SCSM has come back this year in full swing. Physical races are slowly coming back and this year, SCSM has finally resumed all categories including full marathon after 2 years of the pandemic! This Singapore’s annual iconic race has attracted more than 50,000 participants across all categories.
So I signed up for the marathon, my 5th marathon and started training for it in August. I should have run more since the beginning of the year but somehow, I slacked and ran much lesser compared to last year. Only starting mid-August, I started to train more seriously, and leading to race day, it was exactly 16 weeks of training.
Running mileage for the year has accumulated to slightly over 1700 KM before I tackle the marathon distance. By this time last year, the mileage was already over 2000 KM.
I want to grumble about the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus timing is too early. From my place, the pick-up time is 1:30 AM! The planned flag-off time is 4:30 AM. Why do I need to arrive at the race village at 2:00 AM? It does not make sense. I rather sleep more and take a taxi instead. So the shuttle bus service is as good as none.
I reached the race village at around 3:30 AM and the scene was lively. I took a few photos and moved on to my start pen to wait patiently. At close to 4:30 AM, it was announced that flag-off would be delayed by 15 minutes. Around 4:45 AM, it was announced again that the new start time was now 5:00 AM. Soon after the announcement, I saw lightning flashes in the sky and rain soon followed. When it started raining, the pacers moved to find shelter and many people moved to the sheltered area too. I didn’t move and stayed on, but I was cold and shivering. I stood there to soak in all the rain and waited for further announcement but the sound system was not that clear and I couldn’t hear what they were saying, especially with the loud background music. A lady stood beside me asked me what they said, I said I can’t hear too.
Finally, at around 5:25 AM, they said we could start running at 5:30 AM (Pen A) and 5 minutes later, Pen B. The rest of the pens would have a rolling start. Many people felt relieved and started doing some warm-up exercises. The rain was still persistent but less intense. It was a pleasant feeling to finally be running, although the initial few kilometers were pretty congested.
I skipped the first water station and only took in some water at the second station near the 6 KM mark. Due to the humidity, my throat was a little dry. I did not eat anything prior to the run except for one glass of water at home.
I planned to follow the 5:30 hour pacers but they were nowhere to be seen at the start pen since the rain came. So I thought it was fine and I could just run at my own target pace. Soon, I felt cramp at my inner thigh area which has never happened during training. It was bearable so I continued running at my target pace. After 20 KM, the pace got slower but I was still running and not walking. I took my energy gel at 10 KM, 20 KM and 30 KM mark. Along the way, I took some small bananas but they were either too ripe or unripe. The taste was horrible.
The distance shown on my watch was about 700 meters more than the actual distance markers. When I saw the distance marker at 19 KM for example, my watch was 19.7 KM. So I was mentally prepared to run a longer distance than 42.2 KM to reach the finish line. True enough, it was more than 43 KM when I finished.
Along the race course, I met a man who was running the marathon dragging a tyre. At first I wasn’t sure who he is but after a while, I figured out. I was running with him for most of the kilometers and was in awe of how strong he is. I know he is a strong runner and therefore, he could endure it. This was not his first time dragging a tyre to complete a marathon. When he stopped, I ran past him and after a while, he caught up. This cycle repeated multiple times. He was suffering quite a bit but pressed on. For the last 5 KM I did not see him. But saw his tyre later at the race village and found out that he finished just before 6 hours. Strong man, not only physically but mentally too. Respect you Ah siao.
During the last few kilometers, the weather got really hot. I took some ice to cool down and water my face. I walked at Sheares bridge at the upslope as energy was fading but ran down the slope making full use of gravity. The last 5 KM was the toughest part of the race. Many people were walking and looked totally exhausted. Finally, I crossed the finish line. I made it to sub 6. My finish time was 5 hours 57 minutes. No PB but I am happy!
It was a long way to walk to the medal/finisher shirt collection area. The medal is beautiful and huge. Love the finisher shirt too. Fist bump the volunteer lady who passed me the shirt. At the post-race area, the bananas were bigger, not the baby types. I took two, a bottle of cold mineral water, one can of 100 plus, a cold wet towel.
The only exit from the race village is at level 2 at The Singapore Flyer. So I took the escalator up but when going down on the other side, the escalator was not working. I saw everyone struggling to WALK down the immobile escalator. After running a marathon, walking down STAIRS seems almost impossible. Everyone looked horrified, took ages to walk down.
As long as we run regularly and be consistent, doing long runs every week, we should be able to finish the marathon. It does not matter how fast or slow we finish, what really matters is we FINISHED and COMPLETED 42.2 KM AT ONE GO. A 6-hour marathon is as far as a 2-hour marathon. Those who finished the marathon should feel proud regardless of the timing because Marathon is TOUGH. To be able to finish is already an achievement. The mind needs to be strong when the legs are giving up. After 30 KM, everything hurts. The last 12 KM is really testing your endurance. But once we crossed the finish line, we feel immense happiness. This is what a marathon is all about.