Standard Chartered Marathon Recap

Hello hello my friends, after all the training (and moaning), I finally ran the Standard Chartered Marathon!!! I finished two minutes shy of my personal goal with a timing of 5:17:07. I am definitely a little disappointed with not finishing at 5:15:00 but I am still soooo incredibly happy!!! My legs especially my calves did not fail me. This is especially significant as once during my training, I heard a “snap” in my right calf and my whole leg go numb. I could only manage 27 out of the intended 33km. On race day, fortunately my lower body and hips were only sore at the 35km mark. The funniest part was: at the end of the race and even throughout the rest of the day, I was nowhere close to exhaustion. Must be the endorphins. I was so high throughout the day and was yakking away to EVERYONE! My poor Mummy, I was with her the entire day. Why her ears did not drop off I will never know.

Still, I felt my timing was compromised due to several key mistakes I made in the course of prepping for this run and even during the race itself. in my next post, I am going to post some Mistakes Made and Lessons Learnt pointers. So do visit again if you would like to learn from my mistakes too.

It is hard for me to pass a judgment on how well-organised the race was. I have not ran in many Marathons, yet. All I know is that there were AMPLE hydration stations – like 15 stations, if my memory does not fail me. Definitely more than the number reflected on the route map on their website. And every time 100plus was provided, it was ICED COLD. I am still so so appreciative of this. Thank you, Organisers!!! However when I got to the first three Gel/ Banana stations, there were none left. Only the last gel station was there a whole lot of them laid out on the table. Thank goodness I brought one and the pacers had quite a few. I still feel so bad taking their gels though. They aren’t cheap. So at the last Gel station, I made sure to take an extra to repay them.

Now a recap on the race route. I tried to take as many photos as possible during the race but running with my AWESOME 5:15 pacers from the Running Department, I did not want to compromise my momentum with them especially for the first 2/3 of the run. So I snapped several key points during the route to help me not forget the good and tough times.

You have no idea how nervous and anxious I was the night before the race! I went to bed at 8.30pm but could not fall asleep immediately. This was so despite me taking a sleeping pill AND sleeping aid. I even got up at 2am to check my phone was switched on and not broken down <– yeah I assumed it would break down for some freak reason during the night.

When my alarm clock finally rang at 3.20am, I leapt out of bed, got dressed and slapped on tons of sunblock on my face and arms. For breakfast, I had a toasted plain bagel with some blueberry jam. I didn’t take any Chinese food maybe because I read sooo many US-based runners blogs – this is their de facto choice of pre-race fuel – that it seemed natural for me to have this too.

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Then I drove down to the starting line in Orchard, parked and walked through the underpass to the entrance at Ion. I came across a sea of blue in Orchard MRT station. Seeing all the fellow Marathoners was very heartening and I felt less alone.

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Walking into the start pen next to Tangs.

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At the second wave pen. I was too anxious to wait until the very front of “Start” sign to take a picture.

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The moment is now…

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The first 15km was wonderfully easy and I certainly felt like we were just gliding along. We began from Orchard then ran into Somerset before turning into the Dhoby Ghaut. Then we continued running until Chinatown before finally reaching Raffles Place. This was surreal, I would normally train from Orchard to Raffles Place but I was now actually running into and past Raffles Place so easily. The sky was still dark and the air was soo crisp and chilly. You have no idea how in love with my surroundings and running I was at this point! With my pacers, we were singing along to songs from music blared out from the speakers of one of the pacers. We were even chit-chatting when not singing.

Then we entered East Coast Park and the second 15km of the race. We were greeted with the most beautiful sunrise ever! The sun was orangey and huge.

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It was a beautiful sight to behold…

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East Coast Park-route was also where the real test began. It is here on this 15km route that you will start seeing the first casualties of the race. Along the way one can find joggers receiving medical aids on the side. It was definitely a little scary… Especially when at this point I could feel my upper body sinking into my hips. I made conscientious efforts to “pull” myself up. And even more scarily, I started to feel a strain in my calves and my fears set in. I made sure not to lean my body forward too much and constantly “connected” with my legs. In my head, there was also a lot of chanting to myself and literally “begging” my calves to not give up on me especially not now. It probably worked because my calves hung in there for me and even throughout the race. If I could, I would hug my calves. Haha. I love my body so much!  

It was also here where I could feel my sugar level hitting a low. I took my first gel here. This Gu gel flavour was seriously yummy! It tasted and was the consistency of chocolate lava from Chocolate Molten Cakes. I am definitely stocking up on this for my next race.

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I was also running to all the hydration stations and downing water and 100plus alternatively – this later on proved to be a HUGE MISTAKE. At the 22km mark, I still felt crappy so I had my Reese Peanut Butter snack and it was delicious!!! This cheered me up a lot. But didnt hold me for long… One of the pacers was offering Gel and I had to have one. When I finished that, the remaining run in East Coast Park became very smooth. I managed to run ahead of the pacers and I felt my legs were moving forward at a good momentum. 

At the 30km mark, we finally left East Coast Park and officially began the “Marathon”. We were also running on this strange new road that was not open to cars yet. I was thinking at this point how incredibly small Singapore may be but yet we still manage to find bits of land to build more roads. Rapid expansion was literally before my eyes. This 5km route, before we hit Marina Barrage, was also the first tough part of the race because the Sun was out and blazing with so much joy… A lot of runners were walking here and wherever there was shade, everyone would run underneath it. I felt good here. Maybe because I had ingested so much sugar and water in East Coast Park before. Despite the glaring Sun, I was pacing along consistently and did not feel stretched at any point. When it got too warm, I grabbed water from the Hydration stations and poured over my head. Worked like a charm! Whenever the breeze came I felt like I was running in an air-conditioned room. There was a hydrating station along this route where ice cubes were being given out and I grabbed some to throw it into my Sports Bra. Learnt this trick from HungryRunner Girl and I swear it saved me. Water over my head and ice cubes definitely prevented me from overheating and succumbing to the heat.

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Past the 35km mark and into Marine Barrage, this is where I hit the wall and what I consider now to be the downfall of whole run. My hips felt so sore and heavy at this point. But that was not as bad as the stitches that was jabbing at my right belly. My belly also felt so heavy from the water and gel/ snack I ingested. I felt them all bobbling up and down in my belly – I was definitely regretting my earlier actions. To try and counter the pain, I took deep slow breaths. This caused the stitches to subside a little but it kept coming back. Why I did not want to go to the toilet to “relieve” myself then puzzles me even until now. But back then, I wilfully felt like I did not want to waste any time.

It was also here where I first walked. I was terribly sad from the walking as I knew it would slow me down significantly and cause me to lose the momentum – which happened. But I was exhausted and I could not feel my lower body.

Then the most painful and by far the hardest part of the race came around. At the 37-38km mark, Benjamin Sheares Bridge. A day later, thinking about this stretch still sends shiver down my spine.

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The Bridge was a killer. It may not have been steep but it was LOOONNNGGGG. Going up the bridge, it felt never-ending. I dared not look ahead because seeing how much more to climb was such a downer. It was also here where my 5:15 pacers overtook me and I simply could not catch up with them. I could not find any energy here and my stitches were back. I lost my running momentum and was alternating between walking and slow jogs until the 40km mark.

Reliving this 3km route still brings me so much sadness. If I can conquer this same part next year, I know my timing will be significantly improved. Like maybe even close to a 5hr mark. I wasted far too much time here.

I was elated to reach the 40km mark. But my energy level was close to a zero. Just 2km to the end. 2km is less than half of my warm-up distance but it was the hardest 2km I ever ran… Until I saw the last 500m mark, I was just slow jogging or walking…

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 At the last 500m mark, I finally began to pick up my pace and when I saw the last 100m signboard, I really really tried to blitz through to the finish line. At the end I could not stop smiling. I was so so happy from finishing my first ever 42km and knew right there and then, it would not be my last. I love running and racing so much!

 

Later I realised my sports bra and leggings gave me so much abrasions. I literally yelled out in the shower when the water first hit me.

Battle scars. Hurts more than sore muscles😭

A post shared by Yiyang Chen (@yyangchen) on

But it was all worth it. I have already signed up for two races (Brooks Marina 21km run and Green Corridor 10km) in the first quarter of 2015. Just thinking about the preparations for it gets me so excited! As for Standard Chartered Marathon, it is not over. I am not done. I don’t feel as if I have conquered it and am so unsatisfied. I will be back next year to conquer that Bridge and the last 7km!

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