This morning, I took part in the 42km Full Marathon category at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2014. Here are the highlights of my run.
The beautiful lights of the Orchard Road Christmas decorations greeted me, as I made my way to the starting pen of the Full Marathon – located outside the Mandarin Gallery.
But I couldn’t really focus on the beauty and serenity of the lights, or the unique calmness and peacefulness of the usually bustling Orchard Road at the very early hour of 4.50am. Instead, thoughts of how my 42km journey would pan out and whether this would be an improvement from my first-ever marathon, at this race last year, were playing through my head.
About ten minutes later, it was 5am in the morning – time for the race to flag off. As I was starting in the fourth wave, I found myself feeling nervous, as I watched the earlier waves of runners beginning their race before me.
My turn to be flagged off
Then it was finally my turn to be flagged off. The moment I crossed the starting line, I broke into a slow jog, trying to pace myself to maintain a good speed of between 6:45 to 7 minutes per kilometre. With the breezy morning air blowing onto me while I was running and admiring the beautiful city scenery in the morning, I was really enjoying the race.
I was still feeling quite comfortable with my pace around the 10km mark of the marathon. As I continued running, I quenched myself with the water and isotonic drinks at the hydration stations, and this gave me the energy to carry on.
A trip to the washroom
However, I think I may have drunk too much fluid in my eagerness to stay hydrated – because while I was running through East Coast Park, at about the 15km mark, I realised that I needed to have a toilet break. That took off quite a few minutes from my timing, as I had to search for tissue paper – due to my haste in packing for the race, I had forgotten to bring this rather essential item.
After the break through, I quickly managed to regain my momentum and was still on pace when I crossed the halfway point, at the 21.1km checkpoint.
Pace started to slow down
However, this pace didn’t last very long though. I found my ideal pace starting to slow down at the 25km mark of the marathon. The race was beginning to get harder – and especially so, when I passed by the underpass leading out of Area C of East Coast Park – as my home was easily accessible from here. At this point, I found myself beginning to contemplate giving up on the race and return home, to clean up and rest my weary legs.
Would I be able to forgive myself though, if I gave up on the race, when I was still capable of putting one leg forward in front of the other? So I pushed on, even though my legs were slowly starting to cramp – despite taking salt tablets since quite early into the race, as an attempt to ward these off.
Welcome sight at the 30km mark of the marathon
A very welcome sight greeted me at the 30km mark – an unofficial Coke station. When I spotted this, my thoughts returned to my earlier experience at the 50km trail run at The North Face – when an unofficial Coke station had been a very welcome relief. So I stopped here with relish, and guzzled down two delicious cups of this yummy soft drink. That was when I noticed there were also orange slices here too – but I didn’t take any, as I was thirsty and not really hungry. I must, however, really make some mention of the lady who was tirelessly peeling oranges for the runners, though. She must have been a welcome sight.
The worst bit of the race was yet to come, though.
Searing, merciless heat made my self-inflicted torture worse
When I exited East Coast Park, at around the 31km point of the marathon, I realized that the heat was merciless – and my leg cramps didn’t make it any better. It didn’t help either that this part of the route didn’t have any trees to block the scorching sun from beating down on the runners.
This was also the part of the race when I completely gave up on any timing aspirations I had, and decided to use a walking & running strategy to get me to the finishing line. At the same time, I found myself thinking, if I had given up earlier, when I had contemplated the thought, I would be enjoying a relaxing, cold shower now – rather than inflicting this type of self-torture on myself right now.
Motivated by the pacers and their enthusiasm
At about 35km, when I was taking a walking break – which turned out to be longer than it was supposed to be – I came across the 5 hour 15 minute pacers. With their navy blue balloons, loud enthusiasm and blasting music from their portable speakers, they gave me the perfect motivation to keep running, at a point when I was at an all-time low. With them, the next couple of kilometres passed by quickly.
However, at the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, at the 38km mark, the uphill slope proved to be too much for my weary, cramped legs to maintain at the pace they were going. So I fell back and found myself walking again.
Struggling with the heat
Struggling with the heat, I ended up walking for the next three kilometres and wondering why I was doing this to myself. But when I saw the marker saying that there was one kilometre to go – meaning that I had already covered 41 kilometres – I decided to break into a slow jog again. I was so near to completing this gruelling marathon race!
Pushed my aching body to the finishing line
At this slow jogging pace, of probably about 7 minutes 30 seconds per kilometre, I pushed my tired, aching body towards the finishing line. When I saw the sign telling me that I had 500m left to go, it spurred me on.
Finishing line right up ahead!
And then I could see the finishing line up ahead. After experiencing what I had just gone through, this was possibly the most welcoming sight then. Despite the searing heat and my aching legs, I propelled myself towards the finishing line – and that was definitely the best feeling in my life.
It wasn’t my best race, but despite all the internal and external struggles that I had gone through, I had completed it – and I was just happy to be a finisher of this marathon.
- Race Review: 42.195km @ StanChart Marathon 2015
- Click here for the winners of SCMS 2014.
- Click here for top runner Marcus Ong’s winning strategy in the Ekiden category.