Thursday, 21 April 2016

2xu Compression Run Singapore 10k: steamed runners

Location, location

There are destination races, or if going on a normal holiday, races at your destination. This was certainly the latter, the South Asian climate not great for poor hot weather runners like me. 

Plane fun
With the private jet being serviced, we had to fly economy, changing planes twice. We had just enough time to pick up some wasabi biscuits on the way through Tokyo. 

Steamy running 
Hot and hotter are the two temperatures. Running anywhere near your quickest is impossible even in the middle of the night. 
The race didn't actually start at 3, that's just Singaporean thoroughness. The half marathon did start at 5am though, a full 2 hours before sunrise and the 10k start. There was a 5k too, and I was tempted to do this due to the heat but thought the 10 would look better on camera. 
Even so, the malfunctioning sauna that is the Singapore weather would make dehydration the limiting factor in a 10k. I knew it was going to have me sweating from places I usually don't...
...although I was hoping the consequences wouldn't be too bad. 

Start your engines 
Singapore hosts an F1 race every September, held at night. This race started from the F1 grid. 
The race was fuelled by a happy soy protein bar. Overall, it would be a question of running the fastest possible constant pace without dehydration forcing me to slow late on.  
30 degrees at the start line. A feeling of freedom in a way - no pressure to get a quick time. Just don't drop any litter - the MC said plain clothes officers would be on course handing out $300 spot fines for those that did. 
Big brother announcement duly out of the way, a karaoke-aerobics warm up ensued. 
I was slightly baffled by that, but it kept the startline in a light mood. 
I started a little far back in hindsight, although at the time I felt no need to barge my way to the front. 
It was the shuffliest start I've ever had to a race. 

The Dukes of Humid
It was the start of a morning's weaving. The track was nice and wide for the start before joining the public road, so plenty of passing space. I wasn't exactly flying past everyone, though I think that many were probably starting too quickly. 
The first drink station was just 1.5k into the race. Knowing the benefit it would have, I poured water on my head. I made sure not to miss the bin, or else it would become a very expensive shower. 
Around the national stadium and cross a footbridge to the other side of the bay, then the halfway point and aid station with bananas. If I'd been doing the half, it would've definitely been worth stopping. I had started passing a few walking halfers at that point. 
The sun was now well and truly up, adding its rays to the already fearsome heat. Pace was a good even 4:40/ km. I had sped up a couple of times, but at just 10 seconds per k faster all it took was about a minute to feel myself dehydrating much quicker.  

Half time
Just before the barrage which crossed back over the bay (above), the half and 10k courses joined up. It was the 16k mark for them, and there were a great many who had taken 2 and a half hours to get there. 
It was almost like being at the start again, except I was by now (7k) drenched many times over. 

Sweaty kick
The last k was over the marina once more, without halfers, joining them again after crossing the bridge. 
The finish was finally close enough not to worry about dehydration and go for the line. I managed to overtake a couple more 10kers on the way. 
It was a crowded finish, with a lot of very worn-out halfers. Even if you're local, the weather is very runner-hostile. 
There wasn't time or space to celebrate my finish of 46:00. That's the slowest 10k race I've ever run. In 30-35 degree heat however, I had executed the perfect race. I had been aware of that since about one third distance. 
After the finish, runners were handed "pokari sweat", bananas and head cloths kept in icy water. Altogether a great recovery package. 
All I did was overtake people while I ran every single kilometre between 4:38 and 4:42 except the last 2. I must've started 200 places back, and was a bit surprised to learn that I had got up to 24th place out of 2,148 by the end. 
Singapore is far too hot for distance training, but is a picturesque setting for a race. 
The climate goes a long way to explaining the mass of 3 hour half marathoners I overtook. It's impossible to effectively develop speed or endurance with such constant heat. 
Once you're done though, there's no shortage of  options to cool down. Recovery is important...

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