I ran a shitty race, or did I?
I ran the half marathon 11 times (yes I love HM), and this performance was the 3rd all-time worst result (1:54) with only my HM debut in 2010 (2:21’52”) and Sundown 2014 (1:58) being slower.
I always highly regarded the SCHKM as my favourite race as I have clocked 2 HM PBs in the last 3 years, and 3 of my all-time best HM times, prior to the start of this race. What’s more incredible about this is that this course is the most hilly amongst the 8 other HM races I have ran (yes, I love the rolling hills).
In 2015, I also made a major breakthrough with my BQ attempt after clocking a 8min PB to clock 1:23’55”, way under the 1:25 mark I was secretly aiming for. Also this race cemented its place in my fixture calendar as the Organisers made it so runners could have a guaranteed priority entry as long as you’ve run under their mark the year before in the same race. The popularity of this race is not to be underestimated – the race got so popular, it often sold out within an hour of registration opening, that the Organisers had to introduce a ballot system instead. So having that guaranteed priority entry made me feel special, like I was part of an exclusive club of sorts, where timings were the currency. Also somehow my training blocks in November and December almost always coincided with my low-key work schedule during that time, which bode well for training. I also had lined-up a marathon in April ’17, so this was meant as a build-up towards that race. So everything was seemingly setup for a perfect showpiece. Boy was I soooo wrong.
I had a chat with my uni friend, Kate, over lunch post-race, she explained that the cold spell came in the beginning of the week.
This was also deemed as peculiar weather as this year’s race was held in Feb after CNY, instead of Jan like the last couple of years. In Feb , the coldest part of winter should already have been over and it should already been warming up. The weather a week earlier or a week later would have been superb race conditions (Low: 16 / High : 21). But low and behold, it was the same temperature as in January the previous year when we were racing in the rain. So although it was colder than expected, it was something that I had went through before.
Training; or the lack of it
Having went through the routine of the last 3 years, I have always fell back to the nostalgic memory of me crossing the finish line in epic fashion at 1:23’55” in 2015. Familiarity breeds complacency. I was not allowing my body sufficient rest, cumulating in multiple sick days in the tail end of 2016 and the start of 2017. This resulted to a start-stop training and fell into the vicious cycle of starting to train, then falling sick, then taking a break from training, and back to it again. Hence, I couldn’t put together a proper training block. Even up to race week, I was still falling ill, so I knew I had to taper my expectations towards the race.
Since I had already paid for the plane tickets and accommodation, it was going to be a weekend getaway of sorts and I was going there just to enjoy myself, no pressure whatsoever.This time round, I decided to live it up a little bit with an upgrade to a boutique hotel. I picked Xi Hotel, 7 Minden Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui, as it was very close to the START line on Nathan Road, and it wasn’t too far off from where I used to stay at for the last 3 years I was here.
This year, I missed the front of the tape by a single row as I was warming up along Nathan Road while the speedsters moved forward to stage. But I wasn’t too bothered by it. Gun goes and I take the first km in 3:53, and continued to take it in a relatively controlled pace. I saw my secondary school junior, Kah Meng and we ran together chatted for abit, and he was gunning for 1:27, which was going to be an improvement from last year where he clocked his maiden Sub 1:30 at the same race. I was content to dial back the pace as I wasn’t in the same shape as last year.
From 6km onwards I could feel myself slowing down due my legs stiffening up. My ITBs were tightening up from the cold and my right forefoot was pins and needles that I needed to adopt a walk-a-jog in order to finish.
5k Race Splits
5km – 20’25”
10km – 44’44” (24’19”)
15km – 1:12’37” (27:53)
20km – 1:43’48” (31:11)
Finish – 1:54’56”
Full Garmin Stats: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1572411283
Would I say I was disappointed with my race result? No, as I had already lowered my expectations coming into the race. However, I have not lost sight of my ultimate goal, and that is to qualify for Boston Marathon and do a SUB3hr marathon.
It was definitely heartening to see many of our local runners (Rachel, Poon, JJ, Daniel) who did the Full Marathon and go under the 3hr mark. I am inspired by them and it motivates me that I can go on to finish it as long as I am disciplined enough to dedicate to training and resting, with a little bit of luck to stay injury and illness free. I might have well lost my guaranteed priority entry, but I am hopeful to comeback again next year for my 5th attempt. In the meantime, I am a man on a mission to find back that “gun” I lost.