Yes, I ran a marathon last Sunday.
Yes, it took me 5:19, and I'm slower than Oprah Winfrey (!!!).
The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore was my third full marathon. At least, I consider it my third. My first was three years ago (6:18 with plenty of walking). Two years ago there was an absolute disaster - I was running with a friend, and he wasn't feeling well, and then I wasn't feeling well, and then I had gastrointestinal issues, and then I cramped up, and then he cramped up, and we both staggered in around 6:30 - I don't count that one. Last year I ran Tokyo in 5:15 (again with the cramps, but visualising my coach Trudy behind me running me down on her bike - very effective).
But this time round, I actually trained.
Sometimes I don't really want to say that I've trained, or train hard at all, because what if I work my butt off and am still a flop? Because you know that happens (we've all been there).
For the last couple of years I've been training quite regularly with Metasport, a triathlon group here, doing intervals and hills. I really stepped it up this season. Goals, people, goals. It seems to have worked a bit. I'd set myself a target: finish this year's marathon in less than 5 hours. Seemed doable.
From the start line to 23km, I was perfectly happy and healthy. Nothing to see here guys, moving right along. I hit 21km in a relaxed 2:15.
And then things began to fall apart when I felt the first twinges of cramp in my quads. If I hadn't been wearing compression calf sleeves, those bits of me would have cramped too.
I downed a bottle of water in an effort to wash the cramps out of my system and took the second of my four gels. No effect. Around 25km I had to walk, and told myself I'd just walk for five minutes, then run five. Then walk five, then run five. Bottle of water, salt capsule. Walk five, run ten or fifteen. Rinse and repeat. Told myself I'd still get in under five hours if I could just run 9km an hour for the last two hours. Not so hard, right? It is when your legs don't work. Somehow I was still passing people. Then the 5:00 pacers passed me...
At 38 or 39km there was an enormous expressway on-ramp. Dear marathon organisers: this is some kind of cruel joke. Not acceptable!
At 40km all of my training discipline kicked in and I shufflesprinted the final couple of km ("tempo run, tempo run") to the finish.
The worst part wasn't the cramping. The worst part was that I was chafed in some VERY UNPLEASANT PLACES. (One day I'll laugh about this.)
A couple of days ago I found out that I came in 3665th of 12,922 marathon finishers; implausibly ahead of 71% of the men, 430th overall woman, 227th Singaporean woman, and 94th of 681 women aged 20 to 29 (what???).
Ok, so I didn't hit my time goal, but the marathon wraps up a great training season and I learnt an important lesson: now I know I probably need to start with the electrolytes - MORE and EARLIER in the race. (Somehow this sort of thing never happens on long training runs!)
We don't have seasons really, but I like to spend the first half of the year on multisport and the second half just RUNNING, which is my first love. This year I set 5K and half-marathon personal bests, and literally lost track of how many times I went under my 10K best time. Believe me there was some whooping and hollering after the Singapore Biathlon in February when I discovered I'd gone under an hour for 10K for the first time. Though at first I thought the course was short.
...And I was still faster than Katie Holmes!