Sunday, December 6, 2009

Singapore Marathon 2009

What meant to be a record-breaking race for me turned out horribly wrong.

Stopwatch time: 0:05:02

A deficit of over 20 minutes! At the 30km mark, my right knee began to hurt again. I had to slow down. But later I had to reduce my pace to a walk. At about 38km, I was already seriously contemplating giving up because of the unbearable pain. But here's the thing about giving up: It sucks big time! And I knew that I would kick myself in the butt if I had given up. So instead, I walked for a good 5 - 6 km until I realised that I had about 2-3 km left to the finish line. Then I tried running again, but not quite successful at it.

In retrospect, I don't think it's such a clever thing to do. It felt like the right decision to make then though. I mean, I trained several months for this race. I flew all the way and spent some bucks on this trip. Giving up just seemed so wrong. But now that it's all over, I think it's a stupid thing to do. I hope I did not injure my knee permanently. And because I forced myself to run, now my ankle is also in trouble.

It's a real pity. The weather was so good, in fact I'd say perfect for record-breaking. Absolutely no excuse that I should fail today. Failure is such an ugly word. Oh I'm so tired now. I'll stop here for now. I really need to rest; I need the time to sulk on my failure. More report later. Stay tuned.

Update (8 Dec 2009):

KK to Singapore:

Saturday was quite a busy day. We arrived at the airport quite early, although not as early as Drs Helen and Liaw. When we entered the departure area, they were already there having coffee. The flight was quite pleasant, except for a slight turbulence. Silk Air gives a bit more leg space when compared to Air Asia or Mas. We more or less agreed that flying Silk Air was worth the money. I would certainly fly Silk Air again in the future.

We touched down in Singapore in the early afternoon. Then we went to the race pack collection centre directly from the airport. That was dealt with very quickly. But after that we spent a good hour or so visiting the many booths next door.

We ended up buying some stuff. By the time we reached the hotel, it was already past 5pm. We freshened up a bit and then went for an early dinner at the nearby stalls. We were back to the hotel again quite early. In fact, we were ready for bed by 9pm. That night I turned and tossed around in bed trying to sleep, but without much success. I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong the next morning.

Marathon Day:

By 3:30am, it was too late to try to sleep. I got out of bed and started getting ready for the race. A quick shower before putting on my running gears. Mia decided to come with me to the starting line although her event was scheduled to start at 6:45am. We walked to the starting line, which was only about 10 - 15 minutes away. It wasn't a very long wait. Shortly before the flag off, I lost sight of my friends in the sea of runners.

The start was a bit frustrating because there was hardly any space to run. That was more or less the case until about 10km before the runners finally began to thin out a bit. It's not so much that I wanted to (or could) run any faster than that, but it would have been more comfortable to run without rubbing elbows with other runners. Dr Liaw finally overtook me at about the 5km mark. He said "hi" and then quickly disappeared into the dark amongst the other runners.

It was probably a kilometre or two later when I finally caught up with the 4:30 pacers. Well, I wasn't really chasing after them. I was merely keeping a constant comfortable pace of about 1:05 for every 10km. The weather was perfect that morning. I was still feeling good after 20km. I was still holding my pace at the 25km point, but shortly after that, my right knee began to ache. I didn't think it would get any worse if I did not push myself beyond that pace.

I arrived at the 30km point with a 3:15 on my watch—and I was very pleased with that, as I felt I had it in me to increase the pace for the remaining 12km of the race. By then, I had begun to feel a bit of exhaustion, although still manageable. But my knee was getting worse. I decided to slow down a bit in the hope of letting my knee improve. And so, I began to lag further and further behind the pacers.

By the time I reached the 32km mark, the pain in my knee was already unbearable. A very embarrassing moment when I had to reduce my pace to a walk. In fact I walked for a good 5 - 6 km, all the time people were shouting from the roadsides, e.g. "C'mon, don't stop, you can do it, a bit more to go!" And an hour later, people were still shouting "A bit more to go!"

It was not until the last 2 -3 km when I finally tried to run again. By then, it was quite a challenge to weave through all the other thousands of runners from the other categories who were mostly walking to the finish line. Let me tell you the last few steps were such a big challenge.

I'm happy to finish the distance of course, but am so disappointed that I missed my target by more than half an hour; and off my BIM time by more than 20 minutes.

We waited some more for Helen to arrive. And then Mia and I excused ourselves to go back to the hotel first. We had shower and went down for lunch and then spent the entire afternoon catching up on sleep.

All's not lost though, Mia improved by about 5 minutes to finish her 21km in 2:30! And later on, I found out that Dr Liaw achieved 4:04, an amazing improvement of about 22 minutes from his 4:26 in the BIM in October, and almost an hour ahead of me! Now I really need to do something to close up the gap!

So what next? I will still aim to achieve the 4:30 one way or another. Probably not in the BIM 2010 though. Helen and Liaw are looking at Gold Coast and Penang Bridge for 2010. Bring it on!

Upon arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

From left:

Judy Liew (Full Marathon)—5:21
Dr Helen Lasimbang (Full Marathon)—5:40
Yours truly (Full Marathon)—5:02
Euphemia Thien (Half Marathon)—2:30
Dr Liaw Yun Haw (Full Marathon)—4:04
Bhavani (Half Marathon)—2:45


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

A pity that the knee didn't hold up! (I had thought earlier that 4:15 would be a stroll for you)

Nevertheless I know of one other weekend activity that has practically no stress on the knee and is 'not a race'. Plus it is not dominated by the Africans. Interested?

Cornelius said...

Haha! Stroll in the park, huh, 2R1I? You got me mixed up with someone else, my friend!

I started walking from around 32km, and almost gave up at 38km. It was such a lousy experience. Problem of right knee isn't new though. It's since my badminton days. In fact, I gave up badminton because of it.

I shouldn't have been too ambitious, running 2 full marathons so close together. Am still gonna continue running marathons, but will limit to 2 full courses per year, and must be months apart! Can still do shorter runs. Won't give up though, I want that 0:04:30 record god dammit!

Am attending wedding reception of my niece on 20th Dec which I can't escape from. Yes, I am that old to have a niece getting married! Unless you have other dates, I won't even be able to consider!

Unknown said...

U did okay. It's is not always possible to get a PB. Same thing happened to me during my 2nd marathon and last year at the Borneo Marathon. Take a break and train up the leg and you will come back stronger.

Anonymous said...

You didn't fail, you finished! That is a success in itself.


Unknown said...

Dear Cornelius, perhaps failure is too strong a word. Disappointment might be a better word. Maybe if you heard my story you might feel better with your accomplishments.

I signed up on the 2nd day that registration for the race started online. July i think.

Furthest distance run to date was 10KM in BIM. SCB Singapore run was supposed to be a family holiday and a major goal in my running career.

Downloaded a 17 week half marathon program and followed it almost to the T.

Spent some money on gear. Paid money for Hotel and airfare. Everything set for the big day.

I arrive in Singapore from an outstation trip in Bangkok on the 4th. I have a slight sore throat from Bangkok. No funny stuff happened o.k.

4th dec night, suffered through chills and fever. 5th dec morning, wife says you better see a Dr and gauge whether you are fit to run.

See a Dr in raffles city. Says i have acute something or the other. Also potential joint inflammation, as palms were very red and swollen. So by the 5th of Dec morning, i know my months of preparation have gone to waste. All because of a bug.

However, deep down, i still hoped that i would feel better by Sunday Morning and be able to walk the course at least.

No such luck. Next day, i could not even get out of bed as my joint inflammation affected my knees and ankle.

I woke up at 5 in the morning only to stare at the grey sky and wonder how it would feel running out there in that weather.

In your case, you may not have broken your PB, you may have made a bad call to continue running whereas walking would have been better, but you managed to run the distance and finish it.

Spare a thought for someone like me who spent the time training and preparing, the money to get there and arrange a family holiday at the same time, who got excited just getting the race entry pack and had his whole dream end with a dr saying not fit to run...walking out of the dr clinic i actually wanted my wife to go back to see the dr to confirm he knew that i would be running the half and not the full..and would that be wife gave me a look that said FORGET it...

SO corn,rest, take care, and see you on the tracks soon ..cos the only way i can overcome this disappointment is to run a half marathon soon..and have that as my good memory...

Cornelius said...

Thanks for kind words and encouragements, friends.


I felt the fine weather condition was such a waste - it was so ideal for record-breaking. But, yes, you are right too, it's not always possible to get PB. Still disappointed about it though.

However, the good news is that my knee is improving surprisingly fast. By the second day, I was no longer limping. And right now only my quadriceps are aching. I'll let my knee rest for a bit longer, but I will embark on training again soon.


You're right, it was still a finish, which I am happy of course. My disappointment is mainly on my failure on achieving a personal best. I think I won't be this disappointed if I merely failed by a few minutes. But a whopping 22 minutes? Arghhh!


I can understand what you must be going through right now. I've seen how hard you've been training at the Likas track. Perhaps the Marathon God wants you to have an even better preparation so that you can make a bigger entrance!... hehehe.

But the good news is that BIM 2010 is almost certainly going ahead now. I believe the official announcement will be made very soon. If it happens, I'll probably run the half marathon this time round, as the doctors are psycho-ing me to do the full course at the Gold Coast Marathon on 04 July down under. I haven't really made up my mind yet, but Mia seems to be interested too! Maybe we should all plan for a holiday trip in July, huh?

teo said...

Hi Corny,

Again, congrats for completing another marathon. At least your worst time is 16mins better than mine.

Journeyman, I thought I was unfortunate to miss out the Singapore Marathon but your real-life story seems much TERUK then mine. Luckily I managed to do the Penang Bridge Marathon. But your efford will not go to waste, BIM10 will be on soon..tentative 04/04/10. So see you there then Journeyman.

Yup Corny, Gold Coast Marathon 2010 might be a good one. Andrew & myself had a discussion while we did our run in Likas regarding the run + trip. Renting an apartment, BBQ and WAIN after the run ..... seems nice if we can get someone to start doing some survey on the marathon, expenses, flight etc. Corny, are you interested to start the ball rolling? Then we have the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in Dec 2010. Wow, a lot of exciting things to look forward in 2010. Cheers and once again congrats to all. By the way, Judy, you are indeed a superwomen, 3 marathons in 3 mths time. salute.....

Cornelius said...


Still a bit early, but I'll see what info I can get on Gold Coast Marathon. Right now, the only problem for me is that it's not during the school holidays, so I need to decide if I want JJ to miss a couple of days of school.

Regarding Angkor Wat, it sounds good too. But it clashes with Singapore Marathon. Perhaps it's a good idea for a change, provided that it is also well organised. We have plenty of time to find out. I don't mind to try Angkot Wat. However, Mia is not for Angkor Wat. She somehow has this strange idea that we'll be running along land mine-infested routes. It's not amusing to lose a leg or two there, you know.

gbeejipp said...

Goshh. I missed this run. I was about to consider registering myself only to be told the registration was closed. Probably this year then.

Cornelius said...


If you're really keen on the Singapore Marathon, you need to register almost as soon as they open. They reach their limit fairly quickly.

I have just returned from the New Balance 30K run in KL today, and will post a report on it soon.

By the way, if you're keen on marathons, please consider the Borneo International Marathon 3 which should be held around April this year. I think the official announcement will be very soon!