These weirdo pre-race dreams have got to stop.
Time: Around 2 AM on Sunday morning….
…and I was running back-to-back races; I’d just finished the 5K and was refueling before heading to the starting line for the 21K (half-marathon). I was cheering near the 5K finish line when I looked down and saw that I was surrounded by tiny little dinosaurs. I’m not certain of the exact species, but they were of the Compsognathus style. This didn’t really bother me. I believe anyone should be allowed to cheer. Then, I noticed that one of them had no head (like, looking down at him, I could see a cross-section of his spine, spinal column, esophagus, etc.), even though he was still running around and cheering. I specifically recall telling him, “I’m sorry, I don’t think you’ll be able to finish the half-marathon like that.” Next thing I knew, all of his buddies were nipping at my ankles. Specifically, my Achilles tendons. Their teeth weren’t sharp, but their grips were strong, and I couldn’t seem to kick them off. I was genuinely afraid that they were going to crush my Achilles. I woke up kicking (poor KMN).
[In case you weren’t around a few months ago, this isn’t the first bizarre night-before-a-race-I’m-just-running dream I’ve had since arriving in Singapore. Back in January, I dreamt that I was duct taping closed my wounded abdomen so I could get to the starting line of the Green Corridor Run.]
But let’s back up for a minute: This is my 2XU Compression Run race report, which I’ve been promising to post for the last three days now! We had signed up for this half-marathon (there were also 10K and 5K options) back in January. At the time, I’d been hoping to do a little bit of half-marathon specific training and use the race as a half-marathon benchmark, since I haven’t raced this distance in over a year.
However, given the PF shenanigans of March, the only pace I ran that month was “easy” (except maybe the Venus Run, which was more like a tempo run), and I opted out of long training runs for a few weeks. Thus, when we hit twelve miles the weekend before the race, that was my longest run since the PF niggles hit a month ago. While I was pretty confident I could finish the race safely, I can’t exactly call this strategy an ideal “half-marathon specific training plan”. Furthermore, KMN spent all of last week fighting some virus that left him tired and coughing, but never sick-enough-to-take-a-sick-day. He was feeling better, but also not in prime racing shape. So, we opted to treat the race as a training run, and to (probably) stick together, to keep each other (mostly me) honest.
The half-marathon started at 5:30 AM. In Singapore, the time of a race start represents a tremendous trade-off: A super early start vs. Running in the sun. This race opted for the former. So, we got to bed as early as we could on Saturday (even passing up the opportunity for ice cream with friends!), and popped out of bed when the alarm rang at 3:45 on Sunday morning. Although in reality, I’d already been tossing and turning for at least an hour. Dang dinosaurs.
We grabbed our gear, had some soya beancurd, and hopped into our taxi. (This race started too early for us to take public transport, and although there were shuttle buses available, the closest one was over a mile from our place and still cost $6 per person.) With a taxi, we were at the starting area in under 20 minutes for just over $12. Winning!
We had been generous with our time estimates, so we were at the staging area an hour before the race started. We checked our bags (Singapore has an awesome system for bag check) and walked a bit to find a quiet spot to hang for awhile. We weren’t too concerned with doing a long warm-up, since we were treating this as a training run anyway. So, we chatted and people-watched, and I texted with my family.
At about 5 AM, I made a port-a-potty run. Verdict? Well, they probably could have used a few more port-a-potties, as the lines were quite long. Cleanliness was remarkably good, though, considering. I am coming to realize that standard Singaporean port-a-potties are kind of brilliant. Not to be too explicit here, but at the bottom of the “bowl”, there’s a hinged plastic flap. The flap is normally closed, until you make a contribution, when the weight forces the flap open (yes, even liquid contributions) and allows your “deposit” to fall into the standard port-a-potty collection area. When you’re finished, you step on a foot pump that rinses the sides of the bowl with some of that thick blue liquid gunk, which also goes down the chute. The result? A remarkably un-stinky port-a-potty. I’ve checked out at least 4 such facilities at races since we’ve been here – and none have matched the stink of the US, open-faced port-a-potty. I really believe that little flap makes a huge difference! And, there were sinks. YAY SINKS!!!
I collected KMN and we made our way to the starting chute. I had been looking for a water table since we’d arrived, to top-up my hand-held bottle before the start. Finally, right at the starting chute, I found one. We each had some water, and filled up our bottles. Note that we hadn’t run a step, and were already sweating (see our shiny faces):
I could SEE the Starting Line arch, but we were sooooo far back from it. I started getting antsy, thinking about all the runners ahead of us. KMN kept reminding me that we were just running easy, and it didn’t matter, so I tried to relax. Actually, I was still anxious and a little annoyed. I always think a course is better stocked and maintained for the first runners. But *deep breath* I tried to act relaxed *deep breath*, so KMN wouldn’t know. 😉
We hung out shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of other sweaty people, and at 5:29 AM heard the air horn for the start sound. Then, we proceeded…not to move an inch. For at least 5 minutes (not “felt like five minutes”, but “was seriously five minutes, I checked my watch”), we just stood there. Eventually, we realized that this was going to be a wave start, and we were not in the first wave of runners. I hadn’t actually seen a notice about a wave start anywhere – including the shiny 14-page information booklet given out with our race packets. Rather, the start time for the 21K was listed as 5:30 AM. But, whatever. TRAINING RUN, Holly. TRAINING RUN.
Incidentally, this information booklet also included information and profiles on the pacers that were provided for the race (1:45, 2:00, 2:15, and 2:30). I was planning to do my own thing, but still, I’d read up on the pacer info, and knew they’d be identifiable by their shirts and balloons they were wearing. This all seemed awesome. But standing at the start line, just then realizing the start was a wave start, I saw one big flaw: Had I wanted to run with a pacer, I would not have known that I (probably? I guess?) needed to start in the first wave. I also didn’t see THIS info in the shiny race packet. Not cool, organizers, not cool.
We started to move forward, and saw we were just being let in to the “official” starting chute, where volunteers were checking bib numbers, presumably to make sure that only half-marathoners were starting. We hung around for 12 minutes, listening to the announcer droll on and try to encourage everyone to “Shout!” and “Do the wave!”. He was rather annoying, but does have a thankless job – frankly, no one was interested in shouting or waving. We wanted to run. Finally, the second wave flagged off. But by golly, guess what? Turns out we were actually in the third wave.
Cripes. So, we smushed together closer, sweat a bit more, endured another 10 minutes of the announcer, and counted the seconds. We were pretty sure that we must be in the third wave. Finally, we moved up to the starting line and were confident we were going, this time. Fully twenty-two minutes after the first wave flagged off, we were (finally) off!
Geesh. I’m already at 1400 words, and according to my informal survey awhile back, you all like to hear EVERYTHING about a race. And this race was 13 miles! So, I think I’m going to split this report in two. Come back tonight (Singapore) or in the morning (America) or in about 10 hours (everyone else) for the rest.
What’s the strangest pre-race dream you’ve ever had?
Would you choose an earlier start, or a hotter race?