Confessions of a subpar first time marathon finisher

The day i (1).png

Before we go on, let’s put subpar in perspective.

I walked most of the 42.195km of this race, felt like quitting at least 15 times and completed under the glorious noon sun with a timing of 7hours and 9minutes.

Before the lactic acid wicks itself out of my muscles and the memories and emotions fade from my mind, I’m going to write this post to commemorate one of the craziest achievements I’ve ever had.

I signed up for this race a long time ago and did a couple of half marathons along the way but absolutely nothing prepared me for this. In fact, a month or so earlier, i took a plunge and tried out the Newton challenge for 32km, that was probably the most painful decision i ever made as my legs were sore, out of whack and numb by 26km. That race however, helped prepare me mentally for 70% of the full marathon, with the other 30% being time and weather.

Truth be told, I never did any LSDs or had a proper speed training regime. My best timings are probably 1hr 12 minutes for a 10K and 2hr 41 for a 21K, not impressive and definitely not marathon worthy. On hindsight, while I cussed in regret for the lack of training, it was clear what I had to do to improve.

So with the lengthy and not very interesting prologue aside, I’ll break down the entire marathon experience in hours beginning from the evening before.

3rd December 2016 6:00PM
This was probably my favourite part of preparation because I was happily enjoying curry cutlet rice with le petit ami. Felt 5 months pregnant after eating.


 

3rd December 2016 7:00PM
Arranged and prepared gear for tomorrow. The OCD in me strikes again, le petit ami gets inspired by OCD me and does the same.

prepwork


 

3rd December 2016: 8:00PM
Somewhere in Nirvana.


 

4th December 2016: 2:00AM
Brutally jolted out of Nirvana. The world is a harsh and cruel place. Questioned my decision countless times as I peeled my eyes open and finished wearing my gear. Ate a tamago onigiri with mayonnaise for breakfast, will regret this decision in approximately 2 hours.


 

4th December 2016: 3:00AM
Queued to board the bus. Constantly complaining and generally being 120% whinier than usual because of the lack of sleep. Whined about the lights not being switched off but still fell asleep.


 

4th December 2016: 4:00AM
Lydia called to make sure I was out and not in Nirvana. After confirming that I was in a human realm, I informed her that the bus was jammed. Le Petit Ami got off the bus first, told him goodbye in case it was the last time I saw him since I read too many posts about people dying in marathons and feared I would join that club. (On a side note, condolences to John Gibson, the world lost a great young man that day. RIP)

Spent some time in the porta-potty in deep thoughts about tamago onigiri with mayonnaise. Made a mental note to consider non-dairy food options on race day.


 

4th December 2016: 5:00AM
Walked to the start pen and got stuck with what felt like half of Singapore’s population. Lydia passed me a wrist band and her towel to use. The wrist band had something about negative ions and was supposed to strengthen the heart. Didn’t feel much physically but felt great about her care and concern #sonicetohavefriends.

Heard the host asking us if we wanted to be the best F Bunch. F my life for putting a start time that puts me in Pen F. Now I’m part of the F Bunch.


 

4th December 2016: 5:30AM
Flagged off. Decided to go for a 8 minute per KM pace. Saw people peeing by the bushes near and wondered how it felt like to be male. Constantly looked at my watch to make sure I was in pace. Felt pretty good (but not for long).


 

4th December 2016: 6:00AM
Reached the Marina Barrage and decided to stop for a pee break. Bad mistake. Felt like I was storing up water and bloating up like a balloon. Took a quick check at my fingers and looked okay. Went to the water point only to be told they ran out, praise the lords for making the decision to bring my own hydration belt.


 

4th December 2016: 7:00AM
Finally crawled to the East Coast Park stretch and saw Mok Ying Ren running back. Then i randomly recalled that ECP stretch ends at 32K. Questions his existence and form as a human being while i quietly salute him for being able to run at such insane speeds while I continued walking shamelessly.


 

4th December 2016: 8:00AM
Struck by sharp pain and incontinence (Turns out it was bad water retention). Lydia was with me most of the time as I struggled from porta-potty to loo to porta-potty. Medic suggested i drop out. Multiple thoughts went through my head as I decided to transform the marathon to a walkathon. Most of the water stations were dry but I had a bottle in my hand thanks to the medic who handed it out to me. Ran past many runners who stared at my water in envy. Felt like a king. Had a marathoner come up to me for water (Whoever you are, I’m looking for you!) he’s a runner from Group G that caught up. Bestowed water upon him.


 

4th December 2016: 9:00AM
Kingship ended as the pains had me reeling from one loo to another. Contemplated giving up but did not want to let Lydia down. Secretly imagined myself in finisher tee as I crossed the 21K mark. Plenty of runners had slowed down by then, wondered if I should slow down but realised I really couldn’t go any slower than walking.


 

4th December 2016: 10:00AM
The sun was out by then as multiple thoughts popped up. Not too sure if i actually had a random flashback on my life at the 30K mark. Felt like East Coast Park was longer than the Great Wall of China at this point. Glad that there were no photographers at this point and there was still some shade.


 

4th December 2016: 11:00AM
Escaped the ECP Labyrinth to enter the scorching desert of Marine Parade. No trees, no shade. Saw some HDB folks hanging their laundry and felt like it was a great day to do laundry. Felt like laundry. Dirty, tired laundry. Messaged le petit ami to see if he was still doing okay, felt better after le convo. Got inspired to do a facebook live video like he planned on doing. Lost Lydia at this point and was in massive guilt. Texted her to see if she was okay, she told me to go ahead.

goonwithoutme


 

4th December 2016: 12:00PM
Developed a new strategy for running which involved running when there’s sun and walking when there’s shade in fear of missing the cut off time. Saw some folks with an ice pack and deeply regretted missing out of one. Saw the 40K mark and wondered if a kilometer ever felt so far before.

Ran past a slew of camping photographers. At this point, image was absolutely secondary as I had a towel slung around my shoulders to help block some of the sun while I tried to make it to the end point.

(WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW WOULD MOST PROBABLY CAUSE MOTION SICKNESS)

And yep, I finished, with a gun time of 8:02:24 and a nett time of 7:09:27.

Would I do it again? Probably. But not with this lack of training and preparation for hot weather conditions (I’m used to running at night usually)

Then again, the rewards were immense.

42-195

So there goes, a post I’ve been working on for 3 days, about 8 hours of endurance, pain and what not.

Call that one off the bucket list.

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