As mentioned previously, I was first notified of this event through Ben, though he posed the idea of participating in the half instead of full.
Though I never was fond of distance running, I didn't despise it either. Yet, with the dashed hopes that my sporting season had left me with, perhaps the full marathon came as a timely substitute, barely a month after the sports season had concluded for my team. With the necessity to taper, I effectively had 3 weeks of preparation, with little experience on how to go about it. This was my first official race I had ever registered for.
During the 3 weeks of training before my taper, I had undeniably made some mistakes. For one, due to my previous hockey training, I continued with short interval runs, throwing in only one long run(by my standards, 10-20km) a week.
The next mistake I made was to adjust my running technique. Previously, I had a cadence of about 150. Upon reading up about running technique, I increased mine to 180, while shortening stride length. This by itself was non-detrimental, but what was bad is that due to this newer technique, I assumed I would be able to run faster. With 2 weeks remaining till the marathon(26th may), I did several trial runs to measure a suitable marathon pace, terribly overestimating my ability. I decided on a 10.8km/hr pace, hoping to break 4 hours. This pace was definitely comfortable to my lungs, but I would only find out during the run that my legs would disagree.
The race was to begin on the 27th of May at 12.30am. The date and time posed some challenges to me. Firstly, the date was barely a day after my grandfather's cremation and was right at the end of the school term, meaning during the week I had trouble getting sufficient rest. In addition, this was the first night run I would be doing, attributed to the insufficient time for preparation.
Before the ordeal.Reached the race venue at 11.30pm. Arrived at the starting line around 12.30am. Crossed the start at about 12.45am. The initial 10km or so was relatively crowded because of the merging of the half and full categories. Held a desirable 5:40/km pace amidst the crowd. The separation between the two categories was relieving, though the lengthy pounding of the ECP route began.At the 20km mark, I was feeling slightly fatigued(it was 1.45am), but what was more threatening was the fatigue in my legs. My quads felt slightly uncomfortable. Rest of the body was alright. Listen to your body. Well that piece of advice was not heeded and I stuck to my pace, till disaster struck at 25km(prior to this, my longest run was 24km in 2011).Once the cramps came, my run was over. But my race wasn't. The remaining 17km was a real test of grit, as I made every attempt to move forward, often walking, occasionally jogging. In addition, the heavens poured. I had cramps, was drenched and was cold. I knew I had to keep moving. Nonetheless, the consequences are evident in the split timings.Around the 33km mark, my right shoe came off into mud as the route led into a short stretch of open field that had enjoyed the pouring rain. Unable to put my shoe back on(due to my cramps), I grabbed it and continued jogging. I asked God to let me run, and He certainly gave me the ability to do so(with only my left shoe). I believe I managed to jog through the next 6km, though eventually the acute pain of cramps prevented me from doing so. The last 2 odd km were far from dramatic. It was a simple act of perseverance that brought me past Nicoll Highway, towards the finish at a slow(yet painful) pace. My timing was far from what I desired, but the completion of the marathon was satisfying in itself.
Sundown Marathon 2012 - 5:07:01.Here is me with my hand-held shoe that I failed to put on.
Overall, pleasant race experience, save the typhoon, though that's no fault of the organisers. Hydration was available every 2km, gels around 26, bananas at 34 from what I remember. However, some areas along ECP were poorly lit. Personally, without proper acclimatisation, running at night was significantly more fatiguing, hence care must be taken for this race.