My FIRST Marathon – Sundown Marathon in 6 hours

I completed my First Marathon.

25th Mar 2017 Sundown Marathon 42km dusted, I made it!

At the end point, you will feel soreness and numbness.
Every ounce of muscle straining for attention, I could not even sit down as my calves and thighs refused to coordinate ooops. Finally took off my socks and just lie down for a few minutes.

This is MY Moment, I just completed my FIRST Marathon!

I still could not comprehend how I ran jog walk and hobble 42.195km over the last 6 hours. My body is weak but yet I never felt so ALIVE!

=== Before flag off ===

When you signed up for a crazy run, that was the first step and it demanded courage. When you prepared your attire the night before, you felt excitement and nervousness. But 4 months of training had given me some conviction that 42.195km is doable.

I have blogged about my Marathon preparation here. The weeks and days leading up to race day, you get paranoid about falling sick or injured. You have train hard and long and do not wish to falter at the last phase.

You come up with running strategies Plan A, B, C etc for the race, example :
1) Glue to the 5.30HR pacers
2) Run steady and maintain constant heart rate
3) Make mental note of 10km, 20km, 30km and 40km markers and estimated time checkin (eg 10km at 1Hr 13min, 30km at 3Hr 40min)
4) Take note of Hydration, Nutrition and Banana markers, so you can adjust your own energy and water intake

Then you enter the Start Pen and realised that the pacers are two waves INFRONT!

You try to comfort yourself “Steady”, I will run my own pace and catch up with pacers later.

=== During the Race ===

Everyone else start overtaking you from the start!
You start to worry whether you are running too slow (my pace was 7.00)

3km, 5km, 7km later, where are the pacers’ balloons?
Meanwhile, another 500 runners had overtaken you.

Two weeks before, I followed a pacers (group Team Fatbird) lead-up run at comfortable pace 7.30min/Km (distance 25km). But on Race day, I found it incredible that many Sundown runners were dashing at 5+ pace!

I tried to run slower but my heart rate hovered at a constant 160 to 165. My plan (more plans duh) was to run at a comfortable 150 to 155.

I did catch up the 6Hr pacers at 8 or 9km mark, but my running pace had become erratic. An experienced runner would have been able to manage his expectation right from the start.

I allowed fellow runners’ adrenaline to adjust my pace and I ran too fast in the beginning.

Looking at my watch in the wee hours, 2am, 3am and 4am slowly tick as I got more tired.

I had already forgotten all my running strategies Plans A, B !

To pass time, I tried to calculate my “ideal” pace to complete the race but my mind refused to do Maths haha :p

Anyway, I was not confident that my body was willing to cooperate with my mind’s instruction.

18 to 19 km along East Coast Park (ECP).
More and more runners were affected by cramps, meanwhile Elite runners were already running back in the opposite direction! Clap Clap Clap!

20 and 30km markers are both in ECP, and the paths are never-ending!
Parkland Green, Marine Cove, East Coast Hawker Centre are all eerily quiet, and the camping tents look very cozy.

At this stage, I was actually brisk walking too much and struggled to increase my pace. You start being realistic and re-adjust your targets
( Actually your mind start finding excuses)

Ok, YOU are going to miss a sub-5 timing, sub-6 is DOUBTFUL too, why not just enjoy the run and Complete :p

=== Near the End ===

I kept asking myself why every KM marker seems “farther and farther” away. Every water point (spaced at 2Km intervals) was a welcome cold respite!

Do not start to count the Kilometres, claim them one by one.

Every so often, an enthusiastic volunteer would be shouting Best-Wishes to the runners. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers! I always try to smile back at their encouragements.

30km onwards, Look left look right, everyone is grimacing by now. Tired, Sleepy, we just want to get it over!

A lot of Walkers (like 7 out of 10 participants), and it does influenced you to run slower or even walk!
If I had started walking, I really do not know whether I would want to run again.

So you scanned in front for a few regular figures who ran around your pace. We took turns to overtake each other, it was not choreographed, but some FUN “competition” does keep up your spirits.

Two of my unofficial pacers are a chap in yellow-tShirt printed “Why you keep chasing me?” and a gal in Orange sports bra (with fish net).
There was an Englishman (or European with orange hoversack) who was limping very badly from 30km onwards, I did not want to lose to him too.

Thank you fellow runners for the motivation!

I saw a few camera flashes infront, quicken my pace and tried to look presentable haha I-am-so-vain πŸ™‚

=== End Point ===

Last 500 metres, but most of us already depleted our energy reserves.
Look at my watch, 6Hr 13Mins Gun time, and my Fitbit indicated 5Hr 58Mins, HOORAY under 6 hours πŸ™‚

Whole torso stiff.
Calves and Thighs tensed.
Toes wringled.
Socks uncomfortable.
Shorts chaffed my inner thighs for last 10km.
Balls felt so confined.

I FELT so HAPPY and RELIVED, I have achieved my Dream!

Collected my Medal and Finisher T-shirt.
YES, I am now a Marathon Finisher πŸ™‚


(My Fitbit clocked total 47km instead of 42km, so my end time should be 5Hr 59Min)

=== What have I learned from this race? ===

a) If you have trained at a specific pace, and ideally with pacers before, be CONFIDENT and maintain your pace. With or without the pacers, just maintain your composure and you will achieve your goal.

b) You can run with buddies during preparation, but come race day, you are on your own. Do anything which will motivate yourself. I only started my favourite music from 20km onwards and it helped to tune out negative thoughts (Plantronics Backbeat Fit review).

c) Keep your hands free. Holding on to phone or bottle will induce more perspiration and sweaty palms. You will have trouble opening your gel or bars. I got a mini waist pouch from Decathon which can hold x2 250ml bottle and x4 gel and my keys.

The beautiful serene night scene helped to distract me from the constant tarmac pounding too (hey why Singapore FLYER always so near yet so far!)

Before Osim Sundown Marathon, the furthest I ran was 25km. Thus I took every Kilometre from 26th onward as a bonus.

At this moment in life, I am at my fittest πŸ™‚
This would not have happen if I did not actively pursue my own fitness.

I hope this would convince my kids that they can strive for their own dreams too, their Daddy just ran his First Marathon!

Set a target, go ACHIEVE it!

Mine was #Training42Sundown2017

I am a 42km Finisher (can brag already haha)

In case you are interested, my training programme helped me to clock my mileage and check whether I am improving month by month. It helped me to monitor whether I was running enough (161km, 135km and 166k for weeks 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12 respectively). I was falling short of “recommended” 40 to 50km per week.
diy Marathon training programme

And this was my IDEAL race plans :p

Beautiful Sunrise again, Sundown completed, another day begins.

If you are attempting for a running milestone yourself, we all start from somewhere. I hope my newbie experience would provide some confidence for you to achieve your own target too. (Marathon Preparation tips for new runners here)

Meanwhile, I will prepare for another Marathon only in 2018 πŸ™‚

ps.. try to find your photos at this Facebook link (Running Shots)

Training for my first Marathon, 8 tips I pick up along the way

While training for my first Marathon (Sundown Marathon 2017), I learn a lot of things over the last 3 to 4 months.


(Image credit www.cheryltay.sg)

Am I training enough for 42.195km?
Am I happy with my own efforts?
Am I READY for a Marathon?
These questions keep following me along my training journey.

I like to challenge myself but 42km might be a stretch. The training journey has been time consuming, involves a lot of sacrifice, self doubts, and mostly tired body and soul.

Yet, I keep surprising myself with my own determination and enthusiasm. Little milestones like improved stamina and pace make my day and motivate me to keep trying.

I have listed some other points which come across my mind during my own training routine. Please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations with this novice runner πŸ™‚

Training for my first Marathon

1. Why 42km?
I only started running more actively from 2015, 5km progressing to 10km (2016). Never liked to run, was not even sporty, the only motivation then was to pass IPPT.

I am 43 this year, not exactly young and energetic anymore.
Kids are now more independent, if I do not seek out my dreams (or bucket list) now, then when?

More importantly, I wish to impress some life skills upon my kids.
** Do chase after your Dreams, nothing is impossible, and we must at least TRY our best.

As a bonus, if I keep fit myself, I hope to take better care of my family.

2. YouTube preparation
Do not laugh, but I do not have the luxury of having a coach.
Internet is my teacher.

Tons of tips on Breathing, Running style, Hydration, Stride, Eat (gel) and nutrition, Recuperation etc. You can even Google “Marathon race day tips” to get last minutes tips! (Trim your nails ok).

Overwhelming load of information, and some interesting anecdotes.
(I guess no right or wrong answers)
– Are pacers good or bad for you? (since everyone has own pace)
– Run day or night better?
– Tapering and duration (got Tempo, Slow, Easy Run techniques!)
– Some recommend Run 7km and Walk 1km to prevent muscle fatigue and cramps

3. REST
I believe this is the most neglected component in my training programme.
Family and work commitments keep us busy everyday.
Running takes up whatever precious leftover time, and we sometimes sacrifice our sleep (and rest).

If I should fall sick due to fatigue, there goes my gains and it Sucks.
I am still trying to place more emphasis on having enough rest.

4. Do something else besides running.
Swim, steps up your block, cross train, circuits, aerobics, yoga or hiking.
Develop all the other muscles (core) and improve your flexibility, it will help with running.

It is more Fun than running too :p

5. Have FUN during the training journey.
I will remember the training journey more than the Marathon finishing line, so might as well add in some Fun factor.

a) Plotting your own running path with Google Map.
– Running along the water ways in CBD (Kallang Basin, Marina Bay map)
– Park Connectors Kallang to Bishan to Sengkang (map)

The only challenge is the lack of water-points along the way (so I pop by MRT, Library, Coffee shop for a quick sip).
My legs are connecting all the parks and gardens πŸ™‚

b) I would prefer to run with friends, running alone can be boring.
I am motivated by fellow Dads (IG @NickPan.Runs, @IsaiahKuan), we are all busy with family and work but we encourage each other towards our own goals πŸ™‚

6. I can do it!
I cannot believe I am running 40km to 50km per week!

Still not enough as those training for Marathons should ideally run 50km and above, and get used to distance of 25km and 30km. Some say the real Marathon starts at 30km (YES, the mental block or the WALL!)

Sometimes, it can be very hard to drag myself out for a run.
I know I will always feel GOOD after a run, otherwise I would feel guilty about my excuses :p

7. Efforts, Sacrifice
42km needs 5 hour to complete ( assuming a pace of 7min/km)
10km needs 1 hour (pace of 6 min/km).

Can you imagine the amount of practice time needed for a Marathon?
(Running 50 km per week is 5 hours gone!)

Whether my preparation is sufficient or not, there is no turning back.
I must try my BestΒ Training for my first Marathon.

8. Final weeks

The final week is likely anticipation and anxiety (nerves).
I must remind myself to Relax and try to enjoy the journey and experience.

[Updated 14Mar] – Last Lead-up run 25km on 11th Mar, I will be trying to keep up with the 5.30Hr pacers (pace 7.30). My own slow jog at pace 7.00.
running with pacers

On race day, I need to remind myself to run at my own pace and not to go faster due to the surrounding vibes and adrenaline.

Hi, my name is Andy and I am a father of four kids.
I am actively trying to use Sports to engage my kids, to be sporty and resilient.

I will be running 42.195km with Sundown Marathon on 25th March.
I am still training for my first Marathon, and all blessings and Good Lucks are most welcome πŸ™‚

I am helping Ren Ci Hospital to raise Fund, hoping to give back to society in my own small ways. Do consider donating to Ren Ci’s worthy causes here –> https://www.simplygiving.com/AndyLee

Follow me on my running journey Instagram Hashtag #training42sundown2017 or Family runs (blog link)

Wishing everyone Happy Running and Healthy Lifestyle !

 

**Updated 2017 Apr – Ran 42km under 6 hours hooray!

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Safari Zoo Run 2017

[ Media Invite ]

So Safari Zoo Run 2017 came and go, all 5.5 km of race through forested grounds in Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

We always tell our friends that this is the best family run in Singapore, because you can literally run next to animals!
Safari Zoo Run 2017

Young families can opt for 2.5 or 5.5 km route, we opted for 5.5km as we can see and experience more things along a longer route. I need to plan for a 10km route myself next edition. Read our 2015 and 2016 experience here.

A pity we could not run as a full family this round, as I was on a business trip and no1 got basketball tournament. Mommy Mengchoo was proud that Boon Yee (no2) took care of Boon Xin (no3) for half of the route, running together infront.

Boon Kang (no2) is our official photographer, so he got an excuse to “walk” slowly (Hello boy! You better run faster next round :p )

Spot the Zebras and Giraffes along the route, or Lions and Hyenas. These animals distracted us from fatigue (thumbs up). And this is exactly why we say running through the Zoo is such a novelty and FUN experience.

There is a new Wildlife Conservation theme for 2017, “Run For Wildlife”. I thought it was meaningful to raise awareness about Earth’s fragile ecosystem. Some species are endangered and risk extinction.

Can you imagine a day when we can only see animals in Zoo and not in the wild? That would be such a sad day.
safari-zoo-run-theme
(Image credit Safari Zoo Run)

We chose Chawang the Sumatran elephant as we felt our affinity is with the gentle giant. Our recent trip to a no-ride Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai reinforced the need for elephant protection (read our Chiang Mai itinerary here)

Tourists, do not ride on the elephants as we are indirectly hurting them. Applause for Singapore Zoo for stopping elephant rides too (Straitstimes article)

Proud of Mommy and kids for completing their morning exercise πŸ™‚

Once again, thank you Singapore Zoo for the wonderful invite to Safari Zoo Run 2017! Our family really enjoyed the running experience in Mandai.

Do follow our previous Safari Zoo Run episodes (click here), or read our friends’ fun adventures, Life’s Tiny Miracles and ThePerfectFather