I glance down and see some blood on the front of my shirt. At first I’m curious, then I’m horrified, as I realize that the blood is coming from a gash across my abdomen, where a bit of my innards are peeking out. I have no idea where the cut came from, but I do know exactly which innards they are (I’ll spare you those gory details.) My first two thoughts:
- They’re not supposed to do that! I have a layer of muscle between my skin and organs!!! And this is just a little nick! My abs are thicker than that!!
- I have to hide this! If anyone finds out, I’ll never be allowed to race today!!!! Do we have any duct tape? [I did not make that last part up. I genuinely had this thought.]
And then…my alarm clock rang. My eyes flew open, and the very first thing I did was to carefully examine my abdomen. Thankfully, all organs seemed to be properly in place, and my skin was intact. *whew*
I’m not usually prone to running dreams/nightmares (or at least not to remembering them), so I have no idea where this one came from. On the plus side, I was wide awake and ready to go at 5-something-AM on a Sunday morning. Good thing, because it was the morning of the inaugural Green Corridor Run!!!!
I’ve already posted a little bit about this race, and my anticipation of it, in this post from last week. And now, finally, it was go time. I was pumped.
Neither KMN nor I have elaborate pre-race rituals (leaving the last 2 bites of my pre-race cereal in the bowl is pretty efficient, as rituals go), so we were ready very quickly. We grabbed our bottles, EZ Link cards (for public transit), and phones – and off we went. The public transport system in Singapore is awesome, and an easy 30 minute bus ride put us literally steps away from the start site. There were also shuttle buses from the nearest subway stations – very generous of the race organizers, as these stations were still less than 1 km from the start! [Singaporeans: In the US, we often have to drive to a race site and STILL walk 1 km, or more, to get to the start!]
The sky brightens. Our flag-off time was 7:15 AM.
Driving to this race was highly discouraged – parking was extremely limited, and the race was point-to-point, without any arrangements for a shuttle to bring people back to the start. However, there was a well-marked and staffed drop-off point, and those arriving on foot from the bus, subway, etc. had a separate, fenced-off walking path through the arrival area, so both people and vehicles could move safely and easily.
A sink. In a port-a-potty. It must’ve had a light, too – because at this point, the sky was pretty dark.
We walked past the old Tanjong Pagar railroad station – but it was a bit dim for any good photos, and the building itself was closed to the public anyway (sorry, Dad). I needed a bathroom stop and was thrilled to see a long row of port-a-potties, each with a line of exactly one person. Score! Also? This was the nicest port-a-potty I have ever used, EVER. It flushed. Did you read that? IT FLUSHED. The seat was angled to the left, so I could sit without feeling like my nose was in the urinal. There was a sink with running water, soap, and paper towels – in the port-a-potty. I was loving this race, and hadn’t even run a step yet!!
The race was scheduled to start in waves (of ~2,000 runners each), to allow sufficient space for all runners on the sometimes-narrow trail. The race directors wisely opted to allow runners to self-select their wave based on estimated 10K finish time (under 60 min, 60-80 min, and >80 min). KMN and I chose to start with the first wave, but to stay in the middle-to-back of the pack. I was aiming to use the race as a steady, moderate-effort run. My goals were to check out the Singapore trail running scene, to run comfortably, and to finish without any IT band or metatarsal pain. Depending on the crowds and trail conditions, I estimated that an 8:30-9:00 minute mile would probably do the trick.
The starting corral was calm and relatively spacious. Singaporeans can be very pushy (for example, when getting on/off public transportation), but everyone seemed relaxed and gave each other sufficient space. KMN and I slowly inched forward, sizing up our fellow runners and doing that delicate dance of “where’s the right place for our pace”?
The corral, ~5 minutes before the start. The station is behind me, and everyone is standing where the railroad tracks used to run.
KMN & Holly at the start of the Green Corridor Run.
There was a short pep talk, a brief warm up, and by 7:16, we were on our way! The race was chipped at both the start and finish, so we didn’t mind a short wait to get to the starting gantry. As the seconds ticked by, though, we both realized that weren’t as far forward as we’d thought. Ooops! Ah, well, too late to change anything now!
Things loosened up quickly, though. The entire course was along the old railroad bed. The tracks were gone, and the railroad ties were either covered over or removed. Mostly, the terrain was dirt and/or grass. The path narrowed gradually, over the first kilometer or so, so there was sufficient time for everyone to spread out. Even at its narrowest, the trail could accommodate 3-4 runners across – so compared to single-track racing, this was positively spacious.
There were a very few walkers who started where they didn’t belong, but mostly, everyone seemed to have done a decent job of starting in the right place. Everyone except us, that is. We’d started way too far back. But thankfully, the wide path afforded us plenty of space to pass other runners, and we kept up a steady stream of passing for most of the race.
We ran through the first few kilometers easily, as we worked our way forward and settled into a pretty steady effort. There were volunteers stationed every half kilometer, and plenty of trail access points marked, in case of emergency. We saw medical personnel and an ambulance at some of these exit points (possibly all, I’m not sure). And while it was a difficult course for spectators to access, having volunteers positioned frequently ensured there were people monitoring the runners’ safety, and also a few friendly faces to clap and cheer (nothing too exuberant, but still, an encouragement).
In addition, plywood had been laid across some of the muddier sections – perhaps to protect the runners (many locals expressed serious concern about getting muddy – don’t get me started, that’s a rant for another time!), but I suspect also to protect the trail from getting too beaten up by the run. This was unusual to me, but the boards seemed sturdy enough when we crossed them. I hope they remained firmly in place and not too slippery as the morning went on.
There were also a number of short tunnels (overpasses), which must have been very muddy in the recent past, because it looked like they recently received a gravel dump (some discussion board reconnaissance confirms this). Running over big chunks of gravel is scary to someone who has busted metatarsals in the past, but I ran as gently as possible and made it through unscathed. The most exciting part of the run was the longest of these tunnels, which was actually pretty dark inside. There were about 10 seconds there when I wished I had my headlamp!
We did get stuck in a bottleneck at one point, as runners picked their way around some muddy patches.
Me: *glancing back* “Uhhh…”
KMN: “Yup, go for it.”
Both: *splash through mud, around at least 20-30 runners*
Sweet! We’d earned ourselves some trail cred, and a bit of a spa mud bath for our feet. I was loving this. Every bit of it!
The temperature was ~77°F (25°C), and humid at the start. Without any direct sun, this was a very tolerable – almost pleasant – running condition for Singapore. As we clicked off a few more kilometers, things warmed up – but we were carrying our own hydration, and both felt pretty strong coming into the halfway mark. The race also provided 3 hydration stops with water (all 3) and 100Plus, a local sports drink (at least 1).
By this point, many people were running single file along the hard packed, grass-less center line of the trail. We were hanging out along the sides, where the ground was a bit more uneven but passing was easier. Everyone was strung out in a line, with runners ahead and behind, but the path was certainly wide enough for all, and we were able to proceed without much frustration. There was a strip of forest on both sides, and beyond that, urban Singapore. KMN was able to pick out his old school, a new mall where we recently met friends, and his family’s preferred hawker center.
Around the 7 km mark, I started to get a bit tired. My body was feeling the effort, and I was concentrating hard to keep my ankles strong and my feet from landing too hard. While the passing wasn’t too hard, constantly looking for the best way around/through groups was getting mentally tiring. Although KMN and I had been informally taking turns leading, I knew that I would need something more regimented for a countdown to the finish. We agreed to switch off every half mile from that point forward. [The course was marked in km, but we still use our Garmins in miles. Americans… :)]
This arrangement meant that I was forced to run strong as the lead for half a mile, then got to follow (mentally easier, but physically still a push) for half a mile. This worked perfectly. KMN was a great tag team member, and we ran steadily all the way to the finishing chute. He even had a nice kick at the end to pick off one or two more gentlemen. There were no ladies in my sight, and I held back. It’d be a shame to have run a good, safe race – then tweak something in a sprint to the finish. We moved through the finishing chute, and received our finisher’s medals and a Green Corridor Run towel.
Results have not yet been posted [Edit: Click HERE for a link to the results page – but only to enter your bib number (Letter + Number) and get your time – there is no overall listing of finishers and their times.]. but according to my Garmin, my finish time was 54:XX [Edit: Chip time 55:08], for about 6.3-6.4 miles, giving me an average pace of ~8:45 min/mile – smack within my goal range. I am absolutely pleased with this. I’d held myself back from racing hard, but still gotten a good, solid workout and just a taste of my normal “2/3 through the race ughhhh.” low point. KMN and I got to work together during a race (usually we run separately), and we both finished feeling strong.
Finish line refreshments consisted of water, 100Plus, and bananas – but frankly, that was all that I was in the mood to eat anyway. We rested, stretched, rehydrated, and took some photos:
The finish line was at the old Bukit Timah railway station.
KMN in front of the historic station.
Look closely between the bars, and you can see some of the control switches for the tracks (I’m pretty sure that’s what they are).
And just past the finish line, the tracks resume!
I was trying to be a steam locomotive. KMN thought I was doing a running pose. Eeeks! I certainly hope that I don’t look like this when I run!!!
It would have been fun to hang at the finish, cheer in the rest of the runners, and maybe see the fastest folks get their prizes – but we had plans to meet friends for lunch. So we walked about 200 meters out to the main road, hopped on a bus (sat on our handy towels!), and in about 20 minutes, we were back at our apartment. I could not have asked for a more convenient race experience!!
Overall, this particular race presented logistical considerations that were unique to trail racing, and to Singapore. Organizationally, there were a few false alarms very early on (November/December) that resulted in the dispersal of conflicting information, and much discussion, concern, and doubt among a vocal contingent of local runners. However, the organizers ultimately presented a smoothly run, organized, safe, and fun event. I didn’t see any of the common “inaugural race issues”: transportation options, hydration, medical care, and restrooms were all available in abundance. I am operating on a US-based race pricing system, but I was quite pleased with the $48 SGD price point ($39 USD), for which we received an urban race with meticulous organization, chip timing (start and finish), some goodies (bag, visor, towel, medal), and a bag drop & shuttle buses (which we didn’t use, but seemed to be working pretty smoothly). Oh – and did I mention those port-a-potties? They were most excellent!
The organizers accommodated and educated trail runners of all experience levels. They did everything possible to provide a trail-centric event open to as many participants as possible, while still taking steps to preserve the more fragile sections of the trail. They brought participants out to an ecologically and culturally significant space, a bit of a “hidden gem” of Singapore. And all of this was done in a local way, without the massive organizing power and tremendous corporate sponsorship that characterizes many other races in Singapore (Standard Charter Marathon, Brooks Nightlife Run, Nike We Run, Adidas King of the Road). While none of my web research has indicated exactly who the organizing body is, my hat goes off to this dedicated group, and their recruited volunteers. I would sign up for next year’s race – and any other event you all produce – in a heartbeat. Thank you!!!!
Two thumbs up for the Green Corridor Run 2013!!!
And, of course, some Fleet Feet Endurance Team love!!
Ever run a race where some element exceeded your wildest expectations? Do tell!
Alternatively, please tell me about the nicest port-a-potty you’ve ever used.
*I chose to participate in this event, and paid my own entry fee. I have no association with the race, its directors, or Groundswell Events.
**We did not take any photos during the race, but if you go the the Green Corridor Run’s Facebook page, there is a link to lots of photos taken by Running Shots (click on “Recent Posts By Others” and scroll down to find the link).
[EDIT: If you want to keep reading, head over here to read about our post-run refueling at Relish.]