URun 2013 10K OMB Challenge: Race Report

On Sunday, KMN and I ran our third race in Singapore (haven’t written up the second one yet): URun 2013.  My “pre-cap” from yesterday is here, but after a good night of sleep and some time to dig up as many photos as possible, it’s time to really dive into this race report.  So let’s do it!

This race was the first (of 5) that my parents gifted KMN and I for Christmas.  [Digression: Getting a gift for someone living in Singapore, when you aren’t in Singapore, is actually really pesky – online shopping is basically unavailable, buying a gift card online is also pretty much impossible, and it’s freaky expensive to ship things out here.]  So instead, my parents gifted us a package of race credits through U-Sports (a Singapore sporting agency), which allows us to register for 4 (of 8-10) running events throughout the year.  A fifth race – the URun 2013 race – was included for free.  The package works out pretty favorably, financially – and even better for us, since it was a gift!

The URun itself was comprised of a 15K Run +/- Stair Climb, 10K Run +/- Stair Climb, and a 5K Run.  We registered early in January, and weren’t quite sure we’d be ready to race 15K, so we opted for the 10K OMB Challenge (Run + Stair Climb).  Unexpected bonus of this choice?  When final race information came out, we saw the start times:

6:00 AM: 15K Run + Climb
6:30 AM: 15K Run Only
6:45 AM: 10K Run Only
7:00 AM: 10K Run + Climb

Sweeeeeeet!  This gave us fully an extra hour of sleep, and meant we could take regular public transit to the race, rather than a paid shuttle or cab.  Our alarm went off at 5, and we breezed through our pre-race prep, snapped a photo, and headed for the bus.

KMN is sporting the official "race kit", as it's called here.  I stay true to my Fleet Feet Endurance Team!  :)

KMN is sporting the official “race kit”, as it’s called here. I stay true to my Fleet Feet Endurance Team! 🙂

In Singapore, most races provide a shirt at packet pick-up (which is mandatory and done a weekend or two before the race), and most people wear these for the race.  We had this discussion on race morning:

Me: You’re going to wear the race shirt to the race???
KMN: I was planning on it.
Me: But…what if it chafes? Or is massively uncomfortable?  Or….??!??!
KMN: *shrug*  You aren’t going to wear yours?
Me: No. It would be weird to wear it before the race, but I don’t race more than 5K in something I haven’t tested.  [Plus, you know…Endurance Team.]

Admittedly, the man never chafes.  It’s a genetic gift or something.

Anyway, we set out to the bus stop, realized in the nick of time we were at the wrong bus stop (that’s what happens when you go for the bus before 6 AM), fixed our mistake, and hopped on the right bus.  In about 30 minutes, we got off 2 blocks from the rally site.  I found the slowest moving port-a-potty line (this is a natural gift, inherited from my father), which still only took about 7 minutes.  Port-a-potty report: pretty good (it flushed, and there was a sink), but not *quite* as nice as the Green Corridor Run.  Note to organizers: Garbage bins outside the p-a-p’s may have prevented people from doing inappropriate things with their used paper towels (down the toilet, on the floor, on the ground, etc.).  Thanks!

We took a quick warm-up jog, KMN managed to find a totally empty public restroom with no line (over-achiever), and we made our way to the starting line at about 6:50 AM.  We’d been warned that the race would start in waves, spaced 4 minutes apart, but that everyone’s official time would be based on the time from the first wave.  I think this is a bit uncool, especially since I’m quite sure there was a chip reader at the starting line – but as KMN pointed out, this ensured for the organizers that the first person to the finish line really was the winner.  Fair enough.  We were hoping to get into the first wave, but just missed the cut off.

No worries – we were both hoping to run solid tempo paces (depending on feel, but probably 7:45-8:00 min/mi), but neither of us planned to go all out, and races here are large enough that we knew we wouldn’t be in contention for overall or age group placing.  We wanted to use this race as a training run/fun experience/chance for a hard tempo run – but not a “peak race”.  And being at the front of the wave – even the second wave – has its advantages!  Exactly four minutes after the first group of runners left, we crossed the Start Line, and with virtually no dodging or weaving, we were free from the group.

The first 1.5 miles of the course ran along the pedestrian walkway in front of Marina Bay Sands (resort/casino) and Gardens By The Bay, then we crossed a pedestrian bridge/dam for another 1.5 miles through Marina East, a small park with footpaths, before turning around to return the way we came (minus one small split at the very end).  In most places, only cones separated the runners coming and going, and from the start we saw a steady stream 15K runners on their way back (they ran the same route, but their turn-around point was further out).  This course was pancake flat – even the bridge offered barely a climb!  An early start and overcast morning ensured we were protected from the sun and ran in relatively “cool” conditions – maybe 24ºC/75ºF (?), plus humidity.

Maneuvering was easy for the first two miles, and I found myself running in the 7:40s, and feeling pretty comfortable.  10K isn’t my favorite distance to race (40+ minutes of significant discomfort), and I was afraid I felt too good, and considered picking up the pace – but I knew I had another 4+ miles, plus 30 flights of stairs, ahead of me, so I stayed steady at this pace.  By the time I crossed the bridge, I’d caught up to the slower 10K Run Only runners (who started 15 minutes before us), and the path started to get more full.

Things stayed reasonable until the turn-around, when we merged with the 15K runners.  They were already 60-90 minutes into their race, so I was catching the slower/est of these runners.  People were looking strong, but moving slowly.  At around 3.5 miles, I had to start the weave/dodge routine, and several times had to pull up short when the path was fully blocked, left-to-right, with slower runners.  Mile 4 was my slowest mile, but after that, the path widened again and a bit more room helped me navigate better.

Cropped to remove faces of unsuspecting runners.  Running Shots captures race photos to share (not to sell) - I'm all the way on the left.  Like, all the way.  That blurry spot in the back, with capris, and a red top (ha) and a hat.  Yep.  That's me!

Cropped to remove faces of unsuspecting runners. I’m all the way on the left. Like, all the way. That blurry spot in the back, with capris, and a red top (ha) and a hat. Yep. That’s me! [Photo Cred: Running Shots]

By Mile 5, I was ready to be done – but not dying.  I held back a tad, still thinking about those 30 flights of stairs.  Thanks to well-labeled bibs, volunteers easily directed the Run Only participants into the finishing chute, while the climbers turned a corner and ran a bonus ~0.2 miles to the NTUC building, which was graciously letting hundreds of sweaty runners defile its stairwells.

Based on the location of the Finish for the 10K, I estimated the end of my 10K, and hit the “Lap” button on my Garmin.  I slowed my pace for the quarter mile jog to the building, and even grabbed a drink, since my handheld bottle was empty and had hardly put a dent in the fluid I’d lost during the run.

At this point, I was surrounded mostly by 15K Run + Climb participants, who were walking to the stairwell.  We entered the stairwell, and I was hit by a heat wave.  Everyone moved pretty well through the first 5 floors, but soon tired and began walking.   My legs were tired, but I still felt like I could handle a light jog up the stairs.  The stairway was narrow, so passing was hard, except on the landings – where I had to travel quite a bit of extra distance to get around someone.   So I’d stick behind someone for a flight to see their climbing rhythm/movement, then sneak around as best I could.  Repeat, repeat.  Understandably, the stairway stunk – and although race organizers had arranged for fans on some of the landings, the air was pretty stagnant (and we lost pretty much any/all evaporative cooling).

Thankfully, as we ascended, the air actually cooled, and passing a (rare) vent blowing cool air was lovely!  By Floor 15, I began trying to rally everyone (and myself) with a countdown:

Floor 15: “Halfway there!”
Floor 20: “Just 10 more flights!”
Floor 21: “Single digits!”
Floor 22: “8 more!”
Floor 25: “Come on, guys, 5 more! We can do this!”

Hopefully I helped someone, maybe they wanted to kill me – either way, we all made it up and emerged onto the roof:

Apparently unimpressed with whatever was waiting at the top...

Apparently, I was unimpressed with the first thing I saw at the top…?

There wasn’t much space on the roof, and Security was keeping everyone faaaaar back from the edge.[Dudes, we FINISHED the race.  If we wanted to jump, it would’ve been at Mile 4.5 or Floor 20, not now…]  Anyway, within 90 seconds of finishing, I was ushered onto an elevator with one-too-many other sweaty runners.  The doors closed, and we descended to…the 29th floor.  And stopped.  And waited…for what felt like an eternity.  Just when I was close to panicking (I don’t like elevators, especially when I’m smushed to the middle and can’t hold on, and am packed in like a sardine, and overheating….), we started moving again.  Same think happened at the 17th floor, and then, at last, we were released.  *Phew!*

I grabbed a water bottle, cheered on some of the runners headed toward the stair climb (to the dude who yelled, “I love you!”, I must tell you that I’m happily married), and was soon joined by KMN.  We lined up for our Finisher’s medal, and shirt, and two bananas (I tried to take one, but that apparently wasn’t allowed).

And this is just the post-race swag.  We also got a sneaker bag, and the racing kit (tank) at packet pick-up.

And this is just the post-race swag. We also got a sneaker bag, and the racing kit (tank), at packet pick-up.

We found a spot on the grass to rest and re-hydrate.  Two bottles of water and one bottle of Pocari Sweat (local electrolyte replacement drink) later, we snapped a few final photos.

Nice work, sweetie!

Nice work, sweetie! Marina Bay Sands resort is over his left shoulder.

The stair climb was in the building that's extending up from my head, with "NTUC" on the side.

The stair climb was in the building that’s extending up from my head, with “NTUC” on the side.

Overall, I have to say that the race was extremely well-organized.  There seemed to be enough Port-a-Potties and on-course/finish line hydration.  The course was well-marked and there were volunteers throughout – especially in the stairwells (extra important in case a runner started having trouble).  Special thanks to the young man at the turn-around point of the 10K, who was the only person I heard cheering pretty much the whole time – THANK YOU!  Having so many runners following different routes and with different finish lines could be a recipe for a big mess – but labeling and direction were clear and easy to follow.  Similarly, moving runners up and down the building could easily have led to confusion, delays, and crowds – but kudos to the directors and volunteers for keeping people moving quickly up and down.

I was a bit frustrated by the congestion on the course – but that’s the consequence of having so many people out participating!  And while I couldn’t always run as smoothly as I wanted to, at no point was the course unsafe or even claustrophobic (except that final elevator ride…).  I wasn’t too happy getting stuck behind so many people on the stair climb – perhaps separating the back of the 15K pack from the front of the 10K pack into two separate stairwells would have been a good idea (they were using two stairwells anyway), but I understand that would have added another level of complication.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed the run course, and would definitely sign up for the 15K or 10K run again.  However, I’d only consider climbing if I did the 15K, where an earlier start would help ensure an overall more enjoyable – and faster – climbing experience.

By my watch (will be 4 minutes faster than the race-reported time, since we started in the 2nd wave):
10K time : 47:47
Total time: 58:35

My 10K broke down as follows:

Mile 1: 7:47 min/mile
Mile 2: 7:42
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 8:05
Mile 5: 7:57
Mile 6: 7:53
Final bit: 7:49
AVERAGE: 7:52 min/mile

This is far from PR territory for me, but I’m not in PR shape yet – so I’m OK with this.  I do wish I had pushed a *bit* harder on the run, especially considering the stair climb turned out to be a walk, but I’m happy that 7:52 felt like a “hard and steady but not dying and could definitely keep going” effort, at the moment.  [Edit: Final results just posted.  Singapore doesn’t post a full race results list – I gripe about this here – but they do tell me that I finished 5/265 women, based on my Gun Time.  Gun Time was 4 minutes slower than Net Time, since we started in the second wave.  Darn!  Guess I should’ve pushed my way into that first wave, after all…  Speaking of which, if they actually recorded Net Time (they did), then why are results based on Gun Time….??  But I digress.]

And the day after?  Metatarsals and IT bands feel good (win).  My shins are a little sore, and my calves are tight – stay tuned for some calf stretching tips in the near future.  This morning, I went to yoga and swam and easy 2K.  Except for the gross dirty pool water, both were terrific.

And with that, I’m outta here.  Time to get some dinner going!

Race Reports: Do you prefer reading the nitty gritty course/weather/logistics details, or the personal/time/feeling details?

Bananas: Have you ever seen a banana do this?

We both got 2 bananas at the end of the race. We each ate one, and took the other home.  Look at what they did last night!
We both got 2 bananas at the end of the race. We each ate one, and took the other home. Look at what they did last night!

PS If you want to read what a fellow runner, who did the 15K OMB Challenge, had to say about the race, check out his post at running (my) life.

18 thoughts on “URun 2013 10K OMB Challenge: Race Report

  1. John C

    nice race review. Definitely a lot better on the stairs at 0715, I only had two others for company in the lift on the way down too.
    PS – Thanks for the plug.

    1. Holly KN Post author

      I laughed when I read your report last night – because we had totally different stair climb experiences – but still reached the same conclusion! 🙂

  2. Elena

    1: Both, but yours is the only running blog I read, and I would read anything you wrote.
    2: That is what happens when an alien infests a banana and pops out overnight. You are both very, very lucky that you didn’t eat those.

    Whaaaat was the stuff in the pool? Because the only things I can think of that combine cottony stuff and plastic are… diapers and pads. PLEASE GOD NO.

    1. Holly KN Post author

      1. *honored*
      2. Too bad I ate one of them for lunch. Uh…good thing we got you to that 5K already, huh??

      We won’t discuss how hard I tried NOT to think this thought for 2,000 meters, OK?

  3. Kristen L

    I like to read it all in a race recap. 🙂 Sometimes it’s interesting just to hear what works/doesn’t for other people in addition to finding out how different races are. I’ve done a stair climb before, but never right before running. Sounds pretty tough on the legs!

    1. Holly KN Post author

      I think a stair climb separate from a run would be a totally different experience. How did you train? I spent a little time on the stepper in the gym, but even in a land of high rises, I had trouble finding a place where it would be socially acceptable for me to take over the stairwell for a “training climb”. 🙂

  4. Jules

    Wahey nice one! I enjoy reading about everything in a race report and trying to relive the experience with the writer! It also fuels me when I go running and think about what others have gone through.

    Uhm that stair climb looks mental! I’ve never tried one and can’t say I would particularly want to!! Well done you!

    P.s. your parents got you a really good Xmas gift indeedy!!

    1. Holly KN Post author

      It’s a great gift! And since the goodie bags here are so generous, I think it’s going to end up being the equivalent of something like 8 technical shirts, a few shoe bags, hats/visors, etc…PLUS the race experience.

  5. Jean

    Lots of thoughts:

    My thing with wearing a race shirt for that race, beside the possibility of it chafing, is that I haven’t raced it yet! I feel like kind of a fraud wearing a shirt for something I haven’t yet completed. Although I admit that in most of the races I’ve run, probably 50% of the runners are wearing the race’s t-shirt.

    How lame that your official time includes the first few minutes you weren’t able to run! I’d be pissed, even if I were running it for fun.

    75 degrees plus humidity is probably the hottest/most uncomfortable conditions I can tolerate. I can’t believe that’s considered a good day.

    “Pocari Sweat” is a hilarious name for an electrolyte drink (mostly the fact that it includes the word “sweat”).

    I like all parts of a race report!

    1. Holly KN Post author

      So here, it’s pretty common to get a shirt at packet pick-up, then ANOTHER “Finisher” shirt at the end. Yeah, crazy. And both are technical gear. Crazier. And approximately (no exaggeration) 90% of the participants show up on race morning wearing the shirt. Craziest.

      It’s funny how relaxed I’ve become about times, since I’m not in peak racing shape, and suddenly out of my cozy little “small town Rochester” race atmosphere. In Rochester, there were 100 reasons why I might not have an awesome race, but “too many people”, “not the first starting wave”, and “took me 2 minutes just to cross the START line” weren’t any of them.

      That’s why you live in Alaska, and I live in the tropics? Well, not exactly, but…it’d be weird for you to be living here with my husband, while I hung out with your dog in AK.

      Yes. I don’t know why anyone thought “Sweat” was a smart name for a drink. Noooo idea.

  6. Paul

    Hi Holly. Nice report as always. I did the 15K run (without the climb) so I agree that the race was well organised. When I saw the race route, I was prepared for a giant bottleneck to take place but surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad as for the most part, the path was wide enough to pass the slower runners.

    A few thoughts:

    1) About the wearing of the event tees for the run. Yes, this is how Singaporean runners do it here and its part of our running culture. I know non-local runners may not be able to wrap their head around this and consider it crazy or taboo or fraud(??) etc but it is what it is.

    I need to emphasis that most of the runners were wearing the event tee and not the finisher tee, which were handed out only after you completed the run + climb. There are some races in SIngapore where it is mandatory to wear the event tee for the run eg. Nike We Run.

    2) Gun time vs nett time. It’s another thing that you have to get used to about racing in Singapore if you are gunning for the prizes. The Gun Time (and not the net time) will always be used to determine the winner. Why? Frankly I’m still trying to figure it out. I was under the impression that this was an international practice but your comments suggest that this is not how it is done in other countries.

    But goodness, I really feel for you cos if you have got into the 1st wave, I reckon you would probably be one of the prize winner!

    3) Pocari Sweat. I was rofl when I read your comments. I guess it’s probably just another one of those ‘culture shock’ moments. Pocari is a Japanese company so I suppose they didn’t think it was funny to use the word ‘sweat’ for their isotonic drink. And in all honestly, neither do most of us cos we are familiar with the brand here.

    By the way, there will be a Pocari Sweat Run on 16 June. http://www.pocarisweatrun.com/ for more info. Its a 10K race, I reckon you will be back to your PB by then and can gun for podium finishes.

    1. Holly KN Post author

      Thanks, Paul! Definitely enjoy hearing from a “veteran” of the Singapore running scene (even 6 months is more veteran than me, so you’re good!):

      I have no problem if people wear the shirt (and now, after living here a few months and talking to KMN about it, I realize why so many races have 2 separate shirts…’cause some people might just sign up for the shirt/swag, and not run – this way, if you FINISH, you get a separate shirt that identifies you as a FINISHER), honestly. And I’m not gonna argue with 2 new technical shirts! 🙂 But I just find it a little weird/funny – as a coach, I always tell my runners “Don’t do ANYTHING different on race day!” – including wearing un-tested clothing. It’s a habit I stick to myself. Strangely, though, I think the Nike run in the US was the same. The bib numbers are on the shirts, or something, right?

      I have never, EVER been in a race in the US that had a chip reader at the start and DIDN’T give awards by Nett Time. Not all races chip the start in the US (lots of races are smaller, and there’s no need – everyone crosses the start line in less than a minute), and the timing companies charge more for it. So usually you only see it at bigger races. So it’s very strange to me that here, they chip both, report Nett, and still rank by Gun. But hey, live and learn. I’ll know better next time! 🙂

      Off to check out the Pocari Sweat run now…Nothing I like more than scouting for new races!! 🙂

      1. Paul

        Hey Holly. Thanks for asking how my race went (in the other post on the Ramen) and I thought I replied here since its more appropriate.

        I had a good race. I know the race distance is a little short than 15K but I managed to do a sub 7 min/K pace which I considered to be very good. Hey yes I’m really a veteran (age wise ie >40 yrs) so all things considered, it was an excellent race for me and my longest racing distance to date. The stretch that took the 15K runners beyond Gardens by the Bay and to Geyland PCN was the highlight of the race for me. It was just around sunrise when I reached that place and it was absolutely beautiful!

        Check out these shots I took during the run: http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i117/lonewolf_sg/01%20Running/GeylandPCN_zps04208c54.jpg

        As for the event tees, your argument of ‘Don’t do ANYTHING different on race day!’ is probably the only one I heard so far that makes the most sense on why not to wear the event tee to the race itself. Maybe I share your husband’s good genetic makeup of not being too bothered by ‘untested’ tees cos I do wear them to races myself. 😛

        Finisher tee are actually not so common and are typically only given out for distances of HM and up or uncommon challenges like Run+Climb. Most races would only come with the event tee.

        Race chips/tags are almost a given in all competitive run in Spore, even for the smaller runs organised by the neighbourhood community clubs. Its one of the basics Spore runners have come to accept and demand for every races. Usually only the timing for ‘fun run’ category are not captured.

        As for scouting for new races, the running calender is starting to fill up. I assume you know where to look but no harm pointing you to a really good Singapore Running Calender: http://www.runningguild.com/index.php/runningcalendar/

        I really should have pointed this out to you earlier but there’s an Energiser Night Trial Run on 11 May 2013 with distances of 6K, 12K and 18K. Today is the last day for the early bird registration so I hope its not too rush for you to register if you are interested. (And of cos you will be interested. Its probably the only night trial run in the running calender!) I’m planning to sign up but still can’t decide if 18K will be too much of a stretch target for me considering that I’m more a road runner than a trail runner. Any advise?



        1. Holly KN Post author

          I think I typed my question on the other post, before I saw your post on the race report. I should’ve known to be patient, though! 🙂

          Congrats on your longest distance to-date – and I’m glad it was a good run. I definitely enjoyed the course, as well. I’m definitely looking forward to giving the 15K a shot (hopefully) in the future, so I can enjoy it without dodging and weaving so much! Although – I do love seeing lots of people getting out and exercising!

          If you hit 15K already, you’ll be all set for the 2XU run in a month. And “half marathon” is a nice achievement – packs a bit more punch than “15K”. Will nip over to check out your pics when I have a bit more time this evening.

          Already have a bookmark on the running calendar – but the first “wave” of race sign-ups I did are nearing an end (Venus Run next week and 2XU at the end of March), so I’d better get on top of the next set. I’m considering the Run 350, and I’ll definitely be getting in on the Night Trail Run action – I forgot about the Early Bird sign up, so thanks for the reminder! Also on my to-do list for tonight…

          I would suggest that, if you aren’t an experienced trail runner, you opt for a shorter distance. Trail running is a different experience – especially at night – and requires quite a bit of mental endurance, too. If you don’t plan to do much trail running/night trail running to train, then I’d suggest 6 or 12K. However, if you plan on hitting up some trails between the half marathon and Energizer, especially at night, then by all means go for it. In short: Do whatever you anticipate practicing.

          And of course, be aware that trail running (especially in the dark) carries a considerably higher risk of injury. So if you’re training for a peak race a month or two later, you might do better to sit this one out. Not trying to scare you off – just being honest. Roots and rocks pop up out of nowhere at night! [*Caveat: I have no idea what the trail for this run looks like. Maybe it’s a beautiful, unmarred dirt track. But I’m just assuming it’s a bit more technical than that.] Hope that helps! Let me know what you decide…

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