On Sunday morning, I made my way to Marina Promenade to take part in Run 350; it was my first 10K race since I started running last year. My friend, Jonathan, ‘bribed’ me into signing up for this race about a month ago. During that time, I did not think too much of it because I was already running more than 10km during my weekly long runs. But after this run, I have certainly learned not to undermine any race distances – every race is a challenge, and there is something that we can learn from it.
I went to bed really early the night before, and had a really good sleep – no pre-race jitters. I woke up feeling energized ; a good sign, I thought. Before leaving home, I hydrated myself and fueled up on two of these energy balls. Remember these babies? I had another one of these about an hour before my run, because I was starting to feel hungry again.
We arrived at the starting point, and was greeted with a spectacular view of the city skyline at dawn. After depositing our bags, we chatted a little, before making our way to the starting point. Jonathan and I were debating on whether we should be stretching before the run. I have seen mixed opinion on this topic – some say that stretching is not necessary, while others state that stretching is important. I decided to go with the latter, and did some dynamic stretching. While we waited at the starting point, I could feel the sense of excitement and anticipation amongst the participants.
I checked the temperature, and humidity before the run – Sunny at 29C with a humidity of 88%. Typical tropical weather of Singapore. After some waiting, we were all set to go.
I felt really strong and was ready to conquer the challenge. At the start, people around me were running really fast, and I was pressured to run as fast as them. After the first 2 km, I realized that my pace was faster than my usual pace, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Also, at the 2 km mark, we had our first water stop, but I decided to give it a miss because I wasn’t thirsty, and didn’t want to break the momentum. The second water point was at the 5 km mark, but I gave that a miss too because there was a long queue for drinks; I was a little thirsty by then, but thought I could bear with it. Apparently not – I started struggling after the 5 km mark, and was so relieved when I saw the third water station.
It happened to be a warm day, and I could feel my energy being sapped away because of the heat - I had to stop for water again at the 7km mark. During the last 3 km, I diverted my attention to the scenery, away from the discomfort that I was experiencing. A scenic route, coupled with a wonderful play list, did wonders in motivating me. I recalled this quote by Lance Armstrong too: 'Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.' I enjoyed the last 3 km, and finished the race in 59:56 min. It could have been better, but I am happy with the timing. What really mattered was the lesson learned through this experience.
Some Key Lessons Learned
- Don’t start off too fast. I was pressured to follow the pace of other runners. In my future races, I will certainly make a mental note to run at a comfortable pace, and adjust my speed accordingly thereafter
- Eating properly. While I know that it is not necessary to carbo-load for a 10k run, I might need a more substantial breakfast in future – one that is high in carbohydrates, and low in fats, protein and fiber.
- Hydration. I really ought to have stopped during the first and second water stations, rather than the third and forth water stations. If you have read my post about running in the heat, you may notice that I tend to get dehydrated quickly. This time, I have learned something new about drinking water during the race. It takes the body 20 mins to absorb the water, so the water that I drank in the later part of the run probably didn't help me much. If you are running a 10K run, and have to drink water, do so during the first 5K.
Do you stretch before a race?
What do you usually eat before a race?
How do you hydrate before/during a race?