Day Three (Dec. 4) :
Run for A Reason
“We each have a reason to run. What’s yours?” These words are prominently on display in almost all the ads, posters and other written paraphernalia of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011.
Indeed, what is the purpose of running? And what will be my answer? Rather than put forward my reflex answer which would probably violate the General Patronage tone of this blog, I would quote from the legendary Coach Bill Bowerman, the grand daddy of Nike running.
He wrote and I quote, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
These words of Coach Bowerman I remember halfway thru my 42 kms at the SCMS 2011 last December 4. I must say now, just to make it clear, that the SCMS 2011 is the best marathon for me among my short, albeit growing, list of marathons (5 thus far).
For me and my fellow Batch 83 marathoners (Ed, Ernie and Fards), the start of the Singapore marathon was an anxious one due to the “very wanting baggage check-in facilities”(not my words but that of the Team Fatbird blogger) and lack of, if not total absence, portalets in the starting area. We expended considerable time (almost 15 mins) and precious energy looking for an open shopping/hotel establishment along Orchard Road that would allow runners to use their comfort rooms. Thus, all 4 of us were not exactly able to start at our designated race pens. Mind you, this did not happen only to the 4 of us but to countless runners of varying nationalities, sizes and speed.
|Ed ready to enter the start pens at the Orchard Road|
|Cheering volunteers at the starting area|
It is this lack or absence of portalets which caused an amusing sight rarely seen in Singapore. Several dozens of runners peeing along Orchard Road more than 400 meters from the starting area, almost in front of the entrance to the Presidential compound, immediately after the 5am gunstart.
It is something in the continuous motion of running that has a calming effect on us runners so much so that the early anxiety gave way to exhilaration as the 4 of us 83nean runners cruised along the Orchard Road, turning right to pass the Fort Canning Park with more than 15,000 full marathoners. After the tunnel, the pair of Fards and Ernie pushed faster leaving me and Ed to do our favorite Galloway : 4-min run and 1-min walk.
|SCMS 42-km route map|
From the tunnel, we found ourselves in the Chinatown area and into the Esplanade area snaking down into the Formula 1 pit area. These sections were relaxing ones for us being the early stages and the fact that the sun was still very much not around. Plus, this is where the realization dawned on me that running a marathon is indeed an enjoyable and cost-effective way to see up close the beautiful sceneries that the host city has to offer. That realization gave me a big smile, and when I am happy, my running gets even better.
This joyful bliss lasted until the halfway point at the 21-km U-turn at the edge of the East Coast Park . Looking at my Timex, the time for the half was at 2 hrs 55 mins - the same 21-km time I had during my Camsur Marathon last September 2011 and we know that this translated to a 6-hour and 20-minute finish time for me at the 42 kms. My best marathon time, at that point, was the TBR Dream Marathon in 2010 where at the halfway I registered 2 hrs 30 mins. This got me worried. If I have any hope of breaking my best time of 6 hrs 8 mins, much less go sub-6 hrs, I had to run better than ever before the next 21 kms, meaning less walk and more running this time than in the previous marathons.
And going back to Coach Bowerman’s words, I had to test the limits of my heart. I had to test if it were human.
This I tried to do together with Galloway partner Ed. Being in the middle of a large running group was not easy. One had to zigzag constantly to overtake runners slowing down or downright walking all the way to the finish. Plus, the sun was beginning to show itself and humidity was making itself felt as a pain in the ass.
But we jogged and walked on steadily at the East Coast Park section, so much so that by the 32-km mark, our time was at 4 hrs 25 mins, still on pace to hit 6 hours or below for the full 42 kms. Running with a lot of energy gel (High 5 - my “baon” and Shotz - generously provided for in the race) sure did help. For muscle pain, the Tiger Balm team were out in force in many of the water stations, handing out cream for those who were cramping.
After the East Coast Park, the next section (33 kms to 37 kms) was the Marina Barrage, a difficult one given its seemingly endless road with no shade and not much beautiful scenery to look at. This is where many runners just plain stopped running and just trudged. This is also where Ed eased down on his running while I continued to power myself with the 4-1 Galloway. Hundreds of runners I overtook in this section and this brought a smile again on my face, remembering what Jeff Galloway said in his talk in Manila during the early part of 2011. He said that Galloway runners are easy to spot in a long distance running event as they are the ones usually doing the overtaking in the later stages of the race.
If we thought the Marina Barrage section is the difficult one, the next stage (37 kms to 39 kms) proved to be the toughest. This is the crossing of the elevated bridge spanning the entrance to Marina Bay. The race organizers aptly dubbed it the Heartbreak Bridge and for good reason. This is where my human heart got broken as there is where I walked most and thus, loss hope of going below 6 hours for the 42 kms.
But one thing about the human heart is that it is resilient and even, redoubtable. So at the last 2.5 kms, I found hope that I can still improve on my marathon finish time. No sub-six for me this time but I can set a new PR.
And as I turned right at Raffles Avenue and turn left at Esplanade Drive going into the last 500 meters towards the finish line in front of the City Hall, I ran strong and proud, at peace in the knowledge that I tested my human heart and it was not wanting.
|Malapit na. Runpix data show that in the last 9 kms,I passed 1,089 runners and 44 runners passed me|
I heard loud applauses (not just for me but all the runners finishing) as I crossed the finish line. And when I looked at my trusty Timex, it showed 6 hours 5 mins. I shouted to no one in particular “Old Man, my ass.” Yup. I am getting old in years but I will be setting new PRs as I get older in running.
For the record, all 4 83nean runners were among the 15,727 finishers of the 42 kms. Ernie ( 5 hrs 11 mins) and Fards (5 hrs 30 mins) finished ahead of Ed ( 6 hrs 9 mins) and myself. Ed also set a PR.
|All Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 83 runners got finisher medals|
|We still can jump!|
|Proudly showing my company flag|
As for Bitoy who joined 12,043 finishers in the 10-kms, his time was at 1 hr 28 mins. Promising. We look forward to Bitoy to continue his running in Singapore and perhaps come December 2012, he will be one of 83nean runners joining the 42 kms. at SCMS 2012.
Thus far, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011 is my best marathon. It is the best for me because I got to set a PR. More importantly, I got to rediscover the reason why I run long distances - - - it is to test the limits of my human heart.
|Marathon finished. Time for lunch at our favorite Kopitiam at Bras Basah Road|