Adidas Sundown Marathon 2009

Start

Gun Time 5:29:05. Not very impressive but not bad for a first-timer either. If I calculated correctly, the Net Time should be 5:26:03. 

Running at night is quite different from running in the day. It is much quieter at night, and at some instances, it may be quite boring, as everything is shrouded in darkness. Also, it is much cooler at night, especially when running along the coastline (String of Lights) and enjoying the land breeze.

Bib Number 04459

The route was divided into four sections:  

String of Lights

This is the longest stretch of the entire route at 21 kilometres. Seemingly identical white lamps formed a never-ending line. Starting from Nicoll Drive, I started running at a comfortable pace, so that I would not be drained out for the entire route. The next stretch was a straight route, and the only attraction was watching a few planes land at Changi International Airport. The air was very humid, and we had to compete with the plants for oxygen. After running south for an hour or so, there was a turn towards East Coast Park. Part of the route was the same for the Saucony-100Plus Passion Run last Sunday, and at night, it is just a different view. Lights from boats out at sea formed a static pattern. However, it is really interesting to find that East Coast Park is also full of life at night. There were groups of people cycling, camping, playing card games and barbequing. Water was made available at regular 2- to 3-kilometre intervals. This part of the route ended after crossing an overhead bridge across the East Coast Parkway.
 
Heartland Twist

This route had three overhead bridges to scale. Running along the Park Connector next to the drain, we saw landmarks such as Kembangan MRT Station. At the 26-kilometre mark, my right leg started to ache, so I decided to take a short rest on the bench. However, I soon realised that it was not a very good idea, as the muscles began contracting within seconds, resulting in unbearable cramps. The next two kilometres was along a jogging trail in a residential estate. Energy gels of different flavours were supplied there.
 
Waterfront Trail

The first part of the trail required us to run on a sandy trail halfway around Bedok Reservoir. I had to stop twice along the way as the strain on my right ankle was getting worse. At the 30-kilometre mark, there was an aid station, with a supply of bananas. There was also Deep Heat cream to relieve the pain on the thighs. Realising that I should not stop moving my legs (otherwise there will be cramps), from that point on, I adopted a walk-run strategy, alternating between the two every 300 to 400 metres. My pace decreased to an average of 9 minutes per kilometre. There was also a suspension bridge which was oscillating while other runners zoomed past me.
 
Homerun

The last 7 kilometres was a painful one. After spotting the 5:30 pacer, David, I decided to follow him to the endpoint. Running and walking along Loyang Avenue, I tried to follow David’s pacing. This section also included a 300 metre upward slope, which was not as bad as I had expected. After seeing Changi Village Hotel, I was convinced that I was very near the endpoint. I kept pushing myself, determined to clear the 5 hour 30 minute mark. After a short sprint towards Nicoll Drive, I made a U-turn to the Finish Point. Pacers do make a big difference! 

Finish

After collecting the finisher medal and T-shirt, David also advised me to walk around for a few minutes before sitting down. The design for the finisher T-shirt was very attractive! Also at the marathon was Dr Adrian Loo and we managed to talk to each other for a while. 

Volunteers and other supporters cheered on along the way, and this had motivated me to continue running (and not walking so much). I have learnt that it is really important to keep a comfortable pace at the start so that there is sufficient energy to complete the entire marathon. A tip from the 5:00 pacer Sri, when the cramp about to take effect, do some quick stretching and continue running, otherwise it would be very hard to start running again. Also, the unlimited supply of water at the 21 aid stations was very thirst-quenching.

Adidas Sundown Marathon Banner

Opening of the Circle Line

Although I did not catch the first train in the morning at 5.37 am since it is so early, I did catch a ride on the train this afternoon straight after school from Marymount Station to Bishan Interchange, then off to Paya Lebar. Well, it is not very crowded at that time, there were about thirty passengers on the platform, where more than half of the passengers who boarded from Marymount Station at that time were students from my school.

Trains nowadays are changing in many ways. The front and rear carriages have each a huge window to allow passengers, especially curious children, to look into the tunnel as the train moves from station to station. Interesting, but this requires a redesign of the emergency exit doors at the ends of the train. Also known as ‘detrainment doors’, the ends of the newer trains are designed like jaws, with the top and bottom jaws springing open in the event of an emergency, where a three-section ramp is released for evacuation.

Next time, if you are meeting someone on the train, the task of you locating them (or them locating you) will be much easier. The seats in each of the three carriages have been colour coded to allow passengers to identify the section of the train they are on. The colours are green, maroon and blue (at the centre of the train).

Kim Chuan Depot, measuring 160 metres wide and 27 metres high, is the world’s largest underground train depot. With a floor area of 11 hectares, it can store up to 77 three-car trains. To save space, the land above the depot can be used for future development of up to nine storeys high. This depot also houses the tallest underground warehouse storage system in Singapore, which retrieves spare parts within four minutes. Is there a chance for me to take a look into the depot with my own eyes?

Next up is the lovely set of stamps right here in front of me. Finally, a circle shaped stamp by SingPost in more than ten years! On the 1st Local stamp, the Circle Line system is placed on the Singapore map. Also featured on the stamps is a new Circle Line station in the underground system (80 cents), the Circle Line train ($1.10), and the Circle Line Operation Control Centre situated in Kim Chuan Depot ($2). A complete set of stamps issue comes with a relatively hefty price tag of $4.16.

Stamp Issue Poster

Circle Line Opens Tomorrow

The highly anticipated Circle Line (CCL) Stage 3 will officially open to the public tomorrow morning, Thursday, 28 May 2009. This is the latest addition to the rail network in Singapore. The Circle Line is a fully automated underground train system passing through estates such as Bishan, Serangoon, Paya Lebar and Holland Village. When fully opened, it will be the world’s longest fully automated line at 33.3 kilometres. The Bartley-Marymount section of the Circle Line has a length of 5.7 kilometres, and it takes only eight minutes to travel from end to end. This section of the Circle Line allows passengers to transfer to the North South Line at Bishan Interchange, and to the North East Line at Serangoon Interchange.

The Circle Line is a medium capacity line with only three cars instead of the usual six. Perhaps, another likely reason could be the lack of space to built MRT stations which can accommodate six-car trains, especially since the route runs through high density areas in the heartlands and in the city. In fact, one of the stations, CC4 Promenade, will be Singapore’s first station with stacked side platforms, i.e. platforms are one on top of the other, where trains run directly above the other in opposite directions. Since the southern terminus of the future Bukit Timah Line will perhaps be shifted to this station after the collapse of Nicoll Highway, there is a need to conserve the limited space. The stacked platform is something which I am looking forward to!

If you would like to be the first in everything, the first train leaves Marymount MRT station at 5.37 am. Limited to the first 931 passengers only! However, I don’t think that there will be so many people anyway. During peak hours, the train will arrive every three minutes or so. During off-peak periods, the frequency is 6 to 8 minutes. The first train from other stations are as follows: 

Mondays to Saturdays

  Bartley Serangoon Lorong Chuan Bishan Marymount
Towards Marymount 0553 / 0004 0556 / 0017 0558 / 0019 0600 / 0021  
Towards Bartley   0544 / 0029 0542 / 0027 0540 / 0025 0537 / 0022

 

Sundays and Public Holidays

  Bartley Serangoon Lorong Chuan Bishan Marymount
Towards Marymount 0613 / 0004 0616 / 0017 0618 / 0019 0620 / 0021  
Towards Bartley   0611 / 0029 0609 / 0027 0607 / 0025 0604 / 0022

 

To celebrate the opening of the Circle Line, SMRT will be having ten-hour parties on 30 May and 31 May at Bishan Interchange. This is one of the interchanges between the Circle Line and the North South Line, both operated by SMRT, with the other being Dhoby Ghaut Interchange. That is probably one reason why the party is not to be held at Serangoon Interchange. Well, it is more likely that Bishan is more vibrant at the moment with Junction 8 Shopping Centre, while Nex is still under construction at Serangoon.

SingPost will be releasing its fifth issue of the year on the Circle Line. The stamps are designed by SMRT, presenting a ‘miniature exhibition’ of the Circle Line system. From the press release by SMRT earlier today, “SMRT Circle Line First Day Cover is also exclusively available for sale at Bishan Circle Line Interchange Station after 28 May, together with stamps and presentation packs.” Wait, why are the first day covers still available after 28 May? Shouldn’t it be sold only on the day itself? Scrolling down, it reads “Availability: SMRT Bishan Circle Line Interchange Station from 28 to 31 May and at all post offices and the Singapore Philatelic Bureau from 28 May”. Well, first day covers are not first day covers any more.

Last weekend, I was among the thousands of people eager to go into the Circle Line stations. Well, it was not the first time the interior leaked to the public. On 4 April, three stations: Bishan, Lorong Chuan and Bartley were opened to the public during the Singapore Civil Defence Force Shelther Open House.

Saucony 100Plus Passion Run 2009

Event Banner

The Singapore Passion Run 2009 was held this morning at East Coast Park. This is the third time the event is hosted in Singapore. Realising that I had little time left for breakfast, I grabbed a powerbar and ate it on the way there. After I arrived, I followed other runners who were in red on a long walk towards the starting point which was over 1 km away. I was on the wave which started at 0735. This was my second 15 km run. 

Starting Point

The first 3 km was covered at a comfortable pace, and the wind was blowing from behind me. After that, at 3.-something km, I saw a toilet and decided to use, and this had ate up a few minutes of my time, but that was better than running with a pain in the stomach for the rest of the journey. Up to the 7 km mark, I was running at a much slower pace as the sweltering heat became more intense. At the 5 km sign, the time on my phone was 0806, which meant that I had to speed up, as I have taken 31 minutes for the first third of the distance.
 
Next up, at 0826, is a junction where the 10 km and 15 km runners split up. From this point on, I ran at a constant pace all the way to the finish line without stopping, except for the thirst-quenching drinks, of course. The additional 5 km stretch of road had some undulating terrain, and I took close to 30 minutes on this stretch. The U-turn was estimated to be at the 10.3 km mark.
 
From the 12 km sign to the 13 km sign, the distance covered seemed way much shorter than a kilometre, probably 300 to 400 metres short. I took me some time see another mileage sign after the ’13 km’ sign. When the 10 km and 15 km runners merged back onto the same track, it was 0854. It took me around 14 minutes for the last more-than-2 km stretch, whilst spotting this sign around the probable 14 km mark at 0904, warning runners that the endpoint is still another 10.4 km (or 15 km) ahead. 

End Point Ahead

The collection of goodie bags was seamlessly quick, compared to a ten minute queue at the inaugural Suburban Run on 15 March. My overall timing for this 15 km run was around 1 hour 33 minutes, approximately 9.67 km per hour, which was quite good, considering that had not been training as much recently. 

Number Tag 6292

For this run, I find that the volunteers there are really hyped up and they kept cheering everyone on, and pushed me ahead. Water points at this run were adequate, and had an unlimited supply of 100Plus and mineral water. At the end of the race, I gulped down two cans of 100Plus.

Aerogramme

Aerogramme

It is really cheap to send an aerogramme overseas. At only a rate of fifty cents, you can get your very own aerogramme at most Singapore Post outlets. This postage paid envelope-cum-writing paper comes in four different designs, each with a different scene of Singapore. An aerogramme is designed to be as light as possible, and the sender writes at the back before folding and sealing it up, and dropping it at one of the over 800 post boxes in Singapore. However, it appears that aerogrammes can get damaged easily during transit since it is made of lightweight material. The address of the sender is written on the reverse.

One would write the message inside, and is limited in terms of space. Furthermore, inserts are not allowed in aerogrammes, otherwise it may be sent via surface mail which takes weeks to arrive at its destination.