We are now two days away from the year end Stanchart Marathon. Last year, I did the full marathon but this year I will run the half marathon instead. In the last four years, I have had completed five full marathons with a PB of 4 hrs 26 mins in Sundown earlier this year. I chose to run only half marathon for Stanchart this year not because I am fearful of the distance, I did not enjoy the same event last year. There were far too many runners in all three events, 10km, 21km and 42km and it was total madness when all runners in the three categories merged in the final 5km or so stretch to the finishing. Those in the full marathon category were already stretched to their limits but found themselves blocked by the slower runners in the shorter distance category. Many were practically taking a stroll along the highway, as if it was a walk in the park when they were supposed to run. I then decided enough is enough, no more full marathon for Stanchart and rest is history.
Running 10km was the farthest thing in my mind some five years ago. I was totally unfit, had never done any form of exercise for umpteen years and I was already in my mid 40s. It was in 2007. That year, I decided to have a change of life and I signed up with Safra fitness club. When I first started, I was on the treadmill and was doing at most 5km run - the max I could stretch my ageing bones. When I saw some in the gym doing 8 to 10km run on treadmill, I thought to myself it was crazy and over my 'dead body' that I will do it. I just wanted to sweat out and burn some calories, that's all.
When I learnt my colleague, Long Chua is an avid runner and at his coaxing, I decided to join him and another friend for a leisure run at HarbourFront to Keppel Bay Club. He assured me that it is not going to be a long run but I was damned wrong to have trusted him. It was a longest run in my life for the longest time I could remember. We did less than 10km only, probably 8km or so and I was shagged. Soon, both Chua and I become regular running mates. He had already completed his three full marathon races and none for me. My first so-called Stanchart Marathon run was the 10km event in 2007. It was tough and I can feel the cramps gradually building up in both my legs. I pressed on and when I hit the finishing line, I did it in 1 hour 1 min. I was pleasantly surprised with my timing and I felt very inspired then. After my first event, my run with Chua and a friend continued.
I did at least two evening run in a week and sometimes, a morning run on a Saturday but I was still not confident enough to do a 21km run. In 2008, I signed up for the same 10km again. This time, I had a personal target. I told Long Chua and some friends that if I can go below 55 mins, I will do the 42.195km the following year. My 10km time for 2008 was 53mins plus, I had sliced off more than 8 mins from my previous best. I was over the hill, fully charged, fully inspired and now, I will run the full marathon.
In the one year in 2009, I ran in few other run events in preparation for the year end full marathon. I ran the 12km run, 15km and 21km to give me the confidence but I still experienced cramps in the longer distance run. When I ran my first full marathon in2009, I did not clock enough mileage prior to that. I hit the wall at about 30km mark and that was where I started to experience severe cramps. I managed to complete and I clocked 5 hours 9 mins. I was not disappointed as my target was to come under 5 hours 30 mins. But I could have come under 5 hours if I did not have cramps but I was still satisfied with my timing.
I did my second full marathon in France in 2010, courtesy of France Tourist Office Singapore, my third with Sundown and my fourth with Stanchart in 2011 and finally, my fifth in 2012 with Sundown. My best run was this year Sundown in May, I can run from start to finish without stopping and best of all, I didn't have any cramp at all. I felt I can go for more after hitting the finishing line. The cross training, cycling and trekking did help greatly.
To have overcome the fear of running distance, I must credit one person and he is non other than my running mate, Long Chua. If not for him, I won't have gone for my first full marathon in 2009 and five full marathons to my name. Long Chua is still aiming for his 10th marathon and if he clears this year's event which he should not have any problem, it should be his 9th if I am not wrong and one more to go. I wish him and all the runners for this coming Stanchart event good luck and run a good race. Still the same old advice, it is not so much about the timing, it is about completing.