Work done does not go to waste. There is a word for that: efficiency. And that is something about my body that is becoming apparent to me in my running the last few months.
I ran the Singapore Marathon last December and, while the preparation in the months leading up to the race seemed to fail me on race-day, the work (in terms of the mileage) is paying off in 2012.
One early indication, while I was on a long run on a usual route in university, was when I clicked off a split on my watch at my first checkpoint on the run. The time was the fastest I ever recalled doing on that part of the course.
The thing about the time that amazed me was not so much that it was the fastest I have clocked till then. It was, instead, the perception of effort, which was ordinarily easy despite the time being one minute faster than usual. It was a pace I would call a tempo pace or slightly easier than it.
As the run progressed, I continued to click off split times that were my best on the course. When I completed the run, I had achieved a personal best time on the course and my legs and breathing were still feeling none the worse for wear.
I was excited. But I was wary not to get carried away with one run. There are days when you can feel good and I was afraid it was going to be a fleeting experience.
But, three days later, I headed up to one of my favourite running courses — MacRitchie Reservoir — for a 21km run that I usually do (two rounds of a 10.5km route) on Saturday mornings and, again, those legs were popping.
I clocked another personal course record on the second of two rounds as I continued to attempt wrapping my head around how my body was responding on my runs.
Those personal course record times over the first three months of the year became familiar to me as I hit times in their region while out on more long runs.
With two personal best times in two track events this year already (the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m), I knew I was in PB shape and I very much wanted to set a new one in the 10km, which I felt was overdue.
That desire was what compelled me to enter the 10km category in the 2XU Compression Run even though there was a 15km option as well.
With the 10km and 15km runners starting together, I made an attempt to size up my competition before the start by looking at the bib colours. Gen Lin and Jianyong were going to provide good competition for a top three finish.
Gen Lin got off to a very quick start and I decided immediately not to follow him. As much as I wanted to try to win, I knew I could easily throw away what I thought were good chances of finishing in the top three and a personal best by going after him.
Chee Yong (15km) and Jianyong were hanging off my shoulder in the first 3-4km. Feeling good after I passed the 4km marker (in third position and behind Gen Lin and a Caucasian guy), I decided to run more aggressively.
I managed to pass the Caucasian guy for second position without much strain and, looking at the gap I established on those behind me, I was running without much pressure of being caught. With that, I focused on seeing how close I could rein in Gen Lin.
At the end, I managed to catch a glimpse of Gen Lin but he was too strong on the day. He managed to just go sub-35 with a 34:59 (I think, because the official results screwed up our timings). I clocked 35:17 on my watch for a huge one-minute personal best.
Feeling spent but in a comfortable sort of way at the finish, running has seldom been more enjoyable, if ever.
On the back of one bad race (and much mileage) has come many weeks of strong running and several personal bests.