When I first ran the Army Half Marathon in 2013, I got pwned.
I made a couple of mistakes like drinking too much water during the run and stopping too long at a choke point, thus ended up with a nett time of 3 hours and 36 seconds.
Last year, I improved to 2h 42m 16s at the 2XU Compression Run.
After that, I was done with half marathons because they were simply too hard. I just stuck to mostly 10k races.
But the registration fee for this year’s Army Half Marathon was too cheap to pass up. It was only $13 for early birds.
I was optimistic enough to aim for a time of two and a half hours.
After all, I have changed so much as a runner since 2013. I’m more conscious of my form. I know more about shoes. I got more gear.
Remembering how I felt weighed down by my sweat-soaked clothes during my first AHM, I bought the super-light Adidas Adizero running singlet and super-short Nike running shorts.
I found the perfect running shoes in the Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini. So light, so cushioned and so comfortable that I wore them without socks.
I also wore my Compressport calf sleeves, mostly to protect my ankle from being scrapped by the heels of my own shoes.
Flag-off was at 5am yesterday.
Once again, I worked the night before and took a taxi straight from the office to the race.
But despite not getting any sleep at all, I felt great. Two and half hours seemed doable.
I tried to start the race slowly to avoid tiring myself out too early. (It didn’t work.)
I even caught a few Pokemon (plus a guy with Dragon Ball hair) along the way. I was enjoying myself.
When the 2h 20m pacers ran past me with their balloons, I thought never mind. I would start worrying only when the 2h 30m pacers overtake me.
And that happened after 15km on Nicoll Highway, but I still believed I could catch up to them and make my target time.
Then came the U-turn on Republic Avenue.
I still remember this stretch of road from my last AHM. This was the part of the course that broke me three years ago.
And yesterday, it broke me again.
I had lost sight of the balloons of the 2h 30m pacers ahead of me and any hope of catching up to them.
And then the unimaginable happened – the 2h 40m pacers overtook me.
This meant I wouldn’t even be able to beat my previous time of 2h 42m!
Just as in my previous half marathons, I was jogging so slowly that the walkers were overtaking me.
It was over. I was done. I got pwned by the AHM again.
But I told myself, no matter how slow and tired I was, I would not walk the remaining few kilometres.
And so I struggled to the finish line.
My official nett time was 2h 52m 56s.
I have never felt more disillusioned after a race.
I started to question my self-identification as a runner. All the money I spent on shoes and running gear. All the reading up on running. All the actual running.
My one excuse is that a small muscle ache in my right buttock due to a new exercise I did last week acted up late in the race, which resulted in the cramp.
I also find it curious that my running apps recorded a variety of distances longer than 21km, all the way up to 23.8km.
Does this mean I wasn’t as bad as the official timing may suggest?
The only way to find out is to run another half marathon.
Guess I have a new goal in life.