So… I’m back for the third time, but for my second full marathon. Well… this is actually my third attempt, but my first one was DNF so I was hoping this would be my second completed full marathon.
The reason I chose the Twincity Marathon to be my full marathon attempts was because of the long cut-off time. As explained by my blogpost about my first Twincity full marathon, the Twincity Marathon gave really long cut-off times, which is a nice encouragement for new, inexperienced, or leisure runners.
Most full marathons have a cut-off time about 7 hours; some are challenging at 6h30m. Some events targeted at elite runners have a cut-off time of 6 hours! But Twincity Marathon has a comfortable cut-off at 8 hours.
Read my first completed full marathon experience at Twincity Marathon 2016 here. Not the most inspiring story, but it’s my story, hehehe.
I haven’t joined any full marathon since, because I didn’t think I was ready for it, given how I crawled my way to the finish line at the Twincity Marathon 2016.
However, I have been steadily improving at the end of last year (yay!) and even fared not too badly at the Bukit Cinta Ultra 2016. So I had hopes of being able to complete my full marathon this year with better time.
TWINCITY MARATHON – 15 JANUARY 2017
The Twincity Marathon is the first full marathon in Malaysia for the year, and the number of sign-ups remain high.
I couldn’t get enough sleep the night before, even though I went to bed early. The marathon had a relatively late flag-off at 4am, so I went to bed at 8pm hoping to get at least 5 hours of sleep. I ended up tossing and turning and only managed to catch 40 winks after midnight. And then I had to get up to make sure I would get to the flag-off in time. So… I got less than an hour’s shut-eye.
I met Andrew Lu at the venue, and he handed me my race pack which he had helped me collect. We were the only two from our team who had signed up for the full marathon.
I was actually very nervous. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the full marathon because of a number of factors. I hadn’t run much lately (even had to spend one week at home recovering from something), and now with insufficient sleep, I wasn’t sure if I would see the finish line. However, I did stuff myself with a peanut butter sandwich and a banana to make sure I had sufficient fuel.
I was going to carry my pouch with two water bottles, but Andrew wisely told me that I didn’t need to bring them as there would be sufficient water stations. I said I had been looking up the info online, but I didn’t see them; apparently they were only uploaded the day before. It was fortunate that I listened to Andrew, because they really did provide enough water, and the water stations were well-spaced, so I didn’t have the burden of extra water nor the pouch on me.
We bumped into Ken at the Start Line.
We were flagged off at 4am sharp.
Last year, I was one of the last few runners to cross the finish line over 7 hours. This time, as I was aiming for this to be my second completed full marathon, I was hoping to complete it under 7 hours; 6h30m if I could push myself enough.
I started off with my regular pace of about 7.5min/km. I had just recently purchased the Garmin Vivoactive HR+ which quite frankly, was an excellent personal purchase. I am not saying that this watch is better than other watches; I am just saying that I am glad I purchased a good activity watch, because it showed me my running pace clearly. I used to use a pedometer app on my phone which also showed my running pace; the problem was that I had to keep taking the phone out of my pouch and unlocking it so that I could check my pace. With a watch, I could just look at the interface and the info is right there.
I was relatively slow compared to all the runners around me. Andrew, Ken and I had been somewhere near the front of the Start Line when we were flagged off; as we took off, many runners kept overtaking me until I was somewhere in the middle of the crowd. Ken and Andrew had also long ago run way ahead, so I was left to run by myself.
I wasn’t daunted though. I had already expected this to happen, and I was happy to run by myself. I just followed the advice of my excellent running buddies, and went on my own pace. I would keep checking my watch to make sure that I didn’t slow down to a lazy pace.
I was hoping to be able to match my usual pace for a half-marathon… actually, I was hoping to be able to match my personal best for a half-marathon when I reached the halfway mark of this marathon. My personal best was just under 2h45m. I was slightly disappointed in myself when I couldn’t – I only managed to hit the 21km mark at a little over 2h50m. But I had to remind myself that I still had another 21km to go, and I should be conserving energy.
The truth was, although I was aiming for a 7-hour finish, I had been really hoping to be able to do it under 6h30m.
But I have never been one to severely push myself. If I was tired, I would allow myself to slow down, because I didn’t want to risk a DNF because I was overtired, or worse – cramps!
So when I hit the 21km mark a little under 3-hours (well, at least I still got sub-3 for a HM, so to speak!), I was doubting my ability to complete the full marathon in 6h30m.
Nevermind, I told myself. A sub-7 finish is still an improvement over last year’s sub-8.
In fact, even if I walked the second half of the full marathon, I would finish sub-7, I thought. But to my horror, I found that my walking pace was way slower than usual. My legs were so tired that they were not keeping to their usual fast pace.
So occasionally I pushed myself to run, and I ended up doing a run-walk sequence for the next 21km.
In fact… I surprisingly overtook Ken, and I caught up with Andrew who had unfortunately suffered a cramp halfway through the full marathon.
After a while, I had lost sight of all the balloon pacers, and wasn’t quite sure what time I would actually finish. The only way I could figure it out was by doing mental calculations in my head… and quite honestly, to my surprise, my calculations told me I could finish within 6 hours.
For real?? I couldn’t believe it. If I could finish within 6 hours, it would be an amazing personal accomplishment… for someone who was struggling to complete her last full marathon (which was last year).
This was confirmed when I saw Rao, a pacer carrying the 6:00 balloon. When I saw him catching up with me, I quickly kept pace with him. He assured me that he was actually well ahead of time, and the reason he ran ahead was because he knew that many runners usually stop at water stations, so he was giving them some leeway for a short break, and yet still allow them to finish at 6 hours.
Rao was very encouraging, and told me that I was doing well, and that I would probably be able to finish under 6 hours. I was able to keep to his pace, although I actually felt like dying, haha. We ran about 1.5km to the next water station, where he waited for the other 6h pacers to catch up, but encouraged me to keep going.
So I did. I went ahead, keeping to my run-walk sequence. My walking pace was deplorably slow, but I was surprised that I managed to keep a relatively fast pace (well… fast for me).
It was with great joy when I turned the corner and saw the Finish arch. I don’t know where I got the energy from, but I actually sprinted the last 100m to the finish. Many of the runners who had already finished (and their supporters) who were standing by the side were extremely supportive, clapping and cheering as I ran. I actually let out a whoop of joy as I ran across the timing mat!
I finished the full marathon in 5h53m!!!
Okay okay, I know it’s not quite elite speed, but it is my personal achievement, and my personal best.
There was a gong which runners can hit if they improved their personal best. I wanted to hit the gong, but the gong was gone by the time I got there.
The rest of my team who had participated in the half-marathon had already left because they had appointments to go for… so I waited for Andrew and Ken before taking photos and heading home.
So I finished my first full marathon – which is also my first run event – of the year with a sub-6 finish! This was already one item that I could check off my new year’s resolutions. Truthfully, I thought I could only achieve it at the end of the year after more training. Never had I dreamt that I could check it off so early in the year.
The Twincity Marathon is quite well-organised, with sufficient water stations and food provided throughout the route. Kudos to the organisers and the marshalls! See you again next year!!