Friday, November 21, 2014

Running my first marathon.

So for once in my entire lifetime, ive completed a full marathon. A full 42.125 km worth of sweat, agony and pain throughout my body. And the experience is somewhat addicting, although not for the first few days after the race.

The Penang Bridge International Marathon is an annual running event, at the famous Penang bridge, and this year, being the first year of the 2nd bridge, the organizer managed to get their hands on the 2nd bridge and held the run there. All running categories from full marathon, half, 10k and fun run is included and awfully a lot of people are here for the race.

In my 2014 year resolution, i've challanged myself to run a full marathon, alongside couple of half marathon before to prep myself for the this big race. My initial target was to run two 10k races, followed by two half marathon, and finally a full marathon at the end of the year. and after judging some races, i decided to pick PIBM 2014 to be my marathon debut since it is at the end of the year. and also because it is relatively easy(no trails, and deadly hills)

The Big Day.

Preparation is all done and i was very much ready both physically and mentally for the race. I've read and even memorized some of the "first time marathoners mistakes" article on the net and im sure do grateful for that.

After considering well of my fitness level(which is not that good at that time btw) and some considerations on my body (from previous half marathon), i carefully plan my entire run. The plan was to run at an average pace of 7 min per km for the first 30km before stopping by for Subuh prayer and continued with the same pace for the last 10k or so of the race.

When the race began, i carefully and slowly began my pace, not trying to outpace everyone else and maintain that good pace. It all went well until i reached the end of the bridge, at about km20. At this point i knew, ive completed half of the race. So for the next 10k i've struggled to maintain the same pace although it did not really work out. according to my Garmin FR10, i;ve only managed to maintain avg 8-9 min/km pace for the next 10k or so. The pain on my right knees, and lower legs start to affect my performance. At km32 as my watch indicated, i stopped for Subuh prayer at about 6am in the morning, just as i noticed another muslim brother just about to have his prayer. With some water bottle from previous water station, i took my ablution just by the road and uses a towel i carried along with me to cover my head. So for those out there who think about not praying during races, think again. It was not that difficult.

Moving on from there, there is another 10km left according to one of the sign installed. And by this time my Garmin fr10 battery already died on me, so pace was not my concern anymore although i was hoping to complete the race in about 6 hours. At this point, i can barely jog since my thigh and ankle felt so painful and it felt like it can cramp anytime if im not careful. And i hate to not complete this race. So whenever i felt that urge, that jolt of pain, i stopped and walk away.

The last 4km felt like forever as i can no longer jog. Rather than hurting myself and not finishing it, i change the plan to walking until the last few meter before the finish line. and i glad i did that since i managed to run off the finish line with some graceful jog for the photographers to take some pictures of me(hopefully). (edit: es i have a picture, but man, it was so bad, and they even charge me!)

at that time, i was worn out, i did not have much of energy left, my thigh, ankle and my knees is in a deep pain and after a long queue for medal and finisher tee collection, i get on and had my breakfast, which is worth noting to be the best breakfast ive had in months although it is just a cereal. From there it was all fun times with friends before heading back home.

Some summary on the race course, as expected it was fairly easy in term of the track. It was pretty straightforward, tarmac track with little elevation changes. Elevation gain was as little of 18m which very little. During the start, you can see the street lamp all the way until the end of the bridge, and to some this is a great pain in the ass. Must have a strong mental to overcome this until the end. In all it was a great run and im glad i chose this run to be my debut marathon run.

Data my Garmin managed to store before it died.

And thats me, got my ass kicked from the first marathon.

And there you go, my first experience running a marathon. and first though is that i wont race a marathon again. Not after this pain. But after a deep slumber, i can help but wanted to do a better one, one where i can complete in that 7min/km pace throughout. hehe. Maybe next time.

and here are some of my advice on anyone planning on running their first marathon anytime soon


1. Train your legs well - dont just depend on jogging to strengthen your legs, do some weight exercise, go cycling. I knew i need those prior to this run.

2. Fuel properly - Eat drink well before the race. bring along gels if necessary

3. Dont consume gel and run - this might be a personal advice. last race i consumed a gel while jogging and later on my stomach starts to feel funny and i was in very great deal of pain for 5km or so until the next toilet stop.

4. Dont start too fast - unless you are an athelete whos done half marathon, running all the way that is. Start slow and build up from there. dont get to excited and sprint off.

5. Dont consume banana in the race - again, this is personal advice. I knew if i consume a banana will eventually have a visit to the toilet anytime soon. So if you dont want a mid race toilet session, dont.

6. Bring along tigerbalm/ minyak panas/ salonpas spray or anything that can ease up the pain -  because most aids camp wont have those, and have only ice packs which is slow to work with.

7. Hydrate well - Do stop by for drinks at the station. better if you can bring along a water bottle.

8. Listen to song - This helps a bit, especially that last few km to the finish line


Hope these advice helps!