Marathon Reflections: Teacher for an Overconfident Runner
“The marathon is not to be underestimated,” I thought to myself as I half-walked and half-jogged the 42.195km of the Sundown Marathon 2013.
It was my first ever marathon and I was exhilarated. However, my training spoke otherwise. The longest training run I had only stretched to 20km, which is insufficient if I am training for a full marathon.
Simple math taught me that with a timing of 2:15 for a 20km long run equates to a sub 4:45 marathon. If I ran hard enough, I might achieve a timing of 4:30. However, marathon timing is not something that can be calculated with simple math – it is much more than that, it is proper pacing mixed with a truckload of endurance!
As excited as a rookie marathoner would be, I made sure I was well-geared. Merrell Bare Access shoes, a running singlet that spoke of my dietary choice, mobile phone, ez-link card, cash, all checked. Off I went to the starting point at the F1 Racing Pit. My heart was thumping with excitement and nervousness while I was in the train. I could not wait to start my first 42.195km.
There were more than 7000 other runners who were present for the full marathon, 1000 of them were women who I was going to compete with. My nervousness shot up beyond the charts.
After waiting for two good hours, the horn sounded. Yes, this is the beginning of the inaugural marathon. My heart was thumping fast.
Deciding not to follow the pacers of the race, I ran and kept to my comfortable pace. I completed the first half of the route effortlessly. Not a breeze, but perhaps still in time to clock my goal. I checked against my watch, it was only less than 2.5 hours into the race. I thought, ‘If I continued at this pace, I could finish within 5 hours. At this point, I was feeling a little tired due to the little sleep I had the previous night.
Soon, I started experiencing a side stitch, probably from gulping down too much water after eating a banana during the pre-race. I stopped immediately and started to walk - that bad choice was followed by a series of consequences. I felt a burning pain in my calves, it was excruciating. The knees felt heavy and sore. My legs were incapacitated and I still have 21 kilometers to go. It was so tormenting, I would have amputated my legs!
Overwhelmed with pain, I continued walking for the next 18km, only jogging for a few hundred meters when I felt a little better. Yet another bad choice, I should have continued slow jogging all the way. My mind started to wander off. The voice of lack of conviction started to ring: Why am I here? I should be at home sleeping now. My goodness, so much more to go?! Geez, I need a hug!”
Thankfully, there was one positive and encouraging thought that kept me going: “It is the pain that enables me”.
At the end of Gardens by the Bay at the 39 kilometers mark, I decided that I ought to run. I was already 6 hours into the race. I picked up my pace and started jogging, then running, then sprinting when I saw the finishing line.
I completed the Sundown Marathon 2013 with a timing of 6:30 hours.
Humbled by the marathon, I was happy and proud that I conquered the distance. This decision has rekindled my love for running. And surely, there will be more marathons to come.
That’s one thing off my bucket list!
"Success in sports is, above all else, enduring suffering.” – Chris McCormack, two time Ironman World Champion.