Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2009

Race Reports, January 26, 2010

It’s been 2 days since the 2009 Standard Chartered Marathon and the endorphins are finally returning to normal levels. Vibrant flashbacks of a fantastic run are merging into a single memory to remind me of the significance of this race.

It’s been 2 days since the 2009 Standard Chartered Marathon and the endorphins are finally returning to normal levels. Vibrant flashbacks of a fantastic run are merging into a single memory to remind me of the significance of this race.

3 weeks ago I was sidelined with a pulled left calf. It was my 1st real running injury and a healthy dose of humble pie. Turns out I am not invincible; overloading coupled with inadequate warm up is a recipe for disaster!
Disappointment and frustration followed me around everywhere as I felt my peak form slip away. Unable to train and taper properly, I felt the looming uncertainty that lay around the corner at December 6. In the meantime, I was on my feet, giving running lectures, 3 days in a row at the race expo. Not the ideal preparation at all!
It was with lowered expectations that I lined up at the start. Somewhere deep in my heart, I still wanted to come in under 3:15. But, all things considered, I told myself to be happy with a 3:45. My calf was not quite 100% and I had definitely lost some cardiovascular condition. What the heck! A 2 time Ironman World Champion once told me, “Never give up!”
The horn goes and we’re off down the road- the loud disco-pop giving way to the resigned pitter-patter of thousands of expectant feet. I settle into a nice light rhythm.

“Start Easy, Stay Easy” I tell myself. This is a line straight out of one my lectures. Time and again, during the course of this run my belief in my own running principals and coaching methods would be put to the test.

Get the 1st 10 k out of the way without even feeling it.

I thought as I passed the marker. Starting at a very conservative pace, I was conscientiously restraining myself from picking up the speed. So far so good- 10 km effortlessly down and my race had suddenly become a much more manageable 32 Km.
Halfway Over-Easy: Keep it easy to at least half way.

Keeping the same easy pace all the way to 16km had me feeling good. I had been “putting something aside” for the end of the race, but now, the first whispers of doubt interrupted my regular 2- 2 breathing pattern, “Too slow, you’re not going to make it at this rate. It’ll be impossible to pull it back in second half. You how hard it gets at the end, you better speed up just a little! ” I picked up the pace and felt my breathing deepen. As of in response, the exact words that I had shared with my Track Attack run class echoed in my head,
“You WILL feel like going harder- DON”T!”
The best coaches believe in their training protocols and are able to defend and justify their methodologies. This situation presented a perfect and unique opportunity to practice what I had been preaching. Do I really believe?
In faith, I slowed my pace dropped my stride rate back down to 92 and got to halfway. My legs still relatively fresh- now to see how much was left in them!
Check in, Zone out

I was starting to get excited. So far the race had gone according to plan and intuition told me I was in a good place. I had got to halfway at 1:40 and this would be the last time I was going to check the clock. From here on it was going to be an exercise in balancing physical fatigue with mental tenacity- a true test of both the smarts and the spirit of running.

I performed a quick check that I was still holding good form- Running tall, Shoulders relaxed, Stride Rate? I drove my elbows back just a little quicker and got them going up to 95 strides per minute. “That’s better!”

Nutritionally, I had taken in about 200 calories / hour and been grabbing water at almost every aid station. My energy levels and hydration were fine. The caffeinated gels had taken effect and my pupils were dilated in wide eyed wonder;
“You’ve worked hard get there. It’s not every weekend you’re in this position- Running well, under control, 26kms into a marathon. This is your chance- Don’t let go.”

I pealed out the 1st half a Nuun electrolyte tab and popped it into my mouth. It’s effervesant tang momentarily jolting me out of my running daze. Finding its way into the corner of my mouth, it sat there slowly dissolving as my mouth greedily soaked up the sweet, salty froth.
With all systems go I just zoned out and let my elbows do the running.

Break it down, bring it home
2 gels, another Nunn Tablet and 10 km later I passed the 36km marker. I was nicely surprised that my stride rate had crept up to 98 and I recognised that it must have been the stride repeats that I had thrown into the middle of my long runs.
“Better watch out for The Wall!” The Wall- that notorious Bermuda Triangle, made famous by countless marathon horror stories the world over- that hits you all at once and reduces your best effort to a whimpering walk. But The Wall never came.

By breaking down the distance into shorter manageable bits, interval training encourages your body to hold perfect running form, reinforcing good running habits. This becomes especially important in the closing stages of any race when the body is already fatigued and close to its limit. With 6 km to go, I was transported back into a recent Track Attack session;
“3 x 2km”

This was not new ground; we had practiced this during class, at race pace, holding good form. It gave me the confidence to speed up and run hard without fear. Soon it was 2 x 2km, “You can do it”, and then 3 x 1km, “You’re there- Hang on!”

My heart leapt as I turned the last corner and saw the race clock- 3:13! I sprinted down the finishing chute and crossed the line in disbelief at what had just happened- I was speachless!
Looking back, I will always remember this race for long time. Not only was it a HUGE learing experience in marathon running, but also because it is a tremendous affirmation for me as a coach to continue believing in what I am passionate about…