Guest: Sia Chuan Han @ Gold Coast Marathon 2011

Departing Singapore

I flied in to Gold Coast with Mok and Ramesh on a Jetstar flight, having doing a transit at Melbourne Airport.

Upon arriving at Gold Coast Airport on 29 Jun 2011, we took bus 702 from the airport to our Meriton Service Apartment at Southport (less than 1km away from our start point). The weather was about 15 deg when we reached Gold Coast. The bus journey took us along the coastal beach and also bypassing the Gold Coast Conventional Centre (where the race expo is). We checkin into a 2 room apartment and quickly changed up to go for an easy run before the night turns dark (it was winter period and thus the day ends very early, totally darkness at around 6pm local time)Pre RaceWe planned to reach Gold Coast 4 days so that our body was able to adapt to the environment and time zone difference (was 2 hours ahead of SG time) before the race day. We went for easy run (~5k) twice per days. It was quite cold on the first day till Ramesh and I was thinking whether to get a running glove during the run. But Mok said that it’s not necessary based on what he experience during his Christchurch Marathon in May. My heart rate was low comparing to running in Singapore at the same pace (about 10 beats lower) This was good because it means that I can run faster at a high heart rate during race day. We went to collect our race packs on the first day of expo as well as look around the 60 exhibit booths. Got a chance to try out the Endura drink which was not available in Singapore. We also did a video recording for each of us to be shown at a big screen at 15km and 35km mark to give encouragement along the way. It was quite fun. Mok and Ramesh was given an elite start and priority start respectively and they were entitled to have their own elite drinks during the race. The night before, Mok reminded me to start slow and slowly overtake at the later stage during the race as I always like to start very fast at the beginning and die off at the later stage. Mok also gave a brief analysis of the kind of route which we were expecting as we noticed that there’s few slopes along the race route. Ramesh on the other hand reminded me to push myself at the last 7-8km because during training, he felt that I am not going at my full force and always have reserved energy at the end.

Race Day

I woke up at 4.45am and had some cereals with a cup of hot chocolate. We left our apartment at about 6.15am to make our way to the start point. The weather was kind and calm. It was not as cold as I expected. We started to jog to the start point and did some warmup. Though this was not my first marathon, but I was quite nervous because anything can happen.

I met Ronnie from Singapore at the start point and he wished me good luck as well as advised me not to start too fast. The race started off with a group of singers singing Australia National Anthem and off the race goes. (It was very interesting as there was no horn or signal that the race had began). I started very very slow til I realized that the sub 3hr15min balloon pacers overtook me after 200m. I looked at my watch and told myself not to follow as I have not trained with them.

At 5km – 21km mark, I lapped my watch every km to ensure that I am not going too fast or too slow. Along the way, there were many Australians with their kids giving their support to the runners. There were also many Japanese supporters along the way. At about 13km mark, I saw Mok running alone on the opposite side of the route. I shouted at him and saw him giving me a smile back. I then saw Ramesh before I make a U-turn and knew that he was going fine. This was because he was doing it with some injuries. I started to take gels after 10km, 15km and 21km to give me the energy which I needed afterwards.

At 22km – 30km mark, I checked my time and realized that I am actually falling behind the sub 3hr15min mark. I cannot see the pacers who were holding a blue balloons. I then tried to gradually increase my speed hoping that I can sustain the distance and catch up with them. I am actually not following them at all in the first place, but they have overtook me right from the beginning. Thus it’s either I am going too slow or if not they are running too fast and will slow down at the later stage. I was actually still feeling very good at this stage, so I gradually increased my pace. Interestingly along the way, the Japanese supporters shouted encouragement words which I don’t understand as they might have thought that I am a Japanese because there was nobody running beside me when I passed them.

At 32km – 35km mark, I noticed that there was a slight slope which was mentioned at the beginning of the race. At this point, I started to increase my speed to overtake the 3hr15min pacer and overheard that he was telling another runner that he was ahead of time. At this point, I knew that I can finish below 3hr15min and was hoping that I can catchup with the sub 3 pacer. But when I saw them on the opposite side of the road, I realized that it’s quite impossible because the gap is quite far. I lapped my Garmin watch to ensure that my speed do not fall and pushed as hard as I can.

At 37km mark, I saw Dr Ben Tan and encouraged him to push on. I was hoping that he can push me along til the finishing line, knowing that he had done a sub 3 before. But he did not after few meters. I just then pushed myself as hard as I can, catching the front runners. What motivated me further was that there were many many old runners running in front of me.

I managed to cross the finishing line successfully. Taking a break at the resting area, I had a nice conversation with Dr Ben Tan after he finished. Realising that he was actually following the sub 3 pacers at the beginning til he dropped off because he went to the toilet 2 times during the race and thus he had lost the momentum in running.

Summary

I did obtained my PB over at this race, finishing in 3hr13min03sec, but feel that I can do better than this. It was really a nice and cool marathon which I have ever done. The atmosphere and the support from its own citizen was excellent. The running community standard over at Gold Coast was very high as compared to Singapore and it’s a race one must do. They have many runners who can do sub 3 hrs and some of them are already in their old age. I have learnt to relax myself as well as be patience during race in order to perform well. I also realized that my training pace so far tally with almost the average race pace. Moving forward, I have to review my training plans in order to improve further. I would like to specially thank Mok for his guidance and help. Arigatou Mok!!!!

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