Singapore Marathon ’09 – My first full marathon experience

Days before flying out to Singapore, I had a chance to talk to some friends who have been very supportive and gave me some pieces of  good advice. Jay (Prometheus Cometh)  and Vener (Run Unlimited) who have completed their feat successfully wisely advised me to start conservatively and enjoy the run since this will be my first.  Coaches John, Roel, Jo-ar and Allan (Ballester) also told me the same thing.  So I divided my plan every 10k with planned paces and target times (max and conservative).

We arrived Friday midnight and went to claim our race kits Saturday, walked around the expo and met some friends. I told Mariel that we should not tire ourselves prior to race day and rest early and so we did.  Well, relatively early.

claiming my race kit.

With Jay, Charlie and Mari

Race day : Woke up around 3:30 and did my morning ritual and was ready to leave by 4:15.  The cab dropped me off the  City Hall MRT station and walk towards the starting area where I did my stretching.  The organizers assigned pens depending on one’s target time.  I joined the sub 5hr pen. I saw, Charlie and Jay at the same pen. We waited and chatted.

On we went: When the starting gun was fired, more than 15,000 full marathoners in the pens moved  waiting for their turn to cross the starting line. I turned on my shuffle and as soon as i crossed the starting, the first music  “Together in Electric Dreams” by Giorgio Moroder (depending on your age, you may not know them, hehe) started me off. The start of the song just gave me a lot of boost.  Well, that’s the way i wanted to start my run — boosting me up  and seeing my dreams fulfilled. I took it easy and conservatively, just going with the flow of runners.   I maintained my first 10k between  6:30-6:40 and just ignored the humidity and tried to focus on the road ahead.

After 10k: Upon reaching 10k,  i peeked at my garmin.  It read 1:06, less than a minute off my target time. That’s alright, I’m still within reach of my target and still felt great.  My 2nd 10k planned pace was 6:20 so it was time to push a little.  And what a way to start the next 10k.  I didn’t plan this but my shuffle next played   “Sweet child of mine” by Guns N Roses, another song with an uplifting intro.

I was  enjoying the run, the view, reading all encouragement bibs at the back of other runners like “Perseverance to the end”,  “One step at a time”, “See you at the finish line” and more. There is also “I love you daddy” that reminded me again of my goal, why i was  doing this.  You see, every time i go home from a run, my kids always ask me, “how was your run, daddy?”  They have been just so sweet and encouraging. I thought about all the  people i wanted to dedicate this milestone run to.  I was a little teary-eyed at 14k thinking about these things….focus, focus.

After 15k, another inspiration passed me.  In between two guys was a girl riding a wheelchair being push by another guy. The 3 guys alternately pushed the wheelchair.  A lot of runners were in awe of what they were doing.  All we can do was give them an encouraging applause.  Lucky girl she is.  She might be a wife or a sister of any of the three guys…, i don’t know.  Those guys could probably be friends who were there sticking it out with her and helping her fulfill her dreams too… what a sight…

after 20k: At this point, i was a  little tired but still happy because there was no pain on my knees nor any indication of any other pain  i usually feel during my injury and recovery days. I reached 20k at 2:10:03.  Still off by more than a minute but that was still okay.  That was easily recoverable.   Guess what was playing in my shuffle, another power song favorite, “Love’s theme” by Barry White with Love Unlimited Orchestra (another one of those you probably don’t know).  An easy music that uplifts. The timing was just perfect.  Just completed the first half and another half to go.

My plan was to take an easy pace of 6:20-6:30 again and i did that up to 25k after which I felt a tightness on my inner thigh and hamstrings.  So I started to drop in at every water station to get some short walk breaks and conserve my already half-empty hydration jugs.

After 30k: While my shuffle continue to play my power songs from  Journey, U2, Michael Jackson, Hillsong, Seal,  my walk breaks became more often.  The tightness turned to pain intensifying as I covered more ground.  I just felt my inner thigh ready to  give in.  By this time I’m already off my target by more than 6 mins.  I didn’t mind my target anymore  but just  focused on  finishing it well for now.

I saw Jo-ar and Aljo at the other side of the road, both doing 21k.  They were already walking.  Later I found out that Aljo got five blisters but still managed to finish and got that 21k finisher’s medal.  I also saw Lester who was also doing a full marathon walking.  Oh my… What is happening?  It seemed like there was a plague.  I wasn’t alone.  After crossing the u-turn at the Stadium Boulevard at 32k, super cramps hit me.  My right inner thigh and hamstring hit me at the same time.   I had to stop and held on to the rail to keep myself steady.  I did some stretching and rested for a minute.  I started walking slowly and by the time i was about to start running again, cramps again hit me this time in my left hamstring.  I tried stretching again but it seemed my right leg reacted again leading to  another onset of  cramps.  So I just decided to rest for a while then slowly walked again. It seemed that stretching was not working for my legs anymore.  So I just walked even when there was pain determined to finish this race I started.  When I  tried to walk fast, my inner thigh became so tight it lead to another round of cramps. Slowed down again and back to brisk-walk again.  Each kilometer of that remaining 10k, I attempted to run but cramps immediately set in foiling any attempt for a continuous run.

So that was the story of my last 10k — walk, brisk-walk, very short run, stop when pain sets in to avoid cramps,  slow walk again and so on.  I have to scratch out my target and focus on finishing the race.  My heart was so willing, my legs unfortunately were not.

Even with that terrible pain, i didn’t think about giving up.  DNF was not an option.

I finished my first full marathon at 5:19:50 (garmin time), way off my target time of 4:30-4:40. Am i happy?, yes of course!!  After all, it still is a milestone for me.

When I started running two years ago I never thought of being able to complete a full marathon. I’m not young anymore. I started late but I conquered something that not all will be able to do. Though not the only runner in my whole family, I was to be the  first in my family line to do a full.

I could not have done it if not for SomeOne who loves me and gave me that privilege.  I’m talking about our Almighty who had given me the strength and power, the ability to accomplish this feat.  That is why i want to thank Him for giving me this opportunity.

Also, He has given me a wife who was there for me, who sacrificed a lot  while i was out training, who was there for me during my dark  injured days.

I thank Him for my children who have been sources of  encouragement inspiring  me to push each day so that they will hear good updates when they ask me about my run.

To  my mom whom I terribly miss…

I dedicate my first full to you all.

To the rest of my family and friends who stayed by my side encouraging, pushing, propelling me to be strong and dream. Thanks a whole bunch!!!.

And special thanks also to Coach Rio who guided me in my running.

As for my next full, only time and God can tell…

See you at the races, still!

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17 Responses to “Singapore Marathon ’09 – My first full marathon experience”


  1. 1 m8parco December 11, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Congratulations!!!

  2. 3 mixednuts December 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Congratulations Jun & Mariel!!!!

  3. 5 Bro J December 11, 2009 at 10:35 am

    congratulations to the blue sole of the solemates! Truly God is our great source of strength! God bless you and your family!

  4. 7 ibetlacbay December 11, 2009 at 11:51 am

    hey jun. congratulations on finishing your first marathon.

  5. 9 DATC December 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Congratulations! I’m sure you’ll be back for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th full and more sooner than you think.

  6. 11 John December 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Congratulations with finishing your first M! Many people out there don’t even finish there first, so the time you needed to do so is irrelevant. You finished!
    I like your report, and see some resemblance with my first M.
    Make sure to take all the time you need to recover from this fatigue.
    All the best.

  7. 13 run unltd. December 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Congratulations Jun, you’ve made it. I clearly recall that dream of yours during our training days at the grounds of the ultra oval then, now it’s a reality. Cheers and recover easy. We’ll see you soon. (Together in) Electric Dreams rock.

  8. 15 argonautquest December 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Sir, Congratulations in your first marathon!


  1. 1 2009: The Year That Was « The Sole Mates Trackback on December 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

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