My First 42km Race @ the StanChart Marathon Singapore 2013

The full reality of actually registering for a 42km race hit me this morning as I took the train down to Orchard Road, which was the starting point for the 2013 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

Marathoners get ready to start running at the starting pen along Orchard Road.

Marathoners getting ready to start running at the starting pen along Orchard Road.

Up until race day, my longest training run had only been 30km – and what’s more, that had taken place more than a month ago. So I started to have niggling feelings about whether I would really be able to complete the entire marathon.

And when I got out of the train at Orchard Road, even though the Christmas lights were lovely, I couldn’t really get much of a chance to enjoy them and take in the breathtaking views because I was feeling quite nervous and apprehensive about this impending challenge. I unconsciously found myself wondering, why hadn’t I taken the “easy option” and signed up for the half marathon instead?

Ready To Flag Off

The flag-off time at 5AM was fast approaching and everyone was heading towards the starting pen. After depositing my baggage and going to the ladies, I followed the crowd to the starting pen.

In the meantime, bands were playing in an attempt to create a vibrant atmosphere and energise the crowd. The emcee was also yelling at the top of his voice in an attempt to make things more lively. But I felt butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t enjoy the festive atmosphere as much as I would have liked.

There were five more minutes to go till the start of the race. Then it became four minutes, three, two, one, and then we were off.

Starting The Race

I knew that I had quite a tough few hours ahead of me. So I tried to run at a steady pace, even though there were plenty of other people speeding past me.

It felt slightly scary that they were able to just breeze past. But I told myself that they would probably crash out about halfway through the race, so there was no need to get intimidated by them. And I would probably catch up with them later.

Marathoners take over East Coast Park.

Marathoners taking over East Coast Park

Kilometres One to Ten: A Relaxing Run

The first ten kilometres into the race felt quite relaxing and pain free. The scenery around the city was also quite beautiful. We passed by iconic landmarks such as the Istana, Fort Canning Park, Hong Lim Park and the Formula One pit garages. The Singapore Flyer, with its brilliantly changing coloured lights, also beckoned to me.

At the same time, since it was so early in the morning, the weather was cool and the breeze helped to keep me comfortable as I ran.

Kilometres 11 To 20: Heading Into Familiar Territory

For this part of the race, we ran into East Coast Park, where I usually train. At this point, I was still quite fresh and not tired and my pace was good.

I was very familiar with this area and I knew where facilities such as the toilets were located. So I took a little trip to the washroom – probably the result of having consumed too much water and isotonic drinks. It felt good to have a short break.

A runner attempts to maintain a steady pace.

A runner attempting to maintain a steady pace

Kilometres 21 To 30: The Good Weather

When I reached the 21km marker, I couldn’t help thinking that if I had signed up for the half marathon category instead, I would actually have completed the race by now. But as it stood, I was only at the halfway point – and would still have to persevere for another 21km.

I was getting a little tired by now and I couldn’t wait for the race to end. But on the other hand, the weather was actually pretty relaxing and cool – good for running. There was a light drizzle too, which helped to cool me down even more. In fact, this fantastic weather helped to spur me on to keep running and maintain a relatively consistent pace.

As well, the isotonic drink and energy gel stations were also a great help to boost my energy levels at this point. So I made sure that I utilised them to the fullest. There was also a banana station too, which I was quite thankful for, as I was also feeling slightly peckish at this stage of the race.

Kilometres 31 To 40: The Onset of Leg Cramps

We were now leaving East Coast Park and heading in the direction of the Marina Barrage. And it was the worst part of the race for me – in fact, I still remember very clearly when the leg cramps started to come on. At about 33km, I could feel them starting and by 35km, they were becoming much more painful. But I forced myself to push on at a steady pace and keep going because after all, I had not run all this way – only to give up a mere few kilometres from the end of the race. The effort was killing me. But I knew that if I gave up at this point, I could never forgive myself – so despite the pain, I desperately pushed on.

I could see a few runners in a really bad shape too. They were literally lying on the ground and needing special medical attention by the race medics. So I could count myself lucky that my leg cramps weren’t so bad that they would render me useless.

Eventually, other runners, myself included, were stopping to do stretching exercises and also rubbing some muscle gel on their tired limbs, in a bid to keep on going.

Kilometres 41 and 42 – The Home Stretch

I finally reached the 39km marker and then the 40km one – which now means that I had only two kilometres more to go. Despite the intense pain in my legs, I put on that extra burst of effort and propelled myself forward.

Soon I could see the marker saying that I had only one more kilometre to go, and then it became 500m and finally, 250m. With energy that I didn’t know I still possessed, I put on an extra burst of speed and made my way towards the finishing line. I knew that I could do this and complete my first marathon race. It may have seemed pretty impossible at the beginning when I was at the starting line, but now the reality was that I was about to finish the 42km race.

Finisher tee and medal.

Finisher tee and medal

Exhilaration and Delirium

A sense of excitement and exhilaration immediately overcame me the moment I crossed the finishing line. It was 42.195km of pure grit, determination and effort, coupled with months of intense training… and I had achieved the impossible. I was now a marathoner.

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