Today will be about my 1st marathon at 51-year old!
I completed the Marathon this morning within 6 hrs. Actually I had to sprint the last 150m to make it 5hrs 59mins 59secs! It is about 1/2-1 hr faster than my target as I did not want to compete for the headline with the elite athletes like: 'A 51-year old Singaporean amateur 1st time marathon runner run himself to death!' Ha ha!
A quick run-down of the 42.195km for you my supporters:
Gun went off at 5.30am. Took 2 full minutes before my 'beyond 5hrs' starting bay of folks started moving! 1st 10km was a breeze with no need for water though plenty of folks went for theirs. The next 8km was a breeze still with 3 stops for water and the isotonic drinks. Actually I missed the banana station at the 12km mark as I was still full from yesterday carbo-loading binge at the Shangri-La hotel!
The strategy is to run the full 1/2 marathon till turning point. The last 3km was straining as I longed to see the turning point. It finally came at after around 2hrs 30mins! After the turn, the aim is to count down the mileage. 1km at a time! All tricks were pulled. Jog for a count of 100 then walk for another count of 100. Walk for full 5 mins with signs of cramp coming on! (This is the scariest thing for me. There was no pain due to lactic acid build up or anything like that as I am not running fast enough but cramps is frightening!) before jogging again. Joking with the volunteered helpers along the route with silly remarks like: Do you have narsi lemek when I run pass the 'food' station! etc...
Took my 1st 'sport food gel' in my life at the 23km mark. It is pure 'concentrated sugar' to me! I think it helped to provide some more fuels for the rest of the journey (An advice for potential marathoner, grabbed a few instead of just 1 like me!). As signs of cramp set in, I went generous with the 'deep heat rub' at least 4 times in the remaining race. The 1st time I did it, I thought my thighs and calves were on fire!! This is coupled with a spread or two of the 'wonder spray' (but don't think it is the 'pains killer spray' as it was not very effective though it helped psychologically!).
A 32km, I went for the banana like monkey who had not had banana for a long time! Never thought it could taste so good! This time I was smarter! I took 2 instead of just 1! At this point, the cramp kept threatening to play up, and I have to do my walk/jog routine down to count of 50 or 70 instead of 100. A gratifying thing for a 51-year old was to see many younger folks having cramps along the way.
There were occasions I was distracted by some nice looking young ladies in front of me while there were occasions where I just put my head down and keep jogging! When it reach the last 2 km, I felt a bit dizzy and was concerned that I am losing it! I pour water over my head and drunk 2 cups of the 100Plus isotonic drink. It passed. Thankfully!
Another 'reward' that comes with the marathon is blister under your foot! Blister starts to form in my left sole and give a numbing pain. It was good that it was a numbing pain as I felt nothing after a while! Ha ha!
When I hit the home stretch, while I sprinted towards the finishing line to get just under 6hrs, I was smiling and brimming like an idiot! (Only idiot will torture themselves with the 42.195km run/jog/walk really!) I just felt good. I actually let out a scream of: 'Yes! I did it!' at the end. ;-))
Before I leave the marathon commentary, just a pointer to spot an amateur marathon runner after a race: 'We all walked with a slight limp and light grimace on our face when we moved!' ;-) It is true as I had my lunch at Raffles City with many limping and grimacing 'marathon runners' with the T-Shirt proudly proclaimed: I am a Finisher of the 42.195km race!
It has been another moment in my life to cherish and savior!
Lessons for me:
1. if you don't plan and practice, you will suffer enormous pain! Worst, you may not even complete what you set out to achieve! I am convinced the many months of practice and training prior to this morning helped me pull through the 1st 21km;
2. you can never replaced real experience of the situation with any amount of planning and studying and anticipation! After the 21km, the stress on the body and the signs of cramps are things we don't know until we actually experienced them!;
3. putting your head down and prod along is a necessary quality to conquer physical and mental fatigue. Also we must not forget to lift the head up and look ahead. By alternative looking up and looking down, we slowly but surely will get to our destination. Doing just one or the other may not achieve the motivational pull and push sufficiently. Looking head provide us the pull as we see the positive future ahead while looking down provides the push to go a step at a time and move on!
I am thankful for this experience and will cherish it for a long while. As for will I do it again next year? It will be a hard decision as man basically dislike the suffering though they enjoyed the satisfaction very much. We will see in 2009!!