The objectives I had heading into the Newton Challenge were twofold. Firstly it was to be an opportunity to log my first >30K of the year and secondly to just survive the tough course. Last year I logged a total of 43K (actual race distance of 25.9K) for a 4:54 finish. The actual race itself was completed in a disastrous 2:51. If you’re interested in the 2010 race report head on here.
Now that you’ve read the 2010 report, you’ll understand the reason for my second objective don’t you? Some modifications to the plans for this year. Instead of logging 17K to top off the race distance, I opted to just cover 8K. I figured there’s really no point in running myself into the ground and achieving nothing with a marathon distance training run – I was afterall not down to run any ultra. Any chance of getting enough sleep was dashed with the setting off of the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t even the Chinese New Year and there was already a big bang show of noise. That ruckus resulted in just 3 hours of light sleep for me.
Not wanting to end up rushing back to the starting line for the main event, the group comprising of Calvin, Malcalm, Loke, Wind and I promptly set off at 4:20am. The plan was very simple – head out 30 minutes and return the same time. Jeff, Frank and Roy joined us not long after we started – they were on the way to completing their 17K pre-race run. As it turned out we from the 2nd group managed to cover the 8.27K out and back with adequate time to spare for refuel and re-kit. The average pace of 6:36 really told the story and my average HR was at a low 134. I emptied 3/4 of a bottle of pre-soaked chia seed, 2 packets of gel (thanks for the Roctane, Frank), and changed into a fresh vest. The 2XU cap, shades, BV calf sleeves, Brooks Infiniti III shorts, Kinsei socks and Kinvara ViziPro were my kit for the race.
Plenty of new year greetings were shared as we waited for the start. The strategy was to run a conservative pace up till the last 5K, when I’ll then amp up the pace to a half marathon and subsequently 15K race pace. I only needed to ensure that I cover the first section before the Ammah Hill conservatively as I find that section tougher than the second part. The execution was according to plan and I let all the runners go about their own pace and not get suckered into running another person’s race. My pace fluctuated between 6:06 – 6:34 the first 5K, which meant that I was running well within my comfort zone. My breathing only laboured in the tough climbs – and were not even hard in the other sections. I skipped the first water station at the 4K mark since I was well hydrated. Took my first gel at the 8K mark and pretty much stuck to this interval until the end of the race.
It was great to see Kei Ming, Jason Loh and Kah Wai manning the junctions directing the runners. Their cheers were welcoming indeed. After the 5th K, my pace only dropped to a slow of 6:03 3 times. The rest of the splits were under 6 minutes. Despite the encouraging pace I was pretty much running based on feeling. And to that I was very conscious to keep my pace within my capability. No drastic moves until the final 5K, I kept reminding myself. When the 12K mark was hit, I found that I was still running so very comfortably, so I allowed a slight increase in pace. And held it until the 19K mark when, as planned, the pace was quickened substantially up to the finish line for a 2:22 finish (self timed) and an appoximately 30-minute improvement over 2010’s timing. The distance was a little short at 24.4K (for a total of 32K run).
I’m overall satisfied with the race, no complaints whatsoever. Performance and fueling plans were good but can be better and with a number of over-30Ks planned over a period of 4 weeks from next week, I hope I’ll be able to pace even better. The slight route modification made the race easier certainly. The starting time of 5:30am helped too. All in all a perfect start to the day and year.