In the wee hours of this morning, I participated in the Full Marathon (42.195km) race at the Sundown Marathon 2014.
As a Sundown With Love charity ambassador, I was running the race to help raise funds for the Singapore Disability Sports Council – helping disabled athletes to achieve their sporting dreams.
The anticipation was building up inside me as 11.30pm – the appointed flag-off time for the 42km event at the Sundown Marathon 2014 – drew nearer. I had been training and steadily building mileage for this race for the past few months, and now it was D-Day.
Had Mixed Feelings
After catching up with my friends and taking pictures with them, I made my way to the starting pen at the F1 Pit Building. As the minutes counted down, I was having mixed feelings. While I was excited, I was also rather nervous at how the race would turn out to be like. After all, this was only my second 42km race.
Like me, many of the other 42km runners, regardless of whether they were first-timers or veterans, shared my excitement (and nervousness) at the starting line.
Said first-time marathon debutant 45-year-old Eugene Heng, who works in business development, “I felt excited at the starting line. I have done many 21km races but this is my first 42km one.”
But like me, he was also slightly apprehensive at the same time. Eugene added, “The distance is much longer (than the 21km race) and it needs a lot of discipline and endurance.”
Out of the total 30,000 race participants, there were about 9,000 of us taking part in the Full Marathon.
Before I knew it, we were being flagged off. I was in the second wave, so it took me a while to cross the starting line.
During the first couple of kilometres, the cool night air felt good and I was quite happy about my pacing. But soon, the effects of the extremely high levels of humidity kicked in. I began to feel a lot hotter and sweatier than usual – and my pace dropped.
But some other runners actually preferred the night run, compared to morning events. Said 30-year-old Edwin Shen, a Sports and Recreation Lecturer at the Institute of Education (ITE) College Central, “When you are running at night, it is more cooling and relaxing. So it’s not as tough as when the sun is out.”
The first 12 kilometres of my 42km race continued to be a fight against the humidity but I pushed on and at this point, my legs were still feeling relatively fresh. The ample supply of water and isotonic drinks from the hydration stations were keeping me going too.
Dark and Lonely Stretch at East Coast Park
Soon, we reached East Coast Park though – and then things became much more difficult. A large portion of the race was run here, from the 12km to the 32km mark.
This stretch at East Coast Park was very dark and deserted and some parts were rather poorly lit. I have to admit that as I ran here, I was really tempted to quit the race and go back to my soft, comfortable bed. But I constantly reminded myself that I was going through this torture so that I could raise money for a good cause and help disabled athletes realise their sporting dreams – and that gave me the motivation I needed to persevere and keep on fighting.
Like me, fellow runners had also harboured thoughts of giving up at this point. Said 22-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) Business student, Alex Chua, “The bit at East Coast Park was very long and I didn’t know when it was ending. That was a real challenge for me and it became very difficult to carry on running.”
At the same time, there was also some rain at East Coast Park. Roughly about 16 to 17 kilometres into my race, it became very windy – and then subsequently it started to drizzle. I was already sweating buckets out there, so I must say that the rain certainly wasn’t doing me any favours at all!
Fortunately for all of us though, it eventually dried up and the race was not a repeat of the 2012 version – where there had been a heavy thunderstorm.
Powering up with gels, water and isotonic drinks
I had the race gels, water and isotonic drinks from the hydration stations to give me the energy to push on, during this very long and lonely race.
But while the hydration stations didn’t run out of water for me, some of the drink stations from around the 30km mark onwards, didn’t have any more isotonic beverages. So I had to make do with only plain water.
It didn’t help that my legs were extremely sore and painful, and I was having a severe bout of cramps too. As a result, I resorted to doing a mixture of normal walking, power walking and running, to keep pushing myself forward.
When I saw the 32km signboard and the exit out of East Coast Park, it was somewhat of a relief, because there were only ten more kilometres to go.
But the Benjamin Sheares Bridge – termed as Heartbreak Bridge to many runners – was fast approaching. This came at around the 33km mark. And I must say it was definitely challenging to propel my protesting and cramping legs up this.
Like me, other runners will certainly remember this part of the race too. Said Edwin, “I particularly remember the slope up to the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. Of course, it was torturing – but well, I’m here because I enjoy torture and punishment!”
The Home Stretch
The rest of the race was simply about digging deep into my mental strength and pushing myself towards the end. After all it didn’t make sense to give up now, when I had come so far.
All of my timing ambitions had already flown out of window ages ago. So now I was just focusing purely on making it past the finishing line.
But the kilometres were literally stretching on for eternity and I found myself eagerly anticipating each new kilometre marker with relish – as it meant that I was one kilometre closer to the magical finishing line.
Crossing the Finishing Line
After what felt like forever, the finishing line was finally in sight. Pure relief and elation immediately flooded straight through me as I crossed it.
My fellow 42km runners seemed to share the same feelings too. Said Edwin, “I looked forward to crossing the finishing line! My body was in pain, but I felt good.”
Despite the earlier troubles and thoughts of abandoning the race to go home and sleep, I had done it. By completing the 42km run at the Sundown Marathon, I had not let down the athletes from the Singapore Disability Sports Council.
After all, whether you run, walk or crawl your way to the finishing line, it doesn’t matter. It is of no importance too, of whether you finish the race first or last. As long as you complete the race, you are already a champion.
Thank you HiVelocity, for this great Sundown Marathon adventure. It has been an amazing learning journey for me, being a Sundown With Love Charity Ambassador.
Here is a thank-you to the sponsors too:
- New Balance – for my comfy sportswear
- Acti-Tape – for my injury prevention tapes
- Klipsch – for my wonderful earphones
- Polar – for my beautiful GPS watch
- 2XU – for my ever so useful compression tights
- California Fitness – for my gym pass