earlier flight got cancelled.

Off a busy work month in January, I went to Hong Kong  I stayed in Homy Inn which was located 5mins from the baggage deposit area & was 3mins from the START line at Nathan road. It was a cheap ensuite one bedroom accommodation which ticked all the boxes. After a simple wonton noodle carbo loading dinner with my university exchange mate, Kate, I went to recce the baggage deposit area and start area, which would not be set up till the wee hours in the morning, as both road are busy main roads within the Kowloon district, hence I had to make sense of the area as best I could from the map I got from the race expo. I woke up 2hours before the 0530h flag-off time & had a light breakfast of muesli, yogurt and a banana & some Pocari Sweat all purchased from a supermarket I passed by the day before. I was one of the first at the baggage deposit area, which was set up as I expected, a line of marked lorries on a stretch of main road, fuss free. After I deposited my baggage, I went to do my warm-ups with my disposable poncho which acted like a thermal layering. Its surprising what a piece of plastic can do in the cold. Entered the START pen early & managed to be right at the front for a photo flag-off.

SCHKM 21.1km HM Flag-off at Nathan Road!

SCHKM 21.1km HM Flag-off at Nathan Road!

I went in with a strategy of doing approx. 4:15/km. But it was hard as I did not have a GPS watch or my splits to follow as I was using arm sleeves to keep warm from the cold. It was hard to see the timing on my nike+ due to the lack of backlight on the device & the dim street lamps. Actually I bought my garmin 310XT (yes, I bought a old model for cheap!) the month before, but I was still in the transition phase, hence wasn’t too comfortable with the interface, hence decided against racing in it. After the first 3km, I found myself running with a man, who I think is in his late 40s or early 50s, running at the same pace. I matched him stride for stride & took turns to lead at different sections of the course, especially where the headwind was really strong on the expressways. 

here I am a week ago trying to keep up with pace w/ this local runner, nearly twice my age. he dropped me at the 20km mark & powered to a 1:29 finish.

here I am trying to keep up with pace w/ this local runner, nearly twice my age. he dropped me at the 20km mark & powered to a 1:29 finish.

I struggled to keep warm as strong cold 5am winds coupled with my blunder of getting my gloves wet from a combination of internal sweat & external drinks from water points made me lose heat at a fast rate. I had to take deep breaths and strong exhalations to keep myself going.

Running into the Western Harbour Tunnel, which connects Central and Kowloon, I was greeted by a steep downwards slope, which caused a lot of braking motion. The same could be said for the exit of the tunnel where it was a steep climb up to Central.

SCHKM 21.1km HM race map

SCHKM 21.1km HM race map

It wasn’t enough that it took a zap out of my legs, I had to deal with the rolling hills in the last 3km of the race after exiting the tunnel. I had not have enough hill training, hence I was a painful drive down to the finish. This was also the time when the guy I have been running with for the last 19km had some in reserves & pulled away for a 1:29 finish. I came in 2mins later in 1:31’38” so close, yet so far. I came in with the intention for going home with a SUB1:30. But I had to pat myself on the back for coming in with a  new PB since 2011 when I did The Age Run Melbourne ’11.

SCHKM HM PB -1:31'38"

SCHKM HM PB -1:31’38”

Ran in my First Track & Field Meet. – SAFSA T & F ’14
I represented Team RSAF in the 10,000m and 5,000m categories of the SAFSA Track & Field Meet 2014 held at Air Force Training Command over two days in February. Came in 3rd Runner-up (4th) in both events behind Mok Ying Ren, Joshua Li & Jon Ma in that order. My finish qualified me to be called up for the MINDEF / SAFSA Team for Civil Service Run by the Bay ’14 as we finished Overall 5th in the 15km Men’s Open Public Service Category.

Team MINDEF at CSC Run by the Bay '14

Team MINDEF at CSC Run by the Bay ’14

Did my first Night Race. – Sundown Marathon HM
After the wash-out of RUN350 HM, I decided to sign up for the Sundown HM to try once again for a SUB1:30 HM. It had became an obsession & I didn’t know what was good for me. It was the first time I did a night race & it started in the middle of the night, where humidity & natural body fatigue was at its peak. I started off the race in good pace, but without much training, I was just asking for it. After the first half of the race, I was spent. My foot was crashing with every step I took, at some point it became painful. It was one of my worst races I ran ever. Don’t get me wrong, the race itself was very well organised, but I just didn’t have it.

Sundown Marathon w/ fellow runner, Germanium Soh

Sundown Marathon w/ fellow runner, Germanium Soh

I got injured. I suspected that with the new Nike Flyknits, it did not provide enough structure for my foot, hence I ended up with a suspected metatarsal stress fracture. I had to lay off running for a while, & started to swim as cross training. It was a frustrating time for me as I was putting on the pounds but could risk my foot getting injured even further. I had to cancel my full marathon race in Perth, forgoing tickets & registration. Luckily I was able to recover some back through ChangeMyFlight & bib transfer on CoolRunning forum. 

Did my first Biathlon. – 2XU Ultra Biathlon
750m sea swim checked, after cross training in the pool during my rehab, I built up the ability to swim 1km in the pool without much fuss, so this race came at a opportune time. In the build up to this race, I did a few brick sessions swimming for 30mins in the pool followed by a 30min run. A longer sea swim is definitely on my radar next year.

finishing off the race with a 5km run.

finishing off the race with a 5km run.

5km PB – ECP Parkrun
Parkrun invaded the shores of Singapore & East Coast Park, starting at the same time as it has always, 0700h on Saturdays. It was definitely a good addition to the running scene as it provided a platform for people like me, who doesn’t like running tempo runs solo, to incorporate some form of speed work with a little bit of competition. The course record here is 16:xx held by Stuart Haynes who I had a chance to run with in one of the Parkruns, and boy was he fast!

storming down the finish for a 5k PB - 18'46"

Storming down the finish for a 5k PB – 18’46”

Ran with the Emperor, Haile Gebraselassie. – SCMS ’14 10km
Had the chance to run in the 10km category with the legendary ‘Emperor’, Haile Gebraselassie. Inspired by his talent, being 40+ and still able to hold it out with the fastest guys in the business in the Bupa Half Marathon ’13 as well as being the lead pacemaker for the London Marathon ’14.

checking out my "competition", Haile Gebrselassie.

Checking out my “competition”, Haile Gebrselassie.

I ended this race fresh & reinvigorated, slipped into the 38:XX pace band again, definitely a good sign to show that I might be close to my best soon.

Picked up the ball again.
After running a string of lacklustre performances in races mid year, I got really disappointed with myself for not putting in enough effort to train & was always talking about 2013 & how fit I was back then. It was as if my 25th year was going to be my peak.

Coming down into the Sports Hub at the ST Run at the Hub

Running into the Sports Hub at the ST Run at the Hub

After yet another poor showing at ST Run at the Hub, as I turned 26, I knew I had to set myself back on track by sacrificing time to commit to training. I knew I had to train earlier in the morning & another session after work in order to perform at where I was at my peak. Throughout the craziness, I managed to fit in lunch time workouts as well!

I might have missed out on the SUB1:30 target this year, but I will be tackling the HM in SCHKM in 2015 again just before Tokyo Marathon in Feb. Till next year! Chao!

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