As the big guy upstairs cranks up the heat, those last 20kms have always sucked....sucks your mind (some will hit a blank wall as I did in 2006) and sucks your energy and your spirit. As the heat plays with your spirit, this is the time when injury can strike due to either poor walking techniques or the body giving up its posture. This is the time when mental attitude will see the determined through to the end. I have certainly grown up as a wunner in these events, and know it is important to have a strategy to prepare one's mind.
YET it is difficult to hate this marathon when I find myself humbly thanking the kindness of the organisation, participants, volunteers and supporters.
The following is what worked for me to remind myself what to do to be more comfortable.
Strategy: To make as much grounds as possible before 09:00. The rest of the run will be a 1km walk, 500m run unless water drops from the sky (more run and less walk). Due to only 3 weeks training prior (a chest infection prevented better training) I would aim for about 5-6km/hr for the first 20 km and then drop to 4-5km/hr.
Shoes: In 2006/2008 there was a raging fire in my feet as I wore covered shoes. Since learning about postural alignment and movement (Pose method), I have been able to run in sandals. I bought a new pair for the run and tested on a 5K run. Knew I would have to tape up the feet and toes to prevent blisters.
Salt: Bought some salt packets from Watson - stuff they use to rehydrate you when you are suffering the effects of diarrhea. This has stopped me from falling over in 2006. I will be drinking this at 23kms and 32kms as well as drinking a mix of water and isotonic drinks thorough out.
On the day food: Breakfast bars have normally been sufficient in cooler marathons. Thought I'd try them here (this was a mistake). I need to bring gels for a hot marathon.
Other stuff to consider: Sun block to apply when the sun is out and a water bottle to be able to sip between stations.
Being hot, I never feel like eating much the night before, but forced down a bowl of cheesy pasta and brought some bread to eat for breakfast.
The rain poured out of the heavens during the night and stopped in time for runners to make their way to the baggage drop and start line. In fact this year we were lucky as the temperatures started at @ 20 degs C. So good to see more people in costumes to bring a smile.
05:20: This is when my race started as slow wunners need to start from the back of the pack to reduce the chance of being in the way of faster runners. The MCs have a great spirit, trying to energise runners at the start. Thank you MCs for your energy and the awesome send off despite the early morning start.
Kept to the side as much as possible, again so that I would not trip up faster participants.
Skipped the first drinks station as there is enough water in the bottle to last until the next water station. From there on I will be topping up my bottle with isotonic drinks and water.
07:00 (11km): As dawn breaks, a sense of dread begins to rise. Time is ticking, the sun is coming and there are still 32kms to complete.
08:00 (17km) Fuel depletion is occurring and will not be realised until later. It is good to think about a small morsel of food. Normally I eat some sort of breakfast bar, but in this heat it is hard to want to chew on anything. Thanks to the 2 runners who gave me a gel from their supplies even though we were not even half way yet. I normally dislike gels full of chemical gunk but I was so thankful for their precious gift. I hope this did not hinder their own completion. Don't know what madness went into my head, thought I'd try a bit of barefoot running as the road looked so nice. A mistake as my feet were taped up and picked up all the dirt from the road.
09:00 (22km): The morning is still somewhat cool as well as somewhat warm. Chemical gunk was swallowed and more chemical gunk was picked up at 23km.
10:00 (27km): It is hot and every drink stop is now used to cool down the head and limbs from over heating. Thank you to the supporter who set up an adhoc refreshment for the lagging wunners. The ice cold coke was wonderful.
11:00 (32km): Sgrunners had setup an adhoc refreshment table along marina bay gardens, a godsend after the dreary golf course/building site. The congestion on Marine Barrage bridge was non-existent. In 2010, we had to queue to get onto the bridge and shuffled along as the full marathon and half marathon wunners merged together.
12:00 (36km): This is part of the route that is probably the most demanding. The sun is drilling down and you can see wunners heading up the Bridge of Doom but you are teased for 1.5km to get to the start of that bridge. As we step onto the Bridge of Doom, a single line is formed of the walking dead, each zombie taking a step at a time. I do not know why a single line is formed despite the route being wide enough for many more across, but we do! Perhaps it is by watching someone's feet ahead can draw one up the slope. It's at these times when ones head hears a song of inspiration to help drive one up the bridge. (errr sorry to everyone for my outburst of power ballads).
13:00 (40km): As we head back towards the Espanade, there is an awesome fountain to divert into and run thru to cool down. This year, this final stretch had an awesome cool breeze to rejuvenate the run.
- 5 chemical gels
- Loads of isotonic
- Liberal sun tan lotion
- 2 salt packets
- And a cool down at each drink station.
(And if you managed to sing that - give yourself a chocolate brownie).
The only thing I suffered this year was an out break of rashes, I believe from the body trying to expel the chemical gunk. Note the weather appeared better than in other years of participating in this event. Maybe be back in 2014 to celebrate my 50th event if the organisers are still open to me :-)
Thank you to all the volunteers who despite being out for so long during the day, could still call out encouragement and despite the morning heat still summed up energy to serve runners. I wish I could give each a hug because without them, this event certainly could not happen.
For pictures of scenery of the event see my 2010 report.