2009 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon: My 2nd Marathon

Tuesday, 8 December 2009  |  Race Reports

A friend once gave me this advice:

Your first marathon is usually your best because you run with your heart and spirit. Your second marathon maybe worse because you usually expect to do better than the first. And lastly, your third marathon will determine who you are as a marathoner because you will apply all the lessons learned from previous marathons.

The Standard Chartered Singapore marathon was my second marathon. Coming from a relaxed and pleasant QC International Marathon pace, I set a serious goal time for my second marathon, which I meant to race.

My first marathon time: 4:55
My second marathon goal time: 4:30
My second marathon secret goal time: 4:15

Whoever said the words above hit the nail on the head, at least for my first couple of marathons. Put simply, my second marathon experience sucked. Lots of unfulfilled expectations, more walking than planned, heavy and humid air that took the life out of me plus a water-bloating kind of torture that I ironically put myself under. Read on…

5:25 a.m., Race start

Kim, Ivy, Tina, Francine and I—five full marathon women—stood calmly among a sea of eager, jittery, and energized runners along Esplanade Drive. We were far behind from the starting line, but the excitement was palpable and the music blasting from the front lines could still be heard: “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night…”


– Francine, Michelle, Kim, myself, and Ivy (our photographer!) –


– Full marathoners await gun start –

It was deja vu for me; all the race elements were a replay of last year’s race—the dynamic hosts and loud music, the venue, the glaring lights amidst the dark Singapore sky—only my goal was different; I was gunning for the full this time. I no longer felt the sense of awe and wonder, like last year, over the immensity of this grandiose event (50,000 individuals running at one time!) but it felt more like a personal journey, almost like enrolling in a new course or going on sabbatical.


The gun was fired way up in front and slowly all of us runners in the back plodded forward to cross the starting line. I bid Kim good luck and lost the other girls in the crowd. I switched my ipod on knowing it would be my best buddy for the next several hours and began to run the first few steps of my second marathon.

For the first 21km, my plan was to run 6:30 min/km. For the first 15k, I ran at a comfortable 6:20 min/km pace, confident that I would even have buffer by the time I hit half. I felt strong and I thoroughly enjoyed the incident-free run; it allowed me to enjoy the city and its sights or to read some runners’ scribblings on their backs: one was sentimental “For Mommy,” another had illustrations of his son, and another just said “Meet me in Harry’s Bar at 3 p.m.” If I had done the same, it would’ve said: “42k for Dad and an angel baby”



At 13k, among 50,000 runners, Women’s Health editor Lara Parpan and I managed to bump into each other and wished each other good luck. Shortly after, the course took us into East Coast Park, a portion that only full marathoners get to run on. The park setting—man-made lake at the center, fresh, green grass, and a narrow trail for pedestrians all by the sea—was a welcome sight. Plus, the party atmosphere—a band playing “You Gotta Have Faith… Thaa.. Faith… Thaa… FAITHAAAAH”, loud music blaring, and tons of water stations in the area—energized me even more. I felt great in here!


– Inside East Coast Park. One of the few times we ran under shaded trees. It was hot and humid all throughout –


That strong feeling didn’t last long though. The run through the park felt long and dreary; my strength gradually began to wane due to the humidity. At certain times, my throat felt dry and I felt suffocated, so I would hydrate often with Gatorade. Thankfully, I had run fast enough to make me hit my target for the first 21km: 2:18. I thought I was doing fine!


I continued to run at 6:30 pace and would occasionally walk and drink at water stations. Unfortunately, I ingested so much fluids that, at one point, my stomach felt heavy and bloated. I felt like a tadpole!  By Km28, I felt like my HRM strap was choking me so I stopped to remove my chest strap and loosen my hydration belt. What a relief! My pace had considerably slowed at that point though.


By Km30, evil thoughts started entering my mind: What’s taking so long? Can I endure 12kms more of this? Will I get cramps like everyone else around? If I’m struggling now, what’s the last 5 kms going to feel like?

Then, I forced myself to recall how pleasant QC International Marathon was. How, at Km 30, I didn’t even know I was going for the full 42km! And, for some moments, I got a break from the weariness and tried my best to plod on.


– The cool zone provided mist for runners. Unfortunately, it felt like a warm zone for me –


At QC International Marathon, my pacer Neville said “the last 5km will be the longest 5km of your life.” At that time, I quietly laughed about that line as I was on Cloud 9 running the last few kilometers towards QC Circle.

This time, however, his words didn’t only ring true, they were banging on my ear drums!  My last 5 kms were reduced to this simple question: Can you make it to the next water station?

I made a deal with myself: Walk briefly only at every OTHER water station. At every other station, I would then grab two cups: one to drink, another to pour over my overheating head. Then, I would walk briefly and compel myself to run again. It was slow and tough, but it was the only thing that kept me from sticking my thumb out to hitch a ride back to the hotel.  By that time, I didn’t even bother looking at my watch anymore.  Goal times were thrown out the window.


– Km 40: Singapore Flyer. More people were walking than running here –


– 2 more kms to go! I held on –


The harder you work for your goal, the more fulfilling it is when accomplished. And so, despite my weariness, I felt like the strongest woman alive when I crossed that finish line. (It also helped that there was a young Italian guy who made small talk with me right after!)

I was (and still am) disappointed with not reaching my target time. See the frustration in this face?…


…It definitely could’ve been better.  But, at the same time, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I plodded on despite the difficulties. I was blessed with the opportunity to join the race and test my endurance and will without any major glitches along the way (no cramps, no injury, not even a tiny blister!) For all that I am thankful.

Was it worse than the 1st marathon? Definitely. Will the 3rd marathon be the best? I certainly hope so.


Time: 4:49:04
Distance: 43.12 km
Average pace: 6:42 min/km
Calories: 1,755


Rank: 347
Official chip time: 4:49:18


* Thank you to Ivy for the race photos!

2009 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon: Pre-Race

Monday, 7 December 2009  |  Race Reports

I’m back…and I survived the heat and humidity during all 42.195km of the 2009 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon! Before I tell you all about my race experience (I’m getting tired just thinking of it again!) allow me to share with you a few tips I successfully practiced prior to the actual race: December 4 &5, 2009 in Singapore…

Tip 1: Prioritize Recovery over Comfort

Who cares if I could barely breathe underneath my jeans? During the 3-hour flight to Singapore and pretty much half the day in the Lion City, I surreptitiously wore my Skins compression tights beneath my jeans for knee support.

Lo and behold, they worked like magic! When I awoke from a brief nap at our hotel room, the minor knee pain that was stressing me out was gone! Hallelujah!

Tip 2: Business Before Pleasure

The morning we arrived, hubby and I wasted no time in going to the Singapore Expo & Convention Center to claim our race packets. After all this was no vacation; it was an official race trip!


– The classic Singapore Marathon pre-race pose that I’m sure all runners have –


– Got the bag…Ready to shop! –

Hubby got his 21k pack, while I got my 42k. As expected, redemption was quick, easy, and very well-organized. Chips were double-checked before leaving to verify that it was correctly encoded with our names.

The expo offered a wide variety of products for runners and other sports, some at huge discounts. With most brands, such as Newton, 2XU, and Ultimate Direction now available in Manila, I didn’t spot too many products that I wouldn’t be able to purchase locally.

I did see this…Sundown Marathon, anyone?


I still managed to bring home new loot such as an Ultimate Direction race belt and 2XU cap that I had been pining over since last year. When it comes to shopping, all I really buy are running items so this was quite a treat for me. As seen in this photo, hubby had a blast too…


Tip 3: Meet Local Runners

The highlight of this trip (aside from the marathon, of course) was being reunited with my best running buddy Annie who, as much as I still hate to think about it, is now a Singapore local. (Boohoo!)

– with Annie and our dearest ultra running mommy, Kim –

Annie took hubby, Kim, and I to the carbo-loading party of the popular Singapore-based running group, Team FatBird, at Swensens, a pasta place with an eat-all-you-can ice cream bar (heaven!)

Team FatBird is composed of an awesome bunch of fun-loving, dynamic runners who are seriously committed to the sport. They meet regularly on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings for 10k runs and for long runs on weekends.


– with Anthony Sum of Team FatBird. Photo courtesy of Team FatBird –


– After our comedic interview by Team FatBird press for their blog –


– Annie dessert-loading BEFORE her actual carbo-loading –

Annie, now a Team FatBird member, introduced us to Anthony and David, the leaders of the team. Both were gracious hosts who answered our never-ending queries: Why FatBird?  Can you recommend another good destination race?  Where do we find the pacers on race day? (Team FatBird runners were the official pacers of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.)

After filling our bellies, we gathered together for a howling and seemingly never-ending toast to the marathon ahead!


– Check out David’s New Balance shoes! Cool! –

Thank you to Team Fat Bird for allowing us to crash your party!  It was nice to meet such a fantastic team of runners.

Click here to view Team FatBird’s website.

Tip 4: Say No to Spicy Food

My friend Alvin had reminded me thrice about staying away from spicy food before the race. Luckily, the carbo loading party was TWO nights before the race so when the Black Pepper pasta called out to me on the menu, I rationalized that Alvin didn’t mention exactly when I should avoid it. Plus, he was way back in Manila anyway.

The pasta was delicious…and it was awfully spicy, so spicy that my nose started running (at 4:30 pace!) after a few bites. By the next day, I was woken up by a tummy that could actually speak! It was in alien language though, something like “Mutu Buhu RAA!” Then, “Goo Gaba RAA!”  When translated, it means “Attention: You’ve now got tummy problems due to your stupidity! You better pray this will be gone by race day!” Fortunately, it did disappear! Close call there.

Tip 5: Nourish Your Body

It was easy to forget about our healthy diet during this trip with all the yummy food to taste and indulge in…


But, since we knew we needed adequate nutrients before the race, hubby and I swung by a wholesome grocery at Ion. The fresh, bright-colored fruits were a sight to see so we splurged on a bunch of grapes, cherries, blueberries and bananas that evening.


Tip 6: Think Before You Buy

Annie took us to Novena Velocity Mall where she bought us salt caps to combat the much dreaded cramps on race day. In the same store, we spotted another product that’s been on my wish list forever: Vibram Five Fingers.

I finally got my hands (or more like feet!) in them! The Sprint model looked good and it fit well. But, when I took them for a test run around the store and I felt the hard concrete beneath my foot, I wasn’t sure if I would actually have the nerve to use them back in Manila. For Php7,000+ a piece, it took me quite a while to decide. Final verdict: I chickened out and passed. Maybe next time.

Tip 7: Sleep Early

Hubby and I hit the sack on the eve of Marathon Day at 9 p.m. Good thing we did so because I woke up every single hour that night both eager and nervous about the race. I got out of bed at 3:30 a.m. and felt refreshed. I was all set to go…

NEXT POST: 2009 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

Click here for 2008 Singapore Half-Marathon: Pre-RaceHalf-Marathon, and Post-Race

Calling SC Singapore Marathon Runners: Nike Freebies are Out

Tuesday, 2 December 2008  |  Race Announcements

As mentioned, Nike will be giving out free Nike attire and shoes to Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon runners who were able to register with Coach Rio. 

Click here to confirm if you’re on the list.  

According to Coach Rio, you may have registered with him, but due to lack of available sizes for singlets and shoes, your name may not be included in the final list.  Shorts won’t be given out anymore too.

If you’re listed, as I am (woohoo!), you may pick up your items from Coach Rio at Ultra, 6 to 9am and 5 to 9pm, until Thursday.  See you in Singapore!

Singapore Marathon Runners: Get Your Free Nike Uniforms

Tuesday, 23 September 2008  |  News + Promos

Good news for all those who registered for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon: Nike is providing 50 uniforms—singlets, shorts, and running shoes—to be worn by Pinoy runners during the Singapore Marathon.  (I’m telling you, we will look like Filipino olympians in them!)

To sign up, email Coach Rio at rio@runrio.com with the following details:

1. Confirmation details from Singapore Marathon (with race bib #)

2. Your full name

3. Your singlet, shorts, and shoe size (Nike sizing)

This is on a first come, first serve basis.  Again, only 50 uniforms available.

————————– UPDATE ————————–

As of Sept. 23, lunchtime (yes, the same day I posted this), Coach Rio informed me that the slots for the 50 runners were full. So sorry. 

All Roads Lead to Singapore

Tuesday, 23 September 2008  |  Bullish Insights


On Dec. 7, 2008, I shall be one of 50,000 participants who will be running in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. As early as July, I registered for the race and, since then, all my running thoughts and actions have revolved around this singular goal. I don’t intend to just finish this race, but I hope to cross the finish line strong, injury-free, and of course, with a respectable time.

Nope, I didn’t register for the marathon; I signed up for the half marathon. If there’s one thing I learned from my injuries, it’s this: Even if the mind is willing, the shins, quads, and knees may be dying! Timing is key. And, I know that it’s definitely not time for me to accomplish my marathon dream just yet—maybe next year in New York? I wish.

So, I’m gearing up for my half—conservatively increasing my mileage until December, strengthening my legs, cross training (swimming is my favorite this week), and last but not the least, saving every single cent—to make sure that I’ll be strong and healthy (with enough moolah in my pocket to buy some running stuff) when my feet touch Singapore soil.  I can hardly wait.