Monday, December 7, 2009

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2009

22nd July 2009:
I get an invite for joining the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. All charged up preparing for the Coast to Coast Walk in UK, I decided to go for the full one.

09th September 2009:
My organization’s “Road Runner Co-Captain” gets worried and urges me to rethink. He gives me an option to downgrade to half marathon or 10K race. The thrill of completing the Coast to Coast walk (as well as ego) prevents me from doing it.

September to Mid-October:
Nothing done and no practice. Plans to start practice on 7th October, becomes lazy and postpones to the following weekend.

Second half of October:

Falls sick with a terrible chest infection and was bed ridden for a few days. And still no practice.

1st December to 4th December:
Panic kicks in. Even though chest infection is not fully gone, starts with short walks after office hours.

5th December, 8:00 AM:
Goes for a 4 hour 20 kilometer walk. Clearly legs are refusing to cooperate. Why did I let this happen?

5th December, 7:30 PM:
As I have to wake up at 3:00 AM tomorrow, goes to sleep early. Frequent nightmares during sleep.

6th December, 3:01 AM:
Alarm rings, jumps out of bed in panic. Realizes the D-day is upon me. Water heater doesn’t work. A cold water bath takes drains away whatever confidence and energy left.

6th December, 4:00 AM:
Taxi arrives. Driver is amused (putting it simply) that I am going for a full marathon this early in the morning.

6th December, 5:00 AM:
Arrives at the start point at Esplanade Bridge. Loads and loads of people are walking in. Everyone looks energetic (and well toned). Cool weather. Everything looks perfect for everyone (except me). Different sections for different abilities – people who can complete marathon in less than 3 hours, less than 4 hours, less than 5 hours. I join the last group, greater than 5 hours.

6th December, 5:30 AM:
Kick off. I am realizing 7,500 people running generate a lot of heat. The cool morning suddenly becomes a very hot an humid morning. I started walking slowly (yes, I decided to walk!) and get pushed to one side by the large number of eager runners. Starts walking in the foot path not to get run over.

3 kilometers:
After a U turn, I cross the start point (on the other side of the road). 3 kilometers in 25 minutes not bad!

5 kilometers:
Still walking through the main streets of Singapore (which is shutdown for traffic). I get to see places I haven’t ever seen in Singapore.

7 kilometers:
Hears the shout “100 Plus, 100 meters ahead”. What a nice marketing. 100 Plus is an isotonic drink (and I am assuming a co-sponsor)

8 kilometers:
Just crossed the lead runners (on the other side of the road) who are coming back. These folks have covered 34+ kilometers while I have just covered 8!

12 kilometers:
Walking through the East Coast Park is much more fun than walking on the roads. But sand keeps going into my shoes - which is very irritating. So I have to clean my shoes. Looking down for the first time, I started realizing my legs are paining.

15 kilometers:
Feeling hungry I eat a banana. Toss the banana skin carefully to one side. The whole route is littered with banana skins and water cups. Feels terrible about the student volunteers who are putting an extra effort in cleaning up the litter.

18 kilometers:
Who ever said that a marathon is “Mind over body” was exaggerating. It is just “Mind over Calf muscle”. Calf muscle is paining and started almost having muscle cramps. Eat another banana (potassium in banana is supposed to be good to avoid cramps). Knee also starts paining.

20 kilometers:
Still not half way though. Thigh muscles, calf muscles and heels are all paining. I am also wondering when my knee will give up. The only encouraging sign is that there are still people behind me!

21 kilometers:
What a relief. Half way though rather unceremoniously. A race official is happily snoozing off at the half way mark. The chip tied to the shoes beeps, ensuring that I have covered 22 km and did not cheat.

22 kilometers:
Gets a free Power Bar, an energy gel. The only thing noticeable was the not so good taste and a note which said it had too much caffeine. This stuff gives an amazing boost to your energy and starts walking faster and faster. The pains are forgotten.

25 kilometers:
Power bar boost is gone like a balloon that went bust. Pain returns with amazing vigor. It is also becoming very hot. Funniest thing – some are distributing hot dogs to marathon walkers! But I was hungry and I ate one! Anything to keep the mind away from the pain was welcome

27 kilometers:
Wife calls wondering why I haven’t come back. She is not very happy when I mentioned that I plan to walk the entire distance (and I did not believe I could do that)

28 kilometers:
Organizers step in the way and suggest the few of us (trailing few) stop walking as it is “too late” and the roads will open soon. They also carefully mention that last year “many people were admitted in the ICU”. Some panics, decides to stop walking, but for some of us, it was “having walked this far, I am not giving up”. We get warnings about “be careful about the traffic and don’t get hit”.

31 kilometers:
Out of East Coast Park and back on the main roads. Roads are half opened (just one direction) for traffic.

33 kilometers:
A boy jumps out from the corner saying “You are my hero. I would have died if I walked this long”. I am sure he was trying to motivate me – but suddenly words like “death”, “accident” and “faint” comes to my mind and doesn’t go away. The heat becomes unbearable on the main roads.
34 kilometers:
Crosses the National Stadium. A bus stops nearby and a guy gets out and says “You can get into the bus and we will drop you just before the finish line. And YOU WILL GET YOUR CERTIFIACTE”. The last part of the offer makes many of them get into the bus. Cheating…. Cheating… Suddenly there are only 3 or 4 people behind me.

37 kilometers:
Meets Chan, a 79 year old marathoner who has completed 18 already. Feels ashamed of myself and start moving faster along with him. Walking along with a person who is twice older than you is a better boost than the Power Bar.

39 kilometers:
We now have escort as we are the “final batch”. Half a dozen vehicles are behind us with all the light and sirens. A few of them behind me “falls off” (in fact one person just fainted and actually fell). Suddenly the prospect of being the last person to complete the marathon becomes a reality. No way would I let this happen. Started walking fast will all the energy left and managed to overtake a dozen people.

41.5 kilometers:
Can hear the music and noise at the finishing point. Very, very thrilled. An MC catches me, spells my name wrongly, and then praises me with hundreds watching. Not sure that I felt happy or sad!

Finishing line:
The clock flashed 8 hours 51 minutes but I should have taken lesser time. The clock started (I believe) when the first person crossed the start line. I was behind in the start line and would have started 3-4 minutes or so later.

Collects the medal and T-Shirt. The person who gave it to me wasn’t very comfortable when I told him I finished the marathon (I wonder why)! Goes to my company’s tent and found it empty. So heads back home.

I wasn’t the first or I wasn’t the last, but I completed my first full marathon!

Every part of the body is paining. Strangely there is upper body pain also.

Surprisingly pain is gone. Wondering whether it is really gone or will it make a comeback on day 3, like other runners mentioned. Also saw the timings on the website.

Singapore Marathon Results

1 comment:

Suchetha Ravishankar said...

congrats manoj!! u managed to participate and complete it !!