I capped off an approximately 90km week yesterday with a 36 minutes 28.82 seconds finish at the Jurong Lake 10km race, placing me fifth in the Men’s Open category and seventh overall (two from the junior category were ahead of me).

With three Gurkhas amongst those ahead of me, that meant I was the fourth Singaporean after Rui Yong, Girider, and my regular running partner Devathas. 

After all the pre-race distractions and detractions, including deciding which of the three race bibs belonged to whom (there was no identification on them) and waiting for a team member to arrive to pass him his race bib, I ended up (with two of my team members) with only a grand total of about 10 minutes to warm up.

And that time was just about as much as we needed to jog to the start line from the carpark my friend parked his car at.

It was not the ideal warm-up for my first race after seven weeks of chalking up mileages of 70-90km weekly during these summer holidays.

Nonetheless, as always, the race lies ahead. And I was not about to let what was behind me to hinder what I could do in the next thirty minutes and a bit.

Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:13 of the Bible:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I had set no concrete targets going into the race. But breaking 36 minutes has been my desire for some time having clocked 10km times in the 36-es for the past couple of years. And with the recent mileage in my legs, I was quietly confident of doing it.

The race started off with a sizeable lead pack (that became the chase pack soon after when Rui Yong ran off in the lead), which I was at the back of and therefore had a good view of. There were 12 consisting of Soh Rui Yong, Mok Ying Ren, Jason Lawrence, Prashan, Marcus Ong, Girider Swaminathan, Devathas Satianathan, Raviin Kumar, four Gurkhas, and a Kenyan woman.

I was content to sit in the back of the pack because the pace was quicker than what I thought I could handle for the whole 10km. Moreover, I was sure that once the excitement of the start wore off, a few would drop off the pack. It always happens in any race.

I remember going through the 5km mark and taking a glance at my watch, which read “17:58.” Immediately, I thought it was going to be a battle to go sub-36 because, requiring at least a 18:01, there was not much room to slow down in the second half of the race.

Indeed, over the second 5km, the chase pack was whittled down to six — Girider, Devathas, and four Gurkhas. Keeping them in sight, I still thought I could chase up to them at some point.

Two of the four Gurkhas began to fall away from the chase pack pretty quickly and I sensed an opportunity to gain a couple positions.

Keeping up the tempo, I managed to catch up to them and overtake one Gurkha about two to three kilometres out from the finish. By this time, I had let the chase pack gradually out of sight and being skeptical of the accuracy of the distance markers (which were not easily sighted) and unsure of the distance left in the race, I was too resistant to let go of the shackles and just kick it up a gear.

In the last kilometre, the Gurkha, whom I had earlier overtaken, mounted a come-back and surged away from me.

Coming off a turn into a side-road, the finish sign popped up in the distance all too suddenly. Kicking away, it was all too little too late in that attempt to go sub-36 as I crossed the finish, clicking off my watch with it reading “36:29.”