Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How I Got Started - My Virgin Marathon

I decided to take up marathon running in 2001 after completing my Army Half Marathon that year. I wanted to try out something new. Something more challenging and more demanding than doing just a half marathon. Somthing that I don't need to invest a lot. Something that was simple to do and without the need for me to buy special gear. Not that doing the half no longer holds any challenge. But rather, I wanted to find out what was my limit, my endurance, my mental strength. And running the marathon became something that was intimidating but yet attractive to try out.

So I registered myself for the Mobil International Marathon in Dec 2001. I started buying running magazines and books to prepare myself. The internet also contained a lot of useful information. It was the first time that I find running such an enjoyment (although I still find that running the 2.4km ippt test a torture). Every weekday, I looked forward to end of work so that I could change into my running gear for a run. It required quite a lot of commitment and discipline, especially when the weather turn nasty. But the journey towards completing my first marathon was nonetheless "fun". There would be days I enjoyed a runner's high and there would be days I felt lethargic.

I was not able to prepare myself sufficiently. The longest run I ever trained was around 24km only. Nevertheless, I felt that I was still able to complete the event in the given 5hrs 30mins. I also enlisted some help from my friends, after realising the various water points would not be sufficient for me. I bought a bottle of 100 Plus, a few packets of Power Gel, 2 bananas and a muscle rub and left them with my friends. My plan was to meet my friends on those distance where I required to fuel myself. But plans being plans, were all subjected to changes due to unforseen circumstances.

On the actual day, my friends drove me to the Tampines Stadium, which was the start point. Over at the stadium, I met my Air Force and Navy friends and also one of my ex-NSFs. We wished each other all the best prior to the run. At 5am sharp, the event was flagged off. The 1st half of the marathon was fairly easy for me. I was able to maintain a very constant speed and I managed to reach Bishan Park, approximately just after the 25km mark, in 2hrs 30mins. My friends were already at the carpark. I quickly changed to a new set of running gear (don't ask me how I did that), had a few words with my friends, before I continue my 2nd half of the journey.

Shortly after I left Bishan, I found myself slowing down considerably. This was due to the lack of fuel I supposed. And also the presence of a few hills along the way. When I ran past the bridge just after MacRitchie, I was so happy to see my friends. They had been waiting for quite sometime, with my Power Gel, 100 Plus and banana. They also helped me with some muscle rub. They told me that the organisation was not very well planned and there were people who approached them for the muscle rub, which they obliged. They also gave away 1 of my banana to a runner who was feeling hungry. I was glad that my friends were able to give me the support as planned. Especially in the last 10km, which was so torturous. I suffered from cramps along Orchard Road and I had to stop to let the cramp subside before continuing. Lucky one of my friends ran with me and she helped me to loosen my muscles before we proceed. Needless to say, I did not complete the marathon within the official cut-off time. However, all my friends were still proud of my achievement despite coming in at 5hrs 43mins.

My 1st marathon had taught me a few priceless lessons. The need to prepare adequately, both mentally and physically. The need to have a plan on how you intend to tackle the 42.195km. And how you adjust yourself during the run to meet your goal(s). And as long as I completed the marathon I set up to do, I would be my own winner, no matter how long I took. :) It's the journey that counts...

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