Farewell SCMS!

It's past 7 pm when I touched down at Changi. Flight delayed due to "heavy air traffic in Changi" was the all familiar excuse given. That's before even leaving Penang Airport. Singapore is fast becoming very busy and overcrowded. Furthermore, it's the time of the year again when Singapore trumps up it's annual SCMS, I suppose I shouldn't be the least bit surprised.

It was estimated that 70 thousand signed up for SCMS 2011. Out of which more than 20 thousand were full marathon registrants. This is a huge jump in comparison to previous years. For better or worse?..opinions vary. But personally, as a runner, I couldn't share the same gratified sentiment as the organizers.

Met up with Marc upon arrival and did carbo loading at Singapore Recreation Club (SRC). We chatted about the going-ons of Singapore life and how the organizers of this event managed to pull off a "hat-trick" by such impressive figures. I could see why but still have serious doubts that it is the right thing to do. Numbers isn't everything.

We parted our ways after a nice reunion as he dropped me off at Chinatown where I would be residing for the next two nights. I checked into the Beary Nice Hostel. Ideally, I would prefer to stay closer to the starting point, in which case, at Orhard Road. But the hotels there are just too pricey this time of the year. A 4 Star room can cost up to 400+ Sing per night! I paid a total of 52 bucks for my slot in Beary Nice.

Had a good enough rest amidst the company of squeeky double decker beds and 9 (some snoring) individuals. Well, value for money, but what you pay is what you get. So, can't complain. Made my way the following day to Marina Sands Expo for Bib collection. Bumped into friends from Seremban and had a great time fellowshipping with them. I really miss running with them.


Parted after a quick carbo loading lunch at Bugis where they were staying. I decided to wonder to Takashimaya for some Christmas shopping. The excitement soon dwindled as I saw the sea of people. Later, the heavy downpour finished off any trace of enthusiasm. Wasted afternoon.

It's a big city. But despite the multitude of people, I have never felt more lonely. So, I retired into my cozy bed at 8:30pm. Sleep was interrupted now and then, but that was the best that I could hope for under these conditions.

In the wee hours of 4am, along with Oliver Ker (a veteran runner) and some newly acquainted runner friends from the hostel, we joined streams of people flogging to the Starting point via the MRT. I made my way to my designated pen. All was fairly orderly and crowd control was efficient. The music blasted on amidst the gathering crowd. The carnival mood was certainly there. I wouldn't want to be the guests at the nearby hotels though. Sleep would be impossible.

But my mind was adrift. Thoughts were more on race strategy. I made a promise to myself. Treat this as LSD (long slow distance). Take it as training towards Boston. The last thing I wanted was to run all out and risk incurring injuries. During my recent disastrous experience in PBIM, there was one point where I actually lost the will to run. I needed to find out from SCMS whether I was capable of facing that wretched demon again.

I stood quite near the start line. Soon after flag off, cleared it and began my arduous journey. I kept my pace in check at 4:45 to 5:00/km. But in the first 3km, I took it easy at 5:00/km. It was humid as always. Despite the downpour the previous night. In fact, I think I must have sweated more than usual. Consequently I was forced to drink from every available drink stations to stay hydrated.

I didn't care about overtaking anyone or being overtaken. My mindset was to maintain an even speed as far as I could to ensure a sustainable pace. I think I did my first half in 1:47. With no fix target in mind, I just went with it and kept my pace as constant as I could, while keeping a look out for that demon....

As I ran, a recurring thought baffled me. Despite having such a ginormous crowd of 20 thousand, it still felt as though I was running all alone. Marathon really is a solitary journey. Loneliness a constant companion...

As I exited the ECP at 32 km, the demon finally showed it's fangs. I was beginning to lose focus. The pace slacken momentarily and I slipped into 5:30/km. The easy thing to do was to give in. After all, I had no target in mind. But even in training (LSD), would I allow this indifference? The answer was obvious. Sobering to that thought, I quicken my pace and brought it back up to 5:00/km. Tried to sustain it as long as I could. The battle became fierce from then onwards. Even for "LSD", the challenge was real. I would be bluffing if I told you there was no fatigue. Only a dead man doesn't feel it. I believe the Elite feels it too. Just that they are better at coping with it.

With each km thereafter, my pace declined. The devil reminded me of PBIM, the part where I couldn't even bring myself to fight on. All the struggles, the sweat and pain of enduring 35km just hinged upon this moment of decision.....

No, I won't budge. Not this time I won't. Not going to fizzle out without a good fight!

We merged at about 38-39th km. I had to battle another challenge to maneuver through the crowd of half marathon runners.

Then came the heart break bridge. I charged through it.

Then it was the final stretch towards the finish, more maneuvers. I crashed into a walker. Nearly toppled over. But I pressed on. Sustaining my pace as I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:32....

I did justice to my race. And the issue was not even about the time. It was about overcoming my fear. The fear of losing my will to run. PBIM broke that will. I had regained it in SCMS.

This will likely be my last SCMS. Well, to be fair, they did a good job. But my issue is with the ever increasing crowd. While it is more profitable to some, it is becoming less enjoyable for runners. Another annoyance has to do with the part where we merge with the half marathoners and 10km runners near the end. It was worse than 'Pasar Malam'. Totally unpleasant to have to maneuver through this kind of crowd when you are already half dead...

BUT, having said that, it is only my personal opinion. I have seriously grown tired of running in SCMS. However, despite these issues, I have achieved what I set out to do. And for that, I owe it to SCMS.

So, Farewell SCMS! Thanks for the Memories!

Comments

  1. Hi Francis, it was a very good timing indeed. Not sure why, after exiting ECP, my pace dropped as well especially around the construction area. I agree bout the increased number of runners yet, they only closed one lane for us at KM3-4 which caused us to stop and walk. Nevertheless, well done again for the great run, as always!

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  2. Hi Francis, congratulation on the great timing and the regained of you running spirit.

    The race is really too crowded and the route is definitely not enough to gather for the 20k runners (plus the walkers from other categories).

    Nice to bounced on you in Sim Lim food court :)

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  3. Deo, it was great meeting u at last. There are many factors, but ultimately, I think the only part that I would like to see some improvement is the end where we merged. They shd hv separate lanes for different categories. It would be a safer and more enjoyable finish.
    Neoh, great bumping into u too. U did well bro, keep running. I am sure with ur determination, u will do well!

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  4. Yes. Steve, that's what I hv in mind. Not sure when is registration? u interested?

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