Sunday 24 Aug 2008 – Woke up at 4.00 am and picked Darryl up to go for the Army Half Marathon yesterday. Reaching the start point at 6 am, we made sure we were early enough to be near the start at the 630 am flag-off.
It was my first half-marathon so I was really looking forward to it. I had trained since June after the Sundown 10K run. Training had been intense since June but I had scaled it down after Leea was born but I made sure I could clear 21K by running that distance a couple of weeks ago… don’t know if that was a good idea cos that took the wind out of me for a couple of days. Really felt my glycogen stores deplete after that run and my practices became less intense. Also over the national day holidays I had taken the night duty of feeding the baby, so by then I was fighting off an impending cold with vitamin Cs everyday. It was a fine line but I managed to keep the impending cold at bay.
Anyway, I really paid for that lack of training in this half-marathon. But there were lessons to be learnt that might be useful for the full-marathon come 7th Dec.
I started the race feeling really good and ran at my usual 10K pace which would be about 55 mins (which in retrospect wasn’t that good an idea). The first few Ks were up the Sheare’s bridge and I was feeling good. Soon we hit East Coast Park via Fort road. By that time, the really pro runners were heading back in the opposite direction as they had already made the loop at Carpark C4… but where was that loop?…. the route seemed to stretch for miles before we finally reached the loop. All this while, the water stations only had plain water (and during training I am used to drinking isotonics at 5K onwards). it was great to finally make that loop and as I did, I heard the crash of the waves which brought the sounds of “Flowing with the Waves” Ivan and I composed so I was pretty buoyed by that. In my eagerness to make that loop I had maintained my pace more suited for a 10K, I would pay for it later, unbeknownst to me at that point. Who was I kidding, it was my first real long distance run and I was too impetuous.
Ok, here I started to feel a wee bit shites. It was past Fort road and now into the Rhu reclaimed land area. The path was gravelly and not easy to run on. One of the stations before were giving out bananas. I could only take in half and threw the other half away. My system had become delicate by now. It was strange to see the route strewn with banana peels and runners. What an equation.
talk about impetuous… I saw this guy try to jump across a small drain just to cut across a bend. I think he forgot that his knees would protest after 14K, so he fell flat on his face.
I started to wise up a little here and decided to slow down; aged, dainty women and middle-aged men passed me and my ego took a beating. But I wanted to complete the run so I maintained the slow pace. An aunty (must be about 45 years old) overtook me and was complaining that her polar watch with the GPS had gone flat… and she asked her running partner “how far more”? “7K more leh!” I think at this point I began to feel the right knee hurt intensely. I decided to put more running weight on the left leg… 4K later my left calf would cramp up but the pain on the right knee would go away.. then again maybe it just didn’t feel as painful as the pull on the calf muscle. There was a 100 plus water point along the reclaimed land route so like bees to honey, we buzzed around those water points. A much needed “salt lick”.
I was heating up considerably by then, and one of the good things I had done was buy running tights, there was no abrasion and my sweated wickered away and there was no dripping of sweat down to my shoes. I only wonder if undergarment and running tights go together…
The 18K mark
i remember the 18K mark well cos we probably hit the road and off the gravel and mud of the reclaimed land. We were cheered on by the Indian foreign workers who has stopped work to give support. I really appreciated that.
By this point my right thigh and left calf was cramping up and I had to stop to stretch and at times walk. I must have walked for a total of 500 m. it was 2hrs and 15 mins into the race and I was pretty determined to hit the end before 2hrs 30mins. This last leg really slowed me down and I was suffering for the earlier pace. It was good to meet (catch up with/upon) my old BMT platoon mate along the way… And the foreign workers at Collyer Quay were cheering us on cos it was near the finish. I was seeing the light when the “1500m more to go” sign appeared. More 100 plus stations here but they would have been better-placed earlier (at least for me and oh a 100 more people who seemed to be cramping up as well). Luckily leg cramps are not alien to me; you can actually run off a cramp if you pace yourself and drink isotonics; so I eked out a little run. I was feeling fine and my breathing was not laboured, it was just my leg muscles that were going on strike. Some runners must have gotten into serious trouble cos I saw the ambulance make one or two rounds as I was finishing.
The finishing stretch
Well, this was really grand and the finishing arch was quite magnificent. I had finally made it without going into rigor mortis by the side of the road. There were cheers and lots of supporters lining the sides and the emcee was egging the runners on. It was an adrenaline rush and I picked up the pace and passed the line, cramped up, and thanked God (whom I was thanking all the way for getting me out of my 3 year kidney ordeal and letting me do this run).
Time on my watch: 2hrs 27mins
Time by the champion chip: 2hr 26mins and 53secs
Some reflections and lessons learnt to prepare for the 42K.
1. Eat more bananas starting a few days before to stock up the glycogen and potassium. My carbo-loading for this race not so good… but 21K only.. I guess I need all the help I can get.
2. Disciplined training is important. This includes mileage and interval training with the heart rate monitor. Don’t anyhow do hor. For this 21K, I slacked abit the last month. No excuse for the 42.
3. Must have a nutrition plan during the 42K, this means carbo gel packs and isotonics at regular intervals.
4. Must consider using an ipod.
5. New running shoes suited for longer distances ( I love my adizero but the one I have is for short ones like 10K).
6. More stretching before the race, especially for the calf muscles.
7. Start on glucosamine supplements (the knee pain really came out of nowhere)
8. Must lose more weight. Now 72, I think I should be 65. Then I will float like a butterfly.. and also look less grotesque in running tights.
9. Take it easy at the beginning. No impetuousness.
10. Run without the glasses. They fog up all the time and by 15K, was in the way.