This morning I successfully defended my Sundown Ultramarathon 84km title in 8h 46min (first lap 4h 9min including poop stop), about half an hour faster than my 9h 14min timing last year.
I achieved my goal of going sub-9h and the win was just a bonus. Am so happy that all my hard work paid off!
But I couldn’t have done it without the pushing from the amazing women’s field. The top three runners all ran sub-9. Yong Lai Chee was runner-up again, this time just two minutes adrift!! According to organisers, only four minutes separated each of the top 4 runners at about the 60km mark. Super close race.
Let me try to recollect how the race went. Gun went off at 7pm, a big pack of runners shot off. I decided to have faith in my training and pacing and not follow their pace. By 12km there were a bunch of women in front of me, Mika Kume, Dr Tan Swee Kheng (both of them were flying), the eventual third-placed finisher and another lady. But I believed that if I ran like I did in training I would eventually reel them in. First I passed “another lady” at about the 14km mark. Then I caught up with “eventual third-placed finisher” soon after and I kept pace with her but she and her partner had a very undulating pace and I eventually let them be. I caught Mika and Dr Tan at about the 21km mark and stuck with them for a bit and was ahead by the narrowest of margins at Bedok Reservoir, but then I had to poop and so from second spot I dropped down to fifth spot (yet another lady had entered the picture). Out of the porta-loo I caught Dr Tan almost instantly. But it was only in the last 8km of the first lap I managed to reel “yet another lady” and Mika in. I think I was second heading into the second lap.
Onto the second lap. To my good fortune I managed to pace a guy for nearly the whole stretch from Changi to the 19km (61km) turnaround at ECP (just before Big Splash). That really really helped. We didn’t exchange a single word though.Thank you whoever you are!! I caught “eventual third-placed finisher” just after the 21km (63km) mark near Victoria Junior College. Like last year I was faced with a decision to stick or sprint-and-drop. She was already going at a slower pace than I was so I just trailed her for about 300m or so. Then at the water stop she (not carrying any fuel/drink, like most other women… I was) stopped for water so I took my chance and put my interval training to good use and attacked. It was about 5min long I reckon, I kept looking back to check where she was. I kept an intense pace for the next 5km or so just to make sure I dropped her good.
With the lead and about 20km to go I kept reminding myself not to get ahead of myself. I wasn’t getting any updates on where the others were so I couldn’t afford to slow down either. So I just kept trudging on. I imagined I was running home (my Pasir Ris home is very very near where we run by and I’d done lots of training miles of those roads so I was familiar with it). I counted 100 steps again and again and again, just to take my mind of the distance and pain. I smiled and waved at the volunteers, who were generous with their cheers. I thought of all sorts of things except the finish line and winning.
With 6km to go I finally got an update. Second-placed lady (Lai Chee, who had moved up the field impressively) was 1km back. I immediately picked up the pace. All the hill work paid off as I powered up the Pasir Ris/Loyang hills. The hills didn’t feel nearly as hard as last year. With 1km to go (or so I thought, it was actually nearly 2km cos we had to do a new detour), I was told I had a 1.2km lead. I eased up a little. Thank God I didn’t totally break into a stroll, because Lai Chee came bursting past the finish line as I was still catching my breath!!
I got home about an hour ago, took a nice warm shower and am gonna hit the sack. We have to attend a friend’s leaving do on a boat later in the arvo, and then it’s Terminator in Gold Class at night. And a massage at Physio Solutions at 9am tomorrow before heading back to work.
Thanks to everyone for your prayers and well wishes and support. Every comment on this blog is much appreciated. Thanks also to Damian for being my #1 supporter and best friend (he was at the race as long as I was!!). Thanks to Hivelocity and adidas for putting together a good race, and all the volunteers who helped out. Congratulations everyone who did the race! Thanks Nike for the gear, H-TWO-O for the drinks, Oakley for the sunglasses (didn’t need them in this race though) and Physio Solutions for the massages. And thank God for helping me to win again.
Pictures, you ask? Need to get Damo to dump it from him digital camera. Hopefully the organisers will have some too. Patience, my friend. :-)