A week ago, I completed the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018. Although the distance I ran was not grueling as 42.195km, the attempt to prepare, train and run a half marathon was a major deal to me. While typing this now, the experience still feels surreal.
Approximately three months ago, I received an invitation from Under Armour Malaysia, representing Running Malaysia, to partake in the 2018 edition of SCSM. To be honest, I was pretty exuberant as this would be my whole new approach to half marathon training.
I am not a seasoned runner, hence achieving my personal best has never crossed my mind. Having the opportunity to be a part of the race, I was determined to improve my running efficiency, so I could achieve my goals.
I have run half marathons but never involved in any proper and thorough training. I would not want to recall the pain and struggle I have gone through on my previous attempts.
However, the miserable experience did not defeat my fear and self-confidence. Under Armour Malaysia has assigned the significant task to a professional runner, Vasanthan (fondly known as Vasan) to provide us with a program that contained different workouts.
We all had our own personal fitness goals that we’re striving towards. The challenges we have set for ourselves involved a whole lot of training, all leading up to one big day of giving it our all. Hence, the training took up merely 8 weeks. The half marathon distance, 21.0975km, albeit seems feasible, it could also be one of the most intense fitness challenges we could possibly put ourselves through.
Marathon runners complete a daunting 42.195km in just two or three hours, and the finishing time, to me, is beyond the bounds of possibility. In order to complete a half marathon effortlessly and painlessly, the training program provided by Vasan helped us to make it to the finishing line.
How we kick-started our training regime
We started doing park and stadium runs. Vasan was with us guiding the appropriate workouts and monitoring our performances all the time. Apart from just running, cross-training helped us to become a better, more well-rounded, and powerful runner.
After a week or two, everyone was getting the same intensity out of doing this, getting injured less, running faster, and I was absolutely loving the fact that I was also improving my endurance and fitness level. The mixture of our workouts was getting more effective. One day we were at the track having tempo runs, the next day we were having interval runs, and the next day we were having long runs.
On some days, incorporating a strength training program into our running regime was necessary. To enhance my running efficiency, we started doing core and joint-specific strength exercises. In terms of running, we had to switch up the elevation, the intensity, and the speed.
Every workout went hand-in-hand.
Apparels to complement my run
Running apparels are at a crucial stage. One of the reasons I love running so much is its simplicity. I do not need a bag full of equipment, but a set of suitable running apparels that are calm, pleasant, and comfortable to the run.
Running tanks, pants, and sports bras by Under Armour are everything about comfort and performance. As the saying goes: “It’s not poor weather, it’s a poor choice of clothing.” The apparels, especially Under Armour Heatgear, are made of breathable, ventilated materials which wick away perspiration and regulate my body temperature.
These garments have been designed to maximize comfort during exercise, providing reinforced support, and ease of movement and shock absorption keeping me cool, dry, and light for my workouts. Most importantly, they prevent chafing.
The suitable running shoes are designed to protect your feet from the road, provided traction on different surfaces, cushion the landing shock and support your feet. Under Armour HOVR Infinite did well on my training and race.
The HOVR Infinite, connecting to UA’s “MapMyRun” application, allowed me to track basic statistics such as running distance, pace, and splits, but also more advanced gait metrics like cadence and stride length.
With the shoes, I was able to evaluate my precise progress and check my historical data, allowing for better pace prediction and planning for future runs. The HOVR Infinite features a neutral cushioned model with 29MM heel and 21MM forefoot (8MM offset), with the shoe’s foam designed to provide a sensation of 360 coverage for enhanced comfort enabling us to go further and longer with every run.
Camaraderie, Friendship & Precious Moments
Aside from the run itself, the camaraderie was something to behold and perhaps added to the emotional impact. From the first day of training to the completion of the race, there were people willing each other on. Everyone was alone from start but there was a sense of convivial unity among fellow runners that made the experience more special and memorable.
At the race, we met runners from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Russia, as well as the States. Under Armour’s Senior Director of Merchandising, Kent Collins also shared his career in UA and insights about the merchandise and technology implemented in UA collections.
Running is a great way to form friendship bonds. It creates special chemistry. It builds camaraderie, and camaraderie means like-minded people. It means social support. It means the community.
SCSM 2018 Race day
The race started around 4.30am at F1 Pit Building. Upon arriving, thousands of people already crowded the starting line, making the first few miles of the race more frustrating that they needed to be since everyone was stuck in a mass of slower individuals.
Standing at the last pen based on our estimated finishing time, it took me quite a while to finally cross the starting line. The first few miles of the race were an overcrowded mess where it was almost intractable to pass other runners. However, it did not take too long for me to get into my stride.
I began the journey fairly slowly to conserve energy. The run started off quite enjoyable. The race organizers prepared just adequate amount of water and nutrition to keep the runners hydrated and fueled.
The race course covered mainly the serene city of Singapore. The sky was still dark, but I was captivated by several enthralling buildings and sites around Singapore. We ran through Raffles Hotel, War Memorial Park, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore National Gallery, Singapore Merlion, Fullerton Hotel, Lau Pa Sat, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Reflections @ Keppel Bay, Esplanade Theatres, finally to The Float.
Getting closer to the 15km mark, I felt a little discomfort and tired. I let my mind take over from my body and try to focus on the outside – the other runners, the spectator signs, and the sceneries. At this point in the race, I knew I had to dig down deep for extra strength. I had to remind myself what I have sacrificed to get to this point.
I have worked through fatigue during training, and I could undoubtedly make it through the remaining miles. I continued to break up the course, mile by mile, and started counting down the distances and the minutes.
Feeding off the spectators’ enthusiasm, I was resolute in pushing myself to keep going. I caught my breath, summoned up one more burst of energy, and focused on getting to the finishing line. The last stretch of the race was so beautiful, running along imposing piles. The music and voice from the masters of ceremonies also helped to keep me invigorated.
“I will never do that again!”
Clocking in about three hours, I vividly remembered crossing the finishing line after my half marathon and saying to myself, “I will never do that again,” Not a lot of people can comprehend the weeks, months, dedication, and commitment it takes to finish one.
At that moment, all I could think of was a good post-run stretch and more fluids. The race finished at The Float @ Marina Bays – the world’s largest floating stage. The scenery was spectacular, overlooking the Merlion Park and its symbolic statue. I leisurely walked towards the hospitality booth prepared by Under Armour, and got my much-needed massage and rest.
The weather became seemingly warmer. The incredible sense of achievement I felt after completing the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018 is still sending a tingle up my spine. I later found out that there was a big group of runners who were still making their ways to the finishing line at 12pm sharp. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional impact.
In the end, it’s the extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of belief, fairness, and respect. Putting all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?
As I am typing this now, the story of SCSM 2018 still makes me smile in reminiscence. The high of completing something that I thought I could never attain, is a feeling I want to experience again and again. If I were to choose, I would definitely be telling you, yes, I will come back stronger.